Keep Calm and Read This: Christmas Secrets by Donna Hatch

Keep Calm and Read This: Christmas Secrets by Donna Hatch

It’s Thanksgiving Day in the US and you need to treat yourself to a terrific book as a reward for the hours spent preparing, serving, and cleaning up after the holiday feast. Look no further than this week’s guest, bringing just the thing to present to give yourself for another holiday in the books. It’s a pleasure to welcome Donna Hatch to share with us what she’s learned about smooching under the yuletide greenery, and introduce us to her newest novel, Christmas Secrets.

Mistletoe Kisses

Is it just me, or does the image of sharing a long-awaited kiss underneath a mistletoe sprig create all kinds of delicious images? Mistletoe kissing is a time-honored tradition. Like many holiday customs, kissing under the mistletoe has pagan origins, and the custom has evolved over time. Most sources trace it back to ancient Scandinavia but it spread to England and much of Europe during the Middle Ages.

Probably because it was one of the few plants that stayed green during the winter, Celtic druids believed mistletoe contained magical properties of vitality. They seemed to have been oblivious to that fact that it is a parasitic plant that lives off trees. Apparently, they viewed mistletoe as the tree’s spirit revealing signs of life when the rest of the tree looked dead during winter. Also, oak mistletoe is rare compared to that found in fruit trees, so the druids believed mistletoe growing on oak trees was rare and more powerful. Since these druids thought mistletoe had life-giving powers, they conducted fertility and healing rituals underneath a bow of oak mistletoe for sick cattle and other animals.

People also looked to it for protection.

According to the Holiday Spot:

In the Middle Ages and later, branches of mistletoe were hung from ceilings to ward off evil spirits. In Europe they were placed over house and stable doors to prevent the entrance of witches. It was also believed that the oak mistletoe could extinguish fire. This was associated with an earlier belief that the mistletoe itself could come to the tree during a flash of lightning.

Eventually, a practice in Scandinavia developed for hostile parties to gather underneath mistletoe to negotiate peace. Even quarreling husbands and wives made up under the mistletoe, and kissed to seal their renewed love and commitment to their marriage. Other herbology claims mistletoe is both an aphrodisiac and an abortive plant, which might be why some of the earliest customs involved more than an innocent kiss. But we won’t go into that.

Over time, the custom of kissing moved indoors. Sometimes the ball or sprig of mistletoe was decorated with ribbons, holly, apples, oranges and other fruits. Some people hung mistletoe below figures of the infant Christ, Mary, and Joseph.

In some parts of Europe and Great Britain, arriving guests kissed their host’s hand under a sprig of mistletoe hung in a doorway. Eventually a custom sprang up to have maidens wait under the mistletoe in the hopes that a young man would kiss her with the expectation that he would marry her within a year. If she didn’t get kissed, she had little expectation of marrying that year, sorta like a marriage fortune teller.

A young man who kissed a girl under the sprig or bough of mistletoe traditionally plucked off one of the white berries. When all the berries were plucked, the kissing, at least while under the mistletoe, also ceased.

I often see people mistake mistletoe with holly. Mistletoe has soft, pale green smooth leaves and white berries. Holly has green, glossy, ragged-edged leaves and red berries.

By the Regency Era, the custom of mistletoe kissing no longer came with strings attached. It became an excuse for behavior not normally condoned among unmarried ladies and gentleman. Maidservants stood underneath a decorated ball of mistletoe in a doorway to indicate her willingness to kiss in exchanged for a coin.

In my newest novel, Christmas Secrets, an innocent mistletoe kiss leads to a startling realization.

A stolen Christmas kiss leaves them bewildered and breathless.

A charming rogue-turned-vicar, Will wants to prove that he left his rakish days behind him, but an accidental kiss changes all his plans. His secret could bring them together…or divide them forever.

Holly has two Christmas wishes this year; finally earn her mother’s approval by gaining the notice of a handsome earl, and learn the identity of the stranger who gave her a heart-shattering kiss…even if that stranger is the resident Christmas ghost.

Christmas Secrets is available now – get your copy right now!

 

 

Best-selling author, Donna Hatch, is a hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, the force that drove her to write and publish twenty historical romance titles, including the award-winning “Rogue Hearts Series.”  She is a multi-award winner, a sought-after workshop presenter, and juggles multiple volunteer positions as well as her six (yes, that is 6) children. Also a music lover, she sings and plays the harp, and loves to ballroom dance. Donna and her family recently transplanted from her native Arizona to the Pacific Northwest where she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.

Find Donna Hatch online at:

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And always remember to #ReadARegency!

