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Friday, 3 November 2017

Chance and Circumstance by Kara Louise - Excerpt and Giveaway

Book cover: Chance and Circumstance by Kara Louise
Today I'm very pleased to be welcoming  Kara Louise, who is here with a nice long excerpt of her new book, Chance and Circumstance. Kara is also kindly offering a giveaway - a paperback for a US reader or a kindle version for an international entrant. I'll now hand over to Kara.

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I want to thank Ceri for allowing me to be a guest on her blog today and share with you about my new book, Chance and Circumstance.

Here is the blurb
Chance brings about an early encounter between Charles Bingley and Elizabeth Bennet soon after his move into Netherfield. He soon begins to favour this pretty and lively young lady. Circumstances have kept Jane Bennet and Mr. Darcy from the neighbourhood, thereby changing the events that Jane Austen penned in "Pride and Prejudice."

When Mr. Darcy finally arrives, will he be able to keep from interfering when he meets this young lady his friend so greatly admires? When Jane returns from touring the Lake District with her aunt and uncle, will the young gentleman who returns with her prove to be better suited for her than Mr. Bingley ever was?

In this "Pride and Prejudice" variation, chance and circumstance greatly affect the way several of Jane Austen's characters arrive at their happily ever after, but not necessarily in the way you think.

I am posting Chapter 14 here, but I posted the first 13 chapters on the Austen Variations Blog. If you want to start from the beginning, you can read it here: http://austenvariations.com/april-showers-elizabeths-walk/

This is the final chapter I will be posting online, and it brings you through to about half of the book. This story was fun to write as I examined whether Elizabeth and Mr. Bingley would be at all suitable for each other, Jane and the young man she met while up in the Lake District and their compatibility, and finally, Mr. Darcy, as he observes Bingley and the young lady both he and his friend came to admire. There are several twists and turns, and I hope you will enjoy reading it.

Here is Chapter 14, which takes place at the Netherfield Ball:

“I see Mr. Wickham has finally arrived,” Elizabeth said cheerfully. “I wondered whether he would come.”

Darcy lowered his brows. “You are acquainted with him?”

“We met him in Meryton the day Mr. Bingley stopped to visit. He also attended a party my aunt and uncle hosted.” She stole a glance up at him. “He seems to be an amiable young man.”

“That might be a matter up for debate,” he replied tersely.

Elizabeth could tell his thoughts were no longer on the dance. She had rather enjoyed dancing with him because his movements were so smooth, but since Mr. Wickham’s appearance, they had become abrupt and forced.

For some reason, it pleased her that he was so distressed upon seeing Mr. Wickham. She wondered if he feared his contemptible actions would be discovered now that Mr. Wickham had come into the neighbourhood.

The thought of tormenting Mr. Darcy a little more appealed to her. “Well, everyone is entitled to an opinion. I found him very gentlemanly and polite.” She paused to let him ponder that for a moment and then added, “Oh, and he told us he has known you his whole life, that his father was your father’s steward at Pemberley.”

Darcy’s face paled, and he glanced back at the man, who was now leaning against the wall staring at the two of them.

“That is correct.”

They separated again, and when they came back together, she saw colour in his cheeks and a steely glare in his eyes.

“But there was something…” She shook her head. “He mentioned that the two of you are no longer on good terms with each other.”

Darcy drew in a deep breath and then let it out through clenched teeth. He and Elizabeth stood opposite each other as the dance came to an end, and she wondered if he would say anything to her in his defence.

Instead, Darcy gave a short bow, and Elizabeth followed with a slight curtsey. He took the few steps to stand before her and extended his arm to escort her away from the dance floor. 
“I am certain that Mr. Wickham has many grievances against me, but allow me to say that the man may not be all he appears to be.”

“Are any of us truly who we appear to be, Mr. Darcy?” She gave him a tight smile, thanked him for the dance, and turned to walk away indignantly.

*~*~*

Darcy watched in disappointment as Elizabeth walked away. He had hoped to engage her in conversation that might endear himself to her, but he felt he had failed miserably. It could not have gone worse. When Wickham entered the ballroom, he could not conjure up any thought other than confronting him about being there. Perhaps that was as it should be. He should not be entertaining thoughts about the young lady his good friend admired.

