Change, One Choice at a Time + Story Excerpt + Giveaway

Change, One Choice at a Time + Story Excerpt + Giveaway

By Hugh Thomson (1860-1920) – Scan des illustrations de Mansfield Park, London: Macmillan, 1897, Public Domain

Henry handed her up into his curricle before climbing up next to her. “You are certain you do not mind being seen in public with me?” He had surprised himself by worrying a great deal, as he tossed and turned on his bed last night, about how she would be viewed by the ton if it appeared he was courting her. He had not courted a lady for any noble purposes in the past. He had feigned honorable intentions, but he had only one thing in mind — capturing the affections of the young lady as far as she would allow him to capture them and her. He had never been serious in his pursuit of any lady, and that is what the ton knew. They did not know that he was a man on a mission to change his ways.
Constance smiled and shook her head while a nervous flutter took up residence in her belly. She had discussed with her aunt what the gossips might say, but her aunt had assured her that with a brother such as Trefor and Connie’s own exemplary behavior, there would be little on which the wagging tongues would be able to build their stories, save, of course, for Henry’s previous behaviour. However, Aunt Gwladys had insisted that his new behaviour and respectable ways would soon over shine all that.

“I had only wished for you to tell me my errors and help me figure out how to overcome them. I did not mean for you to become so actively involved in my education.”

“It is one drive, and I am confident not many will take notice of me.” Constance was not certain if she was attempting to reassure him or herself. “And it they do, they know my brother.”

Henry nodded slowly. Trefor Linton was known for being upstanding. He never gambled to excess nor was he given to drinking or flirting. “I dare say they will notice me and, therefore, you,” Henry cautioned. “It might be best if we just retired to the drawing room, and you wrote me a list of things to do and things to avoid.”

By Hugh Thomson (1860-1920) – Scan des illustrations de Mansfield Park, London: Macmillan, 1897, Public Domain

She tipped her head and studied the set of his jaw. There was a muscle that was twitching. He seemed genuinely nervous about where they were and what they were doing.

“You are not afraid to be seen with me, are you?” she teased, causing him to cast a surprised glance her direction.

The twinkle in her eye and the way her lips puckered as she attempted to keep from smiling caused him to draw a quick breath as he reminded himself of whose sister Constance was. No matter how fetching she might look, he was not to indulge his appreciation of her.

“I am not afraid to be seen with you, but I am rather worried about your being seen with me. I am not the best catch of the season.” He glanced her way again. She was smiling broadly.

“Not yet, but you will be,” she said with a laugh. Then turning more serious, she asked quietly, “You are genuinely concerned about my reputation?”

“I am.” He gave her a crooked smile. “And not just because your brother promised to run me through if I damaged it. You deserve to make a good match, and I should wish to run myself through if I were the cause of your not being able to make one.”

By C. E. Brock (died 1938) – http://solitary-elegance.com/mp-brock.htm, Public Domain

“It is one drive,” she assured him.

He shook his head. “And one musical, and one trip to the theater, and one ball, and one whatever other thing your aunt thinks I need to experience before I am deemed worthy to be on my way.”

“All will be well. We shall weather the whispers together.” She smoothed her skirts and turned her eyes toward the road. “I do enjoy your company.”

“You are far too good.” He saw a smile pull at the corner of her mouth, and he could imagine the sparkle that was likely in her sapphire blue eyes.

“Yes, I am, but then, that is why you chose me,” she replied.

So begins a collaboration between Constance Linton and Henry Crawford.  One intent upon learning the ways of a respectable gent, and the other equally as intent up on seeing her student succeed.  With both parties working toward a common goal, it would seem a rather open and shut case.  

But change is not normally all that neat and tidy.  

Change requires effort, and change can only become more than a desire when it is tested.  It is not in the quiet, peaceful moments when all is going well when change is apparent.  It’s fairly simple to act a part when nobody is questioning if your demeanor is genuine or merely a facade.  However, when the clouds gather and the road becomes rutted and muddy, that is when change shines forth like a beacon for all to see.  

So it is in this story.  

By C. E. Brock (died 1938) – http://solitary-elegance.com/mp-brock.htm, Public Domain

As this story begins, Henry Crawford has already endured his pivotal changing moment of failure.  He was tested in Mansfield Park and found wanting. When he is faced with either taking care of things at his estate as he had told Fanny he would or staying in town to attend a party as his sister suggests, he chooses to satisfy his curiosity and so begins his downfall.  The change that he had begun to affect while attempting to court and win Fanny was either merely a facade or rooted in shallow soil and not yet strong enough to withstand a test.  No matter the reason, the result was the same.  Henry’s change was not of an enduring nature.  

