From the Author
Thank you so much, Maria Grazia, for this opportunity to visit My Jane Austen Book Club and talk about my new release, Gravity. It’s such a great pleasure to be here.
When I can, I always like to include a Jane Austen quote as the epigraph in my books. I was amazed to find one so ideally suited to my new release as the following words from Sense and Sensibility:
“What have wealth or grandeur to do with happiness?”
In Gravity, Mr. Darcy is about to find out.
About The Book
Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is a single man of a large fortune who stands to gain even more wealth and power with the advent of his marriage to his cousin, the sole heiress of Rosings Park. It is his destiny. His family expects the union. He is determined to let nothing stand in his way.
Upon accepting an offer to spend the summer at Pemberley, Miss Elizabeth Bennet believed she was in no danger from Mr. Darcy. The two of them met in London and barely tolerated each other. But what happens at Pemberley could not possibly have occurred in London, and it does not take long for Elizabeth to discover that she is indeed in grave danger of falling in love with the gentleman.
What about the gentleman’s feelings? Will Mr. Darcy remain steady to his purpose and marry his wealthy cousin, or will his desire for Elizabeth make him realize his true purpose is about to unfold?
Read an excerpt
A step or two closer and they would be in each other’s arms. The tall, handsome gentleman bowed ever so slightly. “Pardon me, Miss—”
Elizabeth curtsied. “No, pardon me, sir.” An awkward silence ensued. Standing this close, she found the stranger more handsome than she had thought. Say something, she silently demanded. Say anything!
“I suppose you mean to chastise me for nearly colliding into you,” she said as a means of breaking the dreadful silence, “—or perhaps you feel I intentionally threw myself into your path as have so many other young ladies before me this evening.”
His smile in the wake of her deliberate impertinence took Elizabeth aback. This is the first time I have seen him smile all night!
“There is something about you which leads me to suspect that I am perfectly safe in that regard,” he uttered, finally.
Elizabeth said, “Oh, my! I am not sure whether I should be offended or flattered by such a remark.”
By his expression, he was a bit baffled. “Pardon me?”
“Should I be offended,” she began, “because you perceive me as one who is not capable of tempting you or flattered because you are willing to risk that I am?”
He nodded. “Risk it, indeed. After all, the night is young.” The gentleman cleared his throat. “That is to say, I dare not spend the entire evening eluding the company of young ladies who have – as you say – thrown themselves into my path.”
Though flattered in hearing this, Elizabeth did not mean to let him know.
“I am surprised one would admit to such stratagems, sir,” she responded, half rebukingly, half teasingly.
“If what you are accusing me of is indeed engaging in a stratagem of some sort, it is evidently one I have not attempted to employ with you.”
“No doubt, I ought to consider myself among the luckier ladies in attendance this evening.”
“Our conversing with each other as though we are acquaintances of a long duration must surely satisfy my purposes in preventing other young ladies from – again, as you say, throwing themselves into my path.” Half shrugging, he continued, “However, before we continue engaging in such delightful subterfuge as this, I believe I—”
“Subterfuge, sir? I do not know that I would consider myself a willing participant in your scheme to discourage the attention of other young women. I might argue you have given me no choice.”
“Well, I suppose you could walk away, but then I would be terribly hurt, and I do not believe you are the type of young lady who would willingly harm anyone.”
A challenge cloaked in flattery, Elizabeth silently considered. How intriguing.
Before she could fashion a fitting response, the elegant Lady Ellen Fitzwilliam approached Elizabeth and her gentleman companion.
“My dearest nephew, I see that you are acquainted with Miss Bennet.” She looked at Elizabeth. “My dear, why did you not tell me that you already knew my nephew?”
Elizabeth could feel the color spread all over her body. “Your ladyship,” she said, curtsying. “I am afraid—”
The gentleman interrupted, “Your ladyship, I am afraid the young lady is far too generous to tell you that until a few moments ago, the two of us had never laid eyes on each other. I took it upon myself to flaunt the rules of proper decorum by throwing myself into her path and introducing myself. However, I am failing miserably. If you would do the honors, I would appreciate it greatly.”
The countess raised a quizzical brow. “By all means. Miss Elizabeth Bennet, allow me to present my nephew, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley and Derbyshire.”
Elizabeth’s eyes widened. “Darcy! As in Miss Georgiana Darcy?”
“Do you know my sister?”
“A little,” said Elizabeth. “Well, what I mean to say is—”
Here again, Lady Ellen interrupted. “Indeed, your sister and Miss Bennet had the opportunity of making each other’s acquaintance just the other day at my home.” She smiled at Elizabeth fondly. “The two of them have since met on a few other occasions as well.”
Elizabeth rather suspected, based on her conversations with his sister, that he was a very protective older brother. Elizabeth searched the gentleman’s face for some sign of how her ladyship’s revelation affected him. She detected no hint of disapproval, which she regarded as a good sign. On the other hand, she detected no trace of his tacit approval, either.
Lady Ellen’s voice pierced her musings. “Darcy, more than a few of my friends have complained of your reluctance to dance this evening. I know how much you dislike the amusement in general, but I shall not accept that as an excuse, especially when there are so many young ladies in want of partners.”
She tucked her arm into the fold of Elizabeth’s. “My dear Miss Elizabeth, I noticed you have not been dancing?” She looked at her nephew. “Darcy, you must request Miss Elizabeth’s hand for a set. I wager even you cannot refuse to dance when so much beauty is before you.”
