December is I :::Heart::: the Holidays month at my blog. During these next twenty-two days, besides the usual blog posts, I’m featuring authors who write holiday romance. Today, I have Tim Smith in the interview chair. We’re discussing One Lonely Christmas Eve. Be sure to check out the excerpt.
1. What draws you to writing holiday romance?
Tim: As the song lyric says, “It’s that time of year…” I’ve always enjoyed the holiday season, and romance has played a big part in that. There’s so much festivity going on, and it’s fun to share seasonal activities with someone special. Unlike other holidays, you don’t have to build romantic times around a party or dinner. You can enjoy the company of someone special while marveling at a fancy store window display, or watching skaters at the rink while sipping hot chocolate.
2. How many holiday romances have you written so far? And which one would you recommend for readers to try, besides the one you are featuring? Feel free to leave a link.
Tim: I’ve written seven so far. For a different kind of holiday story than my featured book, readers would enjoy “Santa Slept Here.” It’s a bit more lighthearted in nature. Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078LKFR1Y/.
3. What do you like most about writing holiday romance?
Tim: I like using that special time of year to bring two people together who might not have connected otherwise. It’s fun to draw on memories and experiences associated with the holidays and work them into the story. In every holiday-themed romance I’ve written, something from my past manages to sneak in.
4. What do you like least about writing holiday romance?
Tim: Avoiding the cliched plot devices so many stories rely on. I’ve watched enough holiday romance movies that I can predict the happy-ever-after from the opening scene. I like the challenge of coming up with something different along the way, a twist that catches you by surprise.
5. What inspired you to write your featured holiday story?
Tim: I found myself in a melancholy mood regarding the approaching holidays, no doubt because of quarantines and travel restrictions. I recalled a Christmas Eve from years ago when I was sort of in the same situation as my lead character, sitting in a nearly-empty coffee shop, wondering how I was going to spend the next day. The story just evolved from there.
6. If a reader asked you why they should read your holiday romance, what would you tell them?
Tim: This is a bittersweet romance about two lonely friends who decide to spend the holiday together on a whim, not expecting anything long-term. Things change along the way, though, when they realize they may have hidden feelings for each other. You’ll need to read it to see what happens.
7. Lastly, how are you going to spend the holidays?
Tim: I plan on enjoying the seasonal activities before Christmas, things like outdoor light displays and festivals, with family and friends. The holiday itself has evolved into something simple at home, having a nice dinner, and spending quality time with special people. That’s what it’s really all about.
Two lonely friends find each other on Christmas Eve and come up with a cure for the holiday blues.
Blurb: Christmas can be a lonesome time of year, especially when you have no one special to share it with. Alex March stops at his favorite diner on Christmas Eve to avoid going home to an empty apartment, but that isn’t the only reason. He really wants to see Denise Del Florio, the attractive widow of one of his best friends, who is dreading her first solo holiday. In the year since her husband was killed, Alex has been there for her and they’ve developed a close friendship. He feels a nostalgic longing for holidays gone by and thinks that together, he and Denise can provide a remedy for their mutual loneliness.
Will they still be besties when the holiday is over, or will they have moved on to something more serious?
Alex sipped his coffee, then glanced at the clock mounted on the wall behind the cash register in the nearly empty restaurant. He stared at his reflection in the front window and absently raked his fingers through his thick brown hair. 6:45, and it’s pitch-black outside. Not that much traffic, either, especially in here. Guess most people have had their pre-holiday dinner and gone to church, or decided to pack it in for the evening to wait for Santa by the fireplace. I should do the same, but I don’t really want to go home to an empty apartment.
Denise Del Florio approached inside the counter, with a glass coffee pot in hand. “Refill, Alex?”
Alex’s gaze traveled from her head to her feet then back up again, taking in her trim form encased in snug black slacks and a white shirt with a name tag. Her light brown hair with blonde highlights was pulled into a ponytail and a few wisps carelessly hung over her face. Her hazel eyes seemed to take on an extra bit of sparkle when she looked at him. “Thanks, but I’ve had enough for one night.”
She exhaled a deep breath. “Good decision. We’re getting ready to close and this stuff would take the paint off your car.” She stretched. “I’m definitely ready to get off my feet after today.”
“I’m surprised you aren’t busier.”
Denise poured herself some coffee then took a sip. “You should’ve been here earlier. It was non-stop from lunchtime on. People stopped in for their holiday pie orders and decided to eat while they were here.”
She shrugged. “I didn’t really mind. It kept me busy and I made a fortune in tips.”
Alex laughed. “I figured that’s why you volunteered to work the holiday shift.”
Denise gave a shy smile and cast her gaze downward briefly. “I keep forgetting what a good detective you are.”
He finished his coffee. “It wasn’t hard to figure out, Denise. I suspected you didn’t mind working tonight for the same reason I’m not going home yet.”
She looked into his eyes for a moment. “I’m not ready to face an empty house, especially this holiday.”
“The first one alone is always the hardest.”
She was silent for a few moments. “How long did it take for you to…”
“Still working on it,” he finished. “I’ve been divorced for eight years and there are some holidays I don’t look forward to. But I know it’s different in your case.”
She drank some coffee. “Yeah, you could say that. Divorce is one thing to adjust to, but losing your life partner in the line of duty is something else.” She paused. “Is that why you’re here tonight?”
“Where else would I be?”
“I heard you’ve been seeing someone. Thought you’d be with them.”
“So happens the young lady is spending the holidays in Louisville with her family. Why do you think I only came here to check up on you?”
“Because I know you, Alex. You and Tony were close friends before you had to leave the police department. Even after you went private, you kept in touch and you were there for me when he got killed earlier this year.”
He cast his gaze down. “Guilty as charged. Maybe I was worried about you.”
Denise placed her hand on his and squeezed. “I appreciate that, more than you know. You gave me a shoulder to lean on when I needed it and you’ve been there ever since. That means a lot.”
Alex felt embarrassed. “Come on, Denise. I was just doing the right thing. Tony and I were patrol partners before I became a detective and we were fishing and drinking buddies.”
“You might not know this, but he really valued your friendship and so do I. We both enjoyed all the cookouts and fishing trips we did together.”
Alex suddenly felt nostalgic. “I enjoyed those times, too. I always thought of Tony as one of my best friends.”
“He was.” She flashed a playful smile. “Hey, I’ve got an idea. I’m alone, you’re alone and neither of us is in a hurry to get home tonight. Think we can find someplace where two good friends can have a drink?”
Alex brought her hand to his lips, then kissed it. “I think there must be someplace out there that caters to people with nowhere to go on a lonely night like this.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
Tim Smith is an award-winning bestselling author of romantic mystery/thrillers and contemporary erotic romance. His books featuring former spy Nick Seven have garnered several awards and international critical acclaim. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and photographer. He can often be found in the Florida Keys, doing research between parasailing and seeking out the perfect Mojito.