His Choice of a Wife giveaway and deleted scene
His Choice of a Wife has been re-released! This book has a special place in my heart since it's the first novel I wrote. I'm thrilled for the chance to re-edit and re-cover this book.
Although there aren't significant changes to the plot, this scene didn't make it into the new version. It didn't add anything to their relationship, but I thought I'd share it here because it is a cute exchange right after Darcy and Elizabeth have married. Don't worry, there's a new scene in the epilogue to replace it!
Darcy glanced at the towering pile of visitors’ cards on the silver tray in the hall before he ascended the stairs. His wife’s wedding visits were due to begin today.
“To what do I owe this honour?” she asked mischievously when he entered her room. “I thought you would be for your club by now.”
“I shall leave momentarily, but I saw a tall stack of cards awaiting you. If each call lasts fifteen minutes, I shall likely not see you again before we leave for Pemberley.”
“Are there truly so many people who have an interest in seeing the new Mrs Darcy?” Her tone was rather flat.
“Most assuredly—irrespective of their curiosity in regard to any rumors about your sister or Wickham.”
“What of the gentlemen at your club?”
“It is not to be expected that anyone will be able to persuade me to speak of things I would prefer not to acknowledge.”
“I expect the ladies will not be so easily placated in regard to the events in Bath.”
“They will only stay long enough to say they have seen you. Then they will leave and talk about you with their friends. Thank goodness we shall leave for Pemberley soon and most of the visits need not be returned.”
“I am grateful that my aunt had time to see me fitted in new gowns. It would not do for Mrs Darcy to appear underdressed while on display.”
“I was pleased with the state of your undress this past week.”
Elizabeth had no witty rejoinder to this and gazed at her reflection in the mirror on the opposite wall. Darcy had imagined they might have more conversation before he left, but she lapsed into silence. Seeing that her mind was elsewhere and knowing that he wished to be gone before the visiting ladies arrived, he rose and planted a kiss on her cheek. He had already turned toward the door when Elizabeth called him back to ask a question.
“Do I look satisfactory?”
Darcy frowned in annoyance. He had expected impassioned kisses and was even happy to allow her to tease him so long as she smiled at him in that way that made his heart race. He knew that he had initially discounted her beauty, but he had apologized, had he not? And more than that, he had already told her more than once that he found her to be an exceedingly handsome woman.
“Elizabeth, you appear lovely, as always,” he said touchily. “I wish you would not place me in a position that forces me to flatter your vanity.”
She gave a sigh before she returned her gaze to the mirror. While he was walking through his own dressing room, Darcy felt the first stirrings of distress. He had been a husband for little over a week, and he could not be expected to know everything that a husband who loves his wife ought to say and do. But even if he did not comprehend Elizabeth’s need for reassurance, he was capable of providing it willingly and cheerfully.
Choosing to do what would please her, although he did not understand it, Darcy went back to his wife but paused in the doorway. Elizabeth sat at her dressing table between two large windows, her expression blank. Her maid bustled around her, chatting with his wife more freely than he liked.
“Miss Lizzy, you have a full morning.” She brushed Elizabeth’s hair. “I hear more than fifty cards have been left this week. Imagine, people your husband don’t even know wanting to get a look at you. If it were not August, there would be more!”
“So I have been told by my husband.” After a pause, she added, not unkindly, “And do not let him hear you call me Miss Lizzy.”
“I beg your pardon, Mrs Darcy. All of this,” she said, gesturing to the room around her, “takes getting used to. Why, you’ll have wax candles in your children’s schoolroom! What will Pemberley be like?”
Even Darcy could distinguish that the former Longbourn maid was still uneasy in her new surroundings.
“You will do well, I have no doubt.” Elizabeth smiled over her shoulder. Darcy had always admired Elizabeth’s natural ability to converse easily with anyone, and he watched her fondly as her maid pinned Elizabeth’s hair in ringlets around her face. Darcy thought she looked quite comely and could not understand why Elizabeth frowned when she looked in the mirror.
“There. Even Mrs Bennet would not complain if she saw you today. She always favored Miss Bennet, but you look pretty enough this morning. I have two gowns for you: the white or the green with worked muslin.”
