"Will a mysterious note from the past doom the love of Jane Austen’s most beloved couple?
A Peculiar Connection begins near the close of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Bent on preventing the engagement of her nephew to Elizabeth Bennet, Lady Catherine de Bourgh declares that any union between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth would be “a sin against Heaven itself!” Her shocking revelation, along with a cryptic message written over twenty years earlier, thrusts the couple into a whirlwind of heartbreak and disbelief.
Could a deserted mansion in Derbyshire or a small church hidden in the wood hold the key to solving the puzzle? And why is Elizabeth inexplicably drawn to the portrait of three young boys in Pemberley’s gallery?
Determined to confirm or refute Lady Catherine’s accusation, Darcy and Elizabeth are forced to embark upon a twisted trail into bygone days and family secrets. All the while, they must endure the exquisite torture of denying the indisputable desire that still hovers between them."
A PECULIAR CONNECTION
From Chapter Five: At Pemberley…
“Sir? Will you answer my question and also tell me where we are going?”
“In good time, Elizabeth.”
The attics proved to be Mr. Darcy’s destination. An extravagant amount of objects filled the room we entered, from boxes stacked to the ceiling to dressmakers’ forms to countless trunks covered in dust and cobwebs. He pushed aside an assortment of rubbish from a chair, pulled a trunk close by, and indicated I should sit.
“I promised you a search for the woman who gave you birth, so let us commence.”
He placed a valise on a small table nearby and motioned for me to have a seat and open it. When I hesitated, he grabbed an old rag and wiped down the chair. “Forgive me. I failed to allow for the dirt. I shall order a thorough cleaning first thing on the morrow.”
Hours later, our hands and clothing were coated in dirt. I had sneezed repeatedly and blown my nose until I felt certain it was now swollen to twice its normal size, yet we had found nothing of enlightenment. Both of us had combed through letters, journals, accounts, various mementos, and relics that meant nothing to us but must have been precious indeed to the Darcy ancestors.
I blew at a stray lock of hair that had loosened and persisted in falling over my left eye. Wiping my hands on the dirty cloth, I allowed a sigh to escape. It seemed an impossible task. Why had we ever thought to engage in this undertaking? Just then, I felt Mr. Darcy’s hand under my chin.
“You look an absolute fright.” He tucked the unruly curl behind my ear. After pulling forth his handkerchief, he began to rub my forehead. “What a great amount of dirt you have on your face! You could not look worse if you had swept the chimneys.”
“Your own attire, sir, is nothing of which to boast. Are you turning prematurely grey or donning a wig made of cobwebs?” I began to squirm as he rubbed harder and playfully slapped away his hand. “Leave my dirt where it is, and see to your own.”
He ignored my plea, turned my face upward, and attacked the smudges again. “Do not be impertinent. I am attempting to clean the mess you have made.”
“I made? Who brought me up here, I might ask? And you, sir, really should look to your own interests. Your clothes are downright foul.” I began to swipe at the dust on his shoulders but succeeded only in causing us both to sneeze.
“You are right, Elizabeth. We must leave this place. Why, your petticoats are six inches deep in dirt, at least.” He spoke in a mocking tone, and we both began to laugh. “How disgusting we are! Come, let us give up for today and repair to our chambers.”
I continued to giggle as I followed him to the door, and we climbed down the stairs. It struck me that we had been more at ease with each other in the attic than at any time since we had been told we were brother and sister.
After leaving a long career in the world of business, Jan Hahn began writing stories based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in 2002. Her first novel, An Arranged Marriage, was published in 2011 by Meryton Press and won Best Indie Novel from Austen Prose that year. Her second novel, The Journey, was selected by Austen Prose as one of the Top Five Austen Inspired Historical Novels of 2012, and it won the Favorite Pride and Prejudice Variation/Alternate Path award from Austenesque. In 2014, Austen Prose listed Ms. Hahn’s third novel, The Secret Betrothal, among the Best Austenesque Historical Novels. She is a member of JASNA and lives in Texas.
My thanks again goes to Jan Hahn for this cute extract, and to Jakki for setting up this tour!
I wish Jan all the best with this release as well as any stories in the future! I can't wait to read it!
Your affectionate friend,