As much as Elizabeth wanted to dance, doing so with a reluctant partner hardly seemed fun. She was on the verge of forming her mouth to say no to his aunt’s entreaty when the gentleman extended his hand most willingly.
“I would consider it an honor, Miss Bennet.”
Elizabeth surrendered her dance card to his outstretched hand and watched as he penciled in his name. Taking the card back, she glanced down and could not help but admire his excellent penmanship. She smiled a little inside. What else did I expect? His initial behavior aside, he appears in every way the consummate gentleman.
Elizabeth was once again by Mrs. Hamilton’s side when Mr. Darcy claimed her hand for their dance. When at last the two of them stood opposite each other on the ballroom floor, a strange feeling came over Elizabeth in doing so.
Is it just my imagination, or is every eye of the ton upon us?
None of the previous dance couplings that evening had garnered such attention. It stood to reason that her estimable dance partner was the chief object of everyone’s fascination.
As a point of fact, I have yet to see the gentleman stand opposite anyone else this evening. Perhaps his dance skills are wanting.
Her concern in that regard was put to rest the instant the musicians commenced playing. Is there anything at all about Mr. Darcy that might be found wanting?
As she was dancing with the older brother of her new friend, Miss Darcy, who quite frankly never had an unflattering thing to say about him, Elizabeth thought surely she would find their conversation throughout the dance engaging. She surely did not expect the now taciturn man opposite her.
What on earth has become of the Mr. Darcy I met just a quarter-hour ago? Elizabeth silently beckoned. Dancing in silence was certainly not unheard of, but it was not exactly Elizabeth’s idea of fun. She determined to draw him out when the dance reunited them.
“I have always enjoyed this dance,” she said when they were once again face to face. “It is one of my favorites.”
“Indeed,” he replied.
She waited in vain for him to say more. At length, she spoke on the size of the room, even the number of couples, and still, he would not talk. Elizabeth grew more determined. “I now perfectly comprehend your motives for avoiding the dance floor all evening.”
“I beg your pardon.”
“At first, I suspected that your dance skills were wanting and hence your reason for not dancing when there are so many young ladies in want of partners, but now I realize it is merely your way of avoiding conversation.”
“I have never been given to understand that conversing while dancing was a rule, Miss Bennet.”
“Oh! But I sincerely believe one must have some conversation while dancing. I find it renders the experience infinitely more diverting.”
The two were parted again by the dance, and Elizabeth, pleased for having garnered more than a couple of syllables from the gentleman, could hardly wait until they were reunited.
“Her ladyship said you know my sister, Georgiana.”
“Indeed. We are recent acquaintances, of course. In the short time that I have known her, I must confess to having grown exceedingly fond of her.”
Mr. Darcy’s expression in hearing this gave Elizabeth pause. “I hope that does not meet with your disapproval, sir.”
Without responding one way or another, Mr. Darcy said, “My aunt said nothing about your family. I presume they are longtime acquaintances of hers. Would that be on the countess’s side or the earl’s?”
“Actually, neither, Mr. Darcy.”
At the moment, the dance drew the two of them apart. Elizabeth’s busy mind would not be silenced. Pray, he is not the sort of gentleman who judges others by their particular situation in life.
“I was introduced to Lady Matlock and, by extension, your sister by one of her ladyship’s close friends who just happens to be a close friend of one of my relations. Your aunt’s friend is Mrs. Hamilton, the woman whom I was standing with when you claimed my hand for this dance. I presume you know her.”
“I have never had the pleasure of meeting her.”
“I am more than happy to introduce the two of you to each other after the dance.”
Again, he did not respond to Elizabeth’s offer. Instead, he said, “Is that the extent of your family’s connection to my uncle and my aunt, Lord and Lady Matlock?”
His puzzled expression combined with his ensuing silence piqued Elizabeth’s curiosity.
“Sir, you appear troubled,” she said.
“It is just that Lord and Lady Matlock,” he began, “are among the most prominent people in the ton. Their reach is wide, and their connections are vast.”
Coming to an abrupt halt, Elizabeth drew a little closer and looked the gentleman straight in the eye. “My family is not considered as part of the ton, sir. My family hails from Hertfordshire in a village near Meryton.”
Now, Mr. Darcy really was silent. The manner in which he looked at Elizabeth was such that no other man had ever looked at her before.
Is he looking at me merely to find fault? Or perhaps there is another explanation—one I am unable to conceive? Whatever is his purpose, I dare not look away.
Upon their resuming the dance, the sound of her pounding heartbeat shut out all the noise on the crowded ballroom floor. Her eyes staring into his brooding dark eyes, every other dancer blurred. The two of them were the only couple in the room. And so it was, at least in Elizabeth’s busy mind, for the remainder of the dance.
When the dance concluded, Mr. Darcy escorted Elizabeth back to Mrs. Hamilton’s side. However, rather than remain long enough to allow for a proper introduction as Elizabeth had offered, he simply bowed and went away.
Elizabeth almost gasped aloud. Almost. A kind, congenial woman, Mrs. Hamilton did not seem to be bothered in the least bit by Mr. Darcy’s slight, but Elizabeth surely was. And she began to consider, Miss Darcy’s high praise of her brother’s excellent qualities aside, Mr. Darcy was not nearly so handsome after all.
(Reprinted with Author’s Permission. All Rights Reserved)
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