He glanced about the room again, but no longer saw Wickham. He needed something to drink and walked to the table laden with food and beverage. As he did, Miss Bingley came up to him.

“Mr. Darcy, during your dance, I hope you were able to discourage Miss Elizabeth in her attentions towards my brother,” she said in a fervent whisper. “I greatly fear he is about to ask for her hand!”

Darcy turned sharply to her. “Why do you suspect that?”

Miss Bingley’s eyes widened. “Because he is constantly humming and wearing a smile.” 

She shook her head and groaned. “Did you say anything to her?”

Darcy took his drink and downed it. “The subject of Bingley did not come up.”

“But I noticed you talking. Certainly, you felt the need to…”

“Miss Bingley, it would have been a little difficult to dissuade Miss Elizabeth from her affections towards your brother, when others were so close to us in the set!”

Miss Bingley choked back a response. “Well, I begin to feel it is too late. Look at them talking!”

Elizabeth stood in a small circle with Bingley, Jane, and Mr. Marshall. They were laughing, and it was apparent they were greatly enjoying each other’s company.

“I have heard that Miss Jane Bennet and that gentleman, Mr. Marshall, have an attachment, as well. They are likely planning a double wedding.”

Darcy closed his eyes. “I would hope not.” He wondered if the evening could get any worse. He just had shared a miserable dance with the one woman he felt he could love and most likely already did love. He had watched in indignation as Wickham entered the ballroom. He was accosted by Miss Bingley who claimed she believed her brother was close to asking for Miss Elizabeth’s hand, and then watched her laugh as her eyes danced with joy when she spoke with his good friend.

Darcy gulped. It just got worse!

He watched as Wickham, who had just reappeared, approached Elizabeth, apparently asking her to dance. As the two joined the set, Darcy felt his insides begin to churn. He could not watch this! He needed some fresh air.

“Miss Bingley, would you excuse me?” Darcy abruptly turned to step out into the courtyard, not waiting for a response.

*~*~*

“I thought perhaps you decided not to come,” Elizabeth said as she and Wickham walked to the dance floor. “When I did not see you, I thought there was something keeping you away.”
Wickham’s eyes danced. “Something or someone, perhaps?” He laughed.

“Yes,” she said. “I thought perhaps you did not want to come because he most certainly would be here.” She nodded her head in Darcy’s direction, unaware that he was no longer there.

“I own that I considered it. I debated whether to come, but then decided not to forfeit a splendid evening when I have every right to be here.”

“And so you do, Mr. Wickham.”

The dance began, and Elizabeth was pleased that he was an excellent dancer. He was as friendly as Mr. Bingley but had a more engaging personality. She smiled as she thought he might be better suited for her than Mr. Bingley ever was.

At length, he said, “I noticed you were dancing with Mr. Darcy.”

“Well, think nothing of it, Mr. Wickham. It was not an enjoyable dance, and I am quite certain he regretted the dance as much as I did.”

Wickham pressed his lips together as though pondering this. “Yes,” he said slowly, “but I own I was surprised to see him dancing at all. He rarely dances, and only with those whom he knows well or admires.” Wickham looked at her intently, almost as if to judge her response.

Elizabeth laughed. “I suppose I could claim an acquaintance with him that might be considered more than casual, but only because of my association with Mr. Bingley.”

“Ah, yes. Mr. Bingley! I have heard rumours from some of the other officers that he seems to be singling you out. I feared I might not even be able to secure a dance with you!” He winked. “I wondered whether these rumours were true.”

They separated for a few moments, and Elizabeth debated whether she ought to confirm or deny this. When they came back together, she said, “It is true that Mr. Bingley has been very attentive to me, but…” She wanted so much to tell him that there was nothing between her and Mr. Bingley! “I consider him a kind and considerate gentleman.”

Wickham nodded, seemingly satisfied. “And what of his friend?”

Elizabeth’s smile left her face, and she shook her head. “You already know my opinion of the man and his officious behaviour. Many in the neighbourhood have expressed how rude he is and have noticed how he ignores almost everyone but Mr. Bingley and his family.” She let out an exasperated huff. “I cannot see how someone so kind and generous as Mr. Bingley could have such a close friendship with someone as cruel and ruthless as Mr. Darcy!”

