Risky Regencies

MISTLETOE KISSES Interview and Contest!

This week, the Riskies have the pleasure of interviewing not one but three authors: Elizabeth Rolls, Deborah Hale and our own Diane, with her Gaston hat on. Together, these three ladies have brought us a new holiday-themed anthology from Harlequin Historicals, MISTLETOE KISSES.

To make it more fun, these ladies have offered to give away THREE autographed copies. Just comment on each or any of the blog posts this week for a chance to win. Click here for complete contest rules.


“A talented trio of authors brings together a triptych of heartwarming holiday stories perfect for the season. Though short stories, they are long on emotions and the true spirit of the season: redemption, forgiveness and love. When you need a pick-me-up from the holiday rush, grab one of these and you’ll be rejuvenated and ready to celebrate the joy of family and friends.” – Romantic Times, 4 Stars


Elizabeth Rolls lives in the Adelaide Hills region of South Australia in a valley full of apple, pear and cherry orchards. She sold her first Regency historical, THE UNEXPECTED BRIDE, to Mills & Boon Historicals in 1999 and has now written six full length Regencies for them, which have all been reissued in Harlequin Historicals. As well she collaborated on A REGENCY INVITATION with Nicola Cornick and Joanna Maitland. She has won the HOLT Medallion for Best Regency twice and the Laurel Wreath as well as being shortlisted for other awards. She’s still slightly shocked and very grateful. She enjoys writing novellas as a change of weight, pace and structure from full length historicals. Learn more about Elizabeth at www.elizabethrolls.com.

Since winning the Golden Heart in 1997, Deborah Hale has written over a dozen award-winning novels for Harlequin Historical with settings ranging from 12th century Wales to Whitehorn Montana and her native Atlantic Canada. Deborah has also written two fantasy novels for Luna Books. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages and sold in over twenty countries around the world. Learn more about Deborah at www.deborahhale.com.

The third author is our own Diane Perkins/Gaston, winner of RWA’s RITA Award for Best Regency Romance for A REPUTABLE RAKE. If you haven’t already, go read our interview with Diane and visit her website at www.dianegaston.com.


Please tell us about your stories!

“A Soldier’s Tale” by Elizabeth Rolls

Dominic, Viscount Alderley returns from Waterloo scarred, only to find that he is expected to do his duty and wed the heiress who spurned him on the eve of battle. But Dominic is far more interested in his quiet, gentle cousin. Pippa alone seems to be able to see past the scars to the man beneath.

“Elizabeth Rolls delivers a seasonal winner. ‘A Soldier’s Tale’ is a lovely story filled with the warmth, the magic, and the happily-ever-afters every Christmas story needs. Truly, I must hunt down more from this author!” – MaryGrace Meloche, Historical Romance Writers/Romance Designs

“Rolls’ ‘A Soldier’s Tale’ is Beauty and the Beast with a twist. A scarred war hero finds the love and compassion he needs — not from the heiress his family wants him to marry, but from his poor cousin with a heart of pure gold. This story will make your heart sing with joy.” – Romantic Times

“A Winter Night’s Tale” by Deborah Hale

This year’s festivities for Christabel Wilton and her young son will be sparse and cold — or so she fears. When the man she once spurned offers them warmth, comfort and a true family Christmas, Christabel wonders if she was mistaken about Jonathan Frost. And is it too late to make amends?

“’A Winter’s Tale’ is very sweet and very romantic. The heroine’s regret was palpable, the hero’s forgiveness was acceptable, and the secondary characters were “capital.” Deborah Hale creates two very likeable characters in Jonathan and Christabel and this reader cheered for their continual happiness.” — MaryGrace Meloche, Historical Romance Writers/Romance Designs

“It is cold comfort for a young widow who sees only sadness in the holiday until a man she once loved comes back into her life and they are both given a second chance for happiness in Hale’s compassionate ‘A Winter’s Tale.’” – Romantic Times

‘A Twelfth Night Tale’ by Diane Perkins

One impulsive night of love changed Elizabeth’s life forever. Now, ten years later, Elizabeth and Zachary meet again in a stable to deliver the child of the disgraced young woman to whom Elizabeth had been governess and who is now totally dependent upon her. Zachary offers them security, but will his second Twelfth Night with Elizabeth see their happiness reborn?

