Our guest today is Christine Combe, who is back to My Jane Austen Book Club to present her latest novel, Why I Kissed You. It's her 7th JAFF novel and it's a Pride and Prejudice Variation. Scroll down and enjoy reading. ! Good luck in the giveaway, of course! MG
Thank you for having me, Maria Grazia — I am so
very happy to be stopping by today.
Although she vehemently refuses the marriage proposal of Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet soon learns that an unexplainable moment of passion that occurred between them has led a furious Lady Catherine de Bourgh to demand she be thrown out of Mr. Collins’ house!
Fitzwilliam Darcy, although his pride was wounded by Elizabeth’s rejection, finds he cannot allow her to be harmed by his aunt’s fanciful ambition for a marriage between him and her daughter. Fearing further action may be taken to damage Elizabeth’s reputation, he knows that marriage is the only form of protection he can offer her.
Elizabeth and Darcy travel to London to begin the arrangements for a wedding that for all intents and purposes shouldn’t be taking place. In the midst of shopping for wedding clothes, sharing the news with family, and meeting Darcy’s noble relatives, Elizabeth is coming to learn more about who Darcy really is than she ever knew before. At the same time, Darcy is navigating the intricacies of realizing how wrong it is to interfere in the lives of others and how to deserve forgiveness from a friend.
Though they act quickly to begin a new life together where one person is in love and the other now unsure of their feelings, Elizabeth and Darcy can’t stop one final attempt to keep them apart forever. But faith and love—and a little bit of luck—will play their part in determining whether there is a chance to pursue the happily ever after that both of them desperately want.
Now, to further intrigue you, here’s the second half of chapter 3
The Collinses had but four servants, and any one of them could have observed herself and Darcy through a window. This servant had apparently spoken to their master, who naturally reported all to Lady Catherine. She, no doubt, was the true instigator of the plan to turn Elizabeth out, as her cousin was too much a buffoon to take such an idle report seriously. This would not prevent him telling his patroness what the servant alleged to have seen, however, and being determined to secure her nephew as a husband for her daughter, Lady Catherine had prompted Mr. Collins to remove what she now perceived as a threat to her ambition.
“Charlotte, I beg you would believe that I didn’t—I couldn’t!” Elizabeth pleaded. “Surely you must know I would never jeopardize my reputation or that of my family in such a way!”
Charlotte smiled weakly. “I believe you, Lizzy—of course I do! But it was pointed out that you had refused to join us for tea, and neither did Mr. Darcy make an appearance.”
Elizabeth turned briefly to look over her shoulder at Darcy, and found his countenance to be full of anger, though whether at himself or her she was unsure. Turning back to her friend, she said, “I did not go to tea because I genuinely had a headache. I had… I had received some news which I’d found unpleasant and did not feel up to company. Mr. Darcy did call while you were at tea, but only in the hope of discovering that I was feeling better.”
It was on the tip of her tongue to confess about Darcy’s proposal, but if they were to have any hope of keeping that particular unpleasantness between them, she could not. Nor would she use it to save herself from scandal—she had refused him, and surely Darcy would resent her taking it back just to secure her reputation. Not to mention that revealing the whole truth could force them to marry, which she did not believe in that moment either of them wanted.
“Miss Bennet, you need not keep from Mrs. Collins what else we spoke of yesterday,” said Darcy then.
Elizabeth whirled to face him. “You cannot mean it.”
A sardonic smile lifted the corners of his lips. “Well, perhaps do not reveal the more mundane details, but the main point may be made clear.”
Elizabeth searched his gaze—why was he doing this? Why should she reveal that he had made her an offer that she had refused?
“Lizzy? What is he talking about?” Charlotte asked.
Darcy inclined his head, and Elizabeth signed in resignation. She turned to Charlotte and said, “Yesterday, when Mr. Darcy came to the parsonage to check on my welfare, he availed himself of the opportunity to ask for my hand in marriage.”
Charlotte’s eyes widened in shock, then she smiled as the emotion changed to excitement. “Oh, Lizzy—I knew it! Did I not tell you that Mr. Darcy admired you? Begging your pardon, sir, but in observing how you so often looked at my friend, and her revealing that you frequently joined her on her walks, I could not help but think that you had begun to form an attachment to her!”
“No apology is necessary, Mrs. Collins,” said Darcy.
“Charlotte, I have refused him!” Elizabeth cried.
“Refused him?” Confusion was clear in Charlotte’s voice and expression. “I do not understand, Lizzy. Why would you be walking with him again today if you have refused him?”
A warm, heavy hand was laid gently on Elizabeth’s shoulder. “Mrs. Collins, Miss Bennet, it would seem, was not so observant as yourself,” Darcy began. “I quite surprised her with the revelation of my regard, and she requested some time to consider my offer.”
Elizabeth was again amazed. Whatever had happened to “disguise of every sort is my abhorrence”? She then bitterly thought that perhaps, having schemed to prevent Mr. Bingley’s learning Jane was in London, Darcy had developed a sudden taste for subterfuge.
“Pray forgive me, Elizabeth, but what is there to consider?” asked Charlotte. “Mr. Darcy is one of the wealthiest men in England—you would want for nothing! You would be mistress of a grand estate in the country and a house in town, and probably be given more pin money than my husband earns in a year!”
Only her love for Charlotte and a wish to preserve their friendship prevented Elizabeth from lashing out and embarrassing her before Mr. Darcy with the words I don’t want to be like you, doing whatever I can to spend as little time with my husband as possible because I cannot stand to be in his presence.
She knew Darcy could feel her tension by the way he gave her shoulder a slight squeeze; she’d almost forgotten his hand still rested there, and she refused to dwell on the sense of comfort she felt in having his support.
