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I’m delighted to welcome Jennifer Redlarczyk back to Diary of an Eccentric, this time to celebrate the release of her Pride and Prejudice-inspired Christmas novella, A Holiday to Remember.

Every year, I look forward to choosing a few Christmas books to read throughout December, and this is one of the books on my list, so stay tuned for my thoughts. 🙂 In the meantime, Jennifer is here with an enticing excerpt and a giveaway. Please give her a warm welcome!

Happy Holidays! Thank you, Anna, for hosting me today. I’m delighted to be back visiting your blog with A Holiday to Remember. In this modern P&P variation, Elizabeth Bennet is a dedicated choral director and teacher at Meryton Academy for the Performing Arts and William Darcy is the aloof CEO of Darcy Enterprises. The two of them met when unfortunate circumstances brought them together during a summer music festival in Chicago where tempers flared and unpleasant words were exchanged. Find out what happens when their paths cross again in December. Will their animosity continue, or will their reunion turn out to be A Holiday to Remember?

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From Chapter One

 

Meryton Academy for the Performing Arts

Monday, 4 December

Present day 

“Liz Bennet! Please tell me I didn’t hear what I just thought I heard!” Charlotte Lucas burst through the doors of the choir room and marched straight to the keyboard where Elizabeth was working out the final arrangements for A Holiday to Remember—part of the music academy’s final showcase before the winter break.

“Char, I have no idea what you’re talking about, and I’m kind of on a deadline here. Uh … you do remember I have a major rehearsal at six o’clock tonight?” She arched a questioning eyebrow in her friend’s direction before entering the final chords on the master lead sheet in her computer.

“Right, but for your information, Mr. Billy Collins just told everyone in the teacher’s lounge he has a big date with you on New Year’s Eve. He says he’s escorting you to the Pemberley Foundation’s charity gala at Forest Ridge. What gives? Don’t those tickets start at five hundred a pop? Not to mention any woman who would dare to go out with that nutter would have to be a marble short.”

Elizabeth stopped what she was doing and burst into laughter. “Char, do you honestly think BC would actually shell out that kind of money just to have a date with me? The man is so tight he probably wouldn’t spend five dollars on his own mother. Don’t worry. The Vocalteens were asked to perform at the gala and will be doing the opening act right after dessert. Since Reeves will be out of town, I’m making do with Billy-boy to run sound. You’re welcome to join us if you don’t have a date. I can always use an extra chaperone. Plus, after the kids leave, the adults are invited to stay and enjoy the rest of the party. There’s going to be a live band, dancing, loads of food and some kind of a silent auction. It could be fun, even without dates.”

“Sorry, Liz. As a matter of fact, I do have a date.” Charlotte straightened up and fluttered her eyelashes in jest. “And … as much as I’d like to hobnob with the rich and famous, Brexton Denny is taking me to the Signature Room to celebrate the New Year. Who knows, this might turn out to be my Holiday to Remember, if you don’t mind me borrowing the title from your medley.”

“Go right ahead. The Signature Room is pretty impressive. Is there any chance your Mr. Denny might finally be getting serious?”

“Not to my knowledge. Still, there’s no way I’m going to pass up a date with a buff trainer from the fitness club, fireworks over Lake Michigan, and a kiss at midnight.”

“A kiss at midnight,” Elizabeth sighed, kind of dreamy-eyed. “Aunt Maddy says being kissed at midnight by someone special is magical, and although I’ve yet to meet that perfect someone, I believe her.”

“Girl, you’ve been watching way too many holiday romance movies on your favorite channel, if you ask me. I could never be like you. At any rate, if you need an escort, you can always ask my brother. I know Johnny isn’t ideal, but he’s okay in a pinch. On second thought, what about that cute drummer from the music store? Didn’t you go out with him a couple of times? Maybe you can take him.”

George Wickham?! I think not! And no, we never dated. Char, your memory fails you. I only agreed to sing backups for that smooth talker’s band at the Lollapalooza Music Festival last summer because he was desperate. Believe me; dating was not part of the chord chart. Besides, I’m hardly interested in a fly-by-night drummer or any freelance musician for that matter. And I’m definitely considering adding your brother to my no-go list of men. If Johnny stands me up for one more transmission or any other mechanical failure, the man is toast. As it turns out, I’ll probably hand him his marching orders once he escorts me to Charles Bingley’s holiday party on Friday. Who knows, I may end up following Jane’s lead and using her professional dating service after all. I mean, who could complain about Mr. Bingley?”

“Are you serious?”

“Absolutely! Charles is exceptional. He’s considerate and has a great sense of humor. Plus, he brings Jane flowers, sends her cards, and takes her out to dinner, concerts, company functions, yada, yada…. And to top it all off, it was Charles Bingley who recommended the Vocalteens for the Pemberley gig. As one of the corporate lawyers who work for the foundation, he was happy to submit my PR materials to the marketing director. Mr. Reynolds thinks our Holiday to Remember medley will be perfect for the charity gala.”

“I agree; it’s bound to be a hit. The kids are already looking pretty good, and you still have until next Thursday to pull it all together for the showcase. Speaking of the gala, I hear the CEO of Darcy Enterprises is pretty hot.” Charlotte wiggled her eyebrows as if in the know. “William Darcy has been in all of the tabloids lately. They say he’s some kind of aloof, mystery man—tall, dark, and handsome. I wonder if he’ll be there.”

