L.L. Diamond

News, Blog, and Stories

Happy Thursday, everyone! It’s been a crazy week. We find out we’re moving… AGAIN! And, Agony and Hope is released! I’d like to thank everyone who helped get my book baby out: Carol, who edited it, Debbie and Brenna for proofreading, my ARC readers, and then everyone who has purchased and reviewed it. What a roller coaster!

This book started in my head years ago with the scene of Jane showing up at Darcy’s door. The scenario flitted back into my mind from time to time. I would let it play out but I never sat down to start writing it out until late last year. The injury to my back slowed my writing down a lot and created a lot of inconsistencies that I had to go back and fix once I’d written the entire thing. I’d changed names and all sorts of problems. The ending was also longer. I have a scene that was cut that I will rework and post later. The ending was changed in editing, so I’ll have to do a bit of tweaking to it so I don’t contradict the published story.

Anyway, I will see what I can spruce up from my original manuscript to give you a bit more over the next couple of weeks. I’m trying to flesh out a new story, so we’ll see when and what I can come up with.

In the meantime, thank you for all of your kind words on Agony and Hope, and if you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for? Go read!!

Release day is tomorrow! I hope you have preordered your Kindle or ordered your paperback so you can get reading! We have one more small excerpt posting on Austen Variations tomorrow during the release day celebration. If you have missed the previews, you can catch up by clicking for the previous chapters:

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Blurb:

“I have endured the deepest agony, only to be shown a hope so bright I cannot but yearn for it.”

Fitzwilliam Darcy is mourning the love he lost—a love that was never allowed to bloom. What will become of him when Georgiana is wed, and he is left by himself? He cannot give away a heart not his own. Must he remain in this mournful existence, anticipating the nights to come, where in his dreams, he can finally be with Elizabeth, a spectre of his once living, breathing beloved. When a surprise visitor brings unexpected news, his hope is breathed back to life. Will he finally obtain his deepest desires? Will Fitzwilliam Darcy be able to leave behind the agony of the past and hope for the future he once thought impossible?

Due to circumstances beyond her control, Elizabeth Bennet’s family is irrevocably altered. Her father is dead, Lydia is missing, and her mother and remaining sisters are to be relegated to a life of poverty. Fitzwilliam Darcy’s behaviour at Pemberley indicates he still loves her, but too much has happened. She can never hope for him to once again make the offer of his hand. Elizabeth’s sole option is to abandon the life she once led and start anew. But what happens when her path once again crosses with the love she thought lost to her? Will Elizabeth choose to protect him with the one option available to her or will she put aside the agony of the past and choose hope?

There are also reviews! One is already posted on Amazon, but you can find all 4 of the early reviews posted on Goodreads 🙂 I hope you’ll also write your review once you’ve read it!

Hey, if you still haven’t preordered it, then do so here!

So, let’s talk specifics… and maybe a few vague hints!

The most common concern when people read the initial chapters is whether there is a HEA. Yes, there is a HEA!

I’ve been asked if there is steam. Yes, there is chemistry and steam, but no sex scenes. Sorry to those who enjoy those, but they didn’t fit with the storyline. For those who prefer stories without that sort of content, this will work for you!

How long is the book? Paperback is 266 pages. It’s just under 70K words.

Do you have a Pinterest inspiration board for this one? Yes! You can find it here.

Will there be a giveaway? Yes! I will have a few ebooks to giveaway tomorrow at Austen Variations!

So, do you have any other questions I can answer? Ask them below, but know that I may choose not to answer 😉

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As we’re all probably aware, medicine in the Regency Period left little to be desired in terms of treatments and success rates. We’ve all heard of bleedings and treatments containing everything from arsenic to mercury, but what were some of the medical terms and treatments?

Apoplexy is a term we hear or read a lot in terms of Regency illnesses. When used in a historical context, apoplexy refers to a death preceded by a loss of consciousness, which can be a bit of a catch-all. A person may die of a stroke, massive heart attack, or simply a sudden death by another means and be lumped under apoplexy. Today, apoplexy is used more as a scientific term for bleeding.

Grippe is a term that was a term used for influenza and refers to the constriction of the throat felt by some sufferers. Influenza was thought to be caused by “bad air” and a medical writer of the time, William Buchan, cautioned of hot air. He claimed the hot air dissipated the watery parts of the blood and caused ‘bilious and inflammatory fevers’.

Unfortunately, for those with apoplexy, little could be done, but for those who suffered from other illnesses, where there any reasonable treatments? Apothecaries could dispense tinctures, but a few common remedies did exist. We’ve all heard of the opiate laudanum used for pain. Laudanum, of course, was very addictive, despite its efficacy.

In 1757, Reverend Edward Stone experimented with white willow bark. He dried it, ground it into a powder, and took it in an effort to determine whether it would reduce pain and fever. White willow bark contains Salicin, which is an active part of aspirin. In 1763, he wrote to the Royal Society to report his success with the experiment. For those who were reluctant to rely on laudanum for pain, willow bark offered a suitable alternative as well as a method of controlling fever.

If the patient could sit up and swallow, their caregivers could use an invalid’s cup or feeder cup to help keep them hydrated and nourished with teas and broths. An invalid’s cup resembled a small tea pot without a lid. Some were constructed like tea cups or some of the time period could be made of silver.

