Willow Hall was once the home of Lucy Tolson. However, when her father died, it and Lucy were left to her uncle’s care. Now, if you have read And Then Love, you will know that Lucy’s uncle was quite awful. Well, long story short, Lucy finds a man to marry her so that she will not have to go live with this uncle, and Darcy helps out by purchasing Willow Hall. This all happens in the spring right before that summer when Georgiana falls prey to Wickham and that autumn when Darcy arrives in Hertfordshire. It is also just one year before that disastrous proposal at Hunsford.
The remainder of the Willow Hall series of books takes place in the summer following that proposal when Darcy returns to Derbyshire ahead of his party. He is delivering his sister to Pemberley and while in the area, decides to stop at Willow Hall to check on his tenants. This is when he finds out that in purchasing Willow Hall, he has not only saved his friend from a hideous uncle, but he has also purchased a second chance at his own happily ever after because his tenants have a very special guest.
The Dobney’s barouche was the first to arrive at Willow Hall. As they turned into the small circular drive, Elizabeth noted, before her view was obscured, that a fine carriage stood in front of the house. She must not have been the only one to have noticed the carriage, for she heard the hastening of horses from behind them.
“I see the Abbots have a new guest,” said Mr. Dobney with a smile.
“Oh, so they have.” Mary Ellen waved to whoever was behind their carriage as the horses came to a stop. “Philip and Lucy will be pleased.”
Elizabeth wished to turn about and look to see who this newcomer was but did not wish to appear unladylike and so she sat, waiting until Mr. Dobney would hand her out of the carriage after his sister.
“I had not expected to see you for another month complete.” Elizabeth could hear Mary Ellen greeting the visitor as she placed her hand in Marcus’s and began descending the steps.
“I had not expected to return, but Georgiana was homesick for Pemberley, and so I indulged her.”
Elizabeth’s step faltered, and she stumbled slightly as her mind flew toward the voice and away from its job of helping her feet reached the ground gracefully. Her heart beat wildly inside her chest. He was here, standing just out of sight behind the raised canopy of the carriage.
“Are you well, Miss Bennet?” Marcus asked in concern.
“I am, thank you. It was just a small misstep.” She flashed him what she hoped was a reassuring smile. Her body felt strangely numb while her mind seemed to be running in circles. She did not even notice how Marcus, who was still looking at her in concern, tucked her hand into the crook of his arm to ensure her safety. She was far too busy contemplating the man on the other side of the carriage and attempting to listen to the conversation.
“Oh, that is the best news,” Mary Ellen was saying. “She will have to call on us all as soon as she is settled — and you may accompany her if you wish.”
There was a small masculine chuckle of amusement in response to the comment, and Elizabeth nearly stumbled a second time. It was a pleasant sound and one she had not heard before. The Mr. Darcy she knew had not once appeared amused. He had been so serious and very ill at ease. But here, she noted as she stepped out from behind the carriage, he appeared to be quite the opposite. Here, he was smiling and relaxed.
“I had anticipated calling on your brothers at least once before returning to my party in London. They will be travelling with me to Pemberley when –” He stopped speaking as Elizabeth approached. “Miss Elizabeth,” he said in surprise.
Philip, who had also approached at just that moment, noted the slight stiffening of his friend’s posture and the way he fidgeted with his hat as he greeted the Abbots’ guest. Shifting his eyes to Elizabeth, he smiled. So that is how it was, was it? Her cheeks were quite rosy, and her eyes were demurely lowered as if afraid to look at the man in front of her.
“Mr. Darcy,” she said with as much of a curtsey as one could make when her hand was being held by a gentleman. Her eyes grew wide at the thought, and she tugged her hand away from Marcus as gently as she could. “Thank you, sir,” she said softly. “I believe I have recovered.”
“You are unwell?” Darcy, without thinking, took a step toward her.
“I merely stumbled, Mr. Darcy.” She once again attempted to smile reassuringly.
“You did not injure yourself?” Darcy barely held his place. His every instinct wished to see to her safety, but, he reminded himself, he had not been granted that privilege.
More about the series:
This book, The Tenant’s Guest, is the second book in the Willow Hall series, and it, like book one, And Then Love, features characters from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, as well as some of my own creation. (As I am sure you noticed in the excerpt above.) Below is a list of those original characters.
All the books in this series focus, in some way, on the common theme of unexpected love. Along the way, characters will have to overcome evil from without and strife from within. They will need to re-evaluate their beliefs and face fears. They may change and grow in order to secure love or as a result of love. But no matter the challenges, each book will end with at least one couple being happily attached. (See below to find out the foucs of each book. And be aware that the story in book 1 will be refered to in book 2 and then those stories will be refered to in book 3 and so on as the interwoven story develops.)
Book One, And Then Love, focused on Philip and Lucy Dobney’s unconventional path to marriage.
One note of caution: This book will introduce Lydia Bennet to the series in a rather dramatic fashion — what else would one expect from Lydia, right? Well, you will come to know that this Lydia is anything but what one expects. The situation in which Lydia finds herself is left completely — and I do mean totally, absolutely, without a doubt — unresolved when the curtain drops at the end of this book.
Book Three, So Very Unexpected, will focus on Lydia Bennet’s very unexpected path to love and should be published early in 2017. It is currently posting as a work in progress on my website each Thursday. Personally, I am loving this book — Lydia is not your typical Lydia. She is intelligence and foolishness all at once. She is also a lady who knows her worth and conceals a few scars. It has truly been a joy to discover her. Don’t pass this one up just because you read the name Lydia and think you know her — I guarantee you do not.
Book Four, which has yet to be titled, is currently slated to focus on not just Jane Bennet’s happily ever after but also Mary Ellen Dobney’s. If all goes according to plan, this story should start posting on my website in December, and if it is like the others, will take about twenty-one weeks to complete. This means it should be published in June 2017.
No other books have been planned at this time, but this series, which started as just a short one-time writing exercise, has been and continues to be an evolution — growing and changing as new, interesting characters and situation arise. A book five could very well be a possibility, but I won’t know that until I get up to my elbows in the details of book four. 🙂
Now, for the giveaway.
Leave a comment below to be entered into a draw for one ebook copy of The Tenant’s Guest.
Contest closes at midnight, EST on Friday, October 28, 2016.
Winners announced NEXT weekend.