L.L. Diamond

News, Blog, and Stories

Happy Monday! Today, I’m giving a flashback post to a piece I wrote for Pride and Prejudice: Behind the Scenes. I hope you enjoy!

Elizabeth Bennet, as she prepares for a walk with her aunt and uncle, reflects upon everything that has happened since her arrival in Derbyshire, as well as her feelings about a certain gentleman.

Elizabeth sat before the dressing table, idly fingering the bristles of her hairbrush as the lush grounds of Pemberley and the estate’s master captivated her mind. 

Were her feelings so different than what they were at Hunsford? Yes, they were; but had she changed or was Mr. Darcy truly so different? Perhaps by knowing him better, she understood him more?

His housekeeper’s words echoed in her head. “He is the best landlord, and the best master that ever lived; not like the wild young men nowadays, who think of nothing but themselves. There is not one of his tenants or servants but what will give him a good name. Some people call him proud; but I am sure I never saw anything of it. To my fancy, it is only because he does not rattle away like other young men.”

Such a man of wealth and consequence had to be a good man indeed to be thought so well of by his servants. Even the gardener, who showed them the grounds, praised his master. In particular, how Mr. Darcy had paid for the apothecary when the loyal servant’s wife was ill.

Mrs. Reynolds and the gardener were not alone in their praise. Not one person she and the Gardiners had come across since arriving in Lambton had an ill word to say of Mr. Darcy.

How could she have misread him so upon their first acquaintance?

Mr. Darcy’s slight at the assembly had to be the culprit! He had wounded her pride and insulted her vanity, and she had never really forgiven him for it. She was accustomed to her mother disregarding her looks in comparison to Jane and Lydia, but not one of their neighbours had ever agreed or made a similar comment.

That evening at the assembly, the local gentlemen were all familiar, and held no interest. Mr. Bingley, while well-looking and amiable, did not stir her emotions in any manner other than friendship.

Mr. Darcy, on the other hand, had intrigued her, which was sure to be why she reacted as she did. Upon reflection, her first thought of him had been of his good looks and his appearance of intelligence. He did not seem a dullard or behave as one with little or no sense.

He himself had admitted, “I certainly have not the talent which some people possess of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.” Could that have played a role in his ill-humour?

Since they had happened upon one another on the grounds of Pemberley, he had been everything amiable and welcoming. The encounter had been awkward, and she had not expected him to make such a gallant attempt to put her at ease. His generous behaviour towards her aunt and uncle, and his enquiries as to the health of her family were a compassion he had never shown during their previous meetings.

After all, his manner and behaviour in Meryton had been so aloof. He often stood, not speaking with anyone, while watching their local society with apparent disdain. His looks had shown particular distaste upon watching the antics of Kitty and Lydia, but his response to her mother’s vulgarity was more pronounced—his entire body would stiffen when she spoke.

While Mr. Darcy’s behaviour had altered since their last meeting, Elizabeth had also grown in understanding of the gentleman’s character. Rather than merely thinking him handsome and learned, she had begun to consider him as one of the best men of her acquaintance.

He could have abused her abominably in the letter after their argument, but he did not. His explanation of the separation of Bingley and Jane rankled upon its first reading, but after further consideration, he had been justified in his concern. Charlotte herself had questioned Jane’s feelings, so why should those emotions be evident to Mr. Darcy.

His explanation of Mr. Wickham illustrated his good character as well. Mr. Darcy paid the man’s debts and honoured his father’s last wishes for his godson to the best of his ability when it was probable that Mr. Wickham did not deserve any sort of recompense for the living at all. Mr. Darcy could have claimed the sum for the debt Mr. Wickham owed him, but he did not.

Now that she recognised Mr. Darcy’s worth, could she dare hope his feelings for her had remained constant? His gaze across the drawing room the night prior had left her heart pounding and her face burning. She now feared her heart might be touched. What if his intentions and wishes had altered since Hunsford?

She could not blame him after her intemperate refusal of his hand. His resentment of her would have been justified as well, yet his invitations to Pemberley and his recent generosity of spirit indicated no such feelings.

“Lizzy?” Her aunt placed a hand to her shoulder with an expression of concern upon her face. “Your uncle and I are to take our walk. Did you still wish to join us?”

“Oh! I apologise. You caught me wool-gathering.”

Her aunt’s smile bore a hint of mischief. “So I noticed, dear. Do go fetch your spencer and gloves, so we can depart.”

With a quick nod, she gathered her outdoor garments, but upon her return, her aunt held two letters. “They were just delivered a moment ago. They are from Jane.”

Happy Monday, all! I mentioned a while back that I would have a book ready this month, then things seemed to be going a little slow, so I kept quiet. As it turns out, I’m close to finishing my edits and my last read through. I will put up the preorder for That Perfect Someone as soon as I can. I just need a book file and a cover! I have plenty of possible images for a cover picked out. I just need to see what works.

