Monday, 2 December 2019

Headstrong Books One and Two by Melanie Rachel - Excerpt and Giveaway

Today I'm welcoming Melanie Rachel back to the blog with her latest Austenesque novels. She's written a three part story, and the first two parts are already available with the third to follow later this month. Unlike Melanie's earlier books, this latest series, Headstrong, is a contemporary story. Let's look at the blurbs of both books, and then you can enjoy an excerpt from book one, Headstrong Book One: Improvise. Melanie has also brought a giveaway for one of you!

Book cover: Headstrong: Book One: Improvise by Melanie Rachel
Book Description - Headstrong Book One: Improvise

A few months after teaming up with Major Richard Fitzwilliam to thwart a terrorist attack in Europe, USMC Staff Sergeant Elizabeth Bennet is back in the States as a civilian. Her training in cyber-security makes finding work easy, and she’s learning to fit into her new life. But there is lingering fallout both from the attack and her life before it that she's not yet prepared to face. Complicating matters is the major’s handsome cousin.

Co-owner of Darcy Acquisitions, CEO of FORGE, and guardian to his younger sister, Will Darcy is stretched to his limits. When Richard sets up an interview at FORGE for his friend Elizabeth Bennet, Will insults her instead of hiring her. In making amends, Will falls for the witty, troubled Marine with long legs and fine eyes.

Falling in love is easy, but do these two very different people have what it takes to make love last?

Book cover: Headstrong: Book Two: Adapt by Melanie Rachel
Book Description - Headstrong: Book Two: Adapt

The holidays are approaching, and Will Darcy has a lot to be thankful for. His cousin Richard is coming home from the Marines, his sister Georgiana is flying back from university for a visit, and he’s in love with Elizabeth Bennet.

But his well-ordered life is about to be turned on its head.

There's a prank war being waged between Elizabeth and Richard, which might be funny if he weren't constantly caught in the middle. Georgiana's hostility to Elizabeth is puzzling--how can she have it out for somebody she's never met? And just when Elizabeth is starting to trust Will with the truth about her difficult past, someone from his own reappears to cause havoc.

Strange things are happening all around, and Elizabeth seems to be in the middle of it all. Is she involved? A target? Or is she just caught in the crossfire of someone conspiring against his own family?



Book cover: Headstrong: Book One: Improvise by Melanie Rachel
Excerpt from Headstrong: Book One: Improvise

Melanie has brought us an excerpt from Improvise - here is the first meeting of Elizabeth and Darcy:

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After an early morning meeting on Monday, Will Darcy paused at Wanda’s desk in the outer office and handed her a stack of hard-copy backup files. She passed over a few pages held together by a paperclip.

“What’s this?” he asked, holding it up to look at it.

“Elizabeth Bennet’s résumé,” Wanda said.

Will cocked his head at her, mystified, and Wanda rolled her eyes.

“The candidate Mr. Fitzwilliam recommended for an interview.”

Will was annoyed. He’d spent the rest of the weekend irritated with Richard, who hadn’t been available to talk, and had taken out his frustration on a heavy bag in the gym. That was followed by trying and failing to get in touch with Georgiana. His trainer had worked him hard this morning, but it wasn’t enough.

He was in no mood to do his cousin a favor, particularly if that included hiring or even interviewing someone who had no corporate experience. He had tried to speak to Richard again, but his cousin wasn’t answering his phone. Will left a voicemail and several texts before he finally gave up. Well, he wasn’t about to just cave in to Richard’s demands. He didn’t tell Richard how to do his job.

*****

Elizabeth was sitting in Mr. Darcy’s office. It was all clean lines with light blue-gray walls and white trim. There was a large window overlooking midtown Manhattan that let in a good deal of natural light. There were a few paintings and a large Japanese scroll that hung directly across from the large desk. She wondered what it said. Richard would know.

Eventually, she heard voices in the outer office, where Ms. Soames, Mr. Darcy’s assistant, had her desk. Elizabeth turned toward the sound. As she quickly ran her hands down her skirt to smooth out any wrinkles, she caught her first look of him through the doorway. Whoa.

The CEO was much younger than she had expected, thirty or even a bit younger. His hair was a few shades darker than her own, cut short and neat. When he straightened, she could see he was tall, at least 6’2” if not a bit more, and fit. His jawline was strong, which she found immensely appealing. Stop it, Bennet, she told herself sternly. You’re here to interview, not get a date. She thought she might have to thank Richard, though. I guess it wouldn’t be such a punishment to work here.

