Spellbound at Pemberley is here at last! The first book of the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Mage trilogy, Spellbound at Pemberley covers the first third of an epic tale: Darcy’s mission to bring a magical end to the Napoleonic wars, and it’s now on sale at Amazon in paperback and ebook. And I’m giving away two ebooks to commenters on today’s post! Winners will be chosen on 12/9.
Here’s the blurb:
Fitzwilliam Darcy is a powerful mage and master of illusions. His abilities make him the perfect man for a dangerous mission to end the devastating war with Napoleon – a mission that would leave him little chance of returning alive. When he meets the enchanting Elizabeth Bennet, whose magical Talents are as deep as they are inexplicable, he knows he needs her help. And there’s only one way to get that – marriage. Immediately.
Elizabeth wants nothing to do with his plan. Marrying Darcy would mean breaking her strong and beloved magical bond to Longbourn and giving up the use of her Talent forever. Then dragons enter the war in Europe, and England’s survival hangs in the balance. And Elizabeth must make the ultimate sacrifice.
But dragons are already watching their newlywed journey to Pemberley, and a shocking discovery will force them to question everything they believe. Can they learn to trust each other and work together to save their country–and their lives?
If you enjoy fantasy and Jane Austen’s classic Pride & Prejudice, you’ll love Spellbound at Pemberley, the first book of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Mage!
Since trilogies aren’t common in JAFF, and I’ve never written one before, some people have been asking whether that means this book is novella length. Absolutely not! Spellbound at Pemberley is a full length novel of 102,000 words. For those of you who like to know exactly what you’re getting into, it covers the development of Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship, and it ends with Darcy and Elizabeth in a loving place, but with danger to come in the future. The next volume, which I hope to publish in July, will cover Darcy’s mission. It’s already half written, and quite full of surprises! It’s satisfying to have a story that fits in one volume, but it limits how much of a story you can tell, and my estimate is that the final tale will be about a thousand pages long. Hence the trilogy format, and I’ll hope you join me on this adventure!
I have another magical excerpt for you today, this one from about halfway through the book, on a cold winter’s night when Darcy and Elizabeth are newlyweds at Pemberley.
Darcy’s French tutors joined them for dinner. It was the usual pattern, to use the mealtime to improve Darcy’s understanding of French conversation, making the most of every minute for his training. Elizabeth might have appreciated the chance to practice her own facility in that language, but the subjects were dull, always focused on teaching Darcy about the notables in Napoleon’s court.
And she would rather have been alone with Darcy.
The butler hurried in just after the first remove. “Sir, if you will forgive the interruption, there is a child missing in the village.”
Darcy rose immediately. “Pray excuse me. I must go, in case my Talent can help.”
“May I accompany you?” She never heard of such a use of Talent, and she did not want him to disappear into the night. And watching M. and Mme. De Cardevac wince at her accent for another hour had little appeal.
He looked surprised. “If you do not mind the cold, dark night. This may take some time.”
A few minutes later, they started down the lane, bundled up against the winter wind, with two footmen carrying lanterns to light their way.
A dozen villagers awaited them. A woman with reddened eyes ran to Darcy. “Thank heaven you are here! Our Mary has been gone all day. We thought she would be home by dark, but we cannot find her anywhere, sir.”
Darcy nodded. “You have something of hers? Clothes she has worn, or a toy she is fond of?”
“Right here, sir.” She turned to the man behind her, who held out a doll and a child’s nightshirt. Apparently they had known what he would need.
“What does she look like? What is special about her?”
The man held his hand out flat by his hip. “About this tall. Light brown hair, blue eyes, loves to sing and dance. She sings lullabies to her doll.”
Darcy turned over the nightshirt and doll in his hands, inspecting them by the lantern light. He held them out while the lynx sniffed them. Then he stood perfectly still, his eyes closed.
Even with her limited connection to the earth, the sense of his presence moving through the land washed over Elizabeth, raising goosebumps on her skin. How could he do that, reach out from his body like that? At Longbourn, she could usually feel nearby animals and people if she tried, but she had never attempted to go beyond what she could ordinarily see.
