Today I am so pleased to welcome Clare London to Joyfully Jay. Clare has come to talk to us about her latest release, Five Gold Blings, as well as Haven Holiday under her Stella Shaw pen name. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Christmas is my favourite time of year—fiction-wise! This month is full of romance stories set in the holiday season, whatever you celebrate, wherever you are, whoever you love. I’ve written two myself – Five Gold Blings as Clare London, and Haven Holiday as Stella Shaw. But sometimes I find myself challenged to justify my favourite reading. Let’s see what comments I come up against!
Isn’t the whole Christmas romance message is out-of-date?
There’s been recent drama in the UK where a major newspaper seemed to dismiss “Romance” as not a genre. Many authors and readers leapt to the defence. It is a genre, a hugely important and long-standing one, and like blazes we know it! It’s populated by many highly creative and talented writers, it’s fiercely and proudly professional, and, by the way, it makes a huge financial contribution to world commerce. I’m not going to go into some of the reasons why I believe it doesn’t get equivalent respect, not right here and now, because that’s a much bigger discussion. But I can never understand why something that brings joy, hope, knowledge, understanding, comfort, tolerance, and an almost eternally, genuinely, positive message could ever be dismissed as irrelevant.
And that’s what Christmas stories bring for me. Every year!
I suppose there’s comfort in predictability…
Hey, now wait a minute. There’s no way they’re all the same! Every single book, every single story is unique. It reflects the author’s imagination, their style, and their craft. However, the themes are familiar to us. The promise and delivery of romance, the characters who engage us (opposites attract, grumpy vs sunshine, city vs country), the plots that delight (friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, second chance romance), and the settings that enchant us (small town/big city, snowed in with just one room, family reunion). But I love the re-telling each time, the new twists and viewpoints brought by new authors.
And after a tricky year of yet more Covid-related problems, and anxiousness all over the world? Those safe, rewarding, emotionally satisfying themes might be exactly what we need right now.
It’s your hormones…
Well, that may not be so wrong LOL. Apparently, reading Christmas romances may excite the “feel-good” oxytocin hormone, which is produced when we bond emotionally with other people. Over Christmas, many of us see family and friends whom we have fond, strong, bonded emotional relationships with. So, reading stories that offer and promote that same bond, can replicate that feeling.
The stories make us feel close to other people, even when they’re not there in person. And feeling good is not just a self-indulgent thing. Self-awareness helps to develop our empathy for others – and that’s empowering to us all.
You just follow the crowd…
That’s not always a bad thing, right? We’re creatures of habit, and this comes to the fore at this time of year. We have our holiday rituals, our patterns, our traditions. So, the promise in Christmas stories – even if we’re pretty sure what’s going to happen in principle! – means we can relax, not be anxious, and really enjoy the experience. And share that experience with other readers and fans.
“Homecoming” is a very popular theme of Christmas stories. To me, reading them is all about coming home – emotionally, as well as physically.
Your glasses are rose-tinted…
I prefer to say my glass is (usually) half-full! I like to think we’re creatures of optimism and hope. Whatever the drama and troubles in the real world around us, the romance genre promises not just an escape – because we know what’s real and what’s not, we know this is only ever fiction – but maybe a way to express our real-life feelings, our emotions, our passions, pleasures, and devotion to others. Its language is a window into other lives and loves and, if it’s written well, it can enrich our lives.
We may not all get a personal Happy Ever After, but that doesn’t mean we don’t sincerely wish for it to be possible, or that we don’t enjoy reading about it happening for others.
So, please excuse me while I return to reading my way through another Christmas romance. And I wish you all the very best of the season, and happy reading in the year ahead!
One Christmas, two lonely hearts, and five portions of sparkle!
Gray isn’t enjoying December. The weather’s grim, his job’s a struggle, and his useless boyfriend ran out on him months ago. He’s a walking Mr Christmas Grump. And then he delivers a parcel to Alec, a bright, sparkly, over-earnest vlogger who’s going through his own hard times. Over the course of five days, accompanied by an irritating but relentlessly cheerful pop song, Gray and Alec share secrets, kisses, regrets, triumphs, some truly awful fashion—and maybe a love that will last far beyond the new year.
Sentimental discoveries, sexy men, a special performance – and badly-kept secrets. Is it the perfect Christmas at the Haven Hotel?
It’s the first Christmas at the Haven Hotel since Rick inherited it from his aunt, and he’s spent all year getting things back on track. When he and Eliot find a box of Auntie’s mementoes in the basement, highlighting a very unconventional theatrical career, he decides to hold a party to honour her. But there are way too many obstacles preventing him getting his friends together in one place, this close to Christmas. Or so everyone keeps telling him.
Rick loves his partner Eliot, and is very fond of his friends. But a man’s patience can only stretch so far. The day of Auntie’s birthday turns out to be a very confusing and distracting time for him—and everyone except him seems to be in on it. From covert meetings, to secret recipes, to mysteriously vanishing decorations, and even through a very hot but surprising seduction, Rick is led astray until the day is almost over.
And then his friends show another side of their meddling. Auntie Pop had love and respect from many of the escorts at the Haven, and it looks like her day will be fondly remembered after all. And Rick and Eliot may have the chance at last to make their own special commitment—that’s if Rick ever forgives all the subterfuge!
**this Christmas special is a self-contained story, but it features all the characters who live and work at the Haven, so you can catch up with your favourites from the previous books**
Clare London took her pen name from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with her other day job as an accountant.
She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic, and sexy characters.
Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter-three stage and plenty of other projects in mind… she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home. She’s also just spent 2021 launching a series of Rent Boy Romances under a new pen name Stella Shaw.
Clare loves to hear from readers, and you can contact her on all her social media.
- Website: www.clarelondon.com
- Newsletter: bit.ly/clarelondonNews
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/clarelondonauthor
- Twitter: @clare_london
- Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/clarelondon
- Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/clarelondon
- Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/clare-london
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/clarelondon11
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/clarelondoncalling
Thanks for your thoughtful and entertaining post, Clare/Stella. Wishing you a happy (and great writing) new year!
The same to you, and very happy reading in 2022! x