Happy Monday, friends! Hope you are all enjoying a great start to your week! As you might have seen there were some lovely books that released over the weekend – The Darcy Legacy by Joana Starnes and Son of A Preacher Man by Karen Cox! How wonderful, right?!
Today I’m thrilled to welcome Joana Starnes – one of my favorite authors and travel companions (aside from Mr. Bingley!) – to Austenesque Reviews to learn more about her new release, The Darcy Legacy!
Thanks ever so much, Meredith, for welcoming me here today to talk about my new book, The Darcy Legacy, only just released a few days ago.
I’d like to start with a line from one of your emails – it was spot-on and gave me a good giggle. I wrote and told you that one of my reasons for writing The Darcy Legacy was that I realised I’ve been terribly unfair to Mr Bennet in three books out of seven, and I really owed him a novel where he didn’t meet with an untimely end, and was more central to the story. For once, I thought he might leave his library now and then and take steps to influence his daughters’ future. His wonderful relationship with Elizabeth deserves more than a footnote, and besides it would be great fun to imagine Mr Darcy being forced to deal with a disconcerting father figure who’s not in the least intimidated by him and his position in society, but is quick to join ranks with Colonel Fitzwilliam and take Darcy down a peg or two if he deserves it.
So what if Mr Bennet were to remain hale and hearty, and it would be Mrs Bennet who met with an untimely end instead?
To that, you replied that my not killing Mr. Bennet off was very fair treatment, and that you could only imagine one person who would complain about the different plot – Mrs. Bennet herself! “LOL She would give you an earful,” you said.
I bet she would! Besides, how would the story unfold without her mortifying Lizzy on a regular basis and making Darcy wary of any association with such an indecorous family?
Would the courtship be any less fraught? Anyone would think so 😉. But even if in this novel I strayed from my usual ‘Let’s torture Darcy’, I still clung to my old habit of throwing in the odd plot twist, just for the fun of it.
No spoilers, scout’s honour, my lips are sealed! Let’s just say that in my latest novel Mr Darcy often finds himself in the crossfire between his cousin’s wit, Elizabeth’s and her father’s – and he has every chance of landing himself in very deep water if he can’t keep up with them.
And he has more to contend with than those three. Others get in the way – which can be a good thing if, as a result, a most ungentlemanly proposal is interrupted – but more often than not, Mr Darcy would happily do without advice, interference and interruptions, as he attempts to court the love of his life and ask for her hand in marriage.
A dash of the paranormal, a nod and a wink towards a would-be-murder mystery – this is my longest book so far, and my most adventurous plot as well. But some things never change, so I solemnly declare there will be moments of bittersweet yearning for Darcy, and a fair number of stolen kisses too. Speaking of which, I’d love to share an excerpt with you and your readers. Should it be about stolen kisses? I think so – don’t you? 😉. I think I made a habit of sharing excerpts with stolen kisses whenever you welcomed me at Austenesque Reviews on my blog tours, and that’s a habit I’d love to keep! So here it comes, and I hope you’ll like it.
Those images were hilarious, Joana!!! LOL! Yes, please, Joana!! Your tradition of swoon-worthy excerpts on this blog must continue!!
~ Excerpt from The Darcy Legacy ~
Elizabeth slowly approached with some misgivings, fearing she might disrupt the recovery process and he would resume uttering disjointed words that made no sense at all. But, to her relief, when she came closer and Mr Darcy noticed her approach, he pushed himself away from the tree trunk to greet her with a bow. Seeing him reverting to customary conduct was reassuring, as was to note that his countenance was no longer deeply troubled, nor his gaze unfocused. She bobbed a curtsy as he stepped towards her with an open smile, which she found more than a little disconcerting. There was nothing odd or unnatural about it. The oddity was that the solemn and often aggravating Mr Darcy should smile so widely, as though at a good joke.
“Have I not frightened you awfully, then? I half expected you to bring a small army of footmen to restrain me.”
