Cover Reveal– Mr. Darcy’s Compassion

I am working on the final edits for Mr. Darcy’s Compassion! I’ve set the release date for March 2 and it’s on pre-order. I’m so thrilled to offer this story! Elizabeth’s emotional journey in this book is close to my heart and the care Darcy has for her is making me swoon while I reread.

Blurb

Devastated. Abandoned. Will they find comfort in each other’s arms?

When Mr. Darcy stops for respite at a coaching inn, a warm meal and bed are all that are on his mind. Soon, he recognizes a tavern maid as none other than the woman who captured his heart weeks ago. Reeling from his own hardships, Darcy makes the impulsive decision to chase after her and offer assistance.

Elizabeth Bennet is alone and friendless in the world. Necessity drove her from her home and the life of a gentlewoman to working for her room and board. Mr. Darcy’s offer of aid is timely, but can she trust him when she has been hurt by all she calls family? Can she ever learn to love and forgive herself?

Mr. Darcy’s Compassion is Rose Fairbanks’ latest novel about healing deep-seated wounds, relinquishing faulty beliefs, and making a fresh start. If you love romance that is built upon genuine trust and restores the soul, then buy today!

**Warning: This story may contain triggers for emotional and/or sexual abuse survivors.

Excerpt

Darcy peered out his carriage window as the conveyance rolled to a halt before the coaching inn at his usual stop in South Mimms. To the east about twenty miles lay the town of Meryton, Hertfordshire. As often as he had traversed the roads between London and Pemberley, he had never before considered what lay beyond them. His mind had only considered the path before him and the duties attached to the destination. Whether at his estate or his London home, his responsibilities to family and legacy did not cease. Despite knowing Meryton lay only a few hours away, and with it the woman he loved, he would cling to his usual route.

Inside the tavern portion of the inn, Darcy grimaced when told that the private dining areas were full and his usual suites unavailable. His decision to leave London for Pemberley was formed suddenly, only hours ago. Easter with his sister in their ancestral home was a convenient excuse. Georgiana’s companion indicated that she was recovered enough to see him. Traditionally, Darcy visited his maternal aunt for the holiday. However, he was now sickened by high society and anyone who kept their views. Waving off the proprietor’s concern for his offence, Darcy sat in the loud common room.

He glanced around the area, unsurprised to see he had no acquaintances in the crowded chamber. A movement out of the corner of his eye caught his notice. The maid moved with too much grace; her gown seemed too fine to be the usual sort. Was she some fancy piece trying to sell her wares? It was unlike Cuthbert to allow such, but who was Darcy to interfere with a man’s business?  As the lady’s movements and figure continued to interest him—and invariably remind him of a lady mere miles away—he cursed under his breath for the fact that he now compared every woman born high or low to Elizabeth Bennet.

What would his family and friends say if they knew of his obsession? The earl would glare. Lady Catherine would lecture and throw her daughter at him. Bingley would laugh, and Richard, his cousin, would suggest he enjoy the barmaid’s enticements and be free of his physical longing—and possibly mental torment as well. Darcy had too much honour for such, however, and so when he waved her over it was only with the intent to order refreshment. Never mind the fact that her laugh at the table next to him reminded him too much of Elizabeth’s, and he had relished the warm sound when it washed over him.

“What would you like?” she asked.

Her voice was very like Elizabeth’s. Darcy kicked himself again for allowing her to make such a slave of him that his imagination could go so far as to hear her voice. Looking up from his hands, their eyes met, and Darcy’s breath caught.

Elizabeth gasped. “Mr. Darcy!”

“Eliza—Miss Bennet!”

“Par—pardon me!” Elizabeth laid her tray of ale down in a clatter and ran from the room.

Darcy stared after her. Why on earth was she serving in a tavern twenty miles from her home? The Bennets had not been as wealthy as he or Bingley, but their estate was prosperous enough. Only financial hardship or extreme love could drive her to such a situation. Darcy knew the owner of the inn and knew the Bennets had no relationship to him, which left only the financial motive. Before he could think better of it, he was in front of Cuthbert and tossing several pounds at him.

“That maid—the one who just ran out of the room—”

“Lizzy? Pretty with big, brown eyes?”

Darcy nodded. “Yes, that’s the one. I’m paying her wages for the week. Find another maid.”

Several men around him broke into laughter and raised an obscene toast in his honour, but he cared not one whit. As he dodged puddles of ale and urine, he followed through the door where Elizabeth exited. Hearing sobbing down the hall, he turned and then crept up the stairs. His heart beat in his throat with every step. There was another reason she could be here, one which lay heavily on his mind. Wickham might have ruined her. Darcy ought to have openly declared to the world that man’s character. He should have told Elizabeth the truth and warned her. Instead, his pride demanded he keep his failings private. If Wickham had not ruined Elizabeth, she might have been raped by any man down below. He did not think she would willingly sell herself, but many men took no heed of a negative answer.

Elizabeth sat on the top of the stairs, her head buried in her hands. The sounds of despair and agony split through him. Darcy bent at the knee and placed a hand on her shoulder, intent on offering her a handkerchief and escorting her to the safety of a room.

Before he could speak, he was struck on the side of his head. The unexpected movement set him tumbling down several stairs, landing hard on one arm. Along the way, he reached for the railing managing to twist his arm in a painful contortion.

“How dare you!” Elizabeth cried out, followed a moment later by, “Oh good Lord! What have I done? Mr. Darcy?”

“Aye,” Darcy moaned.

“I am so sorry,” she stammered. “I thought you were a stranger set on accosting me…”

The pain in Darcy’s heart upon hearing such words could be surpassed only by the pain he felt in his arm. He heard Elizabeth’s quick steps and a snivel as she wiped her tears away.

“Can you move?” she asked gently once at his side.

“I think so.” He made to roll over, and she assisted him. No longer lying on his injured arm, it throbbed even worse as blood rushed around it.

“We should get you to your room and call the surgeon.” Elizabeth held her hand out to assist him with his uninjured arm.

As his hand gripped around hers, he noted the rough nature of her palm and digits. Mere weeks ago, they would have been as soft as any gentlewoman’s. What kind of life had she endured since he left Hertfordshire?

“We can get to the guest chambers through here.” Elizabeth opened a door near the second-floor landing where he had fallen. “Your room must be this way.”

“I am on the third floor, actually.” Darcy winced as each step sent a jolt to his arm.

“Very well,” Elizabeth said in a confused voice.

That she seemed unfamiliar with the layout brought him some comfort. “Here, room six, I believe they said.”

He knocked, and his valet opened the door. “Mr. Darcy.” Stevens glanced from Darcy to Elizabeth rapidly before he, at last, seemed to realise that Darcy oddly held his arm. “Is all well?’

“It is not,” Darcy said as the servant stepped aside so he could enter. “I have badly sprained my arm. Please, see if a surgeon is available.”

“Of course, sir. The lady’s bag arrived a moment ago.”

Noting that Stevens dashed away rather than be present for the necessary discussion, Darcy shuffled to the table and chair in the room. He could be treated there, and staying away from his bed would likely help Elizabeth’s sensibilities.

