You can read other Friday Features here: Eavesdropping / Mr. Darcy’s Grieving Wife / Courtship at Rosings / Mr. Darcy’s Compassion / How Darcy Saved Christmas / Treasured / Reunited / Pledged / The Secrets of Pemberley / Mr. Darcy’s Miracle at Longbourn / The Gentleman’s Impertinent Daughter Second Edition / Sufficient Encouragement/ Mr. Darcy’s Kindness / Once Upon a December / Love Lasts Longest / A Sense of Obligation / No Cause to Repine / Undone Business / Letters from the Heart / The Gentleman’s Impertinent Daughter
Darcy has married his bluestocking, now what?
The sequel to Mr. Darcy’s Bluestocking Bride was long-awaited. Part of that was due to my health and several moves. Another facet was that I was unsure how it would be received as Darcy and Elizabeth were already married. If I could do it over, I would have just pushed through and published book 2 earlier. That may have helped sales. Book 1 in the series is my second highest grossing story of all time. It’s also the longest, so that helps in Kindle Unlimited. So, perhaps anything would have seemed lower compared to that. Or perhaps I should have divided the series up in a different way. At any rate, fewer readers have picked up Lady Darcy’s Bluestocking Club. However, there is still sufficient interest in a third, and final, installment. So, I do plan on finishing the trilogy.
In Lady Darcy’s Bluestocking Club, we follow along as Elizabeth finds her footing as Lady Darcy. She takes up the Baroness’ mantle and chooses to restart the Bluestocking Society. In the book, I do alternate between calling it by the formal and historical title and substituting it with just “the Club.” I envisioned it spoken about the way men would speak about their clubs, White’s or Brooks’, as it functioned as one for women.
In addition to the problems Elizabeth faces with resurrecting the defunct club, Darcy must find his place in Parliament and the scandal between Kitty, Wickham, and Lydia continues. Oh, and then there’s the Duke of Dorset marrying Jane. And does Darcy make peace with Richard or Bingley? Do Mary and Georgiana join the club or enter society? Some of these questions are answered, and some are awaiting the final book.
A day or two after they arrived in London, Darcy entered his club. He had not been there since he met with Bingley and before he left for Easter in Kent. He was hailed by a few acquaintances and greeted them civilly, noting he attracted more onlookers than ever before. Settling into his usual seat, he overheard a nearby discussion.
“I am surprised to see Darcy,” said one man. “I heard he was in Hertfordshire for a sister-in-law’s wedding.”
“One of many,” another said.
“Indeed,” the first man said. “It is fortunate his wife comes from such a good breeder.”
Darcy tensed at the vulgar term but remained silent.
“Ah, but no sons,” said the first.
“Pemberley has no need of a male heir, and if they never are blessed with children, Miss Darcy will tend to the family legacy. The estate — and the title.”
“How old is Miss Darcy? She should be making her come out soon.” A young man with eager eyes spoke up.
Darcy could not remember who he was. Undoubtedly, he would like a connection to a barony and a hefty dowry.
“I would rather hear about those sisters-in-law,” the first said. “I have heard they are all out and nearly all as beautiful as Lady Darcy.”
“Have you seen her? Darcy keeps her locked up!”
“Interesting, that — he must be ashamed to have been taken in by a fortune hunter. Can she be so beautiful if he will not squire her about?”
“One just married a duke. You cannot claim the family is too low now.”
Darcy had heard enough. Standing, he glared at the group of men before stalking out. Had he never fully registered before how men talked about women? As though they were worth nothing more than for their pleasure, to make heirs, or to enhance their accounts? He did not know if he would ever return. His poor wife. He could only hope she had a better experience with the ladies who had called on her.
En route to his home, Darcy considered what he had heard. He had been disgusted at the time, but now he also felt pity. The men were ignorant and would never know the joys of being loved and respected by a strong woman. Perhaps it was not entirely their fault. The usual gentleman’s education did not include much in the way of thinking of women as equals. However, they had ample opportunity and means to rectify their lack of intelligence.
He had not thought seriously about the matter of opening a school for ladies as anything more than a promise to his aunt. He had seen the worth in educating women, of course. However, he had never considered it as imperative for the entire human race. The only way to end ignorant talk like he had just heard was by showing the world what educated women could do, and by proving some men were unafraid of them.
Arriving at Darcy House, he waved his butler off and climbed the stairs to the drawing room, where he expected to find his wife. He found Georgiana and Mary seated at the pianoforte working on a duet.
“Where is Elizabeth?”
Mary and Georgiana exchanged a glance.
“Where is she?” Darcy demanded. “Is she unwell? Was someone unkind to her?”
