Christmas Romance (Penny Rader)

I love Christmas stories and if the Christmas story is also a romance, well, that's even better. One reason why I read romance novels is because they're uplifting. Add Christmas to the mix and I get an extra spurt of joy.

While the entire story of Sapphire and Gold isn't centered around Christmas, there are several scenes that take place during the Christmas season in Colonial Williamsburg. Here's an excerpt of one:

Alexandra stood at the staircase landing’s large multi-paned window, bathed in the golden glow of the setting sun. She waited and worried. Waited for Derek’s schooner to appear at the plantation’s wharf. Worried about his reaction to her confession.

She placed her hand on her abdomen and wondered if she would look different to him. Within weeks her condition would be apparent to all. Would he turn away from her in disgust? She wouldn’t be able to bear it.


She leaned over the balustrade looped with spruce garlands. “Yes, Mother?”

Laurel stood at the foot of the stairs. “Our guests are arriving.”

“I’ll join you in the ballroom in a few minutes.” With a heavy sigh, she cast one more longing glance out the window then gathered the folds of her burgundy velvet skirt and descended the stairs in slow, unhurried steps. Her brow knitted in concern. Derek had said he would be there. Something terrible must have happened.

“Why, wherever could your husband be, sister dear?”

Alexandra turned to see Jillian emerge from the shadows of the hall. The jubilant expression in the younger woman’s dark gaze put her on guard.

“Do you suppose he has tired of you already?” Jillian shook her head and clucked her tongue. “I can see why. You look a bit dreadful. I fear that color doesn’t suit you. Did you do your own hair? Your secret’s safe with me. I shan’t tell anyone.”

Alexandra resisted the urge to smooth her hair. The slight movement would only serve to reward her sister’s desire for revenge. Instead, she stood confident. Derek had often remarked he liked her hair unbound and he had chosen her dress himself. “I won’t fight with you. Nothing you can say will spoil this day for me.” With quiet dignity, she walked past the younger woman.

“I do believe the purpose of this ball is to celebrate your marriage. Won’t that be a trifle difficult without your roving husband?”

Alexandra’s footsteps faltered for but a moment at the venom in her sister’s voice. Then she squared her shoulders and continued on her way, struggling to shut out the echo of Jillian’s mocking laughter.

“Derek has not left me,” she whispered. “He will come back. He must.” She lifted her chin a notch and entered the ballroom.

Festive splendor greeted her. Christmas finery decked the large room and brought a hint of a smile to her troubled heart. The fragrance of pine and bayberry mingled in the air. Garlands of box and bay added touches of gaiety. Sprigs of holly had been tucked behind the mirrors. In one corner, fiddlers played a romantic ballad that tugged at her already fragile emotions.

She forced back the sudden onslaught of weepiness and moved forward to greet her guests. Many of the prominent planters of the area accompanied their wives in wishing Alexandra well with her marriage and asking after Derek. After each congratulatory offer, the scorching heat of Jillian’s triumphant gaze bored through her back.

Where are you, Derek? Behind her she heard the doors open. The curtains fluttered, then a hush fell over the room.

She turned.

There stood Derek. Dizzying joy swept through her

Her husband caught her up against his lean, muscled form. “I claim the right of kissing the fair maiden standing beneath the kissing ball.” He lowered his mouth to hers and stole her breath.
Alexandra entwined her arms around his neck and reveled in the sweet sensations. “I thought you’d never arrive.”

He pressed a final kiss to the tip of her nose. “I always keep my promises. Don’t you know that by now?”

A lump in her throat thickened her speech. “I’m sorry I ever doubted you.” A frown gathered on her forehead and she gave his chest a sharp poke. “Where have you been?”

His eyes alight with a merry twinkle, Derek turned and signaled to a house servant. Within seconds, Polly Taylor and the children swarmed around her, talking and hugging all at once.

The children had come. Tears spilled down her cheeks as she pulled them close, touching each and every one of them to assure herself they were really there.

She looked up. Derek stood outside the circle of children, his grin wide. “Is this the pressing matter you had to attend to?”

He nodded. “You are pleased with your Christmas gift?”

“Pleased? I’m more than pleased. It was more than I dared to dream for.” No wonder she loved him so.


One of my favorite Christmas movies is While You Were Sleeping. (Love the leaning scene.) One of my favorite Christmas books is A Season for Miracles by Marilyn Pappano, which is the first book in her awesome Bethlehem series. Do you have a favorite Christmas story or movie?


Deborah Macias said...

What a wonderful Christmas scene! It really makes me feel the holiday joy. You are such a gifted writer.

My favorite Christmas movie is It's a Wonderful Life. I know that isn't a very unique choice, but I can't help it. It's the perfect story.