“I am so sorry, Mr. Darcy,” Elizabeth said, blushing. “I will leave you and your…guest.” She glanced around, and her eyes fell on her bag. Immediately, she stiffened. “Just why are my things in your chamber?”

“Cuthbert must have needed the room. I suppose he has already found your replacement.”

“My replacement!”

“Well, I paid him for your wages.”

“You bought me?”

Darcy could hear in Elizabeth’s tone her anger and surprise, emotions he thought would soon fade. However, he had not expected the look of utter anguish to haunt her eyes. “No, I paid the man for the trouble of hiring a new maid and secured you safe lodgings until I can deliver you to Longbourn.”

“I will never go back there. Never.”

Cover Reveal

I wanted a cover that could capture the mood of the story and I think this image was just perfect! Side note: there may be some forehead kisses which melt Elizabeth’s heart as well.

Mr. Darcy’s Compassion will release on March 2! It will also be available via Kindle Unlimited!

You can pre-order here!

Winners for Through a Different Lens Giveaway

Congratulations to the following readers for winning a copy of Riana Everly’s book, Through a Different Lens. You can read my interview with Mr. Darcy here and purchase the book here. Thank you, Ms. Everly, for sharing with us!

Susanne Barrett
Alisha Merrill
Heather y
KateBPatricia Lima

Tempting Scandal– Chapter Seven

Mr. Darcy’s Compassion is finally off to the editor, so I’m back to work on another Work in Progress.

Previous Chapters: 1.1 / 1.2 2.1 / 2.2 34 / 5 / 6 / 7


Chapter Eight

“I have been searching for you everywhere,” Penelope said to Sylvia between pants. “Where have you been?”

Sylvia sighed and pulled her friend into her chamber. “Keep your voice down! I am supposed to be in bed with a headache.”

“Oh! Then I will leave you—” Penelope turned.

“I am perfectly well,” Sylvia assured her friend as she led her to the bed to sit.

“Lord Brandon has asked after you.”

Sylvia fought to keep her shoulders level. She desired to shrug them, but it would not do to seem so disinterested in the man she hoped to wed. After the wedding, she reasoned, she could sink into indifference. Many marriages did.

“I hope Clara told him that I have a headache.” She frowned for a moment. “You do not think that makes me seem too ill or fragile to be a wife, do you?”

“Not if you recover in time for dinner later.”

Sylvia could not help the cringe which wracked her body.

“On second thought,” Penelope said, “others can testify to your general health, and no one can help from becoming ill now and then.”

Sylvia nodded. It might work.

“Is it the duke?” Penelope played with the folds of her gown. “Is he why you are hiding in your room?”

“Stephen?”

“Of course not!” Penelope shook her head sending her ringlets tossing to and fro. “No, I mean the Duke of Russell.”

Nate. Sylvia sighed against her will. “No, why should I hide from him?”

“I did not think you liked him. At the Museum he accosted you, and you argued with him. It seemed you were avoiding his company since arriving here.”

“I have not been avoiding his company. I walked with him just yesterday.”

“Indeed! I thought you hated him.”

“I do not think about him enough to hate him,” Sylvia lied. She could scarcely get him out of her head. Of course, a woman such as she should not be thinking about a duke.

“Why did you walk with him yesterday?”

“His sister is in love with my brother. She asked me to get to know the duke better so he might see the Linwoods are a respectable family.”

“I thought you said she was conceited and disagreeable.”

“I thought she was.”

“I envisioned a girl mean like my sister, Augusta.”

Sylvia shuddered. Augusta had been two years ahead of them at school. She had made their lives miserable whenever she saw them. Sylvia never could understand how one could be as kind as Penelope and have a sister like Augusta.

“If she is as kind and sensible as she sounds, then perhaps it is not necessary for you to marry. You might have a very comfortable home with them.”

“No,” Sylvia rushed to say. No, for then Nate would visit, and she could not bear that. He seemed to see through her carefully erected façade. She had never told anyone about her friend Anne. She had never explained to anyone the impact of finding the tenant boy in the brook or Clara and Stephen’s actions to help him.

“What about our promise?” Penelope asked.

Sylvia gazed at her friend and saw no judgment in Penelope’s eyes. She had always been without guise.

“We have all grown up, Penny. Surely, you see it is time to put such childish dreams behind us. Love in marriage is an impossible dream for most of us.”

“Surely you do not doubt it exists. Clara and Stephen are as in love as ever, and you think even Owen will marry for love—”

“Yes, but not me!” Sylvia pushed to her feet. “It is time to dress for dinner, and I would hate to disappoint Lord Brandon.”

“Shall I assist you again?”

“If you desire,” Sylvia said. Penelope nodded and turned to help arrange items at the dressing table, but Sylvia caught her hand and squeezed it. “You are my dearest friend, and I love that you care for me. I know what I am about.”

The two friends talked about other things while they dressed for dinner. Hannah came by to check on the proceedings. Both ladies assured Sylvia that she looked even more beautiful than the night before. They promised Lord Brandon, and every other man, would not be able to keep their eyes off of her. When she entered the drawing room, however, Sylvia could help but search for the only man who mattered.

Lord Brandon bustled to her side, leaving Augusta mid-sentence and Sylvia tore her eyes from Nate’s. The angry red Augusta turned clashed with her attire, making Sylvia muffle a giggle at the other lady’s expense.

Throughout the evening, she reminded herself this was precisely what she wanted. She wanted Lord Brandon to be infatuated with her. She should put more effort into seeming as though she reciprocated his feelings. Sylvia listened with an adoring gaze and spoke as though awe-struck by his every thought and speech. All the while, she could barely breathe due to the tightness of the fashionable gown. The starch which gave her sleeves the perfect shape itched her skin. Beneath her gloves, her palms poured sweat. Sylvia believed she could feel all twenty hairpins digging into her scalp.

Sylvia’s gaze slipped to Clara’s. She watched as Stephen conversed with several of the other gentlemen, her love evident in her eyes. Sylvia would never have that, and she only hoped her mentor knew how lucky she was.

“I have enjoyed our time together this week.”

Lord Brandon’s hot breath was in Sylvia’s ear, drawing her notice away from Clara. She fought to keep the disgusted shudder from becoming visible to her suitor.

“As have I, my lord.” Sylvia reached for her glass of wine.

“I have something very particular to ask you. May I have a private interview with you tomorrow?”

Sylvia’s throat squeezed shut and she just barely avoided another embarrassing coughing fit. Brandon wanted to propose already? That was not the plan—he had said he would at the end of the week. She was not ready for it! She needed the remaining days to entirely reconcile to the notion.

Clara stood and called for the ladies to separate to the drawing room before Sylvia could do more than weakly smile and nod at Brandon. She was too agitated to pay attention to the remainder of the evening. Around her, the ladies played pianoforte and cards. They chatted as usual. The world was not coming to an end for anyone but herself. The gentlemen returned at the usual time, and Brandon once more came to her side. Swallowing back the rising bile, Sylvia listened to all he said. She knew she appeared attentive, but she could not remember a single thing he said. She supposed she should get used to that sensation, for it would be her constant friend for the remainder of her life.

