Sunday, November 30, 2014

Dani Collins: Family and Holidays – It's Complicated

First, I'm excited to let you know that Blame The Mistletoe is on sale for 99c until Dec 2. That's a special deal that Tule Publishing arranged for this weekend. I hope you'll take advantage

Blame The Mistletoe is a sexy, snuggly story about how family can be complicated, especially around the holidays. 

In our own family we’re always conscious of this as my husband’s mother lives in our old hometown along with his siblings. One of my sisters has been on the move with her husband for the last few years, my parents often winter south in Arizona, and my youngest sister lives in Australia with her family of young children.

We start negotiating weeks ahead. “Are you going to Mom’s? My parents are staying home this year so can we go to your mom’s the week before/after because they’re going to be with his parents that day and…”

I’m sure it plays the same in every household. If you can manage it, it can be a blast. In 2010, we had my mother's side of the family all in one place and if I had permission to post all of my family's photos, I would. You'll just have to imagine all the great shots of kids playing board games, tables laden with food, silly Don't Point That Camera At Me Now expressions... I have a terrific one of my husband crying, he's laughing so hard. Then there are the sweet ones of son-in-law hugging mom and my sister showing off her sparkling new engagement ring. It was a pretty amazing week. 

My middle sister and her husband learned that a donation to Habitat For Humanity would earn them a toque (in Canada, that's what we call these kinds of hats, pronounced Tewk.) They donated enough to get one for all of us. Here I am with both my sisters and my daughter wearing our souvenir head gear. Apparently one of us was caught by surprise with this photo.

My cousin also made the trip from Nevada with her kids, along with our aunts and uncles from far and wide, but with everyone so scattered--my youngest sister is now living with her new family in Australia--we really don't know when we'll all get together again.

These sorts of arrangements get even more complex when the family is blended. I have divorced friends and trying to get our kids together with theirs can be the same game. It’s hard. In some cases, it makes for very lonely holidays.

Which is exactly the blue Christmas I set up for my heroine, Liz. Her ex-husband isn’t cruel, just overly-focused on his own plans. His girlfriend wants to marry and spend Christmas in Mexico with the whole family in attendance. Everyone is going. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

Except it means Liz’s daughter will be gone the entire month of December.

To me, this is very believable. Maybe not everyone can afford a month in Mexico, but plenty of families have weddings and other family commitments where, even though the custody rules might give a parent the right to refuse, it seems churlish to do so. They go along to keep the peace and wind up rattling around an empty house, missing their kid(s).

Divorce is a funny thing, too. Even though a couple might split, depending on the length of the marriage and the reasons for splitting, people don’t necessarily pull away from the family of their ex. Liz is still so accessible to her husband's ex-family, she’s easily ensnared by her ex-mother-in-law into dog-sitting while they’re away.

Now, as for the tricky dynamic between Liz and Blake, I have to ‘fess up. I stole the idea from a friend who is divorced. She has said more than once that she wishes she could get all the former partners of her ex-husband’s siblings together for a Reunion Of The Exes. She liked them. They were funny and she wishes she’d stayed in touch.

I’ve wanted to write that party so many times. Wouldn’t it make a great set up for a serial? Maybe a play?

I settled for including a hint of it here. My hero, Blake, was married to the sister of Liz’s ex. He recognizes Liz at a cocktail party and they bond as comrades in arms. His son is away at the same tropical wedding-slash-Christmas vacation so he’s at loose ends himself for most of December.

They don’t mean to get together, but it happens and they’re happier than they thought possible until their children and ex-spouses find out. Then things get awkward and they’re forced to decide whether this is a holiday fling or something more serious and long-lasting. I won’t spoil the ending, but this is a romance. Wink.

Do you have a lot of family obligations to navigate during the holidays? How do you make it work? Do you ever wish you could run away somewhere tropical for the month of December? (We do!) Where would you go?

I’m happy to send a PDF copy of Blame The Mistletoe to one lucky commenter, but you can buy Blame The Mistletoe for 99c until Dec 2.


Liz Flowers has never enjoyed Christmas, but this one is shaping up to be the worst by far. She let her ex take her daughter to Mexico while she stays behind in a strange town, sitting her former mother-in-law’s high strung little dog. It’s an opportunity to meet new people, but this California girl doesn’t have much in common with the ranchers in small town Marietta.

Blake Canon perks up with male interest when he sees a new face at his friend’s Christmas cocktail party. His son is away and a light affair would take his mind off his financial troubles. Then he realizes he knows Liz. She was once married to the brother of his ex-wife.

Their children might be cousins, but Blake and Liz do the kissing—under the mistletoe. It’s the beginning of a new view of Christmas for Liz, but when their children arrive home unexpectedly, and family secrets are revealed, Liz isn’t sure she’ll stay in Marietta for Christmas after all.

~ * ~


“Uh oh, Liz. You have a decision to make,” Skye said, pointing above Liz’s head.

Liz looked up. Mistletoe.

“The girls made me hang it,” Chase said from behind her, referring to Skye’s nieces who’d been running around with the rest of the children this evening.

Liz’s gaze caught Blake’s on the way down from the little sprig and her heart skipped at the light in his eyes. Her brain grasped for a smart remark, but nothing came.

Blake stepped into her space. “I think we owe it to ourselves,” he said. “Don’t you?”

Swaying, she set her hands on the cold, brushed texture of his coat, feeling ridiculously small and girlish all of a sudden. “Because of our mutual experience with the Flowers?” she asked.

“Actually . . . ” His gaze narrowed as he stared at her mouth and started to lower his head. “Let’s not think of them at all.”

His mouth touched hers and wiped her brain clean. All she knew was the brush of cold lips that warmed against hers, pressing firmly enough to open her lips so the kiss was not nearly so chaste as it should or could have been. He lingered, waiting until temptation got the better of her and she kissed him back, letting her mouth cling to his, then he slowly drew back. Something satisfied flickered in his eyes.

That had been bad. Good in a way that was very, very bad. Liz could barely breathe or muster a smile.

Skye and Chase smirked at each other. Someone from the lounge whistled. Liz rolled her eyes, feeling herself blush.

And Blake didn’t bother to hide the male smugness in his gaze as he took the leftovers from Skye and opened the door for Liz.

~ * ~

Blame The Mistletoe follows Hometown Hero, where school secretary, Skye Wolcott, gets a second chance with Marietta heartthrob and Major League Baseball player, Chase Goodwin. Please look for my next Montana Born story, The Bachelor’s Baby, in March 2015, which will feature Blake’s sister, Meg.

Award winning author, Dani Collins writes Harlequin Presents, romantic comedy, medieval fantasy, erotic romance, and now small-town rancher novellas. Whatever the genre, Dani always delivers sexy alpha heroes, witty, spirited heroines, complex emotions and loads of passion.

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dstoutholcomb said...

just a few obligations--none on Christmas day. I'd love to have a month of nothing, but my kids are not old enough for that.

Dani Collins said...

I think that's why I want to try an 'away' Christmas - the prospect of doing nothing. Of course tropical beaches are their own chore, aren't they? ;)

Laurie G said...

I will have the family Christmas dinner. I expect 14 people not too big but still stressful. Gift buying is my worst nightmare. Luckily, on-line shopping helps. I recently started a new job so my free time is limited. I also have to keep assisting my 90 yo mom with all her needs.

Last year I froze in Wisconsin. This year I'm hoping for warmer temperatures in southeastern Florida!.

Dani Collins said...

Hi ladies. Since there's only two responses, i'll send you both a copy of Blame The Mistletoe. Email me through my website and I'll forward it. Thanks for commenting! :)

Laurie G said...