Originally published on 12 April 2012, The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery was my ninth novel released by Ulysses Press. Although I loved working with Ulysses, they have turned their interest toward nonfiction titles, and, so recently, I pushed to have the rights of all my books published with them returned to me. Those of you who have published with traditional publishing houses know that process is not an easy one. The author cannot customarily reclaim the rights to a book for a period of two years (sometimes up to seven years). He/She must ask for the books in a certified letter, return request required. Generally, the publisher has the option to rerelease the title, and if it does so, the cycle starts over. Even if the publisher agrees to release the title back to the author, it can take up to a year or more for that to happen. Some publishers require the author to purchase any copies of the book setting in a warehouse that have not yet sold. As I was asking for the rights returned of ten title, I feared the worst. Such can be an expensive undertaking. When Ulysses finally agreed to remove the titles from Amazon, Kobo, etc., I had to wait for six months for the returns to come back to Ulysses. I was fortunate in many ways as Print On Demand technology has eased the number of copies setting in various warehouses, but I am certain other authors are not so lucky.
The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy was only the second mystery I had written, but I am pleased how it turned out. Although the book can be read as a stand alone, I generally say it is helpful if one has read Christmas at Pemberley beforehand, for CaP introduces some of the minor characters in TDoGD. The story begins where Christmas at Pemberley leaves off. Georgiana and our ever-faithful Colonel Fitzwilliam have married right before he is sent back to the Continent after Napoleon’s escape from Elba. He has been made a Major General at the end of Christmas at Pemberley for the service he provided Prince George’s family, which is part of the plot of that book.
With this rerelease of the novel, it was necessary for me to change out the cover. As much as I adored the original cover, the image was purchased for use on the book by Ulysses Press. Moreover, I wanted a cover that reflected the main plot of the story: Georgiana Fitzwilliam has traveled to Scotland to meet her husband for an overdue wedding journey. However, before the Major General can arrive, she goes missing and Darcy and the rest of her family search for her on the Scottish moors. The new image better reflects that story line.
The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery
A THRILLING NOVEL OF MALICIOUS VILLAINS, DRAMATIC REVELATIONS, AND HEROIC GESTURES THAT STAYS TRUE TO AUSTEN’S STYLE
SHACKLED IN THE DUNGEON of a macabre castle with no recollection of her past, a young woman finds herself falling in love with her captor—the estate’s master. Trusting him before she regains her memory and unravels the castle’s wicked truths would be a catastrophe.
Far away at Pemberley, the Darcys happily gather to celebrate the marriage of Kitty Bennet. But a dark cloud sweeps through the festivities: Georgiana has disappeared without a trace. Upon receiving word of his sister’s likely demise, Darcy and his wife, Elizabeth, set off across the English countryside, seeking answers in the unfamiliar and menacing Scottish moors.
How can Darcy keep his sister safe from the most sinister threat she has ever faced when he doesn’t even know if she’s alive? True to Austen’s style and rife with malicious villains, dramatic revelations and heroic gestures, this suspense-packed mystery places Darcy and Elizabeth in the most harrowing situation they have ever faced— finding Georgiana before it’s too late.
Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter Eleven:
Edward Fitzwilliam bedded down in an orchard. Some of the aristocracy would name his choice of accommodations abhorrent. He was an earl’s son, after all. The “spare” for his brother Rowland. Yet, Edward had always preferred the outdoors and freedom to a crowded ballroom. It was the reason he had chosen the army over the navy when selecting his military calling. That and the fact that rough oceans made him seasick. “I would have made a deplorable captain in that respect,” he mumbled to his horse as he tied the stallion loosely to one of the bushes.
“Another day—maybe a day and a half,” he told the animal as he wiped down its coat. “Then you may rest, my friend, and I may bury myself in the sweet scent of jasmine. I have a beautiful wife, you know. A woman to quell the emptiness.” He patted the stallion’s neck.
He unwrapped the bedding and stretched out under the stars. “At least, there is no rain. No mud. No longer knee-deep in blood,” he continued to talk to himself. “No dreams of the horror that was Waterloo. Only Georgie’s beautiful countenance and her sweet body. Heaven on Earth.” A smile spread across his features. “A lifetime of proving myself worthy of Georgiana’s love.” He sighed deeply. “A sentence I will gladly serve.”
* * *
“Prisoners.” The word beat a staccato in her mind as she reentered the simple chamber with its obvious guard just outside the door. She had considered the idea that she was the MacBethans’ prisoner, but somehow she had not previously mustered the panic that now filled her chest. “Prisoner,” she mouthed the word. The MacBethans continued to lock her in this small room. “It is obviously not a guest room.”
