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Monday, August 29, 2016

Guest Post: The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad by Jean Burnett

I am thrilled today to be part of the blog tour for Jean Burnett's new release, The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad.  My thanks also goes to Hayley Steed for inviting me to take part.

When I searched for a literary heroine in the swashbuckling mode to write about, I was reminded that there was no female equivalent of the picaresque novel where the protagonist strutted around having adventures and making his mark.

There were obvious reasons for this, women didn’t get around much in earlier times and their adventures, if any, tended to be via the boudoir. Leaving aside the few documented cases of female pirates and women enlisting as soldiers, the possibly mythical Amazons and a few feisty queens, the page is bare.

Jane Austen wrote on her “inch of ivory” about her near neighbours and their goings on because that was her small world. When I chose Lydia Bennet, the youngest sister in Pride and Prejudice I decided to keep her more or less within the confines of her time. Lydia endeavours to stay respectable, outwardly, at least. I also used the language and customs of the period as far as possible. Even so, purists will sneer at the liberties I have taken.

It’s a tribute to Jane’s eternal popularity, surely, that her characters are now being toyed with in remarkable ways. American writers are leading the way in making the well-known Austen heroines more exhilarating. They may still be corseted but they can still destroy a room full of the undead with some nifty sword play. There is no reaching for the sal volatile here. This is a genre known as ‘mashup.’ One can only imagine what Jane would have made of it all.

In Pride and Prejudice and Zombies the Bennet sisters still find love alongside their fighting partners as they deal with a plague of the walking dead in Regency England. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters finds the Dashwood sisters living among tentacled mayhem with ghastly human/sea creature combos lurking around. In Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens, another demented P&P spinoff, Elizabeth remains unflappable as Darcy turns very strange, Mr Collins becomes dastardly, and Lydia is abducted by aliens. In another version Elizabeth is forced to decapitate Darcy when he turns into a vampire, although she hopes to have him resurrected later! It’s all good, clean, wacky fun but Austen purists will gag in horror.

There will be many people who will ask, ‘why can’t you create your own characters instead of stealing Jane’s?’ This a whole other argument, but one answer is the fun of seeing what can happen to a classic plot or heroine when they are taken in a different direction – usually a fantastical one. Modern readers tend to demand more action from their heroines and the classics of literature are now fair game.

I’m afraid that reading some of these versions can be infectious. I’m contemplating writing something similar, but I think I will choose an author or a heroine who hasn’t been trifled with as yet.

I have always thought that the Lady of Shalott got a very raw deal in Tennyson’s poem.   Why couldn’t she escape from her castle, jump on to Sir Lancelot’s horse and ride off with him to slay a few dragons? She could use the spindle from her spinning wheel as a weapon. Of course, she would have whiled away some of the time in her castle practising unarmed combat for just such an event.

The Bad Miss Bennet by Jean Burnett is published on 23rd May by Canelo, price £3.99 in eBook.

 Hold on to your bonnets: Lydia Bennet is back

The Bad
Miss Bennet Abroad

by Jean Burnett

To be published on 23rdMay by Canelo,
price £3.99 in eBook

“High-spirited, great fun and full of rackety Georgian atmosphere”Daily Mail on Who Needs Mr Darcy?

At the end of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice16-year-old Lydia Bennet had just begun married life to the roguish Mr Wickham. But after some risky gambling and a liaison with an Austrian count in Jean Burnett’s Who Needs Mr Darcy?, Lydia decides to leave London.

Lydia sets sail for Rio, accompanying Austrian noblewoman, Dona Leopoldina, who is travelling there to marry heir to the Brazilian throne and notorious womaniser, Dom Pedro. But troubled waters lie ahead when Dom Pedro sets his sights on wooing Lydia instead.

Finding his flirtatious ways impossible to resist, Lydia is thrown out of the court for her indiscretions. On discovering she is pregnant, Dom Pedro sets Lydia up in the coastal town of Paraty where, in boredom, she begins writing a gothic romance. But things soon liven up when a pirate ship anchors in the bay and kidnaps Lydia and her baby…

Lust, love and kidnapping…The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad is the story of the naughtiest Austen character as she travels between Brazil, Jamaica and England.


