Mr. Darcy’s Inadvertent Bride Releases Today!!!
When I first conceived this book, I planned to have Mr. Wickham compromise Elizabeth Bennet with a kiss and then disappear from the militia, but, before I put pen to paper, I had to attempt to have the historical details correct, which, unfortunately, for me, were not as easy as I had planned. First, I consulted with the fabulous Nancy Mayer who filled in the following details about the militia:
- The Lord-Lieutenant of the county was in charge of the militia. The militia never left the country, but they usually trained and stayed elsewhere so that they were not called on to fire on their neighbors. A man lived in the county where he joined the militia. [This works as I make many in the Meryton militia from Derbyshire and Yorkshire, which is something I do in most of my Austen-inspired books.]
- Ms. Mayer was not certain whether the names of those in the various militias were turned into anyone in the cabinet. [As that was to be a key point in the story as to whether a man could simply walk away from his duties to the militia without repercussions.]
- Each regiment had an agent who took care of the sale of commissions. Some agents might serve several regiments. This man or these men would be the ones who knew who had purchased commissions.
- The regiments were run and controlled by the colonels with the money going through them to their paymaster.
- The names of commissioned officers were sent to the secretary of war. Only a third of commissions were purchased. Most were free.
- There were quite a few Army agents.
- Men in the artillery units, as well as the engineers, had to go to school for training before being commissioned.
- It was hard for the men to just disappear because they had a place in the county and served with neighbors. To disappear they had to leave home, work, and all belongings. [This might be true for Captain Denny, but Wickham had no loyalties to anyone but himself.]
- The man would be in more trouble for slipping away from the militia without permission than for ignoring his obligations to the lady.
- The Militia unit would not care about the necessity of an engagement. Such would not have them searching for the man. Leaving his post would be the issue.
- It would be friends of the heroine who would search for him, though why they would want him unless she were pregnant, I don’t know. A Bow Street Principal officer could be hired to track him down privately.
- The Commandants of the militias would send a list of deserters to the Home Office.
- There was the militia from outside the shire and the local parish militia. Generally, both were disliked.
Ms. Mayer suggested the following book for more research: The County Lieutenancies and the Army, 1802-1824 by Sir John William Fortescue.
Next, I asked another member of the Beau Monde who specializes in military history what might be appropriate based on the story taken place at the end of 1812 and beginning of 1813. He told me something I did not know. So, if you have characters in your books who are tied to the militia, you might wish to learn more of these situations.
Between 1792 and 1812 Britain had no less than six types of ‘militias’ operating, some types of militias overlapping. There were three types of militias, yeomanry and fencibles, the Volunteers and the Reserve Army. It was a mess.
He also shared the following:
By then (1812/1813), there were only really three ‘militia’ organizations, the Yeomanry, the Militia [the third iteration] and the Volunteers. By 1812, there was only two real militia organizations. The Militia, which was now a more general British organization rather than a county/parish organization and far more uniform in implementation. The Yeomanry still existed, raised by the wealthy and almost all cavalry. [The same kind that was involved in the Peterloo massacre.] There were a few Fencibles still in existence from the 1790s, but they were now more quasi-regular units sent to Canada and other colonies.
So, your hero would have been accepted into the militia as an officer. He would not have bought a commission. The Colonel of the regiment would have been the one to choose him. The colonel could have been from another part of the county or even outside of the county. Again, he could have been able to leave at any point without any legal issues. There may have been social pressures involved, leaving his duty, friends, etc. There is one other possibility. Several militia regiments/battalions were inducted directly into the Regular Army during this time. It was a ‘semi-voluntary’ action on the part of the Militia. I say semi-voluntary because often the government gave militias, particularly ‘unruly’ groups the option of enlisting or being disbanded. If the Militia agreed to join the Regulars and leaving England for the Peninsula or elsewhere [There were several regiments that showed up in Spain that were ex-militia units] he might see that as a ocean too far.
Did you learn something new about the militia? I certainly did.
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Mr. Darcy’s Inadvertent Bride: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary
Love or Honor or Both?
