Rapid Romance Reads

I’m a BUSY lady. I write for my full time income that pays my bills and feeds my kids. I have two special needs kids that like to wake up before the rooster crows. I also homeschool them. But this isn’t about me being a super-woman. This is about me being average. All the cooking, cleaning, working, caring for everyone. Heavens, it’s winter and if I have to wipe one more nose because my 8 year old can’t figure out what a tissue is for then I might scream. You other women know what I’m talking about! And in the approximate hour I have left to myself in a week, I need to unwind and treat myself to some Romance.

I want my stories and I need them to be quick, satisfying reads. The problem is, it’s often hard to find what I’m looking for. I love Historical Romance. From Medieval chainmail to the Scottish Highlander to the Regency duke to the Wild West, my perfect hero requires a visit to the past. Well, this blog is Stories from the Past, after all! I’ve decided to gather short reads (under 40,000 words or 200 pages) from the top 100 Hot New Releases for Historical Romance category on Amazon. In the future, I might break these into subgenre categories.

Without further ado, I give you

Rapid Romance Reads

How Darcy Saved Christmas by Rose Fairbanks

Sometimes the most loving heart lies beneath a prickly exterior. 

On a much-needed holiday with her favorite relations, Elizabeth Bennet is in search of Christmas cheer. Instead, she meets The Great Curmudgeon, or as the locals call him, Mr. Darcy. 

Darcy hates any display of Christmas happiness. He didn’t always feel that way but is certain he will never welcome it again. In defiance of Pemberley tradition for being the life-force behind the holiday in the area, he shuns it after a family tragedy. 

Despite their first perceptions of each other, Darcy and Elizabeth cannot resist the pull of their hearts. Old and new friendships, however, collide to weave an insurmountable obstacle between the fledgling lovers. Will Darcy be able to see past his pain or will he forever miss out on the joy of true love? 

This Christmas season, treat yourself to a story of forgiveness, the search for true joy and lasting peace, and a love that can eclipse bitterness and pain. Buy How Darcy Saved Christmas today!

Treasured by Rose Fairbanks

Together they can conquer anything…and their enemies know it. 

Just as all seems well in Will Darcy’s life, old troubles reemerge. Now, he may have to choose between following his heart and keeping his beloved safe. 

Elizabeth Bennet has waited five years to marry Will and is determined to see them to the altar. Confident their love will prevail, she bears their trials with patience and cleverness. 

The final book in the Loving Elizabeth Series, Treasured is a dramatic conclusion to Will and Elizabeth’s saga. If you like love stories with the couple fighting outside forces, a knight in shining armor, and spirited heroines buy today! 

Delighting Mrs. Bennet (Marrying Elizabeth Book 2) by Leenie Brown

He wished to please her by tolerating her mother. He hadn’t expected to find his heart so entangled in her family.

In an attempt to right a wrong caused by his dog, Fitzwilliam Darcy extends an invitation for the Bennet family to stay at his home. He is confident he can tolerate Mrs. Bennet and her younger daughters for two weeks if it will please Elizabeth and help convince her to marry him. After all, he is determined to delight Mrs. Bennet by marrying her daughter.

As he expects, Mrs. Bennet and her daughters bring laughter and loudness to his home and cause some disturbance to his life. Unexpectedly, he discovers that inviting Mrs. Bennet and her daughters to Darcy House just might be the best decision he has ever made, for his life and his heart will be forever changed.

Delighting Mrs. Bennet is the second installment in Leenie Brown’s Pride and Prejudice variation series Marrying Elizabeth. If you like well-written, sweet romance where the hero and heroine not only grow in their love for each other but also in their understanding of other family members, then you’ll enjoy this story about discovering that even the most trying relations are not so very trying when seen through the eyes of love.

So, put the kettle on, grab your copy of Delighting Mrs. Bennet, and join Darcy and Elizabeth on the second leg of their journey to happily ever after as they learn to see things from a different point of view.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Darcy! by Zoe Burton

An instant attraction. An epic snowstorm. A wedding day in peril.

Before one snowy day on a London street, Fitzwilliam Darcy had never been in love. However, shortly after meeting the tantalizing Elizabeth Bennet, he knows his heart will no longer be his own.

Elizabeth Bennet finds she is powerless to resist her attraction to the handsome and wealthy gentleman she has met and, in very short order, falls madly and deeply in love with him.

When the time comes for Elizabeth to leave London, Darcy follows her, intent upon continuing to prove his love for her. Elizabeth is happy to have his attentions, but she worries he will not be able to look past her background or abide her mother.

As it turns out, Elizabeth’s mother is not the only mother to fear in Hertfordshire, for it is Mother Nature who poses the greatest threat.

Merry Christmas, Mr. Darcy! is JAFF you don’t want to miss. If you like besotted heroes, strong heroines, and sweet romance, you’ll love Zoe Burton’s second Christmas novella. Purchase Merry Christmas, Mr. Darcy! today.

Thunder, Mist, and Frost (Nature’s Fury and Delights Book 1) by Leenie Brown

Whether pushed forward by a rumble of thunder, revealed when the morning mist lifts, or etched like a frosty reminder of beauty in the cold heart of winter, love will find her home in the hearts of each of the couples in these three sweet Regency romance half-hour reads.

Thunder  (A Pride and Prejudice Variation Novelette)

Fitzwilliam Darcy is out for a ride when a distant rumble of thunder forces him to seek shelter from the coming storm. What he finds when he steps inside his father’s cottage is so much more than merely a refuge.

Morning Mist (A Sense and Sensibility Variation Novelette)

To Marianne Dashwood, there is nothing more refreshing in the entire world than a walk in the morning mist. She relishes these rambles where she can allow her imagination to run free. However, when she comes upon a handsome stranger, she discovers that her daydreams cannot compare to the real enchantment of love.

Frosted Windowpanes (A Touches of Austen Novelette)

In an attempt to distance himself from the pain of rejection, Patrick Mullins left Ashmore Hall four years ago. Now, just before Christmas, he has returned, brought home by the deaths of both his mother and brother. However, the painful memories that he finds upon his arrival threaten to drive him away once more until the determination of the lady he loves proves to him that just like the frost brings beauty to the coldness of winter, beauty can rise out of sorrow.

The three stories in Nature’s Fury and Delights: Thunder, Mist, and Frost showcase Leenie Brown’s ability to craft Austen-inspired and original tales that transport a reader to a different time and a different place where the characters come alive and the romance is always sweet. If you have half an hour to spend wrapped up in the first blushes or the warm renewal of love, grab your copy of Nature’s Fury and Delights: Thunder, Mist, and Frost and settle in for a lovely trea

Mary: To Protect Her Heart (Other Pens, Mansfield Park Book 3) by Leenie Brown

Sometimes, overcoming the past can be as challenging as surviving the present. 

Mary Crawford, vivacious, beautiful, and adored by many gentlemen, has a secret. Her confidence is a façade, and while she may welcome one and all, she trusts few. 

Gabriel Durward, an enterprising and wealthy tradesman, prizes integrity. Known for his shrewd business dealings, he is one gentleman that few would dare to cross. 

Mary has never met a gentleman quite like Gabe. He seems impervious to her usual ploys, never prevaricates or flaunts himself as so many others have, and even though he knows her faults, he still chooses her without any need to be persuaded to do so. It is enough for Mary to begin to open her heart. 

However, not everyone appreciates Gabe’s character as much as Mary does, and some of those individuals will go to great lengths to see him destroyed. When nefarious plans are put into action, Mary’s fledgling trust will be tested, and fear will raise its ugly head, tempting her to retreat. Will Gabe be able to survive the onslaught and finally prove to Mary that she can trust him to protect her heart with his very life? 

Mary: To Protect Her Heart is the third episode in Leenie Brown’s Other Pens, Mansfield Park Series of books. If you like well-written stories of sweet transformation with swoon-worthy, gallant heroes and strong yet vulnerable heroines, then you will enjoy this story about overcoming the past and learning to trust. 

So, put the kettle on, grab your copy of Mary: To Protect Her Heart, and let Gabe and Mary’s story guide you through rough seas into the welcoming safe haven of deep, enduring love.

The Duke’s Bride in Disguise (Fairfax Twins Book One) by Claudia Stone

When poor orphan Ava Smith comes face to face with a girl who looks exactly like her, she is certain she has seen a ghost! But, Lady Emily Fairfax, is no ghost and is sure that she and Ava must be long lost twins. Despite her better judgement, Ava allows Emily to convince her to swap lives for a month, in order for Ava to scupper Emily’s engagement to a cold-hearted, brute of a man.
Imagine Ava’s surprise when Emily’s betrothed turns out to be none other than her unrequited crush, the Duke of Kilbride!

Raff Alexander Hamilton, the Sixth Duke of Kilbride, knows that he must do his duty to the line by marrying and procuring an heir. Love was never in the equation in his search for a bride. All that he required was a lady who was well-bred, quiet and biddable—and he thought that he had found just what he was looking for in Lady Emily Fairfax.
Imagine his surprise, when overnight, his betrothed goes from meek and compliant to outspoken, alluring, and decidedly unimpressed with him.

As Raff battles to woo his bride to be, Ava must navigate the sumptuous world of Regency London, while trying desperately not to fall in love – no matter how much her heart wants it.

A Lady’s Guide to a Gentleman’s Heart (Heart of Scandal Book 2) by Christi Caldwell

Christi Caldwell’s brand-new Regency book, “A Lady’s Guide to a Gentleman’s Heart” is sure to fill your heart with cheer and warmth this winter season! Don’t miss out on the long-awaited second book in The Heart of a Scandal series!! 

Honor demands he give her up-
Heath Whitworth, Marquess of Mulgrave and heir to a dukedom, is honorable to his handsome bones. When his mother insists he spend the holidays dancing attendance on Lady Emilia Aberdeen, he has no choice but to do the gentlemanly thing. For years, Heath has harbored feelings for the lady, but he knows exactly why his best friend jilted Emilia years ago, and that secret makes a happily ever after for Heath and Emilia an impossibility. 

Love demands she follow her heart-
Heartbroken after the man she loved ended their betrothal, Lady Emilia Aberdeen, is quite content to live a spinster’s life penning an anonymous column that offers guidance to young ladies. Except, the more she is thrown into Lord Mulgrave’s company, the more she sees that the proper, always-aloof gentleman is also charming, clever, and inconveniently attractive. Emilia discovers maybe it is possible to love again but with secrets between them, Heath will face his greatest challenge yet: loving Emilia Aberdeen or letting her go.

