Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Huge Austen Variations Sale



Over at Austen Variations, and in collaboration with The Book Rat's Austen in August, we are having a huge sale of Austen-related novels from August 27th to September 5th. You will find the links on our Austen Variations Blog, but here a the list of discounted novels. More may be added, so keep checking that page.

Monica Fairview
  • Steampunk Darcy - $0.99
  • Mr. Darcy’s Pledge - $1.99
Maria Grace
  • Darcy’s Decision - $0.99
  • The Future Mrs. Darcy - $0.99
  • All the Appearance of Goodness - $1.99
 Abigail Reynolds
  • Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections - $0.99
  • The Darcys of Derbyshire - $0.99
  • A Pemberley Medley - $0.99
  • Morning Light - $0.99
  • By Force of Instinct - $0.99
Mary Lydon Simonsen
  • When They Fell in Love - $0.99
  • Becoming Elizabeth Darcy - $0.99
  • Darcy on the Hudson - $0.99
  • The Second Date - $0.99
  • Three’s a Crowd - $0.99
  • Another Place in Time - $1.99 
Shannon Winslow
  • For Myself Alone - $0.99

Jack Caldwell
  • Mr. Darcy Came to Dinner - $0.99

Kara Louise
  • Pirates and Prejudice - $1.99
  • Pemberley Celebrations - $1.99
  • Master Under Good Regulation -  $1.99

Susan Mason Milks
  • Mr. Darcy’s Proposal - $1.99

Jane Odiwe
  • Project Darcy - $1.99
  • Searching for Captain Wentworth - $1.99

Marilyn Brant
  • Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match - $2.99

Cassandra Grafton
  • A Fair Prospect (3 Volume Set) - $2.99

Links for each book to Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, etc. at www.austenvariations.com/austen-in-august-book-sale-aug-18-31/


Monday, 16 June 2014

Coming Soon ... The Darcy Brothers


Imagine that Mr. Darcy has a handsome younger brother, Mr. Theophilus Darcy. Then imagine that Theo Darcy happens to be the opposite of Darcy. Where Darcy likes to keep things under control, Theo is easy-going. Where Darcy is awkward among strangers, Theo is a charmer. Where Darcy took his studies seriously, Theo was sent down from Oxford for his pranks. Where Darcy has shunned Wickham as a villain for years, Theo was once under Wickham’s influence.

What if Theo were to meet Elizabeth Bennet? Would he charm the young lady’s stockings off or would he help his brother win her hand?

Find out as the two brothers lock horns in this unique group-written Pride and Prejudice “what-if” variation.  

Many of you may already have followed our group project The Darcy Brothers on Austen Variations, but if you haven't, you have a treat in store for you. We are now working on editing the final version and hope to get the novel out very soon indeed. 

I'm particularly proud to have been part of the team writing The Darcy Brothers because it was an exciting challenge. Since we were posting live on Austen Variations every Wednesday, we had to do a tremendous amount of coordination behind the scenes to produce that chapter. The writing had to blend seamlessly. We had to discuss plot lines and character development and all members of the team had to agree on the direction we were going. But more challenging even was that The Darcy Brothers was a reader driven novel. Yes, you read it right. Each week, the readers were given three possible plot ideas and asked to vote on them. Which meant that we could not actually start writing until the readers had made their choice!

It was a tremendous amount of fun having the readers discuss in their comments which direction the story should take. Some of the comments were hilarious, providing wild alternative plot suggestions (Dave, are you there?). Others provided the stimulus for rethinking the direction we were taking in the novel. 

As well as having very articulate readers to please ;) there were other complexities we needed to work out. Since the project consisted of twenty-four chapters spread over as many weeks, communicating with authors living in three different countries and different time zones had its challenges. Being consistent, especially when it involved a scene someone else wrote earlier, required constant double-checking. 

Tailoring your writing to such a number of expectations was not an easy process. You could not go on a tangent and do your own thing, which was quite taxing for a group of creative writers used to following their individual creative muses!! 

Overall, however, it was a wonderful experience of coordinated writing. Most importantly, I think the final product is pretty amazing. It's the result of many minds and many imaginations brought together to produce a wonderful story. 

Here is an excerpt to give you a taste of the novel if you haven't yet sampled it. If you have sampled it, here is a freshly edited selection.

The butler met them at the door with a look of profound relief. “Her ladyship has been asking for Mr. Theophilus this last half hour.”

Theo laughed as he handed off his hat and gloves. “And no doubt blaming you and everyone else for your inability to produce me instantly for her convenience. Never fear; I will go to her immediately before she abuses anyone else for my absence.” He winked at Darcy before striding off toward Lady Catherine’s throne room. Even the prospect of a tongue-lashing from his aunt for some imagined sin could not suppress his high spirits. He had not realized how much he had longed for his brother to see him in a light which did not involve disapproval.

