The wait for another North and South variation is almost over! Stop by More Agreeably Engaged to find out about the cover and plot for Nowhere But North, and leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway.
It has been two years since I last published a North & South novel. While my heart remained with John and Margaret, their story took its time to develop. I am delighted to announce that it is finally close!
I have become something of a hermit lately, spending every waking minute at the laptop and missing out on all the fun books and audiobooks I have waiting in my queue. I’m wrapping up a grisly slash-and-dash round of editing, then the manuscript goes off to some of the sharpest eyes I know of for some final checks, and likely a much-needed dose of reality.
Meanwhile, Janet Taylor has been working hard on an absolute stunner of a cover. I say this every time, but this is my new favourite of all the covers she has designed for me! I can’t wait to reveal it, as well as the official blurb on her blog More Agreeably Engaged. Don’t forget to stop by her blog on August 1 to check it out!
Until then, I’ll leave you with another short excerpt from the book. It’s back to the editing boards for me, so I will catch you all soon!
Excerpt from Chapter Two
Margaret did eventually take John’s—or rather their—carriage to her old house. The experience of commanding her own driver was novel enough. It was more eerie still to make her way up the steps which had been her home for a year and a half, knowing that yesterday’s indifferent ceremony had changed everything for her.
In truth, she would much rather not be facing her dismantled house again so soon, but that cold grey door was simply less intimidating than the available company in her new home. She did not like shouldering this task on her own, but more daunting still was the request she would have had to make of the man who had unwillingly obligated himself to her. No, far better to let him to his work than to remind him of the weight of the duties he had assumed!
With a long breath, she put her hand to the knocker, fearful of what the opening door would reveal. The harmony of her old home was far greater to Margaret’s sentimental heart than the sum of fondly remembered trinkets and baubles. This had been her mother’s last home. Here was the last place where her touch could be felt, and now, it must all be broken up. Margaret’s eyes threatened that familiar hot, prickling sensation as Dixon opened the door to her.
“Oh, it’s you, Miss! I feared it’d be the landlord.”
Margaret smiled, not even bothering to correct Dixon’s old form of address. “No, and you shall not see the landlord, Dixon. Mr Thornton has the matter in hand.”
Dixon peered around Margaret’s shoulder to the waiting carriage. “Well, that’s fine enough, then!” She took the privileged bride’s cape and bonnet at the door, her fond gaze searching her young mistress for any symptoms of either contentment or distress.
Margaret was not insensible to Dixon’s scrutiny. “I am well, Dixon.”
Dixon harrumphed, a little embarrassed at being caught staring, and led the way to the upstairs sitting room. Margaret suppressed a quiet smile, but it vanished when she entered the room which had once been her mother’s domain.
Everything was in shambles. Dixon had been busy, and the room was nothing at all as Margaret would have chosen to remember it. They had boxed her mother’s clothing long ago, but now even her little portrait frames and mementos were unceremoniously swept from sight. Though still cluttered, the chamber was already barren.
“Oh, Dixon!” she breathed hoarsely. “I do not think I can do this!”
Dixon heaved a weary sigh. It was likely as hard on her as it was on Margaret, but the old serving woman had not the luxury of an advantageous marriage to lift her from her grief. All was on her broad shoulders, but she would bear up, as she ways did. “There, now, Miss,” she soothed. “We’ll have this settled soon enough.”
Margaret sniffed, glancing about the room with sorrow. “Mr Thornton says we need not hurry.”
Dixon pouted and turned to wrap a little silver bell for packing. She made no reply, but her opinion was plain.
Margaret stiffened. “Dixon, I can see you still disapprove, but I will not have you speaking ill of Mr Thornton. He has been very good to us.”
“Oh, yes,” Dixon muttered bitterly. “I’d warrant he has. Caught himself a lady, he has, and now he must think himself quite the gentleman.”
“Dixon!” Margaret’s ire flashed. “I will not allow you to disrespect my husband. If you continue to speak so, I will dismiss you immediately!”
