For Want of a Living (and a Giveaway)

For Want of a Living (and a Giveaway)

Warning: This post contains several excerpts which will make it a bit of a long read. However, if you persevere and make it to the end, there is an opportunity to be entered in a draw for an ebook copy of the Willow Hall series.

“My excellent father died about five years ago; and his attachment to Mr. Wickham was to the last so steady, that in his will he particularly recommended it to me, to promote his advancement in the best manner that his profession might allow—and if he took orders, desired that a valuable family living might be his as soon as it became vacant…

…I knew that Mr. Wickham ought not to be a clergyman; the business was therefore soon settled—he resigned all claim to assistance in the church, were it possible that he could ever be in a situation to receive it, and accepted in return three thousand pounds…

…For about three years I heard little of him; but on the decease of the incumbent of the living which had been designed for him, he applied to me again by letter for the presentation. His circumstances, he assured me, and I had no difficulty in believing it, were exceedingly bad. He had found the law a most unprofitable study, and was now absolutely resolved on being ordained, if I would present him to the living in question—of which he trusted there could be little doubt, as he was well assured that I had no other person to provide for, and I could not have forgotten my revered father’s intentions. You will hardly blame me for refusing to comply with this entreaty, or for resisting every repetition to it. His resentment was…”

Jane Austen. Pride & Prejudice

Did you know? And Then Love was the second story I posted as a Thursday’s Three Hundred story on my blog. I started posting Thursday stories sometime in the fall of 2015! And I’m still posting stories weekly on my blog.

This is where Willow Hall begins. Right here, where Wickham comes back to Darcy in want of a living — the one he once refused.

However, the living had already been given to another, a friend of Darcy’s named Philip Dobney.

As you will notice from the excerpt below, I have made a change here from what Darcy’s letter said. The incumbent of the living, Mr. Harker, is not deceased but very much alive. He is, however, getting advanced in years and has lost most of his sight. Therefore, he has stepped aside, allowing for Philip to be given the living.

Darcy also put his cup aside. “I have met many like him.” He turned the handle of the cup away from himself and back again. There was no need for the motion other than to give his hand something to do and his eyes something on which to focus other than those looking at him now. There was a topic he knew he must broach and of which both Mr. Harker and Mr. Dobney needed to be aware. However, the subject was not one that was easily canvassed. “I was visited by such a one just yesterday.”

“Wickham?” asked Philip softly. In the whole of their acquaintance, there were few who caused Darcy to fidget with uneasiness as he was now. George Wickham was very adept at making Darcy uneasy. He was known for his purposeful gibes at Darcy, as well as his playing at causing trouble for him. How Darcy had managed to tolerate the young fool for as long as he had ? even if it was merely for the sake of his father ? had always astounded Philip.

“Did he ask about the living?” There was no doubt in Philip’s mind as to what that meeting had been about. Philip knew the details of Darcy’s father’s will and the arrangement that had been made with Wickham when he had declined the living in favour of a monetary settlement, for Darcy had discussed them with Philip before allowing him to accept the living as his own. There was an understandable uneasiness even then in Darcy’s manners. They both knew that Wickham would one day challenge the arrangement and plead how the elder Mr. Darcy’s will had not been kept.

“He did, and I refused to hear of it, of course.” Darcy looked out the window. “He claims his circumstances are dire, and I have no doubt they are.”

“He is like my uncle,” said Lucy, rising to gather the cups. Her hands often felt the need to be busy when her mind was disquieted. “He will apply to you again and again. And then, when he is unsuccessful, he will look for another method of gaining what he wants.” Her voice grew more panicked with each successive word, and her hands trembled, causing the cups to clatter.

Phillip, who was near her, reached out, steadied them, and then took them from her. She was not one to be easily rattled. She had listed that trait as one of her qualifications for marrying him, and so her state of agitation spoke to him of some awful truth that lay hidden.

Aunt Tess, who had lived with and helped care for Lucy for years, stood and wrapped an arm around her niece’s shoulders. “He may be like your uncle, but he is not your uncle. We will be well. You shall marry Mr. Dobney, and we shall be well.” She guided Lucy back to the settee they had been sharing. Taking her seat, she took Lucy’s hand in both of hers. “It is time we spoke of it,” she said gently to Lucy, who swallowed and nodded her consent.

