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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Christmas Love Letter from Mr. Wickham

 A Christmas Love Letter from Mr. Wickham

I am happy to have Mr. Wickham visiting with us here at Darcyholic Diversions! He is having a contest! Whoever has the best comment will win a personalized email directly from Mr. Wickham, either to you or someone you love!  So may the best comment win! BTCole (PS--Thanks to Catherine Curzon as well!)

Blidworth, 8th January, 1811

My dearest girl:

Ah, how long ago Christmas feels now, how chill the fire in the hearth, colder even than the snow that has fallen undisturbed the empty fields beyond my billet. And yet, no matter how thin the blanket, how long and hard the marching, I have my own warmth, my own fire, and it is you who has sparked it.

My life now is all military and manoeuvre, yet your smile is never far from my mind, your soft voice singing me to sleep and laughing me into gentle wakefulness.

I remember well those days, not so long ago, when we walked through the crisp frosted meadows in search of mistletoe, your dainty hand in my own, your cheeks flushed with laughter as much as with the cold. Yet Ill wager our embraces were enough to keep you warm, to chase out the winter as it descended. Those embraces, my love, burned as hot as any summer, blazed brighter than the candles that lit our Christmas night or the plum pudding on which we dined so royally.
Those sprigs of mistletoe we gathered saw us well through those nights, and any gentleman would have been a sorry soul indeed had he not honoured the promise made by that berry and kissed your rosebud lips. God bless you, God bless us, for having the foresight to gather enough to see us through to Epiphany, for no couple could have spent a finer twelve nights than we.

I have word that I shall be in Bath once more by the close of the month and that your gentleman is not expected home until a month beyond that. I have found, not more than a short walk from where I am currently whiling away my days, a rich and splendid supply of fresh mistletoe. I shall bring us a few fresh sprigs, my love, and with you once more in my bed, our stolen nights shall be as fine and flaming as any yuletide hearth!

Wait for my signal via the lamp black seller, and you shall be in my arms once more before the month is out.

I am your slave, my love, and will count away the days.


George Wickhams papers are transcribed at Austen Variations   by Catherine Curzon,
a royal historian who writes on all matters 18th century at www.madamegilflurt.com. Her work has been featured on HistoryExtra.com, the official website of BBC History Magazine  and in publications such as Explore History, All About History, History of Royals and Jane Austens Regency World. She has provided additional research for An Evening with Jane Austen at the V&A and spoken at venues including the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, Lichfield Guildhall and Dr Johnsons House.

Catherine holds a Masters degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine, writes fiction set deep in the underbelly of Georgian London.

Her books, Life in the Georgian Court, and The Crown Spire, are available now.

She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill.

A Covent Garden Gilflurts Guide to Life: www.madamegilflurt.com

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Holidays with Zoe Burton: A Time of Remembrance

 Holidays with Zoe Burton:  A Time of Remembrance

(I have so enjoyed getting to know Zoe Burton over the last week.   I thank her for her willingness to share here at Darcyholic Diversions, and I thank her for the depth of emotions she has been willing to share with us in the short story she has written below.  Wherever we go, there we are.  Don't be afraid to share your feelings at the holidays.  Hug a furry friend, find a friend and talk, write a story, sing a song and cherish your memories. I now turn it over to Zoe.  Don't forget to comment below for a chance to win her drawing! Barbara Tiller Cole)

First, I would like to thank Barb for inviting me to share with you! Thanks, Barb!!  :)

For many of us, myself included, Christmas is a difficult time of year. If you have hooked up with me on Facebook, you probably already know that I put up my Christmas tree the other night. This is the first time in years that I have decorated, and to be honest, I only did so because I felt like I could not live in Burton Cottage and not decorate, at least a bit. What you don’t know is that I was hit with a mass of unexpected emotions, and sobbed my way through the assembly of the actual tree. Unlike Elizabeth Darcy in my story, I did not have a Mr. Darcy to comfort me.
As my sobs lessened to merely tears running down my cheeks, I began to pray and to consider ways that I could get through this season without coming unglued on someone. In the end, I remembered the Reason for this season.
I truly tried to write a fluffy, upbeat story full of hope, because, quite frankly, I could use some myself. Sadly, that is just not possible for me at this point in my life. Maybe next year.   I was not happy with this little tidbit when I wrote it, but I ran it past a friend, who said that it was sweet, but not “merry.” What it is, is honest, and possibly a bit raw. I dedicate this little one-shot story to all of us who struggle, for whatever reason, to get through this season of unrelenting Bingley-like creatures greeting us with cheer. Remember that there is hope that one day, our pain will lessen and we, too, can be reasonable facsimiles of Charles and Jane Bingley.

