A Celebration Christmas larger cover

Lily Palmer is in for the Christmas of a lifetime! When the nanny signs up to watch Dr. Cullen Dunlevy’s four foster kids, she’s got her hands full. The Thomas clan is the most mischievous group of youngsters she’s ever had to wrangle, but Lily loves the job. After all, what girl wouldn’t adore spending the holidays with a warmhearted new family—and their irresistibly handsome foster dad?

Cullen doesn’t mind Christmas, but his Scrooge-like facade is there for a reason—to protect himself. His tough childhood caused him to hide behind his work and avoid entanglements at all costs. That includes avoiding falling for the deliciously tempting new nanny that Santa left for him this year… 

Where did you get the idea for A CELEBRATION CHRISTMAS

The Sound of Music has always been one of my favorite movies. I saw it for the first time when I was very young. Later, I shared it with my daughter. I hope someday she’ll continue the chain. In the meantime, I wanted to write a book that was a nod to that classic story that shows that with love and family you can overcome just about anything.

Of course, I changed it up enough to make it my own. First, it’s set during the holidays. Cullen, the hero, is a doctor rather than a wealthy navy captain; and Lily, the heroine, is a teacher rather than an aspiring nun. There are four kids rather than seven. Actually, in the first incarnation of this book, I gave Cullen seven foster children, but then I came to my senses. He and Lily were grateful because as it turned out, four feisty Thomas children were more than enough.

 * Tell us about the hero and heroine of the book? Why will we want them to fall in love?

 We met both Cullen and Lily in previous books. I introduced you to Lily inCELEBRATION’S BRIDE (she was the woman who won the wedding of her dreams, only to have her fiancé back out on national television). Cullen first appeared inCELEBRATION’S FAMILY. He was the stern chief of staff at Celebration Memorial, who insisted that the hero of that book participate in the bachelor auction that raised money for the hospital’s pediatric wing.

 Lily’s nurturing, never-give-up-on-love spirit softens Cullen’s hard exterior and together they realize that through love and family they can heal hurts of the past.

 * Is there any particular significance in the setting?

 I think Debbie Haupt of RT Book Reviews said it best, “Thompson takes us back to Celebration, Texas to check in on old friends and create new memories.”

 * What was your favorite scene to write?

 This book was so much fun to write, that it’s difficult to pick just one scene, but I guess the scenes with the kids were my favorite…or maybe the scenes at the Holiday market…or maybe when the hero and heroine go to the Christmas ball… Wow! Choosing is kind of like naming my favorite child.

 

stollenWere there any real-life inspirations for a particular scene or character in the book?

 I infused several personal details into the book. Like Lily, I lost my mother and was exceptionally close to my grandmother. My grandmother’s recipes are very special to me. I cook her food when I’m missing her.

 My father remarried a wonderful woman, who was first generation German American and my lovely step-mother shared her mother’s recipe for a German Christmas bread called stollen, a confection filled with dried fruits and marzipan. In the book, the stollen recipe came from Lily’s grandmother and to bring some holiday cheer into the house, she teaches the kids how to make it.

 * Do any beloved characters from your previous books show up in this one?

 Oh, yes! Sydney and Miles from CELEBRATION’S BRIDE and Pepper and A.J. from Celebrations, Inc. Catering Company among others. It was fun revisiting everyone.

  * Any interesting tidbits of information you discovered while researching this book?

 I wanted Lily to tell the children the story of Christmas stollen and when I was researching it, not only did I learn all about where stollen came from (Lily will tell you all about it in the book), I learned there used to be an annual stollen festival in Germany. They’ve recently revived it and now it’s called Stollenfest.

 That makes me wonder about your holiday traditions. I know it’s a little early for some of you to talk about Christmas and Hanukkah, but we are getting close to Halloween and Thanksgiving. What are some of your fall/winter traditions?

 I will give away an ARC of CELEBRATION CHRISTMAS to one person who posts on this blog.

 If you’d like another chance to win, I’ve joined with a group of authors from Tule and we’re a prize package worth $500 in the Great Thanksgiving Giveaway. Follow the link for details on how you can win. 

I can’t wait to hear about your fall/winter traditions!


For the most part, authors work alone. We spend hours upon hours inside our heads, crafting worlds of our own making. Even when we work with others–web designers, publicists, or assistants—our interactions with our co-workers are confined mainly to email.

That’s why it’s so much fun to occasionally step out of my self-imposed solitude to work with others. Last year I worked with Anna Campbell, Kate Noble, and Jaunty Quill Vanessa Kelly to write A Grosvenor Square Christmas (which is still free, by the way!).

 ShanaGalen_ChristmasinGrosvernorSquare_800

This year I had to opportunity to work with Grace Burrowes, Carolyn Jewel, and Miranda Neville to write connected novellas for an anthology titled Christmas in the Duke’s Arms.

