Wednesday, September 27, 2017

BLOG TOUR: These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston ~ Review + Vignette

I am pleased to have Nicole back on the blog today with a review and vignette from her newest book, These Dreams. I know I was supposed to have an excerpt for today but me and Nicole went back and forth and decided upon a vignette in Darcy's POV. We hope you enjoy it.

Book Blurb: An abandoned bride
A missing man
And a dream that refuses to die...


Pride and patriotism lend fervor to greed and cruelty, and Fitzwilliam Darcyis caught at the centre of a decades-old international feud. Taken far from England, presumed dead by his family, and lost to all he holds dear, only one name remains as his beacon in the darkness: Elizabeth.

Georgiana Darcy is now the reluctant, heartbroken heiress to Pemberley, and Colonel Fitwilliam her bewildered guardian. Vulnerable and unprepared, Georgiana desperately longs for a friend, while Fitzwilliam seeks to protect her from his own family. As the conspiracy around Darcy's death widens and questions mount, Colonel Fitzwilliam must confront his own past.
An impossible dream, long ago sacrificed for duty, may become his only hope.

Newly married Lydia Wickham returns to Longbourn- alone and under mysterious circumstances. Elizabeth Bennet watches one sister suffer and another find joy, while she lives her own days in empty regrets over what might have been. Believing Darcy lost forever, she closes her heart against both pain and happiness but finds no escape from her dreams of him.

Vignette
This dream sequence of Darcy’s does not appear in the book. It takes place in the early days after his kidnapping, while he is still on the ship. As a matter of secrecy, he was placed in a lower hold aboard a vessel with various ports of call before he reached his final destination. By this point in the story, he has been wandering at sea for over three weeks; with no idea where he is bound, and without any human contact, save what comes to him in dreams.

***

She leaned low over the piano keys, one chocolate twirl dangling enticingly low just at the nape of her neck. The filmy, cream lace of her fichu nestled into the curves and dips of her figure, revealing nearly as much as it concealed as she bent in concentration—unsuspecting, perhaps, that her reverie at the instrument might be observed.

While her right hand silently tested out the opening lines from one of Mrs Hurst’s sheets of music, her fingers brushing with a feather soft touch over the ivories, the other was caught near her heart, pulsing in rhythm to the notes she read. It was that hand, pressing against her lace and clenching out in the tell-tale ¾ meter of the scandalous waltz, which led him to understand her wide eyes and insensible fascination with the scurrilous melodies.

He had not intended to happen upon her so unceremoniously. Ought not she to be watching over Miss Bennet upstairs, or taking that constitutional she so devoutly appointed for herself each afternoon? By what maddening coincidence should she be here at this time of day, in the very room of the house he had sought out for some peace? For of peace he had had none, since three days previous, when she had tracked muddy boot prints into Bingley’s breakfast parlour in search of her sister.

He was staring at her now, helplessly transfixed by the enigma that was this… this puzzling… no, that was not right. Aggravating. That was nearly accurate, and yet he scarcely felt put out to be in her company, as he should have done. No, she was intriguing— bewitching— and he was in grave danger.

She pinched her lips together, biting them by turns as she guiltily toyed with a few more lines in her mind, then she seemed to recollect herself. Before Darcy could flee, or even affect innocence, she looked up to discover him openly staring at her. She started. “Mr Darcy!”

The blood was pounding in his ears, and he felt his palms sweat. He should bow his excuses and leave the room… but that was what his old self would have done. The old Darcy, confident in all the shallow pretentions of his station, of his family name, of his estate, would thrash and flounder in vain for many months yet; trying to keep his head above water while slowly drowning in an ocean of desire and longing. That man—the one who had so cruelly scorned and insulted her on so many occasions—was dead, and only a shattered soul remained in his place.

Darcy released a slow breath. He would do things properly this time, and never more live with the insatiable regrets of his own vanity. “Miss Bennet,” he bowed warmly, “pray, do not allow me to disturb you. Did you intend to play?”

She cast her eyes doubtfully back to the sheet music. “I am afraid, sir, that you would justly mock my tastes if I were to indulge that particular curiosity.”

He raised his brows innocently. “Unless I am mistaken, Miss Bennet, any sheet music in the house was merely here upon your arrival. You can hardly be blamed for the quality of the present selection. I have often found that the tastes and artistic impressions created by the performer can easily overshadow any insufficiencies in the music.”

A wrinkle appeared at the corner of her mouth— the very crease he had dreamt of kissing all the previous night. “I believe you must be in the habit of listening to more talented performers than I, sir. I fear you would be treated to a most frightful rendition.”

“Miss Bennet, I know you find great delight in professing opinions which are not your own; therefore, I do not choose to believe you when you denigrate your own talents so harshly. I have heard you play before, and with much pleasure.”

Those dark eyes sparkled in challenge. “You would call me a liar, sir?”

“I believe you possess the knack of inspiring debate, through carefully chosen positions which may or may not reflect your true sentiments.”

“And what of you, Mr Darcy?” She trailed a finger over one piano key, admiring the instrument in the afternoon light, before turning her attention fully back to him. The pause in her scrutiny permitted him a small, unguarded instant in which to drink in her graceful figure, but he remembered himself in time to prevent his mouth from dropping open.

“Do you enjoy debate?” she continued, beginning to close the distance between them much as a cat stalks her quarry. “I have scarcely heard you speak unless provoked to do so by another’s bidding, so I cannot think it a pleasurable exercise for you.”

