Monday, March 18, 2024

"Worthy of Her Trust" by Melissa Anne ~ Excerpt!

 Hello, my friends! Today Melissa Anne joins us with a delightful excerpt from her new book, Worthy of Her Trust. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did! 

Worthy of Her Trust
A Pride and Prejudice Variation
by Melissa Anne

Story Synopsis:  

"Worthy of Her Trust" reimagines Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in an alternate universe where Elizabeth Bennet is born Elizabeth Rose Tomlinson, a wealthy heiress living with her grandparents at Briarwood Estate in Derbyshire. In her earliest years, she becomes friends with Fitzwilliam Darcy, who visits with his family in the summer. But things change when Lady Anne Darcy, Fitzwilliam's mother, dies, followed not long after by Elizabeth's grandparents. Elizabeth goes to live with her relatives, who hide her true identity and spend the funds meant for her care without thought. 

Years later, Darcy and Elizabeth meet again, and the two discover the truth, including that Darcy is one of the trustees of Elizabeth's estate. They begin a courtship while dealing with the expectations of society and the family's secrets. They face manipulative people such as Mr. Bennet, who wants to marry Elizabeth for her money, and George Wickham, who schemes against them out of jealousy. Other characters from "Pride and Prejudice" have their own subplots, like Caroline Bingley's downfall due to scandalous behavior or Lydia Bennet's transformation into a more suitable partner through marriage. 

The story centers around love overcoming adversity, as Darcy and Elizabeth unite despite the obstacles they face. Their marriage not only brings personal happiness but also positive changes to their social circle. It leads to growth, redemption for some characters, new relationships, and the birth of children, which continue legacies across estates. It all culminates in an enduring bond among loved ones who prioritize integrity above all else in Regency England society.

Worthy of Her Trust
Chapter 2

     The morning after the assembly, Elizabeth rose early to walk to Oakham Mount, as was her habit on most fine mornings. The encounter with Mr. Darcy the night before had left Elizabeth flummoxed — she could swear she had met him before. They were unclear recollections, and she wanted to laugh at the dreams his voice had evoked. She knew they could not be real memories; they were far too fanciful — vague impressions of fighting dragons with him as a child or playing the “damsel in distress” to his Sir Galahad and lying beside him in the grass, watching the stars as he made up stories. The memory that caused her cheeks to redden was him carrying her in his arms while calling him “Dearest” and kissing his cheek as explosions of light burst around them. Shaking her head as she attempted to cool her cheeks, she laughed at herself, determining she would never dance at an assembly again if it caused her to have such wild imaginings.

     Still, there was something so familiar about him. It was more than his looks, although he was quite the most handsome man she had ever met, and just thinking about his person made her cheeks heat again. He was tall and well-formed, and while they had not danced, she felt confident there was no padding under his jacket. He had been kind when he spoke to her, and while he had not spoken to anyone else at the assembly, she had known it was because of his headache. He was a little proud, to be sure, but he had confessed to feeling awkward when he heard his wealth and status bandied about the room nearly as soon as he entered it.

     His voice, too, was familiar, though quite a bit deeper and more resonant now than in her dreams. He was much younger in her dreams — then, she would guess him to have been a boy of perhaps twelve or thirteen. It seemed odd to dream of him as a boy when she had only met the man the night before, but as she walked, she recalled she had dreamt of him before that night as well. Somehow, he was connected to the Will and Jon of her imaginings, although it made no sense. Other vague memories — a long journey by carriage, a large estate, mountain peaks, and the grandparents she was told she had never met — felt more real to Elizabeth than her family would admit.

     In the middle of these musings, Mr. Darcy arrived, riding a rather tall stallion, tall, at least, from Elizabeth’s perspective, since she had always been a little fearful around horses.

     “Good morning, Miss Bennet, oh, pardon me; good morning, Miss Elizabeth,” Darcy greeted the lady he had dreamed about as he dismounted his horse. It was strange, he thought, to encounter her so soon after such an odd dream. When he finally found sleep the night before, he dreamed of laying beside a much younger version of Elizabeth in the grass, telling her stories about the stars. In his dreams, he called her Ellie, and she called him Will. It had been years — before his mother died — that anyone had called him by that name.

