My New Book, The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy, is Now on Amazon!

My new book, The Unforgettable Mr. Darcy, is now available on Amazon!   The Blurb is below:

A Pride and Prejudice Variation

Mr. Darcy arrives at Longbourn, intending to correct the mistakes he made during his disastrous proposal in Hunsford.  To his horror, he learns that Elizabeth Bennet was killed in a ship’s explosion off the coast of France—in an apparent act of sabotage.  Deep in despair, he travels in disguise to wartime France to seek out the spy responsible for her death.

But a surprise awaits Darcy in the French town of Saint-Malo: Elizabeth is alive!

Recovering from a blow to the head, Elizabeth has no memory of her previous life, and a series of mistakes lead her to believe that Darcy is her husband.  However, they have even bigger problems.  As they travel through a hostile country, the saboteur mobilizes Napoleon’s network of spies to capture them and prevent them from returning home.  Elizabeth slowly regains her memories, but they often leave her more confused.

Darcy will do anything to help Elizabeth reach England safely, but what will she think of him when she learns the truth of their relationship?


Giveaway of Mr. Darcy Audiobook — and Why is Collins Such a Great Character?

Ceri is hosting me at Babblings of a Bookworm.  I discuss  why Mr. Collins is such a great character and so much fun to write.  There’s also an excerpt from Mr. Darcy to the Rescue and a Giveaway of an audiobook copy!

Awesome Audiobook Review for Mr. Darcy to the Rescue!


The first blogger review of the Mr. Darcy to the Rescue audiobook! Serena writes,

“Lysy is a wonderful narrator; she pulls her listeners into the story as she takes on the roles of Lady Catherine, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Collins, and Elizabeth. Her inflections and intonations, effectively capture the mood of each scene and the emotions of Kincaid’s characters.

I loved revisiting Kincaid’s version of an in-love Darcy and an Elizabeth caught up in the horrifying reality of her decision to marry Mr. Collins. Mr. Darcy to the Rescue by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Emma Lysy, is just delightful on audio.”

Check out the review here:


A Tale of Two Janes (Or Three?)

jane Fairfax      Recently I was re-reading Emma and was struck by the character of Jane Fairfax—how she is held up as this example of feminine virtue and accomplishment, but still remains a mystery.  I was trying to think of comparable characters in Austen’s other novels and I hit upon another Jane: Jane Bennet.  Like Jane Fairfax, Jane Bennet is described as beautiful, well-spoken, and amiable.  The two Janes also share a certain inscrutability; other characters frequently have difficulty discerning their true feelings.

Both Janes also serve as foils for the main characters of their books.  Jane Fairfax is held up as an example of all the feminine virtue that everyone believes Emma cannot achieve—including Emma herself.  Jane is endlessly patient and kind, far more accomplished at the pianoforte, and well-educated.  Emma actually admits to herself that jealousy prevents her from becoming better friends with Jane.  Similarly, Jane Bennet contrasts with Elizabeth.  She is patient and kind—and tends to think well of everyone.  She is not prone to the kind of emotional outbursts Elizabeth displays during the proposal scene at Hunsford.

Interestingly, both Janes suffer because of their mild natures.  Jane Fairfax allows herself to be talked into a secret engagement and then must suffer from the secrecy.  It torments her so much that she actually falls ill.  Jane Bennet loses Mr. Bingley in part because his friends do not believe she is really in love.  P&P makes it clear that Jane suffers greatly, although she tries to hide her pain from her family. Austen seems to admire such characters, but she also sees the problems inherent in being too good and too passive.

Of course, there is a third Jane in the equation: Jane Austen.  What are we to make of the fact that she gave her own name to these two exemplars of feminine virtue?  It could simply be a convenience.  After all, there are also a number of characters named Anne and Mary throughout her books.  But so many of Austen’s other choices are deliberate, it’s hard to believe that one is random.  It could be that Jane Austen saw herself in these two Janes, but her letters suggest that sees herself as witty and flawed.  In other words, she more clearly resembles Elizabeth and Emma than either Jane.

It’s impossible to think of the name Jane without thinking of the phrase “plain Jane,” and perhaps Austen held something of that view about the name.  Her female protagonists often have longer or fancier names:  Elinor, Marianne, Catherine, Fanny, Elizabeth, Emma.  Perhaps she was contrasting these flawed but fascinating figures with the more perfect but also more generic Janes.  It is certainly true that Austen’s heroines go on more interesting journeys than their Jane colleagues.

The British Secret Service in France, Part 2


This is the second in my two-part series about the secret service in the British Alien Office, the country’s primary espionage agency during its conflicts with France.

In addition to handling international espionage, the Alien Office was also responsible for suppressing domestic insurrection and sometimes charged people with sedition just because they expressed anti-government sentiments.  They did thwart one actual domestic insurrection: an incipient Irish rebellion led by agents supported by the French government.  The secret service placed agents in Ireland to infiltrate the organization. This enabled them to arrest all of the rebellion’s leaders in 1798 before the event took place and represented one of the office’s greatest success.

In 1800 the secret service helped one faction of the French royalists form the “English Committee” in Paris. The Committee was responsible for several assassination attempts on Napoleon’s life—the most famous of which was the Rue Nicaise bombing on Christmas Eve, 1800.  One of the Committee’s most successful agents was a woman, Madame Williams.  An Englishman’s widow who made multiple Channel crossings, some disguised as a sailor, Williams was never captured or apparently even suspected of being a spy.  By 1803 the Committee had detailed plans in place for Napoleon’s kidnapping or assassination.  These plans almost certainly could not have remained in place without the tacit complicity of Fouche, the well-known minister of police in Paris.

