Happy Friday dear readers!
It’s official. The holiday reading season has begun on Austenprose. First out the gate is Heather Moll’s forthcoming novella, A Hopeful Holiday.
Heather is the popular author of four Pride and Prejudice variations including: Nine Ladies, Two More Days at Netherfield, and His Choice of a Wife. A Hopeful Holiday is also a variation of Jane Austen’s classic, spinning a new story from her characters and settings. This time Moll creatively mixes up Austen’s timeline offering new obstacles to keep Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy’s romance churning. Here is a book description and an exclusive excerpt from the author to give you a feel for the story.
While the competition for your holiday reading is fierce, I hope that you will add A Hopeful Holiday to your list. I found it to be a perfect introduction to the season to help us get in the mood and eager to deck the halls and plan our family gatherings.
Best, Laurel Ann
Is the holiday season a perfect setting for a second chance at love?
After secretly arranging Lydia and Wickham’s marriage, Mr. Darcy encouraged Bingley to return to Jane. While his friend is now happily married, Darcy regrets not having the courage to pursue Elizabeth in the autumn.
As 1812 draws to a close, Darcy rallies his spirits to spend the Christmas holiday with Lady Catherine. Elizabeth Bennet wanted to show Darcy that her feelings for him had changed, but he never returned to Hertfordshire and she fears Darcy could never tolerate being brother-in-law to Wickham.
For a change of scene and with the hope of lifting her spirits, Elizabeth accepts an invitation to visit Charlotte Collins and her new baby at Christmas. Lady Catherine’s New Year’s Eve masquerade ball is the social event of the season and, amid the festivities and mistletoe, both Darcy and Elizabeth hope for a reason to make their affections known. But will her ladyship’s interference, the sudden appearance of her scheming nephew, and Elizabeth and Darcy’s insecurities prevent them from finding happiness during the holiday season?
“Perhaps I can claim that my regiment needs me…” Fitzwilliam was staring into the distance, still tearing at his short straw.
“You would leave me there?” Darcy asked, incredulous.
Fitzwilliam sat back in his chair. “No. You know I would never do that to you. I just hate the company at Rosings. The evenings are so long and dull. And this time there won’t even be a pretty, satirical neighbour to enliven the scene.”
Darcy’s broken heart bled again at the memory of what happened in Hunsford parsonage.
“Who was the neighbour, and why would she not be there now?” his lordship asked.
“Miss Elizabeth Bennet was visiting the wife of Lady Catherine’s rector last spring.”
“Miss Bennet?” cried Georgiana. “I met Miss Bennet in August.”
While his cousin and sister compared their experiences with Elizabeth, Darcy thought about the last time he saw her. Crying, wishing she had told her family about Wickham, afraid Lydia would be lost forever. The misery on her face stayed in his mind. He had been too afraid that Elizabeth would resent him to go back to Hertfordshire when Bingley asked him to join him there last autumn.
The whole affair was due to his mistaken pride, so he did his duty to preserve Lydia’s reputation. It was owing to him—his reserve and want of proper consideration—that Wickham’s character had been so misunderstood and, consequently, that he had been received and noticed as he was.
If only Lydia had been willing to leave Wickham and return to her friends. Now, the poor girl had her reputation but was married to the most undeserving man. He doubted Elizabeth would forgive him for not speaking against Wickham when he ought to have done.
“You never mentioned seeing Miss Bennet again at Pemberley,” Fitzwilliam said to him.
“I did not think it warranted mentioning, and the visit was interrupted. I suppose”—his voice caught—“I suppose I shall encounter her at some point; Bingley married her older sister last month. He returned to Hertfordshire after he left Pemberley, and within days resumed his acquaintance with Jane Bennet.”
Fitzwilliam nodded, and then stopped, giving him a sharp look. “Resumed an earlier acquaintance with Miss Bennet’s sister?” Darcy nodded. Fitzwilliam lowered his voice. “Was Miss Bennet, the elder Miss Bennet, the one you had strong objections to?”
Darcy noticed how his uncle, sister, and other cousin were following the conversation. “Yes, she was, to my shame. I told Bingley in August how wrong I was when I…when I did what I did. He has forgiven me, and is happily married now. Why?”
Fitzwilliam shook his head slightly, conveying that he either did not wish to speak or that he had nothing to say.
“Well, my boys,” said his lordship, rising. “I wish you safe travels into Kent. I shall see you in January.” His uncle, Milton, and Georgiana then left, his sister kissing his cheek and saying how it would all be well.
Fitzwilliam threw down his mangled piece of straw onto the pile. “Back to Rosings,” he said, sighing.
“Perhaps it shall not be a punishment,” Darcy said, trying to be encouraging. “There shall be field sports. We can shoot pheasant, and Lady Catherine will host a ball on New Year’s Eve. She sometimes has other guests at this time of year, as well.”
His cousin gave him a flat look. “Will Lady Catherine still be there? Will she still force her way into every conversation? Will she still share her opinions on things about which she knows nothing? Will she still try to persuade you to marry Anne?”
“We must go, and we must make the most of it,” Darcy said as he swept the lots from the table and tossed them into the fire. “You can call on Mrs Collins or go shooting, and with the Christmas gaieties there shall be other people around for Lady Catherine to shower notice on.”
At the mention of Mrs Collins, Darcy thought of how unlikely it was that Elizabeth would visit her friend at Christmas. He sighed, staring into the fire. While they were in Derbyshire, before Lydia eloped, he had thought Elizabeth looked on him with friendship and possibly affection. Although he had preserved Lydia’s reputation, he had no reason to hope Elizabeth could love him after his silence had led to her sister’s marriage to Wickham.
“Now, Darcy, you need not look glum,” Fitzwilliam said as he rose and clapped him on the shoulder. “I did not mean to make you cast down. There is a reason no one goes to Rosings alone, you know. We shall make do as best we can, as you said. I know I was low before, but it shall all end well enough.”
Darcy forced himself into a cheerful countenance he did not feel. “You are right, of course. Perhaps we shall have a merry Christmas at Rosings after all.”
End of excerpt.
Please return on November 29th for our full review.
Heather Moll writes romantic variations of Jane Austen’s classic novels. Known for her historical details, unique plots, and characters true to the beloved originals, she is the author of Nine Ladies, Two More Days at Netherfield, and His Choice of a Wife.
After discovering Jane Austen later than she should have she made up for lost time by devouring her letters and unpublished works, joining JASNA, and spending too much time researching the Regency era.
An avid reader of mysteries and biographies she has a master’s degree in information science. She lives with her husband and son and struggles to balance all of the important things, like whether or not to buy groceries or stay home and write. Visit her blog and subscribe to her newsletter for a freebie and monthly updates.
- A Hopeful Holiday: A Pride and Prejudice Novella, by Heather Moll
- Excessively Diverted Press (November 1, 2021)
- eBook (116) pages
- ASIN: B09H534MRN
Book cover, description, excerpt, and author bio complements of Excessively Diverted Press © 2021; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2021, Austenprose.com