Monday, 23 July 2018

The Unforgettable Mr Darcy by Victoria Kincaid - Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Victoria Kincaid is visiting today with an excerpt and giveaway of her new book, The Unforgettable Mr Darcy. This sounds like something that's quite different from most other variations. I'll share the blurb with you, and then hand over to Victoria for a guest post and excerpt. Victoria is also offering a giveaway to one commenter on this post.

You may recall that Victoria visited here recently. The giveaway for an audio copy of Victoria's Mr Darcy to the Rescue is still open if you're quick; you have until the end of the day on Tuesday 24 July to enter. Read on to find out more about The Unforgettable Mr Darcy!

Book cover: The Unforgettable Mr Darcy by Victoria Kincaid
Book Description

Mr. Darcy arrives at Longbourn, intending to correct the mistakes he made during his disastrous proposal in Hunsford.  To his horror, he learns that Elizabeth Bennet was killed in a ship’s explosion off the coast of France—in an apparent act of sabotage.  Deep in despair, he travels in disguise to wartime France to seek out the spy responsible for her death.

But a surprise awaits Darcy in the French town of Saint-Malo: Elizabeth is alive!

Recovering from a blow to the head, Elizabeth has no memory of her previous life, and a series of mistakes lead her to believe that Darcy is her husband.  However, they have even bigger problems.  As they travel through a hostile country, the saboteur mobilizes Napoleon’s network of spies to capture them and prevent them from returning home.  Elizabeth slowly regains her memories, but they often leave her more confused.

Darcy will do anything to help Elizabeth reach England safely, but what will she think of him when she learns the truth of their relationship?

Guest Post from Victoria Kincaid

Thank you for hosting me, Ceri!  When I understood how much of the plot of The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy would revolve around espionage during the Napoleonic Wars, I realized I needed to do some research. Although a lot of historical fiction from this time period describes the activities of spies, there is surprisingly little hard historical research available on the subject. Scholars of the era appear to spend a lot of time exploring the wars and military aspects but devote relatively little energy to other aspects.

One of the facts that I unearthed during my research was the existence of a “smugglers’ city” in Gravelines, France.  Here is how it was described in an abstract by researcher Gavin Daly:
In the final years of the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon allowed English smugglers entry into the French ports of Dunkirk and Gravelines, encouraging them to run contraband back and forth across the Channel. Gravelines catered for up to 300 English smugglers, housed in a specially constructed compound known as the ‘city of smugglers’. Napoleon used the smugglers in the war against Britain. The smugglers arrived on the French coast with escaped French prisoners of war, gold guineas, and English newspapers; and returned to England laden with French textiles, brandy, and gin. 
I found this account fascinating.  Why would Napoleon encourage smuggling by setting up an official smugglers’ village on French soil?  There were several reasons.  Napoleon needed money to finance his war.  The activities at Gravelines brought British money to France. The city was a virtual fortress, with access—even for French merchants—strictly controlled by French customs officials and soldiers; Napoleon’s government was sure to get a cut of all the ill-gotten gains.  Napoleon believed that draining guineas from England would help destabilize the British economy—a little wishful thinking on his part.  In addition, many French merchants were suffering from effects of the British naval blockade and Napoleon’s own trade policies.  Trading at Gravelines brought much-needed capital to French industries.

Apparently there was also a lively trade in prisoners of war who were escaping from British prisons.  Smugglers would earn some extra money by bringing them across the Channel to their home country.  Napoleon also used Gravelines as a source of intelligence.  His agents collected English newspapers and brought them to Paris so intelligence officials could glean the latest news.  Although there is not evidence of it, I have to suspect the intelligence gathering worked the other way: surely the British had their agents visit Gravelines to acquire information as well. 

Politics breeds strange bedfellows and war does as well.  The population of Gravelines would have been an intriguing combination of English criminals, French merchants, and Napoleonic officials from various departments.  With such an intriguing backdrop, I couldn’t resist the idea of using Gravelines as a setting for part of The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy.

Excerpt from The Unforgettable Mr Darcy

Book cover: The Unforgettable Mr Darcy by Victoria Kincaid
As Darcy wandered among the stalls of breads, cheeses, and vegetables, a loud growl from his stomach reminded him that it had been hours since he had eaten. A bit of apple with some cheese and bread would not go amiss.  But he wanted to select his vendor strategically; the right merchant also would be a good source of local gossip.

He selected a plump, matronly merchant with dark hair and spectacles.  She had an open smile and spent as much time chatting with her customers as she did selling them food.  Her stall held a promising array of breads and fruits from which he could make a breakfast.

Adopting the shy smile of a stranger, Darcy approached her table, but before he reached it, he was bumped by a passing man.  He felt fingers fumbling at the money pouch at his waist.  The man is trying to rob me. I need that money to complete my mission. Panic gave Darcy strength.  Grabbing the man’s wrist, Darcy shouted in French, “Thief!  Thief!”