 Christmas in the Duke's Arms

The Duke’s Arms is a cozy inn in the Nottinghamshire countryside. A duke lives nearby as do several other interesting characters, which Neville, Burrowes, and Jewel bring to life.

For my part, I wanted to bring a little action to the sleepy village of Hopewell-on-Lyft. I introduced the idea of a highwayman who’d stylized himself The New Sheriff of Nottingham. He’s been attacking the post coaches and the locals, and it’s up to fledgling spies Pierce Moneypence and Miss Qwillen to capture him.

 Love and Let Spy

If you read my recent release, Love and Let Spy, you’ll recognize Moneypence and Q and hopefully enjoy a more in-depth look at their relationship.

Tell me, readers, with 71 days before Christmas, are you thinking about the holidays at all or aren’t they on your radar yet? Two readers who comment will win copies of Christmas in the Duke’s Arms (print or ebook). Winners randomly chosen and announced Sunday. Print books mailed out after October 27.

An anthology of Regency novellas by Grace Burrowes, Shana Galen, Carolyn Jewel and Miranda Neville.

These yuletide tales are set in rural Nottinghamshire and feature couples who dream of holidays filled with true love, however unlikely that might be. A highwayman, a cozy country inn, a Christmas assembly and copious bundles of mistletoe contribute to merry, romantic holiday happily ever afters.

A Knight Before Christmas by Grace Burrowes
Sir Leviticus Sparrow is a man of business who means business when it comes to offering Penelope Carrington marriage under the mistletoe.

In The Duke’s Arms by Carolyn Jewel
What’s a Duke to do when he’s made an awful impression on the love of his life?

Licensed to Wed by Miranda Neville
If Lord Carbury could learn to take no for an answer, his marriage proposal might earn him a yes.

The Spy Beneath the Mistletoe by Shana Galen
Fledgling spies Q and Moneypence pursue love and a highwayman in The Duke’s Arms.

Buy It Now (only $3.99)!

Amazon (print): http://amzn.to/1vZMLP3
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/ZpXPt4
BN: http://bit.ly/1sLLLyv
iBooks: http://goo.gl/uc9Oz4
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1D97Hqd


 A Celebration Christmas cover

Shortly after my first book hit the shelves, an acquaintance confided that she almost couldn’t finish reading it because she felt as if she were prying into my life. “It was just so… intimate!” she’d said.  I was equal parts astonished that she actually thought it was autobiographical and flattered that she thought I lived (or once lived) such an exciting life. I mean, I love my life, but it’s vastly different from the fictional worlds I create for my heroines.

After I thought about it, I could see where she might have drawn that conclusion. While I’m a bit older than most of my heroines, I do tend to lend them characteristics and features similar to my own. Still, my heroines are not me. I don’t write about myself as much as I write about observations and what I find interesting.

 

Take, for example, my first book, REINVENTING OLIVIA. It was born one night when my husband and I were out to dinner at a trendy downtown restaurant. As we approached, I heard dance music pulsing from the loft condos above the restaurant. When I looked up, I saw a hand holding a drink over the balcony rail. I thought, wow, if I were young and single that’s where I’d live… and the story took off on its own. So, while Olivia was most decidedly not me, she was definitely a child of my imagination, born out of what-ifs and shades of possibility.

 

I’ll confess that within the pages of my twenty-five (and counting) books I’ve drawn strongly on my own life experiences (because the first rule of writing is write what you know).  I’ve borrowed characteristics from real-life villains (uhh-hmm - bosses) and given them their comeuppance on the page, or rewritten an unsatisfying true-to-life experience so that it ended happily, but the majority of my plots and characters come from the most unexpected places.  That was the case with my book WITH VIOLETS (HarperCollins) – written under my historical nom de plume, Elizabeth Robards.

 

I’ve always been infatuated with the French Impressionists. So when my husband and I went to Paris, I was anticipating a daytrip to Giverny, Claude Monet’s home and famous gardens. Before we boarded a train at the Gare Saint-Lazare, to make our way to Giverny, we stopped at the Musée Marmottan to see Monet’s famous ‘Impression, Sunrise’ (Impression: Soleil Levant), the painting that launched the French Impressionist movement.

 

Little did I know, but I was about to meet painter Berthe Morisot on the second floor of the Musée Marmottan. Not literally, of course, because she died in 1895.  However, I saw her work for the first time and a photograph of her with her family. Something about the photo haunted me and urged me to research her life. In doing so, I discovered the tale of a deeply complex, richly talented woman who bucked nineteenth century convention to become one of the world’s greatest artists and the heroine of WITH VIOLETS.

 

The research and the story were labors of love. And while the Berthe Morisot I wrote is not really like me – well, except for her strong, independent streak and a great passion for what she loved – I think there’s a little bit of every woman in her.

