I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas again – this year has gone way too fast, right? One of my favourite things about Christmas time (apart from the time with family and friends, the decorations, the tree, the anticipation and celebration, the food I never eat at any other time, the making of gifts and sending of cards and the general craziness of this time of the year) is the holiday novel. And I have the perfect one for you.
My lovely and talented friend, Louise Reynolds, who I first met through Romance Writers of Australia, has a wonderful Christmas novella with the kind of delightful Australian setting she does so well. She’s here today to talk about writing it and to give us a little taste. Take it away, Louise.
A Kirribilli Christmas
It has always been a puzzle to me that people who haven’t bothered to catch up all year suddenly simply must catch up before Christmas. Similarly, family who aren’t in touch regularly throughout the year are hell-bent on squeezing into one twelve to fourteen hour period, multiple visits – and gargantuan meals – with not only their own blood relatives but those of their spouse or partner. And as many of us acquire more complicated family arrangements, this can reach almost ridiculous levels as we hurtle about the countryside trying to please everyone.
Can there be anything more fraught than the delicate negotiations about whose family will be graced with your presence this year for Christmas lunch? How do you politely extricate yourself from a meal running overtime in order to drive 100 kilometres to another home to start all over again?
In my latest release, A Kirribilli Christmas, Shelby Collins has turned her back on her upbringing in Sydney and headed for the bright lights of LA. But years later, let down by her boyfriend at Christmas, she travels home to the reunion of a very unusual family. I loved writing this coming home story not least because it was a chance to showcase a hot Australian Christmas, with not a snowflake in sight.
There was a woman in his garden.
Dan Sayers climbed down from the ladder, laid the brush on the paint tray and swiped an arm across his sweaty forehead. He picked up a rag, wiping his hands as he moved closer to the window.
She was at the bottom, where the path that wound down through the steep front garden, snaking through dense foliage and vines, met the street. In the slanting, late afternoon light her face should have been exposed, but she’d stopped, shrouded in the deep shade of the arbour, as though uncertain whether to climb the path or run.
Just like Dan had been when he’d first entered that garden as an eight year old boy: dirty, rebellious and unloved. He hadn’t known it at the time but that steep path had been the highway to a new life.
Maybe she was just resting in the shade before moving on. He couldn’t blame her. The dense humidity that had made painting such hard work cloaked the afternoon, rendering it a hushed torpor. Even the birds and insects seemed too tired to stir. His gaze shifted to the suitcase sitting in the sun and he frowned. It was one of those glossy, expensive hard-sided affairs, gleaming like oyster shell.
If she’d arrived by ferry and lugged that bag up the dozens of steps from Kirribilli wharf, she was probably exhausted. An easterly would come through later but right now Sydney wilted in the heat.
He wasn’t expecting anyone, not until tomorrow when the old house would be full of people, none of them related by blood but the best kind of family, the sort cobbled together with love. He couldn’t wait.
The clean, pungent smell of paint was overlaid by a honeyed floral scent that seemed crushed and distilled and carried on the warm afternoon air. He stepped through the French windows and onto the veranda as though drawn by the scent but in reality he knew it was curiosity.
A prickle of awareness shivered up his spine as he gazed down the garden. If it wasn’t for the defeated tilt of her head, the slightly bowed shoulders, he’d swear it was— He bit off that thought. Of course lots of people were on the move the day before Christmas, travelling to be with family and friends.
The woman straightened her shoulders and stepped forward, out into the sun. It glinted on the blonde hair which fell shimmering to her shoulders. Could he see or did he just imagine the deep breath she took, as though she were marshalling her reserves? Or maybe it was in preparation for a sigh.
Then she tilted her face upwards, looking directly at the house, and Dan swore softly.
Shelby Collins had come home.
Thanks for that, Louise. I can’t wait to read it over Christmas. You can buy ‘A Kirribilli Christmas’ here:
And you can find out more about Louise here: