One never quite knows where the inspiration will strike. For award-winning author Linda Beutler and My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley, the moment of genesis arrived in a particularly contentious thread at the online forum A Happy Assembly. What is the nature of personal responsibility? Where do we draw the line between Mr. Bingley being too subject to Mr. Darcy’s “persuasion” and Mr. Darcy playing too heavily on Mr. Bingley’s “sensibility”? This is a conundrum guaranteed to raise even more questions.
What happens to the plot and character dynamics of Pride & Prejudice if Mr. Bingley is given just a dash more spine? Or if Jane Bennet decides enough embarrassment is too much? How does Mr. Darcy manage the crucial apology a more stalwart Mr. Bingley necessitates he make? What if Mr. Darcy meets relations of Elizabeth Bennet’s for whom she need not blush on their home turf rather than his? Suffice it to say, this is a story of rebuked pride, missing mail, a man with “vision”, a frisky cat, and an evening gown that seems to have its own agenda.
* * *
Here we are at the end of the blog tour for My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley! I’ve already told you how happy I am to see the event end as it began, with you, at the front cover reveal! Just to bring everything full circle, and give you a chance to show off the remarkable bling on the back cover, I’ve written you and your readers an original vignette, which finds Darcy musing over Elizabeth, more than ever confused about what she must be feeling. Fortunately his sister can explain a few things!
Elizabeth hissed. “I do not dislike him, Mama. You forget I saw rather more of him at Hunsford and came away knowing him a little better. He improves upon acquaintance.” By the end of her speech, her voice gained conviction. She glanced nervously at a wide-eyed Georgiana.
“M-my b-brother holds Elizabeth in the g-greatest esteem, Mrs. B-Bennet, I assure you.” Georgiana’s sincerity was apparent, as was her discomfort.
“Mr. Darcy has always spoken highly of you, Lizzy,” Mrs. Gardiner stated. “At least in my hearing.”
Elizabeth glanced around the room, looking wild-eyed. “Jane, you will vouch for me. Has not my opinion of him changed? I think him a kind and honourable gentleman.” Her voice lowered with earnest sincerity. “He is the finest man of my acquaintance.”
Stricken by the deplorable turn of the conversation, Elizabeth closed her eyes against an incipient headache. She felt a hand touch hers, which was still on Georgiana’s knee. Elizabeth opened her eyes to see Georgiana squeezing her hand tightly. Feeling how little she deserved the girl’s comfort did nothing to relieve Elizabeth’s suffering. She leaned to Georgiana’s ear and whispered, “Please believe me. My feelings…for your brother…he is the finest man of my acquaintance. Please…”
The ladies were silent and red faced when Darcy re-entered the room.
Like the two graces forming the handles on Darcy’s silver punch bowl—figures of beauty captured in attitudes of woe—Elizabeth and Jane pressed their hands to their brows and rested their elbows on the curved arms of the settee, leaning away from the bemused Georgiana between them. Although somewhat unlike in form, Jane and Elizabeth Bennet did share traits that could only have developed so identically from years of providing sisterly solace.
Darcy thought the tableau would make a strange yet lovely painting, and he would have given a great deal to understand the thoughts of the three ladies, Elizabeth most particularly.
Snippets from Chapter 19, Tea, Travails, Travel
As Only a Sister Can
By Linda Beutler
Although both brother and sister had engagements for dinner after returning from taking tea and Gracechurch Street, Georgiana sensed some disquiet in Darcy and looked for a chance to speak with him. He seemed to avoid her, but two evenings after she knew the Bennets had departed for Longbourn, Georgiana sought him, determined to give chase until she could run him to ground. She did not have to go far.
The door of Darcy’s study was ajar and a solitary candle lit the table where the brandy stood. Darcy was not within. After standing for a moment in contemplation, Georgiana proceeded to the ballroom. Once before, when her brother was pondering the future—she shuddered, it was her future after Ramsgate he considered—she had found him in front of their family’s truly priceless heirloom, the solid silver punch bowl. It was beyond price because it had been won in a lottery by their grandfather and had become an emblem of what her brother called “the luck of the Darcys.”
Candelabra had been lit on either side of the glass box housing the glittering object. It had only been since the death of their father that Darcy commissioned the case, with felt in the grooves of the mahogany that fitted the panes together, saving their servants a vast deal of work. “I would have them do more with their days than polish the silver whale,” Darcy had said.
Georgiana’s slippers skimmed over the parquet; the room did make her want to twirl and spin. “Are you in need of luck?” she asked as she neared.
Darcy turned with a warm expression and drew her hand into his elbow. He was without a coat, and his cravat hung untied. He spoke softly. “Luck, courage, call it what you will.”
Georgiana believed he was uncertain of Elizabeth Bennet. As they returned alone to Darcy house after tea they had laughed at their cousin the colonel and his surprising besottedness—Alex had been invited to stay at Gracechurch Street for dinner after very nearly inviting himself—and little else. But afterward, she thought he had been on the point of speaking of other matters more than once in the journey.
“I like her very well, Brother.”
She felt his hand tighten over hers. This was followed by a silent glance at her.
“We have agreed to correspond. There is a matter she wishes to explain. Why did you not tell me she has met Mr. Wickham?”
“And provide proof the Darcys are not always so lucky?” He paused. “How did you hear of it, her acquaintance?”
Darcy hung his head with a shake. “Ah. Yes.”
Georgiana jiggled his elbow. “No. You must not think anything of it. You cannot always protect me. Mrs. Bennet said only he used to be a great favourite of Miss Elizabeth’s. But that is not still the case.”
