I didn’t read Jane Austen until I was forced to do so in college. Pride and Prejudice – sounded depressing and I actually considered changing sections of my British Literature course when I saw it on the reading list. After I read the book, I was hooked. For Thanksgiving break, my roommate and I were both staying on campus, so we borrowed my professor's VHS set of the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice that we binge watched twice.
Like a good dealer, I got my next roommate addicted as well. Days where one of us was sick or having a really bad day we would pop tape #4 into the VCR, curl up in our pajamas, and watch Colin Firth dive into a lake.
I had never heard of fanfiction and was wandering Target one day when I discovered Linda Berdoll's Darcy Takes a Wife. I devoured the book, then proceeded to continue my dealer-like tendencies by passing it on to everyone I had already hooked on Pride and Prejudice. As I was ordering my 4th copy of the book on Amazon, the site suggested some variations by Abigail Reynolds. After ordering a few of her books I started getting more suggestions and finally realized Pride and Prejudice variations were a genre all their own. Since then, I've been hooked.
As I was writing the epilogue to Recognizing Love I discovered the heart of why I love variations so much. Not only do they provide an opportunity to spend more time with my favorite characters from all fiction, the stories provide a plethora of ways for Elizabeth and Darcy to find happiness.
No matter how wrong things go, there is some way they can find each other in the end. In this scene Elizabeth is talking to her Aunt Gardiner.
“When I think of all the whims of fate, I feel positively faint. How very different my life would be if we had come to Pemberley the day before, or if Mr. Darcy had not ridden ahead of his party. I wonder if we ever would have met again.”
“You would have come together again, Lizzy. Some things are simply meant to be. If you had not seen him at that time then you would have seen him at Jane and Bingley’s wedding or run into him on the streets of London. I cannot believe life to be so fragile that we have only one moment in which to find and seize our happiness. You might as well ask what would have happened had you not told him of Lydia’s plight or had he not chosen to join us in our search for her. Still, the two of you would have found one another again.”
“I hope that you are correct and there is some master plan for our happiness that offers multiple chances. Much as I am determined to act of my own free will, I would not mind having a safety in reserve.”
If they can do it, maybe there is hope for the rest of us to find a happily-ever-after, no matter what shape our lives may be in at the moment. I certainly hope so.
Today’s real excerpt (you didn’t think I’d just tease you with that little one did you?) comes from Chapter One as Elizabeth and the Gardiners have finished dinner at Pemberley after running into Darcy the day before.
Elizabeth finished her piece to polite applause from the ladies and was urged to begin another. She gracefully acceded.
As she played, the gentlemen joined them. Although she kept her eyes fixed on her music, Elizabeth felt his presence as he approached her.
He turned the page without cue and she felt her cheeks warm. Never before had she blushed so much as she had since coming to Derbyshire. Perhaps she had taken too much sun and her cheeks were now susceptible?
He did have a powerful manner. He may as well be the sun, causing her cheeks to burn by his mere presence.
“What amuses you so, Miss Elizabeth?”
She glanced to see Mr. Darcy smiling upon her then hastily returned her attention to the sheet music in front of her. She knew the piece well enough that she did not need the music but felt safer not meeting his gaze.
“I was thinking perhaps you are Ra, the sun-god, come to bring your light to the darkness. My skin seems to color whenever you are near and I could come up with no better explanation.”
Chuckling, he leaned closer as he turned a page. “I believe you have that backwards, Miss Elizabeth. You are the light illuminating how dark and empty a place was before your arrival,” he said in hushed tones. His hot breath tickled her ear and her heart raced before he retreated to his full height.
“Why Mr. Darcy, I believe you are flirting with me.”
“Simply stating a fact. And I find your glow to be quite delightful. I confess I wish to see how often I might make you blush.”
“Whomever would have guessed that the staid Mr. Darcy has such a wicked streak?” she wondered aloud. She looked up to see his attention fully upon her with an intensity that made her fingers falter. Elizabeth quickly returned her attention to the music, finishing the piece with neither of them saying anything more.
“Georgiana, dear, will you play for us?” Miss Bingley asked. “You have such skill that it would be a crime to hide it away.” Elizabeth caught her indignant expression before Miss Bingley turned a cloying smile on Miss Darcy.
Mr. Darcy took Elizabeth’s hand and then led her to a settee by the Gardiners. The only other open seat was now next to that lady, and she preened at what must have been a planned situation in her favor.
“If you have left your post, then I shall assist Miss Darcy turning pages,” Mrs. Gardiner said to Mr. Darcy as she rose from the settee. Elizabeth did not dare look in Miss Bingley’s direction for fear of laughing at whatever her expression might be.
