An Introduction to Introductions

Description=Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle as Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in a dramatisation of Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice” for the BBC, pictured at Harrow School, Harrow on the Hill – 28.08.1994. Copyright Alan Weller / The Times.

I thought I had a pretty good handle on how to address a lady or gentleman of the Regency Period. In the midst of editing my latest novel, however, I’ve learned so much about the intricacies of this seemingly simple occurance. A man walks in, he says hello, the lady responds. That’s it, right?

Oh, no. There is so much more to it.

A primer

One of the things I learned through reading various blog posts was that a gentleman must ask to be introduced to a lady. And the lady may decline! She could just say, no and walk away. I find it fascinating how behaviors change over time. I feel like you couldn’t pull that off today without being called rude. Back in the Regency period, it was considered a way that a lady could protect herself from unwanted acquaintances.

Also, a person of higher rank must acknowledge you first. If they do not ask for an introduction, you cannot. Think Mr Collins embarrassing Elizabeth by going up and introducing himself to Mr Darcy, a man of superior rank. Gasp!

This knowledge has been incredibly helpful to me while crafting my stories. If you’re interested in learning more, check out these blog posts:

Making Introductions in Jane Austen’s World by Maria Grace

Introductions in the Regency Era from Historical Romance Review

10 Dos and Don’ts to Become a Lady in Regency England from The History Collection

Rydal Mount Vignette

During these troubled times, I am finding even more solace than usual in my favorite romance novels. Romance novels have always been a place to turn to when I yearn to feel a lightness of heart. They create worlds where I can forget the pressures of the day, learn about matters of the heart, and enjoy the romance of a moment.

I wrote the following vignette last summer, and it was included in Meryton Press’s Summer Holiday blog series. I’m re-posting it now for those who may have missed it, or for anyone who would like to send their minds and hearts to the lovely summer gardens of England.

This vignette takes place at Rydal Mount, the home in England’s Lake District where William Wordsworth spent most of his adult life. Elizabeth and Darcy are traveling in the area a year or two before Wordsworth rented the home from Lady le Flemming.

When thy mind
Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies (139-142)

from Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth

The carriage drove over the old stone bridge, and Elizabeth Darcy leaned her head out the open window, the better to see the lovely creek below. The horses moved on—their hooves clapping loudly on the stone—and a moment later, the house came into view. It sat upon a little hill, its white plaster facade warmed by the afternoon sun.

“Oh! Fitzwilliam, it’s beautiful!”

Across from her, her husband, Fitzwilliam Darcy, smiled and leaned forward to gaze out the window as well. The sloped roof of the house was punctuated by seven chimneys, their milky tone contrasting sharply with the grey slate roof. Gardens surrounded the house; indeed, flowers and foliage seemed to burst from every corner. 

“I thought you would like it, my love,” Darcy said.

“It is exactly what I would wish a summer home to be,” Elizabeth replied, her eyes glowing as they roamed over the lovely scene.

Before long, the carriage pulled to a stop, and a groom began to attend to the horses. Two footmen appeared to hand Elizabeth and Darcy out of the carriage, and Elizabeth found herself being ushered inside the house by a welcoming woman who appeared to be the housekeeper in residence.

“Welcome to Rydal Mount, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy. Lady Flemming sends her apologies for not receiving you herself, but she has been called away to tend to a sick relative,” the plump older woman was saying. 

“I do hope it is nothing serious,” Elizabeth said, looking at her husband who was handing his hat and staff to the footman. 

“I do not believe so, ma’am,” the housekeeper replied. “Lady Flemming has an elderly relative that lives but twenty miles away. She is often called from Rydal Hall to attend her. Please, allow me to show you to your rooms.” 

She led the way up the rather narrow stairs to the master’s chambers. The room was simply furnished, yet there was a touch of elegance that spoke of good sense and taste. The adjoining room—the mistress’s chambers—was as bright and cheerful as Elizabeth could wish. The white walls were modestly adorned with art that looked to be painted by the residents of Rydal Hall. A large window occupied most of one wall, and as it was curtained with only gauzy cotton, the sunlight of the summer afternoon streamed through, warming the room within.

The housekeeper left them, and Elizabeth turned to Darcy, clasping his hand. “How did you know, my dear, that this house would be so perfect for our summer holiday?”

