The authors and everyone at Meryton Press have been excited about the novella series, “Skirmish & Scandal,” and we are eager to start sharing these stories with the world! Each is a stand-alone book, and there is something for everyone!
To kick off the series, Suzan Lauder’s Schemes of Felicity is the first to be released. It is a delightful read, and as usual for Suzan, it has a charming Darcy! The first excerpt for the novella is posted on this blog, so you will get a sampling of the story shortly.
There is some swag, courtesy of the author, and Meryton Press has some eBooks. More about both giveaways later!
Before turning this over to Suzan Lauder, let’s take a look at the back cover copy.
Schemes of Felicity Back Cover Copy
A month to find a mate!
Mr. Darcy desires marriage to Elizabeth Bennet, but he ruins any such prospect during his proposal at Hunsford. The resulting general sense of malaise interferes with his usually amicable yet stately demeanour, and his Fitzwilliam relatives resolve that Darcy is lonely—he must be in want of a wife. His cousins convince him to leap into the London Season for one month and partner every lady they select for his felicity.
At Longbourn, chaos erupts as Mr. Bennet undergoes a transformation, and Jane and Elizabeth receive the gift of a month in town to enjoy the Season. Meanwhile, Elizabeth pores over Mr. Darcy’s Hunsford letter and wonders about him, warmed by his words.
It’s only a matter of time before the two meet again in this Pride and Prejudice novella. But will their encounter be a repeat of the earlier disaster, or will they overcome their tenuous history? And can Elizabeth’s credentials pass the stringent criteria of the scheming Fitzwilliam cousins who direct Darcy towards the single daughters of every peer of the realm?
When Janet Taylor approached me about a Meryton Press compilation of longer short stories many moons ago, I was almost going to bow out due to an uber-busy schedule and a lack of ideas. I thought about it for what seemed like ages, but when a concept for a relatively easy-to-write piece came into my head, I couldn’t resist. At some time during the period, Janet’s idea had become a series of novellas called Skirmish and Scandal, and I told her I was in. I wrote this book in tandem with a novel I was already working on and three other demanding writing-related projects.
Schemes of Felicity is not your typical Suzan Lauder book. Instead, it’s a light and pleasing story that scores low on the angst factor and high on the sweet romance factor. I’ve been told it’s an easy read, which translates into a book that should be easy to review—I’d love to hear reader opinions.
The original title was not that interesting, and thanks to my editor, Ellen Pickels, a phrase from Chapter 25 of Pride and Prejudice became the clever title for the novella: Schemes of Felicity. This book is a sideways fit into the Meryton Press novella series theme of Skirmish and Scandal with its own definition of each. I’m proud to open the series with my fresh, new release and pave the way for unique offerings from the many fascinating and gifted Meryton Press authors participating.
The majority of the story takes place during a couple of weeks in April 1812. The dreaded Hunsford proposal has come to pass, and a series of events places Darcy and Elizabeth separately into the height of the London Season. I had a blast writing this novella, especially the new characters of the Fitzwilliam cousins, who play a strong role intervening in Darcy’s life as matchmakers. The excerpt shows a little of what the poor man has to endure!
Lady Christina chattered away about herself during the whole of the two dances, and even stopped mid-sentence then continued when they had to separate. She was a fine dancer, elegant and capable. Many of the ladies he chose to ask to dance were similar to her: of medium height, slim, with dark hair and dark eyes, and he had also singled out those who preferred to laugh. This particular young lady had been asked for a set before the conversations had begun, and the lace distraction had been solved during the break.
What would the dance be like if Elizabeth had been the lady he twirled in the Quadrille? Then he would not waste his efforts dancing with all these other ladies; instead, he would place all his energies into charming her the best way he could. Whom was he fooling? She must detest him now. Even though her worst complaints had been challenged by his letter, how could he ever comprehend what she thought of him other than her claim of disapproval?