Other Books in The Heart of a Scandal series:
Prequel Novella: In Need of a Knight 
Book 1: Schooling the Duke
Book 2: A Lady’s Guide to a Gentleman’s Heart

Secrets of the Heart (The McCallens and Randalls Book 1) by Suzan Tisdale

Widowed clan chief Connor MacCallen prays fervently for a loving wife and children, as well as peace for his clan. As blessed as they are with abundant crops and cattle, they are threatened by the generations’ old feud with the Randalls. Connor must find a way to stop the feud from turning into war. 

Ostracized at the age of nine as the daughter of a drunkard and thief, Onnleigh has lived a lonely existence. With no friends and no hope of having a family of her own, she has resigned herself to a bleak future. Until one day when one of her clansmen starts to visit. She learns too late that he is neither a man of honor nor integrity, nor one who should be trusted. 

Connor doesn’t put any faith in wishing wells, fairies or ghosts. But to appease his grandminny, he makes a very special wish: for a loving wife, children, and peace for the MacCallens. 

When Onnleigh overhears Connor’s wish, she makes the most difficult decision of her life. As poor as a church mouse and uneducated, she can’t give him peace. But there is one thing she can give him. 

Will Connor be able to stop the violence before it destroys all that he values? Will he find someone to love again? And will Onnleigh ever find a place to call home?

Misadventures with the Duke by Stacy Reid

Christopher Worth, the Duke of Carlyle, has a carefully cultivated reputation of ‘respectability’ but he possesses a dark, lustful heart which he reins in rather well. Except someone is out to reveal him as a wicked rogue in the tongue in cheek articles written about him by a notorious gossip columnist. Determined to unmask this meddler in his life, he finds his heart shockingly captivated by Miss Pippa Cavanaugh. 

The hopes of marriage or the charming attractiveness of the Duke of Carlyle didn’t drive Pippa to pursue the most elusive catch of the season, she was out to avenge her dear friend whose heart had been callously injured. Pippa desires to reveal to society that their perfect duke is a wicked, unprincipled seducer. The last thing she expects is  for the dratted man to turn the tables on her, engaging her in a dance of wits, soul stealing kisses, and unexpected, sensual adventures. Soon she must decide if he is her path to ruin or her promise of a happy ending.

Abigail’s Adventure: A Sunset Valley story (Alphabet Mail-Order Bride Book 1) by Caroline Lee

Widow Abigail Hembree’s entire world has been the Wigg School and Foundling Home. She and her precious children have found a home there, safe from the evils of men, as she taught and nurtured the orphans who shared their lives. But Madam Wigg has made her an offer she can’t refuse, and it comes with a terrifying stipulation: become a mail-order bride—put her future in a man’s hands once more—and she’ll be able to have her own school. 

A year ago, Matthias Blake lay bleeding to death in the dirt outside of Black Aces, Montana, and came to a realization: more than anything, he wanted a wife and children. Now that he’s recovered and built his business into a success, a mail-order bride could take care of both of those dreams. But he didn’t plan on a wife who has a good reason to be afraid of men, or a son who wants nothing to do with Matthias’s beloved business. 

When matters conspire—in the form of the mysterious Mr. King, who owns most of the town—to keep Abigail from opening her school, she is dangerously close to having to give up her dream. And while Matthias knows he’s willing to change his own dream to save hers, it all relies on Abigail. Can she learn to trust her new husband, or will the ghosts of her past overcome whatever chance she and Matthias have at a happily ever after? 

The Winter Duke (A Duke for All Seasons Book 1) by Jillian Eaton

Can two wounded hearts find the courage to love again? Find out in this must-read winter romance from best-selling author Jillian Eaton! 

As snow falls outside the manor…
After being rebuffed by her betrothed, Cadence flees to her brother-in-law’s remote estate in the English countryside to escape the humiliation of getting left at the altar. She intends to spend the winter locked away in her room with chocolate. Fortunately for her, the Duke of Colebrook has other ideas…

Things are heating up inside of it…

Renowned throughout London for his long string of lovers, Justin Dearborn, Duke of Colebrook, isn’t looking for a wife. Having been spurned once, he has no intention of putting his heart on the line a second time. Until one passionate kiss with Cadence leaves them both yearning for more… 

Curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy The Winter Duke, the first novella in a brand new series readers are calling “FUNNY, STEAMY, and HEAD-OVER-HEELS ROMANTIC!”

Beaulah’s Brains: A McClain Story (Alphabet Mail-Order Brides Book 2) by Kirsten Osbourne

Beulah Wigg thinks her life is already as good as it’s going to get. An orphan, she teaches at the foundling home where she grew up, and she loves the challenge. When she finds out she has to leave the only home she’s ever known and marry so she can start a school of her own, she worries that she is not someone who should be married. She randomly chooses a man to correspond with and agrees to marry him immediately.

When Jack McClain finds out his mother has requested a mail-order bride for him, he’s not sure if he should be relieved the problem has been taken out of his hands, or upset with her for forcing him to marry. As soon as he realizes the beautiful Beulah will be his bride, he decides to be happy and make the most of it. Will the two of them be able to compromise to the point where they’re both content? Or will they spend the rest of their lives in an unhappy marriage?

This book, the second in the alphabet bride series, is directly related to Orlan Orphans, Seven Sisters, Seven Sons, and the McClains. 

To Dare a Duchess by Tamara Gill

After five long years trapped in the country, newly widowed Nina Granville, Duchess of Exeter, has returned to town to start over. But it was here she committed an indiscretion—one stolen night of pleasure—that would threaten all she holds dear if revealed.

Byron always loved Nina from afar—until the house party that turned his world upside down. Guilt saw him flee England’s shores, and Nina wed to a man old enough to be her grandfather, but now the handsome rogue is back…and ready to claim what is his.

Yet Nina has kept a secret from Byron, one that could threaten their sizzling attraction and sever their longstanding friendship forever. With Byron’s brother determined to reveal the truth, Nina must use her power in the ton to ensure her secret is kept safe. Even at the expense of love…

The Dark Lord’s First Christmas by Kathryn Le Veque

Your favorite blood-and-guts battle lord returns for a short holiday tale!

Jax de Velt is the knight they call The Dark Lord. After years of barbaric conquest across England, Scotland, Wales, and France, he finds himself six months into a marriage with a woman he has learned to love. The marriage is a happy one, but every day is a struggle as Jax learns to navigate a world where generosity and forgiveness are the norm. But one thing he hasn’t learned – the concept of human kindness and the warmth of the Christmas spirit.

In a brief happenstance with a peasant family, Jax comes to understand what, exactly, true bravery and kindness is.

The Dark Lord finds his Christmas heart.

Note: This is a short story and an extended epilogue to The Dark Lord. Enjoy!

Henry: A Pride and Prejudice Novella by Christie Capps

He likes her. She hates him. The puppy loves them both.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet get off to a rocky start. Can three-month-old Scottish sheepdog, Henry, herd two stubborn individuals together long enough to realize they are the perfect partners for a lifetime?

Join in the frustration and fun when Mr. Darcy is forced to retrieve his errant puppy daily as Henry scampers from Netherfield Park to Elizabeth’s home of Longbourn. Told from her point of view, when she repeatedly spies haughty Mr. Darcy humbly showing affection to the puppy, Elizabeth is forced to acknowledge that first impressions might not always be accurate. Danger lurks, causing them to work together until Henry is safe. 

Is Mr. Darcy’s bark worse than his bite? Will Elizabeth remain as stubborn as a dog with a bone? This 20,000-word novella is a blend of cranky personalities, blooming affection, and wagging puppy tails. Enjoy this Regency variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice—where it truly is a dog’s life.

For the Love of the Duke (The Noble Hearts Book 5) by Callie Hutton

Lady Phoebe has spent two Seasons looking for the man who will steal her heart. Like the other members of her family, she wants love in her marriage, not the usual connections and wealth. While walking her energy off one morning as her twin sister pours over dress plates, Phoebe sees a man rescue a horse from its abusive owner. She is stunned when she realizes the rescuer is the Duke of St. Albans, better known as The Cold Duke. 

Morgan, the Duke of St. Albans, is aware of his reputation as The Cold Duke and is not troubled by it. He was raised to keep his emotions in check and plans to select a suitable young lady this Season to fill the position of the Duchess of St. Albans. He has no desire for a love match that can only result in messy entanglements. His heartless reputation has served him well until Lady Phoebe, a young woman he has admired in the past, witnesses a rare moment of tender compassion.

Now that Lady Phoebe has seen beneath his icy veneer, will The Cold Duke acknowledge the passionate emotions she’s stirred or will he pursue a convenient marriage with a more suitable young woman?

Duke Takes All (The Duke’s Secrets Book 3) Eva Devon

A Duke With A Thousand Secrets:

The Duke of Raventon has sworn to never reveal his entire heart and soul to anyone. He has known loss and pain and failure.So much so, that the only way he can make up for the past is in saving everyone he can. When the wild, beautiful Highland lass shows up on his doorstep, he can’t turn her away. More so, he will do whatever it takes to ensure her safety and happiness. Even if it means choosing her for his bride. But when his soul longs to know hers and his heart dares to yield, he must choose between all he has ever known as the most mysterious duke in all of Europe or a final chance at love.

A Fiercely Determined Highland Lady:

Lady Diana is fleeing her murderous brother and seeking her freedom. Only one man can help her. The mysterious Duke of Raventon. But he is a dark and ominous figure, his name whispered to her on the death bed of her aunt. Still, Diana has no choice but to go to London, knock upon his door, and meet the devil himself. As her aunt promised, the enigmatic duke agrees to keep her safe. She knows she can trust him with her life but when sparks fly, can she trust him with her heart?

The Holly and the Ivy (Daughters of Avalon Book 2) by Tanya Anne Crosby

Join the MacKinnon clan for a magical reunion, bringing together old friends and new for a Yuletide never to be forgotten. 

Malcom MacKinnon has been gone from Chreagach Mhor
for more than ten years. He’s never met the youngest MacKinnon, but while he’s looking forward to their first meeting, Alexander Ailbeart MacKinnon isn’t quite as enthusiastic to meet the brother who, in his eyes, abandoned their clan. Having received word Malcom and his new wife are on the way, he’s on his heels now, making sure their home is safeguarded from forces that threaten his family’s joy. Will the brothers finally come together after so long?

