Today I have for you an exclusive excerpt from Renée Beyea’s latest work, which will be published in the upcoming future. I asked her if she’d treat my readers to a sneak peek, and luckily she said “Yes!” The book is titled, “What Love May Come and Other Stories” and it’s the second in a collection of Pride & Prejudice Petite Tales. (A third volume, “So Much in Love and Other Stories,” is already in the works for the future, but no dates projected.)
Please welcome Renée Beyea back to Just Jane 1813!
Thank you, Claudine, for inviting me to participate in your wonderful “12 Days of Jane” event! I’m absolutely thrilled and honored to visit Just Jane 1813 again. Thank you for all you do to promote a love of all things Austen (and for exponentially increasing my TBR list, lol).
As it turns out, not only does the cover from my forthcoming collection “What Love May Come and Other Stories” depict a suitably wintry scene, but also that scene is taken from the one story set during Christmas. This second volume of Pride & Prejudice Petite Tales is similar to the first in length, happy endings, and stories that stand alone. But where “A Fine Stout Love” was whimsical and humorous, “What Love May Come” leans toward serious and poignant. Still, if the blurb incites a twinge of anxiety, readers can rest assured that hope overshadows sorrow and any angst is necessarily short-lived. At least that’s one advantage to short stories!
Choosing an excerpt is always tricky and perhaps trickier when it comes from one of the shortest stories in the collection. How do I settle on a vignette that satisfies yet tantalizes and doesn’t give away spoilers? The dialogue below is excerpted from “An Unexpected Christmas,” a sequel to canon Pride & Prejudice that occurs not long after the Darcys’ first anniversary. The Fitzwilliam clan has descended on Pemberley to celebrate the season and remain unaware Elizabeth is shadowed by a miscarriage earlier in the year. This conversation is a prelude to a more difficult–and more rewarding–one our dear couple is about to have. Without further ado, please join Darcy and Elizabeth as they reflect on their Christmas day.
Later that night, having concluded the Christmas festivities and donned their nightclothes, Elizabeth snuggled beside Fitzwilliam before the fire in his chambers, as was their custom.
“There is something about which I intended to inquire much earlier,” Fitzwilliam began, “but it was impossible to find a solitary moment.”
Elizabeth glanced up, the resolute lines of her husband’s face softened both by the firelight and the view through her eyelashes. “You must know I would never refuse a private audience with my husband.”
He chuckled quietly. “I did not wish to take you from our guests. You are a splendid hostess.”
“You mean to say that I did not embarrass you?” She knew that she had not, but nevertheless asked with her customary impertinence.
“On the contrary.” His finger traced a tingling course along her cheek. “I have never heard my family render such lavish compliments on a Christmas feast–‘venison roasted to a turn, what savory mince-meat pies, the richest plum-cake I have had the pleasure to taste.’ And you”–he tapped her nose–“with your unaffected gratitude and merry deflection, you charmed them all.”
Elizabeth’s cheeks warmed with his praise, and she checked the laughing retort that bubbled to her lips.
“You must never doubt,” he continued, “that you have decided the happiness of many, myself foremost among them. It has been far too long, I fear, since Pemberley has seen such a large and lively party.”
“I suppose that summer before we were engaged, when the Bingleys and Hursts were visiting, we did fall short of either large or lively, however energetic were Miss Bingley’s efforts to secure you.”
“Do not remind me.” He shook his head. “I was proud of Georgiana for accompanying the dancing tonight. She would not have had the courage to exhibit her accomplishments before you came into our lives.”
“You credit me too much. It was only a matter of time and maturity.”
“If I may say, your uncle’s rendition of Bonaparte took me quite by surprise. He is so staid, I should never have expected it.”
“What comes of having an Army officer for a son, but be forewarned. Bonaparte is the only character in his thespian repertoire. Now you must expect it whenever opportunity presents, which thankfully is not often.”
“I see.” Elizabeth giggled. “And that explains why Colonel Fitzwilliam played ‘off with his head.’”
“Quite right. A family jest.”
Elizabeth recalled the laughter and games, the ladies who prattled too loudly, and the gentlemen’s good-natured ribbing. “There exists a degree of comfort and camaraderie among your relations that I did not expect.”
“You thought they would all be stiff and pompous like my Aunt Catherine?” He paused a moment and added softly, “Like I was when we first met?”
“I am glad to be wrong–on both counts.” A poignant image from the evening formed in Elizabeth’s mind. “Did you see little Henry asleep in Lady Catherine’s lap?”
