Announcing the Arrival of My Latest “Baby” ~ The Road to Understanding + Excerpt + Giveaway

Announcing the Arrival of My Latest “Baby” ~ The Road to Understanding + Excerpt + Giveaway

Back in 1984, I went into labor 5 weeks early in the middle of my Theatre/Acting class. That early delivery was the joy of my life, especially as I had lost two previous children.

Over the last weekend, I had another early delivery. This one was two weeks early in the form of a new release, an event often repeated in the publishing business. As we authors think of our books as our “babies,” I will admit I am delighted with the successful delivery of this latest one, but, like my son’s early appearance some 31 years prior, I was not prepared. In my son’s case, I was leaving instructions for my sub as they rolled me out the door on a stretcher. As to the early release of my latest book, I have been scrambling to put promotion materials in place. (I want to thank Sharon Lathan for switching places in the blog rotation so I might bring you news of this release today.) Most authors try to space out their releases, and so I re-released The Pemberley Ball in early April, for The Road to Understanding was to be a Mother’s Day release. However, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

So, permit me to introduce you to my latest “baby.” What is the premise of The Road to Understanding, you may ask? First, it is a Pride and Prejudice vagary set on the American front in the late 1780s. The characters are NOT Darcy and Elizabeth, but you will recognize them, nonetheless. The characters are traveling from the Roanoke, Virginia, to Jonesborough, Tennessee, on The Great Valley Road (i.e., the use of “Road” in the title).

I am not of the persuasion that Austen writes character-driven stories. Do not get me wrong: Austen’s characters are some of the most memorable ever written. However, in my opinion, Austen writes plot-driven stories. Take Pride and Prejudice, for example. Austen’s most popular story has been rewritten in the form of Bridget Jones’s Diary, You’ve Got Mail, Unleashing Mr. Darcy, etc. That is what I have done in The Road to Understanding.

In my tale, we have the customary characters: Charlie Bradford is best friend to Darius Fitzwilliam. They served in the Revolutionary War together. We have the Harris family with three daughters, Jonquil, Eliza, and Margaret. Mr. Norville is the new minister. One of Eliza’s friends is Charlotte MacCaffey. Geoffrey Shannon is the son of the man who betrayed the Fitzwilliam family. Darius has a younger sister named Grace, while Charlie’s sister is Caroline. I have combined the character of Miss King and Lydia into Miss Kimble. That being said, let us have a look at one of the Pride and Prejudice scenes set in 1787 on the American frontier.

This is the “Meryton Assembly” scene from Chapter 2 of The Road to Understanding.

And so on Saturday evening, Darius stood along the wall of the main building in Wythe Court House and watched the Harris ladies and many of the locals he’d encountered on previous journeys to “civilization.” In addition to the farm with its new barn laid out some three miles from the newly minted county seat, the men had constructed a makeshift dance floor from the left over lumber. A wooden floor graced the lawn.

When he and Charlie had arrived, his friend made the proper introductions for the other Harrises. Charlie’s estimation of Miss Jonquil was accurate: The woman held the face of an angel, but Darius preferred the imperfection found in Miss Eliza’s countenance. As to many others enjoying the celebration, he viewed them as too young, mayhap not in years, but certainly in temperament.

“Come, Fitz,” Charlie declared as he saddled up beside Darius, ”you must dance. I dislike seeing you standin’ about in absolute righteousness. You’d be better off claimin’ the attentions of one of the ladies. My sister’s hold on you no longer exists.”

“I am well situated, Charlie. Enjoy the music and the activity. You know I’m not much of a dancer. Even if Miss Bradford were in attendance, I’d be happy to claim my place along the wall. Moreover, I prefer to hold a longer acquaintance with a woman before I pay court.”

Charlie’s frown lines deepened. “Opportunities to take the acquaintance of eligible young women be few, Fitz. We’ll not encounter so many fine lookin’ women in one place any time soon.”

“You’ve danced with the fairest of the brood,” Darius teased.

