Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Traditions

Today is the last week of The Wilder Roses Blog tour. Leave me a comment today about the man of your dreams or your favorite holiday traditions for a chance to win The Man of My Dreams candle from Celebrating Homes.
So, what's your favorite tradition?
Christmas dinner. Grandma's special cookies. Reading The Christmas Story. Decorating on a certain day. Everyone has a Christmas tradition, even if those traditions change over the years the way my family's have. (You can check out my Christmas traditions at . It's part of the Wilder Roses Christmas Blog Tour.)
Today Maya Blake, author of Hostage to Love is sharing her Christmas traditions.
So, Maya, tell us something about yourself and your favorite holiday traditions.
Hi, I’m Maya Blake, I’m a thirty-something romance writer whose life-long dream of writing finally came true last year when my debut novel was published by The Wild Rose Press. I’m the fourth of five siblings and I live in Kent, England with my husband and two (sometimes, lol) adorable kids.

I don’t have a Christmas tradition at my house, per se, but definitely the one thing I look forward to once lunch is out of the way is opening presents, and who doesn’t? But before we get down to this momentous task, we have a little pre-present opening “thing” we always do. First, we get out the mince pies (which goes in the oven after the turkey comes out) and the mulled wine. For my buddies across the Atlantic who’ve never heard of mince pies, here’s a link of the ingredients that goes into a yummy mince pie (and no, it has no meat in it ). The teetotallers in my house go for tea, but I always make sure I’m nice and toasty with a glass of warm mulled wine on standby.
My husband tends to do the honours in dishing out the pies, usually served with lashings of rich cream. There’s nothing like digging into a warm mince pie with a roaring fire going and everyone full and happy from a lovely lunch.
It is only after the pies and wine are eaten and drank that we open our Christmas presents. The children get their presents first, naturally. Then it’s Grandma’s turn. I tend to open mine last, because more often than not, I know what I’m going to receive - my family aren’t very good at keeping secrets *sigh*.
Finally, the older ones succumb to a well-earned nap in front of the TV clutching whatever present they’ve received that year and wake in time (if they can) for the Queen’s Speech!
What’s your favourite holiday tradition?
Maya Blake is Crimson Rose author of Hostage to Love, available from The Wild Rose press 
and Amazon:

Crushed by betrayal, Belle Winkworth-Jones flees the shambles of her short-lived marriage, only to be kidnapped by a vicious rebel soldier determined to keep her for himself. Nick Andreakos mounts a ruthless rescue to save the wife who walked away from him, even though he's resentful Belle could dismiss their marriage so easily.
On Althea, their private Greek island where Belle recuperates, passion ignites, taking hold with relentless force. But in the shadows, danger lurks. The rebel soldier is determined to recapture Belle.
Can Belle and Nick set aside their differences in time to fight this threat and save their love, or will it be too late…?

