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The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Christine Combe ~ Excerpt and Giveaway


I'm happy to welcome to the blog today for the first time Christine Combe with her newest novel The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Christine has been generous to bless us with an excerpt and a giveaway. Thank you, Christine! The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy releases on August 7th. 


Greetings, fellow Austenians! I’m so excited to be visiting A Novel Sentiment today to talk to you about my upcoming release, The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy. It’s my first standalone Austen variation and I really hope you’ll like it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.


In this new story, circumstances are vastly different for ODC: Elizabeth and her sisters are the daughters of a baronet and Darcy has no fortune. But as always, the stars align, and one of literature’s most beloved couples unite, determined to take on the world together!

In case you haven’t been following along as I posted the chapters at A Happy Assembly, here’s the opening of chapter 2:

***
Friday, 1 February 1811

“Master Fitzwilliam, you must come inside. It is time for luncheon.”

Fitzwilliam Darcy at first ignored the words, instead swinging the axe he held back and over his head and down again in a wide circle, splitting the log on the stump perfectly in two.

“I have but a few more logs, Reynolds. I shall come in when I am finished,” he replied as he took up one of the halves he had just cut and prepared to half it as well.

Percival Reynolds, a man near in age to Darcy’s late father—who had been with the family since before he was born—stepped closer. He boldly stayed the hand that held the axe before Darcy could swing it again.

“Sir, the woodpile can wait until you’ve had some rest and taken some refreshment,” he said firmly. “You’ve been out in the cold all day; it is time you should be inside and warm for a while.”

Darcy opened his mouth to argue, but the expression on the old butler’s face stayed his tongue. That disapproving look had long served its purpose, and even now that he was grown, he could not ignore it.

Heaving a sigh, he propped the axe up against the old stump and relented. “Very well, Reynolds. Lead on.”

Reynolds stood still until Darcy moved past him with a shake of his head. The two men walked the short distance to the old cottage where they resided together with Reynolds’ wife, Rosemary. He felt himself scowl, as he sometimes did on approach to the place. Oh, there was nothing wrong with the two-story, four-bedroom cottage—it was snug, but a respectable dwelling. A small family or newly married couple could do very well in it, to be sure.

But he was not a newly married young man. He was Fitzwilliam Darcy, the grandson of an earl, and he should not have had to make his home in a cottage with only two servants to tend him.

Of course, the Reynolds’ were, for all intents and purposes, not working for him. He wasn’t paying them a salary to remain—they had done so purely out of loyalty, and the excellent goodness of their hearts. As the old Pemberley butler had declared on their vacating of the estate house, “We go where our master goes, sir.” This had been followed by his wife’s teary, “Your family has always been so good to us, Mr. Darcy—we could not in good conscience betray that generosity by abandoning you in your hour of need.”

A feeling of deepest gratitude had filled him then. They had stood with him as he said an emotional goodbye to his sister, who was taken in by his uncle—the present Earl of Disley—to be raised alongside his young daughter Cecilia. They had taken on the duty of laying cloths over every portrait and piece of furniture in the house, had been with him when he locked the doors to Pemberley for the last time, with no idea when they might be free to open them again.

It had been almost five years since they had been forced to abandon the ancestral home of the Darcy family, which had for centuries been a place of honor and prestige. Every day of that five years he had cursed the name Wickham, for it was his old childhood friend and his father—the latter of whom had once been trusted with the management of the estate—who had forced Darcy to give his sister into the care of others while he had to make do with a cottage on the grounds rather than the home of his youth.

“Good afternoon, Master Fitzwilliam. Percy my dear,” said Mrs. Reynolds as the two men entered the house. As expected, the table in their small dining parlor had already been laid out with cakes, biscuits, fruits, and cold meats; a steaming pot of tea sat center of it all. Darcy marveled, as he often did, that she could manage it all without Cook to help her—but the one time he’d asked, she’d sharply reminded him of where she had started her service to the family. Mrs. Reynolds had initially been a kitchen maid, had even served as Cook for a few years, before moving into the more eminently respectable position of housekeeper.