If you missed my reading at the JAFF Reader/Writer Get Together and my preview at Austen Variations, Lizzy is a vet and Darcy is a horse owner in this modern AU variation. I had an idea for an interaction early on where Lizzy is examining Darcy’s horse and he’s being a complete douche. I was a vet tech once upon a time and rode horses from the time I was five. I even showed in Western Pleasure and English classes at open shows for five years when I was at college/university. I adore horses so this was a fun way to use some knowledge I already possessed, though I still had to research to make sure what I knew was still the current course.

In That Perfect Someone, Lizzy is a veterinarian in the Texas Hill Country. Since most people go to vet school in their state of residence (it’s extremely hard to be accepted outside of your home state!), Lizzy is a Texas A&M Aggie. I know some of you may not know what an Aggie is, so in simple terms, an Aggie is a farmer and refers to the school’s agricultural background. Texas A&M University is an agricultural and mechanical college well known for it’s engineering department, vet school, and its research (medical, agricultural, etc). Von Miller, a famous American football player, obtained a degree in Poultry Science from A&M before being drafted into the NFL. Texas A&M has the only veterinary medicine program in the state of Texas.

Texas A&M University is a school full of long-standing traditions and a lot of history. The Aggies are called the 12th Man, which dates back to 1922 and an Aggie named E. King Gill. On one occasion, Gill was a squad player for the team and was up in the press box identifying players during a game for the reporters. The team was losing players left and right due to injuries so the coach motioned to Gill, who then suited up in an injured teammate’s uniform and rushed to the sideline, where he stood ready to play for the rest of the game. Aggies pulled off an upset, winning 22-14 that day, and by the end, Gill was the only player still standing by the bench with eleven players still on the field, making him the “12th man.” That is why the student section stands during every football game and basketball game for the entire game. They represent what E. King Gill was that day, the 12th man willing to step up and play when his school and teammates needed him. “The power of the 12th Man is echoed in the unity, the loyalty, and the willingness of Aggies to serve when called to do so.” (Texas A&M’s website)

There are so many traditions, I could write multiple blog posts on them, but I thought to explain those most relevant to the story. Aggies have a ton of school spirit. You can’t miss it when you enter College Station. Most students wear Aggie shirts, hoodies, and whatever else they can find to show off their school spirit, and that spirit never goes away. They maintain their love for the school their entire lives. It’s an amazing thing. I think every time my own daughter Facetimes me, she’s wearing a different Aggie/Texas A&M shirt/hoodie/etc.

A big tradition with students is also an Aggie ring. Most of us here in the U.S. are familiar with class rings. Most of us buy them in high school, wear them for a couple of years, then they sit in a jewelry box for the rest of our lives. Aggie rings are considered a staple. The Aggie ring dates to 1889 Most Aggies buy a ring and receive it on “Ring Day.” Three times a year, Aggies come together in the alumni center where they get their rings then take part in other activities during the day, including a “Ring Dance.” Every engraving on an Aggie Ring is symbolic of something (eg. large star=seal of the state of Texas). They are considered a big deal, which is why Lizzy mentions hers at a rather important part of the story (you’ll see 😉 )

Another long-standing Aggie tradition is Silver Taps. Dating back to 1898, Silver Taps is a ceremony, held on the first Tuesday of the month, to honor any current graduate/undergraduate student who has died during the year. There are events that happen all day such as Aggies writing letters to the families of the fallen Aggies. Then at 10:15pm, all the lights on campus are turned off and hymns play from the bell tower while students and families gather. A volunteer part of the Corps fire a three volley salute then Taps is played three times: once to the north, once to the south, and once to the west, but not to the east “because it said the sun will never rise on that fallen Aggie again.” (A&M Website)

Tune in tomorrow at Austen Variations when I will start posting the preview of That Perfect Someone! Maybe you’ll find some of these traditions I’ve mentioned here when you read the story 🙂

That Perfect Someone releases March 29th!!

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve! Can you believe it’s already here? Even with the tree and the decorations, it just doesn’t seem like it should be Christmas yet. Just a heads up and reminder that the Austen Variations book sale starts on Christmas day this year, so make sure you check out our website to see what goodies we have up! This is a scene from my Persuasion-based holiday romance. So, without further ado, here’s the chapter 🙂

I sat cross-legged in front of the door under the stairs with a flimsy open box in front of me. Last night, after I’d agreed to this insanity, Jensen had given me an old pair of his work jeans and a hoodie to wear so I didn’t ruin my clothes, then we’d plonked down on the floor and set to work.

He hadn’t lied, this was absolutely disgusting. Who knew how long some of these boxes had been under here? They weren’t just filthy but also a bit warped as though they’d once been damp and had dried. Silverfish occasionally darted out from underneath as the boxes were lifted carefully so the contents wouldn’t fall through to the floor below. We’d worn gloves and masks to keep from being swamped completely in dust, not to mention the remnants from mice that had apparently made a home under here until Jensen set traps a few months ago. 

