An Appearance of Goodness:
A Pride and Prejudice Mystery Variation
Available October 1, 2022
available by Excessively Diverted Press
Can a Derbyshire meeting lead to love or will Pemberley be plunged into mystery?
In the rainy summer of 1812, Mr Darcy returns to Pemberley with a large party in the hope that coming home will help him recover from his disappointment. He lost Elizabeth Bennet’s good opinion, but Darcy did all he could to rectify his errors. Meanwhile, Elizabeth hopes that travelling with a newly-wed Jane and Bingley will raise her spirits and distract her from thoughts of Darcy.
When a misunderstanding causes the Bingley party and Darcy’s to spend a fortnight together at Pemberley, both Elizabeth and Darcy wonder if the other could love them. When the season’s wet and cold weather causes flooding throughout Derbyshire, Darcy’s attention reluctantly shifts from his guests–and Elizabeth–to managing the tragedy.
But when someone drowns and Darcy refuses to believe their death was an accident from the storm, he and Elizabeth must work together to uncover the truth before his houseguests leave, and before anyone else gets hurt
"With romance, drama, and a murder mystery, there is something for everyone. Moll explores another side, a kinder side, to the closed-off Mr. Darcy so get ready to have your heart warmed! Heather Moll has created a story that made me grin with glee, cringe with second-hand embarrassment and hold my breath in suspense. [...] Moll’s knowledge of the period shines through and makes it feel like you are in the 1800s. I couldn’t put it down."
Sadiyah Bhamjee for Readers’ Favorite 5 stars
The excerpt below is from early in the book when Elizabeth, Jane, and Bingley meet up with Bingley's sisters to travel north for the summer after Hunsford. Elizabeth and Jane learn that they're about to spend the two weeks not with Bingley's other friends, but at Pemberley.
For once it was not raining, and whilst it was not a hot day, Elizabeth tilted her face up to feel the sun’s warmth. This escape from Meryton, the novelty of travelling and meeting new people, and now this beautiful country had been good for her equanimity. The events of the spring did not press on her mind as often as they once did.
“If not for the rain, we might have made it last night,” Bingley said, “although I cannot say that Darcy would have been pleased to have his dinner interrupted.”
“What!” Elizabeth turned so quickly her bonnet slipped off and dangled from its ribbons around her neck.
Caroline and Louisa stopped listening to Jane as she, too, cried out in surprise and came nearer.
“Charles dear, what did you say?” she asked. “What did you say about Mr Darcy?”
Bingley gave his wife a confused look. “We might have arrived at Pemberley last night, but—”
“Pemberley!” Elizabeth cried. She had not misheard, and now Bingley’s sisters were looking at her in confusion. She had to control her emotions before she was forced to explain herself.
“I thought we were to stay with your friend Mr Balfour and his sister, Mrs Lanyon?” Jane asked.
Elizabeth shook her head. “And I thought we were to stay with your friend Mr Utterson.”
“Oh, Eliza! How can you be so mistaken?” Caroline had joined them. “Mr James Utterson does not have an estate.” She laughed as though this was absurd. “He is a younger son, although an honourable. He is keeping the term at the Inn of Court.” She turned to Jane. “And Mr Balfour will inherit Hyde House in Haddingtonshire on his father’s death. How did you think a Lowland Scot had a home in Derbyshire?”
Jane turned to look at Elizabeth with an expression of horror. “Oh, Lizzy, I did not . . . Charles, you led us to believe that—” Jane took a calming breath. “What great confusion we are all in. We have met so many people and been travelling so long that you have not been clear as to where we shall stay.”
“I am sorry, my dear.” Bingley gave her a concerned look. “I daresay I have been as careless with this visit as some of the others. Remember when we arrived in Birmingham and I forgot entirely that Danvers—”
“Charles!” Jane cried. Elizabeth’s stomach was churning horribly. “Charles dear,” Jane began again in a tranquil tone, “you said we have one stage left. Tell us where we are staying for the next fortnight and who will be there.”
“At Pemberley with Darcy, and his sister.” Elizabeth gave a soft whimper, but no one save Jane appeared to hear. “He shall be very glad of it, too. He was eager to give you notice, my dear, to show you a kindness after . . . well, when I said we were travelling to Scarborough and visiting friends, he insisted we stay with him.”
Elizabeth could only just collect herself to be pleased to know that Darcy wanted to cultivate an acquaintance with Jane. But nothing could remove her alarm at the thought of residing for two weeks with Darcy. How does he feel about my coming?
“My friend Balfour is there, amiable man—his father is a Scottish nabob and his mother an Indian. He talks more than I do and has even less ambition.” Bingley laughed. “His sister is a wealthy widow, a year older than Balfour and Darcy, and an elegant woman. And Utterson is a few years older than me and will be a barrister, since his brother will inherit the baronetcy.”
“Charles dear, does Mr Darcy know whom you are bringing with you?” Jane asked. “Does he know that Lizzy is with us?”
Bingley shrugged. “I said I was bringing my sisters and Hurst. I did tell him that Lizzy lives at Netherfield, and if I did not explicitly put her name to paper when I mentioned my sisters and me coming to Pemberley, and he is surprised to see her, then he is a greater simpleton than I thought possible. How could it matter? He knows Lizzy. And Darcy is a generous man who would welcome anyone I brought.”
Oh, he will hate the very sight of me. She watched husband and wife exchange a look, and Bingley then asked softly, “Is Lizzy not wanting to stay at Pemberley?” He dropped his voice even farther. “Why does she dislike Darcy so much?”
Elizabeth had to say something because Jane was struggling for an answer. “It is not that I dislike him. He . . . he appears to have”—how can I explain the cold reception that awaits me?—“a coldness under his courteous demeanour that is not congenial to my mind.” She quickly added for Bingley’s benefit, “I am sure those on familiar terms with him would say otherwise but . . . we hardly know one another. I doubt that Mr Darcy wishes to strengthen any connexion with me.”
Bingley looked confused. “You are the most cheerful woman of my acquaintance. He is a little reserved at times, but he is an amiable man. You have tastes in common, I think. You and Darcy are certain to be on more familiar terms in a fortnight.”
Elizabeth felt horribly distressed. She had no business at Pemberley. She blushed at the very idea of residing in his house, at seeing Darcy at all. Would he think that she was throwing herself in his way?
Caroline and Louisa took notice of her behaviour. “Eliza, do you dislike the idea of staying at Pemberley?” Caroline asked. “George Wickham, who I recall was a favourite of yours, passed his youth there.”
Rather than pierce her, Caroline’s barb strengthened her. Elizabeth took a breath and answered, with a proper air of indifference, that she had not really any dislike to the scheme. “I am merely excessively surprised.”