Darcy's Hope by Ginger Monette
Also by this author: Darcy's Hope
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Escape to the era of Downton Abbey and experience all the drama of World War 1 alongside literature’s iconic Elizabeth Bennet & Fitzwilliam Darcy. You'll watch their tender love unfold as they learn to work together and reconcile their differences amidst the carnage of war.
1916. World War I has turned French chateaux into bloody field hospitals, British gentlemen into lice-infested soldiers, and left Elizabeth Bennet's life in tatters.
Her father is dead and her home destroyed. Never again will Elizabeth depend on a man to secure her future!
But when an opportunity arises to advance her dreams of becoming a doctor, she is elated—until he arrives....
Heartbroken. Devastated. Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy is left rejected by the woman he loved and reeling from the slaughter of his men on the battlefield. “Enough!” Darcy vows. “No more sentimental attachments!”
But arriving at a field hospital to pursue a covert investigation, Darcy discovers his beloved Elizabeth training with a dashing American doctor and embroiled in an espionage conspiracy.
With only a few months to expose the plot, Darcy is forced to grapple with his feelings for Elizabeth while uncovering the truth. Is she indeed innocent? Darcy can only hope….
A week later Elizabeth quickened her pace to the overlook, anxious to read the letter from Jane. She settled in her favourite spot, leaning against a sprawling oak with a magnificent view of the canal below. Lieutenant Bingley had been back in Boulogne for nearly a week, so surely there would be news.
Scanning the letter Elizabeth squealed in delight. A wedding—next week! And Jane begged that she come. So soon? Oh, but did Charles have to ask Darcy to stand up with him? Elizabeth grunted. Could she not go anywhere and be away from the man? Even the wedding date was chosen to coincide with the captain’s meeting in Boulogne to ensure his presence. Why in the world would Charles, who must have plenty of friends, pick sour-grapes Darcy?
Could The Yank be right? Could the captain’s time in the trenches and his losses at the Somme have profoundly affected him? She often heard horror stories of things soldiers had seen and experienced that left them numb. She huffed under her breath. Certainly that was not the case with Captain Darcy. He was stone cold by nature with an impenetrable heart—no—he told her once he loved her. And that first day she nursed him, he kindly consoled her about her mother and sister. There must be something beating in that broad chest of his. What difference did it make? She shook off the thoughts as she refolded Jane’s letter. Darcy had ruined her family, and she wanted nothing to do with him.
She raised her chin and gazed over the distant meadow. The morning sun shimmering off the water in canal below and the quaint windmill on the adjacent rise beckoned her. She had never ventured down the face of the bluff to the canal, but she had plenty of time today, and the May weather was glorious.
Inching her way down, she steadied herself on rocks and branches protruding here and there, nearly losing her balance on the loose embankment. Finally reaching the bottom, she started towards the waterway. Rounding a knoll, she squinted into the sun at a tall silhouette of a Tommy peering down the canal through field glasses. Whatever he saw must have been intriguing, as he surveyed the horizon for quite some time. Nearing him, she opened her mouth to call out a greeting when a stick snapped under her foot. In one deft motion, the soldier whirled around and levelled his revolver at her.
“Don’t shoot!” Elizabeth cried, pleading her hands in surrender. It was Captain Darcy.
“What are you doing here?” he barked, lowering the firearm and glaring at her with flashing eyes of steel.
Her heart pounding, she bit back, “Perhaps I could ask the same of you.”
“That is not the point.” He reached out and grabbed her arm above the elbow, nearly shaking it in rage. “A lady has no business out here alone. There are men roaming about who have no thought for their future and would be only too happy to ravage an attractive woman such as yourself.”
She jerked her arm away. “I appreciate your concern, but I am quite capable of looking after myself. But it’s nice to know you now consider me attractive as there was a time I wasn’t handsome enough to tempt you.”
His face hardened. “If you were this obstinate towards your father’s authority, it is no wonder he gave up on your sisters and retreated to his stud—”
His eyes widened in shocked contrition, and his manner softened. “Forgive me. That was uncalled for and unkind. Please…trust me in this.”
“Trust you? You are asking me to trust you? After your reprehensible treatment of Lieutenant Wickham and your calculated separation of Charles from Jane, I have no reason to trust you.”
Darcy clenched his fist. “Perhaps had you read my letter explaining myself, you might think differently.”
“Letter? What letter?”
“The one I sent to Longbourn from London after our…encounter at the Hunsford parsonage. It detailed my dealings with Wickham and your sister. I suppose you were too prejudiced against me to even open it.”
She opened her mouth, then shut it, dumbfounded. Was it possible he had an explanation? She stayed an extra two weeks with Charlotte after the captain’s departure, but surely had a letter arrived at Longbourn, it would have been left with her other correspondence. Wouldn’t it?
He released a defeated sigh and broke the silence. “Although I no longer adhere to my principle that my good opinion once lost is lost forever, I suppose I cannot fault you for abiding by it. Good day, Miss Bennet.” He turned on his heel and strode away.
Elizabeth stepped back, wilting as she released a breath. Why did every encounter with him leave her breathless and weak-kneed? The tension that radiated between them was unlike anything she’d experienced before. It was somehow entrancing—both repelling and tantalising at the same time.
She headed towards the chateau and shook off the thoughts, not wanting to think on it any more.
…it is no wonder your father gave up on your sisters and retreated… She winced at the grain of truth. But she wasn’t the obstinate one, her sisters were.
She hastened her pace, but his words crept through to her consciousness again. A lady has no business out here alone….