Jean Burnett grew up in London but has also lived in Canada, the US and Mexico and previously worked for the University of Bristol. After her children left home she decided to become the ‘world’s oldest backpacker’ for a year and later wrote about her adventures in Vagabond Shoes, winning the novel prize at the Winchester Writers’ Conference. Who Needs Mr Darcy?, Jean’s first spin-off novel starring Lydia Bennet, was published in 2012.

Jean lives in Bristol and is available for interview and to write features.

The Bad Miss Bennet Abroad by Jean Burnett is published23rdMay by Canelo, price £3.99 in eBook. For further information or review copies, please contact Hayley Steed or Heloise Wood ated public relations on 020 7732 4796 or email hayley@edpr.co.uk/info@edpr.co.uk

My thanks again goes to Jean for this great post, and I wish her all the best with this release and any future books.

Your affectionate friend,

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Northern Rain by Nicole Clarkston - with giveaway!

I am thrilled today to be part of the blog tour for Nicole Clarkston's latest release, Northern Rain.  My thanks also goes to Janet Taylor for inviting me to take part.

"There is nothing like a long walk in the rain to guarantee a little privacy… unless the last person you wish to encounter happens also to be in search of solitude.
John Thornton is a man of heavy responsibilities who has many things on his mind, but the most troublesome of them all is Margaret Hale. She wants nothing to do with him, and he wishes he could feel the same. When a moment of vulnerability allows her a glimpse into his heart, she begins to see him very differently.

Is something so simple as friendship even possible after all that has passed between them? Thornton has every good reason to move on, not the least of which is the lovely Genevieve Hamilton and her wealthy father. Will Thornton act according to duty and accept an opportunity to save his mill, or will he take a chance on love, hoping to change Margaret’s mind?"

Nicole has written a vignette of John and Margaret's first love letters. Enjoy!


My Dearest Love,

Would that it were my arms you found on your pillow for your comfort tonight, rather than this simple note. How I shall miss you, my darling! I had promised myself that we should never spend a day apart, but I suppose that was a selfish notion. I much prefer to know that you are safe at home, my love, and resting as you should be. I have commissioned both Mother and Dixon to ensure that you do, in fact, rest a little!

My Margaret, I scarcely know how I shall face these few days apart from you. You have brought so much wonder to my life, Love, that I cannot comprehend how I survived so long in my cold, colorless world. I am loath to return to it, but now I have the assurance that very soon, I shall come again to your loving embrace and your delicious kisses. I shall sleep well tonight, Love, knowing that this brief sojourn will only serve to sweeten the reunion when I take you in my arms again on Saturday.

All of my heart,


Darling John,

As I write this, you are even now making your preparations for your trip. Should you find any smudges on the paper, you may be assured that they are not tears of sorrow, but of deepest joy. That is what I shall tell myself! It was not so very long ago that I had begun to think I would never know the contentment of love, or the pride that I feel in you. My husband, you have taught me the truest meaning of the word, for it is not in any merit of my own, but in my fine, loving husband and his affections that I boast.

I am so proud of you, my darling; of your devotion, your honor, your cleverness, and the sacrifice you make in leaving us for these interminable few days. I understand the value of your efforts, and I feel the full measure of your faithfulness to the mill and to us. I think there is no more blessed wife in the kingdom than I! I quite rival your mother now in her pride for you. I shall try to conduct myself in a worthy manner while I wait for you to return to me, but I cannot quite promise that I shall bear up as bravely as I should like. I fear that I am not always myself of late!

I must close this now, for I hear you coming up the stairs to kiss me goodbye before your train. I am privately wondering how long it will take you to find this note which I secrete in your bag, so do be certain to write tomorrow and tell me.

I remain entirely yours,


My Dearest Margaret,

I was still at the rail office when I began searching for the note you so cleverly tucked into my bag. I treasured it for the duration of the ride to London, and it kept me company in the small hours of the night. Did you rest well, Love?

I expect you will have passed two nights by the time you receive this. I am immeasurably grateful to your cousin for her hospitality. Not only am I assured that you already have the address, and I may soon expect the comfort of word from you, but her library is more than adequate. I spent a good many hours in it last night, so you may be certain that I know that of which I speak.

Mrs Lennox is faring quite well, but I expect that her confinement draws very near, if I may speak so indelicately. I look with some jealous sympathy on the Captain as he hovers over his wife, and I almost wish that I had stayed elsewhere at such a momentous time for their family. Your cousin, however, would not hear any objections. She received me very warmly on your account, and questioned me for a long while last night- and such plain questions she had for me! I think I was quite blushing when her husband at last drew her away.