“You’re up early?”

I jumped about a mile in the air, my gloved hand pressing to my chest. “Shit, Jensen. You scared the fuck out of me.”

“Sorry,” he said with a smile. Daphne rose from where she sat beside me and trotted until she stood before him, tapping around on the tile with her front paws. “Has she been outside?”

“I took her when I woke up an hour ago.” I shrugged and unwrapped whatever had been carefully packed in newspaper. “I couldn’t go back to sleep.”

Jensen had tried to give me his bedroom last night, but I’d insisted on the sofa. For my own sanity, I wasn’t setting one toe up there.

“Have you found anything interesting?” he asked, scratching the back of his head.

“Just a couple of boxes of paperwork that the mice must’ve turned into nests at some point or another. The documents inside were shredded to bits. I brought them all out to the porch.”

“I should’ve gone through everything before I remodeled, but I felt like I was taking advantage of your parents by living in their house for free. I quickly fixed up what I needed so I could move out.”

I pulled the mask away from my face. “I hadn’t realized you weren’t paying rent, but I understand why they would offer. I mean, you were at our house almost constantly when we were growing up. They’d help Ellie or Jena in the same way if either of them needed it.”

“Your parents are great.” 

I pulled a white glass piece from the paper. Jensen crinkled his nose. “What is that?”

“Oh,” I said kind of softly. “It’s milk glass. I had a bride who collected pieces like this. Some of her close friends searched for really nice vintage pieces to buy for her. We’ll need to go online and see how to clean it.” When I glanced over my shoulder, his eyebrows were high on his forehead while his nose remained crinkled. “You’re not getting rid of it. You’ve got those shelves in the living room and the mantel with nothing on them. Besides, you can’t buy pieces like this anymore.”

I set the glass beside me and pulled out the next of the paper wrapped balls, revealing a boat-like dish on a pedestal, two candlesticks, and a cake plate. I shoved the paper back in the box before I dumped the box on the porch with the rest. “Don’t you have one of those big sinks in the laundry room? We can clean them in there instead of the kitchen.”

“How about some coffee? You put those in the laundry room and get cleaned up. I’ll brew some and get breakfast going.”

I padded into the laundry room and pulled Jensen’s too large jeans from over the boxers he gave me to sleep in as well as the hoodie I’d thrown on over that old Navy t-shirt I wore to bed. After I washed my hands and bare feet, I met him in the kitchen as the fresh smell of coffee began to fill the air.

“I checked the weather forecast,” he said as he put the milk back in the fridge. “We’re supposed to hover near freezing all day, and there’s a chance of snow again for tonight.”

“So, basically it’ll melt a bit this afternoon and then freeze back tonight anyway.”

“Pretty much. I left a message for Earl. Hopefully, he’ll tow your car in the first chance he gets.”

I blew out a breath as I took the cup he set on the island in front of me. “Thanks.” Don’t get me wrong. I appreciated having a warm place to stay, but things were uncomfortable—awkward. I wasn’t going to sleep with him again, especially after hearing Kimber-bimbo whining while ice skating, but it didn’t mean my feelings had disappeared overnight or that my body had forgotten what he could do.

I don’t think I was the only one feeling odd. At times, his eyes would venture to where Navy was emblazoned on my chest only to jerk back up to my face. He also scratched the back of his head and cleared his throat—a lot.

“How much is left in that closet?”

“A few boxes all the way to the back. Do you have a shop vac to clean it up?”

“I do. I’ll drag it out once we have everything removed. William’s guys are coming in next week and ripping that wall out. William suggested a bench and shelves. Sort of like a reading nook.”

“Oh, I like that.” I could see a long bench with a grey cushion to match the furniture in the living room and a few throw pillows scattered around. “He has some great ideas.”

Once Jensen had fixed his own coffee, he pulled out a cast iron skillet. “How about some eggs and whole grain toast?”

“Sounds good to me.”

We talked about oddly impersonal topics while we ate: movies, music, who would win the Superbowl. After we’d cleared up and loaded the dishwasher, we threw on our work clothes and started back to work on the storage area.

Unfortunately, no more milk glass lurked behind all of the rubbish we’d sorted, but when I unwrapped the first bit of yellowed newspaper, I gasped. “Jensen, look! Christmas ornaments!”

He took the pink glass bauble and held it up to the light. “I wonder if these were from when my mother was little.”

“Maybe they were on her grandparents’ tree. They look pretty old.” I rolled the next out of the paper. “It’s too bad you don’t have a tree. It would be fun to decorate one.”

He opened his box and laughed as he pulled out a jumble of ancient electrical cords. “I found the lights.” His head shook while he lifted them to one side. “Talk about a fire hazard.”

After we removed all of the ornaments, he shoved all of the old wrapping and the lights in the boxes and put them outside while I studied all of the colorful baubles, loving how the light caught the colors and the different designs.

