Thursday, October 31, 2019

By Time Divided...Elaine Jeremiah

Happy Halloween to everyone. We have no tricks, but we do have Elaine Jeremiah stopping by, and she has some special treats for us. She is giving away two eBooks, too. How's that for a fun way to end October!

Elaine's latest book, By Time Divided, is the second book in her JA-inspired time travel trilogy. The first book in the trilogy is Love Without Time. Elaine first visited my blog in February of this year. to talk about Love Without Time. If you would like to take a look at that post, click here.


Thank you for having me on your blog today Janet. I wanted to briefly share some thoughts about the writing of this book, ‘By Time Divided’.

In this second book, I decided to change the location, and the city of Bath was the ideal choice. I know Bath quite well – I’ve lived in the nearby city of Bristol for the best part of 20 years and so I felt qualified to write about it in some detail. It’s still an obviously Regency city, with beautiful buildings and a real atmosphere to it. Visiting Bath is like stepping back in time. That made it easier to imagine how it might have felt to live or visit there in Jane Austen’s time.

Initially I wanted to have my heroine, Cassie, looking for Ted, the twenty-first century man who she got to know in Regency England, and struggling to find him. But somehow, as often happens when writing, the story just developed in my mind and Cassie ends up being told that he’s in Bath, so there’s no desperate search for him.

That doesn’t mean there’s no drama, however. I won’t give the plot away but there’s plenty of trouble in store for Cassie and Ted along the way! Not least of Cassie’s worries is her friend Mia, who’s mentioned in the first book in the trilogy, ‘Love Without Time’, but plays a big role in this second book.

I decided a long time ago that Mia, Cassie’s best friend, would be mixed race – i.e. someone who would be described in the Regency era as a ‘mulatto’ – a derogatory term to us today of course, but how people like Mia would have been referred to at that time. I thought it would be really interesting to have her unexpectedly travel back in time with Cassie to the Regency era – at the end of book one, ‘Love Without Time’, Cassie travels back to the twenty-first century briefly and ‘By Time Divided’ picks up immediately from where the first book ends.

With Mia in the Regency era, it gave me a lot of scope to think about how someone of her race would have been treated back then. Of course, I’ve used my imagination for the interactions between Mia and the Regency characters, but obviously it would have been incredibly hard for someone who wasn’t white back then. They’d be seen as so different and the assumption would be made that they were lesser somehow, lesser humans and therefore not worthy of good treatment or respect.

I found that Mia’s character came into her own and she really helped to drive the plot forward, taking it in directions that I hadn’t at first considered. I love her as a character as well – she’s feisty and straight talking and won’t take the shabby treatment she receives in Regency England lying down.

I do hope you get the chance to read my books and I’d love to know what you think.


 The weather had turned in Regency England. It was noticeably cooler – and wet. I shivered as I chased after Mia who was charging ahead of me across the lawn towards Westerleigh Hall. I could see that she was now dressed in a pale blue gown complete with a bonnet and pelisse. I didn’t need to glance down at myself to realise that I was too.

