Good Afternoon everyone,
I hope you’re all enjoying your weekend! I’m getting some rest after a crazy week at the office but also getting quite nervous about the conference I’ll be participating in next week, so I needed something to distract me from all this stress and Victoria Kincaid’s new release was the perfect present I could have received for that! Her stories are always so cozy and warm that they make me feel better. There is something special about them and they are always the perfect escape from this crazy world.
After having loved A Very Darcy Christmas so much last year, I was eager to get Victoria Kincaid’s new Christmas book in my hands! Luckily for me she didn’t make me wait much longer and had it released a couple of days ago. Today I have the pleasure of hosting her with a guest post and excerpt I hope you all enjoy.
Thank you for hosting me, Rita!
One of the fun—and sometimes frustrating—aspects of writing Regency romance is that you need to do research to make sure you get the historical details correct. Fairly often this research inspires plot points and sends the story off in new directions. This happened during my research for Christmas at Darcy House. While reading up on Christmas traditions in London, I learned that Astley’s Amphitheatre had special Christmas versions of its show.
Here is a succinct description of Astley’s from the British Library website:
“Philip Astley was a distinguished soldier who opened a riding school in Lambeth in 1768. Together with his wife Patty, Astley began to exploit the late Georgian fascination with outdoor spectacles by performing horseback tricks and equestrian skills to the paying public. Astley’s displays of horsemanship were gradually complimented by other visual spectacles of strength and skill, such as acrobatics and tight-rope walking. After his original premises were burnt to the ground in the late 18th century, Astley quickly re-established himself by opening his new ‘Royal Amphitheatre’ in 1795, itself rebuilt following a further fire in 1804 (and pictured here).
Astley’s Amphitheatre is often considered to be the first genuine British ‘circus’ owing to its many features that are still familiar today. Horses travelled at speed around a ring while acrobats and clowns also topped the bill. The Amphitheatre, however, combined other elements of performance more akin to traditional theatres, such as drama and song.”
Some scholars credit Astley’s Amphitheatre as being the first circus. Astley was the one who devised the optimal size for a circus ring—he figured out the exact size to create the centrifugal forces that allowed for spectacular feats of riding. Although acrobatic riding was the first impetus behind the Amphitheatre, it also featured clowns, jugglers, rope tricks, acrobats and other acts.
One interesting aspect of the Amphitheatre was that it comprised a circus ring in front of a proscenium stage (as you can see in this picture). Performances took place both in the ring and on the stage—and sometimes both at once. No doubt it was quite spectacular.
I couldn’t find any records of what they did differently at the Christmas versions of the show, so in the scene where Darcy and Elizabeth visit Astley’s, I invented some holiday-themed details. Hopefully I came close to the original.
We also know that Jane Austen was a fan of Astley’s. In one of her letters she mentions attending the show in London, and in Emma, two of her characters take in the Astley’s spectacular.
His arrival had interrupted a scene of some mirth. Wickham was grinning while Elizabeth giggled, and Mrs. Gardiner had her hand over her mouth as if to suppress laughter. When Darcy stepped into the room, the merriment quickly died away.
The other man raised his eyes slowly to meet Darcy’s, a smirk forming on his lips. “Darcy,” he drawled.
“Wickham.” Darcy bit off the word.
Everyone stood to exchange an awkward series of bows and curtsies. Darcy seated himself in the closest available chair, which happened to be opposite Wickham’s. Unfortunately, the other man was also adjacent to the settee where Elizabeth and her aunt were situated. How did Wickham come to be in London? Why was he visiting Elizabeth? Was he actively courting her? Darcy’s breakfast sat like a lump of lead in his stomach.
He could not forget Elizabeth’s disappointment that Wickham had not attended the Netherfield Ball and her spirited defense of him during the dancing. The conversation had caused Darcy twinges of anxiety, but he had comforted himself that her meager dowry kept her safe from Wickham’s depredations. In perpetual want of money, the man would never pursue a poor woman.
And yet here he was.
“I was not aware you were in town,” Darcy said pointedly.
