Welcome to the Meryton Press Blog. Today we have a new to Meryton Press author and a new book to spotlight. The author, K.C. Cowan, has several previous books to her credit, but The Bennets: Providence & Perception, is her first book with us. Before we get to the blurb and covers, let me introduce you to K.C.
KC Cowan spent her professional life working in the media as a news reporter in Portland, Oregon for KGW-TV, KPAM-AM and KXL-AM radio, and as original host and story producer for a weekly arts program on Oregon Public Television. She is co-author of the fantasy series: Journey to Wizards’ Keep, The Hunt for Winter, and Everfire. The Hunt for Winter and Everfire were both awarded First Place OZMA citations from Chanticleer International Book Awards for fantasy writing.
KC is also the author of two other books: “The Riches of a City” – the story of Portland, Oregon, and “They Ain’t Called Saints for Nothing!” in collaboration with artist Chris Haberman, a tongue-in-cheek look at saints. She is married and lives in Tucson, Arizona.
The back cover copy is next and will give us some insight into this book about the Bennets.
Either ignored or ridiculed by her family, Mary Bennet desires only happiness—
Poor Miss Bennet—with three sisters married, she will no doubt be left “on the shelf” unless she takes steps to secure her own happiness. So, with the arrival of Mr. Yarby, a handsome new rector for Longbourn chapel, Mary decides to use her Biblical knowledge to win his heart.
Meanwhile, her recently widowed father finds himself falling for the older sister of his new reverend. But Mr. Bennet is officially in mourning for his late wife—what a scandalous situation! Unfortunately, Longbourn’s heir, Mr. Collins, has the antennae for a scandal and makes blackmail threats.
Will an overheard conversation between the Yarby siblings break Mary’s heart? Or will it impel her to a desperate act that threatens everyone’s hopes for lasting love?
Oh my! After reading the blurb, I have more questions than insight. What happened to Mrs. Bennet? What is the overheard conversation? What desperate act is Mary considering? Mr. Bennet and a new love interest? That could prove interesting, indeed!
It seems like Mary has a good plan to spend time with Mr. Yarby. I’ll be curious to see how this turns out. Then there is Mr. Collins, always at the ready to be a “thorn-in-the-side.” With blackmail threats, he may be much more than a nuisance. Hmm… how will this play out? I guess reading it is the best way to answer all these questions! 🙂
We’ve met K. C. and we’ve read the back cover copy. Now it’s time to let K.C. tell us why she chose to write about Mary.
From the Author
Why Choose Mary?
I have been a long-time fan of Austen pastiche and read many of the sequels and variations. When I started thinking about writing my own sequel to Pride and Prejudice I was looking for images of regency women to help inspire me. I came across one of a young lady, walking with her back to the viewer. I immediately thought: “That’s Mary!” I decided I would write about her.
But it occurred to me that not only is Mary a very neglected character in Austen’s original novel, but so is her father, Mr. Bennet. He spends the majority of the book, it seems, hiding away in his study. And although he loves his daughters—well, he mostly thinks them all silly girls, with the exception of his favorite, Lizzy—he interacts with them very little.
Soon, I began to think of a book that would focus on Mr. Bennet and Mary. I knew I wanted a romance for Mary, but what storyline could I do for Mr. Bennet? Have him suddenly come into a fortune from a previously unknown relative? Go into counseling to learn to appreciate his wife more? Nope. Recall that famous line in the book after Mrs. Bennet is bemoaning the fact that they’ll lose their house once Mr. Bennet dies? He (somewhat cruelly) says there is the possibility he might outlive her! In a flash I knew I had but one choice: I had to kill off Mrs. Bennet! And nearly at once I knew just how it would happen. The path now cleared for Mr. Bennet and Mary, I began to plot my new romances.