The tightness around my middle told me I was wearing a corset once again and I grimaced as I caught up with Mia. Catching hold of her hand, I pulled her around to face me. Confused doesn’t begin to describe the expression on her face, which had a whitish tinge to it instead of its usual honey tones.
‘You weren’t lying were you, Cass?’ she said, her breathing laboured and uneven. She looked down at herself and gasped. I shook my head.
‘I wish I had been.’
‘What are we going to do?’ she wailed. She fell silent, then turned around and began to walk purposefully back towards the woods.
‘If you’re thinking about the gate, I tried that the last time,’ I told her as I hurried to catch up with her. ‘I don’t think it’ll work.’
Mia stopped walking so suddenly I almost banged into her. ‘But you said that you came back through the gate.’ Her tone was accusing.
‘I know. But I couldn’t return to our time when I tried to walk back through it, just after I got here. It wouldn’t work.’ I met her troubled gaze. ‘Mia, I’m so sorry that this has happened.’
Mia closed her eyes, nodding. ‘I know. And I’m not blaming you. But I still want to see if I can get it to open. I’m not giving up yet.’
I sighed. ‘OK.’
Once we found the gate again, looking pristine and brand new as before, Mia tried at least half a dozen times to walk through it and back into the twenty-first century. It didn’t work of course. I kept looking behind me through the trees towards the great house as Mia walked back and forth through the gate, anxiety coursing through me.
‘You’re right,’ Mia said at last, coming to a halt beside me. ‘There’s no way we’re getting back home.’ She sighed and slumped to the ground, disregarding the wet forest floor. I looked down at her, my heart heavy.
‘No there isn’t. At least not yet,’ I told her. Mia buried her head in her hands.
I crouched down next to her, ignoring the corset digging into my ribs. ‘Being stuck in the past may seem terrible now but…’
‘But what?’ came the muffled reply. I said nothing for a moment. In many ways, it was terrible here in Regency England. Corsets, no indoor plumbing, no electricity, no rights for women… There were good sides to it though – if I could remember what they were!
‘It gets easier with time.’ This much was true at least. ‘And it is lovely to see how unspoilt England was. Or rather is. People are more unspoilt here too.’
Mia raised her head. ‘In what way?’
‘Well the girls for one are a lot more innocent. They’re less complicated than in the twenty-first century.’
‘How do you mean? They don’t know about sex?’
‘It’s not that exactly. They don’t know as much as you and me – women are expected to wait till they’re married to have sex – but they’re not completely clueless about the opposite sex and relationships.’
‘So what is it?’
‘I guess it’s something to do with society’s expectations on them. You know, they don’t have a formal education like the men, and much of what they learn is training on how to be a dutiful wife…’
‘Sounds bloody awful!’
I grinned. ‘Yeah, I s’pose it is. But what I’m trying to say is that in many ways it’s a simpler life. For men and women. There’s no electricity for one thing, which means no electric lighting, no washing machines or dishwashers and certainly no internet.’
‘So no Facebook or Twitter.’
‘Exactly. Less pressure on people in many ways. Or at least there is pressure, but a different kind.’ I held out my hand to Mia. ‘Come on, get up. You’ll ruin that dress and we need to get indoors. The rain’s getting heavier.’
Mia grabbed hold of my hand. ‘Look at you, calling the shots,’ she said as she stood up. ‘I’m impressed.’ She gave me a half-smile and seemed less subdued, following me as I made my way out of the woods and back onto the massive lawn. 


Having accidentally time travelled to Regency England, Jane Austen fan Cassie Taylor finds herself unexpectedly back in the twenty-first century. But everything has changed. She’s been missing for three weeks and her parents are upset and disbelieving when she tells them where she’s been. The police aren’t too pleased either.

Cassie’s best friend Mia doubts the story, yet stands by her friend. And then the unthinkable happens when both of them end up in Regency England. Now Cassie has an even bigger problem: Mia is mixed race and they’re stuck in an era where the slave trade has only just been abolished. Cassie must somehow explain herself to her Regency friends – why she vanished and who her friend is. She also needs to find Ted, the love of her life.

How will Cassie manage to protect Mia from the insults of Regency people who see her as worthless? And how will she ever find a way for her and Ted and Mia to finally return home?

Author Bio:

Elaine lives in Bristol, South West England with her husband and their golden retriever, Dug. But she was privileged enough to grow up in Jane Austen country, in Hampshire.

She’s always loved writing, but it’s only been in recent years that she’s been able to devote more time to it. She decided to self-publish with the help of her wonderful husband who’s very tech-savvy! In 2013 she self-published her first novel, but it was only with her fourth, her novel ‘Love Without Time’, that she felt she finally found her niche: Jane Austen Fan Fiction!

She’s always loved Jane Austen’s writing and the Regency era, so this felt like a natural thing for her to do. ‘Love Without Time’ is the first in a trilogy best described as a Jane Austen-inspired time travel romance. ‘By Time Divided’ is the second book in the trilogy.

If you want to connect with Elaine online, her Facebook page can be found here:

Her Twitter handle is: @ElaineJeremiah

Her website is here:

‘Love Without Time’ is available from here:
It’s also available from Amazon UK here:
‘By Time Divided’ is on here:
It’s on Amazon UK here:


It is so good to have you visit again, Elaine. It is always a pleasure having you stop by. Thank you for sharing the excerpt with us and sharing some of your thoughts about writing this second book. I look forward to seeing the last book in the trilogy, and I hope you will come back then. Best wishes with this second book.


