Monica Fairview is giving away one e-copy of MR. DARCY’S CHALLENGE (international) and one paperback copy (USA, UK or EU only).
For a chance to win a copy, you need to leave a comment answering the question at the end of the excerpt. Remember we also need an e-mail address to contact you in case you are one of the winners! Deadline December 9th, 2014.
In this humorous Pride and Prejudice Variation, Mr. Darcy is determined to win Elizabeth Bennet's hand in spite of her rejection and he has a strategy worked out. He will rescue Lydia Bennet from Wickham and will return to Longbourn to convince Elizabeth to marry him. But when a chance encounter prompts Darcy to propose once again to Elizabeth before he has rescued Lydia, his plans go horribly wrong.
Broken hearted, disillusioned and bitterly regretting his impulsive action, Darcy sees no point in assisting Miss Bennet. After all, rescuing Lydia might save Elizabeth’s reputation, but why should he care when they have no future together? His code of gentlemanly conduct, however, demands that he fulfill the terms of his promise to her. Once again, Darcy finds himself faced with impossible choices: helping Elizabeth when she is certain to marry someone else, or holding onto his dignity by turning his back on the Bennets once and for all.
Pride and love are at loggerheads as he struggles to choose between his mind … and his heart.
Volume Two of The Darcy Novels continues the story began in Mr. Darcy's Pledge but can be read as an independent book as well.
Excerpt from Chapter Two Mr. Darcy’s Challenge
Summary of events leading up to this chapter:
In the previous novel, MR. DARCY’S PLEDGE, Darcy decides to make a list of accomplishments to help him be rational about his choice of a wife. Rational choice rather than love is his guiding principle. However, now that he has seen Lizzy again at Longbourn, he tears up the list and tosses it behind him as he rides to London to rescue Lydia.
On the way, it occurs to him that perhaps it would not be wise to leave the list on the grounds of Longbourn where Elizabeth might find it. Unfortunately, by the time he rides back, it is too late. Elizabeth is in the process of picking up the papers.
The situation was exactly as Darcy had feared. The white incriminating pieces of paper lay on the path, clearly visible, and Elizabeth was bending down to pick them up and fitting the pieces together. Darcy prayed for a sudden downpour that would wash away the ink, but the heavens did not oblige. It was vexing to think that he had just come from a muddy field, while the bridleway was perfectly dry. Meanwhile, Elizabeth bent down to pick up several pieces of the paper and held them together.
He raced towards her in a desperate effort to prevent her from reading them.
“Why, Mr. Darcy,” said Elizabeth, looking up, her cheeks dimpling as he approached. “You appear to be riding in the opposite direction from London. Have you perchance lost your way?”She put her bonnet on her head and shielded her eyes from the sun to look at him.He had been so intent on reaching her that he had not thought of a possible response to that question. The sight of Elizabeth after all his recollections was in itself enough to make him tongue-tied. Having to come up with an explanation for riding towards Longbourn rather than away from it proved entirely beyond his ability. He tried to sort out his jumbled thoughts but his mind refused to assist him.
“Erm,” he said. It was as much as he could say.“I did not mean to challenge you, sir. I was merely curious,” said Elizabeth, laughing. “Your secrets are your own to keep. I will not attempt to ferret them out.”Secrets? Why was she speaking of secrets when he was doing what he can to prevent her from discovering the list? Did she already suspect something? If so, he had to distract her.
This sense of purpose enabled him to find his tongue – as well as a creditable explanation.“I have no secrets,” he said. “I was on the verge of taking the London road when I recalled that I had not asked for your uncle’s address. I intend to call on the Gardiners when in town.”He felt guilty for lying, but he could think of nothing better. Of course, he knew exactly where the Gardiners resided. He had paced outside their house on Gracechurch Street and even knocked on their door.
A shadow came over her face and the laughter disappeared.
“That is very kind of you, sir,” she said, looking pained, but as you know, my aunt and uncle are very preoccupied with— the whole business, and will very likely not be receiving anyone until the matter is resolved.”Now he had unintentionally upset her. He felt an irresistible impulse to alight from the horse and draw Elizabeth to him to comfort her. He struggled to bring the impulse under control.