Luigi Valadier – Invalid’s Cup 1770-80 Italy – Public Domain – Courtesy of The Met
Public

Decent medical treatments almost seem crazy when we consider many medical men of the Regency period favored what they called “heroic medicine,” which included aggressive bloodletting, vomiting, intestinal purging, sweating and blistering. Sounds pleasant, doesn’t it?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apoplexy

https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=grippe

https://theconversation.com/hippocrates-and-willow-bark-what-you-know-about-the-history-of-aspirin-is-probably-wrong-148087

Todd, Janet & Blank, Antje (editors). The Cambridge Edition of Persuasion. Cambridge University Press (2006)

Wilson, KimTea with Jane Austen. Jones Books (2004)

How often are you reading a book and the author describes a Regency gown, only for you to scratch your head and wonder what they mean? We all have a basic knowledge of what a Regency gown looks like, but just like today, the trends changed a bit from year to year. I don’t know about you, but when I read a Regency romance, sometimes I have no idea what certain terms are or mean and I have to look them up. I thought today we’d have some fun with Regency fashion terms. I hope you enjoy 🙂

Let’s start with a couple of terms I use in Agony and Hope (Available on preorder here!):

Shot Sarsnet – A thin silk with a slight sheen woven with multiple colors, which gives it an iridescence. Sarsnet is also sometimes spelled sarcenet. Shot sarsnet was also sometimes called “shot silk.”

Mameluke Sleeves – Long sleeves divided into several puffs by thin ribbons or bands.

Detachable sleeves sound very modern, but were quite common in Regency times. A gown would have a detailed short sleeve with a sheer long-sleeve that attached over it. There is a lovely example on my Pinterst page for Agony and Hope here.

Sprigged Muslin – a lightweight white cotton embroidered or woven with a pattern.

Regency color palettes were rather specific and could change from year to year depending upon which colors were fashionable.

Primrose – pale yellow

Celestial blue – sky blue (also called Ethereal blue)

Cerulean blue – Azure blue

Pomona – Apple green

Heliotrope – A pink-purple hue, or lavender

I hope you enjoyed this little foray into fashion. I always enjoy finding new terms to better describe what’s in my head. Thanks for reading!

Happy Thursday! I’m pulling another old short out of the vault for your reading fun. This is just a bit of silliness that I thought you might enjoy. Don’t forget Agony and Hope’s release day is June 15! Preorder your copy now!

Charlotte Collins First Anniversary

“Charlotte!” called Mr. Collins, slamming the front door and panting as his feet could be heard trotting down the entry.

Startled from her occupation by the commotion, Charlotte Collins’ eyes widened as she peered at the clock on the mantle. One o’clock! He had only left to call on Lady Catherine at half twelve. Why was he home so soon?

“Charlotte!” He hastened into the room and stopped a few paces from where she sat at her escritoire. “There you are!”

She tucked Lizzy’s letter within a Radcliffe novel, and placed a hand to her lower back as she made to awkwardly lift her body, heavy with child, from her chair. “I just finished my note to Maria.” She set her fingers on a letter that rested upon the dark oak. “I intend to walk into Hunsford to post it before I call upon Mrs. Hervey.”

A pleased expression overtook his countenance as he nodded. “You have indeed proven yourself the active, useful sort of gentlewoman Lady Catherine requested I take as my bride. As I told my dear Cousin Elizabeth when she visited last spring, ‘You and I have but one mind and one way of thinking. We seem to have been designed for each other.’”

Charlotte opened her mouth to speak, but before she could utter a word, he began again.

“Of course, my cousin’s aspirations should not have been as high as she wed. Lady Catherine…”

“Speaking of Lady Catherine,” interrupted Charlotte, before he prattled on. “You have returned early from Rosings today. Was Lady Catherine displeased with something?”

He started and began to shake his head with fervour. “Oh no! Her ladyship has been most gracious and bestowed great condescension by instructing me to spend the day with you.” He grasped her hands and held them in his sweaty palms. “She was only displeased that we were apart on our first wedding anniversary.”

Oh no! No! No! No! Charlotte cocked her head a bit and stared. “She what?” she asked faintly. ”But what about Mrs. Hervey?”

He took on a solemn mien and nodded. “I had heard she was grave—very grave indeed, but I am certain she will be fine until the morrow.”

“But, that will not do. Her daughter sent a servant this morning to ensure you would come by today.”

Mr. Collins bobbed his head. “Do not fret so. I will call and condole with the poor woman’s family.”

As she disguised a sigh, she waddled towards the door, picked up his walking stick, and held it out for him. “Perhaps you should go now, then I will call upon her on the morrow.” Just maybe she could finish Lizzy’s letter before she walked into town!

Mr. Collins took the proffered walking stick and returned it to the corner beside the front door. “You do me credit, my dear, but I intend to visit Mrs. Hervey in the morning.”

He could not truly mean to follow her around, could he? With a smile to herself, she gestured toward the window. “I suppose you have some work in your garden? Or you could check on your bees.”

Her husband tugged her back to the parlour, retrieved her spencer and bonnet, and helped her to don them. “You mentioned posting a letter to your sister, so I will be happy to escort you into town.” His voice lowered as he muttered to himself, “Yes, Lady Catherine will be very pleased.”

Charlotte rolled her eyes, and then batted his hands away when he began to fasten the buttons for her.

“Forgive me. I only meant to be of aid.”