Miss Elizabeth Bennet cannot quite believe Lieutenant George Wickham’s profession of affection, but young ladies in her position do not receive marriage proposals every day, and she does find the man congenial and fancies she can set him on the right path. However, the upright, and, perhaps uptight, figure of another man steps between them and sets her world on its head.
When Fitzwilliam Darcy spots Miss Elizabeth Bennet slipping from the Meryton Assembly to follow a man who favors George Wickham into the darkness, he must act. Although he has not been properly introduced to the young woman, he knows Wickham can be up to no good. Later, when he comes across the lady in London and searching for Wickham, Darcy does the honorable thing and assists her. Yet, when they are discovered alone in her uncle’s house, the pair find themselves being quickstepped to the altar for all the wrong reasons. Can they find happiness when they are barely speaking acquaintances?
“Miss Elizabeth,” he said with a bow of respect. “Imagine encountering you in London.” Darcy filled his eyes with the woman’s unconventional beauty. Like it or not, he was more than a bit glad to have the opportunity to speak to her again.
“Mr. . . . Mr. Darcy.” She appeared as surprised by their meeting as was he, for he had thought the only opportunity he would have to see her again would be at Bingley’s wedding, but only if she had avoided Mr. Wickham. “I hope this finds you well, sir.”
“Very well, Miss Elizabeth. And you?” This conversation was becoming more awkward by the second.
People streamed around them on both sides, but Darcy made no effort to remove from the way. “What brings you to London?” He glanced up to notice no servant awaited her. “Pardon my impertinence, ma’am, but I pray you are not out without a maid or one of your father’s footmen to aid you. Is Mr. Bennet in London on business?”
“You ask a grand number of questions, sir,” she said in obvious irritation, “for someone I barely know.”
Darcy forced himself not to flinch from her intended insult. “I do apologize, Miss Bennet. If you are alone,” he said softly, not really knowing how to speak to such a fiery woman, “I would gladly serve as your escort. I cannot, in all good faith, allow you to proceed alone. London is a very dangerous city, even in some of the better neighborhoods.”
He knew she studied him for the truth in his words, for a frown formed on her forehead. “I would be glad of your assistance, sir,” she repeated dutifully. “However, I feel it necessary to make you aware my mission in London involves learning of Mr. Wickham’s whereabouts.”
Mr. Wickham’s name on her tongue was like a blow to his heart, but, beyond stiffening briefly, he managed to ask, “Have you reunited with Mr. Wickham?”
A scene from his youth flashed before Darcy’s eyes. Sweet Marjorie Thistle, a girl Darcy had favored for nearly a year, stood before him and confessed her preference for his long-time companion, George Wickham. Later, her father had approached his own dear parent, along with the elder Mr. Wickham, to explain how Miss Thistle was with child. Likely suspecting the worst, Wickham had disappeared for several months, and Mr. Thistle begged both Darcy’s father and old Wickham for redress. Other than some money, there was nothing to be done to save the girl’s reputation, for no one claim knowledge of Wickham’s whereabouts. Darcy looked upon Miss Elizabeth again and prayed she had not followed Miss Thistle’s road to shame.
“I have not,” she admitted in apparent reluctance, and Darcy said a private prayer of thanksgiving.
He glanced about him to take a quick inventory of their location. “There is a tea room along the street. Perhaps you will join me. You might explain your purpose in London. Despite our previous exchange of harsh words, I would offer myself up as your companion.”
“If you could oblige me in claiming a hackney, such would be well done. I would not have you soil your hands in a matter you will surely find repugnant.”
“I never thought—” he began, but shook off the rest of what he wished to say. He had always been welcomed at the balls and musicales marking every London Season since he was a young man of one and twenty, but Darcy understood his appeal rested more with Pemberley and his ten thousand pounds a year than it did with his social skills, which were awkward at their best. He knew he was too exacting to be thought of as amiable in the eyes of the ladies of the haut ton. Certainly, each of those women would have immediately accepted his hand in marriage and been grateful for his notice of their person, but Darcy had always wanted someone as devoted to him as Miss Elizabeth was to Mr. Wickham. It hurt him to think she would be wasting her youth on such a callow fellow.
Unfortunately for each of them, Mr. Wickham’s fine countenance and pleasing manners always prevailed. Darcy’s former companion knew how to please a woman with more than intimacies. Whereas, Darcy often found it difficult to be more than polite to many of his female acquaintances.
