Sunday, March 5, 2023

"Why I Kissed You" by Christine Combe ~ Guest Post, Excerpt & Giveaway!

Hello, my friends! I'm thrilled to welcome Christine Combe here today with her new book, Why I Kissed You.

Please give a warm welcome to Christine!

Greetings, fellow Austenians! I’m so excited to be visiting So Little Time for the very first time today! Candy has graciously allowed me to take over the blog for a day to talk to you about my newest release, Why I kissed You. This is actually my seventh JAFF novel to date, though the first one released in 2023.

Why I Kissed You
by Christine Combe


Although she vehemently refuses the marriage proposal of Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet soon learns that an unexplainable moment of passion that occurred between them has led a furious Lady Catherine de Bourgh to demand she be thrown out of Mr. Collins’ house! 

Fitzwilliam Darcy, although his pride was wounded by Elizabeth’s rejection, finds he cannot allow her to be harmed by his aunt’s fanciful ambition for a marriage between him and her daughter. Fearing further action may be taken to damage Elizabeth’s reputation, he knows that marriage is the only form of protection he can offer her. 

Elizabeth and Darcy travel to London to begin the arrangements for a wedding that for all intents and purposes shouldn’t be taking place. In the midst of shopping for wedding clothes, sharing the news with family, and meeting Darcy’s noble relatives, Elizabeth is coming to learn more about who Darcy really is than she ever knew before. At the same time, Darcy is navigating the intricacies of realizing how wrong it is to interfere in the lives of others and how to deserve forgiveness from a friend. 

Though they act quickly to begin a new life together where one person is in love and the other now unsure of their feelings, Elizabeth and Darcy can’t stop one final attempt to keep them apart forever. But faith and love—and a little bit of luck—will play their part in determining whether there is a chance to pursue the happily ever after that both of them desperately want.
In this new story, I deviated from the canon at Hunsford, but that’s not the only change! Instead of writing Elizabeth a letter, Darcy actually talks to her—I turned the letter into a conversation! If you’ve been following along on the tour so far, here’s the 2nd half of chapter 2:

