Get Your Skates On!

I know it was only a few days ago that we were enjoying what the papers like to call an Indian summer (but is really the last couple of days when you can go out without your thick cardie and tights). But now there are fewer than 100 shopping days to Christmas, and it’s the time of year when thoughts turn to seasonal fiction where a hot man waits to be unwrapped along with the Christmas present.

All of which is a way of saying that I have the cover for my Xcite Romance novella, Christmas Rendezvous, and here it is:

christmas rendezvous

The story is set in Bruges, one of my favourite cities, and home to a famous Christmas market, which you may remember from the climax of In Bruges (and if you’ve never seen that film, why not?). Here’s the blurb:

When Juliette Milner is invited to spend Christmas in Bruges with her ex-boyfriend, Dale, she thinks an old flame is about to be rekindled. But Dale’s invitation isn’t all it seems, and Juliette finds herself stranded alone in this beautiful city. A chance conversation with a friendly barman leads her to the bed and breakfast run by his brother, Laurens, who has a room free thanks to a last-minute cancellation. And as she finds herself growing closer to Laurens on a sightseeing tour, Juliette realises she might enjoy a special Christmas rendezvous after all …

In this extract, Juliette is on the train from Brussels, thinking about Dale’s invitation, and wondering what his motives might be for inviting her to his new home for Christmas:

Turning to look out of the window, I stared through snow-spattered glass at the flat, unremarkable fields beyond. Already, snow was softening the outlines of trees and fields, and beginning to lie on the roofs of barns and outbuildings. Here and there, the odd cluster of buildings with a squat stone church at their centre passed for a village, breaking up the monotony of the landscape. The roads were all but deserted, and I wondered whether the bad weather was keeping people at home, or whether this particular part of the country, dominated by farmland, was always this quiet.

Still, at least Bruges should be livelier, if what Dale had told me about the city coming into its own at Christmas was anything to go by. Again, I found my mind drifting back to the shock I’d had when his email had popped into my inbox, asking me to spend the festive season with him.

In truth, he’d never been too far from my thoughts since we’d split up, almost 18 months ago. It was hardly surprising: the two of us had unfinished business, after all. Our time together had never properly run its course: Dale had been offered a promotion which was too good for him to turn down, but it meant moving to the company’s satellite office in Bruges. We’d decided to make a clean break, having both known friends who’d tried to sustain a long-distance relationship and failed miserably.

Sometimes, I wondered if I should have gone with him to Belgium so we could have made a life there, but I was happy with my work and my little flat and my small but loyal group of friends. Much as I loved him, I hadn’t wanted to give all that up and move to a country where I had no solid job prospects and didn’t speak the local language. At first, I missed him like mad, but over time that had faded to nothing more than moments when I wondered what it would be like to be in his arms right then, and whether he still missed me too, just a little bit.

But maybe the problem was I hadn’t loved Dale enough. If I’d been really, truly, can’t-live-without-you in love with him, I’d have said goodbye to my old life in England and done whatever it took to make things work out between us in Bruges. No, that would have just been too risky, I told myself: the kind of crazy, over-the-top gesture characters make at the end of a romantic comedy. You never get to see what happens after the credits roll, and whether their happy ever after eventually turns to disaster.

What will happen when Juliette finally reunites with Dale? How does a handsome B and B owner rescue her from potential disaster? And, most importantly, where do the ice skates fit in? The book is available to pre-order from Amazon, so slide on over there to find out more…

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