Here, Fitzwilliam Darcy and William Collins swap bodies! My first thought is: "Ewwwww!", but it is closely followed by other thoughts, like whether poor Elizabeth might find Mr Collins acceptable with a less ridiculous personality and then find herself married to him! I am assured that this story has a happy ending so I am guessing that Laura fixes it all by the end. Read on to find out more about the book and for a chance to win a copy for yourself...
* * *I suppose there is no explaining the outrageous premise for Darcy By Any Other Name. What can I say? Once the idea of a body swap between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Collins showed up, it was too delightful leave alone. Besides, just about every variation of Pride and Prejudice has been written. I blame my quirky sense of humor and my love for the “But What If?”
Honestly, though, why do we read fan fiction? Because we long to reenter the world of beloved fictional friends and to see them have new adventures. I love immersive stories, where the reader is drawn into each scene. Fitzwilliam Darcy is the main point-of-view character, but we also get to hear from Elizabeth Bennet and William Collins.
You need to know that I am all about Happily Ever After. Precisely how that plays out in Darcy By Any Other Name is part of the fun. When I began writing, even I did not know how it would end.
And then there is a deeper question, one that powered the body swap premise. What is it about a man that attracts a woman? Wealth and handsome appearance play a part, but are we truly so shallow? Aren’t there other factors? The intelligent sparkle in his eyes, the delicious conversational banter, those shared smiles? What about his fine honor and kindly, noble heart?
Yes to all of these! As we better get to know a delightful man, his appearance somehow improves.
I love surprising readers with the unexpected, and there are plenty of twists in this tale. Moreover, Elizabeth is falling in love with the wrong man—no, the right man! But he’s in that podgy body! She cannot love Mr. Darcy when he’s—ugly! Ah, but of course she does. Now what?
Think of Darcy By Any Other Name as a happy roller coaster ride. And you know what they say about those: “Get in, sit down, shut up, and hold on.”
A favorite scene of mine is in Chapter 17 and involves a family evening at Longbourn. Darcy-as-Collins, having recited a sonnet, has challenged Elizabeth to play the pianoforte for them. She agrees—but on the condition that he sing with her.
Sing? Darcy does not sing! But wait, perhaps Collins does? After all, what is there to lose? Not dignity, not respect—Collins has neither. Once again Darcy is struck with how freeing it is to be ordinary and obscure. If he makes a fool of himself, who will care?
And so he boldly selects a piece by Purcell…
“This one is rather good. I’ve heard it done in school.” He threw her a laughing look. “Quite appropriate under the circumstances, wouldn’t you say?”
Elizabeth looked as if she did not know how to respond. “I-I’ve never learned the accompaniment for any of these,” she confessed.
“Nor have I,” he said. “If you will kindly make room for me to sit—” Darcy broke off speaking. Collins would never fit on the bench beside Elizabeth. He procured a straight-backed chair and brought it close beside her.
“Now then, we’ll both be readers, shall we?” he said. “And see here, the wonder of the Baroque. Your part is basso continuo, that is to say figured bass. Meaning you play only chords, Miss Elizabeth. As soloist I do all the heavy lifting. Most unfortunately.”
He reached across and placed his right hand on the keys. “I’ll just run through my part,” he said, “before I make a complete fool of myself.”
He worked through the melody line. Yes, it was as he remembered it. “I will probably slide over these sixteenth notes,” he admitted.
She listened with obvious astonishment. “You play the pianoforte, Mr. Collins?”
“Only one note at a time,” he said, twinkling. “Much to the disappointment of my sainted mother. She was most insistent about lessons.”
“But your mother died when you were very young,” she protested, “or so Father was given to understand.”
Darcy refused to be deterred by this slip. “Ah, but one is never too young to begin learning to play,” he quipped. “And how clever of you to guess her last words to me. ‘William,’ she said, ‘you must practice!’”
Elizabeth broke out laughing. “How wretched you are! To jest about your poor mother!”
“Thus I am saved from weeping. Dear Mother. I hated practicing and would much rather ride my pony. Shall we begin?”
“Your pony?” Elizabeth sounded astonished. “But I thought—no, Mr. Collins, you told us that you do not ride.”
“A mere conversational gambit, that. To, er, save myself from embarrassment.”
Elizabeth was openly doubtful. “What embarrassment?”
