I am so excited that it is September! August is over, school has started, and my latest novel will be published! This is a sequel to my previous book, From Highbury with Love. From London with Loyalty leaves Highbury and Emma behind, but follows Jane Fairfax and Elizabeth Bennet to London. And I must say, I had unruly characters in this writing. I was planning to use one (just 1, uno!) characters from Mansfield Park, but then… more of them kept shoving their way onto the page. (Elbows flew, propriety was out the window– it got ugly.)
And then… they all wanted to be viewpoint characters! It was really distressing! I always edit after my first rough draft, but during that first draft I hit TEN POV characters in two chapters. Much as I love an ensemble novel, that was a bit much even for me. It’s now with the proofreader after my own editing, and it has been somewhat tamed! It still ended up with a far longer cast list than I usually try to juggle, but hopefully that will be fun for readers!
The Highbury Variation continues! Lizzy and Jane are in for a chaotic summer full of dancing, duels, and, ultimately, destiny.
Lizzy Bennet and Jane Fairfax are on their way to London, both resigned to a future quite different than the dreams of marriage they’d indulged only a few months ago… but London has a way of upsetting expectations.
Lizzy’s aunt Gardiner is everything helpful, but she can’t protect Lizzy from some of the gossip that follows her from Highbury. Lizzy’s quickly ended engagement to Mr. Knightley, as well as her sister’s engagement to Mr. Bingley, has people throwing around words like fortune-hunters and hussies. Will Mr. Darcy be deterred by the resistance of society and his family?
Meanwhile Jane Fairfax’s position as a governess is threatened by the unwanted attention of several gentlemen. But is Mr. Tom Bertram of Mansfield actually offering insult or… something more?
How could she possibly trust this rakish friend of Mr. Churchill’s? Join Lizzy and Jane as they navigate loss and loyalty in the refined drawing rooms of regency London.
Exclusive Excerpt, Chapter 9
Mr. Darcy couldn’t help following Elizabeth with his eyes as she moved away. When his aunt Fitzwilliam returned to them, she pulled him aside for a moment, idly adjusting two taper candles to the middle of the table.
“Dear Darcy, did that female latch onto you the moment you arrived? I feel I must apologize, since I invited Miss Bennet to those wretched dance lessons. And then she had the temerity to force you into giving her a ride! How she prevailed on you to do so again, I do not know.” She pursed her lips, making the one elegant feather curved over her hair quiver. “She has quite latched onto Georgiana as well, and she is amusing, but that friendship will do Georgiana no good. Ugh, I am so vexed with myself.”
Darcy was so taken aback, that he could not immediately respond coherently. “You mistake—She is—I was not unwilling to squire Miss Bennet.”
Her hands at the tapers froze. “My word. She already got to you. You.”
“I have a very high opinion of Miss Elizabeth—”
“Oh! You are the most upright pillar of a man, why must you soften now? That is not the girl, nephew.”
“You must not speak of her in this fashion. Miss Elizabeth is—is one of the most excellent women of my acquaintance.”
His aunt’s brow furrowed. “But you cannot know her true character! I have heard such things, and they are somewhat borne out by her history! Her sister Jane is a sweet girl—a bit of a simpleton, perhaps—but this one is far more calculating. And apparently far more successful, if she has you on a string. Oh, men!”
“This is absolute rubbish,” Darcy interrupted. “Where have you heard ill of her?”
“Why—Mrs. Hawksley was filling me in on her troubles in Highbury, though there I apprehend, the gentleman escaped. And it was somewhat upheld by what Miss Bingley confirmed of her behavior in Hertfordshire. Miss Bingley even suspects that her brother’s match with Jane Bennet was her doing.”
“That is patently false,” Darcy said. “Bingley made the decision completely on his own, here in London. I even encouraged him, though I was after the fact.”
“You?” Her brows rose, concern deep in her eyes. “Did Miss Elizabeth already have her hooks into you? Oh, I could kick myself for not seeing it. I ought to have suspected something; you reacted so oddly when I mentioned her name!”
“This is—” Darcy had never been so out of sync with his favorite aunt, so upset. Even if he explained right now that– that– She would think it a tragedy. “I know far more of Miss Elizabeth’s character than you are aware, and of the circumstances in Highbury. I trust her.” He lowered his voice. “I trusted her enough to share what happened with Georgiana, and you can see how good she is for my sister!”
Georgiana had been coopted by Isabella and Clarissa during his conversation, and she was looking none too comfortable. But now Elizabeth had joined them, and she already had Georgiana smiling and even venturing a comment.
“You did not!” Lady Fitzwilliam gasped.
“She has not spread a word of it,” Darcy said. “Which is more than I could expect from another young lady of our acquaintance.” He glared at Miss Bingley. “Furthermore, Elizabeth was the victim in Highbury, not the perpetrator. I cannot discuss this any further just now. Please excuse me.”
He strode away to where there were wine glasses for the guests and took one. He took several bracing swallows.
He loved his aunt, but he hated London.