I cannot believe it, friends! On Tuesday, His Good Opinion passed 7000 sales! It’s been available for about 275 days, so that’s around 25 sales a day. Frankly, the per day average blows my mind more than the total.
To all 7000 people who have purchased His Good Opinion or received it as a gift, I give a heartfelt thank you. Taking the first step into publication is a huge risk, and you have shown me how much risks can pay off. Thanks to you, I am more confident in my abilities as a writer. It is so much easier to work on Loving Miss Darcy and Sebastian’s story, knowing that so many read and enjoyed His Good Opinion.
Also, you are the ones fueling my dreams of moving to England. Without your amazing support, there is no way I could be anticipating that change so quickly. I cannot express how much that means to me.
As a thank you, I offer the first sneak peek of Loving Miss Darcy. (Many thanks to Jess for giving this a beta last night!)
Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam had just finished his weekly ride around his father’s estate when a large raindrop splattered on his jacket sleeve. He glanced at the sky and urged his horse into a canter as the storm started in earnest.
By the time they reached shelter, his coat was soaked through. He dismounted and shook the water from his hair as he took in the unusual amount of activity going on around him. A look around the stable revealed the cause—a fine pair of matched bays were being led into their stalls by the stable hands.
His shoulders stiffened. Simon. “Will I find my brother in the house?” he asked the stable master.
“Indeed, Colonel Fitzwilliam.”
“Thank you, George.”
Richard looked back outside and contemplated riding out into the deluge rather than greeting his brother, but his love for his horse would not allow that. He might not mind the cold rain, but Arion deserved better.
“I do rather envy you your quiet stall however,” he muttered as he rubbed his horse down.
When he could put off the inevitable no longer, he took the umbrella he kept by the door and walked up the path to the house. The warmth of the house felt good to his chilled skin, and for a scant second, he considered taking the kitchen door and going up the back stairs to his room. His damp clothes clung to his body and he would have loved a change, but he knew how much Simon disliked untidiness, so with a mischievous grin, he asked the butler where he could find his brother.
“In his lordship’s study, Master Richard.”
The muscle behind Richard’s right eye throbbed. “Thank you, Graves.”
“Of course, Master Richard.” The youthful title Graves insisted on using drew a fleeting smile from Richard, mostly because he knew Simon would have received a similar address when he arrived, and he loved seeing his brother taken down a peg.
However, once he left the kitchen, the rapidly building headache returned. The door to the study was closed, and he took a deep breath before entering. He crossed the room to the fire and turned to examine his brother, who sat behind the desk.
Simon raised a delicate handkerchief to his nose. “Richard, must you always be covered in the scent of horseflesh?”
Richard rolled his eyes. “It is the natural consequence of working with horses, Simon, though of course you are unaware of that. I had not realized we were to be graced with your presence—the last I heard, you were enjoying the pleasures of London too much to ever leave.”
Richard leaned back on his heels and admired the bright pink hue spreading from his brother’s ears and down his neck. “I always intended to return home at some point this year to look over the books,” Simon said.
Richard’s fingers twitched, but he maintained an even tone. “By that you mean your friends have gotten tired of the way you poach off them and you decided to come here and poach off Father instead.”
Simon’s thin nostrils flared. “I do not see how it is poaching if all that is here will one day be mine.”
“Ah, but it is not yet yours, is it?”
“Nor will it ever be yours!”
Richard sighed and sat down, now dry enough that he would not damage the upholstery. “Must we always cover the same ground in our arguments, Simon? This does get a bit tedious, year after year.”
“Perhaps if you did not act like you owned the land that I will inherit—”
“And perhaps if you acted like you truly cared about that land!”
A sly look crossed Simon’s eyes. “You are correct, Richard. It is time I took more of an interest in the estate.” He rifled through the papers on the desk, settling on one. From his vantage point, Richard could not see what he was looking at, and he would not give Simon the satisfaction of asking.
“In fact, I believe I will begin by going over the books that you have so carefully kept for Father since you were dismissed from the Army. I do not see why he trusted you when even the soldiers no longer wanted you.”
“I was retired out because there were not enough posts available for high-ranking officers,” Richard said through gritted teeth. “They still give me half-pay, so clearly they did not wish to be quit of me. Can you say the same for anyone you have left behind?”
“Yes, so you say…” Simon drawled, his fingers lingering on the papers laying on top of the desk. “But does anyone know what you actually did during your Army years? I vow, I never once saw you take part in actual… soldier things.”
Richard barked out an unamused laugh. “Soldier things? Simon, you had best not talk about things you know nothing about. Do you even know which end of a rifle to shoot?”
All traces of amusement gone, his elder brother leaned his slight body over the desk. “I may not be the chevalier you pretend to be, but I do have one thing you do not.”
Richard snorted. “Oh, spare me your airs and graces, your lordship. As if I envied you your title.”
Simon shook his head quickly. “No, Richard. I have a home.”
Richard stood up quickly, his tolerance for his brother’s insults finally reaching a limit. “If you care so much for your home, spend more time here!” he shouted on his way out of the room.
A footman stopped him at the base of the stairs. “I am not in a mood for to be disturbed, Paul,” Richard warned.
“No sir,” Paul said, “but this came for you this afternoon while you were out. It’s a letter from Pemberley, sir.”
Richard took the envelope and immediately recognized his cousin’s firm handwriting. “Thank you, Paul. Perhaps the day is not a total loss after all.”
His mood slightly brightened, Richard took the steps two at a time and entered his room. The fire was lit and he sat down in front of it before opening the letter. Correspondence between Richard and William Darcy was a regular event, as they shared the care of William’s younger sister Georgiana. There was always some matter to be discussed regarding the young lady’s upbringing.
This letter however was not from William, though he had addressed it. Instead, a single sheet of paper opened up to reveal a feminine hand.
It would please both Fitzwilliam and myself if you would join us at Pemberley in advance of the rest of the family for the Christmas holidays. You are quite welcome to come as soon as you wish.
Richard stretched his legs out in front of himself and smiled for the first time since he had seen his brother’s horses in the stable. In truth, he was at Pemberley almost as much as he was at home, so a formal invitation was hardly necessary. This invitation however granted him the opportunity to quit Simon’s presence and spend time with family he actually enjoyed.