I am pleased to announce the release of the audiobook for Darcy vs. Bennet, the story of Elizabeth and Darcy separated by a longstanding feud between their families. I was fortunate enough to have Stevie Zimmerman narrate the audiobook and she does a wonderful job with the characters’ voices! Below is an excerpt from Darcy vs. Bennet. It takes place after Elizabeth and Darcy have met at a masquerade ball where he did not realize she was the daughter of a man his father had wronged long ago. Now they are encountering each other again at the Meryton assembly.
Elizabeth Bennet is drawn to a handsome, mysterious man she meets at a masquerade ball. However, she gives up all hope for a future with him when she learns he is the son of George Darcy, the man who ruined her father’s life. Despite her father’s demand that she avoid the younger Darcy, when he appears in Hertfordshire Elizabeth cannot stop thinking about him, or seeking him out, or welcoming his kisses….
Fitzwilliam Darcy has struggled to carve out a life independent from his father’s vindictive temperament and domineering ways, although the elder Darcy still controls the purse strings. After meeting Elizabeth Bennet, Darcy cannot imagine marrying anyone else, even though his father despises her family. More than anything he wants to make her his wife, but doing so would mean sacrificing everything else….
Darcy simply nodded, wearily surrendering to Bingley’s good mood. He followed Bingley across the room to where his “angel” was conversing with a dark-haired sister. “May I introduce Miss Jane Bennet and Miss Elizabeth Bennet?”
Jane Bennet smiled warmly at Darcy as she curtsied. “How do you do?” Her sister had her back to them and her head down longer than was strictly polite, but slowly she turned to face them.
At first Darcy could not believe what he saw. Had he finally fallen into madness? Or perhaps this entire evening had been a long, involved dream. Perhaps he was mistaken, as he had been so many times when glimpsing dark curls and blue eyes. He blinked. No, every detail fit his memory precisely, and her name was Elizabeth. It was her.
“Elizabeth.” Darcy breathed out. His eyes feasted on the sight he had desired for so long—her vibrant blue gaze, full lips, and glossy dark curls.
“You have met before?” Bingley asked.
Her eyes were wide and stricken, and she seemed poised for flight, like a rabbit facing a predator. “No!” Elizabeth said emphatically. “I do not believe we have met before. Perhaps I resemble someone else you know?”
Someone else who happens to be named Elizabeth?
But that rational objection was swallowed by the plummeting sense of dread in his stomach. He had no doubt she recognized him and was equally sure she was unhappy to see him. All of Darcy’s visions of a happy reunion shattered in an instant. Why was she denying their previous acquaintance? Had she not enjoyed their evening together? All this time had she dreaded the thought of seeing him again?
But it did not matter. He would give her what she wanted, no matter the reason.
He ran a shaky hand over his face. “No. I was mistaken. My deepest apologies.” He took her gloved hand and kissed the back, painfully reminded of the last time he had done so. He murmured, “I pray you, forgive my error.”
Bingley gaped; belatedly, Darcy realized such gallantry was out of character after he had ignored the better part of the Meryton Assembly. Miss Bennet appeared bemused while Elizabeth …Elizabeth’s face could have been carved from stone. Was she horrified at his presumption? Disgusted by his touch?
Perhaps he should leave. Darcy stumbled back a step. Bingley’s eyes darted from Darcy to Elizabeth and back. He cleared his throat. “Er…perhaps I should introduce you to the rest of the Bennet family.”
Darcy nodded, tearing his gaze from Elizabeth and allowing Bingley to guide him. The family they approached was conducting an animated discussion, which ceased the moment they appeared.
They were unexceptional. A plain man in his late fifties and his frowsy wife. Two girls who were pretty, albeit giggly, but much too young to be out at such an event and an older, sour-faced daughter.
Bingley gestured expansively. “May I introduce Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Bennet? And their daughters Miss Lydia Bennet, Miss Mary Bennet, and Miss Catherine Bennet. This is Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.”
Darcy had provoked many reactions when introduced to strangers, but never had he provoked such expressions from complete strangers. The two younger girls regarded him with fright as if he were about to demand their purses at knifepoint while the third appeared to smell something rotten. Mrs. Bennet drew herself up to her full height as if she was about to deliver a tirade. Mr. Bennet’s face was red with…rage? But it made no sense. Darcy had never met the man; how could he be enraged? It seemed to be his fate to elicit strange reactions from the entire Bennet family; only the eldest daughter had regarded him with common and indifferent courtesy.
No. I must be misinterpreting their behavior because of my encounter with Elizabeth. He made a brief bow, which the girls returned with curtsies. Then he extended a hand to Mr. Bennet, who regarded it as if Darcy were offering a poisonous snake. After a moment, Darcy let his hand drop. Bingley was wringing his hands by now.
“Pleased to make your acquaintance,” he said to Mr. Bennet.
“The pleasure is all yours,” Mr. Bennet responded coldly.
Why was he receiving such a frigid reception from complete strangers? Hastily, he searched his memory for an encounter with the Bennet family. Finally, he made the connection. Bennet. Hertfordshire. His stomach twisted with anxiety.
“Are you Thomas Bennet of Longbourn?” he asked.
“I am.” Mr. Bennet bit off the two words.
“I see.” Darcy’s mouth went dry. Elizabeth’s behavior suddenly made more sense. She must have known since the night of the ball. This was not the first time he had encountered someone wronged by his father. “I know that in the past you and my father had a… disagreement.” Mr. Bennet snorted. “But I do not consider it to involve me. I am not my father.”
Mr. Bennet’s glare could have frozen water. “That remains to be seen.”
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY. I am giving away a free audiobook copy of Darcy vs. Bennet for a winner randomly chosen from those who comment below. The giveaway will end at midnight EST, Tuesday, September 17. The winner will be announced September 22. Good Luck!