Hello dear friends! Are you in the Christmas spirit yet? If not, this enchanting vignette from Joana Starnes’ Miss Darcy’s Companion might just do the trick! 😉 As you may have seen, the lovely Joana Starnes has released a new audiobook of Miss Darcy’s Companion (which was one of my most favorite reads for 2016!) Woot woot! Now readers who like to listen to their favorite novels while they drive, clean, or work with their hands can do so with this lovely story about Elizabeth falling in love with Darcy while working as Georgiana’s companion!!
Many thanks, Meredith, for welcoming me here today. You’re so kind, it’s always wonderful to be your guest!
This time my good news is that Miss Darcy’s Companion was released in Audible earlier this month – my fourth book to become available in this format. Stevie Zimmerman is the producer, and as always, her narration style captures your heart and won’t let go, and her Mr Darcy is absolutely to die for! You can listen to the sample here to see what I mean.
I thought this would be the perfect time to celebrate, and if your readers would like to curl up with a paperback over the holidays, or sit back and listen to Stevie Zimmerman bringing the story to life, at the end of this post there’s a link to the international giveaway – a chance to win one of the 2 signed paperbacks, an audio code (10 are up for grabs) or a bag of goodies from our favourite places.
Speaking of our favourite places, I’m guessing that for many of us Pemberley at Christmas is up there in the top ten, so I hope you and your readers will enjoy this little vignette. So, come on a virtual trip. The setting: the shrubbery at Pemberley, under a thick layer of snow. The time: shortly before Christmas. The extended family is on the way to Derbyshire to celebrate, but so far only Georgiana and her husband had arrived from their estate, a few of miles away. For old times’ sake, Georgiana was easily persuaded to take a morning stroll with her relations. Come and join the Darcys in their winter wonderland.
A Darcy Wonderland
Miss Darcy’s Companion 10 Years On
A snowball shot right past her, missing her by inches, and Georgiana drew back from the line of fire, her right hand instinctively covering her midriff. There was nothing to see, no discernible change, and there would be none for quite some time. She had not told anyone yet, not even her husband. Georgiana smiled to herself. She would tell him at Christmas. Henry would love that present best of all.
Her smile grew wider at the sight before her. There they were, her brother and his happy family, just she had imagined, all those years ago: they were chasing each other through the shrubbery, everyone’s dignity abandoned as they dodged snowballs flying from all directions.
Some came from beyond the azaleas – or rather from beyond the white mounds that stood where the azaleas would be – with no perpetrators in sight, their presence betrayed only by giggles. Some were very accurately sent flying by her eldest niece, who was peeping from behind the artful arrangement of rocks at the furthest end.
Fitzwilliam was returning fire with no less skill, and there was Elizabeth, dashing from behind a flame-shaped conifer, chased by two ruddy-faced imps who were eagerly taking her back as a target.
The snowball fight had begun as a haphazard whirl of laughter and excitement, but before long an alliance was formed between the scamps, all united in the determination to pelt their parents with as many projectiles as they could fashion. Some stood the test and flew with uncanny accuracy, while the others disintegrated in the air, for they were little more than scoops of snow thrown without much care for the result, but with prodigious glee.
The parents’ alliance was more of the defensive kind. Even now, Fitzwilliam put an arm around Elizabeth and twirled her from the path of a snowball that would have caught her in the face, and offered his broad back to be pelted as he sheltered his wife in his embrace, before spinning around to chase after their second daughter, scooping up snow for more projectiles as he went.
Little Georgy ran away with squeals and giggles, towards the white-capped hedge, where reinforcements awaited. The other three sprang out with armfuls of snowballs, and easily overpowered their compliant father. Moments later, he was on his knees, in a melee of flailing limbs and wriggling little bodies, trying to fend off the four-pronged attack by any means possible. Unfair means too, by the looks of it, for Georgiana’s youngest niece shrieked with laughter, then lisped in admonishment:
“No, Papa! No tickles. You promised! ”
“I did no such thing,” Darcy retorted – a shocking falsehood from a gentleman who often claimed that disguise of any sort was his abhorrence. But his unprecedented slyness received its just reward, and the last word was lost into a splutter, when his diminutive opponents joined forces most effectively and immobilised his arms, so that at least three little hands out of eight could reach up and scrub his face with fistfuls of snow.
It was rather adorable, Georgiana thought, that for nigh-on ten years her brother had to countenance being severely outnumbered. Four girls were born to him and Elizabeth, one after another, little more than two years apart, and after a while even Elizabeth – cheerful and sensible Elizabeth – had begun to fret that she was too much like her mother, and she might never be able to beget a son.
Such worries were eventually shown to be for naught. Little Richard Charles George proved them unfounded, and was now squealing in his nurse’s arms and turning this way and that, in equal measure entertained by the goings on, and very cross that he could not take part in the excitement. The fact that he had brought his mother great relief and joy with his arrival, nine months ago, could not interest him anywhere near as much as his relations’ antics, nor could he understand that he was heir to everything around him.
Georgiana’s glance softened. Such a fortunate little boy, her nephew was! Not just because of his heritage – she had learned many years ago that, at times, the Darcy heritage could be rather daunting – but for having dearest Fitzwilliam for his father. Her brother would teach his son to ride, hunt, box and fence; would teach him to love Pemberley as much as he did, and how to care for everyone who made the dear place their home.
