For most of us, the words Christmas and romance evoke feelings of joy, fond childhood memories and the exciting possibility that something wonderful could happen just around the next bell-ringing, corner Santa Claus.
As a child in a French-Canadian family, my imaginative and romantic nature was drawn to the romance and mystery of the first Christmas. I wanted to be transported back in time to experience that glorious first night where shepherds, angels, wise men and a bright star changed the mythology, religion and the world forever. I imagined myself hovering in the heavens with the angels, meeting a cute shepherd boy and roaming the dark hills under cold, glistening stars, and riding a camel with a bearded wise man.
After I read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, I decided to write my first Christmas story. It was entitled The Man From Christmas. I was living in Atlanta at the time and was surrounded by stories about the American Civil War. My story was about a handsome Rebel Cavalry officer who came galloping into our backyard one snowy Christmas Eve (although it never snowed in Atlanta). When I burst out the back door, nightgown billowing, hair blowing, eyes glowing, he charged toward me with saber drawn, exclaiming. “There she is! The girl of my dreams!” He swung me up onto his horse and we rode off to 1863, where love and adventure knew no bounds or reason, except for the problem of how I was going to get back home to my time, since my beloved officer was killed heroically in battle. No problem. I met another man, an alchemist, who swept me off to 18th century France. He was a dark, brooding prince, cunningly skillful at unhooking my diamond necklace and my inhibitions.
I re-read the story recently and cringed, quickly slipping the over-heated thing back into the coffee-stained manila envelope, and hiding it in the back closet, next to my husband’s can of WD-40.
As I grew older, it was the Christmas music, the midnight mass on Christmas Eve and the traditions of gift-giving and candlelight carol-singing that uplifted me, and sent my overworked imagination into a delicious Christmas-pudding frenzy. I transported myself back to the “olden days” of one-horse open sleigh rides, gas lights and snowy kisses with Charles Heath (my second imagined Christmas man) who escorted me to his imposing and massive Victorian house, where he proposed marriage under the mistletoe, next to a gleaming fireplace. Did I want to marry him? He was handsome and rich, yes, but, he was also... well, a little toonice. I had my eyes set on Austen Landis, the town rascal.
But I was hooked on the genre. Time, travel, and romance: three beguiling words, alive with so many alluring possibilities. Each word fires up even the driest of imaginations. Each word promises the glamour of adventure and romance, and I can never resist reading them and writing them.
Elyse Douglas’ newest novel, The Christmas Town, is a light and breezy Time Travel Romance about two successful modern women who get lost in a snowstorm, cross a covered bridge and wind up back in 1943, in a small Vermont town. They meet two soldiers, who are about to be sent off to war. They fall in love and struggle to return to their own time, caught between new love and their wish to return home. A Christmas miracle changes them all forever.
Whether you prefer the steamy Time Travel Romances or the cleaner, lighter style, Time Travel Romances allow you to escape for a time into an almost mystical world of hope, adventure and romance. A friend recently said “These novels make me feel bigger than my little house and small town. I can travel to distant places and be a beautiful adored woman, for at least a little while.”
By the way, The Man From Christmas has reappeared in my closet, crooking his finger at me, beckoning. There is a strange eerie light shimmering around him, suggesting a time travel journey? Shall I be petulant, remote and coy? Shall I go with him? Christmas is just around the corner.