Wickham gave him a lazy smile. “I have a fortnight’s leave for Christmas and thought I would visit some friends here in London.” In other words, he was in town to gamble. “I would not have expected to see you in Gracechurch Street.”
Darcy stiffened. “I am on good terms with the Bennet family,” he said sharply. “And I made Mrs. Gardiner’s acquaintance yesterday.”
“This is my third visit,” Wickham smirked. “The Gardiners are most charming hosts.”
Three visits already? Perhaps he was courting Elizabeth. The room was too warm and too close. Sweat dampened the back of Darcy’s cravat, and he tugged to loosen it. It was unfair that providence had gifted Wickham with such pleasing manners and easy ways with people. He readily formed friendships while Darcy struggled simply to say appropriate words in social situations.
Mrs. Gardiner cleared her throat. “Mr. Wickham and I both spent our childhoods near Lambton, in Derbyshire.”
Darcy suppressed a desire to shout that he knew very well where Lambton was.
“We have many acquaintances in common,” she continued. Darcy no doubt had acquaintances in common with Mrs. Gardiner as well; unfortunately, they most likely took the form of having patronized the shops that members of her family operated. How have I arrived at this pass? His feelings for Elizabeth had brought him so low that he was beginning to regret his superior birth.
“I grew up at Pemberley,” Darcy said.
The older woman’s eyes grew wide. “Oh…Darcy! I should have realized—!” She turned to her niece. “You neglected to inform me that the Mr. Darcy of your acquaintance was Mr. Darcy of Pemberley!”
Elizabeth’s expression revealed no chagrin. “I did not realize you would know the name, Aunt.”
So she had rarely discussed Darcy with her aunt, and yet Wickham arrived for frequent visits. Darcy had the distinct impression he was losing a footrace he had not known he was running.
For the rest of the visit, Darcy remained an outsider. Elizabeth knew how Wickham liked his tea. Mrs. Gardiner inquired after his cousin’s health. Wickham referred to incidents which had occurred at Longbourn after Darcy had left for London.
Darcy made only occasional forays into the conversation, but his subjects were not taken up by the others. In desperation, he blurted out an invitation for Elizabeth to join him for a curricle ride through London.
She blinked at him, a faint line forming between her brows. “I thank you for your most generous offer, Mr. Darcy. But I fear I might be contracting a cold and do not believe it would be prudent for me to remain outside for great lengths of time.”
“Of course,” Darcy murmured while Wickham smirked. “Another time perhaps.”
Nevertheless, Darcy refused to quit the drawing room and leave Wickham in possession of the battlefield. To do so would not only admit defeat but would also leave Elizabeth unprotected from the other man’s whims. As a result, both men stayed quite a bit longer than was customary. Finally, Mrs. Gardiner announced she felt a headache developing; both Darcy and Wickham regarded that as an invitation to depart.
A Pride and Prejudice Variation. Mr. Darcy hopes Christmastime will help him to forget the pair of fine eyes that he left behind in Hertfordshire. When Elizabeth Bennet appears unexpectedly in London, Darcy decides to keep his distance, resolved to withstand his attraction to her. But when he learns that Wickham is threatening to propose to Elizabeth, Darcy faces a crisis.
For her part, Elizabeth does not understand why the unpleasant master of Pemberley insists on dancing with her at the Christmas ball or how his eyes happen to seek her out so often. She enjoys Mr. Wickham’s company and is flattered when he makes her an offer of marriage. On the other hand, Mr. Darcy’s proposal is unexpected and unwelcome. But the more Elizabeth learns of Mr. Darcy, the more confused she becomes—as she prepares to make the most momentous decision of her life.
It’s a Yuletide season of love and passion as your favorite characters enjoy Christmas at Darcy House!
You can find Christmas at Darcy House at:
Did you enjoy the excerpt? And did the blurb get into you? Well, you have an opportunity to read this book quite soon because Victoria Kincaid is offering one ebook of Christmas at Darcy House to one of my readers.
All you have to do is comment on this post and let us know what you think of Victoria’s most recent release.
The giveaway is international and is open until the 16th of December, a very special date for all of us 😉
Good Luck Everyone!