Austen’s novels are known for their happy endings. In all her six novels, the male and female protagonists find their “happily ever after” and become engaged. And that is precisely where the novels end and Austen never gives us a glimpse into these couples’ married lives. So, as readers we are left to imagine beautiful and blissful marriages for these characters all on our own. Perhaps this is why there are so many different variations and continuations written for Austen’s novels.
I have always wanted to know what Elizabeth and Darcy’s life would be like as a married couple. They both have such strong and opinionated characters, I am sure their marriage would be far from calm and so very different from Bingley and Jane’s.
Another couple I have always wanted to know more about are Mr. Knightley and Emma, because in my opinion they are such an unlikely couple in terms of maturity and understanding. I always wondered if their love would be enough to sustain their happiness years after they were married.
The couple I have the most faith in, in terms of finding marital bliss, are Captain Wentworth and Anne. Of all Austen’s couples, these two are the most promising. The reason is that we have already seen their love endure and grow stronger even after years of separation. They are mature when they meet again and, I feel, have a much better understanding of one another than all the other couples. I think their married life, while it may be harder due to his profession, will be the strongest in terms of their connection with each other.
In my novels, I try to give the reader a glimpse into the lives of married couples such as Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, Mr. and Mrs. Bingley, and Lord and Lady Paisley. The following excerpt is from my third novel, To Desire and Deserve, where we get to witness Georgiana (AKA Lady Paisley) and her husband’s marital bliss. I hope you will enjoy it.
To say that Lord and Lady Paisley were happy would not do their feelings justice. It had been a few days since the doctor had confirmed their suspicion, and the couple had been quietly and privately enjoying their beautiful secret.
“There you are, my dear,” Lord Paisley said as he entered his wife’s sitting room. “I have been looking everywhere for you.”
Georgiana smiled at him. “When did you return from the village?”
“Just now.” He sat beside her on the sofa and kissed her lips, his hand gently caressing her abdomen. “How are you feeling?”
“I am wonderful.” She assured. “I have been reading my letters. I have had a letter from my aunt this morning with fantastic news.”
“Really?” He asked, amused by her excitement.
“Yes. Richard has returned to England.”
“That is indeed fantastic news. Does he intend to stay in England for long? Shall we see him in London?”
Georgiana shook her head. “My aunt does not say how long he intends to stay. But here is the excellent news; Richard intends to visit us at Paisley Court.”
“Indeed? When are we to expect him?”
“I believe in about a fortnight.” Georgiana shrugged. “No doubt he will write to you himself and let you know of his plans.”
“No doubt.” Lord Paisley smiled.
“And your mother and sisters will have returned to Paisley Court by then,” Georgiana said, her eyes shining with enthusiasm.
“I suppose so.” Lord Paisley nodded, having understood the reason for his wife’s excitement.
“No doubt Richard is visiting Paisley Court with an important purpose.”
“No doubt.” Lord Paisley agreed. “He must be missing you greatly, my love. And I cannot blame the man. You are quite hard to live without. Quite impossible, in fact.”
He leaned over and kissed her again, momentarily making her forget about Richard’s news.
“You are very charming, Julian.” She smiled as she moved closer in his embrace and leaned her head against his chest. “But I was not referring to myself. I was rather thinking of another important reason why Richard would be visiting Paisley Court.”
“Oh?” He asked, feigning ignorance.
“I am speaking of Claire, of course,” Georgiana said, trying to sound nonchalant, cautiously awaiting his response.
“Is that so?” He asked in his usual calm.
“You must know that Richard is in love with Claire,” Georgiana said, raising her head to see his face.
He raised an eyebrow. “Is he?”
“I believe Richard is coming with the intention of declaring himself,” Georgiana said, almost challengingly.
He stared at her for a moment, his eyes not giving any indication of his feelings on the subject.
“I see. Has he spoken to you about his … er… intentions?”
Georgiana laughed nervously. “Of course not. But I have known him long enough to have noticed his feelings for Claire. And I am sure that Claire returns his feelings as well.”
“Hmmm,” He said, his fingers absently playing with Georgiana’s.
“You do not have any objections, do you?” Georgiana asked hesitantly.
“Objections?” He raised an eyebrow.
“You will not stand in their way, I mean. If they love each other, surely, you would not interfere.”
He shrugged. “I am the head of the family, my love. It is my responsibility to see to my sisters’ wellbeing.”
“But Richard is the best of men.”
“I confess I am a little envious,” Lord Paisley said, removing a piece of lint from his coat. “I had hoped that you considered me the best of men.”
“Do be serious, Julian. You cannot possibly have any objections where Richard is concerned.”
“Col. Fitzwilliam is a very amiable gentleman.” Lord Paisley conceded magnanimously. “I certainly enjoy his company.”
“Richard is more than just amiable. He is brave, trustworthy and intelligent.”
“Those are excellent qualities for a soldier.” Lord Paisley agreed.
“He is the son of the Earl of Matlock.” Georgiana reminded him with the haughtiness that greatly resembled her brother’s.
“He is the second son of the Earl of Matlock.” His Lordship corrected with a smile.
Georgiana’s eyes grew wide with shock and indignation. “I cannot believe you said that.”
“Is my statement inaccurate?” Lord Paisley raised an eyebrow, seemingly unaffected by her rising ire.
“Your assessment is unkind. How can you punish him for not being the first born?”
“I am not punishing him, my sweet.” Lord Paisley shook his head, his calm smile driving her to madness. “I am simply stating the facts. Claire has a large fortune. Col. Fitzwilliam, though quite an amiable gentleman, is hardly eligible for a young lady of my sister’s standing. Marrying a Paisley is a very advantageous marriage for him.”
“By that calculation,” Georgiana said challengingly, as she stood up and walked away from him. “I wonder why you decided to marry me, my lord.”