Wickham smiled.  “It is difficult to fathom, is it not?”

The dance continued, and they spoke no more about Mr. Darcy or Mr. Bingley. Elizabeth was able to determine in the course of their conversation that he was indeed an avid reader, appreciated intelligent conversation, and even enjoyed venturing out on a good walk. She hoped that they might eventually be able to enjoy some of those things together.

When the dance ended, Elizabeth thanked Mr. Wickham, and they parted. Elizabeth did not think she had enjoyed a dance this evening as much as she had that one.

*~*~*

Darcy braced his hands on the back of a bench in the outer courtyard. He was grateful no one else was out there, for he was in no mood for idle conversation. He drew in several deep breaths, attempting to ease the constriction in his chest and calm his erratically beating heart. He was unsure if these troubling attacks were due to how disastrously his dance with Elizabeth had turned out or if it was due to Wickham’s sudden, unexpected, and most unwelcome appearance at the ball.

He was not certain he could even step back inside with that man present! He could not fathom being in the same neighbourhood with him, let alone the same room. And dancing with Elizabeth! He kicked the leg of the bench with his foot.

“Upset about something, Darcy?”

Darcy clenched his fists and then turned to Wickham with an icy glare. “What are you doing here?”

“Do you mean here in the courtyard or here at the ball?” Wickham lifted his hands. “I believe I am entitled to be in both places. An invitation was extended to the officers.”

“You, an officer!” Darcy spat out.

Wickham gloated. “The militia recognizes my qualities… unlike someone I know.”

“Oh, Wickham, I recognize your qualities better than anyone.”

Wickham sauntered over to where Darcy stood. “I am sure you do.” He crossed his arms and leaned back against the wall. “Speaking of qualities, I understand you have not done well here yourself in that regard.”

Darcy’s eyes shot up. “What nonsense is this?”

“Word is that you have not made a good impression in this neighbourhood.”

Darcy groaned and turned to walk away. “I do not need to listen to your poor attempts to discredit my name.”

Wickham began to rub his chin. “No, but I thought perhaps you might be interested in what Miss Elizabeth Bennet had to say about you.” He let a satisfied smile touch his lips when Darcy stopped.

He slowly turned back.

“Yes, I noticed the two of you dancing. You rarely dance, Darcy. I was surprised.”

“It is none of your business with whom I dance,” Darcy asserted.

“But I am curious. Were you dancing with her to talk her out of this attachment with your friend…” He paused. “Or, could it be that she is someone you have come to deeply admire?” He turned his eyes towards the ballroom. “I have to say she is quite the beauty.”

Darcy’s eyes widened, and he instantly regretted it.

“Oh, Darcy, I can read you so well.” Wickham chuckled, a sneer appearing. “Would you care to hear Miss Elizabeth’s opinion of you?”

“I am certain Miss Elizabeth has no opinion of me,” he grumbled.

“Oh, I beg to differ,” Wickham taunted him. “She was quite… effusive in her opinion of you.” He gave a soft, malicious laugh. “If I recall… Yes! She said you were officious, rude, cruel, and…” He paused as he counted these off on his fingers. “And ruthless.” He laughed mercilessly.

Darcy’s whole body felt in turmoil at hearing these words, but he refused to give Wickham the satisfaction of knowing how deeply they hurt. “I am certain you were completely innocent of helping her form any of these opinions,” he said sarcastically.

“I think she has a rather realistic perspective of who you are.”

Darcy’s mouth went dry as his thoughts went to the first night he met Elizabeth and how she overheard him talking to Bingley about her. He unwittingly shuddered and then pointed his finger at Wickham. “You had better make yourself scarce around me and be on your best behaviour, Wickham, because I shall be keeping a close eye on you. If I see any misconduct, I will have no qualms reporting you to your superiors.”

Another laugh escaped from Wickham. “Do you plan to bring up your sister? Or should I? From my perspective, you have kept that very quiet.”

Darcy felt his blood boil through his veins. “If you say anything, Wickham…”

Wickham put up his hands, whispering tauntingly, “Have no fear, Darcy. I rather liked Georgiana, remember? It was you, who supposed I had ulterior motives when it came to her.”

“I did not suppose anything! I knew!” Darcy pointed to the door. “Now get out!”