Napoleon had planted agents of his own.  One double agent arrived in England with his own false plans for overthrowing the French government.  Aware of the ruse, the British government created an elaborate counter plan that was designed to fool the French authorities into believing the British had fallen for their trick.  For months they created correspondence and moved agents around Europe with the purpose of deceiving Napoleon.

The backbone of the British plan for restoring the monarchy was a group of French generals who had pledged themselves and their troops to the royalist cause.  In 1804 some of the French generals were discovered, arrested, and imprisoned.  Savary, the chief of Napoleon’s personal guard, was charged with Investigating the extent of the treason.  He visited the home of a recently discovered traitor along the Channel coast and discovered early drafts of reports that he himself had given to the Emperor.  He realized then that the information in the reports he had been giving had been authored by the British Alien Office.

Eventually the secret service ran into trouble because it did not produce results. The office spent vast sums of money but was unable to bring about a revolution within France. William Wickham, the director of the office, was accused of misusing government funds—an accusation he felt he could not refute without revealing government secrets—and impeached.  The secret service continued its activities, but with a reduced scope and budget.

Ultimately, the suppression of the Irish rebellion remained the office’s greatest success.  It is difficult to say to what extent the secret service’s efforts helped to bring about Napoleon’s eventual demise since it is the nature of espionage to have unseen effects.  Most likely the agency’s efforts helped to sow the seeds that eventually led to many French citizens to switch to the royalist cause, but at the time eventual success was attributed to diplomacy and conventional warfare.  It is clear, however, that the secret service’s activities would have been more successful if it were not for the infighting and different factions working at cross purposes within the royalist cause.


I’m Author of the Month! And Giveaway!

I am Author of the Month at From Pemberley to Milton! Find out about the inspiration behind the plot for The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth — and get some hints about the story for my next P&P variation! Plus a Giveaway for The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth and When Mary Met the Colonel!

British Spies in France: What Does History Tell Us?

Given how popular spy stories are within the Regency romance genre there is a surprising dearth of actual historical research into espionage activities after the French Revolution and during the Napoleonic wars.  My work in progress takes place in France and has Darcy and Elizabeth interacting with actual British agents working in France, so I felt some research was in order.  After a lot of searching I was able to find one researcher who had written extensively on the topic.  A lot of her research surprised me; the history of British espionage was quite different than I had assumed.  There was a lot less cloak and dagger and a lot more suborning of people in authority.  I didn’t end up using a lot of the research in my novel, but I thought that some of the information would be of interest to fans of Jane Austen and the Regency time period.

Beginning in 1793, the Alien Office (part of the Home Office) ran Britain’s first comprehensive secret service—the forerunner of today’s MI5 and MI6.  There had been a foreign letters office that opened and read the mail of foreign embassies (apparently this was a widely known and accepted practice), but it was absorbed into the Alien Office in 1793.  Referred to in correspondence as His Majesty’s Secret Service, the new office was bureaucratically sandwiched between the navy, army, diplomatic service, and Westminster police—using personnel from all the offices as well as foreign nationals as agents.   The head of the Alien Office was a magistrate (ironically) named William Wickham.

In 1794 Wickham went abroad to meet with a Frenchmen in Switzerland who had connections to the French royals in exile.  This visit transformed the office into a true foreign office and solidified its support for the restoration of the French monarchy.  However, the people who supported the restoration of the French monarchy were themselves divided into factions.  The King and his supporters wanted to restore the throne to a pure monarchy, while other French factions and most of the British government favored a constitutional monarchy.  The British agency worked with the French monarchy and its supporters, but their stubborn desire for a pure monarchy and the infighting among the different French royalist factions were some of the biggest obstacles to the Alien Office’s success.

Initially, the agency’s tactics focused on influencing French elections and gathering allies within France.  The idea was to disrupt France internally by infiltrating its civil and military governments with royalist supporters.  For example, they supported members of the Council of the Five Hundred who were secretly royalist sympathizers.   The agency also secured the loyalty of a number of French generals, who committed their troops to the royalist cause.  The British government payed for these secret armies by funneling money through banks in Paris and Hamburg from an account that had spent 3.8 million pounds by 1800.  Money was also sent to French rebel movements in the Vendee, Normandy and Brittany.

In addition, the British secret service created a contre-police network of spies within the Parisian gendarmerie and the elite haute police force.  The records suggest a wide network of agents throughout France as well as Switzerland, Germany, and other European countries.  Many of these agents were also double agents, including one man who led (for a time) the British espionage effort in Paris and a Frenchman who worked in the London Alien Office—whose defection caused the British to abandon the plot involving the generals.

There is some evidence that Joseph Fouche, the well-known minister of police in Paris was aware of some of the espionage activities and allowed them to continue—even if he was not an official double agent.  For example, he promoted Antoine Talon to the haute police despite suspicions of his loyalty; the British agent practically ran the agency for three years until his arrest in 1803.  British agents also had such complete access to official government channels that they kept on hand blank passports with signatures from multiple high French officials, so their agents could travel freely through France.

So what was the agency’s role in the overthrow of Napoleon?  It’s all too long for one blog, so tune in next month for the second part of my story about British spies in France.