This short story can be read as a stand-alone but will make more sense if read after reading THE KING’S FAVORITE in the Daughters of Avalon series.

The Jewel of Time (Called by a Viking Book 2) by Mariah Stone

She’s stealing from the past. He’s guarding his future. Will a modern woman’s mission kindle hot Viking passions?

Chicago, 2018. Rachel will do anything to secure her mother’s kidney transplant. She just never thought her cash-rich solution would come from traveling back in time to a world of Vikings. As she pockets valuable jewelry from the past to pay for her mother’s future, she’s stopped in her tracks by a stunning Nordic warrior…

Norway, 874. Kolbjorn longs for his father’s approval. Born a bastard, the Viking rejoices when his father promises to accept him… if he successfully safeguards a cache of valuable gemstones. But when a glowing goddess appears out of thin air to steal the jewels, his heart stands in the way of his sword.

As Rachel gets closer to raising the funds, Kolbjorn fears he’ll never capture the beautiful thief. But neither expect the massive snowstorm that forces them together for the night.

Will Rachel defy the fierce warrior or will her mission of mercy submit to primitive passions?

The Jewel of Time is the second book in the steamy Called by a Viking time-travel romance series. If you like alpha Vikings, resourceful heroines, and sizzling chemistry that crosses a millennium, then you’ll love Mariah Stone’s blisteringly hot adventure.

Buy The Jewel of Time to get up close and personal with a Nordic warrior today!

Love at the Christmas Ball: A Regency Romance Christmas Collection: 8 Delightful Regency Christmas Stories (Regency Collections Book 12) 

This collection of eight full novellas presents some very different heroes and heroines, but the common theme is that they all find love, despite trials and tribulations along the way, in some way related to attending a Christmas Ball, in the area surrounding the town of Upper Nettlefold. 
***** FREE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED *****

The stories in this collection, because they all happen in Upper Nettlefold, have things which happen, that influence the other stories. So the order in which they are presented here aligns with the timeline in which events in the stories happen (although many are in parallel). Read through this collection in order, and you will find that each story builds on the ones before, weaving the magic of community and interconnection between characters. There is also a map of Upper Nettlefold to help you visualise everything as you read. Although each story can stand alone, we’re sure that you’ll love finding the linkages as you go. 

This is our second visit to Upper Nettlefold, but it won’t be our last. (Our first was the collection ‘Love, One Regency Summer’ which will only be available for a limited time, so, if you like these stories, you’ll want to grab it before its gone!) You may see other collections based here, or you may see individual books from the various authors, but we will keep expanding the stories about the people you’ll meet in this collection. 

We have also each given you a short preview of another of our books.

This collection includes: 

To Dance with the Dangerous Duke by Arietta Richmond
A Duke sworn never to love again, a Lady trapped by one past mistake, a Christmas Ball, a blackmailing cad, an impossible choice, a last minute reprieve, a miraculous love.

Merry Christmas My Love by Rose Pearson
A Lady whose heart is broken, an Earl whose life needs to change, an accidental meeting, the interference of well-meaning friends, a confrontation, a new love that heals old hurts.

>Miss Modesty’s Mistletoe by Grace Austen
An Earl with a scandalous reputation, a young woman whose parents hope to see marry a respectable man, a not so accidental meeting, a dramatic rescue on the way to the Ball, a love long held declared.<

The Compromised Lady’s Christmas Wish by Regina Darcy
A Lady deceived, abandoned and robbed, a gentleman rescuer who has lost all that he loves, a murderer unveiled, a love that restores two reputations and heals broken hearts.

A Christmas Secret by Kelly Anne Bruce
A widow whose days are lonely, even surrounded by family, a military man who brings news of her husband’s last days, and unexpected attraction, an identity revealed, a new love for Christmas.

The Earl’s Christmas Love by Sophia Wilson
A widowed Earl, avoiding society, a Lady who hopes for love, a past acquaintance with designs on the Earl, a trap set and sprung, a misunderstanding resolved, a love saved from despair.

Miss Fitzwilliam’s Christmas Redemption by Lydia Pembroke
A young woman, bitter about her own bad choices, and a love lost, a change in circumstances, a charitable action which leads to a meeting with a man of the merchant class, a love that redeems. 

The Christmas Fortune by Isabella Thorne
A Knight who hopes to marry, a Lady whose place in society is newly restored, and threatened by past scandal, the villain who could ruin her, a plan to trap a wrongdoer, a love saved by royalty.

A de Russe Christmas Miracle (de Russe Legacy Book 8) by Kathryn Le Veque

Welcome to a very special de Russe Christmas, on a night when an angel walks the earth…

Join the House of de Russe for a special reunion at Christmastime – Gaston and Remington, and all of their children gather at Deverill Castle for what they believe to be Gaston’s last Christmas.

Or is it?

Suffering from what the physics term as a cancer in his throat, the man once known as The Dark One is devastated that the end of his life is approaching. He tries to be strong for his wife, for his children, but the truth is that he is tired, and it difficult for the once-powerful knight to admit that he is dying. 

His family is equally devastated, especially his eldest sons, who remember when he was the most feared and powerful knight in the entire realm. When Dane de Russe stops at a local church to offer prayers for his father, to beg for a miracle, little does he realize that God, in fact, has heard his prayers. 

On a night when angels walk the earth, witness a sweet and tender de Russe miracle, a timeless moment that transcends all seasons.

This short story is an extended epilogue to the de Russe novels Dark Moon and Dark Steel, but can be read as a standalone.

His Lady’s Command (Surrey SFS Book 4) by Nicola Davidson

Welcome to the Surrey Sexual Freedom Society – where unconventional and uninhibited ladies and gentlemen discuss all matters erotic…
After twenty-five years in the British army, Captain Randall Denham thought he’d seen it all. Yet nothing prepared him for Lady Portia Butler, the fiercest, most exasperating, and amusing beauty he’d ever met—or how hard he would fall for her. Randall yearns to be at her command in the bedchamber as well as out, but a match between a highborn lady and a penniless ex-soldier of dubious birth is impossible.
Quite content to be unwed and childless, Portia cherishes her friends, her charitable causes, and outwitting the ton. She shouldn’t be having erotic fantasies about her bodyguard Denham…and definitely shouldn’t engage in a wicked secret affair with him. But when her family dictates she must cede her independence and marry a peer or face dire consequences, Portia faces her sternest battle yet: defeating the wealthy patriarchy to win the greatest prize of all—love.

Please note this book contains explicit language and sexual content.

Promise of the Earl: Regency Romance (Season of the Brides ) by Joyce Alec

A scarred man. A mysterious secret. A courageous woman who dares to follow her heart. 

Earl Turner was once an arrogant cad, taking money from whomever he could, and never allowing anyone into his affections. However, one terrible night changes everything, leaving him with scars both inside and out. Lord Turner knows he needs a wife to continue the family line, but his return to society is both necessary and difficult.

Miss Dorothea Earnest has been held back from society by her father, only to find that he has promised her to a scarred and broken man. When her father continues to demand more of her, Dorothea is terrified to discover that he’s been hiding a dark secret. 

Will Dorothea be able to give her trust to Lord Turner, or will her father keep his terrible hold on her? And can Lord Turner finally admit that the one thing he has never let himself hope for has finally taken hold of his heart?

If you love clean and wholesome, Regency romances with a strong woman heroine and an inspirational romantic story, you will love, Promise of the Earl. 

Authors Note: This is a clean, stand-alone romance with no cliffhangers. 

A Lord in Disguise by Fenella J. Miller

When Lord Edward Stonham kills his opponent in a duel he is forced to flee and take on a false identity. Miss Penelope Bradshaw applies for the job of his housekeeper in his new persona as Edward Trevelyan. She discovers the truth and becomes his confidante. They can never declare their love for each other because he is not in a position to make her an offer.
Is there a way out of this dilemma are they prepared to ignore propriety in order to be together?

Duelling is a hanging offence – when Lord Edward’s opponent dies, apparently at his hand, he has no option but to flee. Meeting Miss Penelope Bradshaw just adds to his problems.

Rescued by the Mountain Man by Dana Aldean

Amanda Hildreth jumped at the chance to start life anew in the booming town of Virginia City in Montana Territory. She heads West to work at her stepbrother’s mercantile and maybe find love one day. But, her mule train is attacked before she even gets there.

Mountain Man Cal Ayers agrees to lead Amanda safely across the mountains. It’s not long, though, before they realize the attack was aimed at Amanda – and that living with her stepbrother might not be the safest plan.

Amanda can’t establish a new life when someone is trying to kill her. And she can’t imagine a new life without Cal, who she’s falling for. But Cal is fighting his feelings as he is already engaged. Can Cal save Amanda’s life, and their burgeoning love, in time?

Bewitched by the Poor Man (Rich Man/Poor Man/ Beggar Man Book 2) by Laura Landon

The day Quinten Marvell became the Duke of Somerset should have been the most exhilarating day of his life. Instead, it was the day he inherited nothing but a pile of outstanding debts. Yet, there was one thing he was certain his father couldn’t squander, a place gifted to his mother, and then to him. Determined to recover the entire Somerset legacy, Quinn flees to the only home left to him, Lindenwood Manor, and discovers it to be the crowning loss in his father’s long list of failures. Now the most direct path to recovery lies in the heart of his beautiful and wealthy neighbor, Miss Alice Moore. Knowing that marriage would sentence this lovely, scarred woman to a lifetime of being snubbed as a commoner, will he sacrifice her to save himself from a life of poverty?

An Agent for Diana (The Pinkerton Matchmaker Book 10) by Rebecca Connolly

Diana Gleason is determined to prove herself as a capable, confident, and essential Pinkerton agent, now that the agency had decided to bring women into their ranks. She’ll do anything to accomplish her assignment, even if it means marrying her partner and training agent. Wyatt McGrath is a handsome, charming, experienced agent, filled with Texas politeness and the patience to teach Diana what she needs to know. 

But the more they get involved in the undercover investigation assigned to them, the more she discovers that her partner has secrets, and those secrets haunt him. More than that, those secrets could get in the way of their mission, and put them in danger. With growing feelings for Wyatt, and something to prove, Diana must decide if the mission comes before her partner, or if there is any way to save both.

