Sunday, July 02, 2017

Blog Tour: Mendacity & Mourning by Jan Ashton - with giveaway!



I am thrilled today to be part of the blog tour for Jan Ashton's latest release, Mendacity & Mourning.  My thanks also goes to Janet Taylor for inviting me to take part.








It is a truth universally acknowledged that a gossip in possession of misheard tales and desirous of both a good wife and an eager audience need only descend upon the sitting rooms of a small country town in order to find satisfaction. And with a push from Lady Catherine, Mr. Collins sets alight a series of misunderstandings, rumours, and lies that create obstacles to a romance between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

This slightly unhinged romantic comedy follows Darcy as he sets off to find himself a wife and instead finds himself pulled into the mire of his aunt’s machinations and his own fascination with Elizabeth, whom he believes betrothed to another. As Meryton judges him the grieving groom of Anne de Bourgh and a caddish dallier with the hearts of others, Darcy must ferret out the truth behind his cousin’s disappearance, protect his sister from the fretful fate of all Fitzwilliam females, and, most importantly, win Elizabeth’s heart.





I’m so happy to be here at Laughing With Lizzie. Thanks for hosting me, Sophie!

This vignette has two parts of a longer post-epilogue story I wrote for Mendacity & Mourning and posted at A Happy Assembly. I’ve edited it a bit to avoid major spoilers, but you can find it on myMeryton Press blog. Hope you enjoy!



An Awful Object On A Holiday Eve



Darcy leaned back into the wall, arms crossed, brow furrowed.

“I dread this, you know. Michaelmas was lovely, and the harvest ball the best of recent years. Must we truly stay two nights in Kent?”

Elizabeth, her attention focused on their youngest child’s reddened gums and unhappy disposition, glanced up at her husband. Her impatience warred with amusement as she gazed at his expression.

“Such a sad face, Fitzwilliam. You and your sons look remarkably similar when unhappy.”

“If you wish me to tuck in my lower lip, I will argue your point. I prefer to put it to far better use.” Darcy pushed off the wall and joined his wife on the settee. He looked fondly at the teary-eyed bundle in her arms. “Will he sleep tonight? Our other children were more skilled at their nightly duties.”

“No they were not, they would settle for their nurses. Alexander is less amenable to arms that are not mine.”

“Well then yes,” her husband replied smugly, “he is a child most like me.”

Elizabeth put her hand on his thigh. “We have been in Hertfordshire and London for a month now. It is but two days in Kent, and then we can begin our long journey home.” She leaned her head against his shoulder. “It will go quickly; we have been blessed with mild weather.”

He sighed. “True, yet this is our first Christmas away from Pemberley.”

“It shall be the last. I have instructed my mother that apoplexies, or as this was, a hint of apoplexy, are not to be had again so close to Christmas.”

“Despite our fears, your father is hale and well and eager to regain his seat in Pemberley’s library.”

“As am I, Fitzwilliam. My seat, my bed, my home….” She relished the heated look her pouting husband swept over her.

“But first to Rosings,” he sighed.

“Oh do cheer up. The children will enjoy their cousins, and Richard has hidden flasks and bottles on the grounds, yes?”

He nodded.

“You have reminded James and Henry about the proper direction of eyeballs and that pointing is ungentleman-like behaviour?”

He nodded.

“You have reminded Richard about the proper direction of eyeballs and that pointing is ungentleman-like behaviour?”

He laughed.

“Then all is as it should be. Our children cannot wear blinders and be sheltered from the onslaught of joy decking Rosings’ halls.”

“Nor can we protect them from what may already stir in them,” Darcy said glumly. “Their Fitzwilliam blood.”

“Hush” she cried. “They are equal bits of Darcy and Bennet and Gardiner as well, and I dare say that it is a good thing to see one family’s eccentricities overpower those of another. None of our children, those that can speak, anyway, talk incessantly of fruit nor do any appear frail of mind or body.”

“We are fortunate,” he replied gravely. “Thus far.”

Elizabeth, smirking, gave a dramatic sigh. “Mayhap we should keep our perfect family small and add no more babies? Five be enough?”

He looked at his wife, considering her proposal.