Dixon turned slowly, her expression all astonishment. She stared, as if trying to determine if Margaret were in earnest. “Beg your pardon, Miss.”
“I am a married woman, Dixon,” Margaret reminded her, a dangerous edge to her voice which she had never used with Dixon.
“Ma’am,” Dixon corrected herself. Her face quivered in confused agitation as she turned to her task again.
Margaret remained frozen to her place, her arms crossed over her breast as a shield against the cruelties of her new trials. She was terrified herself at this path, and could have wished for Dixon’s encouragement just now. “Dixon, I hope you may come to understand my reasons….”
Dixon looked back up, her face growing red again. “I thought you were set on going to Corfu,” she grumbled accusingly. “I wouldn’t see you go to Cadiz and be converted, but why not go to your cousin? She’d’ve had you, to be sure!”
Margaret narrowed her eyes. “I preferred to remain here, Dixon. I do not need to justify myself to you. I had sufficient inducement to stay, and that is all.”
Chastised again, Dixon turned back to the tray of curios and trinkets. She said not another word for three full hours.
Have you been following the blog tour for London Holiday? If you haven’t had a chance to check out the fun, here are the stops so far on the tour! At each stop, you can enter for a chance to win an ebook of London Holiday, so stop at them all!
So Little Time: We talk about what makes a Romantic Comedy
Diary of an Eccentric: A tribute to Roman Holiday
Just Jane 1813: Claudine’s Review
My Life Journey: Loren’s Review
From Pemberley to Milton: An exclusive vignette: Darcy asks for Mr Bennet’s blessing
My Jane Austen Book Club: We talk about the life of a Regency Footman
Half Agony, Half Hope: A Review and an Excerpt from Chapter 15
Austenesque Reviews: A History of Vauxhall Gardens and an Excerpt from Chapters 19 & 20
My Love for Jane Austen: An exclusive vignette: Darcy plays matchmaker
Obsessed with Mr Darcy: Review
My Vices and Weaknesses: All about hot air balloons, and an excerpt!
A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life: The attractions at Vauxhall Gardens
Thank you so much to all the bloggers for their support, and for all the readers who are taking the time to stop by!
The first blog review is in, and I am dancing on the moon! Check out what Rita Deodato has to say about London Holiday!
In case you haven’t seen it yet, Janet Taylor is hosting a cover reveal for London Holiday over at More Agreeably Engaged! She also has an excerpt from Chapter 2 of the book, and she’s hosting a giveaway, so you don’t want to miss it. Click the banner below to check it out!
And if you want some even better news, London Holiday is now available on Amazon! Check it out HERE!
Happy Summer Holiday!
I am dreadfully wicked, I know, but I am not sharing the title… yet. Soon, my lovelies, very soon! Meanwhile, I couldn’t resist sharing a bit from Chapter 3, a Meet-not-so-cute between our dearly adored couple. The image at the top of the page will give you a teensy hint about the story as well. Enjoy!
His eyes were leaden weights, throbbing and aching with each queasy pound of his chest. What had he done last night? Even a fall from his horse typically did not cost him so dearly the next day.
Darcy groaned and cast a hand over his face, a deed which instantly earned him another stab through his brain. He moaned again. Where the devil was Wilson? The man ought to be there with a cool cloth to salve these burning sockets in his face.
He tried to call out for his man, but forming the word in his mouth made his head spin and writhe again. Instead, he managed only a garbled moan and rolled to his side. There was some sort of feminine disturbance nearby, and it sounded a great deal like a noisy ballroom. Surely he was not in one of those, for he was quite certain that one was not permitted to assume a supine posture in such a venue. More was the pity.
One pulsing eye slitted a fraction. The image he perceived was blurred—a pale shape, with dark edges… and a loud voice. A decidedly female voice.
His stomach gave one great flip as his body spasmed in panic. Good heavens, it had finally happened! Someone had gotten the better of him and staged a compromise, and the giggling miss who was watching him rouse from his helpless stupor was to be his bane for life.