And here is where the set up for the whole Willow Hall series begins — with Lucy’s need to be protected.

Some men are pure evil. Derbyshire has known at least three such men, and Lucy’s uncle, though not the worst of the three, is one of them. The tale Lucy and her aunt tell is of abuse and manipulation. This story and how Wickham is involved with what follows is important to the understanding of the series.

When book one concludes, Darcy is set to return to London, but he goes bearing the following news which Philip shares with him:

“You must speak to my father. Some school chum of his has an estate in Hertfordshire. He is looking to let it come fall. As I understand it, he wishes to take up a place in town and spend time visiting his daughter and her husband and does not wish to see Netherfield sit vacant.”

This book ends with some events still unresolved. That was purposefully done as those events are the basis for the plot of book 3.

And so between books one and two, Pride and Prejudice happens — or most of it happens. Book two, The Tenant’s Guest, will pick up the plot from canon and alter it here:

“Have you had good news?” Cecily Abbot, a lady of about seven and twenty, delighted in having her home filled with people, especially when those people were young ladies she counted as dear friends and relations. She had been anxiously awaiting Elizabeth’s reading of the missive. She had speculated about its contents several times since they had left Willow Hall. She was most pleased to have been late in departing, due to an issue with one of her children, for if they had left exactly as they had planned, Elizabeth would not have received the letter until she returned. And such a letter could not be held until later, for it must contain good news.

Elizabeth held out the letter to Cecily. “Yes, it is very good news. Jane shall be travelling with my aunt and uncle.” Elizabeth could not help how large her smile grew at declaring such news. It had been lovely of her aunt and uncle to allow her to travel ahead of them when their plans had been altered due to the business at Mr. Gardiner’s warehouse increasing and needing his attentions, but she truly did miss Jane.

Mrs. Abbot clapped her hands and accepted the letter, unfolding it to see the good news with her own eyes. “So a week this Thursday?” There was no mistaking the excitement in her voice. “We shall both have our dearest older sisters to keep us company.”

That’s right. Mr. and Mrs. Abbot, who are the tenants at Willow Hall, are Elizabeth’s relations for Mrs. Abbot and Mrs. Gardiner are sisters. And Darcy is just returning to Derbyshire ahead of his friends and one of the first things he does is check on his tenants at Willow Hall where he finds a delightful surprise named Elizabeth.

There will be many other changes along the way as several couples find their happily ever afters before the close of the series.

I attempted to make the sister relationship real in this book, which means it is not always nice and sweet. At one point, when my older sister was reading this book, she said to me, “You were thinking of __ here, weren’t you?” I was, and that’s how I knew that I might just have succeeded in creating a realistic sort of sister relationship.

One of those changes will be this young lady, the heroine of book three, who shows up unexpectedly at Willow Hall and in the company of a particular lieutenant:

“Lydia, do be serious,” Elizabeth chided before anyone else could say a word.

“I can replace it.” Ignoring her sister, Lydia continued with her explanation. Of course, Elizabeth would not understand. Elizabeth never did anything foolish enough to be punished by their father. In fact, he had never once called Elizabeth dull or silly. No, to their father, Elizabeth was quick and clever. “I will go without most of my pin money, and I am not without skills. I could take in some sewing.”

Lydia saw the look of disbelief on Elizabeth’s face and could not ignore the stinging of her sister’s words any longer. “Mr. Wickham is not what you think, Lizzy. If you knew what he was like, you would not wish him upon me. I was not taken in by him as you were.” She smiled inwardly at the stricken look on Elizabeth’s face. “I may look like I am not paying attention at times, but I assure you, I am listening. I have heard plenty of tales about Mr. Wickham.”

“Then why did you choose him to accompany you?” demanded Elizabeth.

Lydia sighed. “Because he knows where Derbyshire is, and he is weak enough to be led. I should think you would be able to piece that together.” She knew there was a cutting edge to her voice, but she did not care. Lizzy was Papa’s favourite. “I am not so stupid as you think.”

You’ll note Lydia is jealous of her sister, which can happen when one daughter is shown preference over another especially if the non-preferred daughter longs for the attention of the parent showering attention on her sister. This Lydia is not who anyone expects her to be. She is a unique mixture of the astute and the absurd. She is also a young lady looking for acceptance and a place where she can be nurtured completely and can shine as she ought. (And Lydia will shine in her very Lydia-like fashion.)

