|Salzburg on Christmas Day|
Not only that, but I've just seen the cover of my UK anthology release Ruthlessy Royal. It's a collection of three stories by three different authors and my contribution is Passion, Purity and the Prince aka Protected by the Prince in North America. Here's a taste:
Prince Alaric of Ruvingia is as wild and untamed as the remote kingdom he rules. Women fight to warm his royal bed, but he ensures that none outstays her welcome. Then reserved, bespectacled archivist Tamsin Connors uncovers a shocking state secret....
Seeing the cover reminded me of what fun I had, living in sunny Australia and writing about a wintry kingdom with a castle in the mountains, cobblestoned streets, colourful Christmas markets and even a sleigh ride. It also reminded me of a recent chat I had with fellow LoveCat Michelle Douglas about the joys of European Christmas markets. So of course I had to dig out my research photos. They made me smile so much I thought, in the interests of spreading some pre-Christmas cheer, I should share a few with you. The markets are a great way to sightsee.
It wasn't just about sightseeing, even though some of the sights looked pretty spectacular. When you visit the Christmas markets on a chilly evening you want to bring something back for your efforts. Maybe a decorated gingerbread heart to hang in your window or carved and painted wooden Christmas ornaments for your tree. One year I was thrilled with a purchase of comfy cable-knitted socks that come up to my knees - perfect under boots! There are Christmas wreaths, pewter, pottery, teas, candles, even kitchen gear and spices.
Of course, one of the best things about the markets is the food. On a cold night there's nothing quite like a cup of hot, spiced (mulled) wine. Then there are the grilled sausages (the original hotdogs) with mustard and onions, gingerbread, stollen (European fruit bread topped with icing sugar) and chocolates. One of the photos I'd love to share, but promised I wouldn't, is of my children devouring hotdogs filled with half-metre long sausages! Or what about hot, fresh-roasted nuts like chestnuts or spiced almonds, or thin pancakes with a never-ending choice of toppings?
|Christmas decorations on sale.|
We even visited a Christmas market inside a palace. Now that was something special! And we've been serenaded not just by revellers but by brass bands in traditional local finery. And, when you tire of wandering the markets, especially with your hands laden with goodies, there's the treat of heading indoors. Find a cosy spot and relax with a mug of hot chocolate and a strudel or a hearty meal.
What is your favourite pre-Christmas treat? A trip to the markets? Taste testing festive goodies? Or maybe ignoring the preparations and curling up with a good book!
As a pre-Christmas treat I'll give away a signed Annie West title to two people who comment.
Ruthlessly Royal is available now from Mills and Boon UK or next month from the Book Depository. Or you could simply check out the ebook of Protected by the Prince.