With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, A Consuming Love by Kelly Miller, the fifth in the “Skirmish & Scandal” series of novellas, could not be more fitting for this holiday. When I first read it last year, I knew immediately that it had to be our February novella. Kelly was in agreement, even though hers was one of the first three finished. To give you an idea of what it is about, let me share the back cover copy with you.
A Consuming Love Blurb
The methodical world of rich, proud Fitzwilliam Darcy is in chaos: a country lady of modest origins has utterly captivated him.
The knowledge that Elizabeth Bennet is an unsuitable match fails to diminish Darcy’s fascination for her, nor does his self-imposed distance from the lady hinder her ability to intrude upon his thoughts at all hours of the day. What can solve his dilemma?
When circumstances compel Darcy’s return to Hertfordshire in assistance of his friend Mr. Bingley, he must confront his unfathomable attraction to Miss Elizabeth.
In this Pride and Prejudice Regency novella, one afternoon spent in company with Miss Elizabeth Bennet is enough to make an indelible and life-altering impression upon Darcy, setting him on a rocky course towards the fulfillment of his desires. Will Darcy attain happiness, or will his ingrained pride be his downfall?
I certainly hope that Darcy will attain happiness, don’t you? Yes, I have read it, but I will not give any spoilers! 😊 You must read it for yourself to get the answer.
Let’s see what Kelly has to tell us, then we can read an exclusive excerpt from A Consuming Love. Kelly Miller, you have the floor.
From the Author
Last year, Janet Taylor contacted me, along with other Meryton Press authors, to inquire if I wanted to contribute to an anthology of short stories. At that time, I had never written a short story. While the idea intrigued me, I did not want to agree without first having an idea in mind.
There is an often-used plotline that involves a writer who signed a contract and accepted an advance for a new unwritten novel and then gets writer’s block. I would not ever want to be in that position! However, I gave the matter thought, and an idea for a Pride & Prejudice variation came to me, so I said “Yes.”
Janet had specified a word limit, and soon after I started writing my story, I saw a potential problem: I wondered whether I could complete the story and stay within the word restriction. By the time I learned the theme of the anthology, most of my story had been written. At first, I worried that my story did not fit the “Skirmish and Scandal” theme. Author Suzan Lauder mentioned having the same concern for her novella, Schemes of Felicity.
However, the word “skirmish” can be used to describe anything from a military battle to a vigorous argument. Likewise, the word “scandal,” can refer to malicious gossip, an offense caused by a fault or misdeed or even a “person whose conduct is a disgrace.” So, all considered, it would be difficult to write a JAFF variation that did not fit this theme.
Then Janet made the brilliant decision to publish a number of novellas separately, but as part of a series, retaining the “Skirmish and Scandal” theme. Not only had she devised a fantastic and original idea, but my word count limit went up, making it easier for me to complete my story.
This story, told entirely from Darcy’s point of view, begins in Hertfordshire in autumn 1811, but Darcy’s first glimpse of Miss Elizabeth Bennet does not occur at the Meryton Assembly. Instead, he meets her earlier at Netherfield Park. Elizabeth makes such a profound impression upon Darcy in one encounter, that he is impelled to take cogent action.
In case anyone wonders if Darcy experiences instant love in my story. My answer is: not exactly. I will delve into the notion of “love at first sight” in a future blog post.
I had originally named this tale A Momentous Meeting, referring to Darcy’s introduction to Elizabeth Bennet. But the very savvy Suzan Lauder suggested a name change, and after considering a number of choices, I picked A Consuming Love, for the sentiment that inspires much of Darcy’s actions in my novella.
I hope readers will enjoy my first-ever novella and find it a fitting read for Valentine’s Day or anytime!
This excerpt is in Darcy’s point of view and takes place at Netherfield Park:
Five feet from the office door, a sound halted Darcy’s movement. The musical tones—unexpected and out of place—disrupted his serenity. A woman’s laugh, sweet and melodious, penetrated the closed door. Another man—Bingley, for example—might describe the pleasant sound as the laughter of an angel. But Darcy had lived in the world several years longer than his friend had. In his experience, voices often did not match the people to whom they belonged. Many a stout, old dowager retained the light, silvery tones of a young girl.
Bingley appeared at his side, his forehead crimped. “Is aught amiss?”
