Pemberley Manor by Kathryn L Nelson is available from Sourcebooks as of April, 2009.
Thanks for the invitation to visit with Yankee Romance fans today. It reminds me that some of the most romantic moments of my life (don’t tell my husband) were my late night writing rendezvous with Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy as I followed them off to their honeymoon and then home to Pemberley Manor. While Jane Austen never offered us much to go on as far as love scenes, and I’ve definitely steered clear of the temptation to expose her characters to the prying eyes of the modern reader, that doesn’t mean that we can’t have a bit of fun with them. After all, they are married.
Levity to tenderness was an easy step. They put aside all troubled thoughts of past and future, and engaged themselves fully with their present happiness. If last night’s embraces were passionate, this morning’s were sweeter for the laughter they had shared. Elizabeth could not resist one last jest. Feigning a worried frown, she complained, “I still find one impediment to our perfect intimacy, Mr. Darcy.”
He answered with a gallant bow, “Tell me what it is and I shall remove it at once.”
“It is this dressing gown, sir,” she replied with a laugh.
That was the morning after. The night before hadn’t gone so very well for the new couple. Misunderstanding led to argument and flight, culminating in a tearful unraveling of hurt and confusion.
During the long silence that followed, Elizabeth closed her eyes and wrestled with the mortification of her self-revelation while Darcy studied her face intently, aware that he was seeing her with new eyes. When at last their reverie was broken, it was by a soft sigh from Elizabeth. Shaking her head, she opened her eyes to meet his, then raised her hands to smooth the frown lines tenderly from his brow. He scarcely breathed as her fingertips traced the lines of his face and neck and moved down to his shoulders. With poignant tenderness, she slid her hands under the lapels of his waistcoat and lifted it from him. Holding his eyes in an unwavering gaze, she untied his silk neckcloth and unbuttoned his vest and slipped it off, unafraid of the violent trembling she felt as her hands moved along his torso.
Standing up, she slowly unfastened the buttons on her gown and let it fall to the floor, saying softly as she did, “We have talked enough to understand one thing sufficiently well – that our love must not be denied any longer or we shall both end up quite mad. Teach me to love you as I should,” she pleaded with eyes filling with tears, “so that we may never doubt again the steadiness of each other’s affection.
The obsession that drove me to the Darcys was the thought that happily ever after doesn’t arrive in a neat package with the wedding cake. Strong, intelligent, passionate men and women, as these characters were conceived to be, will doubtless have to resolve some issues before they can sit by the fire with a good book. Austen left us in no doubt about the attraction between these two people, but she didn’t resolve all of the questions that had created a wall between them. Why was Darcy such a difficult person to get to know? And why did Elizabeth, who prided herself on her honesty, deny to herself and everyone else the attraction she obviously felt for him from their first meeting?
One would think that the first and arguably best romantic writer of all time, Jane Austen, had said all that should be said about her characters. How then to explain the explosion of sequels to her works that started in the early 20th century and continues with a new book nearly every week? I can’t explain the motivation of others, but for me, the essence of romance is the tension that the reader feels, the excitement of being in the scene with epic lovers. No one has ever created that sexual tension for me as a reader with so very little physical description as Jane Austen did. (I have to admit it didn’t hurt to see her words spoken by the likes of Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle in the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice in 1995.)
From “Jane Austen's Regency World,” September/October 2007: "…As in Pride and Prejudice, The couple we really want to know about is Lizzie and Darcy: witty, sexy, well-matched and not about to settle into a placid happy ever after. And what we get is a storm of strong emotion and suspected betrayal before the ends are satisfactorily tied up.
"Kathryn Nelson weaves a well-crafted tale of the young couple's first months of marriage, exploring the reasons for Darcy's famously brooding personality and taking a number of other characters forward into new lives, with sometimes surprising but always entertaining results…
Please share your thoughts with me on sequels, sex and Pemberley Manor. I’ll be checking in all day! Thanks again.