She stood and walked to the cradle, placing Alexander inside and arranging the blankets around his sleeping form. “If we determine the risk is too great, we must stop those practises that might create another child.”

Darcy started and practically jumped to his feet. “How impertinent you are! That is advice best given to Bingley and your sister!”

Elizabeth bit her lip. Hardly twelve years married and Jane was confined with her eighth child. Or, from the manner in which she carried it, perhaps numbers eight and nine. She and Darcy had thus far produced five, and that handful was enough…for the present. Already she suspected another arrival in the new year.

The touch of her husband’s hand on hers recollected Elizabeth from her musings. “We are incapable of creating any child short of perfection,” Darcy said, tenderly stroking his young son’s hair. “Even this one, he cries only because he craves his mother. As do I. Often and always.”

“Now?”

“It goes unsaid.”

“Say it.”

“I want and desire you.”

Elizabeth’s lips curled into a mischievous smile. Her eyes sparkled, and Darcy was aflame. Nearly twelve years together, and he knew her signals. He knew her sighs, her smiles, her scent. His senses and sensibilities were in harmony with hers. She knew all of him as well, and she knew he needed soothing. Her fingers traced the edge of his waistcoat. She felt more than heard his sharp intake of breath.

“Wonderful man, now that Alexander is in his bed, please take me to mine.”

“Ours.” His nose nuzzled hers.

“See, my Darcy? Always up for a healthy debate.”



~%~



There truly was nothing Richard enjoyed more than to be the last arrival at a family party. The adults would be settled, with a drink or two coursing through and calming their blood. The children would have spent their energies greeting one another, their ranks thinned by absence of the nappers, the tantrum throwers, and the easily distracted, who had been put to bed, exiled to the nursery, or wandered off. Strolling downstairs in a freshly brushed coat to an unusually quiet house, Richard’s throat and soul were parched for liquid spirits. In search of his safest hiding place, he walked into Rosings’ smallest sitting room. There he chanced upon Darcy with two of his children perched on his lap as he read to them from Aesop’s Fables. Richard noted the expressions on the youngsters, a mere three and five years of age, were as stupefied as his upon learning the sad fate of the dog who, confused by his own reflection in the water, lost his lambchop when he opened his jaw to steal the other pup’s meat.

“Papa,” cried Henry. “The poor thing went to bed hungry.”

“Because he was greedy,” Darcy said firmly but gently.

“No, he was stupid.” The five-year-old’s lip quivered.

“He was a dog, son. Acting on instinct and without thought.”

Emma burst into tears.

Richard leapt into action. “I say, Darcy. Why does Elizabeth ever leave you alone with her children?”

The tears evaporated. “Uncle Dickie!” Henry launched himself from his father’s lap to Richard’s leg. The bad leg. The one that had endured horse kicks, a poorly aimed sword, a dog bite, and a log burn. God, he hated France and its Frenchmen. The women, though…so skilled, so blessed by glorious assets, and so generously talented in sharing them.

“Uncle!”

 Ah, children…

He winced through his smile and leaned over to pick up the lad. Emma remained, wide-eyed, on her father’s lap.

Darcy greeted him with a grimace. “Hello Dickie. Prompt as ever, I see. Tell me again how you made general if you cannot tell time?”

“Remind me how you keep churning out moppets if you cannot—.”

“Children,” Darcy cried. “I have a special message for you to deliver to Mama.” He bent over and kissed Emma’s cheek before setting her on the floor. “Petal,” he said gently, his fingers straightening her ribbon, “please go with Sally and give that kiss to Mama. I believe she is with your Aunt Georgiana in the music room.”

His daughter hugged him. “Yes, Papa.”

Henry frowned. “But Uncle Dickie is here. I want to see his swords and wounds.”

Richard patted his head. “No gaping gashes this time, my boy. But I do have a tale to tell of an angry bore.”

Henry’s mouth dropped open. “Oh my! A wild boar?”

Emma gasped and ran over, seizing and pulling her brother’s dangling foot. “With sharp teeth and hot hungry breath?”

“The very kind,” Richard said, winking at Darcy. His cousin rolled his eyes before nodding at the young woman who had appeared in the doorway.

