Jack Caldwell is visiting at More Agreeably Engaged, and he is always a welcome guest. Today he is going to tell you about Rosings Park, the last book in his Jane Austen's Fighting Men series. I haven't read all the books in this series but have loved the ones that I have read. I'm eager to have the time to start at the beginning and read through to the end of the series. What about you? Have you read them? I'm hoping to review this latest one in the not too distant future.
Let's take a few minutes and hear from Jack. Oh, but first, did I mention there is a giveaway? Yes, there is! Okay, now back to you, Jack! :)
Greetings, everybody. Jack Caldwell here.I’m happy to have the opportunity to talk about my latest novel, ROSINGS PARK: A Story of Jane Austen’s Fighting Men. This book is the closing chapter to the series I started with THE THREE COLONELS: Jane Austen’s Fighting Men. There are currently two other books in the series, THE LAST ADVENTURE OF THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL and PERSUADED TO SAIL.
The Jane Austen’s Fighting Men series is a unique one in Austen fiction. I take the immortal characters created by Miss Austen and insert them into the historical events of the Regency period, the most notable being the Hundred Days Crisis of 1815. I also assume that all of her characters knew and interacted with each other. This leads to some interesting stories, I can assure you!
The first three books were companion novels—separate stories that happened in and about the same time, but with some limited interaction. They can be read as stand-alones, but it is more fun to read them all and enjoy the small amount of interweaving between them all.
ROSINGS PARK is different. A sequel to THE THREE COLONELS (which was itself a sequel to PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and SENSE AND SENSIBILITY), ROSINGS PARK acts as the concluding chapter to the series. THE THREE COLONELS was about the Battle of Waterloo. ROSINGS PARK is what happened afterwards. And boy, did a lot happen! Economic depression, rapid industrialization, volcanic explosions, civil unrest, and crop failures. Regency Britain was in turmoil and our favorite characters are caught up in the midst of it.
Who are those characters? Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy, of course, are major players in my little drama. Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam has been knighted, married Anne de Bourgh, and lives at Rosings with the irksome Lady Catherine. Meanwhile, Sir Richard’s good friend, Sir John Buford, suffers grievous injuries received at Waterloo, and his wife, the former Caroline Bingley, struggles to nurse him back to health. Meanwhile, there are unknown forces out to destroy Rosing Park.
Excited yet? I hope so!
Now to the excerpt. To set the scene, it is a summer morning in 1817. There is a house party at Rosings Park, now controlled by Sir Richard and Anne Fitzwilliam. Visiting are Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy and Sir John and Caroline Buford. Buford lost an arm at Waterloo and still suffers because of it. Richard tries to help:
Richard was at the breakfast table early the next morning in his riding clothes, eating a bit of the fowl from the night before, when Buford limped in. “Good morning. I left a leg for you.”
“Some people would take offense at that, you know.” Buford poured a cup of coffee.
“I have said worse.” Richard then noticed that Buford looked terrible—his eyes red and his complexion pale. “I say, old man, do you wish to put off our ride this morning?”
“I am well, I assure you,” he said, making a point of dropping the leg onto a plate. “Let me gnaw on this a bit, and we shall be off. Does Darcy join us?”
“No, he has already eaten and left.”
Thirty minutes later, the two gentlemen made their way to the stables, accompanied by Sergeant Gregory and Corporal Frost. Quicksilver and Hannibal were saddled and ready, as well as a mount for Gregory. Frost helped his master to the mounting block, and soon Sir John was safely astride his horse.
“Let Lady Buford know we have gone,” Buford instructed his man. “We should be back before midday.”
“Aye, sir. Good ride, gentlemen.” Frost waved as the three men set out.
It was a fine, June day, if a bit cool. The sun was high in the sky, and the grass was green. Richard led the way, slowing Quicksilver’s pace in deference to Sir John. His friend did not like it.
“Deuce take it, Fitz! I am not in leading strings! Ride on!”
Buford spurred Hannibal into a gallop, forcing the others to give chase. The three dashed along the hills and dales of Kent, enjoying the exercise and comradeship. They slowed as they neared the village.
“I must leave you, sir,” said Gregory. “I have business with Mr. Evans and Mr. Clarke.” The majordomo rode towards Hunsford, and the two former cavalrymen loped off in the opposite direction.
The pace easier, conversation could be had. “I say, the crops here are as bad as they are in Wales.”
“Blasted weather! Mr. Evans tells me the planting was at least a month late. If the weather would just warm!” He turned to Buford. “You take an eager interest in my harvest. Since when did you pay the least attention to farming?”
“I had nothing else to do, living with my brother.”
Richard frowned at that. The pair came to a creek, and Fitzwilliam suggested they rest the horses. He quickly dismounted and rushed to his friend before he tried to climb down from the saddle.
“Leave off! I can do this,” Buford growled at him.
“Stop being a mule and allow me to help you.”
“Go to the devil, Fitzwilliam!”
Richard grinned. “No doubt I shall. Caroline will make certain of it should any injury befall you, so be a good fellow and take my hand.”
Buford glowered and reluctantly did as he was bidden. The horses were secured to a low branch, permitting them to graze, and the gentlemen made their way to a fallen log. Buford sat down, but Richard did not. Instead, he tossed his friend a small flask.
