First Page Friday - Suzan LAUDER

I am so pleased to welcome Suzan Lauder back to my page. December 3 was the six year anniversary of Alias Thomas Bennet's publication and so it's only fitting that we showcase it on it's 'birth'day.

Blurb:

…of most interest to Bennet was Mr. Darcy of Pemberley.

When Fitzwilliam Darcy attends the Meryton assembly, he befriends a quiet, intelligent gentleman. In frequent visits to his friend’s home, he becomes acquainted with the Bennet family of Longbourn. Yet Mr. Darcy is distracted by a strange feeling of having met some of them before.

This is a different Bennet family from the cleverly crafted one in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. This Mr. Bennet is a responsible gentleman who takes an active role in the education and upbringing of all five of his daughters, manages Longbourn to be prosperous, and displays loving guidance toward Mrs. Bennet—a gentle, caring mother and wife.

There is a mystery lurking at Longbourn—a secret unknown even to Elizabeth Bennet—and Mr. Darcy is entangled in its extraordinary revelations.

Who is Thomas Bennet? 

This book contains one brief scene of non-explicit sexual violence that may be concerning to sensitive readers. The sexual violence does not include Elizabeth Bennet.

First Page:
Prologue
July 1782
Gloucestershire 
The dust cloud could be seen from some distance, a single disruption in the sweeping view from the garden. As it approached the house, the young man drew it to the attention of his companions. Rising to see where it was headed, the two men realised it was likely an express rider to their home and wondered what could be so urgent.
The family was sitting in the shade in respite from the unbearable heat wave and dry spell that had persisted for weeks. The master made to ready himself for company as he had removed his coat and neck cloth some hours earlier. The younger man touched his father’s arm to halt his preparations and politely offered to greet the courier and collect the missive. The gentleman smiled and granted permission to his son, followed by an admonition from his mother to heed the horse’s hooves lest he be endangered. The young man rolled his eyes. He was taller than his father, but sometimes she still treated him like a child.
He walked slowly to meet the rider. The incessant energy from the sun beating down upon him was almost overwhelming, and he pitied the poor rider his hours in the unrelenting heat. As he waited at the gate, the messenger dismounted and handed over the express post. The young man gave instructions to the groom to care for the horse and directed the courier towards the kitchen for some much-needed refreshment. Then he returned to the shade and passed the missive to his father.
“Pray, what news do we have that is so urgent?” the lady of the house asked of her husband as she saw his grave expression upon reading the letter. His pallor despite the heat told her the news was not good.
“It is from a Mr. Storey in Bristol. There has been a dreadful carriage accident, mayhap involving highwaymen. We must go thither at once. It was bad—very bad. Edward was grievously hurt. Rose did not survive.”
“Oh, dear God, what about little Fanny?” his wife gasped through her tears.
“She is well, and with the nurse and Mrs. Storey at the house. Mr. Storey writes that Edward asks for us to send help to Bristol post-haste. The note does not indicate the nature of his injuries, only that they are grave. He is under the care of a doctor, and I expect a long recovery period. My dear, you and I must go to attend my cousin and little Fanny.”
“Father, will I be accompanying you and Mama?” asked Thomas Bennet.
“No, son, we may be a long while, and you are to Cambridge in a fortnight. This will not be a pleasant visit. Mary dear, please see to the packing, and I’ll go about readying the carriage.”


First Page Friday ~ Melanie RACHEL

I am thrilled to have Melanie Rachel visit my blog today. I devoured her Drawing Mr. Darcy books (two in total) and anticipate this upcoming trilogy will keep me as enthralled.

Blurb:


A few months after teaming up with Major Richard Fitzwilliam to thwart a terrorist attack in Europe, USMC Staff Sergeant Elizabeth Bennet is back in the States as a civilian. Her training in cyber-security makes finding work easy, and she’s learning to fit into her new life. But there is lingering fallout both from the attack and her life before it that she's not yet prepared to face. Complicating matters is the major’s handsome cousin.

