Normally, I write Regency based romances, but today, I would like to celebrate my contemporary romantica based on Pride and Prejudice. Honor and Hope was, actually, the second novel I wrote. It came about shortly after I released Darcy’s Passions and served as a segue between Passions and Darcy’s Temptation. In reality, I had hit a wall in Darcy’s Temptation’s development. Therefore, I abandoned DT and took up the writing of Honor and Hope.
In my writing naïveté, I assumed that creating a modern version of Pride and Prejudice would be a simple task. After all, I love Austen’s novel, and with Darcy’s Passions, I had already proved that I could write an Austen sequel. However, reality is a hard taskmaster. I was late to consider the fact that many of the situations in Pride and Prejudice do not translate readily to modern times. For example, Las Vegas negates the idea that a couple cannot marry without permission. The Women’s Movement wiped out Elizabeth’s “spunk” as being an aberration. And in contemporary times, not many take notice of a woman who anticipates her wedding night. (After all, Ashlee Simpson announced her pregnancy two weeks after her marriage to Peter Wentz [from whom she is now divorced], and although she recently gave birth, Simpson’s sister Jessica has yet to marry her fiancé Eric Johnson.) The issue of Darcy saving Elizabeth Bennet’s reputation after Lydia’s elopement was no longer relevant.
So, what was an author to do? Instead of the actual events in Pride and Prejudice, she must take a closer look at the characters’ motivations and their personalities. Those qualities could easily convert to a modern tale. Therefore, I chose to create characters that displayed the same drive and enthusiasm: The same biological and emotional forces that affect behavior.
My Will Darcy is an amazing quarterback, who leads both his college and his professional teams to national titles. He is successful in every aspect of his professional life, but not in his personal life. He is motivated to see to the well being of his family, and he operates with “honor,” a quality found in little use by his nemesis George Wickham. Liz Bennet waltzes into Darcy’s life just as he is coming into his own, and from the first time he sees her, his every thought rests with her.
As one would find in most modern romances, I used the old adage of “Boy gets girl; boy loses girl; boy gets girl.” Will and Liz come together, but outside forces push them apart. They separate for six years (not 6 months, as in the novel) and then meet again, purely by accident, on Highway 501, the main route to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. At this point in the novel, I should have brought them together again, but I have a twisted sense of humor. So, I did bring them together, but their road to happiness has some major speed bumps.
I probably should add a disclaimer at this point. This is a contemporary romantica, which means Will and Liz have a “love” relationship. However, in my books, my characters are not “players.” The only game Will Darcy plays is football. He is completely devoted to Liz Bennet, and she to him.
So, why have I not promoted this book previously? The answer is simple: It still needed work. Therefore, I allowed one of my students to draw the original cover, and I self published it. However, I was NEVER satisfied with the work. Recently, I found time to rework the story line. I edited out some 30,000 words and executed several major revisions. Now, it has a more professional cover and is ready to face the world on its own.
Liz Bennet’s flirtatious nature acerbates Will Darcy’s controlling tendencies, sending him into despair when she fiercely demands her independence from him. How could she repeatedly turn him down? Darcy has it all: good looks, a pro football career, intelligence, and wealth. Pulled together by a passionate desire, which neither time nor distance can quench, Will and Liz are destined to love, as well as misunderstand, each other until Fate deals them a blow from which they can no longer escape. Set against the backdrop of professional sports and the North Carolina wine country, Honor and Hope offers a modern romance loosely based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”
– Albert Einstein
About five miles outside of North Myrtle Beach, the flashing lights of a car parked precariously along the road had caught his attention first, and then Will had seen her standing there, tears streaming down her face, looking frustrated and helpless. He gave a momentary chuckle; the irony of seeing her after six years had played across his lips. Will knew he should drive on and permit someone else to assist her, but he also knew he couldn’t do so. He had sworn years ago always to protect her even when she had refused to have anything to do with him.
“What the hell is she thinking?” he mumbled to himself. The traffic had slowed and edged around her car because the car’s tail end partially blocked the roadway. Without anticipating what he hoped to accomplish, Will whipped his Mercedes to the road’s side and climbed from the driver’s seat. He stood for a moment by his own car engrossed by how scared she appeared.
“Don’t come near me,” she said as Will stepped forward from the shadows of the headlights. She had said those words to him before.
For a brief moment, Will considered getting back in his car and driving away. “To hell with her,” he thought. She didn’t know who he was so he could escape without her knowledge, but Will Darcy could never escape Liz Bennet’s pull. He raised his hands slightly to show her he had no weapon. “I’ll stay here,” he began softly, “but please move away from the car. Someone could clip your car, and it could hit you.” Will had no reason for not identifying himself to Liz right away. He half expected her to recognize him immediately. When she didn’t, a part of him wanted to surprise her and to stride over to her and smother Liz in kisses; another part wanted her to welcome him into her arms.
