Greetings, fellow Austenians! I know you may have been expecting the second post of my planned series on Austen’s unnamed characters, but that will have to wait another month, I’m afraid. Today I’m here to brag about my newest release, The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy.
In this new story, circumstances are vastly different for ODC: Elizabeth and her sisters are the daughters of a baronet, and Darcy has no fortune. But as always, the stars align and one of literature’s most beloved couples unite, determined to take on the world together! Here is a little more info in the form of the blurb:
Now here is an excerpt from the book!
Darcy was awakened sharply and suddenly some hours later by a deafening crack. Smoke assailed him almost immediately when he opened the door to his bedroom. Hurriedly he threw on trousers and boots; he was forced to skip past the fire that already burned strongly to get down the stairs. He grabbed his coat from the closet, though it did little to combat the cold as he rushed to the well to begin pumping water. He ignored the discomfort, focused as he was on saving his home.
He knew not precisely how long after the fire had begun, but eventually he was joined by Reynolds and the two stablehands from Pemberley, as well as his closest neighbor and the man’s eldest son. Three more buckets joined his, and a system was quickly worked out for passing buckets back and forth to throw water on the flames consuming the cottage. Darcy held little hope of their being successful but was thankful that each man gave his best effort. By the time a heavy downpour began at last to fall and aid them in their quest, extinguishing the blaze in only a few minutes, nearly half the cottage had been consumed by the fire.
Melancholy gripped Darcy’s chest as he looked to the heavens and bitterly remarked, “Now it bloody rains.”
“Sir,” said Reynolds, and Darcy turned to look at him with bleakness in his eyes. “Do you know what happened?”
“No, but I suspect it was a lightning strike.”
He shook his head and scoffed angrily as he gave into an impulse and kicked a fallen roof timber. How could this have happened to him? Was it not enough that he had given up his ancestral home to live as lowly as one of the people who used to serve him there? What further sacrifices could God ask of him, when he now had literally nothing left to give?
Turning to the farmer who’d come to help, he bid the man take his son home, as there was no reason for them to stand about in the rain any longer. The man told him he’d passed the barn on the way over and it hadn’t appeared to be in any danger from the fire, which was a relief to Darcy as he’d honestly given no thought to the barn or the animal inside it; it was a relief to know Thunder was safe, as there was no telling what his cousin would say had the horse been lost. The farmer then expressed his sorrow for the loss of the house, wished him well, and then he and his son began to trudge through the rain toward their own home.
“Come, Master Fitzwilliam. Let us get back to the manor,” said Reynolds then. “There is no further use in any of us standing about and risking our health.”
“Where can I go?” Darcy demanded. “Where am I now to sleep?”
Reynolds shook his head and reached over to take him by the arm; he steered him toward Pemberley and silently gestured to the stablehands to head back; the two turned away without a word and headed in the direction of the stables.
“Do not be a fool, boy,” said the old butler. “You will take a room in the manor. The sitting room next to your father’s study can easily be made into a bedchamber if you do not desire to take a room on the third floor with the rest of the staff.”
Darcy pulled his arm from the other man’s grip. “I cannot sleep in the manor when there is an unmarried young lady in residence!”
“Nonsense! Neither Daniel nor Adam are married, and they live there,” said Reynolds. He stopped then and turned to Darcy, adding, “Sir, do you truly wish to stand here and argue, or will you listen to reason and come with me to the manor to get out of this foul weather, before either of us catches our death and my wife murders us both?”
Even though he felt angry, dejected, and exhausted, Darcy could not suppress the brief chuckle that rose within him at the threat of facing Mrs. Reynolds’ wrath—the woman, when angry, was very much a force to be reckoned with, and not one to cross lightly.
“It would appear I have no choice in the matter,” he replied at last, and the two continued in silence to the house.
When at last the two entered the manor through the stillroom, Mrs. Reynolds was waiting there…and so was Miss Bennet. The ladies were similarly wrapped up in woolen dressing gowns with their long hair in a braid over one shoulder. Both gasped in alarm at their appearance.
“Good gracious! Are you well—you’re both unhurt?” Miss Bennet asked.
Darcy glanced at himself and Reynolds; not only were they soaked to the skin, but their hands, faces, and clothing were all grimy with soot. And now that he was out of the rain, he detected the lingering scent of smoke.
“I assure you we are well, madam,” he replied to her query. “Lightning struck my cottage and set it on fire. The house appears to be a loss, but I will know more come morning when there is light by which to see.”
“Well then, you must stay here,” Miss Bennet said, even as Mrs. Reynolds opened her lips to speak. “Mrs. Reynolds will see to a hot bath and dry clothing, and a room for you.”
“Of course I will, Miss Bennet,” Mrs. Reynolds assured her. “Now please, my dear, there is nothing you can do tonight. Go on back to your chambers and sleep now.”
Miss Bennet laughed softly. “I know it was unnecessary for me to get up, but with all the noise, and this ghastly weather, I was so worried for the men who went out.”
“You are most kind to be concerned for us, Miss Bennet, but I assure you, no one was injured,” Reynolds assured her.
Darcy watched her look them both over and felt a thrill of pleasure as her eyes lingered on him. When their gazes met, she blushed prettily, looked away, and in a soft voice agreed to go back to her rooms. After bidding them goodnight, she quietly stepped out.
So what do you think? Let me know in the comments below and enter to win an ebook copy. Good luck!
Contest open until August 14, 2021.