Clare Connelly on Her Hot Holiday Reads + A FREE Recipe Download!
Christmas is my favorite time of the year and reading romance novels is my favorite way to spend the holidays. Give me a book, a cup of tea and a quiet corner in which to hide away, and I’m in heaven. It’s no surprise then that I love to write Christmas-themed books – and that I take the responsibility of crafting a perfect story to carry you away over the holidays very seriously (Diana Krall Christmas Carols play on repeat while I write – there might even be fruit mince pies!).
For me, a good Christmas-themed book needs to be bursting at the seams with all-things-festive: Fir trees, heirloom ornaments, traditional pudding recipes, families reuniting, children listening for Santa’s sleigh bells, snow and that special kind of hope that fills the air on December 25th. Christmas romances offer a chance to take a couple from the depths of absolute despair and give them the greatest gift of all: love, everlasting, on Christmas morning.
I started thinking about Gabe and Noah – the men who would go on to become the heroes of my Christmas Seductions duet – last Christmas, surrounded by family and torn gift wrap, cherries and mangoes (Australian Christmas staples), pudding and piles of books (our go-to gift). I had a very clear image of both heroes in my mind – two men who’d been thrown together as children, so different, bonded by what they went through, with an unswerving loyalty to one other. They’re family, friends and business partners, self-made success stories. I knew they were strong, and untouchable – and definitely not interested in love! Because what romance heroine can resist that kind of challenge?
I’m fortunate to write for Harlequin Presents and Harlequin Dare, and am therefore able to choose which of my stories are best served by what line. Gabe Arantini is a Presents hero through and through – the face of their business enterprise, he’s charming, sophisticated, but emotionally cold, having learned to keep his heart well-shielded as a result of his traumatic childhood. Gabe has grown up feeling displaced, like he never belonged, and I wanted to contrast him with a heroine who values family above all else – who values family so highly she does her father’s bidding almost unquestioningly, and now, who fights like a lion to protect her son, the child she conceived that one passionate night she and Gabe shared. He brings old resentments into their marriage, and Abby has to overcome his self-defense mechanism of coldness and teach him to open his heart, to show him he can have everything he wants in life if only he allows himself to feel love – and this means putting herself on the line again and again.
When it came to Noah, who’s perfected a far-less convincing veneer than Gabe, I turned my mind to the kind of heroine who would be a match for him. He’s broken, in so many ways, a recent bereavement has torn open old wounds, and enlivened regrets he thought long dispensed with. Holly has her own baggage; she’s a fighter. Tough, strong, determined and just the woman to help Noah heal, and move on with his life. She’s a real Dare heroine, and so much of their story is driven by her. She takes charge, even when Noah desperately tries to wrangle control from her, and she knows she won’t let him into her life until he’s really proven he deserves a place there.
I am immensely proud of this duet, and the men at its centre. I so enjoy writing linked books – I love the way I can lose myself completely in a whole new world, and I think reading them is the same experience. When you find a book you truly adore, you want more of it, right? Well, Gabe and Noah are foster brothers you’re going to love (and sometimes, you’re going to hate them, just a little bit, but you’re even going to love hating them, I promise) and their lasting Happily Every Afters are all the more meaningful for how completely they deserve them (and how hard they have to fight to get there).
This Christmas, I’ll be curled up on the sofa with a good book or ten, losing myself in other people’s words and worlds, falling in love again and again with heroes of other authors’ creation, and I hope you find your way to Gabe, Noah, and all the other holiday romance heroes out there just waiting to be discovered!
Happy holidays to you this festive season, and happy reading always.
Want a great holiday recipe to share with friends and family? Click here to download a fabulous Christmas pudding recipe from Clare Connelly herself!