Every eye in the square turned toward the altercation, and a few people hurried in Darcy’s direction.  The thief’s eyes went wild with panic as he twisted his hand in Darcy’s grasp, but Darcy would not let go.  Before he could blink, the would-be thief produced a knife and sliced into the skin on the back of Darcy’s hand.

The shock of pain loosened Darcy’s grip, and the man pulled his wrist free with a wrenching twist.  With amazing speed and dexterity, the thief dodged around an approaching merchant and disappeared down a narrow alley.  Darcy considered giving chase, but his hand required immediate attention.  The gash was long and shallow, and it bled profusely.  Bright red drops splashed the cobblestones at his feet.  Darcy swore—being careful to do so in French—and pulled his handkerchief from a pocket, wrapping it around his injured hand, where it immediately became drenched in blood.

The plump fruit seller hurried to his side, tutting in disapproval.  “I have seen that scoundrel before, but I do not know him.  He is not from Saint-Malo, that much is certain!”  Several of the other merchants nodded in agreement.  “This war is no good for the youth of France.  It corrupts their morals and turns them into criminals.  Trying to steal the purse of a good hardworking man. He should be ashamed!” Several of the bystanders muttered about Napoleon under their breath.

She offered a length of linen—clean enough for the purpose—and bound up his hand while maintaining a soliloquy on the state of Saint-Malo, France, and the world in general.  “It is all the fault of that man who calls himself our emperor!” People in the growing crowd grumbled agreement, and several uttered Napoleon’s name scornfully before spitting on the ground.  Richard had said Brittany and Normandy tended to be more sympathetic to the royalist cause than Napoleon’s, and here was proof.  But Darcy was a bit mystified as to how his encounter with a thief was Napoleon’s responsibility.

“You do not support the emperor?” Darcy asked, surprised she offered her opinion so freely to a stranger.

“Bah!”  She rejected the idea with a flip of her hand.  “Since Napoleon, the youth have no morals, every Sunday the pews are emptier, drought makes the crops wither, and cows give half as much milk.”  Again, many onlookers nodded.

Darcy suppressed a smile.

She scowled at him.  “I hope you are not a supporter of the ‘emperor.’”

“Not at all.”  Darcy managed to keep a straight face.

Someone in the crowd murmured words about reporting the attempted theft to the gendarmes, and Darcy stiffened; he had no desire to attract the attention of the police.

A burly man beside Darcy laughed bitterly. “The gendarmes are worse than useless.”

“Yes, there is no point in filing a report,” his shorter companion agreed.

The fruit seller knotted the linen tightly around Darcy’s hand.  “That will do for the moment, but you must have it stitched up.”

Darcy cursed inwardly, but he knew she was right.  Such a long wound was unlikely to stop bleeding on its own accord. “I am new in town,” he said.  “Where is there a doctor?”

By now the small crowd contained at least thirty people.  Most likely this was the most interesting event Saint-Malo had witnessed in weeks.  I have been in the country for a handful of hours, and already I am the center of attention, Darcy mused.  I am indeed fortunate that I do not rely on my talents at espionage for my livelihood.

“You’ll be wanting Mr. Martin,” the fruit seller said without hesitation.

“Is he the best doctor in town?”

Her brows rose.  “He is the only doctor in town.  But he will fix you up right, and he won’t charge too much either.  Just tell him Celeste sent you.”

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Author Bio

Victoria has a Ph.D. in English literature and has taught composition to unwilling college students. Today she teaches business writing to willing office professionals and tries to give voice to the demanding cast of characters in her head.

She lives in Virginia with an overly affectionate cat, two children who are learning how much fun Austen’s characters can be, and a husband who fortunately is not jealous of Mr. Darcy. A lifelong Austen fan, Victoria has read more Jane Austen variations and sequels than she can count – and confesses to an extreme partiality for the Colin Firth miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice.

Visit her at www.victoriakincaid.com

Goodreads • Twitter • Amazon US Author Page •

Buy Links

The Unforgettable Mr Darcy is available to buy now! - Amazon US / Amazon UK / Kobo / Add on Goodreads

Giveaway Time!

Book cover: The Unforgettable Mr Darcy by Victoria Kincaid
Victoria is offering winner's choice of  either a paperback or ebook of The Unforgettable Mr Darcy, open internationally. To enter, just leave a comment on this blog post by the end of the day on Monday 30 July.

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44 comments:

  1. So lizabeth would need to be a good French speaker to survive

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    1. Hi Vesper, That does become an issue! Good luck with the giveaway!

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    2. That's an interesting point. I understand that it's hard for English people not to give themselves away as English when speaking French due to the accent too!

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  2. I am a fan of amnesia stories and I love that she believes Mr Darcy is her husband, I wonder what causes that misunderstanding. It sounds like a really great read.

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    1. I'm so glad you like that kind of storyline! Good luck with the giveaway! -- Victoria

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    2. Amnesia is such a delicious plot device, isn't it!

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  3. This book is a wonderful read. The amnesia story was handled beautifully. I loved it.