Co-owner of Darcy Acquisitions, CEO of FORGE, and guardian to his younger sister, Will Darcy is stretched to his limits. When Richard sets up an interview at FORGE for his friend Elizabeth Bennet, Will insults her instead of hiring her. In making amends, Will falls for the witty, troubled Marine with long legs and fine eyes.

Falling in love is easy, but do these two very different people have what it takes to make love last?



First Page:
He was late.
She’d arrived early at De Roos and grabbed a booth tucked behind the wooden front door. She tapped the heel of her boot on the floor, turned to count the large field stones used to build the long bar on the back wall, and tried to guess where each of the customers had come from. Local? Tourist? Embassy?
At last, fifteen minutes past their meeting time and just before she stood to leave, Elizabeth Bennet saw him. Standing a few feet away, hands on his hips, canvassing the room before spotting her behind him, was Major Richard Fitzwilliam.
“Staff Sergeant,” he said amiably.
“Sir,” she replied with a grin.
He raised his hand to attract the attention of a waitress. When a buxom redhead wearing black pants and a tight t-shirt turned and saw him, he held up two fingers and she disappeared behind the bar.
“You made me wait,” she chided, showing the display on her phone. “Hardly the way to say, ‘Thank you for saving my life.’”
Major Fitzwilliam shook his head. “Last meeting ran long.” He tossed his sunglasses down on the table. Elizabeth noted the tailored fit of his brown khakis and dark green polo shirt—casual wear that appeared expensive. Everyone looks so different out of uniform, she thought. He slid into the booth opposite her.
“A regular, I see,” Elizabeth teased. She stretched her toes out in her boots, feeling comfortable at last. She’d spent her shift working on the embassy’s computer network, including carting away some truly ancient desktops and swapping them out for newer models. Then she’d needed to update the software. The assignment was way below her pay grade and boring as dirt. But it was easy enough, and it meant she was stationed in Brussels, so she wasn’t complaining.
Elizabeth had found the major surprisingly good-natured for an officer in the months since she’d arrived in Europe. She’d worried a bit at first that he was flirting with her, but it turned out he teased just about everyone. She knew now that Major Fitzwilliam was too dedicated a Marine ever to break the regulation on fraternization. That being the case, Elizabeth felt safe enjoying his friendly banter. It was a bit like having a charming and sarcastic older brother.
The major ran a hand through his sandy hair in a gesture that indicated a long day. “I am, but I’m not a lush, if that’s what you’re implying,” he said flippantly.
“Well, sir, it would explain how you managed to purge thirty significant documents from your computer . . . don’t you officers know how to back up files?”
“I’m still not sure how that happened.” He exhaled dramatically and tossed his hands up in frustration. “The entire program for the conference next month, including the papers, and the translations, all in the correct formatting. I could have gathered them all again, but it would have taken forever to redo the translations. You didn’t save my life, Staff Sergeant, but you sure saved my weekend.”

About the Author:
Melanie Rachel is a university professor and long time Jane Austen fan. She was born in Southern California, but has lived in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Washington, and Arizona, where she now resides with her family and their freakishly athletic Jack Russell terrier. Her previous novels include Drawing Mr. Darcy: Sketching His Character (Book One) and Drawing Mr. Darcy: A Faithful Portrait (Book Two) as well as Courage Rises and Courage Requires. She plans to publish Headstrong, a modern P&P adaptation, as a trilogy--all three books will be published in quick succession.


P.S.: As I created the graphic for social media I noticed the small details on the cover that only come from looking at it up close and personal. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE it. Well done, Mel!


First Page Friday ~ Suzan LAUDER



This is a romantic comedy novella that’s also known as HOT Collins, and having read the book myself I loved how all the ladies in Meryton went a little boy crazy around the handsome vicar. It's so much fun to read variations of our beloved Pride & Prejudice and A Most Handsome Gentleman definitely takes you on a fun ride.