If only his eyes would look up to hers as she spoke, but they remained on her décolletage until it was covered. He offered her his arm, and once he fetched his hat and walking stick, led her down the road towards town, prattling on about Lady Catherine, Anne deBourgh, and Rosings with barely a pause for breath.

After they posted the missive to Maria, Mr. Collins took her to the booksellers where he selected and purchased a copy of Fordyce’s sermons.

“Mr. Collins, you own that volume, do you not?” she asked.

“Indeed, I do. Your memory is as astute as always, my dear.”

When the proprietor handed him the wrapped parcel, he held it out to her. “I thought you would like a copy of your very own. That way, you might consult his great work without the worry of borrowing mine.”

“Thank you.” Charlotte attempted not to display her distaste for the gift. After all, she might not be romantic, but Fordyce?

He led her from the store, and she pointed in the direction of Briarworth. “I should still like to call on Mrs. Hervey.”

“But, my dear Charlotte, as much as it grieves me to consider the plight of poor Mrs. Hervey, I was specifically told by Lady Catherine to attend no one but you for the entire day! She will be seriously displeased! Charlotte!”

She set off walking and did not stop at his calls, so her husband followed, his protests not ending until they reached the front gardens of the Hervey estate where she admonished him to be quiet lest the Herveys hear him; however, once the housekeeper answered the door, he was all simpering flattery and proclaimed how the great Lady Catherine insisted he condole with them upon that very day.

Charlotte had a reprieve from his attentions while he spoke with Mr. Hervey, Mrs. Hervey’s children, and finally Mrs. Hervey. Their call kept them at Briarworth for close to an hour before they took their leave.

Mr. Collins did not reprimand his wife for her insistence upon the call as they walked home, but expounded on about how pleased his noble patroness would be. “We were together, which was part of her benevolent instruction. She can find no fault in our call! Indeed, our attentiveness to one of our flock should be most appreciated.

Under the guise of following a bird in flight, Charlotte turned her head so she could roll her eyes. They were not far from the parsonage. She ached to sit and rest; her ankles could not take much more.

No peace could be found, even upon their return home. Once she refreshed herself, she took a seat on the sofa her Radcliffe novel in hand with every intention of finishing Lizzy’s letter, but Mr. Collins entered soon after desirous to read to her from her anniversary gift.

With a start, she awoke as the light from the windows was beginning to dim. A glance to her husband revealed he was still seated beside her, a shocked expression upon his face.

“Please forgive me,” she blurted, wiping the drool from her chin. “I had not intended to fall asleep. The walk into town must have been more tiring than I expected.”

A simpering smile overtook his features as he gave a nod. “I am certain the exertion of carrying our child is to blame. Do not fear, my dear Charlotte. I am by no means upset by your ill-timed nap. I will have to ensure you retire early.”

He placed the book on the side table, stood, and offered her his hand. “Cook has sent word that our dinner is served. We should partake of it before it becomes cold.”

Dinner was a quiet affair—on her part anyway. Mr. Collins prattled on as was his wont for the entirety of the meal, only stopping when there was too much food in his mouth to continue. Then he would swallow and begin again.

After the meal, she anticipated he would wish to adjourn to his study to further prepare his sermon, but he insisted upon playing backgammon until it was time to retire.

Alone at last, Mrs. Collins revelled in the peace and quiet of her chamber as she sat upon her bed, lifted her feet, and sighed at the sight of her painfully swollen ankles. She pulled her legs under the bedclothes and reclined back into the pillows. What a relief a good night’s sleep would bring! Everything would be set to rights on the morrow; it would no longer be her anniversary.

Her eyes closed, and she was just drifting to sleep when a knock sounded from the door to Mr. Collins room.

“Charlotte?”

Oh no! No! No! No!

Alrighty! We’re up to Chapter 3! If you haven’t read Chapter 1 or Chapter 2, click on the links to catch up 🙂 Meanwhile, the preorder is up on Amazon, so go on over and make sure your copy is on your Kindle first thing on June 15. Still editing and proofreading so any mistakes are mine!

Let’s get to Chapter 3!

Chapter 3

After the last of the guests departed, Richard motioned in the direction of the study. “I believe we were to have a glass of brandy.”

“This truly is not necessary.” How could he muster the fortitude, not to mention the equanimity, to confide in Richard? Georgiana had set her trap, and he could not very well chew off an arm or a leg to free himself. “I am not Georgiana, who needs to speak of every happening and every emotion she possesses.”

“Richard!” His cousin winced, and Darcy pressed his lips together to keep from laughing. The reaction to Aunt Catherine’s tone was the same now as it was when Richard was a boy. “Do you not have your own home? I am sure Darcy wishes to retire after such a long and trying day.”

“We were to have a brandy, Aunt.” Richard’s shoulders were rigid. He had always required at least a half-hour complete to relax in their aunt’s presence. “I am certain my cousin does not object to a bit of gentlemanly conversation before he retires.”

His aunt jabbed at Richard with her walking stick. “If the conversation is with you, I am certain it is far from ‘gentlemanly.’”Darcy coughed in a failed attempt to restrain his mirth. “Besides, I have estate matters to discuss with Darcy that cannot be delayed. I depart at first light, and I have no intention of rising at some ungodly hour so you can conduct your ‘gentlemanly conversation’ tonight. You live close enough to come again on the morrow if Fitzwilliam desires your company.”