Elaine Jeremiah is giving away one eBook of her first book, Love Without Time, and one eBook of her latest, By Time Divided. That's right, Dear Readers. Elaine is giving away two eBooks. Isn't that awesome! Thank you, for your generosity, Elaine. I know my readers are appreciative. Good luck to everyone. The giveaway is international and will end at midnight on the 5th of November. Please make sure I have a way of reaching you. 

Monday, October 28, 2019

Fine Eyes & Pert Opinions...Maria Grace

We are starting off the week with a visit from the lovely Maria Grace. She is talking a little bit about her new book, Fine Eyes & Pert Opinions. Maria also has an excerpt for everyone's enjoyment. Thank you, Maria, for stopping by my blog today and letting us be part of the festivities for your new release. It is a privilege having you here.


One of the places those influences are most noticeable are in the home theatrical that the guests of Darcy’s house party want to present. Poor Darcy is definitely dubious about the entire endeavor.
 In Austen’s Mansfield Park, Tom Bertram talks about ‘raising a little theater’ paralleling it to the idea of raising a little hell; for him a theatrical provided an opportunity to say and do things that were normally off limits in polite society.

Acting, by its very nature, blurred the boundaries of everyday life with respect to gender, class, social status, rank, race, national allegiance just to name a few. The blurring of these all-important lines posed a danger to the vulnerable in society—particularly the children and young women—who needed to be protected from these disquieting and potentially ruinous effects.

Moreover, acting often demanded the players suspend polite behavior for the sake of the play. At the end of the Georgian era, the demonstration of ‘polite behavior’ had reached almost cultish proportions. Deviating from it could spell social ruin, particularly for young unmarried ladies. Proper, polite behavior required definite emotional restraint for both men and women. One was not to display emotion openly in front of others. (The one exception for ladies: they could swoon when faced with an extremely distressing or vulgar situation.) Stage conventions of the time encouraged actresses to swoon excessively and male actors to rant and rail expressively. (Can we say overacting? But I digress.)

Moreover, audiences were expected to respond to these displays with sighs, weeping and groaning. So much emotion! What is a proper household to do?

If this were not enough, theatricals also were likely to involve active physical contact between the actors and actresses during the performance. While acceptable for the professional actress (who was not considered a proper gentlewoman by any stretch), that kind of behavior was most improper for a gentleman's daughter with a reputation and marriage prospects to consider. Doing it under the guise of a theatrical performance offered only a thin veneer of protection.

So how does Darcy respond to the challenges presented by the home theatrical? Take a peek!


Why had he capitulated to Bennet’s terms?   Darcy resisted the urge to clutch his temples and groan as he trudged back to the picnic. Few demands were worse than performing in company. It was a very high price to pay for Georgiana’s safety.
At least, this once, she was delighted at his efforts on her behalf, squealing and clutching Miss Elizabeth’s hands before she hurried off to inform Mrs. Reynolds of the new plans.
Miss Elizabeth then followed her father, pulling Miss Lydia and the rest of her sisters into the gazebo. Thankfully he had the decorum to manage the matter in relative privacy.
Anne and Richard approached, looking back and forth from him to the Bennets.
“So, we are to have more company?” Anne rolled her eyes and leaned heavily on Richard’s arm, “Do you not think people of their class very tiresome?”
“Why must you find fault in everything?” Richard’s lip curled back just a mite. “Everything is one shade of disagreeable or another in your eyes. You really must learn to see the advantages in a situation not just the flaws.”
“But to add two more ladies—and I use the word only in the most general of ways— to the party. We are now so unbalanced.”
“The Bennets are agreeable company.” Richard released Anne’s arm and stepped back. “If the elder had more of a dowry I’d pursue her myself. Her temperament is as lovely as her face. And Miss Elizabeth, if she were not so poor, I think she might have made a match for you, Darce.”
Darcy snorted and glowered. The Bennets were from a completely different social sphere—Richard should not even joke about becoming affiliated with them. Those sorts of remarks tended to be overheard, repeated, and the source of no end of trouble.
“Heavens no!” Anne clutched her chest. “Even if she were high enough to be suitable, she is neither pretty enough for you nor … well she is lacking in the proper deference to male judgment, in my opinion.”
“You think Miss Garland a better choice for him?” Richard snickered into his hand.
“Her wealth and connections certainly are. She is far better looking than that upstart.”
Darcy schooled his features into something properly neutral. No doubt Anne thought herself a better match for him. That was certainly what her mother had raised her to believe. Hopefully, unlike Aunt Catherine, Anne would be well-mannered enough not to bring it up directly.
“But her deference to Darcy is certainly not as favorable as you suggest it ought to be.” Richard said.
“I was not intimating that she would be at all suitable for Darcy.” Anne tucked her hand into the crook of Darcy’s arm. “Only more suitable than Miss Elizabeth.”
“I will thank you both to cease your speculations. I am in no need of a matchmaker.” How could he disengage himself from Anne without creating greater problems?
“I beg to differ, cousin. I think you are in great need, and you should listen to my advice. Miss Garland is an excellent foil to your stuffiness. Under her guidance you might well become acceptable in society.”
“Richard! How can you say such a thing? Do not listen to him. He only means to provoke.” Anne batted her eyes at Darcy.
He cringed and removed his arm from her grasp. Damn the consequences. “Excuse me.” He stalked away.
Was no one but Miss Elizabeth on his side today?

