Sunday, 17 November 2019

A Covenant of Marriage by C P Odom - Blog Tour - Excerpt and Giveaway

Blog Tour: A Covenant of Marriage by C P OdomThe blog tour for C P Odom's latest Pride & Prejudice variation, A Covenant of Marriage, stops here today with an excerpt and ebook giveaway! Let's look at the blurb and then I'll share the excerpt with you.

Book cover: A Covenant of Marriage by C P Odom
Book Description

A Covenant of Marriage—legally binding, even for an unwilling bride!

Defined as a formal, solemn, and binding agreement or compact, a covenant is commonly used with regard to relations among nations or as part of a contract. But it can also apply to a marriage as Elizabeth Bennet learns when her father binds her in marriage to a man she dislikes. Against her protests that she cannot be bound against her will, the lady is informed that she lives under her father’s roof and, consequently, is under his control; she is a mere pawn in the proceedings.

With such an inauspicious beginning, how can two people so joined ever make a life together?

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Excerpt from Chapter 3 of A Covenant of Marriage

Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools and the beacons of wise men.
— Thomas Huxley (1825–1895), English biologist

Monday, September 21, 1812
East End, London

Lydia had felt a certain queasiness when she first arose on that fateful Monday morning, but the sickness did not fully take hold of her until she sat down to breakfast with Wickham. 

Almost as soon as he removed the cover from the cooked ham, the smell hit her nostrils, and she was barely able to reach the washbasin before she completely lost the contents of her stomach. Some of it slopped over onto the floor and stained her already discoloured nightgown.

Wickham threw down his napkin in disgust and immediately took his coat from a hook on the door.

“Wickham, dear, where are you going?” Lydia called weakly, sitting down on the bed but keeping the washbasin in her lap, for she was by no means certain she would not need it again.

“Out,” was Wickham’s only reply, and then he was gone, even as Lydia felt another wracking spasm twisting her stomach.

At first, Wickham had no destination in mind. He wanted only to walk and think of some solution to his predicament. After he paid the landlord for the past week’s rent, there was enough money for another three or four weeks at the cheap inn, but he did not know what to do after that. He could not sell his militia commission as he might have done with a regular army commission. Militia commissions were only given to men whose families owned a certain amount of land, and he had deceived Lieutenant Denny in that regard.

He had left London for Hertfordshire in the company of Denny to escape the creditors who were searching for him, and the possibility of employment in the countryside was his best prospect, but he was now in the same trap as before. He had to go somewhere—do something—but he did not know where. And Wickham knew he would have nothing to live on in a few more weeks.

On an impulse, he decided to visit Mrs. Younge’s establishment in Edward Street. He had gone there when he and Lydia first arrived in London, but she had no room for him. 

Because of their former connection, he knew she would have found room for him if it was at all possible, so he had not returned. Now, he thought it might be worth another visit. 

Anything was better than to return to Lydia in that small, grimy room, and he wondered for the hundredth time why he had allowed her to come with him. Her plan to go to Gretna Green had been ludicrous, and at first he had thought her joking. If he did not have enough money to stay with the regiment, how could he possibly have had the funds to get all the way to Scotland?

Wickham shook his head in resignation. All Lydia ever wanted to do was go out to the theatre or go to a ball. Did she not realize she had left all hope of attending such social events behind when she came away with him? His reputation, at least in Hertfordshire and Brighton, had been destroyed, but hers had been even more utterly ruined. It was past time to be on his way.

She was a foolish, silly girl and had no idea of what she had done to herself. Her company in his bed had begun to pall, and he would be glad to see the last of her. The thought struck him that, if he took all their money, he could travel a lot farther than if he had to pay for two.

Book cover, full wrap: A Covenant of Marriage by C P Odom
When he got to his destination, he found Mrs. Younge in the small room she used as an office, making entries in a book and adding columns of figures. Wickham leaned against the doorjamb, smiling at the sight. She had not yet seen him, and she looked like a reputable shopkeeper, which she most assuredly was not.

“Well, it looks as though the blood-sucking landlord business is thriving,” he drawled, and the handsome woman glanced up quickly, a look of outrage on her face. The anger faded as she recognized him, and she nodded once before returning to her figures. When she was finished, she looked up at him with a wry smile.

“Well, as always, you unquestionably look the part of an elegant gentleman,” she said. 