As Miss Darcy began a complicated sonata, Elizabeth said, “Your sister plays very well. She has a great talent.”
“Music is her first love, though she does not care to exhibit.”
“She does not perform for strangers either?” Elizabeth teased.
Mr. Darcy replied with a grin. “You find yourself at the mercy of hosts quite ill-at-ease with new people.”
“I cannot say that is true. You have spoken with my aunt and uncle at great length.”
“Your aunt’s connection to the area makes her very easy to converse with. And your uncle…. We found many topics of mutual interest. I have invited him to join me, along with Bingley and Hurst, to go fishing tomorrow morning.”
Elizabeth beamed, pleased that Mr. Darcy had been delighted with some of her relations for whom she had no reason to blush.
“My aunt and I had planned to call upon Miss Darcy tomorrow. We shall time our call to coincide with your fishing plans.”
“I know Georgiana would be pleased to have you come.”
“Pray, Miss Eliza,” Miss Bingley called from across the room. “Are the militia still quartered in Meryton?”
“No, Miss Bingley, they are in Brighton for the summer.”
“What a loss for your family. I know you had some particular friends among their number. But did you not say Miss Lydia was in Brighton? How fortunate for her. She will be entertained by officers to her heart’s content.”
“She is visiting her friend, Mrs. Forster. You may remember the colonel’s wife?”
“Oh yes, she was Miss Lydia’s age, was she not? Hardly a suitable chaperone for one with your sister’s high spirits. Why, if you are not careful, Miss Lydia will beat you to the altar.”
“I had not considered marriage a race to be won,” Elizabeth said.
“No, of course not, but then you have such limited options. Why ’tis no wonder you encouraged the attentions of Mr. Wickham.”
Miss Darcy faltered at the piano, but Elizabeth did not dare look in her direction. Mrs. Gardiner apologized for failing to turn the page and placed her hand on the girl’s shoulder.
“You are mistaken, Miss Bingley. Speaking to others at a gathering is simply my habit and need not indicate an interest in matrimony—though I now understand your reluctance to converse in Hertfordshire. I have nothing against officers, but I would prefer a more settled life.” Elizabeth rose and walked to the pianoforte.
“Miss Darcy, are you ready for our duet?” she asked. The girl mumbled something unintelligible as Elizabeth changed the music sheets and sat next to her, shielding her from the rest of the room.
“Hold your head up and compose yourself while I sing,” Elizabeth said quietly, squeezing her knee. Georgiana spared Elizabeth a miserable glance. “Do not concern yourself so. I do not allow Miss Bingley to bother me, no matter what track her spite takes. I am sorry she has upset you in her desire to wound me.” Georgiana looked back nervously as she considered this, blinking a few times to clear her eyes and sitting straighter.
Elizabeth could still feel the strain radiating from the younger girl, but Miss Darcy managed to compose herself well enough. Elizabeth wished there was more she could offer her, but as her new acquaintance, the girl was unaware her brother had told Elizabeth how Wickham had tried to run off with her for her fortune, and Elizabeth hesitated to say anything more. Hopefully, exhibiting thus would allow Miss Darcy to avoid speaking to anyone as she composed herself.
As she sang, Elizabeth watched Mr. Darcy walk to the sideboard for a drink. His jaw twitched when he noticed the Bingley sisters snickering behind their fans, and then turned his attention to Elizabeth. He mouthed a silent, “Thank you.” Elizabeth gave a slight nod before returning her attention to the others.
About the book - Recognizing Love
Accepting Mr. Darcy’s proposal and allowing him to assume a love she does not yet feel pains Miss Elizabeth Bennet but she is certain she can love him…in time. After all of the miseries he endured to salvage her youngest sister’s reputation, how could she not come to love such a man?
Unfortunately, Lady Catherine arrives, bringing even thornier complications. With the many objections Darcy's family will have regarding his marriage to the daughter of an unremarkable country squire, what more trouble can Lady Catherine stir up should she learn Elizabeth's secret?
In this Pride and Prejudice romance variation, what will Mr. Darcy do when he learns his beloved has accepted him although her heart is not engaged?
About the Author
Lizzy Brandon once attempted to switch sections of a Brit Lit course after seeing Pride and Prejudice on the reading list. How could a book with such a boring title possibly compete with Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, or Frankenstein? Luckily, her request was denied and she was introduced to Jane Austen’s amazing world of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy.
Years later, Lizzy was thrilled to discover the world of Pride and Prejudice sequels and variations where her favorite characters could live on with countless adventures. After enjoying reading variations for years, she decided to try writing her own.
3 Paperback copies of Recognizing Love
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