That evening, Bennet, Miss Bennet and Miss Elizabeth joined them for dinner. Whether encouraged by Miss Elizabeth’s presence, or cowed by Anne’s badgering, Georgiana suggested the ladies withdraw after dinner and leave the gentlemen to their port. A most gratifying turn of events considering Anne had placed herself next to him during the meal and all sensible conversation seemed to be taking place at the other end of the table. What a relief to enjoy a few moments of good port and conversation where he might relax just a bit.
The servants cleared the tablecloth away, revealing the brightly polished walnut table top that reflected the flickering candles nearly as well as the wall mirrors. How much easier his breath came with the clutter cleared. He poured the rich burgundy port and distributed the crystal wine glasses.
Bennet savored a long sip. “Mr. Darcy, your taste is impeccable.”
“Indeed, it is.” Garland raised his glass. “You are a most gracious host. Particularly in indulging my sister’s desire to flaunt my humble theatrical work before all of you.”
“You are not keen to have it performed?” Bingley asked.
“Of course, I am. There is little to compare with seeing your works come to life on a stage. But this work is still quite rough.”
“What do you mean by rough.” Bennet resettled himself in his seat with a pleasing parental air.
“Nothing untoward to be sure. I just have not quite worked out all my characters, their motives—”
“You do not know how it ends, do you?” Richard chuckled and took a long draw of his port.
“Not precisely.” Garland drew his fist along his chin.
Bennet grumbled. Good, perhaps he could raise an objection that might bring a halt to this scheme. “I thought you told me—”
“I did, and I have purposed that virtue will indeed triumph in the end. But I am at a loss as to why or how.”
“I do not follow.” Bennet’s shaggy brows drew tight.
“Neither do I.” Richard said.
“Are you not the master of your pen?” Bingley asked. “Do you not hold the fate of your stage-world in your hands, your players doing as you direct?”
“Would that were true! A common misconception, indeed. I am in no more control of my characters than our host Darcy here is in control of the seasons. Like him, I can only try my best to predict their direction and do my best to stave off disaster when the unexpected comes.”
What melodrama! Darcy fought not to roll his eyes. “Surely you jest. You do not know at the beginning what the end will be?”
“I try to, most diligently I do. And sometimes my characters are most cooperative with me. They obey my command and speak the very words I intend for them. Well-behaved children who honor their father. But then others are as headstrong as—well, as my sister. They take on their own notions, speak words I did not expect of them—even march from the room when I would command them to stay.”
“Balderdash! You speak of them as though they were alive and willful beings,” Darcy muttered.
“Does your harvest, do your flocks, always follow your commands? Are you ever in perfect control over all that surrounds you?” Garland shrugged almost apologetically.
“By no means, only one who believes himself the Almighty could make such a claim.” Darcy turned to Bennet who frowned just a bit.
“And I am certainly not He, sir, merely a mortal man. So why should I be able to exert more control over my world than you can yours?”
“Because mine is real, tangible, substantive. Yours is of your own making. If you are unable to order what is of your own creation, then what are you able to manage?”
“According to Blanche, very little.” Garland raised his glass to them and took a gulp.
Bingley laughed. “Your sister and mine seem to have much in common.”
“She is not actually my sister.”
“Indeed?” Bennet set his glass down. Hard. “How then do you come to pass her as your sister?”
“Do not think ill of me, for I do regard her as my sister. She is my cousin, daughter to my father’s elder brother, who originally held the title of Baronet. He and his wife were struck by small pox. She was sent to us for her protection and then stayed when her parents succumbed to the infection. Since Blanche was their only child, the title passed to my father, and thus to myself. She and I grew up together as brother and sister might, so I count her as a sister. I fancy being the sister of a baronet is preferable to being the cousin of one—I hope I do not cast her in a bad light if I suggest that she likes the distinction and connections it affords.”
Interesting. Darcy chewed his cheek. It should not matter that she was not so closely related to the baronet, but it did. Miss Garland might be no more like him than Georgiana was Richard. Her peculiarities only an affectation due to her current association with him, but not native to herself. After all, Georgiana did pick up characteristics of the Fitzwilliams when she visited. Interesting.
“…so then, tell me of what you have crafted thus far in your play. I am less convinced than ever that my daughters should be involved.”
“Oh, pish posh. Show me a little good faith. It is called ‘The Appearance of Goodness.’ It is the story of a young woman of good fortune and good breeding who is faced with two suitors. Both rich and handsome men.”
Richard sniffed and waved off the notion. “No wonder you are having difficulty—could you not find something of more interest to write on? That is the gossip every young woman of the ton desires to be the center of.”
“And no man wants to have a part in.” Bingley elbowed Richard.