Liz looked around foolishly, realizing the truth of his words, and edged further away from her Honda Civic. “I understand your caution,” he continued. “I’ll stay here. Are you hurt?” Liz shook her head. The movement reminded him of the video of her freshman races, which still resided on his computer files. “Have you called for assistance?”
“I don’t have my cell phone with me.” She looked as if she should not have told him that. Will wondered how much longer it would be before Liz actually recognized him. He knew from where she stood that Liz would be gazing into the headlights; she’d be able to see his body, but not the distinct features of his face being hidden by the late winter darkness.
“May I call the Auto Club for you?” He nodded his head to assure her, and he saw Liz cock her head as if to discern the familiarity of his voice.
“I don’t have that kind of coverage.” Sobs choked her voice.
“Well, I do. Would you permit me to call someone to assist you?” Will’s thoughts of Liz made him want to move where he could hold her, but he didn’t do so right away so he couldn’t force himself to do so now.
“I can’t,” she began. “I can’t afford to pay you back right away. I’m starting a new job next month if you can wait until then.” Her tears slowed.
“Obviously, I can afford it.” Will gestured towards the Mercedes, and he saw Liz smile knowingly. “Would you permit me to assist you in moving the car before some yahoo hits it?” The humor of the situation began to fill him with mischief.
“I tried to get it off the road before it died,” she explained, looking back at the automobile.
“May I take that as a yes?”
Liz straightened her shoulders and raised her chin; he had missed her tenacity along with every other facet of Liz Bennet’s personality. “I’d appreciate anything you can do.” Liz’s strong voice riveted him in place, and her eyes locked him there momentarily.
Recovering with a steadying breath, Will stepped further into the shadows as he moved around the car to the rear. “Climb in the car, turn it on, and put it in neutral.” He took charge as if he gave orders to teammates. Liz quickly did what he asked, but she got out and helped him push the auto, steering the car from outside the open car door. Will purposely turned his head so she couldn’t see his face in the rear brake lights.
“That should do it,” he said at last. “Now let’s call someone out here to help.” Will turned his back on her, flipped open his cell phone, and made the emergency phone call. When he turned back around to face her, Liz stood within inches of him.
“It’s you!” she exclaimed; then she struck out as if angry at him. Will caught her in a bear hug; and although she struggled against accepting his deceit as being funny, only seconds transpired before she gifted him with a huge smile. “That was a dirty trick!”
“I’m sorry; I couldn’t resist. You told me to stay away from you. I’ve always given you what you wanted,” Will scoffed.
“Then give me a kiss.” Liz tilted her head to meet his mouth. The kiss began innocent enough, but soon his tongue searched her mouth. She pulled away reluctantly. “The media would love this moment,” she laughed.
“Yeah, I can see the headlines now,” he agreed, but he didn’t completely release Liz. “Where are you going?”
“I planned to find a motel for a couple of days and just unwind. Things have been hectic at home lately.” Her words increased her agitation, and Liz walked away a few steps. “Where are you going?”
“I’ve a condo on the beach. I needed a few days away from it all.” Will’s eyes searched Liz’s face trying to determine how she felt about seeing him. Will thought about broaching the subject of their spending time together while at the beach, but the approach of the mechanic’s truck interrupted his thoughts.
“Look,” she pointed to the flashing lights of the tow truck. The man parked, and Will walked over to speak to him, while she waited at safe distance from the car.
Returning to her side, Will said, “He’ll check it out and give us an idea in a few minutes.” Liz looked away and no longer seemed pleased to see him. “Liz,” he said at last, “do you want me to leave?”
Tears began to stream down her face, and instinctively, he tugged her into his embrace. She left damp trails of tears down his shirt. “Will, I’m sorry; you deserved better treatment than what you have received from me. When we parted after your chamionship game, I meticulously planned on how we could be together again, but then my world imploded. My father had a massive stroke; I went home to run the farm; I just finished my schooling last month. Every day I thought I’d call you, but each day I didn’t, and then it was too late to call. I waited too long; you moved on.” Liz babbled on and on in that adorable way he remembered as characteristic of her nature.
“It’s okay, Liz,” Will stroked her hair. “I knew about your father and the farm.”
“You did?” She looked up at him in disbelief.
“Of course, I knew.”
“Then you don’t hate me?”
Will wanted to tell her he still loved her. He wanted to say his heart had not beaten for six years. “I could never hate you, Liz,” he said at last, and then there was an awkward pause between them. “Let me check on your car.” He moved away from her before he betrayed his susceptibility to Liz again. His initial kiss had shown her how much he still desired her.
