Renata and I have a new book out, The Long Road to Longbourn, as you may or may not have heard. This one took us longer to write than usual, which means I could make a pun… but I don’t need to. We were slow partially because The Long Road to Longbourn is a longer novel than we often write (Courting Elizabeth is still our longest), partly because I got a puppy (Wow is he a lot more work than I realized!), but mostly because Renata and I both love this story and we went over and over it to make sure all the little details line up. Not that we don’t always do that, but a great deal of this book takes place away from most of the normal parlors and country lanes we write about, so many of the details were new to us both.
For example, we went back and forth about which way Elizabeth turned to enter the cabin mentioned in the excerpt below… until finally realizing we were thinking of two different ship layouts, one with the cabins in the bow and one with them in the stern. Hence, we were both correct and quite backwards from one another.
But enough on the details about the details. The important point is, we’re very excited to present to you The Long Road to Longbourn! Below you will find the blurb (I need to find a nicer sounding word than ‘blurb’), a brief introduction to this excerpt by Renata, and the excerpt.
Oh! and below that, our cover video and the… The Giveaway!
Fitzwilliam Darcy has nearly everything a gentleman could want. Looks, wealth, connections. He lacks but one aspect of a perfect life, a bride. He’s chosen Miss Elizabeth Bennet to fill the role but when he proposes, to his utmost chagrin, she refuses him in no uncertain terms. His heart stomped on by a country miss who is by no societal measure his equal, he can’t imagine a worse moment.
Elizabeth Bennet does not care for Mr. Darcy and his highhanded, supercilious ways and wants nothing more to do with him. She hopes, in view of her vehement refusal of his proposal, to never set eyes on him again. After all, a man with Mr. Darcy’s pride can hardly be expected to bear her company after the strong words she’s issued.
Fate, however, has more plans for Elizabeth and Darcy. The moment before they mean to separate forever, both are abducted and whisked away on a harrowing journey. To save themselves and return home, they must band together to surmount perils, overcome obstacles and decide whom to trust. Join Darcy and Elizabeth on their journey as they take the long road back to Longbourn… and to love.
Renata McMann’s Introduction
Below is an excerpt from The Long Road to Longbourn with a brief explanation of what comes before it. Although it contains one major spoiler, several reviews have mentioned it, and this comes only 15% of the way into the book.
One of the villains heard just enough of the Hunsford proposal to believe Darcy and Elizabeth are engaged. While Elizabeth is angrily rejecting Darcy, they are kidnapped, tied up, and confined together in a hidden compartment in a wagon. After several hours, the kidnappers remove the cover of the compartment.
Elizabeth shuddered and let herself be hauled up and out of the hole. She darted her gaze about, seeking a means of escape. A rocky beach stretched to either side of the wagon. There were only the two men on the wagon bed with her and Mr. Darcy. Another trudged up the beach toward them. She could make out a rowboat just above the surf behind him and a ship of some sort in the moonlit bay. A fourth man, one she recognized as Jeb from the parsonage, was tying Mr. Darcy’s horse to the back of the wagon.
The man who’d hauled Elizabeth out of the sunken hold turned and jumped down, then held out both hands to her, as if he might catch her. Not hiding her disdain, Elizabeth marched to the side and jumped down as far from him as she could. She nearly twisted an ankle when she landed in the rocks, her bound hands making it difficult to balance, but managed not to.
The man eyed her up and down. “Come on, missy, and don’t get any brave thoughts. The same goes for you, you know. Behave and your lover there will get through this with all his bits and pieces attached, though I hear he’s rich enough, you shouldn’t mind if we cut off a finger or two.”
Elizabeth glared at the man, angled her chin in the air and marched toward the rowboat. She hoped her bravado hid her fear. Men like these thrived off inspiring that emotion.
The rocks in the bay were slippery, forcing a slow pace, but she didn’t ask for assistance. Her body ached from her time in the hidden compartment. She was likely bruised head to toe from jostling on the hard wooden planks but she would evidence no weakness before these men.