She had observed several elaborate bedchambers during her house tour. With its plain furnishings, the room she occupied did not delineate her as an honored member of the household. What would happen if she refused to become Aulay’s bride? Would the MacBethans return her to where the others were being held? And where was that exactly? Lord Wotherspoon had rushed toward the lower staircase when he had left her in Ronald’s care. “What happens to the other prisoners?” she wondered aloud. “Are they tortured? Killed? Why are they here? What offense have they committed? And if I was one of them, what offense did I practice on the MacBethans to give them dominion over me?”
And there had to be more than one prisoner. The servant had specifically said, “One of the prisoners.” her thoughts flooded the room. Could she escape? Could she assist the others? She must learn exactly where she was being held. She could observe part of the estate’s entrance from the room’s small window. A better view of the grounds became paramount. If she escaped the MacBethans, could she discover someone who would come to her aid? Usually, estates were several miles apart. Could she locate a Good Samaritan before Lady Wotherspoon found her? The girl held no doubt the woman would hunt her down as if chasing a fox in the woods.
“I require more information,” she told herself as she paced the small open space. “What can I remember from my so-called sick-room stay?” she mused. The bandage on her wrist was an obvious reminder. Carefully, she unwrapped the cloth to examine the raw scrapes along the pale skin. “What could have caused these lacerations?” She gently touched the deepest cut, which had scabbed over. “I must remember why I felt gratitude for the kindness Lady Wotherspoon has shown me.” She rewrapped her wrist so no one would know she had considered her injuries to result from anything but a simple fall.
“This shan’t be easy,” she cautioned her rapidly beating pulse. “Lord Wotherspoon reminded me that I must settle my past before I accept the future his mother has designed for me. Most assuredly, I must do so carefully without offending the woman. Domhnall MacBethan has sworn to protect me, but can I trust anyone in this house?”
* * *
“I have sent a message to Drouot house,” Elizabeth explained. “I expect Mrs. Bingley to issue an invitation for your family to join them as quickly as she receives my letter. As Mr. Joseph and Mr. Darcy were to use Drouot as their base for their business dealings, the Bingleys shall be expecting your husband.”
Mary Joseph protested, “Yet, not as a man recovering from a gunshot wound.”
“Trust me, Mrs. Joseph,” Darcy countered, “Mrs. Bingley would be offended if you did not take shelter at Drouot House. My wife’s sister has the kindest of hearts.”
“That means Mrs. Bingley thought highly of Mr. Darcy long before I did,” Elizabeth teased. “Even so, my husband speaks the truth. The Bingleys are two of the most obliging adults on this earth. My father has always contended that Jane and Mr. Bingley would do very well together because their tempers are by no means unlike. Mr. Bennet claimed the Bingleys were each so complying that nothing would ever be resolved upon between them, and they were so easy that every servant would cheat them and so generous they would always exceed their income.”
Darcy chuckled. “I would call Mr. Bennet’s a fair evaluation.”
Mary’s lips twitched. “Mr. Joseph and I shall quash the urge to make the Bingleys our mark.”
“If you are tempted,” Darcy returned the smile, “keep in mind Mrs. Darcy and I will follow you to Newton Stewart, and my wife and I are less inclined to be generous.”
“Did you hear that, Matthew?” Mary teased.
The clergyman sat propped against a stack of pillows. Someone had shaved him, and although he still appeared pale, a bit of color had returned to his cheeks. “I would say we have been duly warned, Wife. And we are very familiar with the Darcys of Pemberley’s less than charitable natures,” he said jokingly. All four knew that if it had not been for the Darcys’ generosity, the Josephs’ son would have been born in a lowly stable and would have likely died. The couple owed them much more than could ever be repaid. Joseph extended his hand to Darcy. “Be safe, sir. You and Mrs. Darcy are very important to the Joseph family. You will remain in our daily prayers.”
“Thank you.” Darcy nodded his understanding. He stood and reached for his hat and gloves. “Mrs. Darcy, we should be on the road.”
“Certainly.” Elizabeth hugged Mary one last time. “Promise me you shall accept the Bingleys’ hospitality.”
Mary returned the embrace. “I promise.”
* * *
Darcy handed her into the carriage. He had taken Bennet from Mrs. Prulock and had deposited his son in his wife’s arms. Then he had assisted the wet nurse to a place beside Elizabeth. Traditionally, the nurse and Bennet would have followed in Darcy’s small coach, but they would make do with the one carriage. He would welcome the nurse’s presence if it meant having Bennet in close proximity. His son had brought Darcy a peace that he could not explain to anyone who had never walked the floor with a colicky baby in order to allow his mate a few extra hours of sleep. He and Elizabeth had created this beautiful bundle of arms and legs and joy as a result of their love. He placed his hat and gloves on the seat beside him. “I will hold Bennet,” he said softly.