“Do you really want to decorate a tree?” When I looked up, he stood in front of me with his hands shoved in his pockets. “I have some Christmas lights upstairs in a box and a young Scotch pine in the front that I’m going to have to cut down eventually.”

“Seriously?” My voice was high and sounded ridiculously excited even to my own ears. “Do you really want to go out in this weather and cut down a tree?”

“It’s cold and icy, but we can shake a lot of that off before we bring it inside. It’ll have to dry before we can put lights on it.” He held out his hand and helped me up. “I have a small chain saw in the shed out back.”

The frozen grass and leaves crunched under our feet. An inch or so of snow coated the ground and had frozen, but we made it to the shed then out to the overgrown front of the property. I saw the tree before he approached it. It was the perfect shape! It was a bit tall but the ceilings in the living room were high. It would probably fit well.

Most of the ice flew off when the tree hit the ground, and I giggled as I hurried around to the top, ready to help carry it into the house. Jensen shook his head and grinned. “That laugh reminds me of when we were kids.”

We hauled the tree into the mudroom and laid it out on some old sheets we’d set out before we ventured outside. I slapped my thighs to remove the water and sap after setting it down. “What do we do until it dries?”

“I have more things to go through in the dining room. Do you want to help?”

“Sure,” I said. He’d asked hesitantly like it was an imposition, but to tell the truth, it was kind of fun. It was dirty work, but each box held a potential treasure like the milk glass or the Christmas ornaments.

We spent the afternoon rummaging through more boxes, but whether Jensen thought we found treasure was another matter. More paperwork, this time water-damaged, boxes of old moldy clothes, and shoes were all moved to the porch for a trip to the dump. We did find an antique wooden mantel clock that had missed the water damage by being at the bottom of the pile. An odd box of mis-matched door knobs were also hidden under a box of old draperies. The draperies quickly found their way to the rubbish outside as well.

“Don’t throw the door knobs away,” I’d said, insistently. “I’ve seen hooks and curtain pull backs made from those on Pinterest. If you don’t want them, someone else will upcycle them.”

It wasn’t until almost four that we called it a day. While I stripped my filthy, dusty clothes into the washing machine, Jensen returned the chain saw to the shed. As soon as the last bit of my clothes made it into the wash, I turned to head upstairs right as Jensen walked back inside, stomped on the mat, and froze solid.

In my defense, I wasn’t completely naked. I’d left on my panties and my bra, but everything that could be dusty from cleaning was gone. “I was going to go up and take another shower.” I’d taken one last night before I changed to sleep.

“That’s probably a good idea,” he said, clenching his hands at his sides.

Turning my back on that crackling current that filled the air between us, I rushed upstairs and into Jensen’s bathroom. I let the water run a moment to warm up while I pulled off my bra and panties then stepped under the rainfall shower head, letting the hot water seep into my scalp and skin.

After I’d washed all of the grime from me, I dried off and went into Jensen’s bedroom where a clean pair of boxers and another Navy t-shirt were laid out on the bed. “I guess those are for me.”

My underthings went into the wash when I returned to the kitchen. After, Jensen followed me from the living room where he’d spread the Christmas ornaments out on the coffee table. “I wiped them all down, and I’ve turned over the tree to get more water out of it. The trunk is still slightly damp but the needles are pretty much dry. When I’m done with my shower, we’ll put it up.”

“Okay,” I said as he scratched the back of his head again before he shook himself and disappeared upstairs. Without anything to do, I rummaged through the kitchen, finding a pack of steaks in the fridge with some arugula salad mix. It took me a bit to find everything I needed, but I could at least make myself useful by cooking dinner. After all, Jensen had put me up last night, and at the rate the weather was going, I wouldn’t be able to go home until tomorrow. The least I could do was make him a meal.

I found a bottle of Malbec and poured a glass for while I cooked. When Jensen returned to the kitchen, I was pulling the steaks out of the broiler.

“You cooked?” he asked with a wide-eyed expression.

“Don’t act so surprised. I can cook. I just don’t do it often. Kind of silly for one person to make a full meal.” I held up my glass. “I found a couple of bottles in the rack. I hope you don’t mind.”

“No, it’s fine.” He held up his dusty clothes. “I’m going to get the wash started.”

“I’ll have everything on the table when you get back.”

He disappeared into the laundry room while I plated the steaks with an arugula salad dressed with parmesan. When he reappeared, we sat down at the table. Jensen poured himself a glass of the wine before he topped off mine. “Thank you for all of your help. I appreciate it.” He held up his glass, and I clinked mine against it.

“You’re welcome. It’s actually been kind of fun—like a treasure hunt.”

His low chuckle vibrated down my spine and made parts of me hum. “I don’t know about that. More like sorting garbage.”

While we ate and chatted about the house, I probably relaxed for the first time since being in his home. We were sitting at his kitchen table, eating steak, drinking wine, dressed in the most casual clothes ever. I mean he was wearing a pair of cotton shorts and a t-shirt. The thing was that it was perfect. Being in that moment with him, dressed as I was, was perfect.

