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Thank you, Ceri, for hosting me on your blog! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and I hope you were able to build lasting memories. It soon will be New Years and it causes me to reflect on the last year. I was able to publish two books this year, Pride and Persistence in the spring, and To Refine Like Silver in October as well as publish a second edition of Mr. Darcy’s Promise. I am so grateful for the readers and fellow writers who have taken a moment to review my books or just stopped by and said how they enjoyed it. Connecting with my readers is the fuel for this muse of mine.
This is especially true for my latest book, To Refine Like Silver. I knew it would not be for everyone, particularly because it deals with some difficult topics like depression and rape, but also because the way our favorite characters learn to get over the hurdles in the book is to fully rely on God. Few JAFF books have a spiritual theme. I hope I have treated these topics respectfully but at the same time in such a way that speaks to those who might have suffered in similar ways.
Although I have never been sexually assaulted, it does not mean that those I know have not been hurt. In fact, one in three women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. About as many women will fight depression at some point. No one plans for these things to occur and at times we become quite blindsided. I fought depression for many years, have helped numerous people who themselves are depressed or they come to me for advice on how to help a loved one. Elizabeth gives some great advice that I stand by and pass on to anyone who asks me how to help a loved one. Unconditional love is more powerful than any pharmacological drug, but do not mistake me, medication is vital sometimes and we should not be afraid to seek medical help. If more people sought help early on and had a support system like Georgiana has, depression would rarely take anyone’s life.
In this excerpt, we are entering a very emotionally charged scene. Just hours before, Elizabeth was summoned to Pemberley to help Georgiana because she had very nearly attempted suicide. Georgiana confided in her what really happened in Ramsgate with Wickham (which is far worse than canon). Darcy is beside himself with worry. He just now heard that Wickham had sexually assaulted Georgiana back in the spring and he had a natural, guttural response and bellowed his anger toward Wickham in front of Elizabeth.
One of the things that draws Darcy to Elizabeth is her glow and love of life. He sees almost immediately that his anger seemed to affect Elizabeth more than normal and it tempers his response. I think I have set you up enough for the excerpt I wish to share. Enjoy!
Darcy considered her idea. But then he remembered the pain in Georgiana’s eyes. “You say God designs our trials as lessons; if that is so, He has dealt too harshly with Georgiana. She is only fifteen, and I nearly lost her. I do not know if I can forgive Him for that.”
Elizabeth could feel the pain in his words. She had felt the same way many times. She hesitated only a moment, considering how much to reveal about her own past. “Although I know God designs my lessons, there were times when I questioned my strength,” she replied. “There were times when I wondered whether I would survive such harsh lessons. But I did survive, and I know Georgiana will too. After many years, I have learned that God does love me. When I hurt, He hurts also. When I grow, He rejoices. After all, if I lived an easy, carefree life, I would be a very dull person, having learned nothing.”
Dull. Something she said triggered a cascade of thoughts in Mr. Darcy. He looked at her with new eyes. She had said someone close to her had felt like Georgiana. She had said she survived and Georgiana could too. What did she mean by that? He looked at her, and he saw in the gold specks of her eyes that the answer was plain as day. She had been the one who had felt like Georgiana. That was how she had recognized the danger lurking.
The silence between them grew thick, and he knew not what to say. His angry reaction had dulled her sparkle, diminished her radiance. But yet she sat here with her reassuring hand on his, calmly guiding him through his visceral emotional response. Suddenly, they weren’t just discussing Georgiana’s past. He could see that she was reliving the very worst moments of her life, moments when she too had been quite melancholy, perhaps even suicidal. His heart ached to reach out and comfort her.
How could this glowing, captivating lady ever have been like Georgiana had been these last months? He couldn’t imagine her essence and love of life gone out of her eyes, but yet when he looked at her now, he caught a glimpse of dullness. He caught a glimpse of that blank stare. He felt his eyes tingle with the pricks of tears forming. He looked out to the lake and blinked them away. He knew now she had been right. His reaction could make or break Georgiana’s success in moving forward.