“On first glance, it would appear so. But bear with me, the story goes much deeper. No one—well almost no one is as they first seem. Before we can resolve the apparent conflict of who will marry whom, we must come to know each character’s secrets.”
“Secrets?” Darcy ran his fingers under the edge of the table. Secrets were rarely a good thing and never a safe thing.
“Yes, secrets. Everyone has them—even you Mr. Bennet.” Garland studied Bennet.
“What secrets do you believe a widowed old vicar with five daughters would keep?” Bingley snickered.
Garland studied Bennet, tapping his fist on his lips. “A colder man would speculate that you secretly wished they were all sons—but that is far too obvious—and obvious does not make for good drama. No, for that it must be something entirely unexpected.”
“So, he is a vital member in a secret tea smuggling operation and uses the follies of Pemberley as stations for the transfer of the illegal stuff?” Richard said.
 “And unbeknownst to his fellow smugglers, he is actually an agent to the crown setting them up for capture,” Bingley added.
Bennet’s eyebrow arched. “Thank you for redeeming my character. For that you may have permission to converse with either of my daughters freely tonight.”
Bingley smiled sheepishly. “I count myself honored.”
“While that plot device is certainly unexpected, it perhaps goes so far afield as to be unpalatable to my audience. No, a secret must be both unexpected and acceptable to the ones to whom it is revealed.”
Darcy bit his upper lip. Pompous nonsense.
“So, then what do you propose?” Richard leaned back and crossed his arms.
Garland stared at the ceiling, a range of nameless expressions passing over his face, like a man trying on hats for fit and style. “You are difficult to make out, sir, for your character is good at keeping secrets. I think—if I were writing your character, your secret would not be so dark as smuggling but rather something inconsistent with the man we commonly see. I might suggest you would have a truly shocking temper and live in fear and dread of ever being found out. So, you portray yourself as kind and moderate all the while a tempest seethes within.”
“Which becomes the source of your conflict?” Bennet asked.
Why was he playing along, encouraging this nonsense?
“Indeed. What happens when his secret is exposed—will he rise above his weakness or fall as a tragic hero? Sometimes, I do not know until the very end. Such is my dilemma with the two suitors now. They do not readily confess to me, so I do not quite know what they are about. They both appear good, but father and sister favor one, mother and brother and friend another. My poor heroine does not know who to believe.”
What utter hogwash.
Bennet stroked his chin. “That is a very realistic dilemma, for who can know a man’s heart? Do you not worry that perhaps it is too close to truth for your audience to appreciate?”
“Another very good question for which I have no equal answer. I had thought at first this was to be a farce, a comedic romp in the ridiculous, but it has turned far more serious than that. Yet, it still retains too much good humor to be a tragedy.”
“I do not envy your dilemma.” Richard swirled his glass. “I have no desire to play maker, even in a world of my own creation.”
“Perhaps that is why Blanche contrived this theatrical as a means of helping me past this impasse. She has always been the most considerate of souls.”
The ladies paraded in a loose group to the drawing room through a long, dimly lit corridor populated by an array of portraits and landscapes of country houses, enough to inhabit an entire county. Elizabeth lingered behind the rest.
Miss Bingley and Miss de Bourgh’s conversation offered little pleasure. How did Jane managed to tolerate it with such equanimity? Miss Garland’s seemed better, but only a little. Though she did not engage in the same sorts of talk, her facial expressions spoke volumes, most of it rather caustic.
Odd that no one else seemed to notice. But even if they did, what could come of it? No doubt someone would come to her with the observation, and she would be put in the position of having to defend Miss Garland. Not an ideal circumstance by any reckoning.
Miss Darcy dawdled at the doorway and took Elizabeth’s arm as she entered the drawing room, holding her back.  “Do you think I chose rightly, Miss Elizabeth? Withdrawing with the ladies?”
“I am quite sure no one will fault you for following established convention.” Elizabeth patted her hand as she scanned the room heady with the fragrance of beeswax and a veritable garden of ladies’ perfumes.
The burgundy and ivory of the drawing room lent a formality to the space that was just the slightest bit strict and demanding—reminiscent of the way Pemberley felt when the two elder Darcys were alive. Mrs. Darcy, gentle, but formidable, somehow mediated the elder Mr. Darcy’s harshness, but it always lingered in the air. It was difficult not to walk gingerly and look over one’s shoulder in their company. Only in the late Mr. Darcy’s waning years did she understand what drove him to demand so much of his son. Not that it excused the pain he inflicted, but at least it made sense.
Miss Darcy shook her arm. “Are you well?”
“I did, just a little. But that is not why I am worried. I do not wish to embarrass myself or my brother.” Miss Darcy bit her lip and stared at her guests, gathered at the far side of the room, admiring a tall curiosity cabinet.
How kind of Miss Garland to illuminate the other ladies about the collection of shells that Mr. Darcy had acquired from the Indies.

