I’m delighted to begin the blog tour for A Most Handsome Gentleman at the same site that hosted my first blog tour stops for my other two published novels, Letter from Ramsgate and Alias Thomas Bennet, both of which are now on sale for $1.99. Here at My Jane Austen Book Club, you’ll be treated to an interview with Elizabeth Bennet and an excerpt from the new book, which is a comedy mini-novel suitable for all readers of Pride and Prejudice.
SL: Today I’m speaking with Elizabeth Bennet, the protagonist in my latest book, A Most Handsome Gentleman.
SL: Star. Main character. It’s your story, correct?
EB: I suppose so. But my focus is my cousin Mr. Collins who is a guest at Longbourn.
SL: I’m so glad you brought that up. Miss Bennet, exactly how handsome is your cousin?
EB: Have you seen Mr. Darcy?
SL: Is he missing?
EB: No, have you seen him in the movies and the miniseries?
SL: Oh, yes, of course, I’ve watched all of them, and ’95 more than the others.
EB: As a woman, you feel a certain way when you see Mr. Darcy, correct? All knotted and distracted and your wits seem to disappear, as well as your attention span for anything that comes out of anyone’s mouth other than Mr. Darcy’s.
SL: Of course!
EB: Well, as much as I do not want to, a mere glance at my cousin causes similar strange sensations to occur. My friend Charlotte says she just wants to look at him, but looking at him seems to drive me to the devil.
SL: What do you mean?
EB: I have a physical response that I wish to suppress.
SL: Sounds like he’s hot.
EB: You would have to meet Mr. Collins to understand. He is handsome, but you do not want to react to him in a womanly way given what is lacking within his personality.
SL: Say more about his personality.
EB: Must I?
SL: JAFF readers must know!
EB: Well, he is slightly more amiable than Mr. Darcy, but my cousin is not as intelligent.
SL: I understand that, but neither was he in Miss Austen’s book. Tell me, is Handsome Mr. Collins truly as witless, obsequious, and arrogant as we are led to believe?
EB: He is worse! My cousin is lacks in intelligence yet he has no notion of it and is terribly vain. The man can barely hold his lips closed for more than a minute before he is droning on and on again regarding his amazing countenance, his importance, his achievements, his humility, and his venerable patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. He cannot stop himself from sharing long, drawn out discourses. Oh! I have said too much. Now I am starting to sound a great deal like him!
SL: I apologize for the question that led you to that list.
EB: It is not necessary. But I must confess, I am so tired of him.
SL: I suppose you just zone out.
EB: I beg your pardon?
SL: When he speaks, do you just pretend to listen while daydreaming of something else? Perhaps Mr. Darcy?
EB: On the contrary. I am gathering words from his speeches as examples so I can try to reform him with a later discussion on the correct decorum befitting a clergyman.
SL: Who is more handsome, Mr. Collins, Mr. Darcy, or Mr. Wickham?
EB: Each man is fine of figure with the best part of beauty, but my cousin exceeds them all. For now.
SL: Why? What happens to your cousin?
EB: You will have to read the book. Wait, you wrote it! You know! I have half a mind to give you a dressing down like I have with that pest, Mr. Darcy.
SL: You mention Mr. Darcy a lot.
EB: I do no such thing.
SL: Do too.
EB: I am not getting into it with you.
SL: Fine. One last question. Is there a happily ever after that the fans will love?
EB: Trust me. They will love it to bits.
SL: On behalf of myself and My Love for Jane Austen fans, thank you for the interview, Miss Bennet. Have fun with your hot cousin.
EB: Thank you. I will try. But he is more difficult even than that snobby prig, Mr. Darcy. Hey, where did I get that lingo? It’s not Regency! I have to get out of here before I begin tweeting my faves or extolling the virtues of a good Pinot Noir! Help me!
Read an excerpt
After a revealing character interview, it’s only fitting that this first stop on the blog tour also include a bonus: an excerpt from A Most Handsome Gentleman. This conversation between Elizabeth and Mr. Collins takes place on the walk home from Aunt Phillips’s home the day they met Mr. Wickham, and is told from Elizabeth Bennet’s point of view.
Mr. Collins’s smug expression confirmed his pride and self-importance. “I came prepared to admire you and your sisters. The young girls are most difficult. They have not the wisdom to encounter my beauty with solemnity as Miss Bennet, Miss Mary, and you are inclined. You manage yourselves well, no matter how struck you are at each opportunity to feast your eyes upon me.”
