Title: Mr. Darcy’s Present: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary
Author: Regina Jeffers
Genre: Regency romance; historical fiction, clean romance, Austenesque, holiday romance, vagary
The Greatest Present He Would Ever Receive is the Gift of Her Love… What if Mr. Darcy purchased a gift for Elizabeth Bennet to acknowledge the festive days even though he knows he will never present it to her? What if the gift is posted to the lady by his servants and without his knowledge? What if the enclosed card was meant for another and is more suggestive than a gentleman should share with an unmarried lady? Join Darcy and Elizabeth, for a holiday romp, loaded with delightful twists and turns no one expects, but one in which our favorite couple take a very different path in thwarting George Wickham and Lydia Bennet’s elopement. Can a simple book of poetry be Darcy’s means to win Elizabeth’s love? When we care more for another than ourselves, the seeds of love have an opportunity to blossom. Words of Praise for Mr. Darcy’s Present… Jeffers takes a familiar story and reinvigorates it with humor, warmth, and wisdom.
“I ASSUMED YOU WOULD be up early,” her father remarked as Elizabeth slipped into his study.
“Everyone else is still abed,” she explained.
“And your curiosity could wait no longer,” he replied with a wink.
Elizabeth shrugged her response. “One of my faults.”
“Then I suppose it is best to discover something of the sender before the others come down for breakfast.” He reached behind a stack of books on a nearby table to retrieve the parcel. “I think it is best if I do the honors. I would not want you to become too attached to whatever is within as I must return it.”
Elizabeth’s anticipation rose as her father carefully removed the string and unfolded the paper.
“It is a book. Just as we expected.” he murmured as he turned to the title page. “Cowper, Gray, Goldsmith, and several others. Poetry.”
She eyed the book with longing, but did not reach for it, for she knew her father would disapprove. “Is there no card?”
“None that I see.” Her father scanned the first few pages, but no card or signature was evident. Then he lifted the book from the paper, exposing not only a card, but also a cloth wrapped item. He folded back the cloth to expose a small ruby pin. Elizabeth had never owned a jewel, only a pearl necklace handed down to her by her paternal grandmother, and she wished to examine the pin more closely. Mr. Bennet palmed the card to read it. “It appears, my dear, you have won the heart of one of England’s finest.”
He handed her the card, and she realized how her fingers trembled when she reached for it. As she read his name on the inscribed calling card, Elizabeth was tempted to trace it with her fingertip. At length, realizing her father studied her response she turned it over to read the message. I learned so much of myself through you. I pray the wedding bells you desire will bring you joy.
“So what lessons did you provide Mr. Darcy?” her father asked.
“In truth, I do not know,” she admitted on a breathy exhale. Elizabeth could not withdraw her eyes from the card. “We were often at odds. I would say the sky was blue, and he would declare it the deepest rose.”
“You must have enticed the man unknowingly,” her father reasoned. “Mayhap your resistance was what fascinated him. A man who can have everything he wants must find a woman who dislikes him a challenge. Come to think upon it, other than Bingley’s sisters, Mr. Darcy stood up with no other of the neighborhood at the Netherfield Ball, and I recall he also asked you to dance at Sir William’s entertainment. Even so, I cannot think a man of his character would suggest a tryst. Did he never express a fondness for you?”
Elizabeth had finally succumbed to rubbing her thumb forth and back over his name on the front of the card. She said in distraction, “I knew nothing of his regard until Mr. Darcy proposed.”
Her father choked on the coffee he sipped. “Mr. Darcy proposed? When was this?”
Elizabeth glanced up at his dear features. “At the Netherfield Ball. In the garden. But I refused him?”
“And why, pray tell, would you refuse a man of Mr. Darcy’s consequence?”
“I thought him too judgmental. I took him to task, for I overheard him and Miss Bingley discussing Mr. Bingley’s leave taking, and I knew such would devastate Jane. And we are both aware of the grievances Mr. Wickham speaks of the man,” she argued.
“As to Bingley, I am pleased he returned to Jane’s side, but if he was not of the nature to be led, even one of Mr. Darcy’s reputation could not convince him. I have great pleasure in thinking Bingley and Jane will happily settled if they choose to join. I have not a doubt of their doing very well together. Their tempers are by no means unlike. They are each so complying that nothing will ever be resolved, so easy, every servant will cheat them, and so generous, they will exceed their income.” Her father’s voice plainly showed how really happy he was with Jane’s situation, but he remained not so pleased with Elizabeth’s. “It appears you no longer find Mr. Wickham’s tales to your liking. Or have I erred in my estimation?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Mr. Bingley knew Mr. Wickham at Cambridge. He recently shared his observations. They deviate from the lieutenant’s version of the events in several important areas.”
“So what do you wish me to do with Mr. Darcy’s gift? His sending of this fairing cannot be permitted without a response. You have a reputation to maintain, and we know how society would judge your sisters if you are viewed as less than pure. I can quietly return the items and demand that the man not seek you out again, or I can send Mr. Darcy a note saying I will expect his call in the next few days. But the choice is yours, Lizzy. I will not force you into a marriage you do not desire.”
“May I think upon it today? It is Christmas and a messenger is not to be had. It will sound odd for me to say aloud, but over the last sennight, Mr. Darcy’s presence has never left me. He comes to mind often, and I must decide whether this is for the good or the ill. Moreover, Mr. Bingley says the Darcys are promised to his uncle, the Earl of Matlock, and are not in London.”
“As you wish, Lizzy, but we cannot falter in a decision. If you do not respond, the gentleman can force you into a marriage by making this giving of the presentation public.”
Elizabeth rose to return to her room. “You should know Mr. Bingley spoke only a few evenings past of his addressing all the cards for the presents Mr. Darcy chose to dispense this Christmastide. Mr. Bingley, therefore, holds knowledge of the gift and its recipient. Moreover, Bingley reports that Mr. Darcy plans to marry his cousin, Miss De Bourgh. In fact, he may have already proposed to the lady.”
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What I love most about the holiday season:
I adore the tradition that circulates around the day—the one that brings everyone together. Tradition adds meaning to the holiday and grows the family bonds.
Why is your featured book a must-read to get you in the holiday mood?
Austenesque tales take Jane Austen’s heroes and heroines and throw them onto a different path, but with the same outcome. Originally, these tales were called “what if” by the traditional publishers. What if the writer changes one detail in the original tale? How do our dear couple then achieve their “happily ever after.” In Mr. Darcy’s Present, Fitzwilliam Darcy purchases a thoughtful gift for Elizabeth Bennet, one he never intends to send her, but one he will cherish as a means to heal his heart. Unfortunately, when he experiences a slight accident, his staff sends out Elizabeth’s gift, along with others of Darcy’s acquaintances, but they enclose the wrong card—a card that can be interpreted as his proposal. Most assuredly, men of the time do not send gifts if they have not spoken to the young lady’s father first. Ooops!!!
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Regina Jeffers is an award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency, historical mysteries, and contemporary novels. Living outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, she is a retired English teacher and an often sought after consultant for media literacy and language arts, who spends her “down time” pulling weeds from her flower beds and spoiling her “grand joys.”
Social Media Links:
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