It’s October. The kids are back at school, the nights are drawing in and the local supermarket have shifted the cereals and filled the shelf with seasonal goodies. Try as we might to bury our head in the sand and ignore it, it’s nearly Christmas. And that means it’s time for Christmas titles from Harlequin and Mills & Boon.
It’s been a while since I’ve had a Christmas title on sale. I’ve only done two others – All She Wants for Christmas and A Surprise Christmas Proposal. Both of those were accidental Christmas books.
This year, I’m making up for ignoring the season and you’ll be getting two books from me. In the “Trading Places” duet -- Christmas Angel for the Billionaire (November) and Her Desert Dream (December) – Lady Roseanne Napier and Lydia Young swap places for a week just before the holidays.
Lady Roseanne, orphaned just before Christmas when she was six years old, has become the “people’s angel”. At sixteen she stepped into her parents’ shoes to become the face of the charity they founded. Ten years on, she’s a young woman cut off from real life, confined within the protective bubble of bodyguards and protocol.
Here she is –
Annie smothered a yawn. The room was hot, the lingering scent of food nauseating and all she wanted to do was lay her head on the table in front of her, close her eyes and switch off.
There was a visit to a hospital, then three hours of Wagner at a charity gala to endure before she could even think about sleep. And even then, no matter how tired she was, thinking about it was as close as she would get.
She’d tried it all. Soothing baths, a lavender pillow, every kind of relaxation technique without success. But calming her mind wasn’t the problem.
It wasn’t the fact that it was swirling with all the things she needed to remember that was keeping her awake. She had an efficient personal assistant to take care of every single detail of her life and ensure that she was in the right place, at the right time. A speech writer to put carefully chosen words into her mouth when she got there. A style consultant whose job it was to ensure that whenever she appeared in public she made the front page.
That was the problem.
There was absolutely nothing in her mind to swirl around. It was empty. Like her life.
In just under a minute she was going to have to stand up and talk to these amazing people who had put themselves on the line to alleviate suffering in the world.
They had come to see her, listen to her inspire them to even greater efforts. And her presence ensured that the press was here, too, which meant that the work they did would be noticed, reported.
Her hat, a rich green velvet and feather folly perched at a saucy angle over her right eye would probably garner more column inches than the charity she was here to support.
She was doing more for magazine and newspaper circulation than she was for the medical teams, the search units, pilots, drivers, communications people who dropped everything at a moment’s notice, risking their lives to help victims of war, famine, disaster, a point she’d made to her grandfather more than once.
A pragmatist, he had dismissed her concerns, reminding her that it was a symbiotic relationship and everyone would benefit from her appearance, including the British fashion industry.
It didn’t help that he was right.
She wanted to do more, be more than a cover girl, a fashion icon. Her parents had been out there, on the front line, picking up the pieces of ruined lives and she had planned to follow in their footsteps.
She stopped the thought. Publicity was the only gift she had and she had better do it right but as she took her place at the lectern and a wave of applause hit her, a long silent scream invaded the emptiness inside her head.
A chance encounter with her “look-alike”, Lydia Young, gives her the opportunity to escape, to grab a week of freedom, be invisible. Be herself. It took planning, careful timing and a lot of nerve on Lydia’s part, but now she was off, free, the open road in front of her and no one but herself to please. But life isn’t ever that easy. All it takes to throw a spanner in the works is a missed turning, a car that isn’t quite what it seems and George Saxon.
Here’s George –
George Saxon, bare feet propped on the deck rail of his California beach house, laptop on his knees, gave up on the problem that had been eluding him for weeks and surfed idly through the headlines of the London newspapers.
His eyes were caught by the picture of a couple leaving some gala. She was one of those tall, patrician women, pale blonde hair swept up off her neck, her fabulously expensive gown cut low to reveal hollows in her shoulders even deeper than those in her cheeks.
But it wasn’t her dress or the fact that she’d so obviously starved herself to get into it that had caught and held his attention. It was her eyes.
Her mouth was smiling for the camera, but her eyes, large, blue seemed to be looking straight at him, sending him a silent appeal for help.
He clicked swiftly back to the program he’d been working on. Sometimes switching in and out of a problem cleared the blockage but this one was stubborn, which was why he’d left his Chicago office, his lakeside apartment. Escaping the frantic pre-Christmas party atmosphere for the peace of the beach.
Behind him, inside the house, the phone began to ring. It would be his accountant, or his lawyer, or his office but success had insulated him from the need to jump when the phone rang and he left it for the machine to pick up. There was nothing, no one --
‘George? It’s your dad…’
But then again there were exceptions to every rule.
And here’s what Romantic Times had to say –
CHRISTMAS ANGEL FOR THE BILLIONAIRE (4.5) A delicate blending of fantasy and reality, this story has everything, including a difficult but irresistible hero and a clever, gutsy heroine who's in every way his match.
Christmas Angel for the Billionaire is on sale as a 2-in-1 with Jessica Hart’s fabulous story, Under the Boss’s Mistletoe in the UK, or on it’s own from eHarlequin, in both paper and eBook formats.
There’s a chance to win signed copies of both “Trading Places” books on the Harlequin Romance Authors blog at eHarlequin from Friday this week – you just have to leave a comment to enter the draw.
There will also be an interview with me on Friday here so do drop by and say hello if you have a moment.
And you can let me know what you think of the book on Twitter, too.
You'll find more about the book on my website, or you can Browse the Book --