Tuesday, August 27, 2019

A Sister's Curse Blog Tour ~ Excerpts & Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! Today Jayne Bamber is here to share a few excerpts from her new book A Sister's Curse! There's also a giveaway going on! Details are at the bottom of the page. 

Please, let's give a warm welcome to Jayme Bamber! 




Hello! It’s wonderful to be back at So Little Time...! As some of you may already know, I have taken a break from my mash-up series, Friends & Relations and written something entirely new. A Sister’s Curse is a stand-alone P&P variation, with a major deviation from canon taking place when Elizabeth Bennet is just a child. This not only sets the rest of the story on an entirely different course, but also shapes Elizabeth’s childhood, her relationships, and her feelings about her complicated family (as well as matters of the heart!)






Today is the official release day of A Sister’s Curse, and to celebrate, I’d like to share three short excerpts of Elizabeth Bennet as she grows up through the course of the story – So here’s a peek at our dear Lizzy at 13, 14, and finally, age 20….






     There was an old staircase in a little-used passageway at the back of the west gallery upstairs, that led to a little ornamental balcony overlooking the ballroom. Elizabeth and Charlotte were hidden away there, sitting cross-legged on the floor, concealed from sight by the shadows and the thick stone railings, taking in the spectacle of the Twelfth Night ball. 

     Elizabeth looked out across the ballroom in wonder. “Everyone looks so fancy,” she breathed. “Is this what London will be like?”

     “It will be for me, when I come out next year. I cannot wait!”

     Elizabeth knit her brows. It was all very dazzling, but frightening, too. “I wonder how I shall get on in London.”

     “You are determined to go, then?”

     “I must,” Elizabeth said, tearing her eyes from the ballroom below to look over at her cousin. “Mamma and Uncle Edward said I do not need to go away, that I am punishing myself for no reason.”

     “That is what Richard said, too.”

     “I know.” Elizabeth sighed, feeling as though she were full of swirling, angry emotions that she could not gather into words. “I want to go.”

     “Jane will be cross with you.”

     “I know. Oh, what does it signify? She is going away to school in a few weeks, when William goes. She will not even miss me.”

     “Lizzy, there you are!” Jane peeked her head into the alcove behind them, and Charlotte swatted at her. Jane grimaced, and crouched down to hide herself from sight of the ballroom. Sitting down on Elizabeth’s other side, she said, “You are always getting up to something without me, Lizzy.”

     “That is because you never want to sneak around with us.”

     Jane gave her a gentle but reproving look. “You will get into trouble. Mother and Father are already worried about you, and Uncle was very cross with you last week.”

     “They need not be. Look, they are having a very fine time.” Charlotte smiled as she pointed out Lady Anne and Sir Edward dancing together halfway down the ballroom.

     Jane flicked her eyes over to Charlotte, and then back to Elizabeth. “You are wrong, you know, Lizzy. I will miss you when you go to London. I think it is very unfair that Uncle Edward should take you away from Pemberley.”

     “William goes away to school, and soon you shall, too. Why should I not go to London?”

     “But why should you?”

     Seeing Charlotte on the verge of speaking, Elizabeth nudged her. “Because.” Because I do not deserve to live here. “I want to.”

     “I am happy you are coming to London,” Charlotte said. “You will not be able to go to balls and parties with me – not yet, anyway – but I shall be happy to have you close. Your aunt is to be my new Mamma, so I am sure we shall be together very often. It will be such fun!”

     “I am not going to London for fun,” Elizabeth snapped.

     “Well, I wish you would tell me why, then,” Jane said with frustration. “I saw Mamma crying about it. If you will have no pleasure in going, then you had better stay here!”

     “It would make Uncle happy,” Elizabeth said, averting her eyes and watching the dancers below.

     “He does not seem happy about it to me,” Jane retorted.

     “He does not seem happy about anything,” Charlotte observed. “I suppose it must be the curse.”

     “What curse?”