It is nearing dawn now, my love, and I am reminded of that first morning I awoke in your arms. I believe I know now why a woman’s hair is said to be her crowning glory. It is because the man blessed to hold such a laurel close to his heart may rightly feel himself a king. I still think myself quite unworthy of such a gift as your love, and wonder at heaven’s mercy in imparting your heart to me, but I shall never cease to grateful. It is because of you that I can look boldly to the future and laugh at what troubles may come our way.

I must now put down my pen, Love. I dislike doing so, for in writing you, it seems we are not so far apart. However, if I am to make myself at all useful when I meet with Mr Colthurst and his associates today, it would behoove me to seek out a cup or three of hot coffee.

Yours forevermore,


My Husband,

I would ask how you passed your first night in Edith’s home, but I expect I know the answer- despite your first note’s assurances to the contrary. I fared little better, I am afraid. It seems that I had come to lean against you a great deal as I slept, and being deprived of your support, I found your pillow wholly inadequate to my wants. It seems that I can no longer balance myself in my sleep, and the babe protested quite violently no matter what I tried!

John, I am so longing to see our child! Are we to expect a boy or a girl? Will I look down into the eyes of my husband, and see that spark of his that I adore shining anew in our child? I now begin to understand your mother a little better, for in anticipating our babe, the fiercest thoughts come to my mind! I never thought myself capable of such feelings, but I would turn over the world, John, to spare our son- or daughter- the faintest measure of grief. I know that is a foolish notion, and a vain one, for life has shaped you into the man I love, and it will do no less for our children.

Dr Donaldson came by this evening to discuss some hospital business, and told me that new medicines and supplies are arriving daily. I am glad of that. If it is all I can do to improve my own little corner of the world, I shall continue to aid his efforts. It may seem small, but I do hope some good will come of it. I feel I owe our children- yes, I hope for more!- a better world than the one we found. I thank you for your indulgence and understanding in allowing me to spend much of my time so employed. I blame your influence entirely, John, for your ambitions have rubbed off on me.

I do hope your meetings with Mr Colthurst are productive. I know you felt yourself undeserving of the honour to be chosen as Milton’s representative in these affairs, but I do not. None understand the legislation, or its impacts on the industry, better than you do, my husband. I have every confidence that you will carry out your duty faithfully and with distinction, and that at the end of it you will return to find me

Ever yours,


P.S. I think I ought to inquire which of the staff has the keys to my room and my writing desk. Someone has been gaining access when I am away. I discovered the pilfering because each day, they are carelessly leaving a rose behind with my ink jars. I am determined to solve the mystery!  -M

My precious wife,

Have I mentioned lately how delicious that word tastes when I speak it? It looks just as well on paper. I, a married man! A year ago, I never could have dreamt that I might call you my own. Before I met you, my Margaret, I am convinced that the desire was not even in me. Whether you planted it there, or merely awakened what I had long forgotten, I shall not trouble myself to determine. I know only that our marriage has brought a richness to my life that I had never dared believe in for myself.

I am sorry to read of your troubles in sleeping comfortably. You may be assured that I will hurry back to your arms as quickly as possible. I cannot have the mother of my child in distress! Ah, there was another word I had failed to appreciate until just now. The entire phrase sounds purely exquisite! There is such a sense of belonging, of oneness with the woman I love, to think that even now she carries our future within her. I have not the words to express my heart, but to simply say that it is nothing short of miraculous. I, too, wonder if I shall see my love’slikeness as our child grows. I hope, my Margaret, that if we should be blessed with a daughter, she will look just like her beautiful mother. I would count it a privilege to watch you grow up all over again before my very eyes.

It would be unfair of me not to report the progress we have made here, for I know that you are curious. Mr Colthurst has proven an agreeable, intelligent fellow. I believe he may be reasoned with, and has shown himself willing to consider new perspectives. I have great hopes that our efforts may result in a more thoughtful draught of the bill at hand, which will mutually benefit all.

