Jane Austen Cannot Marry by May McGoldrick

Jane Austen Cannot Marry

A comically offbeat, fish-out-of-water, time travel novel set in Regency England and the
21st century Colorado Rockies. Nadine Finley is a Scribe Guardian from the future who
must play ‘un-matchmaker’ to Jane Austen, a British naval officer, and the romance that
jeopardizes literary history.

Nadine has made the quantum commute to 1811 to stop Jane Austen from meeting and
marrying Captain Charles Gordon. The two of them share a romantic past, and if Nadine
fails in her mission, Jane will never get to London. The fledgling author will never get
her first book ready for publication. And if the novel is never readied for the presses,
Jane will never go back home and revise the manuscript that will eventually
become Pride and Prejudice. In short, disaster.

The mission instructions were plain and simple: Jane Austen cannot marry.

Except…matters become extremely complicated when the Scribe Guardian’s own
romantic interest unintentionally follows her across the centuries to 1811.
Xander Nouri is a tech millionaire who is cheerfully unfamiliar with both history and
literature. He has also forged a life where he is insulated from the non-quantifiable
uncertainties of feelings and romance. In fact, the only time he let his guard down was
for three wildly unexpected days in Las Vegas when he allowed his heart to be fondled
and then stomped on by an elusive woman named Nadine. Xander lives in a world of
reason, facts, and data…none of which explain her appearance, dressed in period
clothing, in a coffin a mile from his secluded mountain home.

And her claim of time traveling doesn’t exactly compute.

It’s not long before sparks once again begin to fly between the former lovers. But Nadine
needs to get back to her mission before literary history is permanently damaged.
By the time she’s able to make the quantum leap back in time, Jane Austen and the
captain have already met again…and romance is brewing. To complicate matters, Xander
has made the trip, as well. And Xander is the unlikeliest ‘nerd-out-of-water’ ever to land on Regency shores.

But that’s where the fun begins…


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About the Authors:

USA Today Bestselling Authors Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick have crafted over fifty fast-paced, conflict-filled novels, along with two works of nonfiction, under the pseudonyms May McGoldrick, Jan Coffey, and Nik James.

These popular and prolific authors write historical romance, suspense, mystery, historical Westerns, and young adult novels. They are four-time Rita Award Finalists and the winners of numerous awards for their writing, including the Daphne DeMaurier Award for Excellence, the Romantic Times Magazine Reviewers’ Choice Award, three NJRW Golden Leaf Awards, two Holt Medallions, and the Connecticut Press Club Award for Best Fiction. Their work is included in the Popular Culture Library collection of the National Museum of Scotland.

The authors make their home in California.

Connect with the Authors:

May McGoldrick 

WebsiteFaceBookTwitterInstagram – BookBub – Goodreads

Jan Coffey 

Website – FaceBook – Twitter – Instagram – BookBub – Goodreads

Nik James

Website – FaceBook – Twitter – Instagram – BookBub – Goodreads

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Read An Excerpt:

Jane Austen Cannot Marry!


May McGoldrick

Chapter 3

Elkhorn, Colorado

April 12, 2022

Visibility was zero.

The heavy snow Xander had driven through after leaving Denver late this afternoon was history, at least for the moment. It was a barrage of sleet that now battered the pickup, and the gusting wind was strong enough to knock over an eighteen-wheeler. The wipers were icing up badly, and the blasting heat couldn’t keep the windshield from fogging.

As Xander stretched forward to clear a spot to see through, a bolt of lightning split the darkening sky just ahead. Snow and lightning.

Spring in the Rockies. Gotta love it.

Seeing something directly ahead of him on the curving mountain road, he put his foot on the brake and skidded to a stop. A wooden box lay diagonally across the narrow road, blocking the way.

“What the hell?”

He studied it. About two feet high, two feet across, and six feet long.

Man, if that box didn’t look like a coffin.

Leaning on the steering wheel, he stared at the thing that was keeping him from a hot shower, a warm bed, and ten solid hours of sleep.