     “Hush, Charlotte,” Elizabeth whispered, sticking out her leg to kick at her cousin.

     “I was only joking,” Charlotte said. “Of course there isn’t a curse. Richard said so, and he is the smartest person I know.”

     “William said Richard is a blockhead,” Jane quipped. “He is the smartest person I know.”

     “William does not say anything to me,” Elizabeth snapped, “and I think Uncle is the smartest. I know he is very sad, but I will go to London to make him happy. And I can see Aunt Olivia’s new baby. I am going to be her helper, and make Uncle happy.”

     “Hush,” Charlotte scoffed. “Someone will hear us. I want to stay awhile and look at all the handsome gentlemen. I shall get to dance with them next year, and I am trying to decide which one to set my cap at.”

     This elicited a giggle from Elizabeth and Jane; their quarrel momentarily forgotten, they all sat silently for a few minutes as they peered down at the ballroom in youthful admiration.

     “Cousin Richard is very handsome,” Jane whispered with a bashful smile, “even if my brother says he is a blockhead. I like his new uniform very much.”

     “I do not,” Charlotte huffed. “If he goes to war, it shall break my heart.”

     “Maybe that is why William called him a blockhead,” Elizabeth said absently.

     “Cousin William is looking well tonight,” Charlotte sighed, leaning closer to the railing. “He is the finest dancer I ever saw!”

     “Shall you dance with him when you have your come out?”

     “Cousin Anne would probably tear my hair out if I tried! Anyhow, I daresay I am not handsome enough to tempt him. My mother told me I am quite plain, and I suppose she was right.”

     “No, Charlotte,” Elizabeth hissed. “You are perfectly lovely. You always have the prettiest gowns, and your hair is like chocolate.”

     “Or mud!”

     “I like mud.”

     Charlotte nudged Elizabeth playfully, and Elizabeth smiled back at her cousin before glancing over at Jane, who was eyeing their exchange with wounded suspicion. She had tears welling in her eyes, and her lip began to tremble as if she might cry. “I think I understand,” she whispered. “You two shall be the best of friends together in London, and I shall go off to school, all alone among strangers!”

     “Jane, it is not like that! I have to go!”

     “Why? You will not tell me why you must go.”

     “I cannot tell you. You would hate me if I told you the truth.”


***






     Elizabeth set aside her book and smiled. “Good day, Uncle Henry.”

     “Happy birthday, Miss Lizzy!” The earl reached into his coat pocket and withdrew a present for her – he hadn’t wrapped it properly, but had tied a generous length of very lovely pink ribbon around a leather-bound book, which he presented to her with a cheerful grin.

     Elizabeth accepted the book with thanks, and then looked down at the title. Smirking, she held up the book she had been reading before – it was the very same, Letters for Literary Ladies by Maria Edgeworth.

     Uncle Henry guffawed. “Well, my goodness!”

     Laughing, Elizabeth said, “It is quite a coincidence – Richard sent me a copy last week.”

     “And how do you like it? Rather daring reading for a lady of fourteen!”

     “It is certainly edifying! I am glad to have another copy, for I have been discussing it with Aunt Olivia, and now it will be easier for us to go through it together.”

     “And how are you and your aunt getting on?”

     Elizabeth raised her hand to her forehead and laughed. “Well, I certainly think she would be scolding me for having gone on for so long without offering you some tea, and making her apologies to you – she is resting presently. I have been learning my way around playing hostess since she was in confinement. Let me call for some refreshments. Here, come and sit in Uncle Edward’s chair – he will never know.”

     Uncle Henry sat down where he was bid and watched her with a look of pride. “Well, go on then, my dear. Show me how it’s done.”

     Elizabeth called for the tea, and when it arrived she poured him a glass, embarrassed that she was not quite sure how he liked it, and so she compensated by slicing him a rather large piece of cake.

     “You spoil me, my dear. Tell me,” he asked, sipping his tea, “how do you like living in London?”