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    1. Hi Lynn, Thank you for your feedback! I'm so happy you enjoyed it.-- Victoria

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    2. So glad you enjoyed it, Lynn. I am looking forward to reading it myself, it sounds like something I'd really enjoy.

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  4. Wow! What interesting info about Gravelines! This is one of the aspects I enjoy about historical fiction—learning new, interesting historical facts.
    Thanks for that, Victoria & for the giveaway!

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    1. Hi Jakki, That's one of my favorite parts of historical fiction too! And I thought Gravelines was so interesting I just had to put it into the story. Good luck with the giveaway! -- Victoria

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    2. Hello Jakki, lovely to see you here! I completely agree, I love being able to learn something from historical fiction, while being entertained!

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  5. love the plot line for the story...intriguing excerpt, too

    denise

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    1. Hi Denise, I'm so happy you find it intriguing! Good luck with the giveaway! - Victoria

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    2. It sounds good, doesn't it, Denise! Glad you enjoyed the excerpt.

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  6. Interesting premise. I love a well researched espionage story in Napoleon era France... and yours are always well researched and give a realistic feeling. I look forward to reading this!

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    1. Hi Agnes, I always like Napoleon era spy stories too! Good luck with the giveaway. - Victoria

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    2. I haven't read many espionage stories, Agnes, so I am looking forward to this one :)

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  7. This sounds so intriguing....Lizzy believed to be dead....Darcy finding her alive in France..she believing then wed!!
    Looking forward to seeing how they interact as husband and wife!
    Best of luck with your book,Victoria!

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    1. Hi Mary, Yes, they have an interesting "marital" relationship to be sure. Good luck with the giveaway! -- Victoria

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    2. I could have written this comment myself, Mary, those were exactly my thoughts!

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  8. Congrats on the new release, Victoria! What a great premise. Love the promise of adventure and the deliciousness of Elizabeth thinking she and Darcy are married :))

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    1. Hi Joana, I'm so glad you find the plot intriguing. That means a lot to me. -- Victoria

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    2. I am looking forward to seeing Lizzy believe she's married to Mr Darcy too, Joana :)

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  9. I loved Mr. Darcy to the Rescue and can't wait to read this one. I would love to win a copy. I already have it on my wish-list. This sounds so exciting. Like the post says... you don't usually see a lot of stories on the continent during the troubled times. I can't wait to see Lizzy's reactions to this new Darcy. Thanks Ceri for hosting and thanks to Victoria for the post and the generous give-a-way. Blessings on the launch and success of this work.

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    1. Hi JW, Thank you for your good wishes. I'm so glad you find it intriguing. Good luck with the giveaway!

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    2. Thank you so much Jeanne. Good luck with the giveaway!

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  10. Oh boy, I can’t wait to read how Darcy uses this spy village to his advantage and how Elizabeth reacts to him. Congrats on your newest release! I’m looking forward to reading it.

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    1. Hi Dung, I'm glad you find it intriguing! Good luck with the giveaway.

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    2. Hi Dung. The place sounds like a unique mix; I wonder how Darcy will get on there?

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  11. I can heartily endorse Lynn Bischoff's opinion! Love the way Victoria wove all the threads of the story together: Elizabeth's "death" and then being found alive and suffering from amnesia, the espionage, Darcy and Elizabeth's flight through France and the smugglers' village at Gravelines. The latter is fascinating, as Victoria indicates above. Yes, I did do a little bit of research on the subject myself!

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    1. Hi Anji, I'm so happy you enjoyed it! That time period is fascinating. It's great fun to write about it. -- Victoria

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    2. Did you set off down a research rabbit hole, Anji?! Glad to know that you enjoyed this read.

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  12. Carole in Canada25 July 2018 at 16:17

    Well that is a new aspect of smuggling that I didn't know before! Certainly makes sense. I so enjoyed your book, 'Mr. Darcy to the Rescue' when they were fleeing in France and looking forward to embarking on another 'daring do' with Darcy and Elizabeth! Congratulations!

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    1. Hi Carole, Yes, history is full of oddities, isn't it? Thanks for your interest and good luck with the giveaway!

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    2. Hi Carole. Setting off to France offers a whole wealth of possibilities, doesn't it!

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  13. I bought and read this book this week and posted a review. I lent it out but plan to reread it when I get it back. I loved it. 5 stars.

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  14. Poor Darcy! I always feel sorry for the guy, with the way he gets tortured in lots of JAFF 🙂 Luckily he always gets his prize in the end.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

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  15. Nice excerpt, Victoria. I want to know who the saboteur is, and why s/he wants to prevent ODC from returning home!

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  16. Thank you for sharing this enlightening historical tidbit. I didn't know Napoleon Bonaparte encourage smuggling activities in his country but I guess that makes sense as he needed the money to finance his war. I like stories where there's espionage going on and this sounds like a great read. Congratulations, Victoria! You have another winner by the looks of it.

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    1. It sounds like a good read, doesn't it! Good luck in the giveaway.

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