Lords, Loves, and Stolen Jewels (A Lady Angelica Landerbelt Mystery) by Charlotte Fitzwilliam

Readers who have enjoyed the inspirational, clean, and heartfelt stories of authors like Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and Charles Dickens will enjoy this great read about young ladies coming out into society in the 1800’s

Did she do it?

Lord Caversham is desperate for help. His younger sister has been accused of theft and, unless she can be proven innocent, will be shunned from society forever. With her future in grave danger, he turns to the one person he thinks might be able to help him – Lady Angelica Landerbelt and her niece, Miss Catherine Newton.

Miss Catherine Newton has come to London for the Season, expecting to be fully chaperoned by her aunt. However, she never once thought that her Season would be filled with such exhilaration! Desiring to help both Lord Cavendish and his sister, Olivia, Catherine throws herself into the mystery headlong, only to find that she is in danger of losing her heart.

Will they be able to clear Olivia’s name? Or will the ever increasing danger break them all apart for good?

This is Book One in the series “A Lady Angelica Landerbelt Mystery.”

If you love Regency, inspirational-romance stories that are clean and wholesome and often include dukes, earls, barons, marquesses, lords and ladies, you will enjoy this book.

*This is a historical Regency romance novel of 31,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a sweet happily ever after.

Wellchester Triplets Series by Laura Locke

The Wellchester Triplets Series is a set of 30,000 word stories that you will not want to put down. Each story is heartwarming and entertaining, and you will fall madly in love with each Triplet and their love story.

This box set Includes:

Rescuing the Soldier-Book 1
A new legacy began in the Wellchester family as red-headed, golden-eyed triplets were born to Sylvia and Ira. Each of the triplets, although born together, could not be more different in personality and character. Johanna, the wanderer, blazed a path for her life that was unique, if barely within the rules of propriety. With help from the matchmaker they called Aunt Margaret, could she possibly hope to find the man of her dreams. Was it possible he had literally fallen into her lap, in her own back yard. Join this tightly-knit, warm and welcoming family in their village of Tymington—all set in a time that was tumultuous with unrest.

Untamed Farrier- Book 2
Richard Wellchester, tall and coppery-haired with topaz eyes was one of triplets. Having trained in his father’s profession as farrier, he was ready to take on the world.
With little besides his name, a forge, two horses and a wagon, he set off on his adventures. He was befriended by the King’s army and by the villain they sought to capture. Nothing would improve his good fortune until he happened upon the lovely Eliza, daughter of the bombastic squire who was determined to marry her off for riches and title.
Richard’s heart held fast, though… could he outlast the squire’s willful convictions?

Love Lost at Sea- Book 3
That last remaining Wellchester triplet, Melody shared the copper coloring and flashing topaz eyes with her brother and sister. Her temperament matched, particularly when she crossed paths with the arrogant, controlling Mrs. Rutherford. The only redeeming quality Mrs. Rutherford, social dame of the village offered, was Conner, her son. Melody set her wistful sights on him as he left to go to sea and his mother ruined Melody’s fledgling seamstress business.
Would Melody triumph in the end? Would Conner find his heart lay in the village of Tymington despite his dream of travelling the world?

*Author’s Note: The Wellchester Triplets series is a clean and sweet series*

Forced to Marry the Man I Hate (The Unloved Brides) by Elena Davinski

Torn away from my mother at birth. Abandoned by my father who died in the war. Left alone with my terrible uncle and timid aunt, lonely and uncertain of my future.

That is, until I’m sent away to be the bride to a man I’ve never met…
 
I don’t know his age.
I don’t know what he looks like.
I don’t know anything about his personality.
 
I don’t even know if he is even a good man…  
 
What kind of man would want to marry someone like me?
 

Can my life get any worse than what it already is?

This collection includes:

If Only He Would Love Me
Unloved
Married To A Monster
Promised To The Devil
Unwanted Bride
Roommate From Hell
His Empty Heart
A Despicable Husband
Unreciprocated Love
The Despised Bride

A December with a Duke: A Regency Romance (Seductive Scoundrels Book 3) by Collette Cameron

He’s entirely the wrong sort of man. That’s what makes him so utterly right.

After a horrific marriage, widow Everleigh Chatterton is cynical and leery of men. She rarely ventures into society, and when she must, she barely speaks to them. Her one regret for refusing to marry again is that she’ll never bear children. As a favor to a friend, she reluctantly agrees to attend a Christmas house-party. Unfortunately, Griffin, Duke of Sheffield is also in attendance. Even though Everleigh has previously snubbed him, she can’t deny her attraction to the confident, darkly handsome duke.

For almost a year, Griffin has searched for the perfect duchess to help care for the orphan he’s taken on. He sets his sights on the exquisite, but unapproachable widow after her sweet interactions with the child impress him. Everleigh vows she’s not interested in him or any other man. But Griffin is convinced he can thaw her icy exterior and free the warm, passionate woman lurking behind the arctic facade. Only, as he pursues her, it’s his heart that’s transformed.

Can Everleigh learn to trust and love again? Will Griffin get his Christmas wish and make her his bride? Or, has he underestimated her wounds and fears and be forced to let her go?

This book is part of a series but it can be read as a stand-alone.  
Get this romantic heart-warming Regency Yuletide story you’ll want to read in one sitting.

Boxhaven Brides Box Set Books 5-8 by Mary Lancaster

Welcome once more to the Blackhaven Brides series bundle, now with books 5 through 8. This series is set in a newly fashionable spa town on the beautiful Cumbrian coast, where the great and the bad of visiting Regency society turn local life upside down. Passion, mystery, and scandal continue to follow the citizens of this wealthy enclave, now with an entire new group of social misfits. Regency Historical Romance has never been so adventurous – or so exciting!

This set includes:

The Wicked Marquis – The lady meets her match… and he’s completely ineligible. 

The Wicked Governess – Can a governess teach a damaged hero?

The Wicked Spy – Can her enemy melt her cold heart?

The Wicked Gypsy – An old Blackhaven tragedy merges with a new quarrel.

Read for FREE in Kindle Unlimited!

Righteous Side of the Wicked: Pirates of Britannia by Jennifer Bray Weber

A spy on the run …

Treva MacDougall is running for her life. Not just hers, but those of her clansmen. Fleeing the hangman’s noose, she must reach her rebel cousin in Scotland in time to warn him of an ambush by the Crown. Finagling her way aboard a pirate ship running contraband wasn’t difficult, but ignoring the intense temptation she feels toward the ship’s captain is verra difficult. She can’t allow herself to have feelings for any man, but maybe just one night of sinful pleasure…

A pirate caught in the middle

Coire Fletcher doesn’t trust women. None of them, but especially the dark haired, moss-eyed lass whose pretty lies got her onto his ship and her sharp wit and undying spirit is getting under his skin. He knows she’s lying—after all, she is a female—but by damned his growing attraction to her is as troubling as a Caribbean hurricane. He won’t be fooled again by a woman, not even one he can’t stop thinking about. He’ll deliver his smuggled goods and Treva at the next port, then sail away. Or so he thinks…

Chased by the British Navy and vengeful enemy pirates alike, Coire and Treva must leave past injustices behind and learn to trust each other…or neither may see another sunrise.

Miss Lucas: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by AV Knight

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman of 27 is doomed to remain an old maid.

Charlotte Lucas knows this better than anyone. 

Mr. Collins is Charlotte’s last chance at becoming a wife, but when he leaves Meryton without proposing, Charlotte is determined not to let this last opportunity pass her by. 

The greatest challenge to Charlotte’s changes isn’t securing an invitation to Rosings Park, battling Lizzy’s temper, overcoming Lady Catherine’s unfathomable disapproval, or even Mr. Darcy’s odd behavior: it’s the distracting presence of Colonel Fitzwilliam. The man is neither handsome nor charming, but he’s honest and clever, which are enough to tease Charlotte with romantic notions that have never troubled her before. 

Join Charlotte Lucas in this novel-length variation on Jane Austen’s classic, where practical Charlotte finally earns her own happy ending. Though a lover of clean regency romance, Miss Lucas is AV Knight’s first Pride and Prejudice variation. 

Patience for Christmas: A Holiday Novella by Grace Burrowes

A friendly holiday competition turns steamy in this Regency romance novella from the New York Times bestselling author of My One and Only Duke

Previously published in Virtues of Christmas.Advice columnist Patience Friendly’s relationship with her stubborn, overbearing publisher, Dougal MacHugh, is anything but cordial. Dougal challenges Patience to take on a rival columnist in a holiday advice-a-thon, and sparks fly clear up to the mistletoe hanging from every rafter. Will Patience follow the practical guidance of her head or the passionate advice of her heart?
“Grace Burrowes is a romance treasure.” -Tessa Dare

Friday Feature–Letters from the Heart

LFTHEvery few weeks, I’ll be posting an excerpt from one of my back list of previously published stories. I tend to like to be organized in my head (even if I can never remember how many books I have out) so I’m just going in order. Maybe once that’s over I can think about themes or series or exciting things. Last month’s post was The Gentleman’s Impertinent Daughter. This week’s excerpt is Letters from the Heart. Have you read it? What did you think of it?

Here’s the (current) blurb:

The line between love and hate has never been closer.

 

Memories of Elizabeth Bennet torture Fitzwilliam Darcy during a winter in London. Resenting his love for her, he writes a cathartic letter intended to release his repressed feelings. When it is mistakenly mailed, there is only one thing he can do.
In Hertfordshire, Elizabeth’s mind returns again and again to the exasperating enigma of Mr. Darcy. Distraught and confused, she journals her hatred for the man but soon misplaces the letter never meant to be read.

When others presume an engagement, their paths seem sealed. However, rather than bringing about a marriage, their words of regret and anger threaten to separate them forever.

A stand alone novella in the Jane Austen Re-imaginings series, Letters from the Heart is for all who need a heartfelt Darcy and Elizabeth fix. Treat yourself to a romantic read from Rose Fairbanks.

 

Well, let’s give my faithful blog readers a treat and let you see Darcy’s letter!


Monday, December 9, 1811

Darcy House, London

 

Dearest, loveliest Elizabeth,

Are you shocked at the forwardness of my address? I should hope not, for I dearly love calling you Elizabeth. You will always be my Elizabeth.

In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

Have I shocked you again with my declaration of love? I assure you it is a true, constant love. I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun. 