“I saw it once, several years ago,” Darcy replied, pulling her closer as he spoke. “I was traveling in this part of the country, and stopped to visit Sir Daniel Flemming and his wife, Lady Anna. Sir Daniel was keen to show me the improvements he had made to some of the outer buildings, including Rydal Mount.”

He wrapped his arms around her, pressing her body close to his. After five months of marriage, Elizabeth had grown accustomed to his casual touches, but the thrill of his embrace was as strong now as it had been the very first time she had felt his arms around her. She sighed, leaning into his chest and resting her head on his lapel.

“It was such a peaceful spot,” he continued. “The gardens were especially lovely. When I heard that Sir Daniel was looking for a tenant, I knew immediately that this would suit us—that it would suit you, my love.” He crooked his finger below her chin, drawing her face up to his. A smile played about his mouth as he leaned in, kissing her slowly, delicately.

The kiss deepened, and Elizabeth wound her arms around his neck, content to be in his arms. After a moment, however, he withdrew. 

“We should change out of these dusty things,” he said.

“I suppose you are right,” Elizabeth murmured. 

Darcy chuckled at her reluctance. “Do not worry, my love; there are more delights to come.”

Elizabeth blushed and looked at her boots. Darcy once again lifted her chin with his finger.

“I have a surprise in store for you, and I do not wish to spoil it. Come—let us change. I shall await you downstairs.” He gave her one impish look, and then left her. Her curiosity sufficiently piqued, Elizabeth called her maid and hurried to undress.

She availed herself of the washing basin then chose a lovely cotton afternoon dress from her trunk. It had come through the long trip largely unwrinkled, and Elizabeth was quite pleased with her appearance once her maid had done up the buttons in the back. The muslin was creamy white with tiny little sprigs of yellow flowers embroidered throughout. Delicate puffed sleeves revealed her pale and shapely arms, and a lace fichu tucked into her bodice. It was far too warm for a shawl, but she did procure her parasol.

Refreshed and changed at last, Elizabeth made her way downstairs. She found her husband in the library where she knew he would be. He sat, book in hand, with his long legs stretched before him. He looked up and smiled—the full, engaging smile that was just for her.

“There you are, my love,” he said, rising and setting his book aside. “You look positively enchanting this afternoon.”

Elizabeth looked down at her frock. “Do you like it? I had it made especially for the trip.”

Darcy took in her gown, his eyes moving over her in a way that made her shiver slightly. “It is quite beautiful,” he said, “though I confess that the gown is not what caught my attention.” 

He took a step closer, and linked her arm in his. “It is you, my love—your fair cheek, your lovely lips, those eyes that will forever bewitch me. You are lovelier than any dress.”

“And you, sir, are charming,” Elizabeth said archly, but her heart beat faster at his words, and she drew him closer to her side.

“Are you ready for your surprise?”

“I think you are the better judge, husband of mine. Will I suit the surprise?”

“You are perfect. Come, let me lead you.”

He drew her out of the library toward the back of the house. A small door at the end of the hall opened upon the back of the property. As soon as she stepped through the door, Elizabeth felt she had been transported to a fairyland. Flowers of every sort were in full bloom, their heady fragrance filling her senses. There were roses—dozens of roses—as well as foxgloves, lavender, agrimonies, daisies, and bellflowers. 

“Oh, my darling,” Elizabeth breathed. “It is so very beautiful!”

Darcy placed his hand on the small of her back, leading her forward through the blooms. “As are you, my love.”

Elizabeth leaned her head against his shoulder in reply as they walked arm in arm down the garden path. Were it not for her deep love of Pemberley, she felt she should be happy to live her whole life in this very garden.

They rounded a bend, and she glimpsed her surprise at last. A lavish picnic was set upon the neatly trimmed lawn beneath  a beautiful horse chestnut tree. A large blanket held all sorts of culinary delights, and two footmen stood at a discreet distance, ready to attend them. 

Darcy led her to the blanket, holding her hand as she settled herself down. Then he relaxed next to her, leaning back on his shoulder. “Do you like it, my dear?”

“Of course I do! It is the perfect beginning to our summer holiday.”

“I am glad it pleases you.”

“It does, indeed, and you do, as always.”

