I LOVE parties, and today is an exceptional day since August 17 is my sister Melody’s birthday, Georgiana Darcy’s birthday, and the launch of my new book, Darcy’s Melody, in eBook format on Amazon! My sister, Melody Ann Ferree, holds a very special place in my heart and was my inspiration for writing a loving sisterly relationship between Lizzy and Georgina in this Pride and Prejudice tale.
In celebration, I thought we should have some cake and a giveaway! After all what’s a party without a little of the good stuff? Right? Melody’s favorite cake was carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Yummy! Every year on Melody’s birthday, her girls all make carrot cake in her honor. Melody’s recipe is at the end of this post. These are my nieces: Molly, Deanna, Jessica, and Keila.For my birthday party on May 20, I asked you to tell me what was one of your favorite cakes. My virtual tasting was beyond belief with so many delicious offerings. Some of you even left recipes! Since Darcy’s Melody has an underlying music theme, this time I would like to know what is your favorite song or even what style of music makes you feel good.
Although there is a prominent music theme in my story, there is also a subplot which has to do with Colonel Fitzwilliam and the Crown’s Secret Guard. I hope you like this first scene from chapter one where Darcy and Lizzy first meet in a rather unusual way. Enjoy! Jen Red ♫
Chapter One ~ Under the Cover of Books
Tuesday, 21 May 1811, early afternoon
Ballard’s was an eclectic treasure trove of rare first editions and unusual books located on the thoroughfare of Piccadilly. Although it appeared somewhat dingy and dimly lit from the outside, inside the ageing building the atmosphere was inviting, and a vast array of literature beckoned lovers of the written word.
Promptly at one o’clock, Fitzwilliam Darcy entered the bookshop and walked directly towards his favoured section. While paging through a military war journal, he instinctively glanced toward the back of the shop. Even with several patrons milling about the establishment today, Darcy’s eyes were drawn to a young lady who appeared to be examining a small book in the poetry section.
Closing the journal, Darcy ambled over to where the woman stood and began perusing the titles on a nearby shelf. After taking a book in hand, he purposely turned his head towards the young lady. Captivated by her large, dark emerald-green eyes sparkling with mischief, he felt his lips curve into a half smile when she spoke.
“Pray, sir, may I trouble you to hand me the book of Cowper poetry on the upper shelf?”
Darcy nodded. “With pleasure. Cowper is an excellent choice.”
As he reached for the book, she continued, “One poem in particular reminds me of Oakham Mount in Hertfordshire. I find I am rather desirous of its solace today if only through the eyes of the poet.”
Handing her the book, he answered in kind. “I understand your sentiments for I, too, am from the country and have longed to return to Derbyshire.”
Arching an eyebrow in his direction, she inclined her head and said, “I thank you, sir.”
“You are most welcome.”
As she turned the pages of her selection in search of the poem, Darcy heard the young lady gasp when both of her books slid out of her hands and onto the floor. “Oh dear,” she sighed, stooping down to retrieve them.
“Allow me,” he immediately offered. Both reaching for the books, Darcy felt her small, warm hand carefully slip a folded piece of paper into the palm of his own. The young lady had not replaced her glove after perusing her own book, and her skin was soft to the touch. Leaning closer, the faint scent of lavender seemed to strengthen, causing his chest to tighten and his heart to quicken in response.
Feigning innocence, she looked up at him and said, “Again, sir, I am in your debt. Perhaps I should make my purchases before I have another mishap.”
“Permit me to carry these to the desk for you.”
Acknowledging his offer with a slight curtsey, the young lady whispered, “Sir, I think we are being observed.” Then speaking louder, she added, “Thank you again. You are most kind.”
“Your servant.” He bowed. With his senses heightened from being forewarned of impending danger, Darcy spoke softly in return, “How did you come? I would not have you leave here unescorted.”
“There is a carriage waiting, sir. A manservant is nearby and a maid is within.”
“Then leave now and be careful.”
After he placed the books on the counter, the young lady thanked Darcy, made her purchase, and quickly exited the shop. From where he stood, Darcy watched the footman assist her into the carriage. Assured of her safety, he abruptly turned and faced the observing patron who had folded his newspaper and was preparing to leave the shop.
“Excuse me, have we met?”
The man was obviously confused and stammered, “I … I think so. You are Mr. um.… ”
“Fitzwilliam Darcy. And you are?”
“My name is … is Gerard Mooreland, and if I remember correctly, my son, Jonathan, was a classmate of yours at university some years back.”
Darcy furrowed his brow for a moment in thought. “I do not seem to recall the name. Do you care to refresh my memory?”
“My … my son was a master with the blade and was an active participant in the fencing club,” Mooreland boasted through a somewhat crooked smile.
With no recollection of either man, Darcy made further inquiries after which he gave Mooreland his card and requested his son pay him a visit when he was next in Town. Concluding their conversation, Darcy made his purchase and left the bookshop being rather unsettled.
The giveaway for TWO of my eBooks will take place on Friday, Aug 24 and the winners will be posted here, on FaceBook and Twitter. Meanwhile, be sure to check out some of these links. To comment and be entered in my giveaway, just click on the title at the beginning or this post or the comment tab just below the title. There should also be a place after this post: leave a reply. Don’t forget to let me know what your favorite song is or what style of music makes you feel good. AND if you feel like sharing a little more cake, I won’t complain. Jen ♫
I have recorded all of Lizzy’s songs and made a book trailer for Darcy’s Melody. You can find all of them here on YouTube.
In addition, here is a chapter by chapter story in pictures of Darcy’s Melody on Pinterest.
Here is the Amazon eBook Link.
Note: As of Aug 17, the eBook of Darcy’s Melody is live on Amazon.com. I am still waiting for a proof copy of the print version and will make another announcement whenever my book is available.
Melody’s Carrot Cake
· 2 1/2 Cups flour
· 2 tsp baking soda
· 1/4 tsp salt
· 2 tsp cinnamon
· 1 cup light brown sugar packed
· 1 cup granulated sugar
· 3 sticks (1 ½ c.) salted butter, softened
· 3 large eggs
· 2 teaspoons vanilla
· 3 cups grated carrots (3-4 medium carrots)
· ½ cup crushed pineapple, drained
· 1 cup (6 oz) raisins
· 1 cup (4 oz) chopped walnuts
· 16 oz cream cheese, softened
· 1 stick (1/2 c.) salted butter, softened
· 2 teaspoons vanilla
· 3 cups powdered sugar
*optional: you can add 1 Tbls. Lemon juice to frosting
* Feel free to add extra pineapple, carrots, vanilla, nuts, or raisins for a denser cake.
1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans or oblong pan
2. In a large bowl, stir flour, soda, salt, cinnamon and sugars. Add butter, one egg, and vanilla: blend with electric mixer on low. Increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes
3. Scrape down sides of bowl and remaining eggs, one at a time, beating 30 seconds after each. Add carrots, pineapple, raisins and walnuts. Blend on low until thoroughly combined.
4. Bake for 60-70 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Then invert cakes on rack and cool to room temp. (If you use cake pans, be sure to cool them enough otherwise they will crumble.)
5. Icing: beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add vanilla (and lemon juice if wanted) beat until combined. Add sugar gradually, mixing on low.
6. Ice and refrigerate for 1 hour to set icing.