Thursday, January 18, 2024

"Not Without Affection" by Caroline Cartier ~ Blog Tour, Excerpt & Giveawy!

Hello, my friends! I'm delighted to have Caroline Cartier on the blog today! She has a new book out, Not Without Affection, and it's her debut novel! Very exciting! Congratulations, Caroline!

I hope you enjoy the excerpt below, and be sure to enter the giveaway! Caroline is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card! Details are at the bottom of the page.

Not Without Affection
by Caroline Cartier

Publication Date: February 1st, 2024

Book Description:

When Mr Collins visits Longbourn, Elizabeth Bennet is shocked by the sycophantic behaviour of her family toward the Longbourn heir. Mrs Bennet declares that any of her daughters had better accept the man if he offers for them, and Elizabeth quickly comes to suspect that her father will not defend them should they wish to refuse. Despite her protestations, Elizabeth finds herself engaged to her cousin against her will and her sisters turned against her, showing Elizabeth harsh revelations about Jane's true character. She makes plans to escape the untenable situation, with help from Charlotte, and surprisingly, Mr Darcy, but the marriage moves forward despite their efforts and Lizzy is forced to accept her fate. 

When Elizabeth is unexpectedly relieved of her unwanted husband, her new friends at Rosings support her as she builds her new life, while Mr Darcy is relieved to have a chance to win her heart but knows he must wait to court her to preserve her reputation. While he suffers the long wait of her mourning until she can be courted, Elizabeth must decide if she is willing to try again, as estate matters and other parties threaten to end the match before it is made in this 68,000-word Pride and Prejudice Variation.

     On a bright morning in early November, Elizabeth Bennet was walking briskly in the direction of Longbourn to the sweet sound of blackbirds lifting their beaks in song. The sun had risen some time ago and it was nearly time for breakfast. Elizabeth had been out longer than usual this morning, having been cooped up at Netherfield tending her sister Jane for the last sennight.
     She quickened her pace, both in anticipation of breakfast and also in an effort not to upset her mother, who generally disapproved of Elizabeth's morning activities, and grew angry when her second daughter was late for the morning meal. She hoped she and her sisters might walk to Meryton later in the morning. Elizabeth had missed the arrival of the regiment while at Netherfield. While she had no intention of chasing officers like her youngest sisters, she expected there to be a great deal happening to entertain in the little village.
     The walk to Meryton was not to be, however. Elizabeth had taken her seat at the table just in time to escape her mother's ire, and as the family began to dine, her father spoke up. "I hope my dear, that you have ordered a good dinner today, for I have reason to expect an addition to our family party."
     "Whoever can you mean, Mr Bennet?” inquired his wife. “I know of no one who is expected unless Charlotte Lucas drops in, and I do hope my dinners are good enough for her. She certainly does not see such fine fare at her mother's table. Or perhaps Mr Bingley! What dreadful luck! There will not be a bit of fish to be had today. Ring the bell, Kitty; I must speak with Hill post-haste."
     Mr Bennet chuckled, "It is not Charlotte, nor Mr Bingley, though I give you leave to invite them both as often as you please, because they are excellent company. No, it is a person I have never seen once in the whole of my life." This naturally roused a great clamour of interest by his wife and all five of his daughters, and so, well pleased to have their undivided attention for once, he settled back into his chair with his coffee to relate the information to them. "I received this letter about a month ago, and about a fortnight ago, I sent a reply, considering it a matter of some delicacy, and requiring prompt attention. It is from my cousin, Mr Collins, who, if you recall, when I am dead, may turn you all out of this house as soon as he pleases," he finished with an unpleasant smile. Elizabeth wished she knew why her father insisted on being so disagreeable at times. She was fortunate that she usually escaped his razor-sharp tongue, but her mother and sisters were rarely so lucky.
     "Mr Bennet pray do not talk of that odious man coming here! I cannot bear to hear such an idea mentioned. It is the hardest thing in the world that your estate should be entailed away from your own children! You ought to have done something about it long ago!” Fanny Bennet wailed.
     Thomas Bennet agreed with his wife that it was indeed a most iniquitous affair, but advised her to hear the letter, for perhaps she might be softened by the man's sentiments or manner of expressing himself. Mrs Bennet declared that she was sure she would not, and decried the man as a hypocrite for contacting them at all. Mr Bennet, however, insisted upon reading the letter aloud.

Near Westerham, Kent,

Dear Sir,

       The disagreement subsisting between yourself and my late honoured father always gave me much uneasiness, and since I have had the misfortune to lose him, I have frequently wished to heal the breach; but for some time I was kept back by my own doubts, lest it might seem disrespectful to his memory for me to be on good terms with anyone with whom it had always pleased him to be at variance. My mind, however, is now made up on the subject, for having received ordination at Easter, I have been so fortunate as to be distinguished by the patronage of the Right Honourable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, widow of Sir Lewis de Bourgh, whose bounty and beneficence has preferred me to the valuable rectory of this parish, where it shall be my earnest endeavour to demean myself with grateful respect towards her ladyship, and be ever ready to perform those rites and ceremonies which are instituted by the Church of England.
       As a clergyman, moreover, I feel it my duty to promote and establish the blessing of peace in all families within the reach of my influence; and on these grounds, I flatter myself that my present overtures are highly commendable and that the circumstance of my being next in the entail of Longbourn estate will be kindly overlooked on your side, and not lead you to reject the oered olive branch. I cannot be otherwise than concerned at being the means of injuring your amiable daughters, and beg leave to apologise for it, as well as to assure you of my readiness to make them every possible amends — but of this hereafter. I shall write no more of my hopes, but assure your daughters in the most complimentary terms that I come prepared to admire them. If you should have no objection to receiving me into your house, I propose myself the satisfaction of waiting on you and your family, Monday, November –, by four o’clock, and shall probably trespass on your hospitality till the Saturday night following, which I can do without any inconvenience, as Lady Catherine is far from objecting to my occasional absence on a Sunday, provided that some other clergyman is engaged to do the duty of the day.

       I remain, dear sir, with respectful compliments to your lady and daughters, your well-wisher and friend,

William Collins

     "And so my dear, we shall have the honour of receiving this peacemaking gentleman, presumably waving an olive branch above his head, at four o'clock," concluded Mr Bennet, folding the letter and placing it beside his coffee. "I doubt not that he will be an invaluable acquaintance."
     "The letter is not defective in composition. The offering of an olive branch is not particularly original, though it is well expressed," observed Mary.
     "One wonders by what means he intends to make amends to us, though it is to his credit that he wishes to do so," remarked Jane.
     "It is perfectly obvious, is it not, Mr Bennet?” asked Mrs Bennet. “The gentleman comes prepared to admire you girls. He is a young single man, with a comfortable living, the patronage of a great lady, and the expectation of a gentleman's inheritance. It is obvious that he comes in want of a wife."
     "That cannot be what he meant, Mama,” protested Elizabeth. “He would never write it so openly. He must have meant something else, which is entirely plausible, considering his manner of apologising for the entail. He likely meant something else entirely. He certainly sounds like an oddity. Do you think he can be a sensible man, Papa?"
     "I highly doubt it, my dear," her father answered with his satirical grin. "In fact, his strange mixture of pomposity and servility gives me great hope of finding him quite the reverse. I am indeed impatient to see him. This promises to be a most entertaining sennight. But in answer to your first, I agree with your mother. As ridiculous as this man sounds, it is possible that no one in his parish would accept him if he is truly objectionable. He probably hopes to find us desperate, and willing to give him a daughter to save your home after I am gone, and he would not be too far wrong."

    "Despite your humour, Papa, you would not make one of us marry him!" exclaimed Elizabeth, horrified by her father's speech. Sometimes even she could not quite tell when Mr Bennet was fooling them, and she understood her mother's nerves well in those moments.

     "Make you! You silly, foolish girl, why ever would we need to make you!" Mrs Bennet burst out in annoyance. "In case you have not noticed, there are no gentlemen in the area to marry, and neither Jane nor you have found success in town when visiting my brother. If the man who is to inherit your home proposes to any of you, you will accept with joy and gratitude in your heart! Oh, except you Jane, dear, you are for Mr Bingley; and of course, dear Lydia is far too young to marry a clergyman. But any of the rest of you had better gladly accept him. The idea of refusing to save your family from destitution is abhorrent, Lizzy. How could you say something so selfish? Do you wish for us all to be homeless?"

     "Mama, I will not marry someone horrid just to keep Longbourn," Elizabeth argued. "I am sure my sisters and I will do well enough without selling ourselves to a booby.”
    "How dare you, young lady! To speak of the heir of this estate, a man you have never even met, in such disrespectful terms!” Mrs Bennet scolded her second child soundly. “You think that I do not see you disdain the behaviour of your sisters and me, missy, but you are not such a model of propriety yourself! You will not degrade Mr Collins in any way again, and when he arrives, you will accord him the respect that is his due. I will not have any of my daughters behaving in such an objectionable manner! If the man is ridiculous, so much the better. It means he will be easily led, and easier for one of you to manage. Have you not seen how I struggle with a clever husband? Do not make my mistake. Marry a booby."

     Elizabeth looked at her father, whose face was like stone and did not meet her eye. Why did he not defend her? He had said himself he expected to find the man insensible. He would not marry any of them to an idiot. Would he?

About the Author

Caroline Cartier is an anglophile in her early forties, living out her happily ever after in New England with her very own Darcy. She is mom to an extraordinary young woman who is an English major, two cats, and a spaniel (co-author) named Belle.

Having cut her teeth on the Tudors and Mary Queen of Scots with the historical fiction of Jean Plaidy and Victoria Holt at sixteen, Caroline read her way through the histories of the Monarchs of England and France, settling into an abiding love for Regency fiction in her twenties.

Her first Jane Austen Variation was Mr Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange. Several years later, a free trial of Kindle Unlimited opened a whole new world of Austenesque fiction. After reading what feels like hundreds of variations, Caroline began her first writing project in 2021, The Victorian Vagaries, a Victorian Pride and Prejudice Quartet that will be published in 2024.

Having been a gushing member of many fandoms in her time, Caroline takes great enjoyment in historical fiction, fantasy, and YA fiction, and enjoys the works of Rick Riordan, Angie Sage, James Patterson (the Max Ride series), Stephanie Meyers, Suzanne Collins, J K Rowling, L M Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, and of course the father of fantasy, J R R Tolkien.
She takes her inspiration for writing from the wonderful authors of Austenesque literature and the romance series of Stephanie Laurens, Julia Quinn, and Lisa Kleypas, in addition to other historical romances and television period dramas.

Connect with Caroline Cartier

Purchase Links

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* * * GIVEAWAY * * *

Caroline is generously giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky person during this blog tour! Enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter below. 

Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Many thanks to Caroline Cartier for stopping by today! Again, congratulations on the release of Not Without Affection! BTW, I love this cover! It's so beautiful!

So, my friends, do you have any thoughts? I cringe at the thought of Elizabeth marrying Mr. Collins! Mr. Bennet, what are you thinking!!

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