Aug 232017
 

Hi readers!  I am very happy to welcome author Nancy Lawrence to Austenesque Reviews today!!  If you didn’t already know, Nancy has a new book out titled Mary and the Captain.  And as a big fan of Mary Bennet (see here, here, here, and here), I was very excited to learn more about her story and read it for myself!!  Mary needs a little bit of love in her life, don’t you think?

I’ve been a long-time reader of Austenesque Reviews, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I gush just a little bit and tell you how happy I am to visit your blog, Meredith! Thanks to you and your wonderful reviews, I’m always discovering new Austenesque authors and enjoying new stories.

Aww, thank you, Nancy!  I am so happy to share author posts with readers of this blog!  Thank you so much for agreeing to do one!

Today I’d like to introduce your readers to my Austenesque novel, Mary and the Captain, a Pride and Prejudice Continuation. As you can guess by the title, it’s a story about my favorite Miss Bennet … Mary.

Who doesn’t love the Bennet sisters?

For generations, women (and men!) have enjoyed reading about the Bennet sisters’ search for love and happiness in the pages of Pride and Prejudice.

We all have our favorite sister: there’s gentle, kind-hearted Jane, spirited Elizabeth, misdirected Kitty, brash Lydia, and boring, studious Mary.

But wait a second. Maybe Mary isn’t as boring as everyone assumes her to be.

I’ve often thought that Mary was given short shrift in the novel, that she was never given a chance to shine and show the world (or at least the people of Meryton) her true personality. I like to think that beneath her banal quotations and pedantic remarks, Mary is just as noble and worthy of romance as her sisters Jane and Elizabeth.

That’s the premise I explore in Mary and the Captain.

The story takes place one year after the close of P&P, when Mary spends a holiday with Jane and Charles Bingley at Netherfield. Of course, Caroline is there, and so is Captain Robert Bingley, the younger Bingley brother, newly returned to England after serving his King and country in far-away lands.

At first, Mary’s shyness prevents her from even conversing with Robert; but when Robert sees an injustice that must be righted, it’s Mary who surprises everyone by volunteering to help him.

But it’s Mary’s love for books and reading that helps her overcome her initial timidity around Robert, and many of their interactions occur in the library at Netherfield.

I chose that setting because:

1. I love libraries

2. It seemed like the one place in the house where Mary would feel most comfortable; and it’s in that setting that Mary first finds herself opening up to Captain Robert Bingley.

An Excerpt

Here’s an excerpt from Mary and the Captain depicting Mary’s first encounter with Robert in the Netherfield library.

* * *

But on this evening she had no time for leisurely reading or exploring the delights of the room; she was on a mission to find a particular book, and she was having a difficult time of it, indeed. She thought she had spied the title on an upper shelf a few days before; and to that end she had wheeled the library ladder along its rail to the location as she remembered it; but in the shadows of the upper shelves, she could not find the book.

Her search was a tricky business. She was obliged to hold on to the ladder rail with one hand and handle the books with the other; and once, when she thought she found the book and tried to pull it from the shelf to better read the title on the spine, the book proved to be heavier than she anticipated, and her slim fingers could not hold its weight, causing it to fall to the floor with a loud, echoing thud.

Seconds later she heard the door open. She looked down from her perch to see Captain Bingley standing just inside the room, a look of concern on his handsome face.

“Miss Bennet? What on earth is going on? That sounded very much like a gunshot!”

“A book just hit the floor. Forgive me if I disturbed you.”

“I was on my way upstairs when I heard the noise.” He closed the door and came further into the room, his attention firmly fixed on her. “Miss Bennet, what are you doing up there?”

“I’m looking for a book, naturally.”

“But why are you throwing them down on the floor?”

“I didn’t throw it. It fell, quite by accident, you can be sure. You see, I have only one hand to hold onto the ladder and one hand to pull at the books to read their titles, and the thick ones will insist on falling if I do not have a good hold of them.”

