“I don’t know why I ever thought we made sense.”
Smart, educated people are fools in love, especially when they’re mired in denial and misunderstanding.
In this modern spin on Jane Austen’s classic tale, Elizabeth Bennet, a grad student with literary aspirations, has found her big career break—and broken up with yet another forgettable boyfriend. While grateful for the professional lifeline thrown by sports agent George Wickham, she is intrigued by the man she calls Mr. Noir.
Fitzwilliam Darcy, marked by tragedy, is a man accustomed to living his life in the spotlight even as his heart dwells on the dark side of loneliness. When he first meets Elizabeth, he thinks she looks like “a bloody pumpkin,” but he soon sees so much more. She, however, can’t even decide what to call him. Mr. Noir? Nurse Darcy? Sleazy British playboy? Ferdinand?
“So, it’s Fitzwilliam, right? That’s an amazing name, you know. Which came first—the name or the accent?”
He looked at her.
Can an accidental encounter that leads to shocking intimacy change the course they’ve both set and bring them into love’s light? Or will they stay mired in cold words and angry misunderstandings, overshadowing the deep connection they each feel? Getting beyond their own mistakes to find each other again is one thing; they also have to heal the wounds of their pasts. Can they do that together?
About the Author
J.L. Ashton didn’t meet Jane Austen until she was in her late teens, but in a happy coincidence, she shares a similarity of name with the author and celebrates her birthday on the same day Pride & Prejudice was first published. Sadly, she’s yet to find any Darcy and Elizabeth candles on her cake, but she does own the action figures.
Like so many Austen fans, Jan was an early and avid reader with a vivid imagination and a well-used library card. Her family’s frequent moves in the U.S and abroad encouraged her to think of books and their authors as reliable friends. It took summers in London, a history degree, and another decade or two for her to start imagining variations on Pride & Prejudice, and another decade—filled with career, marriage, kids, and a menagerie of pets—to discover the world of JAFF. Today, in between writing Jane Austen variations, Jan lives and works in the Chicago area, where she volunteers far too often and is a member of the local and national chapters of the Jane Austen Society of North America.
A Searing Acquaintance is her first book.
Read an Excerpt from Chapter Two
Darcy gently laid the towel-covered ice bag on her ankle. His eyes lingered on the long scar that decorated her leg from shin to anklebone.
She nodded. “Broke it playing soccer in college. Two pins and one surgery later, it was all good. Except for any chance to play professionally.”
He stared at her.
“I’m kidding. I wasn’t good enough to go pro.”
“I’m sorry. That’s awful.” He appeared about to say something else, but then shook his head. “You’re still a good player. Certainly had me.”
Elizabeth smiled and rolled her eyes. After canvassing her about her appetite, Darcy headed to the kitchen, soon returning with tea and a plate of crackers, cheese, and fruit. “There’s a lasagna in the oven.”
“Did you preheat?
He appeared confused.
“Never mind. How about some wine?”
He looked at her doubtfully. “Will it help your foot?”
“A sip o’ the grape helps everything,” she replied, smirking. Elizabeth drank some tea and watched him open a bottle of merlot. “So where did you get all these Nurse Darcy skills?”
He stopped twisting the corkscrew. “Excuse me?”
“I mean, you’re good at this, you’re very nurturing. Like you’ve done this a lot.” She smiled up at him. “And you’re shockingly domestic. I’d never have guessed it.”
“Slicing cheese and sticking a casserole in the oven is the extent of my culinary talents, I’m afraid.”
He handed her a glass of wine and placed his own on the table near the tray before sitting down in an overstuffed chair across from her.
“How about you? Do you cook?” he asked.
“A bit. Soups and stir-fry mostly. I prefer baking.”
He raised his eyebrows. “So you’re not a chef or a professional footballer. Um, may I ask what it is you do?”
“Marketing and Public Relations. For now, anyway. I’m just finishing my MFA at Columbia.”
“Hard to believe, hmm?” Elizabeth leveled an annoyed look at him.
“That’s not what I meant…” he stammered.
“Did my undergrad at UM. That’s what my family could afford. I had a scholarship to play soccer and I saved up for grad school.”
“You didn’t wish to go there? To Meryton?” He picked up a cracker and stared at it.
She watched him and started laughing. “What, are you phobic about all things orange?” She gestured to the orange cheddar on the plate.
Darcy flushed and smiled. “Um, no, actually.” He picked up a slice.
“Can you keep a secret? I despise orange,” she said solemnly. After coaxing another small smile from Darcy, she continued. “I had some amazing professors at UM. I learned a lot. But I really wanted to leave town.”
He nodded. “But now you are here, working and studying. Full-time?”
“Best as I’m able.” She shifted her leg and decided to change the topic. He was staring at her far too intently.
“And you’re an Oxford man?”
“Um, no. Cambridge, and Harvard.”
“Do you work with Charles?”
She considered him. “Do you work?”
Elizabeth sighed and stroked her chin dramatically. “Let’s see. You always wear black, you speak as little as possible, you ask pointed questions. I’m guessing CIA, MI-6, or perhaps, cat burglar.”
He furrowed his brow and bit back a smile.
“Fine. Keep your secrets.” Elizabeth sipped her wine. “So, it’s Fitzwilliam, right? That’s an amazing name, you know. Which came first—the name or the accent?”
He looked at her.
“Oh, come on. It’s like the name of a subdivision or a sofa at Pottery Barn. `Please note the extra firm cushions on The Fitzwilliam.’”
Darcy chuckled. Wow, he can laugh?
“So, do you have extra-firm cushions? Do you carry extra padding?” She smirked at him and waggled her eyebrows. “Or are your springs sprung?”
“God, you are a loose cannon.”
“Yup. Always sinking ships.” Elizabeth drained her wine glass and burrowed down further into the sofa. “Seriously, though, are you a New Yorker or a Londoner?”
“I’ve been a New Yorker for the last five years but in the States for most of a decade. After I finished school, I came here to run some business interests.”
“My mother’s family owns some companies here.”
“Um. She was, yes.”
“Oh.” Was? Oh. “So you are a citizen of the world astride the pond.”
“Barring that unfortunate imagery, yes, I suppose so.”
A Searing Acquaintance Blog Tour Schedule
3/7: Excerpt & Giveaway at My Jane Austen Book Club
3/8: Guest Post & Giveaway at So Little Time…
3/9: Review at Tomorrow is Another Day
3/10: Author Interview & Giveaway at From Pemberley to Milton
3/11: Character Interview & Giveaway at Leatherbound Reviews
3/12: Excerpt & Giveaway at Babblings of A Bookworm
3/13: Review at Liz’s Reading Life
3/14: Review at Half Agony, Half Hope
3/15: Review at Margie’s Must Reads
3/16: Excerpt & Giveaway at Best Sellers and Best Stellars
3/17: Guest Post at My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice
3/18: Review at Diary of an Eccentric
3/19: Review at Just Jane 1813
3/20: Excerpt & Giveaway at Delighted Reader
3/21: Guest Post & Giveaway at Austenesque Reviews