But her sparkling conversation would have been a boon to his evening in comparison to the dull, continuous repetition he had heard from Lady Christina about no one but herself. Elizabeth would tease him if he were taciturn, encourage him to join in on her observations of folly, and in general, improve his outlook. Those were the express reasons he loved her so much: her generous personality. He longed to have her close to him again, but how would that ever happen? She was enjoying her country life in Hertfordshire, and he was in London, suffering the Fitzwilliams’ meddling in finding him a wife from the ton. The happenstance that joined Elizabeth and him together was over and would never be seen again.
That was the key to this fiasco. If he could not marry where he loved, what was the point of all these machinations? Would he be forced to find some lady from frequent dances when he already knew whom he wanted to marry? Why should he subject himself to this madness? His own heart knew he could not marry merely to make a match for convenience’s sake. No lady would measure up as a helpmate or conversation partner, so this attempt at selecting someone to improve his spirits was at best a waste of his time. Only one lady could improve his spirits, and she was set against him.
This train of thought circled Darcy’s brain as he again joined his family between dances. With renewed vigour of his own defence, Darcy approached the Fitzwilliams, who had congregated once again with grand smiles upon their faces, expectant of some kind of report from him.
“Lady Christina is surely an interesting conversationalist,” said Juliet, “is she not?”
“If one is interested in the precise colours of each item in each room of her mother’s house, the selection of which she was personally responsible,” said Darcy drily. “I should rather listen to my horse than that lady.”
“Oh no!” said Lady Matlock. “She is usually such a lively young lady, full of interest. What a pity she chose to be tiresome tonight. Mayhap she was nervous.”
With a strong effort to refrain from rolling his eyes, Darcy responded. “There were no nerves about her. She was doing her best to astonish me regarding her taste in between telling me how important her connections are.”
“Of course, she wanted to make a good impression,” his aunt said. “You are the catch of the Season.”
“Some sort of fish, I imagine.”
Courtland made a noise not much different from a horse’s snort. “Or the flag in the battle.”
“Aunt, cousins, I am through. This is a fool’s game. I am fatigued with the never-ending line of so-called suitable ladies who are all cut from the same cloth. This torture does nothing for me.”
“But why?” said Lady Matlock. “Why now?”
His cousin Juliet grasped his coat sleeve. “You cannot miss the dinner tomorrow. Lady Sheffield will not be able to find a man to replace you at such short notice, and we must have equal numbers of each sex to balance out the table.” She tugged the fabric. “And the theatre—you love the theatre. Next, the Woodhaven ball is said to be destined to become the triumph of the Season.”
The dinner and the theatre would not be mere social events but further attempts at matchmaking. Those Darcy could manage with more equanimity. He could ensure that Bingley would attend the large dinner, and at some point in the evening, he could apprise him of his newfound information about the steadiness of Miss Jane Bennet’s heart. As for the theatre, Darcy could hide in his box. “Fine. The Sheffield dinner and Shakespeare. After that, I am free to seek a wife on my terms. But no more balls. I draw the line there. Nothing short of actual war is a greater offense to me than the combat of the marriage mart that takes place at a ball.”
As he completed his ultimatum, he could not miss the glances that went from one Fitzwilliam to another. They were preparing for another stage in their plot. As much as he hoped he was free and clear, this campaign was not over.
What do you think? Are you ready to read more? What about Darcy? Did you fall in love all over again? I did! 🙂
The book is available on Amazon as an eBook, a Paperback, and on Kindle Unlimited.
You also have a chance to win a copy. Meryton Press is giving away two eBooks of Schemes of Felicity. Two lucky readers each have a chance to win an eBook, and the giveaway is international. Share your thoughts to enter both giveaways.
Suzan Lauder’s giveaway has some neat swag, and the giveaway is international. Thank you, Suzan.
The giveaway consists of: 2 – Suzan Lauder Bookmarks; 1 – A Most Handsome Gentleman Book Bead; 1 – £10 Jane Austen note; 1 – refrigerator magnet (*Plate not included)
If the winner is from Great Britain, a gift of equivalent value will replace the £10 note. If you already have the eBook and only want to enter for the swag, be sure to mention “swag only” in your comment.
Both giveaways will end Thursday, August 13th, at midnight Central Time. Good luck to everyone!