Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Outmatched Blog Tour! ~ Excerpt

Hello, my friends! I’m delighted to be part of the Outmatched Blog Tour! Jayne Bamber has a lovely excerpt for you to read. I hope you enjoy it! 

An Austen Vagary
by Jayne Bamber

“It seems you must disoblige one of your children, Sir Thomas, and you must be the chooser of the pain inflicted. Your son disinherited, or your daughter married to an imbecile she cannot love.” 

When Sir Thomas Bertram returns home to Mansfield after his year in Antigua, he expects respite from his many troubles, in the bosom of his family. Instead he is met with blackmail, collusion, and the ominous threat of scandal. 

When Mrs. Margaret Dashwood takes her daughters from Norland to Barton Park, she carries with her a secret hope that they might someday return, though she is not yet ready to pay the price for it. 

A mutual connection bent on manipulation and revenge sets the stage for heartbreak, intrigue, and plenty of surprises as the worlds of Sense & Sensibility and Mansfield Park collide. Alliances shift along the way as familiar characters, bound by family ties, descend on Norland Park. There everyone has their own agenda, and constant peril looms as a large party of relations all scheme to outwit, out-maneuver, and outmatch their opponents. 

Elinor & Marianne Dashwood, Maria Bertram, Fanny Price, and Mary Crawford forge new friendships and alliances amidst the chaos of conspiracy, romance, redemption and self-discovery, the likes of which Norland Park has never seen before.


     Much as he had done for the past three days, Mr. Crawford wasted no time in recommending himself to Fanny, who endeavored to bear it all with better cheer than she had previously done. Though her friends were not near enough to assist her, Fanny was bolstered by Maria seeming to bear her no ill will, and something about Edmund’s continued solemnity on her other side seemed to arouse in Fanny some little courage. She would speak with Mr. Crawford, learn from it as she had promised, and really attempt to enjoy herself. In short, she would act in her own interests regardless of what anybody else was doing. 

     She had only to offer Mr. Crawford a warm smile before he was paying her compliments. “How well you look tonight, Fanny,” he whispered to her. “I must say in particular your hair is very handsomely arranged. My sister chose well for me, I think, in the rose pins.”

     “Chose for you?” Fanny beheld him in some surprise, more scandalized by his hints than his use of her Christian name. “The pins….”

     He smirked and gave a roguish wink. “I am often indulging my sister when she has a mind for shopping – a few pounds here and there – but today my generosity came with a request,” he whispered. “Today the gift must be for you, for I had understood it to be your day. I left the exact choosing to Mary, and specified only some manner of flowers, for I believe you are blossoming beautifully.”

     Fanny blushed, but willed herself not to look away. “I ought to return these to your sister.”

     “No indeed! I know you are too kind to ever wish to wound anybody, as surely you would my sister if you returned the hair pins. She was far too delighted with the plan when we spoke this morning.”

     “I am sure she would not be offended if I explained….”

     “I see I have embarrassed you, Miss Price, and I am sorry for it, though the sight of you wearing my gift shall not cease to please me. I only wish,” he said softly, brushing the side of his hand against hers as he reached for his wine, “I only wish that you might think as kindly of me as I do you. I do not ask for gifts, of course. Only a chance.”

     Feeling her face was now very hot, Fanny finally turned away from Mr. Crawford to collect her thoughts. Across the table, her Aunt Margaret was making every effort to ignore Mr. Crawford’s indiscreet overtures, and speaking with her head fully turned toward Cousin Marianne. On Fanny’s other side, Edmund was also turned away from her, quite engrossed in conversation with their cousin Elinor. It crossed Fanny’s mind that this may portend more than just Edmund’s wish for Fanny to speak to Mr. Crawford, though she pushed the thought away and turned back to her new admirer. 

     Mr. Crawford leaned forward as he caught her eye. “I promise I shall be good, Fanny. I shall pass the rest of the meal without causing you to blush so very prettily. Indeed, I know just how to accomplish it, for you must speak to me. I am sure of giving no offense by merely listening in rapt attention.”

     Fanny laughed in spite of herself. “Really, Mr. Crawford!”

     “If I shock you, you must know you quite surprise me. Perhaps you have never met anybody so very wicked, but I have never met anyone so gentle and good. It is just what my sister says, too. But, I have had her account of the day – I should like to hear yours.”

     Fanny caught Mrs. Jennings’ eye from down the table. The old widow raised a glass of wine to her with a knowing wink, which Fanny acknowledged with a slight nod before bolstering her confidence to speak to Mr. Crawford of her day in the village. It grew easier as she went on, for he really did listen with great attention, and she had naught but good to say, which could not be difficult. 

     Mr. Crawford held her eye and made all the appropriate looks by way of response as Fanny described her excursion and the pleasure she took in Mrs. Jennings’ and Miss Crawford’s friendship. Fanny realized she had become rather animated in her speech, for she had been happier today than any other occasion she could recall. 

     “I believe you have spoken more just now than you have since the entire time I have known you,” Mr. Crawford said when she finished recounting her day. “Well, as pleased as I am to hear you pleased, I am sure I could listen to you all night. You have the voice of an angel, Fanny. We really ought to have had you acting more with us.”

