It’s been a zoo getting this up on Amazon, but it is finally there. The half price is through September 30th.
APOLOGY; When I did this post, I had the time to finish the edit and get the sale price submitted to Amazon. I lost that time when I had an emergency run to the vet with my big, beautiful orange male cat who was having problems. He’s still not out of the woods, but we are hoping for the best. In addition to that, KDP Publishing is having problems, and the system wouldn’t let me do a new edition of Darcy Chooses with the new cover and additional editing. I finally did a whole new setup that finally went through but don’t know when it will be published. Hopefully by this evening, we will be back in business with the half price sale. I promise I will have the sale and for a full fifteen days. Please forgive me for the delay.
Darcy Chooses was my first full length Pride and Prejudice novel when I started writing fiction in 2013. I can’t believe that it has been nearly eight years since that was published. Where has the time gone?
Although the current cover has served its purpose well, I felt it was time for a new one; one that would reflect the title a little better. When I found the photo for the new cover, I was pretty sure this was the one. I even did a poll in one of my posts, and the reviewers also picked this one. He is a handsome Darcy with a hint of….slyness….or is it shyness? No matter. I think we can all agree that he has a little bit of everything, including being a little sexy as well.
Before I first started writing Darcy Chooses, I wrote two prequels that were published ahead of time: Attending a Ball and Darcy and Bingley. Because this book would be similar in length to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, my publisher and I decided to publish Darcy Chooses in two parts: Part 1 was published in 2014 and had paintings included. Part 2 was published in 2015.
In 2016, I merged Parts 1 and 2 along with the two prequels—part of Attending a Ball and Darcy and Bingley in its entirety. This final book was entitled Darcy Chooses – the Complete Novel and the prequel Darcy and Bingley was made the Prologue, and as a separate prequel, it is no longer available.
The Darcy and Elizabeth Collection is a different collection that includes the following:
- The Women of Longbourn
- Attending a Ball
- Darcy Chooses – The Complete Novel
- Elizabeth’s Choice
For the rest of this post, I will stick with Darcy Chooses by giving you an excerpt and some special news at the end. ENJOY!
His head ached from the little bit of brandy the night before, but most of his problem was a lack of sleep. Darcy had fallen asleep near dawn but only for two hours, and then he awakened to look for Elizabeth, make sure she was well and to warn her about Wickham. He wouldn’t be reticent this time; he knew it was important for her and her sisters to have all the information concerning this profligate.
Not wanting to disturb Jenkins, he did his ablutions, dressed, and then quietly traversed the hallway and staircase. This morning he made sure to avoid Miss Bingley by going through the kitchen and out the servants’ entrance before heading to the stable.
The cook jumped in surprise as he came through the door and said, “Mr. Darcy” in shock.
“Good morning, Mrs. Miller. It’s a fine day is it not?”
“Yes, ’tis a right fine day.” Darcy grinned at her, and she felt her heart rate speed up a little and thought He’s a mighty handsome man and grinned back at him. He complimented her on her efforts for supper at the ball, and she blushed with pleasure as he went out the back door and headed to the stables. Although, an older widow, Mrs. Miller would always appreciate a fine looking and agreeable man.
He found Windstorm eager and ready to run, and Darcy felt wild enough this morning to let him. Slacking the reins and kicking him harder than he intended, he found Windstorm didn’t seem to mind and went into a full gallop for nearly a mile before he slowed. Darcy kept him at a canter as his nerves were taut, and his instincts on alert. Wickham was on the prowl. Heading toward Oakham Mount, Darcy tapped Stormy with his crop and the stallion picked up his pace. Darcy kept searching the path and beyond, looking for any sign of Elizabeth.
Finally, he saw a flash of yellow and red in the distance, and he kicked Windstorm into a gallop. As he got nearer, he saw Elizabeth struggling with someone in a red coat. In a panic, Darcy yelled, “Elizabeth!” Then he saw the man go down.
Pulling hard on the reins, Darcy leaped from the saddle and ran to Elizabeth as the man tried to rise from the ground. As he leveled the villain with a right hook, he recognized Wickham. “Wickham,” Darcy roared. And he hit him again. Elizabeth grabbed Darcy’s arm and hung on, all the time saying, “No, Mr. Darcy, no.” And Darcy stopped but not without effort. He was still seeing red and might have beat him to death if Elizabeth hadn’t stayed his hand.
Quickly turning, Darcy grabbed Elizabeth. “Are you well? Did he harm you? I’ll kill him if he did.” Then he took her in his arms and just held her as if she was the most precious person in the world.
