Theo Darcy is now on Tour at a Blog near you!
You may have heard the gossip currently circulating amongst the ton of a certain Mr. Darcy (that’s Mr. Darcy the Younger!) being out and about on tour following the release of a book about said gentleman and his elder brother, titled rather appropriately The Darcy Brothers and co-authored by five ladies from amongst our numbers. We are delighted to report this is not just a rumour and what is more, today, Mr. Theophilus Darcy has dropped in at Jane Austen Variations to say hello and to share an excerpt from the book and offer some gifts to his loyal followers.
Therefore, without further delay, we will hand you over to Mr. Theo Darcy!
Thank you, dear ladies (and gentleman) for inviting me to make some stay with you. I had not anticipated such congenial company nor such excellent accommodations! (Oh dear! These elegant compliments remind me too much of someone – I fear I may have spent too much time in the company of my aunt’s parson of late!)
Well, I must own it is a relief to be able to stretch one’s legs! Travelling with such diverting company as the Misses Reynolds, Fairview, Grace, Grafton and Mason-Milks is most enjoyable but I find myself rather crushed in the carriage, for they all insisted upon joining me rather than using their own conveyance.
They aim to take prodigious good care of me and, moreover, to ensure my travels remain hidden from my elder, disapproving brother. This, they believe, they can better achieve by remaining close to me, claiming there is safety in numbers and en masse they stand a better chance of concealing my presence!
I cannot fault them for this; Lord alone knows what Fitzwilliam might make of my present activities! Thankfully, Ms Reynolds is particularly adept at claiming his attention and has confessed she presently has him trapped by a fortuitous snowstorm with no sign of a thaw!
I have been told you, the readers at this fine establishment, were steadfast contributors to the formation of this tale. Therefore, though you must excuse me for a while to spend some time with my hosts, I offer for your reading pleasure an excerpt from this charming new release, a peak into my personal correspondence and, of course, some gifts for distribution.
After yet another run-in with his brother, Fitzwilliam, Theo makes his escape from Rosings and takes a walk, leading to a surprise encounter…
The cool air did little to soothe Theo’s frustration at first, for Darcy’s dismissal had cut him more than he cared to acknowledge. Out of temper, he strode down a well-worn, familiar path cutting across the park, intent upon the grove where he had spent many a happy hour as a boy. A strong wind continued to blow, and he lowered his head, holding his hat in place as he walked, his other hand swiping his cane against the long grasses bordering the graveled path through the trees. A stream bordered it on one side, normally barely a mere trickle, but now it remained swollen to twice its usual width, and he contemplated stopping to throw some stones into its depths, keen to shed the aggression that lingered yet.
He had gone but a few paces further, however, when the sound of a voice caught his ear, drifting towards him on the breeze, and a flash of color ahead soon led him to the owner of the voice, a young lady. Halting his pace, thoroughly diverted, he stepped behind a nearby trunk to watch her, for she made a delightful picture, her skirts buffeted by the wind, her chestnut curls, unadorned by any hat, bouncing around her glowing cheeks as she turned this way and that, seeking something on the ground.
“Aha!” she finally exclaimed, and stepping towards the tree behind which he stood, grasped a fallen branch.
Feeling the inappropriateness of his seclusion, and thus his spying upon her, Theo made sure to step noisily forward, his boots crunching on the gravel path, and she looked up instantly with a gasp.
“Forgive me; I did not mean to startle you.”
With a quick smile, she shook her head. “Pay me no mind, sir. I was too fixed upon my purpose to pay heed to my surroundings.”
He indicated the aforementioned find. “Were you intent upon playing beater? I fear the shoot is under-manned if a lady is required for such actions!”
She shook her head, her curls bouncing against her cheeks. “Indeed not! My quarry is out of my reach, and this,” she waved the branch, “shall hopefully be sufficient aid.”
“It is a singular weapon, Madam. I am not certain it will suit.”
“I do not seek game, sir, though it is a prize nonetheless; yet it is at present caught in a snare.” She pointed across the stream, and a wide grin overspread Theo’s countenance as he caught sight of a bonnet fixed in the lower branches of a tree.
She nodded, and he walked to the water’s edge, but even with his longer reach, the bonnet remained aloft and beyond him.
Theo studied the ground before him. “I believe there is but one solution, Madam. I shall brave the high seas for you and duly restore you to your bonnet.” He made an exaggerated bow before removing his hat, looking about for somewhere to rest it that it might not become too soiled, only to realize the lady was offering her gloved hand.
