Books make super Christmas presents so I thought I’d gather together a selection of gorgeous Christmas books that would make perfect stocking fillers. And my book for day three is the deliciously festive Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland by Heidi Swain.
After calling off her engagement, Hayley, the Wynthorpe Hall housekeeper, wants nothing more than to return to her no-strings fun-loving self, avoiding any chance of future heartbreak. Little does she know, Wynbridge’s latest arrival is about to throw her plan entirely off course . . .
Moving into Wynthorpe Hall to escape the town’s gossip, Hayley finds herself immersed in the eccentric Connelly family’s festive activities as they plan to host their first ever Winter Wonderland. But Hayley isn’t the only new resident at the hall. Gabe, a friend of the Connelly’s son Jamie, has also taken up residence, moving into Gatekeeper’s Cottage, and he quickly makes an impression on Wynbridge’s reformed good-girl.
As preparations commence for the biggest event of the season, the pair find themselves drawn ever closer to one another, but unbeknownst to Hayley, Gabe, too, has a reason for turning his back on love, one that seems intent on keeping them apart.
Under the starry winter skies, will Gabe convince Hayley to open her heart again once more? And in doing so, will he convince himself?
Buying link – Amazon
It looks gorgeous, Heidi. Can you tell us a bit about how you planned the book?
Hello Karen! Thank you so much for inviting me to tell you about my Christmas 2018 release, ‘Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at The Winter Wonderland’, and to take part in your fabulous festive feature!
‘Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls’ is my third Christmas book and, like ‘Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells’ last year, it is set in the beautiful country house setting of Wynthorpe Hall and just a short drive away from my beloved Wynbridge.
This book tells the story of Hayley, the feisty hall housekeeper who was a minor character last year with a very loud voice and a burning desire to take centre stage. Sharing what happens to her in the run up to Christmas at the hall has given me the opportunity to expand the Connelly family Christmas in the form of the very beautiful Winter Wonderland as well as look at different ways of celebrating Yule and the chilly season.
When planning a festive title, I always keep at the forefront of my mind the reader research I undertook before writing my first one. The biggest niggle amongst buyers of books which include ‘Christmas’ in their title is that quite often the story then fails to include any seasonal detail at all. Consequently, I make a point of creating a plot which weaves its way through and around as many Christmas related activities and traditions as possible. My readers know now that if they take a trip to Wynbridge or Wynthorpe Hall during winter they’re going to find an abundance of family and town traditions, such as the Christmas tree auction in town and sleigh rides at the hall, as well as religious celebrations including services in the church and solstice celebrations in the woods.
If the hundreds of reviews over on Amazon are anything to go by, my readers are enjoying the Fenland Christmases I create and I hope that will continue for a very long time to come!I
I’m sure it will, Heidi. It’s lovely to read about the Christmas traditions at Wynbridge and Wynthorpe Hall, Can you tell us a bit about your own Christmas traditions. What is your favourite Christmas memory?
That’s a tricky question to answer, especially as I have two grown up children and a plethora of their ecstatic Christmas moments to choose from, but I am going to pick a childhood memory of my own.
When I was about ten years old, my local pet store had some cockatiels for sale in the run-up to Christmas. I never asked for one as they were ridiculously expensive and funds were tight, however, I would stand and watch them and their silly antics for as long as I could on a Saturday afternoon. It was the highlight of a shopping trip to town.
Mum and I used to spend Christmas day with her parents at their home. It was a short drive from ours to theirs and for convenience sake, that was where Santa used to deliver my gifts. This particular year, on arrival, I was told to go behind the curtains covering the bay window and take a look at what was on the chair… it was a cage containing a grey cockatiel with a peaches and cream complexion.
I can still remember the emotion I felt. It was a heady mixture of shock and excitement. I had absolutely no idea Mum had even noticed my weekly vigil watching the bird and even less that she was paying the shopkeeper a little money every week to ensure beautiful Sammy would be mine for Christmas.
Sammy is the most generous gift I have ever received and I’ll always remember how difficult it must have been for Mum to make sure I had him. We had the bonkers bird for almost two decades and I could write an entire series of books about the scrapes he got into and the adventures he had. He was a real character and I loved him, and his passion for Yorkshire puddings, dearly.
What a wonderful memory. 🙂 When do put up your Christmas tree? Do you prefer a real or artificial one?
All of our Christmas decorations, tree included, make an appearance during the second weekend of December. We have had the same artificial tree for years now, but this year our daughter will be coming home from university for the first time so we are going to have a real one to mark the occasion and of course, lend its luscious scent to the festivities.
She doesn’t know it yet, but I’m using her return to hearth and home as the perfect justification for going even more over the top than usual!
I’m sure she will love it! How do you spend Christmas Day?
The pattern of the day itself is for us, and I daresay, most families, set in stone now. We get up pretty early and stockings are opened on our bed – quite a squeeze now the kids are 23 and 18, but no matter. Then we have a special breakfast before listening to carols and relaxing while my husband cooks the dinner.
Presents from under the tree are opened after lunch and once they’ve been enjoyed we’ll settle down to watch a film or two before someone mentions that ‘they might be able to manage eating a little something’ and then the cheese, crackers, pickles, meats and another bottle of fizz fills us all up again.
It’s all very relaxed and indulgent, but why shouldn’t it be?
Why indeed! And what present are you hoping to receive this year?
I always find this a tricky question to answer. I can happily shop for everyone else but pinning down what I would like to receive is far harder! Books are of course always welcome and new fleecy PJ’s to wear while reading them would be wonderful but actually, for me, this year more than any other, having everyone back together under own roof is going to be the perfect present and I don’t care if it sounds corny because it’s true!
I’m sure that’s what most of us want for Christmas, all our family under the same roof and enjoying the day together. Thanks so much for dropping by, Heidi. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas
Although passionate about writing from an early age, Heidi Swain gained a degree in Literature, flirted briefly with a newspaper career, married and had two children before she plucked up the courage to join a creative writing class and take her literary ambitions seriously.
A lover of Galaxy bars, vintage paraphernalia and the odd bottle of fizz, she now writes feel good fiction with heart for Simon and Schuster.
Her debut novel, The Chery Tree Café was published in July 2015 and since then she has had a further six books published, becoming a Sunday Times Bestseller in 2017. She is currently working on her summer 2019 title.
Heidi is represented by Amanda Preston and lives in Norfolk with her wonderful family and a mischievous cat called Storm.
You can find out more about Heidi here:
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