After you read, feel free to leave a comment. I am offering one commenter two of my ebooks…if you win, you get to choose any two of my titles and I will send you a link that allows you to download them.  A commenter will be drawn next Sunday night 11:59 pm.  Please include your email address in your post if you are not already connected to Zoe or Barbara.  Thanks and Good luck!

A Christmas for Remembering

Zoe Burton

The last few Christmas seasons had been difficult for Elizabeth Bennet Darcy. Eight years previously, her beloved father, Thomas Bennet, had passed from this earth a mere fortnight before the celebration of the Savior’s birth. Two years after that, just when she was regaining a sense of normalcy, her mother passed, on the very day that marked Mr. Bennet’s death. Elizabeth held her breath the following Christmastide, ending the season with a sense of relief that everyone she loved had survived. However, the following year, four years after her father and two after her mother, Elizabeth’s sister Lydia died in childbirth. While she was not close to that particular sibling, she was a sister, and Elizabeth had loved her. Within days of the notification of Lydia’s death, word was received at Pemberley of the deaths of her Aunt Philips and her cousin-by-marriage, Anne de Bourgh. All three had passed within days of each other, in the same week that marked the passing of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet.
Elizabeth had been devastated to lose so many people she loved within such a short span…five family members in as many years, and all during the weeks leading up to Christmas. She began to dread the month of December, and refused to participate in the decorating of the house. The housekeeper who had replaced Mrs. Reynolds, Mrs. Baker, took over that duty. Of course, while the family was in mourning, there were no decorations at all, but the following years, Mrs. Baker did her utmost to assure that Pemberley was as festive as she could make it.
Darcy was worried about his wife, though he tried not to let it show. Elizabeth was still witty and charming, but there was a sense of sadness about her now that had never been present before. He tried to talk to her about it many times, but every time, she simply assured him she was well and changed the subject.
After three more tense Christmas seasons with no deaths, Elizabeth began to once again relax, and as this fourth December approached, she finally opened up to her husband about her feelings. Darcy was relieved to see that his beloved wife’s sadness seemed to lift after their discussion, and she began taking an interest in some of the activities she had given up during her time of grief, including making plans to decorate for the Christmas season.
Christmas Eve arrived, and with the help of the staff, Elizabeth began to place the greenery, mistletoe, and kissing boughs that she so loved in the yellow drawing room where the family and visitors would all see them. She started out well enough, though rather more stoically than might be expected. Suddenly, in the midst of arranging a spray of pine on the mantel, Elizabeth began to sob. The pain of her losses, that she had thought she had overcome, attacked her senses unexpectedly. The maids who were with her froze for a few minutes, uncertain about what to do. Eventually, though, one took off out the door to find Mrs. Baker, and another ran to the study for Darcy, while the third led her mistress to the settee and settled with her there, wrapping her arms around Elizabeth and speaking soothing words.
Darcy was seated at the desk in the study, reading a letter from his cousin, when someone began knocking frantically at the door.
The door swung open, and a panicked maid stepped in, speaking even as she curtseyed. “Begging your pardon, sir, but Mrs. Darcy needs you.”
As the maid expected, that was all it took for Darcy to rise from his seat and stride to the door.
“Where is she?”
“The yellow drawing room, sir.”
Darcy was gone before she finished speaking, bounding up the stairs to the indicated chamber. He entered to find his wife held tightly by another of the maids and sobbing as though her heart were breaking. The servant, having heard him enter, rose to allow him access to his wife, whom he picked up. Seating himself with her in his lap, he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and her waist and held her tightly to himself. He let her cry her sorrow out until Mrs. Baker arrived, and then, after quietly asking the housekeeper to finish the decorations herself, rose with Elizabeth in his arms and carried her to their chambers.
Settling her on the bed, Darcy joined her there, leaning against the headboard and cuddling her beside him, once again wrapped in his embrace. Her tears had subsided, and she began to explain to him her feelings. When she had finished, they were quiet for a while, considering her words and working out in their heads a method to get her through this time.
“I am so sorry, Fitzwilliam. I had thought I was recovered from my grief.”
“No, no, you have nothing to be sorry for. You have done well in the last months, and I see the renewed joy in your mien and in your behavior. This is simply a minor setback.” Darcy paused while Elizabeth nodded, her hair rubbing his coat and becoming mussed. “What can we do to remind you of the joy of the season?”
“I do not know,” she replied in a small voice.
They thought a while longer, and soon an idea came to him. “What if…Elizabeth, you have heard of the Tractarians and the old Christmas traditions they have added to their celebrations, have you not?”
“Yes, I have. The group wishes to incorporate more High Church celebrations than we have had in the past. My sister Mary has written of the Eucharist being taken at the church in Meryton.”
“Why do they do these things? What is the purpose of such celebrations?”
“To remember the gift of the Christ child.”
Darcy nodded. “Yes, a gift, the ultimate gift, to each of us. A new life, should we choose to accept it.”
Elizabeth nodded again, not sure where he was going with it, but beginning to feel some excitement.
“My love, you have suffered great losses at this time of year, and it has been a painful season for you for a long time. However, you have been given a gift, a great and wonderful gift, and I believe that you may need a reminder of it to help you retain your joy during this next fortnight. What say you to asking Mr. Sawyer to carve us a Nativity scene? You know he is able to work quickly and still create quality items. He has made many toys for our children over the years, some of them last-minute. We could set the crèche up in the drawing room, where you can see it and remember.”
“Oh, Fitzwilliam! I love that idea! Let us go find him now and make our request.”
Darcy readily agreed, and the couple rode out to the woodcutter’s house to describe what they needed. Over the course of the next three days, Mr. Sawyer carved a Christ child in a manger, a Joseph, and a Mary, as well as a small stable to set them in. The Darcys set the arrangement up in the drawing room, just as they had discussed. They had many visitors between Christmas Day and Twelfth Night, and the couple took great pride in describing the scene and the reason for having it.
Elizabeth had other moments that season and in future Christmas seasons where grief tried to overtake her. When it happened, she made her way to her favorite Christmas decoration and contemplated the gift of the child given to all men by God. She knew that she would meet Him in heaven one day, when it was her turn to pass from this life, and she rejoiced in the surety of her salvation.
Zoe Burton, Author
Member, Austen Authors, PAN member-Romance Writers of America, and Jane Austen Society of North America

