Happy Monday, friends! I’m so very excited to finally (I’ve been waiting for this day!!) welcome Jennifer Redlarczyk to Austenesque Reviews today as a featured author! Jennifer has been one of the kindest and most supportive friends to my blog (and many other Austenesque sites and blogs) for years, I’m so happy that she is publishing her stories! If you haven’t yet heard, Jennifer has just published a novelette titled – A Very Merry Mix-up.
Meredith, thank you so much for hosting me on Austenesque Reviews today!
I have been a longtime follower of your blog and am thrilled to be featured with my first publication in the world of JAFF, A Very Merry Mix-up. My story was originally written for a theme challenge presented on DarcyandLizzy.com. Like Lizzy, I dearly love to laugh and couldn’t resist making a little mischief on a few of our beloved P&P characters. Just for fun, here is a little backstory to my novelette.
It all began when Fitzwilliam Darcy and his cousin Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam stopped at the posting station in Bromley on their way to Rosings Park for their annual visit. Thus far, the day had been fairly warm for late March, and the gentlemen were happy to vacate the carriage for a short time. Wanting a bit of diversion, the colonel took a quick look around the area and spied an older Romani woman seated off to the side where she was selling an assortment of wine.
Cousin, if you do not mind, I should like to take a quick look at what some of the locals are selling today.”
Go right ahead,” Darcy responded. “I shall join you directly.”
Colonel Fitzwilliam merrily whistled a lively tune as he ambled down the lane to where the woman was sitting. “Good woman, what have we here?” He chuckled, taking one of the wine bottles in hand and holding it up to the light. “Hmm…. Have you anything a little more robust?”
The woman’s eyes twinkled in amusement as she stealthily reached for a cloth sack hidden beneath her stool. Taking out an unmarked bottle, she replied in her deep voice, “Perhaps this might be more to your liking.”
Indeed!” The colonel nearly licked his lips as he inspected the bottle. Might I sample its contents before I make the purchase?” He held out a small coin for her trouble.
The woman curiously looked at him before opening the bottle and pouring him a small cup. After taking the coin, she handed him her treasure. Beckoning him to come closer after he swallowed the succulent liquid, she whispered, “We call it Moon Wine.”
Moon wine, you say?”
The woman nodded and continued. “Among my people it is known to have special powers when drunk during a full moon. But for one such as yourself, who is not used to such magic, I shall offer a word of caution. Mysterious things have been known to happen where unspoken wishes have been granted.” She let off a low chortle.
Paying little heed to her warning the colonel remarked, “This wine is <excellent and if I do say so, it rivals some of the finest I have ever tasted here or on the continent! Madam, I should like to relieve you of this particular bottle and perhaps one other if you are able to spare it.” He pulled a small coin purse from his inner pocket and poured the contents onto the table. “I trust this will meet your price.” He smiled broadly.
Without saying a word, the woman scooped up the coins and eagerly thrust them into her pocket. She then handed the preferred bottle and one other to the colonel who gave her a gallant bow and was on his way.
Find out what happens to some of our favourite Jane Austen characters when her advice is ignored in A Very Merry Mix-up. ♫
1 April 1811
All Fool’s Day
Fitzwilliam Darcy yawned and stretched, squinting as the early morning light flickered through the partially opened curtains of his bedroom window. For some unknown reason, he had not slept well. Bleary-eyed and wondering if the potent wine he had drunk on the previous evening had been the cause, he slowly rolled over intending to stay in bed a bit longer. To his chagrin, his senses were alerted when his hand met with the soft, warm body of a woman.
Good God! Who are you?” he bellowed, startling the woman who was sharing his bed.
The woman’s breath nearly caught in her throat when she turned over and saw who was by her side. “WHAT, may I ask, are YOU doing in MY bed?” Quickly pulling the sheets up to her neckline, she continued. “I demand you leave THIS INSTANT!”
You are…. You are Mrs. Collins!” he shouted in distress.
Mrs. Collins!” she shouted back. “Sir, you are mad! I am your cousin, Elizabeth Bennet, and I DO believe my dear friend Charlotte will NOT be happy when I tell her of your indiscretion.”
MY indiscretion?! Madam, you are in MY bed!”
Quickly rising, Darcy felt a little unsteady and found it necessary to hold on to the bed post while searching for his robe. Catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror, he staggered closer to the glass and groaned in disbelief. Slowly rubbing his stubby fingers across his ruddy cheeks and through his oily hair, he wondered if he had indeed gone mad. Wiping those same fingers on the front of his nightshirt, he could not help but feel his flabby chest and the protrusion of his round stomach through the cloth. Grasping the reality of his predicament, Darcy stared at himself with revulsion.
Merciful Heaven!” he thundered, turning back to the woman. “It is me, Fitzwilliam Darcy, in the body of that idiot rector! If you are Miss Elizabeth Bennet, as you claim, I fear we have both become the victims of some cruel joke. Will you not come and look for yourself?”
Picking up Charlotte’s dressing gown and quickly wrapping it around herself, Elizabeth guardedly went to the mirror as he requested. “Mr. Darcy?” She paled, realizing what he said was true.
This mix-up sounds hilarious!!! I cannot wait to see how this all happens and how it gets resolved!! If Mr. Darcy looks like Mr. Collins, what does Mr. Collins look like?!? Thank you so much for sharing, Jennifer!!
About the Author ~ Jennifer Redlarczyk
I am a private music instructor living in Crown Point, Indiana where I teach voice, violin and piano and work as an adjunct music professor at Purdue Northwest University in Hammond, Indiana. As a teen, I was introduced to Jane Austen by my mother who loved old books, old movies and old songs. In the summer of 2011, I stumbled upon Jane Austen Fanfiction at a Barnes and Noble store and became immediately obsessed. From there, I met several talented JAFF authors and devoted readers who were active on social media and eventually became a moderator for the private JAFF forum, DarcyandLizzy.com. It was there that I first tried my hand at writing short stories. I have the greatest appreciation for the creative world of Jane Austen Fanfiction and am thrilled to be a part of this genre.
~ Connect with Jennifer ~
Today Jennifer brings with her some lovely prizes for me to give away in celebration of her new release!! TWO ebooks of A Very Merry Mix-up (open internationally) and ONE canvas book bag with a print copy of A Very Merry Mix-up inside (open to US and Canada residents) will be given away to some lucky winners!!! Woot woot!!
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment, a question, or some love for Jennifer!
- This giveaway is open worldwide (ebooks only). Thank you, Jennifer!
- This giveaway ends April 30th!