Richard stepped beside Darcy, leaning close to his shoulder. “I shall not forget Georgiana’s concern. You will tell me.”

Darcy stared straight ahead and said nothing. His aunt had granted him a much-needed reprieve, and he would make the most of the opportunity she was affording him. The moment the door closed, his aunt drew herself up and resituated her walking stick. “I overheard his conversation with Georgiana. If in your place, I would not be pleased with her interference into my affairs. As far as I am concerned, you are entitled to keep your own counsel. She had no right, regardless of her good intentions.”

“I appreciate your aid, Aunt.”

“Yes, well, I recognise grief when I see it.” She held up a hand and shook her head. “I do not require an explanation unless you wish to tell me. After Anne’s death, Lady Fitzwilliam tried to force me to speak of my feelings when what I desired most was solitude. You have helped with Rosings and brought Georgiana to visit while allowing me to grieve as I needed. I wished to afford you the same opportunity.” She walked towards his study. “Now pour me a glass of sherry.”

He offered his aunt his arm and helped her to the sofa. When he handed her the glass of wine, she huffed. “With Georgiana gone and you not entertaining, no one else will be drinking the sherry. Do not be stingy.”

He bit his lip and topped off the glass before pouring himself a sizeable brandy. A fire had already been lit and the room was warm in preparation for the remainder of his day. His servants knew his current habits well. They had also lit the two candles near his desk, which he would extinguish once his aunt retired.

“Your sister made an excellent match. You should be proud.”

“He sat in one of the chairs near the fire and nodded. “I am. She has become a poised and intelligent young lady. I cannot be anything but proud.”

“She seems blissful, and he is obviously taken with her. I believe they shall do well together.” His aunt held the delicate crystal glass just below her chin while she stared into the fire. “I once hoped for a match such as that your sister has made. I was never so fortunate.” She had never before spoken of her marriage. Georgiana’s wedding must have brought those memories to the fore.

“Were you dissatisfied with Sir Lewis?”

After a laborious inhale, she sighed. “Your mother never told you of my marriage.” It was more a statement than a question.

“How do you mean?”

Her hand holding the sherry lowered to rest on her leg. “As much as I had hoped for a successful first Season, I was greatly disappointed. I could blame it on the quality of the ladies who debuted that Season, but I am certain the same could be said of every Season. I smiled and attempted to impress the gentlemen, but the few who called were more interested in my fortune than me.”

He rested his elbow on the arm of the chair. “How did you come to wed de Bourgh?”

After my fourth Season, my father died. My brother had been a spoiled, selfish prig for as long as I could remember, and I was unwilling to entrust my future to him. I had met Sir Lewis during my first Season. He was just returning to society after losing his wife, who had died during childbirth. We developed a friendship over the years. After my father passed, he called upon me and offered his hand. He was ill. He knew he did not have a great deal of time remaining and had not found a lady he desired to marry. He said he preferred our conversations on politics and literature to the remarks of other ladies on the weather and the latest fashions.” She took a sip of her sherry. “He hoped for an heir, and I needed to escape. He did not love me any more than I loved him, but we were dear friends. In the end, we both benefited. Unlike his previous children, Anne survived her first year, and I cared for him until he succumbed.”

He furrowed his brow and let the crackling of the fire in the grate soothe him. “I do not remember much of him, but I do remember he was quite fond of Anne.”

A slight smile graced her face. “Rosings was not entailed, so he was well-pleased with a girl. She was, as the bard would say, the ‘apple of his eye.’”

“Have you ever thought of marrying again?”

She straightened with a jerk. “Why should I do that?”

“For love,” he said in a soft voice.

“Nephew, Anne inherited Rosings when she came of age, and you inherited it with her death. I am indebted to you for allowing me to remain in my home.”

“I have no need to force you to the Dower house—”

She shook her head. “I enjoy not being under the rule of a man. I have no desire to humble myself when I take great pleasure in presiding over my home.”

He could not help but smile. “Is that why you choose parsons who bow and scrape—”

His aunt scoffed and pointed a bony, knotted finger in his direction. “Impertinent boy. Never forget that I know of your exploits, young man.”

“I have never had exploits.” He relaxed back into his chair and crossed his ankle over his knee. Who could have known his aunt would be so altered after Anne’s death? She had become rather likeable as opposed to the domineering woman who had once insisted he wed her daughter. “You are confusing me with Richard.” His humour faltered, and he trained his eyes on the flickering shadow of the flame on the carpet. “How is your new companion?”

“Frightened of her own shadow, not that I blame her.” His aunt sighed and shrugged. “She is tolerable company and has become accustomed to the household servants. They are considerate of her, even though they do not understand why she is so timid.”

“Does she still have nightmares?” His eyes met his aunt’s. “You made mention of them some time ago.”

“They are not as frequent.” She stood and filled her glass. “Truly, she is much improved. She takes walks in the gardens near the house, accompanied by a maid and a footman when I do not wish for exercise. The pianoforte lessons you provided were appreciated—she often shuts herself away in the music room to play while I have callers. Since my eyesight has begun to decline, she reads to me. I purchased the latest Radcliffe from Hatchard’s yesterday as a gift for when I return. I also purchased some fabric for new gowns. The bonnets and trimmings you sent for Christmastide were well-received. She passed a great deal of time decorating her new hats. She even smiled.”

