Authors: Jenni James
Tags: #YA, #fairy tale, #clean fiction, #young adult
PRAISE FOR JENNI JAMES
Beauty and the Beast (Faerie Tale Collection)
“Jenni James takes this well loved faerie tale and gives it a paranormal twist. Very well written and hard to put down, even on my cruise vacation where I had plenty to do. Looking forward to others in Jenni’s Faerie Tale series. A great escape!”
—Amazon reviewer, 5-star review
Pride & Popularity (The Jane Austen Diaries)
“This book was unputdownable. I highly recommend it to any fan of Jane Austen, young or old. Impatiently awaiting the rest of the series.”
—Jenny Ellis, Librarian and Jane Austen Society of North America
“Having read several other Young Adult retellings of
Pride and Prejudice
- I must admit that
Pride and Popularity
by Jenni James is my top choice and receives my highest recommendation! In my opinion, it is the most plausible, accessible, and well-crafted YA version of
Pride and Prejudice
I have read! I can hardly wait to read the [next] installment in this series!”
—Meredith, Austenesque Reviews
“I started reading
Pride and Popularity
and couldn’t put it down! I stayed up until 1:30 in the morning to finish. I’ve never been happier to lose sleep. I was still happy this morning. You can’t help but be happy when reading this feel good book. Thank you Jenni for the fun night!”
—Clean Teen Fiction
Northanger Alibi (The Jane Austen Diaries)
obsessed teens (and their moms) will relate to Claire’s longing for the fantastical but will be surprised when they find the hero is even better than a vampire or werewolf. Hilarious, fun and romantic!”
“Stephenie Meyer meets Jane Austen in this humorous, romantic tale of a girl on a mission to find her very own Edward Cullen. I didn’t want it to end!”
—Mandy Hubbard, author of Prada & Prejudice
“We often speak of Jane Austen’s satiric wit, her social commentary, her invention of the domestic novel. But Jenni James, in this delicious retelling of
, casts new light on Austen’s genius in portraying relationships and the foibles of human nature—in this case, the projection of our literary fantasies onto our daily experience.”
—M.M. Bennetts, author of May 1812
, your heart will be warmed, tears will be shed, and loved ones will be more appreciated. Jenni James has written a story that will make you believe in miracles and tender mercies from above.”
—Sheila Staley, Book Reviewer & Writer
“Divinely inspired, beautifully written—a must read!”
—Gerald D. Benally, author of Premonition (2013)
is a sweet story that will put tears in your eyes and hope in your heart at the same time.”
—Author Shanti Krishnamurty
ALSO BY JENNI JAMES
Jenni James Faerie Tale Collection:
Beauty and the Beast
Hansel and Gretel
The Frog Prince
The Jane Austen Diaries:
Pride & Popularity
Sensible & Sensational
The Eternal Realm Series:
This book is dedicated to M.M. Bennetts
I love you!
ELLA PICKED UP THE last basket of clothing, her arms strained from attempting to carry the heavy, wet mass the twelve or so feet to the drying line. Thankfully, her stepmother had the gardener place the line closer to the house and in its shade, due to the sun lightening her clothes, or Ella would have had to walk even farther from the washing room. Most fine houses used the drying lines in the washing rooms, but Lady Dashlund preferred to have hers outside on warm days and so making the work twice as hard for Ella.
As Ella was shaking out the last of the petticoats, she overheard her stepsister Jillian shriek.
Oh, dear, she probably saw a mouse.
Ella sighed and quickly snapped the lacy fabric onto the line and, tossing in the remaining pins, picked up the basket and ran toward the large manor home. No doubt they would all be in an uproar and would be upset if they could not find her.
Another shriek and shrill rang out loud as Ella slipped her outer shoes off in the entrance near the servants’ quarters and tucked the wet apron to dry onto one of the wooden pegs mounted upon the stone wall. She could clearly hear her stepmother shouting by the time she managed to wrap another clean apron around her waist and head quickly up the servants’ stairs.
Brushing and smoothing her dress with her hands as she went, Ella tried to remain calm. This summer had been especially difficult to keep the mice population down. The whole kingdom suffered from the vermin. And her stepmother and stepsisters seemed to take the sight of them the hardest. Ella was the only one of the four brave enough to try and catch any of them. And she had better do so quickly before their tempers got the best of her family. That was all she needed, Lady Dashlund in a foul mood. Then the whole house would pay for several days.
As she rounded the corner into the large immaculate corridor, her feet tread upon the fine lush carpet her father had chosen. It was one of the final improvements to the house he had made—ordering those sumptuous rugs from the Orient to be lavishly displayed throughout rooms—before he passed on a few years back. Her heart lurched. Oh, how she missed that man. How there were days when she truly needed him near her.
Ella approached the drawing room and attempted one last time to make herself presentable before she entered. She was rather surprised to hear laughter and joyous sounds coming from within. Taking a step into the room, she beheld Jillian and Lacey laughing quite loudly and dancing about together like small girls.