They both turned and saw that Elizabeth had just stepped outside. Before either could say anything, she turned quickly and returned inside.

Wickham shrugged. “I fear, old friend, that she likely has added another trait to her list – unpardonable!”

Wickham returned to the house laughing, leaving Darcy alone with his thoughts. He could barely breathe and wondered how he would be able to exhibit any self-control with Wickham around. He did not know if Wickham knew for a certainty he had strong feelings for Elizabeth, but it was very possible he would eventually come to see it. Wickham knew him well and could always tell what he was thinking or feeling. Usually it involved anger of some sort directed towards him, but in the past, he had also recognized when he was hurting, jealous, grieving, or even just unsure of his heavy responsibilities. He would not be able to conceal how he felt about Elizabeth, especially if Bingley continued to attach his affections to her or – heaven forbid – made her an offer of marriage.

He closed his eyes and tried to think. The last thing he wanted to do was go back inside and pretend all was well. He had no appetite to eat or drink, did not think he could concentrate on the steps required in a dance, and had no desire to carry on a conversation with anyone. He looked towards the door and wondered how easily he could find Bingley and excuse himself with the pretext that he was feeling unwell. Which was absolutely the truth!

He waited for the music to finish to ensure Bingley was no longer dancing. He slowly stepped inside, caring not that his face was likely red from anger, his lips turned down in a frown, and his comportment rigid. He quickly spotted his friend and walked over to him.

“Bingley, if you please, may I have a word with you?”

His friend had been talking to a small group of people, including Miss Mary Bennet and a gentleman he did not recognize. Darcy was grateful Elizabeth was not there.

Bingley turned. “Darcy, you are unwell?”

He nodded. “I regret that I will be retiring to my room. I am not feeling well.”

“I am sorry to hear that, good friend. The ball has only just begun!”

“Yes, and I am truly sorry.”

“If you insist, Darcy. Shall I have some food and drink sent up to you?”

Darcy shook his head. “No, I recently had something to drink, and I… I do not think I could eat anything.”

“All right. But be sure to let me know if you have need of anything. Anything at all.”

“Thank you, good friend.” Darcy drew in a breath. “Thank you.”

Darcy was grateful that was over.

He began to walk away, but the gentleman who had been with Miss Mary Bennet was suddenly at his side. He stiffened with exasperation when the man called out to him.

With a solemn bow, the gentleman said, “Sir! I am most thankful I heard Mr. Bingley mention you by name, for you must allow me to pay my respects to you.”

Darcy blinked, wondering who this man was and what he meant. “Pardon me?”

“I beg your pardon, but it is in my power to assure you that your aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, was quite well when I last saw her in Hunsford. I am Mr. Collins, and I am the clergyman there. Your aunt is my patroness.”

“I thank you,” Darcy said, with an abrupt nod. As he walked away, he heard the clergyman begin to speak again, but fortunately, the man’s prattle was lost as the orchestra began playing.

Darcy returned to his chambers and rang for his valet, Sumner. As he waited, he paced the floor, attempting to sort out his thoughts and feelings. Miss Bennet had a more severe opinion of him than he could ever have imagined. What good would it do him if Bingley – or Elizabeth – finally realized that the differences in their temperaments and interests were too great? From what Wickham said, she would likely never receive his addresses with any pleasure.

His valet entered and asked what he could do for him.

“Unfortunately, I am not feeling well and wish to dress for bed, if you please.”

“Certainly, sir.”

After that was accomplished, Darcy looked at Sumner.

“There is one more thing I need you to do directly.”

“What is that, sir?”

Darcy swallowed. “I need my bags packed. I will be leaving early in the morning to return to London.”

*~*~*

Author Kara Louise
I will be giving away one paperback book (to US readers) or an ebook to International readers to be drawn from those who make a comment. Good luck!

Here is info on me and books:

Buy Links

Amazon US - Paperback:  / Kindle

Amazon UK - Paperback / Kindle


Giveaway Time

Book cover: Chance and Circumstance by Kara Louise
As noted above, Kara Louise is very kindly giving away a copy of Chance and Circumstance - a paperback for a US reader, or kindle for an international winner. To enter, just leave a comment on this blog post by the end of the day on Friday 10 November. Please ensure you leave a way for me to contact you in case you are the lucky winner.

