Friday, October 18, 2013

What's the Most Romantic Time of Year?

Congratulations to "Jonetta", the winner in Stephanie's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

I have to admit that when I ask my mind to summon up romantic images, the first picture forms in my head is a couple walking hand in hand along a sun-kissed beach, with palm trees silhouetted against the sunset.  So how come my first seasonal romance is actually a Christmas story?  Well, as much as I love the sun, there are a number of reasons that Christmas is a great time to set a romance. 

Christmas is such an emotional time that everything seems to mean more.  At Christmas love is more wonderful and heartbreak more poignant. 

For me, one of the most powerful opening sentences in literature is the first sentence of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. 

“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug. 

At Christmas, the March family’s poverty is more distressing to them than at any other time, because it seems to prevent them from celebrating the season properly with gifts and food, yet as they start to think of how they can use the little they have to make the occasion more special, they end up perfectly demonstrating the true spirit of Christmas.  By the end of the book, it’s obvious both to the girls and to the reader that the best possible gift is the love that the family have for each other and for their neighbours. 

As we see in Little Women, Christmas is a time associated with children and family,
and for some that makes it a happy time, while for others, past losses become more painful. 

For my hero, Bryn, it's a time for soul-searching as he mourns the loss of his unborn daughter by his ex-fiancee, Cat.  Although he's a generous man, he very nearly turns down his neighbor Sue's request to help out by playing Santa at the local school's Christmas party, because it's just too painful.  
Fortunately, his innate goodness wins out and as he gets to know Sue and her daughter Trudi, he rediscovers the magic of Christmas through them. 

As Santa, Bryn gets to hear a lot about the children’s wishes and dreams, and to think about the gifts that would mean most to them at Christmas.  For him and for Sue, love is the greatest, and most surprising, gift they can receive – but their love is also a gift for Trudi, as the cover designer has captured wonderfully in the image of the little girl holding a parcel on which the loving couple are overlaid. 

I imagine that Christmas will always be a very special time for Bryn and Sue, and they’ll always enjoy the romance of carol-singing in the snow or snuggling in front of log fires with a glass of mulled wine, not to mention sharing the opening of Christmas gifts.  After all, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without any presents!

If you’d like some help getting in the mood for Christmas, The Santa Next Door is free on Kindle until 19th October, and I’m also offering a pdf copy of my first romance, Desperate Bid, to one lucky reader.  I’d love to hear your comments: which do you think is the most romantic season of the year, and why?    

“Mmmm.” A blissful murmur escaped Bryn’s lips. The pastry was crisp and warm and light, and the filling rich and spicy, bursting onto his tongue with the taste of childhood Christmases. “Thank you.”
His thanks to Sue related to more than just the neighborly gesture of bringing pies. He only hoped the two weak words could hold the depth of gratitude he felt for the way she had awakened him, his energy, his hopes, and his senses.
The warmth in her eyes as she responded with a simple, “You’re welcome,” suggested that she understood something of the depth of his feeling, though perhaps not the reason for his emotive response. He smiled across his coffee at her, and no words were needed as they shared a moment of perfect contentment.
Of course, Trudi was not one to allow the silence to linger, and she bounced over to Bryn with her hand outstretched, displaying the coloring book she’d brought. Sue sat back in the corner of the sofa, and Bryn got a very appealing view of her shapely legs. She looked like a cat curled comfortably in the warm room, and she seemed happy to let Trudi, perched on Bryn’s chair arm, dominate the conversation.
“I want a princess dress for Christmas “I want a princess dress for Christmas,” Trudi announced. “I love princesses. I like the princess in Aladdin best, and I like the other princess, the one with red hair like mine.” Sue and Bryn exchanged an amused look as Trudi rattled on. “I like unicorns too. I’ve got a unicorn but it’s not a real one. It’s purple and furry.”
Did all girls go through a fairy-tale phase? Something in Sue’s eyes told him that if she had ever believed in happy endings, she no longer had that faith. What had happened to change that feeling? He wasn’t ready to ask yet, but maybe one day he’d find out. He’d like to bring back her faith in the world.

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Oct. 19th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JCR GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.


  1. First, thank you for The Santa Next Door! I'm looking forward to reading it as I'm a sucker for these type stories.

    I think fall/autumn is the most romantic season. The weather is just starting to turn and seems to affect peoples' moods...lots of snuggle opportunities and the air is crisp and fresh. Just look at all the couples who seem to be walking and holding hands. I love it.

    Jonettaallen77 at yahoo dot com

  2. Thank you Stephanie for The Santa Next Door, I look forward to reading it. My choice of fav romantic times... the same as Jonetta's. When the cooler weather hits it is the perfect excuse to snuggle. Sitting by a bonfire having hubby next to me... the stars in the sky seem closer, sharper and when we see a falling star he makes a wish to have another lifetime with me. We are lucky to live in the country and see a few falling stars a night. But, it seems we only get out to enjoy the show in the cooler weather of Fall.
    Julie O
    jo1963jo at gmail dot com

  3. Wow. That all sounds so romantic. I'll add to the 'good things about fall/autumn' list: wrapping up in a fluffy scarf and gloves, playing in the fallen leaves and drinking steaming hot chocolate. Mmmm... making myself glad it's October!

  4. Hi, Stephanie - enjoyed The Santa Next Door. I'm glad to hear your standings are so high. Well deserved!!

  5. Winter for all the holidays

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  6. Thanks Ashantay!
    bn100 - yes, indeed! The busier life gets, the more I appreciate time off to spend with friends and family.

  7. Thank you for Desperate Bid! I promise to read and post a review.


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