Wednesday 25 August 2021

Spies of Our Acquaintance by Brigid Huey

Book cover: Spies of Our Acquaintance by Brigid Huey
I’m happy to be welcoming Brigid Huey back to the blog with her new novella. It’s the latest in the Skirmish and Scandal series from Meryton Press and is called Spies of Our Acquaintance. Let’s look at the blurb, and then I will bring you an excerpt. There’s an ebook giveaway too! Read on for more details.

Book Description 

French spies in Meryton!

Can the beloved characters of Pride and Prejudice “keep calm and carry on” when Napoleon’s war comes to their neighborhood?

After Mr Darcy apologizes for insulting her at the Meryton Assembly, Elizabeth Bennet begins to see another side to the gentleman she has sworn to hate forever. As their acquaintance grows into friendship, Elizabeth finds herself intrigued by this man from Derbyshire.

Darcy, meanwhile, cannot stop thinking about Miss Elizabeth. After the nefarious Wickham appears in Meryton, Darcy resolves to warn her of the man’s previous offenses. Matters become more urgent when Wickham proves to be involved in espionage for the French!

When Darcy and Elizabeth are captured by a French spy, they must work together to find a means of escape. With reputations and hearts at risk, what consequences will result from their perilous adventure?

Wednesday 4 August 2021

The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Christine Combe - Blog Tour, Excerpt and Giveaway

Book cover: The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Christine Combe
Today I’m welcoming a new visitor to Babblings of a Bookworm. Christine Combe joins us with her upcoming book, The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy, bringing us an excerpt and the chance to enter an ebook giveaway. Let’s look at the blurb and then I’ll hand over to Christine.

Book Description

When Elizabeth Bennet moves with her widowed sister and niece to an estate in Derbyshire, she does not expect to find herself captivated by the mysterious steward of Pemberley. Though cautioned not to spend more time in his company than she ought, Elizabeth finds she cannot stay away from him.

Fitzwilliam Darcy’s father lost half the family fortune to a pair of swindlers, and the rest to gaming and investments that gave no returns. He knows he is no good for the daughter of a baronet, but he falls for the lively Elizabeth in spite of every reason he should not.

When the two determine their mutual attraction cannot be denied Darcy decides to accept the challenge of re-entering society more for the sake of Elizabeth’s reputation than his own. Because both know if won’t be easy for him to regain the good opinion of the ton, Darcy goes to his noble relations to seek their assistance and Elizabeth joins him in London to support his efforts.

Of course, the expectation of whispers and snobbery is scant preparation for facing down the harshest critic of them all; one’s own family.

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So this sounds like a bit of a switch in circumstances for Elizabeth and Darcy! 

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Excerpt from The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy, introduced by Christine Combe

Back cover of book: The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Christine Combe
Greetings, fellow Austenians! I’m so excited to be visiting Babblings of a Bookworm today to talk to you about my upcoming release, The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy. It’s my first standalone Austen variation, and I really hope you’ll like it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

In this new story, circumstances are vastly different for ODC: Elizabeth and her sisters are the daughters of a baronet, and Darcy has no fortune. But as always, the stars align and one of literature’s most beloved couples unite, determined to take on the world together! 

In case you haven’t visited my blog or been following along as I posted the chapters at A Happy Assembly, here’s the 2nd half of chapter one:


The next day, on seeing that the rain had eased and the sun was shining through what clouds remained, Jane saw to Margaret’s needs before she and Elizabeth set off in the carriage for the three-mile journey to Longbourn. They would arrive in time to break their fast with the family; afterward, Jane would speak to their father about searching for a new home.

As the Bingley carriage trundled along, Elizabeth considered what her father’s reaction would be. She did not believe he would object overmuch—after all, Jane was past the age of majority and she had a sensible head on her shoulders. She’d been married, and had spent the whole of her widowhood almost entirely on her own; Elizabeth had stayed with her often, of course, and various other family members had made occasional two- or three-day visits. Their aunt Mrs. Gardiner had stayed an entire fortnight just after Charles’ death just to tend Margaret—who’d just turned a year old four months prior—as Jane had been inconsolable those first weeks and had barely risen from her bed.