Astonishingly, Lady Catherine did not seem to be angered with him either, but instead had remembered several crucial pieces of advice she had not given him that morning. Or perhaps it was several hundred pieces. It certainly took her long enough to tell him her thoughts, but he stopped listening after the first few minutes. As long as he nodded, looked thoughtful, and occasionally agreed she had a point, his aunt was perfectly content to dispense her wisdom. Instead, Theo contemplated all he had learned at the parsonage. Miss Bennet might indeed be just what his brother needed.

Finally Lady Catherine wound down, and Theo thanked her for her fine advice and condescension. Even Mr. Collins could not have done better.

He had not yet exited the room when she said, “And one more thing, Theophilus. Tell your brother I want to see him. The settlement has waited quite long enough.”

Theo decided he might just wait a little before giving Darcy that message. It would put him in a foul mood, and he wanted to enjoy a little more pleasant time with his brother first. The settlement had waited for years already; it could wait a little longer.

He found Darcy staring into the fire in the sitting room, a glass of brandy in his hand and a dark look on his face. He narrowed his eyes at the sight of Theo.

Theo’s gut clenched. What could William possibly be angry about now? He could not have done anything wrong in the brief time they had been apart. Even if his brother had seen his behavior with their aunt, there would have been nothing he could object to. But Theo knew that look. He had seen it far too often.

Since there seemed no hope of companionable time together after all, Theo said, “Our aunt wishes to see you now.”

Darcy ignored him. “There is a letter for you.” His voice dripped scorn as he gestured to the small table by his side.

So that was it. William disapproved of many of his associates, usually for the wrong reasons, but this seemed excessive. How much damage could a letter do? He stepped forward to take the letter.

He shook his head when he recognized the handwriting. This particular letter could do a great deal of damage. Why did George Wickham have to decide to write to him at this particular moment? Especially since Theo had made it quite clear to him their friendship had ended that day in Ramsgate. Not that Darcy would believe it, especially with this evidence in hand. Clearly he had recognized Wickham’s hand as well, since the seal was still intact.

“You said you were no longer in contact with Wickham.” It was an accusation.

There was no point in prevaricating. He would rather get this over with quickly. “I have not been in contact with him, but he persists in sending requests for money. I ignore them.”

“I do not believe you.”

It was too much, after his earlier hopes that someday he and William might settle their differences. “Believe what you like. You always do, in any case.”

William held out his hand. “Give me that letter.”

Theo bit down on a scathing retort, then forced himself to speak calmly. “You may be the head of the family, but that does not entitle you to read my personal correspondence.”

“So you do have something to hide. Give it to me.”

Theo fingered the letter. There would be nothing of importance in it. He always threw Wickham’s letters away without a response. Well, this time he would throw it away without a reading. “I have nothing to hide, and no need or desire to know what Wickham has to say.” He drew out the letter slowly, but William’s satisfied look was more than he could tolerate. With a quick turn, he tossed the unopened letter into the fire.

“Damn you!” Darcy dove for the hearth and snatched the letter out, but it was already alight, a merry flame dancing from the end of it. Darcy, forced to drop it, stamped on it as he blew on his burned fingers. Smoke curled around his boot.

Theo crossed his arms. “There is an ember on your waistcoat. Playing with fire is dangerous, you know.”

Darcy glared at him as he brushed away the offending ember, leaving a black spot behind on the fine green silk. “You would know. You spend your entire life playing with fire.” He picked up the charred letter and unfolded it, causing nearly half of it to drop away in ashes. His eyes moved across the remaining portion, then he grew pale.

Despite his resolve to keep his distance, Theo could not help himself. “Is something the matter?”

His brother folded the charred letter with what seemed like unnecessary precision. “Nothing you would care about. It seems I will be leaving for London shortly, and I expect you to remain here and out of mischief.”

What had been in the letter? But he could hardly ask after having thrown it into the fire. “As you wish.” He opened the door and strode out, forcing himself not to look back at William. 

Monday, 2 June 2014

Laughing With Lizzie: Mr Darcy's Pledge by Monica Fairview - with giveaw...

Laughing With Lizzie: Mr Darcy's Pledge by Monica Fairview - with giveaw...: I was very pleased when I was asked if I would review Mr Darcy's Pledge (Volume I) for the lovely Monica Fairview. (I was provided wi...

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

More Agreeably Engaged: My Share in the Conversation Review and GIVEAWAY

More Agreeably Engaged: My Share in the Conversation...: I will no longer be posting stars for my reviews on this blog. I will do so where I must, as on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads. My...