Finding her stepmother across the way near the rose-colored settee, she walked up and curtsied. “Is there anything I can do for you? I heard the shouting and came as quickly as possible.”
Lady Dashlund shooed her with a wispy white handkerchief and a rather large smile upon her face. “No, no. We are not in need of anything. We are all quite elated. You are welcome to continue with your chores, we will call you when we need you.”
It was then that Ella noticed the small missive in her stepmother’s hand. They must have had some good news. Curious, but not willing to risk Lady Dashlund’s wrath, she simply said, “Yes, milady.” Ella nodded her head and dipped into a short curtsy and turned to go.
“No.” Miss Lacey Dashlund halted in mid twirl and put her foot down to catch her balance. “Ella cannot go just yet. We
need her, Mother,
the duke is coming here in only a few minutes. We need everything to look splendid! He is coming! He is coming! And this time—this time I shall finally secure him.” Lacey squealed and shrieked loudly and then picked up her sister’s arm and began dancing about again.
“Girls, enough,” scolded Lady Dashlund, though she was smiling. “It is time you freshen up and stop gallivanting around or you will be quite flushed when he comes.”
Miss Dashlund twirled Jillian out in a final spin and then giggled with her as they stopped their play. “Oh, is it not the most glorious day?” She smiled beautifully and waltzed her way to the settee all the way to her mother and clasping her hands within her own.
“Yes. It is.” Lady Dashlund grinned down at her daughter before turning toward Ella. “Will you please let cook know to send up tea for us as soon as the duke arrives—and make sure she adds a little something special—something to make him stay this time.”
“Oh, and when you are through, please sweep off the front step. We do not want him walking up to the house when it looks such a sight.”
“Yes, milady.” She curtsied then and rushed from the room. She would have to be quick to clean off the whole of the front steps before the duke arrived. Lord Gavenston rarely came late. In fact, more often than not, he was early.
She hoped for his sake and Lacey’s that her stepsister would not blunder this meeting like she had previously. Ella winced. Lacey was always incredibly graceful—unless His Grace was around—and then, quite simply, she became a bumbling buffoon, and would somehow or another cause great catastrophes when he was near. Hopefully this time, all will be well. Ella crossed her fingers for luck just in case. After all, the sooner Miss Dashlund was gone from the house, the fewer chores Ella would have to do for her silly stepsister.
“OH, NO! YOU ARE not getting me to step foot into that house.” His Royal Highness Prince Anthony chuckled as he drew in the reins on the beautiful horse, causing him to stop in his tracks about a half mile down the road that would eventually lead them to Lady Dashlund’s rather exquisite manor. The manor, he could tolerate; it was the family that made him shudder.
“But you promised,” Lord Gavenston replied, drawing his rather fine black in as well.
Anthony shook his head. “No, I did not. I promised to accompany you on some errands, Cousin. I did not promise to waltz myself into
home and be prodded and fawned over like some ninny. Why, those girls could cool the east, lowering the temperature a whole two degrees with their eyelash fluttering alone.” The prince ridiculously fluttered his lashes in the midst of the most glorious of roadways. With fine green hills and rows of delicious apple and sturdy oak trees, some of the greatest lanes in all of the kingdom. And here the prince was—looking the fool instead of enjoying the marvelous countryside.
Zedekiah laughed. “You are quite awful, you know.”
“I kno-ow!” he replied in a singsong voice. The type of voice reserved for pantomimes.
“And you look like a nincompoop.” He clicked his tongue and tapped his mount to press onward. “I, for one, would rather not wish to be seen with you anyway if you are to act this way.”
“I cannot. I simply cannot do it,” Anthony replied as he tapped his horse as well. “My mother would have my head if she knew I had even spoken to them, let alone stepped in their house—and you know it!”
“This is why I had to sneak you away so you would accompany me.” Zedekiah looked over as Anthony came up. “You know the queen forces me to run these errands because she and Lady Dashlund were schoolgirls together. You know she does it to pay particular courtesy to her longtime friend. But she would rather be seen dead than conversing with the woman. Which is why the duke must be her go-between. And honestly, I wish anything—anything other than this task.”
“I pity you, but I cannot risk it. They would devour me in a heartbeat.”
“Come! You have not been here for ages—a good five years at least. They may have grown since then.”
The prince crowed. “Yes, and this is why you need me to hold your hand. Because they are such proper ladies and behave so well! No, my mother has told me the anecdotes that family has caused the royal castle alone. I have sheets and sheets written to me of nonsense this Miss Dashlund has done—do you have any idea how much it cost my mother to host them the last time they came? The amount of shrubs she had to replace because of that girl’s foolishness?”
“Which is why I need someone with me now. I would rather come out of there in one piece!” Zedekiah begged, “Please, come in?”
Anthony stared at him as their horses rounded the corner of the lane. The great house was about forty feet in front of them. He looked up and then reached over—his hand waving his cousin to a halt. “Who is that on the steps?” he asked quietly as both horses stopped.