The only real concern Sir Thomas might have with the plan was Elizabeth’s joining her sister in moving away. Though Jane could certainly be trusted as a guardian, the latter was the baronet’s favorite child, and parting with her would be difficult for him.

First objective, Elizabeth mused, would be gaining their father’s blessing. Second would be convincing their mother to accept that the decision was not hers to make. The third would be locating a suitable home to reside in—on this matter, she was sure, their mother would make her opinion known: only an estate would do if Jane was determined to avoid Town. It need not be so large as Netherfield, but the daughters and granddaughter of a baronet would absolutely not be allowed to lower themselves so far as to reside in a cottage.

The former Mr. Bennet’s elevation to a baronetcy some fifteen years prior had given an already silly woman with weak understanding and an illiberal mind more airs than she was perhaps entitled to. But one could not convince Lady Bennet that she thought her family more important than they truly were—after all, her husband’s title had been bestowed upon him by request of Prince Edward himself!

Shortly before the youngest of their five daughters was born, Mr. Bennet had been elected mayor in Meryton, the market town nearest their estate. To amuse his wife during her confinement, he made an address to the king, though without expecting any response. Quite surprised then, was he, to receive one, and as soon as Mrs. Bennet was out of her lying-in following Lydia’s entrance into the family circle, they made for London for his presentation. He’d expected little more notice than to receive a “trifling knighthood.”

However, upon discovering him to be the same Thomas Bennet with whom he had been engaging in an “ongoing private war” of chess-by-post for some years, Prince Edward had declared that a man of such intelligence and wit as he possessed deserved greater reward than a mere knighthood. It was then announced that he had convinced their Majesties to bestow upon him a baronetcy and a “small” fortune of twenty thousand pounds.

“How very necessary was that fortune, Lizzy,” her father had once said, “for it enabled me to provide you and your sisters dowries which you would not otherwise have had.”

Ever since their place in society had risen, Jane Gardiner Bennet had ceased to be overly concerned about the entail preventing Longbourn’s being passed to one of her husband’s children—for surely five thousand pounds each and a titled father would attract many a wealthy gentleman. Jane had successfully fulfilled her mother’s dreams for her by capturing the attentions of the very young Mr. Charles Bingley, so Lady Bennet expected similar matches were to be found for the younger girls in turn.

As such, no daughter of hers would be allowed to live in a house meant for poor relations or tenants to reside in.

“We’ll have to find an estate, you know,” said Elizabeth aloud as the carriage turned up the drive to their childhood home.

“Indeed,” Jane concurred. “Mamma would never abide our taking only a cottage. A baronet’s daughters should be seen—”

“—to be living like a baronet’s daughters,” Elizabeth finished with a grin.

The two were greeted warmly by Mrs. Hil—the longtime Longbourn housekeeper—when they entered the front hall. Soon their youngest sisters, Catherine—whom the family called Kitty—and Lydia, came excitedly down the stairs, followed at a more sedate pace by the middle Bennet girl, Mary. The five sisters greeted each other with smiles, kisses, and embraces as though it had not been only a few days since last they’d seen one another. The noise soon drew the attention of Lady Bennet, who was as profuse with her praise of Jane as was her habit, before she then scolded her for not bringing Margaret along.

“Why would you deny me a visit with my only grandchild?” the lady asked indignantly.

“I have denied you nothing, Mamma,” Jane replied calmly. “Meg is hardly of an age to be making morning calls, and you know you are perfectly welcome to come to Netherfield and see her anytime.”

“Well,” said Lady Bennet with a huff, “you can be sure I will at the earliest opportunity. I have been so very busy of late, you know—I am always visiting this neighbor or that, to show the charity and compassion the wife of a baronet ought to bestow upon her fellow man.”

Elizabeth only just stopped herself rolling her eyes in a very unladylike fashion at her mother’s pompous remark—which was really a euphemism for going about town and gossiping with her friends—though her restraint hardly proved necessary as Lady Bennet had already turned away to lead them into the dining room.