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

More Agreeably Engaged: Getting to Know Mr. Darcy with Monica Fairview

More Agreeably Engaged: Getting to Know Mr. Darcy with Monica Fairview: Hello Dear Readers! You are in for a treat today. If the title didn't grab your interest then my guest will. Monica Fairview is here to...

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Mr. Darcy's Pledge now available on Nook

For those of you who are loyal to Barnes and Noble, I wanted to let you know that Mr. Darcy's Pledge is now available on Nook. Hurray!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

MY JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB: SPOTLIGHT ON ... MONICA FAIRVIEW'S MR DARCY'S PLED...

MY JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB: SPOTLIGHT ON ... MONICA FAIRVIEW'S MR DARCY'S PLED...: Mr Darcy's Pledge Torn between his heart and his mind… Mr. Darcy must make a choice. Fitzwilliam Darcy has always been able t...

Friday, 9 May 2014

Leatherbound Reviews: Excerpt: Mr. Darcy's Pledge by Monica Fairview & G...

For another chance to win a copy of Mr. Darcy's Pledge:



Leatherbound Reviews: Excerpt: Mr. Darcy's Pledge by Monica Fairview & G...: I am so pleased to have the lovely Monica Fairview as a guest today! Her latest novel, Mr. Darcy's Pledge , is the first volume in the ...

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Leatherbound Reviews: Review: Mr. Darcy's Pledge by Monica Fairview

Leatherbound Reviews: Review: Mr. Darcy's Pledge by Monica Fairview: I’d only read one book by Monica Fairview before this, Steampunk Darcy , which I really enjoyed, so I was very grateful to Jakki for the ...

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

New Cover For Mr. Darcy's Pledge + Giveaway on Goodreads

The new cover of my new Pride and Prejudice variation has been now been revealed (and it isn't the one in the post below). I'm thrilled at the response I've had so far to the cover. I can't wait for the official launch which is set for May 6th on Austen Variations.
Meanwhile, I would like to let you know that I am giving away a paperback version of Mr. Darcy's Pledge on Goodreads. The giveaway is running today and tomorrow until midnight, so hurry on over to get your name in before it ends. The winners are picked by the Goodreads team.


 Here is the link to the Goodreads giveaway. Good luck!


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Mr. Darcy's Pledge by Monica Fairview

Mr. Darcy's Pledge

by Monica Fairview

Giveaway ends May 02, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Thursday, 13 February 2014

New Austen Variation coming out in May

My latest Austen-inspired novel, MR. DARCY'S PLEDGE, will be coming out in April 2014. I'm very excited about this one as it's the first time I've told the story mainly from Mr. Darcy's perspective.

Keep an eye out for more announcements and information, but for now, here's a look at the cover.


Friday, 15 November 2013

The Darcy Cousins on ABC Nightline!!

Here is a fun clip from ABC Nightline about the Jane Austen Fascination. I'm of course thrilled because my novel The Darcy Cousins makes an appearance. I was really stunned -- I did a double take and went back because I was so thrilled!

Here it is:

http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/mr-darcy-jane-austen-super-fans-20897217


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Leatherbound Reviews: Review: Steampunk Darcy by Monica Fairview

Leatherbound Reviews: Review: Steampunk Darcy by Monica Fairview: From the publisher: William Darcy is obsessed with his ancestors. So much so that he intends to rebuild Pemberley (destroyed during the...

Monday, 28 October 2013

Just for fun -- getting into the Halloween Spirit

I was putting together the ingredients to make pumpkin cream cheese muffins and I wondered about something I didn't think about before which was: The essence of Halloween is dressing up as something you're not, right? It's also associated with pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns, right.

So Cinderella has to be the perfect Halloween story. A pumpkin that magically transforms into a carriage, and a young woman in rags who impersonates a princess. Strange, really, when you think about it. Was Cinderella meant to be a Halloween story? Apparently not, not when you look at the origins.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share a children's Halloween poem I wrote a while ago and pushed to the bottom of my bottomless drawer of scribbles.