Wickham gave her a mock bow, and she continued. “Have a seat, please. And tell me what brings you to my humble domicile this fine morning?”

He grimaced with distaste as he sat down, and he related what had driven him from his room.

“I must admit I am at my wit’s end. I am thoroughly sick of her, but that is not what keeps me from leaving. I simply do not know what to do now. I had thought a commission in the militia would provide an opportunity for a steady stream of income, but I had the most bloody awful luck you can imagine.”

“You always were more convinced of your skill at games of chance than you should have been,” Mrs. Younge said sternly, but Wickham only smiled and gave a sheepish shrug of his shoulders.

“As it happens, I have an opportunity that might suit you if you do not mind occasionally getting your hands dirty. But first, let us discuss your problem with this Miss Lydia Bennet.  You have been in town since the beginning of August, is that right?”

“Dead on,” he acknowledged. “I came to see you on Sunday the first.”

“Very well,” she said, doing some quick calculations in her head. “Yes, enough time has passed. George, it seems your Miss Lydia has gotten herself in the family way.”

Wickham’s mouth fell open in astonishment; then a look of concern crossed his face. “Are you sure?”

“I ought to know.”

Mrs. Younge had once kept the accounts for a house of ill repute until the owner had tried once too often and too forcibly to recruit her as one of his ladies. He had thought her refined bearing and elegant appearance and speech would be a remarkable draw. He had not known about the thin Italian stiletto she kept up the sleeve of her dress. She was not certain he had died, but she had not stayed long enough to find out. The upshot of her experience at his establishment was that she was well-acquainted in how long it took for a young woman to start showing signs of being with child.

“It is called morning sickness,” she continued, “and it occurs in some women when they first become with child. It usually goes away in a month or so, but your Miss Lydia will probably have difficulty eating for a while. And, in about eight months, she will present the world with a little Wickham bastard.”

“Thank you for such an apt description,” Wickham said harshly; then his tone softened. 

“What was the opportunity you mentioned?”

“My business has been successful enough for me to put aside enough to buy another house in a more disreputable part of town. I can manage both quite easily, but I should not care to go into the part of town where the new house is located without an escort. If you still keep a rapier inside your walking stick—”

“I do,” he said, lifting it up to show her.

“—and if you do not mind using a cudgel on the occasional hard head who does not want to pay his weekly rent—in advance, of course.”

“Of course,” Wickham responded, and the two of them shared a quick, predatory smile.

“Then I could provide food and lodging here and a little on the side. Provided,” she smiled thinly, “you keep my bed warm on those few nights when I need a gentleman’s companionship.”

“Of course,” Wickham agreed again. He knew Mrs. Younge did not need such solace often, but she was always fastidious. She had no desire to take some uncouth, ill-mannered lout to bed. She preferred a gentleman—or at least a reasonable facsimile.

* * * 

Author C P Odom
Author Bio

By training, I’m a retired engineer, born in Texas, raised in Oklahoma, and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. Sandwiched in there was a stint in the  Marines, and I’ve lived in Arizona since 1977, working first for Motorola and then General Dynamics.

I raised two sons with my first wife, Margaret, before her untimely death from cancer, and my second wife, Jeanine, and I adopted two girls from China. The older of my daughters recently graduated with an engineering degree and is working in Phoenix, and the younger girl is heading toward a nursing degree.

I’ve always been a voracious reader and collector of books, and my favorite genres are science fiction, historical fiction, histories, and, in recent years, reading (and later writing) Jane Austen romantic fiction. This late-developing interest was indirectly stimulated when I read my late wife's beloved Jane Austen books after her passing.  One thing led to another, and I now have four novels published:  A Most Civil Proposal (2013), Consequences (2014), Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets (2015), and Perilous Siege (2019). Two of my books are now audiobooks, Most Civil Proposal and Pride, Prejudice, and Secrets.

I retired from engineering in 2011, but I still live in Arizona with my family, a pair of dogs (one of which is stubbornly untrainable), and a pair of rather strange cats.  My hobbies are reading, woodworking, and watching college football and LPGA golf (the girls are much nicer than the guys, as well as being fiendishly good putters). Lately I’ve reverted back to my younger years and have taken up building plastic model aircraft and ships (when I can find the time).

Contact Info:

Buy Links:  
Amazon US eBook, Paperback, Kindle Unlimited
Amazon UK eBook, Paperback, Kindle Unlimited

Giveaway Time!