“Then I am pleased.” He watched the fire until his aunt sat in her chair once more.

“Did you ever find the blackguard who did this to her?”

He nodded, still staring into the fire. “I did.”

She lifted her generous eyebrows. “Well? Tell me he cannot harm another young lady, and I shall be satisfied.”

He stood and propped his arm on the mantel while he poked the fire. “He is gone. He cannot harm another young lady.”

“Are you certain he cannot return?”

“He is working as a labourer at a port in the East Indies. The company is aware of his past and has told the captains he is not to be given passage to any destination to prevent him from making a circuitous route back to England. Even should he somehow acquire the funds, he cannot return.”

His aunt took a long draw from her sherry and gave a low laugh that sent a chill up his spine. “I am not sorry. He deserves every bit of unhappiness, for it will never equal her suffering. Your father spoilt that young good-for-nothing. I am proud of you for correcting his mistake.”

“He never appreciated what he had. He always wanted more.” His voice was soft, but his aunt’s shake of her head demonstrated that she had heard him.

“No, and I daresay Richard would heartily approve if he knew. Do not dare feel guilt for his fate, Fitzwilliam,” she said in a firm tone. “He coveted your position and wealth and was willing to hurt others for a piece of it. Harming servants and those he could not use for profit was for nothing more than entertainment, and when he ceased to find sport in it, he abandoned them. In the case of that poor girl, she would have rotted in the back alleys of Saffron Hill if not for you. No, he deserved far worse, but I would not have you responsible for his death. This is a much better solution.”

He indulged in a sizeable sip of his brandy and closed his eyes as he swallowed. His aunt’s company was in no way objectionable, but how he longed for solitude. The house had been a hive of activity since breakfast. He needed quiet.

“You appear tired, Nephew,” said Aunt Catherine.

“I am weary. I am thankful I was spared speaking to Richard this evening, but behaving as though I am a social creature to those at the wedding and breakfast was a chore.”

She set her glass on the side table. “You did well. You are a good brother.”

He blinked a few times and smiled. “Georgiana has said as much. I am glad she is contented, but I am going to miss her.”

“It would be strange if you did not.” When she began to stand, Darcy made to rise with her, but she stayed him. “No, I require no fuss. I shall see myself to my chambers.” She patted his shoulder, situated her walking stick, and took a step. “Do not hide yourself away. I expect you at Rosings before too long.” She opened the door, peering back once more before leaving. “Good night, Fitzwilliam.”

He tipped his glass in her direction. “Good night.” As soon as he was alone, he swallowed the last of his brandy and poured himself a second helping. Once he had the full glass in hand, he stepped before the window and stared without seeing across Park Lane and into the dark shadows of Hyde Park.

Tomorrow, the knocker would be removed from the door. Now that Georgiana was wed, he had no reason to accept callers. When he met with Mrs. Northcott and Watson in the morning, he would also ensure Richard was kept at bay for the time being. They could post footmen at the entrances to the servants’ passages. Richard had hoped to journey with Darcy to Pemberley in a month or so, but perhaps he could conclude his business and away to Pemberley before Richard was ready to depart. In the perfect plan, Georgiana’s request would be long forgotten by the time they were in company once again.

He sighed and rested his head against the cool glass.  He should retire. The sitting room attached to his bedchamber boasted of a supply of brandy. He took a sip, relishing the bite, and made his way to the stairs. The sooner he found sleep, the sooner he could dream of a happier life—a life with Elizabeth by his side.

~ * ~

We’re getting closer to something big! Get your preorder today!

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been playing with some of my book covers and updating them a bit. First off, don’t worry! I didn’t change much about An Unwavering Trust’s cover. I just saw this lovely Regency lady in a photo and thought she would look perfect walking down the path. I hope you agree. The new cover should be up on Amazon and Audible by now.

Don’t forget to tune in here tomorrow for the next chapter of Agony and Hope!! Click here to Preorder!!

Kindle Cover
Paperback!
Audiobook!

It’s a busy time of year! School is wrapping up, people are making their summer plans, and I’m furiously editing a book. If you haven’t checked out the preview of Chapter 1 & Chapter 2 at Austen Variations, click on the chapter to give it a read! In the meantime, what can I tell you without giving away vital bits of the book. I can give you one hint with the blurb!

“I have endured the deepest agony, only to be shown a hope so bright I cannot but yearn for it.”

Fitzwilliam Darcy is mourning the love he lost—a love that was never allowed to bloom. What will become of him when Georgiana is wed, and he is left by himself? He cannot give away a heart not his own. Must he remain in this mournful existence, anticipating the nights to come, where in his dreams, he can finally be with Elizabeth, a spectre of his once living, breathing beloved. When a surprise visitor brings unexpected news, his hope is breathed back to life. Will he finally obtain his deepest desires? Will Fitzwilliam Darcy be able to leave behind the agony of the past and hope for the future he once thought impossible?

Due to circumstances beyond her control, Elizabeth Bennet’s family is irrevocably altered. Her father is dead, Lydia is missing, and her mother and remaining sisters are to be relegated to a life of poverty. Fitzwilliam Darcy’s behaviour at Pemberley indicates he still loves her, but too much has happened. She can never hope for him to once again make the offer of his hand. Elizabeth’s sole option is to abandon the life she once led and start anew. But what happens when her path once again crosses with the love she thought lost to her? Will Elizabeth choose to protect him with the one option available to her or will she put aside the agony of the past and choose hope?