     “Oh, dear, no! What care I for the playing of parts when I am still learning to be myself?” Fanny blushed again and abruptly set her wine back down on the table. 

     “I see,” he whispered. “Who is Fanny Price? How am I to know, if you do not? But perhaps we may discover it together.”

     Fanny was sure he should not be speaking to her in such a way at the dinner table, regardless of the dedicated effort her relations seemed to be making to not notice it. She made little reply, and was relieved when Mrs. Dashwood rose a few minutes later to lead the ladies into the drawing room.

     In the drawing room, Fanny sought out her Cousin Elinor, who appeared a little under the weather, but had managed to draw Edmund out in conversation more than Miss Crawford and Fanny herself had managed in recent weeks. Fanny was on the verge of inquiring about her conversation with Edmund, when she hesitated. It occurred to Fanny that she did not wish to know. Edmund had made it clear he could not return her feelings, and had not chosen to confide whatever else bothered him; Fanny resolved to leave it, for she had concerns of her own to attend to. 

     She sat at some remove from the others and sipped at some Madeira to calm her nerves; she picked up a book she had started some days ago. She did not attend it very faithfully, for her thoughts were stored with a turbulent excitement about Mr. Crawford. His manners were much the same, but how improved her own had been, for after a while she had forgotten to be nervous at all in speaking!

     And yet he had been so forward, and still given no account for his sudden change. Fanny wished to enjoy herself, as Mrs. Jennings had urged, but she would not be a fool. Though she had exerted herself at dinner to please and be pleased, Fanny felt she could do no more for the present without feeling too great a responsibility in encouraging him outright.

     Instead she resolved to read. The rest of the ladies had broken into groups: Lady Bertram and Julia were getting along famously, Mary Crawford was whispering with Marianne, and Maria was fairly sniping as Mrs. Jennings chattered at Mrs. Rushworth and Aunt Margaret. Knowing her company could scarcely be missed Fanny remained engrossed in Paradise Lost until the gentlemen joined them.

     Edmund came first by a quarter hour, but Fanny would not betray the loss of interest in her book, as she surreptitiously observed him approach Elinor directly. Fanny dared at glance at Mary Crawford, but that lady appeared utterly indifferent to what gave Fanny such a pang in her heart. She attempted to think of her book, but turned the pages having scarcely read them, and was utterly wretched. 

     What cruel trick was it, that she should care for a man she could not have, but she could not care for, or even trust, the handsome man who was pursuing her? At length Mr. Crawford interrupted her misery when the rest of the gentlemen returned. He walked past Maria and muttered something with a scowl before approaching Fanny at the far end of the room.

     “You seek to hide, Miss Price, but that cannot be. You are just as fetching here in the corner as anywhere else.”

     “I am not hiding – merely reading.”

     Mr. Crawford gestured for the book, and as Fanny handed it over, he examined the cover. “Ah, Milton. I ought to have known your taste to be impeccable.” He leafed through the book, and finally stopped and began to read aloud.

     “In solitude, what happiness, who can enjoy alone, or all enjoying, what contentment find? Thus I presumptuous; and the vision bright, as with a smile more brightened, thus replied: what callst thou solitude, is not the Earth with various living creatures, and the air replenished, and all these at thy command, to come and play before thee?”

     He returned the book to her with a charming smile, and Fanny could see what he was about. “What happiness in solitude, indeed! What contentment could you have, Miss Price, when I might come and play before thee?”

     “A pretty turn of words,” she replied. “And yet I think surely you do play, for I cannot think you serious.”

     Mr. Crawford arched an eyebrow and leaned back in the seat across from her. “You must believe me to be so – I approached you with no other purpose. I am entirely serious, and if I do not fully understand the text, I shall rely on you to edify me.”

     Fanny eyed him nervously, certain there was some second meaning to his words. Determined to do her best, she turned a few more pages and began to read back to him. 

     “But if much converse perhaps thee satiate, to short absence I could yield. For solitude sometimes is best society, and short regiment offers sweet resume. But other doubt possesses me, lest harm befall thee severed from me, for thou knows what has been warned us, what malicious foe envying our happiness, and of his own despairing, seeks to work us woe and shame, by sly assault….”

     Mr. Crawford’s eyes sparkled with mischief as he nodded to her. “As ever, your musical voice delights me – as to the rest, perhaps I must beg some clarity, Miss Price. And mercy, too, for I am but a novice in this study.”

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Many thanks to Jayne Bamber for visiting and sharing an excerpt from her new book, Outmatched: A Mansfield Park/Sense & Sensibility Vagary! This mash-up sounds intriguing! Congratulations, Jayne! 

So, friends, what are your thoughts? I think a mash-up between Mansfield Park and Sense & Sensibility sounds incredible! I like that Fanny is cousins with Elinor and Marianne! I also love the cover! 


  1. Is Crawford going to be steady in his attentions to Fanny, there is always that doubt

    1. Hello, Vesper! That's a good question! I've always had mixed emotions about Crawford. It will be interesting to see what he's intentions are in this story. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Yes, this mash up has my interest piqued. I enjoyed getting the excerpt so I could get a peek inside the story. :)

    1. Hey, Sophia Rose! It's piqued mine too! Thanks for stopping by!


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