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

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

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


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