Elizabeth smiled brightly. “You will notice, Mrs. Prulock,” she said in that familiar teasing tone he so adored—the one which had disappeared from his wife’s personality after her previous miscarriages. It was as if Bennet’s birth had given him back the woman Darcy loved with every fiber of his being. “That Mr. Darcy relishes holding his son when Bennet sleeps. However, let the boy kick up a fuss, and the child is instantly my son, not our son.”
“Wait until the young master be cutting his teeth. He be keeping the household awake with his temper,” Mrs. Prulock predicted.
With his fingertips, Darcy traced his child’s jawline. “Even a case of the Darcy stubbornness will not deter my joy at looking at this angelic countenance.”
“At least Mr. Darcy did not blame said stubbornness on my side of the family,” Elizabeth countered as the carriage lurched into motion.
Darcy did not remove his eyes from his son’s face, but he said, “I have learned, Mrs. Darcy, to accept that all Bennet’s failings lie at my feet while our son’s more magnanimous qualities are a direct result of your influence.”
Elizabeth suppressed her grin. “You were difficult to bring to the bit,” she teased. “But I am quite content with the end result.” They sat in silence for several minutes while each contemplated his own tumultuous part in their coming together as man and wife. Finally, she asked, “How long before we reach Alpin Hall?”
“Seven to eight hours depending on the roads,” he said softly.
“I am most anxious to settle what has transpired with Mrs. Fitzwilliam,” Elizabeth said.
He nodded as he sat back into the soft squabs. “As am I. I have missed Georgiana.”
* * *
“Shall you sleep the day away?” the voice from her dream asked in concern.
She turned over to look at the room’s ceiling and once more to count the knots in the wood. “Two and twenty,” she said to test her voice.
“Yes, two and twenty,” the voice spoke with a bit of irritation. “What else shall you do today?”
She said defensively, “What else would you have me do?”
The voice “tutted” her disapproval. “Discover a means out of this dilemma. You are a brave, intelligent woman.”
“I would beg to differ. If I were brave and intelligent, I would not have succumbed to my doubts, and I would not be at another’s beck and call.”
* * *
“Shall ye sleep the day away?” Lady Wotherspoon said close to the girl’s ear, pulling her from her dreams. A splitting headache had driven her to her bed several hours prior. She had searched her memory for details of her life before coming to Normanna Hall, as well as what had happened to her since arriving at the estate. The process had left her exhausted and suffering with a megrim.
The girl shoved herself to a seated position. “Forgive me, Lady Wotherspoon. I thought it best to recover my energies fully. If I am to accept Aulay, then I must be at my best.”
“Most assuredly, ye shall accept Aulay,” the woman declared as she began to brush Esme’s hair to remove the tangles.
Esme’ frowned deeply. “I have thought much of what is best. I recall—” she paused. “I recall few details of my life prior to my time in this room.” She sat quietly for several minutes before saying, “Before I could accept Aulay, I must learn more of my child’s father.” Her fingers splayed protectively across her abdomen.
Her request had, evidently, surprised Lady Wotherspoon. The woman’s eyes flared with incredulity, but she quickly masked her true response. “A woman should have pleasant memories to share with the bairn.” She braided Esme’s hair. “I think it best if ye remember on yer own, but if’n ye kinnae I kin tell ye more of yer life.”
“You know of my lost memories?” Esme returned the woman’s earlier surprise.
“I’s know some of it. Enough to know yer husband be gone. Ye do not wish the child to be bairn without a lovin’ father. Aulay would be a good companion.”
“If I cannot remember on my own, you will tell me what you know?” The girl insisted.
“I shall share it all.”
* * *
Lady Wotherspoon rushed through Normanna’s intricate passageways until she reached the Grand Hall. Finding Munro, her husband’s nephew, drinking with several of the other cousins and distant relatives, with a tilt of her head, she motioned him to follow her into the chapel. Although he was of the MacBethan clan, the man had proved resourceful when she had sent him on previous tasks.
“What be it?” he grumbled when he sat behind her on one of the few pews within the circular room.
“Ye shud not be afeared of God’s hand,” she said coldly.
He warned, “Tell me what ye require, Aunt, and leave off worryin’ fer me soul.”
Dolina glanced around to assure their privacy. “I require information on the girl Blane found on the moor. Who might she be? Ride out and check the inns. See if’n anyone be lookin fer her.”
“Why? What hive ye in mind for the lass?”
“Jist do as I say,” she instructed. “What I’ve planned be none of yer doings.”
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NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY. I HAVE TWO eBOOK COPIES OF THE DISAPPEARANCE OF GEORGIANA DARCY AVAILABLE FOR THOSE WHO COMMENT BELOW. THE GIVEAWAY WILL END AT MIDNIGHT EST, JANUARY 31, 2020.
NOTE! THERE IS ANOTHER EXCERPT AND ANOTHER GIVEAWAY FOR THE BOOK ON TODAY’S AUSTEN AUTHORS. SWING OVER THERE AND CHECK IT OUT!