In my next release A CELEBRATION CHRISTMAS (Harlequin Special Edition, November 2014). I  drew inspiration from one of my favorite movies THE SOUND OF MUSIC. To make it my own, I gave it a Christmas twist. Here’s the back cover copy:

THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL 

Lily Palmer is in for the Christmas of a lifetime! When the nanny signs up to watch Dr. Cullen Dunlevy’s four foster kids, she’s got her hands full. The Thomas clan is the most mischievous group of youngsters she’s ever had to wrangle, but Lily loves the job. After all, what girl wouldn’t adore spending the holidays with a warmhearted new family—and their irresistibly handsome foster dad? 

Cullen doesn’t mind Christmas, but his Scrooge-like facade is there for a reason—to protect himself. His tough childhood caused him to hide behind his work and avoid entanglements at all costs. That includes avoiding falling for the deliciously tempting new nanny that Santa left for him this year…

Anyhow, when a fertile imagination has its way with an interesting subject… Well, that’s how stories are born. Whether or not the plot is autobiographical, a writer can’t help but infuse a little of herself and the things she loves into the story.

Have you ever related to a fictional character so much that she seemed real?  Who was it and what about her grabbed you?

One person who comments will win the book of her (his) choice from my backlist… Can’t wait to hear from you!

 


When I first started reading romance, many years ago, the majority of what was available was the traditional historical romance. What many referred to as the bodice ripper because of the sexy clinch covers. I fell in love with these books from the likes of Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Johanna Lindsey and Catherine Coulter. And then I found Amanda Quick and her historicals were a little different. I suspect that she is probably my strongest influence, as a writer, because none of my historicals are what you’d call ballroom romps or even the lush historical dramas that Woodiwiss for known for.

With Amanda Quick, there were suspense subplots and her heroes were often scholars – something I have always been drawn to – is it any wonder that I married a college professor? ☺ Her heroines were smart too and unique. I never set out to immolate her, but when RT Bookclub compared my books to hers in a review – well, that was just about the coolest thing ever. So without further ado, I give you the 5 hallmarks of a Robyn DeHart novel…

1. A Robyn DeHart heroine is unconventional, whether she be bucking society by going to medical school to become a physician, as with Anna from The Temptations of Anna Jacobs or whether she be a blind sculptress, as with Mia from The Secrets of Mia Danvers.

2. My heroes are smart and almost always the pursuer in the relationship. Once they meet the heroine, no other woman will do. They fall hard and they’re loyal to a fault. Not to mention smoking hot! They also usually have jobs, even if they’re aristocrats, as with Drew in The Temptations of Anna Jacobs, is working undercover for Scotland Yard, or an antiquity hunter for hire as with Fielding in Seduce Me.

3. Don’t be surprised if there’s a murder at some point. Quite obviously the Dangerous Liaisons books have killings in them, even scenes in the Rippers point of view. But even in my other books, I sometimes leave a trail of bodies, not always gruesome though (for those of you who have an issue with violence). The Raven, the villain in two of my Legend Hunters books (Seduce Me and Treasure Me) is rather wicked and does away with more than one person. Even in my novella that’s currently out, a Regency spy story, No Ordinary Mistress, chapter one opens up with a murder.

4. Amidst the carnage you’ll often find humor. Some books are funnier than others, but even if you don’t laugh out loud, there are plenty of happy, smiling moments. There’s one scene in A Study in Scandal where the heroine knocks a door into the hero’s head and every time I read it, it made me chuckle. That’s saying a lot because as an author we have to read our own books a lot and by the end, they get really old. ☺

5. My books are full of snappy dialogue. Almost every review and reader email I receive comments on both my characters and the witty dialogue. It’s where the books come alive to me when I’m writing, where the characters live, in the words that they speak. Dialogue is super important to me and an integral part of all of my work.

Well, I hope this has given you a little taste of what reading a Robyn DeHart book is like. If you’ve read me before, what are your favorite parts of my books If not, what do you usually look for when picking out a new author?


Katherine Garbera
Katherine Garbera

Discussion:
26 comments

Categories:
Katherine Garbera, Love, Our Books

 

Bound By A Child Front Cover

Allan McKinney here.  You know–the hero in Kathy’s latest release BOUND BY A CHILD.  :)

I’m in desperate need of some help.  Seriously, it’s Valentine’s Day on Friday and I need a gift that will knock Jessi’s socks off.  I think you should know that she finds big romantic gestures too grand and always says I’m showing off if I offer to fly her to Paris.  

I know I need more than red roses and expensive chocolates.  I got some help last week on Twitter and have booked us a nice spa weekend.  But I still need a gift.  

What’s the best Valentine’s Day gift/surprise you ever received?  What’s the worst so I know what to avoid?

Kathy will be giving away an electronic copy of Bound By A Child to three randomly chosen blog participants today.  Please, help me.  Jessi will never let me live it down if I screw up our first Valentine’s Day together. 


Keep in contact through the following social networks or via RSS feed:

  • Follow on Facebook
  • Follow on Twitter
  • Subscribe