“I would not wish to intrude upon your leisure, sir, but if you are to come to my assistance, permit me to support you as best I can.”
He inclined his head. “It is my pleasure. I do, after all, possess the traditional accomplishments of an educated gentleman, not least of which is coming to the aid of a lady in distress.”
With a grin, Theo met her sparkling gaze, before handing his hat over for safe-keeping. She stepped aside as he took several paces back, then leapt across the stream, landing with a squelch on the other side. Flecks of muddy water patterned his trousers as his boots sank ankle deep into the soft mud at the water’s edge, and he tugged them free, slipping and stumbling his way, effectively but with little elegance, to the safety of the grass verge.
“Hey ho! I am in safe harbor—do not be alarmed, Madam!” He glanced over to where the lady stood; there was no sign of concern on her features at all, merely an impish smile enticing him far more than he wished to acknowledge. How he wished to know more of her!
Clearing his throat, Theo turned his attention to the recalcitrant bonnet, lodged somewhere above him.
“Shall I throw you the branch?” The lady indicated the discarded item which he had not thought to take with him, but he shook his head.
“I shall make do!” He raised his cane and stretched up in an attempt to dislodge the bonnet.
The lady clapped her hands together. “You are almost there, sir. One more prod should do the trick.”
Theo grasped his cane more firmly and, with a small jump, finally managed to dislodge the bonnet from its leafy hold and it tumbled down through the air straight towards him. Before he could take evasive action, it landed with perfect precision upon his own head.
A burst of laughter from the lady was, however, sufficient encouragement for him to leave it in place.
“I am tempted to retain it, Madam. It is a fine fit, and I trust you are out of countenance with it as you had tossed it aside.”
Clearly struggling to contain her amusement, she shook her head. “Indeed, I did not. It was Mother Nature’s desire, for as I entered this clearing, a gust of wind whipped it from me before I could prevent it.”
With a more successful leap this time, Theo crossed back over the stream and came to stand before her, performing his best attempt at a curtsey. Smiling widely, she held his hat out to him.
“Much as the color becomes you, sir, I believe we should trade. Gallantry must be rewarded with more than muddy boots! I am gratified I was able to preserve your hat from a similar fate.”
Theo laughed, thoroughly delighted with her, but then she too curtseyed. “And now I must repeat my thanks and say farewell for I am past due at the parsonage. Mr. Collins always expects me to return directly, and I will not be thanked for keeping him from his supper.”
She turned away as Theo inclined his head in acknowledgement. He was conscious of a twinge of disappointment; did her reference to Mr. Collins mean he had come across the wife he had so serendipitously secured in Hertfordshire? He turned his feet back towards the house, mulling upon the good fortune of some.
Not being prone to the depression of spirits, the chance encounter had restored Theo’s natural enthusiasm and, despite his reluctance to be at Rosings, he bounced up the stone steps to the front door with a much improved air and countenance.
He made a perfunctory attempt at scraping some of the mud from his boots, then shrugged and let himself into the house, closing the door carefully so as not to alert anyone to his return.
To either side of the doorway stood two highly polished suits of armor; these had stood in their silent positions for as far back as Theo could remember and, moreover, presented a temptation he was loath to resist. With a quick glance about to ensure he was undetected, he grinned, removing his hat and balancing it on top of the helmet of one of the figures. Pleased with his efforts, he rested his cane across the extended arms and turned around, looking for inspiration.
He was just threading two large flowers, extracted from a vase on the table in the center of the hall, into the mouthpiece of the helmet when a voice behind him made him spin about.
“What the devil do you think you are doing?”
An ominous creaking behind Theo hinted at the disaster to come, then time seemed to stretch as the helmet toppled off the suit of armor, bounced with a loud clang, then rebounded into his brother’s shin.
We hope you enjoyed this excerpt from The Darcy Brothers! Theo tells us that, after enduring an interminable supper and yet another lecture from his aunt – one even more dull than that he tolerated earlier from his brother – he escaped to his room and amused himself by catching up on his correspondence, keen to share with his favourite recipients (his good friend, Sir Montgomery Preston, his sister, Georgiana and his cousin, Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam) the progress of his visit to Kent with his brother.