Touching as that notion was, the deep emotion stirred in Georgiana’s heart was conquered by a little giggle. Aye, a strong bond would form between them in the years to come, especially if they were to remain outnumbered – which might very well be the case, unless Elizabeth took to bringing several sons into the world.
The rumpus in the snowdrifts seemed to have quietened somewhat, once her nieces had achieved their mischievous purpose and, his face bright-red from the ignominious treatment, Fitzwilliam sought to straighten himself up.
“There, satisfied now?” he grinned at his daughters.
“Eminently, Papa,” the eldest grinned back. “That was most satisfactory. For us, at least,” she added as she leaned forward to ruffle his hair. She might have been named after her mild aunt Jane, but she was growing more like her mother every day, Georgiana thought and chuckled.
Still held to ransom in the shrubbery, Fitzwilliam chuckled too, as he retorted:
“Oh, I will have my revenge on the morrow, Miss Sauciness, you may depend upon it. Now be off, all of you. Get yourselves indoors and change out of these wet things. Come now, lively, lively. Fear me and tremblingly obey,” he finished with a playful growl that sent his daughters into another fit of giggles.
Madeleine stifled hers into small red fists.
“Papa, you are too funny! Who could ever fear you?” she said as she reached up to put her arms around his neck and pecked him lightly on the cheek, then set about brushing the snow off his cravat and coat.
Not wishing to be outdone in caring for their dear Papa, the other three joined her in the endeavour, with quite as much diligence as they had shown in splattering fistfuls of snow over him in the first place. Then, when the deed was done to their satisfaction, the little troop scampered to their feet, giggling as they sought to shake the snow from their own apparel and long ringlets, with great energy, but little effect.
“Chocolate in the nursery, Mamma?” Jane asked, with no real expectation of a change in the habitual routine. She was not disappointed.
“Of course,” Elizabeth replied, affectionately patting her husband’s back to remove the snow their daughters had missed.
“Will you come up to have chocolate and scones with us? You must, and Aunt Georgy, too,” Georgiana’s namesake insisted, and once her aunt assured her she would not miss that treat for the world, the little one scampered away towards the house, with her sisters following in a cheerful and vociferous pursuit.
Arms linked and still smiling widely, Darcy, Elizabeth and Georgiana leisurely set off after them, when little Richard decided he had something to say about the arrangement. Utterly out of patience, he released a demanding squeal and stretched his arms towards his father with an insistent clamour of “Da-da-da-da,” leaving them all in no misapprehension of his wishes. With a soft chuckle, his Papa complied and came to scoop him up from his nurse’s arms.
“Not fair, little fellow, is it, missing all the excitement? Never mind, you’ll have your turn, and no mistake. But for now, you might have to be content with a scone in the nursery. What say you? Will that do?”
A little tongue came out between rosebud lips to blow a loud raspberry, and it was hard to tell whether young master Darcy had found a way to express his views, even if he could not speak as yet, or whether he was just making all the noises expected of a youngster his age. Either way, his father laughed and dropped a kiss on the chubby cheek, then fell into step with his wife and sister as they made their way towards the house.
All three footmen were at hand to relieve the cheerful party of their coats, muffs and gloves, and take the wet garments away to be dried before the fire. Merrily chattering, the three elder girls made their way up the stone staircase, followed by Master Richard and his nurse, while the youngest daughter and her doting aunt were bringing up the rear, holding hands. As for the remaining two, they seemed somewhat distracted, Georgiana noticed with both amusement and affection. The last ones in the entrance hall, Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam were now standing under the kissing bough, eyes locked in a tender gaze and bright smiles glowing in their faces.
Apparently, she was not the only one to notice that they were tarrying below. When her brother’s hand came up to brush a lock from Elizabeth’s brow, then cup her cheek, little Anne piped up with no little concern.
“Has Mamma got something in her eye?”
Her parents could not have missed that, surely. Georgiana could have sworn she heard them chuckling lightly, just before they kissed. A brief kiss it was, since it had an audience, but although their faces drew apart, they still held each other in a warm embrace as they glanced up as one. But by then little Anne had lost all interest and blithely looked away.
“Oh, that,” she said with a little shrug, tossing her hair back. Then she clasped her aunt’s hand and resumed her tottering ascent as she said sagely, “No need to worry, Aunt Georgy, they are well. Do you know, they do that all the time!”
* * * *
Ah, so heartwarming and lovely! I just want to go join the Darcy children for some chocolate and scones! How wonderful for them to grow up in such an affectionate and playful family! Thanks for this delightful Christmas vignette, Joana! I especially love that Darcy and Elizabeth have four daughters and the return of the bough of mistletoe, I’m sure that is one tradition Elizabeth and Darcy love keeping! 😉
Connect with Joana
In conjunction with her lovely blog tour, Joana Starnes generously brings with her several prizes that readers can win! The prizes include:
- 2 signed paperbacks of Miss Darcy’s Companion
- 10 audiobook codes for Miss Darcy’s Companion
- 1 bag of assorted Jane Austen goodies from Chawton, Pemberley, and Bath! 😉
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment, question, or some love for Joana! And fill out the rafflecopter form below
- This giveaway is open worldwide. Thank you, Joana!
- This giveaway ends December 10th!
~ Follow along on the rest of Joana’s tour! ~