EXCERPT! The Elizabeth Papers by Jenetta James

EXCERPT! The Elizabeth Papers by Jenetta James

EXCERPT! The Elizabeth Papers by Jenetta JamesThe Elizabeth Papers by Jenetta James
Also by this author: Suddenly Mrs. Darcy, , The Elizabeth Papers, Lover's Knot
Published by Meryton Press Genres: Austenesque
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“It is settled between us already, that we are to be the happiest couple in the world,” said Elizabeth Bennet at the conclusion of “Pride & Prejudice”—but was it true?

Charlie Haywood is a London-based private investigator who has made his own fortune—on his own terms. Charming, cynical, and promiscuous, he never expected to be attracted to Evie Pemberton, an independent-minded artist living with the aftermath of tragedy. But when he is hired to investigate her claims to a one hundred and fifty year old trust belonging to the eminent Darcy family, he is captivated.

Together they become entwined in a Regency tale of love, loss, and mystery tracing back to the grand estate of Pemberley, home to Evie’s nineteenth century ancestors, Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy. As if travelling back in time, a story unfolds within their story. All was not as it seemed in the private lives of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, but how can they ever uncover the whole truth?

How could they know that in 1817 Elizabeth Darcy began a secret journal? What started as an account of a blissful life came to reflect a growing unease. Was the Darcy marriage perfect or was there betrayal and deception at its heart?

Can Evie and Charlie unearth the truth in the letters of Fitzwilliam Darcy or within the walls of present-day Pemberley? What are the elusive Elizabeth papers and why did Elizabeth herself want them destroyed?

"The Elizabeth Papers" is a tale of romance and intrigue, spanning the Regency and modern eras, reminding us how the passions of the past may inspire those in the present.

I am so excited to share this EXCERPT from The Elizabeth Papers with you!!  I loved this book so much! It was wonderful!

Read my 5 Heart Review Here!

 

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Later, Charlie reflected that he could never have been prepared for the first moment he saw her. A huge painting of ballerinas in unlikely colours formed the backdrop, and there she was. Her right toe tapped the wooden floor, and he noticed a tiny, gold chain around her left ankle. Her hair, which was the colour of acacia honey, was so thick he thought she might need a spoon to brush it. It was already half out of its ponytail, and he noticed that she moved her head around a lot when she talked. She was the right age, and everyone seemed to be addressing her. He knew that this was the girl. The gallery lights bounced off her creamy skin, and he felt a tightening in his throat. Unused to being disconcerted by another person’s appearance, Charlie got himself a glass of wine and did a circle of the room before approaching her.

There were a number of people surging around her, babbling and pecking one another on the cheek between hugs.

Charlie decided that his only option was to abuse his height and move closer, gazing up at the ballerinas then over the top of her acolytes and down at her honey-blonde head.

“Miss Pemberton, I assume?”

“You assume right, but it’s Evie, please.”

He shook the hand she held out to him and was momentarily shocked by the soft silk of her skin against his. She looked at him expectantly, and he realised that, for the first time in his professional life, he didn’t have a plan or a false name at his fingertips.

“I’m Charlie, Charlie Haywood.” Did he detect some alarm in her? Her eyes, which his father would have called Dresden blue, flickered about uncertainly as she spoke.

“Well, welcome, Charlie Haywood. How did you hear about the exhibition? Have you been to the gallery before?”

Afterwards, he did not know what made him say it. Was it that he was nervous? Was it just the first thing that came into his head? Was it that he wanted to make her stay with him? He could not imagine.

“I’m a collector, Evie. And yes, I’ve been here before. Exhibitions in this gallery are always so well curated, and I like what they have done with your work. This is great. I really like this one in fact.”

He turned to the ballerinas, needing to look away from her.

“Oh, thank you. But that one isn’t for sale. It belongs to my aunt and uncle. If you were really interested, I could work up a proposal for a new work on a similar basis. I don’t know if you are into commissioning work, but if you were, that would be an option.”

“Thanks, I may well be.”

He cast his eye around the room, and in the heat of the evening and the hubbub of the laughing, drinking crowd, he began to get his native confidence back.

“So, what about this? What’s the story here?”

He nodded towards a small canvass with a purple cello in the middle of it, and Evie began to explain that she had spent time with orchestras and that there were a number of pictures in the exhibition in which the instruments were in full cry without their players. The ballerinas, it turned out, were the product of a similar stint with a ballet company in which Evie had been allowed to tag along and sketch during rehearsals. Charlie stared at the canvas and could almost hear the low moan of the instrument in his ear.

“I like it. I really like it. Evie, do you have a studio? Where do you work?”

“I have a studio in Fulham, just off Lots Road. The address is on my card. Do you want it?”

“Yes, I do want it.” He stared at her in that way that he had stared down at women many times before. He realised with a start that she didn’t welcome it. The skin on her beautiful face grew taut, she looked sideways, and her mouth pursed.

“Sure. I’ll just get you one.”

When she handed him the card, she did so at arm’s length, and she barely even smiled. The Dresden blue of her eyes looked away, but he wasn’t deterred. Charlie was not accustomed to giving up, and he wasn’t about to do so this time.

His experiences had not taught him to doubt his abilities, and he continued.

“Thanks. I am around in Fulham sometimes, and I’d like to look in if that’s okay—see what you’re working on. I could pop in one afternoon next week if you’re free. Maybe we could get dinner after. I could treat you. What is the point in being in the art world if I can’t feed a struggling artist from time to time? How about it?”

“Erm…that is very flattering…Charlie…” He winced to think that she had to search around for his name. “But maybe not. I have only just met you, well…and I manage to feed myself most days.”

“I didn’t mean—”

“I’m sure not. Thank you for coming, and I hope you enjoy the exhibition.”

She smiled and was absorbed into the crowd of interested parties. The fabric of her dress shimmied against the curve of her form as she moved away from him. He felt sweat breaking out under his shirt, muttered the most coherent goodbye he could muster at the door, and was gone.

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Jenetta James is the nom de plume of a lawyer, writer, mother and taker-on of too much. She grew up in Cambridge and read history at Oxford University where she was a scholar and president of the Oxford University History Society. After graduating, she took to the law and now practises full time as a barrister. Over the years she has lived in France, Hungary and Trinidad as well as her native England. Jenetta currently lives in London with her husband and children where she enjoys reading, laughing and playing with Lego. Suddenly Mrs. Darcy is her first novel.

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Blog: http://jenettajames.merytonpress.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jenettajameswriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JenettaJames

 

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Comments

  1. Vesper Meikle says:

    Love, you never know when it will hit you

  2. If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?

  3. Christina Boyd says:

    Gah! Charlie totally botched that first impression! Sorely lacking finesse! The poor man.

    Btw Margie, I totally endorse Henry Cavill as Charlie too in my fantasy Casting Couch!

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