Maria Grace Returns for Coffee with her NEW Release, MISTAKING HER CHARACTER

Coffee with Colette
Good morning, dear readers!  
It is always a special treat when Maria Grace stops by for Coffee! Not only does she always bring a wonderful new variation on our favourite Jane Austen novel, but she always has some interesting tale about her writing process -- or perhaps I should say "tail" because there is usually some critter involved, from hummingbirds to donkeys! Today is no exception.

This is Maria's third visit, and I am almost surprised she came back! 
We recently spent the weekend together, along with fellow Austen Variations Author Jack Caldwell, at the Jane Austen Literary Festival; and I was continually giving offense. Don't let the grumpy bird fool you; Maria is always smiling and laughing. If I may be so bold as to reference her third novel, she does not just have All the Appearance of Goodness; and there is no mistaking her character - she truly is completely charming. And talented! When she told me about her latest release, I was blown away by her creativity; and now it is here! Aren't you lucky you don't have to wait?

Mistaking Her Character

I’ve had the privilege to visit here with Colette on previous occasions and I usually bring with me a bevy of hummingbirds, my muses in feathered form. This time is a little different. The hummingbirds morphed into something quite different for this project.

The creature you see before you, quoting Jane Austen, is technically a Blue Fairy Wren I met on a trip to Florida. We just call him Grumpy, for obvious reasons. A picture of Grumpy, with his favorite Jane Austen quote sits on my desk and watches me write. He reminds me not to temper my characters when they become disagreeable, that they in fact, can make a story more interesting if I let them carry on.

I did just that with my most recent tale, Mistaking Her Character and found my disagreeable characters taking over my storyline. I had an outline. I knew where the story was going, who the villain would be. At least I thought I did. But I listened to the grumpy bird and things turned inside out. The character I had thought to be a passive, but generally nice person turned out to be quite the opposite and the supposed villain was just an annoying secondary character.

Needless to say, this took the story is a very different direction and my poor outline lay forgotten as I chased after my story with a pen and paper in hand, screaming “Wait for me!” I followed the plot into unexpected places, emotional abuse, drug addiction, chronic illness and misuse of power and through it all my heroine and hero managed to hold on to their dignity and their principles and rise from the ashes for their happy ending.

Here’s an excerpt of the journey my grumpy bird led me on.

Excerpt Catherine loomed in the parlor doorway, her features gathering into her darkest, most menacing scowl. “A word, if you please.” She turned on her heel and disappeared into her lair.

Elizabeth dropped a small curtsey and rushed into the parlor to brave the dragon in all her fury. If only she had remembered to bring her sword in her workbag.

Lady Catherine ascended her throne, a stony mask of creases, gnarls and shadow firmly in place.

Was that the scent of burning sulfur in the air?

“Your ladyship?”

“You think I am ignorant of what you are about, young woman?”

“I have not the pleasure of your meaning, madam.”

“None of your cheek here, girl. I know. Oh, I know.” She shook her finger toward Elizabeth. “You have ambitions beyond your station, beyond all propriety and decency.”

“Excuse me?” Elizabeth grabbed the back of the nearest chair to shore up her liquid knees.

“It is written upon your face—clear in that indecent display I just walked in upon.”

“Mr. Darcy?” She gasped. “You assume far too much. I only met him yesterday.”

“Entirely long enough to form designs upon his person and fortune. You spurned Mr. Collins—I am sure—in the hopes of someone of greater consequence whom you have now found in the person of my nephew.”

The upholstery tore a tiny bit beneath her fingernails. “I assure you, madam, I never considered such a thing. Mr. Collins and I … our temperaments are so different, we could never have made a good match. I am convinced he has a much happier situation with—”

“Are you suggesting happiness may be found in disobeying me?”

“By no means.”

“Then turn your attentions to Mr. Wickham. He studies at the Inn of Courts—.”

“He does not, nor is he likely to, having offended a very influential member.”

She flushed puce.

That could not be healthy.

“Where do you come by this information?”

“Mr. Darcy—”

Lady Catherine slapped the arms of her chair and heaved to her feet. “What were you doing talking to my nephew?”