“I have every faith in you. Do not fear. Your company wants to see you succeed. They will be gracious to you.”
“How can you be so certain?”
Miss Garland peeked over her shoulder at them, eyebrow raised.
“They all desire your brother’s good opinion and are wise enough to realize they cannot obtain it if they are critical of you in any way. So, they will convince themselves that whatever you do is right and proper. Even if you were to dance upon the pianoforte, they would create some excellent reason for it being the right and proper thing to do. They might even join you there. Perhaps not Miss de Bourgh and Miss Bingley, but Miss Garland would likely dance with you and defy any who dare call it peculiar.”
Miss Darcy tittered behind her hand. “You say that to humor me.”
“Miss Bingley might placate you, but when have you ever known me to speak words I do not mean?”
“Or not to know exactly what you are talking about.” Miss Darcy sighed. “You probably would like to go over there and correct Miss Garland’s description of my brother’s favorite shell. Even I know she is entirely wrong. It is a cowrie not a conch.”
“I noticed. But there is little harm in the error. Few people appreciate being corrected over something so minor.”
Miss Darcy chewed her fingernail. “How do you always seem to know what to say and when to say it? I wish I had your confidence.”
Miss Garland approached them, a living marble statue in a gown of icy blue. “Pray do come in and join us. One might wonder if you were the hostess here at all.” She took Miss Darcy’s arm. “Pray come, none of us here are nearly so frightening as Miss Elizabeth must be making us out to be.” Her laugh held just the barest trace of vitriol, her pupils oddly narrow for a candlelit room.
“Mrs. Reynolds has provided us a lovely selection of coffee, tea and biscuits.” Miss Darcy stammered as Miss Garland led her into the room.
“How lovely to have the drawing room to ourselves even for just a few moments.” Miss Garland arranged herself on the fainting couch and folded her arms over the side. She rested her chin on her hands and sighed. Had she learned that posture from a portrait? “They can be such taxing company.”
Miss Darcy pulled an armless gold-painted chair near the tea table and the other ladies selected seats near her. Elizabeth sat beside Jane.
“I have no idea how you could call such a party of gentlemen trying.” Miss de Bourgh sniffed, primly folding her hands in her lap.
Sister to a baronet on one side, granddaughter of an Earl, daughter of a knight on the other—so much grandeur, how might a common gentlewoman bear it? To be fair though, Miss Garland carried her greatness much more tolerably than Miss de Bourgh.
“They are very pleasing company.” Miss Bingley glanced from one grand lady to the other, ignoring the mere gentlewomen who sat between. Apparently, she had chosen sides in the war of the great ladies. Siding with the Pemberley bloodline was probably a good choice.
“All their attempts at genteel conversation when they want nothing more than to talk of the land, hunting and racing? They could not find an interesting topic among them if it were to bite them on the nose and they had a quizzing glass in hand.” Miss Garland flicked her hand toward the dining room.
“That is very harsh, I think.” Jane’s brows knit as they always did when fault-finding began.
“I grant you, Miss Bennet, your partner for dinner is far more amiable a conversationalist than any of the rest—no, no, I must stand corrected. Your dear father is quite capable of interesting conversation and has quite developed the skill of listening rather than merely waiting his turn to talk. I pronounce him very good company indeed.” Thankfully Miss Garland’s eyes twinkled with sincerity.
“I am sure he will be grateful for your approbation,” Elizabeth said. How ironic as Papa rarely cared for such opinions one way or another. She pressed her hands on the seat of her chair and clutched the wine-colored floral upholstery. It helped control one’s tongue.
“But the rest—oh! I am quite certain they are as relieved for some distance from us as we are from them.”
“I do not find the loss of their company desirable at all.” Miss Bingley nodded at Miss de Bourgh. It seemed she believed the enemy of her enemy was her friend. “I thought Sir Alexander’s comments on the last season’s theater offerings to be uncommonly insightful.”
“Indeed,” Miss de Bourgh said, a bit too enthusiastically. “His opinions were quite well informed and very pleasing.”
Miss Garland snickered. “I am quite intrigued you would say so. Miss Bennet, what say you on the matter?”
Poor Jane colored. “I … I found him well-spoken.”
Elizabeth knew very well what her opinion must be, but those were not remarks Jane was likely to make in company, if at all.
Miss Garland’s lips twitched as though trying not to smile. “And you, Miss Elizabeth, surely you had an opinion of my brother.”
At least she was sparing Jane further questioning. That was some mercy. “He is a very clever man, I am sure—and well attuned to dramatic devices. No doubt he was quite intentional in his use of irony, stating the opinion of the theater critics from The Morning Herald and The British Press as his own when he is known for his rather colorful disagreement with both of them.”
The look of—what did one call it?—that crept across Miss Bingley’s face would have fueled a dozen of Sir Alexander’s characters. Miss de Bourgh veiled her contempt a little more effectively—only a little.
Miss Garland, though, she smiled with the cold look of a satisfied predator. “Irony indeed. He will be gratified to know someone other than myself made the same observation. Do you often find yourself in agreement with those critics, or do you, like my brother, find them tiresome and dreary?”
“I … I do not know. We are rarely in town. I have had little opportunity to have seen the works they critique.”
“But surely you visit the local theater company?”
“Once or twice a season we are privileged to attend.” Elizabeth glanced at Jane who seemed relieved not to be part of the conversation.
“Then you can hardly consider yourself a patron of the theater arts.” Miss Bingley all but pounced with glee.
“I never called myself that.”
“Indeed? With all your knowledge of critics and their commentaries, I was certain you had.” Miss Bingley raised her brows over a little glare. “My brother and I regularly attend the theater when we are in town. And you Miss de Bourgh?”
“I think music would be in order now—what do you think, Miss Darcy?” Elizabeth stood.
Miss Darcy jumped up. “An excellent idea. Who would care to begin?”
“Miss Bingley is quite the proficient—please would you play for us?’ Miss Garland gestured toward her.
Miss Bingley fluffed her feathers and smiled sweetly. Surely, she did not believe in the flattery that had just been dealt her, did she? Her posture as she sauntered to the polished pianoforte suggested she just might.
The first notes of a complicated concerto resounded through the drawing room. Ah, she was that kind of player. Well, that was fortunate. Neither she nor Jane would be able to offer any real competition to her—the way Miss Bingley would prefer no doubt.
Miss Garland extended her hand as she rose, graceful and poised. “Come, Miss Elizabeth, take a turn about the room with me. It is so refreshing!” She took Elizabeth’s arm and veritably dragged her to the far side of the room.