“It did cross my mind,” she laughed lightly in response, “but I thought better of it. It seemed wiser to ensure you would not go far, or that at least I should be able to inform the small army where they could find you.”
“A wise choice indeed.”
“Thank you. I gather you are feeling a little better?”
“Much better. ‘Tis kind of you to ask.”
“Does your head hurt?”
“Not at all.”
“Still, you had better sit. And I daresay you should have a drink of water.”
“I will be sure to take your very good advice as soon as we return to the house.”
“Sooner than that would be better. The brook might be an option,” she said, indicating the small stream that snaked amongst trees, rocks and tufts of grass to feed the lake. “Is the water safe to drink, do you imagine?”
“I was afraid you might say that. Then I would trouble you for your kerchief, if you happen to have one about you. Mine is not big enough.”
“Big enough for what?”
“An effective compress.”
“Pray rest easy. I assure you, I am not suffering from sunstroke.”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes with the same mild exasperation she often showed her younger sisters when they were talking nonsense.
“I find that rather hard to credit,” she said, making no effort to hide her scepticism. “Then can you explain the episode I have just witnessed?”
“No. Not today,” he soberly said, then chuckled. “Or I will run an even greater risk of being carted off to Bedlam.”
“You are not wholly safe from it. But for now I reserve judgement. Your kerchief, sir? And do sit. That spot by the beech tree will do. You should lean back and close your eyes.”
“I am deeply grateful for your concern, but I am well. Better than ever, in fact.”
“Is that so? Most reassuring. But pray tell me, sir, do you ever do what you are told?”
“Rarely. In truth, hardly ever.”
“Then let this be one of the occasions. Your kerchief, Mr Darcy.”
He finally obliged with a wry quirk tugging at the corner of his lips, and Elizabeth thanked him, then went to dip the square of exceedingly fine lawn in the clear water of the brook, thinking it was a pity he did not deem it safe to drink. She squeezed out the excess and returned to find him still standing, watching her with a warm look and a smile she might have called indulgent. She creased her brow into the stern mien of a governess and pointedly indicated the patch of dry leaves and grass at the base of the beech tree with a firm nod.
“Woe betide me if I disobey,” Mr Darcy said with another provokingly little chuckle, and she pursed her lips.
“Indeed. I see your neckcloth is already loosened. That is very sensible,” she remarked, crouching beside him once he had complied and sat. “Now pray lean back and close your eyes.”
This time Elizabeth was satisfied to see him doing as bid without demur, and she folded the wet kerchief into a rectangle, then carefully placed it on his brow. Eyes still closed, his countenance grew serene under her ministrations, and his lips twitched, then curled up into an impossibly wide smile.
“In good conscience,” he casually observed, bending his knees up to support his forearms, “I must assure you yet again that I am perfectly safe from sunstroke. But this is no less enjoyable for it.”
“I am pleased to hear it,” Elizabeth replied, seasoning her tones with more than the usual archness, lest they betray her sudden and absurdly missish discomposure at the unfamiliar circumstances – and the unfamiliar sight. For she could not fail to own, it was disconcerting to see him thus. Smiling. Eyes closed. And in such proximity.
The discomposure grew exponentially worse when his eyes flashed open, and she was caught staring. She pushed herself up and stood.
“On second thought, however small, my handkerchief might be of some use too. It would be sensible to alternate them, so that the compress remains cool,” she said, growing quite cross with herself when she noticed she was babbling.
She frowned and opened her satchel to rummage in it and seek her handkerchief under the sketchbook and the box of charcoals. She found it at last, so she set down the satchel and went to soak the smaller piece of lawn as well. She retraced her steps towards his side, this time with rather more reluctance, in no great haste to feel missish and foolish yet again, when it came to replacing one compress with the other. It was particularly unnerving to feel his eyes on her as she approached, but the task was made a little easier when he closed them and waited, silent and motionless, for her to crouch back down beside him and do what she deemed needful. So she swapped the kerchiefs with sparse, business-like motions, resorting to an airy manner in the process:
“There. They should be changed a few more times, then you will presumably be safe to return to the house.” Most vexingly, his eyes flashed open as she spoke, so she gave a little shaky laugh. “Sadly, I doubt that Lady Catherine keeps a sedan chair for cases such as these, but your valet’s services or those of a sturdy footman will perchance suffice. If you move closer to the brook and are willing to swap the compresses yourself, I will go and get someone,” she said, hurriedly making to rise from her crouch.