As she neared the rowboat, rumbling waves rushed up the beach toward her. She looked out over the dark water and swallowed a hard knot of fear. To take her mind off the approaching sea, she mulled over what the men had said. She nearly issued a bitter laugh when she realized they thought she and Mr. Darcy had an understanding.
Was that why they’d taken her? After all, they could have waited until Mr. Darcy stepped outside if they wanted only him, which they must. Elizabeth’s family didn’t have enough money to make her worth kidnapping.
Or had the man called Mr. Darcy her lover simply to mock her? Could that be the case when it seemed she was there to ensure Mr. Darcy’s good behavior? That would require quite the assumption about his personality, but it was one she willingly made, so their abductors may have as well. Despite Mr. Darcy’s self-centered, egotistical nature, his highhandedness and snobbery, Elizabeth had no fear he would engage in behavior that would cause her harm.
Then again, in denying her friend Mr. Wickham the living he’d been promised, Mr. Darcy had harmed him. He’d harmed Elizabeth’s sister Jane as well. Jane suffered a broken heart thanks to Mr. Darcy’s manipulation of Mr. Bingley. It was unforgivably cruel of Mr. Darcy to press Mr. Bingley to leave Jane’s side and not return. So perhaps her trust was misplaced.
She shook her head, gaze on the ever-nearing shoreline. Despite those things, and Elizabeth’s hearty rejection of his proposal, she couldn’t conjure worry that Mr. Darcy would let her be harmed were it in his power to prevent it.
Nor would she inflict harm on him. Although she never wished to look on Mr. Darcy again after his treatment of Jane and Mr. Wickham, and his insulting proposal, she wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize his fingers, toes, or any other part of him. That in mind, she clamped an iron will about her fear of the ocean and dutifully climbed into the rowboat, soaking the bottom third of her skirt in the process. The man pushed the little boat out and climbed in with her. The craft, hardly large enough for two, dipped low. Waves knocked against the sides as her abductor took up the oars, further soaking her dress.
While the kidnapper rowed, Elizabeth scanned the shore, heart pounding in her chest. She saw no lights at all. Wherever they were, it was remote. Even if she wished to risk reprisal on Mr. Darcy, there was no reason to scream.
In less time than she expected, they reached the side of the larger vessel. Her abductor pulled in the oars and grabbed a dangling rope. He used it to tie them to the base of a ladder secured to the ship’s side, then turned back to Elizabeth.
“I’m going to untie your hands, so you can climb up,” he said. “Don’t forget, I have a pistol and I’ll be right behind you. You’ve nowhere to go, missy.”
Elizabeth nodded and held out her hands. “You don’t have to do this,” she said as the man worked at her bonds. “Mr. Darcy is a man of honor. If you agree on a price with him and let us go, he will pay you.” She had no idea of the truth of her statement and didn’t care. She suspected Mr. Darcy very well might pay, right before he had them arrested.
The man shook his head. “You let us take care of who makes what deals, missy.” He pulled the rope from her wrists and hands. “Up you go.”
Praying she didn’t tip the boat, for she was sure they were out in waters over her head, Elizabeth stood. The little craft trembled beneath her, each movement amplified. She turned with care and latched onto the ladder. Rowboat and legs shaking, she half fell, half jumped onto the bottom rung.
The man let out a curse. She dared a look over her shoulder to find his arms splayed as he worked to stabilize the small craft before he spilled out. He shot her a glare. Each step hindered by her heavy wet skirts and by having to cling to the ladder with both hands, Elizabeth made her way up. At the top, she grabbed the side of a break in the railing and pulled herself up the final steps.
When she finally spilled over the edge onto the deck, her abductor was right behind her. Belatedly, she wished she’d kicked him into the water, though all he would have had to do was grab her foot and both would tumble down. He wrapped a hand around her upper arm and marched her to a set of narrow steps and down. Hardly enough moonlight spilled into the short hall for her to make out the doors, one to each side and one in front of her face.
