Exclusive Excerpt: Melissa de la Cruz's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND MISTLETOE!

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND MISTLETOE by Melissa de la CruzBooks by Melissa de la Cruz, stories with a holiday twist and basically anything that has to do with Jane Austen are just a few of our favorite things. Imagine our excitement when these things came together to create Melissa's mainstream fiction novel, Pride, Prejudice and Mistletoe, available next week! If you're as excited as we are to get your hands on this modern retelling of Jane Austen's classic, read on to enjoy an exclusive excerpt!

Darcy Fitzwilliam leaves her successful job at a hedgefund to return home for the holidays, where she is reunited with her childhood friend Luke Bennet. A sweet kiss under the mistletoe sparks a romance, but their naturally competitive natures cause them to hide it behind malice. Will Darcy and Luke put their differences aside and find true love? There's only one way to find out ...

A Taylor Swift cover of “Last Christmas”, originally recorded by WHAM! In 1984, strummed from the stereo of the sleek, black town car of which Darcy was sitting in the back row. Over the driver seat she could see Edward’s head bobbing up and down as they drove over the bumpy terrain, and it was somewhat of a comfort. Edward had worked for the Fitzwilliam family since Darcy was a small girl, and though she told herself over and over that she didn’t miss anything about her hometown in the past eight years since she’d fled, the truth was she had missed Edward. Despite being only fifteen years older than she was, he had a grandfatherly twinkle in his blue eyes and had an impressively sharp memory that she had always admired. He always remembered everything she told him. And she told him plenty, as he was the only person in her family she felt she could trust. 

“She’s going to be okay,” Edward said from the front seat, “So you can wipe that worried look off your face, my dear.”

“Oh, I hope you’re right,” she said, chewing her bottom lip anxiously, “But you know how my mom is, she’ll never let people know if she’s suffering.”

“That’s true,” she watched his head bob up and down, “You know, you haven’t aged one bit,” he said, looking at her reflection the rearview mirror.

“I know,” she tried to smile through her nerves, “You always told me if I kept scowling I’d have forehead wrinkles by twenty-five.” 

“Now you’re 29 and wrinkle free!” he chuckled, “What’s your secret, Miss Fitzwilliam?” 

He never called her that. Darcy, Darce, The Darcinator, sometimes Darce-Tastic, but never Miss Fitzwilliam, that was her mother’s name. Doing so now was a playful acknowledgment of the way she’d skyrocketed to a position of unfathomable power and status in the time since he’d last seen her that even her own blue blooded family had never quite held. He was proud of her, she could tell, and she appreciated it. At least somebody from her old life did. She swallowed hard, so unsure of how she’d be received in her family home. How should she act when she saw them all again? How did she used to act around them? Suddenly she couldn’t remember, suddenly she felt seized by anxiety, like this one interaction with her parents and brothers after eight years would make or break their relationship for the entire future. 

From the outside, anyone would think that Darcy Fitzwilliam was doing unusually well on her own in New York City, and in many ways she was. But in her gut she knew something was horribly off, and when she’d got that middle-of-the-night phone call she finally knew what was missing. Her glamorous Manhattan life was missing family, people to love and to be loved by. She’d hopped on the first flight home. Now, for the sake of at least making a good impression on Edward, she used all her energy to shake off the nervousness and said, “My secret? A lady never reveals her secrets, Mister Peterson,” 

She turned then to face her reflection. It was true: at twenty-nine and partner at the second most successful hedge fund in NYC, she didn’t look a day over twenty-four. She was confident in her good looks, and considered herself to be just as gorgeous as everybody told her she was. Her slender, heart-shaped face boasted elegantly chiseled cheekbones, a lightly freckled, ski-slope nose, big, stormy gray eyes shuttered by naturally long lashes, and a perfectly pouty set of pale pink lips. Now and then she started to think they were losing their youthful luster, and in those moments she’d briefly toy with the idea of getting them plumped. But the thought was always fleeting, as she had far more important things on her mind. The real question for Darcy was not to plump or not to plump. No, it was something far less simple and far more troubling. 

See, it is an assumption universally made that any beautiful, brilliant, single woman who is rich as hell will be in want of a husband. She’d heard it time and time again. “But Darcy, you could have any man in Manhattan!” her closest friend, Kate Myles, would despair from time to time, “Just pick the sexiest one and marry him.”

“Marry him?” Audrey Rooney, their third musketeer, would balk, “How about she starts by going on a date with him? The girl probably hasn’t seen a naked man in a decade. She could use a little fun.” 

Darcy would just sit back and watch her friends assess her love life back and forth like a tennis match.

And she’d get it from practical strangers too. Cocktail party attendees and cab drivers and doctors and reporters and TV repair men and waiters and salespeople all wanted to know the one question: why are you—how are you still single? And, the question on Darcy’s mind: why don’t I care? 

When, from time to time, she had a few spare hours to analyze and assess her life, she would realize that it wasn’t that she didn’t ever care to settle down and get married, it was that she had less than zero interest in doing these things with anyone who didn’t make her heart absolutely melt. The way Darcy saw it, she’d have real passionate love or she would have none at all. Of course she preferred the thought of the former, but without it was prepared to settle on the latter. Anybody who understood Darcy as coldhearted and callous had misunderstood her. The truth was that beneath her cool exterior was a very warm, very willing heart, waiting patiently to give itself to the right person. She just hadn’t found him yet.

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe will be available in digital and print on October 17. Digital copies start at $9.99, grab yours here: Amazon | B&N | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo. And if more fun and flirty stories is what you crave, be sure to stop by our Everything Mainstream page!

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