Today I’m hosting another good friend and fellow Austen Author, Leenie Brown! You can read her debut post and learn more about her inquisitive mind and inquisitive characters of her latest release, Listen to Your Heart, here. Today she is providing an excerpt and giveaway! You really need to check out this book! It’s a wonderful read, shedding new light on Lady Catherine and Anne as well as a few other Austen characters while weaving in supporting original characters as well.
Anne de Bourgh has never had a coming-out. She has never had a season. In fact, she has never had a suitor. But, according to her mother, she has always had a future husband. Although Anne desires to marry, she does not wish to marry her mother’s choice, and he does not wish to marry her.
With no other choices and the prime of her youth slipping away, Anne’s view of her future is bleak. But when she finds some papers hidden in her father’s study, that view, in the light of his wishes, changes. Her declaration to follow her heart and choose her own future causes discord and forces secrets to be revealed.
Sometimes the path to happily ever after can be strewn with danger and intrigue.
Excerpt, Listen to Your Heart by Leenie Brown
Richard knocked his normal pattern on Darcy’s door, waited for a count of ten, and then entered. “Mother is here. She is visiting with Anne. She has not yet greeted our aunt.”
Darcy looked up from the book he was reading.
“Did you not go riding?”
“I did. Stopped in the village for a pint with old man Coburg. It’s tradition, you know.”
Richard nodded. “How is the old chap doing? Still running the place or has he finally given it over to his son?”
“His son is in charge, mostly. You know he will not give up control before he ceases to breathe.”
“You do not smell like horse, so I assume you have been back for some time. Why did you not come to Anne’s room? Surely you saw the coach and knew Mother was here?”
Darcy looked at the wall behind Richard and worried his lip with his teeth.
“Out with it, Darcy. You do not need to smooth over whatever it is for my sake. I can handle whatever horrid news you have to share.”
“Who says I am about to impart something unpleasant?”
“You are biting your lip and looking past me. You always do that when you are unsure how someone is going to react to whatever it is you have to say. So out with it.”
Richard drew a chair closer to where Darcy sat and made himself comfortable.
“I overheard a conversation in the pub. You know how the backs of the benches are so high that you cannot see over them?”
“Makes it a nice cozy spot for discussions.” Richard winked at Darcy.
They had always teased each other about kissing the barmaids behind the benches though neither had.
“Yes, well, there were none of those sorts of discussions taking place.”
“Never are in Coburg’s.”
“But the conversation I heard has left me feeling uneasy. I am not quite sure what to do about it.”
“Did you see who was talking?”
Darcy nodded. “Barrows and another man he called Clarke.”
Richard felt a sense of dread settling in his stomach.
“It seems someone has told Barrows of Anne’s financial situation. He seems quite interested.”
“Exactly what did he say?” Richard sat near the edge of his chair and leaned toward his cousin.
Darcy shifted uneasily. “Remember I am only repeating what was said.”
Richard nodded and attempted to assume a more relaxed posture.
“Barrows was sitting behind me. Coburg had gone to help his son with something. There were only a few patrons in the place, and none was near where I sat. Barrows says…”
“Did you hear Rosings was left to de Bourgh’s daughter? But only if she doesn’t marry that prig Darcy?” Barrows sat his mug on the table with a definite thud.
“No, thought it was entailed away or some such nonsense. Never heard specifics.”
“None was given. A shadowy business it was. Seems the daughter just found out and finally called off her engagement to Darcy. So, this is my chance to acquire an estate with very little effort.”
“The other man, Clarke, laughed rather loudly and called for two more pints. They did not continue talking until the barmaid had delivered their ale. Then Clarke says to Barrows….”
“I wouldn’t call getting leg shackled very little effort. Perhaps you can worm your way into a marriage, but marriage is not for the short duration. I would not be tied to that harridan of de Bourgh’s for an estate twice Rosings. And you have to get her to accept you.”
“She’ll accept me. Her mother is already promoting me, what with her and my own mother being friends and all. And, I also have some information that neither mother or daughter would wish to be spread far and wide.”
“So you force their hand. You’re now stuck not only with two women in your care, but two angry women. Like I said, marriage is not for the short duration.”
“Yes, it is ’til death do us part.” There was a moment of extended silence.
“What are you playing at, Barrows?”