If you'd like to share, please do, but don't forget to mention my name and link back to this blog : )


Halloween Poem

by Monica Fairview

Wandering down the ghoulish street

looking for a trick or treat

past the cobwebs, high and low

white ghosts flying to and fro

jack-a-lanterns all a-glowing

orange lights from windows flowing

skeletons wave their arms to me

trying to tell their mystery

all in all it’s quite a sight

walking on this moonlit night





 


What’s that sound? A gurgled scream

I think I heard it in a dream

that green-skinned monster with bulging eyes


is far too real for a disguise

A black-caped Dracula blocks my way

with blood on his fangs he starts to say:

“I am a vampire….” but I don’t listen

everything around me starts to glisten

It isn’t a dream, it’s a spell

the peaceful street is turned to hell


I quickly dodge a looming witch

who’s trying to hit me with a switch

And ugly goblins behind a tree

prepare themselves to pounce on me

A hideous spider grabs my shoulder

but lo and behold, I’m getting bolder

I spin around and start to spar

with karate kicks I become a star

the monsters scatter in all directions

leaving behind all their confections


Then everything’s quiet and all I see

is trick-and-treaters just like me

with mothers and fathers and sisters, too

it’s just like a friendly kind of zoo

with rabbits and cats and frogs and mice

all helping each other and being nice

with plenty of sweeties and fun for all

the crunch of leaves, the sound of fall

I call my Daddy, then hold his hand

I guide him through this magic land.


© Monica Fairview




Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Steampunk Darcy Launch Day!! Woohoo!

Well, it's finally here! Today is launch day, and to celebrate there are a few things going on




The Official Launch Party and Grand Giveaway
at
So please come and join us to find out more about what Steampunk Darcy is all about

I'm also visiting at
where I have 10 snippets of information about Steampunk Darcy that you might want to read.

For another chance to win an e-book head over to read yesterday's interview and enter the Rafflecopter at

And you still have a chance of winning a paperback copy of Steampunk Darcy at
Goodreads

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Steampunk Darcy by Monica Fairview

Steampunk Darcy

by Monica Fairview

Giveaway ends October 17, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

New Goodreads Giveaway


Just thought I'd give you the thumbs up for my new Goodreads Giveaway. It starts in five days to coincide with the release of Steampunk Darcy, so don't forget to mark your calendars and spread the news.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Steampunk Darcy by Monica Fairview

Steampunk Darcy

by Monica Fairview

Giveaway ends October 17, 2013.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Winner of Goodreads Giveaway


The competition for a copy of Steampunk Darcy on Goodreads was very fierce. I am therefore planning to have another Giveaway very soon. I'll announce it again here.

The winner was Eszter Ketesz from Transylvania, Romania.

Congratulations, Eszter!!

For those of you who want to know a bit more about Steampunk (and even if you don't), here's a great video depicting different aspects of Steampunk. You might want to skip some of the initial commentary, especially since the video is so long, but it does a good job giving a sense of the various aspects of the genre as well as its international dimensions.
 

Friday, 27 September 2013

Steampunk Darcy Blog Tour



To celebrate the release I’ll be doing a tour of various blogs as well as having giveaways. Please stop in along the way and join the discussion or enter for a giveaway of
 
September
30/09 Goodreads giveaway (2 days)
October
03/10 To Read or Not to Read Interview 
14/10 My Jane Austen Book Club Interview and Giveaway

15/10 STEAMPUNK DARCY LAUNCH AND GIVEAWAY ON AUSTENPROSE!

15/10 Buckeye Girl Reads Post and Giveaway
16/10 Indie Jane Blog Post 
16/10 Coffee Time Romance Revelry and Giveaway  
18/10 Jera’s Jamboree Interview 
21/10 Austenesque Reviews Post 
21/10 Indie Jane Review 
22/10 Romantic Novelists Association Post 
24/10 Long and Short Reviews Interview
26/10 Austen Authors Post and Giveaway
28/10 Jane Austen Sequels Post and Giveaway
29/10 Colette Saucier's Blog Post
29/10 Coffee Time Romance Steampunk Spook-tacular Event

9 PM EST / 8 PM Central / 6 PM Pacific USA
Live Chat (you'll need to register to participate -- it's free)

30/10 Reflections of A Book Addict Post and Giveaway

Coming up in November
12/11 Leather Bound Reviews Review
18/11 Indie Jane Review
17-26/11 vvb32 TEA at THE FILIGREE Steampunk Style


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Steampunk Darcy Giveaway on Goodreads


The giveaway is for TWO DAYS only, starting Monday September 30th

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Steampunk Darcy by Monica Fairview

Steampunk Darcy

by Monica Fairview

Giveaway ends October 02, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Friday, 13 September 2013

Winchester: A stop on the Jane Austen Tour

On Wednesday I took the train from Clapham Junction to Winchester to meet Laurel Ann Nattress (editor of Jane Austen Made Me Do It) and her Jane Austen Tour Group. Luckily, I didn't have to ride in a locomotive like the one below because it would have taken me a lot longer than the one hour forty-five minutes it took for me to get to Winchester where I was supposed to meet them. Though it might have been fun to chug along in the days when this steam-operated train (below) ran from London to Southampton, it would have taken me quite a lot longer!


