Dear Reader, it has come to the attention of the Teatime Tattler that a shocking new fancy has overtaken certain young ladies who might otherwise have been considered diamonds of the first water. Namely, they have forgotten that the current romantic view of the Scottish Highlands, so carefully fostered by Sir Walter Scott, is not a true representation of that barbaric region. Even our finest families have been corrupted! We have heard from a most reliable source that an actual savage Highlander not only attended the presentation ball of Miss Darcy in the very presence of the Earl and Countess of Matlock, but was actually seen in cordial conversation with them both! Rumor has it that this young gentleman, if one can use such a term, is a connection of the new Mrs. Darcy, whose family was quite deserved unknown prior to her unexpected marriage, so perhaps they felt obliged to invite him. But there is no excuse for the behavior of a flock of young ladies who ought to have known better than to desperately seek introductions to this so-called laird.
Signed, A Concerned Citizen
About the Book: A Matter of Honor
Pride & Prejudice goes to Scotland!
When Fitzwilliam Darcy, still smarting from Elizabeth Bennet’s rejection, discovers she was forced to flee her home in disgrace owing to his actions, his course is clear. He must marry her. It is a matter of honor. All he has to do is find her and propose. Surely that will be simple enough.
But Elizabeth does not want to be found, especially not by Darcy. From the moment he entered her life, he has caused disaster after disaster. Now he has followed her all the way to Scotland, foolishly certain it’s within his power to fix all her problems. But far more is at stake than Darcy knows.
Darcy’s quest takes him from backstage at Edinburgh’s Theatre Royal to the wilds of the Scottish Highlands, where mysterious Highlanders prove both friend and enemy. And now his search risks exposing long-hidden secrets that threaten his happiness and her future.
On the run and in danger, Elizabeth is forced to make impossible choices to protect those whom she loves – including Darcy. Her growing attraction to him is at war with her need for caution, and the stakes are impossibly high. Can she trust him to continue to fight for her protection when he knows the whole truth? And if he does, will it be for love… or will it be merely a matter of honor?
Excerpt from A Matter of Honor
“Here you are, sir.” Elizabeth handed a cup of Christmas punch to Mr. Siddons. “Happy Christmas.”
“And to you as well.” The theatre manager raised his glass to her. “I look forward to this dinner every year. It is almost like being back in England.”
“But with a much smaller Yule log.” Elizabeth nodded to the elegant fireplace which barely held a moderate-sized log.
He chuckled. “Indeed so.”
Elizabeth ladled out a new glass of punch, turned to the next guest, and almost dropped the glass. It would have slid through her fingers had not a hand reached out and steadied it.
It was Mr. Darcy’s hand. What in God’s name was he doing here?
“How clumsy of me!” she said hastily. “You saved me from spilling punch everywhere. Let me see – are you not Mr. Fitzpatrick’s friend?”
His dark gaze enveloped her. In a low, intense voice, he said, “It is Christmas, Miss Elizabeth. I will say nothing to anyone, but I beg of you not to pretend. Not today.” His fingers brushed hers as he accepted a glass of punch.
A week ago he had practically ignored her at the theatre, and now this! Should she admit it? He had already guessed it, and her reaction to discovering his presence would have given her away in any case. So much was at stake, but there could be no one at her aunt’s Christmas dinner who would report on her. And it seemed to mean something to him, given the way he was studying her.
Elizabeth forced her shoulders to relax. “For Christmas. As long as you tell no one.”
A light leapt in his dark eyes. “I thank you.” He raised his glass. “To your very good health and happiness.” He touched the glass to his lips.
She ducked her head in acknowledgment. With trembling hands, she filled another glass with punch and held it out to the next guest.
Mr. Darcy took the hint and moved away. Elizabeth deliberately did not watch where he went. Not that there would be much doubt about it since he had only one friend there and everyone else in the room was far beneath his notice. It would doubtless be a repeat of the Meryton assembly where he had spoken only to members of his own party. Her lips twitched. That would not serve him well in this crowd of theatricals.
When she finally dared to look across the drawing room, she was astonished to find Mr. Darcy in close conversation with her aunt and Mr. Siddons. Not only that, but he appeared amused by something she had said.
What astonishing behavior! Surely her words of reproof at Hunsford could not have worked such a miraculous change! Perhaps it was not a change, though. Mr. Darcy might feel obliged to be polite to his hostess, no matter how much he disdained her.
At least it was safer that way. Nothing Mr. Darcy could reveal about Elizabeth would be a surprise to her aunt. She was not over-worried that he would disclose her past, though. He had said he would not. He might be proud, resentful, and ill-tempered, but she had never known him to be dishonest. No, Jasper had said he was not ill-tempered. What a puzzle Mr. Darcy was!
Soon there were no more guests to serve. Two actresses remained by the punch bowl to converse with her. She usually enjoyed their company, but today she could not forget the gentleman sitting across the room.
Then he was no longer sitting across the room, but beside her and offering his arm. “Miss Merton, would you do me the honor of going in to dinner with me?” He stumbled slightly over her new name.
“Of course.” She could not refuse him without being utterly rude. Even though the last thing she wished for was to spend time with him, she would have to tolerate it. Perhaps it would give her the opportunity to discover what he wanted from her and to convince him to stay away. She placed her hand on his arm. Somehow even that small contact felt intimate.
What could Mr. Darcy mean by this particular attention to her? After she refused his proposal so bitterly, she would have expected him to avoid her company, as he had that day at the theatre. Perhaps he knew so few people in Scotland that even her acquaintance was tolerable, but he would have to be terribly lonely before he would choose to spend his time with the woman who had summarily rejected his hand and heart!
She risked a glance at his face. He did not appear particularly pleased with her company, but his features showed no extraordinary resentment either. Perhaps there was no other woman present whom he felt comfortable enough to sit with at dinner. In this gathering, he would likely wish to avoid revealing too much about his background. A wealthy gentleman would be too much of a target.
It was impossible that he could still care for her, but on the slight chance he did, it behooved her to behave kindly towards him. She had no regrets about having refused him, but she had long rued how bitterly and hurtfully she had done so. Even though she did not want his attentions now, she had no desire to hurt him more than she already had.
About the Author
Abigail Reynolds may be a nationally bestselling author and a physician, but she can’t follow a straight line with a ruler. She studied Russian and theater at Bryn Mawr College and marine biology at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. After a stint in performing arts administration, she decided to attend medical school, and took up writing to retain her sanity during her years as a physician in private practice.
A life-long lover of Jane Austen’s novels, Abigail began writing variations on Pride & Prejudice in 2001, then expanded her repertoire to include a series of novels set on her beloved Cape Cod. Her most recent releases are Mr. Darcy’s Enchantment, Conceit & Concealment, Mr. Darcy’s Journey, and Alone with Mr. Darcy. Her books have been translated into six languages. She lives on Cape Cod with her husband, her son and a menagerie of animals. Her hobbies do not include sleeping or cleaning her house.
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/abigailreynoldswriter/