An Unconventional Christmas by Tara Fox Hall
When Endless Love CEO Viola Bohannon hires Cyprus Kennedy, a.k.a. Miss Romance, in early December to arrange a dozen “perfect” romantic moments leading up to a Christmas finale to save her failing marriage, she adds the next to impossible challenge: base the moments on the Twelve Days of Christmas. Cyprus comes up with creative, unconventional romantic events in record time which seem to draw Viola and her husband, Kendrick, back together, even as Cyprus finds herself the focus of not one but two new beaus who couldn’t be more different men. Each successive holiday event unfolds surprisingly well under Cyprus’s close supervision, yet also sparking reflection on her own estranged family, lack of close friends, and unthought-of dreams of the future. Pressure mounts as the countdown to Christmas Eve nears, necessitating a choice between rural craftsman Tucker and police detective Mike, both of whom ask Cyprus for the date. Can Cyprus fashion not only a perfect Christmas for the Bohannons, but also devise her own perfect Christmas romance, possibly her own happily ever after?
Targeted Age Group:: All Audiences
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 2 – PG
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I saw there was a call at my publisher's for sweet HEA Christmas-themed stories. I wanted to submit something, but the only thing I had ever written before that was holiday-themed was an erotic romance short story. I needed a captivating story that had no sex at all, a holiday theme, and a heroine most women could identify with. In keeping with my deadline of having to finish and submit a story in early spring for publication that following Christmas, I wanted the heroine to constantly be operating under some kind of deadline like I was, and to have hard won successes and an HEA but also times when no matter what she did, things didn't work out well and she had to come up with a new plan. The title of An Unconventional Christmas came well into the book, when I realized what I was writing had all the best of what makes a holiday meaningful in unconventional ways.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I often write in the first person, and most of my heroines are women to be reckoned with. But this novel needed a younger woman who was smart and savvy but didn't have many advantages, and was just starting out. So I created Cyprus, a young woman who operates her own small business called Miss Romance organizing special moments for couples. Equally important was her initial harpy-like client, Viola, who contracts with Cyprus to try to save her failing marriage with a bunch of last minute special Christmas activities with her husband Kendrick… and insanely demands that they are all based on the Twelve Days of Christmas. Viola is CEO of a much bigger, established version of Miss Romance with many employees; she's both what Cyprus would like to be one day and also possibly the worst client, in that it will take a lot to impress her. Cyprus shines in that she not only creates fantastic special moments along Viola's theme, she also does it under about the worst deadline imaginable. Along the way she forms an attraction to not one but two guys who like her frankness and sense of humor. Both Mike and Tucker care about Cyprus, but they happen to be from different worlds; Mike's a big city cop and Tucker is a woodcarver who also runs a farm outside the city with his sister. I made an effort to make both of them solid, good choices so that Cyprus didn't have one eliminated from the running by circumstance; she has to actually make a choice at the story's end. While the book is filled with romantic moments and some introspection about what makes holidays meaningful, at its center is the relationship of Cyprus and Viola who begin as rivals and end the book as close friends. And yes there's a rescued dog that gets a forever home in time for Christmas, there's always an HEA for dogs in my books!
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