Another familiar character who will show himself to be not at all what you expect him to be is the hero of book four:

“Don’t mistake kindness for weakness” and “If you push me, it ain’t gonna be nice” are lyrics from one of the songs on a Thousand Foot Krutch album my sons used to listen to on the way to school. I often think of these lyrics in relation to Jane and Bingley. Yes, they are amiable and kind characters, but is that all they are? I think not, and the Bingley in this story demonstrates that.

“That is a serious look you are wearing,” said Richard as he slipped into the library at Pemberley. “Letter of business or pleasure?”

“Business,” said Bingley with a sigh. “An agreement has been breached, and I am uncertain of the best method for rectifying the situation.”

Richard settled into a large leather chair and tossed one leg over the other. “What are your options?”

Bingley shrugged and folded the paper without sealing it. “Write to an associate and have him deal with the issue or go see it done myself.”

Richard pondered this information for a while. “Is it a serious breach?”

Bingley nodded. “Damaging,” he blew out a breath, “but the remedy is not without significant risk either.”

The comment caused Richard to raise a brow and look eagerly at Bingley. “Is this remedy something that would fall outside of the law.”

Unwilling to admit such a thing, Bingley tilted his head and gave a half shrug.

Richard smiled. “I had not thought you capable of such.” There was a note of pride in the colonel’s voice.

Ah, Bingley! (Sigh.) Not many will expect the ferocity with which such an amiable fellow is willing to fight for those he holds dear. It is Bingley who will bring about the final resolution involving the last two of the evil men I mentioned earlier.

I will warn you here — the story told about one of those evil men involves the sexual assault of a family member. The incident is not described in great detail, but it could still be enough to cause discomfort for some readers, which is why I am mentioning it here. Rest assured, evil gets its just punishment in this series. But even so, scars and consequences remain.

And there you have it —

By purchasing Willow Hall, Darcy thought he was helping Lucy escape her uncle, which he was. However, he ended up buying so much more, for with Willow Hall came a place where he would find a second chance at love, a place where Lydia could finally find herself, as well as the improvement she needed, and a place where Bingley could fight to get back what he had lost when he followed the advice of his friend. Several happily ever afters will happen in Derbyshire. Each couple will take a different path to their happiness, but one thing will remain true through it all —

At Willow Hall, love might just surprise you.

~*~*~

All of the Willow Hall books have had their covers updated. Therefore, they might look different on your device (at least, until the device syncs with any changes).

Willow Hall is now available for a limited time to read with your Kindle Unlimited subscription, or it can be purchased in the Kindle store.

You can always know which of my books are in Kindle Unlimited by visiting the “Books Currently in Kindle Unlimited” page on my blog. (That’s a rather self-explanatory page name, isn’t it? LOL). An easy short link to find this page is bit.ly/KUreads

To mark the beginning of Willow Hall’s KU enrollment period, I am giving away one ebook copy of the Willow Hall box set.

To enter the contest, just leave a comment below.

Contest closes September 10, 2019, at 11:59 PM Eastern.

Winner will be announced on September 15, 2019.

~*~*~

Leenie B Books
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43 Responses to For Want of a Living (and a Giveaway)

  1. Thank you for bringing this Willow Hall series to my attention, Leenie. I adore the beautiful updated covers but I do still love the floral covers on the old versions too. The excerpts are excellent way to introduce me to the characters that inhabit the series. I think there is a Book 5 but why isn’t it in the box set?

    • Yes, there is a sequel to the series — so there is a fifth book, but it is not technically a book five. (It has to be numbered as book 5 on Amazon in order for it to show up on the series page so that people can find it more easily.)

      It is an extra, tangential story and not needed for the series story arc as the four books in the box set complete all the events at Willow Hall (The series story arc begins with events being set in motion in book one when Wickham and Lucy’s uncle arrive in Derbyshire and attempt to get the living from Philip, and it ends with book four when Bingley takes care of Wickham and peace is restored to Derbyshire.).

      The events in the sequel stem from what happens at Willow Hall but occur elsewhere. Caroline’s part in the Willow Hall series story arc was complete when she gets banished. The story of what happens to her after that is a separate story arc. That is one reason why the story is not included in the box set.