“She’s frail. It is unlikely she will survive childbirth. Her mother, of course, will be overwrought with grief. It is a simple matter of having her committed to Bedlam or hiring the finest actor of questionable standards to medicate her into an early grave. Thus, the estate should be free and clear of all entanglements within a year.”
“That is all I heard as a group of men came in and took a table near us. Barrows and Clarke left shortly after. I waited another quarter hour before exiting so they would not know I had been there.” Darcy rose and walked to the window, turning his back to Richard to allow for some privacy as he processed all that he had just heard. “You know she will not accept him without coercion. We need to discover what secret he knows.”
“He would kill her for an estate?” Richard still sat in his chair staring at where Darcy had been. He shook his head to clear the fog from it. “I expected we would need to protect her from fortune hunters, but I never expected them to be murderous in their intent.”
He rose and paced the length of the room. His heart could not or would not stop pounding within his chest. He felt as though the contents of his stomach might, at any moment, choose to be no longer confined within him. He had not felt this unsettled since his first foray into battle. His desire to relieve a man of his life had never been so strong. But this was not a battle where he could run the enemy through with his sword; no, they must think of tactics and plans. They had the advantage of their enemy being unaware of their knowledge of his plans, however. Finally, the room stopped its spinning, and he was able to begin to think.
“You are right, of course, Darcy. If we knew what information he holds, we might be able to limit his ability to force Anne into an acceptance of his suit.” He pulled at his neckcloth. The room was standing still, but it was so unreasonably warm.
“He could not present a suit at all if she were to marry before he has time to put his plan into action,” suggested Darcy.
Richard stopped his pacing to concentrate his efforts on that bothersome cravat. “But whom would she marry? She has no suitors. There are the men we invited to the house party, but it does not give her a very large selection from which to choose. I will not force her to make an uninformed choice. She deserves better than a rushed marriage to a man she barely knows. What if he does not love her? What if she does not love him? She would be condemned to a life of misery. I cannot be part of that.” The offensive piece of cloth finally found its way to the chair, but now it seemed his jacket had suddenly become uncomfortably snug.
“And what if there is one there whom she loves, and he loves her?” Darcy tried not to look at his cousin. This discussion was of a serious nature, but Richard’s tugging at his clothing was humorous. His cousin would not appreciate a smile or a laugh at this particular moment.
“Do you really think one of the men in attendance will suit?” Richard’s coat had joined his cravat on the chair, and he had begun working at the fastenings of his waistcoat.
“Indeed I do, but we should still try to discover the information of which Barrows speaks.”
Richard’s hands stopped. “Kellet.”
“We must speak to Mr. Kellet. If anyone around here ─ other than our aunt, who I assume will not speak to us of secrets ─ knows anything, it will be Mr. Kellet.” Richard turned to exit the room.
Darcy cleared his throat and held out Richard’s jacket and neckcloth.
“You may get further if you are attired appropriately, Cousin.”
Richard smiled sheepishly and after tying his cravat, allowed Darcy to assist him with his coat.
Darcy smoothed his hands across the tops of Richard’s shoulders and gave each seam a slight tug, removing any remaining creases. “Truthfully, it is much easier to listen.”
“Listen?” Richard looked at his cousin in confusion. Of course, he planned to listen to what Mr. Kellet had to say.
Darcy shook his head. “Your heart, Richard. You. Love. Anne. And not as a cousin.” He opened the door and motioned for his dazed cousin to exit ahead of him.
Leenie is offering one ebook free to a randomly selected winner. Please comment below to be entered. Entries close Wednesday, September 16 at 11:59 pm EST.
Leenie Brown fell in love with Jane Austen’s works when she first read Sense and Sensibility followed immediately by Pride and Prejudice in her early teens. As the second of five daughters and an avid reader, she has always loved to see where her imagination takes her and to play with and write about the characters she meets along the way. In 2013, these two loves collided when she stumbled upon the world of Jane Austen Fan Fiction. A year later, in 2014, she began writing her own Austen-inspired stories and began publishing her stories in 2015. Leenie lives in Nova Scotia, Canada with her two teenage boys and her very own Mr. Brown (a wonderful mix of all the best of Darcy, Bingley and Edmund with a healthy dose of the teasing Mr. Tilney and just a dash of the scolding Mr. Knightley).
Listen to Your Heart is Leenie’s fourth book.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LeenieBAuthor (@LeenieBAuthor)
Other releases by Leenie: Oxford Cottage, For Peace of Mind, Teatime Tales
You can view her complete book listing at her Amazon author page.