Friday, 2 October 2020

Play with Fire by J Marie Croft - Excerpt and Giveaway

Book cover: Play with Fire by J Marie Croft
You might well have noticed that quite a few authors and publishers have been putting out novellas lately. I know some people like to get their teeth into a longer read but this year has been such a stressful one that some of us want the escape of reading but don’t have the concentration to take on a longer book! J Marie Croft is visiting us here today with her new Pride & Prejudice novella, Play with Fire to share an excerpt, and Meryton Press are offering to give away an ebook of the story to one of you. Read on for more details!

Book Description

Madness! It was nothing but madness from beginning to end, and Darcy was caught up in it. 

What do occupants of Netherfield Park do on a dreary Saturday while the Bennet sisters are still in residence and they have nothing at all to do? They take a page from Mansfield Park, of course, and decide on a theatrical.

 

In the process of planning and performing the play, certain participants get more than a little carried away, especially Fitzwilliam Darcy where Elizabeth Bennet is concerned. There might even be a kiss...and a skirmish...leading to a duel.

 

No one involved in the play had set out with the intention of creating a scandal. None performing in the theatrical began with the aim of ending with blushing faces, or bruised bodies, or blemishes on their reputations.

 

Blame it on The M├ęsalliance.

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Introduction, from J Marie Croft

As the dedication page of Play with Fire indicates, the novella (told from Darcy's point of view) was written specifically for anyone who dearly loves to laugh and doesn’t mind a little suspension of disbelief for the sake of enjoyment.

In this excerpt (which could be titled Lizzy and Harold and a Kiss, Oh My!), Darcy has just—rather poorly—related to the Bennets one of Bingley's puns. This is the result…


Full Wrap book cover: Play with Fire by J Marie Croft
Excerpt from Play with Fire by J Marie Croft

“And so,” I concluded, “you may call me Harold.” I have never been proficient at retelling jokes—as evidenced by the blank stares and slack expressions directed my way. Hang Bingley and his puerile puns! Now I am suspected of having more hair than wit.

Not unlike Bingley’s terriers when spoken to, Elizabeth had tilted her head to the side, trying, it seemed, to better comprehend me…or, perhaps, she was just trying to discern the hole through which my brain, once again, had fallen. “Well, Harold,” she said, eyebrows puckered, “would you care to take a stroll along the lane with me?”

By Jove, yes! On my feet in a trice, I made a stab at regaining some of my dignity before escaping my unappreciative audience. Speaking to the room at large, I offered apologies not only for yesterday’s in-poor-taste play but also for that morning’s poor attempt at wordplay. My future family told me to think nothing of it, but Miss Bennet looked upon me with pity while the two youngest members giggled behind their hands. The middle sister, frowning, pursed her lips and paged frantically through what looked to be Sermons to Young Women, no doubt trying to find an appropriate passage on dealing with the demented. Mr. Bennet muttered something to his wife that sounded like, “Perhaps I should rethink my consent.” His wife, amazingly, remained speechless.

As my betrothed and I collected our outerwear, I could hear the murmurs of confusion, concern, and speculation left behind in the sitting room. “Do you suppose your father might rescind his consent for us to marry?” As we walked out into a bracing autumn breeze, I placed her gloved hand on my arm and smiled. “I swear to you, Elizabeth, there is no unsoundness of mind in my lineage. That piece of lunacy back there was Bingley’s fault. Well, not entirely. Although I would like to blame others, I take full responsibility for all the turmoil of the past few days. The onset of my recent injudiciousness can be traced back to your arrival at Netherfield on Wednesday the thirteenth. I am not myself in your presence.”

Eyes lit with an inner glow, Elizabeth grinned and nudged my shoulder. “Then, we have a problem, Harold. A serious one. If my presence provokes your wrongheadedness, then my becoming Pemberley’s mistress spells impending disaster for your estate and all its dependents.”

“Not at all. You shall be the voice of reason if ever I am foolish. We shall be magnificent together. With you to temper my severity and overrule my infrequent folly, Pemberley will be a joyous place—the perfect setting to raise a brood of lively little Lizzys and, hopefully, an heir and a spare, as they say.”

“How many Lizzys are in a brood, do you suppose? And what if our sons resemble their brooding father and cannot tell a joke properly? It would be a great loss to me, for I dearly love a laugh, you know.”

“Well, you may not laugh at me, madam.” Returning her earlier gesture, I nudged her shoulder. “I am not to be laughed at. You said so yourself. And I have witnesses—including Miss Bingley, the fount of all knowledge when it comes to the master of Pemberley.”