“You don’t belong there.” 

Other than Xander and the occasional lost tourist, the service road was used mostly by the Forest Service. A week ago, during a hike into the State Forest, he’d come upon a ranger directing a group of volunteers who were starting to dismantle an old mining cabin. They’d dated the log structure to the gold rush days of the 1850s or 60s.

Hard living was the first thing that came to Xander’s mind when he saw that abandoned cabin. No indoor plumbing and no electricity. Just a dirt floor and gaps in the walls that wouldn’t have done much to keep a person from freezing during the long, cold Colorado winters.

They planned to preserve as much of the cabin as possible, truck it down to Elkhorn along this road, and piece it back together.

“To protect a relic of Colorado history.” That was how one of the volunteers put it.

Xander had paid very little attention to history growing up. In fact, he’d ignored it as much as he could. The same went for literature. The only reading he was drawn to involved some puzzle or game. He was a left-brain person. Analytical. A math guy. That was who he was, and he was perfectly comfortable with it.

His almost wife-to-be had been the complete opposite. 

Even though their time together had been brief, he’d learned that she loved books. Novels. Poetry. She couldn’t understand how it was that he couldn’t name a single book he’d read in the past year. Past two years. Five years.

Then he’d given her a lecture on the importance of numbers.

Math wasn’t subjective. Every question had a clear answer. You were either right or wrong. There were no gray areas. Empirical evidence was supreme.

Xander recalled telling her, “Data is king. Imagine the number of problems that could be prevented if everything was based on objective data rather than emotions.”

She showed him how she felt about his opinion. She left him standing in the chapel with his ‘data’ swinging in the breeze.

The arcing windshield wipers scattered the memories, and he focused on the coffin-shaped box that had been dumped on the road. Whoever lost it was probably home right now, sitting in front of a warm fire.

“Let’s go, Xander,” he muttered. “Nobody’s going to move that thing for you.”

Pulling on his coat and hat, he stepped out of the truck. The freezing rain stung his face. The wind blasted him sideways as he approached. He definitely could see it falling off the back of one of the preservation group’s trucks.

With all the close attention they’d been giving to every possible artifact in that cabin, someone would be looking for this crate sooner or later. All he had to do was to push it to the side of the road and they’d come back for it.

Another bolt of lightning exploded overhead, and the sleet changed to hail in an instant.

Xander stopped in his tracks. Marbled-sized balls of ice pounded him.

The box was hexagonal. It was a damn coffin. Hail bounced off the top of it.

He approached tentatively. New wood. Unstained. But still, the possibility of old bones rattling around in there made him cringe.

Just then, a few basketball-sized boulders and a yard of gravel and ice came avalanching down onto the edge of the road, firing up his pulse rate again.

“Okay, let’s do this before we get buried here.”

He positioned himself at one end of the coffin. Heaving and shoving at the same time, he got it moving. Wood scraped on wet tar as he swung one end closer to the shoulder. He straightened up and started for the other end, but stopped dead and jumped back a step. Something moved inside.

“What the…”

The hackles on his neck rose as three sharp knocks came from inside the casket. Then a few more.

He stared at the box in disbelief as the top lifted an inch. It wasn’t nailed down!

So many horror movies started just like this, immediately followed by a character doing something stupid and becoming Victim Number One.

A coffin in the middle of nowhere. There was something inside, trying to get out. What do you do?

Get the hell out of here. 

The top lifted again, but instead of sprinting for his pickup, Xander suddenly found himself sitting on the box, holding the top down.

Not what he’d planned.

“Great. Now what, genius?”

Taking the phone out of his pocket, he checked for cell service. Not one freaking bar. He glanced at his truck. The windshield wipers were slapping back and forth double time.

The hail had turned to sleet again, but it was coming down just as hard. If he could make it back to the pickup, it would be ridiculous—never mind dangerous—to turn around and go all the way down the mountain to Elkhorn.