Elizabeth was in shock, not because of Wickham, but because of the concern showed by Mr. Darcy.
“If he had harmed you, I don’t know what I would have done.” Darcy stroked her hair and kissed her forehead.
Elizabeth just gaped at him for a moment then pulled herself together. “Please, would you be so kind as to loosen your hold just a little? I’m having a bit of troubling breathing.”
“My apologies, Miss Elizabeth. I was worried because I know what this profligate is capable of.”
“Mr. Darcy, you may find that Mr. Wickham is in bad shape because of what my Papa taught me. He got too insistent after I told him several times that I didn’t want him to kiss me. Then he began to get forceful, and I stopped him the only way I could…with my knee…”
Darcy blanched and his own body responded momentarily as if it had taken the same blow, and then he relaxed and smiled. “You are well?”
“Yes, Mr. Darcy.” Contrary to her words, however, her face paled and her knees buckled as reality set in. She was shocked at all that had transpired and what could have happened had not Mr. Darcy appeared in time. Scooping her up in his arms, he carried her over to a fallen tree, set her down, bent on one knee, and chafed her hands until a little color came back into her face.
“Thank you, Mr. Darcy. I feel much better now.”
Just then, Wickham groaned, and Darcy got up, grabbed him by the throat, and hauled him up off the ground. With one hand, he kept him lifted with just Wickham’s toes touching the dirt. Elizabeth pleaded with him, and he threw Wickham away, and the man just laid there and then cast up his accounts. Darcy could have cared less. If he’d had his gun, he probably would have shot the scoundrel dead for even laying a hand on Elizabeth. Perhaps it was better he had been empty-handed.
“Truly, Mr. Darcy, I am well.”
Darcy didn’t speak; he just took Elizabeth in his arms again and held her tight. His face looked ravaged like he had lost everything in the world. He felt like he almost had. Closing his eyes, he tried to just breathe and be grateful his beloved had not been harmed.
As for Elizabeth, she had never felt safer than in his arms. And it was awakening even stronger feelings than just liking the man. Who is he that I feel he would protect me from anyone or anything? And why would he?
“Shut up, Wickham. I don’t want to hear one word you have to say.”
Wickham pulled himself off the ground and managed to get on his horse without assistance. “This isn’t over, Darcy.”
“If you don’t leave now, I will pull you off that horse and give you the beating of your life.”
Wickham took one look at the hatred in Darcy’s face and accepted defeat, but only temporarily. Turning his horse, he headed back to the militia encampment at Meryton. Darcy and Elizabeth watched him go until he was out of sight.
“Thank you, Mr. Darcy, for your assistance. He proved stronger than I thought…But, why do you hate each other so?”
“Please sit, Elizabeth.”
Her eyes widened, and she started to tell him she had not given him permission to call her by her Christian name, and then she thought about what he had just done for her and remained silent instead.
“Last night, you asked me about growing up with Wickham and made a comment about refusing a living to him. May I answer your questions now?”
“Yes, please. Mr. Wickham made some serious accusations that if not true could create some problems for you.”
“It is true we grew up together at Pemberley. His father was my father’s steward and a very good man. His wife, however, liked to shop and spent most of his income. Because my father appreciated his hard work and admired the man, he became godfather to Wickham when he was born. For a number of years, Wickham and I were the best of friends and did what friends do, which was to get into mischief. And our mischief during this time was typical of stupid young pups with time on their hands. When I was to be sent to school, my father decided to give Wickham the same education. Wickham has always been a wit, smooth talking, charming both to men and women, and my father fell victim to his charms also. He sent him to Cambridge with me for a higher education even promising him the living at Kympton, when available, if he would take orders.
We had rooms together at Cambridge until I found he was sneaking young women into them and even into my own bed. I didn’t even argue with him. I just moved out and into other rooms by myself. For the next two years, I kept hearing of his dissolute activities: drinking, gambling and promiscuous living as he worked his way through Cambridge, even cheating to keep his grades up to fool my father. Eventually, I told my father of Wickham’s activities but was not taken seriously as I had no proof and my parent said hearsay carried no weight with him.
After he died, Wickham didn’t even come to his funeral, but he did come for the reading of the will. He declared at that time he had no interest in the living at Kympton but would pursue the law at Cambridge. In lieu of the living, I gave him £3,000 and had him sign documents that there would be nothing else owed him. My cousin Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam witnessed these documents and can verify what I’m telling you.
“I take you at your word, Mr. Darcy. I feel you are an honorable man.”
