This past spring, I had the pleasure to interview Sophia Meredith and to review the first book in her Pemberley Departures series, “On Oakham Mount.” Ms. Meredith has been praised for her eloquent writing style, which conveys the tone and style of the Regency era while crafting her own unique HEA for Darcy and Elizabeth.
Next week, the second book in her series will be released, “Miss Darcy’s Companion,” and today she is here to share an excerpt of her new story with my readers, and a link to an extended excerpt too. I will be back in October with a review and a giveaway of this book.
If you haven’t read the first book in this series, no worries. These are stand-alone stories that you can read and enjoy in any order.
Here’s the book blurb for Miss Darcy’s Companion:
After her father’s tragic demise, Elizabeth Bennet must find a position to support herself and her family. Miss Georgiana Darcy, it so happens, requires a companion and the normally quiescent girl stubbornly decides that none but Miss Bennet will do despite her brother’s strong objections. As Miss Darcy begins to blossom under Elizabeth’s guidance, Mr. Darcy finds that he, too, is drawn to this fascinating and impertinent young woman. As their own relationship deepens Darcy wonders what charming abuse the forthright Miss Bennet will heap on his head next and confused about why, far from insulting him, he finds her uniformly delightful.
But Darcy feels honor-bound to his cousin Anne, and he is not the only one captivated by Elizabeth’s charms. Soon, an acquaintance from the past reappears in Georgiana’s life, and a foolish mistake might cost her everything. As Darcy and Elizabeth work together to rescue Georgiana, both struggle with the oppressive demands of their class and family duty as they risk losing each other forever.
“Miss Darcy’s Companion” is the second stand-alone novel in the Pemberley Departures series. The novel is inspired by the author’s love for the works of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. With an authentic Regency style, sparkling, laugh-out-loud dialogue, and an original storyline that still adheres closely to canon, this “Pride and Prejudice” fan fiction variation is certain to delight those who enjoy British Classics and Regency Historical Romance.
Miss Darcy’s Companion/ Excerpt
When the Darcys and Mr. Bingley were escorted into the small but comfortable home of the Gardiners on Gracechurch Street, they heard music from behind the closed doors of the drawing room. His sister’s face lit with pleasure. And though the musician did not possess the technical skill of his own sister, still, he must admit she played charmingly and with none of the affectation which distinguished the performances of so many ladies of his acquaintance. Mrs. Gardiner greeted them in the hall and escorted them into the room from where the music emanated; there Darcy caught his first glimpse of the Bennet sisters. The fair one, whom he realized immediately from his friend’s description was the elder Miss Jane Bennet, sat demurely with a piece of needlework. She stood with a degree of agitation when they entered, but her sister, whose back was to them, did not discontinue her playing until Mrs. Gardiner called out to her.
“I say, Lizzy, have you lost track of the time completely? Our callers are here, and I imagine they would like very much to be introduced to you.”
Rising abruptly, the young lady nearly crashed the piano stool to the ground but grabbed hold of it before knocking it over. Then, instead of the nervous blushes he would have expected, she laughed, saying, “Oh, my! How paper-skulled you must think me. I did not hear you from where I sat, and Jane and I were determined not to be caught looking for you out the window!”
This made Georgiana giggle, and Darcy could not help but smile at her easiness. “You cannot please my sister more than to allow her to hear your charming performance, Miss,” Darcy said, realizing introductions had not yet been properly made. Bangles stepped into the breach to introduce the Darcys, and, being a truly affable man, his speech included many ebullient compliments for each member of the party in turn.
“I daresay, Mr. Bingley, it is too much!” Elizabeth chortled. “How can one ever live up to your description? Only Jane to my knowledge is as good as you suggest, for I am certainly not! I should much prefer to surprise new acquaintances with how much more agreeable I am than they expected than to disappoint them by having been spoken of with so much enthusiasm.”
“My friend has a tendency to flattery, but I have never known him to be insincere,” Darcy objected. He was irked by Bingley’s eagerness for the connection and did not disagree with Miss Elizabeth’s maxim, but he found her open manners disconcerting. However, when he looked down at his sister, to his surprise, there she sat, smiling, no grinning, at Miss Elizabeth Bennet.
“Please forgive me, sir. I do not mean to suggest your friend is insincere. I believe he is in earnest, for it is clear to me that it is his nature to be pleased by everything and never to find faults or flaws in his friends.”
“You make me sound like a simpleton, Miss Elizabeth!” laughed Bingley.
“Oh! We have only just been introduced Mr. Darcy, Miss Darcy, and already I find myself in the suds,” she laughed. “Come, let us all sit and I shall pour refreshments. Mr. Darcy, may I pour you a cup of tea? Or perhaps you prefer coffee?”
“Indeed, I would like some coffee with a dollop of cream and one sugar if you please,” he inclined his head politely. He regarded the young lady as she concentrated on her task. Meeting her eyes when she held out the cup and saucer, he thanked her and took a seat which allowed him to observe her interaction with Georgiana.
“Mr. Darcy, though we are so recently acquainted, already I begin to know so much about your character,” she said. Though her smile was polite, she seemed to be laughing at him with her eyes, and it made him stiffen.
