Hooray! Today marks the start of my favorite time of year: Autumn. Being that I generally post on Thursdays, I decided to jump aboard the social media trend, Throwback Thursday, this month. In lieu of an old photo of myself, I wish to share an excerpt from one of my favorite literary offspring: A Lasting Love Affair.
Why this particular all-time favorite book at this particular time? I’ll answer the second part of the question later. As for the first part, there’s something about Autumn that strikes me as especially romantic: the beautiful colors, the crisp air, warms days, cool nights.
Based upon one of my favorite movies in which two friends are in love with the same woman, A Lasting Love Affair finds Miss Elizabeth Bennet the recipient of the affections of not only Mr. Darcy but a new suitor as well: Lord Andrew Holland.
A love triangle. Indeed, one of the oldest stories of time.
Read along, listen along or both. Most of all, enjoy!
Darcy approached Lord Holland and Elizabeth, threw the former a cursory glance and bowed slightly towards the latter. “I shall wait for you by my curricle, Miss Bennet.”
When Darcy walked away, Elizabeth looked at the viscount apologetically. “That is what I was about to tell you. I have already accepted Mr. Darcy’s invitation to ride in his carriage. Please understand.”
The idea and the planning of a country outing had been his lordship’s doing. He and his mother had invited many of the neighbours to accompany them: the Davidsons, the Lancasters, and of course Lady Vanessa and Elizabeth, and finally Charles and Caroline Bingley as they were still his guests, and they were not showing any indication of taking their leave.
He held up his hand, his countenance speaking to his disappointment. “You owe me no explanation. I only hope you know what you are about.”
“Pray, what does that mean?”
Lord Holland narrowed his eyes and punctured his voice with ire. “Do you suppose for one instant that he will fall in love with you, Miss Bennet?”
Elizabeth liked Lord Holland very much, but this was a side of him that met with her displeasure. Unable to fashion a response that would satisfy either of them, Elizabeth remained silent.
He crossed his arms. “I have known Darcy his entire adult life. He will not forget what is expected of him and fall in love with you. It is not in his nature.”
Elizabeth had heard enough. She dipped a quick curtsy. “Pardon me, my lord.” She then promptly escaped his company.
Darcy was speaking with his friend Charles Bingley when Elizabeth arrived and took her place by his side.
Bingley greeted her with a smile. “Miss Bennet, it is a pleasure to see you this morning.”
“I thank you, sir. I am very happy to see you as well.”
The charming Mr. Bingley glanced about and took in all there was to see before returning his attention to Elizabeth. “Indeed, the sun is beaming warmly upon us, the birds are singing, the flowers are awash in colours, and the weather is pleasant and inviting. What a perfect day this is for a country outing.”
By the looks of Mr. Darcy’s sudden change in countenance, Elizabeth supposed he disagreed. He looked as though he were standing in the middle of a road with a team of wild stallions closing in on him. Elizabeth did not even have to turn around to discern the cause, for a piercing voice rang out from across the yard. She did look, and she saw Caroline Bingley headed their way with her hand atop her garish feathery bonnet to keep it from falling to the ground amidst her haste.
Darcy claimed Elizabeth’s hand. “Come, Miss Bennet. Your chariot waits.” Before she knew what she was about, he had ushered her away with nary a word of pardon to Mr. Bingley. Darcy handed Elizabeth into his curricle, and he quickly strode to the other side and boarded the vehicle as well. Once he made certain Elizabeth was seated comfortably, Darcy raced ahead of the others and chose an alternate path than had been agreed upon, thus arriving at the destination well in advance of the rest of the party.
Darcy handed her down from the curricle, and Elizabeth looked about, full of wonder and excitement over all she saw. The whole country about them abounded in beautiful walks, and Elizabeth’s eagerness to set out and explore them could scarcely be contained despite Darcy’s half-hearted attempt to do just that. Once he had seen to the security of his curricle and his horses, he and Elizabeth set off together.
Not long after everyone had established themselves under the outdoor tents that had been arranged for their dining comfort, Lady Vanessa approached Lord Holland, who was standing away from the gathering. “Where is my niece? Pray tell me again how is it that she came to ride in Mr. Darcy’s curricle?” Her ladyship shielded her eyes from the glaring sun as she surveyed the surroundings. “She said nothing to me about riding with Mr. Darcy—with no chaperone. I thought she was to ride with you.”
His lordship shrugged. “It seems he asked her first. As you must have surmised, his choice of conveyance lent itself to only two occupants.”
“That is no excuse. I wish Elizabeth had ridden in the carriage with you as we had planned. Obstinate, headstrong girl! Oh, where do you suppose she is?”
“You need not worry, Lady Vanessa. You know your niece. She likely took one look at the magnificent grounds and set off to explore. My friend Darcy will see that she comes to no harm.”
“I know you believe your friend is very responsible, and I know he comes from a decent family, but what do we really know about him? Even you will admit he has gone out of his way to keep himself to himself. During those times he has called on us at Barrington, he has been quiet and taciturn. I hardly know what to make of him.”