     They had come to a point on the road where a grassy lane—more a footpath, really—lead off into that favorite walk which Elizabeth had earlier avoided. She decided to turn that way in the hope of still finding some measure of peace in her exercise. Darcy could surely have nothing further to say to her—he’d explained his reasons for interfering with Bingley and Jane, but not at all to her satisfaction. Indeed, there were no words he could have said to dispel her anger there. Not even the recollection of Charlotte having once observed that Jane might want to show more than she felt—which admittedly stung a little in light of Darcy’s similar judgment of her sister’s behaviour—could make her believe that Jane had done anything wrong. 
     “Will you hear me further?” Darcy asked her. 
     “Have I any choice in the matter?” Elizabeth retorted.
     “You do,” he replied evenly. “However, I asked that you allow me to address the two offences of which I was accused. I have done with one but not the other.”
     “Oh yes—your cruelty to Mr. Wickham,” said she, glancing sidelong at him. “Pray make as poor an attempt to justify how you wronged him as you have wronged my sister and Mr. Bingley.”
     Darcy sighed…and then launched into a narrative which stunned Elizabeth to her core. That Wickham had grown up on the Pemberley estate as the son of old Mr. Darcy’s steward, that he had been Mr. Darcy’s godson and supported with a gentleman’s education at Cambridge, she had heard from Wickham himself. The first difference in their stories to give her pause was in the handling of the living. Darcy explained that his father had hoped Mr. Wickham would make the church his profession, for his manners were even then so engaging as to give the elder man the highest opinion of him and so had intended to provide him a living. 
     “As for myself, it is many, many years since I first began to think of him in a very different manner,” said Darcy in a bitter voice. “The vicious propensities, the want of principle, which he was careful to guard from the knowledge of his best friend, could not escape the observation of a young man of nearly the same age with himself, and who had opportunities of seeing him in unguarded moments, which my father could not have. Here again I shall give you pain—to what degree you only can tell. But whatever may be the sentiments which Mr. Wickham has created, a suspicion of their nature shall not prevent me from unfolding his real character. It adds even another motive.”
     The living, which Wickham had told Elizabeth he was promised, was to be his only if he took orders. Darcy told her that, about six months after the death of both their fathers some five years before, Wickham had written to say he had resolved against taking orders and instead wished to study the law. Knowing that Wickham ought not to be a clergyman, he thus hoped rather than believed the declaration to be sincere. Wickham’s letter said he hoped Darcy should not think it unreasonable for him to expect some more immediate pecuniary advantage in lieu of the preferment, as the interest of a legacy of one thousand pounds, left to him by old Mr. Darcy, would be insufficient to support the pursuit of that career. 
     “Wickham resigned all claim to assistance in the church,” Darcy continued, “were it possible that he could ever be in a situation to receive it and accepted in return three thousand pounds.”
     Elizabeth could not stifle the soft gasp that erupted from her. Four thousand pounds, a combination of his legacy and compensation, was no trifle!
     Her companion went on without acknowledging her surprise. “All connexion between us seemed now dissolved. I thought too ill of him to invite him to Pemberley or admit his society in town. In town, I believe, he chiefly lived, but his studying the law was a mere pretense; and being now free from all restraint, his life was a life of idleness and dissipation. For about three years I heard little of him; but on the decease of the incumbent of the living which had been designed for him, when his dissolute style of living had rendered his circumstances desperate, he applied to me again by letter for the presentation.”
     “But… You said he willingly gave it up in exchange for money,” Elizabeth remarked. “I… I will admit to being rather surprised he ever thought that you would be of a mind to grant him that over which he had no longer had any semblance of rights to claim, even if you had no other person to provide for.”
     She cleared her throat and, now feeling the first stirrings of shame, looked down at her feet as she said in a lower voice, “He told me you had denied him the living out of spite and jealousy, against the wishes of your father.”
     “Allow me to speculate that you were the only one with whom he shared this confidence until after I’d left Netherfield?” When Elizabeth nodded, Darcy snorted softly. “I am not surprised. When it was still possible that I might refute his claims and prove him a liar, he limited the number of his confidantes to one, then my absence—and ability to both blacken his character and defend my own—loosened his tongue. Nor does it surprise me he was as violent in his abuse of me to others as in his reproaches to myself. You will hardly blame me, in light of this knowledge, for refusing to comply with his entreaty, or for resisting every repetition of it.”
     “N-no, sir, I cannot,” Elizabeth confessed. “I… Four thousand pounds gone in only three years… How can anyone be so irresponsible?”
     Darcy drew a breath and said, “Though I have thus far said enough, I think, to acquit me of wrongdoing in regard to Mr. Wickham, I have more to say that will completely open his real character to you.” 
     Unable to think of what other lies she had foolishly believed that might be revealed as such, Elizabeth wordlessly gestured for Darcy to continue. Her mortification at having believed Wickham’s claims, so inappropriately communicated to a person he had only just met, paled immeasurably in comparison to the horror she felt on hearing how—in league with Miss Darcy’s former companion—Wickham had pursued the much younger girl to Ramsgate, where she had been taken on holiday. Darcy was to join her there but had been delayed, and Wickham had availed himself of the opportunity to attach himself to her and persuade Georgiana Darcy that she was in love with him, and that they ought to elope to Scotland. Darcy, his business concluded earlier than expected, went on to Ramsgate without sending word of his coming and thus arrived before the day of the planned elopement. Georgiana, unable to support the idea of grieving and offending a brother whom she looked up to as almost a father, acknowledged the whole at once.
     “You may imagine what I felt and how I acted. Regard for my sister’s credit and feelings prevented any public exposure; but I wrote to Mr. Wickham, who left the place immediately, and Mrs. Younge was of course removed from her charge. Mr. Wickham’s chief object was unquestionably my sister’s fortune, which is thirty thousand pounds; but I cannot help supposing that the hope of revenging himself on me was a strong inducement. His revenge would have been complete indeed, and my sister’s happiness ruined forever.” 
     Elizabeth felt herself unequal to making any reply; indeed, she found herself feeling rather ill. How could she have been so very blind? 
     “Miss Bennet, are you well? You’ve gone rather pale,” said Darcy then, and the concern in his voice—that he could even feel concern for her after all that had passed between them—only served to heighten her agitation. 
     “Come,” said Darcy, taking her gently by the elbow. “Come, you must sit down.” 
     He guided her over to a fallen tree at the side of the path, and Elizabeth sat upon it with a shaky breath. “I… I had no idea he was…” 
     She looked up at him. “And this is a faithful narrative?” she asked, then instantly feared that she had offended him further by asking—why would he have involved his sister in the tale were any part of it false?
     Darcy nodded grimly. “You will, I hope, acquit me henceforth of cruelty towards Mr. Wickham. His success in deceiving you is not to be wondered at, ignorant as you previously were of everything concerning us both. Detection could not be in your power, and suspicion certainly not in your inclination.”
     “No,” she replied with a mirthless chuckle. “No, my inclination was to be happy in having found someone who disliked you as much as I did.”
     Elizabeth looked up at him again. “Why did you not tell me all of this last night?”
     “In light of the vexation I felt at your rejection of my offer and the manner in which it was delivered—as well as my utter confusion as to what had motivated me to kiss you—I was not then master enough of myself to know what could or ought to be revealed. However, for the truth of all this, I can appeal more particularly to the testimony of Colonel Fitzwilliam, who, from our near relationship and constant intimacy, and still more as one of the executors of my father’s will, has been unavoidably acquainted with every particular of these transactions. If your abhorrence of me should make my assertions valueless—”
     Elizabeth quickly held up her hand. “No, sir, that I could not… that is… I must confess that when you asked to speak with me, I had had no idea at all what you might say. And now I am so overcome with my own feelings that I at present know not what to say myself, except to own how blind, partial, prejudiced, and absurd I have been.” 
     In fact, she was quickly growing absolutely ashamed of herself. How despicably have I acted! she cried silently. I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! Oh, why did I not listen to Jane? Why did I disdain her advice to me? How humiliating is this discovery! Yet, how just a humiliation! Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind. But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away where either were concerned. 
     “Until this moment, I never knew myself,” she whispered.


