Many years have passed since the dramatic events of Pride and Prejudice. In The Cousins of Pemberley series we follow a new generation of heroines – cousins with lives as different and interesting as those enjoyed by their mothers.
Cassandra Wickham, daughter of a flirt and a scoundrel, an innocent abroad in a world where money can buy you anything, even a bride. When danger threatens and the man she thought she could rely on fails her, there is only one place she can turn to for help – Pemberley.
Surely the Darcy’s will protect her, no matter what happened in the past to divide the two families?
It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a fun-loving lady, who will not see her thirty-fifth birthday again, is likely to be exceedingly irritated by having to present to her social circle a daughter who is eighteen years of age. It means that all present will know that she is not as young as she pretends to be!
Lydia Allerton, once Bennet, once Wickham, was just such a lady and her distaste for the evening’s event was beginning to show in her tone of voice as she rushed into her daughter’s bedroom, surrounded by a cloud of strong perfume, impatiently waving away the little maid who was just putting the finishing touches to Cassandra Wickham’s very sophisticated evening hairstyle.
“Really, Cassie, what are you doing to be so tardy? Your dear Papa and I are going to all this trouble to bring you out at the regimental ball, the event of the season, and you sit there, frowning, as if you were headed for a funeral. Do stop pulling such a long face; you will give yourself wrinkles before you are nineteen!”
Cassandra Wickham stared into the dressing-table mirror: she hardly recognised the girl she saw there: her long, amber toned hair had been put up in an elaborate arrangement and because she had refused to colour her cheeks, she looked pale. At her mother’s words, she bit her lip so the phrase, “The Colonel isn’t my real father” didn’t escape. This was not the evening for an argument, although the words hurt her heart. It was ten years since she had lost her dear papa but the pain had never completely gone away.
“Mama, I really don’t want to go. I shan’t enjoy it at all. And this dress….” She hesitated and pulled at the bodice of the bright pink satin gown her mother had chosen. It was cut so very low and there wasn’t even a ruffle of lace to cover the top of her breasts. Indeed, it seemed to Cassandra almost indecent to go out in public dressed like this. She tugged at the puff-sleeves, trying to bring them higher onto her shoulders.
“La! Of course you want to go. What is wrong with you, child?” She frowned and then rubbed her forehead, anxious that no crease should form, but really the girl annoyed her so much sometimes. “Why, I was well married by your age and lived for balls and dancing and young men. Did I ever tell you of the time I spent in Brighton with poor dear Wickham? Think of all the officers you will meet tonight!”
Lydia twirled round the room, her own bright green silk, over-garlanded with flounces and pink
roses, flashing in the candle-light, her face too powdered and rouged, but every ounce of her passion for life showing in her vulgar movements. She adored balls and dancing and the militia and failed to understand that her only child did not follow her inclinations. But then she also failed to understand that her daughter had not inherited a single part of her own self-centred approach to life and mocked her curiosity about the world, her desire to know about far off countries and people.
Thank you, Linda O’Byrne and Zooloo’s Book Tours
About the author
Fiction has always been my go-to world, a place of entertainment, excitement and imagination – I am told that I wrote my first story when I was four about a lady who had twenty children! Sadly it has been lost for posterity.
I have been writing all my life in the time I could spare from having a “proper job”, mostly for children under the name of Linda Blake, stories of ballet dancers, pony riding and talking animals! Not all in the same book!
But my love of romance, a great tendency to say “What if..?” and the endearing characters of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice have now resulted in a series of books that will take the reader forward to the next generation of heroines.
I am retired, live in Kent and am a keen member of my local drama group. Directing and acting take up a lot of my time – I have been given the onerous task of writing the Christmas pantomimes – but I still need to cope with a large garden, doing daily battle with the heron who thinks my pond is his own breakfast buffet and keeping in touch with friends and family scattered all over the world.