Blurb:

Elizabeth Bennet’s life is uncomplicated until she meets a quartet of new men: the haughty but handsome Mr. Darcy, the pert-with-a-pout Mr. Bingley, the confident and captivating Mr. Wickham—and then there is her father’s cousin, the happy man towards whom almost every female eye has turned.

Mr. Collins is HOT—well, incredibly handsome in Regency-speak—beautiful of face, fine of figure, elegant of air, his perfect clothing and hair matching his Greek god-like form. Unfortunately, when he opens his mouth, Elizabeth wishes he were mute. With affected servility and prideful self-conceit, he capitalizes upon his exquisite appearance and fixes on Jane Bennet as his bride.

Can Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy form an alliance to stop Jane’s suitors from issuing challenges—and will Elizabeth coax a smile from Mr. Darcy?





First Page:
The carriage jerked into motion while I was not attending, so my head flew back and then forward like a whip. How had we come to leave Netherfield Park without my order? Had Jane given Mr. Hill permission to depart? An agreement to leave would be in contrast to her desire to linger and gape at Mr. Bingley.
A motion caught the corner of my eye. I turned quickly to her side of the carriage and discovered I was correct. Instead of encountering her calm countenance looking forward, the best I could observe was her ear as Jane’s hand rose to wave. Her neck was craned, and a quick glance behind the carriage confirmed that Mr. Bingley stood waving in the drive alongside Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy was half a head taller than his friend. Jane did not see me roll my eyes when I settled back in my seat.
The departure was unfortunate for Jane’s romantic inclinations but fortunate for me. After five days at Netherfield Park, spending another day in the presence of those judging Bingley sisters and their compatriot Mr. Darcy would not be beneficial to my equanimity. Without doubt, as soon as I was out of the room, they would spend their time criticizing Jane and me. They scarcely held back their comments in my presence!
“Miss Elizabeth knows no accomplished women.”
“Miss Elizabeth is not interesting as she only reads and walks. Nothing else amuses her.”
“Miss Elizabeth does not mind if her friends change their plans on a whim.”
“Miss Elizabeth’s friends are common and uninteresting.” No. Mr. Darcy said, “Confined and unvarying.”
Recollection of the mortifying incident made me squeeze my eyes shut while it ran through my brain as if it were a vision. My mother and younger sisters know no bounds when it comes to determining ways to mortify me with their gauche manners. Mr. Darcy’s sketch of my character must be complete. His first impression was that I was not tolerable enough to dance with, and he had little reason to think better of me since the assembly where he had made that comment. My family’s embarrassing display did not support the opposite one whit.
Even though he does not much care for me, I discovered his expression would change beneath the effects of my irreverent humour and gentle teasing. I pride myself in the smile count, and Mr. Darcy smiled at my comments four times more than at Miss Bingley’s whilst I was at Netherfield. His natural appearance is superior in comparison with most men, but when his lips curve upward at my teases, changes occur on his face to render his features magnificent: his eyes sparkle and dance, crinkling at the corners, and some rather fine dimples appear next to his bow-shaped mouth. I admit to baiting him to near laughter at times. What would his chuckle sound like?
About the Author:

Having spent her adult life reading little more than business-oriented nonfiction, it was during an extended illness when Suzan Lauder discovered among her books a dog-eared paperback copy of Northanger Abbey. With no idea how she acquired it, but having recalled hearing that Jane Austen was a good writer, she decided to give it a try. She loved it so much that she gobbled up the remaining books.


Dismayed that there were only six completed novels, Suzan read all the remaining Austen she could find: the juvenilia, the unfinished works, the letters, and biographies. During library searches for more, she discovered the world of fan fiction first in novels and then on the Internet. Her curiosity about the possibilities of other stories related to Austen's work led her to start writing her own, exploring new situations and times in which to take the enigmatic Mr. Darcy and endearing Elizabeth Bennet.

Suzan lives on beautiful Vancouver Island, British Columbia, with her husband and two rescue cats, who both enjoy cuddling her while she writes.