Built in 1894 and withdrawn 1949 courtesy Ben Brooksbank
As I passed through a quintessentially English scene with its gentle hills and its quiet "verdure" (Winchester is at the edge of the South Downs), I was surprised to see far more cows than sheep. The black and white cows reminded me of Switzerland, but only briefly. The small fields enclosed by hedgerows are too distinctive. It occurred to me then that, although we think of hedgerows as very much part of the English landscape, that wasn't necessarily the case when Jane Austen was travelling that way. The majority of English hedges were set up during the course of Austen's lifetime, as enclosure laws changed the look of the landscape and the spaces of open hunting grounds and public grazing land were cut up and clearly defined as private property.

Perhaps because it's autumn, when many of the golden fields have been harvested, and the weather is overcast and cold, but as I approach Winchester I find myself turning maudlin. Winchester is the city where Jane Austen came to die. I'm not usually one to linger over these things, but perhaps because I read The Mysterious Death of Miss Austen by Lindsay Ashford not so long ago, I can't help feeling that Winchester is one place where I can't follow in footsteps of Jane Austen because by the time she reached Winchester she was already too far gone to be able to leave the house.

Which is a shame, really, because Jane would have loved Winchester, and there was a lovely little bookshop right next door to where she lived which she would have enjoyed.




The bookshop is clearly old, with old wooden fittings and the small  windows typical of 19th century establishments, so I went in to ask if they had existed at the time of Jane Austen.

A very helpful and knowledgeable woman working in P&G Wells who is a history enthusiast showed me a booklet outlining the history of the shop. Here is the cover.

As you can see, at the time of Jane Austen it would have also been a bookshop (with a different name), though since then it has been spruced up and given new glass with a beautiful art deco motif. A photo of the shop taken at the turn of the century gives us a glimpse of Jane Austen's house, which at that time had railings (melted down for the war effort, apparently).

All the time I was trying not to look at the plaque which said
In this house Jane Austen lived her last days and died 18th July 1817

I didn't stay gloomy for long, though. Another Jane was with me -- Jane Odiwe -- and a friend of hers, Caroline. I'm sure you're familiar with Jane O's work but she's the author of Searching for Captain Wentworth and Mr. Darcy's Secret. We snapped photos in the rain and I admired Jane Odiwe's parasol-like umbrella.

Then it was time to meet Laurel Ann and her Janeite crowd in an English pub that was having a very hard time adjusting to American demands. Iced water in a pitcher? Ordering at the table? What was going on? The poor waiter struggled unsuccessfully to cross the [English] language barrier as conflicting expectations clashed. When he finally gave up and said everyone had to order at the bar (which is the normal thing at a British pub), everyone looked so outraged he had to quickly backtrack.

But what a lovely evening when you're surrounded by a large group of people who all want to talk about Jane Austen. I also enjoyed hearing about the tour member's impressions of England. To top it all, I had the pleasure of meeting Nancy Kelley (author of Loving Miss Darcy and His Good Opinion) and Lynn Shepherd (Murder at Mansfield Park). Nancy and I had a great chat that included Dr. Who, her favourite Steampunk authors, and having fun with Darcy. If you want to know more about our conversation, Nancy has a great write-up on her blog called Having Fun With Darcy.

Tomorrow the weather forecast in Bath is for some rain. I wish I had a parasol/umbrella like Jane Odiwe's!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Cover Reveal and Excerpt: Steampunk Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Inspired Adventure

 

Alright everybody. Here's my new cover. What do you think?

Designed by the talented JD Dixon



White Soup Press

What kind of impression do you get from the cover?


Thank you for following me here to my blog! Please remember to sign up to receive news, updates and posts.

Now, exclusively here on My Steampunk Darcy Realm, I'm posting the first teaser extract from the novel.  


Excerpt

Chapter 1


Alright, Mr. Hoity-Toity. This had better be good. I’m risking skin and bone to get here.

The door opened and she strode into—.

Whatever it was, it wasn’t an office. It was an emporium, a museum and the Great Exhibition of 1851, complete with Victorian gents and ladies who had the glazed look of trophy animals. Except that the Victorians were standing around instead of hanging on the wall.

“Are these actual people? Did you have them stuffed and embalmed?” she asked, by way of greeting, “Or are they wax figures, like Madame Tussauds?”

In the gloomy gas lamp-lit interior, she couldn’t tell which one of them was William Darcy until he stepped forward and bowed.

“Welcome to Longbourn Laboratories, Miss Grant.”

The smirk fell off her face.

Raven black hair with a green swirl draped over his left eye. Silver eyes like the sheen of a dagger. 

Gorgeous was not the right word for him. Gorgeous was a word invented for ordinary mortals. This particular specimen was splenderous. She didn’t know if it was a real word but it was the right one.

For just a second, she had a sense of vertigo.

Vertigo? A seasoned aviator like me? To bring herself back down to earth, she focused on the flaws in his appearance. The tailored green frockcoat that skimmed the top of his knees was shipshape, except for the fluffy bits (cotton? Did he manufacture cloth?). His silver cravat would have done the most demanding gentleman proud, but it looked crooked, as if he’d been tugging at it. The silver earpiece with jade stones matched perfectly with his outfit, but it was lopsided as if he’d put it on in a hurry. Everything about him suggested a need to keep moving.

Looking for his flaws hadn’t helped at all. If anything, it had given her a chance to ogle him more closely, which somehow had an undesirable effect on her knees – and other parts of her. Her knees especially.

Nobody turned Seraphene’s knees soggy. Not without her permission.

Her gaze drifted back to his face.

He was scrutinizing her with his right eyebrow slanted arrogantly upwards, a monocle in hand.

She was definitely averse to arrogant eyebrows and she absolutely did not like monocles, no matter how fashionable they might be.

That put some backbone into her knees. She snapped out of it. He could be as splenderous as he wanted. She was here to do a job, and unless he happened to be interested in dead-end scientific research, which was her legal work, then he wanted her for something illegal and she intended to make him pay through his teeth. That meant she couldn’t afford to even look in his splenderous direction or he might just manage to distract her.  

She looked at the closest surface to her, which was a shelf, and there, casually cast there – too casually --was a print newspaper with a large headline announcing the opening of the Great Exhibition with a daguerreotype photograph of Queen Victoria.

She examined the newspaper. She could have sworn it was the genuine article. Yellowed pages, jagged edges and all. It would fetch a good price. She wondered if he would notice if she nicked it. Her hand twitched.

“It’s authentic,” said the deep, British-sounding voice. “You may have it if you like.”

It was a bribe. She knew it, and he knew it. He’d chosen that newspaper deliberately to entice her.

“No thanks,” she said, putting her hands behind her back and holding them tightly together. The newspaper was bait but she wasn’t going to play fish.

“Take it with you when you leave, then,” said Darcy, with bored indifference. He took down the newspaper, folded it, and tossed it – tossed it! – onto the neighboring chair. Seraphene cringed. It was like tossing a Spode china cup onto a side table.

She refused to be rattled by his pretentious disdain for valuable objects.

“You sent me an invitation, Mr. Darcy.” A flat statement of fact.

“Call me Darcy. Most people do. May I call you Seraphene? It makes negotiating much less cumbersome. I’m delighted you agreed to see me, Seraphene.”

There was definitely something smug about the way he said it. He was taking her for granted, assuming she’d agree to any terms he set.

He didn’t know her yet.

“I wouldn’t exactly call it agreeing.” Though technically, she supposed she had, just by showing up. “Perhaps I came out of curiosity.”

“Of course. I’d counted on that. It’s every scientist’s weakness.”

She was tempted to point out that it must be his as well, but she bit her tongue. Just because she didn’t like his arrogance didn’t mean she should start being petty. Besides, she was ready to bet he hadn’t invited her here because she was a scientist. 

“Let’s get down to business, then,” she said. “If you have cargo to unload I might as well warn you that I charge a high price for anything that involves risk.”

His silver grey eyes glimmered in amusement.

Hades’ hounds! Those eyes could melt whatever was left of the icebergs. They certainly turned something inside her to slush. She struggled to pull her scrambled thoughts together.

At this rate, she’d be selling her soul to him within the next three seconds. Now she knew how he’d earned his reputation for never taking no for an answer. He turned his victims into jelly-legged squat-fish the moment they walked through the door.

He’s probably counting on having this effect on me.

The thought worked like a splash of cold water. It dampened her pheromone-controlled response long enough to unscramble her thoughts into something close to logic.

“I see you like to come straight to the point,” he said. “Good. I like that in my employees.”

“May I point out, Mar. Darcy, that I haven’t agreed to anything, let alone being your employee.”

Darcy was only too well aware of that fact. He didn’t reply, preferring to use his time more effectively by examining her instead. There were too many unknowns about Seraphene, and far too much depended on him getting things right. He couldn’t afford to take any chances.

So far she was living up to expectations. He liked the grit he saw in her face. As for that jutting jaw, it confirmed what he’d originally suspected. He wouldn’t be able to acquire her easily.