“Where do you wish to travel?” he asked as he directed her out of the way of those rushing around them to their own destinations.
She looked down briefly before clearing her throat. “I had hoped someone at the Home Office would know how to reach Mr. Wickham,” she admitted.
At the age of thirty, Wickham had successfully tempted another woman into losing her heart to him. The idea made Darcy sad, for the inkling of interest he might have mustered in the young lady standing before him would not truly have time to take root. Not that he required another woman setting her cap for him, but it would be nice to outmaneuver Wickham just one time.
Even as he thought they might find a common ground if under different circumstances, he studied how her expression changed from hope to despair. When he first laid eyes on her, her auburn hair had reminded him of Marjorie, but Miss Elizabeth’s eyes—a pair of very fine eyes— were so expressive, he could not drag his gaze from her features.
“I see you think me a fool,” she murmured as she pulled herself up taller, although “taller” was certainly not relative when it came to the lady. “I shall not bother you—” she began to gather her wits about her again.
“I sincerely wish, Miss Elizabeth, you would quit assigning me emotions or conclusions I do not hold,” he said in exasperation. The lady met his gaze, not blinking or looking away, which spoke to her mettle. Darcy noticed for the first time a sense of weariness about her. Not asking her permission, he caught her elbow. “We will have tea, and you will explain the necessity for your discovering Mr. Wickham’s directions. From there, I will determine how best to aid you.”
She purposely stopped walking beside him. “I did not ask you for your assistance beyond flagging down a hackney,” she asserted.
He checked his temper, but, even so, his tone sounded harsher than he wanted. “Even if you could safely reach the Home Office on foot, you will require another hour or more of walking, assuming you do not become lost in some neighborhood where you will easily be robbed of your reticule and, perhaps, even your innocence. Even if you possess enough force of character to avoid such dire outcomes and you did not become fair prey for some street thug, the chances of you being admitted to the Home Office is nearly nil. The Home Office is a man’s world, and, at this moment, it is a world consumed with the progress of the war, not with some wastrel of a lieutenant, who broke your heart.”
“There is no need for you to be so unkind, sir,” she declared boldly, but tears misted her eyes, touching off Darcy’s strong sense of protectiveness.
“Tea, Miss Elizabeth,” he ordered, attempting to remove her from a very public view of their conversation.
She asked softly, “Do you possess a means to locate Mr. Wickham? Mr. Denny says you paid the commission for Mr. Wickham’s lieutenancy with the regulars.”
“Captain Denny?” he asked, a frown marking his brow. Darcy did not appreciate when others made his business theirs.
“The captain is courting my sister Mary,” she explained.
“He is mistaken. I simply was called upon to sign off on Mr. Wickham’s request to join the regulars,” he lied. He would not say it was her chastisements that had hung heavy on his conscience and which had induced him to act. Naturally, Wickham had proven himself to be as devious as ever, but, in Darcy’s mind, spending four hundred pounds to silence Wickham and change the opinions of the others within the Meryton militia was money well spent. He had even considered how sending Mr. Wickham away would be a means of separating Wickham and Miss Elizabeth Bennet, thus, clearing her reputation, but, now, the foolish chit meant to track Wickham to wherever the dastard landed and destroy any chance of her discovering a better man than Wickham would ever be.
“However,” he continued, sucking in a steadying breath. “I do possess connections in the British regulars who may be able to aid you in your quest.”
“You would truly assist me?” she pleaded.
Darcy briefly considered only to pretend to search for Wickham and then send her home broken-hearted, but better off, in his opinion; yet, he knew he could not betray her in that manner. “I would.”
She closed her eyes briefly as if offering a prayer of gratitude. “I find I am quite thirsty, Mr. Darcy,” she said calmly. “You mentioned a tea room nearby.”
He wondered when maggots had taken up residence in his brain, and he suspected such had occurred during a country assembly he should never have agreed to attend, but he offered the lady his arm. Despite the turmoil surrounding her, Darcy found he liked the feel of her hand around his elbow, and he once again enjoyed the lavender wafting off her skin and filling his lungs with the scent of her.