I had always had a rector in mind for Mary, but not a stuffy one. I pictured a more genial, modest man—quite frankly, Charles Bingley’s warm personality came to mind as a good model. He must be handsome, of course, and kind and considerate. I named him Robert Yarby. And how would Mary try to win his heart? With her love of the Bible, naturally! I decided she would try to locate “difficult” passages in the Bible that required Mr. Yarby’s explanation in cozy private meetings. Mary’s lack of confidence in her beauty and desirability, however, would add to her obstacles. A lifetime of being the “invisible” daughter certainly had taken its toll. Still, I knew a HEA ending was in the cards for dear Mary.
As for Mr. Bennet—who should his romance be? I thought briefly (ONLY briefly, I assure you) about having another P&P character, Maria Lucas, begin to visit Mr. Bennet to condole with him on the death of his wife and then have an unexpected romance bloom. However, the age difference was positively unsupportable and so that idea was thrown out. Instead, I opted to create another character outside the original story’s cast. I gave Robert Yarby an older sister who would be a widow and the polar opposite of the late Mrs. Bennet. Where Mrs. Bennet’s character was emotional and loud and at times coarse, Mrs. Amelia Withers would be modest in voice and temperament, and have perfect manners. Sparks fly nearly at once between Amelia and Mr. Bennet, which gave me a conflict to bring to a crisis for the plot: for them to have a public romance while Mr. Bennet is still in official mourning would be quite scandalous! This gave me the joy of bringing their secret romance to a gentle boil over many chapters. I much prefer longing glances and sighs than an aggressive romance storyline, don’t you?
At the same time, I wanted the reader to think that perhaps she has an ulterior motive in pursuing Mr. Bennet. Was Amelia’s friendship with Mary sincere? I put in a few lines here and there that, upon initial reading, could be thought innocent, but later might be seen as devious. See if you can find them!
And then, in order for our two couples to have a rocky road to love, I brought in Mr. Collins to discover Mr. Bennet’s new romance and use it against Mr. Yarby for his own advantage. This desperation required a motive and I truly enjoyed what I came up with. Is it wrong of me, dear reader, to make such an odious character suffer a bit? I think not.
But although Mary doubts she can win over Mr. Yarby, I took great pleasure in moving her through the story to help her overcome her insecurities and end up in a happier situation than even she likely thought possible. I guess I’ve always had a soft-spot for the underdog.
No, I doubt many, if any, would think it is wrong of you to make Mr. Collins suffer a bit. Maybe it will make a better man of him. You think? No, probably not!
I like reading that Mary will end up in a happier situation. Having her interest a handsome man that is also a good man doesn’t hurt either!
It’s time to unveil the cover of The Bennets: Providence & Perception. Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Isn’t the drawing on the front cover neat? K. C.’s good friend, Anne Timmons, drew the image for her. Anne is a talented artist. I like the softness of all the colors and having two couples featured.
It’s full wrapper time. What do you think the back picture is showing? Go back to the blurb for a hint! 🙂
We’ve had a chance to look at the covers and get some ideas about what might be in store for the characters. Maybe the excerpt that K. C. has picked out for us will shed even more light on the subject. Let’s find out!
Mary and Mrs. Withers walked in silence for a time. Mary did not wish to be rude, but her mind was still on the handsome rector she had just met—wavy, dark-brown hair with dark eyes to match. And when he smiled, Mary was sure she had seen two dimples. She could only hope he would get the job. Oh, to gaze upon such a face in the pulpit every week! But she broke away from her daydreaming and realized she must make some effort at conversation with her walking companion.
“How long has your brother been with the church, Mrs. Withers?” she asked tentatively. Was it proper to ask such a thing? She did not wish to appear rude or overly inquisitive. But Mary saw no sign that her guest noticed her nervousness as they continued along the garden path.
“He has been the curate at a parish in Dorset for less than two years, Miss Bennet, which is why we were quite frankly surprised to receive your father’s letter inviting him to a personal interview. We assumed Mr. Bennet would seek out someone with far more experience.”
Mary pondered this a moment before replying earnestly. “But…every rector must start somewhere, must he not? A minister is not born fully formed as it were. Every experienced rector was once a novice curate.”