     Elizabeth considered, swirling the spoon in her own tea. “I like talking with Uncle Edward; we have such interesting conversations. And with Aunt Olivia. She is very smart – frighteningly so, at times, but I admire her. I know there is some great secret about her that no one will tell me, but I think I can get her to confide in me.” She gave her uncle a look of triumph.

     He smiled back at her. “Is that so? She speaks candidly with you, does she?”

     “More and more, yes. I think she is quite frank with everybody.”

     “How long do you think before you wheedle it out of her?”

     She smiled wolfishly at him. “So there is a secret?”

     He laughed. “You have got until your eighteenth birthday – ten pounds on it.”

     She shook the earl’s hand on the wager. “With such an inducement, I am sure to succeed.”

     Her uncle leaned back in his chair, studying her with an expression of affectionate curiosity. “Something about you has changed. You are far more... grown up, different since we were all at Pemberley.”


***






     “Oh Lizzy, look at you hiding away, vexing yourself; you are always quite determined to do it.” Charlotte peeked in the doorway at Elizabeth before coming into the room and sitting in the window seat next to her. The two had been nearly as close as sisters could ever be since Elizabeth had come to London, and had grown up a great deal since their days of spying on their family at Pemberley. No longer was Charlotte a carefree, mischievous girl, but a thoughtful, pragmatic young woman who had been passed over for several seasons, despite Elizabeth’s loyal belief that her cousin was one of the finest women in London.

     Elizabeth knew she had changed, too – she had felt so grown up from such a young age, and her knowledge of her uncle’s unhappy marriage and the alienating tragedies in her family had darkened her once sparkling wit. Aunt Olivia would have wanted her to be bold at such a time, but in truth she could face neither the arrival of her family, nor the prospect of marriage.

     “Do not think of marriage,” Charlotte chided her. “You will see how it shall be. My father can scarcely arrange seven marriages all in the space of a single season! Do not dwell on it, I am sure it will come out right. Think of your sisters and your mother. Occupy your time mending your relationship with them, and I daresay you shall have no time for a courtship.”

     “Perhaps you are right. Mary is so sure it shall be well, and I do wish for it. I shall do my best with Jane and Mamma.”

     “And William too?”

     Elizabeth shrugged. “I do not see the point in that – I know he despises me. So much the better. I could never allow him to meddle in my affairs as he has done with poor Jane.”

     “And yet I hear he has played a rather large role himself in bringing this Christmas visit about.”

     “I cannot think why, except that he hopes to cheer Mamma.”

     “He is still your brother, Lizzy.”

     “Indeed he is not! Whatever regard Jane and Mary have for him, I do not share it. He did not deign to trouble himself over his sisters until long after I went away. It hardly matters – I do not care a whit.”

     “Oh yes, I can see that.”

     There was a knock on Elizabeth’s door. “Not now, Rose,” Elizabeth cried, and muttered under her breath.

     Aunt Phyllis opened the door and slipped into the room. “Richard has asked me to convey his apologies, if he gave you any alarm, Lizzy.”

     “But of course he – no, no. It is well, aunt. I am sure he was just as surprised as I was.”

     “Were you really so shocked? You have never thought of it, not even recently? You have been very diligent in visiting since he has been home.”

     “I was only trying to help his recovery! He is like a brother to me.”

     “Well, I am sorry your uncle sprang it on you like that. You know how worked up he gets when he has some scheme in his head, but nothing is certain just yet, my dear. Only think on it is all we ask. Perhaps if you start to consider Richard in a different light... well, he had not seen you in years, until he came home injured, and suddenly you were a woman grown, and always at his side….”

     “Aunt! Are you suggesting he has feelings for me? That I have somehow done something to, to....”

     “I am not suggesting anything, just thinking aloud, I suppose. You are not children playing together anymore, Lizzy.”

     “I have not been a child in a long time, Aunt.”

