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Breaking the Ice

Thaw by Anniina Sjöblom will be released in December in ebook and paperback with audiobook to follow in early 2020. We are pleased to introduce you to this debut author, who hails from Finland, and to bring you an excerpt of her delightful novella

Thaw by Anniina Sjöblom An Excerpt

Longbourn, November 26th , 1811

My dearest Aunt, You will forgive me, I hope, if I do not immediately take upon to answer the questions you had on Mr Collins and Mr Wickham.

In my last letter, I expressed a hope that something unexpected would happen to prevent our cousin from proceeding with his awkward attempts at attaining my affection – and now I am much afraid that something has happened, which might have done exactly that, but at some cost to my own well-being.

After I finished my previous letter to you, I did go for a walk as I had planned. The rain had not quite abated, but it was only a thin drizzle and I did not consider it a significant impediment. I decided to walk around Mr Thompson’s pond, as the path is a favourite of mine and I thought it suitably short in case it would start pouring again. Oh, Aunt. I do believe I might rather have dealt with Mr Collins proposing than with all that happened next.

I was walking down the path on the steeper bank of the pond, when suddenly the ground seemed to disappear from under me. I lost my balance and stumbled downwards – and of what happened then, I am afraid I cannot give you a very clear picture. I was in the water for what surely must have been only a very short moment, but it did not feel like it. And then, quite unexpectedly, I felt someone taking a hold of me and pulling me out of the water.

I beg you not to laugh. It was Mr Darcy. He had apparently been on the far side of the pond with his horse and, when he had seen me fall, had jumped directly in the water to rescue me.

Once he had lifted me safely on the bank, he asked me if I was unharmed, but before I even knew it myself, he saw that I was not. My spencer had been torn and my shoulder was bleeding quite heavily. It took me a moment to realize how very, very much it hurt.

I must confess that I do not yet know what to think of it all. And rather hope I had more of a propensity to faint when in distress so there would be less to think of! Mr Darcy removed my spencer and, having located the wound, tied it with his neckcloth as best he could. Once satisfied that he had done all he could to stop the bleeding, he fetched his coat, wrapped it around me, lifted me up and proceeded to carry me all the way back to Longbourn. He did not say much during the entire ordeal, but all he did say and do was done in a respectful, gentlemanly manner, with an efficiency and selflessness that I would not have expected from such a proud man. His horse was abandoned and his fine clothes ruined, but if he gave it a moment’s thought, I saw nothing about it. His sole focus seemed to be on assuring my well-being. Considering what I recently learned of his character, it was all quite remarkable.

Once we reached home, he commanded the situation with such authority, that even Mama was quiet and calm for a moment. A servant was sent to fetch the apothecary and Lydia, who happened to be there when we arrived, was sternly ordered to find me dry clothes. When she started to protest, he silenced her with a look. If I had not been feeling so weak I might have laughed.

It was only after he had left and I had been put to bed that the uproar began.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that one false step can involve a lady in endless ruin. On a rainy November day in 1811, Miss Elizabeth Bennet finds herself wondering why no one ever bothered to tell her about this.

A few blithe steps on a morning walk, taken after a succession of rain, lead to unexpected events that irrevocably change the course of Elizabeth’s life, placing her fate in the hands of the haughty and conceited Mr. Darcy – the last man in the world she had ever thought to marry.

As long winter days slowly pass, she writes letters to her loved ones, trying to come to terms with her new role as a wife and the Mistress of Pemberley. But can she ever learn to love her husband? Will he overcome his arrogant notions of rank and circumstance? Will their conversation ever advance beyond civil to something approaching warmth and friendship? And most importantly – will the shades of Pemberley ever recover from being thus polluted?

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