By the time I’d loaded the dishes in the dishwasher and cleaned up the kitchen, he had the tree standing in the living room. He’d also started a fire in the fireplace.

I handed him his glass of wine and set the bottle we’d opened during dinner on the coffee table. “How’d you get it straight without help?”

“The trunk wasn’t crooked.” His face remained even until he pointed to where a tool rested on the mantel above the fireplace. “I also used a small level.”

An unladylike snort escaped when I started laughing. “A little OCD of you, don’t you think?”

“Well, I could just hear you make fun of me all evening if it was crooked.”

I gasped, faking insult. “I would not!” I took sip of my wine, but he kept looking at me with a steady gaze. “Okay, maybe a little.”

After a roll of his eyes, he grabbed a box and opened it, pulling out a bundle of Christmas lights. “I found a surge protector in one of my boxes. It’s too old for a computer but it’ll work for this.”

“Is the tree dry enough?”

“The trunk feels pretty dry, and the rest is definitely not damp. The lights won’t be that far in anyway.”

I set my glass of wine next to his on the coffee table and stood on the opposite side of the tree from him. Once he’d plugged in the strand, we passed the bright multi-colored lights back and forth until we reached the end, Jensen opened another box, and we continued with the new strand. Even though a zing shot through my fingers whenever they touched his, I didn’t flinch, and soon enough, we had lights from bottom to top. 

All of the ornaments had old hooks or gold thread to hang them on the tree. The old baubles might have been a tad faded and the paint had crackled on some, but they were still beautiful and caught the colors from the Christmas lights just so. A finial was the last ornament on the table, so Jensen pulled out a step ladder.

“This was your idea, so you put it on.”

I bit my bottom lip as I picked it up. “Are you sure?”

He nodded while he opened the ladder. “Positive. Besides, we’ve both been drinking. It makes more sense for me to spot you than for you to spot me.”

He did have a point. I picked up the tall red and green spire of glass and carefully climbed the two steps to put me high enough to reach. After I’d slid it down the top, I put a hand on his shoulder to steady myself as I stepped down.

The view outside the window caught my eye. “Look, it’s snowing again.” I ran to the front door and rushed onto the porch as fat, white flakes lazily drifted down to the ground. With a grin, I tiptoed down the steps.

“Charlie, what in the blazes are you doing? You’re going to freeze.”

I spread my arms and held my face to the sky, letting the bits of cold land on me and melt. “It’s not like we get snow all of the time. Let me enjoy it.”

He crossed his arms over his chest while I stuck out my tongue and caught a few bits as they fell. Jensen’s eyebrows simply lifted. That was when my eye caught his squad car that boasted a solid cover of snow. I made a baseball sized snowball before I turned back to Jensen.

“Charlie, no.” One hand was now palm out and facing me.

“Why ever not?” I asked innocently. Before he could answer, I gave a quick wind up and let the snowball fly, hitting Jensen square in the face. His muscular body sprang from the porch, and I frantically began gathering more snow. His arms wrapped around my waist, throwing me over his shoulder as my hand with more snow found its way down the back of his shirt.

“Shit! I can’t believe you did that!”

The warmth of the house hit me like humidity hits you coming out of an air-conditioned building in the summer. In a blur, my back landed on the sofa and his fingers dug into my ribs, right at that spot where I’d always been ticklish. He pinned one of my hands over my head while I squirmed and laughed. It didn’t take long for him to pin the second over my head and continue what he’d started until I couldn’t breathe. 

“What do you say?”

“More?” Yeah, I knew what he wanted, but I’d never been one to give in easily. His fingers dug in harder while Daphne, now wide awake from the commotion, barked incessantly by my ear. “Okay! I give up. Please stop!”

As I panted, I realized my t-shirt had ridden up under my ribs, and Jensen was situated between my legs just so. Our eyes caught as his free hand landed on my bare thigh, sending a wave of heat through me, making me shiver.

There was no slow gradual dip of his head. Instead, his lips devoured mine as his tongue plunged to take possession. A whimper bubbled from my throat as I clenched his hips between my legs. He was already hot and hard and pressing against that place that already throbbed and insisted upon relief.

His hands released mine and cool air hit my breast as he released my lips. When he latched on to my breast, I shook myself. What was I doing? He lightly bit my nipple, and that ache jolted. I pushed Jensen’s shoulders.


“What?” he said, panting.

I jerked my shirt down and crossed my arms over my chest. “I heard Kimberly at the ice rink the other night. The two of you might not be exclusive but it’s not fair to her. We also can’t just fuck whenever we feel like it. We aren’t together anymore.”

I scooted to the other side of the sectional and took a large gulp of wine. Not that it would help. I couldn’t look at him, so instead, I examined tonight’s handiwork while Daphne, disappointed the entertainment was over, plopped back down in her bed. “It’s interesting that you have Christmas lights but no artificial tree or ornaments?”

My eyes might have been glued to the tree, but his eyes were on me. I didn’t have to look at him to know, my body prickled under his steady gaze. “I have a couple of ornaments in a box upstairs, but no, I don’t have a tree.” Out of the corner of my eye, he did that awkward scratch thing he did to the back of his head. “When I got married, I thought we’d have one so I bought lights.”

I covered my mouth to keep from spitting my red wine all over his new furniture. “You were married?” I squeaked like an idiot.

If you haven’t read It’s Always Been You and Me, it’s available on Kindle, paperback, and KU!

Can you believe it’s December already? It seems like just yesterday we were taking down our stockings from last year’s celebration. We all could always use more Christmas spirit, so Cristy Hulsz has put together an anthology of Christmas short stories in English and Spanish for everyone this year because they’re FREE! Yup! Free! Just click on the link below and download your PDF of the anthology in your choice of language. If you want, you can email it to your Kindle email and read it on your Kindle. Easy peasy!

And after you’re finished reading Cristy’s anthology, don’t forget that I have three fun holiday offerings as well! All on Kindle, KU, paperback, and audiobook!

Happy Holidays and Happy Reading!

Hi there! I hope everyone in the US had an amazing Thanksgiving, and now we have some giveaway winners to make the holiday season even more special.

Congratulations to those who won on this website:

DarcyBennet and EvaE

And Congratulations to the three who won from the Austen Variations giveaway:

Bambi, Mary Gerlach, and Paige Hale

Congratulations again and Happy Listening!

Yay! It’s so exciting to be able to announce that. If you haven’t read His Perfect Gift yet, you can still read it on Kindle Unlimited, Kindle, and paperback, but now you also have the option of audiobook with the wonderful narration of Stevie Zimmerman. If you haven’t already checked out the sample online, then I have a sample for you here!

Now! I have audiobook codes I can giveaway! On this blog post, I’ll give away 2 copies of His Perfect Gift on audiobook! Just leave me a comment and tell me what you love about the book or the sample and whether you need an Audible US or Audible UK code. Don’t forget about the region, because it makes it much easier when I notify you of winning 🙂

Happy reading and happy listening!

Most Regency authors have, at the very least, referenced or mentioned a lady’s maid in a story, even if we haven’t made her a confidant or important servant in our heroine’s life. She is often a useful character, who can be used to impart information about the household gossip, mend gowns in a trice, and coif our heroines so they stun our heroes with their beauty. But would a lady’s maid be as influential as we authors sometimes make her in a story and was her position a respected one within the household?

A lady’s maid is often referred to in fiction as an ‘abigail,’ which was indeed a term used during the Regency period. The term abigail is in reference to II Samuel, versus 24-28 when Abigail refers to herself as David’s handmaid on four occasions. It is unclear why one lady might prefer to use one term over another, though ‘abigail’ in research is referred to as slang.

Regardless of whether her employer referred to her as a lady’s maid or abigail, the lady’s maid reported and answered directly to her mistress. She was referred to by her last name and was, at times, called by the honorary ‘Mrs.’ much like the housekeeper. She was even considered on rank with the housekeeper, despite the fact that her wages were approximately half that of the woman who ran the household. 

An abigail was to be absolutely at the mistress’s beck and call. She helped her mistress bathe, dress, styled her hair, mended and ensured the mistress’ gowns were clean and pressed. She had to be trusted not only to keep her employer’s confidences, but also to care for the mistress’ jewelry. The lady’s maid fetched and carried, particularly when out on the town shopping with her employer. She also kept the same hours as her employer since she was required to help the mistress undress and ready herself for bed. The abigail could also be the eyes and ears for the mistress in the servants’ hallways when the necessity arose. Lady’s maids could be in the service of one mistress for decades and often cared for their employers when ill, which often made the lady’s maid a friend and confidante to her mistress.

Despite her position as a servant, lady’s maids were often the most educated and refined of all the female staff as her position required a knowledge of fashion, skill at hairdressing, a steady hand with a needle and thread, and more practiced manners and speech than most servants. In the absence of the housekeeper, a lady’s maid could be called upon to prepare tea and coffee for company, so she could not embarrass her mistress! It was also very fashionable to have French servants, though if a lady’s maid was not French she was required to have a store of French phrases committed to memory.

Was the life of a lady’s maid a good one? These trusted servants often acquired their mistress’ discarded clothing and traveled with their employer; however, the answer to that question likely depended upon the personality of the abigail’s employer. A mistress with the disposition of Caroline Bingley might be a nightmare, though a reasonable mistress might render the position a good one. In some ways, it does sound a lonely life as I can’t imagine much of the household staff befriending the servant who was the eyes and ears of the mistress below stairs!

Most of us would enjoy having a lady’s maid to press our clothes and fix our hair, but would you want to be an abigail? As for myself, I probably could not keep up! 

Craig, Sheryl. Contrib. to Jane Austen Regency World Magazine.
Horn, Pamela. Flunkeys and Scullions, Life Below Stairs in Georgian England. Sutton Publishing. (2004).
Laudermilk, Sharon and Hamlin, Teresa L. The Regency Companion. Garland Publishing (1989).
Martin, Joanna. Wives and Daughters. Hambledon Continuum (2004).
Shapard, David M. (editor). The Annotated Pride and Prejudice. Pheasant Books (2003).

I thought I’d post a bit of a throwback today. If you’ve been following my upcoming release, His Perfect Gift, you may wonder where my original idea came from. This is the original scene, written for Pride and Prejudice: Behind the Scenes that I souped up and continued for His Perfect Gift. In the meantime, if you haven’t preordered His Perfect Gift, you can do so here! Release is the 21st and coming quick!

26 January 1812.

An hour prior, Colonel Fitzwilliam had appeared in his study, insisting they had to venture out to a shop in Cheapside. Cheapside! Of course, he had refused, if for no other reason, but to avoid yet another reminder of Elizabeth Bennet. Was there nothing that would spare him the torment of her memory? Unfortunately, his cousin would not leave him to the solitude of his library.

“I must insist you finally tell me where we are going,” he demanded in a surly tone.

Fitzwilliam lifted his eyebrows. “My but you are ill-tempered this morning. What has you in such a mood these days?”

“You are aware how much I dislike the balls and dinner parties of the season? I have had to endure your mother’s Twelfth Night ball as well as a dinner party given by none other than Miss Bingley. I should think those two events alone would be enough to sour anyone’s disposition.” Darcy steered his attention to the view outside the window as he attempted to avoid any further discourse on the subject.

A hearty chuckle came from across the carriage. “The only teeth set on edge by Miss Bingley belong to you, cousin, and I daresay it is your own fault.”

His head jerked back. “My fault?”

“You are too concerned with offending Bingley, so you do not treat her in the curt manner you do most women.”

Aggravation with his cousin’s observation and the situation welled within him. “I may not enjoy speaking with the ladies as you do, but I am not curt.”

The colonel gave a small snort. “I beg to differ. I have seen many a lady who was offended by your method of keeping them at bay.”

“I have no wish to be ensnared by any of them, so I ensure I do nothing to encourage their hopes.” With a heavy exhale, Darcy grimaced. “But I am afraid my latest endeavour to be of aid to Bingley has not helped the matter with Miss Bingley.”

His cousin’s expression reflected his curiosity as he leaned forward in his seat. “So, you have saved Bingley from himself once again? What was it this time? Another bad investment opportunity?”

Darcy shook his head. “Bingley became enamoured of a local girl while in Hertfordshire.”

“That does not sound too dire,” responded the colonel. “He is always fancying himself in love; it passes soon enough.”

Again, he shook his head. “No, this time was different. Bingley showed a decided preference for the young lady from the first of their acquaintance, and by the time of the ball at Netherfield, it became apparent that he had raised the expectations of the neighbourhood. They all believed him soon to propose.”

His cousin furrowed his brows. “You felt a marriage to this lady to be imprudent?”

Darcy closed his eyes as he envisioned the deplorable behaviour of Mrs Bennet and the three youngest Bennet daughters. “It would have been a most imprudent match. She had little dowry, no connections, and the behaviour of her family was objectionable, to say the least.”

“You must consider it a triumph to have successfully separated the two.”

“You can be certain,” he stated with conviction. “My only regret is that by being in collusion with Miss Bingley, she seems more assured I will one day propose to her. She is intolerable.

Colonel Fitzwilliam regarded Darcy with a critical eye, prompting him to shift in his seat. “Come to think of it, your insufferable mood was not present until your return with Bingley.” A smirk lit his cousin’s face. “Did you make the acquaintance of a woman in Hertfordshire? Would you be pining for someone as unsuitable as Bingley’s new angel?”

He scoffed as he adjusted his cuffs. Elizabeth Bennet? Unsuitable? If not for her family and connections, she would be eminently suitable. “You are ridiculous. I would never be so imprudent.”

The colonel sighed. “No, I suppose you would not.”

“What is so special about this wine and brandy merchant?” asked Darcy, with the intention of changing the subject.

“As I told you earlier, he boasts of a particularly fine assortment of port, claret, and brandy. My father was impressed by their selection when he placed his order for the ball. I thought you might wish to meet the proprietor.”

He suppressed a smile at the success of his manoeuver. “I do not see the urgency of such a matter. I have a perfectly adequate supplier on Piccadilly Street, who I have used since my father passed.”

With an irritated huff, his cousin sat back against the squabs. “I would wager this man’s prices to be more reasonable. He will also deliver to Grosvenor Square and Belgravia, which means you should not have to return once you have set up an account.”

The two gentlemen stared at one another for a few seconds until Colonel Fitzwilliam shook his head and turned to watch the buildings pass through the window.

