Thursday, June 17, 2021

There You Were by Michelle Ray ~ Blog Tour ~ Excerpt & Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! Michelle Ray is stopping by today with an excerpt from her new book There You Were! Plus, there's a chance to win an eBook of There You Were - details are at the bottom of the page! 


There You Were
A Pride and Prejudice Variation
by Michelle Ray

“I was not looking for love, but there you were. I cannot stop it, I cannot indulge it, so I must put distance between us and hope that time will heal this fever I have.” 

Abandoned by her mother and ignored by her father, it is hardly any wonder young Elizabeth Bennet’s curiosity soon brings about trouble and marriage to a man she does not love. Colonel Fitzwilliam’s family—save for his cousin Mr Darcy—despises her, and life is not what she dreamed of. As she matures and grows from an impetuous girl into a woman, Elizabeth’s most reliable source of friendship and comfort becomes Mr Darcy. When tragedy strikes leaving her a widow, she is free to find out [discover?] who has been in her heart all along. 

Darcy has always been intrigued by the girl his beloved cousin married, and finds himself drawn into helping her after her husband’s death. Over time, admiration turns to love. Admitting his feelings to her – or even himself – could lead to ruin, but denying his passion could shatter him.

Candy, I'm thrilled to be a guest a So Little Time...So Much to Read! I hope you and your reads enjoy this excerpt. 

When Uncle Gardiner is set to marry, Mrs Bennet is invited to the wedding. Since her secretive family never spoke of Mrs Bennet, Elizabeth assumed her mother was dead. Her shock and betrayal are compounded by the fact that Jane knew all along but never spoke of it.


     Longbourn Village, 1806

     Drying the tears on her face, Jane knelt. “I do not understand how he could want that woman at our house.”

     “Who?” I asked.

     “Our mother.” 

     “Our mother? I thought she was dead.” 

     “Why would you think she was dead?”

     “I…” Because I could not imagine why else a mother would never write or visit. Almost fifteen years and not a word. I had never been told why she had left in the first place, and somehow thought, or maybe hoped, that everyone said ‘she left’ as a euphemism for dead. Being dead explained it. Being alive and turning her back on us was incomprehensible. 

     I shook my head, trying to make sense of this revelation. “And Father knows where she is?” 


     I paused. You" knew, as well?” 

     Jane squinted at the stream. “Vaguely.”

     I tucked my lips between my teeth, then ran off. Whether full of joy or rage, among the trees I always found answers…or at least peace. I sat on a bed of moss and listened to the gentle rustle surrounding me, considering what I had been told: our mother was alive and everyone else knew where she was. Even Jane. While our father and uncle constantly disappointed me and hid things, Jane never did. That Jane—my ally, my dearest friend—knew and never told me was the ultimate treachery. How could she? 

     All my life my mother had been a spectre in the house. I had learned not to ask about her, as my questions and comments were typically met with pained silence. My mother was agony and discomfort, and it was best not to wonder about her. Now she was coming. 

     What could I do? Nothing. 

     I closed my eyes and attempted to breathe. The green canopy above my head soothed my mind. A breeze fluttered the leaves as if whispering a gentle ‘shhh’, the sound a mother would make to her child…if one had had a mother’s care. I refocused, listening to the birds chattering in the high branches. I opened my eyes, watching a crossbill swoop to another tree, then a second and a third. 

     Jane approached and held out a hand. I took hers in mine and she squeezed, then began walking.

     We slowed at the little hunting cottage we had found years ago, which was just far enough off from our house to have served our needs on many such nights when it was best not to be inside with the others. No one would come out and look for us tonight. No one ever did. 

     We sat down on the logs outside the cottage and watched the sky darken and the stars emerge, first one, then another, then so many you could count them until the sun came back and never finish counting. It reminded me of a black pond with floating candles. Lightheaded from fatigue and hunger, I felt as if I were swimming among them. Though many summer evenings remained hot and close, this night the temperature had dropped. I heard a noise and realised it was my own teeth chattering. 

     “Let us take refuge inside,” Jane said. There was wood in the fireplace and somehow we managed to light a fire, sitting close to warm ourselves. As we watched the firelight dance, she asked, 

     I shrugged, pulling my arms tighter around myself. 

     “I ought to have told you I knew,” she said. “No more secrets. Ever. I promise.” She reached out for my unfashionably suntanned arm. 

     I nodded and closed my eyes, wanting to believe her.

     A clattering at the door awoke us both with a start. 

     A man’s frame filled the doorway, his features obscured by shadows. “What in blazes!” 

     I scrambled to my feet, taking in Jane’s startled eyes, her mouth agape, the very idea of trouble turning her to stone as it always did. I considered rushing at him, waving my arms like the heroine in one of my novels when confronted by a bear, but his long coat and tall shining hat gave him out to be a gentleman rather than a local ruffian come to compromise us. The gun ought to have terrified me, but as my eyes adjusted to the light, I could see that he was dressed for hunting. And we were in a hunting lodge. His, perhaps? 

     “Who are you?” he barked.

     “Who are you?” The words spilled out before I could check my tone. He stiffened, but before he could say anything else, I grabbed Jane’s hand and yanked her past him towards the open door. 

     “Stop, I say!” 

     We ran, peals of laughter escaping me as I looked over my shoulder, only to slam into someone outside and tumble to the ground. The damp from the night immediately seeped into my skirt, and I knew Hill would be furious with me for being a disaster once again. 

     “Miss Elizabeth?” 

     I looked up. Registering his identity, I accepted his outstretched hand and allowed him to help me to my feet.

     James Fitzwilliam was the second and youngest of the Fitzwilliam sons. Not heir to the earldom, he was set to join the regulars as a lieutenant colonel as soon as he came of age. 

     “You know this creature?” asked the stranger, who had followed us outside.

     “This creature,” I said, hands on my hips, “is his friend and neighbour.” 

     Jane cringed at my impudence—a flaw she had reprimanded me for so often that it was nearly comical—but James Fitzwilliam, whom we had known since we were born, smiled. “This is Miss Bennet and her sister, Miss Elizabeth Bennet.” 

     The stranger looked Jane over. She gave a proper curtsey, her cheeks flushing. 

     “This is my cousin, Mr Darcy.” An awkward silence fell. “We were hunting!” he added in a bright voice.

     “Hunting what?” I asked, matching his enthusiasm.

     Jane took hold of my arm. “We must take our leave.” Pulling me away, she paused to offer a perfunctory curtsey so as not to be rude. I waved, which made Jane hiss, “Lizzy! Honestly.”

About the Author

Michelle Ray is a middle school literature teacher who also
directs plays, writes stories, and sees as many Broadway shows as she can. She grew up in Los Angeles and went to the awesome Westlake School for Girls where theater had the cachet of football and the girls were in charge of everything. She lives with her husband and daughters near Washington DC, and dreams of traveling anywhere and everywhere.

Connect with Michelle Ray

Buy There You Were at Amazon (paid link).
Add to Goodreads.

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! 

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

Quills & Quartos is giving away an e-copy of There You Were to one of my lucky readers! The winner will be chosen from the commenters of this blog stop. Winners will be chosen a week after the blog tour ends (June 25). 

Yay! Thank you Quills & Quartos and Michelle Ray for the giveaway!

Congratulations to Michelle Ray for the release of There You Were

So, friends, tell me what you think! I'm so curious about this missing Mrs. Bennet! Where has she been? 

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