“Her fantastic THE MYSTERIOUS MISS M placed me in Diana Gaston’s corner some time ago. In ‘A Twelfth Night Tale’ Ms. Gaston grants two lovers a second chance…” — MaryGrace Meloche, Historical Romance Writers/Romance Designs

“Second chances and a love reborn are what makes Gaston’s ‘A Twelfth Night Tale’ pure pleasure as she proves that even a decade of separation is not enough to destroy a love that flames alive after one night of great passion.” – Romantic Times

When researching historical holiday customs, did you come across anything interesting you’d like to share?

I discovered that people often used to put on amateur theatricals to amuse themselves. Indoor activities make sense when the days are short and cold. So I started wondering about which play to use. I’ve always loved the story of Beauty and the Beast, oddly enough for pretty much the reason Hermione gives for wanting to use it; it’s one of the few fairy tales where the hero and heroine spend enough time together to form a real relationship.

I learned that the traditional carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was sometimes
played as a memory game. Players took turns naming gifts for each day, then having to recall and recite all the others that had gone before. I used this game for a central scene in ‘A Winter Night’s Tale’. My working title for the story had been ‘My True Love Gave to Me’.

I learned about the custom of the “Dark Man.” In Yorkshire, it was considered good luck for a dark-haired man to be the first person to cross the threshold in the new year. So in some communities a dark-haired man would be chosen to go from house to house where he, of course, would be given food and drink. I could just imagine this man getting more and more soused as he progressed through the village. In other parts of the UK the same superstition exists. In Scotland, however, this man would have had red hair and in other areas he would be fair.

There have been many Christmas anthologies. How did you make the Christmas theme fresh for your stories?

Only a couple of specialist Romance bookshops carry the Christmas anthologies here in Australia, so I haven’t read many. I just started with my characters and then once I had the idea of using Beauty and the Beast as the play, I built the whole story round that. I actually did rough out quite a bit of the play and I wrote the scene that is used in the story on Twelfth Night in detail – stage directions and all!

I love historical Christmas anthologies and had wanted to be part of one from the time I sold my first book. I didn’t set out to do anything fresh or different, then Jonathan Frost’s Aunt Fanny wandered into the story. She suffers from dementia and thinks she’s back in her childhood again. Not knowing what else to do, Frost does everything in his power to humor her. He enlists Christabel’s help to give his aunt a happy, family Christmas. I hope Aunt Fanny adds a touch of poignancy to the story without dimming its essential joy. Reader reaction so far has been very positive.

I always buy the Regency Christmas anthologies and, before writing my novella, I reread a bunch of them to get an idea of the length and tone and structure of the stories. I didn’t worry about mine being fresh or new. In fact, I knew I wanted to start out with “no room at the inn” and a baby being born in a stable, hardly an original idea! What I like best about Christmas stories, though, is when they have parallels to the first Christmas, and I wanted my story to have that, too.

Did you have to collaborate in any way to make sure your stories weren’t too similar or didn’t clash in other ways?

I had no idea who the other authors were. As for the Mistletoe Kisses in the title – mine was a relatively late addition. I had a lightbulb moment during a working bee at my sons’ school one morning. My editor wanted to change my title, but I persuaded her not too. I heard afterwards that they contacted and persuaded Deborah to change her title to fit with Diane’s and my “Tales”. Sorry, Deborah!

Actually, I was asked to write my novella for a 2005 anthology with Nicola Cornick and Julia Justiss. We did some collaborating on a common theme and a variety of story plots and tones. Then all that went out the window! Due to changes in Harlequin’s historical program, it was decided to hold my story until this Christmas and publish Julia’s and Nicola’s with a Mary Balogh novella as an HQN anthology. I didn’t know for sure that Elizabeth and Diane would be the other authors in the 2006 anthology until after they had finished their stories. I assume the editors picked out the common thread of kisses under the mistletoe that gave our anthology its title and lovely cover. I think there is a very nice variety and balance among our three stories that I’m not sure we could have achieved even with extensive collaboration. Perhaps there was a little mistletoe magic at work.