How have you bewitched me? I have seen the beauties of the first circle and have remained unmoved until I was captivated by your fine eyes dancing not in candlelight, but in mirth and obvious joy. I have listened to the most exalted performers in the land, yet it is your performance that plays again in my mind. I have conversed with women educated by the finest masters at the best schools, but not one of them has your unique combination of intelligence, honesty, wit and sweetness. I know many women whom are lauded for their kindness, but I know none who would walk three miles after a storm to nurse a sick sister, or forebear Miss Bingley’s insults with such civility. I have been hunted in ballrooms since my youth, and you are the first woman of my acquaintance to refuse to stand up with me, and certainly the first to not seek my approbation. 

This must be the answer. I love you because you are genuine and unaffected. You do not simper or seek to flatter. The ladies of my acquaintance may be draped in the rarest silk and costly gold trinkets, and tout many so-called accomplishments, but they can only repeat my own opinion. They are not authentic. You are the most delightful woman of my acquaintance, the only real woman of my acquaintance, as the others are mere figments of fashionable society.

But to one of these insipid ladies I will have to shackle myself one day to serve my duty to my family. Your connections in trade and the improper behaviour of your family could never find a place in London society. Though I care little for it, I must protect my family’s position for the sake of my sister and my future children. And the ladies of the ton would be most unkind to you. I should hate to see you abused or regret a connection to me, though I rather think you would laugh at their folly instead.

In moments like these I must confess I would gladly cast aside my concerns about your family and connections, if only you showed me some encouragement. Instead you have fallen under Wickham’s spell of charming manners. Tell me, what is it young ladies find irresistible about the reprobate? His ability to gamble away three thousand pounds given in lieu of a valuable living—at his request—in the course of two years? Or is it his attempts to seduce young heiresses into elopement, as he tried with my sister? 

I should be angry with you. I should be angry that you are foolish enough to believe his lies, and foolish enough to doubt my honour. You destroyed the pleasure of our dance at Netherfield, which was supposed to offer me a lifetime of memories.  Instead you brought up that cad. But I cannot be angry with you. He has deceived many, myself included. I love you entirely, even if you suffer from some misjudgements. I know you by heart – your errors are just further proof of your affectionate character.

I should be angry that you cannot leave my mind for a moment. You have invaded my senses, my every waking hour and each night as well. I want peace and respite from this, Elizabeth! Yet I cannot blame you. It is my weakness that leads me to love a lady unsuitable for my standing. You are not charming, intelligent, witty and beautiful by design. Your enticements are wholly natural and intrinsic.

I am alternately angry and relieved that Miss Bennet does not hold my friend in the same esteem he holds her. If they had married, would I meet with you frequently? Would it be enough to simply keep an acquaintance with you and to satisfy myself with a few lively conversations a year? Would I be forced to see you marry another and bear his children? Or would I claim the honour? And should I try, would you deny me even as you have denied me a dance?

I have made a mess of things, Elizabeth. I cannot see myself through this, though I pride myself in my superior judgment. Since I cannot see clearly, I have run like a coward, hoping the distance would remove the need to find answers, but it has not. You are here with me, Lizzy. You are in my heart.

Perhaps this letter may serve as a balm, and I can regain my composure. Perhaps after this confession I will be able to close my eyes and not see yours laughing at me. It may be that after I conclude this note I will stop searching for your face everywhere I go, remembering your words, and faintly smelling your fragrance.

It may be. I pray it is. And yet my heart tells me there will be none but you residing in it.

Forever yours,

Fitzwilliam Darcy


What would you do if you read such a letter? What do you think Darcy does when he realizes it’s been mailed?

This letter is still one of my favorite things I’ve written. When I posted it on a forum, I had a reader say it reminded her of a scene from It’s a Wonderful Life. I absolutely love that movie so I took it as high praise!

http://youreon.net/wonderful-life-phone-scene/

Buy links: (I am still loading the new cover on the other sites)

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

iBooks

 

Fantasy Friday–Mr. Darcy and the Bewitched Sisters Chapter Five

Road in dark forest

I’ve decided that posting in small chunks wasn’t working for me. From now on, I will be posting an entire chapter once a month.

Previous posts: 1.1 / 1.2 / 2.1 / 2.2 / 3.1 / 3.2 / 4.1 / 4.2 / 4.3

Chapter Five

Two hours later, Jane and Elizabeth sat with Mr. Bennet in his library. Elizabeth did not need powers of empathy to know Jane felt confusion that the gentlemen of Netherfield did not call at Longbourn. Indeed, Elizabeth agreed with it. They ought to have called! When she heard the front door opening and voices in the hall, her heart skipped a beat—but no it was only Kate and Mr. and Mrs. Allen returning. Elizabeth’s conscience pricked, and she chose not to examine why she should be so emotionally invested in whether Mr. Bingley called on Jane. Surely that was the only reason she cared if the gentlemen called.
“How was your trip to Meryton?” Elizabeth asked when Kate came into the library. “Did you have any premonitions there?”
“No.” She hung her head and twisted her hands.
“Ah, I see your dislike of reading serious materials has played with your mind. You felt “urged to go” rather than sit home and read!” Mr. Bennet teased.
Elizabeth bit back a smile at her father’s words. He had been the one to tell Kate to leave.
“Papa!” Jane cried. “You upset her by calling her stupid!”
Mr. Bennet came to Kate’s side. “I am sorry. I did not mean it that way. I only like to tease.”
Kate sniffed. “I know.”
Elizabeth mutely watched the scene. She had not considered that Kate would feel that way. Did she not know the difference between a tease and true criticism? Did she not understand after all these years that Papa teased to show affection? Silence reigned in the room, and Mr. Bennet stood reflecting for a moment.
“He will do better in the future, Kate,” Jane said.
Kate nodded, and Mr. Bennet squeezed her shoulder. “Jane speaks the truth for she discerned my feelings.”
Elizabeth cocked her head to one side. “Is that why Jane has always seen the world so cheerfully?”
The others could feel insecure or morose if they wished. Elizabeth desired to learn all she could about their new powers and abilities.
“Although her powers were bound, some residual bits remained,” Mr. Bennet answered. “Empathy is a powerful and burdensome power to have. It should not be confused with telepathy for one may project feelings of good if they believe strongly in their actions, but have destructive thoughts and motives.”
“How is it burdensome?” Elizabeth asked and shot a worried look at Jane.
“She will be susceptible to the feelings of others even when they do not actively call on their magic. It can often make one nervous.” He paused a moment. “Your mother was an empath. At the time of the binding, Jane’s power promised to be even stronger.”
Elizabeth and Kate exchanged a look. Elizabeth supposed it explained much about her mother. Fanny Bennet often laid in bed afflicted with nervous flutters, and yet when one of her children needed her, she was like a lioness. Elizabeth guessed that had her mother heard Mr. Darcy’s insult and perceived how it wounded her daughter, she would flay him with her tongue at every meeting. A half amused, half sad smile had formed on her lips.
Elizabeth’s woolgathering was broken by a question from Kate. “With all the new changes, I never thought to ask if you and my mother have powers. It was simply enough that we were protected and accepted.”
Mr. Bennet smiled. “I am also a Pyrotechnist.”
“Is Lizzy’s power stronger than yours like Jane’s is stronger than her mother’s?” Kate asked with wide eyes.
Mr. Bennet’s face became unreadable for a moment. “When combined the three of your powers will be strong enough to defeat nearly any foe.”
Elizabeth noted that he did not say her power was particularly strong. It seemed Jane was first not only in beauty but also in powers. Elizabeth would not begrudge Jane a thing but had hoped learning about her magical heritage would bring her the fulfillment she had always lacked.
“Kate, instead of seeing the future, your mother can see moments of the past. It gives her great wisdom. She excels in sound advice and guidance.”
“And my father?” Kate’s eyes lit up. “Do any of her siblings have powers? Do they know about magic? Must we keep this a secret from them?
“Ah, slow down, and I shall attempt to answer all your questions.” Mr. Bennet chuckled. “Your brothers and sisters do not have powers. However, your mother and I have talked about it, and we will explain it to your brothers when we see them next. The others will wait until they are of greater age. For now, we are explaining to them that we have decided to redouble your feminine accomplishments.”
“Feminine accomplishments, Father?” Elizabeth asked and raised a brow in skepticism. “No one will mistake a blast of fire for embroidery and how shall we convince others that is what we have spent our time on when we have no proof of our new talents?”
“One may study and never become proficient,” he laughed.
Elizabeth glared at her father.
“Very well.” He held up his hands. “There are spells which can enhance your abilities. Nearly all the world’s best opera performers are witches.”
“Are they really?” Kate gasped.
“Indeed! Such talent is not of natural ability. Now, about your father. He had the power to sense dark magic, we call it Kleros.”
“Is that why he was a clergyman?” Elizabeth asked.
“Indeed! Most of the world does not know about magic. We have to make our way in life as though it does not exist. Some are landowners, some ministers, some soldiers, we call them Exercitos, lawyers called Advocates, shopkeepers, or other laborers.”
“Powers are not hereditary?” Elizabeth, more than her sisters, desired to know as much as possible about their powers. She had a thirst for knowledge combined with good sense and wit that they did not. “If these occupations have different words does that mean there is a magical government? Magical towns?”
“One question at a time!” Mr. Bennet chuckled. “Sometimes powers are hereditary. Obviously, in a family with more than two, there is a greater diversity of powers, but active powers are becoming rare. Magical families like ours increasingly choose not to practice.”
“Like Mrs. Allen?” Kate asked. “It had surprised me when she said she had never desired to learn magic. I feel apprehensive about all the changes, but I am eager to learn.”
“Quite right,” Mr. Bennet smiled at her. “And we have a Council that confers with the British Prime Minister. There are magical courts, as certain things must be illegal for the safety of all of us. The only all-magical town that remains is in Derbyshire.”
“Is it a large town?” Elizabeth wondered what it would be like to see more witches and wizards.
“It is a small market town, nothing like the cities in the North let alone London.”
“What about good and evil? Is that hereditary?” Elizabeth’s brows were knit together.
Mr. Bennet paused to look each of them in the eye. “That is always a choice.”
The sisters shared a look, and Elizabeth knew Jane instantly perceived her feelings. Taking a deep breath, she asked, “What of our deceased sisters? Did they have powers?”
*****

Elizabeth watched as Jane turned pale and fought to breathe. Reaching out, she clutched her sister’s hand. Mr. Bennet saw her reaction and quickly poured a glass of wine. Kate finally noted Jane’s bizarre response and wrapped her arms around her sister.
“Papa, what is happening?” Elizabeth asked as tears filled her eyes.
“She will be well.” Mr. Bennet pushed the glass of wine in Jane’s free hand. Stooping beside her chair, he placed a hand on her shoulder.
He looked into her eyes, and he spoke in a calm voice. “Now, Jane, you must calm yourself. Think of happy memories instead. I will do the same, but there will come a time when you must use your own strength to overcome.”
Tears streamed down Jane’s cheeks, but her color returned. “Do not fear, Lizzy,” she said at last. “I was overcome by Papa’s grief compounded with my own. The binding removed much of my feelings of mourning but Papa—” She looked at her father, “You carry it with you always!”