She huffed at his presumptuousness. What made him such an expert on everything? She’d never seen anyone out here except the children who played with her stuffed dog, an occasional wagon on the road, or Sapper and his men at the cemetery. Under the captain’s authority, she’d already surrendered the dowager house and the annexe. She had no intention of following his every whim as if he were an omniscient god.
Besides, what was he doing out here gazing down the canal? Didn’t he go to the ward at the school every day?
Ah, our dear couple, always plagued by distrust and misunderstandings. But indeed what was Darcy doing at the canal? And why didn’t Elizabeth receive his letter? You’ll have to read the story to find out : )
Author: Ginger Monette
Q: What inspired you to catapult Darcy and Lizzy’s story from the early 1800’s to the early 1900’s?
A: Downton Abbey! Julian Fellowes’ creations have numerous similarities with Jane Austen’s characters: a house full of girls with no heir, an entailed estate, a landowner living in a grand house, a crotchety female matriarch, and high society characters falling in love with, well, those not so high society. It was remarkable to me how little British culture had changed in 100 years. I could see Darcy dining with Lord Grantham with little change in decorum. Besides, the turbulence of the Western Front seemed a fitting and colorful setting for a romance between two characters known for clashing. And so a plot was born.
Q: Most Americans know nothing more about World War I than trench warfare and trench foot. How did you research such a broad topic?
A: With the only sources I could trust as historically accurate—diaries. What made research difficult was that diaries aren’t written to instruct a future audience (complete with topic headings and index). Consequently, their vantage point assumes an acquaintance with their present culture—social mores, current news, general ways of doing things, gender roles, etc. Since I am not from that era, all those little details had to be gleaned from hints here and there—and that required hours and hours of reading. I read six hours a day for nine months and compiled over 200 pages of typed notes.
Q: That’s a lot of reading! Didn’t you tire of such tedious research?
A: No. Actually I became obsessed. Those folks back then were a lot smarter than I’d given them credit for. In addition, I found the history fascinating and the people inspiring!
Q: How were they inspiring?
A: Machine guns, poison gas, airplanes, and tanks made their debut in WWI inflicting destruction and horrific wounds on an unprecedented scale. Men lived in squalid trenches and saw their comrades dismembered and slaughtered on a daily basis, yet they remained cheerful and self-sacrificing.
And everyone did something to aid in the war effort. Hundreds of women volunteered as nurse’s aides, others wrote letters, sent care packages, and knitted socks. Men too old to serve as soldiers became stretcher-bearers and ambulance drivers. They fashioned splints from scrap metal, turned church halls into hospitals, and emptied bedpans. These small acts of kindness repeated over and over made an enormous difference. As a result, I am challenged to be cheerful amidst trying circumstances and to offer my own small acts of kindness even when they seem insignificant.
Q: Did you face any particular challenges in writing Darcy’s Hope?
A: Yes! Weaving a romance into a complex setting unfamiliar to most readers, with both the hero and heroine experiencing significant character evolution, all in the context of a mystery was a HUGE challenge. I’ll never try to combine that many elements again.
Q: I hear you’ve put together a special photo album to accompany Darcy’s Hope. Can you tell us about it and why you compiled it?
A: Most Americans know almost nothing about WW1. I was no exception. But after researching, it dawned on me that my own understanding of the Great War had been greatly enhanced by photographs. What if I shared some photos with my readers?
After combing through a thousand or more WW1 photos, I selected nearly a hundred that not only represented the culture and technologies of the war and era, but also of the people and places depicted in the story. I dressed them up like an old fashioned album, and I’m really pleased with how Lizzy’s Scrapbook turned out.
I’m offering free access to Lizzy’s Scrapbook as a special blog tour bonus to anyone who orders the book during the tour, Nov. 1-22. All they have to do is purchase Darcy’s Hope, then visit my website (GingerMonette.com) and follow the prompts for Lizzy’s Scrapbook.
Q: Your last book, Tree of Life, Charlotte and the Colonel, had a Christian theme. Can we expect that again?
A: Not this time. But the story does have themes. The primary theme is deception—people, circumstances, and situations are not always what they initially appear to be. Even the subtitle, Beauty from Ashes is a paradox, a form of deception. Another theme, the barriers one erects to protect him or herself from pain, are also a kind of deception. They end up delivering more pain than protection.
Q: Now that you’ve done so much research on World War I, can we expect more novels set in this era?
A: Yes. Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes has a happy ending but will continue in Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey (yes, that’s the home of George and Emma Knightley’s descendants), now available for pre-order. In the sequel, readers will experience the full resolution of the mystery, and our beloved couple’s love will face a tragic test.
In addition, I’m planning a Great War Romance series. Several of the characters that readers encounter in Darcy’s Hope will have stories all their own including Colonel Fitzwilliam, John Thornton (yes, John Thornton from North & South), Robert Knightley and a few more. Stay tuned!
Q: Is there a way readers can get updates on future releases?
Q: Anything else you would like readers to know about Darcy’s Hope?
A: As you can guess, historical accuracy was important to me. And although I tried to keep the romance between Darcy and Lizzy the story’s primary focus, I hope readers will finish Darcy’s Hope with a taste of what it would have been like at a field hospital near the Front.
Readers may also be interested to know that the chateau-turned-field-hospital in my story is based on one that actually existed, even down to the swans in the water feature! The Messines Ridge blast and Darcy’s “going over the top” at the Battle of the Somme were actual events. Also, chaplains really did occasionally assist in the operating room, and the two outlandish stories told by the colorful Scotsman are true as well.
But most of all I hope readers will love the story!
Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog : )