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An Abandoned Bride
A Missing Man
And a Dream that refuses to die....
Pride and patriotism lend fervor to greed and cruelty, and Fitzwilliam Darcy is caught at the centre of a decades-old international feud. Taken far from England, presumed dead by his family, and lost to all he holds dear, only one name remains as his beacon in the darkness: Elizabeth.
Georgiana Darcy is now the heartbroken heiress to Pemberley, and Colonel Fitzwilliam her bewildered guardian. Vulnerable and unprepared, Georgiana desperately longs for a friend, while Fitzwilliam seeks to protect her from his own family. As the conspiracy around Darcy's death widens and questions mount, Colonel Fitzwilliam must confront his own past. An impossible dream, long ago sacrificed for duty, may become his only hope.
Newly married Lydia Wickham returns to Longbourn- alone and under mysterious circumstances. Elizabeth Bennet watches one sister suffer and another find joy, while she lives her own days in empty regrets over what might have been. Believing Darcy lost forever, she closes her heart against both pain and happiness, but finds no escape from her dreams of him.
Will the power of their love cross the boundaries of time and space, oceans and nations, even after Darcy is pronounced dead by all?
These Dreams is the book that turned Nicole Clarkston from a love-to-read author for me into a must-read-now author! As I sit here trying to decide what exactly drew me so quickly into this story and what compelled me to devour this book of over 700 pages so rapidly, I have come to the conclusion that this is not a simple answer because there are so many aspects of this story that I fell in love with, so please dear readers, allow me to tell you in the most spoiler-free way I can imagine why I ardently love and admire this epic new story by Nicole Clarkston.
Ms. Clarkston’s story starts off at one of my favorite places in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, as she begins her character’s journeys right after the wedding has taken place between Lydia Bennet and George Wickham. We know in canon that Darcy returns to Hertfordshire to gather further information about whether or not Elizabeth Bennett returns his feeling for him; however, in this story the events take a completely different turn and due to a very dastardly situation, Darcy is unable to not only attend the wedding of Lydia and Wickham, but he’s also unable to return to Hertfordshire, leaving Elizabeth despondent over his actions and her family confused about his character as well as his intentions.
Filled with despair and uncertainty, but mostly infused with a longing to see Darcy that is so desperate, Elizabeth falls even further into a terrible depression. In the meantime, Darcy is facing a terrible crisis like none other in his life, as he is kidnapped and brought to Portugal where he is held captive after being brutally beaten and tortured as a means to extort information from him regarding a very old Darcy family secret. Throughout this horrific ordeal, it becomes clear that Darcy is going to be a significantly changed man if he is able to survive this harrowing ordeal.
Meanwhile, life in Meryton resumes its normal pace as Jane and Bingley eventually get married and Elizabeth is forced to come to terms with the fact that Darcy is no longer alive. Yet, why does she keep having these dreams time and time again, where she can practically feel Darcy’s presence and imagine that he has returned once again to be in her life? Readers are swept into these moments so beautifully and with such longing that the dreams feel as real to them as they do to Elizabeth and Darcy:
Was it a voice she had heard, carried on the wind, or merely the creaks and groans of the old house as it cooled and settled for the night? She inhaled deeply, catching a tendril of sandalwood fragrance with undertones of something more earthy. Her fingers touched the bare space of her neck—a warmth kissing her skin, grazing delicately over that sensitive place.
“I have thought only of you.”
Elizabeth turned her head languidly. Surely, she had heard the words spoken aloud! The prickles along her arms testified to the whispered breath over her flesh, the deep hum of masculine tones. I am going mad! she chided herself, but she could not desire to shatter the dream with the truth. There could be no one there! Yet, some intuition compelled her to raise up, to meet the eyes which had long since been dimmed from memory.
He smiled, and lifted gentle fingers to touch her cheek. “My dearest Elizabeth, how I have missed you!”
A tear spilled over his fingertips. She could not speak, could not even answer with a smile. Her lips parted, but her throat was so choked that she was capable of no more than a garbled sob. She bit her lips together, trying to nod, to speak—something! “It is all right, my love,” he soothed. Those deep eyes, like sweet warm chocolate, searched lovingly over her face. “You have been too much alone, as have I.”
Oh, how I loved the way Darcy and Elizabeth connected with one another throughout these dreams. They were such a powerful and emotive touch because we could imagine them together and practically feel their love as it if it was right in front of us. I also loved the mysterious element to these dreamy experiences too and found myself connecting with my own experiences of when I have dreamt of loved ones who are long gone and how I always feel a certain closeness again with them afterward.
Yet life must go on acknowledging the awful truth, and once Darcy is buried, his family is forced to also come to terms with his death. Georgiana now appears even more alone and vulnerable than ever before in her life. As she is now the heir to Pemberley along with a tremendous fortune, her family worries that she may fall prey to any number of ruthless and greedy suitors who will see her as a means to line their own pockets instead of taking care of the sole remaining member of the Darcy family.