Henry Lennox was here to dinner last evening, and we two spent a long while over drinks in the study. I cannot fathom why you did not marry him, Margaret, for he is quite an inoffensive chap. It seems you have missed your opportunity, for he has recently made the acquaintance of the daughter of one of his law partners. He spoke very little out of sensitivity for the lady, but it sounds a promising attachment. I am afraid you shall have to continue to make do with your humble manufacturer!

I expect that this is the last letter I shall be writing on this trip, for on the day after tomorrow I intend to board a train bound for the north, and home. The words I would wish to express on paper, I shall preserve in my heart to whisper into your ear. You will be glad to know, however, that I am at last comfortably installed in my room and finding it much to my liking. I believe it was just after your cousin informed me that it had once been yours that I discovered what an agreeable room it truly was. I shall again rest my head on your old pillow tonight, and think on my sweet Margaret who dreamt her girlhood dreams as she lay under that very coverlet. On second thought, perhaps sleep may be more difficult than ever now!

Your sleepless and fervently devoted husband,


p.s. We have never yet had a dishonest housemaid. Are you certain that you are seeing correctly, Love? I should hate to unjustly accuse any of the staff. Perhaps your lack of rest has made you delusional. -J

My John,

I do hope this letter reaches you before you leave London. Should you board a train before receiving this, however, I do not think I shall complain.

Father has been nearly insufferable of late. He does not confess as much, but I think he misses you, John. He comes out of his rooms, sits by the fire but a few moments, and then returns. He offers no excuse for his strange behavior, only making some comments that he had thought of something of a sudden, and that it will keep for another time. It is amusing, I think, but your mother finds it all most disturbing!

She bears up rather the best of us in your absence. John, I really rather like your mother. Fancy that! She has been a great deal more conversant of late. I know she only tries to comfort me while you are away, for it is not at all her nature, but only this morning she suggested that we ask Nicholas and Mary to tea! I nearly dropped my pretty rose pot in shock!

Please do hurry home to us, my love. I miss the way you tease me when I try to be serious, and the way you clasp my hand under the table when you think no one is watching. I miss hearing you snore when you have had a particularly taxing day, and how silently you try to rise in the morning, thinking that I am still asleep as you dress. I miss the look in your eyes when you come to me, and how during those exquisite moments, all the world vanishes and there is only you. I am aching to kiss you and to drink in every delicious, unique detail which makes you my John. Can you really marvel that I chose you over Henry Lennox? I must take care to whisper in your ear all of the reasons why when you return to me.

Your loving


p.s. Just as I was sealing this letter, the door to my room opened very silently. I believed for a moment that I had caught my burglar! Alas, it was only your mother, claiming she had mislaid something. How very odd, that she would not show me what was in her far hand.


If my instructions have been carried out, you are just now sitting down to your vanity to arrange your beautiful hair. There should be a bower of roses blocking the view of your mirror, and this sealed little missive should have been nestled in the blossoms. Perhaps by now, you will have discovered the identity of my accomplice!

Today, I come home to you, my darling. I write this several days before you read it, and so the ache of missing you has yet to grow to its fullest measure. I have no doubt that this week will have been torment for me of the most glorious sort, such as that of a starving man who only waits to return home to a feast. Do keep these letters, my love, as I do not anticipate having many opportunities to write more.

I trust you have nothing important planned for a few days, for I intend to entirely monopolize your schedule. I do hope you have all of the locks secured again.

Your impatient and immeasurably blessed husband,



Blog Tour Schedule:

7/8-9: Launch Vignette, Excerpt & Giveaway at Fly High

7/ 10: Guest Post & Giveaway at Babblings of a Bookworm

7/11: Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride & Prejudice

7/12: Author Interview at More Than Thornton

7/14: Review & Giveaway at Just Jane 1813

7/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at Half Agony, Half Hope

7/17: Vignette & Giveaway at Laughing With Lizzie

7/18: Author/Character Interview & Giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton

7/19: Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway at So little time…

7/20: Vignette & Giveaway at Stories from the Past

7/21: Vignette & Giveaway at More Agreeably Engaged

7/24: Review, Excerpt & Giveaway at Margie’s Must Reads

7/26: Guest Post & Giveaway at A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life

9/10: Review & Giveaway at The Calico Critic

Author Bio:

Nicole Clarkston is the pen name of a very bashful writer who will not allow any of her family or friends to read what she writes. She grew up in Idaho on horseback, and if she could have figured out how to read a book at the same time, she would have. She initially pursued a degree in foreign languages and education, and then lost patience with it, switched her major, and changed schools. She now resides in Oregon with her husband of 15 years, 3 homeschooled kids, and a very worthless degree in Poultry Science (don't ask).

