From the Author
I am happy for the chance to visit My Jane Austen Book Club once again to share an excerpt from my newest release, Impertinent Strangers. It’s always a great pleasure to be here. Thank you so much, Maria Grazia!
Impertinent Strangers: A Pride and Prejudice Story
An impertinent stranger is thrown into Fitzwilliam Darcy's path and, even though he declares her tolerable but not handsome enough to tempt him, it is all he can do not to think of her. Upon first making Mr. Darcy's acquaintance, Miss Elizabeth Bennet is quite fascinated with him. Then she discovers that the gentleman is haughty and above his company, and she wants nothing to do with him. Still, the prospect of spending time in each other's company is beyond their power to resist. Will Darcy and Elizabeth stop denying the truth to themselves and find in the other what's been missing in their lives?
The first day passed much the same as the second day of her arrival. On the third day, the Collinses received a much-anticipated invitation to dine at Rosings. Taking advantage of the pleasant weather, they walked the half mile or so across the park in companionable silence. That was until the manor house appeared on the horizon, at which point her party members’ enthusiasm was scarcely contained.
With each step that Elizabeth took as she ascended the stairs of the palatial home she thanked heavens that she was her friend Charlotte’s guest and not the other way around. Best described as a sensible woman, at the age of seven and twenty, Charlotte had recently married Elizabeth’s cousin, Mr. William Collins. He was the complete opposite of Lieutenant Wickham. Indeed, a pompous man, he was not only a strain on one’s eyes, but his voice also set Elizabeth’s nerves on edge. More than once since the start of her visit she had congratulated herself on escaping the sentence her friend ardently embraced, by rejecting his hand in marriage. The thought of finding herself married to the toady man who towered over them was enough to turn her stomach.
Her mother had protested fiercely against the injustice of having such a child—one who spurned the hand of the man who would one day inherit every material possession the Bennets of Longbourn now called their own. “He may throw us all into the hedgerows as soon as he pleases once my dear Mr. Bennet passes away,” was her mother’s most ardent complaint.
The second of five daughters, Elizabeth knew she had an obligation to marry, the more favorable the match the better for all her family. But she did not mean to be a martyr. Her strongly held conviction did not lessen the guilt that would make its presence known from time to time, and thus she made an unspoken pact with herself that the next time she would think long and hard before spurning an offer of marriage should one be presented to her again. Charlotte had mentioned that there was to be more than one single gentleman in attendance at that evening’s gathering. May at least one of them be amiable, Elizabeth silently prayed.
Echoing footsteps were the only sounds to be heard as Elizabeth and her party passed through the ostensibly adorned halls on their way to the parlor. Every step gave Elizabeth an uneasy impression of whatever else she might expect once they arrived at their destination. Having heard such high praise of Lady Catherine de Bourgh—the grand lady of all the richness that now stretched before her—from her sycophant cousin over the past few days since her arrival at the parsonage, she did not know whether to be awe stricken or amused, reverent or repulsed. Elizabeth hoped she would be pleasantly surprised.
Otherwise, it is going to be a long evening.
When at last they were ushered into the room where the grand lady of the house and two others were sitting, the servant quickly escaped when the former rose to receive them. Charlotte graciously presented her friend Elizabeth to Lady Catherine, who in turn introduced Elizabeth to her daughter, Miss Anne de Bourgh, and Miss de Bourgh’s companion, Mrs. Jenkinson.
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