Introducing Renata McMann and her New JAFF, Courting Elizabeth

Introducing Renata McMann and her New JAFF, Courting Elizabeth

Oh, my heart is beating wildly
And it’s all because you’re here
When I’m not near the girl I love
I love the girl I’m near
– Finian’s Rainbow

My co-author suggested, in addition to a GIVEAWAY (see below), we use our first blog post on Austen Authors to talk about our newest book, Courting Elizabeth, which came out this month. She emailed me “… it may be fun for you as you could explain the growth of the idea.” Sometimes I can’t tell what single idea starts my writing a story, but in this instance I can. Courting Elizabeth was born of a single line in Darcy’s infamous letter, referring to Bingley.

“I had often seen him in love before.”

Suppose Bingley’s attraction to Jane wasn’t true love, but the idle attraction brought about by propinquity and would disappear when he left Netherfield Park, only to be replaced by another relationship. Can you imagine it? I can, and did. Of course, anyone reading Courting Elizabeth might wonder that this is what started the plot, because Bingley doesn’t actually appear in the first third of the book, but this is the nature of writing.

A second impetus for this book revolves around a question that has always bothered me: Why was Lady Catherine so insistent on having Anne marry Darcy? Presumably, Anne would inherit Rosings, and could have her choice of a number of well-connected, wealthy men. I came up with motivation, that Lady Catherine feels anyone else would want to live at Rosings, but Darcy would bring Anne to Pemberley, allowing Lady Catherine to remain the mistress of Rosings. I decided to make Lady Catherine totally unreasonable in attaining her goal. These two separate ideas led to Courting Elizabeth.

In order to insert Elizabeth into Darcy’s milieu, I needed more of Darcy’s connections. I invented Colonel Fitzwilliam’s older brother, who is implied by Jane Austen, but not actually named. I called him Henry, and originally expected him to be a minor character. Somehow, he stormed into the book and took over a number of scenes. One reviewer said, “I think I fell in love a little with Henry, what a fun date he would be.” He definitely was fun to write.

So, I pose to you two questions:

  1. Do you think Bingley should ever end up with anyone but Jane?
  2. Why do you believe Lady Catherine was so determined Anne should wed Darcy?

Now, for the GIVEAWAY! To celebrate Courting Elizabeth, we’re giving away four copies:

  1. A print copy signed by Renata McMann
  2. A print copy signed by Summer Hanford
  3. A kindle copy
  4. A kindle copy

To enter, just comment below. The GIVEAWAY will end at midnight EST on Tuesday, October 4th, 2016.

Below is the opening scene of Courting Elizabeth. Hopefully it will tempt you.


Darcy set aside his pen. He flattened his hand alongside the word-covered sheets resting on the mahogany desk, surprised at the stiffness in his fingers. He, a man often deemed terse, had filled the pages. It seemed, for once, he had much to say.

Was it too much? He looked down at the letter he’d written Elizabeth, his rejoinder to her startling rejection of his proposal. Jumbled candlelight made the words seem almost to move, alive on the page. Now that Darcy had it all down, he was unsure he shouldn’t simply burn it.

He’d begun, he knew, in anger. Why shouldn’t he have? She’d pricked him, heart and pride, her rejection made all the more painful by its inconceivableness. A woman of her means, rejecting him? It was unprecedented, surely.

He’d never before put forth his heart in such a manner. He wouldn’t have done so that afternoon if he’d any inkling she would decline him. Now, he must bear this bitter weight pressing down on his chest. Bear it and give no indication of it, for a man did not reveal such sentiments and a Darcy of Pemberley certainly did not acknowledge how sorely it hurt to be rebuked by such a low person as Miss Elizabeth Bennet.

Darcy leaned back in his chair. So why, then, had he permitted himself to write the letter? He reached for it, thinking to crumple it. He knew the secrets it revealed better belonged to the flames in the hearth than in Elizabeth’s hands.