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties- how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project (undertaken when her husband unsuspectingly left town for a few days) she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Nicole's books are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.

Contact Info:

Buy Links:




My thanks again goes to Nicole for this sweet vignette! My thanks also to Janet for setting up this tour.

I wish Nicole all the best with this release as well as any stories in the future!

Your affectionate friend,

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Friday, July 08, 2016

Jane Austen Speaks by Maria Emilia de Medeiros - with giveaway!

I am thrilled today to be part of the blog tour for the lovely Maria Emilia de Medeiros' new book, Jane Austen Speaks.

In JANE AUSTEN SPEAKS, author Maria Emilia de Medeiros “channels” the great Jane Austen from her heavenly home and allows her the opportunity to speak her mind about the modern world nearly two centuries after her passing. Readers will gain a healthy dose of wise counsel and witty advice for leading a sensible, well-mannered twenty-first century life. Jane Austen’s heavenly exploits (not to mention her recipes) will both entertain and delight you. At times serious, drily humorous, or even a bit naughty, JANE AUSTEN SPEAKS is a necessary addition to every Janeite’s library. Dear Readers, if you have ever asked yourself, “What would Jane Austen think?” you have indeed come to the right place.

Thank you so much for welcoming me to Laughing with Lizzie today, Sophie!  I am most grateful for your kind welcome and for so graciously hosting me on your lovely blog during the tour for my recently released book, Jane Austen Speaks About Life, the Modern World, & Heavenly Pursuits. 

Today I would like to share with the readers of Laughing with Lizzie a bit about my long journey of finding images for the book.  Let me say first of all that Jane Austen Speaks is a unique book in many ways.  It is not a romance novel, but it is instead a series of often humorous essays written in the voice of Miss Austen, who comments on all manner of things from her place in Spirit or “Heaven.” Since a picture is truly worth a thousand words, I wanted to include images to illustrate each essay and recipe in the book.  I soon realized that doing so would not at all be a simple process.

Of course, I was able to find and use many images that are already in the public domain, including beautiful paintings, engravings, and ink drawings.  I myself created a few cartoon line drawings as well as black line drawings for some of the recipes found in the third part of the book, “Heavenly Culinary Delights.”

I was still left with many significant gaps.  Thus began the arduous, months-long process of locating appropriate photographs, contact information of the photographers, and emailing them in order to seek permission for using just a few photos in Jane Austen Speaks.  Generally, either I never received any response, or the answer was “no.”  All seemed rather bleak until my Janeite friends came to the rescue! 

One day, as I was chatting with my dear friend Sophie “Lizzie” Andrews, I mentioned my dilemma and was musing aloud whether or not I should just give in.  Immediately, Sophie asked me, “What do you need?”  She began to send me some of her own personal photographs, and thus began the process of incorporating several of Sophie’s own beautiful, personal photographs into the book.  Almost miraculously, we were able to find wonderful images for nearly all of my “blank spots.”  For those I still needed, I asked fellow Janeites on Facebook if anyone would be willing to share a photo of this or that for use in the book.  Three noble Janeites stepped forward and generously offered me the use of a couple of their lovely photos.

One of my particular favorites in the book is the very fun photograph of the lovely Sophie with her friend, the equally lovely author, Joana Starnes.  This photo was taken in the ladies’ lavatory in The Red Lion pub in Upper Basildon, Berkshire, which features the wall-sized murals of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy and Pemberley.  When I asked Joana for permission to use her likeness, her answer was an extremely affirming and very enthusiastic, “YES, OF COURSE!” I felt very humbled by such kindness. 

Dear Readers, Jane Austen Speaks would not have been the book it finally became without the assistance and collaboration of Sophie and other Janeites, some of whom are far too humble to be comfortable with me mentioning their names here.  In fact, it is a possibility that this book might not have come into being at all without their assistance, encouragement, and support.  For this, I am truly grateful.  Miss Austen, I believe, would be immensely proud. 

I so look forward to hearing from you!  Please enter your comments below for a chance to win an eBook copy of Jane Austen Speaks (international giveaway) and a soap from my “Jane Austen’s Simply Elegant Soaps” collection (U.S. only).