“Thank you, Elizabeth.” Darcy paused for about five minutes, and Elizabeth remained silent and let him think about the past. When he continued, it was concerning his father. “My father was the best of men, and, yet, he believed everything Wickham told him. Wickham can charm the spots off a leopard’s back. That’s how he’s been able to seduce women from one end of England to the other.”
Elizabeth gasped at Darcy’s words and wondered just what Mr. Wickham had expected of her. She shivered when she surmised it was nothing good.
“Are you cold, Elizabeth?”
“No, just a little stunned at the kind of man Mr. Wickham really is. I should never have listened to his lies. He told me you refused him the living at Kympton and left him to survive as he could.”
“I did refuse to give him the living. When it became available, he arrived to tell me he would take orders after all and was interested in the living. He finally admitted that his pockets were to let and all the money he had received was gone.”
Elizabeth gasped. “What did he do with it?”
Darcy shrugged. “He probably gambled it away. He became notorious at the gaming hells in London. Apparently, he would do well for a time and then lose everything. Because I had given him money in lieu of the living, I refused to give him anything else, and he cursed me and said he would exact vengeance.”
“He did and very nearly succeeded.”
“What did he do?”
“What I’m about to tell you is personal and private. It is why I would not speak of it last night.” Elizabeth bowed her head in shame as Jane’s words came back to mind.
He paused, turned his head away from her, then turned back with a tortured look in his eyes. “I’ve mentioned I have a sister whom I adore who turned fifteen last summer. At that time, she desired her own establishment, as I travel considerably in connection with my estates and businesses. I acquiesced and hired a companion, Mrs. Younge, to see to it she followed the studies outlined by her tutors and practiced the pianoforte. After a while, Mrs. Younge suggested they make a short trip to Ramsgate to relax and enjoy the ocean air. Colonel Fitzwilliam and I both agreed, and I made arrangements to surprise my sister with a visit.”
Darcy stopped speaking and closed his eyes as the memory slammed into him. Suppressing a shudder, he composed himself and continued.
“Upon arrival, I discovered Wickham had been secretly courting Georgiana and planned to elope with her to Gretna Green the next day. He had preyed upon her good nature and the fact he had known her as a child and convinced her they were in love when all he wanted was her dowry of £30,000. Mrs. Younge and Wickham are friends and apparently planned the whole elopement together. When I accosted Wickham with it, he admitted he was just after Georgiana’s dowry and walked out without a word to my sister. I followed him out and told him if he ever came near her again, I would kill him. It broke my sister’s spirit, and she has yet to recover. I fear she may never recover from that horrible experience.”
“Did he harm her in any other way?”
“Apparently not. She said he only kissed her once. If he had done more than that, I would have killed him.” Darcy paused again as if the words pained him. “But she has always been shy especially since we lost our esteemed father five years ago. This has damaged her confidence, and she has withdrawn more into herself. So far, I haven’t been able to help her regain her spirit, and I miss my sister.” He bowed his head and sighed.
During the telling, Darcy had seated himself on the log by Elizabeth. When she saw how dejected he was, she placed her small hand gently on his shoulder.
“Mr. Darcy, your sister should be proud she has such a loving, courageous brother looking after her. Perhaps, one day, I might have the privilege of meeting her.”
“I would be honored for you to do so, Elizabeth.”
“Uh, Mr. Darcy, why are you calling me Elizabeth?”
“Because it is such a beautiful name for the most beautiful woman in the world.”
Elizabeth gasped, and her mouth dropped open.
Darcy knew he could wait no longer. If he was going to be able to protect her, she needed to be his wife. Getting down on one knee, he took her hand in his and looked into her eyes. “Miss Elizabeth Bennet, in vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love,,,love you. Will you put me out of my misery and do me the honor of accepting my hand in marriage?”
“Mr. Darcy, I…do not know my own feelings toward you and must decline at this time.” Elizabeth’s heart contracted as Darcy’s face fell, and she reached out to him again. She didn’t understand that it was like a knife to his heart for her to say ‘no.’ “May I suggest a courtship so we might get to know each other better. I am honored to learn of your feelings for me but cannot reciprocate them, but that is not to say they would never change, and I may be able to say the same to you in the future.”
Darcy looked up at her slyly and said, “The near future?”
“Maybe the near future. I wish to know you better before I make a lifelong commitment to a husband. I do wish to marry for love as Jane and I have always desired love matches. And I do like you very much.”
Darcy grinned until both dimples appeared, and Elizabeth was pleased.