She leaned forward and gave him a quick kiss, despite the footmen. Darcy merely raised an eyebrow at her boldness. 

“We are here for two whole weeks,” he said. “I thought the vistas of the fells and lakes could wait while we recover from our journey.”

“A very good thought,” Elizabeth replied, taking a piece of ham from the basket and setting it on a plate for her husband. She served another for herself. “Though you may regret it.”

“Indeed?”

“I may never wish to leave this garden nor the charming house. Rydal Mount is exactly where I should like to live, had I not been blessed with the good fortune of being mistress of Pemberley.”

Darcy took her hand, raising her fingers to his lips. His eyes blazed with the passion she had come to know these past five months. “Wherever you are, Elizabeth, is where I wish to be.”

“And where I wish to be, my love, is by your side.”

Originally posted on the Meryton Press blog.

Perhaps a Novel?

Is anyone else feeling a bit…freaked out? I freely admit to having anxiety on a good day. These days I’m feeling that constant, low-level anxiety that creates tension and wears me down. That feeling that I should just go hide in my room? Yeah, I’m thinking I’m not alone with that.

In case you are feeling like I am, might I suggest a book? A book, a cup of tea or coffee, and perhaps a cozy blanket. Play some soothing music, read your favorite book, and snuggle up.

Or you could always put in the 1995 BBC adaption of Pride & Prejudice.

Take very good care, dear readers.

RWA Online Chapter Interview

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Karen Jones of RWA Online, my “local” RWA chapter. Karen was kind enough to provide me with the opportunity to share it with everyone here.

Interview With Brigid Huey

by Karen Jones

What inspired the story line for A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods? A Chance Encounter is a Pride and Prejudice variation, so it is, of course, inspired by Jane Austen’s work itself. I was outside on a blustery day, and I kept imagining Mr. Darcy dashing up on horseback to lend his aid to Elizabeth Bennet during a blustery, stormy afternoon. The rest of the story came from there.

Book Blurb:

A surprise meeting.

A baby alone in the woods. 

And a second chance at love.

Fitzwilliam Darcy returns to his beloved Pemberley with one thing on his mind—to forget Elizabeth Bennet. Riding ahead of his party and racing a storm, he happens upon the very woman he wants to avoid. To his astonishment, she is holding a baby whose name and parentage are unknown.

Elizabeth Bennet never dreamed she had wandered into Pemberley’s woods on her afternoon walk. But when she finds an infant alone in the storm, she turns to the last man in the world she wants to see—and the only one who can help them both. 

As the mystery of the baby’s identity intensifies, Elizabeth finds Mr. Darcy to be quite different from what she expected. But when the child’s family is discovered, will the truth bring them together or tear them apart?

What was the most difficult aspect of writing A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods? Because my work is a variation, I have to walk a fine line of creating something new while staying true to the characters as they were created by Jane Austen. It was hard to create something original within an established literary world so loved and admired.

What is the sexiest thing you had a character in A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods do? At one point in the story, Mr. Darcy falls asleep while holding an infant. Elizabeth accidentally happens upon him while he is sleeping — he’s disheveled and generally ruffled in a delightful way.

This book is set during the Regency period in England. What aspects of the Regency period interest you? There are many things I love about Regency England, but I think my favorite might be the clothing. I love researching the different styles of the day, especially the gowns the ladies wore.

As an author, what has been the most joyful thing that has happened to you? The day I got the email from Meryton Press that my novella had been accepted for publication was hands down the most joyful author moment of my life. I was blown away that a complete stranger had read my work and liked it enough to publish it. Like many of us, I suffer from imposter syndrome!

What is the most difficult aspect of writing? For me, the most difficult aspect of writing is finding the time to write. I homeschool my two children, and they are both still young. Within the actual process itself, I would say final edits are the hardest part. I want to rush through them and be done! For some reason it’s easier for me to slog through the first couple of drafts. The cleaning up that happens in the final draft tends to overwhelm me.

Did you ever have a character surprise you? Yes! In one of my current works in progress, I just found out that a character is gay. He had been the whole time, of course, I just hadn’t noticed. He’s a minor character, and now I find I want to develop his story more! This is actually the first time this has happened to me as a writer.

