Thursday, July 31, 2014

Happy Christmas in July!

     It’s never too early to think about Regency Christmas novellas. My personal opinion is that these stories are a terrific invention, and I’m grateful to whoever came up with the concept.
     Again this year, the Cotillion imprint of EC’s Blush line will feature five of these gems – each as an individual e-book, then all of them together in a print collection, tentatively titled A Cotillion Christmas Feast. Indeed!
     Devotées of these stories will recognize some of the authors listed here, many of whom are old favorites. Of course, there are also new names, which is always encouraging. The individual e-books and their release dates are as follows:

10/16/14 - Christmas Fête - Barbara Miller
10/23/14 - Her Very Major Christmas - Saralee Etter
10/30/14 - The Size of the Scandal - Jillian Chantal
11/6/14 - It's Never Enough - Cynthia Moore
11/13/14 - A Christmas Scheme - Vivien Jackson & Christa Paige

     We’ll tell you about three of these stories this month; then the remaining two, plus a small glimpse into team writing, in August.
     First up In mid-October is A Christmas Fête by Barbara Miller, who tells us: A Christmas Fête is a search for the magic of Christmas. As a kid I was always trying to make Christmas perfect. I have since realized this is an impossible mission. For this novella, which I actually drafted during Christmas week 2013, I put my child self in the place of the heroine Dinah so that she could come to that realization that it’s how we handle ourselves when things don’t work that matters more than perfection, that feelings are more important than food and laughter takes precedence over gifts.
     Here is a brief synopsis of the story:  Ross Chandler reluctantly offers marriage to his despairing neighbor, Ophelia Loukes, only a day before he meets the love of his life, Dinah Claypool. Dinah has actually come to rescue Ross’s intended bride and mother by telling them they may stay at Hammersmith Hall, the property her father has inherited.
     Just as her brother George falls head over heels in love with the ethereal Ophelia, Dinah finds in Ross all the qualities she has ever hoped for in a husband. Sadly he puts off telling her about the engagement until Christmas Eve, then brings all her dreams for a perfect holiday crashing down around her head.
     The scandal of her father’s broken engagement years before keep Ross and Dinah from considering an elopement while they wait for a Christmas Day miracle to save their future.
     You’ll just have to read the story to find out what happens! But it IS Christmas, after all, isn’t it? A time for dreams to come true.

     Her Very Major Christmas by Saralee Etter presents a different kind of dream. Saralee says: I just love the idea of a real English Christmas feast -- the way a tradition pulls together everything that it means to be part of a family, of a community and a culture. But what would it be like for a person who is a bit of an outsider to her own heritage? I think she would be even more aware of the details, seeing a familiar celebration with fresh eyes.
     My family moved to Mexico when I was seven years old, so as I was growing up, things that were typically American were very rare and extra-special to me, my siblings, and my school friends. So I made Rosalind an Englishwoman who was born and raised in India and gave her some of those same feelings about this very English tradition.
     Plus, I just love a man who is a strong, capable warrior but who also needs support from a strong and capable woman. My hero, Major Harry Joslin, is still recovering from the wounds he received in battle, and also searching for a new way to define himself now that he is no longer serving in the military.
     So while the story did evolve slowly, I took inspiration from elements in my own life. I hope that readers will enjoy the story as much as I did while writing it! Here is a brief summary of "Her Very Major Christmas":
     Young widow Rosalind Joslin has dedicated herself to helping others to get over her grief -- she's skilled in making healing lotions and salves, jellies and candies. Raised in India, she's always longed to experience a proper English Christmas with holly and the traditional feast and Christmas pudding.
     Rosalind's late husband's cousin, Major Harry Joslin, is recovering from the wounds he received at Waterloo -- wounds both physical and emotional. A career soldier, he's also dealing with a sudden inheritance: His cousin died unexpectedly and now he has a title and all the trimmings.
     They meet for the first time during this Christmas season, and discover both love and healing.

The Size of the Scandal by Jillian Chantal features a rather headstrong young miss.
     Charlotte Greystone is a disaster waiting to happen. She can't seem to stay out of trouble and when her father betroths her to a man she hasn't seen in over ten years, she decides to run away. Never mind that it's a couple of days before Christmas, bitterly cold and she has no survival skills. She makes a dash for freedom anyway.
     When she's almost crushed by a horde of hunters on horseback, a handsome man on a black stallion comes to her rescue. Not thinking of the scandal of being alone with a strange man, she allows him to assist her in returning to her home. While riding with him, she's indiscreet in her conversation.
     The next day, Charlotte is appalled when the butler announces the entry of her betrothed. The man is the same as the one she shared a horse with the day before. Terrified that he will tell her father of her scandalous behavior or cause an even bigger scandal by breaking off the engagement, Charlotte is knocked off-kilter and remains that way until Christmas night.

     One month from today, we’ll tell you about the other two stories, and maybe even be able to show you some of the covers!
Happy Christmas in July!

Hetty St. James 


Jillian said...

Thanks for the shout-out. The other stories sound great, too

Tina Donahue said...

These stories sound wonderful, Hetty - can't wait to get my hands on them. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey, Hetty! Thanks for the shout-out!
Looking forward to a lovely Christmas with great stories!