“Oh, she’s the most beautiful creature I ever beheld,” Charlie pronounced with enthusiasm.

It stung Darius’s pride to view Charlie staring in the direction of where Miss Eliza spoke to her sisters.

“She made no notice of my missin’ hand when I partnered her, simply placed her hand on my stump. No repulsion whatsoever,” Charlie revealed. “As if it didn’t matter.”

“I told you so for the past decade,” Darius reminded his friend.

Charlie grinned widely. “It’s not as if your opinion doesn’t make a squat, but it’s different when a fine lady treats a man with respect.”

At least Miss Eliza had treated Charlie as Darius hoped. “Then you best be at it. The music will start again soon; you don’t want another to claim your prize.”

“Are you certain you’ll not join the set?” Charlie implored. “I mean again to claim Miss Jonni as partner, but there are several other very pleasant girls among the Harrises’ acquaintances.”

“You’ll claim the prettiest girl at the party,” Darius added his encouragement. “How might I compete with your engaging conversation?”

“Miss Eliza has yet to claim a partner for the next tune?” Charlie suggested. “You could do worse.”

Darius’s heart stuttered with the possibility. What would it be to hold the woman’s hand? To claim refreshments with Miss Eliza upon his arm? To escort her into the dark and to steal a kiss? Without considering the ramifications, he turned to look upon Miss Eliza, until, catching her eye, Darius withdrew his own. Before responding to Charlie, he paused to will the desire from his blood.

“The girl’s tolerable, but not to my nature. I’m in no humor to pay attendance upon any woman this evening, especially one that thinks herself some sort of female equal to the men she meets. Less than a week prior, I considered myself engaged to your sister. Enjoy your many partners and their smiles. You waste your time with me.”

Charlie followed Darius’s advice. Unfortunately, when Darius turned toward the refreshment table, he didn’t notice that Miss Eliza and Miss MacCaffey had moved to within hearing distance of his conversation with Charlie. Darius didn’t witness the flush of color, which claimed the lady’s cheeks, nor did he note how her shoulders stiffened with his remark.

“I’m sorry for Mr. Fitzwilliam’s unthinking remark,” Charlotte MacCaffey said in regret.

Eliza swallowed the hurt: She’d never realized how much harm words could cause. “Think nothin’ of it,” she told her newest friend.

Eliza had liked Miss MacCaffey from the moment of their first meeting. The girl was a bit older than Jonni and not of the most handsome features, but Eliza found much to admire. Miss MacCaffey was well read and held astute opinions. Eliza felt as if they’d known each other forever.

“It’s not as if I wish Mr. Fitzwilliam’s approval.”

“I suppose men of his ilk only look to a woman’s station. My father says Mr. Fitzwilliam’s father is quite wealthy–the man owns more land than fifty others combined.”

Eliza’s eyebrow rose in curiosity. “I didn’t realize.” The concept perplexed her. She’d known other wealthy farmers and tradesmen, but none who’d chosen to ignore her as if she were an indentured servant. “And what of Miss Bradford? Wasn’t Mr. Fitzwilliam to marry Mr. Bradford’s sister?”

“Oh, yes, but the lady married another. Rumors say Miss Bradford didn’t wish to live in the wilderness. As to the woman’s brother, Papa says Mr. Bradford be quite wealthy also. Not as much as the younger Mr. Fitzwilliam, but near half. The elder Bradford owned a large mercantile. Supplied much of what the troops required in the war. One of the fortunate ones. Got paid regular for his efforts.”

“A person would never know the man wealthy,” Eliza remarked as she studied her sister Jonni in close conversation with Bradford. For a moment, she wondered if Jonquil held any knowledge of Mr. Bradford’s being more than another frontiersman, but Eliza quickly rejected the idea. Jonni wasn’t the type to practice feminine deceptions. “Mr. Fitzwilliam may hold double the income of his friend, but the man isn’t so well worth listening to as be Mr. Bradford. Fortune isn’t a man’s only redeeming quality.”

