Title: The Phantom of Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery
Author: Regina Jeffers
Genre: mystery; cozy mystery; suspense; Regency romance; historical romance
HAPPILY MARRIED for over a year and more in love than ever, Darcy and Elizabeth can’t imagine anything interrupting their bliss-filled days. Then an intense snowstorm strands a group of travelers at Pemberley, and terrifying accidents and mysterious deaths begin to plague the manor. Everyone seems convinced that it is the work of a phantom—a Shadow Man who is haunting the Darcy family’s grand estate. Darcy and Elizabeth believe the truth is much more menacing and that someone is attempting to murder them. But Pemberley is filled with family guests as well as the unexpected travelers—any one of whom could be the culprit—so unraveling the mystery of the murderer’s identity forces the newlyweds to trust each other’s strengths and work together.
Written in the style of the era and including Austen’s romantic playfulness and sardonic humor, this suspense-packed sequel to Pride and Prejudice recasts Darcy and Elizabeth as a husband-and-wife detective team who must solve the mystery at Pemberley and catch the murderer—before it’s too late.
Darcy reappeared, slipping quietly into the room, wearing breeches and a loose shirt. He lovingly handed Elizabeth a silk robe.
Elizabeth glanced briefly to him before she asked, “Might you tell your brother and me what happened?”
He moved to sit on the end of the bed, leaving his sister’s care to Elizabeth’s tender encouragement. He would simply listen. This was what he had always wanted for Georgiana—someone she would trust, and she did trust Elizabeth, just as he did.
For a brief moment, Georgiana stared deeply into Elizabeth’s eyes, obviously searching for something tangible upon which to hang her trust. Then she spoke, “I went down to the music room because I could not sleep. I was so excited after everyone graciously acknowledged my playing; I wanted to work on a new piece to show them I could perform a more complicated piece, actually earn their praise.”
“That was admirable of you.” Elizabeth eased away from Georgiana, symbolically encouraging the girl to draw on her own personal strength. He would some day see her perform likewise with their children, and Darcy was proud he had chosen a woman with such a fine character. Then Elizabeth curled up before him, accepting his protection and, essentially, telling Georgiana, with this gentle gesture, that they would see her through anything.
“I returned here after an hour or so, finally relaxed and assured of my performance.” Georgiana’s attention remained on them. “I blew out my candles and curled down into the blankets, attempting to ward off the chill. At last, I started to reach that point where I was drifting off to sleep—you know, that moment when you are between the two worlds: wake and sleep.”
Elizabeth nodded her understanding and for his sister to continue.
“It was then that I felt a sudden cold, as though someone had opened a door to the outside, and the icy air rushed in. I burrowed deeper attempting to claim warmth, and then I saw a light floating in the air. It kept coming closer and closer. I could see it in my mirror; it was coming for me. I feared it might burn me—might float right through my body. Then it spoke my name. It said, “Georgiana, lovely Georgiana” in a voice barely above a whisper. I was so frightened ... I attempted to move away, but it kept coming after me. Finally, I discovered my voice, and I started to scream. That is all I remember; I closed my eyes and screamed.”
“Did the light move away when you screamed?” Darcy wanted to know.
She stared at him—not engaged with anything but her tale. “I do not know, William. When I opened my eyes again, you were here and holding me.”
“Allow me to have a look around.” Darcy picked up the nearest candleholder and began a minute inspection of the room, looking for anything out of place. He checked the windows for cracks or drafts, but he found nothing from the ordinary. He knew Elizabeth’s and Georgiana’s eyes followed his progress, making certain he missed no detail. When he stepped to the other side of her dressing screen, Georgiana’s attention became more intense.
Elizabeth caught the girl’s hand. “What is it, Georgiana?”
“There!” The girl pointed to the cheval glass mirror beside her dresser. “That is what I saw!”
Elizabeth turned to where the girl pointed. She could see it also: Darcy held his candle high, and it reflected in the mirror. “William, stay right there,” she ordered. Quickly, Elizabeth rushed about the room extinguishing all the candles she had lit earlier. Then she closed the door so that the dim lights in the hall could not be seen. She returned to sit beside an equally enthralled Georgiana. Together, they stared into the mirror. “Move slowly toward us—around the screen, William,” Elizabeth uttered cautiously, her eyes locked on the light in the mirror.
Darcy started forward. “No, wait!” Georgiana insisted. “You are too tall, Brother. Do it again and bring the candle down to your chest.”
Reluctantly, Darcy turned to the back wall and retraced his steps. When he swiveled to the front again, he carried the candle lower. “Hold it away from your body more,” Elizabeth suggested softly.
“That is it!” Georgiana declared. “That is what I saw.” She and Elizabeth watched as a seemingly disengaged light floated toward them—the light reflected by the mirror, moving on its own.
“It is quite remarkable,” Elizabeth whispered. “Come look, William; give me the candle.” They switched places. Elizabeth, being so petite, could not bring about the effect, but Darcy could easily imagine what Georgiana had seen.
“Someone was in my room,” Georgiana gasped. “But I saw no one when I came in from the music room.” She told them, “I was all over the room—sat at the dresser—combed out my hair— put my ribbons away—found some stockings, for my feet were cold.” She mentally watched herself move about the room as she made her explanation. “Where was he hiding?” Frantically, his sister’s eyes searched the depths of the room.
Elizabeth moved immediately to relight some of the extinguished candles, like him, hoping the light would drive away Georgiana’s fears. “Mayhap Mrs. Reynolds came to check on you,” Darcy reasoned.
“Then would she not have said something?” Georgiana began to tremble again. “And would you not have seen her leave—the room is at the end of the hall. One must retrace one’s steps to reach either the main stairway or the servants’ stairs.”
“That settles it.” Elizabeth took charge. “You will come back to my room tonight. Tomorrow morning your brother will have additional locks installed on the door, or we will move you to an entirely new room.” She began to gather some of Georgiana’s belongings.
“But I could not,” Georgiana protested.
“You most certainly will.” Elizabeth’s voice said that she would brook no objections. “You and I can share my bed. Back at Longbourn, my dear Jane and I regularly shared the same bed. Or I will leave you to mine alone and join William in his.” Most aristocratic couples kept separate beds—separate chambers, even—but everyone at Pemberley knew the Darcys slept in the same bed.
Darcy was less inclined to speak about his and Elizabeth’s sleeping arrangements, but he added, “Elizabeth is correct. You are too upset, my dear, to claim a proper night’s sleep in this room. You will come back with us.” He maneuvered Georgiana toward the door.
“If you are certain, William.” Georgiana leaned into his shoulder as he slipped his arm about her waist to lead his sister along the passageway. For a second time, Elizabeth began to extinguish the candles.
When she closed the door to follow her husband and sister, she impulsively looked back. Suddenly, she felt it, too—a cold rush of air from behind the screen, which stood at the side of the room. A deep shiver shot down her spine. Frightened of the unknown, she hurriedly closed the door and raced down the hall to claim the comforting arms of her husband.
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What’s your favorite activity to shake off the winter doldrums?
I am a former dancer, so I love to put on some music, blast it loud, and, literally, “shake it off.”
Why is your featured book a cure for the winter blues?
This book has it all: A classic love story revisited. A mystery with more twists and turns than a reader might expect. And an unexpected plot device. If a reader loves looking for the “red herring” in a mystery, he or she will need to be quick to catch this one.
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Runs March 1 – 31, 2021.
Drawing will be held on April 1, 2021.
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:
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