     Darcy harboured faint recollections of a young girl, merely three or four years old, who had once affectionately addressed him as “dearest” during a summer visit to Briarwood, an estate approximately fifty miles from Pemberley. Even now, he occasionally visited the estate, having assumed the role of trustee upon his father’s demise. Another trustee, a friend of his father, maintained contact with the girl and her family. However, Darcy, having not heard the girl’s name in years, struggled to recall it. As his father’s will outlined, his responsibilities were confined to the estate’s property and investments. It was understood that Mr. Terrance Elliott oversaw the girl’s well-being.

     Darcy exchanged a few words that morning with Miss Elizabeth before separating; however, they continued to meet this way for several mornings, and their conversations grew longer each day. 

     One morning, Darcy noticed how Miss Elizabeth seemed to shy away from his horse. “Might I introduce you to Bucephalus, Miss Elizabeth?” he asked.

     Despite her fear, her eyes twinkled when she retorted: “Should I suppose your Christian name to be Alexander, sir, to have a horse with such a name? Or do you simply prefer to have your friends add “the Great” to your name when referencing you in company?” 

     Surprised by his low chuckle at her comment, she was further astounded when he bowed gallantly and stated in an affected voice, “Fitzwilliam Alexander Darcy, at your service, madam. Perhaps you might be Roxana?”

     For a moment, she was startled by his words, but then she suddenly laughed. “Having never been to Asia, sir, I could scarcely be considered the most beautiful woman on that continent. My cousin Jane is widely considered to be the most beautiful woman in Hertfordshire, and I know I can scarcely compare. You, Mr. Darcy, are a flatterer.”

     She noted him shaking his head and answered his previous question a little more timidly. “I would be delighted to be introduced to your horse, sir, but I admit that horses and I do not always seem to get along. My uncle attempted to teach me once to ride when I was perhaps seven or eight, but he was unwilling to help me overcome my fear of the animals. Having a smaller horse or a pony might have helped, or a little more concerted effort on his part, but I was too afraid, and he never attempted it again. I have a faint memory of riding a horse as a young child with someone named ‘Jon’, and in that instance, I fell from the horse and injured my leg. My aunt and uncle claim it must have been a dream since we do not know anyone named Jon or Jonathan, but still, the memory made it difficult for me to overcome those feelings, and, as I said, my uncle would not try anything further to encourage me.”

     “How old were you in this dream?” Darcy asked, intrigued as her ‘memory’ made him recall a similar event that had happened one summer at Pemberley. “Do you remember anything else?”

     “The horse seemed enormous, but as I was only four or five in my dream, I believe most horses would have appeared that way to me. Jon was not a boy, perhaps a young man nine or ten years older than I, and I recall a discussion of slaying a dragon with him and another boy. Jon dismounted first, but something distracted him for a moment, and before he could help me down, I fell off the other side. The other boy rescued me, carrying me to the house and taking me to my nursemaid. I think it was only a slight injury, but the memory of it stuck with me.”

     Darcy started, remembering a similar event at Pemberley the summer his sister was born. “Do you remember the name of the other boy?” he asked, his voice betraying his interest in the matter.

     Elizabeth trilled a laugh. “I believe I called him ‘dearest’. I feel fairly certain it is a dream; my relations have told me often enough that I have a fanciful imagination,” she finished when he appeared shocked at her revelations.

     Darcy’s conviction that these were not merely dreams intensified, and his suspicion that Elizabeth Bennet was something more than she seemed deepened. The previous day, he had penned a letter to Mr. Elliott, seeking insights into the Tomlinson family, specifically the girl who was the heir to the estate. Since his father’s passing, the two men had corresponded sporadically regarding the trust, though most were about business matters. He possessed limited knowledge about the heir, and encountering Elizabeth stirred his recollections of the young Ellie Tomlinson.

