Outside my office window, it’s still glorious November. Today, with temperatures around 70 degrees, it’ll be Indian Summer. Tomorrow, however, a polar vortex will bring cold and maybe even snow by the weekend. My Halloween Jack O’Lanterns are still on the front porch and I haven’t picked out my Thanksgiving turkey yet. I’m clinging to the last little bit of autumn, my favorite season but around me, the world at large is already preparing for Christmas.
Most of the retail stores in our small town had Christmas merchandise peeking out around the Halloween costumes and candy. Now that trick or treat time is over, it’s full scale holiday displays. Thanksgiving tends to get almost lost in the shuffle. And I’ll admit, yes, I have already ordered some Christmas gifts and bought a few new holiday decorations but I’m not quite sharing the Christmas spirit.
Some people are, though, and it’s wonderful. My next release from Astraea Press debuts on November 18th and the title is Tidings of Comfort and Joy. And, yes, it’s a Christmas love story, taking place from one holiday season to the next. But it’s much more – after a brief prologue and some flashbacks so the reader can share the magical night the couple first met – the story begins on the Fourth of July. The tragic events occur on the waters of the Grand Lake of the Cherokees, more commonly known as Grand Lake, in northeastern Oklahoma. Oh, before I get too carried away, here’s the blurb:
They met during the holiday season and married in May. Jessica savored every moment of happiness with her beloved husband Johnny but their newlywed bliss is shattered when he’s caught in a storm on the lake on the Fourth of July. First missing, then presumed dead, Johnny Devereaux appears to be gone and everyone mourns him except his wife. Jessica refuses to believe he could be dead and she steadfastly refuses to give up hope that he is alive and will return.
As the months pass, each holiday is another reminder of his absence and it becomes harder to believe but she refuses to yield to despair. As his family, especially his brother Tad, struggles to accept Johnny’s death, only his great-grandmother and bride hang onto their hope. Jessica comes to believe he’ll return to her at Christmas so the holiday takes on new significance as she waits for tidings of comfort and joy.
This is the gorgeous, evocative cover, courtesy of Cora Graphics, a very talented book cover artist.
Here’s a little sneak peak….
She sat all the way up, circled his neck with her arms, and he delivered a potent kiss that promised more to come later. Jessica considered heating things up, knowing if she did, she could get him to stay later but she didn't. He loved fishing, and she wanted him to have that solitary time he wanted out on the water.
"I'll see you this afternoon," Johnny told her. "You be careful driving down, and watch the holiday traffic, okay?"
"I will," she promised. "Have fun, and catch lots of fish."
"I'll do my best. See you, honey."
"I'll do my best. See you, honey."
With another quick kiss, he was off the bed and out the door before she could say anything more. He never said good-bye — it was their personal tradition something he taught her on the very first night that they met. She remembered that moment as she laid her head on the pillow.
"I'll call you."
"If you don't, I'll call you."
He grinned. "You won't have to, Jessica. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Promise," she said, and he traced a cross over his chest.
"Cross my heart," he said. "See you."
She opened her mouth to tell him good-bye but he held up one hand.
"There are no good-byes but one, and that one is final," Johnny said. "So don't ever say it."
Jessica smiled and touched his face with her hand. "Then I'll say' later.'"
Then, she hadn’t understood the reason. Later, when he explained how devastated his family had been by his dad’s unexpected death and told her how one of his cousins said ‘good-bye’ before heading home to die in a house fire, Jessica understood his reasons. And it became their custom, their habit.
Look for Tidings of Comfort and Joy available from Astraea Press beginning November 18, 2014 where quality eBooks are sold.
Disclosure: An earlier edition of this book appeared in 2012 as Sing We Now of Christmas from another publisher. The new edition has been rewritten, enhanced, and thoroughly edited.