“Your missus’ car ain’t going nowhere. The transmission’s shot,” the repairman started. “I can tow it to the Honda dealer in town. You can make arrangements with them tomorrow morning.”
Will wanted to correct the man’s assumption about Liz being his wife, but the words tugged at his sensibility. “Thanks. Do you have papers for me to sign?” Will put the charges on his credit card and then rejoined Liz. “The news isn’t good. You’ve dropped the transmission.”
“Great! Now what do I do? If I pay for the car, I can’t afford the room, but I have to rent a room to wait for the repair. That’s what I get for treating myself to a celebration of finally graduating. It took me six years to do two years of training. I just wanted to do something spontaneous.” Tears welled in her eyes again.
Will stood there with his arms akimbo wanting to act, but unsure whether to do so. His heart still belonged to the woman standing before him, but that heart felt fragile in her presence. “You’ll say no, I’m certain, but I’m going to offer it anyway. I own a private, multi-bedroom condo at the resort. Would you agree to come with me? You may have your own room; we can celebrate your success together; you know I’d enjoy nothing more. Yet, if you want to be alone, you may come and go as you please, or I’ll pay for a hotel room for you. Add it to what you owe me if you insist on being stubborn and paying me back.” Will intently explored Liz’s expression as he made his offer.
“Will, you know how I feel about a man taking care of me. Plus, with our history, I worry about hurting you again.”
“Then don’t hurt me,” Will pleaded. “If there’s no one else in your life right now, give me one reason why after six years we cannot be together. I’ve waited patiently, Liz, but when do we finally stop tending to everyone else and start finding out if we belong together. I’m tired of not knowing, aren’t you?”
Liz’s eyes rose to meet his. “I love you, Will. Even though I’ve not seen you for years, you’re my best friend; you know me better than anyone else.”
“I’ve always loved you, Liz,” Will whispered.
The moments of silence engulfed them. Finally, she began, “I’m not a kid anymore, and what I once valued has changed, but the one thing which has never changed was my idolized feelings for you. You ruined me for every other man.” Liz half laughed.
Will smiled at her. “I wish I could honestly say I’m sorry about that.”
“You’re too ornery, Mr. Darcy,” Liz teased.
“Then may we start again, Elizabeth? I’ve spent too many nights wondering if we had made different decisions, could our feelings carry us forward. We can start with a few dates if you like.”
“I think our intimate knowledge of each other, even after all these years, puts us past the casual dating stage. Would you be willing to permit us time to learn how much each of us has changed? You knew an eighteen years old girl; I’m twenty-four now; I knew a budding football player, and you’re a national champion twice. We may find all we have in common are our memories.”
“Then if that be so, I want to know so I can quit comparing every woman I meet to you. We’ll take it slow; I promise I won’t approach you until or if you’re ready to give yourself to me. I always told you your company would be enough.”
“You always said my company was enough, but I never held you to the promise.” Liz’s taunt relieved the tension in his shoulders. She seriously considered reconciling. He fought the muscles turning up the corners of his mouth.
“Liz, come with me.” Will’s voice skipped because of the depth of his affection for her. “Allow me to spend my lucrative salary in showing you how proud I am that you stayed with your goals and finished your degree.”
“Our history will make it easier, won’t it?” She took a step closer. “At least we won’t have to spend all that time with ‘Where you from?’ questions.”
Will offered her his hand. “Do you have luggage in your car?” he asked without wishing to sound happy.
“Yeah, my things are in the trunk. I’ll get them. I only planned for a long weekend so I didn’t bring much.” Once Liz had made up her mind, she acted quickly. She pulled the small suitcase from the car along with an athletic bag. He arched an eyebrow but said nothing. “I still like to run,” she explained as she handed him the bag.
Will held the door for her and assiste Liz into the passenger seat of his car. The touch of Liz’s hand in his sent a shock through his arm and into his chest. Walking around the back of the car, Will found himself pulling hard to breathe. When he settled himself in the driver’s seat and placed the key in the ignition, Liz turned to him and said, “Even after all these years, Mr. Darcy,” her eyes sparkled, “you’re still my knight in shining armor. Life sure takes ironic twists!”
“Let’s just enjoy our time, Liz.” Will could barely speak. He often imagined her with him again; reality flooded his emotions.
“Nice car,” Liz joked, “at least, it’s better than what you used to drive.”
“It’s my grown up car,” Will smiled greatly at her. He drove the remainder of the way to the resort in silence. He knew both of them questioned the choices they had just made.
Finally, Liz whispered, “Thank you, Will.”
The dream was close enough to grasp once again. “It’s my pleasure, Liz.”