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Monday, June 17, 2013

Xmas in June?


Xmas in June ???

Sounds crazy, I know. But my editor wanted me to do a Xmas regency novella, and I gladly obliged. Due to the delays between writing and getting your story accepted and published, I had to get this one done and to my editor NOW.
 
So I put everything aside. I loved writing this book. Found out a few facts which surprised me, mainly that the Xmas tree wasn’t known in the Regency period. That came later, when Victoria married Albert and he brought the idea of a decorated tree over from his native Germany. So if you read a Regency with a Xmas tree in it, the author hasn’t researched the period. They just weren't there.

Which leaves us with the question of what a Regency Xmas was like. It was a time of festivity for everyone, but the main traditions were the Yule log, which had to be picked each year as the biggest and best, and one that would last through the season. A fragment from the previous year’s log was saved to light the new one. Mistletoe was also prominent, and valued highly when it was woven into a kissing bough and hung in a doorway where no one could escape being caught. Anyone who stole a kiss could also take one white berry from the bough as proof of his achievement. And of course there were presents, but not to the extent that we’ve come to expect in this modern age.

 Here’s an excerpt from “Unexpected Christmas, which I hope captures the times, as well as your hearts. 

“Then I think I want to make snowballs. I haven’t done that for so long and I pack a wicked snowball. When you get through you can join me for a snowball fight.”

“I’ll join you right now, Caro. I’ve split all the wood that’s there. I’ll bet I can make a harder snowball than you.”

She looked at him, grinned, and said nothing at all, although her grave eyes told him she realized the seriousness of their situation. She went upstairs to don her shabby cloak. How he’d love to dress her as she deserved to be dressed. Have her gorgeous hair properly coiffed. Give her the jewels to go with her lovely new outfits. If she weren’t so obviously a lady he’d set her up in the little house he kept in St. John’s Woods. Thinking of how she’d react to such a proposition made him smile again. He’d be lucky to escape with his masculinity intact.

He went outside to make his first snowball in at least ten years. What a girl she was, to take the news they’d soon be freezing again. And going out in the snow like an eager child to claim what joy she could. No wonder she fascinated him.
* * * * *
When she joined him she surprised him once again.
“Oh, just feel how soft the snow is.”
With a little jump, she lay herself flat on the snowy surface and smiled up at him.
“Did you ever make snow angels? I used to love to do them when the snow was just right. Enough to hold you up but not let you sink.”
She began sweeping her arms up and down to make the angel wings and his heart nearly stopped. Her beautiful face was aglow with pleasure. He’d never seen a lovelier sight.
“Where did you make angels, Caro?”
His voice must have been soft enough not to alarm her as she almost dreamily answered. “At Throckborn Hall, of course. We always spent Christmas there.”
Not wanting to stop her reminiscing, he only said, “Of course.”
Still something alerted her and she jumped to her feet and threw a snowball that hit him squarely on his forehead.
“Look to yourself, my lord Sebastian. I love a good snow fight.”
He knew he was grinning as he began to form a tight snowball.
And the fight was on.”

 Caro and Sebastian are two of my favorite people. Love them dearly, and hope you’ll let them into your heart too. This will be published by Ellora’s Cave and hopefully will appear around October. I’ll be adding a different excerpt  to my website, www.jeanhartstewart.com, when I get the cover. 
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7 comments:

Paris said...

Jean,
Thanks for the fascinating facts about Regency Christmas traditions. I had no idea that the decorated tree was not part of that time period. I love Christmas stories and this one sounds like fun:)

Melissa Keir said...

Christmas in June is a perfect way to remember the best of the season without the freezing temps. Thanks for sharing about the history. I always learn so much!

Tina Donahue said...

I love regencies. What a wonderful excerpt, Jean. :)

jean hart stewart said...

Paris and Melissa, you can't be more surprised than I was. I would have automatically had a Xmas tree in there, and it was even tough finding a Xmas illustration without a tree!

jean hart stewart said...

Thanks Tina. Praise from you means a lot....

Cara Marsi said...

Interesting facts about Regency Christmas. Congratulations on your new book. Loved the excerpt.

jean hart stewart said...

Thanks Cara. Doing all the paperwork today, so it's on its way.

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