However, as is often the case, failure can be the very thing that instigates success, and in Henry’s case, as I have written it, failure — painful, agonizing failure — has become the catalyst for his eventual redemption.

In the excerpt above, we can see that Henry’s change is more than a facade. He has spent time worrying about Constance’s reputation if she is seen with him. He knows how he is viewed by society, and he would rather take a different path to achieving what he wishes than put her at risk.  This means that he is putting someone else’s needs before his own desires, and that marks an important internal change in him.

This does not mean that facing any opposition that arises, whether from within or without, will be done easily, but it does mean that those roots of change are not sitting in shallow soil.  

And testing will come.  

The remainder of the drive to his home was spent in remonstrating himself and pointing out his weaknesses. So effective was his self-deprecation that by the time he had entered his own library, he wished only for a large bottle of fiery liquid — the fierier, the better — to burn from his memory the image of lips parted slightly, wide blue eyes watching him as he spoke, and breasts rising and falling as her breathing slowed and deepened. She was not a lonely wife or a bored widow. She was an innocent — a respectable, virtuous lady. He crumpled the list she had given him and tossed it into the fire. It would be better for one and all if he once again locked up his heart and went back to pleasing himself as his uncle taught him.

It is at this moment when Henry will be required to make a choice.  And really, that’s what change boils down to in its simplest form — choice, one solitary choice, made by you and no one else, after another.

What does Henry decide? And how does this decision affect his path to happily ever after? I’m not saying. You’ll have to read the book to find out. 🙂  

~*~*~

If you would like to be entered to win the one ebook copy of Henry: To Prove Himself Worthy that I am giving away, be sure to leave a comment below.  

Giveaway closes at 11:59 PM EST on Tuesday, September 5, 2017.

~*~*~Leenie B Books

KOBO      AMAZON      NOOK      IBOOKS      MAILING LIST

38 Responses to Change, One Choice at a Time + Story Excerpt + Giveaway

  1. Oh, my. This story should be amazing. It sounds just like one of those Regency romance plot that I read. A rake who meets a virtuous lady and guides him on how to change his ways and they both fall in love with each other but have obstacles to overcome before they reach their HEA. Thanks for the giveaway, Leenie.

  2. I have never liked Henry Crawford and, truthfully, could never see him change. It is a delight to see that he is able to! Thank you for the excerpt and giveaway.

    • Oh, I hear ya! I have felt like that about him until now as well. As I was thinking about reforming him, I considered if it was possible for him to change as needed within the confines of canon. I couldn’t see it happening without the pain he experiences because of his disastrous choice to follow Maria and leave Fanny. That is why I started my story after Mansfield Park ends.

  3. How interesting… I always liked Mansfield Park. However, I could never make up my mind if I liked Henry or not. I leaned more toward not… but am willing to give him a chance. So, I look forward to reading this variation on him. Thanks for the generous give-a-way. Blessings on the launch and much success.

    • You’re welcome and thanks! I’m glad you are willing to give him a chance. I have to say I have never really liked him (until now in this new form) and though I do think he needs a proper young lady, I never thought he and Fanny would be perfectly happy. They just never seemed quite right for each other to me. However, a proper young lady like Constance with a bit more confidence and with a solid family footing with all the love and support Fanny didn’t have seemed to fit him. Hopefully, you will agree. 🙂

  4. I myself have always been on Team Henry and love a Henry redemption story. Unfortunately those stories very very few and far between. So I am super excited to read this one. Thank you for accepting the challenge 🙂

  5. Please leave me out of the drawing as I have the book and loved it. I just loved what you did with him and I STILL can’t decide on the next book. I have never liked sister Mary and part of me wants to see you fix her wagon but the other part of me really liked Edwards and want to see him get a HEA. Oh the choices… I did NOT pronounce Trefor right apparently. My brain excepted it as Tray for (phonetically) but I did understand Gwladys correctly! yay me!! LOL I always love these books you write. Ready for the next one Leenie! 😉

    • Thank you, Stephanie! I’m glad you got enjoyment from this story! I kept saying Trefor wrong as I wrote so that I would remember how to type it Good job on getting Gwladys correct. 🙂 I plan to do a book for each Mary and Edwards eventually. I just don’t know which one to start with 🙂 Of course, either choice is going to have to wait its turn in line for writing. I have a Dash of Darcy story to get ready for next month and a new Thursday’s Three Hundred story that I need ready for my blog soon since the current on only has a bit more than a month until it is done. And then, it will depend on royalty needs as some books sell better than others and well, bills come every month — rotten things, bills. 🙂 But the story will get written — I am finding it hard to wait actually. I want to continue playing with my imaginary friends. LOL 🙂