Her clothing was another matter entirely. Most of the projections pictured her in a cardinal laboratory coat with a shiny silver collar – trademark of Copperfield Laboratories – that concealed her feminine curves. Today she looked different. An aviator and not a scientist at all. He hadn’t quite expected the tight orange tailcoat with the leather fastenings emphasizing rounded breasts, nor had he anticipated the impact her orange-and-black checkered bloomers had on him, with their frilled black border and ribbons trailing over curvaceous calves as she walked.

Not many women of his class revealed their calves. These particular calves were—alluring.

He curbed his reaction firmly. This wasn’t the time for distractions. What she looked like was irrelevant. He would take her on even if she’d happened to be a squat-fish. She was the right person for the job, which was the only thing that counted.

“Shall we be seated, Seraphene?” he said, in as soothing a manner as he could. He needed her to let her guard down.

As if reading his thoughts, she advanced towards the most uncomfortable seat; a genuine Victorian chair with an elaborate foliage motif. He found it impossible to lean back in that chair without scraping his back. He never sat on it himself. Its purpose was strictly decorative.  

So much for getting her to let her guard down. 

She sat down, bolt upright, completely alert and most definitely watchful. She really wasn’t going to concede anything, was she?

Darcy realized he was still standing, which wasn’t a good idea at all. It wouldn’t do to loom over her and look intimidating. He sat down in the sofa opposite her and leaned back, bringing his hands behind his head, trying to put her at ease.

He also needed to put himself at ease. If he somehow misjudged, made a mistake…

There would be no mistake.

“It so happens I didn’t bring you here to unload cargo, as you call it,” he said. “I’m not at all interested in you as an aviator.”

He noted the stiffening of her body, the way her eyes grew even more wary.

“What I’m looking for is a scientist with a particular type of training. I picked you out from a list of thirty potential candidates – who were themselves whittled down by my assistants from over four hundred possibilities – because you have several unique traits that make you ideal for the work I have in mind. I should perhaps point out that, brilliant as you are as a researcher, there is a long list of other outstanding qualities that prompted me to choose you.”

He was probably laying it on a bit too thick, though every word was true. He needed her on his side and he was going to use anything that might smooth his way.

“You don’t have to list my qualities, thanks. I’m not susceptible to flattery.”

He grinned because she’d confirmed his suspicions. She was going to fight him all the way. He felt better, now that he could predict her reactions.

“Everyone’s susceptible to flattery, my dear girl. Part of the human condition. It’s just a matter of discovering the chink in the armor. But now that you’ve seen through me, I won’t stoop to such measures with you. From this point onwards, let’s agree that flattery will get me nowhere.”

He unlocked his hands and leaned towards her.

“Do you want to know what the job involves?”

He paused for a long moment, making her wait, arousing her curiosity.

Suspicion rather than curiosity lurked in her eyes. A thundercloud loomed around her, ready to spark lightening.

Faced with her open suspicion, he felt a tiny niggle of guilt. She was right to be suspicious. He intended to hire her under false pretenses. Not that he had any choice in the matter. He wanted her on board and there simply wasn’t any other way. He would bring her round, by hook or by crook. He hoped, for her sake, that the hook would be enough but he suspected it would be more of the latter.

He hated being in this situation, but what was a gentleman to do?

“The job involves researching my ancestors,” he said.

Which said nothing at all, of course. He needed to keep things as vague as possible at this stage. 

She bit her lip and shifted in her chair. Her gaze flicked over to the door. He was losing her. He had to reel her in quickly or she would slip through his fingers. 

“Give me a chance to explain. As you know, Pemberley was my ancestral home before it was destroyed, first during the Blitz, then by the slime rain before the Uprising. What I require – in a nutshell -- is a detailed record of Pemberley as it was at its height, during the Regency period. I want to know everything about it, from the paintings on the wall to what the servants ate for breakfast. I would also like a detailed rendition of Fitzwilliam Darcy and his wife Lizzy at the beginning of their marriage. I want to know their manners, their personal peculiarities, their interactions with each other, their food preferences, their taste in music -- just about everything there is to know.”

She leaned forward. Aha. She was taking the bait.

“We know very little about them beyond what their biographer recorded,” she said.

“I know you’re already familiar with Jane Austen’s account.” He allowed a heavy pause to fill the air between them. “But there are other records.”

He took out his monocle from his waistcoat and trained it on her as he watched her digest this. He loveda sense of drama.

“Well?” she prompted.

Impressive. She was keeping her options open.

“Well,” he said, tucking the monocle back where it belonged. “You can expect generous compensation.”

Normally people looked eager when they heard the words “generous” and “compensation,” in the same sentence. Seraphene frowned instead. She twitched her fingers as if to drum them against the armchair then stopped herself. He followed the gesture, stored it in his memory. She’d reached the limit of her patience.