     At other times during these meetings, Mr. Darcy spoke passionately about his estate, relishing the opportunity to share his knowledge with Elizabeth. His descriptions of the area around his home piqued her interest. She was always curious about travel and genuinely interested in Darcy’s estate, so she could not resist the urge to inquire about the sights he mentioned. “Mr. Darcy,” she began one morning, her eyes fixed on the distant horizons, “would you describe those Peaks you have seen? I am intrigued by your descriptions as something about them niggles at my memory.”

     Mr. Darcy’s eyes softened as he recounted the majestic scenery. “The Peaks are remarkable, Miss Elizabeth,” he replied. “The rugged beauty of the landscape, the rolling hills, and the commanding peaks that seem to touch the sky are a sight that takes one’s breath away. My home, Pemberley, is in the middle of this area, and I delight that I can visit there frequently.”

     Elizabeth nodded, her mind racing to connect these descriptions with her vague memories. “You know, Mr. Darcy,” she confessed with a playful smile, “I have had some rather peculiar impressions of seeing similar sights in my past. However, I have always dismissed them as the imaginings of an avid reader. You see, I have frequently devoured many books with vivid descriptions of places I long to visit someday.”

     He regarded her with a thoughtful expression. “Could it be that you have a deeper connexion to such landscapes than you realise, Miss Elizabeth? Perhaps your heart has journeyed through these terrains long before we met.”

     She laughed her charming laugh as he had intended her to do. “Yes, perhaps I have visited them in a past life.”

     A few days later, the two families were again in company at Lucas Lodge. Since he had begun meeting with Miss Elizabeth in the mornings, he had observed the family dynamic more closely. At the assembly, something appeared not quite right with them, and, given his conversations with the enchanting lady, he had often wondered about her family.

     Darcy noted that Elizabeth looked very different from her relations. Granted, they were cousins, and she was not related by blood to her aunt, but something about Elizabeth struck him as familiar. However, he could not recall any Bennets amongst his acquaintances. An off-handed comment by Charlotte Lucas also revealed the date of Elizabeth’s birth — August 14, 1791 — only a few days before his own birthday. Hearing that date stirred another memory, and Darcy was determined to ask her about it the first chance he had.

     After they exchanged greetings the next morning, Elizabeth fed Bucephalus an apple she had brought just for him. She had become familiar with his horse throughout the last fortnight and had begun bringing him a treat, along with something for herself and Darcy to eat as they spoke. It was evidence of the trust she was forming in them both. “Miss Lucas mentioned that your birth date is only a few days before mine. It brought to mind a memory that I wanted to share with you. On my eleventh birthday, my family and I celebrated at the estate of a friend of my father’s, Mr. Alexander Tomlinson. The estate is called Briarwood.

     “That particular date stands out in my memories because it coincided with the birthday of the estate owner’s granddaughter, who was also turning four. Mr. Tomlinson purchased fireworks for our last night to celebrate his granddaughter’s birthday and, coincidentally, mine. Despite the differences in our ages, Ellie and I had become friendly over the summer, and she was initially frightened by the fireworks. She wanted comfort, so she came to me and insisted I hold her during the rest of the display. When it was over, she patted my cheek, called me her dearest, and then kissed my cheek. My cousin, now an army colonel and a couple of years older than me, teased me mercilessly the next day.

     “The following summer, I saw Ellie again on our birthdays, but this time, we were at my family’s estate because my mother had just given birth to my sister. She was still rather weak. I learned later that before that year was out, Ellie was sent to live with a relative as both of her grandparents died. My father was appointed her guardian, though my mother was too ill for her to live with us at the time. I still am the trustee of her estate, although I have not seen her since.”

Elizabeth sighed. “It is a lovely memory. It is odd — I have always had a vague memory of a knight protecting me from bright lights in the sky one night when I was small. Like your Ellie, he allowed me to kiss his cheek when they were done, but as I have been told I have never seen fireworks, I determined it was merely a dream,” she whispered.

     “How do you know it was a dream, not a memory?” Darcy asked.

