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Rising Courage
Available Now

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available by Excessively Diverted Press
He may have ten thousand pounds a year, but she can’t get past his shocking pride. Until they’re held for ransom by smugglers…

 

Elizabeth Bennet is seething. Firmly refusing an offer of marriage from the man who ruined her beloved sister’s chance at happiness, the spirited young lady goes walking to clear her head. But her anger changes to fear when three strange men who believe she’s Anne de Bourgh throw her unceremoniously into a carriage and drive off.

 

Fitzwilliam Darcy regrets his offensive proposal. But when he chases down the object of his affection to set the story straight, he is horrified to witness her kidnapping. And after his gallant rescue endeavor merely gets him captured too, he worries revealing her true identity could get them both killed.

 

Bristling at her forced proximity to her spurned suitor, Elizabeth is pleasantly surprised at how well they work together. But even as they disagree on whether or not to risk an escape, Darcy suspects their survival may not lead to him winning her heart.

 

Can they fix their cascade of misunderstandings to find happily ever after?

**An IPPY Bronze winner for romance 2024**

Excerpt

In this post-Hunsford excerpt, Elizabeth is walking the park alone the morning after Darcy's proposal. She turned back to avoid him and and came across another man on the grounds of Rosings Park.

***

He was now close enough to recognise as the man she and Mr Darcy had seen on Wednesday. His nose was much misshapen, and he had a white clay pipe in his teeth. The way he advanced toward her with quick strides alarmed her.


“What do you want?” she called.


He gave no answer, but darted forward and grabbed her upper arms and dragged her toward the gate. Elizabeth shrieked and pulled away as sharply as she could. When that proved fruitless, she kicked at his legs, but that only made the man squeeze her arms harder.


The approaching carriage had stopped by the gate, with one man as postilion and another who jumped off the back and opened the door. She was being abducted!


Elizabeth screamed as loudly as she could.


Was Mr Darcy near enough to hear what was happening, or had he turned back into the park? She tried to drag her feet and pull away with all her might, but the man with the pipe was far too strong. They were now at the steps of the carriage, and Elizabeth kicked her feet against the second man who was trying to capture them and shove her legs inside.


Even though she continued to scream for help, she heard pounding feet, and the larger man holding her suddenly stumbled. Elizabeth realised that Mr Darcy had slammed into the man gripping her arms.


“Run,” he cried.


The large man’s grip had loosened, and she pulled free to escape, but he caught up to her in a few steps and yanked her back. He pressed her against him, her back to his chest, and Elizabeth fought and shrieked, until she realised that his other hand had pulled a knife that was now pressed to her throat.


“That is enough,” he said through the pipe he still had clenched in his teeth. “Tell him to stop.”


Mr Darcy had not noticed the knife, and he was tousling with the other man by the carriage whom he had knocked down. Elizabeth tried to speak, but panic made it impossible with a blade at her neck. The man holding her grunted in frustration and called, “Ho there!”


Mr Darcy glanced over his shoulder and started at what he saw. In this moment, the man on the ground jumped to his feet and pulled a pistol from his coat pocket. Elizabeth shrieked involuntarily, and the knife pressed a little harder. Mr Darcy stepped toward them, a hard look in his eyes, but stopped when the blond man he had knocked down by the carriage cocked the pistol.


“Now then,” said the man with the pipe, “I only need her, but maybe I can take you as well. You might be worth something to him too. You and your betrothed stop fighting and screaming, and we can all get into the carriage without anyone dying.”


Elizabeth saw the confusion flit across Mr Darcy’s face, and they shared a quick look. Who needed her? And how could anyone have known he asked her to marry him, and why did they assume she had said yes?


Mr Darcy ignored all of this and said firmly, “You cannot take her.”


The man flicked his wrist, and Elizabeth flinched in pain. She felt blood trickle down her neck.


“I can do whatever I damn well please. Like I said, ’tis only her ladyship’s daughter I need. You I can do without.”


They think I am Miss de Bourgh. They both had dark hair, and any young brunette at Rosings walking with Mr Darcy might be presumed to be his cousin Anne de Bourgh. Once they knew they had the wrong young lady, maybe they would let her go.


“I…I am—”


Mr Darcy shook his head, and the same moment the man with the knife yelled at her to “shut it.”


She glared at Mr Darcy, but he was no longer looking at her. Mr Darcy was watching the man with the pistol, who held it firm and level just out of Mr Darcy’s reach. Why should she not tell them they had the wrong woman? They might let them go, and no one would get hurt.


“What shall it be, Mr Darcy? Are you joining us, or do I have Colton put a bullet in your head?”


“Steamer, we don’t need the rich cousin,” the blond man with the pistol whined. “Let me just shoot him and go.”


A sickening thought struck her. If they wanted Miss de Bourgh alive for some purpose, would they just as soon kill her too if they knew they had made a mistake? One man seemed eager to shoot Mr Darcy, and the other ambivalent at best. They might cut her throat if they knew they had blundered so dreadfully.


Elizabeth felt Steamer, the man with the pipe, shake his head. “He wants her, but maybe we can get more for the both of them, as long as he ain’t much trouble.”

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