“That is his way. I know him well enough not to be concerned; however, if it will help to ease your mind, I will seek out the two of them and escort them back to the party.”
“Would you, my dear? It would mean the world to me.” Lord Holland was gone directly—his mind consumed with what he might do if all of his reassurances to Lady Vanessa proved false.
If only Miss Bennet knew how much I care for her, then would she bestow her smiles as liberally upon me as she does towards Darcy? I would give anything to have her look at me the way she looks at him. She cannot possibly know what is in store for her if she supposes Darcy’s interest in her is more than fleeting—a mere diversion.
Lord Holland recalled the wrath that always commandeered Miss Bingley’s composure whenever she saw Darcy and Elizabeth together. While it is true that I have never seen him as attentive to any woman as he is to Miss Bennet, I have to suppose it is merely a means to frustrate Miss Bingley. Darcy’s family fully expects him to marry his cousin—everyone who knows anything at all about the proud Fitzwilliams knows that.
Exhilarated by the fresh, open air, Elizabeth’s hurried steps by far outpaced Mr. Darcy’s. She turned back to her companion, who was intent upon a leisurely stroll. She was tempted to walk back to him, take him by the arm, and pull him along. “Mr. Darcy, if you do not walk faster, then we shall never take in all there is to see before it is time to join the others.”
He maintained his slow, steady pace, thus obliging Elizabeth to do the same. “I do not recall you ever being this enthusiastic about a walk, Miss Bennet.”
“When I am at home in Hertfordshire, I enjoy nothing better than a long, solitary ramble about the countryside. It is but one of the things I miss most about being away from home. My favourite escape is Oakham Mount. I walked there whenever I could.”
“I hope you will take me there one day.”
“Oh, but surely you miss Derbyshire as well, Mr. Darcy.”
“I have heard it said that Derbyshire boasts some of the most magnificent vistas in the country.”
“It is quite splendid: breath-taking mountains, majestic lakes, and flowing rivers. Pemberley, my home, is especially beautiful at this time of year. There are secluded paths along winding streams that go on for miles. I can hardly wait for you to see it. You will be delighted.”
Indeed, she could half imagine the splendours he foretold. But what can he mean in suggesting I might one day behold it with delight? “You envision me one day visiting your home in Derbyshire, Mr. Darcy?”
He ceased walking and encouraged her to stand still. “I do.” Darcy lifted Elizabeth’s hand, slowly slipped off her glove, and placed a moist kiss on her palm. Their eyes met and held fast in each other’s until Elizabeth felt a titillating heat spread throughout her body, and she looked away. Darcy said, “Although, I fear once you see the lanes about the park, I may not see you half as much as I would wish.”
Recollection of being this close to him the night of the Avondale ball took hold of Elizabeth, and she suffered a frisson of nervous anticipation. Reclaiming her glove, she stepped away. “Do you often entertain guests at Pemberley, sir? I mean to say when you are there.”
“Yes, when I return to Pemberley, I very often arrive with a large party. In fact, Charles Bingley and his relations are frequent guests.”
“I no longer have cause to wonder—” Not wishing to speak out of turn, Elizabeth halted her speech.
“Wonder what, Miss Bennet?”
“You might consider me a bit presumptuous when you hear what I have to say.”
“You are free to say whatever you wish to me, Miss Bennet. You will find that I am not easily offended.”
This, she considered sufficient encouragement to speak at liberty. “I now understand Miss Bingley’s fondness for you. Perhaps the lady harbours hopes of being something other than a frequent guest.”
Darcy said nothing. His puzzled expression encouraged her to continue. “Surely you are aware of her feelings for you. One would have to be daft not to.”
“When you couch your opinion in those terms, I am obliged to answer you in the affirmative.”
“You mean to say you are aware of the lady’s feelings?”
“I am; however, she tries too hard, and trying too hard to capture my attention, or any man’s notice for that matter, is the surest way to discourage it. Besides, even a shy Miss Bingley would fail to garner my heart.”
“So, Mr. Darcy, you have given your heart to another?”
“I want to.” He took her hand again, led her to a grassy knoll, and encouraged her to sit with him. He traced his fingers along her chin. “Do you know how amazing you are? I believe you are a goddess sent from the heavens to rob me of my composure and render me incapable of thinking a single thought that does not centre on you.
“Being with you like this seems right as if it is what I was meant to be doing. You must feel it as well.” His deep voice struck all the right cords, rendering Elizabeth speechless amidst the rush of heat flooding her entire being.
“You need not to say a word, for I already know the answer.”
What say you? Does Lord Holland stand a chance?
Now, back to the question of why the particular book at this particular time? A Lasting Love Affair is one of the Breathtaking Romance picks in Kobo’s September 30% Off Sale. Kobo readers can save 30% on select eBooks unlimited times using promo code 30SEP through September 26th. Click here and buy.
Sales are great, but free is even better. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request the audiobook edition of A Lasting Love Affair. Upon confirmation that you have claimed the awarded audiobook, you will receive a download link for the eBook version too. Never tried audiobooks? Now is a great time to get started.
Good while quantities are available, this limited time giveaway offer ends Tuesday, September 27th.