Today, I am SO excited to introduce my novel, To Love and Cherish, which is to be published on Amazon by the end of October. I am equally excited to share the book’s cover, designed by the lovely Susan Adriani. To Love and Cherish is my second Pride and Prejudice variation and tells the story of Georgiana Darcy and her love interest, Lord Julian Paisley, the Marquess of Dartfort.
Lord Paisley is not a stranger to those who have read my first novel, To Save and Protect. He is Mr. Darcy’s good friend, though quite different from him in behaviour and temperament. Lord Paisley comes across as a dandified gentleman, but underneath his frivolous façade, he is an intelligent man with a wicked sense of humor and a talent for delivering the most unforgiving set-downs. In To Save and Protect, when Lord Paisley meets Georgiana Darcy, he is immediately drawn to her. But Georgiana is quite young and Lord Paisley, feeling the impropriety of his attraction to his friend’s younger sister, has no choice but to leave and stay away from her.
To Love and Cherish begins two years after the wedding of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. Lord Paisley has to marry and beget an heir in order to prevent his unworthy cousin from inheriting his estate. But he is still affected by the memory of the lovely young lady who touched his heart two years prior. He travels to Pemberley to visit his friend and finally to come to terms with his feelings for Georgiana. He hopes that seeing her again would change his first impression of her and lessen the sentiments he has been denying for so long. But upon seeing her again, he knows denial is futile and his heart still belongs to her.
Georgiana, who is about to experience her first season in London in a few months, has grown into a very beautiful young lady. It was her loveliness and innocence that captured Lord Paisley’s interest when they first met. But it is her intelligent mind and her independent character that demands the gentleman’s admiration and regard when they meet again. Despite her youth, she impresses him with her understanding, her courage, and her integrity, and it does not take him long before he decides he must marry Miss Darcy or no one at all.
Lord Paisley has to overcome many obstacles before he is united with his beloved. Mr. Darcy is not too pleased to find his friend, a worldly gentleman, besotted with his innocent sister, and Lord Paisley needs to convince his friend that he is worthy of her. There are two other young men fighting for Georgiana’s attention, one who is determined to have her as his wife, and the other with less honorable intentions. And of course, there are always jealous women about to stir trouble for our dear couple.
To Love and Cherish, though a love story, is also about Georgiana’s transformation from a timid young girl to a woman of strong convictions. She is quiet, like her brother, and has a sweet disposition, but she also has liberal and feminist ideas. She questions the role of women in her society and speaks her mind about issues that most young women of her age and station would not. The book cover is in so many ways inspired by Georgiana’s character. I wanted it to be simple, tasteful and strong, just like her. The gardenia was chosen because it is Georgiana’s favourite flower in this story and appears in a few tender scenes between Georgiana and Lord Paisley.
You will get to see many of the old characters from the cannon in this novel, but you will also meet many new ones. To Love and Cherish can be read as a standalone novel, but there are some references to facts and events from my first novel, To Save and Protect. Therefore, it will make more sense to read these books in order.
Below, is the first chapter of To Love and Cherish, where you get to meet Lord Paisley and his family. I hope you will enjoy the read and give me your feedback about the premise of the story as well as the book cover.
Lord Paisley, the Honorable Marquess of Dartfort, master of Paisley Court, scion of an old, respected family, and son to Lady Eleanor Paisley entered the breakfast room of his London home, wearing his usual confident and satirical smile.
“Good morning, Mother,” he said as he bent to bestow a kiss upon Lady Paisley’s face. “Good morning, Claire, Henrietta. I trust you ladies slept well?”
“Julian”—Lady Paisley smiled at her son—“I was hoping you would join us for breakfast today. When will you depart?”
“This morning.” Lord Paisley sat at his usual chair across from his mother. “It is a long journey to Derbyshire and I plan to take advantage of the daylight.”
“This morning?” Lady Henrietta asked, suddenly interested in her brother’s plans. “But, Brother, you cannot leave so early.”
“Can I not?” Lord Paisley asked lazily. “No doubt you will tell me why, my dear.”
“Because Mr. Brooks is coming to visit this morning.”
“Oh, well then. In that case, I am only happy that I have decided to leave early,” Lord Paisley said with a mischievous smile. “With any luck, I should be on the road long before he arrives.”
Lady Claire hid her smile behind her handkerchief, but her shining eyes were evidence enough that she was utterly enjoying her brother’s cruel joke at Lady Henrietta’s expense. Mr. James Brooks was a distant cousin, whose character and intellect left much to be desired. He was not a malicious man and his company would have been tolerated with some effort had it not been for the distressing fact that he was Lord Paisley’s heir in the event His Lordship should die without issue. It was not merely the fact that Mr. Brooks stood to inherit all the Paisley fortune that irked Lord Paisley and his mother. Rather, it was the openness and enthusiasm with which the young man spoke of his rights to the estate in the event of His Lordship’s demise that did very little to endear the gentleman to the family.
Despite Mr. Brooks’ numerous efforts to become better acquainted with the family, he was discounted as much as propriety permitted. Lady Claire found Mr. Brook’s conversation too ridiculous to tolerate and Lady Paisley would not exchange more than mere words of civility with the man who was to take her son’s place. It was only the youngest member of the Paisley family, Lady Henrietta, who found the young man entertaining and enjoyed his company.
