Greetings, gentle readers! I do not post often (certainly not as often as I would like, should time allow) as I am an “Affiliated Member” of the group. As I intend for my latest release – Dearest Bloodiest Elizabeth~Book II: The Confession of Mr Darcy, Vampire – to be my final Austen-inspired novel, I shall most likely lose that distinction as well! I recently sat on a panel of historical romance authors, and one member of the audience asked how much research we do for our novels. I had the pleasure of bringing out a few props, just a sample of the books I had read to research this novel. These do not include all of the eBooks I purchased, nor the ones that my husband had to return to the university library.
As I wrote the sequel to Book 1: Pulse and Prejudice, I learned many things not just about New Orleans after the War of 1812, but also that I should never have mentioned that a sequel would be forthcoming! For years, I received messages and emails, “When is the sequel coming out?” Well, I hadn’t realized how much research would be required. Then I did something really stupid: I began the research and found it all so interesting that I didn’t take any notes (“Oh, to be sure, I will remember that!”). Famous last words. I had some health issues, which delayed the project; so once I began again, I had to start from scratch! I wrote two contemporary novels in the meantime (plus others under a different name), but no one cared about those. Readers only wanted Dearest Bloodiest Elizabeth. Well, now you may have her!
Originally I intended to participate in “Jealousy in July,” as that is the primary motif of the novel, but I hadn’t finished it yet! It was almost complete; I just couldn’t figure out how to get them from England to New Orleans. Did readers want an accounting of whatever they did on the four, five, or six weeks on the ship across the Atlantic? I finally resolved it by skipping over that completely and instead beginning the second half once they have arrived in New Orleans and Elizabeth sends a letter to her father describing her journey and their new environs.
First of all, one truly must read the first book in The Confession of Mr Darcy, Vampire before proceeding to Book 2. To set up this excerpt, the first half of the novel takes place in England; and whereas in Pulse and Prejudice Mr. Darcy considered his being a vampire as a curse, now he is coming into his own and glad that he has certain abilities inherent in his condition. As with all newlyweds, he and Elizabeth suffer through misunderstandings, as well as some tragedies.
By the middle of the novel, Darcy is blackmailed by a Lutheran dwarf to go to New Orleans. (I know, I know…stay with me here. It makes sense when you read it!)
Hôtel d’Orleans, June 20
I address this only to you as before we came away my mother stated she will no longer speak to me for leaving Jane whilst she is increasing. Of course Jane is of such a sweet disposition as to apologize to me for the ill-timing of her confinement!
(Oh, yeah. Forgot to mention: Jane became “in the family way” not long after their double wedding, but this has caused something of a rift between her and Elizabeth.)
We arrived safely in America two days ago. Pray forgive the delay in my writing, and do not suppose I have adopted your nature as a dilatory correspondent! I will blame the first day on fatigue and the relief of being on land again. Even as I write this, my legs believe we are still on the ship!
Oh, Papa, to step foot on a new continent – a new world! I confess my anxious curiosity delayed this communiqué another day.
The sea voyage was excessively long and the novelty of the ocean with its boundless horizon soon lost its charm. I read The Odyssey—twice! Emelie—the girl who agreed to be my abigail on board in exchange for her passage—she and I walked the deck from stern to hull until I believed I could steer the ship and rig the sails myself. Mr. Darcy used the opportunity to better my French, as that is the local language, but I dare say he found me a frustrating student.
Upon finally spying land, our eager anticipation stretched the several days it took to port to seem as lengthy as the ocean voyage! Proceeding up river, I began to fear that the city would be savage and undeveloped, the only signs of humanity being the occasional rustic hut. We were surrounded by such verdure, such lush vegetation and thick woods, the likes of which I had never known. Long grey beards hang from the trees, which I find delightful. (I later learnt it to be called Spanish Moss, although I prefer the idea of elderly men living in trees.) But upon our arrival we were greeted by an open square with a massive cathedral with two towers not even a furlong from the river, with identical twin buildings on either side. It presents a fine prospect despite the disarray of many of the buildings aligning the sides of the Place d’Armes.
Already I had my fears allayed as we approached the port by the site of an impressive structure stretching across the levy with a tile roof and arcaded sides. We discovered it to be a market house, and you know well enough of my character to guess that I had to investigate this marvel. Indeed, it did not disappoint. The variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as meats and fish and shellfish, to be sure, as I have never seen, provided enough amusement even to divert you, though my preference for the characters, men and women, always inclines me more to the company than the site—and, oh, what a variety of people! Creole women with dark hair and alabaster skin in red and yellow dresses, Negroes as dark as the ebony keys on the pianoforte, and every shade in between. Elegant ladies the hue of tea with milk wearing colorful madras turbans. Fear not that I will go further with this sartorial description of finery, other than to say that the Indians—yes, Papa, Indians!—wear scarcely anything at all! You can imagine Mr. Darcy’s disapprobation of a gentleman’s daughter being subjected to the spectacle of masculine bare flesh covered with nothing more than a skirt of feathers! I truly wish I had learnt to draw so that I might capture this picturesque scene to share with you.
We shall reside at Hotel D’Orleans in Rue Chartres, west of the Cathedral, until we have found a house to let and hired staff, but you may direct any correspondence to the post office in Rue Royale, although any reply from you might arrive after we have returned!
Pray send word instantly that I am an aunt and that Jane and the babe are well. And send love to Mama, Mary, and little Edward. All the rest I save for you and Mr. Darcy.
Yours, very sincerely, from America!
I hope you enjoyed this little excerpt. Dearest Bloodiest Elizabeth is currently only available in eBook, but the hardcover will be available in October.
Pulse and Prejudice is available in eBook, print, and audiobook. By the way, the eBook version (Kindle, Nook, iBook, Kobo) of Book 1, Pulse and Prejudice, is 40% off now through September 30th. Enjoy~
Summer and fair weather is time for travels, near and far. Jane Austen’s characters see their fair share of travels. Elizabeth travels to Hunsford to see Charlotte. Catherine Morland treks to Bath. Frank Churchill journeys to Highbury. Captain Wentworth sails the seas with His Majesty’s navy. The Dashwoods sojourn to Barton Cottage after the loss of their home, thence to London, while Sir Thomas Bertram voyages all the way to Antigua. What new expeditions have we in store for our favorite characters? Check in often through August to find out!