Today is (finally!) the release of Mr. Darcy’s Bluestocking Bride. This story has been such a labor of love…and well just labor! I first started writing it in 2013. By 2014, I decided to include the bluestocking twist. For the next few years, in between other projects, I would poke at it. Earlier this year, I decided enough was enough, and it would get all my attention. Just when I made it over the half way done hump, I moved. It took a few months to get my equilibrium back and major kudos to my husband and mother for all their help with the kids. After long hours both day and night (special thanks to Zoe Burton for editing), the finished project is live!
Although the story centers around Elizabeth becoming a bluestocking, it’s not all boring intellectualism. I’ve shared several excerpts of the last few months, but this is my favorite.
Darcy allowed her the quiet he believed such concentration required. Her hands moved swiftly and gracefully. She drew without the sort of labour that comes from self-consciousness or a desire to impress. She simply unleashed a passion she felt, and finely-honed skill. As much as she might deride her skills on the pianoforte, she apparently had put her time to greater use.
As she drew, Darcy imagined the lives the place had seen. The ones who built a place of worship after so much devastation. The family who provided the funds but eventually sold the estate. Their family name did not appear in the roster of current peers. Likely, they had no sons left to inherit and had kept the property away from their daughters. The next owners fared no better. The family sold it after two or three generations to Sir Lewis de Bourgh’s father to cover a debt. Through the passage of time, this area stood largely neglected and ignored, unnoticed by those who inhabited the space just outside it. However, Darcy could not mourn its neglect. The sheltered alcove he now sat in remained unspoilt by following generations attempting to conquer nature and shape it into formal gardens and hedges. Even more, it allowed him this morning of peace with Elizabeth.
When she finished, Elizabeth looked up and blushed. “Forgive me, I had not meant to ignore you,” she said and bit her lower lip.
“Think nothing of it. I enjoyed the companionable silence and watching you work. Your passion should never be hidden. May I see?”
Shyly, she handed the sketchbook to him. He could see from a distance Elizabeth had great skill. Upon closer viewing, it was clear that she saw through a true architect’s eye. There were no exaggerated and idealised views. She had imagined the church as it once might have looked, but it seemed far more real than any portrait he had seen. Acquainted as he was with blueprints for new structures, he saw her natural skill. She was not a gentlewoman dabbling in art or design. If she were a man, she would find sufficient income putting her talents to use.
“This is quite good,” he said in wonder, hating the insipidness of his words.
“Do you really think so?” Elizabeth asked with an insecurity he had never heard before. “I know it is nothing compared to what Mr. Dance could do, but I have so few opportunities—”
He silenced her with a finger to her lips, all the while hating his gloves. “You have great skill, Elizabeth.” He triumphed when she did not rebuke him. “Far greater than any person that I have seen.”
“Do not exaggerate,” she sounded offended and grabbed the notebook from his hands. “You must have studied architecture at school and University. You have seen far grander places than I ever have.”
“It is true,” he responded slowly, “that I had the occasion to view magnificent buildings. During the Peace of Amiens, Father and I journeyed to Vienna. At Cambridge, I sat and attempted to draw the Octagon Lantern in Ely Cathedral. But not one of my classmates had the sheer talent or passion you do.”
“Thank you,” she murmured.
“I am sorry my praise is inadequate to what you deserve. I do not know the correct terminology, despite my classes, but it is near brilliant.”
Elizabeth shook her head, unwilling to accept his compliments. She stood and shook out her skirt. “Can you tell me about Vienna?”
Darcy stood as well and smiled. “It is very different from England. There was a reverie, a joy for life. In London, the people only care about their appearance and politics. In Vienna, there was laughter. Art and music were everywhere.”
She sighed a little and hugged herself. “It sounds wonderful.”
“It was unforgettable. I would love to make the journey again. Georgiana would flourish there.”
He hummed the tune of a waltz he had heard long ago in a crowded ballroom. His father had teased him for not asking any of the ladies to dance, and at the time all he could think of was how uncomfortable he felt. What he did not know was that he was waiting to have the right partner; the one he would do far more than discomfort himself for.
“What do you hum? I do not recognise the rhythm.”
“It is called a waltz. It is very different from our English dances.”
“Show me,” Elizabeth said, curiosity once again lighting her features.
Darcy chuckled. “I am not sure I remember.”
“I will never know any better,” she laughed with him.
“Very well.” He held one arm to his side and the other at the height of her shoulder. “Now, you step forward. You place one hand in mine and the other on my shoulder.”
Elizabeth’s eyes went round. “Surely not!”
“Indeed,” he said with amusement. She remained still, and he could see the indecision warring in her eyes. “I had thought you unafraid of anything.”
With the raising of her chin, she stepped into his arms. Immediately, thought escaped him. This had been a bloody terrible idea! How had it escaped his notice that he would be practically embracing Elizabeth?
“Mr. Darcy?” She asked and lightly tapped his shoulder.
The pressure sent a thrill of pleasure coursing through his body, and he bit back a groan. “Yes?”
The dance? The dance. As if blood still circulated to his feet! He cleared his throat and began to hum again, awkwardly leading Elizabeth in the steps of a waltz. And somehow, in this grass covered ballroom with the shadows of an ancient church heightening Elizabeth’s features, he fell even more in love with her.
I’m giving away one ebook of Mr. Darcy’s Bluestocking Bride to a lucky winner! Comment before Tuesday, July 25 to be entered in the drawing! The winner will be announced July 29.
He’s on the hunt for a bluestocking, and she is no man’s fool.
Fitzwilliam Darcy, heir to a barony, must put aside his hatred for attention and Society and find a wife. Deemed the most eligible bachelor of the Season, he seeks high and low for a well-bred, intelligent woman to replace the one he determined unsuitable.
Elizabeth Bennet used to be certain of her judgement. In one day, everything changed. Her family might be in danger, and she needs a confidant. When she meets Darcy again and again in the groves of Rosings, her head says to tell Darcy everything, but her heart wonders if she can trust him.
As the clock works against them, can they find what they need in one another? Or will the duties of family and lingering secrets separate them?
I’m hosting an event/party on the Austen Authors Facebook page. If you have a QR Reader ap on your mobile phone (you can download many for free), scan the following pic and you’ll be taken to the event page! Link for others.