Tuesday, September 19, 2017

These Dreams Blog Tour ~ Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway!!

Hello, friends! It's my pleasure to kick off These Dreams Blog Tour!! Woohoo! Please give Nicole Clarkston a warm welcome as she launches her newest book These Dreams

At this stop, Nicole brings us a poignant and moving excerpt. This scene alone has cinched it for me - I want to read this book! 

Don't forget to enter to win an e-copy of These Dreams! Details can be found at the bottom of the page! 

Dreams are made of powerful stuff. Some of the brightest minds of our age have spent their lifetimes trying to learn what and how and why, and have yet to produce a satisfactory answer, so I shall not attempt to explain them myself.  I only submit the countless instances in legend and historical accounts, where a dream foretells future doom or blessing, or where loved ones seem to pass one another in that ethereal land.

So it is with Elizabeth and Darcy in These Dreams. Some might read this story and attempt to explain their mysterious connection by claiming telepathy or enchantment. Others might think it all a delusion; a very natural result of the extreme distress experienced by the main characters. For my part, the title declares my best understanding: that we do not understand everything. I do not venture into the metaphysical, nor do I insist that the reader presume fantastical origins for this heart and mind connection shared by lovers. I leave it to the reader to form or not to form their own explanation.

In this scene, Elizabeth has been “seeing” Darcy almost everywhere she turns. She longs to hear his voice, she imagines that he is still in the room, and recalls each vivid, excruciating detail of his appearance, his voice, his manner, and even little nuances that she remembers but had not previously understood. It is Christmas Eve, and Elizabeth has returned from Jane’s new home of Netherfield after an evening of battling these demons.

As is so often the case when we are facing our darkest times, very few can follow us save those who suffer at our sides. Jane is no longer a comfort to her, and the other soul closest to her at the moment— her sister Lydia— endures a different sort of trial. Elizabeth retires for the night feeling aimless and alone, and longs more than anything to sense some other nearby. It could be said that her heart cries out, and Darcy’s answers.



     Elizabeth was late to bed that evening—later even than the rest of the family, who had all returned home in the long hours of the night. Lydia’s spirits had been her first concern, for she truly had begged off spending the evening in the company of Jane’s guests, fearing extreme discomfort when her marital status must be explained to the gentlemen. Elizabeth had tried gentle persuasion and promised to stand near for the whole of the evening, but Lydia had bluntly refused to meet the curious stares of the other guests and Jane Bingley’s pitying words.

     Children, however, with their innocent affections and playful ways, seemed to work a magic in her. Elizabeth had hurried in from the carriage, still regretting that she had left Lydia to her own devices, but she had found her sister laughing riotously with their young Gardiner cousins. It seemed that the littlest had found one of the kittens from the barn and tied a bright ribbon round its short little tail, amusing them all for the better part of the evening. Clearly, her sisterly comfort was not required on this festive night.

     Perhaps it was that very lack of purpose which troubled her at her toilette before she retired to bed. She gazed blankly through the flame of her candle, her face so close that she could smell its warmth fanning through the curls at her temples. Was she really so morose of late that even her father worried over her? Had she not just recently sported merrily with him over one of his favourite novels, and pointedly charmed each caller to attend the Bennet drawing room? Could the hollow sound of her laughter be heard by anyone but herself?

     The mirror, staring back at her, gave answer enough. She was adrift, without direction or inspiration. And for what? For the loss of something that had never been hers? For envy of her beloved Jane, or disappointment over Lydia? A flash of anger rose in her eyes—the only life to spark back from her mirror. No! She swiped her hand over the flame, quenching it with a quick, stinging pinch of her fingers. There must be more.

     Rubbing her eyes, Elizabeth tiptoed to the bed that was now hers alone and slid between her cold sheets. She shivered. It had never been absolutely necessary that she and Jane should share a room. Longbourn was large enough for the family and two guest rooms, after all, and seldom were both needed when company came. When they were still very small, however, she and Jane had found delight in long talks into the night, well after they were supposed to have been asleep. They had shared warmth and secrets, and never had the typical disagreements of sisters troubled their happy little arrangement.

     Elizabeth burrowed more deeply under the counterpane, staring at the mound of Jane’s old pillow in the moonlight. It seemed so strange now, with no sounds of breathing, no second body dipping that side of the bed. So many times, when her feet and hands were cold, Jane and she would have snuggled close, giggling and tugging at the blankets. Hunching her shoulders, she tried to recall that sweet fellowship as she nestled her head into the pillow.

     She tucked herself tightly all round and found that if she strained at the blanket just so, she could almost imagine that she was not alone—that her back rested securely against solid warmth, with a firm weight draped round her waist. She arched her neck, pulling back her shoulder to bare yet more of her skin as a breath of tepid air tickled below her ear. 

      The weight tightened over her stomach, rolling her close and cradling her head as a shiver thrilled up the back of her neck. “Elizabeth.”

