Friday, 7 December 2012

'Christmas without Icing' - My Christmas novella is released!

I know I said I wasn't going to do a Christmas book - some of you might remember I'd actually started a Christmas novel back in the summer - because I just wasn't "feeling" the story, which is why I'd put it aside in order to start writing 'Striker'.  Well, funnily enough, for some reason, with Christmas fast approaching, I was suddenly taken over by the festive spirit (and I'm not talking about mulled wine here) and felt a strange urge to take another look at that Christmas story of mine.

Reading through it, as Christmas songs flooded out of my radio (alright, slight exaggeration there maybe, but Mariah Carey's 'All I want for Christmas is You' was playing the other day...), I knew that this was a story that could make the perfect novella - so I took the bull by the horns, so to speak, and adapted what had already been written into this new, bonus book of mine.  And 'Christmas without Icing' was born!  I like to call it my little Lapland fairytale, and, despite me saying that I don't really write "sweet" romance, this is exactly what this is.  It's a sweet, festive, fairytale.  And I hope you like it.  

Anyway, here's the blurb, and, just like the book, this is also short and sweet...

Jessie Collins has always wanted to visit Lapland.  But this Christmas, more than any other, it’s also a place she feels she really needs to be as she tries to come to terms with a painful event in the past, and a future she really needs to start living.

Can a strange young man called Mikku, lights in the sky, and a magical little town in the Arctic Circle really help her find the strength she needs to move on?

Christmas without Icing – a Lapland fairytale…

So, there we have it.  A bit of a bonus book from me, all thanks to the Christmas spirit taking over and making me feel all festive. 
Want to check out a little excerpt?  Okay - here you go...

 The sky was the most incredible colour – a mixture of pink and orange streaks and, even though it wasn’t even lunch time yet, I could see it wouldn’t be long before that early dusk arrived.  It wouldn’t be long before this beautiful little place was bathed in that daytime darkness once again.  This was so, so different to anything I’d ever experienced before.  I’d never seen anything like it and I actually found it quite mesmerising, just standing there, looking up at the sky, watching as it changed before my eyes, creating layer upon layer of colours from orange to pink to brown.

‘Beautiful, isn’t it?’

I spun round to see a tall, young man standing beside me, dressed all in black from his hat to his snow boots.  Where had he come from?  I hadn’t even heard him walk up alongside me.  Maybe I’d just been too deep in thought.  And my hat was pulled right down over my ears so it probably wasn’t a complete surprise that I hadn’t heard him arrive.

‘Yes.  Yes, it’s really beautiful,’ I said, watching him as he stared up at the rapidly darkening sky, the colours deepening but still swirling around over our heads.

‘If you think this is something to look at, then you should see the Northern Lights – Aurora Borealis…’  He stopped staring at the sky and looked directly at me, something which took me slightly by surprise because I’d kind of been staring at him.  He didn’t seem to mind, though.  ‘Have you ever seen them?’

‘Erm, sorry… have I ever seen what?’  The sudden appearance of this stranger had unsettled me slightly.  One thing I certainly wasn’t used to was being approached by attractive young men wanting to strike up a conversation.  But something – I didn’t know what, exactly, but something was telling me he was okay.  I had nothing to worry about.

‘The Northern Lights,’ he replied, smiling at me and I had to turn away for a second.  I’d been knocked for six slightly and I just needed a moment to pull myself together.

‘No.  No, I haven’t seen them,’ I said, turning back to look at him, taking in his handsome face with the beautiful smile, deep, dark eyes and perfect skin.  He had a really lovely accent too.  I wondered if he was a local.  Maybe he was a ski instructor or something.  Oh God, I hope he wasn’t trying to drum up business because one place I really wasn’t in a hurry to be was on a pair of skis.  I’d seen people outside the hotel trying to walk around in those ski boots and the majority of them looked as though they had a bad case of piles, which led me to think they obviously weren’t the easiest or most comfortable of things to wear.  And that was before you added the skis to the bottom of them.  No, he was going to be bitterly disappointed if he was looking at me to become a new pupil.  I didn’t care how good-looking he was.

‘Would you like to?’ he asked, still looking at me with those intense eyes of his.  He had one hell of a stare on him but the strange thing was, he wasn’t making me feel in the least bit uncomfortable.  Quite the opposite, in fact.

‘Yes,’ I replied, unable to take my eyes off him, even though it felt a touch weird to be here in the middle of this magical little Christmas village staring at this stranger who’d seemed to appear out of nowhere.  ‘Yes, I would.’

‘I think you should,’ he said, nodding slowly as he turned to look up at the sky again, his hands shoved deep in the pockets of his black jacket.

I wanted to ask why – why he thought I should but, for some reason, I couldn’t seem to get the words out.

‘My name is Mikku,’ he went on, turning back to look at me.

‘I… I’m Jessie,’ I said, suddenly feeling quite tired.  It was as if all the events of the past couple of years had finally caught up with me – like a huge weight had just landed square on my shoulders, weighing me down.

‘Jessie… that’s a lovely name…’  He smiled at me again and, just as suddenly as it had appeared, the tiredness seemed to dissipate, leaving me with a strange sense of calm.  ‘Would you like some company, Jessie?’

Was he coming on to me?  But, as I looked at him, right into those ridiculously deep eyes of his, I knew it wasn’t like that.  It was nothing like that.  For some reason I just couldn’t explain, I felt incredibly comfortable with this man.  This strange, young man with the intense stare and the soft voice.  And, despite having planned this day as a day to reflect, a day to be on my own and think about what it was I was supposed to do with this new, enforced future of mine, I suddenly realised that, yes.  Yes, I did actually want some company.

‘I think I’d like that,’ I said, returning the smile he gave me.  ‘I think I’d like that a lot.’
© Michelle Betham 2012
The hotel we stayed in when we visited Lapland

This book was inspired by a trip my husband and I took to Levi in Finnish Lapland a few years ago, and it was probably one of the most memorable holidays I've ever had, in the most beautiful place.  The scenery there is just stunning, and I will never forget the experience.  Ever.  So, it seemed only right to use those memories of such an incredible place as inspiration for this little story.

Levi town centre - inspiration for 'Christmas without Icing'

Now, this story is a little different to what I usually write, as I mentioned before, so, if you're expecting sexy and edgy then this isn't it - this is a Christmas love story - nothing more, nothing less.  A little departure for me, but sometimes I like to be different! ;) 

'Christmas without Icing' my festive fairytale, available to download now from Amazon

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