He felt some thumping against his butt through the wood and glanced down at the box. There had to be some perfectly reasonable explanation for this situation. Hell, it could be an animal in there. Right, some animal had crawled into a casket in the middle of nowhere and then pulled a heavy top over itself. Okay, maybe not that.

But maybe someone had put an animal in there and…

“Help!” A woman’s voice.

So much for that theory.

Xander stood up, yanked the top off, and tossed it to the side. 

He stood frozen for a moment, unable to believe his eyes. It was a woman, and she was struggling. As soon as the lid was off, she sat up, coughing violently, and trying like hell to catch her breath.

“What…? How…? What are you doing in there? How did you get here?”

Her focus was on her next breath and not on his questions. The headlights gleamed off her dark hair, which was braided and pinned on top of her head. He crouched down, trying to think of how he could help her.

Her body was shaking from the raspy bark of her coughing. She was taking in the air but couldn’t expel it. He recognized the problem. The wheezing between the ragged breaths was a giveaway.

“You’re having an asthma attack. Do you have an inhaler?”

She nodded and her fingers grabbed for the edges of the box. He took her by the elbow and helped her to her feet. 

His body was blocking the truck’s headlights, and she stood in his shadow. He could see she was wearing a heavy woolen cloak over what appeared to be a period dress. Xander wondered if she was part of a reenactment group. Or maybe someone was shooting a movie up here. He’d seen The Revenant. He knew they made movies in all kinds of conditions.

But how did she end up in this predicament?

Struggling with a button at her throat, she finally managed to unfasten the cloak. He caught it as she whipped it off her shoulders. The freezing rain began to soak her dress. A leather bag hung from her shoulder, but her fingers couldn’t get it open. The racking coughs sounded painful, and she was beginning to wobble a little.

“Let me help you.”

She peeled the bag off her shoulder and handed it to him.

The bag was handmade, of the same antique style as the dress. No sooner had he undone the tie at the top than she snatched it away from him and shoved her hand into the bag, rummaging around.

“I know what an inhaler looks like,” he told her. “Maybe I can find it for you.” 

As the hail turned back into freezing rain, she turned her back to Xander and bent over her precious bag, still coughing and wheezing.

He shook his head. “You know, there’s nothing in there that I’d want.”

She ignored him and kept searching. All he could do was wait.

His mother suffered from asthma. He recalled a few midnight trips to the emergency room, his father driving like a maniac, and Xander looking on helplessly from the back seat of the family car.

Well, whoever she was and however she’d ended up in this situation, he wasn’t about to leave her here. He figured his plans for tonight had just been revised. Storm or no storm, he needed to get her down to Elkhorn. Someone had to be looking for her.

A couple of things fell out of the bag into the box she was still standing in. She paid no attention to them, still searching for her medicine. From what he could hear, she was really struggling to breathe. Xander felt the urge to breathe for her.

“I know what you’re dealing with,” he told her. “We’re over ten thousand feet above the sea level. Your oxygen level is dropping. Let me help you find the inhaler.” 

As he reached for the bag, she pulled a small object out and brought it to her mouth. She took a couple of quick breaths.

The dispenser was much more compact than the inhalers his mother had lying around the house. And it seemed to work faster. She coughed once, and then her breathing immediately began to slow down and clear. 

Her face remained in his shadow as she stuffed the dispenser back into the bag.

“I have to get the name of that medicine. I was sure we’d be racing down this mountain to get you to a hospital.”

She looked up quickly, and the bag slipped out of her hands into the casket.

“Do you have any cell reception?” he asked. “I don’t have any here. You probably want to get hold of someone and let them know you’re safe.”

She wasn’t responding. Just staring. Maybe she was in shock. Maybe she had a concussion from when the casket hit the pavement.

He stepped to the side to let the headlights shine on her face. He wanted to get a better look at her.

Words, questions, his entire train of thought escaped him in an instant.

No. It wasn’t possible. He had to be imagining this. 

The large brown eyes were fixed on his face. “Xander?”

Standing there, dressed in some period custom with the freezing rain streaming down her face, was his almost wife.

“Nadine? Nadine Finley?”

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