     Was it a voice she had heard, carried on the wind, or merely the creaks and groans of the old house as it cooled and settled for the night? She inhaled deeply, catching a tendril of sandalwood fragrance with undertones of something more earthy. Her fingers touched the bare space of her neck—a warmth kissing her skin, grazing delicately over that sensitive place.

     “I have thought only of you.”

     Elizabeth turned her head languidly. Surely, she had heard the words spoken aloud! The prickles along her arms testified to the whispered breath over her flesh, the deep hum of masculine tones. I am going mad! she chided herself, but she could not desire to shatter the dream with the truth. There could be no one there! Yet, some intuition compelled her to raise up, to meet the eyes that had long since been dimmed from memory.

     He smiled and lifted gentle fingers to touch her cheek. “My dearest Elizabeth, how I have missed you!”

A tear spilled over his fingertips. She could not speak, could not even answer with a smile. Her lips parted, but her throat was so choked that she was capable of no more than a garbled sob. She bit her lips together, trying to nod, to speak—something!

     “It is all right, my love,” he soothed. Those deep eyes, like sweet warm chocolate, searched lovingly over her face. “You have been too much alone, as have I.”

     Her breast heaved. She wetted her lips, swallowing. “You cannot be real!” she whispered into the darkness.

     The corner of his mouth turned up. “I am not one given to fantasy or madness. You know that I detest all forms of pretense, yet you see me before you.”

     She shook her head. “I have been seeing you everywhere! No, it is not you. My mind—I must be deceiving myself.”

     His warm fingers brushed her chin. “Then you have longed to see me, my love, as I have you. You cannot know what comfort that gives me.”

     A strangled cry trembled from her. “Oh, Mr Darcy, it is all my fault! I shall never overcome my grief! If I had only been gentler, forgiven more easily—”

     “Do not linger over your regrets, my Elizabeth,” he murmured. “We must take what little we are given—do not let us return to the past.”

     She bowed her head, trembling with tears, and felt his hand hesitantly rest upon her tousled curls. She leaned willingly into him, longing to feel more. He drew her to his chest, wrapping an arm about her, and simply held her. Shaking, Elizabeth at last dared to reach for him. Her fingers slipped over the smooth linen of his shirt, touching and testing and, at last, trusting. 

     She pressed her face into his chest, her hand fisting the material of his clothing and kneading the firm muscle of his shoulder. “Oh, my love! How shall I go on, knowing that what we share in our hearts, all that which might have been, can never be!”

     “We have our small moments,” answered he. “All of life’s treasures may be stored up and accounted in moments such as these. My dearest Elizabeth, I have been a broken, lonely man in a dark place—from where I may never return. I have nothing left but these dreams of you.” His throat worked, his eloquent eyes imploring her to understand. “My Elizabeth,” he whispered, “forgive me for trying to invoke you into that darkness to be with me!”

     She clenched her arm about his neck, greedily pressing her burning eyes to the thrumming warmth of his flesh. “I would rather face darkness with you than a world of comfort alone!”

     His breath sighed through her hair, and his hands clasped her shoulders in fevered relief. “It is more than I can bear, Elizabeth! To never see you, to have no hope of such a life as I had always expected—it is too bitter!” His fingers traced up her neck, to her jaw, and he gently lifted her head to look into her eyes. “May I leave with you my heart for safekeeping? How I need you, my Elizabeth!”

     She sniffled uncontrollably, little gasping cries muffled against his chest as she pulled him close once more. “Do not leave me again, Mr Darcy!”

     His fingers burrowed tenderly through her hair. “William,” he whispered softly into her ear. 

     She lifted her head, her lips silently forming the intimate name. He smiled once more, the light in his eyes a ghostly shadow of former days. “It was my dearest hope that this year I might have wished you a Merry Christmas, my precious Elizabeth.”

     His shirt was now damp with her tears. She clung to him, praying that if she only held him tightly enough, he would not vanish in the mist. Her entire body racked in spasms of anguish, but his arms held her close as his tender voice caressed her starving heart. She gasped, tasting the salty drops streaming down her face. “Merry Christmas, William,” she whispered.

Book Blurb: 

An abandoned bride 
      A missing man 
            And a dream that refuses to die... 

Pride and patriotism lend fervor to greed and cruelty, and Fitzwilliam Darcy is caught at the centre of a decades-old international feud. Taken far from England, presumed dead by his family, and lost to all he holds dear,  only one name remains as his beacon in the darkness: Elizabeth

Georgiana Darcy is now the reluctant, heartbroken heiress to Pemberley, and Colonel Fitwilliam her bewildered guardian. Vulnerable and unprepared, Georgiana desperately longs for a friend, while Fitzwilliam seeks to protect her from his own family. As the conspiracy around Darcy's death widens and  questions mount, Colonel Fitzwilliam must confront his own past.  An impossible dream, long ago sacrificed for duty, may become his only hope. 

Newly married Lydia Wickham returns to Longbourn- alone and under mysterious circumstances. Elizabeth Bennet watches one sister suffer and another find joy, while she lives her own days in empty regrets over what might have been. Believing Darcy lost forever, she closes her heart against both pain and happiness, but finds no escape from her dreams of him.