“Thank heavens she is so easily distracted and that her playing is not as dreadful to listen to as her opinions.” Miss Garland pressed a hand to her ample chest. “You hardly think differently, I am sure. You are just too well-mannered to give voice to what is going on in your quick mind.”
Somehow that did not quite sound like a compliment. Elizabeth avoided making eye contact. “I often find it the wisest course of action to refrain from saying what is uppermost in my thoughts.”
“And thus, the world is deprived of a truly sparkling wit and conversation.”
“I hardly think it fitting to declare brash and outspoken words clever conversation.”
“Perhaps, but you must agree how much more interesting a conversation would we have if you actually gave voice to everything you were thinking.” Miss Garland blinked a little faster, just short of batting her eyes.
“Pray do not put words in my mouth.”
“Only if you will agree to speak more freely in my company. I long for intelligent, well informed conversation. Not the vapid dwelling upon fluff and trivialities that passes for acceptable in the drawing room.”
“Are you not being harsh upon our sex?”
“I think perhaps you enjoy a rarified environment here in countryside. No offense intended, but I believe I have kept company in far more drawing rooms than you and know of what I speak.”
“Still, I think it wise and proper to maintain conversation in such a way that all may be able to participate and enjoy. It is the very height of rudeness to flaunt one’s information.”
“I suppose that is true, but quite dull indeed. What think you of Miss Bingley and Miss de Bourgh?” Miss Garland peeked over her shoulder at the ladies in question.
“I think you are trying to encourage me to say something unkind.”
“Nothing of the sort. If you are unable to find something kind to say of them, then that onus is entirely upon you.” 
“True enough. I shall only say this; I find them very unlike their relations whose company we are enjoying.” Pray that would satisfy her.
“Indeed? The dissimilarity is clear enough with Mr. Bingley, who is quite the gentleman, despite his almost insipid mildness. But you think Miss de Bourgh that different from Mr. Darcy?”
“You think them the same?”
“Do you not see in them both a rather droll need for propriety in all things, little humor and no appreciation for the colorful or creative?”
Elizabeth chewed her lower lip. “One might be persuaded to characterize Miss de Bourgh that way, but certainly not Mr. Darcy. And perhaps on further acquaintance not even Miss de Bourgh.”
“I am all agog. You must tell me more. What is the nature of your further acquaintance with Mr. Darcy?”
A true lady would ignore the hint of suggestion in Miss Garland’s question. Tonight, she would be a true lady. “He has been my father’s patron for these ten years, and we have had many dealings with him. He is a fair and generous master to his servants, a kind landlord to his tenants, and most attentive to those in his care.”
“But he is always so stiff and proper.”
“Propriety for him does not appear to be so much a matter of pride as a way by which to order and understand the world. I have never seen him dismiss and despise those around him as Miss de Bourgh appears to do. He is the soul of consideration and generosity.”
“How interesting. I would not have guessed that on my own observations. I shall endeavor to revise my opinions of him. And look, there—he arrives. You will excuse me.” Miss Garland slipped away.
Mr. Darcy greeted Miss Garland with a rare soft smile and genuine warmth in his eyes.
Elizabeth swallowed back a sigh. She might have just conversed with Pemberley’s future mistress. With her quick wit and lively mind, they might even find genuine happiness together.
Her stomach churned and she swallowed back a vague bitterness. Perhaps the fish at dinner tonight disagreed with her.