Richard tossed Henry in the air before settling the boy on his feet. “Off with you, soldier. Upon the orders of your father and his superior officer!”

“Go now with Sally, children. Please give Mama my message, Emma.”

With a wave and a whirl, the Darcy children skipped out of the room. Their father leaned back in his chair and watched them adoringly before turning angrily toward his cousin. “How lovely you are, arriving here simply to frighten my children. Please describe this ‘angry boar.’ Is it one I might recognise?”

“All too well, I fear. Aunt Catherine and her hot hungry breath has Father in a tizzy. He despises this place and losing his holiday hosting perch has him greatly unsettled.”

Darcy nodded, his voice calmer. “Yet he has chosen to come here.”

“Choice is an odd word, cousin.” Richard’s eyes scanned the room, taking in its cosy warmth and decided lack of family portraiture. No wonder Darcy has taken refuge here; it is safe for children and those of refined sensibilities. “My mother has chosen to be at Rosings. My brother and his family are here, as am I. Thus, choice is no longer my father’s.”

“Hmm. So, why are we here?”

Richard stared at the contented philosopher of Pemberley. Wonderful, he is all about the thinking and I just wish to start the drinking. Now where is that damn bottle of port?



Author Bio:

Jan Ashton didn’t meet Jane Austen until she was in her late teens, but in a happy coincidence, she shares a similarity of name with the author and celebrates her birthday on the same day Pride & Prejudice was first published. Sadly, she’s yet to find any Darcy and Elizabeth candles on her cake, but she does own the action figures.

Like so many Austen fans, Jan was an early and avid reader with a vivid imagination and a well-used library card. Her family’s frequent moves around the U.S and abroad encouraged her to think of books and their authors as reliable friends. It took a history degree and another decade or two for her to start imagining variations on Pride & Prejudice, and anotherdecade—filled with career, marriage, kids, and a menagerie of pets—to start writing them. Today, in between writing Austen variations, Jan lives in the Chicago area, eats out far too often with her own Mr. Darcy, andenjoys membership in the local and national chapters of the Jane Austen Society of North America. 

Mendacity & Mourning is her second book with Meryton Press. She published A Searing Acquaintance in 2016.

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Blog Tour Schedule:

06/19Babblings of a Bookworm; Vignette, GA
06/20My Jane Austen Book Club; Author/Character Interview, GA
06/21Half Agony, Half Hope;Review, Excerpt
06/22From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
06/23More Agreeably Engaged;Vignette, GA
06/24Just Jane 1813;Review, GA
06/25Margie’s Must Reads; Guest Post, GA
06/26Of Pens and Pages; Review, Excerpt, GA
06/27Tomorrow is Another Day; Review, GA
06/28Austenesque Reviews; Vignette, GA
06/29My Vices and Weaknesses; Character Interview, GA
07/01Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, GA
07/02Laughing With Lizzie; Vignette, Excerpt, GA
07/03Diary of an Eccentric;Review

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented (which will be verified). If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.
A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook of Mendacity & Mourningby J. L. Ashton. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.


a Rafflecopter giveaway



My thanks again goes to Jan for these sweet vignettes! My thanks also to Janet for setting up this tour.

I wish Jan all the best with this release as well as any stories in the future!




8 comments:

  1. LOL, thanks for this little snippet of D&E marriage. It was fun. I'm sad to see the end of this great blog tour.

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    1. I am glad you enjoyed the extract! Thank you for stopping by!

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  2. The Bingleys and Darcys have been busy, haven't they? Twelve children in eight years and more on the way! "Uncle Dickie" sounds as resolute a bachelor as he did in earlier vignettes and is probably everyone's favourite Uncle by now.

    Thanks for sharing it with us, Jan

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    1. I am glad you enjoyed the extract! They have been busy indeed! Thank you for stopping by.

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  3. yes, Richard Fitzwilliam's appearance improves stories

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    Replies
    1. He always makes things better! thanks for coming by!

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  4. Lovely vignette. I love the appearance of Uncle Dickie.

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    Replies
    1. It was! thank you for coming by.

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