“I am much obliged to you, sir,” said Elizabeth, bending down once again to pick up the bits of paper. “However, I cannot write the address for you. We have plenty of paper; it seems, but no quill.” She took up one of the larger pieces and peered at the handwriting. “I wonder what such fine paper is doing here.”Flustered, Darcy sought desperately for a way to distract her from reading what he had written.
“I need to be on my way,” he said, abruptly. “I cannot delay any further. If you will ride with me, we could go back to the house where we could obtain one.”The moment he said it, he wished it unsaid. Had he really suggested taking her up in front of him? The prospect of having her so close put him in agony of anticipation. He waited tensely, hoping she would say yes.She looked at the horse uncertainly.
“Do you ride, Miss Bennet?”“I am a poor rider,” she said, “I prefer to walk.”
The sense of disappointment was intense, but he acknowledged to himself that it would have been madness to have her so close. It would have stretched his self-discipline too far.
“Then I shall walk with you,” he said, sliding down from the saddle.“I see you have already been walking,” she remarked with smile, indicating his mud-splattered boots.
Darcy hoped she would not wonder why he had been walking about instead of riding off to London.
“I found the lavender fields irresistible.”“Did you, indeed?” she asked, looking pleased. “They are my favorite place to visit. I have a particular tree that I like to go to. I often sit with my back against the tree trunk and read, while the bees drone on around me and the delicious scent fills my head. It is my secret hideaway when I need to escape from home. I am glad that you liked the fields as well.”For now, they were in perfect accord. He cherished this moment in which Elizabeth spoke to him freely, her expression unguarded.“Perhaps one day I shall come back and we could visit the field together,” he said, envisioning a holding of hands or even a kiss.
“Then you shall have to bring a book to read, for I shall insist on silence.”The vision dissipated.“As you may recall, we both share a love of books.”Now that he was on the ground, he took the opportunity to pick up several of the papers closest to him.
She observed him in astonishment. “There is no call for you to do this, Mr. Darcy.”“I noticed them from a distance. They are an ugly blot on a pristine landscape.”“I did not realize you were so particular. Allow me to assist you, in that case.”
She moved to help, but he shooed her away. “Miss Bennet, I beg you, leave this to me.”
Question for comments: Mr. Darcy made a list of what he would like in an ideal wife. What are the qualities you think Mr. Darcy has that would make him an ideal husband?
About the author, Monica Fairview
Monica is a longtime admirer of Jane Austen and likes to write down her fantasies about living in the Regency period. Her first novel was AN IMPROPER SUITOR, a humorous Regency romance. Since then, she has written two traditional Jane Austen sequels: THE OTHER MR. DARCY and THE DARCY COUSINS (both published by Sourcebooks) and contributed a sequel to Emma in Laurel Ann Nattress's anthology JANE AUSTEN MADE ME DO IT (Ballantine). STEAMPUNK DARCY is a post-apocalyptic tongue-in-cheek Jane Austen spin-off. Her new series, THE DARCY NOVELS, are traditional Pride and Prejudice ‘what-if’ variations. The first, MR. DARCY’S PLEDGE, reached number one in Kindle Classics Romance. MR. DARCY’S CHALLENGE is the second in the series.
Monica is part of the blog Austen Variations along with a baker’s dozen of authors who also write Jane Austen adaptations. She was a member of the team writing the popular Reader’s Choice serial THE DARCY BROTHERS, featuring the charismatic Theo Darcy.
Monica Fairview’s real claim to fame is that she lived in Elizabeth Gaskell’s house in Manchester as a teenager, when it was crumbling and neglected, so you could say she has the smog of NORTH & SOUTH in her blood. After that, Monica lived in the USA for many years, where she taught literature to captive victims (not necessarily captivated). She now lives in Surrey within the Greater London area and loves visiting historical properties when it isn’t raining.
Visit Monica at
her website www.monicafairview.com
Austen Variations www.austenvariations.com
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