Why had he left her alone for calls this morning? She had insisted she was ready to face the ton, but he had wanted to be at her side. He was racing through the hallway to her chamber when he heard her voice call out to him from the other end of the hall. Turning around, he saw her give him a curious look before he approached.
“Were you looking for me?” she said sweetly, seemingly unaffected by anything.
“Indeed. When you were not in the drawing room, I assumed something awful happened.”
Elizabeth raised her brow and tapped her foot but said nothing.
Darcy hung his head. “And I ought to know by now not to make assumptions. Forgive me, love.”
“You did not think that I could tolerate a morning of calls from the ton’s finest?”
He approached and kissed her forehead. “Can you blame me for being over-protective?”
“Do other husbands think their wives are made of glass? What do men at your club say?”
Darcy did not want to think about that just now. “I do not think you are made of glass. I simply regret the convention that says I must spend so much time away from my new bride. I also know there are many vicious and petty ladies in the world.”
“This would not be my first time meeting vicious or petty ladies. I am not Fanny Bennet’s daughter for nothing, and let us not forget I have known Caroline Bingley.”
“You are quite correct. So, nothing of note happened today?” He knew Elizabeth was strong, but he also knew how much it hurt her when she learned of Mrs. Collins’ low opinion of her.
“No, it all went as I expected. How was your day?”
Darcy frowned. It going as she expected was not the same as saying it went well or she thought some of the ladies were friendly. Why had he not asked Dorset’s mother to sit with her? Or Lady Catherine could have come from Rosings. Few would dare to say anything against her.
“Shall we not join our sisters? I can ring for tea,” Elizabeth said.
“They are employed in their own pursuits,” he said with a slow-growing smile. “And I was in pursuit of you.” He captured her hand and began leading her down the hall.
“William, we cannot.” Elizabeth looked around nervously. “It is the middle of the day! Our sisters must have heard us conversing. What will they think when we do not return to them?”
“That it is far better we are affectionate with each other in private than in public and everything else they will understand when they are married.”
“Affectionate in public —”
Darcy interrupted whatever else Elizabeth intended to say with a kiss. One hand nestled at her waist, the other stroked up and down her back. After a few moments, he pulled back. “Please, Lizzy.”
“Will,” Elizabeth gently scolded, but nodded.
Sometime later, as they relaxed in Elizabeth’s chamber, Darcy told her about the visit to his club. “I do not know that I will go back.”
“Are all the gentlemen that way?”
“No. Of course not,” Darcy shook his head. “In truth, I have barely said more than a word or two to any of those men.”
“And you have enjoyed the place in the past?”
Darcy thought for a moment. It had meant little to him that he had not been there in weeks. However, there were times when he desired male company. At the moment, his friendship with Bingley was severed. Nor had he and Richard made amends. The only other men he had been around in weeks were the duke — currently honeymooning — and Elizabeth’s father. In the past, the club had offered a possibility of socialization without the dreaded experience of a lady seeking a husband. True, there were always fathers and brothers looking for a wealthy match for the women in their lives. However, he was never forced into dancing with anyone there. Additionally, it was easier to leave if anyone annoyed. At a ball or soiree, there would always be the possibility of giving offense and wounding a lady’s sensibilities if he seemed bored by her prattle.
“It has had its merits,” Darcy said.
“You cannot sit at the house with me all day,” Elizabeth said gently and rubbed his back. “Not that I enjoy the confinement that much.”
Darcy winced. “I ought to have considered that you were used to company more. I know your mother entertained often.” He sighed. “Would you like to host a dinner party?”
Elizabeth chuckled. “You will not put me off this topic. However, since you have asked, I do not wish to host one yet. I know soon we must. It is what is expected of us, and if I am ever to make real friends in this society, then I will have to play hostess. I never really enjoyed my mother’s parties. It is not as though the guests were usually fascinating people with interesting conversation. I suppose I miss my routine. My sisters and I would walk to Meryton almost every day. We would look at the shops and meet with acquaintances. Occasionally, we would make new friends. My world here seems very small by comparison.”
Elizabeth paused and gave her husband a stern look. “We were talking about you. Is avoiding the club why you wished to stay home today?”
“I did not have any expectation that I would hear such vulgar, insensitive words. I did, however, have an inkling that it would be more unpleasant than usual. The last time I was there was with Bingley. Looking back, he was fishing for information about the barony and ran home to tell his sister I was searching for a bluestocking. I do not know if I wished to avoid the memory or just was not desirous of company. As it happens, I have no close male friends left.”
“Well,” Elizabeth said with a small smile, “it is not unusual for men to give up some acquaintances upon marriage. It would not invite critique. Surely you have some men that you do not know as well as others that might be worthy of elevation. Or you may meet new friends. You can be pleasant conversationalist when you try. If you no longer prefer the club, what about another pursuit? As for the rest, I have been told a charming wife may be of use.” Elizabeth batted her lashes before laughing at her antics.
