I’ll admit it. This year I started playing Christmas music in my car before Thanksgiving. And I’m not ashamed of it. 🙂 I justified it by observing that it’s a short Christmas season this year (since Thanksgiving is late).
But now that Thanksgiving is past, I am throwing myself in earnest into holiday preparations. I love to buy presents and imagine the reaction of the recipient and enjoy the Christmasy feeling of decorating the tree while listening to familiar songs. I always feel a little sorry for the people in the Regency that they didn’t get to decorate trees and that their gift-giving was rather limited. But they did do a lot of holiday visiting and partying!
This year, part of my celebration is a double feature of my two Christmas stories—Christmas at Darcy House and A Very Darcy Christmas— in one volume. If you don’t already own my Christmas stories, you can purchase both for the price of one. Christmas at Darcy House is also available as an audiobook. Below is an excerpt from A Very Darcy Christmas—which takes place at Pemberley after Elizabeth and Darcy are married. I hope you enjoy it and have a Happy Holiday season with your family and friends!
Elizabeth and Darcy are preparing for their first Christmas at Pemberley when they are suddenly deluged by a flood of uninvited guests. Mrs. Bennet is seeking refuge from the French invasion she believes to be imminent. Lady Catherine brings two suitors for Georgiana’s hand, who cause a bit of mayhem themselves. Lydia’s presence causes bickering—and a couple of small fires—while Wickham has more nefarious plans in mind….The abundance of guests soon puts a strain on her marriage as Elizabeth tries to manage the comedy and chaos while ensuring a happy Christmas for all.
Meanwhile, Georgiana is finding her suitors—and the prospect of coming out—to be very unappealing. Colonel Fitzwilliam seems to be the only person who understands her fondness for riding astride and shooting pistols. Georgiana realizes she’s beginning to have more than cousinly feelings for him, but does he return them? And what kind of secrets is he hiding?
Love, romance, and humor abound as everyone gathers to celebrate a Very Darcy Christmas.
The moment her mother noticed Elizabeth, she commenced fluttering her hands and breathing rapidly as if she had experienced a terrible shock.
In other words, everything was quite normal.
Before Elizabeth could open her mouth, her mother launched into a torrent of complaints. “Oh, my dearest Lizzy! You do not know how we have suffered. The ruts in the road and the quality of the coaching inns! And there was a most disturbing odor in Lambton when we traveled through.”
Standing by the ornately carved front door, Giles watched this performance with a pinched mouth and lifted chin that left no doubt as to his opinion of the Bennets.
The best Elizabeth could do was to treat her mother’s shrieking as if she spoke in a normal conversational tone. She embraced both of her parents. “This is a surprise! I did not expect to see you so soon. Is something wrong?” She searched their faces for signs of agitation. Had something happened to one of her sisters?
“Everything is well,” her father assured her.
Mrs. Bennet gaped at her husband. “How can you say that, Mr. Bennet, when we have heard the most frightful news imaginable?”
Fear gripped Elizabeth’s chest. “What has happened?”
Her mother drew herself up to her full height. “Meryton is about to be invaded!”
Her mother’s head nodded vigorously. “Mrs. Long was the first one to rouse my suspicions.” Now she lowered her voice. “There have been a great many strange men visiting Meryton—speaking in French accents!”
Mr. Bennet rolled his eyes. “Fanny, I explained that both of the men are laborers from Ireland. They speak with Irish accents.”
Mrs. Bennet put her hands on her hips. “And how would you know a French accent from an Irish one? Mrs. Long met a Frenchman when she was one and twenty. She knows how they sound!”
“Mama—” Elizabeth began.
“But that is not all,” her mother continued. “Colonel Forster’s regiment had been wintering over in Meryton as before, but then they decamped suddenly. Called away, just like that! I wager they are in Brighton at this moment, preparing to fend off a ferocious French assault.”
Elizabeth bit her lip to stifle a smile. “I have read nothing to suggest that in the papers.”
“Of course not!” Mrs. Bennet waved her handkerchief dramatically. “The authorities do not wish to stir up alarm. But why else would they have called the regiment away?”
“There was political unrest in the North,” Mr. Bennet murmured.
“Mrs. Long does not believe it,” Mrs. Bennet said with a dismissive nod. “And what is more, Mr. Long does not believe it. He was in the militia for a year in his youth and said such orders were highly irregular.
“Fanny—” Mr. Bennet started.
Her words continued unchecked. “An invasion is imminent. Nothing you may say can convince me otherwise.” She folded her arms across her chest.
Elizabeth feared this was the truest statement her mother had uttered since arriving.
Mrs. Bennet continued without even taking a breath. “And, of course, Meryton will be one of the French army’s first targets.”
“Before London?” Elizabeth asked.
“Well, London will be well-defended. Meryton no longer even boasts a militia!” Mrs. Bennet flicked open her fan and vigorously fanned her face. “Mary and Kitty refused to leave Hertfordshire. Even Jane would not listen. But I told your father I was coming to Pemberley. Since it is so much further north, we have much less of a chance of being slaughtered in our beds.” She folded her fan again. “How very clever of you to catch the eye of a northern man.”
Having never considered this a feature of her marriage to William, Elizabeth did not respond.
“I pray you let us stay here for a while. What say you, Lizzy?”
Elizabeth gave her father a helpless look, not knowing where to start unraveling her mother’s convoluted reasoning. Mr. Bennet offered her a defeated shrug. Apparently he had given up on reasoning with his wife.
Well, she could hardly turn away her own parents. Perhaps she could talk sense into her mother during her visit. “Yes, of course, Mama. I am very pleased to see you both!” She smiled at them. “Welcome to Pemberley.”
Her father gave her a rather sad smile, but her mother grunted in response. “Now, if you will have them show me to my room. I am greatly fatigued by all this travel!” Now that their immediate fate had been settled, Mrs. Bennet eyed the hall critically. “Oh, Lizzy!” Her hand flew to her mouth. “You have hung greens already!”
“They make the house more festive,” Elizabeth replied.
“But it is bad luck to hang greens before Christmas Eve!” Her mother’s eyes were round with concern.
“Just a superstition—” her father interjected.
“No, it is not!” Mrs. Bennet exclaimed, wringing her hands. “Mrs. Taylor hung her greens early one year, and the very next day their chickens refused to lay a single egg! She never made that mistake again, I will tell you.” She pointed an accusatory finger at Elizabeth. “You have practically begged the French to invade.”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “I like the greens.”
Mrs. Bennet’s hands fluttered. “Well, don’t blame me when the French invade. I warned you!”