Darcy’s head turned abruptly. “And you know this…?”
“I believe Mrs. Bennet was the only lady in the room unaware of Miss Elizabeth’s true inclinations.”
Darcy turned to face her, squeezing her hand. “Out with it, girl. She cares nothing for Wickham?”
Georgiana stifled a smile. “Once he was mentioned, Miss Elizabeth began to sing only your praises. She would say nothing of Wickham, leastwise not anything good.”
“Wait…what praises of mine would she sing?” His eyes were intent.
Georgia feared for the circulation in her fingers, but the opportunity to tease him was too great. “She gave the appearance of one wishing above all things to impress your nearest and dearest relation with her regard for you.” Georgiana shrugged artfully. “But I am merely your little sister; what do I know of such things?”
Her hand was released as Darcy ran his through his hair, laughing nervously. “She has taught you to make me your plaything.”
Georgiana shook her hand. “Ouch. Oaf.”
“Oh, I am sorry,” he said, recapturing her hand and rubbing it gently.
Georgiana looked at him fondly. “She did say you were kind. This proves it. Oh…honourable, too.”
Darcy stared into her face, as if searching.
“I do not tease you now. She said ‘kind and honourable’, I promise.”
He took in a deep breath, standing tall, with a smile playing at the corners of his mouth. “That is some improvement.”
“But is it enough?” Georgiana remained sober.
“Enough for what?”
“She did not say what she whispered to me was in confidence, but I would prefer to say no more than I must.”
“Than you must to what?”
“Why, to convince you! That her feelings have grown, that she is in love with you! What do you think I’m about?”
Darcy’s countenance turned scolding. “I think you should tell me everything that was not entrusted to you specifically. Did she declare herself?”
Georgiana nearly laughed. “She most certainly did not! In front of such a mother? How can you think so?”
“We may discuss Mrs. Bennet another day. You might as well hear it from a kindly brother first: gentlemen are not best pleased to be toyed with. I will not have you becoming a cat-and-mouse sort of young lady.”
Georgiana rolled her eyes at him. “You are simply impatient.”
Darcy glared. “Yes I am. You do not know how long I have waited for her.”
The strain on her brother’s face told its own tale. Georgiana was flooded with mercy. “She said, not once but twice just to me, ‘He is the finest man of my acquaintance.’”
She watched her brother’s usually controlled and closed face open like a leaf unfurling in the spring air. A host of emotions seemed to pass over his features, softening him until a beatific smile settled with some permanency. She thought he might ask her to repeat the phrase, but he did not.
He stepped to the case of the punch bowl and patted the corner. “The luck of the Darcys, thank heavens! I should have consulted our oracle sooner.”
Georgiana stepped next to him and took up his hand, giggling. “When will you leave?”
He hugged her and they laughed.
Chapter 20 begins…
“I am the finest man of her acquaintance. I am the finest man of her acquaintance…” It took two long strides of his horse to drum the entire rhythm into the road beneath him.
And so we leave the My Mr. Darcy & Your Mr. Bingley blog tour with a certain gentleman filled with hope—a mighty good place to end. Thank you, Ceri, for your generous support! You have been wonderful! —LB
* * *
Thanks also to the lovely Janet for arranging the blog tour.
Linda Beutler’s professional life is spent in a garden, an organic garden housing America’s foremost public collection of clematis vines and a host of fabulous companion plants. Her home life reveals a more personal garden, still full of clematis, but also antique roses and vintage perennials planted around and over a 1907 cottage. But one can never have enough of gardening, so in 2011 she began cultivating a weedy patch of Jane Austen Fan Fiction ideas. The first of these to ripen was The Red Chrysanthemum (Meryton Press, 2013), which won a silver IPPY for romance writing in 2014. You might put this down as beginner’s luck—Linda certainly does. The next harvest brought Longbourn to London (Meryton Press, 2014), known widely as “the [too] sexy one”. In 2015 Meryton Press published the bestseller A Will of Iron, a macabre rom-com based on the surprising journals of Anne de Bourgh.
Now, after a year-long break in JAFF writing to produce Plant Lovers Guide to Clematis (Timber Press, 2016)—the third in a bouquet of books on gardening—we have My Mr. Darcy and Your Mr. Bingley bursting into bloom.
Amazon US / Amazon UK
8 ebooks of 'My Mr Darcy and Your Mr Bingley' are available to win. To enter, please use the rafflecopter, but be quick! This giveaway ends very soon.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Terms and Conditions:
Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post that has a giveaway attached for the tour. (1 comment/blog post) Entrants should provide the name of the blog where they commented (which will be verified). You may enter once by following the author on twitter and once by following the author on Facebook.
Remember, tweet daily and comment once per post with a giveaway to earn extra entries.
Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter.
**NOTE: Ebook copies are available for 8 winners and the giveaway is international! 8 eBooks will be given away to 8 different winners.**
* * *
Blog Tour Schedule
5 April My Jane Austen Book Club; Vignette, Giveaway
6 April So little time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
7 April Half Agony, Half Hope; Vignette
8 April Obsessed with Mr. Darcy; Review, Giveaway
9 April My Vices and Weaknesses; Character Interview, Excerpt, Giveaway
10 April Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, Giveaway
11 April Tomorrow is Another Day; Review, Giveaway
13 April Just Jane 1813; Review, Giveaway
14 April A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life; Guest Post
15 April Interests of a Jane Austen Girl; Character Interview, Excerpt, Giveaway
17 April From Pemberley to Milton; Review, Giveaway
18 April Diary of an Eccentric; Review, Giveaway
19 April Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway
20 April Babblings of a Bookworm; Vignette, Giveaway