I should have bit my cheek to help restrain my response, but instead, I could not resist goading him further. “We have your example of how humble one can be when one is extraordinary.”
He nodded. “Now that I have elected to marry, my gallantry in choosing one of you as an olive branch is generous and disinterested on my part. I do not consider it excess praise to say of myself that my choice could be made from a larger and less ordinary selection of ladies, but I believe you know me well enough to recognise my benevolence in spite of my expectations.”
“You are too kind, sir.”
He took the compliment as sincere, joining his hands behind his back with an earnest expression upon his face. “That is correct, madam, but I bear it well.”
He was too much to endure! Could I somehow influence him to tether his inclination to speak excessively about himself, or was he a hopeless cause? “Has it occurred to you that it is not necessary to tell others of your attributes more than once—to trust they are astute enough to recall them or, in fact, that they may have noticed on their own and have no need for a reminder?”
“As you are intelligent enough to have discerned by now, I am a special and unique gentleman. All the ladies, including my patron and her daughter, love my appearance to the extent that every one of them desires to become my wife.”
“Mr. Collins, I doubt even you are above your station to the extent that—”
“Do not question my experience, Cousin. Lady Catherine may be too proud to say so, but when a lady’s admiration of my physical attributes is greatest, she turns covetous. I would wager the thought crossed your mind at some time.”
I bit my lip to prevent my mouth from stating that I had long since changed that opinion, influenced by none other than his own words. But he awaited a reply, so I took advantage of the opportunity. “Come, sir. You are above excessive flattery, be it of yourself or others. I advise you to pause and be quiet whilst attending to their interests. When your turn to speak comes, use thoughtful examples that show you have heard and reflected upon their views, whether you confirm or disagree. That is the way of gentlemen. You should try such a response if you desire the respect of your friends.”
“But I have their respect immediately once they know of my position and that Lady Catherine considers me a most attractive equal. I have no need to pay unwarranted attention to anyone else. And I do pay notice enough to make up my mind about others, and in turn, they recognize my interests are superior when compared to theirs.”
Had I realized at the time what a fool I was to argue with one who did not understand how to take notice of what others had to contribute, I would have ended it and changed the topic. However, I had not yet completely understood him and continued to appeal to him for the rest of the walk home and for the several days that followed. I could not rest and allow one with such perfect looks to remain so foolish and full of himself in conversation. I could make him a much improved man if only he would heed my suggestions—perhaps even a man worth having.
About the Book
Elizabeth Bennet’s life is uncomplicated until she meets a quartet of new men: the haughty but handsome Mr. Darcy, the pert-with-a-pout Mr. Bingley, the confident and captivating Mr. Wickham—and then there is her father’s cousin, the happy man towards whom almost every female eye has turned.
Mr. Collins is HOT—well, incredibly handsome in Regency-speak—beautiful of face, fine of figure, elegant of air, his perfect clothing and hair matching his Greek god-like form. Unfortunately, when he opens his mouth, Elizabeth wishes he were mute. With affected servility and prideful self-conceit, he capitalizes upon his exquisite appearance and fixes on Jane Bennet as his bride.
Can Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy form an alliance to stop Jane’s suitors from issuing challenges—and will Elizabeth coax a smile from Mr. Darcy?
Bestselling Regency romance author Suzan Lauder delivers a hilarious Austenesque romance suitable for all readers of Pride and Prejudice.
Amazon US (paperback)
About the Author
A lover of Jane Austen, Regency period research and costuming, cycling, yoga, blogging, and independent travel, cat mom Suzan Lauder is seldom idle.
Her first effort at a comedy, A Most Handsome Gentleman is the fourth time Lauder has been published by Meryton Press. Her earlier works include a mature Regency romance with a mystery twist, Alias Thomas Bennet, a modern short romance Delivery Boy in the holiday anthology Then Comes Winter, and the dramatic tension filled Regency romance Letter from Ramsgate.
She and Mr. Suze split their time between a loft condo overlooking the Salish Sea and a
150-year-old Spanish colonial home near the sea in Mexico.
Suzan’s lively prose is also available to her readers on her blog, road trips with the redhead
You can contact Suzan also at