Back Cover:
DARIUS FITZWILLIAM’s life is planned down to who he will marry and where he will live, but life has a way of saying, “You don’t get to choose.” When his marriage to his long-time betrothed Caroline Brad
ford falls through, Darius is forced to take a step back and to look upon a woman who enflames his blood with desire, but also engenders disbelief. Eliza Harris is everything that Darius never realized he wanted.

ELIZA HARRIS is accustomed to doing as she pleases. Yet, despite being infuriated by his authoritative manner, when she meets the staunchly disciplined Captain Fitzwilliam, she wishes for more. She instinctively knows he is “home,” but Eliza possesses no skills in achieving her aspirations.

Plagued with misunderstandings, manipulations, and peril upon the Great Valley Road between eastern Virginia and western Tennessee in the years following the Revolutionary War, Darius and Eliza claim a strong allegiance before love finds its way into their hearts.

This is a faith-based tale based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

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67 Responses to Announcing the Arrival of My Latest “Baby” ~ The Road to Understanding + Excerpt + Giveaway

  1. Hallo, Hallo Ms Jeffers,

    I’m thankfully returning to reading #AustenAuthors more regularly, once more! 🙂 I have been hovering over the blog today – as I came back via the Cover Reveal for #HopeForMrDarcy and the joy of creating random hashtags w/ s/o (shout-outs) via the twitterverse! 🙂 Love finding ways to interact with Classic Lit & after canon readers – so it was right up my alley! lol I wanted to take a look-see at what else was recently revealled on here, thus finding this lovely post of yours!

    I read across genres but I also read both Mainstream & INSPY markets – to me each are the half of a whole inasmuch as modern and classical literature are equally wholly worthwhile to indulge in reading! 🙂 When I caught sight of this being referenced as an INSPY spin on Pride, I was swoony with happiness because I discovered Ms Jamison’s Sense via the blog tour when it first debuted! However which way an author is inspired to tell a story whilst being true to the canon and taking their own liberties outside it to where I can still gather a proper sense of the original even if it’s re-interpreted, then odds are in good favour I’ll take a liking to the revelation. I do have the tendency of being a traditionalist – as I blogged about earlier this morning on my poetry review for an after canon interpretive pieces about Jane & Bertha (via Jane Eyre ) wherein I honestly cross-referenced my preferences as a Janeite!

    You’ve broached a good point – Austen was infamous for convicting plots wholly true to their settings and the eccentricities of life inside their environs. Her characters etched out the portrait to centre our hearts, but I too, can admit, it’s the whole of the vision that resonates long after you’ve put a book of hers down. Mind you, I’ve only thus far read Pride and Prejudice whilst I’ve read a few after canon sequels and/or re-tellings – as you said, not the way I planned it to happen but life intervenes! lol I could curl inside her world – it was so very lit with a joy of place and time – she gives you a sensory experience whilst owning the time of the generation from whence it was penned. To own it in such a way as to make it remit itself in different tangents of threads stemming out of it’s legacy is why it’s so very plausible to have continue to be re-spun and re-vitalised in a new shape and form. *across mediums

    I must admit – having this set on the frontier but also, with new characters whose composites were once known is a feat I’d enjoy reading! I’m going to be adding this to my TBR as I liked the premise – I saved the excerpt for lateron; recovering from migraines these past two months, I’m more cautious of how much I am reading on screens! 🙁 Traditional reader – you see, no ebooks for me, but short excerpts are generally something I love reading… so sad. Thanks for giving me such a lovely glimpse inside this story by what you’ve said about it!!

      • Thank you, Ms Jeffers.

        I haven’t liked seeing the strength of my migraines returning – which is why I am taking steps to forestall their continued distress in my life. We can only hope each day forward is a better tomorrow – I have dearly missed you guys, and am blessed I can return now to engage with you.

        One day I’d love to say my chronic migraines are gone for good; til then, I appreciated your concern and note of kindness.

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