“Yes, like a puppy in its basket, though I am not surprised, considering he spent the afternoon romping in the snow.”
“But that he should choose Lady Catherine–”
He shrugged. “I expect she was the only adult not dancing or drinking.”
“I thought she might push him away in distaste, but then the manner in which she tucked his hair behind his ear and patted his shoulder–she seemed to soften somehow.” Perhaps a Darcy grand-nephew or niece would further mend relations with Lady Catherine.
“Thank you for encouraging me to invite her,” Fitzwilliam said. “Your instincts were absolutely correct. I do not think the Darcys have entertained a family party of this nature since before my mother’s death.”
Elizabeth recalled his initial resistance when she had first introduced the idea that autumn, the subsequent lengthy discussions, and her intermittent twinges of guilt for having overthrown his hesitancy. “Do you mind very much?”
“I own that the sheer volume and exuberance has been occasionally trying, but I would not have it otherwise. I only needed you to show me all that I was missing.” He pulled her tighter against him, and before she could respond, he continued, “Now, as to my original object, do not think I have forgotten. I have grown wise to your diverting ways, and I wish to know what troubled you during the morning service.”
“Oh.” Elizabeth brushed small circles in the soft pile of his robe, uncertain how to answer. “Not troubled precisely, no.”
“You must admit that something occurred during the Gospel reading.” His fingers smoothed the creases above the bridge of her nose. “You swayed so heavily against me that I thought you might swoon.”
“Did I? I am sorry to have caused you unease.” At least she had not collapsed to the floor. “I hardly know how to explain, but I will try.”
As for Elizabeth’s explanation and the conclusion to her conversation with her husband, well, in this case it’s true that good things come to those who wait. And on the topic of waiting… It has long been my goal to release “What Love May Come and Other Stories” during winter 2016 and preferably prior to Christmas. Unfortunately, this autumn we had some serious health crises arise with aging parents that have required me to slow the publication process and postpone release. I do apologize for disappointing those who have been anticipating these short stories, but the JAFF community is so warm and caring that neither will I hesitate to solicit your thoughts and prayers. While I can’t promise a new release date, I do promise this volume will be forthcoming just as soon as I’m able. And please accept my warmest felicitations from southwest Texas for the merriest of Christmases in your corner of the globe!
Join Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy as they discover the hope of second chances and the triumph of joy over sorrow in this novella-length story collection.
– Three years after the death of his wife, Darcy visits Longbourn to reminisce. Will he find laughter and maybe even love once more?
– While extended family celebrates the season, Elizabeth is privately mourning a miscarriage. Will attending a Christmas service bring solace to her grief?
– A shocking secret threatens Darcy and Elizabeth’s reunion twenty-five years after their Hunsford debacle. Can they surmount their pasts to rekindle their love?
– Circumstances prompt Darcy to relive sublime moments in his marriage. How will he honor Elizabeth’s impact on his life?
These poignant period shorts will moisten the eye and stir the heart, but like fine dark chocolate, their rich taste will linger long after they are finished.
Renée Beyea holds an undergraduate writing degree from Taylor University and a Master of Divinity from Fuller Seminary. She serves as a full-time wife, mother to two sons, and ministry partner with her husband, an Anglican priest and chaplain. Her free time is devoted to crafting stories and composing poetry that delight the senses and touch the soul.
You can connect online with Renée Beyea at the following places:
- Website: reneebeyea.com
- Facebook: facebook.com/reneebeyea
- Add “What Love May Come” to your Goodreads bookshelf! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31357821-what-love-may-come-and-other-stories
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you Renée for sharing this glimpse into your next collection. These stories sound delightful and I look forward to reading them in the future when they’re published.
I am offering a giveaway of two ebooks of Renée’s first book, A Fine Stout Love and Other Stories: Pride & Prejudice Petite Tales, Volume 1 to my Just Jane 1813 readers. Please leave a comment on this blog post by midnight ET on December 13th and the winners will be announced on this blog on December 14, 2016.
To make this holiday blog event even sweeter, I am offering a giveaway of one of my very own favorite finds from 2016; a pair of Plantronics wireless headphones, which will be given away to one Just Jane 1813 reader, along with one JAFF audiobook of your choice, from Audible.
All you have to do to enter this special giveaway is leave a comment on every post on this blog from December 1-12, 2016. Just think of it as your way of saying “Hello” to us every day during this event and letting me know what you think about each post. At midnight, ET, on December 15th, I will select the winner of these headphones and JAFF audiobook from the names of the readers who commented on each post, and on December 16, 2016, I will announce the winner of these awesome headphones.