“I beg your pardon?” Lord Paisley asked, his eyes suddenly having lost some of their former humor.
“My father, while a most respectable man, did not belong to the peerage. I am not titled, and my inheritance, though considerable, certainly fails to compare with that of your sisters’. You could have looked much higher than me when choosing a wife.”
“We are not discussing our marriage, Georgiana.”
“One cannot help but see the similarities.” Georgiana insisted, her color rising and her eyes growing the dark shade of blue he admired so much.
“I beg to differ, my girl. If one looks closely, one will see that there are no similarities between our cases. I am the Marquise of Dartfort. I have no need for my wife’s fortune or position in society. While you have both wealth and connections, I did not choose you according to such considerations. I married you because I love you.”
“So, you are condemning Richard to a loveless marriage because he lacks your fortune?” Georgiana accused, too upset to be charmed by his words.
“No,” Lord Paisley said, finally standing up and walking toward her. “I am simply making certain that neither he nor any other man condemns my sister to a loveless marriage because of her fortune.”
“What about my cousin? What about his happiness?”
“While I wish your cousin the best, I am only responsible for my sister’s happiness.”
“Your sister is an intelligent lady who can make her own decisions. Should she not be allowed to decide what makes her happy?”
“This is not a case for ladies’ rights, Georgiana.” Lord Paisley reminded her, his eyes dancing with amusement.
“Is it not?” Georgiana asked, now made angrier by his nonchalance. “You give yourself every right to judge what brings you happiness, but you refuse to allow your sister the same rights.”
“I am fulfilling my responsibilities as her brother. Do not make me out to be a villain, my love.”
“It is villainy of the acutest kind to take your sister’s happiness away under the guise of brotherly love and responsibility,” Georgiana said with feeling, her eyes throwing daggers at him.
“Magnificent,” he said, a pleased smile gracing his lips.
“I beg your pardon?” She asked with no little shock.
“You are quite magnificent when you are angry, my love. You are relentless and courageous and quite simply, breathtaking.”
Georgiana stared at him, unable to understand whether or not he was laughing at her.
“Are you mocking me? How can you be so insensitive?”
“Believe me, my love.” He smiled rakishly. “I am not insensitive to your charms. In fact, all my senses are alive when you look at me with those beautiful, furious, blue eyes.”
“You are mad,” she said, blushing at the way his eyes roamed her body.
“I am.” He agreed. “You, my darling wife, drive me to madness. Now, come here.”
“I most certainly will not.” Georgiana refused.
“Come here, Georgiana.” He repeated calmly.
“No,” she said petulantly.
His smiled grew deeper. “If you do not, I will have to come and fetch you myself.”
“You would not,” she said with very little conviction.
“You know that I will. And when I do, I will conduct you to your bedchamber, where I will express myself quite eloquently.”
Georgiana blushed crimson.
“But before that pleasurable event takes place.” He continued, thoroughly enjoying himself. “I would like you to join me on the sofa, where we will, with a little effort, try to talk rationally about this matter of your cousin and my sister.
He offered his hand and waited for her to decide on her next move. Georgiana knew her husband well enough to understand that despite his charm and politeness, he was not a man to be refused. She also knew that Julian was a reasonable man. So, she accepted his invitation and placed her hand in his.
“Thank you.” He smiled at her and guided her to the sofa where he sat beside her again.
“Your cousin wrote to me about a month ago,” he said, surprising Georgiana greatly. “He communicated to me of his intention to visit Paisley Court upon his return to London. He also hinted at a special reason for him to visit Paisley Court; a reason that is quite important to his future happiness. Now, although he did not openly mention my sister’s name, I flatter myself, I am not so dim witted as not understand his meaning. I also understand that his purpose in writing the letter was to ask, albeit indirectly, for my permission for him to pursue his purpose.”
“Then,” Georgiana asked hesitantly, “am I correct to understand that you have replied to my cousin’s letter?
He nodded. “The fact that he is coming to Paisley Court should indicate that I have welcomed him.”
Georgiana looked down at her hands with no little embarrassment. She had misunderstood him and had berated him shamelessly.
“I beg your pardon, Julian,” she said softly, not yet able to meet his eyes. “I do not know why I thought… I mean… I was …”
“You were defending your cousin’s happiness. I think that is very honorable.”
“I misjudged you,” Georgiana said, her eyes glued to her hands. “You must think me quite ill-mannered,”
“I think you quite adorable. But I am curious as to why you decided I was such a sad character as to … er … how did you put it, my sweet? Oh yes, condemn my sister to a loveless marriage?”
“I should not have said that. I was afraid you were going to refuse Richard on account of his lack of fortune.”
“I would refuse him or any other gentleman if I suspect that there is no real attachment,” Lord Paisley replied. “But I know what it means to love a woman. And I know what it means to be happy in one’s marriage. I would never take that happiness away from my sisters.”
“I love you,” she said with feeling. “Please forgive my rash behavior. I should not have made such unfair assumptions about you.”
He smiled mischievously. “In your defense, I never bothered to correct your assumption. In fact, I rather enjoyed watching you all riled up.”
“You bated me.” Georgiana shook her head in disbelief at her husband’s playfulness.
“You made it so deliciously easy and, may I say, quite irresistible.”
“I was angry.”
“Yes, quite angry.” He laughed and wrapping his arms around her, began kissing her.
“You are odious… and… terrible … and …” She forgot her words as his lips found the sensitive spot behind her ear.
“Go on, my love,” he said, his lips moving down her neck. “Do not stop on my account. You were saying?”
“I… I think you … are … shameless,” she said with great difficulty.
He stopped his pleasurable pursuits and watched her with amusement. “Now, my love, that is enough rational conversation for one day. It is time that I take you to your bed.”