I was too new at this to even think of collaboration! I also didn’t know who the other authors were in the anthology until my story was all done. I love that our stories fit together anyway and it has been fun getting to know my novella mates after the fact.

Thanks to the three of you for talking to us about MISTLETOE KISSES!

And to our visitors, don’t forget to comment all this week for the chance to win an autographed copy!

The Riskies

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16 years ago

Greetings to all lovers of Regency romances (especially Judy!), and
to the three wonderful authors in the MISTLETOE KISSES anthology.
Nothing like creating a blog of your own when you don’t know what you’re doing. I named my b-spot “Don’t know what I’m doing”. 🙂

I adored all three stories in the anthology; I bought the book because Diane Gaston[aka Perkins] is one of my top 3 fave authors, and was thrilled to find that I enjoyed the stories of the other two authors immensely, as they were both new authors to me.

It’s fascinating to see the ‘voiceprint’ of authors when you can read short stories side by side, as in an anthology. Each author has a unique voice, a unique writing style, and to me that’s almost as fascinating to uncover as the stories themselves.

Now I’ve read a full Deborah Hale novel [Beauty and the Baron] since reading Mistletoe Kisses, and have enjoyed it thoroughly! And I plan to read an Elizabeth Rolls novel very soon… I KNOW it will be great, since my best friend Judy said so, and I trust her ‘romance judgement’ completely (as well as her judgement in general, lol!).

Then there’s the impatient wait for Diane’s next novel — Innocence and Impropriety. Waiting is hard!

The running theme of second chances and forgiveness is so beautifully shown in the three MISTLETOE KISSES stories. All the stories were very satisfying and made me feel happy at the end. That’s pretty much my whole reason for reading a romance…

I enjoyed very much the interview in today’s RISKY REGENCY blogspot. It’s great to hear HOW the authors came up w/some of their ideas; I was also intrigued that none of them knew who the other 2 authors would be. That must be a bit unnerving. After all, you’d of course want your story to be paired with two other REALLY GOOD writers!! The editors/publisher certainly did a fab job on that, and the title and cover art are so beautiful, as well.

Speaking of cover art, I will often pick up a new book to read purely on the cover art and/or the title. (The blurbs/back covers also help me to decide, if I’m torn.)

But if I’m turned off by the cover art and/or title up front, I won’t even pick up the book to READ the blurbs! (I’m not against racy cover art, either… racy isn’t the issue. It’s a lot more indefinable than that.) I wonder how many great books I’ve missed by judging a book by its cover! (I’m usually not quite so hard on *people*, thank goodness.)

I enjoyed reading about Christmas traditions in the interview, as well. I’d heard about the ’12 Days of Christmas’ being a memory game, but didn’t realize that people would put on amateur theatricals, and I had never heard of the ‘Dark Man’ custom! Cool! I love learning new things like that.

BTW, the character of Aunt Fanny in Ms. Hale’s story was indeed touching , and I thought rather brilliant. It was certainly different from anything else I’d ever read in a romance! It worked very well.

I loved all the characters in all three stories. I was so happy that Diane had her story end with a prayer. As Diane has mentioned, even though not all people in Regency England may have been deeply religious (I suspect the common folk were more religious, in general, than the upper classes),in those days the vast majority of people in the UK did believe in God’s existence, and as such, would have prayed, if only now and then.

I didn’t proof this too well, so please forgive any typos!
Must run. Merry Christmas to all!

Diane Perkins
16 years ago

Welcome, Mary K! Everyone, Mary is a wonderful friend, a reader who has become a friend. I guess part of the reason she likes what I write is that we think a lot alike as people.