     “I know. And for that I am sorry – we all are. But it is time to let go of the past and think of the future. It need not be a future with Richard, if you decide against it, but it ought to be a future that brings you fully back into this family. You have been walking about with a dark dreary cloud over your head for years, child, and you must ask yourself if that is how you really want to go on. Or, do you want to open up your heart and let your family back in, and maybe someone to share your life with, too?”

     Elizabeth sighed and turned to Charlotte, who quietly nodded her agreement. “Very well,” she sighed. “You are both quite right – as regards the family. I am ready to make more of an effort, and to be happy again.”


***







I hope you enjoyed the three excerpts! The eBook is available now on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited, with a paperback version coming soon. I will be making a few more stops on my blog tour, sharing more excerpts, and there is a giveaway with each one!


August 19 - Babblings of a Bookworm
August 22 - My Jane Austen Book Club
August 23 - Austenesque Reviews
August 26 - From Pemberley to Milton
August 27 - So Little Time...
August 29 - Wonderland Book Reviews
August 30 - Diary of an Eccentric
Sept. 4 - More Agreeably Engaged
Sept. 7 - My Love For Jane Austen
Sept. 9 - Interests of a Jane Austen Girl
Sept. 13 - Half Agony, Half Hope
Sept. 17 - Savvy Verse & Wit





A Sister's Curse
by Jayne Bamber

Two families from very different situations in life are linked forever after a fatal accident on the Great North Road. This tragedy breeds years of sorrow and misunderstanding as well as prosperity and even romance in an emotional coming of age tale not only for Elizabeth Bennet, but for her sisters, and even the adults who let them down.  

For nearly two decades, Edward Gardiner is haunted by the difficult decisions he has made. Lady Anne Darcy must bear all the guilt and delight of being granted her heart’s desire... at a price. The Fitzwilliam family has motives and misgivings of their own as the Earl of Matlock tries to keep them all together, right the wrongs of the past, and pave the way for the next generation.  

Fitzwilliam Darcy realizes too late what it means to be a brother, and is faced with parts of his past he regrets, just as his desire to protect the family he loves leads him back to the woman he was destined to love the most… a woman who despises him.  

Elizabeth Bennet struggles through the turbulence of adolescence, her judgement clouded by past trauma and the complicated dynamics of her extended family. Secrets are revealed and re-examined as she is forced to come to terms with the truth of her past and the promise of her future, in a family bound together by heartbreak.  

AUTHOR'S NOTE:  This story is based on a deviation from canon 18 years prior to the opening of Pride & Prejudice. Several canon characters are omitted entirely, and aside from Darcy and Elizabeth, the story will focus on several minor canon characters. Some of these characters have developed differently from canon due to the events of the story as they unfold. New characters have also been introduced: the Earl and Countess of Matlock and their children: the Viscount and Lady Charlotte, as well as the Dowager Countess of Matlock, lady Olivia Gardiner and Rose Gardiner, Sir Lewis de Bourgh and Elliot de Bourgh. This story may be unsuitable for anyone triggered by the loss of a spouse, parent or child.     
Buy: Amazon
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FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. Should you purchase a copy of the book through the link provided, I will receive a small commission. Thanks! 

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* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

It's giveaway time! As part of the blog tour, Jayne is giving away one e-copy of A Sister's Curse! You can enter the giveaway here. Open Internationally.


Good luck!


Congratulations Jayne on the release of A Sister's Curse, and thanks so much for being a guest here at So Little Time...! 


So, friends, what are your thoughts? Please show Jayne some love by leaving a comment or question below. Thanks! 

7 comments:

  1. Just the title name grabs my attention let alone the blurb and excerpt. :)

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  2. More secrets to be discovered

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  3. Congrats on the release. Loving the excerpts!

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  4. I'm eager to read the full story. Thank you.

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  5. Quite intriguing! Thanks for the giveaway

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  6. Thank you for the excerpt. Intrigued about the close relationship between FD and EB's family. and Why/what EB feels. Can't wait for the story to unfold

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