“Ah, yes. One must neither tease calmness of temper and presence of mind nor expose one’s stupidity by laughing without a subject. But, please, if ever I am as indelicate as Aunt Philips or any member of my immediate family, you must let me know.”

“I love your playful manner, Elizabeth, although such may be frowned upon in polite society. Please, never change—particularly into Miss Bingley with her snide scorn…or your Aunt Philips with her vulgarity. That, I am sorry to say, I could not countenance. Otherwise, I admire your critical thinking.”

“Even if it impinges on your male authority?”

“O-ho! Whatever am I to do with an uncontrollable wife?” What, indeed, am I to do with a passionate, irresistible bride? Let me count the ways. “Elizabeth, you are a discriminating woman with refined taste and good judgement. I have faith in your abilities. If I remember correctly, you never set out to ridicule what is wise or good.”

“Fortunately for both of us, Fitzwilliam, you are both sage and upstanding.”

Perhaps not as upstanding as one might think, for, at the intimacy of her finally calling me Fitzwilliam, I backed her against the stone wall alongside the lane. Hidden by a common juniper, we kissed like there was no tomorrow.

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Author J Marie Croft
Author Bio

J. Marie Croft is a self-proclaimed word nerd and adherent of Jane Austen's quote "Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery." Bearing witness to Joanne's fondness for Pride and Prejudice, wordplay, and laughter, are her light-hearted novel, Love at First Slight (a Babblings of a Bookworm Favourite Read of 2014), her playful novella, A Little Whimsical in HisCivilities (Just Jane 1813's Favourite 2016 JAFF novella), and her short stories in six anthologies: Sun-Kissed, The Darcy Monologues, Dangerous to Know, Rational Creatures, Yuletide, and Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl. Joanne lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, but can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.

Buy Links

Play with Fire is available to buy now in Paperback, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.

Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CA • Add to Goodreads shelf

Giveaway Time!

Book cover: Play with Fire by J Marie Croft
Meryton Press is kindly giving away an ebook of Play with Fire by J Marie Croft to one of you. To enter, just comment on this blog post by the end of the day worldwide on Thursday 8 October.

Note about comments: Unfortunately I’ve had some spam comments lately, so have turned on comment moderation, which means that your comment won’t appear straight away. If you have any problems adding your comment please contact me and I will add your comment for you :)


Blog Tour Schedule 

This is a short and sweet blog tour. Here are the details of the other stops.

1 October Diary of an Eccentric             

2 October Babblings of a Bookworm      

5 October From Pemberley to Milton     

9 October Austenprose     

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52 comments:

  1. What a delightful excerpt! I began to chuckle with the first paragraph, and I have already read this novella! LOL OH. MY.
    The last sentence didn't make me laugh, but it did make me swoon! Thanks so much for sharing this entertaining excerpt and novella, J. Marie!

    Ceri, all of us at Meryton Press thank you for hosting today and supporting our authors! It is always nice to visit your blog.

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    1. Hi, Janet. Thanks for chuckling, swooning, and for arranging today's visit.

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  2. What a fabulous, wonderful excerpt! I absolutely love a playful, romantic Darcy, tick! I love a confident impertinent Elizabeth, tick! I love the total idea of this book and all the excerpts I’ve read, tick! tick! tick!
    I hope we get to discover how many there are in the brood of Lizzys, and who the heir and the spare take after?

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    1. Thanks for your enthusiasm, Glynis. I'm really enjoying all the comments you've been leaving. Good luck in the giveaway!

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    2. This was such a lovely excerpt wasn't it :)

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  3. I’ve got this on my kindle now and looking forward to reading tonight. Could really use Joanne’s keen wit now!

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    1. Hi, Christina, and thanks for stopping by! I hope you'll have, at least, a chuckle while reading Play with Fire.

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    2. Hope you enjoyed it Christina. I think anything that makes us smile at the moment is helpful!

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  4. What a fun and entertaining excerpt! Thank you for sharing, J. Marie, and for hosting, Ceri!

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  5. Loved this excerpt. They are together. Yay!

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    1. Hi, Patty. I'm glad you liked the snippet. Was it a spoiler? Nah. Of course Elizabeth and 'Harold' aget together!

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  6. Thanks for the excerpt. It will be nice to read something playful amid all the angst in today's world!

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    1. Hi, Nightstitcher. You're welcome! Jane Austen said, "I could not sit seriously down to write a serious Romance under any other motive than to save my life." Same! When I sat down to write a 'Skirmish & Scandal' novella, I knew right away it would be a comedy.

