I am so excited that From Highbury with Love will be released next week! It was so much fun to write that it got rather longer than most of my other stories, coming in at about 86k words! It also made me realize that there simply must be a sequel (I tend to do this to myself, you’d think I’d learn!), so I have rebranded the cover slightly to make it work with Book 2, which will be coming…. um, eventually!
In the meantime, here is another exclusive excerpt! Don’t forget to comment to enter the giveaway! (DETAILS OF GIVEAWAY BELOW.)
Mr. Darcy, completely unaware that he had been the catalyst for more than one noteworthy conversation, walked back to Donwell Abbey with Mr. Knightley.
They used the footpath again, and a light, but chill wind was blowing in clouds from the east. The fine morning was turning into a gray afternoon, and it was one of those December days which would probably end in a cold, drenching rain. The men made good time and conversation was sparse, both being wrapped in their thoughts.
As friendships went, theirs was on the trajectory to be one of the solid, quiet sorts. They would probably not see each other above once a year, probably less, but would spend that occasional visit in serious, open, and useful dialogue about their respective duties. If circumstances allowed for more frequency, they might someday describe the other as one of their closest friends.
In intelligence, they were matched; in background, similar. Both men had come into their estates at a young age with a younger sibling to look after. Mr. Knightley was nearly ten years older than Mr. Darcy, but in maturity they were not dissimilar. The main difference was their upbringing and personality.
“I’ve known Miss Woodhouse since she was born,” Mr. Knightley said presently. “And we’ve become quite good friends since John and Isabella married.”
“Helpful that your estates are close,” Mr. Darcy agreed. “John mentioned last month that he was thankful for it.”
“Yes. Emma bears it well, but Mr. Woodhouse is a most fearful, anxious sort. His own health is poor. He also lost his wife untimely and has never felt sanguine since, though I think he was always nervous.”
Mr. Knightley did not know quite why he continued. “On the one hand, as she is like a sister to me, I hope that Emma marries eventually and moves away, to experience a freer kind of life; but on the other hand, I do not know how Mr. Woodhouse would bear it.”
“No doubt he would, if required to.”
“Yes.” Mr. Knightley could say no more. He could not help seeing that in many respects Mr. Darcy would be an excellent match for Emma. Darcy was of similar rank and fortune, and more importantly, a conscientious and thoughtful man. He was also the sort of tall, handsome fellow that women admired, and just the right age for Emma.
He would not treat Emma lightly, or cause her to experience the kind of betrayal in marriage that too many women (in Knightley’s opinion) were forced to ignore.
Darcy was also intelligent, which Emma needed. Being so bright and headstrong herself, she would march right over a stupid man.
Mr. Knightley did not like it, exactly, but it was not for him to dislike.
Mr. Darcy, perceptive in some ways but not in others, which is a maxim true of nearly everyone, yet more so of gentlemen, was not aware of the subtext. “A woman may be settled too near her family. Too near for the general comfort or benefit of either,” he said, thinking of an entirely different scenario, and yet entirely confirming Mr. Knightley’s half-held suspicion.
Mr. Darcy, to do him justice, was wondering why Elizabeth remained the undisputed queen of his heart, while Emma did not so much as cause him to blink. Emma had the better figure, by regular standards, and was by far better in situation. Her father’s estates were extensive, and her inheritance would be near to Georgiana’s if he had to guess. She would be a perfectly acceptable choice. She also was clever, free from vanity, and far more natural than Miss Caroline Bingley could dream of being.
And yet, he felt nothing. Whereas Lizzy—whom he’d heard describing Hertfordshire to Knightley, along with its citizens and dramas and personalities—captured his attention immediately. Why should one face and voice and mind so captivate him when no others did? Darcy was not a romantic; he had never planned to marry purely for love. He had not given it great thought, but he’d always expected that where his mind led his heart would follow.
He still thought a match with Elizabeth would be imprudent in the extreme… but he was also beginning to think of it with a certain amount of guilty resignation. If Providence did not want him to fall under her spell, why had she turned up under his nose here in Highbury? Why were they scheduled to travel to Hunsford at the same time?
He could withstand a few days or weeks; he had done so and left her in Hertfordshire.
But this was worse, and he had not even her family to remind him of the drawbacks. If he was not engaged to her by the end of his visit in the south, it would be a miracle of self-control….