  6. Leenie, I just finished reading this last night and wrote my review this afternoon! I loved it! 5* from me! I, unfortunately, did notice Gwladys and wasn’t sure if it was a misspelling, however, Trefor didn’t come across that way and I did say it correctly! Thank you for letting me know it was Welsh as I wasn’t sure. I did have one little quibble but not enough to take away stars, was no mention of a chaperone/maid when Henry and Constance went out on their carriage ride. Near the end of the book, a maid was mentioned, but I just assumed it was implied at the beginning. I do love Henry’s struggle. Looking forward to your next one!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Carole! 🙂 (Thank you for the review!) I was hoping that the consistency of the spelling of Gwladys throughout the book would help readers realize that it was intentional even if they did not realize that it is an actual way to spell the name. 🙂 Congrats on pronouncing Trefor correctly!

      As far as the carriage ride is concerned. No, there was no chaperone. It was an open curricle with room for two. This would be one reason for Trefor’s greater apprehension when sending his sister out, but it is not unusual for two to be in such a carriage in public unchaperoned on a drive. Even in Jane’s novels, there are instances of this. I am thinking of Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey. I don’t remember any other mentions of it, but there may be another mention somewhere that I am not remembering off the top of my head. (I know Emma does end up in a closed carriage with Mr. Elton but that is a closed carriage.) The chaperone would have been more necessary in the library with doors closed. However, from what happens there, I don’t think the chaperone arrived in time. 🙂

      Did you get a chance to cast your vote for who should get to star in the next book in this series of Mansfield Park episodes?

  7. I love that you used Welsh spellings for names! Do you think American audiences will know to pronounce the f in Trefor as a v? Really good!

    • Thanks! I’m thinking the American audiences will take a second look at the name Trefor and Gwladys. 🙂 And they may not get the pronunciation quite correct, but that’s okay. I decided as I was setting up Constance’s family that part of the family, at least, had Welsh roots. It really holds no particular significance in the story (at least not yet and it maybe never will even in following stories), but I find it adds a little interest. It also challenged my fingers when typing. Trefor was not bad, but it took a while for my finger to learn to type Gwladys rather than Gladys. 🙂

      • Oh, I also wanted to add how happy it makes me that you recognized the spelling as Welsh. I was wondering if someone would catch it (and not just think it a misspelling 🙂 )

  8. I really like the sound of this. Mansfield Park is one of my favorite Austen’s. I know many people don’t like it and when I first read it I thought it was ho-hum but I’ve read it quite a few times since and now I really enjoy it. Would love to win this. I do like continuing stories for secondary characters.

    • Mansfield Park is one of the few Jane Austen novels I saw as a movie before reading it. (I saw the one with Jonny Lee Miller in it. I haven’t seen any of the others.) And after watching it once, I thought “Hmm, that’s kind of an odd story.” So I watched it again, and found it still held my interest. So, I read the book. It is now one of my favourites, and I have read it many, many times over. Henry, however, I have grumbled at every time I have read the book. I may have trouble doing that the same way on the next read through because I came to like this reformed version of him. 🙂 Good luck in the draw! Stories for secondary characters are my favourite type to write.

  9. Congratulations on the new book! I wish I could write stories – but my gift seems to be in the proofreading side, not the writing. :s If you need a final proofreader, I would be happy to help. Thank you for sharing.

  10. I am very curious to see how Henry can redeem himself. Normally I steer clear of him but I am intrigued by this story.

    • Normally, I steer clear of Henry as well! LOL However, a reader placed the challenge of attempting to redeem Henry Crawford in front of me, and I couldn’t resist. I ended up actually liking this version of him — however, I let him begin his journey where Jane had left him in misery because after how he treated Fanny, I think he deserved to wallow at least for a while so he could learn his lesson well. 🙂

  11. This is my favorite kind of JAFF, the continuation – of one of the side characters. I was very interested in Henry all along, as a flawed character with potential and would love to read your vision of his redemption.

    • I enjoy working with secondary characters — even if they are one of my least favourites, which Henry was when I began this story. However, he has grown on me in this new, improved version of himself.

    • I never thought I would like him. (full stop) 🙂 And then I wrote this story, and the new version of Henry is not too bad. I would even dare to say Fanny might approve of him in his new form — not that they would ever suit perfectly. I think their personalities are just not quite right. He needs someone proper like Fanny but who is not as retiring and quiet — perhaps, someone like Constance 🙂

    • Oh, I never liked his character either! But, the idea of trying to redeem him was so tempting when a reader suggested it on my blog, that I had to at least make an attempt. I think I have succeeded. 🙂

Your thoughts are precious!