Hey everyone! Maria Grace has a new book out titled, Remember the Past, and I'm delighted to be part of her Blog Tour! To celebrate, Maria Grace is here with an answer to a question I asked her, share an excerpt, and she is giving away an e-copy of her book! Woot!
So, without further ado, may I present Maria Grace to you!
Thanks so much for hosting me Candy. It is great to visit with you and your readers.
You asked me about what inspired me to write such a very different variation with Mr. Bennet as an admiral and Darcy as a widower. Truth be told that is a good question.
The thing I like about variations is putting twists on the characters. Jane Austen created such intriguing characters, ones that truly withstand the test of time. I often look at them and wonder what would happen if their circumstances were different. Who would these people be in circumstances encouraged them along different paths of growth?
What would it have taken for Mr. Bennet to be a stronger man and better father? It seemed like it would take something fairly drastic. Life in the navy seemed to be a good fit for that. Few places were so well suited to teach hard work and diligence to a potentially indolent young man. Of course, the experience might also instill some stubbornness and perhaps a touch of arrogance from his successes in rising up the ranks. Put that all together with a good heart and a genuine fondness for his wife (well in this case wives, he is twice widowed) and he becomes a very different character. Honestly, I just love him, rough edges and all. He is the kind of person I’d be happy to have over for dinner.
In a similar vein, what would it take for Mr. Darcy to have lost some of his arrogance and stiffness? This was a little more challenged to sort out. But eventually I realized that for many of us, the single most changing event in life is caring for others whose lives depend on us, children, aging parents and relatives. When someone else’s life depends on us, it makes us see the world very differently and can change who we are. So, I gave it to Darcy in spades. I gave him children to care for, without a mother, so everything would be on his shoulders. (He has really cute kids…so does Bennet…) But just to be sure he really changed, he is also caring for his mother-in-law, Lady Catherine, whom he rescued from a desperate situation, and his cousin, Col. Richard Fitzwilliam depends on him as well. Surrounded by people who genuinely depend on him and care for him, Darcy is a much more caring, agreeable soul, though he does stick his foot in his mouth pretty regularly.
These changes in place, I put the two families into the same neighborhood and more or less sat back to see how their story would play out. Add a touch of Wickham for some juicy conflict and a tale of love, family and second chances was born.
Here’s a little excerpt to give you a taste:
The young people dispersed to opposite sides of the rose garden, still in view of their chaperones, but distant enough for somewhat private conversations.
“They are excellent men.” Lady Catherine’s voice was soft and wistful. She must count them more as sons than nephews. “I owe them a great deal. Are you not curious as to why I would be living at Pemberley?”
“It is not a gentlemanly question to ask. You need not explain.” Bennet adjusted the length of his gait to accommodate hers.
She studied her feet and perhaps his as well. “See how they look at each other, Darcy and Elizabeth. I am not sure they understand it yet, but I do. You should recognize what kind of man shares those moments with your daughter.”
“My Lizzy has little intention of marrying.”
“So she told me. It is no wonder, given the men of the ton. Darcy is different. Eventually, they will come to their senses. When that happens, they do not need a protective old goat of a father interfering with their happiness.”
He stopped mid-stride and stared at her.
She shook her head and shoulders enough to ruffle her taffeta—a disgruntled hen about to peck for her place in the yard. Did she think it made her appear formidable?
No, not that. Too much contagious good humor glittered in her eyes.
“So you wish to tell me, and I do not object to hear it.”
“I must beg your patience as the story goes back some time.” She gestured toward a bench and they sat. “My father, the Earl of Matlock, arranged my marriage with a younger son of a wealthy gentleman, just after my sixteenth birthday. Both Sir Lewis and I had been very sheltered. He delighted in his new freedoms. As soon as I fell with child, he left for an extended visit to London, only returning after Anne’s birth.”
Tension radiated from her like heat crackling from a fire. Bennet slid his hand close to hers, their gloved fingertips touching.
“Forgive my indelicacy, but on his homecoming I … I noted … evidence of the French disease on his person. I locked the door against him, knowing too well what—well, enough said. Needless to say my actions displeased him. He left for London and there he remained for much of our marriage. I need not describe the following years for you. No doubt, you have seen men ravaged by the disease. The pox took his mind and, in his last five years, he became alternately melancholic and violent. Darcy happened upon Anne and me after one of his worst episodes.”
He laid his hand on hers. “Even in the grip of disease, that is unconscionable.”
She sniffled and bit her upper lip. “Fitzwilliam, then but a captain, removed Sir Lewis from the estate and took him back to London. Darcy brought us to Pemberley, a month from his twentieth birthday.”
Protective even then, a most admirable trait.
“Darcy had lost his father only months before, yet he still insisted upon taking us in. Thus, he married Anne.” She pulled a handkerchief out of her pocket and dabbed her eyes. “They enjoyed an amiable match, until she died with David’s birth.”
“I am sorry you lost her.”
She blinked rapidly. “At Sir Lewis’ passing, I discovered that he had impoverished Rosings, leaving us almost nothing to live on. Had Anne not been mistress of Pemberley, we would have been reduced to genteel poverty.”
“I had no idea.”
“Darcy insists my grandsons need me and will not hear of me living elsewhere—not even Pemberley’s dower house. He is a man after your own heart, sir.” She dodged his gaze.
