More to Love

Excerpt from my new WIP

Elizabeth sat alone, smiling as she watched the couples dancing gracefully around the floor. Occasionally, she nibbled at the cooky she held, taking comfort in the richness of the sweet almond confection. As she was a great favourite of Longbourn’s cook, Mrs. Bailey, who had learned the recipes for several types of cookies while a young woman in America, Elizabeth was never without several of the tasty morsels in her reticule. Mrs. Bailey kept her well-supplied.

Toni Collette in 1996 version of Emma

The lady is pleasantly plump, not hugely overweight. I’m seeing this body size as my Elizabeth in More to Love.

Knowing her mother would disapprove of her eating while she waited for an invitation to dance, Elizabeth practiced her usual ruse. She hid the jumble in her embroidered handkerchief, careful to let no one see it. In any case, she was rarely asked to dance, cooky or not, as there were always more ladies than gentlemen at Meryton’s Assemblies. This night had been no exception. She had danced only one set.

Her sister Jane’s amiable partner for an earlier dance, Mr. Bingley, stood fairly close to Elizabeth, chatting with a handsome, austere man. Mr. Bingley’s voice carried over the music and gaiety, impossible to ignore.

“Darcy! Why are you standing here with your arms folded when there are so many uncommonly pretty girls lacking dance partners? You should not keep yourself apart from the company in such a stupid manner when lovely young women are seated and gentlemen are scarce. ’Tis rudeness itself. I must have you dance.”

“I certainly shall not,” answered the gentleman, drawing himself up to his full, intimidating height, looking down his nose at his friend. “You have been dancing with the only handsome girl in the room, and your sisters are engaged at present.”

Bingley’s voice softened. “She is an angel, is she not? The most beautiful creature I ever beheld.” He sighed. “However, there are plenty of suitable young ladies who are available.”

Elizabeth smiled upon hearing his praise of her sister. His pleasant manner and good sense caused him to rise several notches in her estimation.

The young man continued, “Look! There is her sister, and she has a very pretty face, too. I daresay she is most agreeable. You must ask her to dance. Allow me to ask my partner to introduce you.”

She felt the weight of the gentleman’s disapproving stare and glanced away.

“She is tolerable, I suppose, but there is rather too much of her to tempt me. Return to Miss Bennet and bask in her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me.”

Elizabeth’s eyes filled with unshed tears as she crushed the cooky hidden in her handkerchief. While she had never been obsessed with her looks in the way her younger sisters were, she always took pride in her appearance. Her father had often complimented her beautiful skin and her lustrous, thick hair, while her mother made sure her bonnets and dresses were stylish.

Even so, she grudgingly acknowledged to herself that she had been avoiding mirrors for at least two years now, and lately, her gowns had become uncomfortably snug.

True or not, his comments wounded her deeply. Though she was well-known for her intelligence and quick wit, she yearned to be told she was altogether lovely. She had many friends, but she feared that being bright and cheerful with a pretty face described a governess or a lady’s companion, and she did not aspire to those vocations.

Secretly, Elizabeth wished to be the wife of a gentleman who adored her, as well as a mother to children she would love, regardless of their outward features. She prided herself on valuing the characters of her friends and relatives rather than their physical attributes.

Too be judged so harshly by a person she had never met was disconcerting. Her view of the world and her place in it was shaken.

In the moment the haughty gentleman had declared her to be “too much,” she had become, to herself, “not enough.” Not good enough. Not pretty enough. Not tempting enough.

Mr. Bingley, sweet man, would not agree with his friend. “How can you say that, Darcy? She has a perfect complexion, beautiful eyes, and dainty hands which are lovely. Her entire face is alight when she smiles, and I have also observed how graceful she is when she walks. Surely you have noticed that.”

Thomas Beaudoin

Thomas Beaudoin is my model for Darcy. My husband cannot object. He always wants to watch Hallmark movies, and Mr. Beaudoin starred in a new one – Love on the Slopes. I’d love to have his face on a cover.

Darcy snorted. “I have. Who could miss it? She approaches the refreshment table every half hour, and she is sorely mistaken if she thinks her handkerchief hides what she is constantly eating. Bingley, I am not in humour to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men, especially when that slighting is so obviously justified in this case by the lady’s lack of discipline.”

His companion rather testily replied, “I would not be as fastidious as you for a kingdom. You are determined to be disagreeable, so I will leave you to it. Furthermore, I shall dare your disapproval and ask her myself.”

Elizabeth hardly ever allowed herself to dislike people she had never met, but she was willing to make an exception for tall, dark, brooding Mr. Darcy.  Upon further reflection, she was somewhat surprised to realize she truly despised him, despite his unusual beauty and aristocratic profile, which was most unusual for her. She had never met the gentleman, yet she could hardly stand the sight of him. Odd, for she was generally accepting of everyone.