 

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Keep Calm and Read This! Jane Leopold Quinn ~ The Long Road to You

Cowboy rides horse between two large boulders

Jane Leopold Quinn takes over today to talk about her newest release, The Long Road To You (The Brothers Agee Series).

Cowboys are my first love.  The Long Road To You is Nick’s story.  A few months before this story begins, Nick and his brother Jake had reunited in an odd way, endangering Jake’s love, Ivy.  Jake and Ivy, the first story in this series, features the characters in the title – Jake the drifter horse trader and Ivy the eastern girl who falls in love with the Flamenco.  Nick comes to visit his brother and meets Margee McPherson; well, he actually yanks her off a rearing horse.  Their story needed to be told.

cowboy_silhouette

Nick Gabriel, orphan, outlaw, reformed man, yearns for what his brother Jake has – land, a home, and best of all, a loving wife.  Nick pulls a woman off a rearing horse, slamming her sexy, lithe body against his, the impetuous action setting him to lose his heart.

Margee McPherson’s whole world revolves around running the ranch her father left her and handling the creepy ranch foreman she also inherited.  Years before, she’d made a mistake that ended tragically.  Now, she won’t allow the drifter cowboy, Nick Gabriel, to get anywhere near her no matter how tall, dark, and handsome he is, and how much she longs to be in his arms.

Both have secrets in their pasts.  Will Margee’s fear and guilt keep her from moving forward with her life?  Nick’s fallen in love with the beautiful rancher.  Can he prove to her his roaming days are over?  And will they survive their past secrets, finding the love they didn’t know they craved?

cowboy wanted

Joshua, California 1881

Agee Ranch

The day was warm for early spring in the mountains, the sky luminously blue and topped with a few high clouds mashed-looking as if with the tines of a fork. Unlike the heavy, hot, moist heat of the southern part of the state, the air was arid up here. Fir trees on the mountain slopes had a crisp, clean, triangle-like look.

Nick had known where Jake and Ivy had settled since they’d reunited several months ago.  He’d debated with himself if he should stay away or seek them out.  But at thirty-one, he was weary of the uncertainty and loneliness of tramping around the country. Reuniting with Joey, who now went by the more grown up sounding Jake, had been bittersweet. Thank God the kid had turned out all right and not like his jail bird older brother.

He’d been hired by her father to find the runaway Ivy Westlake. It was a once in a lifetime chance that the baby brother he hadn’t seen for fifteen years was with her. He’d been jealous of the obvious love between Jake and Ivy, but he’d had a job to do. Then she was kidnapped by his own two henchmen. After rescuing her, he’d protected her all the way to Los Angeles, holding her when she’d vomited every morning. When he learned she was pregnant with Jake’s child, he’d promised to find Jake and send him to her in Mexico. But Jake had found her all by himself.

Now it seemed Nick had found them here together with a ranch of their own and a baby on the way. Family. Something he’d never really had. Something he was aching for now.

The ranch house, painted white and with a wide porch, looked inviting.  A wooden fence surrounded a large swath of grass across the front with bushes and flowers as a border.  He smiled as he rode closer.  It appeared Jake had the ideal home.  A woman leaned against the porch railing, one hand above her eyes to cut the sun so she could see better.  Ivy.  God, she looked wonderful even at a distance and heavy with child.

“Jake, come out here!”

Nick reined in at the bottom of the porch steps, his expression neutral. After all, he had no inkling if Jake would be happy to see him.

The Long Road To You is available here: Amazon – The Long Road To You

Jake and Ivy is available here: Amazon – Jake and Ivy

about-the-author

Sensual fantasies were locked in my mind for years until a friend said, “Why don’t you write them down?”

Why not, indeed.

One spiral notebook, a pen and the unleashing of my imagination later, and here I am with more than a dozen books published. The craft of writing erotic romance has become my passion and my niche in life. I love every part of the creative process — developing characters, designing the plot, even drawing the layout of physical spaces from my stories. My careers have been varied — third grade school teacher, bookkeeper, secretary — none of which gave me a bit of inspiration. But now I’m lucky enough to write romance full time — the best job in the universe!

 

Find Jane on the web:

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Discover these other books by the author:

Ellora’s Cave

Lost and Found

The Real Deal

Indie

Valentine’s Day

His, Hers & His

The Keeper

Soldier, Come Home

Winning Violetta

A Promise at Dawn

Jake and Ivy

Wooing the Librarian

Home to Stay

The Long Road to You

Siren

Undercover Lover

Mercenary Desires

I’ll Be Your Last