“On the contrary, Miss Elizabeth, I find it exceedingly diverting, particularly when challenged by an able mind such as yours. Indeed, I derive the very greatest pleasure from conversing with you.” Was it his imagination, or was she smiling—truly smiling!—and at him? There was a softness about her eyes this time, a curious hesitation in the rapier cadence of her accustomed responses. No! He was not mistaken, for she tilted her head now and seemed to look at him with new eyes.

“I was under the impression, Mr Darcy, that you found little in me to approve of.”

“If that is the case, Miss Elizabeth, then I have been gravely in the wrong in my demeanour and my countenance. I hope you will be generous enough to permit me to amend your previous impressions.” His heart seemed to choke his breath now, fluttering as it was in entirely the wrong part of his chest. Could he dare evoke all the feeling he had bottled up for so long, and lay it before her in faith that she would not deem him afflicted by sudden madness? Worse, would she suspect him of mocking her?

Her eyes flashed with uncertainty, and he felt a pang in his soul. She ought never again to doubt his sincerity! This was his dream, after all, and it was his opportunity to set things right, and to seek some manner of peace in his mind.

He extended a hand, and the words of that ill-fated proposal scratched through the conscious layer of his mind like shards of broken glass. You must allow me…. If he spoke them now, would she believe him? How Ardently…. Was there a more fitting word in the whole of the English language to describe his feelings for her? But his passions, his devotion, were far more than romantic. Love, of itself, would not suffice to describe how she answered every lack, how she defined for him all that a man might aspire to when searching his life’s mate. Admire and love you….

He ought to have stopped there the first time, and she should never have had a moment’s cause to look to him in disbelief and horror after his proclamation. He had no excuses he could claim, no righteousness on which he might stand, to defend his deplorable behaviour. He could only seek to improve, to render unto her the address she deserved, even if….

Darcy’s eyes fluttered as the ship pitched him sharply to the left. Allow me to tell you….

But it was no use. Elizabeth’s face was already fading into the veil; her scent was now a thing of memory, and that hesitant warmth in her eyes no more than a futile gasp of his dying heart. He clenched his eyes one last moment, begging—pleading with her to answer when he cried out her name, but she did not hear.

He rolled over, his empty stomach twisting as the ship rose and dipped on the swells. His crusted eyes detected a sliver of light through what passed for a window, which meant that it was morning again. The twenty-third such morning.

A block of hard tack had been shoved under the door at some point for his breakfast. Though his body was beginning to waste and his head spun wildly every time he sat upright, there was nothing he wanted less than that brick of stale biscuit.

He turned his face to the plank on which he rested, blocking out the light with his hand. With any luck, it would only be a matter of time before sleep claimed him once more, and he could see her again.

Elizabeth.

My Review: Oh man. The angst in this story. I could not put this book down as it was that riveting. I felt for our dear couple as they had to face trials far away from each other and then once again when they were finally reunited. Ms. Clarkston proves yet again why she is a superb storyteller and one of the queens of JAFF. I will definitely read this book again in the future.

Rating: 4 ½ stars out of 5

Author Bio: Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and she is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort.

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties―how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project, she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Her need for more time with these characters led her to simultaneously write Rumours & Recklessness, a P&P inspired novel, and No Such Thing as Luck, a N&S inspired novel. Both immediately became best selling books. The success she had with her first attempt at writing led her to write three other novels that are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.

Nicole was recently invited to join Austenvariations.com, a group of talented authors in the Jane Austen Fiction genre. In addition to her work with the Austen Variations blog, Nicole can be reached through Facebook at http://fb.me/NicoleClarkstonAuthor, Twitter @N_Clarkston, her blog at Goodreads.com, or her personal blog and website, NicoleClarkson.com.


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Blog Tour Schedule:
09/19 So little time…; Guest Post, Excerpt, Giveaway
09/20 My Jane Austen Book Club; Vignette, GA
09/21 From Pemberley to Milton; Review, GA
09/22 Interests of a Jane Austen Girl; Review, Excerpt, Giveaway
09/23 Just Jane 1813; Review, GA
09/24 My Vices and Weaknesses; Excerpt, GA
09/25 Babblings of a Bookworm; Guest Post or Vignette, GA
09/26 Diary of an Eccentric; Review, Giveaway
09/27 Half Agony, Half Hope; Review, Excerpt
09/28 Darcyholic Diversions; Author Interview, GA
09/29 My Love for Jane Austen; Character Interview, GA
09/30 Margie’s Must Reads; Guest Post, Excerpt, GA
10/01 Savvy Verse and Wit; Review, GA
10/02 Austenesque Reviews; Character Interview, GA
10/03 Obsessed with Mr. Darcy; Review, GA
10/04 From Pemberley to Milton; Guest Post, GA

7 comments:

  1. Loved the vignette. So emotional, I can't wait to read.

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  2. AS much as I love the book and would have enjoyed any excerpt chosen, I think your decision to have a vignette from Darcy's POV was an excellent choice. The vignette was so poignant and heart-wrenching! I loved it ladies. Thank you both.

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  3. Thank you, Darcy! I hope you get to read it soon. :-)

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  4. AS much as I love the book and would have enjoyed any excerpt from it, I think the two of you made an excellent choice in going with this vignette from Darcy's POV. It is poignant and heart-wrenching. I loved it! Thanks to both of you! Glad to read you liked the book so much, Tina! :)

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  5. Oh my. That is almost heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing.

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  6. (2nd try)...
    Wow. That is heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing.

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  7. What a lovely review! I'm so eager to get to this book!

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