His Choice of a Wife
Re-Releases November 2023
available by Excessively Diverted Press
A disastrous proposal. A fresh start. Can this tentative duo forgive the past and make each other promises of forever?
Elizabeth Bennet worries she’s been too hasty. Distressed after reading her rejected suitor’s passionate letter of self-defense, the agitated young woman agonizes that she’s put a scoundrel on a pedestal and scorned a worthy man. And when they meet again during an unexpected morning call, her heart pounds with a wave of relief when he quickly accepts her clever apology.
Fitzwilliam Darcy regrets his quick judgments. So after a shockingly cordial exchange renews his hopes, the gentleman strikes up a tentative friendship with the object of his affections. But though the woman he adores seems willing to grant him a second chance, he fears her kin’s reckless behavior could still smear his reputation.
Confused by her father’s disapproval of her prospective match, Elizabeth’s dreams turn to dismay when a corrupt soldier tempts her sister into a scandal. And as Darcy does his best to protect his beloved’s family, honor demands he put his life on the line.
In a duel of wits and weapons, will love prevail to save the day?
This is a second edition of His Choice of a Wife, a slightly steamy Regency romance.
In this post-Hunsford excerpt, Elizabeth has begun to like Darcy better and is visiting his sister, where Georgiana is trying to teach her how to waltz.
Darcy was engrossed in writing letters of business, but was interrupted by the ring of girlish laughter. Intermixed with shrieks and giggles came the muffled sounds of heavy items being jostled. The servants never made noise as they carried out their duties, and he was sure the dance lesson had ended half an hour ago.
Darcy threw down his pen and, without donning his coat, opened his door and found the laughter and voices got louder as he approached his sister’s sitting room.
“Ow, that is my foot!”
“I do apologise! I shall never learn this shocking dance.”
The chime of the musical box slowed as he opened the door. He could scarcely credit the sight before him, for there, with hands clasped and spinning about the room, were his sister and Elizabeth Bennet, laughing as if they had known one another all their lives. Georgiana was wildly smiling as she pivoted Elizabeth and narrowly avoided grazing a side table. Elizabeth had her eyes on the floor and was muttering “slide, back, turn, one, two, three” in between giggles.
The music stopped, and both ladies looked at the table. Georgiana gasped as she saw him in the doorway, but Elizabeth had her back to the door and still did not see him.
“My dear Miss Darcy, you are a talented partner, but I fear I need further practice!”
Georgiana stifled her countenance and dropped Elizabeth’s hands; Elizabeth asked whether she was well. She received no reply, but followed Georgiana’s gaze to the door. A deep blush immediately spread across her cheeks. It was then that Darcy realised he was only in his shirtsleeves and likely wore a similar expression of utter astonishment as she did.
He absolutely stared, but shortly after recovering himself, he advanced toward them. Every idea failed him, and after standing a few moments without saying a word, he recollected himself and greeted her.
“I, Eli—Miss Bennet, I thought you were to return home this morning?” Darcy thought her eyes appeared bright and lovely. How could I have decided only an hour ago not to follow her to Hertfordshire? Until she explicitly sent him away, Darcy would use every power within his means to make Elizabeth Bennet fall as much in love with him as he was with her.
“We had to wait for a new team from the posting inn, and I found myself at my leisure,” came her answer in a rush. “I thought I might further my acquaintance with Miss Darcy. We were speaking of dancing and, well, we have passed our time delightfully.”
His sister offered a timid smile. “We have enjoyed ourselves, although I am afraid, for all our efforts, Miss Bennet still cannot waltz.”
“You offered…to teach Miss Bennet…a waltz?” Darcy asked, still trying to accept that Elizabeth was in his house and that she was smiling at him.
“I insisted,” Elizabeth interjected, “although I can hardly credit the scandalous reputation of such a dance. We faced each other for fifteen minutes and our moral compasses remain pointed true north.”
While Darcy hoped that would hold true in his sister’s case, the desire came, unbidden, that perhaps waltzing would do violence to Elizabeth’s invaluable notions of delicacy and she might throw aside all propriety and kiss him.
“Fitzwilliam, will you wind the musical box?”
“Do you wish to keep dancing?” he asked, confused.
“No, but since you are here, you may teach Miss Bennet. I am afraid that my skill at turning a partner is poor.”
His younger sister could not know how affected he was by the suggestion of clasping Elizabeth in his arms. Since he could only stare at Elizabeth in silence, Georgiana wound the box herself. She then sat and waited for them to begin.
“As we discussed yesterday, Miss Darcy,” Elizabeth stammered, “I believe your brother is fond of neither music nor dancing, and we ought not to put him on display.”
“Do you again refuse to dance with me? My tally is now one success for four requests. Perhaps I should cease petitioning for your hand.” The unintended double meaning of this was not lost on him, and Darcy winced.
“But you have not asked me. Your sister has put me forward as being in want of a partner,” she said, adding with a tentative smile, “but perhaps you do not find me handsome enough to dance with?”
The thought that he would not dance with her was laughable. “Who could object to such a partner?”