“But why are you up there? Won’t reading one of the books on these lower shelves prove just as satisfying?”

“No, they won’t do at all. I have already determined the book I am looking for must be up here on one of these shelves. If I were at home I should look at my father’s copy, but since I am here …” She turned her gaze back upon the rows of books before her. “Oh, there must be an edition of it somewhere—I am certain a library of this size must have one.”

“Have what?”

“A Debrett’s Peerage. I thought it would be easy enough to find, but nothing seems to be in any order that makes sense. I tell you, I am just itching to catalog all these books and put them in their proper place. Only see—here is a copy of Dante’s Inferno shelved right beside Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Have you ever heard of such a thing?”

Perceiving that she actually expected an answer, Robert said, “No, I have not. But what is so important about reading Debrett’s now when there are hundreds of other books here from which you might choose?” He cast his gaze about until it lit upon a familiar title on a nearby shelf. “Why, here is Gulliver! Now, that is a book worth reading. It is one of my favorite novels.”

She looked down at him in surprise. “It is?”

“Certainly. Don’t you like it?”

“Why, no—I mean, I didn’t think men read novels,” she said, thinking back to something she thought Kitty had told her.

“I assure you, men do. In fact, it was a novel that made me want to join the king’s army. This novel, to be exact—Gulliver’s Travels. Do you know it?”

“I have heard of it.”

“Then let me recommend it to you. It’s a fine book, full of adventure and descriptions of exotic lands.” He paused as Mary pulled another book from the shelf, sending a shower of delicate dust into the halo of the candle’s light. “Let me also recommend that you come down from that ladder, Miss Bennet. I should not like you to fall.”

“I won’t.”

“But I cannot be easy seeing you up there.”

Instead of answering, Mary gave a small shout of triumph. “Oh, there it is!”

She stretched her arm out toward the book she was seeking, but the short little volume stood tantalizingly just out of reach. Standing up on her toes did not cure the problem, and she was about to place her foot on the next rung up the ladder when Robert said, in a commanding voice:

“Don’t do it!”

“But I must get just a little higher if I am to reach it.”

“Come down now, Miss Bennet, and allow me to retrieve the book for you.” She hesitated, causing him to say, “If you do not come down this instant, I shall come up there after you.”

There was something about Captain Bingley that made Mary think that he was the type of man who was prepared to act on any threat he made. He was certainly a good deal taller than she was and would be able to reach the book with ease.

“Very well,” she said, beginning a slow descent.

Once her feet were safely on the floor, he handed her the Gulliver’s Travels. “Wouldn’t you like to read this book instead of the Debrett’s, Miss Bennet?”

“No—I mean, yes, I will read it on your recommendation, of course! But I still need the Debrett’s.”

“As you wish.” He set his foot on the first rung of the ladder, but paused, and looked down into her eyes. “I have a deep suspicion that you make it a practice never to read novels, Miss Bennet.”

“That is true.”

“What do you like to read for pleasure, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“Pepys and Pope, usually.”

He made a face. “Diaries and poems? I suppose they are all very well, but would you call them inspiring? Surely there must be times when you want to read something that fires your imagination.”

She tried to think of such an example, but couldn’t. “My sister Kitty reads novels. She swoons over Evalina.”

“Miss Bennet, don’t you think it is time you swooned, too?”

Mary looked up at him, on guard for any sign of mockery in his eyes; instead she saw that his expression was somewhat measuring, and that he was half-smiling at her in a way that was really very charming. She could not help responding to it, even as she wondered whether he meant his words as a compliment or a criticism.

* * *

So begins the first of many encounters between Mary and Robert in the library. With each meeting, Robert begins to see glimpses of Mary’s true personality … and finds himself intrigued.
And Mary learns she has much more in common with handsome Robert Bingley than she initially thought. But if she isn’t careful, she just might lose her heart to the dashing captain.

Mary and the Captain is available now in print and e-book formats at all major book retailers.

Oh, I just love that many of these scenes take place in the library!  What a perfect setting!  Captain Bingley seems lovely!  Can’t wait to read this even more now!!

~~~

 Connect with Nancy

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~~~

Giveaway Time!!

Today Nancy is giving away a Netherfield Library Prize Package, filled with some of the items Mary and Captain Bingley used during their visits together in many of the library scenes.

Netherfield Library Prize Package

  • A wax seal set you can use to seal your own letters and cards, just as Mary and Robert set their seal to the letters they wrote together in the Netherfield library.
  • A pair of desk scissors inspired by the very scissors Kitty lent to Robert to open an important letter he received.
  • A modern-day ballpoint pen bearing Jane Austen’s autograph, perfect for writing your own clever correspondence.
  • A red-and-white ribbon bookmark, so you’ll never have to worry about losing your place in the story.
  • A copy of Mary and the Captain, signed by the author.
  • A lovely Pride and Prejudice inspired bag to carry your copy of Mary and the Captain wherever you go!

To enter this giveaway, leave a question, a comment, or some love for Nancy below!

  • This giveaway is open worldwide.  Thank you, Nancy!
  • This giveaway ends August 30th!
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  119 Responses to “Excerpt + Giveaway with Author Nancy Lawrence!!!”

  1.  

    Bonjour 🙂 Merci pour cette belle entrevue qui me donne bien envie de découvrir un peu plus sur ce Captain Bingley et Mary !! Et ce 1er extrait se déroulant dans une bibliothèque ne peux que me donner envie de découvrir la suite !!! Merci beaucoup pour ce beau concours 🙂
    Belle fin de journée 🙂

  2.  

    I do believe Mary deserves a happy life and look forward to reading this new twist with a Captain BIngley. Thanks for the excerpt and giveaway!

  3.  

    I love books where Mary finds her HEA. Great excerpt! Thanks for the wonderful giveaway!

  4.  

    Oh, my goodness! What a great prize package. Good luck everyone and Thank you, Ms. Lawrence for the opportunity.

  5.  

    Mary Bennet is my favourite sister, and wish there were more stories about her.

    Nancy – do you intend to write any more Mary stories and in particular with my favourite male – the Colonel

  6.  

    Mary definitely deserves a happy ending and I hope she gets it!

  7.  

    Oh my yes, Mary does get very short shrift in P&P. How delightful that Bingley has a brother and he can see Mary’s worth. This scene just begs for the reader to continue. Definitely adding this title to my Must-Read list, altho’ I would be thrilled to add these giveaway prizes to our own home library. Very generous of you to offer them, and thank you for a most enjoyable post.

  8.  

    Mary deserves happiness. Thanks for this wonderful giveaway.

  9.  

    I love the cover of this book and I have read quite a few lovely reviews for it too. Good luck with the release!

  10.  

    This sounds great!

  11.  

    I love books about the secondary characters, especially Mary, and I love original characters, too. I will have to read this one at some point!

  12.  

    I enjoyed the excerpt and thank you for the giveaway as well.I appreciate you giving us the opportunity to win.

  13.  

    I, too, love books on the other Bennet sisters that gives them their HEA. The excerpt sounds just delightful and the picture of the library is swoon-worthy! I completely agree that Mary would feel more comfortable in a library. Now I’m wondering if you are going to continue writing stories of the other sisters…hint…hint! I love the cover and thank you for the fabulous prize package!

  14.  

    I really like that the focus of this book is on Mary. Sounds really interesting, thanks for sharing.

  15.  

    I love the premise of this book. Mary is a very different character and should be looked at more often. Thank you for the wonderful giveaways too. They are all wonderful and would love to add them to my growing collection of Austen memorabilia!!

  16.  

    I love Mary Bennet stories also. Can’t wait to read this ome!

  17.  

    How wonderful that Mary gets her own happily-ever-after. I cannot imagine Caroline would be pleased with another Bennet connection. Does she feature much in your story? Best wishes for a successful launch.

  18.  

    I absolutely loved the excerpt! Mary’s comfort in the library is redolent of another Bennet daughter’s affinity to a library. Yes…I am a fan of the “lesser” Bennet sisters. In fact, Jennifer Becton’s book about Mary kick-started my imagination which led to the beginnings of my Mary Book. Congrats and much success.

  19.  

    I always enjoy a Mary story as well. Thank you for the excerpt and the giveaway.

  20.  

    I love the cover of the book! Captain Bingley sounds perfect for Mary. I am glad that a library has many scenes as Mary would be more comfortable there and perhaps expand her taste in reading. Poor Caroline Bingley – what is she going to do with another Bennet sister! Thank you for the excerpt and giveaway, which is truly gorgeous. I would love to have a seal for my envelopes!

  21.  

    I love Mary; as I, too, am rather bookish and much too shy to be an Elizabeth, I have admired Mary. I’ve always thought that her pedantic erudition was more of an attempt to gain her father’s attention. But with Elizabeth joining him in his studies, she tried to burrow her own niche…and it didn’t work well, mostly because she buries her sense of fun and the ridiculous.

    This book looks lovely, especially since libraries are among my favorite places ever!! 😀

    Thanks for the wonderful excerpt!!

    Warmly,
    Susanne 🙂

  22.  

    I am such a fan of minor character stories. I just love it when Mary and Kitty get their own voice without focusing on their pedantic nature or silly coughing respectively 😉 I’m excited to read this! I’m suspecting that Caro has her foot in the pie as well. Thanks for the snippet!

  23.  

    I love when we get to see more of Mary, I think she has so much potential as a character. I really enjoyed the excerpt, thank you so much for sharing! Can’t wait to read this one!

  24.  

    WOW, what an exciting and COOL buffet of offerings, Nancy! Lovely, unique and generous, thank you.

    Both of you are so kind to our little Mary, oft dismissed as the runt of the litter. You both have opened my eyes, and heart, to her.

    And libraries! I am a librarian at heart, huge proponent, the nerdy girl who drags everyone in the car to find an original Carnegie Library in some unheard-of lil town in NM.

    SO, this book is really calling to me, especially, autographed. 😉

    Cool cover, too!

    Thank you, Nancy And Meredith,

    Karylee

  25.  

    Great excerpt, looks like romance is right around the corner. Great cover! Swoony. Love Austenesque books giving the minor or secondary characters their own stories. And library scenes are always a world of possibilities, no matter how many times it’s done, it’s never a cliche to me. Looking forward to this.

    Best of luck Nancy.

  26.  

    Ah yes, loved his authoritarian tone to keep her from breaking her neck on the ladder. LOL I do love seeing Miss Mary get her turn at happiness so I’ll have add this one to my list. Thanks, ladies!

  27.  

    I love stories in which Mary has a life other than her dour sermonizing self. The library in the picture has many books most unusual for Netherfield unless Darcy bought out the book store in Meryton. Loved the excerpt. Cannot wait to read Caroline’s remarks about Mary and the Captain. Better yet, his remarks back to her. I bet he’s not a pushover like his brother.

  28.  

    I always wished to be Lizzy, but honestly more of a Georgianna or Mary. So glad to see Mary get her our story. Great teaser and can’t wait to read more.
    Thanks for the chance to win.

  29.  

    How wonderful to read Mary’s story here. I always did feel sorry for her.

  30.  

    I feel the same way that Mary could have been quite the interesting character had she been given a more important role. I felt like she would have made THE perfect wife for Mr Collins! Yes she was tedious and boring at times and I would have tried to shut her up too with that prattle, but I think there was more than meets the eye and maybe it would just take the right person to bring that out. I really want to read this! Thanks 🙂 Erika Messer, hopefuldelights1 (at) yahoo (dot) com

