A Holiday Wish
by Courtney J. Hall GENRE: Contemporary Romance
Noelle Silver has been a wedding planner for six years, and in all that time, the only bride she's failed to get down the aisle is herself. Abandoned by her fiancé and disillusioned with love, Noelle is ready to pack it in and leave town when Brooke St. John, orphaned heiress, offers her a staggering amount of money to do Brooke's Christmas Eve wedding to a much older man.
Though she's reluctant at first, the payment Brooke offers is enough for Noelle to return to her hometown and start a new life. It's also an opportunity to prove to herself - and her former fiancé - that despite her broken heart she still has what it takes to pull off a wedding worthy of an heiress in the mere two months Brooke has given her. But the best man, Brooke's gorgeous older brother Everett, seems dead set on stopping the nuptials. Will he succeed, driving the final nail into the coffin of Noelle's career as a wedding planner - and completely shattering what's left of her expectations of love?
The crisp autumn air smells clean in a way heavy, humid summer air never can. It bites at my cheeks and ruffles the edges of my burgundy scarf. Through leaves burnished gold and crimson the sun dapples the sidewalk and bounces off the shop windows as I hurry past. It’s so nice out this morning that if it weren’t for the promise of coffee, croissants and Drew, I would have been a little disappointed to come to the end of the half-mile walk between my apartment and The Daily Grind, which is on a quaint tree-lined street just a few doors down from my own shop—Silver Bells Wedding Designs. It’s a play on my name, Noelle Silver, and the fact that I specialize in Christmas weddings. They’re my absolute favorite. Something about the holiday season just lends itself to gorgeous weddings. But Drew’s the outdoorsy type and has his heart set on getting married outside. If he didn’t, we would definitely do it at Christmas
Courtney J. Hall is the author of Some Rise by Sin, a historical romance set in the tumultuous final days of Mary Tudor’s reign, and A Holiday Wish, the first book in the Silver Bells contemporary romance series. She lives in suburban Philadelphia with her husband and a stolen cat.
I’m a sucker for a romantic TV movie. There’s almost nothing I like more than curling up in front of the Hallmark channel with a cup of tea and watch boy meet girl, boy and girl antagonize each other, boy and girl realize they’re in love, something happen to split boy and girl apart, and finally boy and girl confess their love and find a happily-ever-after. I realize these aren’t cinematic masterpieces, but I love them despite that – maybe even because of that. In a Hallmark movie, nobody’s trying too hard. It both starts and ends on a hopeful note. In today’s world, that’s not something we should scoff at.
At the end of 2014, I was putting the finishing touches on my first novel, Some Rise by Sin, and preparing it for publication. It was a historical novel, set in England in 1558 and 1559, and it was heavy. It had taken me nearly seven years to complete – seven years of burying myself in the minutest details of the religious, political, and social upheavals that took place at that time, not to mention a half-dozen rewrites and a trip across the pond – and I was exhausted. I had planned for a sequel, but my muse begged for a break. So I rested by letting myself indulge in mindless TV for a few weeks. And after watching a string of feel-good romantic Christmas movies, it occurred to me that it might be fun to write my own holiday romance. I’d never planned to write contemporary romance and knew it’d be taxing in a completely different way, but once the thought grabbed hold of me, it wouldn’t let go.
I don’t remember exactly how or when the concept of Silver Bells came to me, but I knew I loved the thought of my heroine as a wedding planner whose own wedding didn’t happen. Once I had that concept, the ideas just came pouring in. The characters came to me almost fully-formed, which wasn’t something that happened with my first book, and each one has their own story to tell. Besides Noelle Silver, a jilted wedding planner, there’s an orphaned brother and sister whose parents died under mysterious circumstances, a slimy ex and his new girlfriend, a fiancé who might not be all he appears, and a take-charge assistant who tries to keep it all from crumbling. And with all of this, I came up with enough material for what I think will be five books – the first of which is A Holiday Wish, due out on November 3.
Thanks partly to extremely cooperative characters and partly to my writing partners, C.P. Lesley and Ariadne Apostolou – whose feedback was, as always, invaluable – I managed to get a rough draft done in about 13 months. I spent the spring and summer tweaking and revising and the first half of the fall perfecting before sending it out into the world just in time for the holiday season.
I’m now working on the second book in the series, A Holiday Gift, and it centers on Noelle’s neighbor Lindsey, a struggling single mother determined to win a holiday baking contest. Very Hallmark channel, no?