Today, another of my Jane Austen-inspired tales goes live. I hope you took advantage of the pre-order and have your copy waiting for you in your inbox. If not, the book will remain on sale through the end of Twelfth Night at the spectacular price of only $0.99 on Amazon’s Kindle. You may also read it for free with Kindle Unlimited.
I did stray somewhat from canon for this tale, but NOT too far. I think you will like this (a bit more mature) Darcy and Elizabeth and how they finally come together.
The tale begins five years after Austen’s tale. Elizabeth is nearly 25 years of age and Darcy is 33. It is Christmastide.
Elizabeth has become a governess after her father’s sudden death. Her mother blames Elizabeth for their penury for Elizabeth has refused Mr. Collins’s offer of his hand. Elizabeth, Jane, and Mary were sent to live with the Gardiners. Elizabeth immediately took a position as a governess to relieve the Gardiners of the financial burden. Mrs. Bennet, Lydia, and Kitty are in Meryton with Mr. and Mrs. Phillips. Bingley never came to Netherfield, so Elizabeth did not meet Darcy previously, but she has met Mr. Wickham.
Exhausted by the need to find a suitable wife, Darcy has fallen to family pressure and married Anne de Bourgh. He thought if he could remove his cousin from Lady Catherine’s care Anne might blossom. She does not. She dies in childbirth, leaving behind their infant daughter Cassandra Anne. After a proper period of mourning, Darcy is resigned to returning to the marriage mart. At the beginning of the book, he has agreed to host a Christmas party as a means to a return to Society. Lady Matlock will serve as his hostess.
Please, also consider joining me throughout my blog tour for this book. There will be additional giveaways, but, certainly, join me to comment on the ideas shared and your interest in the book. I am certain by the end of the blog tour, many of you will have read the tale completely, but, no “spoilers”! Below is my blog tour. After you have read the excerpt here today, you might consider swinging over to my blog, Every Woman Dreams, for another chance to win and another short excerpt.
Friday, 18 December 1818
Darcy stifled the groan rushing to his lips. He had always despised the necessity of making social appearances—constantly feeling from step with those who populated London ballrooms and, in this case, a local soirée, but he had promised his Uncle Matlock to squire the countess to a variety of local entertainments in exchange for Lady Matlock’s agreement to host Darcy’s annual Christmastide house party, the first since the death of his wife, nearly two years prior.
He had finally succumbed to family pressure and had married his cousin, Anne de Bourgh. He had certainly not loved Anne, beyond familial love that is, but he had become exhausted of looking for a woman who could stir his soul and assist him with the demands of Pemberley, as well as being tired of being hounded by, literally, a horde of society mamas and girls straight from the schoolroom, many younger than his sister Georgiana.
He had been a few months past the age of thirty at the time of his marriage to Anne, who had begun to blossom under his tender care of her person, and, for a few short months, Darcy had thought himself content, if not necessarily happy in his marriage, and he had convinced himself to know “satisfaction” would be enough, even if such was not the type of love his parents had displayed.
When Anne had become heavy with child, Darcy thought himself blessed, at last. There would be the possibility of an heir for Pemberley and more children. Unfortunately, just like her namesake, his sweet Anne had died from a long and difficult birth, leaving him alone and caring for his daughter Cassandra. Sometimes he wondered if his wife had simply not been up to being a mother, and he should have left her to her spinsterhood. He blamed himself for Anne’s untimely death as much as he blamed her for not fighting harder to remain with him. The idea did not please him, but it stayed with him, nevertheless. His cousin certainly would never have served as his partner in running the estate. Anne permitted him and his long-time housekeeper, Mrs. Reynolds, to continue on without interruption at Pemberley House. Mrs. Reynolds still planned all the meals and oversaw all the household duties that Anne should have shouldered.
As he entered, Darcy sucked in a deep breath to “gird his loins” for what was to come. In society’s eyes, a rich widower, especially one with a healthy fortune, was as likely to be in want of a wife as was an unmarried man.
His aunt handed her cloak to a waiting footman. “Wipe the snarl of disgust from your lips, my boy,” she whispered. “A bargain is a bargain.”
Darcy sighed heavily. “Might I not leave you in Roland’s care? After all, this evening is in honor of your eldest’s betrothal to Miss Ashley.”
“Which is why you must stay. With both Matlock’s and Fitzwilliam’s absence, I do not want the Ashleys to think our family objects to Roland aligning himself to the young lady.”
Darcy edged her closer to him as they climbed the stairs to the hall set aside for the evening’s entertainment. “I forgot to tell you, right before we departed the house, I had an express from the colonel. It appears he and Captain Stewart will join us at Pemberley earlier than we expected.”
“That is delightful news,” Lady Matlock declared, her face lighting up with a large smile. “But what occurred at Newland Hall? I did not expect my youngest son to join us until after the turn of the year.”
“You know Edward’s tendency to omit important details when writing to his family,” Darcy said with a matching grin. “When I receive a message from him, I always pray his military communications are more thorough. He simply said he would require three rooms.”
Lady Matlock paused on the stairs. “Three? I thought you said only Edward and the captain would be joining us. Are we also to host Lieutenant Newland? I do not much care for the lieutenant’s family nor the man himself. Lady Newland is, in my opinion, quite crass.”
“Not Lieutenant Newland,” Darcy confirmed. “Edward said, under unsatisfactory conditions, which your son promised to explain upon his arrival, Newland had broken his leg.”
“Then who is the third party?”
Darcy leaned close to say. “A young lady, one of whom Edward hopes you and I will approve.”
Pemberley’s Christmas Governess: A Holiday Pride and Prejudice Vagary
Two hearts. One kiss.
Following his wife’s death in childbirth, Fitzwilliam Darcy hopes to ease his way back into society by hosting a house party during Christmastide. He is thrilled when his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam sends a message saying not only will he attend, but the colonel is bringing a young woman with him of whom he hopes both Darcy and the colonel’s mother, Lady Matlock, will approve. Unfortunately, upon first sight, Darcy falls for the woman: He suspects beneath Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s conservative veneer lies a soul which will match his in every way; yet, she is soon to be the colonel’s wife.
Elizabeth Bennet lost her position as a governess when Lady Newland accuses Elizabeth of leading her son on. It is Christmastide, and she has no place to go and little money to hold her over until after Twelfth Night; therefore, when Lieutenant Newland’s commanding officer offers her a place at his cousin’s household for the holy days, she accepts in hopes someone at the house party can provide her a lead on a new position. Having endured personal challenges which could easily have embittered a lesser woman, Elizabeth proves herself brave, intelligent, educated in the fine arts of society, and deeply honorable. Unfortunately, she is also vulnerable to the Master of Pemberley, who kindness renews her spirits and whose young daughter steals her heart. The problem is she must leave Pemberley after the holidays, and she does not know if a “memory” of Fitzwilliam Darcy will be enough to sustain her.
NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY: I have two eBook copies of Pemberley’s Christmas Governess available to those who comment below. The giveaway will end on at midnight, Thursday, December 2, 2021. The winners will be contacted by email.