Wow! The past month has flown by – too much travel and other demands. Mrs. Collins’ Lover is currently on preorder on Amazon; it releases on August 10. Since April, I have been sharing little tidbits here and there from this new book. To realize the release date is nearly here is heady and overwhelming. Though this is not my first release, it is my first blog tour and today is my first stop. So, without further ado:
Elizabeth Bennet was raised with a strong belief and faith in God’s plan for her life. She knew He had a plan, even if the details were hidden from her. But, when placed in an untenable situation, she turned instead to the arms of a man to find brief moments of joy. Finally, when able to realize the happiness which was always intended for her, the weight of her guilt over her past sins convinces her of her unworthiness. Only through reconciliation with the Lover of her soul can she truly fulfill the life He planned for her. But first, she must forgive herself in order to find redemption.
Remember: In order to be redeemed, there must be sin. This story is intended for mature audiences.
Trigger Warning: There are incidents of abuse in this story.
As I have shared bits and pieces in the past, including the original first chapter from Mr. Bennet’s point of view, I decided to jump a little ahead today. This scene takes place at the Netherfield ball – at the point in the original where Sir William Lucas interrupted Darcy and Elizabeth’s dance. In this instance, Elizabeth is becoming resigned to becoming Mr. Collins’ bride, but does not hold high expectations for her future happiness.
Mr. Collins had taken up position behind Mr. Darcy and he watched her closely, as though he sought to find something objectionable about her. She realized this was an action she had previously attributed to her current dance partner when he stared in her direction, but his gaze had not been so severe as her cousin’s. She warred with herself, wanting Mr. Collins to turn from her and find his bride elsewhere, but fearing her entire family would suffer for her shortcomings. The trembling from earlier returned, but more violently until Mr. Darcy stepped out of line and grasped her arms.
“Miss Bennet?” He gazed into her countenance. “You are unwell,” he stated firmly and escorted her from the floor.
Before she understood what had occurred, he had drawn her from the ballroom, and they were heading toward the back of the house. She heard other male voices behind them but was unable to comprehend what was being said. A door opened before her and she soon found herself settled on a couch and, a moment later, a glass thrust into her hands.
“Sip it slowly,” Mr. Darcy advised, guiding her hand with the glass toward her mouth.
“I demand to know the meaning of this, sir!” Mr. Collins’ voice was sullen.
“Now, Mr. Collins, it appears Lizzy was simply overcome by the warmth of the ballroom.” Her father sat beside her and took her other hand in his. “Are you better, child?”
She could not find her voice and, instead, simply lowered her eyes to the hand with the glass which now rested in her lap. Her father patted her leg.
“I believe I will take her home,” he announced.
“I will accompany you,” Mr. Collins declared causing Elizabeth to flinch.
“You will remain here and escort my wife and remaining daughters home once the ball ends.” Mr. Bennet’s voice was commanding, more so than Elizabeth remembered hearing in many years. “Go and tell Mrs. Bennet that Elizabeth’s headache has returned, but it is naught to worry over.”
Mr. Collins sputtered, but eventually left the room.
“I will ask a footman to gather your outerwear and have a carriage prepared to take you home.” Mr. Darcy spoke softly to her father and then was gone.
“There, there, Lizzy.” Her father slipped an arm about her shoulders and drew her head to his shoulder. “Sip the sherry and we will be on our way soon.”
When Mr. Darcy returned, he handed her father his coat, but helped her into her pelisse. She quietly thanked him, before taking her father’s arm. Mr. Darcy walked with them to the front hall and out to a waiting carriage. It was far grander than the Bennet equipage, and she wondered if it might be his.
“I thought your driver might have taken your carriage home, so I ordered Bingley’s made ready,” Mr. Darcy explained to her father.
“Thank you, sir.” Mr. Bennet fell silent and they stood awkwardly for a moment. Elizabeth glanced at her father and found him staring at the gentleman, while Mr. Darcy was watching her closely.
Finally, Mr. Darcy bowed over her hand. “I hope the morning finds you much improved, Miss Bennet.”
“I thank you, sir,” she replied in a near whisper as she curtseyed.
Her father helped her into the carriage then climbed in after her and Mr. Darcy closed the door behind them. The coach lurched forward, and Mr. Darcy was out of sight as they made the turn away from the house. Elizabeth met her father’s curious gaze and raised her brow in question.
“Have you any feelings for Mr. Darcy, Lizzy?”
“Mr. Darcy?” she asked nearly laughing. “Feelings? Come, Papa, it has been too long a night for such humour.”
His gaze fell to his hands as he nodded. “You know what must be done. I fear I have been an indolent father and you must pay the price of it.” He reached forward and took her hands in his. “I will insist that you return home once you have given birth to a son, so that he may be raised at Longbourn and learn to love the land as we do.”
Elizabeth slipped her hands from his. “If this is what must be, I have demands of my own.”
“Lizzy, I cannot …”
“They are not so challenging, Father.” She took a deep breath. “Kitty and Lydia must be returned to the nursery. They require a governess or schooling. They are far too young to be out in society.” She sniffed and pulled her handkerchief from her reticule. “Should anything happen to you, Mr. Collins has already stated he will take action to correct them. It would be better they understand what is expected of them now.”
Mr. Bennet nodded, tears glistening in his eyes.
“And Mary must go to London for a time. It will do her well to stay with Aunt and Uncle Gardiner; to see a marriage based on respect and admiration. Perhaps she may be persuaded to set aside Fordyce’s Sermons.” She attempted to smile but was forced to wipe her nose instead. “With so few daughters in society, Mama will be able to economize, which she must do, and the money will be set aside to increase my sisters’ dowries.”
Elizabeth sighed as she looked out the window. “Oh, Jane. She has the most luck of any of us to find affection in marriage. I do not fear for Jane.”
GIVEAWAY!!! I am giving an eBook copy of Mrs. Collins’ Lover to share with those who comment below. The giveaway will end at midnight EDST on Wednesday, August 7. The winners will be announced on August 11. Good Luck!