“Great fun … a real page turner.’ Andrew Davies, screenwriter of Pride and Prejudice
“A lovely comic romance.” Dan Zeff, director of Lost in Austen
“Romance and intrigue are the order of the day … Austen fans will love this.” Closer
“True romantic fiction with some lovely characters and a fun Austen setting.” Sarah Broadhurst, Lovereading
“What a delight. It just draws you in … the book is so funny and well-written.” Ann Channon, Manager, Jane Austen’s House Museum
“Unashamedly romantic.” Bestselling author, Deborah Wright
“A delicious confection … Victoria Connelly is an assured writer who has created here a clutch of memorable and engaging characters.” Jane Austen’s Regency World
“I really enjoyed A Weekend with Mr Darcy and I can’t wait for the next book in the Jane Austen-inspired series.” Chicklit Reviews
“What a wonderful book! Victoria Connelly’s love for Jane Austen leaps from the page.’ Amanda Grange, bestselling author of Mr Darcy’s Diary
“An utterly charming escapist read. Victoria Connelly is a wonderful storyteller. Highly Recommended!” Hot Brands Cool Places
“This is a really sweet love story about not settling for second best and that first impressions aren’t always right. Jane Austen would be proud!” One More Page
“Connelly’s enthusiastic knowledge of Jane Austen is solid and her writing style is fresh and funny. Will A Weekend with Mr Darcy get lost in the sea of ‘Mr Darcy’ inspired novels flooding the market? Nope. It is the leader of the pack! Brava Ms Connelly! Since this is the first in a trilogy, we are all anticipation for this very talented author.” Austenprose
Dr Katherine Roberts is a lecturer at Oxford University and an expert on all things Austen. But she has a guilty secret; a love of racy Regency novels by Lorna Warwick. She’s even struck up a long-distance friendship with the novelist and the two of them have been sharing their closest confidences.
When Katherine gets her yearly invite to a Jane Austen Conference at the magnificent Purley Hall in Hampshire, she sincerely hopes that Lorna will be in attendance as well. She can hardly wait to meet her new friend, but it seems that Lorna may not have been completely honest with her…
Meanwhile, hopeless romantic Robyn Love is at her happiest when her head is stuck in one of Jane Austen’s novels – if only her boyfriend Jace Collins could be more like Colin Firth.
The weekend retreat is the perfect opportunity for Robyn to escape from reality for a few days – especially when she meets handsome stablehand Dan. But Jace isn’t going to be so easy to shrug off.
With misunderstandings, muddles and a few shocking revelations, the weekend proves to be even more than they bargained for. Like all true Jane Austen heroines, Katherine and Robyn will discover that finding their own Mr Darcy is far from easy…
A Weekend With Mr Darcy is the first in a trilogy about Jane Austen addicts and is out now. Published in the UK by Avon HarperCollins and in the US by Sourcebooks.
Click here to see photos of the settings of the book including Jane Austen’s house.
Excerpt – Chapter 1
Dr Katherine Roberts couldn’t help thinking that a university lecturer in possession of a pile of paperwork must be in want of a holiday.
She leant back in her chair and surveyed her desk. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Outside, the October sunshine was golden and glorious and she was shut up in her book-lined tomb of an office.
Removing her glasses and pinching the bridge of her nose, she looked at the leaflet that was lying beside a half-eaten salad sandwich which had wilted hours before. The heading was in a beautiful bold script that looked like old-fashioned handwriting.
Purley Hall, Church Stinton, Hampshire, it read.
Set in thirty-five acres of glorious parkland, this early 18th century house is the perfect place in which to enjoy your Jane Austen weekend. Join a host of special guest speakers and find out more about England’s favourite novelist.
Katherine looked at the photograph of the handsome red-bricked Georgian mansion taken from the famous herbaceous borders. With its long sweep of lawn and large sash windows, it was the quintessential English country house and it was very easy to imagine a whole host of Jane Austen characters walking through its rooms and gardens.
