Brenda's latest story is called 'Passages - A Pemberley Tale' and this, rather than beginning at a point within 'Pride & Prejudice' and diverging, instead takes a different turn before the events of canon, taking us on an entirely different journey. I'll now hand over to Brenda for the blurb and excerpt. There is also a giveaway opportunity, as Brenda is kindly offering a kindle ebook of 'Passages - A Pemberley Tale' to two international commenters on this post, and a signed paperback of the story to a US/Canada winner.
Edited to add: Brenda has now kindly offered to give away a second signed paperback to a US/Canada reader so you get double the chance to win :)
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This tale was my first attempt at writing a long story and it will always have a special place in my heart. Written and posted on a large JAFF forum during 2008 to 2009, I posted it on my own forum, DarcyandLizzy.com, last year when things were slow.
For years now some of my readers have begged me to publish the story and after practically rewriting it for the forum, I decided to oblige. I worked on the story with my editor and betas again this year, hoping to get it ready to publish before 2017 and I barely made it with a few days to spare!
Blurb: Years after her ruin at the hands of George Wickham, Georgiana Darcy is a virtual prisoner at Pemberley as a result of her brother’s good intentions. Drastic changes have taken their toll, leaving brother and sister adrift from polite society.
Faithful to his vow to prevent further harm to his sister, Fitzwilliam Darcy has retreated from the few friends and acquaintances who still acknowledge him. Lonelier than ever, Darcy’s life is swallowed up by darkness until the day a young woman is discovered close to death on the estate grounds.
Unaware of her identity, Elizabeth Bennet finds herself the recipient of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s benevolence while she recovers from her own encounter with Wickham. Elizabeth’s presence breathes life back into Pemberley and its occupants, until Wickham returns with a nefarious plan to regain control of both Elizabeth and Georgiana.
Will Elizabeth fulfil her destiny and rescue Darcy from a desolate life or will the mystery of her parentage take her in another direction, leaving him alone once more?
I hope your readers will enjoy this sample from Chapter 20:
Riding furiously three hundred yards behind the coach, William knew from the way it darted back and forth across the road that it was only a matter of time before it crashed.
When the coach had streaked passed, giving him a glimpse of the woman he loved, his only thought was to save her. Richard would come after securing those at the house, of that he was certain. Yet he could not count on his cousin reaching him before he had to confront the occupants of the coach. What if LeStang threatened to harm Elizabeth unless he laid down his arms? This was his last thought before he realised the vehicle had begun to topple. Reining in his horse, he watched the crash unfold as though in slow motion.
The driver was hurled through the air, his screams competing with the cries of the horses as they were dragged down with the equipage. Hitting the ground, the impact caused the coach to break away from the animals and slide for yards in the mud, before coming to a halt. William sat deathly still until the carriage stopped moving except for the wheels, which creaked as they made a few more revolutions.
Pulling his pistol from his waistband, William nudged his mount in the direction of the wreck. He passed the driver lying dead on the side of the road, the victim of a broken neck. As he rode past the horses, it was evident that they were all either dead or dying. Detecting no movement from inside the coach, by the time he pulled his stallion to a stop, he was holding his breath. Suddenly, the door of the coach, which was now situated on top, began to open slowly. Catching site of a decidedly feminine hand, his heart began to beat wildly. Elizabeth!
Erelong she was standing in the opening—sleeves torn, hair dishevelled and eyes wide with fear. Before he could rejoice, LeStang rose to stand beside her and pointed a pistol in his direction. Though enraged, William struggled to stay calm.
LeStang seemed to take his measure before he deigned to speak. “I suggest you dismount, monsieur; then walk over here and very slowly hand me that pistol.” When William did not immediately follow his orders, he put the pistol to Elizabeth’s head. “That is, if you wish for the lady to live.”
Hoping Elizabeth might draw strength from him, William showed no fear as he dismounted and walked deliberately towards the coach, pistol in hand. Reaching the vehicle, he flipped the weapon, presenting the handle to LeStang, who took it and pushed it inside the waist of his breeches.
“Now, climb up here and help Yvette from the coach.” William’s brow furrowed at the name he called Elizabeth which seemed to make the villain angrier. “Do not do anything foolish, or I will kill you both.”
William began to wonder if the man was mad, and locking eyes with Elizabeth, he found the answer. Climbing deliberately up the side of the coach, he reached down to grasp her under both arms and effortlessly pulled her through the opening and into his lap. Gently caressing her, he whispered against the crook of her neck, “Belle?”
“Not here,” came her whispered reply.
With a quick nod of acknowledgement, he situated her on the edge of the coach and jumped to the ground. Then he reached up to help her slide slowly down into his arms, taking the opportunity to murmur quietly two more words: Push him.
Elizabeth’s brow furrowed in question just as LeStang noticed their intimate embrace. “Let her go!” he shouted. Waving the pistol towards the other side of the road, he commanded, “Stand over there!”
William looked earnestly at Elizabeth and squeezed her hands before backing in the direction LeStang had indicated. The villain proceeded to pull himself atop the coach and quickly jumped to the ground, pointing the pistol at William once he had his footing. Then grabbing Elizabeth’s recently healed arm, he jerked her to his side. His actions caused her to cry out in pain, and eyes ablaze, William took a step towards him. LeStang laughed, raising the pistol higher.
“Oh? So you do not like that? I think you must be the fiancé I have heard so much about.”
If he was surprised at the presumption, William did not show it. Instead, he lifted his chin as if acknowledging the claim. Elizabeth coloured as their eyes met, yet she could not look away.
“It is a pity, monsieur,” LeStang continued. “For she is mine now and we will wed.”
William’s lips tightened in a fine line. LeStang laughed menacingly and, stretching out his arm for better control, aimed at his rival.
Suddenly understanding what William had meant, Elizabeth gathered all her strength and shoved LeStang just as the pistol fired. LeStang stumbled, and the bullet missed its mark, though it still lodged in William’s shoulder. Meantime, Elizabeth’s feat had given William enough time to grab the pistol he kept in an inside pocket of his coat.
Aiming the small but deadly weapon, he shouted, “Down, Elizabeth!”
Brenda J Webb is offering a giveaway to commenters on this post: there are TWO signed paperbacks of 'Passages - A Pemberley Tale' which can be won by US/Canada-based commenters, and 2 kindle copies of the story available for international entrants. To enter, just leave a comment on this post by the end of the day on Wednesday 11 January 2017. Please ensure that you leave a way for me to contact you in case you are the winner, and please state whether you are US/Can or INT. The first US/Can winners selected will be offered the signed paperbacks. Thank you so much to Brenda for the generous giveaway!