Book cover: A Covenant of Marriage by C P Odom
Meryton Press is giving away 8 eBooks of A Covenant of Marriage! To enter, please use the Rafflecopter below.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Blog Tour: A Covenant of Marriage by C P Odom

19 Nov Interests of a Jane Austen Girl

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  1. Oh how I dislike Wickham and Mrs. Younge.

    1. Both of them are very similar, with Wickham able to present the aspect of a gentleman while Mrs. Younge presented herself as a genteel, educated lady. But, while neither one had any other way of making a living, Mrs. Younge had put enough aside to allow her to be able to rent rooms. Wickham, however, could never restrain his spending.

    2. I agree, Darcybennett, they are both deeply unpleasant here!

  2. Mrs. Younge and Wickham, what a despicable pair...I guess they deserve each other. Maybe Lydia is beginning to see that Mr. Wickham is no gentleman.

    1. As I said in my above comment, they're very similar. In modern terms, I think we'd classify both of them as con artists. But Wickham needs Mrs. Younge more than she needs him, since she's the brains of that duo. As for Lydia, I have to say that she's still as clueless as ever!

    2. Poor girl, and she is coming to see it too late :(

  3. Poor stupid Lydia! I assume he isn’t going to take him to Mrs Young’s with him! What a foolish child! Wickham and Mrs Young deserve each other!
    I feel so sorry for the rest of the family as they will obviously suffer the shame of being related to Lydia.
    I was lucky enough to win a copy of this and I look forward to reading it when it arrives.

    1. You are indeed correct, Glynis. Lydia will soon be on her own and pregnant without benefit of matrimony. As for the rest of the family, Mrs. Bennet is the real architect of their ruin. Whenever I'm going through the text of P&P, my blood runs cold when Mrs. Bennet sends Lydia on her way to Brighton by advising her not to miss any opportunity of enjoying herself as much as possible. Talk about setting her family up for disaster!

    2. I felt quite sorry for her to be honest, Glynis. I thought Wickham paused when he realised that he might have a baby on the way, but he doesn't seem worried about dumping that along with the poor ruined mother!

  4. I wonder when Lydia is going to realise how much trouble she is in

    1. It won't be long, Vesper! When she wakes up to find that Wickham had disappeared with his belongings and with the last of the money her mother had given her, she'll start to realize it. And when the landlord sends her packing, telling her that her nausea is because Wickham has gotten her in the family way, the gloom will be inpenetrable!

    2. I just hope she has the sense to go back to her family - the Gardiners I mean, she would need to keep away from her sisters :(

  5. Lydia... how Naïve can she be! Ugh to Mrs. Young & Wickham!

    1. That's why young people were strictly chaperoned! And why Lydia should never have been allowed out of the house into society at sixteen! Mrs. Bennet is living vicariously through Lydia's "high spirits" (AKA wild and carefree!), while Mr. Bennet valued his tranquility above his duty.

    2. Poor girl. It was very bad that she was out in society so young. Mrs Bennet was not a woman of sense at the best of times. I blame Mr Bennet more, because he should have taken better care of them. However, in some respects he was also naive, thinking that as Lydia was poor she would not be of interest to a scoundrel.

  6. I read and enjoyed this book and posted a review. I recommend reading it for yourself.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed my book, Shiela. I took a look at your review, and there were some insightful comments. In the matter of wanting more information in the Epilogue, I wrote a vignette in a previous stop on this blog tour addressing Lydia ten years after she was abandoned by Wickham. After a decade of dealing with life's challenges to an unmarried mother, even with Darcy having provided for her support, Lydia is not the same flightly female as she was. Most of the changes are for the better but not all.

    2. Janet Taylor sent me three links to other blog stops and I did read that vignette and left a comment. I was happy with the outcome. I hate to see someone so young punished for eternity when it was her parents who misguided her. Thanks for getting back to me.

    3. I'm glad to hear that you were happy with the outcome, Sheila. I feel sad about somebody that young being doomed too.

  7. Great excerpt. Loved seeing things from Wickham's POV. And really interesting to read your story about how you came to be a JAFF author. Good luck with the new release and thank you for the generous giveaway.

  8. I hate that Wickham is thinking of abandoning Lydia after what he had done. He is so irresponsibile that I hope he gets his comeuppance soon. But Lydia is also at fault too and doesn't realise the evils of men.

  9. Facsimile of a gentleman, right on target. 😁


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