Title: The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery
Author: Regina Jeffers
Genre: Historical Suspense; Cozy Mystery; Romantic Suspense
A THRILLING NOVEL OF MALICIOUS VILLAINS, DRAMATIC REVELATIONS, AND HEROIC GESTURES THAT STAYS TRUE TO AUSTEN’S STYLE
SHACKLED IN THE DUNGEON of a macabre castle with no recollection of her past, a young woman finds herself falling in love with her captor—the estate’s master. Trusting him before she regains her memory and unravels the castle’s wicked truths would be a catastrophe.
Far away at Pemberley, the Darcys happily gather to celebrate the marriage of Kitty Bennet. But a dark cloud sweeps through the festivities: Georgiana has disappeared without a trace. Upon receiving word of his sister’s likely demise, Darcy and his wife, Elizabeth, set off across the English countryside, seeking answers in the unfamiliar and menacing Scottish moors.
How can Darcy keep his sister safe from the most sinister threat she has ever faced when he doesn’t even know if she’s alive? True to Austen’s style and rife with malicious villains, dramatic revelations and heroic gestures, this suspense-packed mystery places Darcy and Elizabeth in the most harrowing situation they have ever faced— finding Georgiana before it’s too late.
“Mr. Joseph is awake, Fitzwilliam.” Elizabeth said softly in his ear. Darcy had joined Mr. Simpson and Jasper in the common room. He often entertained his employees when he was on the road. He considered it a matter of good taste to honor those who offered an honest day’s work.
“Please pardon me.” He motioned to the bar mistress to bring his men another round of drinks. Then he followed Elizabeth up the inn’s narrow stairs. He caught his wife to him in the darkened hallway. “What should I expect?” he asked tentatively.
“You should expect a family thankful for your friendship. For your honor.”
Darcy swallowed his trepidation. It was one thing to encounter an opponent, but it was quite another to seek forgiveness from a man he respected. Trailing his wife, he entered the small room and waited for his cue. Finally, Mrs. Joseph motioned him forward, and Darcy pulled a chair close to the bed. “I am thankful to discover you awake,” he said as he leaned forward to where Joseph could see him.
With laudanum’s lingering effects, Joseph struggled with coherent thoughts, but his voice sounded strong, a fact of which Darcy took quick notice. “Finding—Mary and—William and—Ruth—made me think—I had found heaven.”
Darcy glanced at the room’s furnishings. Although cleaner than many rooms he had encountered over the years, no one would call this particular inn heavenly. “If this is heaven, it would explain so many seeking hell,” he said wryly.
The corners of Joseph’s lips turned upward. “A man—knows contentment—in the simplest acts.” He closed his eyes as if seeking strength. “How may I speak—to you—of my gratitude?”
Darcy replied grimly. “I have brought this devastation to your doorstep. I do not deserve your gratitude. I have earned your disdain.”
Joseph’s gaze cleared. “You shall never know—my censure. Without you—and Mrs. Darcy—I would not have Mary and William.”
“But it was I the shooter sought,” Darcy protested. “If not for me, you would know no pain.”
“If not for you—I could have lain on a dusty road—and bled to death,” Joseph countered. “Yet, if it is forgiveness—you require—you have mine.” Pause. “And—as a clergyman, I must remind you—God asks us to forgive—those who—trespass against us. As Jesus did—on the cross—so must we—forgive.”
Darcy’s mouth thinned. His tension was palpable as he directed his wife. “Elizabeth, I am certain Mrs. Joseph and her sister could use a few minutes to freshen their things and perhaps to have a solid meal. I will sit with Mr. Joseph. Young William is asleep at the moment. If he wakes, I will summon you.”
Elizabeth did not release his gaze, but she said, “Yours is an excellent suggestion. Come along, Mary. You must tend to your own needs if you are to properly care for Mr. Joseph.”
“But Matthew might—” she began, but her husband’s weak smile stopped the woman.
“Mr. Darcy managed—to see me through the worst—of my pain. He is quite capable.” He sucked in a shallow breath. “Please see to Ruth, sweetheart. Both of you—are too pale, and—that—fact—worries me. I would rest more comfortably—if I knew you were well.”
Mary leaned across him to straighten the blanket draped over her husband’s body. She gently kissed his forehead. “You are very fortunate, sir, that I respond quickly to a guilty conscience.”
“I will keep that—in mind—once I am well,” he said softly.
Mary caressed his cheek. “I shall count the moments.” Then she stood tall before catching Ruth’s hand. “May my sister and I use your room, Mrs. Darcy?”
“This way.” Elizabeth gestured toward the door. As she exited, she gave Darcy’s shoulder a squeeze of encouragement.
With the ladies’ departures, the two men remained in companionable silence for several minutes. “We have an acquaintance—of mere days,” Joseph observed, at last. “But I feel an affinity—of a much longer duration.”
“As do I,” Darcy agreed.
Silence continued between them. Finally, Joseph said, “It would be a sin—if you sought revenge—Mr. Darcy.”
“How can I not? An eye for an eye. The man who shot you has repeatedly wronged my family. My most excellent father. My innocent sister. Mrs. Darcy’s sister. And now you. The man’s accounts have been measured. I have spent a small fortune righting the wrongs my former acquaintance has wrought on the world.”
“I would ask you—for my peace of mind—that you abandon—thoughts of revenge. I would not seek it—for myself.”
Darcy reasoned, “You are a man of God.”
“I am a man—and as such—my first thought—is to retaliate.” Pause. “However—God teaches me—I should extend—my mercy—to this man you describe.”
Darcy rubbed his forehead absentmindedly. “Lieutenant Wickham sees such mercy as a weakness, one of which he gladly takes advantage. I have repeatedly extended compassion, but have been rewarded with new perfidy time and time again.”
“Peter once asked Jesus—how many times a person—should forgive those who sinned—against him.” Pause. “Peter suggested—seven times—but the Lord responded, ‘I say—not unto thee—until seven times; but—until seventy times seven,’” Joseph declared.
Darcy’s expression showed his incredulity. “That would mean I should forgive Lieutenant Wickham four hundred and ninety times. It is not likely any man could tolerate so many offenses and each time turn his cheek to the violation of trust.”
“That is why—God is the superior creature—but we can strive—to copy his excellence.”
Darcy weighed the man’s words. “I wish I had your mettle, Joseph, but when I consider the number of degradations—” His thoughts remained in turmoil.
“To not forgive—will cause you more pain—than your enemy—will endure—at your hand.”
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Why is your featured book a must-read in 2020?
The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy features characters the reader already knows, but it adds a twist to the story of what happened “after” Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Have you not always wanted to know what happened next? Surely, despite the love we easily recognize between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, they would know a few bumps along life’s road, and, certainly, George Wickham has not resigned himself to the life offered to him as a lieutenant in the army.
NOTE! Although it can be read alone, this book takes up where Christmas at Pemberley (featured on N. N. Light’s blog in December) leaves off.
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Regina Jeffers is an award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency, historical mysteries, and contemporary novels. She is a retired English teacher and an often sought after consultant for media literacy and language arts.
Social Media Links:
Every Woman Dreams: https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com