Oct 30 2013 12:30pm

Stranded in the Snow with Roberts, Cornick, and More!

Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah MorganToday 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:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & NobleBuy at Indiebound



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

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Megan Frampton
1. MFrampton
I want them in that trappers' hut too, Sarah! Thanks for the recs, I don't like being cold (who does?), but I do like weather-related romance.
Heather Waters
2. HeatherWaters
Ooh, I love cabin romances around this time of year. Thanks!
Anna Campbell
3. Anna Campbell
Sarah, firstly huge congratulations on Sleigh Bells in the Snow. It sounds absolutely delicious!

Thank you so much for featuring the Winter Wife. I have to say I laughed when you mentioned that the horse got a happy ending. I think I'll put one of those RSPCA declarations at the end of the book - you know, no animals were harmed in the writing of this novella. Well, the occasional Lindt bunny might have come to deserved gory end!

Like you, I'm a sucker for a snowbound romance. There's something about even the weather conspiring to keep our couple within touching distance that really works for me. Cabin romances ahoy! And oh, boy!

A couple of favorites are Annie West's Rafe's Redemption which starts with a fabulous funeral scene in the Alps (seriously!). There's a wonderful Vicky Bliss by Elizabeth Peters (it's billed as a mystery but for me, it's the romance that made this fabulous) called Trojan Gold. It's not a romance but the cold is so beautifull written, you can feel it - Nevada Barr's Winter Study!

I think I dream of winter at this time of year because we're moving into our killer hot summer in Australia and the idea of snuggling with anything except an iceblock just doesn't appeal!
Sarah Morgan
4. Sarah Morgan
@Megan I don't much like being cold either, but I love watching the cold while I'm snuggled in the warm :)

@redline_ glad I'm not the only one addicted to cabin romances!
Sarah Morgan
5. Sarah Morgan
@Anna, thanks for the additional recommendations which I will add to my growing pile! I was deeply concerned about the long term welfare of the horse so I'm grateful for the assurance that he thrives. I don't think I envy you a hot Christmas (mm, or maybe I do, depending on what the 'hot refers to!)
Anna Campbell
6. JacquiC
Count me among those who LOVE Northern Lights. I listened to it this summer in audio form. It was just fantastic. Ignatius (Nate) is a great hero, and the book is full of great characters. Even the climate is like a character itself.

There is a Janice Kay Johnson category romance called Snowbound that I am pretty fond of. Laura Florand's "Snowkissed" is pretty good too.

I am sure there are others that I just can't think of right now. Looking forward very much to reading Sleigh Bells in the Snow...
Sarah Morgan
7. Sarah Morgan
@JacquiC So glad you love it too! I think there is a large Northern Lights (and Nate) fan club and I agree that the climate is a character. And it influences the other characters. I haven't listened to the audio recording but I'm tempted. And thanks for those other recs. I love Laura Florand's chocolate books so I will add ''Snowkissed'' to my list and hunt down the Janice Kay Johnson story.
Thanks so much for joining in the discussion!
Anna Campbell
8. Annie West
Sarah, I so understand your affection for snowbound stories. They hook me too. No, not the antarctic treks (brr) but the romances where the freezing weather is balanced by cuddles and warm fires. Yes! By happy coincidence your new book just arrived in the mail here yesterday. I can't wait to start reading it. I love the anticipation in these stories, particularly when the characters are more or less trapped with each other - plenty of scope for passions to build. Anna, I'm thrilled that you thought of Rafe and Antonia when this topic came up. I still smile over that opening.
Sarah Morgan
9. Sarah Morgan
@Annie yes it's the cuddling and snuggling and enforced proximity that make 'stranded' and 'trapped' books so deliciously addictive. This conversation is adding piles to my TBR. In the event that I am snowed in this winter, I won't be bored!
Jill Blank
10. blankties
Stranded guy & girl = endless possibilities.
Will admit to liking couples stranded in elevators, too. There's forced proximity, often darkness, and the need to interact to keep fears at bay. Heightened danger (will the elevator fall?) and the possibility of being "saved" at an in opportune time also help to turn up the tension levels.
Stranded-in-the-snow can have much the same scenarios -- though the couple is less likely to be total strangers. And when a convenient cabin is involved, there's usually pleny of horizontal surfaces -- if not actual beds or other furniture.
Then, of course, there's always the can-we-trust-our-feelings/what-happened aspect afterwards. Was this just two persons staying alive? Or did they actually discover deeper truths about each other? So many delicious plot point possibilities!
Thank you for putting a spotlight on these titles. :-)
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