Sylvia left to retire early that night, no longer feigning an aching head. However, sleep did not find her. Once the others were in bed, she tightly pulled her dressing gown around her and crept down the stairs, through the library, and into Stephen’s private study.

She scanned the shelves for a particular book which she knew Clara valued too much to have available to anyone in the library. Many years ago, when Clara was still their teacher at Mrs. Adderly’s School for Girls, she hated her students reading romantic novels and fairy tales so much that confiscated Cecilia’s copy of Stories or Fairy Tales from Past Times translated into English. Once Clara’s love for Stephen softened her, she returned the book. The girls were so impressed, they purchased a copy for Clara and gave it to her as a wedding present.

Sylvia had long ago grown out of fairy tales. However, at this moment in her life, she desperately wished to have the comfort of those old stories. Accepting Brandon’s proposal would be the end of all childish fantasies. As she read, she wondered about the Sleeping Beauty’s life. Had she any romantic dreams of her own? It seemed as though her entire existence was to avoid touching a spindle and yet she fell victim to it all the same. How Sylvia could relate to that. She had long ago given up the notion of marrying for love. She had reasoned that when the time came, she could make a match with any reasonable man. Now, the time had come, and she played with powers beyond her knowledge. Why did the idea of marrying Brandon feel like the death of her?

What had the Sleeping Beauty dreamt of for one hundred years while she waited for her prince to arrive? Did she long for a rescue to her fate the way Sylvia wanted for one as well? At last, sleep claimed Sylvia—before the princess awoke. She could only hope that when she next opened her eyes, her world would be as changed and suddenly perfect as the long-ago princess had found it.

*****

Nate put down his now empty carafe of brandy and carried the glass back to his chair in front of the fire. Cradling the glass in one hand, he bent forward and rested his elbows on his knees. He was going to propose to her. Brandon was going to offer for Sylvia Linwood. The cur had boasted about it over brandy after the ladies retired to the drawing room.

It ate at Nate. Was it that Brandon had been his childhood bully? Or was it that Brandon had managed to secure the hand of a lady as marvelous as Sylvia? He did not even know the treasure he had found?

Nate knew, however. He knew the flecks of gold that appeared in her blue eyes when she grew animated the subject. He knew the tilt of her head when she was trying to argue with him but did not want to admit he was correct about something. He knew a million small details about her, but not why she would entertain Lord Brandon is a suitor.

Of course, who else had approached her as a suitor? From the moment Nate met her, he had Sylvia Linwood marked down as a scandal waiting to happen. Apparently, other men had judged the same. However, with her beauty and a sufficient dowry, many other men would have overlooked such things. Perhaps she had not wanted to marry until recently. Maybe she had never encouraged a suitor before Brandon.

No matter how many times Nate turned the matter over in his head, he kept coming back to the confusing situation of a woman as intelligent as Sylvia Linwood desiring Lord Brandon to propose to her. Could she love him? It was impossible in his mind. He drained his glass of brandy at the thought then focused on the fire for several minutes.

There was an alternative that Nate could offer Sylvia. Yesterday, he had thought impossible. Tomorrow in the sober light of dawn he might also think so. In this instant, however, he was sorely tempted. It was an excellent thing she was asleep, and he was supposed to be. If he had one of their heartfelt encounters now, he probably could not resist his urges.

Nate trudged back to his brandy carafe to refill his glass, letting out a disgusted sigh when he noticed it was empty. There was only one thing to do. He crept down the stairs to Stephen’s study. He would drown his sorrows and silence the ridiculous thoughts swirling in his head.

Upon entering that the room, he was surprised it was not empty. Someone had lit a lamp. Nate drew closer to the source of light as his eyes fell on the most beguiling site. Sylvia Linwood laid sprawled on the settee, sleeping soundly with a book cast aside. He picked it up and turned it over in his hand until he can recognize the title. Fairytales. A slight smile came to Nate’s face. His mother had a copy of this book, and his sister enjoyed it as well. As such, he was acquainted with its contents. Even now, Sylvia slumbered like the beautiful sleeping princess of one of the stories. Had not thought Sylvia Linwood the type to enjoy fairytales. Did she imagine Lord Brandon as a knight in shining armor come to rescue her from some curse or foe?

Nate laid the book down on the floor next to him as he knelt in front of Sylvia. Her beautiful blonde hair had come loose from its pins and a few locks splayed across her forehead. He pushed them aside, reveling in the softness of her smooth skin. She sighed at his touch.

“Awake my sleeping beauty,” he said to her. “You cannot sleep here.”

Without opening her eyes, Sylvia reached forward and cupped his cheek. “My Prince. You came at last.” Suddenly, Sylvia’s eyes fluttered open look of astonishment filled them. “Nate,” she whispered.

Nate observed as a variety of emotions filtered through Sylvia’s eyes. His hand which had moved her hair returned to her cheek. He allowed his thumb to graze across her tempting lips. Encouraged by her deep exhale, he repeated the motion.

Sylvia slightly moaned after repeating his name. Nate was helpless against what he did next. Angling his head closer to hers. His lips found hers at last.

She tasted it as sweet as he expected. There was more than sweetness, though. She was like a forbidden fruit, he could not get enough of her. He should remember that she was a maiden and they were unchaperoned in his friend’s study. Although it seemed like everyone else was asleep, the truth was they could be interrupted at any moment. If they were, she would be ruined, and he would have no choice but to offer for her. Despite such rational thoughts, he could not slow his response to her luscious lips. When Sylvia wrapped her arms around his neck, Nate was all but lost.

Some part of him, some damnable reckless part of him inherited from his father, shrugged off the consequences. Nay, worse; it welcomed them. He wanted this. He wanted to be left with no choice. She had attracted him from the start, and they were well-matched in all ways except her rank. If he were any other man with any other past, he would have no reason to resist. As he pulled Sylvia into his arms to have greater access to her lips and the smooth expanse of her neck and collarbone, the raw truth was exposed to Nate. He did not care about all those claims of duty or all the demands of his rank and legacy. He could not see her marry anyone else.

Words were on the tip of his tongue, and he began to pull back. There was a noise in the hall. Sylvia stiffened in his arms. The look of desire left her eyes, and sadness and derision filled them. Confused by her reaction, Nate pulled back further and released his hold of her.

“I should go,” she said. “I should not have been here–I should not have come. It was a mistake. I hope you understand, it was a mistake.” Sylvia pushed to her feet quickly then paused to hold her head as though she moved so swiftly she grew dizzy.

“You are unwell,” Nate said. “I will escort you to your room.”

“No,” Sylvia hissed. “If we would be seen, it would ruin everything. Things would be presumed and–and no, you cannot.” She pushed past him and swiftly moved to the door, exiting without a backward glance.

The raw emotion and need she had exposed only a moment before pulsed through Nate as he watched her walk away. In the morning she would accept Brandon’s proposal, and then that worthless scoundrel would know the taste of her lips and the warmth of her love. Could he let Brandon succeed?

Mr. Darcy’s Compassion– Epilogue

I am sorry this took a little longer than I planned to post. I had my lumbar puncture on Wednesday and ended up getting the dreaded spinal headache from it. After 80 hours of torture, I decided to go to the ER and try something called a blood patch. That had its own issues but I am now headache free! I’ll be sending this story to the editor soon!