      The other reason is that I give the sequel, Better than She Deserved, away as a welcome gift to anyone who signs up for my mailing list. I just happen to also offer it for sale because I am certain I am not the only person who is not a mailing list sort of person. (There are books I would love to read, but they are only available to newsletter subscribers and so, I will never read them, which is sad.)

      I’m happy to hear you like the new covers and enjoyed the excerpts 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing this great giveaway as well as these excerpts. I haven’t read any of this series yet but I am sure it is already on my TBR List, if not my official Goodreads one it has been on my mental TBR List because the series name is familiar to me. I look forward to reading this series in the future since I have loved all the books of yours that I have read so far.

    • I’m so happy you enjoyed the excerpts, and I hope you don’t have to wait to long to move the series from TBR to read. ? Thank you for reading my stories. I’m glad you have enjoyed them.

  3. Wow such a great series with diferent characters and stories. Very eager to read this book. Thank Leenie for excerpts, a brief look on each book. Thank oyu also for the chance to win.

    • You’re welcome! I”m glad you enjoyed the little glimpses of the story in this post, and I hope you will get a chance to read the series. 🙂 Good luck in the draw.

  4. I just finished the Willow Hall Erie’s on KU. I loved it, especially how you wrote Lydia and Bingley. What a refreshing change. Well done!

  5. I loved reading these excerpts again since I own the series. Bingley is truly surprising and gives Caroline a true setdown. Anyone who hasn’t read the series is in for a pleasant surprise.

  6. I have this series already in my Library, so do not need to win it, but want to recommend it to anyone who enjoys P&P fan fiction. It is creative and different in the right way and adds some new twists to our favorite characters, plus some adorable non-canon characters who are worthy of Jane Austen. The writing and editing are excellent, in addition to lovely plotting and adventuresome events.

  7. Thank you for your amazing imagination and writing skills. I am going to put your series in my tbr column!!!

  8. I have long been wanting to read the Willow Hall series, and I do love to collect JAFF books! Loved all the excerpts, they make me want to read more.

  9. I like the way this series seems to weave in and out of P&P, with both new and original characters and plot lines. And book bundles are always handy! ? Thanks for the chance at the giveaway.

  10. Have all of your Willow Hall books in my Kindle but having them bundled makes reading much easier. Love it when authors bundle books in a series together!I
    Thank you.

      • Don’t you just love it when technology decides to ‘fix’ things for us. 🙂 I was quite certain you were not questioning my name. LOL

        You’re welcome, and I have to admit that leaving Willow Hall was not easily done. I really did want to stay there with these characters.

    • I’m so glad you liked the excerpts. Well, I think this Lydia is still Lydia-esque but instead of focusing on her negatives, I’ve attempted to dig beneath those and figure out why she is as she is. And doing so brought me to her jealousy of her sisters and her desire for her father’s attention, as well as to the intelligence that lies behind her scheming. Then I just had to find the right people to embrace this somewhat illogical (she has been taught by her mother after all) young woman who has so much untapped potential that is being overlooked by her family. I really fell in love with this Lydia. I hope you get a chance to meet her.

    • Well, to quote the colonel from the end of the book:

      “Bingley needs no help from me,” said Richard with a wink. “A fierceness lies behind that pleasant facade.”

      However, these two do strike up a good friendship and work together — sometimes with success — on a few projects 🙂 They really could get into a lot of interesting situations if they were indulge their adventure seeking sides as a team, which I think they realize from what they say in this little exchange:

      He (Richard) clapped Bingley on the shoulder. “I would gladly do so again with you if needed.”

      Bingley nodded his thanks but whispered as the door to Willow Hall opened, revealing Darcy coming to greet them, “Just do not tell Darcy that.”

      Richard chuckled. “Have no fear, my friend. That is one lecture I do not wish to hear.”

    • I’m happy to hear you enjoyed reading these excerpts. This series was fun to write. It was the first series I started, though it was not the first one I finished. (That would be the Choices series, I think). Bingley in this series is, so far, my favourite Bingley.

    • You’re welcome, Kella. I’m happy to know you enjoyed these little peeks. I do enjoy sharing them — although it takes a while to get the excerpts selected as i often get caught up reading. LOL

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