With a sigh, Darcy returned his hand to the desktop, leaving the pages untouched. He wrote to her out of hope, and he couldn’t persuade himself to lightly abandon it. A small, lingering sliver of that cursed emotion whispered that if he could set right her misconceptions about him, he could still win her. He knew after her vehement rejection it sullied him to curry her favor, but he couldn’t deny himself the painful boon of a second chance.

Yet, the secrets contained within those neat lines weren’t his alone, and the emotions portrayed, for all his careful wording, were too raw. Darcy shook his head. He needed to walk, to think. He couldn’t deliver the letter now, in the dark of night. He would employ the time he had to decide between delivering it to Elizabeth or to the flames.

Pushing back his chair, he stood. Taking his coat for warmth, not for appearances, as all had retired for the evening, he left his room. He caught a glimpse of a skirt disappearing around the corner ahead but, sparing little thought to whatever servant had been scurrying about, he made his way outside. For long hours, Darcy paced in the moonlit garden, Elizabeth’s words and visage his lone companions.

Finally, resolved, Darcy retraced his steps. He would give the letter to Elizabeth. There was no shame in further revealing himself to her. He’d already been laid bare. As for the secrets contained therein, though she’d hurt him, he still deemed her trustworthy. He’d seal the letter tonight, and tomorrow would see it in her hands.

Darcy entered his room and crossed to the desk, but the letter was gone.

86 Responses to Introducing Renata McMann and her New JAFF, Courting Elizabeth

  1. Thank you everyone for the outpouring of response. We feel very welcomed into this community. To anyone who didn’t receive a timely reply, please forgive us. That’s on me. I asked for a turn answering, and then dropped the ball on doing so quickly. I’m a weekday computer user is my only, shaky, excuse. Good luck to everyone who is hoping to win a copy of our work. We’re excited you want it. Thank you everyone who has read it, or plans to do so. I hope you all enjoy it. Summer

  2. Welcome to Austen Authors! I’ve toyed with a few reasons why Lady Catherine was so adamant about Anne marrying Darcy–what about the Earl’s older son, a viscount? And I’ve also paired Bingley with someone else. I love the variety that is JAFF! The only thing that has to be is Darcy and Elizabeth HEA. 😀

    • Hi Rose,

      I’m sorry it took us (me and/or Renata) so long to reply to you. I bet Renata has thought of that, why not have Anne marry the viscount, but I hadn’t. She’s the plot mastermind behind this team. I agree, Darcy and Elizabeth must end up together. I wouldn’t dare otherwise. I think people might track us down and throw tomatoes at us if we didn’t make that happen!

      As for Jane and Bingley, I’m open to possibilities.


  3. I’m presuming that because Lady C was the eldest,she had little say in who she was to marry. Lewis De B was probably wealthy,unwed and belonged to the correct sphere,therefore her future was set.
    However,perhaps she held a secret wish to marry a man of her own choosing, something that her younger sister took for granted.Maybe she held a torch for her sister’s husband,the handsome George Darcy and when she couldn’t be a Darcy,she vowed that any daughter of hers would!! Hence the defiant stance she holds that Anne will be Darcy’s wife a day hold the highly praised Darcy name.

    As for Bingley and Jane,part of me hopes that he grows a backbone and finally and successfully stands up to Caroline,aids her in establishing her own establishment…..very far away form NP!! Otherwise I doubt that even ‘angelic’ Jane could pretend happiness with Caroline’s relentless jibes.

    Part of me thinks that she deserves a man who knows his own heart and would not be so easily swayed by friends and family,in deciding the means by which he will be happy.

    • Hi Mary,

      I love your line of reasoning for Lady Catherine wanting Anne to marry Darcy. That is very much human nature, isn’t it? The struggle to not make the same mistakes your parents make, which somehow often turns into a self-fulfilling prophesy of doing just that, instead.

      I think Jane does deserve more from a man. She was constant, after all. Pining away in London, and still in love with him by the time she returned to Hertfordshire. Of course, she would almost have to say yes when he did ask her to marry him. She liked him (probably even still loved him, though I don’t know if he deserved it), was already twenty-two (oh my, how amazingly old!! :-p) and would want a home and a husband. He was obviously someone she could mold a bit to suit her and well-off. All she had to do was put up with his relations a few times a year (for surely Caroline would marry now that Mr. Darcy was off the market) and survive child-birth (hopefully only a few times) and she would have a marvalous life.