‘And I will be too,’ Katherine said to herself. It was the third year she’d been invited to speak at the Jane Austen weekend and rumour had it that the novelist, Lorna Warwick, was going to make an appearance too. Katherine bit her lip. Lorna Warwick was her favourite author – after Jane Austen, of course. She was a huge bestseller, famous for her risqué Regency romances of which she published one perfect book a year. Katherine had read them all from the very first – Marriage and Magic – to A Bride for Lord Burford published just a month ago and which Katherine had devoured in one evening at the expense of a pile of essays she should have been grading.
She thought of the secret bookshelves in her study at home and how they groaned deliciously under the weight of Miss Warwick’s work. How her colleagues would frown and fret at such horrors as popular fiction! How quickly would she be marched from her Oxford office and escorted from St Bridget’s College if they knew of her wicked passion?
‘Dr Roberts,’ Professor Compton would say, his hairy eyebrows lowered over his beady eyes, ‘you really do surprise me.’
‘Why, because I choose to read some novels purely for entertainment?’ Katherine would say to him, remembering Jane Austen’s own defence of the pleasures of novels in Northanger Abbey. ‘Professor Compton, you really are a dreadful snob!’
But it couldn’t be helped. Lorna Warwick’s fiction was Katherine’s secret vice and, if her stuffy colleagues ever found out, she would be banished from Oxford before you could say Sense and Sensibility.
To Katherine’s mind, it wasn’t right that something that could give as much pleasure as a novel could be so reviled. Lorna Warwick had confessed to being on the receiving end of such condescension too and had been sent some very snobby letters in her time. Perhaps that was why Katherine’s own letter had caught the eye of the author.
It had been about a year ago when Katherine had done something she’d never ever done before – she’d written a fan letter and posted it care of Miss Warwick’s publisher. It was a silly letter really, full of gushings and admiration and Katherine had never expected a reply. Nevertheless, within a fortnight, a beautiful cream envelope had dropped onto her doormat containing a letter from the famous writer.
‘How lovely to receive your letter. You have no idea what it means to me to be told how much you enjoy my novels. I often get some very strange letters from readers telling me that they always read my novels but that they are complete trash!’
Katherine had laughed and their bond had been sealed. After that, she couldn’t stop. Every moment that wasn’t spent reading a Lorna Warwick novel was spent writing to the woman herself and each letter was answered. They talked about all sorts of things – not just books. They talked about films, past relationships, their work, fashion, Jane Austen, and if men had changed since Austen’s times and if one could really expect to find a Mr Darcy outside the pages of a novel.
Then Katherine had dared to ask Lorna if she was attending the conference at Purley Hall and it had gone quiet. For over two weeks. Had Katherine overstepped the boundaries? Had she pushed things too far? Maybe it was one thing exchanging letters with a fan but quite enough to meet them in the flesh.
But – just as Katherine had given up all hope – a letter had arrived.
Dear Katherine, I’m so sorry not to have replied sooner but I’ve been away and I still can’t answer your question as to whether or not I’ll be at Purley. We’ll just have to wait and see. Yours truly, Lorna.
It seemed a very odd sort of reply, Katherine thought. If Lorna Warwick was going to be at Purley, surely the organisers would want to know as she’d be the biggest name and the main pull because she was famously reclusive. In comparison to the bestselling novelist, Katherine was just a dusty fusty old lecturer. Well, young lecturer actually; she was in her early-thirties. But she knew that people would come and listen to her talks only because they were true Janeites. At these conferences, anyone speaking about Jane Austen was instantly adored and held in great esteem. In fact, any sort of activity with even the lamest connection to Austen was pursued and enjoyed from Jane Austen Scrabble to Murder in the Dark which, one year, ended in uproar as it was discovered that Anne Elliot had somehow managed to murder Captain Wentworth.
A Weekend With Mr Darcy is out now.