Belle jerked awake as a loud blast ripped through the cave, her eyes unprepared for the blinding, strobe flashes of light that lit up the dark cavern a second later. Squinting, she saw the flashes continue intermittently for several seconds, then stop. She lurched from her position propped up against the wall and wondered for a moment if she was still dreaming.
The screams from a few feet away told her she wasn’t.
She’d stayed awake long after the rebel leader retired behind his curtain, unable to sleep for fear he might vent his anger on Father Tom. 
She’d also contemplated what she would do after nature ran its course. She’d bought them three days, four at the most. What would happen after that? Could she willingly to let the loathsome man touch her for the sake of keeping one or all of them alive? And what guarantee did she have that he wouldn’t harm Father Tom?
The idea that perhaps they could overpower two of the soldiers, steal their weapons and make a run for it, she immediately discarded as foolish, and dangerous. She’d slumped, dejected, against the wall of the cave. That’s when she must’ve fallen asleep.
Dizzy and momentarily blinded by the flashes, she jumped as Edda screamed again. What was happening? Had the rebel leader decided they weren’t worth keeping and blasted the cave, burying them alive? Curiously though, the walls of the cave remained intact. She blinked a few times to dispel the blindness. Nothing happened.
A staccato burst of muffled gunfire sounded close by. But the gunfire was inside the cave, not outside. Which meant the rebels were still inside. Something brushed against her and she bit back a scream.
‘It’s all right lass, it’s me,’ Father Tom whispered close to her. ‘I told yer we’d be rescued today.’
Rescued! Why hadn’t she thought of that? Her spirits soared. Then plummeted.
Who would rescue them? Only Liz knew where she was, and she knew her friend wouldn’t give up her whereabouts lightly. Besides, she wasn’t due to make her weekly phone call to her best friend until Monday, so she wouldn’t guess Belle might be in trouble until after she failed to make the call. As for Father Tom, having lived and run the mission in Nawaka for the last seventeen years, he wouldn’t be missed back in his native Scotland. The same went for Edda and Hendrik, who’d been travelling around Africa for the past two years. As for the Nawakan government, it had enough on its plate with its fight to prevent the gold and diamond mines from being looted to mount rescue operations of kidnapped foreigners.
So rescue was not an option.
The only other conclusion she could reach was that another rebel faction had caught wind of Captain Mwana’s bounty and intended to claim them. It wasn’t unheard of for one rebel group to seize another’s hostages if they could profit from it. Sometimes rebels within the same group rose up against each other. Was that what was happening here? Had Mwana’s subordinates staged a coup against him?
If so, they had to take advantage of the gunfight.
‘Father, I don’t think we’re being rescued, but I still think we should make a run for it. This may be our only chance.’ God, she prayed she was right.
He gave a nervous chuckle. ‘I’m with you, lass, but unfortunately, these old eyes cannot see a thing at the moment. I think I’m blind.’
She stopped herself from telling him she suffered the same ailment, although she could just about make out shadowy images in her periphery. ‘It’s all right Father. Just hold onto my hand and I’ll guide you. Keep your head down. Hendrik, Edda, are you okay?’
‘Yes,’ Hendrik responded.
She took a deep breath and edged forward, her hand clamped around Father Tom’s. They’d travelled only a few feet when a bullet slapped the cave wall beside her. Small rocks struck her cheek and she cried out. Fear strangling her, she crouched down, eyes shut, beside Father Tom.
‘We have to keep moving,’ Hendrik urged from behind her.
She opened her eyes and thankfully, most of her vision had been restored. But what little she saw stilled her heart. Since whoever was attacking the rebels was doing so from outside the cave whilst the guerrillas defended themselves from inside, there’d be no way to escape without being caught in the crossfire.
Another bullet whizzed past her and struck a lantern on the far side of the cave, igniting it. A huge plume of acrid smoke bellowed up towards the craggy ceiling of the cave.
Their situation had just worsened a hundred-fold.
She knew they only had a matter of minutes to live. Because if the bullets didn’t get them, the smoke and fire would. There was enough bedding, ammunition and lamps to set the place ablaze in seconds.
Just then the gunfire ceased.
‘Come on,’ she whispered desperately to Father Tom. She grabbed his arm and pulled him towards the entrance of the cave, trying not to let the sight of the bloodied bodies disturb her. She focused on the discarded guns instead. If they could arm themselves, they’d increase their chances considerably.
But as she reached for the nearest rifle, she heard the crunch of feet approaching.
Another burst of gunfire. Then silence.
Through the smoky light she saw a figure, tall and male, enter the cave, followed by two more. In silence, the men advanced towards them. Belle’s throat closed up, fear completely seizing her. She turned to Father Tom. Her hand gripped his and she tried to shield him with her body.
Someone crouched behind her. She squeezed her eyes shut.
This is it. This is it.
‘Hello, Tinkerbelle,’ a deep voice purred in her ear.


  1. Thanks so much for hosting me today, Lilly. It's lovely to be here :)

  2. Mulled wine - what a great idea for a chill winter's day!

  3. Your mince pies look delicious and I like the excerpt. Merry Christmas.

  4. I'm glad I'm not the only one without specific traditions LOL! But it's still a special day, isn't it and a wonderful day for sharing good food and reuniting with family.

    Thanks for the great post!

  5. Romy, yes, mulled wine is the perfect accompaniment to present opening, in my opinion, and it certainly helps the post-turkey napping *wink*

    Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Thanks Mona, and a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, too :)

  7. You're welcome, Amy, and no, you're not alone, lol. But I think there's a similar theme of decorating, eating, presents, eating, napping, eating... hehe. Thanks again for having me.

  8. I can't remember the last time I had mince pie. Might have to get one this year!

  9. Hope you enjoy it when you do, PL :)

  10. Maya, The tradition of yours of the mince pies and definitely the mulled wine before opening gifts is a winner. Today as cold as the weather is, mulled wine would be very warming. I love going to my cousin's house during the Christmas season and singing Christmas songs around her piano.
    Maya, your book, Hostage To Love sounds like a winner, especially the setting of the Greek Islands.
    Lilly, thanks for this interview with Maya.
    Happy Holidays to all.

  11. Thanks for stopping by everyone! My grandmother used to make minced meat pies when I was younger. I never even tasted one. Who'd want ground meat in a pie? lol! But these days, my taste buds are much more adventurous. Mulled wine sounds good. So does hot apple cider made with real cloves, cinnamon sticks and Apple Jack Brandy.

  12. I'm with you, Lilly, I love hot apple cider.

  13. Thanks so much Rbooth. Your tradition sounds lovely too. I have a piano but unfortunately don't play well enough to annoy anyone with it, lol. Thanks so much for stopping by!