I had a chance to meet Mary in Florida where she came for the 2006 RT booksigning and drove me across the state to visit my uncle. Talk about non-stop talking! We had a wonderful time.

And Mary introduced me (online-ish) to her friend Judy who has become another treasure of mine. Judy has been posting lately so I’m sure she’ll pop in this week.

Jennifer Y.
16 years ago

This book sounds great! I have heard a lot about it and look forward to reading it.

16 years ago

What a great collaboration. Sounds delightful.

16 years ago

This collection has everything with the best author’s contribution. Love it.

16 years ago

I am entranced with this wonderful anthology. Looks wonderful.

Mallory M Pickerloy
16 years ago

I enjoyed the interview and it was very insightful.

I had bought and read the MISTLETOE KISSES anthology. I found it delightful and very romantic.

I knew about the ‘Dark Man’ custom and was happy to see it in Diane’s novella. I liked seeing old traditions mixed with the romance of the stories. Diane’s stories do make unforgetable reads. I could go on about it all day so I must stop here ;)Whoever wins their copies of the anthology will be very happy indeed!

16 years ago

I am definitely going to enjoy this anthology. Great authors and an original idea.

Diane Perkins
16 years ago

I’m glad you are all stopping by. A special “Hi” to Mallory and thanks for her kind words about my writing.

Theresa N.
16 years ago

This sounds like a wonderful book from three very talented ladies. Christmas regencys are the best, it wouldn’t be Christmas with out them!

Cara King
16 years ago

Oooh, I *love* that cover!


(Who, like Mary, is probably influenced by cover art more than is good for her!) 🙂

16 years ago

I’m with you, Cara. I loved the cover too! Such a lovely glow.
I’ll join with Diane to say thanks to everyone for their kind comments about the anthology.
And yes, Mary K – it IS unnerving when you don’t know who the other authors are. Only HH has a pretty good stable of Regency authors so I wasn’t too worried.
Cara – How lovely to “see” you here. I attended your workshop in Reno last year.



Keira Soleore
16 years ago

I’d read anything written by Diane (well, maybe not that physics lab report), so here’s the story why this contest is such a great coincidence for me.

‘Twas a dark, cold, stormy night yesterday (well, what can I say, all Seattle nights are a cliché).

And there I was, giving the shelves at my local bookstore the evil eye, then giving the store assistant the not-so-evil eye, because her scan revealed the same result. Nope, still not there.

This. Was. My. Third. Visit.

I’ve been wanting to lay my hands on a copy of Mistletoe Kisses since I read a comment by a reader here on RR that she’d spotted the book at her store.

And now, here you guys are talking about the book all week long. That’s sheer torture for a reader.

Moving right along…

I loved the cover, especially the title font with the curlicues—a bit of holiday whimsey there.

Which of your three heroes and heroines do the pictures on the cover match the closest?

Deborah said, “I assume the editors picked out the common thread of kisses under the mistletoe…”

I really liked the fact that all three of the stories in the anthology are about highly eligible heroes taking chances and finding happiness with, what society would term, highly unmarriageable girls.

Innocence and Impropriety

Keira Soleore
16 years ago

And yes, I’m consoling myself withRegency Christmas Magic that I did manage to snag yesterday.

16 years ago

Thanks Mary for reminding me about this. (waves happily at Mary, Diane, and Elizabeth) Great interviews! I simply love learning about the process and reasons behind certain writing decisions.

Elizabeth, I’m delighted Dominic insisted on the mistletoe! I just re-read the hanging of it, and the last sentence always makes me laugh!

Aunt Fanny is simply adorable, and such a touching character. She adds so much to the story. It isn’t often… in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever read another romance that included a character with dementia.

I loved the parallel with the first Christmas Story, in Diane’s book. And isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Second chances, the opportunity to start over fresh, no matter what has happened in the past? The chance to change and reach for the joy waiting, if only we’ll open our heart.

Keira, I too have gotten frustrated looking for books at stores, and now simply go straight to Amazon. I hope your bookstore gets it soon. It’s definitely worth a read or two or three… I’ll not confess how many times I’ve read it already.

