|Available on Amazon
I am always excited when I know Joana Starnes is coming for a visit. She has become one of my favorite writers and I know her posts will live up to her reputation as a fabulous writer. Well, she did not disappoint this time! This excerpt is one that will bring a smile and a chuckle. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It is from Ms. Starnes latest release, Miss Darcy's Companion. The book is getting fabulous reviews. Congratulations, Joana Starnes. I can hardly wait to read it myself.
Many thanks, Janet, for welcoming me here today on the blog tour for ‘Miss Darcy’s Companion’. Everyone who has kindly followed the blog tour so far knows – and those who haven’t surely imagine – that Miss Darcy’s companion is none other than Miss Elizabeth Bennet, who comes to Pemberley after her father’s passing to bring Georgiana out of her shell and also bring cheerfulness and laughter into Mr Darcy’s life, before she goes ahead and turns it upside down. And why is that? Because he is drawn like a moth to a flame. Of course he is, even though he barely knows it. And the family is no help at all, quite the opposite. Especially a very vexing cousin.
This is hardly the time to talk of Christmas boughs, when it’s hot and humid and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for sunny days at the beach and barbecue weather. But I’m hoping that for the sake of a rather flustered Mr Darcy you might be willing to forget it’s summer for a few minutes, as the excerpt takes you to Pemberley to see the household getting ready for Christmas, from the youngest maid to their master, with plenty of good cheer to go round.
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Nothing like their usual quiet and unobtrusive selves, and uncensored for it at this time of year, the maids were now scurrying hither and thither with basketfuls of greenery to decorate the mantelpieces and the picture frames, while in the parlour Georgiana and Miss Bennet were putting the finishing touches to the Christmas Bough. In time-honoured fashion, ivy and holly were entwined around its hoops and, as a result of the young ladies’ efforts, it now stood resplendent, ornamented with red ribbons, gilded nuts, fire-red apples and the customary sprig of mistletoe.
When Peter was summoned to take it to the entrance hall and suspend it in the designated spot from a hook never used for another purpose, Hetty and Margaret skipped after him, clapping and chanting “The Kissing Bough! The Kissing Bough!”, while the other three followed at a more leisurely pace, exchanging warm glances at their childish glee.
Once they gained the hall the girls stood aside to let Peter go about his task, but as soon as it was done and the ladder removed, they rushed to be the first to embrace under the bough and follow a custom they both loved, little as they understood it. They were too young to know that for hundreds of years the bough had reigned supreme over Christmas celebrations as a sign of goodwill and new beginnings. With an embrace beneath it, all the ills and wrongs of the previous year were set aside and instantly forgotten, as relations, neighbours, friends or mere acquaintances silently undertook to go forth with gratitude, benevolence and a light heart.
Margaret and Hetty might have lacked this insight, but did not lack lightness of heart as they resumed their chanting and linked arms to dance under the bough. They only stopped when a voice called from the foot of the stairs:
“I have never heard such a racket on this side of the Channel. What strange and fearsome tribe has come to invade?”
Supremely undaunted, the girls ran to their uncle.
“The Kissing Bough is up, Uncle Richard,” Hetty piped up and both girls reached to clasp his hands and tug him forward, until he was standing underneath it.
He willingly obliged, the corner of his mouth curled into a mock grimace:
“Oh, is it now? Well, if needs must,” he said, and bent down to kiss Margaret’s upturned cheek, then Hetty’s.
He scooped the youngest up, while she squirmed and declared that his whiskers were awfully ticklish and, with his giggling niece in his arms, he turned to drop a kiss on Georgiana’s cheek – and likewise Miss Bennet’s. The latter blushed becomingly, yet took it in good cheer. It was Darcy who frowned and, as soon as Fitzwilliam had straightened from setting down his wriggling burden, he stepped closer and lowered his voice to sternly deliver:
“Was that really necessary, Cousin?”
But the other grinned in the most provoking manner.
“Oh, quite. ‘Tis a time-honoured tradition. In fact, seeing as you are so mindful of old customs, I wonder at your scorning this one,” he added, to Darcy’s growing irritation.
Miss Bennet’s heightened colour showed she overheard the flippant comment, and Darcy silently cursed his cousin for it – only to curse himself a fraction of a second later, when he discovered to his acute mortification that, of their own volition, his eyes were fixed on her full, perfect lips. His neckcloth suddenly too tight, he swiftly glanced away, while she turned to the girls to ask if they wished to help decorate the music room. They eagerly agreed and the trio hastened on their way, followed by Georgiana, thus leaving Darcy with his cousin – and his roiling vexation. He could not stop from scathingly observing:
“Since you are such an authority on ancient customs, are you not forgetting something?”
“What is that?”
“Such licence is permitted only if you can pluck a berry from the mistletoe.”
Fitzwilliam glanced up with a grin.
“Either by accident or by design, you had it hung up too high. Besides, you know as well as I do that pecks on the cheek were not what they had in mind with that proviso. But fear not, when the time comes I will find a way to reach those berries,” he laughed, the aggravating show of confidence making Darcy wish he had instructed Peter to hang the troublesome thing a great deal higher. There was still time to do so. And he would, by Jove, if Fitzwilliam persisted in this infuriating manner!
“You will excuse me,” he abruptly took his leave.
* * * *
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt and that you’ll like the full story. Please leave a comment for the chance to win a Kindle copy of ‘Miss Darcy’s Companion’, available internationally. Thanks for stopping by and many thanks again, Janet, for the wonderful welcome, you’re always so very kind and it’s such a delight to be your guest!
|Available on Amazon, UK
About the author:
Joana Starnes lives in the South of England with her family. She has published six Austen-related novels:
v From This Day Forward ~ The Darcys of Pemberley ~ A Pride & Prejudice sequel
v The Subsequent Proposal ~ A Tale of Pride, Prejudice and Persuasion
v The Second Chance ~ A Pride & Prejudice – Sense & Sensibility Variation
v The Falmouth Connection ~ A Pride & Prejudice Variation set in Poldark territory
v The Unthinkable Triangle ~ A Pride & Prejudice Variation, where loyalty comes at loggerheads with love
v Miss Darcy’s Companion ~ A Pride & Prejudice Variation
They are available on all Amazon sites.
You can connect with Joana Starnes on:
Or visit ‘All Roads Lead to Pemberley’ on Facebook, for places, events and titbits that have inspired her novels.
Thank you, Joana Starnes, for sharing such a 'delicious' excerpt from Miss Darcy's Companion with me and my readers. It was delightful and especially nice to read about Christmas during the hot summer weather. It made me forget the heat for a few minutes! Besides, who wouldn't love thinking about Mr. Darcy under a kissing bough at Christmas? ~sigh~ (and that vexing cousin, the Colonel too!) I'm so glad you visited at More Agreeably Engaged and I hope you know you are welcome anytime.
Dear Readers, leave a comment telling us what you think and you will be entered in the giveaway for one eBook of Miss Darcy's Companion. This giveaway is international. Also be sure to leave me your contact info. The giveaway will end at 11:59 PM on the 4th of July, 2016. Good luck to all!