Darcy, still lingering in the doorway, watched his wife glance between the two and choose the green with a smile.
“’Tis a lovely gown. Green was not a color you often wore in Hertfordshire. Miss Bennet wore green; it favored her coloring the best of all your sisters. She is handsome—pretty as a princess—Mrs Bennet always said so. Of course, with a face like hers, it never did matter what Miss Bennet wore, did it?”
Elizabeth briefly closed her eyes, a gesture Darcy knew meant that she was searching for patience. When she opened them, she replied sincerely, “Yes, Jane is the loveliest of all of us, inside and out.”
“A handsome, sweet girl like that would succeed anywhere. I can imagine her sitting in the drawing room downstairs, holding court just as if she were the queen. Such pleasant manners, and she would never say the wrong thing. Oh, ma’am, I don’t like the cuff on your sleeve. I shall only be a moment.”
Darcy watched the chatty maid gather up the gown and bustle out of the room, leaving Elizabeth standing awkwardly in her chemise and avoiding her reflection. It had never occurred to him that a lifetime of being “not so pretty as Jane” might take any sort of toll on her. Elizabeth had such a commanding presence and seemed so amused by any absurdity that came her way that he had not considered her to need assurance.
When Elizabeth saw him, her features became composed as she asked him why he had returned.
“I neglected to tell you that I have no doubt you will charm every superficial, gossiping harpy who comes to call. I love you, among many reasons, because you are unlike them. There is no need for you to perform for these people. My true friends will all rejoice at my having chosen the one woman who could have made me happy.”
The complacent smile Elizabeth wore upon seeing her husband brightened into a sincere and glowing ray of sunshine that warmed Darcy’s heart. He crossed the distance between them and placed his hands on her narrow waist, slowly sliding them down to her slim hips and pulling her close. “Although I foolishly looked on you without admiration at that long-ago assembly, you must know that soon thereafter I acutely realised how mistaken I was in scarcely allowing you to be pretty.”
“What a mortifying realization for your self-respect,” she murmured as she brought her hands to the back of his neck.
“Your figure caught my notice, as did the beautiful expression of your dark eyes.”
Darcy brushed a gentle kiss across her forehead, on her cheek, and then finally on her parted lips. The eager return of her soft lips on his still sent an intense thrill of desire through Darcy’s body, and he moaned when Elizabeth slipped her tongue into his mouth. Darcy relished in that familiar—and still wonderful—feeling of belonging that washed over him when he held his wife in his arms.
They heard the shrill squeak of surprise followed by a slamming door and hastily retreating footsteps. Darcy would have preferred to continue their activities unabated, but Elizabeth was smiling against his lips, and when he pulled away, she laughed.
“Fitzwilliam, you have thoroughly scandalized my maid!”
“She should become accustomed to it.”
“Knowing that you have faith in me is not the same as hearing your reassurances. I do appreciate your confidence in me, dearest, although I wish you had told me sooner.”
“You are so lively and engaging; I should have told you sooner that I never doubted that you would excel this morning. In fact, I think you are too clever, too charming, and too compassionate to waste your mental faculties considering any imagined inadequacies.”
In her customarily arch manner, she replied, “Having some notion of your confidence in my talents and my attractiveness might make these insufferable visits almost tolerable.”
“Elizabeth, I have a suggestion for our assured domestic felicity.” His wife’s eyebrows rose in question. “The next time I speak the truth and praise you, do not laugh to hide your discomfort at being complimented. Praising you is an act I intend to repeat. In reply, you might instead blush prettily and say, ‘Thank you, Fitzwilliam.’”
He watched a series of emotions flash across his beloved’s face: surprise, amusement, shyness. Then Elizabeth placed her hands on his arms and, in a manner not unlike the way she found him one afternoon in the woods near Netherfield, kissed him on the cheek.
“Thank you, Fitzwilliam.”
Enter the giveaway for an ebook copy of the new and improved His Choice of a Wife. Leave a comment below before Sunday, November 12, at midnight EDT for a chance to win. The winner will be contacted via email.
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, she 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.
Is this title new to you or did you read the original? Do you like stories where Darcy and Elizabeth find an earlier understanding? What's your favorite scene?
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