Previous Chapters: One / Two / Three / Four / Five / Six / Seven  / Eight / Nine / Ten / Eleven / Twelve / Thirteen / Fourteen / Fifteen / Sixteen

Epilogue

Ten years later

Darcy smiled politely as person after person entered his London house. Beside him, Elizabeth greeted each guest with a charming smile and welcomed them to their home. This evening, they hosted the founding members of the London branch of the Society for the Preservation of Feminine Talent. Elizabeth had named the organization thus to not garner anger at the idea of encouraging independence for ladies while also not infantilising them.

The foundation formed shortly after their marriage and served the Lambton area first. Eventually, Elizabeth took the idea to influential members of urban populations such as Manchester and Birmingham. Last year, they opened a branch in Liverpool. Expansion to London would be their most extensive yet. Of course, quite a bit of the notoriety belonged to the influence of the former Miss Angelina Maria Lucks.

Shortly after arriving at Pemberley, Darcy had sent his solicitor to confirm from Miss Lucks that she was, indeed, Lydia Bennet. She admitted her real identity but desired no assistance from the Darcys and planned to take the London stage by storm with hopes of marrying nobility. A few years ago, she married an aging lord who needed a new countess after his wife’s death bearing their fifth son. At first, there was still no connection to the Darcys. However, a political rival of her husband dug up proof of Lydia’s fallen status. Society, in general, did not think well of actresses, but Lydia had managed discretion in any affairs she had. The supposed proof, however, was not from Lydia’s time with an acting troupe in Scotland or her elopement with the still-at-large George Wickham. No, someone had visited the South Mimms Inn in Hertfordshire and swore there was once a serving lady who called herself Lizzy Smith and looked just like the new Lady Randall. Lydia could have defended herself and lay the blame on her sister, but she never did. In turn, the extremely respectable Mrs. Darcy befriended the countess. Rather than taking lovers like most of the aristocratic ladies, Lydia had turned her activities toward charitable works after retiring from the stage. Between the two sisters, the Society garnered more attention than expected.

After dinner, and the requisite separation of the sexes, Elizabeth took a moment to explain the purpose of the Society to the assembled guests.

“My good lords and ladies,” Elizabeth said, “we meet this evening to discuss the founding of a new branch of The Society of Preservation of Feminine Talent. It is my belief every woman has talents given to her at birth and are deserving of protection.”

“Protection, you say?” an older man asked. “They ought to have fathers to protect them.”

“I agree, sir,” she answered. “However, some do not. Death is no respecter of persons. We may be at peace now, but war may come again, and disease is never far away. Additionally, not all men who bear children are capable of being responsible parents. Indeed, some abuse their wives and children.”

The older gentleman harrumphed. “Then family ought to involve themselves.”

“Again, sir, that is not always possible. The fact is, some ladies leave the protection of the homes to which they were born. What is she to do? Seek employment when she has no experience or training? The results of such a gamble are seldom in the lady’s favour.”

“What does the Society do, Mrs. Darcy?” a lady from the back asked.

“We do have ministers and physicians, but that is not all that is required to assist the ladies and it is not always easy to find those services given from people with the desire to help and not condemn. The Society provides safe homes and healthy meals for our ladies. From the working classes, we teach them valuable skills which can lead to employment. For the gentry, we fill any gaps in their education and keep them immersed in proper society befitting their station. Most importantly, for both groups, we minister to the damaged psyche of our guests.”

The old gentleman stood up and thumped his walking cane. “Are there not workhouses? Are there not churches? You reach beyond your scope, madam.” He shuffled past the others and stood before Darcy. “Sir, you ought to call your wife to order.”

“She has things well in order, sir, and I fully support her,” Darcy replied.

Shaking his head, the gentleman exited the room, and Darcy had little doubt, the house. This portion was always the most difficult for him to watch. He could hardly conceive of anyone not finding his wife brilliant and was still her most steadfast supporter. In turn, during their ten years of marriage, Elizabeth had been there for him in countless times from the wrath of Lady Catherine, to the unexpected death of his Uncle Joseph, even to inheriting control of Rosings and all the strain of managing two estates after his cousin Anne’s demise.

His eyes met Elizabeth’s, but hers did not shine with tears of rejection. She stood erect, pausing to allow others a moment of decision before she continued. A few others excused themselves, but the vast majority remained. Whether they achieved their goal this night or not, Darcy could barely restrain his pride in his wife’s confidence and courage.

“Now, that we have that over with,” she smiled, and the crowd chuckled. “I wanted you to listen to the testimony of some of our ladies and other benefactresses.”

Elizabeth ceded the floor and came to Darcy’s side as three different women gave their stories. They ranged from as extreme as Georgiana’s experiences to as mild as Elizabeth’s. The other patronesses spoke about the statistical data of the women they helped. The majority of them came from the middle class to lower gentry families. They never turned away a working-class woman, but their primary goal had always been to help the women who no one believed could have terrible families. Shocked gasps and disgusted mutterings ripped through the room when the final patroness explained one in four of the ladies they helped, regardless of social class, had been sexually abused before adulthood.

Elizabeth had a final speech to close the presentation portion of the evening. Afterward, it would resume as any regular dinner party, and card tables would be brought out. In another room, ladies were welcome to exhibit on the pianoforte.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Elizabeth beseeched, “do not merely take our words on the matter. Visit our facility in Bloomington. We have not invited you here to raid your purses. Our Society is already well-funded and has established our newest location in a respectable neighbourhood, and with all we could need. The meaning behind this evening’s presentation was purely educational. Now, that you know of a need, I only ask what your compassion would have you do.”

The crowd applauded, none heartier than Darcy. When she reached his side, he raised her hand to his lips. She still claimed his act of kindness had saved her, but all Darcy could think about was how many ladies she had saved in the years since.

Slowly, through years of patience and firm boundaries, they had resumed visitations with Jane and Mary. Mrs. Bennet had refused to ever accept any responsibility for matters but wrote civil letters, and they had seen her a few times while they visited the Gardiners, who had fully apologised to Elizabeth. Neither the Gardiners nor Mrs. Bennet were welcome at any Darcy property, but Elizabeth did not lack for company. She had found a faithful, steadfast sister in Georgiana, who while much healed had not yet married, and a loving relation in Darcy’s paternal aunt Katherine Sneyd. Elizabeth had made many acquaintances via her work with the Society, and several of them were her bosom friends. None of it surprised Darcy, he always knew she would be well-loved.

After their guests left, Darcy escorted Elizabeth to their chamber. Holding her to his chest as they fell asleep, he considered then, as always, how thankful he was for finding her at the inn of a small Hertfordshire town. He could hardly fathom what life would have been like without her, but it certainly would not have included four bright-eyed children with Elizabeth’s smile. Nor would Darcy have known the deep fulfilment one could have when assisting others. The most significant difference of all, of course, was that he would not have the woman he loved beyond all others and who completed his heart in his arms. He had loved her then; now she was imperative to his life. Marrying Elizabeth was not an act of compassion. He had no more choice in the matter than he had in drawing breath into his lungs. She was the greatest gift he could ever conceive, and he would forever be grateful for the second chance which led him to find her.

