Wednesday 8 November 2017

Blog Tour ~ Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa De La Cruz

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be hostng today's stop on the Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe 

Blog Tour

Hodder & Stoughton
16 November 2017

My thanks to the publisher for my ecopy of this book and the invitation to be part of this blog tour

Here's what's the story is about ...

As partner at a major New York hedge fund, Darcy's only serious relationship is with her work cellphone. The truth is, she's too busy being successful and making money to have time for Christmas... let alone to allow romance into her life.

But this year Darcy is coming home to Pemberley, Ohio, for the holidays. There, she runs into her old neighbour and high-school foe Luke Bennet - the oldest of five wayward brothers. When Darcy's enmity with Luke is re-opened, along with a hefty dollop of sexual chemistry... well, sparks are sure to fly. Can Darcy fall in love - or will her pride, and Luke's prejudice against big-city girls, stand in their way?

This sparkling retelling of Pride and Prejudice will warm your heart over the festive season.

Thanks to the publishers, Hodder&Storughton, I am delighted to be able to share this tantalising extract from Chapter Two of Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa De La Cruz...

Darcy’s childhood bedroom was half a floor beneath her parents’ and on the end of a marble landing. It overlooked an Olympic- size swimming pool surrounded by checkerboard tile and white lounge chairs, with an infinity waterfall segueing into a clear blue hot tub. The room hadn’t changed one bit since she had last seen it eight years ago. The navy sateen of her canopy bed, the wall of plaques and trophies from high school debates and academic honors and horseback riding competitions. It was all still there. She locked the door behind her and went to her bookshelf, which still held all her old favorite books: The Great Gatsby, Atlas Shrugged, Sense and Sensibility, War and Peace, and so many more. These had been the books to get her through the loneliness of high school. She ran her finger along their spines.

“Oh my God.” She laughed, her eyes falling on the stuffed animal perched at the end of the shelf.

“Little Lion!” Little Lion had been a present from her father when she was nine years old and had to have her appendix removed. She could still remember waking up from surgery to find her father at the side of the bed, holding the stuffed animal with a red bow around its neck, made extra bright and shimmery by the painkillers. She had named him Little Lion because, even then, she didn’t like the idea of making things up. She liked cold, hard facts that couldn’t be argued with, and so she gave him a name that would most accurately represent who he was.

Now she took him in her arms and laid down on the cool cotton sheets of her childhood bed. As she lay there, the sun began to set outside the wide window, where freshly cut flowers sat in Le Creuset vases. And as the sun set, her thoughts spun. It had been a whirlwind twelve hours since she received the phone call with news of her mother’s heart attack and she hopped on the first morning flight to Ohio. The transition from her new life suddenly into her old life felt surreal and jarring. She couldn’t reconcile the person she was now with the person she used to be, and she couldn’t get the image of her father’s disappointed, resentful face out of her head.

At the same time that her old life felt light-years away, it was also hard to believe that it had been eight whole years since things had gone sour between her and her father. In some ways, it felt like just yesterday that she had “let her whole family and community down” by not agreeing to follow her father’s plan for her. What he wanted was for her to marry her high school (and on- and- off- again college) boyfriend, Carl, who came from a respectable family of lawyers, doctors, and war heroes who had been the pride and joy of Pemberley, Ohio, for generations.

Darcy had tried hard to feel passionate about Carl, tried to convince herself that he was the one, but at the end of the day their days together felt dry and their nights left much to be desired.

Mr. Fitzwilliam’s wishes for his daughter were twofold, and the second fold involved her doing what a truly good and honourable woman would do: give birth to children and dedicate her life to raising them. Like the first fold of his plan, this didn’t work for her either.

“I don’t have to marry him, Dad,” she had said, sitting across from him at the long, stretching dining room table.

“No, you don’t,” he had replied triumphantly, as if the card he held would surely win this game. “Not if you don’t mind living on your own money.”

“You mean—”

“That’s right. I’ll restrict you from access to your inheritance, and I certainly won’t finance your life while you gallivant around New York City doing Lord knows what.”

Darcy had considered this momentarily, but ultimately knew what she had to do. Her happiness was in jeopardy, after all. She rejected her family money, broke up with Carl for the dozenth time, and moved to New York in search of what it meant to be independent.

“We made the right decision, didn’t we, Little Lion?” Sometimes she wasn’t so sure. After all, this was her first Christmas with people other than herself, and here she was talking to a stuffed lion, the only thing she had ever truly been able to confide in. It wasn’t that she didn’t have any friends; it was just that nobody could understand her the way an inanimate, nonresponsive object could.

“You’re pathetic,” she said to herself, then apologized for the insult. Her therapist, Dr. Springs, liked to talk to her about self-love and going easy on oneself, something Darcy knew almost nothing about. In the way of self- care, all Darcy really knew was setting goals and working toward them, then rewarding or punishing herself depending on the outcome.

“Don’t beat yourself up,” Dr. Springs liked to say. “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first, otherwise you’ll have nothing to work with.”