William Darcy?” Elizabeth frowned. “His sister, Georgiana, was studying piano with Aunt Maddy at the music store until….” Her voice trailed off. “Are you sure he’s connected to the foundation? Mr. Reynolds never mentioned him.”

“Small world! According to Google, the foundation is run by Darcy Enterprises.” Glancing at the wall clock, Charlotte changed the subject. “It looks like the bell is about to ring, so I’d better head over to my advanced ballet class. Do you still need help tonight with choreography for the opening number?”

“I’d really appreciate it, since I’m going to have my hands full with the pit orchestra. If you can take over while we run through my new arrangements, it would mean one less thing for me to juggle at practice.”

“No problem. I’ll be there. Catch you later.”

“Thanks.”

After Charlotte left, Elizabeth minimized her music program and quickly googled William Darcy, CEO of Darcy Enterprises. “I can’t believe it. It is him! So, Mr. Darcy,” she continued to babble while glaring at the computer screen. “Your Mr. Reynolds booked us for the gala. How was he to know you never wanted to see me again?” She shrugged her shoulders. “Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to make the most of it, won’t we?”

****

Well, it looks like our favorite couple had a run in at Lollapalooza which is an annual music festival in Chicago featuring popular alternative rock, heavy metal, punk rock, hip hop, and more. Can you picture George Wickham as a drummer? Just for fun, let’s find out what’s going on with William.

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William’s office at Darcy Enterprises

A few days later   

“Bingley, I’ve been waiting on the paperwork for the new contracts.”

“All ready to go, Boss!”

“Do you have to be so cheerful when you come in here? This is work, you know.”

“Can’t help myself, Darcy. It must be love.” He patted his chest with a melodramatic gesture.

“Don’t tell me you’ve already fallen for your latest angel.”

“My Janie? She is an angel, and yes, I’m madly in love.”

William rolled his eyes. “She smiles too much, just like you, I might add. I suppose that makes the two of you perfect for one another.”

“Ha, you should try it sometime! The holidays are practically around the corner, and you could use some diversion. You’ve been nothing but a bear since the end of summer.”

“I’ve had a lot on my plate.” William scowled, directing his attention to the folder Charles had just handed him.

“Speaking of plates, you do remember the holiday party tomorrow night at my parents’ home in Winnetka, don’t you? With Mom and Dad living in Italy for the past year, the house rarely gets used. Caroline has pulled out all of the stops to impress you. She’s having the party catered by some celebrity chef from the city and even hired a jazz trio to play easy listening music before dinner. Hopefully they can move on to some lively tunes afterwards, since Jane loves to dance.” He grinned.

“Humph! Spare me the details.”

“All in all, there should be about sixty or seventy from corporate along with a few other staff members in attendance. And if you’re not into partying, you can always network a little and combine business with pleasure. Say, maybe you can hook up with Jane’s sister, Liz. You know … the music teacher from the performing arts school? You could hang out with her for a while and probably get some useful advice for Georgiana while you’re at it.”

“Her sister?” His brows furrowed. “It should be some party with both your and Jane’s sister in attendance. I feel a migraine coming on just thinking about it.”

“What are you talking about? Liz is nothing like Caro. You might actually like her. She’s unpretentious, intelligent, and a very pretty brunette—quite unlike some of the women you’ve dated in the past.”

“Bingley, you’re wasting your time. I’m not looking for a date, and even if I were, it would not be with Elizabeth Bennet. For your information, we’ve already met, and it didn’t go well. End of story.”

“Suit yourself. Maybe she’ll hit it off with Richard.”

“Right.”

“At any rate, I expect you to play nice. Per Jane’s suggestion, I recommended Liz’s kids to Reynolds for the foundation gala, and whether you like her or not, Ms. Bennet’s top choir from her school is on the bill.”

“Great,” he grumbled, adding under his breath, “Serves me right for not approving the entertainment choices myself.”

“O … kay, I can tell when you’re not in the mood for conversation. Just shoot me a text if you need anything else with regards to these papers.”

“You can count on it.”

Soon after Charles left, William deliberately pushed aside the documents and stepped to the window of his high rise office in the Chicago Loop area. Firmly grabbing one of the window sashes, he aimlessly gazed down on Lake Shore Drive and out over the chilly lake.

“Well, Ms. Bennet, it looks like we’ll be seeing each other again.” He massaged the back of his neck trying to relieve some of the tension he was feeling. “And … I guess it’s about time I dished out an apology for my offensive behavior.”

****

As you can see, William and Elizabeth are obviously not on speaking terms. Not to worry since Bingley’s party will definitely prove to be a turning point in their relationship. Even so, there will be a few obstacles to overcome including one feisty Caroline Bingley.

I hope you enjoyed these excerpts. Now it’s your turn to tell me what you think. Please feel free to leave your comments below, as I will be giving away two eBooks of A Holiday to Remember (International) and would love to hear from you. If you have a chance, be sure to check out my Pinterest page where I’ve posted more fun pictures for each chapter. Good luck and thank you all!

Jennifer Redlarczyk (Jen Red) ♫

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Thank you, Jennifer, for being my guest today, sharing those excerpts, and offering such a generous giveaway!

To those who enter, please leave your email address in your comment. The giveaway will stay open through Sunday, December 9, 2018. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

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