  31.  

    I love a Mary story, although I love Elizabeth, I’m more Mary than Elizabeth. Love the excerpt, can’t wait to read more.

  32.  

    OMG!!! I loved, Loved, LOVED this book. Don’t include me for the book, but do include me for the other drawings. I love wax seals. In fact, I have sent letters with a wax seal on it. Just so the Post Office wouldn’t fuss at me… I enclosed the letter in a larger envelope. You have a really nice selections in your give-a-way. This excerpt is most excellent. I loved Mary and the Captain together. Just saying. This was such a creative idea for a story. I loved the little boy and my heart went out to him. Oh, I just loved him. Mary’s heart really shone through. I may have to read it again.

  33.  

    When I first read the title, my first thought was it’s another Colonel FitzwilliamxMary story (which of course, I I read closely, I’d realize Colonel Fitzwilliam is a, well, a colonel haha). Bongley relatives aren’t always explored in JAFF, so this will be really interesting. And of course, I’m excited to see how Caroline will figure into the story

  34.  

    How wonderful to hear more from Mary. Surely there is a lot more to her than that “silly primness”.

  35.  

    Oh, I like it when Mary can get a happy ending too. She just needs a little help and redirection. Thanks for offering the giveaway!

  36.  

    Ooh, what an enticing excerpt! I already love Captain Bingley! 😀 Also, I can relate to Mary in many ways and I hope she’ll have a deserved happy ending!

  37.  

    I agree that Mary and Mr. Collins always seemed like the perfect match but it will be nice to see Mary get her share of love and romance. I look forward to reading this.

  38.  

    Wow, that’s a fantastic and very generous giveaway prize, Nancy! The excerpt is so tantalising and definitely makes one want to read more. It’s definitely going on my Wish List if I’m not fortunate enough to win. Captain Bingley sounds like a scrummy hero. I’m not one for pairing Mary off with Mr. Collins, because….well….Mr. Collins!

    The most recent stories I’ve read featuring Mary have both paired her off with Colonel Fitzwilliam: When Mary Met the Colonel by Victoria Kincaid and the forthcoming A Less Agreeable Man by Maria Grace. I have read others too, but not so recently. Maria Grace has one in he A Spot of Sweet Tea anthology and I’ve read Shannon WInslow’s book you’ve linked to above, Meredith, but not the other three. Three more for the Wish List!

    •  

      There are so many wonderful P&P variations to read, aren’t there? But I have to confess that I deliberately steered clear of reading any that featured Mary while I was writing Mary and the Captain. Now that the book is published, I’m looking forward to reading all the Mary stories I missed! Thanks for stopping by the blog, Anji. Good luck with the drawing!

  39.  

    I don’t think I have any books with Mary as the protagonist. The excerpt is great so I’d be interested in reading it. I love libraries too, of course. Great prize package!

  40.  

    Oh Caroline. I love how she never learns. You’d think having Mrs. Darcy as a sister in law (sort of) would help satisfy her ambitions.

  41.  

    I have to admit I’ve never really thought very much about Mary from Pride and Prejudice; I assumed she didn’t have the intelligence and wit of Jane and Elizabeth as her father blithely describes his three youngest as very silly – I’m intrigued by the idea of how Mary develops upon the conclusion of the original, for she has plenty of time and the examples and opportunities given to her by her older sisters. Just because one starts off silly doesn’t mean one needs remain silly 😉 And I love the idea of interactions in libraries! I had to stop myself from writing multiple scenes in libraries for Jo and Laurie 😉

  42.  

    I’m delighted that Mary Bennet has her own story to tell. Most of the published JAFF usually focus on Elizabeth and Darcy and not enough on the other minor characters from P&P. Thank you for the generous prize pack, Nancy.

  43.  

    Mary gets so little attention. This sounds interesting.

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