Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes,
A WW1 Pride & Prejudice Variation
1916. World War I has turned French chateaux into bloody field hospitals, British gentlemen into lice-infested soldiers, and left Elizabeth Bennet's life in tatters.
Her father is dead and her home destroyed. Never again will Elizabeth depend on a man to secure her future!
But when an opportunity arises to advance her dreams of becoming a doctor, she is elated—until he arrives....
Heartbroken. Devastated. Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy is left rejected by the woman he loved and reeling from the slaughter of his men on the battlefield. “Enough!” Darcy vows. “No more sentimental attachments!”
But arriving at a field hospital to pursue a covert investigation, Darcy discovers his beloved Elizabeth training with a dashing American doctor and embroiled in an espionage conspiracy.
With only a few months to expose the plot, Darcy is forced to grapple with his feelings for Elizabeth while uncovering the truth. Is she indeed innocent? Darcy can only hope….
Here's an excerpt
An injured Captain Darcy finds himself at the mercy of his nurse—none other than Elizabeth Bennet. *All spellings are British.
Darcy sighed. Despite the harsh words between them, something inside him still stretched towards her. It was more than her fine eyes, pretty face, and pleasing figure. Many women of his acquaintance were attractive.
He sipped his coffee, stealing another glance over the rim of his cup. But Elizabeth was also intelligent, passionate, sharp-tonged, quick-tempered, stubborn—maybe even pig- headed...just like him. He froze as a tingle washed over him. That was it. That was why he was drawn to her like a moth to a flame. She was his perfect mate—er, match. He shifted in the bed, replacing the cup now trembling in his hand.
But if their conversation in the last few minutes held any indication of their future association, clearly they were doomed. Bah! What difference did it make? He’d determined not to allow his heart to be plundered again. He narrowed his gaze, clenching his teeth and fist while repeating to himself, no comrade, no dog, and no woman!
“Captain,” he startled at her voice, “it takes more than a scowl to frighten me away. Shall you unbutton your pyjama shirt or shall I?”
He growled under his breath. “My fingers are perfectly capable.”
She lifted the breakfast tray from his lap while he silently worked at the buttons.
Her face hovered inches from his, and her familiar lavender scent surrounded him as she gently slid the fabric from his shoulders and clipped the bandages wound around his torso. A longing to reach out for her coursed through him. The sense of intimacy generated by her close proximity and touch was intoxicating.
Her fingers smoothed salve over his stitches, and he closed his eyes, groping for words that would insert some emotional space between them. “I was sorry to hear about your mother and younger sister,” he offered softly.
Sucking in a whimper, she paused a moment before her voice quavered with a half-whispered reply, “Thank you.”
Ah! A tiny window to her soul had just opened, and he saw what he suspected was there all the time—a tender heart. It was just buried under her fierce determination to control her destiny. He froze as an idea struck him. Was she determined to become a doctor to ensure security for herself because the most prominent man in her life, her father, had let her down? His heart lurched at the revelation. She had erected a barrier of protection about herself—just like he had.
He closed his eyes, concentrating on containing his hands in his lap as her arms circled him with a fresh bandage. Keeping the vow he’d made to avoid emotional entanglement was going to be harder than he anticipated.
• Cameo appearance by John Thornton (of Gaskill’s North & South).
• Rated PG. Clean romance, mild language, some war scenes.
• The story will continue in Darcy's Hope at Donwell Abbey, coming in February 2017. In the sequel, readers will experience the full resolution of the mystery, and our beloved couple's love will face a new, tragic test.
Meet Ginger Monette
The teacher always learns the most. And in homeschooling her children, Ginger Monette learned all the history she missed in school. Now she's hooked—on writing and World War I.
When not writing, Ginger enjoys dancing on the treadmill, watching period dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.
Her WW1 flash fiction piece, Flanders Field of Grey, won Charlotte Mecklenburg Library's 2015 Picture This grand prize.
Ginger lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she happily resides with her husband, three teenagers, and two loyal dogs.
E.E.: What has been your most rewarding publishing moment?
Ginger: The day UPS delivered the proof copies of my first book, Tree of Life ~ Charlotte & the Colonel. I jumped up and down yelling “My book! My book!” There was something magical about seeing all of my ideas and hard work bound between a glossy cover in a format that would live on indefinitely.
E.E.: How is it working with hot guys and sexy women all day?
A: It's one of the things that makes writing so much fun! It allows me to lapse into an alternate reality that is full of drama and excitement, heartbreak and love, with characters who are on a meaningful journey of self-discovery. It's like entering into a romantic dream and steering it whichever way I'd like. And I have the power to make everyone happy in the end : )
E.E.: Where do you read and how often?
Ginger: I generally read a full-length romance novel every Sunday afternoon. As I read, I make notes on clever ways the author has described something, good similes, swoon-worthy phrases, etc. Your book, Her Bodyguard, holds one of my records for the most great descriptions/phrases in a book—over 150! So, while I’m being entertained, I’m honing my writing skills as well.
