Hello, dear readers! I am very excited to welcome author Victoria Kincaid to Austenesque Reviews today! Victoria is here to celebrate her second release, Pride and Proposals. Her first Pride and Prejudice variation, The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth came out last year. I’m so happy to have Victoria come visit and share an excerpt from Pride and Proposals, which will hopefully tempt you to give her lovely book a try!
So I have a confession to make: I like to watch men suffer for love. Strictly, however, in romance novels – fortunately for my husband. It’s taken me a while to figure out that this is one of the things I find appealing about some romances, and Pride and Prejudice in particular.
By the conventions of Regency times and today, men are supposed to be ruled by reason and avoid emotions. So, it’s appealing to see a male character blindsided by his emotions and in the throes of a love that makes him lose control. It makes him more human and relatable. I think it’s particularly appealing when the man is someone rich, rigidly controlled, and (let’s face it) somewhat arrogant like Mr. Darcy. I see him as completely bewildered and bowled over by his love for Elizabeth—and it takes him a while to figure out what to do about it.
When he does propose, he’s so awkward and unaware of her feelings that he sets himself up for more heartache. It’s quite delicious suffering. Of course, I wouldn’t want to read a book where the suffering wasn’t rewarded by greater personal growth, self-awareness, and…(of course) a happily ever after. That’s what makes all the suffering for love worth it.
Here is an excerpt from Pride and Proposals which contains some of my favorite Darcy suffering scenes. Enjoy his torment!
His knock was answered almost immediately by a smartly dressed footman who took Darcy’s coat and ushered him into Richard’s study. Darcy saw no sign of other guests.
Richard glanced up with a smile when Darcy entered. He was seated behind a massive oaken desk, every inch the industrious landowner. “Darcy, good to see you!” He maneuvered around the desk to shake Darcy’s hand and gestured toward to a couple of elegant chairs near the fireplace. “Brandy?” Richard asked. Darcy nodded; spirits could only help him survive the night.
Richard poured two glasses from a crystal decanter and handed one to Darcy before taking his seat. “I am pleased you have the opportunity to see the house,” Richard remarked.
Was that a subtle suggestion that Darcy might have visited sooner? Well, Darcy supposed he would have visited more than once by now were it not for his cousin’s engagement. “It is an elegant residence,” Darcy said. “I hope you are pleased with it.”
“Oh, quite,” Fitzwilliam said. “It is nothing to Darcy House, of course, but far superior to my set of apartments.”
“Indeed.” Darcy admired the room’s large marble fireplace, happy to have a neutral topic of conversation.
“The furnishings are a bit out of fashion, but Elizabeth will have the opportunity to redecorate as she wishes.” Ah, so much for neutrality. Darcy suppressed his flinch at the mention of her name but finished his brandy in one gulp. “Where are the other guests?”
“I invited you here early. I wished to speak with you privately.”
“Oh?” Without waiting for Richard’s assistance, Darcy rose and visited the sideboard to refill his brandy glass.
Darcy froze in place. Could his cousin suspect something? He willed himself to act normally, but his hand shook, and he spilled a small puddle of brandy, cursing under his breath.
Richard peered over. “Never mind. The servants will clean.”
Having poured a generous amount of brandy on his second attempt, Darcy gulped, hoping to calm the coil of anxiety in his stomach. He sank back into his seat, regarding his cousin warily.
Richard was rubbing his hands together, gazing absentmindedly at the window. Darcy believed he had been successful in concealing his feelings for Elizabeth, but Richard knew him better than anyone. Perhaps he had guessed.
Darcy stared into the fire. He could do nothing but admit the truth. There was nothing he could say in his own defense, even though such an admission might irreparably damage his friendship with Richard irreparably. Damn! How had they come to this pass? He valued Richard’s friendship above all others.
Finally, Richard sighed heavily. “Elizabeth believes you do not like her.”
“Pardon?” Darcy’s hand jerked, and he almost spilled more brandy. Surely he had not heard aright.
Richard’s expression was somewhat apologetic. “She … believes you do not approve of her family and find fault with her behavior.”
Darcy pulled his gaze from his cousin’s face and stared at the window next to the fireplace, suppressing the temptation to laugh. Only he was in a position to appreciate the irony. “No… I ….” Darcy’s voice was choked. “That is not the case at all.”
“So I told her. I said you disapprove of most people, and even those who meet your approval often see you as proud and distant.”
Richard shrugged unapologetically. Darcy rapidly reviewed his carefully stored memories of his conversations with Elizabeth. How had he created such a misimpression?
Unable to look at his cousin, he fixed his eyes on the inch of brandy in his glass. “I do not disapprove of Miss Bennet at all. I believe you have made an excellent choice.” God willing, Richard would never know how excellent. “Her family’s situation is unfortunate and some of her relatives can be … difficult …”
Richard chuckled. “I have been to Longbourn,” he said drily.
Darcy chose each word carefully. “But I believe Miss Bennet to be of superior understanding and excellent conversation. I am often of a taciturn disposition in company, you know this.”
His cousin grinned. “Yes. But I have known you my whole life. Elizabeth believes you spent the greater part of your visit at Rosings staring at her disapprovingly.”