One of the doors had been rehung and had a bar across it, the shabby but effective construction suggesting the outward swing of the door and restraint were new additions. The man lifted the bar, yanked the door open and shoved her into complete darkness. She stumbled, a hand before her face, but didn’t run into anything. Behind her, she heard the bar drop back into place.
Heart pounding, Elizabeth stood for what seemed like an eternity. She took back her earlier wish never to see Mr. Darcy again. Better the reassurance of his strong, if antagonistic, presence than to be locked away alone in the dark. He’d likely order her about, but he’d know what best to do and would keep her safe if he could.
Taking deep breaths, she slowly gathered in her fear. She bundled that debilitating emotion into a tight knot and shoved it down. Out of her head, out of her throat, away from her thudding heart and deep into her gut. It rested there like a lump of raw clay, but she managed to get the trembling in her limbs under control.
The ship rocked beneath her, creaking in time with the waves. Surf pounded the beach, still audible. She took a step backward, then another, until she reached the door. She felt around it, tried to press it open, but to no avail. Ignoring the surge of panic that caused, for she hadn’t expected it to open, she felt along the wall the door was set in until she reached a corner, then slowly along that wall.
She found nothing but pegs, likely for hanging clothing. She reached the outer hull, fingers skimming over rough wood. There, she encountered a shutter. Hope surged in her. She fumbled to find the latch and yank the slatted wood open.
Moonlight streamed in, illuminating a window too narrow for her to fit through, even if she could swim. Cold air seeped in as well, icy and damp. Elizabeth stuck her head out the window but there was little to see but a long, choppy streak of moonlight knifing across the water toward her and the moon itself, high above and unfeeling.
On the other side of the cabin, the bar slid free. She whirled, taking in shadow-filled bunk beds built into the wall she had yet to explore, and watched the door swing open. Mr. Darcy stumbled in, as if pushed. The line of moonlight in which she stood stretched across the floor to illuminate his boots and offered enough light for her to read the relief on his face when he saw her. Relief surged through her as well, not to be alone. She resisted the urge to go to him and throw her arms about him.
“Miss Bennet.” He rubbed at his wrists as he crossed the small space to stand before her. “I trust they kept their word and you remain unharmed?”
“I am as well as can be expected,” Elizabeth managed in even tones. “And you, Mr. Darcy?” Her eyes dropped toward his wrists. “Did they hurt you?” She held out a hand.
He grimaced and proffered wrists that looked raw even by moonlight. “My own doing, I’m afraid. I worked at my bonds the entire journey here, to no avail.”
“I applaud your determination,” she said.
Mr. Darcy shook his head. “Folly, I suppose,” he said, voice pitched low. “The ropes were hardly loosened by the time they untied me to climb the ladder.”
“You always suffer from your own stubbornness, Darcy,” a familiar voice said.
Elizabeth whirled toward the bunks. Booted feet swung from the shadows of the lower one and into the moonlight as a form sat up. A torso followed. The man ducked slightly to avoid hitting the upper bunk and slid to the edge of the lower.
“Mr. Wickham,” she gasped. Anger and joy wared in her. A familiar, amiable face was nothing short of a boon, but he’d been there the whole time. All but spying on her. He must have recognized her, though she was sure she looked a sight.
“Miss Bennet.” Mr. Wickham nodded toward her. “Darcy.”
“Wickham.” Mr. Darcy acknowledged, tone colder than the sea air streaming in through the open shutter. “Is this your doing?”
To celebrate The Long Road to Longbourn, we’re giving away two kindle copies!* To be entered, just comment below 🙂
What do you think? Wickham appears to be imprisoned in the cabin, yet is he somehow to blame?
Giveaway runs from today until Thursday, September 6th. Winners will be announced on Sunday, September 9th.
*If you’ve already bought the book, we can give you an Amazon credit of $2.99 which we request you use for one of our other books, a book by another Austen Author, or our next book, which is not yet titled. Our working title is “Climbing” because Elizabeth climbs out a window to avoid being compromised by Darcy. We expect “Climbing” to come out before the end of the year.
Cover Video for The Long Road to Longbourn