** GIVEAWAY - ends Friday 15th July **

As you can see above, Maria has been kind enough to offer a giveaway of an ebook copy, open internationally, and also one her lovely soaps, open to America only.

Please leave a comment for a chance to win, and state whether you are entering for the ebook or the soap as well.
The giveaway ends on 15th July. I will be in touch with the winners so please leave your email! The very best of luck!

I want to make it clear that there is a giveaway per blog, not just one for the whole tour, so make sure you enter them all for the best chance to win!

My Jane Austen Book Club:  July 6

Laughing with Lizzie:  July 8

Obsessed with Mr. Darcy:  July 12

So Little Time...:  July 14

More Agreeably Engaged:  July 19

My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice:  July 21

Babblings of a Bookworm:  July 25

Darcyholic Diversions:  July 28


Kindest Regards,
Maria-Emilia de Medeiros
My thanks again goes to Maria for this post and I wish her all the best with this new book. I am glad I could help you with the pictures you needed!

Maria Emilia de Medeiros is a teacher, writer, artist, and lifelong Janeite. She read her first Jane Austen novel at the tender age of twelve and has never looked back. In addition to reading, playing the pianoforte, and embroidery, she is fond of dogs, long country walks, and drawing. Jane Austen Speaks is her first published book about Jane Austen. 

Contact Information:
Barton Cottage Press

Your affectionate friend,

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Coming Of Age Of Elizabeth Bennet by Caitlin Williams - with giveaway!

A coming-of-age story told in four volumes between Austen’s infamous couple; savor the story of the prideful man and the girl prejudiced against him, as they meet much earlier in this rethinking of Jane Austen’s masterpiece, Pride & Prejudice. Could this ‘disobedient little hellion’ one day become mistress of Pemberley and the keeper of his heart?

Caitlin Williams, author of the highly-praised book, Ardently, tours the blogosphere from June 13- June 26, 2016 to share her newest release, The Coming Of Age Of Elizabeth Bennet. Fourteen book bloggers, specializing in Austenesque fiction and romance stories, will share excerpts, guest posts, an exclusive interview with the author and book reviews from this highly awaited Austen-inspired novel. Eight ebooks are also being included in our giveaways and entry is available to anyone who participates in this blog tour.

I am thrilled today to be part of the blog tour for Caitlin Williams' latest release, The Coming of Age of Miss Elizabeth Bennet. My thanks also goes to Claudine Pepe for inviting me to take part.

The very worst has happened. Mr Bennet has died, leaving his wife and five young daughters bereft. The family estate, Longbourn, is now lost, entailed away and fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Bennet is to go two hundred miles away to live with strangers. George Darcy, repaying a debt of gratitude, has offered to take her to Pemberley, to live under the mantle of his care and be raised alongside his own daughter, Georgiana.

But on the day she is to leave Longbourn forever, young Elizabeth, grieving and confused, runs off into the Hertfordshire countryside. Fitzwilliam Darcy gives chase, telling his father he will have her back in an hour or two. Luck and fate, however, are not on his side and capturing Elizabeth Bennet turns out not only to be more difficult than he could ever have imagined, but events conspire to turn her little adventure into his worst nightmare.

The prideful man and the girl prejudiced against him, meet much earlier in this rethinking of Jane Austen’s masterpiece. Elizabeth grows up under the ever-watchful eye of Mr Darcy, from fifteen to twenty-one.  She errs and falters, there are stumbles and trips, but could this ‘disobedient little hellion’ one day become mistress of Pemberley and the keeper of his heart?

"To celebrate the launch of “The Coming Of Age Of Elizabeth Bennet,” in which we meet a fifteen-year-old Elizabeth, here's a little vignette featuring fifteen-year-old Fitzwilliam and his father."

The Young Master

“Before we venture downstairs, Fitzwilliam, there are some things I would say to you.”

Fitzwilliam Darcy nodded deferentially at his father, though he had to supress a sigh. He had endured so many lessons that day already, and so many strictures had been laid down before him. How much instruction could a fifteen-year-old boy expect to endure during one se’nnight home from school? He had rather hoped he would be spending his time fishing and shooting, playing billiards, teasing his younger sister and being at leisure. Instead, George Darcy had woken him just after dawn each day and they’d ridden out to inspect every inch of the estate. He had furnished his son with the history of every farm, every tenant, and what cattle or crops they produced -and of how much rent they paid, how long they had lived there - and so on, and so on. Yet his father had not stopped there. The afternoons had been spent in the master of Pemberley’s study, surveying accounts, looking at legal documents and attending meetings with the house and land stewards. 