“Brandy,” Richard answered Buford’s unasked question. “Drink up and tell me how you are faring. And none of that folderol from last night. We are brothers in arms, blast it, and you will tell me true!” He crossed his arms.
Buford managed to open the flask with one hand and took a sip. “I have been better. Is that what you want me to say?”
“Are you in pain? Is there nothing you can take for your relief?”
Buford stretched his leg. “No, nothing. The hip is not so bad most days—just stiff. Other times…sitting in a coach for hours is hard work.”
“And the arm?” Richard leaned against a tree.
Buford glanced down at the half empty sleeve. “I am coming to terms with it, I think. Oh, it does not hurt in the least. Strangest thing though. Sometimes it itches. Not the stump—my forearm. The missing forearm.” He looked up at Richard. “How can I feel something that is not there?”
Richard shook his head. “I never heard of such a thing. What does the doctor say?”
“Macmillan says it is usual in cases like mine but gives no other answers. It is deuced distracting, I can tell you.”
The two old comrades were silent for a time, enjoying the morning air.
“Do you have nightmares, Fitz?” Buford asked quietly.
“Sometimes. Not as much as when I first came home. You had one last night, I take it?”
“I look that awful? No, do not answer me. Yes, I did, a bad one. Too often I get no rest.”
“Surely, Mr. Macmillan can concoct a draught of—”
“By the infernal, no!” Buford cried. “Do you remember General Norwich, who lost his leg in Spain? The man is now a complete drunkard. I may be useless, but I shall not lose myself in drink or draughts!”
“Yes, I saw poor old Norwich in a sad shape last year at Boodle's. But what is this about being useless? You are not useless, Buford—far from it!”
“That is easy for you to say. I cannot fence, or shoot, or fish. All sport is beyond me.”
“That is not true.” At Buford’s furious look, Richard quickly added, “I do not mock you. You know me better than that. You can ride, for example.”
“Yes, the cavalry taught us to ride one-handed,” Buford held up his right arm, “but with the wrong hand! I am still not used to using the reins with my right.”
“You have no need for a sword in England, Buford.”
“I might, with your impertinence!”
Richard laughed. “You would have to catch me first, and you have never been able to do that.”
“Just wait, you popinjay! I shall have you singing another tune soon!”
“I look forward to it. And what is this about fencing? You still can hold a foil.”
Buford sighed. “The balance is all wrong. Besides, with this hip, I cannot push off in attack.”
“Then I might actually have a chance against you.”
For the first time, Buford grinned. “That I doubt!”
“We shall practice together and strengthen that leg. And Darcy gave me a pair of rifled pistols. What say to a spot of target shooting, eh?”
“I suppose.” He took another pull of the brandy.
“Buford, forgive me, but all this sitting about does you no good. You are like me. You must have an occupation. What happened to your plans to stand for Parliament?”
“I may still do that…someday.”
“What are you waiting for? If there is no open seat in Wales, you can find some pocket borough that will suit! My family controls a few in the north.”
“I dislike the idea of rotten boroughs, Fitz. Besides, where would I get the thousands of pounds I would need to get elected?”
“As you will. What about the Foreign Office or Whitehall? Surely Castlereagh or York can use a man with your gift for languages.”
Buford was incredulous. “Go back into the army or work as a clerk?”
“That is not my meaning! You know there are many gentlemen, even peers, who serve the King in Whitehall. Write to Wellington. You worked with him before. He likes you and few have his connections. He will help you if you but ask.”
“It may mean travel outside the country.”
“What of it? Caroline adores travel. She glows when she speaks of Vienna. She is not attached to an estate, and to tell the truth, I do not think she would care to be.” At Buford’s incredulous look, he added, “I know a fashionable country house is expected of a gentleman, and Caroline is a wonderful hostess, but an estate is more than that. Think of your brother’s responsibilities. He thrives because he is like Darcy. There is nothing that needs to be done that he does not do himself. He and Mrs. Buford are hardly in town. I do not think that is the life Caroline desires.”
“True,” Buford allowed.
Richard saw that Buford was carefully considering the idea. “If you need another opinion, talk to Darcy or write to Brandon.”
Buford looked at his friend. “I shall think on this, Fitz, I promise you. Thank you.” He tossed the flask back to Richard. “But I believe the ladies should be at breakfast by now. Shall we ride back and join them?”
ROSINGS PARK – a Story of Jane Austen’s Fighting Men is now available in print, Kindle, and at Kindle Unlimited.
To celebrate, I am giving away two (2) ebook copies of ROSINGS PARK – a Story of Jane Austen’s Fighting Men in your choice of MOBI (Kindle) or EPUB format!Oooh, what do you think? I'm definitely excited! What about you? I'm eager to hear from any of you who have read this book and any or all of the Fighting Men series. If you haven't read it, would you like a chance to win it? As Jack stated above, he is giving away two eBook copies. To be entered have your share of the conversation in the comments below. The giveaway will end on the 30th of January at midnight, Central Time. Thanks for stopping by and spending some time with us. Jack, thank you for the generous giveaway for my readers!