     “Other than trips to London, I have lived all my life at Longbourn, or so I have been told,” Elizabeth stated. “My aunt and uncle have told me on more than one occasion that I am too fanciful as I often have dreams of things they say could not have happened. I was told I had a rather active imagination when I was young and was constantly making up stories about dragon-slaying knights. When I tried to tell others about these memories, they teased me or accused me of lying, as there are no boys in our family of the proper age to have been my playmates. When I was small, these imaginary playmates seemed much older than I, but they would have been boys, perhaps ten to thirteen. None of my cousins have similar memories, so I am quite convinced I made them up. Perhaps they are memories of things I read or came from stories someone made up and told me.”

     Darcy started at her recollections. “Miss Bennet, are you certain you have always lived at Longbourn?”

     Elizabeth laughed. “My aunt and uncle say it is so. The present Mr. Bennet inherited when I was five, and I was at the estate before they arrived, so they claim I must have memories from that time. When I was young, I insisted I had another family than those at Longbourn and spoke of a grand house surrounded by peaks, though when I made those claims, I was told I was being very hateful to imagine a life without my family. There is a John in our neighbourhood, but it is not the same boy from my dreams. ”

     “How do you know they are not the same?” Darcy asked.

     “He is only a couple of years older than me — the boys in my dreams were quite a bit older, perhaps ten or more years. John also does not have the same memories or dreams as I and does not have an older brother,” Elizabeth replied. “Do not trouble yourself, Mr. Darcy. I am convinced it is a matter that will never be solved. Why would my relations not be honest with me? I believe I would feel equally annoyed with a child if she insisted she had a different family somewhere. It would be rather hurtful — once I realised that, I quit saying those things. I may have these memories from when my other uncle lived before Aunt Fanny and Uncle Thomas came to Longbourn, but it seems better not to speak of them.”

     As Darcy considered this, he realised everything about Miss Elizabeth captured his attention. Each morning he met with her, he liked her more and began contemplating how to call on her or request a courtship. However, something about her family made him hold back and wait before he asked. He felt something was not right at Longbourn and wanted to discover more, especially as Elizabeth’s “imaginings” coincided with his own memories. To that end, he had begun to ask Elizabeth more questions about her family when they met, and those questions were returned until the two knew quite a bit about each other and were in a fair way towards falling in love.

About the Author

Melissa Anne never intended to write a book. However, after reading dozens (hundreds) of variations of Pride and Prejudice, she decided to give it a shot. She started posting on a Fan Fiction site and soon grew an audience that appreciated her work.
In the last year, she has managed to finish and self-publish six full-length novels and one novella, all based on the characters and setting of Pride and Prejudice. Three of her books have become audiobooks, and she plans to publish more in the future. 

While most of her books adhere to the original Regency era time period of Pride and Prejudice, Finding Love at Loch Ness is a sweet variation where American grad student Elizabeth Bennet encounters and falls in love with a Scottish William Darcy. 
Her most recent release is Worthy of Her Trust, which features Elizabeth, who is not a Bennet but the Bennet’s niece and an heiress in her own right. Darcy and Elizabeth meet at the assembly, but they have vague memories of meeting as children, and this serves as the basis for a new friendship and, soon, a romance. 
Hailing from East Tennessee, Melissa Anne has settled in Georgia with her husband and three children. Although she longs to return to the Smoky Mountains, her dream remains on hold for now.
Melissa Anne is a pseudonym.

Connect with Melissa Anne

Purchase Links

Amazon (paid link) • Add to Goodreads

FTC Disclaimer: Link to Amazon. I am an Amazon Associate. I will receive a small commission, at no cost to you,  if you purchase a book through the link provided. Thanks!

Congratulations, Melissa, on the release of Worthy of Her Name, and thanks so much for stopping by here today with an excerpt! 

So friends, what are your thoughts? I'd love to hear from you!


  1. A wonderful book! I had the pleasure to read an ARC and then went and read it again through Kindle once it launched. I highly recommend it.

    1. Thanks, Anna! That's good to know! I'm so glad you stopped by.

  2. I agree it is a fantastic story. I also had the privilege of being a beta reader & then borrowed on KU to read the final product. I loved how Darcy was able to piece things together to realize that this was "his" Ellie and how his family came around her and loved her too. I did enjoy the fireworks. It is one that I will re-read more than once ;)

    1. Hello, Glory! Fabulous, I'm so glad you enjoyed the story too! Thanks for stopping by!


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