My Blog: Austen Promises
My Amazon Author Page

Friday, December 2, 2016

Maria Grace Shares a special Christmas Treat with Darcyholic Diversions.

Maria Grace Shares a special Christmas Treat with Darcyholic Diversions.

(I am grateful to have Maria Grace with us today, sharing a holiday exerpt with us.  Be sure to comment for a chance to win a drawing! ~~BTCole)

Thanks so much for inviting me Barb! It is great to visit with you again. I’m thrilled to be able to share an excerpt from ‘The Darcy’s First Christmas’, as Elizabeth experiences her first yule log. I’m also thrilled to be able to give away an ebook copy of the novella to a commenter on this post.

Elizabeth’s First Yule Log

Elizabeth sat in the upstairs sitting room, reading. Now things were returned to normal, a few minutes on her own proved pleasant, not isolating. Earlier that day, Darcy and Fitzwilliam had taken the children and Georgiana to cut decorations for the house. Evergreen boughs and Christmas roses adorned the mantle and filled vases on the tables throughout the house, the fruits of those labors.
What a change a few days and an alteration in company made. Though there had been a few frenzied moments in planning, all in all, peace had returned and with it a sense of the Christmastide season.
Mrs. Reynolds peeked into the room. “It is almost here, madam. The Pemberley tradition is for the family to gather in the parlor.”
Darcy and Fitzwilliam arrived a moment later.
“Come, my lady, your chariot waits.” Fitzwilliam bowed.
“I am quite capable in getting to the stairs on my own. I have become quite handy with these walking sticks now. Perhaps I might suggest them as a new fashionable accessory for the ton.”
Fitzwilliam sniggered. “Do not say that too loudly. All it would take is one of Almack's patronesses to appear in company with them. The next day everyone will be clamoring for them. You might speak to Bingley. There could be a fortune to be made in selling fashionable walking sticks to ladies.”
Darcy snickered.
Oh, how lovely it was to hear him in good humor once again. The house was glum and dreary without his laughter.
They carried her downstairs to the parlor where the Gardiners awaited.
Soon she would attempt the stairs on her own. The novelty in being carried had worn off. She longed for the freedom to come and go as she pleased. Darcy, though, would probably regret the loss of the excuse to be so close to her in public. She would miss that, too.
The fragrance of evergreens enveloped them, the room bearing a veritable forest of boughs, decked with gay red and white ribbons. Mama decorated this way too. More than anything, this brought the feelings of the Yuletide season to life.
Georgiana pressed her nose to the glass. “I see them coming!”
The children crowded around her. They had never seen a Yule log before. In town, the Gardiners celebrated with a Yule candle.
“Is the hot cider ready?” Elizabeth asked.
“Yes, madam, and there is bread and cheese in the kitchen for the men,” Mrs. Reynolds answered as she walked past the parlor door.
Elizabeth craned her neck to see out the window. A team of horses and several farmers, trundled up to the front of the house, a huge log chained to the team.
The front door groaned open and clanking chains and men’s voices filled the ground floor.
Elizabeth sat on the couch farthest from the door and gathered the children to her. They pressed close, eyes wide at the sight of the men wrestling the enormous log up to the fireplace.
Surely it would not fit. No, there was simply no way.
The children gasped and applauded.
How had they made it fit?
Darcy smiled at her from the other side of the room. He had promised her it would fit and was gloating in the glory of being right.
Dear man.
Darcy and Fitzwilliam thanked the men for their efforts, and Sampson ushered them back to the kitchen for an ample measure of Pemberley’s hospitality.
“That is the biggest Yule log I have ever seen,” Aunt Gardiner beckoned the children closer to the fireplace.
“Where did it come from, sir?” Matthew, the oldest, tugged Darcy’s coat sleeve.
Darcy hunkered down beside him. What an excellent father he would make.
“We have a cooper on the estate. The Yule log has always come from there. It is a log not suitable to his purposes, made a gift, suitable to ours.”
“Surely it is large enough to smolder until Twelfth Night,” Elizabeth said.