Colonel Fitzwilliam eventually steps in to find a way to make the best of this horrific situation. Struggling to determine who killed his cousin and how to protect Georgiana Darcy, he finds himself facing tremendous pressure from his family to marry Georgiana. But Georgiana is truly in no state of mind to marry anyone, and before long, Colonel Fitzwilliam finds himself planning a journey to Portugal, which seems like the best lead to solving whatever has happened to his cousin Darcy and which in turn may cause the Colonel to come face to face with some of his own demons from the past
As he prepares to leave England, he believes that there may be one person best suited to keep Georgiana company in his absence; but can he convince her and her family to allow her to live so far away from her own home during his absence to serve as a confidante to Georgiana and as the primary caretaker of Pemberley while he’s gone? Once he reaches Portugal, Colonel Fitzwilliam is confronted with his own past and the mysteries surrounding Darcy’s death. Will he have the strength to uncover the truth about Darcy, even if it means walking away from the one woman he’s ever truly loved?
The way this story is woven together allows readers to experience a variety of emotions, actions, and struggles as we take this epic journey with Darcy and Elizabeth. Along the way, we also find ourselves mesmerized by Colonel Fitzwilliam’s backstory and how the Darcy family past has come back to haunt them each in unimaginable ways. When Colonel Fitzwilliam faces his own past in the process, readers will see some parallels to Austen’s Persuasion and struggle to reconcile themselves to the idea that maybe love doesn’t get a second chance to make things right.
In These Dreams, Nicole has created some of my favorite new supporting characters, which always makes me love a book even more. Her characters are complex and readers will find themselves loving the way these characters also come to life in her story and bring the worlds of Regency England and Portugal together in a way that I have never experienced before in JAFF. Well done, Nicole!
I couldn’t believe that this story was over 700 pages long because it read so seamlessly, especially after the first several chapters. Once the story was established and I meet all of the main characters, I found myself turning pages so quickly… Nicole has a gift for keeping her readers engaged and enthralled throughout this story as she shifts from various settings to different characters, all the while weaving terrific intrigue and mystery throughout her story. She leaves you guessing in more than a few places until the story all comes together at the very end.
I also ADORE stories that give me some time to enjoy Darcy and Elizabeth after their struggles are reconciled, especially in a story like this where they face some pretty daunting struggles! I won’t say any more about them, except that I thought Nicole did a gorgeous job building their relationship and showing us why we read JAFF. It’s books such as these that make this genre the one that I love beyond all reason. Thank you, Nicole, for giving us such a fresh new story that allows us to spend a great deal of time with our favorite characters and that allows us to read such an original, carefully plotted, and well-written JAFF story.
FALL IN LOVE WITH THIS STORY AGAIN & AGAIN!
I LOVE when an author allows us to fall in love with her characters all over again and reconnect with his/her story through music. Nicole is sharing her playlist for These Dreams with my readers so you can all enjoy her story through this beautiful selection of songs. Thank you, Nicole, for sharing this playlist with my readers!
Meet Nicole Clarkston
Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and she is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort.
Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties―how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project, she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Her need for more time with these characters led her to simultaneously write Rumours & Recklessness, a P&P inspired novel, and No Such Thing as Luck, a N&S inspired novel. Both immediately became best selling books. The success she had with her first attempt at writing led her to write three other novels that are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.
Nicole was recently invited to join Austenvariations.com, a group of talented authors in the Jane Austen Fiction genre. In addition to her work with the Austen Variations blog, Nicole can be reached through Facebook at http://fb.me/NicoleClarkstonAuthor, Twitter @N_Clarkston, her blog at Goodreads.com, or her personal blog and website, NicoleClarkson.com.
Connect with Nicole at the Following Places:
It’s Giveaway Time!!
Nicole Clarkston is giving away 10 eBooks of These Dreams for readers and is open to international readers too. To enter this giveaway, please enter the Rafflecopter below:
Thank you, Nicole, for this generous giveaway!
09/19 So little time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
09/20 My Jane Austen Book Club; Vignette, Giveaway
09/21 From Pemberley to Milton; Review, Giveaway
09/22 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway
09/23 Just Jane 1813; Review, Giveaway
09/24 My Vices and Weaknesses; Excerpt, Giveaway
09/25 Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post or Vignette, Giveaway
09/26 Diary of an Eccentric; Review, Giveaway
09/27 Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt
09/28 Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, Giveaway
09/29 My Love for Jane Austen; Character Interview, Giveaway
09/30 Margie’s Must Reads; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
10/01 Savvy Verse and Wit; Review, Giveaway
10/02 Austenesque Reviews; Character Interview, Giveaway
10/03 Obsessed with Mr. Darcy; Review, Giveaway
10/04 From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post, Giveaway
I’d like to thank Janet Taylor and Nicole Clarkston for inviting me to be part this tour and for the eARC I was provided with in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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