Drawing a steadying breath, Elizabeth said, “Charlotte, even with such a man making me an offer, there is much to consider. I honestly do not even know if I am ready to marry. You also know perfectly well that my situation in life and the character of my parents and younger sisters—even my person and disposition—are all equally against me. Mr. Darcy might well be thought a perfect match for me, but I will not be thought a perfect match for him—a match between us would be seen as a degradation.”
Charlotte reached for her hand. “But Lizzy, my dear, the wife of Mr. Darcy must have such extraordinary sources of happiness necessarily attached to her situation, that she could, upon the whole, have no cause to repine!”
Stepping closer and lowering her voice to a whisper that Darcy no doubt still heard, she added, “He loves you, Lizzy—I am sure of it. Perhaps you do not much like him now, but that will change! I know it will. If you would but give him a chance to show you his affection, your feelings are bound to change for the better.”
Again, Elizabeth’s self-command was strained as she bit back another retort which would have caused her friend pain.
“Charlotte? Is Lizzy staying after all?”
Maria’s timid question sounded from the parsonage doorway. Darcy’s hand dropped from Elizabeth’s shoulder on seeing her.
“No, Maria, I am not staying,” said she. “I have been cast out based on hearsay, and even were Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins to rescind their judgment, I would not stay for their having the audacity to be so cruel as to not even listen to my side of the story.”
A sudden rush of anger for having been so easily judged and dismissed from favor—even favor which was pompous and insolent—coursed through Elizabeth, and she crossed her arms as she said, “Tell me, Charlotte, how did Mr. Collins and his esteemed patroness propose that I should get home?”
Color quickly filled Charlotte’s cheeks, and she refused to meet Elizabeth’s gaze. “You… you are to make your own way, as… as women of such impudent character and loose morals surely have their means.”
Elizabeth now began to shake with fury. “How dare they?!” she cried, and only Darcy’s hand returning to her shoulder prevented her saying more.
“Mrs. Collins,” said he, “I beg you would be so good as to serve your friend some tea and keep her from wandering off until I return.”
“Wandering off?” Elizabeth retorted as she turned to look up at him. “Just where am I supposed to be wandering off to with one trunk in my arms and the other no doubt strapped to my back? How far do you imagine I will get in such a state?”
The same sardonic smile with which he had favored her before appeared again. “I do not doubt you would think of somewhere to go, and be halfway there by dinnertime,” Darcy quipped. “Nevertheless, pray be here when I return with my carriage. I should not be longer than half an hour.”
At this, he bowed and strode quickly away, headed for Rosings. “Come, Lizzy,” said Charlotte. “Let us take Mr. Darcy’s advice and have some tea.”
Elizabeth acquiesced with reluctance, having no desire to enter a house she had been thrown out of. As she stepped through the door, she found herself wondering which of the Collins servants had been spying on her and Darcy the day before. No doubt all of them are spies for Lady Catherine, she thought angrily, as Charlotte led her into the dining parlor and directed her to sit at the table before going to the bellpull to summon a servant. Maria joined her there, looking utterly confused, leading Elizabeth to wonder if she had been made privy to the contents of the note which had dictated her removal.
Peppermint tea was ordered, and when the housekeeper came in with the tray a short time later, a suspicion as to just whom it was that had seen or heard what happened between Elizabeth and Darcy occurred to her. The lady lifted an eyebrow and wore a look of “What is she still doing here?” in her eyes.
“That will be all, Mrs. Poole, thank you,” said Charlotte, dismissing the housekeeper, who was also the cook, before she busied herself with preparing the tea.
“I’d consider hiring a new housekeeper if I were you,” Elizabeth muttered.
“What do you mean, Lizzy?” Maria asked.
“Nothing, except… Suffice it to say that a private communication between myself and Mr. Darcy was overheard and relayed to both Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine. That is why your sister has been ordered to turn me out.”
“What will you do now, Lizzy?” Charlotte asked quietly.
“Seems I haven’t much choice, does it not?” Elizabeth rejoined. “The only way to prevent a scandal will be to do the very thing I swore only yesterday I could never be prevailed upon to do.”
“And what is that Lizzy?” asked Maria.
Elizabeth took a sip from the cup of tea she had been served, savored it, then swallowed and sighed. “It means that I will have to marry Mr. Darcy—that is, if he will still have me.”
Upon my word, what a mess poor Lizzy has found herself in! Do you think she and Darcy will be able to come to an understanding?
Why I Kissed You is now available from Amazon in eBook, paperback, and hardcover editions! Leave a comment on today’s blog for a chance to win your very own Kindle copy—and follow along on the blog tour for a chance to win a signed paperback! If for any reason you cannot comment on a blog, notify me (Christine) by email and I will be sure to add you to the drawing for the paperback.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christine, like many a JAFF author before her, is a long-time admirer of Jane Austen‘s work, and she hopes that her alternate versions are as enjoyable as the originals. She has plans to one day visit England and take a tour of all the grand country estates which have featured in film adaptations, and often dreams of owning one. Christine lives in Ohio and is already at work on her next book.
Blog: All That They Desire
Facebook: Christine Combe
Looking forward to this :-)
I think this just went to the top of my TBR list
Fabulous that Lizzie must marry Darcy, it cannot be any other way. Your book sounds great!! Best wishes Charlotte
I can’t wait to read this
Fabulous excerpt and a conclusion to the earlier excerpt that I read along the tour. Thanks for sharing it with us, Christine. It certainly has whet my appetite to read this variation.
Enjoyed reading this excerpt definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the story. Thank you for sharing
You have given us a great appetizer. I should like to endure further...
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