He spread his hands. “How was I to know that you would not make me mount a raging stallion and go galloping across fields?”
“As if we had such an animal!” she said, laughing. “Even our carriage horses are used on the farm.”
“Ah, but I did not know then what lived in your stables. If you have a pony, Miss Elizabeth, I will gladly ride him. Although,” he paused to pat his abdomen, “it would be rather a kick in the teeth for the pony.”
Elizabeth continued to laugh, and he joined her.
“Now then,” he said at last, “shall we begin? Miss Lydia is looking impatient.” Actually, it was Anne de Bourgh who was staring at him. Obviously Collins had never been pressed to sing at Rosings Park.
He pointed to the page. “Here we are.”
She leaned in to read the words. “I resolve against cringing and whining.” Again Elizabeth broke out laughing. “Very well, Mr. Collins.” She struck the first chord and shot him a challenging look.
“I resolve against cringing and whining,” Darcy sang. He broke off to point at the score. “You have a chord just there,” he whispered.
“I—was taken up with the excellence of your singing,” she whispered back, and spread her fingers over the keys.
“You should know better than to lie to a clergyman,” he countered. “Shall we begin again? And go straight through?”
“I resolve against cringing and whining,
In a lover’s intrigue so unfit.
‘Tis like saying grace without dining,
And betrays more affection than wit.
To kneel and adore, to sigh and protest
And there to give o’er, whereabout lies the jest?”
Again Darcy stopped. “It is bad enough that I must carry the melody, dear Cousin. But if I am left to sing a cappella because you cannot stop giggling long enough to play…”
“I do apologize,” she gasped, still laughing. “But these words!”
He pulled a mournful face. “The story of my life.” He pointed. “Here is your next chord.”
Obediently she played it.
“Dearest mistress, I prithee be wiser,
Recant your platonic opinion,
Whilst you hoard up your love, like a miser,
You starve all within your dominion,
And when the dread foe is vanquish’d by you,
I’ll kiss the boy’s bow, and forever be true.”
His performance was greeted with enthusiasm, but all that mattered to Darcy was the warmth that shone in Elizabeth’s eyes. Could it be that disdain had given way to admiration? And why did this now mean everything to him?
At Netherfield, a glorious evening of music and dancing...
But out in the garden two men are arguing, while a ferocious rainstorm swirls round. And then the unthinkable happens: a lightning bolt from heaven strikes. In that instant everything changes.
Jane Austen’s heartthrob hero becomes the bumbling Reverend Collins.
Shorn of his fortune, his social standing, and his good looks, Mr. Darcy is trapped in Mr. Collins’ body. And Mr. Collins wakes up to discover that he is master of Pemberley. Could there be anything worse?
But the inner man is still Darcy. He is in love with Elizabeth Bennet. And now he is living in her house.
Discover the Pride and Prejudice body swap romance that has readers laughing in surprise and delight.
As a girl Laura Hile read fairy tales and musty Victorian books, before moving on to gothics and mysteries. But it took Jane Austen and the Internet to tempt her into writing stories of her own.
Laura’s Regency novels offer a sparkling good time: thrills, chills, delicious repartee, and the laugh-out-loud excitement of falling in love. Her trilogy, Mercy’s Embrace, is a continuation of Persuasion and showcases Jane Austen’s “other Elizabeth” —the top lofty Miss Elizabeth Elliot—who thinks she’s so smart but just isn’t. She meets her match in a dashing but most unsuitable admiral, and she soon discovers that the course of love is anything but smooth.
The humor Laura comes by in her job as middle and high school teacher. There’s never a dull moment with students! She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, sons, and a collection of antique clocks. One day she would like to add a cat—or three. In case you're wondering, her fiction is for everyone, even teens.
Links• Author Website • Jane Started It! blog • Goodreads • Facebook • Twitter • Amazon Author Page •
Wasn't that excerpt fun?! I hope you chortled as much as I did. Laura is kindly giving away a kindle version of 'Darcy By Any Other Name' to a commenter here. Just leave your thoughts on the concept of this book or the guest post for a chance to win. Please leave a way for me to contact you in case you are the lucky winner. This giveway is open to international entrants who comment by the end of the day on Tuesday 26 July.
Thank you to Laura for the guest post, I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I did!