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  7. Thank you for the chance to win a copy. It sounds intriguing.

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    1. Thanks for dropping by, Sheila. Good luck in the giveaway!

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    2. Thanks for commenting, Sheila!

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  8. Ceri, thank you for allowing me to share this excerpt with your readers. It's always a pleasure to visit here. All the time and effort you put into Babblings of a Bookworm is much appreciated!

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    1. Thank you so much Joanne, it was lovely to host you :)

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  9. I wouldn’t like Elizabeth changing into Caroline either. Great excerpt, I’ll looking forward to reading this novelette. Congratulations

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    1. Thanks, Kate! Glad you liked the excerpt. Good luck in the giveaway.

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    2. Nor me! Glad you enjoyed the excerpt.

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  10. Loved the excerpt - looks like a lovely fun read!

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    1. Thanks, Lily. The story was certainly fun to write.

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    2. I agree, this looks like a fun read :)

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  11. Thanks for the excerpt. Intrigued with this playfulness, nothing new to EB but wonder how FD will be.

    Thanks for the chance to win a copy

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    1. Hello again, Buturot, and you're welcome. Playfulness is a good way to describe the novella.

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    2. Yes, we don't get to see much of him being playful in P&P, though there are signs of it, once he is safely engaged :)

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  12. What a crushing, cutting, and cute except! Either this will be an HEA...or end in disaster! Thank you for sharing and for the giveaway.

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    1. Oh I hope it's the former rather than the latter!

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  13. I enjoyed reading this, and am looking forward to the whole book! Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

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    1. Hello, Cindy. I'm glad you enjoyed the snippet. Good luck in the giveaway.

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    2. So glad you enjoyed the excerpt.

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  14. I have a comment to add on behalf of Eva:

    This is the first time that I realized that Elizabeth and Darcy are engaged while this play is being rehearsed. I keep thinking what mischief will be made. I hope their first kiss isn't in front of an audience.

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    1. Thanks, Ceri . Um, Eva, E&D may or may not be engaged during the play. I'm not saying. And... What? Kiss in front of an audience! Would I do that to our dear couple? Mwahahaha!

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    2. Ooh, interesting reply!

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  15. Cute banter with a sexy kiss at the end. Just my type of scene. Good job, Joanne! Thanks for hosting, Ceri!

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    1. Thanks, Suzan. Whew! E&D banter is REALLY difficult to write when one is not as clever as Austen.

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    2. Thanks for commenting Suzan! Glad you enjoyed.

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  16. What a delightful excerpt. Love the way poor Mr Darcy belittles himself after he blows a joke. So embarrassing, as we all know. I love Lizzy's response too. I'd love to be able to win a copy. My goodness, but I shamefacedly have to say I have only read your shorter pieces thus far. But let me gush and praise your story about Hetty Bates in Rational Creatures. That is the best extended treatment of Miss Bates I've read. We get so few Emma variations or continuations and Miss Bates just shows up (usually) as the flighty, twittering, unfiltered spoken, yet single focused when it comes to Jane Fairfax, simpleton Jane's original character shows her to be. Allie Cresswell's is marvelous, too. But in that short story of yours you show us that there are worlds of story behind the people we meet and form opinions of, seeing only the surface. I couldn't help it, I went through a huge wad of tissues reading it. I'm so ready to explore the rest of your writing. I just can't read fast enough!!! Darn it. Best luck, Joanne. With this book's launch and your future endeavors.

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    1. Wow, Michelle! Your lovely comment made my day.
      Because I like a writing challenge, when Christina Boyd gave me several suggestions for a Rational Creature, I snatched up Miss Bates. As the story progressed, I SO wanted to give Hetty a great big hug. Thanks for leaving such a thoughtful mention of The Simple Things. Sorry about the wad of tissues. None will be required if/when you read Play with Fire.

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    2. Praise indeed for Joanne’s Hetty Bates story. That story gets me and I can never think of Hetty as the simpleton I first thought she was. I tell everyone that if you think you can skim, you will surely miss the subtle clues that lead to the amazing “A-Ha! moment.” I am reading her latest now and am blown away by her word play and brilliant storytelling. Well done.

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    3. Geez, Christina, now I need a huge wad of tissues! Thank you, dear lady!

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    4. This is such a great comment, Michelle. I went back to look for my review of Rational Creatures as I couldn't remember the story you refer to in it and I think I might not have read the book at all! I really need to rectify that and will look forward to reading the story that had such an effect on you. As you say, there are so few Emma stories out there.

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