Who doesn’t love a good Christmas romance? Mistletoe and Christmas cookies and a child who wants Santa to bring Mom or Dad a happily-ever-after? The Christmas romance novel has become a staple in the last few years, and writers by the dozens flock to their word processors to write that perfect combination of love and holiday cheer. Many of these books tell a fine story. Others fall short of the mark. As a reader, when I read a Christmas story, I am looking for a book that goes beyond the sweet sentimentality of the season and delivers a story with some depth and genuine emotion involved. As a writer, this is what I seek to deliver in my Christmas novels.
Many writers like to tell a story that could only happen during the Christmas season. Waaay too many stories are based on the hero and heroine putting on a school play or a holiday parade or a church pageant together. So I try not to do this. Except for ‘A Gift of Hope’, in which my hero and heroine fall in love while collecting and distributing toys to needy children, my Christmas stories could have happened any time of the year. The season provides a colorful backdrop, but my characters could just as easily fallen in love in April or July. Sure, I have my characters decorating Christmas trees, baking cookies, going to see Santa Claus, and so forth. But they could just as easily be decorating Easter eggs or marching in the Fourth of July parade. Staying away from a season-driven or dependent plot gives me a lot more leeway in the story I want to tell and more freedom to write strong characters. It also gives the books life after the season. My readers will enjoy the book just as much in February or March as in December.
I also like a Christmas story with some depth and genuine emotion, including negative emotion and less than benign feelings. Good Christmas stories frequently deal with a heavy topic or two. The holiday season is a time of strong emotion for most of us. It’s a season of lights and magic and good cheer. It’s also a season of darkness, loneliness, and isolation. Whatever emotions a character is living with is only magnified by the season. Nor do problems go away during the holidays. They too are magnified during a season that is supposed to be about joy. A good story taps in to all feelings experienced during the holidays, not just the happy ones. Some of the best Christmas romances out there deal with grief, loss, family disfunction, loneliness, and isolation. As a reader, I don’t mind a tear or two along with my mistletoe. If anything, it makes the happily ever after just that much sweeter.
Feeling as I do, I don’t shy away from serious issues in my Christmas stories. ‘A Gift of Trust’ is the story of two traumatized individuals learning to trust one another. “A Gift of Hope’, perhaps the least serious of my Christmas stories, deals in part with the negative effects of urban revitalization on the elderly residents being displaced. ‘Evergreen’ tells the story of a dying child and explores the true meaning of family and my hero’s desperate longing for acceptance. ‘Mistletoe’ deals with grief and body image and self-acceptance-and no, my heroine doesn’t become thin and beautiful by the end of the book. This year’s novel, ‘Noelle’, tackles the issue of deep, hateful racism as well as the havoc a drugged rape wreaks on all involved. (I had no idea when I wrote the book in July just how topical the story would turn out to be.) None of these stories have a light, cheerful theme. ‘Noelle’ is particularly dark. But the serious themes make for stronger stories and a more satisfying read. And that’s just as true at Christmas as it is any other time of the year.
by Emily Mims
Date of Publication: November 20th 2018
Cover Artist: Boroughs Art Department
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Tagline: Ike and Cassie love each other. But her daughter stands between them.
He’s found the wife who’d run from him five years ago. But it will take a Christmas miracle to keep her in his life.
A terrified Cassie Jeffries fled Tennessee to protect her newborn daughter from her father’s wrath, abandoning her young husband in the process. Ike has tracked her down-not because he wants her any longer, but at the behest of her dying grandmother. Her love for Ike is still strong. He still loves her, too-but wants no part of her daughter Noelle.
Ike is beyond shocked to learn that the child he thought was his is in fact the child of his wife’s rape. He still loves Cassie, but every time he looks at Noelle he’s reminded of his own failure to protect the woman he loves. And Cassie is adamant. She will have no part of a man who can’t love her daughter. But danger lurks for Cassie’s child. Will Ike be able to protect Noelle from the threat that seeks to destroy everything his wife holds dear?
“Yeah, it’s easy to love those blue-eyed blonds, isn’t it?” Wade gibed. “Those dark ones, man. They’re a lot harder to love.”
Ike felt his temper spike and tamped it down. “It would be hard to love any child who looks like the man who raped my wife,” he replied softly. “It wouldn’t matter if they were white, black, or purple with stripes down their back.” More was on the tip of his tongue but he bit it back. He already sounded enough like an ass.
Wade gave him a go-to-hell look and glanced to one side. Cassie stood there, her face pale and her expression one of horror. Ike felt himself cringe. She’d heard every word.
He started to say something but clamped his mouth shut. He couldn’t defend a statement like that and he knew it. But it had been the unvarnished truth. Noelle was a visible reminder of Cassie’s violation. He didn’t know how to get around that.
Cassie disappeared into the house. It was time to make his case one more time and then get the hell out of here. Ike nodded to Wade, thanked Angie for her hospitality and followed Cassie inside, where he found her in the kitchen by herself. “You leaving now?” she asked as she transferred leftover vegetable sticks into a plastic bag.
“Not until you agree to come see Granny Mae.”
“Then you better wash your clothes and buy another tube of toothpaste. I’m not going to let you pressure me into a decision that’s not in Noelle’s best interests.”
“Damn it, Cassie, what about Granny Mae? Your grandmother’s dying. The only thing she wants before she goes is to see you and Noelle. Are you really going to deny her dying wish?”
“That’s right. Play the guilt card.” Cassie snapped the bag shut and practically threw it in the refrigerator. “I told you last night. Granny Mae is a woman of the holler. She’s not going to want to see Noelle. And even if she did, what part of ‘Hugh Siler will kill her’ did I not communicate fully to you?” She turned to Ike, her eyes blazing. “I’m not the sweet, gullible girl you knew before. The one who could be persuaded or guilted into doing just about anything you wanted me to. So don’t try that crap with me. No way in hell am I giving you any kind of answer today. Don’t ask again.”
“All right. All right. Calm down. No answer today. I get that.” He paused. “But I will say it again. Granny Mae will want to see you both. Your daughter will be in no danger from your father. So please, Cassie. Will you at least think about coming? Will you do that much? You could come for a few days, maybe a week after ‘Wizard of Oz’ finishes its run. Please, Cassie? For Granny Mae? Please?”
“I will think about it but no promises.”
“Thank you. I’ll need your contact information and would like you to have mine.”
They exchanged phones and entered the necessary information. “I guess I’ll be going,” he said as she handed him back his phone.
“One more thing.”
Cassie hesitated. “Never mind.”
“No, say whatever’s on your mind.”
“Noelle. She’s not responsible for the circumstances of her conception. She’s a beautiful, wonderful child. Everyone who knows her loves her.”
“I’m sure she is and I’m sure they do. I’m not proud of my feelings toward her, Cassie. Just so you know.”
Author of thirty-six romance novels, Emily Mims combined her writing career with a career in public education until leaving the classroom to write full time. The mother of two sons and six grandsons, she and her husband Charles live in central Texas but frequently visit grandchildren in Tennessee and Georgia. For relaxation she plays the piano, organ, dulcimer, and ukulele. She says, “I love to write romances because I believe in them. Romance happened to me and it can happen to any woman-if she’ll just let it.”
Website Address: www.emilymims.com
Twitter Address: @EmilyMimsAuthor
Instagram Address: mims_emily