Now, he had been summoned to his father’s dressing room, where Fitzwilliam watched the valet fuss with George Darcy’s cravat, until the master brushed him aside with a short “very good, that will do” and dismissed him from the room. Then he looked squarely at his son. “Take a chair my boy, for I wish to tell you of women, and they are startling creatures who will often leave you breathless and weak around the knees. And so for this conference, we should sit.”

Having expected some more dull instruction on the running of Pemberley, Fitzwilliam’s interest was suddenly piqued. This was unforeseen. He took a seat on a small gilt chair in the corner of the room. Lately, he was tantamount to some gracelessness and clumsiness. He had grown, filled out and his body suddenly seemed large and cumbersome, his limbs were heavier and longer, and he frequently knew not what to do with his hands or his feet. It was a relief when he managed to manoeuvre himself onto the delicate chair without incident.

His father smiled convivially and at first looked as if he would take the chair opposite him, but then studied Fitzwilliam’s face more carefully, stood over him and seemed to be fighting the urge to laugh. “And what is this, about your top lip?”

Covering his mouth with his hand, Fitzwilliam proudly stroked the hairs that were sprouting there. “’Tis a moustache.”

“Is it now? I thought perhaps it a bit of dirt, or some sort of rash. Nine hairs do not a moustache make, my boy. Though I see you’re somewhat pleased by them, I think we had better have my valet nick them off before you go downstairs.”

Offended and disappointed, Fitzwilliam folded his arms. He had been hoping the moustache might make him look older, more authoritative. “You wanted to say something, about ladies?” he prompted his father.

“Not ladies,” his father corrected. “Women! All of them. There are some gentlemen, Fitzwilliam, who differentiate and care to separate them out and think of ladies in one way and women in general the other - women to be used, ladies to be revered. But, mark my words when I tell you that the lowliest scullery maid might get you into as much trouble as the most refined, elegant lady. Be wary of them, they can all smell good, whether of rosewater, or freshly baked bread. Which leads me to my first point,” his father said, holding up his finger to emphasise his words. “A Darcy does not dally below stairs. Never! You will be tempted. The curves on some of the girls that walk these halls might make a fine young man like you lose his mind. And I have seen you looking, but you must not.”

Fitzwilliam tugged his high collar away from his neck. He thought of how his friend George Wickham had recently boasted to him of how one of the kitchen girls had let him kiss her and put his hand up her skirts. Oh, how he had envied him. George’s daring and his ability to charm the opposite sex into allowing such favours was astounding. Yet, he supposed his father was right. And, anyway, though he sometimes could not prevent his eye from wandering, he found servant girls were not exactly to his taste in any case. It was those exotic, exquisitely attired, perfumed ladies of the ton, with their daringly low necklines and close-fitting gowns that sent the blood soaring through his veins.

“You have a great inheritance awaiting you. So you must be careful about choosing who you dance and speak with when you are in society,” his father went on. “I would suggest never dancing more than one set per night with any lady; it raises too many expectations, both with the girl, and more importantly, with her Mamma. There is a danger in showing too much attention. If you are ever left alone with a handsome girl for any reason, best ignore them and find occupation elsewhere, attend to a book instead. And do not flatter. You will see some dandy fellows, throwing compliments around hither and thither, but do not seek to emulate them, I beg you, lest your comments be taken out of proportion.”

Fitzwilliam listened and nodded, knowing it was probably sage advice, but it did not, however, sound like much fun.

“Two more things,” George Darcy said. “A gentleman always keeps his eyes above the neckline. Do not venture a glance lower than a collarbone, though I know ‘tis more difficult than ever these days. A lady’s d√©colletage is now arranged in such a way as to make it as powerful an inducement as her dowry. Eyes front and centre, my boy, do not forget. Oh, and lastly, and it is perhaps a tad embarrassing to speak of, but if you should ever find yourself indisposed…”

Seeing his father’s raised eyebrows, Fitzwilliam leaned forward, wondering what he was implying. “Indisposed?”

