It's always a delight to host Kandy Shepherd, especially when she has a new book out. I've been thoroughly charmed by her Dolphin Bay series for Harlequin Romance. The stories are more sweet than spicy but packed with emotion as characters are given second chances, life-changing opportunities and, if the stars align, a deep enduring love. Her stories never fail to leave me with a sigh and a smile.
You can read about Kandy and her books at her website and connect with her online at facebook and twitter.
Welcome back, Kandy!
Sunshine for Christmas
For many years I worked as a magazine editor and one of the biggest challenges for us was making an Australian Christmas feature look, well, Australian! Even Down Under many of the holiday decorating themes reference the northern hemisphere winter—snow covered landscapes, cozy log fires, red robins, glowing lanterns showing the way home through the dark, and tables groaning with rich dishes just right for the cold weather.
Trouble is, Christmas Down Under is in summer—and it’s usually darn hot. Where I live in Australia, Christmas (for those who celebrate it) is about blue skies, sunshine, sunburn, the incessant thrum of cicadas and evenings so long it’s not dark enough to see the Christmas lights until bedtime. We’ve just had the hottest spring on record so predictions for December 25 see the mercury soaring.
The climate suits not heavy roasts and dense fruit cakes but a barbecue with turkey and ham recipes adapted for outdoor cooking. Or seafood and salads. And something cool and icy for dessert. Christmas at the beach is a tradition for many, with families and friends arriving early to stake out their spot on the sand. No chance of kids getting bored when they can frolic in the waves!
Alternatively, at my house, you swelter in the kitchen and prepare a full-on traditional English style Christmas feast. My English-born husband insists on it. I have to admit Christmas wouldn’t seem Christmas to me without that festive meal with all the trimmings. Family favorites are demanded and provided—and appreciated by family and friends!
I’ve enjoyed a winter Christmas in both the UK and the US and it is a totally different experience to an Aussie-style festive celebration. Do I prefer one over the other? Deep down, I have to admit I love the frosty festivities. My ideal would be a cold Christmas and then a flight back to Australia to enjoy the New Year’s Eve celebration in Sydney—where the entire city becomes party central and millions of dollars worth of fireworks explode in the summer sky. But that’s another story!
My heroine, Lizzie Dumont, in my December Harlequin Romance A Diamond in Her Stocking didn’t grow up with happy memories of Christmas: “Her family Christmas had always seen the sad cliché of every bitterness and conflict getting a good airing over the roast turkey and plum pudding.” But as an adult, she embraces Christmas as a joyous celebration and (like me!) has enjoyed the festive season in both the Australian summer and the European winter.
But for Lizzie, the ultimate festive celebration is when she becomes a Christmas bride. The cover might give you a clue as to where the wedding takes place!
What’s your favorite thing about the holiday season? Do you dream about a hot Christmas or a cold one? Have you ever broken with tradition? I’d love to hear your festive season stories!
One randomly chosen person leaving a comment will receive a print copy of A Diamond in Her Stocking. (open internationally)