The book is just under 70K words but because of the timeline of the story, there is a bit of steam but no explicit scenes. We’ll just have to see what unfolds. I hope you’re up for it!

Release date is June 15!

Next week’s chapter will post here on Tuesday!

Have you ever heard of the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue? Captain Francis Grose wandered the dockyards and slums of London during the late night hours collecting slang words he compiled into a book that is as much a history reference as it is an amusing romp through the myriad of ways to call someone stupid or a whore. According to a BBC article on the subject, Grose loved anything rude, so if the word had any sexual connotation, it would be included. I’ve occasionally looked for fun words in Grose’s work, though usually for Colonel Fitzwilliam. I think he would’ve heard more of these words during his forays with the Regulars than Darcy would at White’s.

Today, we have a bit of fun with a Vulgar Vocabulary Lesson. May you use your newfound knowledge wisely 😉

ARSY YARSEY. To fall arsy varsey, i.e. head over heels.

BASTARDLY GULLION. A bastard’s bastard.

PETTICOAT HOLD. One who has an estate during his wife’s life, called the apron−string hold.

CAPTAIN QUEERNABS. A shabby ill−dressed fellow.

DIRTY PUZZLE. A nasty slut

NIGMENOG. A very silly fellow

HORNIFIED. Cuckolded.

LOBCOCK. A large relaxed penis: also a dull inanimate fellow.

Hope you enjoyed today’s Vulgar Vocabulary Lesson! Can you pick out any words from Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue I have in my books? Just curious!

https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20150916-the-vulgar-tongue-a-dictionary-of-filthy-words

Hi there, everyone! This is a bit I wrote in 2014 for a theme called “April Showers.” I’ve done a bit of editing on it, but hopefully, I’ve caught all of the errors. Stick around after! I have a link for the first chapter of my new book, Agony and Hope, that I posted Tuesday at Austen Variations!

The Ride Home

Photo by veeterzy on Pexels.com

Weighted with a shopping bag in each hand, I stood under the awning of the local grocery store with my son, watching the rain.  With the pleasant spring weather, we had walked the short distance from our house. Now, in light of the sudden downpour, my decision seemed to be a poor one.

“The sun was out when we went inside,” said Jensen, my fifteen-year-old. He leaned forward, looking past the awning to the sky overhead where more menacing clouds loomed in the distance.

“I don’t think the rain will let up anytime soon. We’re just going to have to get wet.”

His eyes widened, and he shook his head. “The loaf of French bread won’t survive.”

“If we wrap the groceries in the garbage bags we bought, everything will stay dry.”  Jensen groaned before glancing back out into the rain. I peered around then grabbed a cart, settling the bags inside before fishing around for the box of trash bags.

My son stepped beside me, so I nudged him in the ribs with my elbow.  “Come on, you used to love jumping in puddles when you were a little boy. Where’s that adventurous spirit?” 

“I haven’t jumped in a puddle in years, Mom, and I’m wearing my new sneakers.”  I glanced down, and sure enough, the expensive athletic shoes I’d purchased a few days ago gleamed, even in the cruddy weather. Crap! I certainly couldn’t spare the money to replace them if they were ruined.

I bit my lip. “We’ll have to wrap those in a bag, too.  You can go barefoot.”

“Mom!” His voice hit a higher pitch than it had in years. “There are no sidewalks until we cross the street, and I’m not walking barefoot through the parking lot!”

He was right. I dropped back against the brick wall behind me. The last thing I wanted was for him to cut his foot on some glass or metal we couldn’t see in the water. “I’m sorry. I’ll call a taxi.” I pulled out my cell phone and pulled up the phone number for a taxi service. How I hated spending even five dollars for a ride of a little over a mile.

“I have an umbrella if you need help getting to your car.”

I spun around. The last person I’d expected to see when I woke up this morning was William Darcy, but there he was, and still as hot as the last time we’d crossed paths. We hadn’t spoken for a few years—the night he drove me home from Charles and Jane’s anniversary party. I cringed. The things I’d said to him. How was he even speaking to me?

“Hello, Elizabeth.” The arm at his side held a large umbrella while the other held a full, reusable shopping bag.

“Hi,” I said. My voice was weak. The assumptions and accusations I’d made that night. He’d been nothing but kind by driving me home when my father’s car broke down, and I’d treated him horribly. My cheeks burned at the memory. 

Jensen glanced back and forth between us, his eyebrows drawn down in the middle. “Hi, Mr. Darcy.”

William smiled and extended his arm to shake my son’s hand. “You’ve certainly grown since I saw you last. I understand from Charles that you’re doing very well at your swim meets.” My jaw nearly hit the ground. Had he asked my brother-in-law about my son?

“At my last meet, I won the 200-yard butterfly and freestyle, and placed second in the 400 I.M.”

Darcy smiled wider. “Congratulations.” His tone held a note of warmth. His praise of Jensen was genuine. “I know you’ve worked very hard for it.”

I inhaled a fortifying breath and took a small step forward. “I appreciate the offer of the umbrella, but we walked here before the rain started. I was actually just calling a taxi to take us home.”

He looked into the rain. “As I recall, you don’t live very far from here.”