The End

Thanks so much for reading!

Mr. Darcy’s Compassion– Chapter Sixteen

I was sick with the flu for a week and missed my appointment with the neurologist but finally got in to see her. It looks like I have Multiple Sclerosis. There is an additional test (lumbar puncture) which will be done this week to confirm but between my MRI and personal history, she spoke in very definite terms. I wrote on Facebook that other than a case of strep, I haven’t had a doctor speak so assuredly about my situation in three or four years. Unfortunately, it takes a few weeks for the results to come back and I can’t start treatment without it. The good news is, that this flare up might end on its own and I might be feeling better by then. I sure hope so. Right now I have enough energy to do basically one out of house thing a day and not even every day. There are some days when I can do a few computer things stretched over the day and there are others when I can do nothing, just getting up to use the rest room is a challenge. I’ll be posting more about all things medical and my symptoms later.

I have finished Mr. Darcy’s Compassion but it’s taking me longer to look over it before I send it to the editor. At this point, I’m hoping for a release at the end of February. It’s possible that there will be changes made in editing to round some things out but there should not be any huge changes. I wanted this story to be focused on Darcy and Elizabeth and while they don’t live on a deserted island and the actions and lives of others affect them, I don’t believe it serves the story to have extended scenes with them. Lizzy’s entire journey is about learning to take care of herself so if we get wrapped up in the lives of her sisters, it would detract from that. You’ll have to use your imagination. 🙂

There is an epilogue to come after this post which I’ll share later this week.

Previous Chapters: One / Two / Three / Four / Five / Six / Seven  / Eight / Nine / Ten / Eleven / Twelve / Thirteen / Fourteen / Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

It was three days before Darcy or Elizabeth turned their thoughts to leaving the Portpatrick Inn.

“Do you still wish to see Ireland? It would require more ships, but I think you tolerated it well, all in all,” Darcy said over their private breakfast on the fourth day after they married.

Elizabeth hung her head and chewed her bottom lip. It had been such a relief over the last few days to ignore all the problems with her family and just live for herself.

“Or we could go straight to Pemberley.”

Elizabeth did not reply and did not need to seek Darcy’s eyes to know he was looking at her and attempting to read her expression.

After several minutes of silence, Darcy asked in a voice just above a whisper, “Are you regretting our marriage?”

“What?” Elizabeth’s head bobbed up, and she threw her arms around him as they sat next to one another on a settee. “No, never that!” She pressed kisses to his face as tears filled her eyes.

“Then what are you afraid to tell me?”

Elizabeth sighed. She should have known he would pick up on her reticence. She should have guessed that he would feel hurt. “Before we left Holyhead, I had a letter from Jane.”

“Yes, I recall. You did not wish to discuss it.”

“She told me that our father was on his deathbed. He most assuredly dead by now. She asked me to return to Longbourn.”

“She asked for your return or attempted to manipulate it?”

“I am not quite sure,” Elizabeth confessed. “You can read it for yourself.” She retrieved the letter from a valise. “I do not think Jane would intentionally manipulate me, however, it hurts to not be sure. You can see, though, that I made my choice.”

Darcy scanned over Elizabeth’s letter and thought for a few moments before replying. “What do you wish to do now? We could go to Longbourn, and you could pay your respects to your father. I assume your mother is provided for?”

Elizabeth nodded. “Despite all of Mama’s fears, I know she had a competent jointure. Mary is welcome to live with Jane. Her income will be more than enough just for herself.” She blew out a long breath. “I suppose I do not know what I want to do. I feel as though I am supposed to return, as though it is a duty or expectation.”

“Do you fear what others will think or say if you do not go?”

Elizabeth shrugged. “Is that so wrong of me?”

“Right and wrong are not at stake. If you feel in your heart it is the right thing to do, then do not dismiss it. However, if you only feel pulled to go because it might displease others of no consequence to yourself, then I would say it is harmful.” He reached for Elizabeth’s hand. “However, I will support you either way. I would not have you go alone.”

“Thank you,” Elizabeth said and squeezed his hand. “I worry about my sisters and how they might bear the weight. However, it is not my role to save them. Jane is married now and perfectly in her rights to employ her time with her husband. Mama’s situation of losing her husband is pitiable, but I cannot heal her heart—if indeed her heart is touched at all. I will continue to communicate with Jane and begin writing Mary. I can always visit later. It is better to not begin how I mean to continue.”

“Very well, love.” He pulled Elizabeth to him and kissed her forehead. “So, do you wish to journey to Ireland or Pemberley?”

“I know we are far closer to Ireland than we will likely be at any other time and I do wish to see it someday, but I think I would very much like to go to Pemberley. I just want to go home with you.”

Elizabeth cuddled close to Darcy for the remainder of the morning. In the afternoon, they explored the port. Then, Darcy arranged for them to rent a carriage for their trip to Pemberley. They left the following morning and arrived in Dumfries before dinner on their second day of travel. While dining in the coaching inn, a man continually stared strangely at Elizabeth.

Before he left, he paused at their table. “A fine performance you gave a few nights ago, Miss Lucks.”

“I beg your pardon,” Darcy stood so suddenly his knee hit the table, jostling the silverware. “My wife is not an actress.”

“I mean no offense, sir,” the man said with raised palms. “She looks very much like Miss Angelina Maria Lucks who I saw only a few nights ago.” He turned a truly remorseful face to Elizabeth. “I ask for your forgiveness, Missus. You do look remarkably like her.”

Elizabeth blushed, but said, “All is forgiven, sir. I bid you good evening.”

The man nodded and walked on. Darcy took his seat, and the meal resumed as best it could. However, Elizabeth turned over what the man had said. When they returned to their room, she spoke her thoughts to her husband.

“I think, dearest, that man might have spoken of Lydia.”

“Do you think she would be an actress?” Darcy sounded shocked.

“It surprises me no less than her elopement did. She followed reports of many actresses in the gossip columns. She loved putting on plays when we were children. She and Maria Lucas sometimes made their dolls actresses. Maria always chose the name Maria Lucks. I could see Lydia poking fun by borrowing her friend’s never-to-be-realized stage name. Additionally, she would have had very few options available to her after Wickham’s abandonment. People have often said we looked very similar. Although,” Elizabeth added with a sad smile, “she always enjoyed letting everyone know she was taller.”

“Do you wish to see her?”

Elizabeth had a ready answer. “First, it is worth knowing a bit more about this woman. I do not know how she would have made her way to Dumfries. It could also be that she is part of a traveling troupe and has already left. At any rate, I think I should not publicly approach her. I am sorry for your sake if she is on stage.”

“Why is that?”

“The wife of Mr. Darcy related to an actress?” Elizabeth shook her head. “The scandal!”

“I do not care about that at all,” Darcy said. “I have told you I do not care about Society’s opinions anymore. At any rate, some actresses become quite famous and nearly respectable. It would be far better for her to have a visible profession than the more likely alternative.”

Elizabeth could only nod. “Then, I suggest you ask about Angelina Maria Lucks. When we are home at Pemberley, you could arrange for a representative to speak with her. I do not suppose she would give up her career or think we should offer her an alternative. She could not return to Longbourn. However, it would mean the world to me to know that she was alive, healthy, and reasonably safe.”