Thank God Richard remained ignorant of the true reason for those stares. That would make the situation intolerable. Well, more intolerable.
Richard stood and used the poker to idly rearrange the logs in the fireplace. It had been unseasonably cold for April, and the room was cooling rapidly as the fire died. “There is more.” Darcy’s gut clenched in apprehension. “Elizabeth’s opinion of you was influenced by lies provided by Wickham during his time in Meryton.”
Darcy let loose an oath, startling his cousin.
He had believed nothing would be worse than the revelation that she thought he disliked her. But now he found that when he thought she flirted and teased him at Rosings, she thought him a blackguard and could not wait to escape his company.
Darcy rubbed his face with one hand. He hated that Elizabeth would give credence to Wickham’s opinion on any topic, particularly himself. Truth be told, Darcy did not like the idea of Wickham breathing the same air as Elizabeth.
Despite being consumed with jealousy, Darcy reflected that he should be grateful she had chosen Richard, who would treat her honorably. At the Netherfield ball, she had appeared to be partial to Wickham; the thought of that alliance could not be borne.
Perhaps he should be grateful that Richard had proposed before Darcy had the opportunity. Apparently, he had saved Darcy from a very embarrassing situation. Somehow the thought was not comforting.
Richard leaned against the mantel, watching the flames dance in the hearth. “I corrected her misapprehension regarding your father’s bequest and Wickham’s dissolute ways, but I said nothing about his imposition on Georgiana. I wanted your permission.”
“Tell her.” Darcy’s voice was a growl. “She should know.” Richard reacted to his vehemence with raised eyebrows. “I do not wish her to harbor any doubts about my character—or Wickham’s perfidy.” Although it hardly signified now, Darcy loathed the idea of Elizabeth thinking ill of him.
“Very well. I shall tell her.”
Darcy seized the opportunity to voice another thought. “I hope Eliz—Miss Bennet will be a friend to Georgiana. She had been so withdrawn. Miss Bennet may be helpful in encouraging Georgiana to socialize in company. She should fully understand Georgiana’s history.” Of course, when Darcy had pictured Elizabeth helping Georgiana, he had imagined them as sisters, but cousins must suffice.
A broad smile spread over Richard’s face. “An excellent suggestion, William! Georgiana only recently arrived from Pemberley, so they have not met. But I believe the acquaintance would be very beneficial to Georgiana. And to Elizabeth as well. Georgiana is one member of our family who might welcome her.”
Darcy nodded his understanding. Fitzwilliam’s letters had indicated how his parents had been unhappy at his rather precipitous choice of a “country miss” with no fortune. When Richard had refused their request to end the engagement, they had treated Elizabeth with little welcome.
“I hope you can demonstrate to Elizabeth that some of my family does not disapprove of our match.” Richard watched Darcy carefully as he voiced the request.
Darcy suppressed inappropriate laughter; after all, he did disapprove—most strenuously. The irony was so thick it threatened to choke him.
Darcy closed his eyes briefly. If only Richard knew how friendly Darcy could be with Elizabeth! But apparently, he had given a performance worthy of a master thespian.
“I will do everything in my power to support this marriage.” Darcy’s vow was rewarded with a smile that almost made all the pain worthwhile. “I never intended to cause Miss Bennet discomfort and will endeavor to amend my behavior.” The words sounded stiff and formal in Darcy’s ears, but more emotion-laden language might betray too many of his secrets.
Darcy stared at his now-empty glass, wishing he could dare refill it. But there would be wine with dinner and then port after. Getting foxed held some appeal, but he might reveal too much to Richard—or, God forbid, Elizabeth—in an unguarded moment. Instead, he promised himself an evening of dissipation when he was safely home.
“Thank you.” Richard’s tone was warm as he strode over to his cousin and clapped him on the shoulder. He glanced at the clock on the mantel. “The other guests will arrive soon.”
Darcy stood, straightening out his waistcoat and cravat. Despite recent events, he could not break the habit of looking his best for Elizabeth.
He followed his cousin to the door, but Richard turned before opening it. “Oh, I seated Elizabeth beside you at dinner, so you will have an opportunity to correct her misimpressions.”
Darcy suppressed a groan. His cousin would have made an excellent medieval torturer. Darcy had anticipated that Elizabeth would sit adjacent to Richard and half a table away from himself. Then Darcy could gaze silently upon his beloved and pretend the smiles she bestowed on his cousin were actually for him.
Richard glanced over his shoulder as they exited the study, expecting a response. Darcy attempted to infuse his tone with enthusiasm. “Excellent.”
AHHHH! I’m with you, Victoria! I feel bad saying it but I do love to see Darcy suffer a little! I especially love seeing his feelings and hearing his thoughts during the torment, makes me love him even more! Thank you so much for sharing such an enticing excerpt with us today, Victoria!
Connect with Victoria
Today, Victoria brings with her ONE copy (paperbook or ebook – winner’s choice!) of her newly released novel, Pride and Proposals, for me to giveaway to ONE lucky winner!
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment, a question, or some love for Victoria!!
I’ll be posting my review of Pride and Proposals on Friday, July 17th. If you want to double your entries for this giveaway come back Friday and comment on my review!
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Victoria!
- This giveaway ends July 22nd!