Mrs. Withers let out a delighted laugh. “Indeed, you are correct! It would be lovely if your father also feels that way and is inclined to give him the living. But if not, we shall return to Dorset and continue as we were. Robert’s time for his own parish will come, I am certain. Although, if we had better connections, it would likely be settled sooner.”
Mary nodded sagely. “I have heard it said that the surest way to acquire a benefice is to be related to the bestower. It does not seem fair that connections should play such an important part in receiving a living. Talent, compassion for the poor, and love of God should be paramount in my view.” Mary glanced at her companion, hoping she was not speaking out of turn. “Not that I have much knowledge in these matters, of course,” she added.
Her companion laughed lightly. “I see we have the same frame of mind when it comes to acquiring a parish. But as I said, I believe Robert’s time will come.”
The two continued to walk in silence a while. Mary again tried to think of some way to continue their conversation.
“Do you…have…” Mary fumbled to find the words. “Forgive me, I do not wish to pry. You are married?”
“Widowed. My husband passed after a long illness, and sadly, there was little left for me to live on. His business affairs had utterly collapsed. So, a year or so ago, I came to live with my brother and manage the household.”
“I do not tell you this to elicit your sympathy. My brother and I have always been close, and we get along well. I am content to live with him and help him in his work.”
“Have you any children?”
“Sadly, no. My husband and I were married for eight years before he died, and we were never blessed with a child. Now, of course, at thirty-three, it seems unlikely I shall ever become a mother. But I do adore children and very much enjoy the little ones in our parish. And perhaps one day Robert will marry and make me an aunt. So that must suffice.”
“God’s will is sometimes difficult to comprehend,” Mary said seriously. “If you will pardon me for being so forward—you seem like someone who would make a wonderful mother, yet God chooses to let you remain childless. Why should that be? I often struggle with His decisions.” She gave a small gasp, stopped short, and reached out to clutch Mrs. Withers’s sleeve. “Oh, but pray do not think me disrespectful of our Lord. His wisdom is far greater than I can hope to comprehend.”
Mrs. Withers gently patted Mary’s arm. “Not at all, Miss Bennet. It is clear you are a most thoughtful young woman. I must say it is rather a refreshing change from some of the flibbertigibbets I have seen in Dorset. I do believe their heads are filled with nothing but ribbons, dancing, and flirting with single men. Meeting you has given me another reason to hope Robert is given the position.”
Mary’s heart soared. Such kind words. Mrs. Withers clearly favored her. Could it be she might—at last—find a close friend? Could this gentlewoman be a kindred spirit? Mary had never had one before. And she had often felt at odds even within her own family—what with Kitty and Lydia always together, and Jane and Lizzy inseparable. Mary had always been on her own, taking refuge in her books and music. She felt lonely at times though she had learned to hide it.
“I should very much like you both to come here,” she said softly as the two continued their stroll through the park.
Don’t you just love that word, “flibbertigibbets”! Can you guess who immediately came to mind when reading that passage? It sounded eerily similar to two young ladies of an earlier time at Longbourn, wouldn’t you say?
Dear sweet Mary. Her heart has been gently touched and her mind is spinning! I’m happy you chose to give her a love interest and hopefully, a supportive friend too!
Thank you for sharing a little about yourself, your book, and an excerpt, K.C. Thank you, also, to the readers who stopped by to spend some time with us.
Would you like a chance to win one of two eBooks of The Bennets: Providence & Perception? Tell us what you like about the cover drawing, the excerpt, or just say “hi” to K.C. and welcome her to the community. Your comment will enter you in the giveaway that Meryton Press is hosting. The giveaway is international, and two winners will be chosen. The giveaway will end at midnight central time on the 19th of March.
Thank you for stopping by and being part of this special day for K.C. and Meryton Press.
If you want to go ahead and preorder the book, below is the Amazon Universal Link. The book will be released March 20th.
FYI – there will be a blog tour beginning March 20th. There are excellent excerpts and guest posts, so don’t miss a day! The links will be posted Monday.