Good manners demanded a response. “You must be extraordinarily perceptive, Miss Elizabeth, to make such a claim. Tell me, what do you think you know of me?” Realizing he must sound like a brute, he added, “If you please.”
“Well, by coming so quickly to Mr. Bingley’s defense, I know that you are a loyal friend, and from the instructions you provided for your coffee, I am certain you are precise in your tastes and accustomed to having things adhere to your exacting standards. In short, you know your own mind! That is an admirable quality, indeed.”
Rather than respond, he bowed stiffly from where he sat. Although at first he concluded she had subtly and purposefully insulted him, he could not hold firm in that belief and was left feeling confused by her. Nothing she said was untrue, after all. He decided he was upset that she took liberties in offering her opinions with so forthright and confident a tone. Yet he also found it refreshing.
Elizabeth turned her attention to her other guests before pouring for her aunt and sister. Her uncle entered the room, and she prepared his tea before he took his seat, finally serving herself. In an unexceptional manner, she then served cake, biscuits, dainty sandwiches, and other treats to the guests before settling in to converse with them.
Her preoccupation offered him the opportunity to scrutinize her. She seemed familiar to him, but it was not until she turned her head in profile, leaning forward to hand her uncle a plate of cake, that he realized it was the young lady from the bookshop. He easily recalled the same gleaming hair and the long graceful curve of her neck. Added to this were a pair of fine eyes fringed with long, curling lashes. They were a most unusual amber color, and at their center they were ringed with a darker brown. Her eyes seemed to glow, especially when she smiled; she wore an animated, intelligent expression and, about her lips, the faint appearance of being on the verge of breaking into laughter. Miss Elizabeth seemed endowed with a uniquely happy temperament, and Darcy also considered her astute and confident.
Miss Elizabeth led Georgiana into the conversation, and Darcy contented himself watching the other girl engage his sister. Her way of putting Georgiana at ease impressed him; she drew out Georgie’s opinions and feelings, and inquired about her home, her activities in town, and her favorite pursuits. She carried out informed discussions of music and the new compositions from the continent. Nor did she overburden Georgie with questions and, though expressing her own accomplishments modestly, was nevertheless forthcoming about her own interests and education. Her easiness apparently made Georgie forget her shyness and soon his sister was chattering away merrily in a manner even he rarely experienced with her.
After overhearing her conversation the previous afternoon, he was unsurprised to discover she was educated well beyond the norm for a woman of her station. One might even consider her a bluestocking, and, though he did not wish for Georgiana to take up intellectual pursuits, he found nothing amiss with her companion having more topics to discuss than the newest fashion or the latest on dits on everyone’s tongue. Well-read himself, the insipid young ladies with whom he was constantly in company did not hold his attention. He struggled to determine what conversation to embark upon with them, for, as a rule, they possessed no wit, address, or sense of humor. Rather, they boasted of the most superficial knowledge of politics and the on-going war on the continent, and generally limited their opinions to coincide with anything he expressed. At least with Miss Elizabeth he might find—if not necessarily an intellectual equal—someone who did not either stare at him with a vacuous expression, quake in fear at the idea of conversing with a gentleman, or shiver in disgust if he mentioned something of interest to himself.
It took Darcy little time to assess the elder Miss Bennet as being retiring and shy. Even though to all appearances she was a well-bred young lady, she was simply too similar in nature to his own sister to be an acceptable companion. This left the younger sister as the sole candidate, and it was evident Georgiana was much taken with her and well on her way to deciding no one but Miss Elizabeth Bennet would do.
He contemplated all this while engaged in polite conversation with Mr. Gardiner about business and Mrs. Gardiner about their shared connection to Lambton. It was surprising to learn the former Miss Burney was the great-niece of one of the principal families of the county. Her uncle’s estate was a medium-sized holding on the opposite side of the small town. As a child, Miss Burney resided there after the death of her parents until being brought to London by another aunt and uncle and, once there, meeting and marrying Mr. Gardiner.
Darcy thought it odd that there were four independent connections to the young lady—Lady Catherine, Bingley, Pisbey, and now Mrs. Gardiner. He hoped that if she did come to Pemberley, she might never realize her benefactor in the purchase of her father’s library was none other than himself. On the other hand, it might comfort her to know that her father’s beloved books were acquired by someone who would take the utmost care of the collection.
The callers remained long after the twenty-minute duration of a typical first visit, for they understood the particular circumstances of their meeting. Perhaps the tragedy could have been averted had they left at the appropriate time. The children, who visited their parents each afternoon, came tumbling into the drawing room unaware that their mama and papa entertained distinguished guests whom they were trying hard to impress. Miss Darcy smiled at the darling boys who were model children though a bit energetic.
Did you love what you read here? Visit here online to read an extended excerpt from this story.
“Miss Darcy’s Companion” is available for preorder too.
Visit Amazon to preorder this book. It will be delivered to you on October 4, 2016.
I’d like to thank Sophia Meredith for sharing this excerpt with my readers!
Please feel free to drop us a note and let us know what you think of this excerpt in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!