I'd like to thank Kara for visiting us here today, and for bringing a giveaway too.


56 comments:

  1. I would love to win this but either way: win or buy - I am going to read this. I have read all the chapters posted and all of Kara's other books.

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    1. Hi Sheila. I love it when a book comes out that you not only want to read but are determined to do so! I hope you enjoy this when you read it.

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  2. Poor Mr. Darcy. I felt so bad for him in this chapter. Thanks for sharing the first fourteen chapters, I have enjoyed reading them. jadseah4 (at) yahoo (dot) com

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    1. I felt bad for him too, Darcybennett. These authors put poor Darcy through the mill.

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  3. So Wickham is confronting Darcy now. I was hoping to read that Collins was engaged to Charlotte

    meikleblog(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Maybe that will be in chapter 15 :)

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  4. Miriam Bresticker3 November 2017 at 14:02

    Not sure if my previously written comment will show up, so if you see another from me, I'm not trying to cheat! I've enjoyed reading along, look forward to the whole story. Would love to win the paperback, as I prefer paper over ebooks, and that way also my mom could read it.
    mbresticker(at)Hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Hi Miriam. That's one of the benefits of a paper book, definitely, it's easier to share. I think in the US you can lend your kindle books to others, but in the UK it's not possible.

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  5. I love Kara Louise's books, and I'm looking forward to reading this one. Thanks for the giveaway. Thanks for hosting, Ceri.

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    1. I was very pleased to be able to host this post, KateB, thank you for commenting and good luck in the giveaway.

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  6. Don't enter me in the drawing as I have already purchased the book. I just wanted to tell Kara Louise how I loved the book, and I heartily recommend it to all JAFF fans.

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    1. How nice of you to comment with such praise Jeansunny! I am sure Kara will love to read this recommendation :)

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  7. I'm hoping Elizabeth heard more of the conversation than Darcy thinks. Thank you for sharing! And thank you for the chance to win a copy. laddzhorse(at)gmail(dot) com

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  8. Interesting premise, I’m looking forward to reading it and finding out how it plays out for all the characters. Congrats on your newest release. Thanks for the giveaway.

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    1. Hi Dung. Thanks for stopping by and good luck in the giveaway.

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  9. I've read all the previous chapters and I'll certainly read the book! I hope I can wait until the 10th and maybe win the ebook. Thank you for yhe giveaway. rp73fr@hotmail.fr

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    1. That is the difficulty with giveaways, isn't it. It's exciting to win one but hard to wait for the announcement when you could already be reading it!

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  10. Can't wait for the book! Please enter me in the giveaway!

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  11. Elizabeth’s attitude against Darcy is worse than ever!

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    1. Yes, it's pretty bad! I haven't read all the previous chapters so I'm not sure quite what he has done to deserve this view.

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  12. Wow. Poor Darcy!! He is definitely tied up in knots. I'm dying to know what happens next, so please enter me in the giveaway!! Thank you for sharing half of this amazing book with us, Kara!! :)

    Warmly,
    Susanne :)

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    1. I know, poor man! Thanks for commenting and good luck in the giveaway.

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  13. Thanks for your comments and conjectures! It's always fun to hear what you think as you read the story. I hope you'll enjoy it whether you win it or buy it! Good luck in the giveaway!

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    1. Thank you so much for the post and giveaway, Kara!

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  14. I always enjoy your work, and this is especially appealing as I always identify with Darcy. The poor man is not having an easy time of it - torn between love for Lizzy and deep friendship with Bingley, not to mention having Wickham in the mix, blotting out his slim chances to connect with Lizzy.
    Unfortunately none of the "comment as" situations are ones I use. I'm concerned that signing as Anonymous will take me out of the drawing for the book. Sigh! My email is beatriceyn at yahoo.com - not the gmail account this app anticipates.

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    1. Hi Beatrice. I purposely set the comments section to allow anonymous comments so that people without the other accounts could join in too. Thanks for leaving contact details, and good luck in the giveaway.