“An excellent plan, my love. Now, I would much rather discuss Elizabeth Darcy than sisters or actresses.”

“Me?”

“Yes.” Darcy smiled seductively and leaned close to her ear. “There is no other woman worth discussing. Your beauty is unparalleled.”

Elizabeth felt her face warm, and goose pimples covered her flesh. “You did not always think so.”

“Do not quote the ignorant and foolish, my love.”

He kissed just below her ear, causing a shiver to race through her body.

“That was when I only first knew you, and I know you far, far better now.”

He kissed down the side of her neck, and Elizabeth angled her head to give him better access. He reached her collar bone and sucked. Elizabeth’s toes curled, and a longing moan escaped her parted lips. “Fitzwilliam?”

“Yes, Elizabeth?” Darcy murmured against her flesh before continuing his exploration.

“Let us go to bed.”

Darcy scooped Elizabeth into his arms and carried her across the room.

****

“We will arrive at the house in about five minutes,” Darcy said as they turned up the drive to Pemberley two days later.

Elizabeth knew he could sense her anxiety. At first, she had expressed nothing but a desire to see her new home and meet her new sister, but as they drew closer to their destination, she had confessed to being nervous. It was incredibly difficult for her to articulate her fears and misgivings.

Thankfully, Darcy responded with patience, rather than presuming every self-doubt meant she regretted their marriage. He had praised her emotional strength and resiliency. Additionally, he acknowledged her hard work to overcome the crippling self-doubt and distrust which assailed her when they first met again. Darcy said she was one of the bravest people the world had ever known, and Generals could only wish to have her courage.

“Are you still nervous about meeting the staff?” He asked as he took her hand in his. “Remember what I said. There is no pressure to take on any duty for which you do not care. I did not marry you so I could have someone run my estate. I love you just as you are.”

Elizabeth gave him an encouraging smile. He knew just how to ease her fears. How had she ever worried he would regret marrying her? Even better than feeling comfortable in accepting his love, she realized that what she really sought was her own self-approval. She knew he would continue to support her in those healthy feelings. As such, all would be well no matter what the future held. It was fantastic to feel more carefree than she had in months.

She let out a happy sigh before meeting his eyes. “It is only fear of the unknown. I know there will be an adjustment period. I am determined, however, to keep myself happy first.”

“I would not want it any other way,” he said.

He did not ask, and she did not feel the pressure to add that she would see to his happiness. She had worried, a little, that considering her own feelings first was selfish. However, she need not be a slave to her own emotions. There was no reason why she could not consider her happiness while taking care of her husband’s feelings. She would not be like Mrs. Bennet who never thought anyone but herself.

“Here we are.” Darcy tugged on her hand and pointed out the window as the wooded lane cleared and they saw the mansion house situated behind the river they now approached.

“Oh!” Elizabeth breathed. “It is delightful!”

Darcy had turned his head to watch her reaction and grinned in response. He had told her she would like the grounds even more than the house and until this moment she was not entirely sure he was correct. She grinned at the idea of soon knowing every path.

The carriage pulled up to the house, stopping in front of the great stone steps. Outside, the staff awaited their arrival as Georgiana and Mrs. Annesley stood at the top. Darcy shared a smile with Elizabeth before handing her out of the carriage. She was most pleased to note there was no tremble to her hand.

They stopped in front of the housekeeper first. The look in Darcy’s eye as he gave the introductions and formally presented Elizabeth as Mrs. Darcy told her it was one of the highest honours of his life. Next, there was the reunion with Georgiana. After introducing Mrs. Annesley, Darcy addressed his sister.

She met him with nervous eyes, but he smiled adoringly at her. “Georgiana, may I present your new sister and my wife, Elizabeth Darcy?”

“I am very pleased to meet you, Mrs. Darcy,” Georgie curtseyed but did not meet Elizabeth’s eyes.

“You must call me Elizabeth, or even Lizzy.” Elizabeth approached and laid a hand on the younger girl’s arm. “I am pleased to have you as a new sister.”

Georgiana smiled and met Elizabeth’s eyes at last. She had wanted to convey to the younger girl that she was pleased with all she knew of her and would not love her only for Darcy’s sake.

Soon, they were inside and refreshing from their journey before a family dinner planned by Georgiana. As the evening wore on, Elizabeth’s gentle patience with the girl was rewarded. Georgiana’s increasingly left her shyness and timidity behind. They talked mostly of music and discussed duets they could practice in the coming weeks.

Elizabeth also conversed easily with Mrs. Annesley, and a scheme began to brew in her mind. Georgiana was not alone in her struggles. Too often Society would not even care about the causes for her troubles and condemn her as mad before packing her away in an asylum. There were others like Jane. Surely there were even more like Elizabeth. She had never contemplated suicide, but she had been in just as much pain and just as lost. She knew she needed help but had nowhere to turn. How she needed the bright light of compassion from someone! She would spend the rest of her life thanking God that Darcy came to illuminate her way.

She had not known how she would fill her time once she came to Pemberley, but as the evening wore on, Elizabeth considered a profound thought. If she could find others willing to be a beacon of hope, they would not be a small and distant light as dim as a candle. Instead, there would be a torch aflame for all to see. She knew no one save the people in Pemberley’s music room and relatives who had abandoned her or were too stubborn to admit their need. Elizabeth could change that, though. She had always been gifted in the art of conversation. This shared goal would be a quality she looked for when making new friends. Surely, she would meet Darcy’s neighbours and eventually they would go to London. She was not as confident as he that there was no good to be found in the ton.

As Elizabeth ended her first day as Mistress of Pemberley in her husband’s arms, she sighed in happiness. She had found the love of her life and perhaps the reason for her struggles. She would use them to help others. Georgiana could never replace her sisters, but she offered something even better: a sibling relationship built out of genuine love and respect and not merely the ties of blood. Soon, there would be letters from Longbourn as well as news of Kitty and Lydia. She would decide how to reply to them when the time came. However, Elizabeth was determined to never be guilted or manipulated again. Despite it all, she could forgive, even be grateful for, Mrs. Bennet. For, without the woman’s destructive parenting, Elizabeth never would have met Darcy once more or learned the most valuable lesson of loving herself.

Through a Different Lens– Character Interview & Giveaway

I’m so pleased to have another guest for the blog this month! I was interested in Through a Different Lens when I saw Riana posting on social media about writing Mr. Darcy with Autism. As both of my kids are on the Spectrum, I was eager to see how the story would change with Darcy having such a different way of viewing the world. The book is one of a kind and I loved this chance to interview Mr. Darcy! Riana is also offering a giveaway for my readers!

Considered the father of American Psychiatry, Benjamin Rush was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence, physician, politician, social reformer, humanitarian, and founder of the Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. He was internationally known in the academic and medical worlds for progressive ideas for the mentally ill and handicapped. In Through a Different Lens, we learn that Mr. Darcy knows of Dr. Rush. How fortuitous that his assistant happens to be at the same London ball as Darcy and is eager to speak with our favorite Regency gentleman!

Interview with Mr. Darcy

Dr. Logan: Thank you for agreeing to speak with me, Mr. Darcy. I understand you are an admirer of my mentor, Dr. Rush.