Breakfast passed pleasantly for about ten minutes until the lady of the house said to her eldest daughter, “So, my dearest Jane, when would you care to begin planning your Season? Margaret needs a father, and I am very sure your beauty and fortune will attract many admirers to your drawing room in Grosvenor Square.”

Before a startled Jane could even respond, Lady Bennet continued with, “Of course, we must take Lizzy with us—she is almost one and twenty already!—and has also not had a proper debut. You know I cannot bring Mary out in London without having the two of you married. Oh, for shame, I could not do it!”

Elizabeth was stunned by how oblivious her mother was to how much her talk upset Jane, and looked to her father to see if he would speak up on her sister’s behalf. Imploring him to act proved unnecessary, however, as Jane herself took up her own defense.

“Mamma, I shall not be going to Town for the Season,” said she in a voice that only just shook.

Lady Bennet’s eyes widened. “Not go to London? Not go to London?! But of course, you must go! How else will you find another husband if you do not?”

Jane drew a breath, and Elizabeth’s pride in her rose as her sister sat straighter, looked her mother in the eye, and said, “I do not want another husband, Mother. Not at this time, for my heart is still held by Charles. Further, I intend to remove from Netherfield and find another home for Meg and me.”

Lady Bennet gasped; Mary’s eyebrows rose toward her hairline, and Kitty and Lydia giggled as they were wont to do whenever their governess wasn’t around.

Taking advantage of her mother’s shocked silence, Jane turned to Sir Thomas. “Papa, now the subject has been brought up, I should like to say that I intended to seek your counsel after breakfast, as well as your permission for Lizzy to come and live with me in my new home.”


All eyes turned to Lady Bennet. “Jane Bennet Bingley, I forbid you to take my granddaughter out of the only home she has ever known and away from her only grandmamma! And how can you be so cruel as to deny your sisters the chance to marry as well as you did? You know I cannot marry the rest of them if you are not!”

“Firstly, Mamma, you cannot forbid me from taking my daughter anywhere,” said Jane with a hint of fire in her voice. “Secondly, I have already been married—that will be enough for the society matrons you desire so much to become acquainted with, as well as their husbands, and the sons to whom you hope to marry your younger daughters.”

The rapid blinking of her eyes was Lady Bennet’s initial response, then she sniffed, raised her nose a little higher, and said, “Ungrateful child! Oh, you have no compassion for my poor nerves. Do as you will then—ruin your daughter’s future at your peril by staying from Town to find a new father to protect her. But I’ll not allow you to ruin your sisters’ chances, young lady! You shall not be taking Elizabeth wherever it is you mean to run off to. Oh, my nerves—do you see what you have done? Such fluttering and spasms I now have all over me!”

“Oh, do please control yourself, Lady Bennet,” spoke up Sir Thomas at last. “Jane is not being an ungrateful child just because she refuses to bend to your whims, my dear. She is well within her rights to both refrain from visiting London—which I commend you for, Jane, as you know well my thoughts on that subject—and to remove with her daughter to any place of residence she should wish. As to Elizabeth’s joining her, that is for me to decide.

“Now, my daughters,” he went on, turning his attention to Jane and Elizabeth, “shall we retire to my study to discuss?”

The baronet did not wait for their response; he simply rose and took his leave, and expected them to follow. Neither minded; the sisters stood in silent unison and departed to the sound of their youngest siblings twittering madly and their mother sputtering nonsensically about betrayal and ill-usage in her own family.

Sir Thomas’s study was, perhaps, the only room within Longbourn that was not kept immaculately tidy. Oh, the housekeeper herself came in to dust and tidy up every day, but he was such a collector of books and maps that every available surface had been taken up by them—there were books even on the two visitors’ chairs that sat before his desk, which his two daughters had to move before they could make themselves comfortable.

“So, Jane… You truly mean to give up Netherfield?” Sir Thomas asked when they were all settled.

Jane cleared her throat delicately, and Elizabeth noted color in her cheeks; the poor dear had always been just a little intimidated by their father.

“Yes, Papa,” she replied. “That is, I do mean to move out and live elsewhere. I have no plans to sell the estate—I mean to keep it for Margaret, that she may be assured of a home if I should marry again.”

The baronet nodded slowly. “A very wise decision, my dear. It seems you have given the matter much thought.”

