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Let's read an excerpt!

For my final day as a guest on Jeane's fabulous blog for all matters P&P 2005 related, I have decided to share an excerpt from my newly released novel, Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley. Since I unabashedly admit that my initial inspiration was the movie version of Austen's classic novel, I judge that the readers of this blog will readily visualize the characters and setting of this portion. In one of a handful of flashback moments that occur within my novels, this passage finds Lizzy, now Mrs. Darcy and visiting Hertfordshire with her new husband, strolling to a favored secluded location and then recalling two very different encounters she had with Mr. Darcy in this same spot prior to their marriage.

So, with a book and a small basket of edible treats and lemonade, she headed toward a copse of willows she had, when a young girl, christened Willow Bench. On a small rise located at the fenced boundary of Longbourn, where Netherfield abutted, grew a cluster of six willows. A seventh had, at some time in the far past, died and fallen over creating a long wooden settee. Therefore, an eleven-year-old, unoriginal Lizzy had named it Willow Bench. It was one of many secluded spots Lizzy retreated to for respite from her boisterous household.

Approaching from Netherfield, it required climbing over the five foot fence. Lizzy accomplished this easily, tired from the long walk, but exhilarated to be out in the fresh air. She settled onto the log, removed shoes and stockings, drank some lemonade, and bit into an apple. Sighing contentedly, she allowed her mind to wander as she munched. Inevitably, the memory of the first time she had encountered Darcy at this locale entered her thoughts. She smiled.

It had occurred early one morning about a week after Jane and she returned to Longbourn from their sojourn at Netherfield during Jane’s illness. She had sat much as she did now, reading, when she noted a flash in her peripheral vision. Glancing up, she recognized a man dashing on a black horse across the field. Almost instantly she realized that it was Mr. Darcy. She had seen him once on his horse at Netherfield, but it was not that fact as much as something in his posture, even from a great distance, that assured her it was him. She frowned with irritation, yet found herself rising to her feet and climbing the fence to better observe him. Even to her relatively untrained eye, there was no doubt he was a superb horseman. He would have to be in order to attain the speed he had raced along at. It was mesmerizing. Grace, power, and oneness with his mount beautifully exhibited as he zoomed along, turning in a wide, flowing arc toward the trees where she stood. He did not see her, nor was she fully cognizant of his directional change until he was nearly beside her. He skidded to a halt, both he and the horse breathing heavily, and rudely stared at her for a very long while, his face a mask of shocked surprise and some other emotion she could not identify. For her part, she was merely embarrassed to have been caught spying on him and annoyed that now her solitude was disturbed and she would be forced to talk to him when he so obviously disliked her.

She raised her chin impudently, noted a flash of confusion cross his visage, and snapped, “Demons chasing you, Mr. Darcy, or do you have a death wish?”

He seemed to have partially recovered his composure and replied seriously in a shaky voice, “Good day to you, Miss Elizabeth. Neither demons nor a death wish inspire me. I assure you I am capable of handling my mount and Parsifal delights in speed. He would be sorely displeased with me if we galloped sedately.” His voice warmed slightly as he affectionately patted the horse’s sweaty neck.

“Parsifal is it? Can I assume, therefore, that you appreciate the German poem by von Eschenbach or is it a coincidence?”

Darcy raised his brows, clearly amazed. “I am impressed, Miss Elizabeth. Do you read all German poetry or is it Arthurian legends which interest you?”

She shrugged. “My father has eclectic tastes, Mr. Darcy. He will read whatever he can get his hands on and then he lends the volume to me. I confess to enjoying medieval literature, although not the romantic varieties as much. As for German poetry, well I am afraid my knowledge of the modern languages is limited. I am not so accomplished, you see.”

Darcy flushed and coughed. “Accomplishment is gauged in a myriad of ways, Miss Elizabeth. Do not take Miss Bingley’s words too seriously.”

She laughed gaily, eliciting a small smile from him. “Oh, be comforted, sir. I actually have a reputation for frivolity and irreverence. Miss Bingley did not disturb me.”

