After nearly four months and frequent starts and stops along the way, I’m finally set to add the finishing touches to my upcoming release, Christmas, Love and Mr. Darcy.
I know it is way past the Christmas season, but after considering the timing of this release long and hard, I decided not to wait up to seven months or so before sharing the story with everyone.
The target release timeframe is the end of March. Here’s the story’s (working) blurb:
Mr. Darcy is tired of being alone for the holidays and he is determined to do something about it. Miss Elizabeth Bennet has never desired Mr. Darcy’s good opinion and yet she arrives in London for the Twelfth Night ball and soon learns he is bestowing it, most ardently. In this charming Pride and Prejudice holiday escape, Elizabeth was not looking for love, but what happens when love comes looking for her?
The last time I shared an excerpt from Christmas, Love and Mr. Darcy here at Austen Authors, I left you with this:
Chapter 6 (snippet)
Here she was with undoubtedly one of the most handsome gentlemen of her acquaintance. Even if he was not her favorite, she had no reason to suppose he might never be. Already, the ill will she felt toward him at the start of the evening was melting like icicle-ladened tree branches under the bright sun on a winter’s day. His ardent avowal of his intentions could only encourage.
Added to that, Mr. Darcy smelled as good as he looked. The essence of sandalwood and spices flooded her senses. What on earth had she ever done to earn this man’s good opinion? Whatever it was, surely it had been most unconsciously done. The very thought of being alone with Mr. Darcy in that instance made Elizabeth tremble. This he must have regarded as her being chilled. He was not entirely wrong.
“It’s cold,” she said.
Mr. Darcy removed his coat with haste and placed it about her shoulders. His hands resting on either lapel, he drew them together a little. “Does this feel better?”
Their gazes locked.
As if against her will, Elizabeth moistened her lower lip. Her heartbeat thumping in her chest drowned out every possible thought. She said nothing.
Mr. Darcy leaned closer. He whispered in her ear. “Would you repeat that, Miss Elizabeth? I seem to be hard of hearing.”
His warm breath caressed her skin. Before Elizabeth could fashion a response to his teasing, his soft lips brushed along her chin, the corner of her mouth, her lips. Her first kiss ever! If ever there was a perfect night for a first kiss, this assuredly was it. And oh, what a kiss it was, especially as it dawned on her that she was kissing him right back.
Here’s what happens next:
Chapter 7 (snippet)
Owing to their aunt Mrs. Gardiner’s keen understanding, Elizabeth and Jane did not awaken before midday. They never would have enjoyed such liberty if they were at Longbourn. Their mother would have rallied them from their beds with inquiries of how the previous night had unfolded. What a relief indeed for Elizabeth especially, for she had yet to fathom how she could have spent the better part of the evening being wooed by Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. She could hardly countenance, much less explain, such an inexplicable prospect.
Making matters worse, Elizabeth had the audacity to dream of the haughty gentleman, no doubt a consequence of having drifted off to sleep remembering the lingering touch of his lips upon hers.
My utter dislike of Mr. Darcy has been months in the making, has it not? Pray, what on earth was I thinking in allowing him such liberties?
Not once during our time in Hertfordshire did Mr. Darcy venture beyond the bounds of propriety. Indeed, I was absolutely persuaded he only ever looked at me to find fault. And yet, last night found the two of us in each other’s arms.
Elizabeth threw the bedcovers over her head and flailed her arms and legs in silent protest.
“Dearest, Lizzy,” Jane said, sitting up in her own bed across from her sister’s.
Elizabeth peeked from under the covers. “You are awake? I hope I did not disturb your slumber.”
“Oh, no! I have been awake for a while. I have been waiting for you to open your eyes. Did you sleep well?” Jane asked.
“As well as one might expect after such a night.” The younger sister sat up in bed and, resting her head on her hand, gave Jane her full attention. “No doubt, you are eager to regale me with tales of the handsome Mr. Bingley.”
Jane’s countenance overspread with the brightest, most angelic glow. “I do not know when I have ever had so much fun at a ball.” Jane started speaking at length of all she had enjoyed the night before, much to Elizabeth’s delight.
Oh, to see her sister so happy after the general discontent she had suffered since the Netherfield party left Hertfordshire. Surely it is merely a matter of weeks, if not days, before Jane’s happiness is complete.
All talk on the subject of Jane and her Mr. Bingley once exhausted, Jane said, “Now that I think of it, I recall our being apart for quite some time. I supposed you were with Mr. Darcy, were you not?”
Elizabeth merely half-smiled. She said nothing.
Jane threw her sister a curious glance. “What was that look? Pray the two of you did not have crossed words.”
“I suppose that is a consolation of sorts. I know how much you dislike him.”
Elizabeth stared off into the distance. Hence my dilemma, she silently considered.
“Well, do not keep me in suspense,” Jane said.
“What would you have me say?”
“You must tell me how things unfolded between the two of you. Are your feelings toward Mr. Darcy the same as they ever were, or perchance something has changed between the two of you?”
“I am afraid there is not much to tell. We danced. We talked.”
We walked, Elizabeth did not say aloud. We… we ki—
Elizabeth swallowed hard. “As I said, there was not much to entertain.”
“Why do I feel as though you are being evasive?”
“Oh, Jane! Have you never heard the saying, what happens at a Twelfth Night ball, stays at a Twelfth Night ball?” Elizabeth asked, desirous of changing the subject.
The elder sister frowned. “I am quite certain I never have. Is that really such a saying?”
Elizabeth half laughed. “If not, I posit it ought to be.”
I know the saying goes: What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. But after Darcy and Elizabeth’s scandalous behavior, I’m just saying…
Comment below for a chance to win a release date eBook edition of Christmas, Love and Mr. Darcy. One winner will be selected. The giveaway contest ends on Tuesday, March 9, 2021.