Then he opened his mouth and spoke.

*****

“This isn’t a charity,” Will announced loudly, exasperated. He pulled out his phone and checked his calendar. Yes, there was the interview. It must be new. Wanda’s eyes widened, and she shook her head, but he didn’t want to argue. He was still angry with his cousin and let it all come pouring out. “I don’t have time to interview Richard’s ex-Marine girlfriends or cast-offs or whatever, when they have no qualifications and nowhere else to go.”

“Mr. Darcy,” Wanda hissed. She had an expression of annoyed disbelief on her face, and he finally suspected he was in trouble. With an almost exaggerated slowness, she lifted her eyebrows tilted her head slightly in the direction of his office. Shit. He closed his eyes briefly before opening them and turning to face the music.

There, in the entry to the inner office, was—he checked the résumé again—Elizabeth Bennet. She was tall, standing approximately six feet in her two-inch black heels. A thin black belt around her dark green business suit gathered the folds of the suit jacket, accentuating her trim waist. Her chestnut-colored hair was pinned back neatly, leaving the length of it to hang down her back. One strand fell defiantly across her shoulder where the end curled into a lazy ‘C.’  Her pencil skirt was hemmed just at her knees, revealing lean, toned, shapely legs. Athletic and lithe, he thought. All she needed was a suitable hat and she’d have been the very model of a 1940s movie star, minus the garish red lipstick and overly painted face. He blinked before reason reasserted itself. Probably broke and dumb as a rock. Her piercing green eyes were bright with . . . what? Anger? No, that wasn’t it.

“Nothing personal, Ms. Bennet,” Darcy said firmly. His voice was not apologetic, and he struggled to appear impassive in preparation for the outburst of emotion he expected. “It’s just that we don’t offer interviews based entirely upon recommendations from people who are not employed here.”

To his surprise, she seemed entirely unfazed by his comments. In fact, she appeared to be appraising him, her eyes taking him in. If he was reading her expression correctly, her assessment had found him wanting.

*****

Elizabeth was incredibly irritated. This guy is Richard’s cousin?

“I appreciate your honesty, Mr. Darcy,” she said as soon as she could compose herself. I am going to kill Richard. Bought a suit, took the train. I didn’t even want this job.  She arched an eyebrow and spoke, placing a delicate emphasis on certain words. “I would have preferred, however, to be treated as a professional and have you say so to me rather than Ms. Soames.” She returned to the chair to retrieve her computer bag. Too bad he’s an ass, she thought. All those good looks wasted.

As she left his office, she stopped and stared straight into his eyes. “I told Richard I wasn’t comfortable with this. I’m not used to being offered things based on who I know, but he insisted the company needed someone with my programming and cyber-security background, and I suppose he thought my security clearances might prove useful.” She tucked her phone into a holster located on her waist but hidden by the jacket. When she looked up, she noticed her name on the lone document he was holding. It was her résumé.  “Don’t worry. I’ll just tell Richard it wasn’t a good fit.”
She walked up to him and deftly removed her résumé from his hands. “But understand this, Mr. Darcy,” she said, acid in her tone, “I am nobody’s cast-off.”

Elizabeth thanked Ms. Soames, smiled at her, and took three steps toward the door. Mr. Darcy hadn’t moved, so when she turned her head, she was speaking to his right ear. “Oh, just one more thing. There may be inactive or retired Marines, but there are no ex-Marines. Once a Marine, always a Marine.” She offered an icy smile. “Good day, Mr. Darcy.”

Author Melanie RachelAuthor Bio

Melanie Rachel is a university professor and long time Jane Austen fan. She was born in Southern California, but has lived in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Washington, and Arizona, where she now resides with her family and their freakishly athletic Jack Russell terrier. 

You can connect with Melanie via her Facebook page or website.


Buy Links

The first and second books in this series are available to buy now, both in paperback and ebook. They are also available for Kindle Unlimited.

Book covers - Headstrong Books One and Two by Melanie Rachel
Headstrong Book One: Improvise - Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Add to Goodreads shelf

Headstrong Book Two: Adapt - Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Add to Goodreads shelf
Giveaway Time!

Melanie Rachel is kindly offering a giveaway to accompany this post. The winner can receive their choice of book one or book two from this series in ebook, or in a choice of ebook/paperback if they are US-based. To enter, please leave a comment on this blog post by the end of the day on Sunday 8 December.

