Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen
Was Mr. Darcy real? Is time travel really possible? For pragmatic Manhattan artist Eliza Knight the answer to both questions is absolutely, Yes! And Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley Farms, Virginia is the reason why!
His tale of love and romance in Regency England leaves Eliza in no doubt that Fitz Darcy is the embodiment of Jane Austen’s legendary hero. And she’s falling in love with him. But can the man who loved the inimitable Jane Austen ever love average, ordinary Eliza Knight?
Eliza’s doubts grow, perhaps out of proportion, when things start to happen in the quiet hamlet of Chawton, England; events that could change everything. Will the beloved author become the wedge that divides Fitz and Eliza or the tie that binds them?
Praise for Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen
O’Rourke creates a world that defies cynicism and demands suspension of disbelief – even in this age of doubt and hyper-realism. Sheer escapism at its best. Clever, charming and affectionate. ~Jocelyn Bury …the reader must tenaciously read on rather than put the book down to satisfy their hunger for the story to resolve, which it does in characteristically Jane Austen fashion. ~Erin Murdock
In Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen, author Sally Smith O’Rourke creates a compelling story that investigates what and who might have inspired Jane Austen. While the story line is certainly far-fetched, it is a truly unique idea, one that captivated this reader until the very last page. ~Meg Massey
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Excerpt . . .
In the deep shadows at the edge of the wood, Jane waited as the moon started its descent, casting an iridescent glow on the meadow. The tall American steered his great horse off the road and into the soft grass. He rode straight and tall as though he’d been born astride the animal. He was looking around, obviously in search of her but also making sure he had not been followed. When he was within a few feet she stepped into the moonlight.
He dismounted and cautiously walked toward her. “I was afraid you wouldn’t come.” He stopped no more than two feet away from her, still holding Lord Nelson’s reins. He looked handsome and vital even in Edward’s ill-fitting suit. She pushed aside the thought and the romantic notions she’d been entertaining since receiving his note and questioned his choice of time and place.
He apologized and added, “I believe dawn, the sunrise, is the crucial time for me to go back.”
“Go back? Where?”
Darcy hesitated, unsure how much he should reveal about his situation.
Taking his pause as evidence that what would follow would be a carefully crafted story—a lie—Jane was surprised when he said, “Back to… back to the place where I fell.”
She was irritated by his evasion and certain that he knew precisely what she wanted to know. “It is close. I will gladly show you exactly where it is… after you tell me where you came from, why you are here and why you’re behaving so oddly.”
“Miss Austen, I really can’t explain. You wouldn’t understand.” He paused briefly. “I’m not at all sure I do.”
Ignoring his apologetic admission, Jane spat, “What? Because I am a woman you think me too stupid to understand?” She turned and walked away. “Feel free to stumble around in the dark and find the place yourself!”
Almost panicked, he dropped Nelson’s reins and went after her. “Miss Austen… Jane, please wait.”
Expecting yet another insult but ready with a few of her own, she stopped and turned toward him. But he hurled no aspersion.
“Miss Austen, I believe you are one of the most intelligent women—in fact, one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met.”
Cautiously she returned and stood toe to toe, looking up at him. Her eyes glistened in the moonlight with a combination of suspicion and curiosity, and before she could say anything he began to tell her about her books.
“I know that Sense and Sensibility will be published early next year and it will do very well.”
Suspiciously she asked, “Why would my brother tell you that?”
“He didn’t, nor did he tell me about the one you’re working on now, First Impressions, the story of five sisters hoping to marry well. It will be published in three years, after you re-title it.”
His knowledge of First Impressions, on which she was still working, caused her curiosity to flare into anger at the reasonable assumption that he had rifled through her personal papers when he was alone in her room feigning his head injury.
Before she had the chance to throw any well-deserved invectives at him he told her about another book. “Mansfield Park. It will be considered your masterpiece by many people although, Pri—” He cleared his throat. “First Impressions will be the most popular, then and now.”
Mansfield Park was but an idea in her head, she had not yet put pen to paper. How did he know? Jane accused him of madness as she took a few steps backward away from him.
Afraid she might bolt before he got the information he needed, he grabbed her arm. She tried to pull away but he held firm, “Jane, please…”
What had she been thinking meeting this mercurial and possibly dangerous man in the middle of the night?
Overwhelmed with guilt at having caused the fear he saw on her face, Darcy released her. “I’m sorry.”
Suppressing the fear she said, “I have no idea how you know so much of my past but you cannot know what my future holds. No one can tell the future!”
Quietly, he said, “Yes… and that is my secret… it’s all in the past for me.” Sadly he looked away, then directly into her eyes. She saw the truth reflected there as he said, “This is the past for me. I came from the future.”
Author Sally Smith O’Rourke
Sally Smith O’Rourke is a surgical scrub nurse at the City of Hope national cancer research hospital in Duarte, California and resides in the near-by Victorian village of Monrovia. With her late husband, author Michael O’Rourke (aka F.M. O’Rourke) Smith O’Rourke owned and operated a medical advertising company where she used her diverse talents to produce and co-write teaching films and videos. Working not only with major medical and surgical manufacturing companies but also network television. These endeavors ultimately led to a collaboration on two feature films (direct to video) and three published novels. The wife and husband writing team of Sally Smith and Michael O’Rourke, being long-time fans of Jane Austen, wrote The Man Who Loved Jane Austen released by Kensington Books in 2006. Kensington followed that very successful effort with The Maidenstone Lighthouse in 2007 and Christmas at Sea Pines Cottage in 2009, both also collaborative projects by Smith and O’Rourke. Published after her partner and spouse’s untimely death in 2001, the publisher chose not to use the names Michael O’Rourke and Sally Smith (as the manuscripts were presented), releasing all three books under Sally Smith O’Rourke. Yours Affectionately, Jane Austen is Sally Smith O’Rourke’s first solo novel.
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Reader review . . .
American-born Fitzwilliam Darcy passed through a portal in time and landed in 19th century England, meeting Jane Austen. After returning to present-day Virginia, he meets New York artist Eliza Knight and falls in love. She believes his improbably story, and finds herself wondering if his love is true or if he would rather have the legendary author. Now, a stable boy who worked for Jane’s brother has come through the portal to find Fitz and discovers a world of equality and technological advances of which he had never dreamed. If stable boy Simmons remains in present-day England, will he create a history-changing paradox in which Jane and her classic novels do not exist? And if so, will Fitz and Eliza ever meet?
A novel approach (pun slightly intended) to a look at an acclaimed novelist and her place in history. Readers often wonder how authors create their characters, but time travel is not usually offered as an explanation. This novel offers an entertaining fantasy in which Mr. Darcy was not only real, but a 21st- century American time traveler.
My favorite character, however, was Simmons. Seeing our world through his eyes gives a new perspective not only on technological advances but societal changes. His almost childlike awe when he encounters modern plumbing was wonderful, and the mention of the quintessential time traveler, Doctor Who, was a moment of brilliance. When Fitz began to worry about the potential damage caused by a paradox in time, my head began to spin. The question of where the business card was in time if Simmons brought it to the future still has me thinking.
My advice to potential readers: read the author’s earlier novel, The Man Who Loved Jane Austen. This story would have been easier to follow had I read it first.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Book Blasts and Blog Tours book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”