Buy: Amazon USAmazon UK
Add to Goodreads.

FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon US. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks! 

About the Author

Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and she is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort. 

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties―how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project, she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Her need for more time with these characters led her to simultaneously write Rumours & Recklessness, a P&P inspired novel, and No Such Thing as Luck, a N&S inspired novel. Both immediately became best selling books. The success she had with her first attempt at writing led her to write three other novels that are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.

Nicole was recently invited to join Austenvariations.com, a group of talented authors in the Jane Austen Fiction genre. In addition to her work with the Austen Variations blog, you can find Nicole on her personal blog and website, NicoleClarkson.com, and at the links below.

Connect with Nicole

Blog Tour Schedule: 

09/19   So little time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
09/20   My Jane Austen Book Club; Vignette, GA
09/21   From Pemberley to Milton; Review, GA
09/22   Interests of a Jane Austen Girl; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway
09/23   Just Jane 1813; Review, GA
09/24   My Vices and Weaknesses; Excerpt, GA
09/25   Babblings of a Bookworm;  Guest Post or Vignette, GA
09/26   Diary of an Eccentric; Review, Giveaway
09/27   Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt
09/28   Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, GA
09/29   My Love for Jane Austen; Charcter Interview, GA
09/30   Margie’s Must Reads; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
10/01   Savvy Verse and Wit; Review, GA 
10/02   Austenesque Reviews; Character Interview, GA
10/03   Obsessed with Mr. Darcy; Review, GA
10/04   From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post, GA

* * * GIVEAWAY * * * 

It's giveaway time!! Nicole Clarkston is generously giving away 10 e-copies of These Dreams to 10 lucky people!! To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below. 

  • Only one e-copy per winner.
  • Ten winners will be picked.
  • Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour.
  • Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented.
  • Winners will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter.
  • Giveaway is open internationally.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.

This is a group giveaway. So little time... is not responsible for books lost or damaged in shipping or any prizes shipped by publishers or authors.

Many thanks to Janet Taylor @ More Agreeably Engaged for organizing and including me in this blog tour!  

And a big Thank You to Nicole, for her kind giveaway and for stopping by today! Ooh, your excerpt was heartbreaking and swoon-worthy at the same time! I must read more!!

How about you? What did you think of the excerpt?


  1. That excerpt is so angsty I love the book already.

    1. Thank you, Priscilla, good luck in the giveaway!

    2. Me, too, Priscilla! I hope you get a chance to read it!

  2. What a heartbreaking excerpt. Loved when he asked her to call him William.

    1. I was a blubbery mess when he did that too, Darcybennett!

  3. Even though I have read the book, this excerpt brought tears to my eyes again. Beautifully written, Nicole. Thank you for sharing it today and for the intro. I am fascinated by the connection in dreams, real or unreal.

    I absolutely love this book! It has moved into the ranks of my all-time favorites. Thanks for hosting, Candy, and I do hope you get to read 'These Dreams' soon.

    1. Oh, wow, Janet! That's good to know! I'm so looking forward to reading it!

      It has been my pleasure to host this tour! Thanks for all your support (answering my silly questions)!

  4. Yes, I now really need to read this book. I love angst. Congrats on the release!

    1. Thank you, Kneyda! Angst you shall have. ;-)

    2. Hello, Kneyda! I didn't used to like angst - not at all - but I'm liking it more and more. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Dear Janet, I am so glad you loved this book! Thank you for all your support <3

  6. Just that little section made me really feel it for this pair. Talented writing for sure and I look forward to the rest of the story. :)

    1. Hey, Sophia Rose! I agree - talented writing! Fabulous excerpt, and I'm betting the book will be just as good! :)

    2. Thank you, Sophia! I had to stop writing this one once or twice just because I wasn't sad enough to pull it off. I am glad it worked :-)

  7. What angst! I can't wait to read and find out what happens! I'm so excited for this blog tour!

    1. Thank you, Dung! I hope you get a chance to read it soon :-) Thanks for stopping by!

  8. I don't know what to make of it. I thought it was a dream but it feels so real. I feel sad for Elizabeth and hope the couple reunite soon. Thanks for sharing this heartbreaking excerpt, Nicole.

    1. Sometimes they do feel real, I suppose! Thank you for stopping by, and I'll see you in a few days!

  9. Such a beautiful book, Nicole! Original, gripping and exquisitely written. Huge congrats!
    (PS pls don't enter me in the giveaway. I got the book as soon as it came out, devoured it & loved every word!!!!)

    1. Thank you, Joana! You are so lovely, thank you for your support!

  10. Confession: I may be "slightly" obsessed by this book. Basically, since I have yet to read it, I'm compulsively reading all the reviews/comments/blog posts I see. I can't wait to get my hands on it!!

    1. Then I dearly hope you win a copy! Best wishes in the giveaway, and I'll see you at the next stop. :-)

  11. Wonderful excerpt. This is a must read!


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