“No need. Pray wait,” Mr Darcy entreated.
The hand that was still fiddling with the kerchief, unnecessarily repositioning it as she spoke – or rather babbled in the silliest manner, Elizabeth inwardly chastised herself in some exasperation – was suddenly clasped in his, and her retreat hindered. Not just hindered, but stopped altogether – and so abruptly too, that her already precarious balance was completely lost. A small cry of surprise and dismay left her lips as she fell sideways, beyond hope of regaining her footing. It was a poor consolation that she had a soft landing when she found herself most mortifyingly placed between Mr Darcy’s chest and his long legs, bent at the knees and hips. The impact forced the air out of him with a muted grunt, and his hands shot forward to hold her arms in a belated attempt to steady her.
“Forgive me,” he said quickly. “You are not injured, are you?”
“No. Just my pride,” Elizabeth quipped to make light of the profound embarrassment, but a fierce blush crept into her cheeks.
She might have turned positively scarlet, had her kerchief not chosen to entertain her at that precise moment by sliding off Mr Darcy’s brow, to cover one eye and part of his nose. A rather perfectly formed nose, upon reflection, but that was neither here nor there. Laughter bubbled in her throat at the ludicrous picture, and even more so when, instead of raising a hand to push it away, he sent it flying into the grass with a vigorous shake of his head.
The bubble of laughter burst and grew into an ungovernable fit of giggles that easily vanquished the mortification. Even more so when he began to laugh as well, as unrestrainedly as she – a novelty that might have surprised her, had she been able to spare it a thought. But she could not. She gasped for breath, overcome with mirth at the sheer absurdity of their situation, and the fact that she was bounced up and down with his hearty laughter only added to the silliness and the hilarity. It was Darcy who was able to speak first.
“You have no equal, and this is hopeless.”
“What is?” she choked out, seeking to redress herself, but his hands tightened their hold around her arms, presumably to keep her from slipping onto the grass.
“My endeavour at dignified decorum. Not a chance, is there? I thought it was called for – indeed, mandatory. I was wrong.”
“You are talking in riddles again. You need a fresh compress. And I need to stand and regain my dignified decorum – the little of it that is left.”
“Pray wait. I thought a proper speech was in order. As you might have noticed, I do not excel at that,” he whispered softly and his eyes crinkled at the corners, but the glint of self-deprecating amusement left them almost as soon as it came.
There was no trace of it when his hand came up to stroke her cheek with the back of his fingers. Dark fire had completely consumed it by the time his thumb began to trace a tingling line along her jaw, to the corner of her lips. His other hand released its hold on her arm and came to rest between her shoulder blades, bringing her closer. Close enough for Elizabeth to feel his warm breath brushing her lips when he whispered her name. Close enough for his eyes to fill the world. She blinked. They still filled the world – impossibly dark; mesmerising – when his lips found hers.
“Oh,” she might have gasped, but the breathless sound was lost, or perhaps it remained unuttered when the kiss deepened into the sort of hungry abandon she had found in the few romantic novels she had read, and scoffed at. Preposterous exaggeration and artistic licence, she had dismissively called that sentiment, and as divorced from reality as could be.
Surprisingly, she was mistaken. It was very real indeed, that rush of feeling. As real as the sudden and unconquerable flush that should have sprung from shock, or at the very least mortification, but it did not. It spread out from the pit of her stomach, and was not mortification, far from it. It rather felt like feverish excitement, and a bewildering sense of both fulfilment and anticipation. Anticipating what? She hardly knew. But when his hands spread over her back to clasp her so tightly that she could barely breathe, she thrilled to the sensation and readily recognised it as something she had been unconsciously anticipating.
