Today I am so pleased to welcome Charlie Novak to Joyfully Jay. Charlie has come to talk to us about her latest release, Up to Snow Good. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!

 

I’ve always believed that food and love stories go hand in hand, especially when it comes to the holidays.

There’s something magical about having two characters sharing hot chocolate together under an awning while it snows, or visiting a Christmas market where you can’t take two steps without smelling something delicious.

Throughout December many British and European towns, big and small, have some form of Christmas market taking place. They’re always filled with the most incredible options for food and drink and you can easily spend a whole afternoon just eating your way round them, whiling away the time with someone. Add in two characters taking their first steps into a tentative holiday relationship and, to me, you’ve got the perfect opportunity for romance.

Food is such an intrinsic part of love stories—from first date dessert sharing, to home cooked meals made with care, to wedding cakes and banquets. Food is there for all our celebrations, big and small. It’s why it’s such a big part of all the books I write, and probably why one of the most frequent comments I get from readers is that I’m making them hungry.

Food can also give you a sense of place, build a setting, and create characters—whether that’s in their professions, hobbies, or traditions. It can show care and attention, and it can allow you to create those small, intimate moments that bring a romance to life.

In my most recent Christmas novel, Up To Snow Good, Luca is a chocolatier whose whole life revolves around the chocolaterie he owns in the French town of Chamonix Mont Blanc. Luca’s chocolaterie is his life’s work and his passion, even if it does cause him stress, and centring part of the story around it allowed me to draw reader’s in to this warm, delicious world. It put chocolate at the heart of Luca and Max’s romance, and gave me the chance to bring them together over Christmas retail and truffle making at midnight.

The setting of Chamonix in December allowed me to bring French Christmas markets to life and give centre stage to delicious dishes such as tartiflette—a French dish made with potatoes, onions, lardons, and reblochon cheese all baked together—crepes, mulled cider, and the petal shaped candies, calissons.

For me, a holiday romance wouldn’t be complete without the joy of festive treats, and the chance to share them with the person you’re falling for. It’s part of the reason I love Christmas novels. There’s just something deliciously cosy and perfect in reading about two people sharing a moment over food together, knowing that it could change everything.

And to me, that’s why food and love stories go hand in hand.


Excerpt

Want to see more from Max and Luca? Here’s a little look at the end of their first dinner together:

Luca’s tarte tatin was glossy and shining with a perfect quenelle of ice cream on the top while my glacé Mont Blanc was an incredible mountain of sweet chestnut and vanilla ice creams, chestnut cream, meringue, and Chantilly cream.

I dug my spoon into the dessert, scooping up more than I could fit into my mouth and doing my best to eat it anyway. Luca raised an eyebrow, a smile playing across his lips.

“You have…” He tapped the corner of his mouth.

“Oops,” I said. “Thank you. Do you want to try some?”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course! I wouldn’t have offered if I didn’t want to share.” I scooped up more of the dessert, trying to get a little bit of everything for Luca to try. I guided the spoon to his mouth, trying not to stare at the way his lips looked.

Luca’s eyes met mine, and I felt my face prickling.

“Delicious,” Luca said as he sat back, licking a stray drop of cream off his bottom lip. “Want some of mine?”

“Okay.”

He cut me a piece with his spoon and held it out. I kept my eyes locked on his as I slipped the end into my mouth. The pastry was perfectly golden and flaky and the apples sweet with a hint of tartness. It was the best tarte tatin I’d ever eaten, but maybe that was more to do with the moment.

This was the most perfect date I’d ever been on, even if we hadn’t actually called it that.


Blurb

This Christmas, Trouble Tastes Like Chocolate

Maximillian Arthur Felstead is up to no good.

Having taken it upon himself to plan an anniversary surprise for his brother and his fiancé during their annual December ski trip, Max realises nothing happens quickly this close to Christmas. Deciding chocolate is the answer, Max accidentally incurs the wrath of chocolatier, Luca, who’s having a pre-Christmas nightmare of his own.

Luca is short staffed and short on patience, and he isn’t enamoured with Max’s clueless demands, even if he is utterly gorgeous. So when Max reaches out to apologise, Luca can’t help but be drawn in by his charm and Max’s offer of help, especially when their chemistry is hot enough to melt the ice on Mont Blanc.

With their time together running out, can a little Christmas magic help Max and Luca find what they’ve been searching for?

Up to Snow Good is a 49,000-word, low-angst MM contemporary Christmas romance featuring snow-topped mountains, Christmas market cuteness, delicious chocolate, and plenty of sweet, steamy moments.


Bio

Charlie Novak lives in England with her husband and two cheeky dogs. She spends most of her days wrangling other people’s words in her day job and then trying to force her own onto the page in the evening.

She loves cute stories with a healthy dollop of fluff, plenty of delicious sex, and happily ever afters — because the world needs more of them.

Charlie has very little spare time, but what she does have she fills with baking, Dungeons and Dragons, reading and many other nerdy pursuits. She also thinks that everyone should have at least one favourite dinosaur…

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