My favorite reading spots are on my comfy king-size bed, or in my backyard lying on a beach towel in the grass. Regardless of the place, my two little dogs curl up beside me and love that I am in one spot for hours on end.
E.E.: Thank you for the compliment! Do you write while listening to music? If so what kind?
Ginger: I found that listening to music helps stimulate my right brain—the creative side. I like epic soundtracks, especially E.S. Posthumus Makara. (They wrote the theme music for NFL on CBS. If you are around football on TV at all, trust me, you'd know the song). Their music is also great for dancing on the treadmill : )
E.E.: What inspired you to catapult Austen's iconic Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet forward from the early 1800’s to the early 1900’s?
Ginger: Downton Abbey! Julian Fellows’ characters have numerous similarities with those of Jane Austen: a house full of girls with no heir, an entailed estate, a landowner living in a grand house, a crotchety female matriarch, and high society characters falling in love with, well, those not so high society. It was remarkable to me how little British culture had changed in 100 years. I could see Fitzwilliam Darcy dining with the Crawleys with little change in decorum. Besides, the turbulence of the Western Front seemed a fitting and colorful setting for a romance between two characters known for clashing. And so Darcy's Hope was born.
E.E.: Most Americans know nothing more about World War I than trench warfare. How did you research such a broad topic?
A: With the only sources I could trust as historically accurate—diaries. What made it difficult was that diaries aren’t written to instruct a future audience (complete with topic headings and index). So their vantage point assumes an acquaintance with their present culture—social mores, current news, general ways of doing things, roles of occupations, etc. So all those little details must be gleaned from hints here and there—and that requires hours and hours of reading. I read six hours a day for nine months and compiled over 200 pages of typed notes on everything from the flowers that bloom in Belgium in spring, to what the men ate for Christmas dinner, to how wounded men were evacuated from the battlefield. It was incredibly fascinating and inspiring.
E.E.: How was it inspiring?
Ginger: Machine guns, poison gas, airplanes, and tanks made their debut in WWI inflicting destruction and horrific wounds on an unprecedented scale. Men lived in squalid trenches and saw their comrades dismembered and slaughtered on a daily basis, yet they remained cheerful and self-sacrificing. And everyone did something to aid in the war effort. Hundreds of women volunteered to be nurse’s aides, others wrote letters, sent care packages, and knitted socks. Men too old to serve became local stretcher-bearers and ambulance drivers. They fashioned splints from scrap metal, turned church halls into hospitals, and emptied bedpans. These small acts of kindness repeated over and over made an enormous difference. As a result, I am challenged to be cheerful amidst trying circumstances and to offer my own small acts of kindness even when they seem insignificant.
E.E.: I hear you've put together a special photo album to accompany Darcy's Hope. Can you tell us about it and why you compiled it?
Ginger: Most Americans know little more about WW1 than “trench warfare.” I was no exception. After researching for nine months, it dawned on me that my own understanding of the Great War had been greatly enhanced by photographs. What if I shared some of them with my readers?
After combing through a thousand or more WW1 photos, I selected nearly a hundred that not only represented the culture and technologies of the war and era, but also of the people and places depicted in the story. I dressed them up like an old fashioned album, and Lizzy's Scrapbook is the result.
As a special blog tour bonus, I'm offering free access to Lizzy's Scrapbook to anyone who orders the book during the tour, Nov. 1-22. All they have to do is purchase Darcy's Hope, then visit my website (GingerMonette.com) and follow the prompts for Lizzy's Scrapbook.
E.E.: That's a terrific idea. Anything else you would like readers to know about Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes?
Ginger: As you can guess, historical accuracy was important to me. And although I tried to keep the romance between Darcy and Lizzy the story’s primary focus, I hope readers will finish Darcy’s Hope with a taste of what it would have been like at a field hospital near the Front of WW1.
Readers may also be interested to know that the chateau-turned-field-hospital in my story is based on one that actually existed, even down to the swans in the water feature! (You can read a short summary here.) The Messines Ridge blast and Darcy “going over the top” at the Battle of the Somme were actual events. Also, that chaplains really did occasionally assist in the operating room, and the two outlandish stories told by the colorful Scotsman are true as well.
But most of all I hope readers will love the story!
Ginger's question for our readers:
What do you know about WW1 besides “trench warfare?” (I.e., what started the war? Who pulled out in 1917 when their country erupted in revolution? What years did the war span?) Leave your thoughts below.
With Darcy’s Hope set during the era of Downton Abbey and the tour being right before Christmas, I thought it would be fun to use Downton Abbey ornaments as the giveaway.
The ornament giveaway is open to US residents in the continental US. The prize for residents of the continental UK is a Downton Abbey mug.
a Rafflecopter giveaway