“Lucky that I have a very appealing wife.” He leaned in for a kiss.
Elizabeth melted against him for a minute before pulling back and placing a hand on his chest. “We really should join our sisters now. We will scandalise them!”
She began to move away from the bed, but Darcy tugged on her hand to still her movements.
“Do you have something more to say?” Elizabeth asked, looking over her shoulder at him.
“I do not mean to pressure you about the ladies’ club. I know you wanted to do it out of reverence for my aunt, but I can see now how needed it is. Not only do ladies deserve a club of their own and their education supported for their own sake, I see now some men must learn an intelligent woman is nothing to fear. The school my aunt suggested is a most excellent idea.”
Darcy saw a flicker of terror enter Elizabeth’s eyes before she smiled. “Of course, they are marvelous notions, and I am committed to both. I would prefer to gain my footing in this world first. I must let them see who I am before I can ask for their support. If I cannot hold my own in our home, how should I ever manage such a fete?”
“There is nothing you cannot do, my love,” Darcy said and raised her hand to his lips. “I will trust you to know when the time is right. I only wanted to let you know that my feelings on the subject have changed from obligation to keen interest.”
“Thank you,” Elizabeth nodded. “Now, how shall we explain our absence to our sisters?”
Darcy stood and walked around the bed. “We say nothing unless they ask. Then, you can say you were busy with whatever it was you were doing before I returned.” Darcy paused as he focused on stepping into his trousers. “What was it you were doing? You never answered me.”
“I was with the housekeeper, darling.” Elizabeth’s voice was muffled as she held hairpins in her mouth. “Can you lace me up?”
Darcy smiled at the request. He did not know what other husbands and wives did. Did they call their maid and valet back upstairs to assist in redressing after a mid-day interlude? Whatever the others did, he did not care. He enjoyed these intimate moments with Elizabeth. He was growing quite adept at ladies garments. He smiled at the roguish thought.
Elizabeth turned when he had finished assisting her and looked at him. “What is that smirk for?”
“No reason,” he said as he sat on the edge of the bed so she could tie his cravat. “I wonder if Andrews fears for his position. You would make a fine valet.”
“You should be careful teasing the one who wraps linen around your neck,” Elizabeth said and tugged on the fabric for emphasis.
“I am all atremble,” Darcy laughed. “Why did you meet with Mrs. Lewis? Was there a problem?”
“No, I simply wished to go over some menu plans. What shall we say you were doing?”
They now stood by the door, hand in hand. “The butler informed me of your whereabouts, and so I returned to my study.”
“And if they see us exit the room?”
“Then I suppose they will quickly learn to not be so observant,” Darcy said and squeezed Elizabeth’s waist earning a light thwack on his arm.
“You are incorrigible.”
“And you love it.”
Elizabeth laughed and shook her head. “I love you, silly. I merely put up with everything else.”
Darcy’s heart always beat faster when she said those words. He would never tire of hearing them. When she said that she loved him, he felt like the most powerful and worthy man in the world, like knights of old going off to slay a dragon. “I love you, Elizabeth,” he pressed a kiss to her temple before hearing her happy sigh and opening the door. If they must face the world, they would do so together.
They have conquered each other, now they must conquer the vicious scrutiny of the ton.
The newlyweds, Lord and Lady Darcy, struggle to take their proper place in London Society amidst rumours surrounding their rushed wedding. The present gossip is nothing compared to what would follow should anyone discover their secret. Their dreams of reforming the Bluestocking Club would shatter.
Insult after insult leaves the new bride terrified that she cannot fill her predecessor’s shoes and that she will lose Darcy’s love if she cannot charm London.
Easing the path of acceptance for Elizabeth proves arduous for Darcy after the betrayal of his two closest friends and past demons come back to haunt him.
Beset on every side, scandal breaks out, challenging everything they have come to hold dear.
Lady Darcy’s Bluestocking Club is the second volume in the Pride and Prejudice and Bluestockings series. If you love bluestockings and family dramas, then you will enjoy this story of a deeply in love couple who take on the world together.
Charge up your Kindle and buy or download Lady Darcy’s Bluestocking Club to discover how Darcy and Elizabeth stare down their problems and fall deeper in love.
2 thoughts on “Friday Feature– Lady Darcy’s Bluestocking Club”
“third, and final, installment”
I have not read either of the first two books, because I want to read all three together. This can be my newest push! >>guilt, Guilt, GUILT!
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I wish I could give you a promise that it will be this year, but it may be next year.