As guardian to his younger sister, he wants her to become a properly accomplished woman--she is coming out soon, after all. But Georgiana steadfastly refuses despite the encouragement of Elizabeth Bennet, long time Darcy family friend.  Darcy invites a few guests to Pemberley in the hopes of encouraging Georgiana's improvement with a taste of society.
Unexpected additions to the party prove dangerously distracting, leaving the Darcy family on the brink of disaster. Elizabeth holds the key to their restoration, but she has fled Pemberley, unable to tolerate another day in the Darcys' company.

Will Darcy relinquish his pride and prejudice to seek out a woman below his notice before his family is irreparably ruined?

Author Bio:

Five-time BRAG Medallion Honoree, Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16-year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences. She pretends to be a mild-mannered writer/cat-lady, but most of her vacations require helmets and waivers or historical costumes, usually not at the same time.

She writes gas lamp fantasy, historical romance and non-fiction to help justify her research addiction. Her books are available at all major online booksellers.  

She can be contacted at:


Maria Grace is giving away one eBook of Fine Eyes & Pert Opinions and the giveaway is international. Leave a comment below to be entered in the giveaway. Tell us what you think of the excerpt. Have you read the book yet? We'd love for you to share your thoughts.

Thank you, Maria, for visiting today and for having a giveaway for my readers. It is always a pleasure to have you stop by. I've been seeing good things about your book and wish you the best.