From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:
Fall is here and Halloween is just around the corner as the next holiday to celebrate. To get in the mood I always like to re-read Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen’s Gothic parody, and a new Austen-inspired Gothic fiction. This year it will be Tempt Me, by Julie Cooper. It is a Pride and Prejudice variation with a paranormal twist. Get ready to meet vampire Darcy, again.
The vampire concept is not new to the Janeite fan fiction world. Austenesque authors have been putting this paranormal slant on Mr. Darcy (for good reason) since Amanda Grange’s, Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, was released in 2009. There have been others along this theme too: Pulse and Prejudice: The Confession of Mr. Darcy, Vampire, by Colette L. Saucier, Vampire Darcy’s Desire: A Pride and Prejudice Adaptation, by Regina Jeffers, and recently, Darcy’s Clan, by Lari Ann O’Dell. I see you rolling your eyes. Stop that. Darcy as a vampire is so sexy—a moody hot mess of uncontrollable desire.
I have not read this author before, but I was won over by the beautiful cover (I am so shallow. I do judge a book by its cover!) and the creative storyline. Austenprose is the last stop on the Tempt Me blog tour so let’s check it out. Here is the description from the publisher and an exclusive excerpt selected by the author. Enjoy!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single vampyre must be in want of a wife. Someone biddable, her memories easily expunged to allow for strange, inexplicable deeds and baffling circumstances. A tractable creature, of average intelligence, willing to attend to the business of producing heirs and keep out of all else. A girl easily moulded, incurious, indifferent, and demanding nothing beyond access to his fortune.
Fitzwilliam Darcy knows exactly who he needs. He can fix on the hour, the spot, the look, and the words which laid the foundation for an obsession he rejected. But ten years later, at an assembly in an obscure village in Hertfordshire, he finds himself in the middle once more.
His needs are unalterable. But can he resist the one woman he truly wants?
Darcy had resisted coming at all, but Bingley was anxious to continue his acquaintance with Miss Bennet, his desire to see her again almost disquieting in one normally so mild. Perhaps she truly was ‘the one’—he knew Bingley was anxious for such to be the case. Besides, as long as Netherfield remained a base of operations in the hunt for Wickham, it was as well they not appear odd to the community. Maintaining appearances was his sole impetus; the hope of furthering an acquaintance with Miss Elizabeth did not enter in.
Upon seeing her, however, he knew he had deceived himself. Wild to capture some sort of notice from her, he willed her to walk in his direction with a force that should have pulled the pictures from their frames—and yet she only glanced his way once, her expression mildly annoyed. Did she deliberately snub him?
Aggravated, he forced himself away, soon finding himself drawn into conversation between Miss Bennet, Bingley, and Lady Lucas. That good woman gushed with social triumph and nearly as much curiosity as her husband, punctuating each remark with aggressive expressions of inquisitive agreement. Miss Bennet smiled serenely at Bingley’s descriptions of a rout-party in town, saying little. Was she merely polite, or genuinely interested in his friend? Darcy turned the power of his attention upon her.
Interesting. Beneath a deep layer of poise, the girl reacted with flickers of emotion every time Bingley offered a thought. At Lady Lucas’s comments, she varied between indulgent patience and an easily interpreted mild embarrassment. Jane Bennet was one of those whose human company he could tolerate very well—she kept herself to herself. Probing further when Bingley spoke next, he felt Jane’s blushing, maidenly awakening deep within.
He withdrew immediately, hating this, the inherent dishonour of being party to feelings perhaps hidden even from their source. Still, his loyalties did not lie with Miss Bennet. Against his better judgment, he answered Bingley’s longing look of inquiry with a half-nod. Bingley’s already warm gaze bloomed. Miss Bennet blushed.
Feeling decidedly de trop, Darcy pursued again the object of his desire, telling himself he was only disturbed by Miss Elizabeth’s reasons for ignoring him. Though leaving the area soon, he must at least attempt a correction of his initial unpleasant first impression. He would not want her to think him ungentlemanly.
He timed his approach to intercept her as she passed near the voluble Sir William Lucas. Immune to his gifts Miss Elizabeth might be, but he would wager half his fortune Sir William was an easy mark. Darcy directed a single thought towards that worthy gentleman, and was not disappointed.
“Mr Darcy, you must allow me to present this young lady to you as a very desirable partner. You cannot refuse to dance, I am sure, when so much beauty is before you.” Taking Miss Elizabeth’s hand, he would have given it to Darcy, who—not at all surprised—waited to receive it. Instantly however, she drew back, saying with some discomposure to Sir William, “Indeed, sir, I have not the least intention of dancing. I entreat you not to suppose I moved this way in order to beg for a partner.”
Darcy, with grave propriety, requested the honour of her hand, but in vain. Miss Elizabeth could not be manipulated or manoeuvred; nor did Sir William at all shake her purpose by his attempt at persuasion. Miss Lucas and her brother beckoned her over to settle some friendly dispute, and his opportunity was lost. Darcy seethed with frustration.
Miss Bingley found him brooding. “I can suppose how you must suffer amongst the insipidity and noise of this witless crowd,” she said, trying to create an air of intimacy between them. As usual, the simplicity of her emotions was easily borne. Though females like the Bennet sisters might be more agreeable, their kind also had expectations—love, tenderness, even virtue—he could never provide. Caroline’s affections were reserved for her own self, requiring nothing truly intimate and certainly nothing virtuous. But the appeal to him of only a few days past now felt repellent; the thought of spending even a brief mortal life span with such a small-minded female, insupportable. Thus, though she blathered on with her usual vapid condescension, Darcy ceased hearing a single word. Rather, he used her presence as a shield against other intrusions so his real attention might remain fixed. He would lie to himself no longer: unless he exercised the severest restraint, Miss Elizabeth Bennet would be his prey. Only someone as self-absorbed as Caroline Bingley could have missed it.
Chapter 2, pages 13-15
Julie Cooper, a California native, lives with her Mr Darcy (without the arrogance or the Pemberley) of nearly forty years, two dogs (one intelligent, one goofball), and Kevin the Cat (smarter than all of them.) They have four children and three grandchildren, all of whom are brilliant and adorable, with the pictures to prove it. She works as an executive at a gift basket company and her tombstone will read, “Have your Christmas gifts delivered at least four days before the 25th.” Her hobbies are reading, giving other people good advice, and wondering why no one follows it.
- Tempt Me: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Julie Cooper
- Quills & Quartos Publishing (July 27, 2020)
- Trade paperback, & eBook (448) pages
- ISBN: 978-1951033514
- Genre: Austenesque, Regency Romance, Historical Paranormal
Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image, book description, excerpt, and author bio courtesy of Quills & Quartos Publishing © 2020; Text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2020, austenprose.com.