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28 comments:

  1. Oh heavens! I have a sneaking feeling that Darcy might have almost offended Elizabeth! How could that be?
    Well, hopefully he has a good supply of humble pies!

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    1. Glynis, he is just lucky she didn't kick his ... well, you know. Richard, on the other hand, is in trouble. He may not get off so lucky. Can't wait to read this.

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    2. Glynis, he's so good at it, isn't he? LOL. Poor Darcy.

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  2. Oh-My-Gosh! I love that excerpt. I have both book on my Wish-List and I would LOVE to win one. Congratulations to our author on this launch. Blessings on their success. Thanks Ceri for hosting.

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    1. I'm so glad you like it! Good luck to you in the drawing, J.W. The winner here can choose either Book One or Book Two! Thanks for posting.

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  3. I read these stories as a WIP. I love them. Just yesterday looking around on Amazon I saw them. I have purchased them both. 5 star stories! Congratulations to the author in publishing her stories.

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    1. Yay! Shelley, Book Three: Overcome just went to the editor today, so I'm aiming for a Dec 15 launch. Thanks so much for posting!

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  4. I have a comment to add from Beatrice:

    Thank you for introducing me to the Headstrong books. I have already enjoyed Melanie Rachel's Courage Rises & Courage Requires, so it didn't take much for me to be smitten & intrigued as I read about her latest series. I immediately bought Headstrong One, and am pleased to know the third one will come out this month so I'll be able to devour the complete story in short order. It appears to be an exceptional series; I appreciate your bringing it to my attention.

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    1. Thanks, Ceri and Beatrice! Beatrice, if you are looking for something to read while you wait for the giveaway, try Drawing Mr. Darcy, Books One and Two! (Sorry, shameless plug). I'm so glad you are enjoying Headstrong, and yes--Book Three: Overcome will be out in short order.

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  5. I think this "foot in mouth" is a little worse than usual. I would love to see how he atones for this.
    I hope to get lucky or to get a ton of work, so I can get these books.

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    1. LOL--instead of her looks, he's insulting her professional competence--and for this Elizabeth, that's much worse! Thanks for posting, tgruy, and good luck with the giveaway!

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  6. Love it! I'm a sucker for military romances so to pair that with Austen's story makes this just the thing.
    What a great excerpt! It was crackling with electricity. :)

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    1. Sophia, I'm a sucker for a military romance too, lol--and the university I work for is about 30% military--active, separated, retired, and some family members, too, who are using their service member's benefits. Elizabeth is an amalgam of three women and one man from the Marines, the the Coast Guard, and the Army who were all in my classes and just impressed me so much. I love my military students. Love them. One of my nephews did Elizabeth's job, just for the Army. He works for a huge company now, providing network security for them. Anyway, thanks for posting and good luck in the giveaway!

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  7. Loved the excerpt! I am generally not a fan of updated P&P but this one is on the TBR list for sure!

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    1. Oh, I'm so glad, Lily! I am so happy you are giving a modern a try--it can be tough to win folks over! Good luck with the giveaway!

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  8. Sounds smart and emotive! Well done you!

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  9. Loved Elizabeth and her parting shot to Darcy.

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    1. This Elizabeth does love her parting shots. Poor Will.

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  10. I don't usually read the modern ones but this looks interesting!

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    1. Oh, I hope you'll give it a try! If you have KU, it won't cost anything extra, lol! Good luck with the giveaway!

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  11. Loving this modern P & P,Wonder how Darcy insults an enticing ex-Marine? This is interesting. I wonder what the prank is about. Eager to read the books

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    1. Pranks--there are many, lol. The Marines have a lot of steam to blow off...

      Thanks for posting! Good luck in the giveaway!

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  12. I have another comment to add, this time from Eva:

    Oh, my, I loved the excerpt! I am so glad that Elizabeth "put down" Darcy. This book sounds wonderful. Thank you for the excerpt and giveaway.

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    1. Thanks, Ceri and Eva! Best of luck in the giveaway, and thanks for reading!

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  13. I enjoyed that excerpt and having read a number of her other books would love to win one of this series. It does sound like ones I will have to put on my TBR pile. I find modern versions very intriguing usually. Thanks for a chance to win.

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    1. Thanks for reading, Sheila--best of luck in the giveaway!

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  14. I am so impressed with Lizzy-her words,demeanour and studied dum her up entirely. Way to go,girl!!
    Loved this excerpt! Looking forward to reading this one. Thank you for sharing.

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