- N. N. Light
Amending the Shades of Pemberley is a Stress Busting Festival pick #regency #fiction #giveaway
Amending the Shades of Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary
pastiche fiction; adaptations, historical clean romance; Regency historical romance; British literature; classic fiction; variation
“You have willfully misunderstood me, Miss Bennet. You have no worry of my releasing you, for I do not wish you to perform as a governess to my daughter, but rather as my wife and the mistress of my hereditary estate.”
Elizabeth Bennet had thought the stranger quite handsome; yet, she had ignored those first tendrils of interest, for she was in no position for the gentleman to pursue her. She and her sister Mary were all who remained of their family. Moreover, Longbourn and its furnishings were to be sold. They were destitute, and, if fortunate, headed for service in some stranger's household.
Fitzwilliam Darcy's proposal of marriage would save both Mary and her, for her sister had agreed to assist with the gentleman's young daughter. But what of the man's tale of having corresponded with her father and of Mr. Bennet having purported a marriage between this stranger and her? Elizabeth knew nothing of the arrangement nor of the man's existence. Though their marriage would solve all her troubles, what if the man's tale was not completely truthful? Would Mr. Darcy become her enemy or a man she could learn to love?
Darcy had been enchanted from the first moment he had laid eyes upon Miss Elizabeth Bennet. She was exactly as her father had described her, except Darcy thought Mr. Bennet had not given her feminine form justice.
It had been a pure stroke of luck, although it was his luck hitching a ride on the back of the Bennet family’s misfortune, that he had taken note of the advert for the auction. He had been in England less than a day when he had stopped in St Albans for refreshments for himself and Alice, before he made the last twenty miles to London to settle his father’s affairs. If Darcy had had his choice, he would have immediately traveled to Pemberley and sent all involved in his banishment from his ancestral home to a place much hotter than the constant sun of India. Yet, once again, Thomas Bennet had extended his hand, only their roles had been reversed. Instead of calming Darcy’s woes and offering friendship, this time Thomas Bennet, or rather his family, required a hand up. Somehow, the Bennet family had fallen on hard times, which Darcy did not fully understand, but he would eventually discover the truth of it. He owed Mr. Bennet his loyalty.
Therefore, he had taken a detour, not south to London, but rather north to a small village called “Meryton” to discover what had occurred.
“The pox kilt more than sixty,” the innkeeper explained, “including quite a few from the militia.”
“What of the Bennets?” he asked as casually as he could. “I am familiar with Mr. Bennet from a business endeavor.”
“Only Mr. Bennet and two of the daughters survived. The youngest be quite friendly with Colonel Forster’s young bride. The two ladies spent time together in Brighton when the militia removed for training late last spring. Miss Lydia was meant to marry herself a lieutenant, but the ladies and many of the soldiers carried the pox back to Meryton. Perhaps fifteen or twenty of the militia passed, as well as several townsfolk. Bennet, he survives, but had some kind of heart spasm. Gone quickly. Now, only Miss Elizabeth and Miss Mary survive.”
Darcy had said a silent prayer of thanksgiving for God sparing Miss Elizabeth. He had promised himself he would someday take the lady’s acquaintance; after all, Mr. Bennet had promised his daughter would put Darcy’s steps on the right path, and what man could walk away from such a challenge.
Although he had spent most of his adult life avoiding overzealous society mamas and their marriageable daughters, it was rare to encounter a father who sang the praises of his daughter; yet, Mr. Bennet had done exactly that. Except, Mr. Bennet knew Darcy had essentially been disowned. “Even an impoverished gentleman’s daughter would be superior to a man such as I. One who has fallen from grace,” he had told Mr. Bennet. Yet, though the man knew Darcy struggled shoulder-to-shoulder with his hired men in the depths of a mine, attempting to earn his own fortune, Bennet spoke often of how he would like to view his Elizabeth on Darcy’s arm.
Driven by his curiosity, he had called upon the estate and had been a bit surprised by how much it felt of home, despite his never having seen it. Longbourn was smaller than Pemberley, but, then again, most estates in England were. In one letter, Mr. Bennet had told him, “Longbourn has been in my family since the Restoration.”
It had made Darcy sad to think the Bennet line had lost everything and had come to an end. He feared the Darcy line would die with him, and so, his inquisitiveness had led him to call on Longbourn. Unsurprisingly, he had not been disappointed. It was a well-lived in house, one superior to Pemberley in that manner.
Then he had stepped into the room to discover a woman he had never seen, but one he recognized immediately, that is, except for her hair. Mr. Bennet had described it as red, but it was actually more bronze than Darcy had been expecting. In his opinion, the lady was absolutely stunning, and, like it or not, the idea of her had claimed a corner of his heart long before he had ever laid eyes on Elizabeth Bennet.
* * *
“You cannot expect to purchase me as if I am another of Mr. Bennet’s treasured books!”
“Would you have considered my plight if I had courted you for the last few months?”
Elizabeth swallowed the anger rushing to her lips. Instead, she said, “An acquaintance of more than a few hours would be preferable.”
“Would such actually have provided us more stability in our relationship? Should I have walked you home from church and sat in your mother’s drawing room for six weeks every Sunday? Asked you to dance at the local assembly? Would you prefer such displays to prove you are handsome enough to tempt me?”
Privately, Elizabeth wished, when she married, her husband would find her both handsome and desirable: She had stood in Jane’s shadow for more years than she cared to admit, and, despite her sensibilities, she could not resist wishing for someone to look upon her with affection in his eyes. “My father never spoke of you to me,” she objected lamely.
“Mr. Bennet spoke often of you to me,” he confided. “I would be happy to share his letters with you when the rest of my trunks arrive in England. Your father swore I required a woman of your nature to set my world aright.”
“Is your world so off kilter, sir?” she demanded.
“It has been so for some years, but I pray my fortune has changed. My family and I paid a heavy price for a spoken lie,” he stated flatly.
“A lie spoken by you or another?” she questioned.
For a moment, Elizabeth thought the gentleman would respond, but, instead, he said, “It does not matter who spoke the lie, for the past cannot be changed. Only the future can be molded to suit our natures. Your father was fond of telling me there was no future in the past.”
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What’s your favorite way to combat stress?
When I was younger, I loved to dance. Unfortunately, my 75-year-old knees are not so cooperative any longer. Now, I go for walks. Am a bit regimented for hours to eat, sleep, etc. Spend time with the grandkids. READ. Garden. Play word games. Watch classic movies. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Why is your featured book a stress busting read?
Simply by opening a book, one is invited into a literary world which can distract a person from his/her daily stressors, freeing him/her from the craziness of life. Those of us who follow this blog are well aware of how reading decreases blood pressure and improves heart rate, though we likely never thought about it as such. With a Ph.D. as a reading specialist, I can say with some authority, the mental stimulation that comes from reading helps preserve brain cells.
Amending the Shades of Pemberley is a Jane Austen variation, where one can meet familiar characters, but in a slightly different context. It is as if one has encountered an old friend again and wishes to catch up on what occurred during his absence. It is a snuggle down into the blankets kind of book which explores coming to love another while life is saying perhaps one should slow down and listen to the warnings. Is love strong enough? Is it just one step closer to destiny? Is love just one beat of Elizabeth’s heart away?
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.
Runs May 1 – 31, 2023.
Drawing will be held on June 1, 2023.
Regina Jeffers is an award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency, historical mysteries, and contemporary novels. Living outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, she is a retired English teacher and an often sought after consultant for media literacy and language arts, who spends her “down time” pulling weeds from her flower beds and spoiling her “grand joys.”
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