Loving Mr. Darcy ~ Journeys Beyond Pemberley will not be released until September – and that seems so far away still – but as we know in the publishing world, stuff starts happening way before the actual release date! So while my head has been wrapped up in finishing my fourth novel in the Darcy Saga series, almost to the point where I had forgotten that September was creeping upon me, it was wonderful to receive the printed pages of Loving Mr. Darcy yesterday. Naturally I was thrilled and not in the least surprised to see that the Sourcebooks crew had marvelously put the chapters together. Opening the PDF and seeing my title page was enough to give me sweet tingles of happiness!
I am proud of all my books, of the life I have given to Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth, but I have always felt that this second installment is where the tale takes flight. Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy centered almost exclusively on the newlywed couple. This was on purpose, of course, and they are forever the stars of my story, but as anyone who has read Pride and Prejudice knows, there are a TON of characters! One of my biggest challenges has been incorporating the wealth of characters Austen created and giving them a life beyond her pages, while also creating many of my own. Keeping them straight requires lots of hard work and several notebooks! LOL! But it is a fun challenge and one I believe I have done a great job at. This novel takes the lovers away from their solitude at Pemberley, opens up the broader world of Regency England, and thrusts them into the midst of family, friends, and the occasional real-life celebrity. Here is a brief snippet from their sojourn in London for the Season. Lizzy makes her first public appearance at the opera:
The society rumor mill had run full force during the immediate months after the engagement of Mr. Darcy to the penniless country girl of low rank. With some sadness and chagrin but mostly joy at the fodder for juicy gossip, the topic of Darcy’s choice was premier. It had ebbed somewhat after a month or so, only to flame anew at the announcement of the intimate nuptials in Hertfordshire, of all places. Then, with the populace dispersal for the winter and early spring, the chatter had died completely. As the influx of the elite increased in May, the mystery of the Darcy marriage and long absence from Town had resurged as a discussion point. The curiosity of it all was too succulent a morsel to ignore completely; however, after six months, there were dozens of torrid affairs far more interesting to chatter about. Even the crushed unmarried debutantes of the ton had turned their gazes elsewhere. Only in the past week, as the awareness of the Darcys’ residence had gradually filtered through the parlors of Mayfair and St. James’s Place, did the gossip freshly rage. The question of why the seclusion at Pemberley for six long months and now the week-plus relative isolation was speculated with relish. Those fortunate souls who had been introduced to the new Mrs. Darcy when fortuitously encountering her while shopping were the celebrities of the inner circle.
Therefore, the fervor of interest was high. No one knew when or if she would formally make her entrance, but every last person prayed they would be present when she did. Thus it was with the crowd currently amassing in the grand foyer and reception hall of the Royal Theatre. Would this be the night? Of course, as with all society events, there were always a plenteous number of glittering personages of eminent importance to ogle and fawn over. The appearance of the Prime Minister, the famous boxer John Jackson, and the Russian Ambassador Count von Lieven with his wife, the famous Countess von Lieven, had already fanned the fires of excitement.
When the Darcy carriage finally crept to the front of the line, word had already begun to spread. Naturally, curiosity was high, but the talent involved with sating one’s inquisitiveness while not observably appearing to do so was an art form well honed by the elite. Lizzy, ignorant of this skill, was hence spared the blatant stares which she had been expecting, enabling her to relax as she mounted the steps on her proud husband’s arm.
A dashing and softly smiling Darcy escorted both his wife and sister. Colonel Fitzwilliam, resplendent in dress uniform, gladly lent his arms to Mary and Kitty. Lord and Lady Matlock stood outside the massive doors under the Corinthian columned portico in conversation with an elegant couple.
The Earl noted their approach first, turning with a smile. “Ah, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, and Miss Darcy.” Lord Matlock bowed, greeting them all with proper hand kisses, Kitty and Mary blushing furiously.
Lady Matlock kissed Lizzy’s cheek. “Elizabeth, dear you are radiant. Please allow me to introduce you to Ambassador von Lieven and his wife Countess von Lieven. Your Grace, Countess, this is my niece, Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy.”
Lizzy was nearly rendered speechless. She had heard of the Countess, a patroness of Almacks and hostess of one of the most elite salons in London, not to mention notorious as the mistress of Metternich. She was stunningly beautiful, exotic with almond shaped eyes and raven hair. Her husband was as impressive as she, tall as Darcy but heavily bodied and sporting a full red beard. They greeted Lizzy warmly in their accented voices. Lizzy, thankfully, managed to speak calmly, natural charm and wit rushing to the forefront.
“Mrs. Darcy, the fortunate woman to capture the heart of the elusive Mr. Darcy of Pemberley!” Madame de Lieven proclaimed in a husky intonation, flicking her folded fan on Darcy’s arm. “We were worried for you, Mr. Darcy. A man such as you should not remain a bachelor for so many years.” Darcy reddened as she tittered musically. “What a delight your surprise marriage has been! I cannot thank you enough, Mr. Darcy, for providing a wealth of titillating gossip for my salon.”
Darcy, blushing, bowed regally. “Happy to have been of service to you, Countess.”
“No no! The joy is entirely mine, kind Sir. I must repay. Mrs. Darcy, you and Mr. Darcy absolutely must grace us with your presence. I shall send an invitation round and refuse to accept your decline!” She giggled again, fluttering her fan before her face as she turned to her silent husband. “There I go yet again, dear, as you incessantly accuse. Selfishly regarding only myself!” She turned back to Lizzy, who frankly did not know what to think of the effervescent and flirty Countess. “You see, Mrs. Darcy, by guesting you at my salon I shall be all the rage! As will you too, of course. To receive an invite to my salon is a prized acclamation.”
Hope you enjoyed the tasty treat! Mark your calendars for September 1!