Monday, 26 July 2021

The Olive Branch by Sarah Courtney

Book cover: The Olive Branch by Sarah Courtney
Today I’m happy to be welcoming Sarah Courtney here with her latest Pride & Prejudice variation, The Olive Branch. Now, some of you might have picked up a hint of who this book features from the title. Here’s a quote from a letter in P&P to give you a hint.

I flatter myself that my present overtures of goodwill are highly commendable, and that the circumstance of my being next in the entail of Longbourn estate will be kindly overlooked on your side, and not lead you to reject the offered olive-branch.

So it’s a book about Mr Collins! Let’s look at the blurb and then we will hand over to Sarah for an excerpt and ebook giveaway.

Book Description 

Elizabeth Bennet faces an impossible choice—wed Mr. Collins or watch him destroy her entire family.

Given a choice, Elizabeth would never dream of marrying the pompous, ridiculous Mr. Collins. But when she refuses his offer, he threatens to reveal a shocking secret that could ruin the Bennets.

Fitzwilliam Darcy has no intention of giving in to his unsettling attraction to Elizabeth Bennet. Still, before he flees to London, he cannot resist seeing her one last time and discovers, to his dismay, that she is now betrothed to her odious cousin. She did everything in her power to evade Mr. Collins at the Netherfield ball, and the woman he sees before him now is not merely unhappy, but afraid. Elizabeth is in trouble, and Darcy cannot bear to abandon her in her distress.

As the wedding day looms, Darcy and Elizabeth become desperate to break the engagement without scandal. It is only when a stranger arrives—a stranger Mr. Collins seems to fear—that Darcy and Elizabeth have any hope of extricating her from this frightening predicament.

As Mr. Collins’s plan begins to unravel, it is clear that Elizabeth may not be the only one in danger. Will she and Darcy be too late to stop Mr. Collins’s vile plans?

The Olive Branch is a clean, full-length Pride and Prejudice variation of about 90,000 words.

Book cover: The Olive Branch by Sarah Courtney
Excerpt from The Olive Branch, introduced by Sarah Courtney

Thank you so much for having me on your blog! I’m so excited to tell your readers about my newest book, The Olive Branch. This story is a bit angstier than my other books so far, as you’ll see in the preview below.

Mr. Collins is truly evil in this story, but only Elizabeth has had the dubious privilege to see his real self. To everyone else, he maintains the façade of the babbling fool who bows and scrapes to Lady Catherine.

I’ve always found Mr. Collins an interesting character to play with. He isn’t evil in canon, but he is selfish and self-focused. Everything is about what he wants and what he thinks he deserves. I’ve written a story in which I’ve tipped the scales to make Mr. Collins a more sympathetic character, so this time I chose to tip him in the other direction.

I’ve given you a glimpse below of the balance beam Elizabeth is forced to walk on as she is forced to hide the truth from her family. She might think herself alone without allies, but a certain proud gentleman from Derbyshire who realized his affections a day too late is determined to help in any way he can.

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Elizabeth took Jane’s arm and led her to the window, away from the others.

“I know that you must be surprised,” she said slowly while thinking quickly.

“Very much so. It was not so long ago that we vowed to marry only for love.” Jane was watching Elizabeth intently, and it was hard not to avoid meeting Jane’s eyes.

“I do marry Mr. Collins for love,” Elizabeth said, and at Jane’s sceptical look, she went on quickly. “Not for love of Mr. Collins, but love of my family and sisters.” Jane’s look softened at this, and Elizabeth knew she was succeeding. “Our situation is so precarious, you know, with the estate entailed away and little fortune to attract suitors. If I marry Mr. Collins, the rest of you, and Mamma, may continue to live at Longbourn and retain our station until we marry. It will help you all find suitors, too, as they will not have to worry about being saddled with the care of our mother and sisters.”

“But still,” Jane said, shaking her head, “you will be married to Mr. Collins until one of you dies, Lizzy. His children will be your children. Are you willing to accept all that that entails to protect the rest of us? Mr. Collins is not cruel, but I know what you think of his intelligence.”

He was far cleverer and crueler than they had all thought, but Elizabeth did not think that improved him a jot. “Then I will take pains to train him in the way he should go. You can see from his adoration for his patroness that he wishes to be led. I will cut the cords that bind him to Lady Catherine and lead him myself. I shall enjoy having dominion over our comfortable house at Hunsford and later at Longbourn.” It was untrue, as Elizabeth would far rather have a husband she could respect, but she thought it sounded reasonable. Not that that would be the case here, as Mr. Collins was clearly not stupid or weak, but she did not know how far his charade would be carried after their marriage.

Jane frowned, but before she could say anything else, Mr. Collins reappeared in the doorway.

“Miss Elizabeth, your father wishes to see you,” he said, offering her an arm.

She reluctantly accepted it and followed him out into the hallway, but he stopped just outside the drawing-room door.

“I do not particularly care what you tell him,” Mr. Collins said softly, his eyes on her father’s library door. “But if he makes any attempt to end our engagement, he will be forcing my hand. Remember, it would be very easy for me to announce your sister’s condition when we return to the drawing-room. Do you think your mother and all of the servants could be persuaded to keep it a secret? And of course, it would take nothing for me to spread the word in Meryton. In the end, you will be forced to marry me—even your father will consent then—when nobody else will marry any of you or even hire you for any decent position.” He gave an amused huff. “Well, perhaps my sweet cousin Jane might find some sort of position with her beauty, but I doubt she would care for it much.” He walked across the hallway, pulling her with him, and knocked on her father’s door.