Mr. Darcy: Indeed, I have studied his writings, and respect him greatly. Miss Elizabeth Bennet knows something of your mentor as well. She has mentioned his name in our discussions, and has used many of his ideas in dealing with her young cousin, Samuel, to great effect!


Dr. Logan: I was hoping you could answer a few questions for research he is conducting. Let us step away from the noise of this crush. Ah, that is much better. Are you like me and grow weary from the atmosphere of a ball?

Mr. Darcy: Thank you… please allow me a moment to collect myself now that the noise is more distant. Yes, this is much better. You seem to understand me well. I find the atmosphere of a ball most oppressive indeed. The lights, the smells, the noise, the physical sensation of people brushing up against me, all work in concert to vex me most grievously and drive me to the edge of distraction. It is as if I am at the seaside. At first the water is pleasant, but soon the tide comes in and the waves grow greater and stronger, until I am completely at their mercy and fear being drowned.

This is a metaphor, which I find I rather enjoy when given the time to think about the associations and imagery. Through my work with Miss Bennet, I have come to appreciate such word play, and have been attempting to employ such in my own speech and writing.

But back to your question, taking a respite from the overwhelming sensations of the ballroom, as Miss Bennet has recommended, allows me to bring my senses under better regulation, to find my footing in the sand, if I may continue that metaphor. And thus, I can attend to your questions with the consideration which is their due.

Dr. Logan: I also often need a moment to myself amidst crowded events. Now, I  have heard from mutual friends that you are quite the collector. Is there a certain item which holds your fascination?

Mr. Darcy: I cannot imagine who… Have you been speaking with Charles Bingley? I must have a word with him, for he has no respect for my privacy! But it is true. I have a great interest in optical devices, specifically lenses. I have amassed a reasonable collection both of modern pieces of diverse properties, and of some ancient specimens as well, including a piece of shaped and polished crystal from ancient Egypt and some Mediaeval reading stones that magnified the images on the page.

However, the item to which I am drawn more than others, for no reason I can discern, is not a lens at all, but a crystal—or, rather, an ornament made of crystal. The Irish artisan I employed created a beautiful butterfly from the same crystal used to make drinking vessels and chandelier teardrops. I had not given much thought to the piece, other than it being a rather lovely prototype for a gift for my sister, until Miss Bennet held it in her hand some weeks ago. Since that day, the butterfly has become quite dear to me. I cannot account for this, since the piece has no practical value at all, nor any real academic interest. And yet I find myself gazing upon it in recollection of the day she first saw it and covered the walls of my workshop in brilliant shards of coloured light.

Dr. Logan: How intriguing! How did your interest begin?

Mr. Darcy: I believe my interest came about by accidental means. I was an unusual child, quite unlike my peers. My father—such a fine man and the model by which I live my life—once commented in my hearing that I saw the world so very differently than did my peers. At the time, I was unable to catch the meaning of this expression, and believed it literally. I began to think that I did not see properly, that there was something amiss with my eyes. I knew from reading and from those of my acquaintance that spectacles were used to help correct faulty vision, and so I engaged upon a study of lenses. I found the science to be fascinating, and thus began my interest.


Dr. Logan: Have you met others who amass similar compilations?

Mr. Darcy: I have never met another person with a similar interest in optical implements; however I have heard talk of a baronet from the vicinity of Salisbury, who collects oddly shaped pieces of wood. Why this is drawn to my attention, I cannot say, but my associates seem to think our interests similar. I have not made Sir Benedict’s acquaintance. It seems he is never in London, preferring the solitude of his estate.

Miss Bennet’s cousin, Samuel Gardiner, does have something of a similar collection of unusual items, although his is of no monetary value at all. He has an abiding interest in the odds attached to the races, and has, for several years, collected notices about the horses as reported by The Times. He has a sizable portfolio, and can locate any particular race’s information within seconds. Is this what you meant?

Dr. Logan: Yes. That is exactly what I meant. I am curious, was it difficult for you to make friends as a child?

Mr. Darcy: As I have mentioned before, you understand me well. My childhood was solitary, lonely even. I was an only child for many years, and I was already at school when my sister was born. The only other lad on the estate who was deemed a suitable companion for me was George Wickham. At the time I thought him a friend. I did not then understand how he tried to belittle me, or embroil me in some sort of trouble. He feigned friendship, but really sought my humiliation.

The local boys from the village sometimes tried to befriend me, at the instigation of their parents, no doubt, but we never found common ground. Where they wished to play at cricket or football, I would correct their version of the rules of the game, and this was usually the end of the association.

How I looked forward to those days when my cousin Richard—that’s Colonel Fitzwilliam now—would come to visit. Then, as now, he was the best friend I had, and often, the only one. Father sent me away to school a year early so I might be with Richard, and I am mightily glad for it. He saved me from more than one beating at the hands of our classmates. I certainly learned to treasure those few friends I did have, for there was not a large circle of them.

Dr. Logan: How fortunate you are to have such a friend. What brings you the greatest comfort or ease?

Mr. Darcy: I am not a solitary man by choice, although I often seek solitude when the assault on my senses threatens to overwhelm me. Given my choice, I would prefer to be in quiet company with one or two people who understand me and who do not strive to make me other than I am. Richard is one of these people. He draws me out, but allows me my silence when I need it. Cabal, though not a person but a dog, is such a creature as well. And Miss Bennet… how I have come to rely upon her patient and assuring presence! She challenges me and encourages me and will not allow me to sink into self-pity, but for all that, she accepts me and seems to like me not for who she wishes I might be, but for who I am today. Knowing that such an admirable lady enjoys my company brings me the greatest comfort of mind I can imagine.

Dr. Logan: Finally, I have a few questions of lesser importance. Do you prefer coffee or tea?

Mr. Darcy: I enjoy tea, but my preference is for coffee.

Dr. Logan: Sweet or savory food?

Mr. Darcy: I cannot resist my cook’s scones, and the berry tarts she makes when my cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, comes for tea. However, I do enjoy curry as well, which is most assuredly savoury.

Dr. Logan: Bach or Beethoven?

Mr. Darcy: You have heard of Mr. Bach? How wonderful! We must find another time to meet, and I shall show you the early edition I have of his Well Tempered Clavier! He is so little known outside of the halls of musical study, almost completely forgotten. But his music is a technical tour-de-force, and is well worth studying, for all that it is now very old-fashioned. Perhaps, one day, he will come back into favour.

Mr. Beethoven is known to have studied that same set of pieces that I possess, and I can see evidence of it in his masterful command of tonality and modulations, as well as his motivic development…

Oh, please forgive me. Miss Bennet has alerted me to certain gestures and facial expressions that people might exhibit when I begin to lecture too long, as she calls it, on a subject. I see those very things in you now.

Beethoven. I prefer Beethoven.

Dr. Logan: Dogs or cats?

Mr. Darcy: I find great comfort in the nonjudgmental loyalty of my dog, Cabal. Therefore, I must profess a preference for dogs.

Dr. Logan: Ah, I do see Mrs. Adams signalling to me now. I believe she is requesting my presence as she is motioning to me and has raised eye brows. Thank you very much for answering my questions, Mr. Darcy, and I wish you an enjoyable evening.

