When a man’s honor is at stake, what is he willing to risk for the woman he loves?
After a disastrous marriage proposal and the delivery of an illuminating letter, Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet hope never to lay eyes on one another again. When a chance meeting in Hunsford immediately throws them in each other’s way, Darcy realizes his behavior needs correcting, and Elizabeth starts to appreciate his redeeming qualities. But is it enough to forgive the past and overcome their prejudices?
Jane and Bingley’s possible reconciliation and Lydia’s ill-conceived trip to Brighton pose their own challenges for two people struggling to find their way to love. When scandalous news threatens their chance at happiness, will Darcy and Elizabeth’s new bond be shattered, or will their growing affection hold steadfast?
Read an excerpt
The following excerpt takes place following Darcy and Elizabeth’s London meetings after Hunsford. In this scene, Bingley and his sisters are visiting with the Darcys in London. Georgiana has met Elizabeth more than once and is more than a little surprised to learn her brother could ever have had a word to say against her newest friend.
“Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s manners were pleasing, Miss Bingley,” Georgiana murmured.
“You are a sweet girl to speak kindly of one so beneath you. I believe, Louisa, there was a time when we were all amazed to find that Eliza Bennet was a reputed beauty. I know Mr. Darcy eventually found her eyes to be fine, but I find them to have a shrewish look. I particularly recollect Mr. Darcy saying one evening, ‘She a beauty? I should as soon call her mother a wit.’”
At the pained look on his sister’s face, Darcy wished his former opinions of Elizabeth had been more sensible. He must do what he could to atone for his mistake. “Her eyes are not only fine, but striking, and there is a general sweetness in her countenance that those who know her well can readily perceive.”
Miss Bingley steered the conversation back to Bingley’s summer plans. “Can you be sure that Jane wishes to continue her acquaintance with you? You could come with us to Bath instead.”
“You have no reason to believe that Miss Bennet no longer wishes my company, do you?”
“Jane is serene and mild. Perhaps she is just as welcoming to any man’s attentions. Perhaps it is her nature.” Bingley pursed his lips but reaffirmed that Miss Bennet appeared pleased with him when he called at Gracechurch Street. He then asked his sister to come to Netherfield to be his hostess.
“You may return to the country, Charles, but I shall not! I shall join my sister and brother in Bath. We shall be in a good situation. I am fond of Bath and am determined to stay there until we adjourn to Pemberley with Mr. Darcy in August.” She looked admiringly at her object, who had returned to his book.
“You may do as you please, Caroline, but I am removing to Hertfordshire in June and shall stay there indefinitely.”
“Miss Bingley, my plans for the summer have changed, and I shall not be hosting a party at Pemberley.” She looked at Darcy in alarm. “I shall join Bingley at Netherfield and shall not be removing to Pemberley until a desirable event takes place.” Without elaborating on what event he desired, Darcy asked Georgiana to speak with him privately.
The Darcys went away, and Miss Bingley was left in the company of her brother, likely to spend the rest of the call dissuading him from offering to Jane.
Darcy led his sister into the library and closed the door. He sighed at the sight of his sister fidgeting with her hands and her gaze on the floor. She clearly wished to speak to him but knew not how to broach the subject. Again he wished Georgiana would not be so anxious, but he did not how to encourage her. Elizabeth would be better suited for such a task.
“Georgiana, what is on your mind?” He tried not to sound harsh. “It is all over your face, so you might as well come out with it.”
“Did you truly speak poorly of Miss Elizabeth Bennet to Miss Bingley?” His sister looked as though she was on the verge of tears. “I am ashamed that I did, and I can say nothing in my defense.”
“I do not understand. Lizzy was sociable to me and never once made me feel as if I were a means by which she could win your attentions.” Her words came forth in a rush and grew louder as she became more distressed. “Why would you insult her and her family to Miss Bingley when you admire Lizzy? Do not deny it!” she cried as Darcy opened his mouth to speak. “You have never once encouraged me to know any woman of your acquaintance, yet you introduced Lizzy to me and even took me to meet her relations in Cheapside. You are staying in Hertfordshire for the summer because she is there, not because you desire Mr. Bingley’s company.”
“I do not deny it.” His voice was low. “I do admire Eli—Miss Bennet and was in error when I spoke to Miss Bingley. We...quarreled in the past and misunderstood one another grievously. She has taught me a lesson regarding my behavior to others, hard indeed at first, but advantageous. I have earned her forgiveness. Now may I ask for yours?”
“You do not owe me an apology, and if Lizzy does not think less of you, then it is not my place to do so.”
“She is ‘Lizzy’ to you, then?”
“Do you not approve?”
Darcy could hardly explain his jealousy in being unable to refer to Elizabeth by her given name yet. “On the contrary, I am pleased that you have become friends, and she would be proud of you, I am sure, to have defended her so valiantly.”
Georgiana appeared shy at the memory of her outburst. “Is there any truth to Miss Bingley’s comments about Lizzy’s family?”
“Some of them can be indecorous, yes. Her immediate relations are not as fashionable as the Gardiners or her elder sister; however, they are her family and must be respected.”
Georgiana nodded and walked towards the door. “Fitzwilliam?” she said, turning back to him. “So long as you are happy and she loves you, I am exceedingly gratified by your choice.” She offered a small smile and hastily exited the room before Darcy could do more than wonder when his younger sister had become so perceptive.
About the Author
Heather Moll is an avid reader with a B.A. in European history and a M.A. in library science, so it is astonishing that she did not discover Jane Austen until her late-twenties. Making up for lost time, she devoured all of Austen’s novels, her letters, and unpublished works, joined JASNA, and spent far too much time researching the Regency era. She is thrilled to have found fellow Janeites and the JAFF community, if only to prove that her interests aren’t so strange after all. Heather is a former librarian turned stay-at-home mother who struggles to find time for all of the important things, like reading and writing.