It’s time for another of our lovely anthologies: A Very Austen Romance.
You are going to love this book — six romantic novellas that are just so good!
This book features the talents of: Robin Helm, Wendi Sotis, Barbara Cornthwaite, Mandy Cook, our guest author, Chautona Havig, and Yours Truly.
I get to be both a co-author and a fan!
My contribution is You’ve Got to Kiss the Girl
In which Lady Catherine, furious that Darcy still refuses to marry Anne, engineers a kidnapping in order to force his hand. But her nefarious plan goes horribly wrong. Anne remains safely at home, but Elizabeth Bennet disappears. What now?
Curious? Here is an excerpt.
Bound, gagged, and blindfolded, Mr. Darcy is being transported to who-knows-where. Then he realizes that he is not alone …
The wheels hit another rut in the road. This one was deep, and the wagon swayed dangerously. “What in blue blazes?” shouted a woman’s voice. “This ain’t no time to be drinking, you git!”
“A fellow needs something to warm him,” a man’s voice shouted back. “That wind cuts like a knife.”
“If we break an axle out here, we’re done for.”
“Hobgoblins and ghostly horsemen of the moor? Bah. Bogeys to scare children.”
“Not goblins, you dolt. Marshes and bogs have what they calls quicksand. That what swallows man and beast alive. So keep your wits about you.”
“It’s Dartmoor Prison I’m not liking. Too close for comfort, that is.”
Darcy frowned in an effort to think. The vile potion his captors had him swilling made his head swim. Dartmoor Prison. Did this mean they were in Devon?
The wagon gave another jolt and listed to one side. “Gor blast it, Manny! Slow down! We’ll be ditched if you keep to this pace.”
The wagon righted itself and went lumbering on. Darcy heard his fellow prisoner groan.
Here was another perplexity. That he was kidnapped for ransom was understandable, but why involve a woman?
Unless it was his cousin, Anne.
Of course it was Anne. Who else could it be? Even without this ordeal, his cousin’s life was not a happy one. And now she was being held for ransom.
With a miserable howl, the wind buffeted the wagon’s high sides. “Blast this infernal wind!” the man shouted. “What was Jackman thinking? Why this godforsaken place?”
“For easy money, that’s what. Nab the gent and the girl; dump them here and clear out.”
“Why not hide ’em in London? Instead of driving two hundred miles and more in all this cold? What I wouldn’t give for a warm fire and a pint.”
“We’ll have both soon enough, once we get free of the moor. If you don’t ditch the wagon!”
The wind howled, and his captors continued to complain. At length Darcy grew weary of listening to them. If only his headache would abate, perhaps then he could think!
Sometime later he woke to more cursing.
“How do you know it’s the right house?”
“Only one out here, dolt. Can’t miss it, Jackman said. There’s the lake and there’s the house.”
At last the wagon ground to a halt. Darcy came fully awake, every sense on the alert. God only knew what would come next.
“Took you long enough,” a voice shouted.
“This ain’t exactly the easiest spot to find. Lend a hand. I want to be away before nightfall.”
“No need to be telling me twice.”
When the wagon’s doors came open, Darcy felt the bite of the cold wind. The scent of rain was in the air.
Anne was taken from the wagon first, and she moaned several times. This was difficult to hear, but it meant she was alive.
Presently the men returned for Darcy. He was pulled into a sitting position, and the rope binding his ankles was removed. When his feet met the ground, Darcy realised that he wore only stockings. What had happened to his riding boots?
“March,” someone ordered. Darcy did so, stumbling over wet, rocky terrain. And then it began to rain. A chorus of curses erupted.
Rough hands pushed Darcy along. Then a surprise: his feet encountered wooden boards. The hollow sound reminded Darcy of a dock, and his guess turned out to be correct. Amid complaints about his size and weight, he was lowered into a small boat. The rain gained in strength; Darcy could hear it hissing against the surface of the water. Oars were fitted; the boat swayed precariously. Finally, it was pushed clear of the dock.
Darcy struggled to think. Were he and Anne being taken out of England? But that could not be right. To board a seagoing vessel, shouldn’t they be in a port city? Hold hard, someone had mentioned a lake. Was this significant? He wished he knew.