He wheeled to the opposite side of… he supposed it was a bed, but the crackling straw mattress felt unlike any bed he had known. He remained there, ignoring the petulant dismay in that wretched seductress’s tones, while he rubbed his eyes and cradled his head.
“Lizzy!” the malefactress cried out. “He’s awake!”
Darcy clutched the searing orbs in his eye sockets. “Have a care, madam,” he growled. “The deuce is driving the very steeds of Hades in my head, and I suppose I have you to thank for it. Very well, you have ensnared me squarely, but have the decency to gloat in silence while I try to reconcile myself to my fate.”
“Whatever that means,” scoffed a girl’s voice. “Lizzy! Are you coming back with the powders?” she called. Loudly.
Darcy winced and hissed his displeasure. He pinched his nose, hoping his brain would remain within his skull, then cautiously lowered his fingers to survey his captor. Oh, devil take it, she could be no older than Georgiana! At least he could have been trapped by a woman of some maturity, but no! He was to be the prey of a child barely out of the schoolroom!
He was snarling in silence at his misfortune when another woman rounded the door. Ah! So this must be the accomplice. His lip curled.
“Good morning!” the dashed minx beamed in pleasure—and well she might, for they had achieved their ends. “I am glad to see you recovered. You were in quite a shocking state when we found you. We feared we would have to send for the apothecary. How is your head?”
Darcy stared at her. She was clearly no child. In fact, though he would be hard pressed to call her a beauty, there was a remarkably fine look of intelligence– or perhaps cunning— about her eyes, and a convincingly earnest concern in her voice. A fine actress! Her features were not fashionable, but striking, even so. She might even be declared tolerable, under different circumstances. A pity she was culpable in a scheme to ruin him! He rubbed his forehead, hoping the hellish nightmare would simply vanish.
“Oh, I am sorry,” the second Jezebel whispered. “I have spoken too loudly for your comfort. Here, a nice cup of coffee might set you right, and I brought you some headache powders. My uncle had some at hand for sickness.”
Darcy propped one bleary eye open. A maid was setting up a tray in the small chamber… good heavens, he appeared to be installed in the servant’s quarters! Had they not even the decency to compromise him properly?
“Lizzy, you had best send for Aunt,” the younger noted. “He is looking rather green. I think he must have struck his head! Ask who he is.”
“Do you not know?” he snorted bitterly. “I rather expect you and your ilk know more of my name and my prospects than my own mother could have! How dare you play the innocent after all that has transpired?”
The women traded curious glances. The younger circled her finger insultingly round her ear, while the elder shrugged her shoulders and ventured, “Sir, can you give us the name of your employer so we may send word of your welfare? My aunt’s coachman can drive you, if you are too ill to walk. Where were you bound last evening?”
Darcy glanced over his shoulder and found no one sitting behind him whom she might be addressing. “My… employer?”
Oh, my! Yes, I am leaving you there. What in the world has Darcy gotten himself into? You will have to stew for a bit, but the wait won’t be too much longer! If you want to be one of the first to receive a copy, add your name to my mailing list. I’ll be sending out ARC’s to the top 25 names!
The very first person I “met” in the JAFF/ North & South community was Janet Taylor of More Agreeably Engaged, and it was because she so sweetly reached out to me and brought me “into the fold,” you might say. She is a talented book designer and a dear friend (and I hope not terribly biased when she writes her reviews!). I was tickled to death when she posted her review of These Dreams today, and she is giving away a copy to some lucky winner! Stop by to comment for a chance to win on her blog.
You meet the sweetest people in the JAFF/ North & South community. One of my absolute favorites to chat with is Rita Deodato, and this month, she spoiled me by sharing some of my works in progress on her blog, From Pemberley to Milton. Stop by and check her out, she always has some wonderful postings to share. And if you comment on this post, she is giving away a copy of No Such Thing as Luck, so stop by!