“You see now how taxing your gift can be. Focus on closing your feelings to others. Dwell only your own. You are alive, safe, and loved.”
Jane nodded her head, and her sisters hugged her close. Mr. Bennet waited a moment as Jane calmed. When she was ready, he answered the question which prompted such a reaction.
“Kitty had a very unique gift called glamouring. She could impersonate the qualities of others. She was still very young and had only gone so far as to learn how to be pleasing enough to get her way. Typically, she followed the strongest personality around her — that of Lydia’s — but a true master can change even their outward appearance.”
“That sounds very dangerous!” Jane cried.
“It can be. It is usually associated with dark magic, but light magic can use it as well. Lydia had the power of enchantment. Her passionate nature enraptured others. It was very unusual that each of our children had powers. Due to the need for secrecy, each new generation of witches has had fewer magical offspring.”
Mr. Bennet’s words reminded Elizabeth of a question she had. “Father…” she began, uncertain of how to continue.
“Yes?”
Jane squeezed Elizabeth’s hand, and she took a deep breath. “You told us we must keep our powers a secret from the town but not from others in our family. Should we not worry about what our young brothers and sisters might hear and pass along? How can we hide my fire ability completely?”
Mr. Bennet smiled. “Your powers have been unbound, but other charms remain. You should not have to fear hiding every conversation or sign of your powers. There is a bond between families. First of all, children under their majority cannot break the bond and reveal secrets. Secondly, to betray your family takes a very precise form of dark magic few can master.”
“Then how was there a spy?”
Mr. Bennet sighed and looked at the clock on the wall. “I will attempt to explain more later. Do not forget that you will learn more in the coming weeks. Enough questions for now. We must begin lessons.”
First, Mr. Bennet lectured on the general history of magic in England, lightly glossing over the dark years of witch persecution. “The Crown tried to be understanding of our powers, but light and dark magic were so unbalanced that mortals attempted to meddle. When William and Mary seized the throne, an agreement was reached. The magical community would see to its own affairs and contact the Crown only if things were beyond our control.”
“Was there ever a time when it was?” Lizzy asked.
“Nearly so. When the madness in France began, it was clearly of magical influence.”
“Democracy is evil?” Elizabeth asked, her disbelief obvious.
“Nothing is more English than representative government, Lizzy. The dark intent was clear due to the violence and intensity. A spell was cast upon the people, they unknowingly hurt themselves more with their radical passions than they were when abused by their royalty — also of dark magical influence.”
Elizabeth nodded her head. “Dark magic is tyrannical. It seduces with the promise of power and then makes you a slave to its own will.”
“Excellent! I knew you would be clever enough to see it.”
Mr. Bennet leaned back in his chair and lit a pipe Elizabeth had never seen before. Its smoke came in clouds of every shade of the rainbow instead of the usual gray.
Elizabeth pulled her eyes away from the unusual artifact in her father’s hand that he had not yet explained. She would ask about it later. “We are still at war with France. They are now ruled by Napoleon, but the Council did not see the need to take matters to the Crown?”
“We pooled all of our resources. We have many in important military and political positions — such as General Tilney. The evidence of the existence of the Bewitching Sisters was what truly turned the tide, however.”
“But there is a new danger now,” Kate said slowly.
“Indeed. Our fight against Napoleon is as necessary as ever. We have not had a large victory since Trafalgar seven years ago. The Darkness grows stronger than ever, now is the time to return your powers and fulfill the prophecy.”
Elizabeth gulped to consider the importance of their powers. Rather than allowing them to wallow in concerns for the future, Mr. Bennet moved on to practice sessions. Elizabeth was given time in the garden to conjure her fire and learn to throw it. Jane was assigned poetry reading to learn to block the moods and feelings of others. Kate played chess with her father in an attempt to perceive his moves.
Before leaving Elizabeth alone in the garden, Mr. Bennet showed Elizabeth how to unleash her power. “Focus your energy. Think of something which ignites your passion.”
“Something which makes me angry?”
“For now, that will do but be careful to not depend upon that. Defending yourself and others cannot come only from anger. Resentment and hatred are unstable and evil forces.”
Elizabeth closed her eyes. Just for now, she would allow herself to feel wrath. Mr.-too-tall-Darcy with his piercing blue eyes. He had literally looked down his nose at Elizabeth. He looked down at them all. He thought she was nothing, a nobody. She would show him. She would be the best pyrotechnic the world had ever seen.
As her thoughts swirled in her, the burning sensation she had felt before returned, rushing through her limbs. It simmered just beneath her skin.
“That is it!” Mr. Bennet cheered. “Now, stretch forward your hands and face your palms out. Direct the flames to the target.”
Elizabeth’s eyes flew open as she felt glorious release leave her body. The fire did not hurt her skin at all—there was no pain. Seeing flames shoot out of her hands, however, was a tad alarming and they soon flickered out. They had never reached the target.
“What did I do wrong?”
“Nothing,” Mr. Bennet reassured her. “You only need more practice. It may be easier to not watch at first. Let your body become accustomed to the feelings.”
Elizabeth closed her eyes once more. Again, she focused on her anger at Mr. Darcy. Instead of visualizing a target, she envisioned his face at the other end of the garden.
“Very good!” Mr. Bennet cried.
Elizabeth opened her eyes to see that she had missed the target, but she had directed the flames to the correct end.
“Give it one more try before I leave to get Jane and Kate started.”
Elizabeth carefully considered her thoughts this time. Yes, it was Mr. Darcy that angered her, but it was more. It was the sense of injustice of being judged so quickly. It was the idea of a rich and powerful man finding her wanting. It was a world that said her value as a woman only existed if she could catch a wealthy husband and bear him sons. This new ability—this was the answer to that. This was power. It was freedom.
“It is what I am meant for,” she whispered to herself as she felt the flames leave her body.
“Amazing!” her father said from behind her shoulder.
Elizabeth opened her eyes and grinned when she saw she had met the target.
“I’ll have ___ bring out some more. Experiment with different motions. You should be able to hold the fire, form a ball and make a short blast. When you master that we will move on to varying distances. Eventually, you will have moving targets, but we will train elsewhere for that.”
Elizabeth sighed happily as her father returned to the house. Here, she was finally at peace with herself. No sisters, no demands of Society, no worries for the future of Longbourn. No, she had more important concerns.
Finally, it was time to change for dinner. Upstairs, Elizabeth talked with Kate and Jane. After several hours worth of lessons on the benefit of knowing when to alter the future and when to allow it to come to pass, Kate had, at last, defeated Mr. Bennet. Jane’s eyes looked puffy and sore from crying, and she had run through half the supply of clean handkerchiefs in the house.
“I can understand the feelings of the authors since poetry is one of the most honest mediums. I worked hard to focus on my feelings like Papa said. It felt strange; I am not in the habit of putting myself. Tomorrow, Papa said we will work on less honest works, Greek histories, and mythologies for example.”
Dinner was a quiet affair. Mrs. Bennet talked about what new successes one child or other had during the day or some new chore that needed doing, but her daughters were too fatigued to say much. In the evening, they circled together as their stiff fingers moved slowly at their stitches. They excused themselves to bed early and climbed the stairs feeling as though their legs were made of lead.
“I am sorry Mr. Bingley did not come today,” Jane confessed outside of the chamber she shared with Elizabeth.
“I am glad Mr. Darcy was absent!” Elizabeth exclaimed.
“I daresay one of you shall be happy, and the other dismayed at the dinner we will have with them on Thursday,” Kate said with a sly smile.
Elizabeth scowled. “Mama mentioned no dinner!”
“I have foreseen Miss Bingley in our home in a green turban with seven peacock feathers, and Mrs. Hurst festooned with bracelets and rings. I also saw Mr. Hurst’s face reddened with port then Papa and General Tilney in deep discussion while Mrs. Tilney attempts to converse with Mama.”
“And the other gentlemen?” Jane asked, her voice rising in hope.
Kate gave an apologetic smile. “That is less clear. I see all three unmarried gentlemen. I only know one smiles, one scowls, and one laughs.”
Mr. Darcy will do more than scowl after I am through with him. He is one target I will not miss!
“Elizabeth!” Jane said. “You should cease such ungenerous feelings immediately!”
She gave a sheepish smile. “I promise to keep any fire I throw at Mr. Darcy limited to glares from my eyes and darts with my tongue in verbal rebukes.”
Jane nodded entered the room and went to the dressing table to brush out her hair.
“That is just as well for your aim needs practice!” Kate called before ducking into her room.
Elizabeth wore a smile when she entered her room and slammed the door shut. The faint smell of smoke filled the hall.

Austen Writes Romance- Legacy

Valentines Day - Wicker Hearts On Red Shiny Background

Despite my assertions that Jane Austen did not set out to write Romance, she nonetheless has had a profound impact on the genre. If focused on the romantic elements instead of themes of identity, her books can be summarized as follows:

Sense and Sensibility: Heartbroken, can she love again? Can their attraction overcome his dark secret?

Pride and Prejudice: Boy meets girl, girl hates boy, boy loves girl. Alpha male, sassy heroine. Imbalance of power. Sexual tension. And if you want to add Jane and Bingley: Can she trust him and can he take what he wants? (See my post about how Jane is an unsung hero because I believe this is a very popular theme in contemporary romances even if it gets little limelight in Pride and Prejudice.)

Mansfield Park: Boy can’t see the good woman right before him and nearly falls for a wanton temptress. Unforeseen events finally unite them. The heroine has overcome a traumatic background. Girl next door.

Emma: They’ve been friends forever, can it be more? Boy next door.

Persuasion: The one that got away/never got over a bad break up and meet again/family responsibility gets in the way of true love/family demands someone rich/has fallen on hard times.

Northanger Abbey- She’s young, innocent and naive. He wasn’t looking for love but ends up as her knight in shining armor. When she rescues herself, can they have a future? Can be insta-love and sugary.

