Saturday 23 September 2023

When Given Good Principles by MJ Stratton

Today MJ Stratton is visiting with an excerpt and giveaway of her latest book When Given Good Principles, which came out yesterday. There's also a giveaway - read on for more!

Book cover: When Given Good Principles by MJ Stratton
Book Description

“When one is given good principles, one must take care never to follow them in pride and conceit.”

George Wickham was content to ride the coattails of his well-connected friends, right up until they declared him a lapdog good for little else other than his connection to Fitzwilliam Darcy. Properly humbled, and with his father’s death imminent, he returns to Derbyshire in hopes of seeing the man who raised him before it is too late.

One last conversation with his father sets George’s feet on the right path and on a journey of self-discovery. Along the way he makes new friends and pursues new interests better suited to his disposition than that of a clergyman, eventually finding himself in Meryton, clerk to Mr. Philips, a country solicitor.

Stunned to encounter his friend Darcy and others he knows in the area, Wickham sets out to correct the poor impression Darcy has made on the citizens of Meryton… one lady’s opinion, in particular.

What happens when Mr. Wickham, charming, charismatic, and affable, uses his amiable nature to influence and guide the behavior and actions of those around him, and how will his reformation affect Darcy’s and Lizzy’s courtship? And what will happen when an unexpected source seeks to thwart his efforts?

When Given Good Principles follows an alternate path of our favorite Pride and Prejudice characters. Mr. Wickham joins Darcy and Lizzy in the spotlight in this Pride and Prejudice Vagary, featuring a reformed George Wickham and an unexpected villain.

Book cover: When Given Good Principles by MJ Stratton
Excerpt from When Given Good Principles by MJ Stratton

1 June 1804

Northmore Estate, Wiltshire

        Nineteen-year-old George Wickham was rather enjoying his time at Viscount Northmore’s estate. The summer weather was beautiful, the sport marvelous, and best of all, he was having the time of his life on someone else’s coin. George had met the viscount at Cambridge at the beginning of his first term. After being tormented for years at Eton, even with Darcy’s protection, it was a nice change to have a peer to be paying him some attention. Darcy had been his only friend through their years in school up until last term. Now George had been invited to spend the summer at Northmore with the viscount and several other friends. Yes, things were truly looking up.

        The door to the salon opened and a footman entered. “For you, sir,” said the stiff-lipped servant, as he handed the envelope in his hand to George.

        Immediately, George’s curiosity piqued. This was an express. No one he knew would send him such a missive…He tore it open, reading rapidly before collapsing in the chair.


        Your father fell ill three weeks ago with a spring cold. He has been unable to recover, and it has moved to his chest. We do not expect him to last through the summer. Enclosed are some funds to see you home to Pemberley.

        G Darcy

        George reread the missive in his hands many times, barely daring to breathe. His father? No. The man was a tower of strength. He had fallen from a ladder and broken his leg five years ago. The doctors had all claimed he would never walk again, yet six months later the man had been about his business as the Darcy’s steward as if nothing had happened. Surely Mr. Darcy was mistaken.

        Not that it mattered. He would be on the next post coach home, if possible. George refused to risk the chance that he would not be present if his father passed.

        He gathered his thoughts and strode out to find the viscount. There were voices coming from the library, and George assumed that was where the rest of the gentlemen in the party were. As he approached the door, he happened to hear his name. He stopped outside, interested to hear what was being said.

        “Come now, Northmore!” Lord James Rutherford said loudly. “What do you see in Wickham? He’s the son of a steward! Hardly a gentleman and definitely not worth your time.”

        “I concede that point, James,” Northmore said, “but Wickham is a useful fellow. He is passingly good at cards and willing to do just about anything to keep my patronage.”

        “So, he is a lapdog?” snorted Marcus Hawthorn, heir to a baronetage.

        “Very much so,” Northmore said. “Obviously he will not be in our circles once university is complete, but for now, I do not mind having him around. Besides, it is a connection to the Darcys, tenuous though it is.”

        “Ha!” guffawed James. “In that you are correct. We know old Mr. Darcy favors him. Young Fitzy is too much of a stuck-up prig to get close to. I hardly know anyone else in our set that is at Cambridge to actually learn.”

        The three laughed uproariously at their humor. George stood just outside the doorway, equal parts angry and dismayed. He had thought he was accepted in the group based on his own merits; that besides his lack of fortune and breeding, those of the first circles had seen his value and sought to cultivate his friendship for that reason. To find out he had been acquired due to his connections to the Darcys was appalling. For a moment, he wondered if this was what Darcy felt like all the time.

        George retreated a few steps, then made a show of entering the room loudly, which stopped all conversation. “Gentlemen,” he said in greeting. “Northmore, I have received an express and am required at home immediately.”

        Northmore’s apparent concern would have seemed genuine if George had not just heard their discussion. “Nothing terribly wrong, I hope?” he said.

        George swallowed tightly. “My father is ill,” he said mildly, trying his hardest to hide his distress.

        Northmore’s response was lukewarm. “Oh, well,” he said, “I do hope that all is resolved shortly. ‘Tis a pity that your holiday has been cut short.”

        Nothing was said about feeling regret at his departure. There was no expression of distress at his news. George felt as if the world had been laid bare before him. He was not wanted here. And so, he bowed succinctly at that remark and excused himself to pack. He was on the next post coach back to Pemberley, determined to forego all comforts until he was at his father’s side.

Author Bio

MJ Stratton grew up in a small town in rural Utah, moving back in 2021 after being away for ten years. Her love of Jane Austen was born at a young age when she read Pride and Prejudice for the first time. Her first ever exposure to JAFF was watching Lost in Austen as a teen. MJ recently left her teaching job to be at home with her four children, and hopefully pursue her passion for writing more fully. After feeding her love of books by editing and beta reading for years, she hopes to commit more fully to penning her own stories. MJ loves food, growing things, and the quiet of the countryside. You can find MJ on Facebook and Amazon.

Book cover: When Given Good Principles by MJ Stratton
Buy Links

When Given Good Principles by MJ Stratton is available to buy now in Paperback, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.  

Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CA • Add to Goodreads shelf

Giveaway Time

MJ Stratton is giving away 3 ebooks of When Given Good Principles. To enter, please use the linked Rafflecopter

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  1. Ah, that was an enjoyable excerpt. I look forward to reading about a redeemable Wickham.

  2. Look forward to reading it. Love the country feel of the cover.

  3. What a fun twist on a P&P character's story. Looking forward to the rest.


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