Seeing Mr. Bingley approaching her, she stuffed the handkerchief into her reticule and placed it under her chair. Her determined attempt at a pleasant countenance was successful.

A moment later, Mr. Bingley appeared before her, bowed, and extended his hand with a smile and a request.

Elizabeth stood and placed her hand in his, determined not to disgrace herself. She held her head high and fixed a smile upon her face, allowing her brilliant, green eyes to sparkle with mischief as he escorted her past Mr. Darcy onto the dance floor.

As she and Mr. Bingley moved through the steps, she glimpsed Mr. Darcy watching them several times, an inscrutable expression on his striking face.

Assuming that he looked at her only to find fault, her active mind formed a scheme, and she could hardly wait to set it in motion.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What do you think? Have you ever been judged harshly concerning your physical appearance? I have, so I have years of material to access in this story. My sister Gayle gave me this idea, and she will have much to contribute.

You can read future posts at Beyond Austen, where you can read works in progress by some of your favorite Austenesque authors. Leave a comment for the authors. Sometimes our readers influence our stories.

Thomas Beaudoin curly hair

The actress in the picture is Toni Collette who played the part of Harriet Smith in the 1996 version of Emma.

And just in case you didn’t notice my Darcy model earlier in the post, here he is again, Mr. Thomas Beaudoin.

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The Mercy’s Embrace series is now complete

Suspense, laughter, and love are waiting for you. And a handsome admiral too …

It’s Launch Day for The Lady Must Decide, the third and final installment in the Mercy’s Embrace trilogy.

And, hooray! Claudine has an eBook giveaway going on.

Stop by, read her review at Just Jane 1813, and if you’d like to enter, post a comment. Prize will be winner’s choice — any one of the three Mercy’s Embrace eBooks.

You can see some of the cover in this banner — so beautiful! so worth it! — but you can get an even better look at Just Jane 1813.

Do remember, this is a novel in three parts. They are not stand-alone books; once begun, you will need to read all of them for the complete story.

Ah, but Kindle Unlimited has been designed especially for series addicts. So there you are.

Here is the purchase link at Amazon — where you can also see the cover. But at Claudine’s, you get to maybe win an eBook.  Choices, choices …

Thanks for stopping by and celebrating with me.

*Big, big sigh of relief*

 

This was also posted at Laura Hile: Faith, Hope, Laughter … and Happily Ever After

3 Day Free Spree!

The Queen wishes you to accept her gift of Understanding Elizabeth.

A few weeks ago, I was asked if I would like to be Queen for a Day on the Facebook group, Queens of Medieval Romance. Obviously, I don’t write medieval romance, but they were fine with featuring a Regency romance writer. Queen

 

I got this lovely badge and settled in for my day as Queen. (I always wanted to be a princess, but a queen is even better!)

Then I started thinking, as queens must do, of how to best celebrate my day on the throne, and I thought, “Give them a boon!” That’s a gift in queenspeak.

Free badge

Since I was being recognized as a Regency writer, I focused on Understanding Elizabeth, a Regency romance I published last January. I decided to make it free for THREE days.

My lovely friend and writing compatriot, Wendi Sotis, made a badge for me (because she’s wonderful like that), my encourager and head cheerleader, Laura Hile, told me to go for it, and I set Understanding Elizabeth up in Kindle to be FREE for three days. Ah, the joys of being an indie author! You can get it even if you don’t own a kindle. Just download the kindle app to your phone! Take your books with you everywhere you go!

Crown1

In case you’re wondering, or even if you weren’t, I actually was a queen in my younger years. I was Miss Pageland and the Chesterfield County Farm Bureau Queen. I was also first runner-up to Princess Soya (Soybean Queen) as well as Miss Tiger, and I served as Hostess Queen for the Pageland Watermelon Festival. Ha! (Down South, we have queens for nearly every fruit, vegetable, or flower. We love those crowns, banners, and parades.)

Here I am being crowned Miss Pageland 1973 (I think) by my predecessor, the former Nancy Lyman. I’m doing the ugly cry and everything. And I’m seated on a throne! Excuse me while I delicately dab the tears glistening in my blue/green eyes. Reminds me of the scene in “Designing Women” in which Dixie Carter (Julia Sugarbaker) talks of the night Delta Burke (Suzanne Sugarbaker), her sister, won the Miss Georgia World pageant. A truly hilarious classic. You MUST watch it.

 

Darcy By Any Other Name makes Anna’s Top 10

Gotta love our man Darcy.

Here he goes again, in his own endearing way, capturing hearts and keeping those pages a-turning.

This time he’s won an award for his role in my fun body-swap romance.

A sincere, and very surprised “Thank You” to Anna of Diary of an Eccentric for including Darcy By Any Other Name in her Top 10 list.