Now, let’s look at current bestsellers in the Romance genre on Amazon. (Note: I have not read these books and am not recommending them, I am only analyzing their blurbs.)

41xibccnbelA luminous debut with unexpected twists, Everything We Keep explores the devastation of loss, the euphoria of finding love again, and the pulse-racing repercussions of discovering the truth about the ones we hold dear and the lengths they will go to protect us.

Sous chef Aimee Tierney has the perfect recipe for the perfect life: marry her childhood sweetheart, raise a family, and buy out her parents’ restaurant. But when her fiancé, James Donato, vanishes in a boating accident, her well-baked future is swept out to sea. Instead of walking down the aisle on their wedding day, Aimee is at James’s funeral—a funeral that leaves her more unsettled than at peace.

As Aimee struggles to reconstruct her life, she delves deeper into James’s disappearance. What she uncovers is an ocean of secrets that make her question everything about the life they built together. And just below the surface is a truth that may set Aimee free…or shatter her forever.

Translation: Sense and Sensibility.

51fxbujpplAlena is a princess, and with that comes responsibility. Like marrying the giant caveman King Roman, who looks more like a warrior than a ruler. Everything about him is intense. Especially the way he looks at her. But she’s been promised to him, and there’s no way out.

Roman took one look and made up his mind. Princess Alena will be his and no one will stop him from taking her. Everything about her belongs to him now, and waiting one week for a wedding isn’t going to happen.

This beast of a man might just claim his princess before she has a chance to say “I do.”

Translation: Jane and Bingley from Pride and Prejudice.

51rxofogxrlLove. Guilt. Heartbreak. The Secret Wife, is about the romance between cavalry officer Dmitri Malama and Grand Duchess Tatiana, the second daughter of Russia’s last tsar, who first met in 1914. It’s also about a young woman in 2016 deciding whether to forgive her husband after an infidelity.

Translation: Jane and Bingley from Pride and Prejudice.

51y422xflwlEli Strong got out of the military and all he wanted to do was get better. He never expected that the officer he was living with would have a daughter who tested his honor.

Maggie Drummond has been moved around more times than she can count, and starting at a new high school sucks. But when a wounded Marine comes to live with her and her dad, suddenly Maggie figures out what home is.

She’s forbidden fruit, and he’s trying to not to taste… But desire can only be denied for so long. Circumstances keep pulling them back together, and something truly unforeseen happens. Overnight, Eli becomes a guardian and Maggie his ward.

Will Eli keep his hands off Maggie? Will Maggie like it if he doesn’t? Will the two of them break the law because it feels so good? Only one way to find out!

Translation: Northanger Abbey.

51xgqcwctllFlirting With The Law is a quick and filthy book involving two utterly obsessed alpha heroes, one sassy heroine, and enough insta-love, steam, and sugary-sweetness to make your Kindles melt.

Translation: Pride and Prejudice.

 

512vdlb1j3lMallory Sims is late for her first day of work.

After spilling her tea, she discovers she has no gas in her car. Add that her arm keeps sticking to her dress from syrup left on the console of her car, flustered feels like an understatement.

Then she sees her new boss.

Graham Landry is the epitome of NSFW in his custom-fit suit, black-rimmed glasses, and a look so stern her libido doesn’t stand a chance. Being flustered is just the start of her problems.

Her punctuality is only the start of his. With a pink slip in hand, he’s been waiting on his new secretary to show up only to let her go. Then she rushes in with her doe eyes and rambling excuses, smelling like bacon and lavender. The termination paper falls to the side as she falls in his arms.

This is a disaster in the making. Not because of his pinpoint exactness or her free spirit, but because when they’re together, the sparks that fly threaten to burn the whole place down.

Translation: Pride and Prejudice.

51o1jwgaellMy grandfather left me his business with one insane condition:
I need a wife and two kids. Too bad I’m a divorced single dad.
Cue my ex-wife’s best friend moving in next door.
And then mix in a few bad decisions.
What do you get? A complicated, sexy mess.

SANDRA

The list of reasons I should stay away from my neighbor is about as long as his… wrench. He’s a dirty mechanic, he’s a single dad, and he can’t seem to keep his shirt on for more than five minutes.

Did I mention his ex wife is my best friend? Yeah. Reid Riggins is absolutely, one hundred percent, the last person in the world I should get involved with. Even if he is heart-stoppingly gorgeous with strong, powerful hands that could rip my clothes off with ease.

Not that I’ve imagined that, of course.

The point is I don’t want anything to do with him. He can stay in his stupid garage with his stupidly cute son and hit things with wrenches all day. He can keep on wearing those blue jeans that fit him just right for all I care.

Except I may have told a white lie to my eccentric, rich parents. I may have told them I’m engaged to a wealthy businessman, and now they want to meet my fake fiance. Unfortunately, Reid might be the only guy who’s willing to play along.

Translation: Emma mixed with Pride and Prejudice with a dash of Persuasion or Northanger Abbey for the familial obligations.

41x1qbzpwxlSometimes your life is split by a single decision.

I’ve spent every day of the last seven years regretting mine: he left, and I didn’t follow. A thousand letters went unanswered, my words like petals in the wind, spinning away into nothing, taking me with them.

But now he’s back.

I barely recognize the man he’s become, but I can still see a glimmer of the boy who asked me to be his forever, the boy I walked away from when I was young and afraid.

Maybe if he’d come home under better circumstances, he could speak to me without anger in his voice. Maybe if I’d said yes all those years ago, he’d look at me without the weight of rejection in his eyes. Maybe if things were different, we would have had a chance.

One regretted decision sent him away. One painful journey brought him back to me. I only wish I could keep him.

*A contemporary romance inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion*

Translation: Ok, so she says it’s Persuasion right there, but I was thinking it by the second line.

51ljijaibjlJess O’Brien has overcome a lot—the challenges of attention deficit disorder, the near bankruptcy of her beloved Inn at Eagle Point and her self-perception as a screwup in a family of overachievers. Now she’s ready to share the future with a man. Her friends persuade her to join a dating service—but she gets no takers! Which is fine with her childhood friend, psychologist Will Lincoln, who’s already chosen the perfect man for Jess: himself.

Will has loved Jess practically forever. He knows her faults and her strengths. But for all Will’s sincerity and charm, Jess fears he views her as some psychological case study. With her family and the town of Chesapeake Shores behind him, Will finally makes his case. But is it enough to convince Jess to take the risk of a lifetime.

511cxdwl6el-_sy346_Translation: Emma with a bit of Mansfield Park.

I’d never fallen for a student—but she was different.

Headstrong and unrelenting, she begged to be claimed. She just didn’t know it yet.

I was going to break her, and make her mine.

-REGAN

Translation: Pride and Prejudice, maybe some Northanger Abbey

Out of these top 10 books with prominent Austen influence, Pride and Prejudice is the definite strong suit. Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship of sexual tension, power/money imbalance, love/hate is a classic. However, a variation on Jane and Bingley’s relationship is also popular. A common complaint about Bingley is that he’s not dominant enough, not an “alpha male” and allows himself to be talked out of what he wants by family and friends. In twenty-first century Romances, we want a man who will take what he wants! Although it takes Austen’s Bingley longer, I believe that is appropriate for the era.

I was surprised to see Mansfield Park make the list at all, but in many ways it is very similar to Emma and the boy next door trope is probably the second most common Romance trope. Matching it with a Pride and Prejudice hate to love theme is common as well. Adding a dash of Persuasion or Northanger Abbey with family obligations is innovative. I think I’ll try this one to see how the plot holds together with that many elements or if the wheels come of the bus.

It’s no surprise to see books with Persuasion themes on here. Second Chances is a category of its own in Romance, I think. For first time relationships Romance seems to fall into hate/love, boy/girl next door, insta-love, love triangles, or trust issues. Second Chances can either be with the same partner after a separation that seems insurmountable or with learning to love again, although that one heavily leans on the trust issues sub-category.

On Amazon you may search by Romantic hero, themes, or sub-genre. As classic as Austen is, I think we could find her fingerprints on something as obscure as Second Chances Paranormal Firefighter. Let’s see…

51n1-ctcq-lA curvy pilot wary of flighty men + a firefighter pegasus shifter determined to win her heart + a high speed air race with even higher stakes = one explosive romance!

Curvy pilot Connie West hates taking risks. But when her reckless father stakes her beloved airplane in a bet with a ruthless loan shark, Connie is forced to enter the Rydon Cup, a dangerous high-speed air race. To win the bet, she needs a co-pilot she can trust completely. Someone cautious and sensible. Someone completely unlike the gorgeous, wild Chase…

Pegasus shifter and firefighter Chase Tiernach lives life at top speed, but not even his close friends in his elite, all-shifter fire crew can guess that his ready grin conceals a broken heart. Three years ago, he met his fated mate Connie… and lost her again, thanks to his reputation for recklessness.

When Chase unexpectedly rescues Connie from a fire, he’s determined that this time, he’ll win her trust. All he has to do is fight off a gang of criminal shark shifters, defend Connie from a mysterious assassin, convince her to marry him so his clan will let him tell her he shifts into a flying horse, and win a perilous air race in a vintage warplane! What could possibly go wrong?

With enemies who’ll stop at nothing to prevent her from winning the bet, Connie is in danger of losing her plane, her life — and, most frighteningly of all, her heart. Can Chase persuade her to take a chance on him, or will their love crash and burn… again?

Firefighter Pegasus is a sizzling hot, standalone BBW pegasus shifter romance. No cliffhangers!

Translation: Persuasion

All more proof that Jane is here to stay! I hope you’ve enjoyed this segment. Next month, I’ll be talking about Spring in Austen’s works. Join me at Austen Authors for the first post, Thursday, March 2nd!

 

 

Austen Writes Romance- Broken Hearts

Welcome to the second post in a series on Austen Writes Romance! The first post was on Austen Authors. I will be discussing plot points of Austen’s works, so there will be SPOILERS. For the sake of brevity, I will assume a certain amount of knowledge of each book, so I do not need to summarize.