When did you start writing and why? I have been writing since I was a kid. I don’t remember consciously deciding to write — I just had a story in my head that I wanted to get out onto paper. I had a wide ruled notebook (I still have it) that I filled with a story about college friends, aliens, and dating. I never finished that story. Someday I will! 

Why did you decide to become a romance writer? I had completed three stories before I realized I was a romance writer. I had some fantasy, science fiction, and historical works in progress, but they were ALL romances really. One day when I was reading about romance novels online, I read about the defining attributes of the romance genre. That is, the story must revolve around a romantic relationship and it must end happily. In a flash I realized that romance was all I wrote. I cannot write a sad ending — I don’t think I have it in me. I write stories that I would like to read. And I like to read romances!

Where is your book available? My book is available on Amazon in both print and e-book formats.

What is your next project? My next project is to find an agent! I am also polishing up two novels: one untitled and The Foll Stones. My goal is to find a publisher for them in 2020.

Published in the January 2020 issue of LoveBytes, the newsletter of RWA Onlinehttp://rwaonlinechapter.org/

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A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods – Now on Kindle Unlimited!

My book is now available through Kindle Unlimited 🙂

I am super excited to let you all know that A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods is now available through Kindle Unlimited. If you don’t know, Kindle Unlimited is a program through Amazon in which you pay one monthly price and can read as many KU books as you want.

I’m excited for this next stage for my little book!

Cover Reveal Date!

A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods Cover Revealed on August 28!

Pride and Prejudates

My daughter came up with that very clever title for me. She knows titles aren’t my strong suit.

I’m very excited to announce that a cover reveal date for A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods has been set! Meredith at Austenesque Reviews is hosting my cover reveal on August 28th! I am beyond excited. Janet Taylor has been working hard on the cover, and I’m so excited to share it with everyone. I hope you love it as much as I do!

The blog tour for my book will run from September 9-21. Stay tuned for more information about which blogs are participating!

Publication Time Approaches!

Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle as Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet -Copyright Alan Weller / The Times.

It’s just around the corner

I am so excited to announce that my book, A Chance Encounter in Pemberley Woods, will be published by Meryton Press at the end of this month! Stay tuned for exact dates for the cover reveal, pre-order, publication, and blog tour!

I am a strange mixture of excitement and nerves. Sharing a story is akin to revealing a part of your inner life to the wide world. However, I must say that I am so happy to be able to share my story with everyone. Cheers to the end of the month!

Regency Knowledge

Leave me here, please.

It has recently come to my attention that what I know of Regency life is but a smattering. A mere tip of the proverbial iceberg. Bits and pieces gleaned from various period dramas and one very research paper. I’ve stumbled upon a few errors in my thinking recently (editors are a wealth of knowledge), and I am resolved to fill in my spotty knowledge of my favorite historical era.

Upon reaching this conclusion, I did what everyone does nowadays. I Googled. And I found a lovely blog full of information by one Maria Grace. She blogs at Random Bits of Fascination, a blog that I highly recommend for its truly interesting and well-researched posts. I particularly enjoyed this one about circulating libraries.

I’m trying to find information about clubs and societies that flourished during the Regency Period. I know about Gentlemen’s Clubs like White’s. But what of other groups? Did people during this period get together for book clubs? Did they form societies to further a common interest like history or art?

I can’t wait to find out.

Cover Designs

A bit overwhelming…

So many options

Over the last few weeks I’ve been working with Janet at Meryton Press to create a cover for my book. Time out! Let me just read that first sentence again. Okay, still not believing it, but ready to move on. Ahem.

Janet is an super-talented designer and I cannot wait to share the finished product with you. Until then, I thought I would share a few of my favorite covers from other Austenesque titles. I found these inspiring, and they helped me communicate to Janet what I love in a cover.

To Conquer Pride

First, this is a great book and you should go read it right now. Second, look at this cover! The painting itself is beautiful, but the placement of the artwork and the mystery of the lady are so intriguing.

These Dreams

Another wonderful story, this cover is just beautiful. So much feeling is conveyed in this painting. As you can see, I love a painting for a cover. Somehow it places the work in an historical context for me.

In the weeks to come, I’ll be able to share more about my own cover (!!) and release date (!!). Until then, check these two books out. Jennifer Altman and Nicole Clarkston have written lovely works that are definitively worth reading!