Christmas: the best time of year for romance characters to consider a change of heart...
Christmas is an important time of year for romance novel characters. It’s the one time of year when anything is possible; when stubborn heroes and heroines have the chance to re-evaluate their hard-and-fast views. So naturally, Christmas turns up in my novel, Unforgivable. After all, what better time of year to ask whether it’s possible to forgive the unforgivable?
Why is Christmas such fertile ground for the change of heart? Is it because it’s the one time of year when the world pauses for a moment? When everything just stops, if only for a day? Or is it something to do with older traditions?
It’s thought that the Christmas festival we celebrate today may share some roots with the Roman winter festival of Saturnalia, when the ‘natural order’ was turned on its head - masters dressed as servants and men dressed as women. Anything was possible. Perhaps this is why books and movies are full of Christmas-related changes of heart?
Unforgivable is the story of Rose and Gil, a Regency couple whose marriage was such an unmitigated disaster that they haven’t seen one another for five long years, since mere days after their disastrous wedding night. Gil and Rose behave horribly to one another: Gil cheats on Rose. Rose lies to Gil. They hurt one another so badly that forgiveness seems impossible. After all, how do you reach out to someone when you feel simultaneously ashamed of your own behaviour and outraged at the other person’s?
Rose and Gil have maintained one tiny thread of communication throughout their marriage – Rose’s annual Christmas invitation. So when Rose reaches a point when she finally withholds even this, Gil wants to know the reason why.
“Hello, Rose,” he said at last, lifting his hand to take off his hat. The wind immediately ripped through his dark hair, making it wild and unruly. It was whipping about his face, and his coat was fluttering, and the ends of his neckcloth were flying about too, but Gil, at the centre of all that movement, was as still as a rock. His hazel eyes fixed on her with an odd, wary look she’d not seen on his face before.
“Suddenly, I find I don’t know what to say,” he said with a humorless laugh. “After coming three hundred miles to see you.”
She stared at him, not knowing what to say either. She couldn’t imagine why he was here.
After a moment, he closed the distance that separated them. It took him two long strides. She had to tip her head to look into his face then, and when she did, it was to see that he appeared deeply troubled.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“You didn’t invite me for Christmas,” he said at last, and she wondered if she’d misheard him. His words were so unexpected, so at odds with his unhappy expression.
“Every year, you invite me for Christmas,” he added. “Except this one.”.....
What do you think - is Christmas a time when old resentments can be put aside? Do you believe in Christmas miracles?
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About the Author:Joanna Chambers always wanted to write love stories but she studied law, became a practising lawyer, married and had two children before she finally got beyond staring at empty notebooks. She thanks the arrival of her children for the discovery of her muse and/or destruction of her social life.
Joanna is a passionate believer in the transformative power of love. She lives in the UK with her family. When not working, looking after children or writing, she can be found with her nose buried in an ebook.
Find Joanna online at
Twitter - @ChambersJoanna
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Gil Truman has eyes only for the beautiful Tilly—until he is forced to marry plain, sickly Rose Davenport to reclaim the lands his father foolishly gambled away. After a disastrous wedding night tainted with his bitterness, he deposits Rose at his remote Northumbrian estate, soothing his guilt with the thought that she need never lay eyes on him again.
Five years after the mortifying wedding night that destroyed all her romantic fantasies, Rose is fed up with hearing second- and third-hand reports of Gil’s philandering ways. She is no longer the shy, homely girl he left behind, but a strong, confident woman who knows how to run an estate. And knows what she wants—her husband, back in their marriage bed.
Gil doesn’t recognize the bold, flirtatious woman he meets at a ball, with or without her mask. Yet he is bewitched and besotted, and their night together is the most passionate he has ever known.
But when he confesses his sins to the beautiful stranger, the truth rips open the old wounds of their blighted history. Threatening any hope of a future together.