“That is the plan,” Darcy said. “Each year, it is the job of the youngest hall boy to sleep in the parlor from Christmas Eve until Twelfth Night. He tends the Yule fire and ensures it remains lit until throughout.”
“Do not fear, madam, the lad is well rewarded for his efforts, with all the apples he can roast and toast and cheese he can stuff himself with.” Fitzwilliam winked.
Elizabeth giggled.
Darcy waved them all close to the fireplace. He opened a silver box on the mantle and removed two crystal bottles and a silver box. He anointed the log with oil, wine and salt.
“May the fire of this log warm the cold; may the hungry be fed; may the weary find rest and may all enjoy heaven's peace.”
He opened a second silver box and extended it toward them. “This is what remains of the last Yule log.”
Ashes filled the box. Along one side lay a long splinter.
“Fitzwilliam, would you care to light the log?”
Fitzwilliam rubbed his hands together briskly. “Afraid that you might not be able to manage to start it on the first try yourself, old man?”
Darcy snorted, but held his peace.
Elizabeth snickered.
How like boys they were. But it was good. Fitzwilliam brought out a youthful, almost playful side in Darcy, one that needed release far more often. True, it was a mite prickly, but that could be shaped and softened with time and practice.
Fitzwilliam hunkered down beside the Yule log. Shadows drifted across his face. He stiffened and stared into the fireplace.
Darcy crouched beside him. “Are you well? Should I not have asked you to do this?”
Fitzwilliam swallowed hard and worked at words. “I … I … I can do this.” His hands shook
“Let us do it together.” Darcy moved close beside him and whispered to Fitzwilliam.
Elizabeth closed her eyes to listen better. He was reminding Fitzwilliam of boyhood times. Times spent in their hunting lodge, of Yule logs past. Of pleasant, peaceful things.
Slowly the trembling stopped, and Fitzwilliam began to breathe more normally.
Together, they struck the spark and fanned it into life. They lit the splinter and nursed the burgeoning blaze until the log burned, too.
Darcy stood and arranged the group around Elizabeth. He extended his hand toward her, and they joined hands in a circle.
“Let us consider the year past. Our faults, mistakes and bad choices. Let us allow the flames to consume those that we may begin the coming year with a clean slate. With that as our starting place, let us purpose to improve our faults, correct our mistakes and make improved choices.”
He squeezed her hand hard and peeked at her from the corner of his eyes. She squeezed his hand back.
This was a tradition different to her family’s. But it was very pleasing and she would look forward to it in the coming years.
They lingered a moment longer then released the circle.
A pair of maids entered bearing trays of cider, apples for roasting, bread and cheese for toasting.
Darcy tossed Fitzwilliam an apple. “You may have the honors of tending the roasting apples.”
Fitzwilliam bit into it instead. Darcy laughed heartily.
Yes, this was the sound to launch a proper Yuletide upon.

The Darcys' First Christmas

Sweet, Austen-inspired treats, perfect with a cup of tea.

Full of hope and ripe with possibility, Christmastide tales refresh the heart with optimism and anticipation.

Elizabeth anxiously anticipates her new duties as mistress of Pemberley. Darcy is confident of her success, but she cannot bring herself to share his optimism.

Unexpected guests unsettle all her plans and offer her the perfect Christmastide gift, shattered confidence.

Can she and Darcy overcome their misunderstandings and salvage their first Christmastide together?  

From the award winning author of Given Good Principles, Remember the Past and Mistaking Her Character, Sweet Tea short stories offer the perfect bite to transport readers back to the Regency era for the first days of new love.

Author Bio:
Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate in Educational Psychology. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six new novels in the works, attended seven period balls, sewn eight Regency era costumes, shared her life with nine cats through the years and published her tenth book last year.

She can be contacted at:
On Amazon.com:
Random Bits of Fascination (http://RandomBitsofFascination.com)
Austen Variations (http://AustenVariations.com)
English Historical Fiction Authors
On Twitter @WriteMariaGrace