Today we're joined by author Sarah Morgan, whose Sleigh Bells in the Snow is heating up the romance! Sarah's heroine is so over the holidays, but finds the hero's own particular brand of holiday cheer is more than she can resist. Sarah's here to talk about just why she loves snowy romances so much. Thanks, Sarah!
I love reading about snowy places. I’ve climbed Everest a dozen times from the comfort of my armchair and I’ve crossed the Arctic with explorers, but my favourite indulgence is snowy romance, both writing and reading them. There is nothing quite so satisfying as reading a romance set against a backdrop of freezing winter weather when you’re snuggled indoors in the warm so it’s no coincidence that when I sat down to write my first full length contemporary, Sleigh Bells in the Snow, I chose to make it a winter story.
So what is the appeal of snow? Why do I hit the ‘buy’ button at the first sight of snow on a book cover?
Harsh surroundings and inclement weather provide endless opportunities for romantic encounters. Snow is cold and the need to maintain body temperature, paramount. To achieve that aim, you might have to climb naked into a hot tub, snuggle in front of a log fire, share body heat (because as everyone who has climbed Everest from an armchair knows, skin to skin contact is the best emergency management plan for hypothermia).
Snow and ice create dangerous conditions and only the toughest, hardiest hero can deal with challenges at sub zero temperatures. There is something about extreme weather that intensifies everything, from danger to emotions. It’s hard to become stranded on a perfect summer road trip with the sun shining, but if you’re in a romance novel and you’re driving in a blizzard the chances are, sooner or later, you’re going to find yourself trapped with the hero (note to readers: always wear pretty underwear when driving in a snowstorm).
One of my favourite books is Northern Lights by Nora Roberts. I have read my copy so many times it is starting to look as if it climbed Everest by itself and was chewed by a yak on the way. Northern Lights is set in Lunacy, Alaska, and Nate Burke, our deliciously rugged, damaged hero, arrives to run the police department. The characterisation is layered and complex and the unforgiving landscape and the people who live in this harsh place offer numerous opportunities for Nate to show his true hero colours. Nate is a strong, sexy-as-hell hero and he shoulders (and he has great shoulders) all the hardship and embraces the experiences the Arctic has to offer, including the attractions of the hot tub; “The insanity of the rushing cold, the painful plunge into hot water, the absurdly sexy sensation of being naked with her under a sky now mad with stars and those magical, shifting lights.” I’d share a hot tub with Nate any day.
In Nicola Cornick’s Whisper of Scandal, the hero is an Arctic explorer. Unusually for a Regency romance, half this book takes place in the Arctic Circle where the climate creates infinite opportunities for intimacy between the hero and heroine. ‘‘'We must get into the shelter.’ He spoke above the rising howl of the wind. Already it was too late to return to the monastery. The snow had thickened to a blizzard. If they did not reach a trappers’ hut soon they would lose their way in the white wilderness and very possibly freeze to death…“ YES. Not that I want them to freeze to death you understand, but I want them in that trappers' hut.
Which brings me to another inevitable consequence of snowy weather and that is that there will be No Room at The Inn because everyone wants a bed for the night. Which means sharing. In Anna Campbell’s novella, ‘The Winter Wife” (I love Christmas novellas because they give me a quick fix of snowbound sensuality in between stuffing a turkey and wrangling relatives), an estranged couple meet again in a blizzard and are forced to take refuge. Just mention ‘refuge from a blizzard’ and I am clicking the buy button. “Bleak snowy moors extended for miles around them. The grim truth was that if Kinarva didn’t help, they were stranded until morning.” Stranded; one of my favorite words in the romance dictionary. She doesn’t want to share a room with him (I’ll do it! Pick me, pick me!) but he says “it would be cruel to force my horse back into the blizzard.” They are now trapped together and forced to sort through their problems. And there is a happy ending for the horse.
Sun at Midnight by Rosie Thomas is a romantic adventure set on an Antarctic research station. The heroine, Alice, is a geologist and the hero is dark and damaged (confirming my suspicion that damaged people often gravitate towards snow and ice in the polar regions). Alice is living on a remote base trapped with eight men (oh the hardship) and one other woman. There is adventure, romance and wonderful, lyrical descriptions of icy scenery that had me reaching for a sweater and warming another mug of hot cocoa. I was right there in Antarctica but with none of the discomfort. And this book confirms my other belief—that heroes in snowy books have Strong Names. In this case, James Rooker (you know with a name like that he’s going to know his snowmobile from his smartphone) “Rooker drove the skidoo and hauled the sledge. He was very strong, seeming unaffected by the wind and cold…..” and later “in spite of the cold and the ceaseless wind, Alice felt safe with Rook’s dark bulk close at hand.” Well of course she did! Who wouldn’t? And as if we hadn’t already seen it coming, “‘It was the human instinct, in this overwhelming place, to draw close round the saving spark of sexual warmth, like hands cupping a match.”
So what’s next on my list? At this time of year there are plenty of snowy covers to tempt me, including the latest novella from Shannon Stacey (and with a title like Snowbound with the CEO how can I resist?). In fact, I plan on buying so many I’ll probably need a snowplow to clear a path to my bookshelves.
What about you? Do you have any favourite snowy romances?
Learn more or order a copy of Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan, out now:
USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes lively, sexy contemporary stories for Harlequin.
Romantic Times has described her as 'a magician with words' and nominated her books for their Reviewer's Choice Awards and their 'Top Pick' slot. In 2012 Sarah received the prestigious RITA® Award from the Romance Writers of America. She lives near London with her family. Find out more at sararahmorgan.com.