He stayed there for long minutes, the girl’s family silently watching their magical landlord at work, the mother wringing her hands, the lynx standing erect, his tail lashing back and forth.
Could this work? The tenants certainly seemed to believe in him.
Darcy’s shoulders suddenly slumped, as if relieved of an enormous weight. His voice seemed to come from a great distance. “She is alive, in a sinkhole just to the north of the old Tor.” He pointed up the hill. “Be careful – the ground is not stable there. The lynx will lead you.”
Her mother fell to her knees, tears pouring down her cheeks. “Bless you, Mr. Darcy! Thank you!”
He did not seem to see her. “Bring bandages. Her leg is bleeding.”
Elizabeth stared at him in awe. This was Talent beyond her understanding. Was this what she might have been able to do if she had been trained by an expert instead of struggling to teach herself from her Arabic books?
Now she had just a trace of connection to Pemberley and a few lessons in simple magery, but she could still play the role of his wife and the lady of Pemberley. She helped the girl’s mother to her feet. “All is well. She will be back before you know it.”
“Thanks to Mr. Darcy.” The woman dashed away her tears. “Bandages – I must find bandages! Oh, my poor lamb.” She hurried back to the cottage.
The men had gathered together, looking nervously at the lynx. Elizabeth could hardly blame them. They were doing much better than she had at first with the creature, and she did not have to follow the big cat into the forest on a dark night.
She held her hand out to the lynx. “Hello, Fire Eyes,” she said. It turned its face into her palm, and she scratched it beneath the ears. Hopefully this display of tameness might reassure the men.
Darcy had not moved since he had begun.
When the girl’s mother reappeared with the bandages, Elizabeth nudged Darcy. “I believe it is time to send the lynx to lead them.”
He looked at her as if she were a stranger, and then nodded. His eyes unfocused again. A moment later the lynx trotted over to the head of a footpath, and the rescue party followed him.
As soon as the crackling twigs and crunching leaves of their passage had faded, Elizabeth stripped off her gloves and touched her husband’s face, the only exposed skin on his body. “William, are you there?”
There was a sudden tug on her Talent, like that of young plants seeking nourishment, but this was stronger, a deep thirst for her magic, like an empty well. Concerned, she let her Talent flow into him. It was a strange intimacy, like being inside his mind, so different from their usual interaction. But this time she felt only the land.
A sigh escaped him. “It is hard,” he said haltingly, “to return when I have gone so deep.”
“Come back,” she urged. “Come back to me.”
But his face remained frozen. “I am trying.”
Should she worry? Clearly he had done this before, likely many times, without her presence. But it troubled her to sense his emptiness and be unable to help.
What could bring him back to himself? There was one thing that always worked when she wanted his attention. And so, regardless of the footmen and the villagers nearby, she stood up on her tiptoes and kissed him.
At first he did not respond. His lips were still soft and warm, but as unmoving as a statue. And he still smelled of soap and spice, but now that scent of a just-passed thunderstorm was stronger than ever.
She nibbled on his lower lip, first gently, and then more aggressively until a quiver went through him. Thank heavens! She traced the line of his lips with the tip of her tongue, in the way he often did to her. For a moment it did not seem to work, but then a groan slipped out of him.
He hauled her tightly against him, deepening the kiss with sudden demand, as if the connection between their mouths was the only thing keeping him alive. Hot desire sprang to life inside her at the raw intimacy of his hard body pressed against hers.
But it was altogether too shocking to take place in a public setting, and he must have sensed her withdrawal, for he ended the kiss and buried his face in her neck. “Ah,” he said, and it sounded like his voice again. “That is one way to bring me back to myself.”
So, would you follow Darcy’s lynx familiar off into the woods on a winter night? I have to admit that I’d think twice about it, but his tenants are stout-hearted and trust him. I chose this excerpt for the reader who asked what landed Talent was good for besides growing crops, and now you know! Darcy’s magic runs deep.
Thank you for celebrating this new book with me! What would you like to know about Spellbound at Pemberley, apart from why I can’t have book two ready by tomorrow? 🙂 Edited to add: Congrats to the lucky winners, Emme and Sonya!