And as keira said I really liked the fact that all three of the stories in the anthology are about highly eligible heroes taking chances and finding happiness with, what society would term, highly unmarriageable girls.
Me too! Me too!

~~ Judy T

Diane Perkins
16 years ago

Oh, Keira! I’m so sorry you can’t find it. What store is it? And do they routinely stock Harlequin Historicals?
If there are problems with distribution my editor want s to know.

Waving to Judy T!!! I am so glad you like that I paralleled the Christmas Story. I was afraid people would think it was a cliche, but I really wanted to do it.

Waving to Elizabeth!!!! I read A Soldiers Tale this week (I am woefully behind on reading)and loved it! I loved the Beauty and the Beast theme and the wisdom Pippa (and you) wrote into the “play”.

RE: the cover, Keira, the heroine does not fit my heroine, who is not blonde, but she’s beautiful so I forgive her. The hero will do very nicely. Very nicely indeed


16 years ago

Oh, I can’t wait to read it, most especially since it’s only one of three new CHristmas themed books that I picked up this year! I guess most of the ones I picked up in the couple years past since I’ve been reading Romances were mostly from the Signet and Zebra lines! LOL 🙂 And I don’t always make it to stores with Harelquins or certain Harlequin lines, so I don’t always see those. . . uh, so complicated. But my copy I found two weeks before it apparently came out at this one Borders we werent’ even going to go to. That seemed unusual, once I found out when it was supposed to come out — I know they sometimes shelve them early, but that seemed really early. 🙂 Not that I minded much. . . 🙂


Keira Soleore
16 years ago

Diane, it was my local Barnes & Noble, not a small independent store. That was what had me rather disgruntled. However, I called them today, and they promised to try to get me a copy from one of their other stores.

JudyT, you’re right. I should’ve just gone to Amazon. It’s just that I love going to the bookstore: the colorful sight, the smell of new books, the caressing of new covers, the buzz of conversation, and all of it infused with the fragrance of coffeeeeee.

Keira Soleore
16 years ago

Amanda, I finished reading Regency Christmas Magic and adored it!! Thank you for suggesting it in your earlier post.

16 years ago

Keira, I know exactly what you mean about bookshops and handling the books and reading bits and tucking them under your arm! It’s an addiction.
I was nearly late picking up my mother-in-law at the airport recently by making an unscheduled stop at a remaindered booksale in Adelaide. Had a fabulous time browsing, and kept looking at my watch and thinking “Just another five minutes . . .” Luckily for me the plane was late! Although mil is a bit of a bookaholic too. She probably would have understood – especially when she saw the haul of research books I had on the back seat!

Elizabeth Rolls


16 years ago

Oh, I love Christmas stories; I find them so endearing and comforting.
I love the cover of the book; so rich looking.
Thanks for the chance to win a great book by the sounds of it from the excerpts and interviews of the authors.

Terry Z McDermid
16 years ago

Looking forward to reading the anthology!


16 years ago

Great interview! Mistletoe Kisses really looks good, and all the stories sound fabolous, and the excerpts I read left me wanting to read more. :o)

Susan Flanders
16 years ago

The only thing better than being able to meet all three of these talented Regency authors, and just talk to them for a few minutes !!!..(about their love of the Regency period)….would be to get this book and read it…You’ve done a wonderful job in explaining the process you went through in writing your pieces and telling us how the anthology came about. I can’t wait to get it. The theme of mistletoe was meant to be.

Keira Soleore
16 years ago

Got tired of waiting for my local bookstore to get the book in. Happened to be in Fred Meyer (like a WalMart) today and found Mistletoe Kisses. YAY!There were only two copies there, and the other woman in that section gave me the look as I squealed and dived for the book.

Elizabeth, I carried my copy of that book tucked snugly under my arm. It’s fun to do that.

Keira Soleore
16 years ago

Hi, I was wondering if it would be possible to have a signed bookplate for my copy of the book. Thanks!

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