* * *

Ugh!!!! Isn’t he foul! I can’t wait for his comeuppance, it had better be coming. We trust you, Sarah!

Author Sarah Courtney
Author Bio

Sarah Courtney has been addicted to reading since she first learned how. She carried books with her everywhere . . . to sports games (professional sports games required two books!), school, bus rides and car trips, and even when her parents told her to "go outside and play." She finds time for reading now by doing most of it on her Kindle app, which means that she can read while walking down the stairs, waiting in line, making dinner . . .

Sarah loves to read fantasy and fairy tale interpretations, Agatha Christie's mysteries, romantic suspense/action, and especially variations of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Sarah tried her hand at writing numerous times as a child, but never stuck it out long enough to finish a book. When she discovered that there was an entire fandom dedicated to her favorite author, Jane Austen, she was inspired to write her first novel.

Sarah homeschools her six children, ages three through fourteen (which means that she will now always have at least one teenager for the next . . . sixteen years!). She is constantly asked, "How do you find time to write?" The answer is simply that you find the time to do the things you love. Also, getting the laundry put away is highly overrated.

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Book cover: The Olive Branch by Sarah Courtney
Buy Links

The Olive Branch is available to buy now in Paperback and Kindle. 

Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CA • Add to Goodreads shelf

 

Giveaway Time!

 

Sarah is kindly giving away an ebook of The Olive Branch. If you’ve already treated yourself to The Olive Branch you can choose an ebook of one of her earlier books. To enter, please leave a comment on this blog post by the end of the day worldwide on Sunday 1 August. If you have any problems adding your comment please contact me and I will add your comment for you :)

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If you'd like to be friends on Goodreads then please invite me - just say that you visit my blog when it asks why you'd like to be friends with me.

26 comments:

  1. Thanks for a chance to win a copy. Sounds like there is some angst, which I love. Thanks for sharing here.

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    1. This was my thought too, Sheila. I always feel for Elizabeth if it seems like she might have to marry Collins because they are such a bad match. I can't see any chance of her not being miserable, unless a marriage can be averted of course.

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  2. For some reason I like stories of Mr. Collins, nauseating character tho he be.

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    1. This seems to be quite a Collins-focussed story, so I hope you will enjoy it if you read it :)

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  3. Nice excerpt. I can’t wait to see how Mr. Collins is thwarted! Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of the book.

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    1. He must be, Cyndy! Good luck in the giveaway!

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  4. Ooooh, a scheming Mr. Collins. I'm intrigued. :)

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    1. I find it interesting too, Sophia! I always think of him as a character who is generally not a scheming one (aside from his schemes to please his noble patroness of course) so it's interesting to see a different rendition.

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  5. Sounds wonderful, thanks for the chance to win a copy.

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  6. I have a comment to add from Eva:

    I have always enjoyed plots where Mr. Collins is evil. I did not realize the hold that he has over Elizabeth, but I want to know who the person is that frightens Mr. Collins. Thank you for the excerpt and giveaway.

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    1. I think he's quite chilling in this excerpt!

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  7. I do like Mr. Collins who is smarter, but yikes! So very bad. Looking forward to reading this book to see who intimidates him.

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  8. This man is truly awful! This makes me think more of the Mr Collins without compassion when he tells Mr Bennet in the letter in canon that it would had been better if Lydia eloped and that the family cast her aside. Thank you for that excerpt and giveaway.

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    1. I think you are right Jen, canon Collins is a man without compassion, but he's not as sly and knowing as this rendition! It'll be interesting to see how he's got this hold over poor Lizzy.

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  9. OMG! Collins is vile. Which sister... Lydia or Kitty has a condition? We would normally think of Lydia first but Sarah may have switched up on us. GRRR! Those foolish girls. Why does Collins know this personal information and no one else does? Will Elizabeth tell her father of this blackmail? You've grabbed my interest now. Good luck to all in the drawing. I look forward to reading this.

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    1. Well who knows, there are 4 possible sisters! You'd think that Lydia would be the top culprit, but like you say, you never know! I agree with you too, that this Collins is VILE. I can't wait until his comeuppance, I trust to Sarah that it will happen!

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  10. Right there with you. i would treally love to know what happens (grievously) to Mr Colins.

    Thank you for the excerpt and the give-away

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    1. Let's hope it's grievous, Buturot. I am not usually bloodthirsty, but I am hoping for bad things for this man :)

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  11. Thanks for the chance to win a copy. I want to see Mr. Collins get put firmly in his place.

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  12. I hate this Mr Collins. He is truly a despicable and evil man. I hope Elizabeth and Darcy can find a way to break off the engagement. Perhaps he married someone in his youth and the wife is still alive but not divorced from him. That would be a good way to prevent the marriage.

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    1. I am with you, he is dreadful! Something MUST intervene!

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  13. Thanks everybody for stopping by and commenting. I chose the winner using a random number generator, and the winner was... Jen D! Congratulations to you.

    I will have a look to see if I have contact details for you tomorrow, Jen, but if you'd like to contact me that'd be great! http://babblingsofabookworm.blogspot.com/p/about-me.html

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  14. Unfortunately Jen didn't claim her prize so another winner was selected. That person is Sophia Rose. Congratulations to you!

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