After discarding his outerwear, Darcy stepped over to the washstand to clean his hands and face, then took a seat at the table. He was soon joined by the two servants, and a short Grace was said before Mrs. Reynolds poured and served tea to each of them. They consumed the repast in silence, as was their habit, and were about finished near twenty minutes later when the sound of an approaching carriage drew their attention.

Carriages did not approach this cottage. It was rather out of the way of the other tenants, which is what Darcy had wanted. The seclusion suited him, as his pride had been deeply wounded by having to give up the estate house and live as though he were one of his tenants or servants. Though the last few years had served well in humbling him, making him more compassionate as regarded the lower classes who had heretofore helped make his life so very comfortable, he rarely associated with them. Thus, for the most part, only the Reynolds’ suffered his mortification alongside him.

Stepping outside, flanked by his most loyal people, Darcy watched the approach of a small but recognizable carriage. He recognized the livery of the driver, though he wore heavy outer garments to ward off the chill of winter.

What could his uncle want to speak to him about that would bring him all this way in person? Lord Disley usually sent a single footman on horseback to deliver any messages.

Georgiana, he thought, feeling alarm shoot through him. His sister—something had happened to his sister. Dear God, was she hurt? Was she—

No. He would not go there.

When at last the two-horse equipage came to a stop, Darcy immediately stepped up to it. No one exited the carriage, but the driver did climb down from the box. It was a young man his own age, whose face he recognized but whose name he could not at present recall. The young man bowed, which told that he had been recognized in return—a surprise, given his rather disheveled state. Darcy had learned quickly that function over fashion was key to maintaining one’s home and land with his own hands.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Darcy,” said the carriage driver as he reached into his jacket and pulled out a sealed letter. “As you may have guessed, sir, I have come on behalf of the Earl of Disley.”

“So I gathered,” Darcy replied in a droll tone as he broke the seal and unfolded the note.

Disley Court
1 February

Dear Nephew,

I hope this note finds you in good health and spirits. All here at the Court are well, and as I know it will bring you comfort, know that Georgiana continues to excel in her studies—she is absolutely remarkable at the pianoforte, and her cousin excels at singing. She and Cecilia compliment each other most excellently when they perform; they are as close as sisters could be, and do everything together.

But you do not want to be told things which you already know. I am sending the girls’ carriage to bring you to Cheshire as there is a matter I wish to discuss with you regarding Pemberley. I think it is best done in person. I shall expect your arrival by supper.

Sincerest regards,
Disley


Pemberley. What could the earl have to say about the estate—had he found the Wickhams? Or the massive Darcy fortune they had managed to purloin with their lies and trickery?

Unlikely, he mused bitterly. After all, it had been nearly five long years, and nary a trace had been found of either.

“I will prepare your trunk, sir,” said Reynolds, though he had not seen the note.

“I will lay out a change of clothes for you,” added Mrs. Reynolds, and she followed her husband into the house. The presence of an entire carriage was enough to tell the two servants that he had been summoned.

Darcy just stopped himself telling them not to bother; after all, it wasn’t as though his uncle was unaware of how he lived. He’d been offered the chance of joining Georgiana in removing to Disley Court but had declined. His pride would not allow him to run away—Pemberley was his home, and he would not abandon it completely.

There must always be a Darcy at Pemberley, he’d said, quoting an old family saying.

Stifling a sigh, he looked to the carriage driver—Marcus, that was his name; the footman was his younger brother Robert—and said, “I should not be long. You and Robert must come inside; Mrs. Reynolds will see that you have tea to warm you while you wait.”

“Thank you, Mr. Darcy. Most obliging,” said Marcus, who gestured to his brother before following Darcy into the house.

Darcy encountered Mrs. Reynolds on the landing after climbing to the first floor. “Please see to some tea for the coachmen, if you would.”

Mrs. Reynolds merely smiled and nodded, and allowed him to pass her in the narrow space before continuing to the ground floor. As he entered his room, he found her husband just closing a small trunk; clean attire was laid out on the bed.