He has generously allowed us all a peak into this private correspondence! You can read the letter to his friend, Monty, below, and the one to his cousin, Richard, on The Darcy Brothers’ website.
Rosings Prison, Kent – 23rd March 1812
Dear Sir Monty,
Ha! I know you are sputtering at this manner of addressing you. However, I cannot resist needling you just a little, particularly since you cannot challenge me to a fencing match at Angelo’s. Not that I have much to fear from your feeble thrusts. You must own, I am by far superior to you as a swordsman.
You will be pleased to hear that I am resisting the slothful role imposed upon me by Aunt Catherine – the Old Bat! – and Prince William, who are both under the impression that they can snuff out any sign of spirit in me that may rear its unfortunate head. They seem to be under the illusion that, by confining me indoors for hours at a time with only their company to relieve me, I will succumb to the affliction that seems to beset all those who come in contact with my aunt – which is to have their souls shrivel up like prunes inside them.
In fact, I have come to the conclusion that prolonged exposure to my aunt is the reason for Cousin Anne’s bloodless apathy. I have tried repeatedly to cajole a few words out of her – and you know I can cajole words from a rock when I set my mind to it, especially when it comes to the ladies – but to no avail. I do believe it is a lost cause. Her spirit has shrunk so badly it cannot be larger than the size of a pea. You may chuckle, but it is no laughing matter. My poor cousin!
It is not all bad news, however. Today, while out walking, I encountered a charming young lady who has the advantage of being very pretty as well. She has a pair of fine, evocative eyes and a lively disposition. I believe she has taken a liking to me, since I very gallantly rescued her bonnet from entanglement. Lest I should bring your hopes up too high, however, I should mention that she is regrettably married to the local vicar. This seems to be a case of pearls cast before swine because I cannot imagine a clergyman appointed by my aunt to have animated tendencies. He is almost certain to be a dullard. However, as I have not yet met him, it is too soon to judge. In any case, that should not preclude the possibility of a gentle flirtation with his wife to while away the time. It will be a welcome diversion from the excitement of being ordered not to slouch by my aunt.
Meanwhile, rest assured that I will use any excuse that comes my way to escape to London. It cannot come soon enough for me. Thank heavens we were delayed on the road. At least the floods saved me from arriving at Rosings Park sooner. If you do not hear from me within the next week you must mount a rescue, as I may well have begun the inevitable descent into decay.
We have two eBook copies of The Darcy Brothers to give away, along with two Jane Austen themed goodie bags (one for a US reader, one for a UK/rest of the world reader)!
To enter, simply ask either Theo or the authors a question in the Comments (and don’t forget to say which prize draw you are entering – eBook or goodie bag – and whether US or rest of the world for the latter). Winners will be announced here early next week.
Theo Darcy is everything his disapproving elder brother, Fitzwilliam, is not – easy-going, charming, and full of fun. A tragic event as children severed their bond of friendship, but now they are together again. They are still at odds, though, this time over the love of Miss Elizabeth Bennet and the truth about George Wickham. Will Wickham manage to divide the brothers again? And more importantly, which Mr. Darcy will Elizabeth choose?
Find out as the two brothers lock horns in this unique Pride & Prejudice variation collectively written by five respected authors.
The Darcy Brothers was first conceived as an interactive group writing project and has developed into a full-length novel featuring the charismatic Theo Darcy.
In addition to their collaborative effort in The Darcy Brothers, Monica Fairview, Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks and Abigail Reynolds between them have published over two dozen Austen-inspired books, including national bestsellers.
Monica Fairview (Mr. Darcy’s Pledge) holds down the fort for the team in London while Abigail Reynolds (Alone with Mr. Darcy) supplies cute cat pictures from Cape Cod, Susan Mason-Milks (Mr. Darcy’s Proposal) inspires with views of the Seattle skyline, Maria Grace (Remember the Past) frolics in the Texas bluebells, and British expat Cassandra Grafton (A Fair Prospect) has the critical responsibility of keeping the team supplied with much-needed chocolate from her home in Switzerland.
You can also keep up to date with Theo as he continues his tour through the following social media links (but shhhh, don’t tell his brother!)
Theo on Twitter
Theo on Facebook
To win one of the prizes on offer, please tell us what you think of the excerpt and the letter in the comments, especially if you’re new to The Darcy Brothers. We would love to hear your feedback. You can also ask Theo or the authors a question (and don’t forget to say which draw you are entering).