He shook his head and rocked back on his heels. It was naught but a laugh—no doubt that of a middle-aged housekeeper. “Not at all. I was waiting for you.”
His friend accepted Darcy’s answer as befitted the younger man’s nature. They stepped forward, and Bingley knocked on the door.
The door opened to reveal a gray-haired man, rather well dressed for a steward, who peered through his spectacles at them. “May I be of service, gentlemen?”
“Yes, indeed. You must be Mr. Stone. We, um, or I anyway, have an appointment to meet with you today.” A cheerful tone pervaded Bingley’s response.
“I am afraid Mr. Stone could not attend this meeting due to his wife’s delicate condition. He is expected to become a father today and wished to remain at home. I agreed to meet with you in his stead to show you the house and answer your questions as best I can. I have a degree of familiarity with the property. My name is Bennet, and I own the neighbouring estate to the south, Longbourn.”
A warm smile overspread Bingley’s face. “I am delighted to make the acquaintance of a neighbour. It is most generous of you to meet with me. My name is Bingley, and this is my good friend, Mr. Darcy. He has accompanied me to lend his expertise today. His estate, Pemberley, is one of the largest in all of Derbyshire.”
Darcy mashed his lips together to suppress a sigh. Mr. Bennet may have denoted him as a gentleman of means from his attire—might even have recognized his name—but his friend’s well-meaning commentary advertised his status in a way that left little doubt of his wealth. Bingley could only have done worse by blurting Darcy’s yearly income, a frequent topic of speculation in London. He tensed in anticipation of the usual response to such tidings: the increased show of interest and deference toward him—often to the point of ignoring Bingley altogether—an all too common occurrence in town.
An astute glint shone in Mr. Bennet’s eyes. “It is a pleasure to meet you, gentlemen.” He beckoned them inside and reached his hand out to someone waiting within. “Lizzy, come meet our prospective neighbour and his friend.”
The lady who appeared beside the older gentleman bore no resemblance to a housekeeper. She had to be the gentleman’s daughter. At first glance, the lady presented a pleasing, yet unremarkable, appearance—well, except for her eyes. Those exquisite orbs of greenish-chestnut, so singular and compelling, seized his notice. She must have been a few years older than Georgiana and rather shorter, though not too short. Her figure, light and pleasing, possessed an uncommon grace that drew his eyes to her every movement. Her smile, neither practiced nor affected, appeared natural and easy—no doubt, a frequent display. Her posture and facial expression conveyed an amicable curiosity towards them, but—he had to admit—none of the avidity and avarice he met with in most social situations. In fact, neither father nor daughter, thus far, offered him more notice than Bingley—a rare circumstance.
After Mr. Bennet made the introductions, Miss Bennet engaged Bingley in conversation, inquiring about the neighbourhood where he grew up. Darcy never ceased to marvel at people like her—or like Bingley for that matter. How did they summon up such apparent genuine interest in strangers, appearing natural and at ease in the exact situations that most discomfited him? Mr. Bennet observed his daughter and Bingley with a slight smile. The gentleman seemed to share his daughter’s appreciation and interest in other people but projected a more seasoned, laconic, and cynical perspective.
From the first sound of Elizabeth’s laugh, Darcy is captivated, but will he admit it? He did get quite a surprise when neither Lizzy nor her father paid him more attention than Bingley. Do you think that adds to his intrigue? He certainly does take in everything about the lady’s appearance and demeanor. Cupid’s arrow is fast approaching!
The novella, A Consuming Love, may be purchased on Amazon US and Amazon UK. It is available as an eBook, a Paperback, and through Kindle Unlimited. The audiobook, narrated by Harry Frost, should be released in eight to ten weeks.
There are two giveaways for this release. Kelly Miller is giving away two $25 Amazon Gift cards. The giveaway is worldwide, but limited to countries that have an Amazon store. There will be two winners for this giveaway. Meryton Press is giving away two eBooks of A Consuming Love, and the giveaway is international. To enter leave a comment, tell us what you think of the excerpt, or share your plans for Valentine’s Day, even if you cannot go anywhere. We want to hear from you.
Remember, only comments here on the Meryton Press Blog for this post, A Consuming Love, will be entered in the giveaway.
Both giveaways will end Tuesday, the 16th of February, at midnight, Central Time. Good luck!
Kelly will be visiting a few blogs next week, and there will be more chances to win an eBook.