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  15. Thanks for sharing this with us. I'm going to enjoy following your blog tour.
    I'd be very pleased to win a copy, and would prefer an ebook. Ginna Say What at gmail dot com

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  16. I’m really looking forward to reading Chance and Circumstance! I followed along with the first few chapters, but wanted to wait til I could read it in full before continuing! I’ve loved all your books! You were my introduction to JAFF!! ❤️

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    1. That's lovely Claire, it must be wonderful to an author to know that they opened the door to a new genre for a reader :)

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  17. I enjoyed reading all your sneak peeks. This is a lovely idea. Thanks for the chance to win. saganchilds(a)gmail.com

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    1. Thanks for commenting and good luck :)

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  18. I like the unusual premise of this book. I look forward to exploring the suitability between the couples based really on character and not the "chance and circumstance" of who they meet first. My email is noagnes at gmail dot com and as I'm from Europe I hope to get lucky winning the ebook copy. Thanks for the excerpt and the giveaway!

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    1. I hope you enjoy the book when you read it Agnes. Good luck!

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  19. What an interesting premise! Can't imagine Lizzy and Bingley together at all....but,I guess anything is possible!

    Wickham is displaying a different side to his personality and not shying away from Darcy.
    I hope Lizzy heard more of the coversation and that it unsettles her enough to question her preconceived ideas about both gents.

    Here's hoping Darcy doesn't escape to London quite so soon and that he begins his determined effort to win the hand and heart of his soulmate.

    Wishing you every success in your writing endeavours,Kara!
    Cheers for such a lovely post,Ceri!

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    1. I can see Bingley and Elizabeth being initially attracted, but I don't see them as being long-term compatible.

      I am hoping she overheard a bit more of the conversation in this chapter too!

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  20. Oh-my-goodness, poor Mr. Darcy. Wickham is a scum-bag, rat-bastard and enjoys torturing our Mr. Darcy. I hate that he is leaving the flock to the wolf. That always bothered me. However, I understand that Darcy needs to protect Georgiana. Dang... I so look forward to reading this. Blessings on the launch and success of this work. And a special thanks to Ceri for hosting today.

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    1. Wickham really appears to be a nasty piece of work here. Let's hope it's not long before that is realised by more people!

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  21. Oh my! Quite an excerpt! This is a must read. Congratulations, Kara! Cherringtonmb at sbcglobal dot net

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the excerpt Becky!

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  22. I have been following the previous Chapter, and this Chapter really shows how Darcy is attracted to Elizabeth and then Wickham appears! How will this all be resolved? Sounds like another great book from Kara Louise. Thank you for the giveaway. evamedmonds(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. It was a bit of a 'gaaah!' chapter, wasn't it!

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  23. This sounds fantastic! I'll definitely have to get my hands on a copy. Thanks for the giveaway. diaryofaneccentric(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Anna, and good luck :)

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  24. hmm interesting! honestly can't see Charles and Elizabeth as a couple... thanks for the excerpt ang giveaway.
    priscillateh(at)live.hk

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    1. I think long-term she'd find him frustrating too, because there are aspects of his character which she doesn't respect. However, she doesn't find that out for a while in P&P so I can understand how they could be drawn together initially.

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  25. Carole in Canada5 November 2017 at 21:50

    I love this twist Kara has created for us! I didn't read the excerpt as I do want to read this one! I fell behind after the first couple of chapters and by then decided to wait for the book. Congratulations!

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    1. I hope you enjoy the book when you read it, Carole.

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  26. Poor, Darcy. I feel soy for him. Here he is trying to make a good impression on Elizabeth but Wickham spoil the opportunity. I hope she realises Wickham's true character before she really fall for him.

    evangelineace2020(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Me too. I hate to see Elizabeth being taken in by Wickham's manipulations and lies.

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  27. I’ve tried commenting but I think something went wrong... me and thechnology are really not the best of friends.
    I just wanted to thank you for the post Ceri. I’m looking forward to read this book. I really enjoyed the excerpt even thought it made me want to kill Whickam!! It’s always a good thing when we hate him isn’t it?
    Congratulations for the new release Kara, I’m sure it will be a success.

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    1. So sorry about that, Rita. Maybe your comment was so good that blogger kept it for itself rather than post it here! Glad you managed to comment in the end :)

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  28. I want to assure everyone that Elizabeth ends up with the person who is right for her! :) Thank you all for commenting, and good luck in the giveaway! I can't wait to find out who wins!

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    1. Thank you for that reassurance Kara!

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