“As we’ve no notion of how long you’ll be away, sir, I’ve packed three days’ worth of your good clothing for you,” said Reynolds. “I’ll take this down and see to putting it in the carriage.”

“See to it the horses have some water as well if it’s not too much trouble,” Darcy added as he moved to sit in a chair in the corner and remove his dusty boots; a clean pair sat next to the bed.

As Reynolds helped him with tending the few animals they had on their small plot of land, he would doubtless comply with the request. “Of course, sir,” was all he said as he picked up the trunk and headed out with it.

Darcy made quick work of changing and making himself more presentable. Glancing in the small looking glass over the wash stand, he noted that he needed a shave—and his hair could certainly do with a trim—but those were hardly reasons to delay setting out. The earl would just have to put up with his having four days’ growth of beard, and hair long enough at the back to brush his shoulders.

On his reappearance downstairs, the two coachmen immediately stood. They quickly thanked Mrs. Reynolds for the tea and headed out the front door. Darcy walked up to her as her husband stepped inside.

“I can’t imagine what my uncle has to say that he could not have relayed on paper, but you can be sure I will inform you as soon as may be done,” Darcy said.

“May I be so bold as to ask what the note you were given said, sir?” asked Reynolds.

“Little beyond that the earl had need to speak to me about Pemberley, and that it was best done in person,” Darcy replied.

“I shouldn’t dare hope he’ll allow us to open the house again,” said Mrs. Reynolds. “If he’s not been able to support keeping it open all these years, I doubt we’ll get to move the master back home again.”

The lady flushed then as her eyes flicked up to meet Darcy’s. “I do beg your pardon, Master Fitzwilliam. I should not speak of Lord Disley so; I know he’s been very generous to take your dear sister in and supply you with an allowance.”

Supply me with a pittance, Darcy thought bitterly of the five hundred a year he’d been allotted, then he drew a breath and released it slowly. He could not be angry with his uncle, who had done all within his power just to keep the estate from falling into the hands of another whilst seeing to the management of his own vast holdings. He and his wife had indeed been generous in being so willing to take Georgiana into their home and raise her along with their young daughter, despite the scandal that broke when word got out that George Darcy had been swindled by his steward and lost nearly everything.

“It’s quite all right, Mrs. Reynolds,” Darcy assured her, though he agreed silently that it was unlikely his uncle wanted to talk about reopening the house.

What he could wish to speak to him about… he had not the slightest idea.

***

I bet you’ve already figured out what Darcy’s uncle wants to talk about. If not, tell me what you think in the comments below to enter for a chance to win an ebook copy of The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy!


The contest is open until August 14, 2021. Good luck!

***

Christine, like many a JAFF author before her, is a long-time admirer of Jane Austen's work, and she hopes that her alternate versions are as enjoyable as the originals. She has plans to one day visit England and take a tour of all the grand country estates which have featured in film adaptations, and often dreams of owning one. Christine lives in Ohio and is already at work on her next book.
7 comments on "The Reintroduction of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Christine Combe ~ Excerpt and Giveaway"
  1. Oh dear. A marriage arrangement? I am following your blog tour to read a little more of the story each time. I am seriously hooked!
    SamH.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This book blurb is fantastic! I really look forward to reading the book. Congrats on your coming release.

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  3. One cannot help but feel sorry for Mr. Darcy in his loneliness and humiliation at the loss of Pemberley. Wow! Can't wait to read more.

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  4. Sounds lovely. Hopefully it will be good news for Darcy.

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  5. Enjoying the blog tour. Congrats on the release!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Congratuations on this new book Ms.Combe.

    Loved this loyal, hardworking and sentimental Darcy. Would his uncle talk about the estate and what he would like to do with it?

    ReplyDelete
  7. congratulations on the release. I'm not clear on how Darcy's uncle got control of Pemberley instead of Darcy. Did Darcy Senior sell or mortgage it to him?

    ReplyDelete

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