“We met on the road this morning.”

“While you were driving, unchaperoned, as I have expressly forbidden.”

Her shoulders drew up and she tucked her elbows close into her sides. “Yes, your ladyship.”

One, two, three steps. Lady Catherine stood so close their skirt hems touched. She waved her bony finger under Elizabeth’s nose. “I will make this very plain to you, young woman, so that even you, in all your cleverness, cannot pretend to misunderstand me. Darcy is for Anne. From their cradles, they have been promised to one another. It was the fondest wish of his mother and me. No upstart like you is going to interfere with those plans.”

“What am I compared to Miss de Bourgh?”

“What are you—exactly! Exactly! But do not play coy with me.” She circled Elizabeth, a hungry cat stalking a bird. “We both know you have arts and allurements to distract him from his duty to his family. You have no delicacy, exposed to the basest things of life—of men.”

How did one respond to such raving? Perhaps best not.

“Have you considered why I have been trying to find you a match? Even with your connection to me, few decent men will ally themselves with a woman like you. Despite your youthful airs and arrogance, I have had—and will continue to have—your best interests in mind—unless—” She stabbed her sharp finger into Elizabeth’s chest.

Elizabeth jumped back.

“—unless you insist on preying upon Darcy. You are not his equal and would bring shame upon his name and all his family.”

“Shall I leave Rosings?”

“No, Anne requires your presence. I will not deny her any comfort, no matter how little I fathom it.”

“Then shall I ignore him? Turn my back as the servants do when he approaches?”

“You are not … not … a servant.”

“How am I to behave?”

“With every civility, but nothing more.”

“As you wish, your ladyship.”

“I will be watching you, Miss Elizabeth. Do not think you can escape my notice if you disobey. Now leave me.”

She curtsied and strode away, fists balled so tightly her arms shook.

Two steps into the corridor, Mr. Darcy blocked her path. She stopped short and barely held back a tiny shriek. How tall he was, towering—or was that, hovering over her.

“I hardly know what to say, my aunt—”

She raised an open hand. “Pray forgive me, sir, but I am truly in no state for conversation at the moment.”

“Will you speak with me later?”

“I do not know, sir. Excuse me.” She curtsied and hurried away.

Book Blurb and Links

Lady Catherine de Bourgh is prepared to be very generous when it comes to medical care for her sickly daughter, Anne – generous enough to lure noted physician Dr. Thomas Bennet to give up his London practice and move his family to Rosings Park. But his good income comes with a price: complete dependence on his demanding patroness’s every whim.  
Now the Bennet family is trapped, reliant on Lady Catherine for their survival. Their patroness controls every aspect of the Bennet household, from the shelves in the closet to the selection of suitors for the five Bennet daughters. Now she has chosen a husband for headstrong Elizabeth Bennet– Mr. George Wickham.
But Lady Catherine’s nephew, Fitzwilliam Darcy, is not so sure about his aunt’s choice. He is fascinated by the compassionate Elizabeth who seems to effortlessly understand everyone around her, including him. Lady Catherine has other plans for Darcy, though, and she forbids Elizabeth to even speak to him.
As Anne’s health takes a turn for the worse, Darcy and Elizabeth are thrown together as Dr. Bennet struggles to save Anne’s life. Darcy can no longer deny the truth – he is in love with Elizabeth Bennet. But Lady Catherine will do anything to stop Darcy from marrying her – even if it means Elizabeth will lose everything she loves.
Available at:


About the Author Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six more novels in draft form, waiting for editing, seven published novels, sewn eight Regency era costumes, shared her life with nine cats through the years and tries to run at least ten miles a week.

She can be contacted at:
Random Bits of Fascination (
Austen Variations (
English Historical Fiction Authors (
On Twitter @WriteMariaGrace


  1. Thank you for having me Colette! It was a delight spending time with you and you were far from always giving offense!

    1. I guess I'll just have to try harder next time! ;)

  2. I just plain loved this story.

  3. I like the idea of Lady Catherine de Bourgh having more protagonism. We may dislike her in P&P but she can be a great asset for a story :)


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