December must mark a Christmas romance. ®Hallmark does it. Therefore, this month I plan to highlight the many Christmas tales I have written over the years. “Christmas at Pemberley” was the first. It is a sweet tale, but it really spoke to me (and to several of my Austen fans), who had experienced difficulties with childbirth. In my tale, Elizabeth has had two miscarriages, and she is quite depressed. Darcy has planned a great celebration at Pemberley, bringing in her family, in hopes his wife can return to her “free spirited” self. He takes her on a business journey with him, so everyone will be at Pemberley when they return, but a snow storm delays their journey. They seek shelter at an inn, where they end up sharing their quarters with a couple who deliver their first child. It is both a bittersweet moment for Elizabeth, but also one filled with hope for her own future. Enjoy the excerpt below, and keep the Christmas spirit in your life all year round. All books featured this month on A Christmas Romance are available for only $0.99 on Kindle. Those on Nook and Kobo will be at a like price.
Christmas at Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Holiday Vagary, Told Through the Eyes of All Who Knew It
from Regina Jeffers
Classics; Regency romance; inspirational romance; sequel; Jane Austen Fan Fiction
To bring a renewed sense joy to his wife’s countenance, Fitzwilliam Darcy secretly invites the Bennets and the Bingleys to spend the Christmastide festive days at Pemberley. But as he and Elizabeth journey to their estate to join the gathered families, a snowstorm blankets the English countryside. The Darcys find themselves stranded at a small out-of-the-way inn with another couple preparing for the immediate delivery of their first child, while Pemberley is inundated with friends and relations seeking shelter from the storm.
Without her brother’s strong presence, Georgiana Darcy desperately attempts to manage the chaos surrounding the arrival of six invited guests and eleven unscheduled visitors. But bitter feuds, old jealousies, and intimate secrets quickly rise to the surface. Has Lady Catherine returned to Pemberley for forgiveness or revenge? Will the manipulative Caroline Bingley find a soul mate? Shall Kitty Bennet and Georgiana Darcy know happiness?
Written in Regency style and including Austen’s romantic entanglements and sardonic humor, Christmas at Pemberley places Jane Austen’s most beloved characters in an exciting yuletide story that speaks to the love, the family spirit, and the generosity that remain as the heart of Christmas.
Christmas at Pemberley: A Holiday Sequel to Pride and Prejudice – Booksellers’ Best Award Finalist, Inspirational Romance; New England Book Festival, 2nd Place, General Fiction
“A small gift from Nan,” Elizabeth said as she handed the hastily made child’s dressing gown to Mary. The woman had dutifully completed the delivery, and with Mrs. Washington’s help, Elizabeth had assisted Mary to fresh clothing. Now, the new mother rested once again in the bed. She held the sleeping child in the bend of her arm.
“I shall thank the girl properly,” Mrs. Joseph mumbled.
Elizabeth patted the lady’s hand. “Why do you not rest?”
“You require rest also,” Mrs. Joseph sleepily protested.
“First, I believe I shall go downstairs and have a proper supper with Mr. Darcy. I require time to rest my back.” She stretched out her arms. “I shall send Mr. Joseph to sit with you.”
“Let Matthew be. No one needs to watch me sleep.” Mary’s eyelids closed slowly, but then sprung open again. “That is unless you require private time with Mr. Darcy.”
Elizabeth smiled easily. “I never tire of the man’s company. Even after two years.”
“Then by all means send Mr. Joseph up. A woman of your infinite powers should have her every wish.” She caught Elizabeth’s hand in a tight grip.
Elizabeth’s finger gently touched the sleeping child’s hair. “My wish is to have what you have, Mary,” she whispered.
“You will, Elizabeth.” Mrs. Joseph assured. “You shall know your own happiness . . . you and Mr. Darcy.” She paused and took a deep breath. “My child’s birth . . . I was never afraid because God placed the incomparable Elizabeth Darcy in my life. My prayers . . . those I recited before Matthew and I left Stoke-on-Trent—they were for God to send an angel to protect my child, and on the third day of travel, I walked into this out of the way inn; and there you were. My own angel.”
Elizabeth snorted. “I have been called many things, but angelic was never one of them.”
“That is where the world erred, Elizabeth. They see those defenses you show to anyone who barely knows you. They do not see your magnificent heart—your indomitable spirit—the purity of your soul.”
Elizabeth laughed self-consciously. “Do not bestow me with too many exemplary qualities. If so, I must find something good of which to say of Miss Bingley.”
Mary’s eyebrow rose in curiosity. “Miss Bingley?”
Elizabeth chuckled lightly. “The younger sister of Jane’s husband. She did poor Jane a disservice, and the lady had once upon a time set her sights on Mr. Darcy.”
“Angels can feel jealousy, Elizabeth.” Mary squeezed Elizabeth’s hand.
“So, there are shades of angelic behavior?” Elizabeth’s voice rose in amusement.
Mary laughed also. “Absolutely. God’s love is the purist, but mankind can possess levels of the benevolent spirit.”
“Then, in your opinion, I hold God’s attention.” Elizabeth puzzled over that concept.
“We all hold God’s attention, but I believe He has chosen you among his favorites.”
Before she could stifle her words, Elizabeth defensively said, “Then how could God allow my children to die before I knew them? Before I could tell them of my love?” Tears trickled from her eyes.
Mrs. Joseph swallowed hard. “That is the question which most frightens you. Is it not, Elizabeth? You wonder how if you serve God, how He could not honor you with a child of your own. How the rest of the world can know such happiness? How no one, except Mr. Darcy, understands the depth of your fear?”
“Yes,” Elizabeth murmured.
“I have no answer that would satisfy your heart: God gives us what we require when we require it. Matthew holds different ideas on such matters, but I believe when the Bible says God created man in his own image such means God has his own foibles. He is a bit selfish. God wished to surround himself with the laughter of children—the most magical sound in the world. Therefore, sometimes He does the selfish thing and calls the child home early. It is the only explanation which makes any sense.”
Elizabeth brushed away her tears. “I shall endeavor to accept your explanation, Mary. It makes as much sense as any other.”
“You cannot argue with a woman named Mary so close to the celebration of our Lord’s birth,” Mrs. Joseph teasingly reasoned.
Elizabeth smiled easily. “No, I suppose, I cannot.”
Regina Jeffers, an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era romances, has worn many hats over her lifetime: daughter, student, military brat, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, tax preparer, journalist, choreographer, Broadway dancer, theatre director, history buff, grant writer, media literacy consultant, and author. Living outside of Charlotte, NC, Jeffers writes novels that take the ordinary and adds a bit of mayhem, while mastering tension in her own life with a bit of gardening and the exuberance of her “grand joys.”
Social Media Links:
Every Woman Dreams: https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com
Austen Authors: http://austenauthors.net
You Tube Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzgjdUigkkU
The tale The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery is the sequel to Christmas at Pemberley.