Through a Different Lens Blurb

A tale of second glances and second chances.

Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the aloof and arrogant Mr. Darcy since he insulted her at a village dance several months before. But an unexpected conversation with a startling turn of phrase suddenly causes her to reassess everything she thought she knew about the infuriating and humourless gentleman. 

Elizabeth knows something of people who think differently. Her young cousin in London has always been different from his siblings and peers, and Lizzy sees something of this boy’s unusual traits in the stern gentleman from Derbyshire whose presence has plagued her for so long. She approaches him in friendship and the two begin a tentative association. But is Lizzy’s new understanding of Mr. Darcy accurate? Or was she right the first time? And will the unwelcome appearance of a nemesis from the past destroy any hopes they might have of happiness?

Warning: This variation of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice depicts our hero as having a neurological difference. If you need your hero to be perfect, this might not be the book for you. But if you like adorable children, annoying birds, and wonderful dogs, and are open to a character who struggles to make his way in a world he does not quite comprehend, with a heroine who can see the man behind his challenges, and who celebrates his strengths while supporting his weaknesses, then read on! You, too, can learn what wonders can be found when we see the familiar through a different lens.

This is a full-length novel of about 100,000 words.

Universal buy link for Through a Different Lens

Giveaway

I’m giving away five copies of Through a Different Lens to readers world-wide! Just sign up through the Rafflecopter widget to enter.
If you prefer not to use Rafflecopter, send me an email message (riana.everly@gmail.com) or leave a note on my Facebook page, and I’ll add you to the list for the draw.
Entries close at midnight Eastern time (GMT-5) on February 10, 2019, so the winners have something to read on Valentine’s Day.

Giveaway link

Blog Tour

Here are the blog tour stops for Through a Different Lens!

Jan 21 ~ Diary of an Eccentric
Jan 22 ~ Author takeover at Historical Reads and Research with Leila Snow
Jan 23 ~ Rose Fairbanks
Jan 24 ~ Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
Jan 25 ~ Babblings of a Bookworm
Jan 28 ~ So Little Time…So Much to Read
Jan 29 ~ My Love for Jane Austen
Jan 31 ~ Half Agony, Half Hope
Feb 5  ~ From Pemberley to Milton
Feb 6  ~ More Agreeably Engaged
Feb 8  ~ Austenesque Reviews

Author Bio

Riana Everly was born in South Africa, but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specialising in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11, and has never looked back. 

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!

Riana’s second novel, The Assistant, was awarded the Jane Austen Award by Jane Austen Readers’ Awards, and her debut novel, Teaching Eliza, was listed on a list of 2017 Favourite Books on the blog Savvy Verse & Wit. For both of these honours, she is delighted and very proud!

You can follow Riana’s blog at https://rianaeverly.com/blog/, and join her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RianaEverly/) and Twitter (@RianaEverly). She loves meeting readers!

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S&S Saturday– Viper in My Bosom

You can view previous discussions about Sense and Sensibility here: https://rosefairbanks.com/category/s-s-saturday/

Last time I posted about Sense and Sensibility, I compared Marianne meeting Willoughby to the “Second Thoughts” moment in a Three-Act Structure. The next plot point in the diagram is the climax of Act One. Conveniently, Jane Austen’s novel is broken down into three volumes. Let’s see if her closing scene of Volume One would match with a contemporary plot diagram.

Willoughby has left Devonshire by Chapter 18. He’s gone and we’re not sure if ever proposed to Marianne. Edward surprises the Dashwood ladies with a visit. However, he’s gone by Chapter 20. By the close of Chapter 22 and the end of Volume One, we have learned that Edward has secretly been engaged to Lucy Steele, everyone’s favorite viper in their bosom.

Scene from the 1995 production. Mrs. John Dashwood calls Lucy a “viper in my bosom” when she learns of the engagement between her and Edward after Lucy has insinuated herself into Mrs. John’s circle. This doesn’t happen for many, many chapters in the book but I always think of Lucy as a viper in one’s bosom and this is one of my favorite moments in film ever.

How callous Edward must seem! He never discouraged Elinor’s affections. Even as she wisely put Marianne off from expecting an engagement between them, she acknowledged that she believed Edward returned her feelings. Edward should have done everything he could have to discourage Elinor but he didn’t. Then, he visits the Dashwoods after their many months of separation would have probably lessened her regard.

The book opens with the Dashwood girls at a disadvantage in life because of men. Their great-uncle left them out of the will. Their father didn’t think ahead to more securely see to them. He relied on his son. Their step-brother is a jerk. It was all his idea to kick them out of the house…and… Oh wait. No it wasn’t. John Dashwood has flaws but it was his wife that is the source of the evil. And like every proper villainess, she doesn’t show her hand so easily. She doesn’t dismiss the girls and their mother from the house of which she is now mistress. No, she just makes it so unbearable that they are happy to leave.

Now, enter Lucy Steele.

Edward has done. He sure has. But is he the villain here? What would have happened? He probably would not have returned to Barton again. He’s miserable the entire time he’s there and I think he would have learned his lesson. So, Elinor’s love would have continued for a bit longer. She would sigh over him and maybe wonder what might have been. She is at considerable distance from her sister-in-law now so she wouldn’t even need to hear of him often. Eventually, he would marry. Elinor had always suspected she could never be his bride.

Now, assuming he wasn’t free of Lucy somehow, it would still come out that he had been engaged to her all along. Presumably, they were waiting for Edward to either be entirely independent (of which it seems he never was desirious of putting forth the effort) or when his mother died. However, that would have only been a sin of omission.

His guilt is exactly the same either way and Elinor pretty quickly pardons him. What, we will see in future chapters, is unbearable for Elinor is Lucy and her arts. Lucy is the one who seeks to confide in Elinor. At one point, Elinor even says,

“I certainly did not seek your confidence,” said Elinor;

A proper climax of a scene, however, is not just that it looks hopeless for our hero or heroine. It’s that it shows us some of their mettle. This is only the first act, after all. Elinor rises to the occasion.

for a few moments she was almost overcome—her heart sunk within her, and she could hardly stand; but exertion was indispensably necessary, and she struggled so resolutely against the oppression of her feelings, that her success was speedy, and for the time complete.

Here, we see that Elinor is made of stern stuff. While Marianne crumples at the mere lack of Willoughby’s presence, Elinor manages to stand strong while her slim hopes are dashed and done so spitefully on purpose by the woman who would usurp them.

Volume One ends with this

After sitting with them a few minutes, the Miss Steeles returned to the park, and Elinor was then at liberty to think and be wretched.

We can guess, though, that Elinor will rally. There has always been a dualism between Marianne and Elinor. It’s displayed in the title and throughout the first act. Marianne despairs when her lover is gone. Elinor shows fortitude. We know the tension will continue to mount for these two sisters as they continue their journey into this new world with such false friends and absent lovers.

Additionally, while the beginning of the book gives obstacles to happiness in the form of the Patriarchy and catty women, we can glean from the end of the first act, that the real conflict is going to be internal for our characters. Life will happen. It’s not playing nice or fair. How will they endure it?