A row of houses along Gracechurch Street drew Darcy’s particular interest while he avoided further conversation with his cousin. Did one of them belong to the uncle of Elizabeth Bennet? He had never taken the time to study the neighbourhood in the past, and he had to admit some of these homes were actually pleasant and well tended. Of course, the appearances did not necessarily correspond to the personalities of the owners. After all, Longbourn was not objectionable from all outward appearances.

A small park ahead caught his eye. Had Miss Elizabeth ever walked in that park? With her love for the activity, she must have during one of her visits to her family. He could almost envision her strolling through the trees, her hair windswept and the hem of her dress stained with grass and dirt—much as she had appeared upon her arrival at Netherfield to care for her sister.

They drew closer, and a young lady at the front gates came into focus, revealing her to be none other than Jane Bennet. Darcy leaned back from the window, while he watched her walk into the park hand in hand with a small child, a servant trailing behind.

He would have to ensure Bingley remained away from Cheapside for the near future. They had struggled so to prevent his return to Hertfordshire and to conceal Miss Bennet’s presence in London; it would not do for him to happen upon her now.

“There is a handsome young lady,” said his cousin, interrupting his thoughts. “Who is she?”

With a shrug of his shoulders, Darcy donned a mask of feigned indifference. “How am I to know? I would imagine a tradesman’s daughter, one of good means by her dress.”

“You appeared to have recognised her, or at least, taken interest?”

“No, I am not acquainted with her, and as for her being of interest…” His last view as they passed was of Jane Bennet smiling to the child at her side. “She smiles too much.”

Colonel Fitzwilliam gave a bark of laughter. “That has to be the most preposterous notion I have ever heard you utter. What man has not been bewitched by the smile of a beautiful woman?”

Miss Elizabeth again came to mind and Darcy gave a wry grin. “Perhaps a pair of fine eyes might one day garner my notice.”

His cousin chuckled. “I pity you when they do. You are so accustomed to maintaining your distance, you will be at a loss as to how to win her favour.” He turned serious and held Darcy’s eye. “But she will be a lucky woman—a lucky woman indeed.”

I’ve mentioned this is coming, and due to popular demand, Rain and Retribution is on audiobook! I’m so excited and I hope everyone gets a chance to hear Alexandra Lee Smith’s brilliant narration, so until you are able to listen to your copy, I have a sample for you!

It’s one of my favorite scenes and the first I ever imagined, so when I started writing, I had to figure out how to get E and D on that road together. It was so much fun listening to Alexandra bring Darcy’s disbelief to life and I hope you enjoyed it as well.

To get your own copy click on the link to Audible US, Audible UK, Audible France, or Audible Germany

In the meantime, I’m giving away 5 copies of Alexandra’s fun great narration. Just leave me a comment below and let me know whether you’re Audible US or Audible UK so I know what kind of code to send you when the time comes 🙂

Happy listening!

Happy Monday! October 21st is coming quickly so don’t forget to preorder your copy of His Perfect Gift! If you’d like a sneak peek before publication, I’m putting up a few chapters prior to the 21st at Austen Variations. You can read Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 and I’ll be posting Chapter 3 this Friday! My working blurb is:

A reacquaintance with Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Christmas in London, what could go wrong?

Fitzwilliam Darcy is a man torn between choices. Having fled Hertfordshire with the singular goal of separating himself from the fine eyes and pert opinions of Miss Elizabeth Bennet, he finds himself face to face with her in London through a connection he never would have expected. He would like to abandon his reservations and court Miss Elizabeth, but other considerations are holding him back, including his family and friends, who might consider him honour-bound to another.

Following Mr. Bingley’s abrupt departure from Netherfield, Elizabeth Bennet accompanies her sister Jane to London to visit her aunt and uncle. A sudden reunion with the disagreeable Mr. Darcy is not in her plans, but the man she discovers is not the same one who insulted her so grievously at the Meryton Assembly. Instead, a doting brother and amiable gentleman calls upon her in Cheapside.

A quiet Christmas at Gracechurch Street with her aunt and uncle seemed ideal, but the inclusion of Mr. Darcy brings old acquaintances and conflicts neither expected.

Can Mr. Darcy convince his family and friends to choose Elizabeth? Could Elizabeth turn out to be his perfect gift?

I can’t wait for everyone to finally read it!

In other news! I have a few books that I removed from KU to give others a chance to purchase them in other formats. At the moment, Confined with Mr. Darcy, The Earl’s Conquest, It’s Always Been You, and He’s Always Been the One can be read on Nook, Oyster, Scribd, and iBooks. I attempted to move Undoing as well, but the distributor refused to approve the formatting for distribution. I have the letters formatted correctly, but they don’t like the spacing and want the letter completely clumped together, which makes the designer in me cringe. I apologize. I may try again in the future, but for the moment, I put Undoing back in KU.

I hope to start having new content back up here soon! In the meantime, stay happy and healthy!

Leslie xx

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