Having turned nineteen, Lady Henrietta had her first successful season in London the previous year. She had received numerous offers, all of which she was obliged to refuse as her brother had forbidden her to accept any offers during her first season. Lady Claire, senior to Lady Henrietta by two years, was of a halcyon disposition and more rational mind. She had enjoyed three seasons already and despite receiving many proposals, had refused to enter into a marriage if her heart was not engaged. Lady Henrietta, unlike her sister, was quite ready to fall in love with the first gentleman that offered for her. However, she seemed to fall out of love as quickly, and none of the young bucks had been able to leave a lasting impression on her young heart.
Unfortunately, and much to His Lordship’s annoyance, Lady Henrietta seemed to be utterly entertained by Mr. Brooks. What made matters more distressing was that Mr. Brooks used every opportunity to invite himself to any of the houses where the Paisley family resided under the pretense of calling on Lady Henrietta.
“You cannot possibly leave so early when you know Mr. Brooks is coming to visit,” Lady Henrietta argued.
“You are mistaken, my dear,” Lord Paisley said as he leisurely sampled a fresh strawberry. “I must leave, especially now that I know Mr. Brooks will be arriving.”
“But that is so ill-mannered, Brother,” Lady Henrietta said. “I wish you would show more interest in Mr. Brooks.”
“I wish I could show more interest too, my dear. But, alas, Mr. Brooks makes it impossible for me to stay interested in him. I am afraid, no matter how hard I try, I lose all interest as soon as he opens his mouth.”
“How incredibly disagreeable, Brother.”
“Yes, but it does not make it less true,” he said gravely. “Mr. Brooks is a dead bore.”
“Perhaps you fail to see Mr. Brooks in the same light as I do,” Henrietta said.
“I would rather not see Mr. Brooks in any light, my dear.”
Lady Claire giggled, despite a glare from her younger sister.
“I do not know why you have to leave so early,” Lady Henrietta said again.
“Oh dear!” Lord Paisley said. “Now you are becoming a dead bore.”
“You must be looking forward to visiting Pemberley, Brother,” Lady Claire said. “You always speak highly of your friend, Mr. Darcy.”
“I am looking forward to amusing myself at Darcy’s expense.” Lord Paisley smiled at his sister’s tact in changing the subject.
“It seems like ages since I have seen Mr. Darcy,” Lady Paisley said. “And I have yet to meet his wife. They have been married for some time. Have they not?”
“They have been married for nearly two years now.” Lord Paisley nodded. “Mrs. Darcy was with child last season, which is why you did not meet her in town.”
“I remember you telling me of your friend’s joy in becoming a father.”
“Yes”—Lord Paisley chuckled—“I have rarely seen a man more in love with his family than Darcy. He is so blissfully happy in Derbyshire, we seldom see him in London.”
“He must be fortunate in his choice of wife, then?” Lady Paisley asked.
“Mrs. Darcy is a magnificent creature. She is witty and beautiful and has an unforgiving sense of humor.”
“And how does your friend deem your opinion of his wife?” Lady Henrietta asked.
“My dear sister,” Lord Paisley said, “what a fanciful mind you have! Do you imagine me in love with my friend’s wife?”
“You were profuse in your praising of her.”
“She is a lady worthy of great praise,” Lord Paisley said. “And I have great admiration for her. But you must think little of me to imagine that I would allow any feeling other than respect and friendship for Mrs. Darcy.”
“I am no longer a child,” Lady Henrietta said. “I know that it is common practice among gentlemen to have relations with married women. I find it most appalling and distasteful.”
“Almost as distasteful as discussing such matters in polite company.”
Henrietta had the grace to blush under her brother’s exacting stare. “Forgive me,” she said with a barely perceptible voice.
“Mrs. Darcy is a lady of superior understanding,” Lord Paisley said after a long pause. “Her heart belongs to her husband, who is, I might add, a most worthy gentleman. I was fortunate to witness their courtship and to attend their wedding. They are both dear friends and I look forward to their company.”
“I look forward to meeting Mrs. Darcy when she comes to London,” Lady Paisley said to her son. “Do you believe they will come to London this year?”
“I believe so. I understand Miss Darcy is to have her first season.”
“Miss Darcy?” Lady Claire asked. “I did not know Mr. Darcy has a sister, Julian. You never made mention of her before.”
“Miss Darcy is much younger than her brother,” Lord Paisley explained. “I believe she must be nineteen now.”
“She is my age!” Lady Henrietta said, having forgotten her argument with her brother. “Does Miss Darcy resemble her brother?”
“Miss Darcy is quite different in her looks from her brother.”
“A pity,” Lady Paisley said. “Mr. Darcy is a very handsome man.”
“Miss Darcy is a very handsome woman too,” Lord Paisley said quickly.
“Is she?” Lady Paisley asked, raising an eyebrow. “Her mother was a beautiful woman. I believe, Lady Anne was one of the most beautiful debutants during her season. She was pursued by so many gentlemen. But no one would do but Mr. Darcy. She was hopelessly in love with him.”