“Overcome, while in public. It happens, particularly at your age. We are human after all and there is no telling when the beast in us might choose to read its ugly head. It’s terribly unfortunate, but if you should find yourself in such a predicament, I would go to the window and look out of it for a good long while, and think of the most unattractive woman you know. It’ll pass. Now, shall we finish getting ready and go down to this little soiree? Your mother is not good at entertaining on her own, how she frets if I am not there!”

Blushing furiously, Fitzwilliam shuffled in his seat while the valet was called back. The thin moustache he had been patiently trying to grow and shape for weeks was removed with only a couple of swift moves of a sharp blade. Then, they were moving through the corridors of Pemberley. George Darcy’s chest was puffed out, his tread was firm and his whole mien spoke of his belief in his own authority. Fitzwilliam was a step or so behind, trying to emulate his father’s movements and expressions.

The grand saloon, when they reached it, seemed to be a good as place as any to practice the principles and practices that had just been laid out before him. It was full of young ladies of all shapes and sizes, and varying degrees of handsomeness, who had accompanied their mothers to a small afternoon gathering. After being presented to him, the young girls would fall silent, and he, embarrassed and unused to fresh female company, had no idea what to say to them. All would be quiet, until the next young lady came along, but other than his inability to begin a conversation, Fitzwilliam felt he was doing well enough.

Fruit and sweetmeats were brought in and the company began to gather around the table to partake of the delights on offer. Fitzwilliam felt someone at his shoulder and glanced around to see Mrs Winter, a rich widow of some importance in Derbyshire, still very beautiful though she must be nearly forty.

“Ah, the young master,” she said. “Almost fully grown, why I remember tickling your toes when you were but a babe in arms.”

Her look and the tone of her voice perturbed him. Though her words were innocent, there was something about the way she glanced at him through her lashes that made him feel as if she were flirting.

He knew not what he said in reply, offered her a small greeting perhaps, but as they turned back to the table to make their selections, they brushed against one another, intimately. She was an impressively built woman and he was part-embarrassed and part-thrilled that her chest had come into contact with his sleeve, but he also quickly jumped back to ensure it would not happen again. His movement, unfortunately, dislodged a beautifully arranged pyramid of fruit from the display on the table. Grapes, nectarines and peaches began rolling across the floor, prompting squeals and laughter from the assembled ladies, which mortified him, and guffaws from the gentlemen.

Apologising profusely, knowing he sounded uncollected and looked foolish, he nevertheless began to collect the items from the floor, grateful for something to do to hide his shame. He rose from his crouched position, his hands full, as footmen also hurried forth to clear up the mess.

Mrs Winter’s mouth was quirked upwards in amusement as she met his eyes. She plucked a piece of fruit from his grasp, holding it up. “I think this will be mine, young man. What do you make of it? I don’t think I have ever seen a bigger pear. Impressive is it not?”

There was nothing more he could say, other than, “yes, Mrs Winter,” as she tipped him a little nod and moved away, laughing to herself.

Fitzwilliam closed his eyes briefly, wished the floor might open and swallow him whole. When he found the courage to open them again, his father was before him.

“Perhaps another little chat is in order,” George Darcy said. “Women, eh?”

Caitlin Williams lives in Kent, England, with her family.She fell in love with all things Regency as a teenager, but particularly admires the work of Jane Austen and the way she masterfully combines humour and romance, while weaving them through such wonderful stories and characters.

Pride and Prejudice is Caitlin’s favourite novel and she finds Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet so deliciously entertaining that she likes to borrow them from Ms Austen and enjoys the challenge of putting them in different places and situations.

Her debut novel, Ardently, was written as a hobby, usually with her laptop balanced on the kitchen worktop, typing with one hand, a glass of wine in the other, while she also attempted to cook dinner and keep her children from killing each other. The success of Ardently was as much a surprise to her, as it was to anyone else, and she has been thrilled and genuinely thankful for the positive responses and reviews it generated.

Her second novel, The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet, is a portrait of a much younger Elizabeth, who is thrown into an extraordinary set of circumstances due to the premature death of Mr Bennet, and she hopes you all enjoy it very much.


My thanks again goes to Caitlin for this fun excerpt! My thanks also to Claudine for setting up this tour.

I wish Caitlin all the best with this release as well as any stories in the future!

Your affectionate friend,