As for books--there's a little book entitled Christmas in Harmony by Philip Gulley. It's not a romance, but it is still a great read. And a fast read for you busy writers. I promise you will literally laugh out loud while you read this.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Shawna Thomas said...

I love scenes that make you sigh with satisfaction. Well done.

My favorite Christmas movie isn't exactly a Christmas movie. I love The Holiday. Sigh. HEA all around!

Penny Rader said...

Thanks, Deborah! It's so good to "see" you. :D

I love It's a Wonderful Life, too! I must confess, that when I watch it, I always wonder how different the world would be if I had never been here.

I have a couple of Philip Gulley's books, but I haven't read Christmas in Harmony . (At least I think they're by him. Something to do with a front porch.) I need to find his Christmas book, especially if it's a LOL read. I love books that make me sigh and make me laugh. Thanks for the recommendation.

Penny Rader said...

Thank you, Lynne! You guys are making my day.

I love The Holiday. Just watched it again this past weekend. Twice. :D The casting is just superb. I lost track of how many times I LOL'd. I listened to the commentary, too--now I need to watch the movie again and try to listen for the music themes for they created for the different characters.

Do I have the correct movie? Starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law (who is sooooo yummy!), and Jack Black? I thought it was a Christmas movie. :D

Tiffany Green said...

That was great! I love historicals and it looks like you have a talent for writing them.

Skhye said...

Great excerpt! I'm kind of hemming and hawing about mentioning this. We popped in PRANCER yesterday... And now I know why I bought that movie. It makes me cry. :) Happy Holidays!

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Mary Ricksen said...

What a wonderful excerpt. This one has to be on my TBR pile. Wonderful and emotional Penny!

Margaret Tanner said...

Oh what a great excerpt. I loved it.

Merry Christmas to everyone.

Penny Rader said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Tiffany. Thanks for stopping by!

Penny Rader said...

Hi Skhye! I haven't seen Prancer. I'm guessing it's about one of Santa's reindeer?

Penny Rader said...

Hi Mary! I'm thrilled that Sapphire and Gold is on your TBR pile. :D

Penny Rader said...

Merry Christmas to you, too, Margaret! Thanks for visiting.

I hope you all have a blessed, joy-filled Christmas.

P.L. Parker said...

Got a chance to stop by. I love Christmas stories and movies. I have to watch "Christmas Vacation" every year. I love historicals and this one sounds great. Good luck with sales and Happy Holidays to everyone.

Penny Rader said...

Happy Holidays to you, too, P.L. I've seen only pieces and parts of Christmas Vacation. A friend has neighbors they call the Griswolds (is that the correct name?) because of how, uh, thoroughly they decorate for various holidays. :D

Starla Kaye said...

I knew this would be a great post!

There are a lot of wonderful Christmas movies out, but, truthfully, my favorite is Santa Claus 2. The one where he has to find a Mrs. Claus. I especially love the scene at her school where he hands out gifts that were childhood favorites of the teachers. It brings out the happy kid in them and I love that.

Becky A said...

Ah Penny, sweet romance and at Christmas! Your excerpt is wonderful, you are good! Sorry to say I haven't got around to reading your book yet but that sure whetted my appetite for more. Maybe over this Christmas break.:)

I love to watch "While You Were Sleeping" too but I never actually thought of it as a Christmas show. (Shows where my brain's at!) Joe Jr. always makes my heart go pitty-pat.


Have a wonderful and blessed Christmas!

Rox Delaney said...

What a great scene, Penny! Thanks for sharing.

While my daughter wrapped Christmas gifts last night, we watched The Family Stone. It's one of my favorite movies and just happens to take place during Christmas. :) National Lampoon Christmas Vacation is the family favorite, and watching it each year has become a family tradition.

My personal favorite Christmas movie is It's a Wonderful Life. I even found a brass angel-shaped bell that's ingraved with the message Clarence left for George inside Tom Sawyer. It definitely bears repeating. :)

No man is a failure who has friends.

Of course that goes for women, too. (grin)

Thank you all for sharing not only your Christmas memories, but your friendship and yourselves this year.

Have a wonderful holiday season, everyone!

Nina Sipes said...

Early on I broke my family in to the one Christmas movie I watch every year. I won't hear any whinning. If they don't want to watch then they can do something else with their time. However, we are a ONE tv family. It is funny how the fussing has melted away and now everyone settles down and watches Christmas in Connecticut with me. Although it is a Christmas story, the main focus is not Christmas, it is being happy with our choices or changing them until we are. I think that is a simple message, but important to all of us. I may be all wet, but that's the message I get out of it.
Good job Penny. What a nasty sister your heroine has.