That was certainly an enlightening conversation for Elizabeth! Do you think hearing the truth might ease her anger toward Darcy faster than a letter?

About the Author

Christine, like many a JAFF author before her, is a long-time
admirer of Jane Austen's work, and she hopes that her alternate versions are as enjoyable as the originals. She has plans to one day visit England and take a tour of all the grand country estates which have featured in film adaptations, and often dreams of owning one. Christine lives in Ohio and is already at work on her next book.

Connect with Christine


Blog Tour Schedule

March 6 - So Little Time... You're here!

Why I Kissed You is now available from Amazon in eBook, paperback, and hardcover editions! 

Buy: Amazon (paid link)

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

* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

Leave a comment on today’s blog for a chance to win your very own Kindle copy—and follow along on the blog tour for a chance to win a signed paperback! If for any reason, you cannot comment on a blog, notify me (Christine) by email, and I will be sure to add you to the drawing for the paperback.

  • One of my lucky readers who comments today (Mar. 6th) will be randomly picked by Christine for the eBook.
  • All winners and the signed paperback winner will be announced on Christine's blog on Mar. 20th. 
Good luck!

Thank you so much, Christine, for visiting us today! That excerpt was lovely! I'm so glad they were able to speak to one another. Yes, I believe that would clear the air much faster.

Friends, what are your thoughts? We'd love to hear! Plus, don't forget to comment to enter the giveaway. 😃 

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

A Winter by the Sea by Julie Klassen ~ Cover Reveal!

Hello, my friends! I'm delighted to bring you another cover reveal! Julie Klassen has a new book, A Winter by the Sea, coming out in December 2023! It's my pleasure to be part of the cover reveal book tour! 

Before we see the cover, here's a word from Julie Klassen:

Dear Readers,

I am excited to give you an insider’s look at my December 2023 novel, A Winter by the Sea. This is the second book in the On Devonshire Shores series. Book One, The Sisters of Sea View, has been enthusiastically received and reviewed. I am grateful for each of you who helped spread the word about it!

During my research, I learned that the Duke and Duchess of Kent and their baby daughter stayed in Woolbrook Cottage (very near fictional Sea View) during the winter of 1819-1820. I instantly knew I wanted to include them in the novel to give readers a glimpse of the early life of Queen Victoria and her parents. The royal party arrived with too many attendants to accommodate at Woolbrook, so some were lodged elsewhere. I thought it would be fun to have a few staff members stay at Sea View, including a pastry chef who invades their kitchen, a man in desperate straits, and the duke’s handsome private secretary.

It was also interesting to write a seaside novel set during wintertime (it was unusually cold and snowy that year). Because I live in frigid Minnesota, cold weather details and sensations were easy to imagine. 😊

When I began writing this series, I had not yet traveled to Sidmouth, where the series is set. I am happy to say I was able to visit in August 2022 and was thrilled to experience this delightful town in person. The highlight of that trip was meeting the staff and volunteers of the Sidmouth Museum who have been extremely helpful in answering research questions and checking setting details for me.

A Winter by the Sea focuses on beautiful Emily Summers, who finds herself caught up in two rivalries. First, while striving to further her writing aspirations, Emily is torn between her loyalty to a well-established publisher & bookseller and his flamboyant competitor. Second, despite her best intentions, she is attracted to one of their new guests, but an old love comes to town, determined to renew their courtship.

I hope you are eager to return with me to the English seaside for Book Two of the On Devonshire Shores series. Thank you for all you do to support my books, and readers everywhere! 

Gratefully, Julie

About the Author

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen.
Her books have sold more than a million copies and she is a three-time recipient of the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also been honored with the Minnesota Book Award, Midwest Book Award, and Christian Retailing’s BEST Award. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She and her husband have two sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota.


Now without further ado, here's the cover!

Book Description

When the Duke and Duchess of Kent rent neighboring Woolbrook Cottage for the winter, the Summers sisters are called upon to host three of the royal couple's male staff in their seaside house. But they soon realize they've invited mysterious secrets and the sweet possibility of romance into their home.

Meanwhile, Emily Summers approaches a local publisher in hopes of fulfilling her dream of becoming an author. When he turns her down, his dashing competitor promises to consider her novel if she will first write a new Sidmouth guidebook for him. Emily accepts and begins researching with the help of the Duke of Kent's handsome private secretary. But a surprise visitor from her past shows up at Sea View, leaving Emily torn between the desires she used to hold dear and her budding dreams for the future.

Return to the Devonshire coast with the Summers sisters, where loyalties are tested, secrets come to light, and new love emerges.

Purchase Links

Amazon (paid link) • Barnes & NobleBook DepositoryBookshop

Add to Goodreads

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

Many thanks to Laurel Ann Nattress @ AustenprosePR for organizing and including me on this tour! 

Wow! This looks like another fantastic book! Be sure to pre-order your copy! 

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