Welcome to the launch for Mr. Darcy’s Undoing, my latest release from Sourcebooks. Mr. Darcy’s Undoing is a re-titled version of my earlier self-published book Without Reserve, and one of the things I’m celebrating with this launch is that it’s my very last re-titled book! The only book of mine remaining to be re-released is By Force of Instinct, and in a great burst of imagination, it’s going to be called… wait for it… By Force of Instinct: A Pride & Prejudice Variation. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that the re-titling problems are almost done. Meantime, here’s the official blurb for Mr. Darcy’s Undoing:
A passionate new Pride and Prejudice variation explores the unthinkable-Elizabeth accepts the proposal of a childhood friend before she meets Darcy again. When their paths cross, the devastated Mr. Darcy must decide how far he’ll go to win the woman he loves. How can a man who prides himself on his honor ask the woman he loves to do something scandalous? And how can Elizabeth accept a loveless marriage when Mr. Darcy holds the key to her heart? As they confront family opposition and the ill-will of scandal-mongers, will Elizabeth prove to be Mr. Darcy’s undoing?
Now, I could go off into the usual Launch Day celebrations, but you’ve seen rather a lot of that from me already this year, so instead I’m going to give you a special excerpt from Mr. Darcy’s Undoing. It’s one of my very favorite scenes. Before we get there, of course I have to mention that I’m giving away signed copies of Mr. Darcy’s Undoing to 3 lucky readers (North America only, sorry). To enter, just leave a comment on this post by October 9. You can get extra chances by tweeting about the giveaway or liking this blog post on Facebook. This contest is also our trial run of using Rafflecopter to manage a giveaway, and you can register your extra chances in the Rafflecopter widget after the excerpt.
And now, the excerpt! In Mr. Darcy’s Undoing, Elizabeth agrees to marry a childhood friend, the amiable if less than scintillating Mr. Covington. By doing so, she will be able to protect her mother and sisters after her father’s death, and although she doesn’t love him, she can see no reason not to accept his proposal. When Darcy discovers her engagement, he takes every opportunity to spend time with her, ostensibly to discover if she loves Mr. Covington, but actually because he can’t stay away. Elizabeth finally realizes during a moment of crisis that she has fallen in love with Darcy, but she is trapped in her engagement and Darcy’s assumption that she wants to marry Mr. Covington. Two weeks later, Darcy reappears at Longbourn.
It was nearly a fortnight later that Bingley arrived for his morning call on his betrothed with Mr. Darcy once again in tow. Elizabeth, in a whirl of embarrassment, could hardly bring herself to look at him when they made their greeting. Since she had seen him last, it seemed her every waking moment, apart from those taken up with worry for Lydia, had been spent trying to reconcile herself to a future without him. There had been a great many such wakeful moments in which to think, since many of her nights were spent in sleepless preoccupation with the feelings she had denied so long.
She had given up hope of seeing him again, at least not for a long time. She had not been in his company since that moment she had recognized the truth of what lay between them; Bingley had brought news the next morning that Darcy had departed for Town and was not expected to return. It had been an acutely painful blow, though she soon realized it was for the best. She needed to make her peace with her upcoming marriage, and it would have been impossible to do so in his presence. Still, she could not stop herself from missing him, and longing for his company.
Now he had reappeared completely unexpectedly, and she did not know what to make of it. She stole glances at him from under her lashes as she sat at her work, but his attention seemed elsewhere, directed to her mother, her sisters, and occasionally on no less an object than the floor.
“Have you heard, Mr. Darcy, that my youngest is to be married next week?” said Mrs. Bennet with great satisfaction.
Darcy replied that he had, and made his congratulations. Elizabeth, humiliated, dared not lift up her eyes. How he looked, therefore, she could not tell.
“It will be a delightful thing, to be sure, to have a daughter well married, and two more soon to come, but at the same time, it is very hard to have my youngest taken such a way from me. They are to go to Newcastle, a place quite northward, it seems, and there they are to stay.”
“Very hard indeed, I would imagine, to have one so dear to you far away.”
“How suddenly you went away, Mr. Darcy!” continued Mrs. Bennet.
Darcy looked grave. “Yes, it was unfortunately sudden; urgent business called me to London. In truth, I am leaving again this morning; I came last night only to settle some matters with Bingley. I cannot stay long, but since I was unable to call to make a proper farewell before my last departure, I hoped to make it up to you now, and to thank you for all the hospitality you have shown me.”
Elizabeth froze at his words. She had somehow assumed that his reappearance meant their old pattern of daily meetings was to resume.
“Leaving again, Mr. Darcy? So soon?” Jane asked.
“Yes, I must be back in London tonight, and next week I will be undertaking a longer journey, and do not expect to return to England for some time.”
Elizabeth looked up at him in shock at this statement. His eyes met hers in a serious look, and she bit her lip, trying to fend off the loss she felt already. She understood his presence now; he had come to say a final goodbye to her. He too must have acknowledged that what was between them must end. A lump formed in her throat, and she looked away suddenly before tears could begin to appear in her eyes.
Mrs. Bennet inquired as to his destination. He replied, “I will be going to Vienna. I have not been there since my grand tour, and I always intended to return there to acquaint myself with the city properly.”
Now that she knew she had lost the small hope of him she had, Elizabeth could not decide whether she wished him to stay longer or go immediately. It was an acutely painful pleasure to sit across from him, able to look at him but nothing more, and to know there would never be anything more.
She did not have long to think on it, as in fact it was only a brief interval before he said he must go. When he rose to leave, she boldly seized her moment to see him to his carriage, hoping that no one would notice her agitation. She did not know what she wished to say to him, if in fact she wished to say anything, or if she just hoped to be in his company a few minutes longer. His eyes thanked her, however, and that was enough.
She found, though, that she must say something, or stand in uncomfortable silence as the maid brought his hat and coat. “I hope you enjoy Vienna, Mr. Darcy,” she said.
The corners of his mouth quirked in what was almost a smile. “It is a place to go,” he said. Their eyes met again for a long moment, and she looked away first. He moved towards the door, then stopped again just at the edge of the vestibule. “Before I go, though, Miss Bennet, I must beg your forgiveness.”
“My forgiveness? For what?” she asked. For engaging my affections when I was already bound to another man?
“For this,” he said. Before she realized what he intended, he leant towards her and kissed her, a brief, tender touch of his lips to hers. “There is no need for you to come any further. Goodbye, Miss Bennet, and please accept my best wishes for your marriage.”
She could not help herself; her eyes clouded with tears, and by the time she had blinked them away, he was already out the door and stepping into his carriage. He did not look back, and she watched with stinging eyes as the carriage disappeared down the lane, still feeling the sensation of his kiss.
I hope you’ll read the remainder of the book and find out what happens when Darcy returns from Vienna to attend Bingley and Jane’s wedding. Don’t forget to enter the raffle by commenting and using the Rafflecopter widget!