Silence descended, Mr. Darcy staring at her in that strange, undecipherable manner of his. Lizzy, to her utter horror, found her eyes drifting from his face to the open collar of his shirt. She flushed, averting her gaze quickly, mind suddenly revisiting the touch of his bare, warm, and strong hand when he assisted her into the carriage when leaving Netherfield. Anger rose in her chest then, as if it was somehow his fault for the slant of her musings, and she flared. “I imagine you and your sister read von Eschenbach in the original German?” She cringed inwardly at the inanity of her remark as well as the tone but glared challengingly and lifted her chin nonetheless.

Mr. Darcy frowned slightly. “Yes, of course, although Miss Darcy’s German is not as fluent as her French. She is improving though.” He trailed off lamely.

Concluding that he must be bored silly and annoyed with the conversation, especially with her, Lizzy declared briskly, “Well, Mr. Darcy, if you will excuse me, I need to be returning to Longbourn and I have detained your horse from his race quite long enough.”

He seemed to hesitate, struggling internally with something, and then bowed his head. “Of course, Miss Elizabeth. Forgive me for keeping you. I pray your day continues to be a pleasant one.” Despite his farewell, he yet hesitated for a moment further then abruptly clenched his jaw and with a curt bow spun Parsifal and cantered off, spurring into a hard run before getting thirty feet away.

Almost a year later, during their engagement, they had met here on two occasions, once by accident and once planned. The accidental encounter had occurred only five days after their betrothal and in roughly the same manner as the first. Lizzy had gone to Willow Bench to read. Darcy was out riding and inadvertently passed by that way, the meadow being flat and lengthy thus perfect to race across. Lizzy had heard the hoof beats and jumped up in hopeful anticipation, heart pounding at the sight of her love whizzing by. She rapidly climbed to the top rung of the fence, waving frantically and quite unladylike, thrilled when he finally saw her.

How altered the confrontation was this time around! Darcy was beaming and relaxed. Lizzy unabashedly admired his windblown attractiveness, although to her chagrin he wore a cravat. He casually directed Parsifal alongside her and without preamble leaned in for a tender kiss. “Miss Elizabeth, what a delightful surprise. Come here often, do you?” Gloved fingertips seared the flesh of her cheek as he caressed tenderly.

They teased and laughed, shared several controlled kisses, as Lizzy told him the history of Willow Bench. The problem of being on opposite sides of the fence was solved by the simple expedience of him galloping full tilt and cleanly jumping over it while Lizzy nearly fainted. She scolded him vehemently and he professed deep contrition, belied by the twinkle in his eyes. Of course, Lizzy had a difficult time maintaining her irritation considering how breathlessly gorgeous he was and the raw excitement rushing through her at the sight of his blatant masculinity.

And yes, there is more to the scene! I hope you are intrigued enough by this tasty morsel to dash out and obtain the novel. Thanks again to Jeane for this week's opportunity to share my thoughts about my novel, the 2005 movie, my life as an author, and this excerpts. It has been so much fun!

Remember that a signed copy of Loving Mr. Darcy is up for grabs. Just comment in any of the entries during this week - 8/31 to midnight 9/6 - and leave your email so I can contact you for the mailing address. The winner will be announced on Monday, September 7 both here and on my website: The Darcy Saga.

Comments

  1. Sharon, that was a great excerpt to post here from LMD. Thank you so much for posting this here. I enjoyed reading it. Can't wait to read and get my own copy of LMD. Just waiting for my local bookstore to have it on stock/on display. :)

    Thanks again, Sharon for being my awesome guest blogger this week. The Darcy Saga Week here has been a lot of fun. Thanks a lot.;)

    Thanks also to all the readers/visitors here esp. to those of you who have been participating in the P&P Trivia and quizzes and for posting/leaving your comments there and on Sharon's interview posts. I enjoyed reading all your posts as well. Best of luck to those of you who left comments here and are automatically entered to win Sharon's LMD book! :)

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  2. So sorry to disturb but I was just wondering if your novel will be available in Ireland. Reading the excerpt, I'm really interested in seeing what you've written. :)

    -Tara

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