“No, it’s about a mile.” I peeked over my shoulder. What had captured his attention? When I turned, his eyes had returned to me with that same appraising stare that once made me uncomfortable—made me believe he was criticizing me. Now I knew, that was not criticism. My eyes couldn’t maintain the intense connection and latched onto a nearby puddle.

“If you give me a moment to get my car, I’d be happy to give you a ride home.

I shook my head vehemently. How could he be so nice when I’d been so horrid to him? “That won’t be necessary.  We’ll be fine with a cab.”

“I know you’d be fine, but you’d have to wait. The weather is worsening, and I’d like to know that you’re both safe at home before that happens.” He began to rummage around in his pocket. “I’m parked right there.” He pointed to an electric sedan parked in one of the closest spots.

“Please, Mom. I don’t want to sit here forever. I have that paper due tomorrow.”

I plastered a smile on my face and dropped my phone into my purse. “Thank you, it looks like we’ll accept your kind offer.”  I picked up my bags while William high-tailed it out to the car.

How long had I known William Darcy? Twelve years seemed like forever these days.  The first time I met him, I’d been Matron of Honor for Jane’s wedding, and Darcy had stood with Charles as his Best Man. I’d been drawn to him more than any man I’d ever met. I’d been forced to ignore that pull, because although I was only twenty-three, I’d been married to Ryan for the past three years. Jensen was also a rambunctious toddler of three.

William and I ran into each other from time to time over the years—Charles and Jane’s birthdays, the births of their children, christenings. He’d always made me uncomfortable. The way his eyes seemed to follow me around a room with an intensity that gave me goosebumps, the way my insides shook when we spoke, as well as all of those little physical signs of attraction that I tramped down as best I could. I was married after all!

Then, four years ago, my marriage imploded in a spectacular fashion. Ryan had been having an affair for years. I made that discovery when the other woman, Lydia, showed up at my house one day while my husband was at work. She was pregnant and with a toddler in tow—a mini-me of Ryan. I filed for divorce as quickly as I could get my friend Charlotte to file the paperwork.

Not long after, Darcy not only delivered me home, but also delivered the bombshell that he’d been in love with me for years. Perhaps I would’ve been kinder, if he hadn’t given his opinion of my marriage to Ryan? Perhaps I wouldn’t have been so insulted if he hadn’t insulted my mother? I freely admit she’s not the most sophisticated of women, but in my defence, I was still trying to pick up the pieces. I was also in no position mentally to be dating anyone yet, so I lashed out. I’m still mortified by the worst of it.

            “What kind of man falls in love with a married woman! Did you fantasize that I would leave him—that I would abandon my son for you, or that we’d have an affair?”

Now here I am, about to climb into a car with him for the first time in four years. Not only was William enough of a gentleman to congratulate my son on his success, but also he would ensure we arrived home safely. 

An elbow to my side made me jump. My head whipped around to Jensen. “What?” He did nothing more than lift his eyebrows and point to the car at the curb. Before I could apologize for snapping, Darcy sprang from the driver’s seat and took the shopping bags from my hands. As soon as Jensen scooted inside, he shoved the groceries in after him and opened the passenger side door for me.

After he was out of the weather, he turned to me. “So, do you still live in Beau Chêne?” 

“Yes.” I glanced down at my hands and then back to his face, studying him. He had a few grey hairs sprinkled in at his temples and maybe a line or two around his eyes.  When had that happened?  “Thank you so much for doing this.”

“I’m glad I saw you out there,” he said, his eyes on the road. “You could’ve been stuck for a while, especially if you waited out the weather.

She nodded and peered down at her hands in her lap. Was he involved with someone? A pang ripped through her chest at the thought. The question was valid. After all, he could’ve eloped or married privately. Charlie mentioned little of him over the last few years, and I sometimes wondered whether Darcy had confided about what happened that night. My brother-in-law had always spoken of William without reserve before I made a mess of things.

I glanced in his direction and was just about to face forward when he turned the car, giving me a clear view of his left ring finger—bare.  There wasn’t even a tan line. My hands began to quiver. I often thought of him, and I hadn’t dated since my divorce.  Of course, I’d had men ask me out, but for some reason, I was never interested. Was a part of me was waiting for William to return?

He stopped the car and turned. I practically flinched when he busted me staring at him. When I diverted my eyes, I gasped at the view of my garage in front of us.

“Thanks a bunch, Mr. Darcy!” The backdoor opened and Jensen tore across the driveway with the grocery bags in hand. He punched the code into the panel, the garage door lifted, and my son disappeared into the house. 

A loud roar began to pound against the top of the car as the rain began to come down in sheets. The garage was barely visible even though we were as close as you could get without entering.

“You can’t drive home in this,” I said. “Lord only knows how long you’d end up sitting in this driveway, much less the side of some highway somewhere.”

“I don’t mind.” He gave a tight smile. “I’ll probably remain parked here until it passes, if that’s okay with you.” When I faced him, he stared at me the same way he did years ago—with that same intensity—turning my insides to mush. He cleared his throat and dropped his gaze to study his hands.  “It was good to see you again.”

“William.” Had I ever called him by his first name before? I’d always been so ill-at-ease in his company, I’d tried to remain distant in any way I could. When I said his name, his head popped up, and I held his steady gaze while I inhaled in an attempt to gather my courage. “Please come inside for a while.  You can’t sit out here in the rain. You could be here for hours if it doesn’t let up.”

“I’ll be fine,” he said in soft tones.