Jane inclined her head as well. “I have, sir. In the interim, I have thought to let the estate, or to offer residence to you, Mamma, and my sisters. Even before Mamma first spoke of my marrying again last week, I had decided to seek your advice. My heart is just too full of grief and memories of my husband for me to remain comfortable in our home. I need to get away, at least for a while.”

“And you are certain London does not appeal to you?”

“It does not, sir. I confess that I dread the very idea,” said Jane. “I have always lived in the country—I find that, normally, being surrounded by nature relaxes me. And I daresay it is a more pleasant and healthy environment for a young child than Town.”

Sir Thomas chuckled. “Indeed it is.” His eyes then flicked to Elizabeth. “What say you, Lizzy? Do you approve of Jane’s plan?”

Elizabeth glanced briefly at her sister before replying, “I do not think it my place to approve or not, Papa. Jane is a woman grown; she has been a wife, is a mother—and more, she knows her own mind. If she is determined to go, I daresay we cannot stop her. Or rather, we should not.”

“And does her wish to have you accompany her on this removal from Netherfield appeal to you?” her father pressed.

She chanced a smile. “It does indeed, sir. I should very much like to be of use to my sister in any way I am able.”

“So you’ve no desire for a Season in Town?”

Elizabeth laughed. “Oh, Papa! While I can imagine it would be delightful to attend many balls and parties, I have no desire at present to parade myself about in the hopes of securing a rich husband. I am not yet one and twenty—only Mamma is distressed by my being older than Jane was when she married dear Charles. At present, I have no desire to turn my mind to matrimony.”

Sir Thomas seemed almost relieved to hear her speak so, and smiled as he said, “Very wisely spoken, Lizzy.”

He sighed then and sat back in his chair, lacing his fingers over his slightly protruding middle as his expression turned contemplative. “I imagine that removal from Netherfield means also removal from the neighborhood, so Purvis Lodge is out of the question—as is the great house at Stoke.”

Elizabeth laughed again. “Mamma could never abide the attics at Purvis Lodge, for she has already declared them dreadful, and the drawing rooms at Stoke are not large enough for her taste.”

“But it is not your mother’s tastes we must appeal to,” Sir Thomas rejoined, though he grinned as he said it. His eyes then looked to Jane again, and when next he spoke there was a hint of emotion in his voice “My dear girl, I do understand your need to get away, thus I will not only offer my blessing but my assistance in locating a suitable home for you. And Lizzy may join you, as it is your express wish as well as hers.”

Jane’s relief was obvious. She blinked away tears as she rose and went around the desk to embrace him, before kissing his cheek and saying, “Oh, thank you, Papa! I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your understanding.”

Sir Thomas patted her arm. “Well, well, now… Now we’ve got the two of you sorted, I shall begin sending out inquiries on Monday. In the meantime, I will work to convince your mother it was all her idea in the first place—only then shall any of us have peace.”


Jane is moving out, and taking Elizabeth with her! Tell me what you think in the comments below to enter for a chance to win an ebook copy of The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy!

Contest open until August 14, 2021. Good luck!

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Author Bio

Christine, like many a JAFF author before her, is a long-time admirer of Jane Austen's work, and she hopes that her alternate versions are as enjoyable as the originals. She has plans to one day visit England and take a tour of all the grand country estates which have featured in film adaptations, and often dreams of owning one. Christine lives in Ohio and is already at work on the next book in the series.

Christine Combe’s Blog / Facebook page


Buy Links

The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy is due out on 7 August. I can’t see any pre-order links, so will just pop a link in to Christine’s other Amazon books, so if you’d like to buy at least you’ll be in the right ball park!

Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CAGoodreads Author Page


Book cover: The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Christine Combe
Giveaway Time

As Christine said, above, she’s giving away an ebook of The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy to a commenter on her blog tour. Please leave a comment by the 14 August. If you have any problems adding your comment please contact me and I will add your comment for you.

Check out the other stops on the blog tour schedule!

Blog Tour Schedule

Blog tour schedule: The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Christine Combe

Thanks so much to Christine for visiting, and all the best with the book!

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