“Were you and Lady Anne intimates, Mother?” Lady Claire asked.
“We were acquainted. But I was closer in age to Lady Catherine than to Lady Anne. Lady Anne was two years our senior. She married Mr. Darcy in her first season and moved to Pemberley. Their son was born a year later.”
“Do you consider Miss Darcy a beauty, Brother?” Lady Henrietta asked, bringing Lady Paisley’s full attention back to her son.
“I have not seen Miss Darcy since her brother’s wedding.” Lord Paisley shrugged, noting his mother’s attention. “From what I remember, she is a charming young lady.”
“Oh, come, Julian,” Lady Claire declared, “that is hardly a description.”
“That is all the description you will have from me, my dear.”
“Mr. Brooks, my lord,” announced the butler, Mr. Green.
Lady Henrietta gasped and Lord Paisley sent his sister a warning glare and prepared himself for the entrance of the annoying heir apparent.
“Good morning Ladies,” Mr. Brooks said, bowing to the ladies as soon as he entered the breakfast room. “Good morning, Julian.”
Lady Paisley’s eyes grew wide upon hearing the young man’s informal address of her son. Lord Paisley smiled knowingly at his mother and nodded toward Mr. Brooks.
“Good morning, Mr. Brooks,” His Lordship said with good humor. “To what do we owe the distinct honor of receiving you so…early in the morning?”
“Oh, I had promised Lady Henrietta I would call,” Mr. Brooks said with a wide smile, unaffected by His Lordship’s evident censure. “And I am never one to keep the lovely ladies waiting. I know it is a little early for morning calls, but seeing as we are related, I was confident you would not mind.”
“How fortunate that you arrived early,” Lord Paisley said, his sarcasm not lost on his mother and sister. “A few minutes later, and I would have missed seeing you, as I was about to bid my family farewell.”
“Farewell?” Mr. Brooks asked, his smile fading. “You are not leaving?”
Lord Paisley replied with mock gravity, “Alas, I have prior engagements that would not allow me to stay.”
“But I came especially to see you.”
“To see me, Mr. Brooks?” Lord Paisley asked with a smile. “A mere moment ago, you declared you came to call on the ladies.”
“Oh, as for that, ” Mr. Books mumbled with no little discomfort, “well, you see, sir—”
“I am afraid I do see.”
Lady Paisley stood from her chair, obliging all to do the same. “I must speak to the housekeeper,” Lady Paisley said. “I am sure you will excuse me, Mr. Brooks. Claire, Henrietta, indulge me with your company for a few minutes as well.”
Both gentlemen bowed as the ladies obediently trailed their mother out of the breakfast room.
“How providential that we have a few minutes.”
“There is nothing providential about it,” Lord Paisley said, reclaiming his seat. “My mother has superior intellect. She is quick to comprehend what my sisters are yet too young to understand, that your visit this morning is to ask me for something.”
Mr. Brooks looked affronted and opened his mouth to speak.
“Do not waste my time, Brooks,” Lord Paisley said as he raised his hand to silence the younger man’s denial. “What do you want?”
“I have come to offer you an opportunity to double your money.”
Lord Paisley leaned back in his chair and covered his face with both his hands. “Dear lord! What have I ever done to be burdened with this man? What in the world would make you think I have any need to double my money, Mr. Brooks?”
“Well, who would not want such an amazing opportunity?”
“Oh?” Lord Paisley asked, raising an eyebrow.
“There is absolutely no risk, you see. All you have to do is to lend me three thousand pounds. Within six months, I will return to you double the money.”
“And may I dare ask what you plan to do with the money you borrow from me?”
“I will invest it, of course.”
“Invest in what exactly?”
“Unfortunately, I cannot divulge that to you,” Mr. Brooks said apologetically. “I am sure you understand.”
“I am afraid I do. I am sure you understand too, when I say I cannot lend you the money.”
“But, Julian!” Mr. Brooks exclaimed but was interrupted when His Lordship stood to his full height.
“Now, you listen to me very carefully,” he said in a low voice. “I am not in the habit of lending money to anyone, especially not one who would gamble it away within a week. If you imagined me ignorant of your affairs, your so-called friends, and your gambling debts, I advise you to think again.”
“But, Julian! I am your heir. Surely, you understand that your money will be mine one day.”
“You presume too much, sir.”
“Everyone knows that you are a confirmed bachelor, Julian.”
“Indeed? Well then, let me make it abundantly clear. I fully intend to marry this year. And I will sire my own heir. Rid yourself of any plans regarding my estate and my title.”
“You will kindly refrain from addressing me so informally, Mr. Brooks.”
“Lord Paisley, please.”
“One last thing,” Lord Paisley said as he walked toward the door, “you will steer clear of Lady Henrietta. If you have any designs on her and her inheritance, let me assure you that I have full power over her inheritance until she turns twenty-one, which will give me enough time to do with it as I wish, should she marry anyone I do not approve of. I trust I make myself clear, Mr. Brooks?”
“Yes, my lord.”
“I wish you a good day, Mr. Brooks,” His Lordship said and exited the breakfast room.