She closed her eyes when she felt heat rising in her cheeks, yet even then she knew it was not an outraged maidenly blush. There was no sense of outrage as his lips claimed hers with ever-growing fervour, but a positively brazen wish that he would not stop. That, and a strange urge to run her fingers through his hair and learn its texture. She gave in, and discovered it was silky, which surprised her, and very tangled, which did not.
Another brazen notion came on the heels of the first: that she rather liked how his breath grew fast and shallow and his kisses positively fervid when she tangled her fingers in his hair. Unseemly to delight in that, was it? Yes, probably. And it was equally unseemly to rejoice in the thrill that coursed from her scalp to her fingertips when a low moan rumbled in his chest – a deep sound that might have signalled pain, but she sensed beyond a doubt that it did not.
Thrills were the enemies of common sense, that she knew of old, and such well-established truths remained unshaken as common sense was currently put into abeyance. Time seemed suspended too, its natural laws and indeed its very definition becoming blurred and meaningless as the rush of feeling ruled supreme. […]
It might have worked just as well as telling her he ardently admired and loved her, but for the most unfortunate interruption, coming in the form of a loud snap of a twig underfoot, and a voice full of righteous outrage:
“Mr Darcy! I thought you the last man in the world who would trifle with a maiden’s honour in a grove.”
* * * *
That he does, Joana! But it is fun to see him have obstacles, isn’t it? Oh my!!! What a kiss that was. I can’t wait to learn what happened to Mr. Darcy before, and what caused Elizabeth and Darcy to have this new dynamic between them. I wonder who interrupts them!!!
Joana is sharing an epic and generous giveaway in conjunction with her release and blog tour. Are you ready for this?!? Check it out, the prizes include:
- 10 ebook copies of The Darcy Legacy
- 20 audiobook codes that can get you one of Joana’s lovely books narrated by Stevie Zimmerman
- a $25 Amazon Gift Card!!
Let’s get a big Woot Woot for this giveaway!!!
To enter this giveaway leave a comment and fill out the rafflecopter form below. 🙂
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Joana!
- This giveaway ends July 16th!
~ About the Author ~
Joana Starnes lives in the south of England with her family. Over the years, she has swapped several hats – physician, lecturer, clinical data analyst – but feels most comfortable in a bonnet. She has been living in Georgian England for decades in her imagination, and plans to continue in that vein till she lays hands on a time machine.
She is the author of eight Austen-inspired novels: From This Day Forward ~ The Darcys of Pemberley; The Subsequent Proposal; The Second Chance; The Falmouth Connection; The Unthinkable Triangle; Miss Darcy’s Companion; Mr Bennet’s Dutiful Daughter and The Darcy Legacy, and one of the contributing authors to The Darcy Monologues, Dangerous to Know and the upcoming Rational Creatures (due in October 2018).
Connect with Joana
To check out the rest of the tour, click the links below:
***July 2 ~ Austenesque Reviews ~ Excerpt Post & Giveaway***
July 3 ~ Diary of an Eccentric ~ Guest Post & Giveaway
July 4 ~ More Agreeably Engaged ~ Book Review & Giveaway
July 5 ~ Of Pens & Pages ~ Guest Post & Giveaway
July 6 ~ So Little Time… So Much to Read ~ Guest Post & Giveaway
July 7 ~ My Love for Jane Austen ~ Excerpt Post & Giveaway
July 8 ~ Babblings of a Bookworm ~ Book Review & Giveaway
July 9 ~ My Vices and Weaknesses ~ Book Review & Giveaway
July 10 ~ Obsessed with Mr. Darcy ~ Book Review & Giveaway
July 11 ~ Pemberley to Milton ~ Book Review & Giveaway
July 12 ~ Just Jane 1813 ~ Tour Finale & Giveaway
Thank you to Joana and Claudine for inviting my to participate in this lovely tour!!