She repeated these messages in her head, telling herself that she’d have to relax and put her life back in New York aside if she wanted to be of any real help to her mom at all. Her mom would be okay, wouldn’t she? If Mrs. Fitzwilliam was telling the truth, then she was on the mend and would be good as new by Christmas. This would be a one-time thing and life would go on as usual. But Darcy knew all about her mom’s bad habits and faltering health. She’d been a lifelong smoker, had a sweet tooth the size of Mount Everest, and was one of those women who made it look glamorous to start drinking Belvedere at ten in the morning. When Darcy had held her hand upstairs, it had felt cold and frail. A small wave of fear rolled through the pit of Darcy’s stomach.

She unzipped her Louis Vuitton suitcase and took out her favorite Kate Spade deco dot pajamas. She took out her toothbrush and the lavender- scented, self- cooling eye mask that she never slept without. As she carried these items to bed, she felt exhaustion rise up as if from nowhere to claim her. It closed in around her foggy head, causing her eyelids to droop suddenly.

I’ll just sit down for one minute, she thought, letting the weight of her body plop down onto the bedding. She let her eyes close, and before she had time to protest, she fell asleep, clutching her belongings to her chest.

The next morning, Darcy woke, startled and disoriented, at the first sign of sunlight. Where am I? She wondered for a brief moment, before the reality of waking life came flooding back. There was a knock at her door.

“Who is it?” she called out.

“Lorna, dear.”

“Just a second!” Darcy looked down at her fully clothed self. She tore off her clothes and slipped into the Kate Spade pajamas,not wanting word to get around that she had fallen asleep in her clothes. 

“Okay, you can come in,” she said, once she felt presentable, more like a civilized human being and less like the sleep- deprived workaholic she was.

The door opened and there stood Lorna with a silver breakfast tray, supplied with a pot of steaming-hot coffee and a sprig of honeysuckle.

“You didn’t have to do that!” Darcy insisted, standing up to meet Lorna halfway.

“Your mother insisted,” Lorna said, brushing off Darcy’s attempt to help her and setting the silver tray down on Darcy’s nightstand.

“How is she doing?” Darcy sat cross- legged on the bed and picked up an orange from the tray.

“Honestly, dear, she’s not doing very well. Nothing to worry about, really, but Dr. Law doesn’t want her going to the party tonight. He thinks it’s better she rest. Gather her strength.”

“Lucky,” Darcy said, before she could stop herself.

“Sorry, dear?” Lorna looked alarmed.

“Oh, ha,” Darcy scrambled to explain, “of course I didn’t mean she’s lucky to be ill. I just meant that I myself am sort of . . .uncomfortable about going to the party, so I meant my mom is lucky that she has a good excuse not to go. I didn’t mean for it to be insensitive. I’m worried about her, of course, I hate to think—”

“Darcy.” Lorna’s tone was gentle, warm, and forgiving. “I’ve known you long enough to know that you’re anything but insensitive.”

“Really? Most people think I’m a cold hearted bitch. Excuse my language.”

“Well, those people don’t know the real you. They only know your tough exterior you’ve developed from years of having to fend for yourself. But I’ve known you since you were a baby, don’t forget. You can’t fool me.”

“Well, thank you, Lorna,” Darcy said earnestly. “That means a lot to me.”

“You’re very welcome. Now, why don’t you want to go to this party?”

“The same reason I never come home!” Darcy explained, throwing her hands up. “Because half the people in this town take it as a personal offense that I left! And they’re all going to be at the party. Not to mention my own dad, who uses every opportunity he possibly can to try to make me feel bad for leaving. And if my mom’s not well enough to go to the party, why should I? She’s the whole reason I’m here, isn’t she? I should stay upstairs with her and keep her company.”

“First of all, your mother knew you would say that, and she wants me to tell you that she insists you attend the party. She’s been wanting you at an annual Christmas party for eight years, and now that you’re here, she won’t take no for an answer.”

“What? Why?”

“Because,” Lorna explained, “she wants you to reconnect with the people who love you, the place where you came from.”

“Oh boy.” Darcy rolled her eyes, but she had a gnawing feeling that her mother was right, that maybe she actually could benefit from reconnecting to her roots. Pemberley wasn’t perfect, and she’d had her reasons to flee, but living here she’d never been half as lonely as she was in New York. Her life back in Pemberley had been slower, sure, but it had feeling, it had substance. It had late- night conversations at the Tavern and all- day picnics in the fall. And, lastly, her life in Pemberley had familiar faces with good intentions, people who knew her and always wanted what was best for her, even though they never understood her, not really.

“Now, second of all, I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but besides your father, nobody cares that you left. They’re all over it. They have their own lives to worry about. And nobody thinks you’re a freak; they’re all too busy thinking about themselves to think of you at all.”

“Lorna!” Darcy laughed.

“It’s true, dear. Nobody blames you for leaving home and following your dreams. If anything, you’re probably respected for it by now.”

“I hope you’re right, Lorna.” Darcy smiled.

My thanks to the publishers for their permission to share this extract.

Melissa de la Cruz is the #1 New York Times, #1 Publisher's Weekly and #1 Indie Bound bestselling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for readers of all ages. Melissa lives in Los Angeles and Palm Springs with her husband and daughter.


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