Hi Friends! I am so excited to welcome back Abigail Reynolds to Austenesque Reviews today for several reasons…one being because she is Abigail Reynolds – and one of the first Austenesque authors I read that wrote variations (which completely blew my mind!). But the other reasons are because I know her newest book Mr. Darcy’s Enchantment is a little out of the norm for this genre and I’m eager to learn more about it! And because this new release of hers was quite popular in the Readers’ Choice Vote for 2018 Favorite Austenesque reads! Woot! Congrats, Abigail! I’m so happy readers are loving your new story! Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
How did I come to write a Pride & Prejudice variation with fantasy elements? Well, the explanation starts with a short excerpt from my previous book, Conceit & Concealment, of Darcy and Elizabeth meeting for the first time in Regency England occupied by Napoleon’s troops:
Darcy had loved springtime when his mother was alive. She had taught him the names of each spring flower in the Pemberley gardens, encouraged him to watch each stage of leaves unfolding, made wishes with him over the star-shaped wood anemones, and taken him on adventures in Pemberley’s magical bluebell wood. She had died in the springtime, too, just as the bluebells were fading away to nothing. And then there had been the terrible spring of 1805 which had cost him his father and more relatives and friends than he could count, as well as his freedom and his country.
Spring had once been a time of beginnings for him. Now it made him think of all he had lost.
At Pemberley he could gallop for miles over the empty moors, but Hertfordshire was more settled. He spotted a copse in the distance and made for that, hoping to find some semblance of untamed nature there. He skirted the edge until he found a path leading into it, but before he even entered the copse, a familiar floral scent transported him into the past. It was a bluebell wood.
On impulse, he dismounted and tied Hurricane’s reins to a tree. Ahead of him bluebells swayed in the dappled sunlight. He strode towards them as their almost otherworldly scent enveloped him, raising goose bumps on his skin. The spring green of the wood was the perfect frame for the sapphire flowers. Magic, his mother had called the bluebells.
His pace slowed. How long had it been since his last visit to a bluebell wood? He could not even recall. The bluebells seemed to dance around him with a ripple of laughter. But no – that was human laughter, and it was followed by a squeal of pain.
“That hurt, young man! Or young woman, if that is what you are.” A woman’s musical voice seemed part of the magic, drawing him towards it with a seductive enchantment of its own. Where was she, the woman of the rippling laughter? He searched for a side path through the flowers. His mother had taught him never to trample bluebells.
There it was, so faint it could barely be called a path, just grass dividing a sea of bluebells. Carefully he stepped along it.
He could see her now. Tendrils of dark chestnut hair escaped their binding to riot across her long neck in exuberant curls. She sat on the ground, her legs curled up beside her, and she was surrounded by… puppies? Yes, puppies, crawling over her lap, nipping at her skirts, and rolling over for petting. She picked one up and kissed its head. Fortunate puppy!
His lips curved. A poet would call her Titania, queen of the fairies, in the flesh. More woodland magic.
She must have heard his footsteps, or perhaps the yapping of a puppy alerted her, because she looked back over her shoulder. At the sight of him, she twisted around and scrambled backwards.
In the dappled sunlight, his Titania’s face was alive with energy, full of fine sparkling eyes and kissable lips.
And she was pointing a fully cocked pistol at him.
He took a step back and opened his hands to show they were empty. “I mean you no harm.” The sound of his own voice startled him.
“English?” Her voice was sterner now.
“Yes. I am visiting from Derbyshire. Or, if you prefer, I will say it – Theophilus Thistle, the thistle sifter, sifted a sieve full of unsifted thistles, thrusting three thousand thistles through the thick of his thumb.” It was the tongue twister no Frenchman could pronounce, no matter how accentless his English might be.
Her lips quirked, but she kept the pistol leveled at him. “Well, Theophilus Thistle from Derbyshire, why are you following me?”
“Because I was walking through an enchanted bluebell wood when I heard the dulcet tones of Titania, queen of the fairies, which bespells any mortal man.” He swept her a full court bow.
She chuckled. “Lovely words, but perhaps you should avoid sudden movements when I have a pistol trained on you.”
As Darcy continued to refer to ‘Proud Titania’ through the rest of the book, it gave me an idea. Years ago, I had wanted to write a Pride & Prejudice variation incorporating evil Fae into the Regency, similar to Karen Marie Moning’s amazing Fever series, which has evil Fae creatures invading modern Ireland. I even tried writing a bit of it, but writing evil characters just isn’t a strong point of mine. I kept trying to humanize and redeem them, which doesn’t work so well when the creatures aren’t human in the first place! So I gave up on that story, but the plot bunny kept nagging at me until Darcy handed me the answer in the bluebell wood. I could write my variation with Shakespeare’s mischievous faeries rather than with evil Fae!
That was the piece I needed. I already knew the story would be primarily about our beloved characters in the Regency, because that’s the kind of fantasy I enjoy – books like Harry Potter that take place in our world, but with a little twist. So that’s what Mr. Darcy’s Enchantment become – a Darcy and Elizabeth story set in a Regency England where magic just happens to be real.
Once my muse got into the act, things got exciting. Several Pride & Prejudice characters have striking behaviors that are so consistent as to appear almost unnatural – Mr. Collins’ devotion to Lady Catherine is one example – that it’s very easy to believe they could be under a spell. Once I knew which characters might be bespelled, I could figure out which characters were casting spells. It should have been a tangled web, but amazingly it all made sense in the end. I could almost imagine Jane Austen had planned it that way!
It’s hard to say much more about the story without giving away major spoilers, but I can tell you this much: you don’t need to be a fantasy lover to enjoy this book. If you’ve liked my other books, you’ll like this one.
Meredith, thanks for hosting me!
Sounds fantastic, Abigail! I adored your meet cute for Darcy and Elizabeth in Conceit & Concealment. I also remember loving the nods to A Midsummer’s Night Dream in Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections! Yay for Shakespearean nods!! I can’t wait to read a story that combines Jane Austen’s characters with faeries and enchantments! Thanks so much for sharing!
Connect with Abigail
Abigail Reynolds may be a nationally bestselling author and a physician, but she can’t follow a straight line with a ruler. Originally from upstate New York, she studied Russian and theater at Bryn Mawr College and marine biology at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. After a stint in performing arts administration, she decided to attend medical school, and took up writing as a hobby during her years as a physician in private practice.
A life-long lover of Jane Austen’s novels, Abigail began writing variations on Pride & Prejudice in 2001, then expanded her repertoire to include a series of novels set on her beloved Cape Cod. Her most recent releases are Conceit & Concealment, the national bestsellers Alone with Mr. Darcy and Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections, and Mr. Darcy’s Journey. Her books have been translated into five languages. A lifetime member of JASNA, she lives on Cape Cod with her husband, her son and a menagerie of animals. Her hobbies do not include sleeping or cleaning her house.
Today, Abigail brings with her TWO ebook copies of her new novel, Mr. Darcy’s Enchantment, for me to giveaway to TWO lucky winners!
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment, a question, or some love for Abigail!!
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Abigail!
- This giveaway ends January 16th!