These blogger’s lists are so great — the best way to find some really good reads. Take a look!

My Top 10 Favorite Books of 2017

 

This news was also posted at Laura Hile: Faith, Hope, Laughter … and Happily Ever After

End-of-year Pricing

Wintry weather, a bright fireside, and good reading!

Titles by your friends at Jane Started It

What could be better?

For your quiet holiday moments, may we suggest these lovely books? Many are at holiday prices through the end of the year.

A Little Contagion for Christmas

If you’ve read the stories in A Very Austen Christmas anthology (and if you haven’t, why NOT?) an accidental theme in three of them was illness and its ability to bring people together. Not to be outdone, I present to you a story I wrote years ago with the same theme: The Little Particulars of the Circumstance

In the course of the original Persuasion, Frederick Wentworth goes to Uppercross Cottage looking for Louisa and Henrietta.  Instead, he finds himself alone with Anne Elliot. He then rescues her from the naughty antics of little Walter. In this version, the apothecary, Mr Robinson, has come to check on the injured little Charles and in a twist of the story, declares a quarantine! When Anne and Frederick are forced to stay alone together in one room, with a sick child to care for, will they overcome their pride and anger? This story combines a little bit of “Outbreak!” with a lot of “It Happened One Night.” Happy ending included at no charge.

 

One morning, very soon after the dinner at the Musgroves, at which Anne had not been present, Captain Wentworth walked into the drawing room at the Cottage, where were herself, Mr Robinson the apothecary, and the little invalid, Charles, who was lying on the sofa.

The surprise of finding himself almost alone with Anne Elliot deprived of his manners of the usual composure: he started, and could only say, “I beg your pardon. I thought the Miss Musgroves had been here—Mrs Musgrove told me I could find them here,” before he walked to the window to recollect himself and feel how he ought to behave.

“They are upstairs with my sister—they will be down in a few moments, I dare say.”

He continued at the window; and after calmly and politely saying, “I hope the little boy is better,” was silent.

Anne turned back to Mr Robinson, the apothecary, who had come to check on the young patient.

The man glanced towards Captain Wentworth. “As I was saying before the interruption, the boy’s spine is undamaged and he is doing well enough in his recovery. I am heartened that my instructions have been carried out with such scrupulous attention.” He removed his glasses and put them in his breast pocket. “It is not always the case when I make recommendations here.”

Anne suspected her sister’s delicate health made it necessary for Mr Robinson to make rather a lot of calls to the Cottage, but she doubted Mary did more than enjoy the notice, with no intentions of following his orders. Mr Robinson once again looked over his little patient. He frowned and pulled up the boy’s shirt. “How long did you say this rash had been evident?”

She came closer. “As I said before, I saw it last evening. It is more acute this morning. I think it may be—”

Robinson grunted and sighed heavily. He put on his glasses and began to carelessly prod and turn the boy this way and that. Anne was appalled that he wholly disregarded Charles’s sharp cries. He touched a place or two, and then looked over the tops of the spectacles. “You say it is more intense?” Anne nodded. “Was this rash on him the other day?”

“No. I am not sure when it appeared, but I saw it yesterday evening, around seven.”

He opened a small notebook and flipped through a few pages. He sighed again. “There is a pocket of fever in Crewkherne. It became evident just a week or so ago. There is fear it is smallpox.”

“The place looked positively asleep when I came through.” Wentworth glanced towards the others.

Robinson turned and looked over his glasses at the Captain. “Come through Crewkherne did you? When did you arrive?”
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Books make us famous!

Robin Helm’s Guardian trilogy

It’s a banner day for friend and co-author Robin Helm, because she has a book signing at the Lancaster County Library this afternoon.

Talk about serendipity! Robin only meant to donate a set of her Guardian trilogy, but then she and the librarian got to talking — as book lovers will do.

And when Ms. Williams learned that Robin was not only a local writer, but a #1 Amazon Best Seller author too (A Very Austen Christmas), she immediately scheduled this event.

And ordered all of Robin’s books for every library in the county.

And printed posters. And contacted the local newspaper.

So there’s my name, in a newspaper being read at the breakfast table on the other side of the continent. We are famous! Well, for a few minutes anyway.

Also in the news, Candy’s So Little Time blog is featuring an excerpt from A Very Austen Christmas. We thought she was doing an eBook giveaway too, though Candy does not mention it.

I’ll get back to you on that.

Oh, wait. I am famous. Belay that. I’ll have one of my “people” post the update.

*Laura scurries off to “hire” a press secretary*

UPDATE: The eBook giveaway is ON. Hooray!

[posted by L. Lyons, the press secretary]

 

 

This was also posted at Laura Hile: Faith, Hope, Laughter & Happily Ever After