He took her chin and guided her to look at him. Too familiar a gesture, but they were too old to be bothered by the notion of compromises.
Oh, she was lovely in the glow of the sunset. Vulnerable and strong, she had known adversity and still prevailed in the midst of the storm, the very kind of companionship he longed for. He marshaled all his strength not to kiss her.
The setting sun bathed Miss Elizabeth in a warm glow. Though he tried to deny it, her absence from Pemberley distracted him even more than her presence. How foolish to have tried to convince himself of the great advantages of distance from her.
How did one court a woman like Miss Elizabeth? One immune to flattery and small talk, who had traveled more broadly than he, with understanding quick and sure, rapier wit and a keen ability to see through to a man’s core. No wonder the ton demonstrated little tolerance for her. She did not belong in London; she belonged here, at his side. If only he could convince her.
What was that? In the corner of the garden, Bennet and Aunt Catherine sat far closer than propriety allowed. “What is he thinking?”
Miss Elizabeth caught his arm. “Wait.”
Bennet leaned in and brushed his lips against her forehead. She tipped her head up and he kissed her.
“How dare he exercise such familiarity?” Darcy ground his teeth, heat rising along his jaw.
“Stop it,” Miss Elizabeth whispered. “Can you not see? He is comforting her. She just shared … something with him and is distressed.”
“It is not proper.”
“Hang the talk of propriety. She is a widow; he a widower—both with well grown children. Give them some leave to know how to conduct themselves.” She squeezed his arm hard. “That is my father you speak of. Do you accuse him—”
“No.” He released the breath that had lingered too long in his lungs.
“Papa will not trifle with her.”
“Of course, you are correct.” He placed a hand over Miss Elizabeth’s, her peace translating to him. “I am sorry. What I—”
“Envisioning a parent courting takes some adjustment. I remember when he courted Lady Ellen.” Her lips twitched. “It is not easy to come to terms with the notion of our parents engaging in something so … youthful.”
“Has she told you?”
“She shared some of her story with me.”
“Then you know she has nothing.”
“I expect that is what she just explained to Papa. You see his response. Wealth will not buy what he needs. He does not admit it … he is lonely. I think Lady Catherine might be as well.”
He bit back the argument dancing on the tip of his tongue. “I never considered that.”
“Leave them to know what they are about. If they choose each other, please do not—”
“I doubt she would allow me to hamper her intentions. But I assure you, I will not interfere in the manner they decide to be happy.” As if he—or anyone else—could hope to stand in the way of a determined Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
“Thank you.” She lifted a shimmering gaze to him.
Oh, that he might have the Admiral’s boldness to kiss her as her full, crimson lips begged. What a delightful notion. He leaned closer.
“Our guests approach.”
He jumped and whirled toward the voice. When had Fitzwilliam and Miss Bennet come upon them? Confound him! Fitzwilliam enjoyed this little game of his far too much.
“Perhaps we should go inside and give them a few moments more,” Jane murmured.
Darcy caught Fitzwilliam’s eyes, eyebrows rising.
“I noticed.” Fitzwilliam slapped Darcy’s shoulder. “She is not your daughter or your sister. Relax. I can think of no one better suited for her. She deserves an amiable man.”
“I am glad you agree.” Elizabeth’s countenance lifted in a smile Darcy would rather have reserved for him alone.
Darcy dipped his head. She rewarded him with her eyes and the world was right again. He adjusted her hand in the crook of his arm. Greeting his guests with Miss Elizabeth at his side would be quite satisfactory.
Elizabeth Bennet’s father, Admiral Thomas Bennet, assures his daughters that his retirement from His Majesty’s Navy will be the start of a new life for them all. Little does he know his family's battles have only just begun.
Well-connected and in possession of a good fortune, their entry into society should have been a triumph. However, their long-awaited first season in London proves a disaster, and the resulting scandal sends the Bennets fleeing to the wilds of Derbyshire.
Widower Fitzwilliam Darcy, the master of Pemberley, wants for nothing, most especially not a wife. From the moment the Bennets arrive in Derbyshire, Darcy’s neatly ordered life turns upside down. His sons beg to keep company with their new playmates, the young Bennet twins. His mother-in-law sets her cap for Admiral Bennet. Worst of all, Darcy cannot get his mind off a certain bewitching Miss Elizabeth Bennet, but she has sworn never to let another gentleman near her heart.
Darcy’s best efforts to befriend and assist the Bennet family go horribly awry, alienating first Miss Elizabeth, then her father, and finally endangering what both men hold most dear. Can the two men Elizabeth loves most set aside their pride to prevent catastrophe for their families and win the love they seek?
Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.
She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, sown six Regency era costumes, written seven Regency-era fiction projects, and designed eight websites. To round out the list, she cooks for nine in order to accommodate the growing boys and usually makes ten meals at a time so she only cooks twice a month.
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~ ~ ~ GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~
Giveaway time!! Maria Grace has generously offered to giveaway one e-copy of Remember the Past to one lucky person! To win, just fill out the Rafflecopter below and leave a comment! Last day to enter is August 21, 2014.a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thank you, Maria Grace!
Thank you, Maria Grace!
- One person will win an e-copy of Remember the Past.
- Open Internationally.
- Last day to enter: August 21, 2014.
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