Elizabeth gave his hand a squeeze. She wondered if her family had reacted this way when they found out about her. She felt herself falter slightly in her inner strength and pulled her hand away. She said another quick prayer and looked up at his face, watching the emotions dance in his eyes. He was struggling. She so desperately wanted to help him, but the last few hours had been draining. Elizabeth had relived that wretched moment years ago at least a dozen times as Georgiana told her story. She wasn’t a fool and knew she would always have some pain with the memories, but she thought she had been more prepared than this. Looking down at her hands, she felt a chill go up her spine and knew the temperature was only partly to blame. She was startled when Mr. Darcy’s husky voice addressed her.
“Miss Elizabeth, obviously my reaction was all wrong. I do not know how to help her. Can you tell me about the person you once knew who went through something similar? What would have been the right thing to say to her?” He looked at Elizabeth’s eyes and saw her smile slightly, her glow slowly making its way back into her face.
“This person needed only one thing: unconditional love. No matter what happened to her, or how she behaved, she needed to know she would be loved and accepted. She felt she had lost control of her life. She felt there was no solid foundation, and she was drowning in mundane tasks as simple as breathing. What got her through it was the unconditional love of her sister and father, but most importantly, she learned that God also loved her unconditionally.”
“So, you think Georgiana needs my love, not my anger?”
“I do. She did not want to see your reaction, and I am afraid she was correct in her hesitation. When you see her, you need to embrace her with love. She needs to see that you look at her no differently; you need to forget the images in your head right now. She needs to see that what she went through does not define her. Let her know that this thing that Mr. Wickham did does not diminish her worth as a person. Do you think you can do that?”
“Of course Georgiana’s worth is not diminished! If anything, I love her more than ever! To imagine she suffered all these months alone is heartbreaking. I want to be there for her in any way I can! I do not want to let her down.”
Elizabeth breathed a sigh of relief and stood. “Good. She will need to hear that. She will need it more than you know.” She smiled weakly and started walking back to the house. Mr. Darcy followed her, taking long strides to catch up. He put his hand on her arm and gently stopped her.
“Miss Elizabeth, I am sorry for reacting the way I did. I should have been more in control of myself.”
“Mr. Darcy, emotions cannot be helped. One cannot stop the rain from falling, but we can be wise enough to seek shelter instead of getting wet. What I am trying to say is, it is what we choose to do with our emotions that is important. Now, Georgiana said she would be waiting in the yellow sitting room. We have been gone some time now, and the sun has set. I suggest we go find her.”
Mr. Darcy didn’t offer his arm this time. He needed to focus on Georgiana and controlling his reaction when he saw her. As much as he liked feeling Elizabeth’s hand wrapped around his arm, now was not the time to play the gentleman suitor. They entered the house, and they both silently walked to the yellow sitting room. He took one more look at Elizabeth’s encouraging face.
Elizabeth put her hand on his arm and whispered, “You can do this. She just needs your unconditional love.”
*****I hope you enjoyed this emotional scene. It was a hard one to write but it has ended up being one of my favorite moments in the book. I hope that this book has influenced you and you are more prepared to fight the demons you or your loved ones might face. I have said all along that people will either hate it or love it. I hope you love it. To Refine Like Silver is my favorite of all the books I have written because it is so close to my heart. In it, the characters learn that our trials, whether they be physical or emotional, do not define us, but if we let them, they refine us into better people.
I want to do two giveaways: One paperback of To Refine Like Silver (I am making both giveaways INTERNTIONAL!!) and one bar of Fitzwilliam Darcy soap from Shirley’s Handcrafts which, if you do not win, can easily be found on Etsy.com. Here is the link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ShirleysHandicrafts?ref=search_shop_redirect
All you have to do is comment below. I love to answer questions about the book or my writing and you will find I am an open book about depression. We have had some fabulous discussions on the blog tour and I hope this will be just as engaging. Good luck in the giveaway and thanks again, Ceri, for hosting me!
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Thank you so much to Jeanna, for sharing this powerful excerpt with us, and offering a giveaway too. To enter, just leave a comment for Jeanna, and please tell me which prize you'd prefer to receive if you are one of the lucky winners, otherwise, I'll assume you are equally happy with either. Please leave a way for me to contact you should you win, email address, twitter handle etc. Jeanna is very kindly making both giveaways open to international entrants. Closing date for entries is now Wednesday 7 January 2015.
If you'd like to know more about Jeanna, you can catch up with her over at her blog, Goodreads author page, or on twitter.