Red Valentine Hearts Hanging in a RowIn the Georgian era, rumors of attachments and engagements could have a profound impact on a single person of gentry class. It might make a gentleman bound in honor to a woman by none other than her raised hopes. The idea being that if she believed a proposal was coming from one man, she would not encourage other suitors and spurn other offers. Well-bred ladies’ sole security resided on income from others. If they did not inherit money, then they needed to marry it. For a lady, rumors of an attachment or engagement that then never manifested could render her “damaged goods” as her virtue (virginity) was the highly traded upon requirement for marriage. A ruined lady could still marry, of course, but generally not as well. Even if a gentleman might be willing to overlook it, his family and the rest of Society generally was not. There are accounts of peers marrying courtesans, so it was not entirely unknown but certainly uncommon, and in some circles, they were never accepted. The hypocrisy of all this while nothing was thought of men having affairs and natural children and even the princes of Great Britain spurned Parliament and Church recognized marriages and legitimate heirs for their mistresses is for another post. On the other hand, Jane Austen shows Society could damage a broken heart in a very different and far crueler way.

First, let us examine rumored attachments. In Sense and Sensibility, Marianne first garners the notice and attachment of Colonel Brandon. However much the Barton Park people would have wanted it, his admiration did not behold either of them to marriage. Later, Marianne fell in love with Willoughby and was presumed engaged, although she never was. Having displayed her emotions openly, everyone knew of her heartbreak when Willoughby married another. Elinor fared quite a bit better as she did not expose her feelings to the world so much. Still later, Mrs. Jennings suspects an attachment forming between Colonel Brandon and Elinor. Additionally, Edward Ferrars was expected by his family to marry a Miss Morton with twenty thousand pounds. None of these situations receive censure from Society in the book (the movies stretch matters more), and Marianne’s suffering is due lacking privacy to get over her heartbreak. This scenario is repeated in each of Austen’s works. It is natural enough for people to show inclination and become attached and yet things do not work out. The degree of pain relies not only on the strength of the attachment but on how openly it was known. Captain Wentworth comes closest to having to face real repercussions due to raising a lady’s hopes. Even then, it was allowable to leave the area and hope to lessen her regard, which certainly worked.

An entirely different matter is a broken engagement. Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth never received censure from Society because their engagement was broken before it became known. In a similar way, Sir Thomas Bertram offers to end his daughter Maria’s engagement even though it had been spread about by Mrs. Norris. Isabella Thorpe and John Morland’s engagement in Northanger Abbey, while approved by their parents, had not been on the point of signing marriage articles because they had to wait several years before they could afford to marry. Lucy Steele and Edward Ferrars have secretly been engaged for four years when the truth comes out. A disinherited, Edward offers Lucy a chance to break the engagement, but she claims she has no desire to end it. Just before their marriage, she “transfers her affections” and marries Edward’s brother, who now will inherit all of their mother’s income. As Lucy broke her engagement with Edward (which had become known) and then immediately married, her reputation seems to have suffered no damage. Of course, the situation gave rise to a happier union of Edward being free to marry Elinor.

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In fact, Austen never shows us a broken engagement that has serious ramifications. That doesn’t mean they didn’t exist or that she didn’t have the stomach for it. I think it simply was rare. Instead, she does show us two divorces and many unhappy marriages. In the case of both divorces, the women married against the inclination of their affections and paid quite the price for it. In Mansfield Park, Maria Bertram Rushworth is eventually persuaded to leave Henry Crawford who soon showed he had no real affection for her. She then lived with her aunt Norris in relative comfort. She was not readmitted to the Bertram household or fashionable Society. Nothing was hinted at her eventually remarrying or anything of the sort. On the whole, however, living in obscurity is far better than what befell Colonel Brandon’s first love, Eliza. Torn from the younger Brandon on the eve of their elopement, she married the elder brother — as was intended for some time– after she was cut off from all friends. Perhaps she had believed such seclusion was the worse life could hand her but it got much worse. Her husband showed her no affection or kindness. It is hinted that he had no respect for her, likely having public affairs that shamed his wife. Colonel Brandon is very compassionate in relating how she was seduced and makes her nearly blameless. When the incident came to light, Eliza was divorced. Instead of having Maria’s comfortable living arrangements, her income was insufficient for living and having no relatives, she sunk further in life. After several years, Brandon returned to England and found her dying and one step away from debtor’s prison. We may suppose from these situations that Jane Austen would find breaking an engagement a far more prudent choice than marrying when affection lies elsewhere.

This brings us to consider the matter of broken hearts. Austen shows many troubled marriages that at one time held some sort of affection or at least one-sided affection. While the couples do not claim any extraordinary marital bliss, they are saved the disaster of adultery and divorces. In each book, some character suffers from the hopelessness of a broken heart and unrequited love, even if only for a few days. Emma is the character who likely suffers the least but as she is the most spoiled perhaps even the few days of tumult she had was equivalent to the months that Elinor Dashwood had no hope.

In effect, Austen quite likes dualism of opposite reactions from two broken-hearted ladies. Marianne is crushed by Willoughby’s desertion, Elinor manages life without an outward hiccup. Jane Bennet writes contented letters to her sister while Elizabeth tosses and turns, mutters to herself while serving coffee, and says arch things to her brother-in-law. Mansfield Park contains two examples. Julia Bertram manages her disappointment when Henry favors Maria at Mansfield. In London, she then guards herself against him. Maria, however, could not stand to see Henry spend time with Julia. Learning he was attached to Fanny, fuelled her flirtation. Fanny spends most of the book seeing Edmund fall deeper into Mary Crawford’s clutches. When Mary sees Edmund’s disapproval, she lashes out at Fanny. Catherine Morland is overwrought when she thinks Henry can never love her after her mistake about the General but when expelled from the house, she bears it rather well. Anne Elliot lives with the burden of her broken heart for years, first in the absence of her beloved, and then while watching him court another lady and no one in her family has a clue.

Rustic heart.

Are there similarities between the women with more exuberant responses? Surely some people are simply more emotional and display them easier. However, I think there is an additional reason. The women who did not bear their heartache with grace had felt quite assured of being loved in return. It is not that they felt more love than the others did, it is that they were more disappointed. And is it that they are truly disappointed in the gentleman and their hopes for the future? After all, you can love again. Or is it that they were disappointed in themselves? It shows some hidden insecurity or blindness in their character they now find appalling.

Marianne blamed herself from the beginning about Willoughby. So does Jane Bennet. Jane, however, does not seem to find it so difficult to bear with the fact that she must have been mistaken in a man’s affections. Elizabeth had already lived through disappointment in herself regarding Darcy. Still, she believed he loved her at Pemberley and thought his returning to Hertfordshire was further proof. Instead, he withdrew from her, and Elizabeth was disappointed she had clung to hope. She rather desperately tells herself she will put him behind her. Mary Crawford believed Edmund would change his career path for her and modify other values. She spends much of the novel speaking about how marriage and love are about being “taken in.” If she did not feel ashamed of her liberal feelings regarding her brother’s conduct, then she must have felt disappointed in herself for being taken in. As she says of marriage, “it is, of all transactions, the one in which people expect most from others, and are least honest themselves.” Harriet was assured of Elton’s love by Emma, who she believed superior in all matters. Additionally, she had turned down a man she genuinely cared for at Emma’s prodding. If Emma was wrong about Elton, had she been wrong about Robert Martin? Had Harriet let happiness slip through her fingers? Catherine Morland’s shame in her behavior hardly needs telling. She had seen enough in Henry’s behavior toward her to be hopeful, and then she ruined it with an overactive imagination.

The ladies who deal with heartache the best have more than moderation of feeling and modesty. They are also less fanciful, more grounded, and feel the compliment of their beloved’s regard. For them, it is amazing to consider they might ever attract anyone’s notice or someone so worthy. Jane Bennet was flattered and surprised by Bingley asking her to dance twice at their first meeting. Elizabeth noted that she was never surprised by compliments while Jane always was. Elinor noted Edward’s regard but also knew he had familial duties and never supposed herself capable of driving him wild with so much passion as to ignore them (not that she would have cared for him if he did). Fanny dislikes Edmund’s attachment to Mary Crawford solely because she knows it will make Edmund unhappy in the long run, not because she harbored any hope for herself. Emma thought so highly of Mr. Knightley, even before she recognized her feelings for him, that she promoted him as the ideal gentleman. Realizing she loved him just after she was also condemned by him made her feel all the more the compliment his affection would be. Catherine fits both cases but esteems Henry all the more after he treats her well despite her ridiculous belief that the General had killed his wife. When Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth meet again, she is amazed at his civility even while he must resent her. She understood if she ever regained his feelings she would be the most fortunate lady.

Jane Austen does not write much on actual romance, the sensations of falling in love, and sweet words whispered between lovers. She does, however, write about relationships and examining ladies’ emotions and behavior in how to make it through the trials of life, including failed relationships. I would say she doesn’t provide so much a recipe for good relationships as much as she does for overcoming grief: have no hopes or expectations, think better of your crush than you do yourself, and consider the feelings of others. Sound hard to do? Well, then you probably have had a love story like Marianne, Elizabeth, or Catherine. I have!

Next week I’ll examine true love and second chances in Austen’s books!

 

Inspired by Grace review

I’ve enjoyed all of Jeanna Ellsworth’s previous stories. Mr. Darcy’s Promise holds a special place in my heart, especially. So when I saw that Jeanna was publishing again, I was eager to have her on the blog. She asked if I would do a review and we decided that as a fellow author I could do an editorial review. This one will not have a star ranking, and I won’t be posting it on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. but Jeanna may use it as she wishes.

IIBGnspired by Grace features what every great love story needs. True love requires the other person to pick up where you leave off. They can be your strength when you have nothing left. Ten years ago, Grace and Gavin were the best of friends and just beginning to breach that “something else” of young lovers. Their happily ever after was interrupted by a death in Grace’s family. Finally meeting by accident after so long a separation, they are put to the test as their old feelings re-emerge. However, people do grow and change over the course of ten years. Can you really trust someone after such a separation? Can the love last? Can it conquer everything?

Ellsworth chooses an innovative storyline as the heroine and hero are both old lovers and new lovers at once. The characters are immensely likable on their own, but when they come together, they somehow can be prone to brief periods of misunderstanding each other allowing them to be admirable but flawed. I’ll admit, there were a few times when it seemed Ellsworth would test my limits on what I was willing to endure for these two but on the very next page things had turned a corner. Indeed, it kept me turning the pages. The story is not just lovebirds cooing, however. When it seems like outside forces may destroy their happiness once more, they learn to lend grace and find strength in the other. I really enjoyed Ms. Ellsworth’s first foray into original work Regency Romance and can’t wait to see what she presents us with next!