From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:
Good morning readers. Are you ready to dive into a debut novel for your weekend reading? If so, I have a suggestion for you.
Silver Buckles, a new Pride and Prejudice variation was just released on October 13th by Meryton Press. If its sparkly cover and book description is any indication of what is inside, we may be in for a fun-filled story with Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth exchanging snappy retorts.
Please help me welcome author Grace Gibson to Austenprose today for the start of her virtual blog tour. We are happy to offer an exclusive excerpt to kick off the celebrations. Be sure to enter the giveaway being offered by the publisher. The details are listed below. Enjoy!
She staggered a great man. He was reeling. She was overwhelmed.
Fitzwilliam Darcy, standing irritably at the edge of the Meryton assembly, declines to dance with Elizabeth Bennet. In a mood of revulsion, he rejects her without concern of being overheard. Country pretensions are always in need of squashing, and what better way to make clear he would not partner anyone outside his party? However, when he looks over at her, she does not appear humbled at all. She is secretly laughing at him!
Elizabeth is perversely delighted to encounter such an outrageous snob as Mr. Darcy. When he approaches her with a stiff, graceless apology, she coolly brushes him off, believing that, like most annoyances, he will go away when properly snubbed. But no! The man then puts out his hand and, not wishing to create a scene, compels her to stand up with him.
They go through the steps of the dance mutually disdainful and intent upon wounding each other. But by the time the musicians end their tune, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have traded barbs with such accuracy, they are unaccountably amused and engaged. Will this most inconvenient flirtation drive them apart—or, like silver buckles, are they a matched pair?
Perched precariously sideways and gripping the saddle, I am sure my eyes showed my misgivings to my rescuer, but he would have none of my missishness.
“Hold tight and try to relax,” he said impatiently as he walked to the side, holding the reins. “We have only a mile or so to go.”
Soon, we were plodding down the road. Meanwhile, Mr. Collins buzzed around us like a gnat. He appeared shocked, appalled, and dismayed—certain some impropriety was occurring right under his nose.
“I demand to know who you are, sir,” he said.
“You demand, do you?” Mr. Darcy said crisply. He looked perfectly dangerous to my eyes, and were I Mr. Collins, I would have stepped back. Things were bad enough without bloodshed, I thought. Tight-lipped with pain and unnerved by Mr. Darcy’s very tall horse, I intervened.
“Cousin, allow me to introduce Mr. Darcy of Pemberley. Mr. Collins, you understand, sir, is visiting. He is a rector in Kent.”
“Mr. Darcy! But you must be nephew to my patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. But how gracious of you to help my cousin Elizabeth! Such a naughty puss for running from me, but we shall have her set to rights in no time.”
I looked down at Mr. Darcy who stared straight ahead with narrowed eyes and a clenched jaw. “Try to relax,” I murmured. “We have only a mile or so to go.”
Mr. Darcy endeavored not to smile at my repetition of his earlier assurance and continued stoically down the road, but my cousin would not let us proceed in peace. Having sniffed out a man of consequence, he now sang an entirely different tune from his initial outrage. For an interminable space of time, he talked uninterruptedly. He was overjoyed to be acquainted with Mr. Darcy, delighted to share his multiple observations of Lady Catherine’s excellence and completely disinterested in me, the companion of his future life. After what felt to be an hour but was more rightly about four minutes, Mr. Darcy halted our progress.
“Mr. Collins do run ahead to Longbourn and tell Mrs. Bennet that her daughter has sprained her ankle,” he said in a tone I am sure he would use with a footman. “Perhaps she will engage you to ride into Meryton for a doctor.”
“Of course! Of course!” my cousin cried. And without thinking, he lumbered away from us.
Mr. Darcy kept his horse at a stand until Mr. Collins was out of sight. “Will you marry that man?” he asked me, incredulous.
“I would sooner run away with the tinker.”
“Can your mother force you to it?”
“My father certainly can. If he invokes upon me the burden of duty, I am afraid I would have to sacrifice myself.”
“Surely, if you object, he will not do so.”
“My father is an indifferent parent. He often concedes to my mother because he dislikes her hysterics. But in this case, I believe he will be selfish.”
Mr. Darcy looked up at me sharply. Was that distress I saw in his face? Surely not. Nevertheless, I gave in to the impulse to reassure him.
“He will not force me because he could not stand to have that simpleton underfoot. Mr. Collins has been an amusing character to Papa, but his considerable appreciation for the diversion he has created is beginning to flag. No, I am sure he will allow my refusal to stand, but oh, how I dread such a proposal!”
Mr. Darcy began to walk again at the slowest pace possible. Eventually, he introduced a different subject altogether. He seemed prone to speaking without preamble.
“Your episode today will prevent the pleasure of my dancing with you tomorrow.”
My ankle throbbed; else, I would have laughed at him. Instead, I said, “You assume dancing with you is a pleasure?”
“I referred to my own pleasure at dancing with you, but I believe you choose to willfully misunderstand me.
“Well then, how stupid of me to willfully interrupt your pleasure!”
A sardonic half smile peeked out, and he replied very lightly, “Exactly so. We men of wealth and privilege are not inclined to be denied. I shall, if I may, engage you to sit out the first dance with me.”
“How delightful! We shall select a very good wall to uphold. You will stand there, righteously indignant at the vulgarity of Hertfordshire society, I shall sit wretchedly beside you, wishing I could be out there with the rabble, and together we shall watch the enjoyment of others while provoking one another.”
“I certainly hope so,” he said. And then in a tone that was very nearly tender he asked, “Are you in pain?”
Chapter 4, pages 22 – 24
“Gibson crafts her own exquisite twist to Austen’s beloved novel, resulting in an utterly delightful, satisfying read.”— Jan Hahn, author of An Arranged Marriage and The Journey
In addition to mosaic art, which I create at Studio Luminaria, my home-based glass shop in El Paso, Texas, I enjoy writing regency romance and Pride and Prejudice variations for pleasure.
- Silver Buckles: A Pride and Prejudice Variation, by Grace Gibson
- Meryton Press (October 13, 2020)
- ASIN: B08L5D1NY9
- Genre: Austenesque, Regency Romance
Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image, book description, & exclusive excerpt compliments of Meryton Press © 2020; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2020, austenprose.com.