“I know you’ll be fine, but you’ll have to wait.” A corner of his lips twitched. Had he recognized that I’d turned his own argument against him? “We can bring your groceries inside and put any that need to stay cold in the freezer or refrigerator. You can even bring your briefcase and ignore us while you work. Jensen has a paper to finish so he won’t be watching TV.” My heart plummeted as he began to shake his head.

Impulsively, I reached into the back seat, grasping his grocery bag by the handles.  I then grabbed his briefcase as I opened the car door. I heard him call out to wait, but I was already running for my open garage. I glanced back and motioned for him to follow before I walked into the utility room door.

Jensen had dumped his shoes in the middle of the laundry room, so I shifted them to the side. At least didn’t track wet footprints through the house! I removed mine and joined my son in the kitchen where he was already unloading our shopping bags.

“Thanks, honey,” I said. I set William’s bag on the kitchen table.

“Is that Mr. Darcy’s briefcase?” Jensen’s forehead furrowed.

“Yup, I stole it.” 

My son rolled his eyes. “Why would you want his briefcase?”

“Because the rain is too heavy for him to drive, and he was insisting on sitting in the driveway until the storm passed.”

“So you stole his briefcase so he’d have to come in?”

“Pretty much.” My son’s laughter never failed to make me grin in return, but the moment was broken when the door in the utility room open and closed. A moment later, William entered in sock-clad feet. Had he always had such big feet?

My son smirked and shook his head. “I’m going to go work on my paper for a while.”

“I’ll call you when dinner’s ready.”

William walked up to the table, and I turned to him with a raised eyebrow. “Do you have anything in here that needs to stay cold?” He nodded and pulled out some milk, cheese, and frozen dinners that I stored away.

Jensen had left out the ingredients for dinner, so I began chopping peppers while William leaned against the counter. I sighed. I couldn’t keep avoiding the elephant in the room, so I set down the knife and faced him. “I owe you an apology for the last time we saw each other.”

He squeezed his eyes closed then quickly reopened them as if I’d put the knife through his heart. “No, much of what you said was true. For most the time we knew each other, I was horribly rude to you.” He stepped over to the kitchen table, removing his suit jacket and hanging it over the seat. “I have realized since our argument that I felt horrified at falling in love with a married woman. To keep from falling at your feet, I did everything I could to push you away. I would’ve never been able to live with myself if you’d only been an affair.” He returned to the counter and gave a long exhale. “When I learned that you were finally free, I’m afraid I leapt without thinking. I should’ve known you’d need time, and I never should’ve made those comments about your ex-husband.”

I shook my head. “Why not? They were true.” I wiped my hands on a nearby towel. “Why don’t we do our best to forget it happened? Remember the past that’s pleasant?” I held out my hand for him to shake. When his palm made contact with mine, I bit my cheek instead of gasping at the spark when our skin touched. Had he felt that too?

I picked up the knife and continued chopping the peppers. “I know you moved after, but Charles never said where.”

He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the counter. “There were some major leadership issues with the offices in Australia. I was asked to take control and get that wing of the company back on its feet. After that night, I thought the opportunity a good opportunity to get away… to forget.”

I swallowed hard when he said “forget.” During the past few years, how many times had I thought of him? I’d tried to convince myself that I’d put him behind me—I’d forgotten, but had I been honest with myself?

Now that I knew he’d left to get away from me, my heart cracked and bled. Tears stung my eyes, and as much as I blinked and tried to keep them from falling, I couldn’t do a thing when they began running down my cheeks like the rain in rivulets down the glass of the kitchen window.

“Elizabeth?” 

A sob escaped from my lips as he took the knife from my hand. He placed it on the cutting board and gently pulled me back from the counter. “It must be the onions,” I said. I swiped at my cheeks with the backs of my hands.

“The onion hasn’t been cut yet.” I groaned and covered my face.

“Elizabeth?” He pulled my hands away. “I left to forget, but I couldn’t. I found myself constantly wondering what you were doing. I drove poor Charles crazy with questions whenever I called. He finally told me to come back and find out for myself.”

A laugh bubbled from my lips, and William smiled, gently brushing the tears from my cheeks.  “Do I dare hope that your feelings have changed?”

“Oh William, I was so stupid that night.” 

He put his finger over my lips and pulled me close. “I thought we agreed to forget that.” I chuckled and leaned my forehead against his chest. He was so warm and his large hands rubbed up and down my back. I knew Jensen would return soon and ask about dinner, but I didn’t want to move—ever.

One of his hands caressed my face and tipped up my chin. He leaned in ever-so-slowly and kissed me. I nearly gasped at the softness of his lips, the feel of his strong body pressed against mine, and the way he gradually deepened the kiss. His tongue caressed mine, and my body went up in flames. Good Lord, I needed to put a stop to this or I’d spread him out on the kitchen table and have my wicked way with him! Who knew that feeling could be real—that an attraction could be so overpowering? I pulled back and bit my lip in an attempt to prevent a wide grin from spreading across my face. William smiled brilliantly, and kissed my temple as I turned back to the peppers I was chopping.

“So, what’s for dinner?” he asked. That mischievous glint in his eye brought a heat to my cheeks that hadn’t been there since high school. 

I laughed and looked outside at the rain. Maybe the downpour would continue all night long!

Have you read the first chapter of Agony and Hope yet? If not, click here! Coming soon!!!!

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