  4. I’ve enjoyed several of your books and look forward to reading new ones.

    As far as Bingley, if he’s strong enough to take a stand on marrying Jane, that’s what should take place. If not, she needs to find someone else.

    Lady Catherine controls everything and everyone completely in her sphere except Darcy and Col. Fitzwilliam, and even they come visit every spring. She’s greedy and, I think, wants more.

    • Hi Gianna,

      Thank you. I just saw your post introducing you and am on my way to Amazon to see your books as soon as I read everyone’s kinds words (I don’t think I’m going out a limb labeling them kind before having read them all, but we’ll see!).

      I agree about Bingley. If he can become the man she deserves, then good. If not, bring the story around to a better man for her.

      I always thought Lady Catherine must have to take control of everything. She’s a strong woman in a man’s world, and must be in the habit of re-proving that strength quite often. So much so, it’s become second nature. She’s moved passed asserting herself and into being assertive, about all things.

      I hope your day is going well. I loved your introductory post.


    • Hi Nicole,

      I hope you get it, or win it, or somehow read it 🙂

      When you do, I hope you enjoy it. We enjoyed writing it. Especially Henry. He’s a fun new twist.


    • Hi Sophie,

      Thank you for the warm welcome. We’re very excited to be a part of Austen Authors. Thank you as well for saying the excerpt is a teaser. I’ve been working hard on ending chapters on a cliff, both in Renata’s and my work and my fantasy books. It’s such a natural inclination to want to end a chapter with things neatly wrapped up. I’ve been fighting with it for years and I think I may finally be wining. It doesn’t help that, when I read a book, it drives me nuts when authors do that.


  5. Oh my, what a great little extract. Definitely whetted the appetite. I believe Bingley needs a strong wife so I am quite happy to see Jane with another and also Bingley. As to Lady Catherine, I think Patricia Finnegan is right, also Lady C would have approved of the idea of joining the two estates, she would then be the mother of Darcy – just think of the power.

    • Hi Lis,

      It’s so interesting you say that about Lady Catherine becoming Darcy’s mother via the marriage. I, at least, have a tendency to forget how much more significant these sorts of changes in a person’s life were back then, compared to how it might affect some people now. Not everyone, of course. Also, it’s interesting because I recently wrote this line, for our next story, of Darcy speaking to Lady Catherine: “I think you confuse me for a son, not a nephew.”

      I’m not sure if Bingley needs a strong wife. We went with that idea here, but maybe he and Jane would be happy being overly-pleasant to each other all the time, with no one ever getting what they really want because both are trying to please the other . . . or maybe not.


  6. I’m excited and intrigued and always happy to add another book to my Austenesque TBR list. Good luck to you and thanks so much for the giveaway!

  7. I just finished reading ‘Courting Elizabeth’ last night. I was very impressed with the results of Bingley being seen as unsteady and fickle. He definately needs someone with a stronger personality to keep him steady. i also applaude the pairing of Jane with Col. Fitzwilliam. The Colonel seems to always be given the incomplete ending. He is a strong character and to have a peaceful and loving pairing with Jane was very gratifing. I was not surprised at Lady Catherine’s antic of stealing the letter. She would do anything to continue to rule Rosings. Hurrah for Ann De Bourgh for her new determination. Overall the story had just the right amount of suspense and some new surprises (Lord Henry and Lydia?). Loved it. Please more more.

  8. To be honest, with Catherine de Bourgh, I always got the impression that at the time of when engagement began, they were talking about possibility of it, but that there would be possibility it not come to fruition. I think Lady Catherine got it in her head that it WAS going to happen no matter what. Sure would like to see a variation where Mrs Darcy had not died and what would have happened in regards to engagements, georgiana, etc. (is there any variations that has that?)

Your thoughts are precious!