“You’re going to be studying daguerreotypes of Pemberley – exact images. The real thing. Retro-vectrographs.”

He realized as soon as he said it that he shouldn’t have used that particular word. It implied too much knowledge of the scientific investigations going on at Copperfield.

A long silence followed, interrupted only by a grandfather clock that sounded the half-hour. Ding. Dong. Ding. Dong. Like the drums just before an acrobat performed her most daring act.

Seraphene struggled to control her expression. She felt as though someone had just thrown her back into the river after pulling her out and saving her. She didn’t want Darcy to know the depths of her dismay, if only because she didn’t want to look entirely na├»ve and stupid.

Meanwhile, he sat there, waiting expectantly, as if he’d made a perfectly acceptable suggestion.

She’d come to meet Darcy in good faith. Granted, she’d had her doubts. And granted, curiosity hadbeen her main motive. But some part of her had wondered what he’d come up with, hoping it was something that wouldn’t burden her conscience, because she really could do with a halfway legal job that would earn her decent tin. She’d been trying to go straight for seven whole years now and it hadn’t netted her much. With two other mouths to feed, some seriously extra credits would be more than welcome.

She’d hoped he wouldn’t ask her to do something impossible.

She’d hoped he was a gentleman.

He wasn’t much better than a common crook. This, then, was how he’d built his empire on the Charles; not through his own ideas, not through his own designs, but by paying to steal ideas from other people.

“Mr. Darcy,” she said coldly. “You’ve made a serious mistake here. Even if I weren’t committed to a Guild – which I am – I have a strong sense of loyalty towards Copperfield. You’ve clearly failed in your background search if you think I’d quite simply hand over years of scientific investigation to you for what you call so very politely compensation. We’re not living in the pre-Uprising era, when greed and material gain were commonly accepted traits and people were willing to sell anything given the right price. You must know, surely, that I played an active part in the Restoration Movement and that my work comes from a real desire to recapture the positive values of the past.” 

“Now listen, old girl—”

She didn’t know which part of the phrase she objected to most. She was definitely not a girl, and she certainly didn’t like being called old.

“No, you listen, old boy,” she replied. “As of this instant, we have nothing further to discuss. I’m off.”

If Seraphene expected him to look the slightest bit upset by her announcement, she was doomed to disappointment.

“You can’t leave,” said Darcy, in a most matter of fact tone.

Was he actually smirking? It was difficult to tell. Anyway, he could smirk all he wanted. It wouldn’t change the outcome.

“Of course I can leave. You’re not planning to keep me here by force, I hope?”

Was he capable of it? Surely not? Fear blew through her like a winter wind. She’d gone and put herself completely at his mercy. Hardly anyone knew she was here.

 “Tut, tut,” said Darcy. “I can see we have a misunderstanding. You’ve omitted to read the fine print on your invitation.”

“What fine print?”

“My point exactly.”

Highly apprehensive now, her heart sinking like a mercury thermometer, she took out his calling card. Yes, there was some minuscule print at the bottom, but it was so microscopic, so infinitesimally tiny, it was impossible to read with the naked eye. It didn’t even look like letters. It looked like a line with irregular parts to it.

He opened a drawer obligingly and produced a magnifying glass. “You’ll find this helpful.”

She snatched the glass from his hand and balanced it above the dots. The dots resolved themselves into engorged letters.

Accepting this invitation to visit constitutes a legally binding commitment to become an employee of William Darcy.

She should have known better. She should have checked for small print, of course. The fact that it was miniscule didn’t excuse her.

She examined the words carefully, looking for the tiniest hint of a loophole. For a heart-chilling moment, she thought he had the better of her.

When she raised her gaze to him, she had difficulty holding back her sense of triumph.

“Was your father called William Darcy?”

“Yes.”

“And your father before him?”

“Of course.”

“Then in that case, this contract is null and void.” She tore the invitation up into pieces and tossed it to the floor. “My commitment was to your grandfather, and since he’s no longer alive to honor it, the contract no longer holds.”

He was silent for so long she allowed the triumph to spread through her, hugging it to herself.

“Several shrewd businesspersons have fallen for that one,” said Darcy, finally. “I’m impressed that you saw through it so quickly. Unfortunately.”

She shrugged and grinned. “You lose some, you gain some. No hard feelings.”

“No hard feelings,” he replied. He reached out for a bell-pull. “Now that we’ve settled things, perhaps we can break for a cup of tea? I’ll ring for a tea tray.”

She had the feeling of being maneuvered into something, but her mouth was dry and she could do with some tea. It would bolster her up for the next round.

Because she had the strongest feeling there was going to be one.

End of Excerpt

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With no petals, must have been hard work going uphill!!!