“May I have your permission to call on your father today to request a courtship with you?”
“Yes, you may, Mr. Darcy. My only request is that you not tell him of what happened today with Mr. Wickham. I did more harm to him than he did to me, and I would just like to forget it.”
“I won’t speak of today, but I will speak to your father about the kind of man he is. All of your sisters could be in danger because of his dissolute ways. And it might not be just seduction, it could become…Darcy hesitated, took Elizabeth’s hand, looked into her eyes begging her to understand and finished his statement “…a forced union.”
Elizabeth turned white as a sheet, and Darcy braced her so she wouldn’t fall if she swooned. “Forced?” she squeaked out.
“Yes. He has been involved in several assaults, but they either couldn’t be proven, or the victims refused to testify against him. Apparently, he had threatened them with harm if they spoke out. I know you have felt safe here and that’s why you walk alone, but may I suggest as long as Wickham is in the neighborhood you have someone walk with you for protection, a footman, perhaps.”
“Yes, yes, I’ll make arrangements.” Elizabeth’s sensibilities were shaken when it dawned on her that Wickham could have had ravishing her on his mind. Would she have been able to fight him off? What would have happened if Mr. Darcy hadn’t arrived in time? “Thank you again for being my knight in shining armor. And I am not insulted that your horse is black instead of white. Both of you are wonderful.”
With a perfect leg, Darcy bowed to her, then took her hand, turned it over and kissed the soft skin just above the top of her glove. Elizabeth gasped, and Darcy drew closer to her. She didn’t object.
Very softly, he asked, “Since we are entering into a courtship, may I ask permission to seal it with a kiss.”
“I th-think that w-would be acceptable.”
Very gently, he drew close to her, placed his hands around her back and slowly lowered his head until she could feel his warm breath on her face. He smelled of spice with a touch of leather and another she thought might be associated with his horse or just him. The combination was lovely and played havoc with her senses. She wanted to spend the day enjoying Parfum de Darcy. As he drew near, she had instinctively closed her eyes in anticipation of her first kiss.
Now Darcy was not totally an innocent as to the ways of men and women, but he suspected Elizabeth was, and he didn’t want to rush her. Gentle as a butterfly, he kissed her full mouth then moved to the corner of her lips, then her cheek and finished with a sigh in front of her shell-like ear.
He groaned in his spirit and whispered, “Elizabeth, when we are married, I will spend my entire life making you happy. Long nights to please only you.”
She took a shuddering breath and slowly opened her eyes. His eyes were much darker than she had noticed before, and she would have seen the same phenomenon if she had looked into a mirror.
Speaking in a normal tone of voice, Darcy said, “We should get back to Longbourn. I need to speak with your father and also warn him about Wickham.”
“Yes, yes, we should.” And Elizabeth shook herself a little similar to when she was waking in the early hours of the morning. She very much liked her first kiss and wished there were more. But it made her a little uneasy as well because she had felt warm all over and that feeling low in her belly had reappeared, and she didn’t understand what it meant. Maybe she could ask her mother, no, perhaps, her Aunt Madeline what it was. She really did want to know.
Darcy reappeared with Windstorm who had wandered out of sight looking for good grazing. “Are you ready to return?”
“Yes, Mr. Darcy.”
He stopped, took her hand, and placed a feather-soft kiss on her palm after removing her glove, and she shivered. “Elizabeth, may I call you Elizabeth?”
She stuttered out a ‘yes’ and wondered why she couldn’t stop stuttering.
He then asked her to call him William.
“Yes, my first name is Fitzwilliam, but since my Aunt Catherine insists on calling my cousin Richard, Fitzwilliam, when he is around everybody gets confused with two Fitzwilliams, so my family calls me William or Darcy as my aunt does.”
“I l-like W-William.”
He smiled his devastating smile at her and replaced her glove, then put her hand in the crook of his elbow, and they headed to Longbourn.
Lizzy couldn’t feel her feet touch the ground.
And Darcy? He had no intention whatsoever of seducing her. His father had hated his lecherous sire who seduced every maid at Pemberley and every one of his friends’ wives until he died of the French disease. Gerald Darcy refused to follow in his father’s footsteps and vowed to keep himself chaste until he wed a maiden to whom he gave his heart and all until dying with the name of Darcy’s mother, Anne, on his lips. He suggested that his son pursue a similar course, and Darcy had agreed.
Please Note: Darcy Chooses with the new cover will be available for half price through September 10th. Amazon may take a day or two to make the changes, so be sure and get the one with the new cover that includes some additional editing.