Susanna Fraser Talks Holiday Music and Shares Excerpt from A Christmas Reunion

Posted December 10, 2014 by Jennifer in Author Guest Post | | 2 Comments



Thank you so much for having me as a guest here at The Book Nympho!

Aside from writing, singing and cooking are my favorite forms of creative expression. At this time of year I do plenty of both. On the musical side, if all goes according to plan this year I’ll take part in no fewer than four sing-along Messiahs.

Music is important to Gabe Shepherd, the hero of my new release A Christmas Reunion. He’s been singing as part of the annual Christmas Eve wassailing in his home village since he was old enough to remember the words and carry a tune, and when he comes home for Christmas in 1810 on leave from the British army, he can’t say no to the invitation to lead the wassailers again.

But most of the Christmas music we know and love today didn’t exist back then. Even such classics as Silent Night, Away in a Manger, and Angels We Have Heard on High are from later in the 19th century, and while Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Joy to the World have 18th century lyrics, the tunes we sing them to now are also post-1810.

So for today’s post I decided to invite Gabe into the 21st century to give his opinion on what’s happened in the world of Christmas music in the past 200 years. Granted, it took me awhile to get him settled down in front of YouTube—first he spent half an hour playing with the light switches, then he stared out the window wondering what had become of all the horses and how the cars going up and down my street moved of their own accord. And I still haven’t got the thermostat restored to its original settings.

But once we’d got through 21st Century Technology 101, Gabe and I spent several happy, musical hours poring over videos, often stopping to sing along, and in the end he gave me this list of five songs and his comments. Take it away, Gabe!

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day: You tell me this song was written during a great war in your country, 150 years ago, and I can hear that in the lyrics. I served in my own country’s army for ten years, and this song captures my hopes and prayers at each wartime Christmas. Peace on Earth and goodwill to men, indeed and Amen.

Susanna’s commentary: Yes, I’ve always wished we sung that one more often, especially during times of conflict.

Winter Wonderland:  Even though the specifics are unlike, this song makes me think of my Lady Cat. We first kissed under the mistletoe, and then we found each other again during a snowy Christmas gathering five years later.

Susanna: Aww…I was going to say that was sappy, but upon reflection that’s lovely and romantic.

I Wonder as I Wander: So hauntingly lovely. It breaks my heart and fills me with joy at the same moment.

Susanna: Yes. Exactly.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas: This is what I want for my family, for all the Christmases remaining to me.

Susanna: I couldn’t possibly argue with that.

Merry Christmas From the Family

Susanna (interrupting): What?!

Gabe: Why this exclamation of surprise?

Susanna: You didn’t like any of the other really modern songs I played for you. What’s so special about this one?

Gabe: The others are all so cynical. This one has heart.

Susanna: You and Mr. Fraser agree on that one, then. But I would’ve thought it was too far removed from your concept of Christmas.

Gabe (handsome eyebrows climbing): Truly? Did you think your generation invented drunkenness at Christmas parties? I thought you were an author who took pride in your research. Did you not bother to learn the ingredients of wassail punch?

Susanna: Of course I looked them up. I just imagined that you and your cousins would get genteelly drunk…stop laughing! Are you sure you don’t want to give Fairytale of New York or Father Christmas or The Season’s Upon Us one more chance?

Gabe: I’m only surprised that a writer such as yourself does like them so much. After all, you’ve written two Christmas novellas in just five years of publication, and you’re also a singer who delights to harmonize on your old carols. Those confections you shared that your mother taught you to make for holiday gifts were delicious, but they seem to be the sort of thing that requires a great deal of time.

Susanna: Yeah, so?

Gabe: You do not strike me as a cynic.

Susanna: I suppose I’m not. But not all the changes in how we celebrate Christmas since your time have been for the good. We’re bombarded with advertising and the most cloyingly cheerful music imaginable for a solid two months in an effort to get us to spend yet more money. It brings out what cynicism I have in me, for sure. All those songs you don’t care for help me through it. Yet I promise you I won’t be a cynic on Christmas Eve when I go to the 10 PM carol service at St. Andrew’s, nor the next morning when my daughter opens her presents, nor that evening when I bring my Pork Wellington with mashed potatoes and—

Gabe: Pork Wellington? Is that named for—

Susanna: Yes, it’s named for your time’s Wellington, only the traditional kind is made with beef. Very British. But I think the pork kind tastes better, and it’s become a Christmas tradition. And speaking of Christmas traditions, let me feed me a little of my bourbon chocolate pecan pie before I send you back to your century and your family.

Gabe: That sounds like a remarkable dish.

Susanna: It is. Merry Christmas!

Gabe: Happy Christmas, with peace on Earth and good will to men.







02_A Christmas ReunionPublication Date: November 24, 2014
Carina Press
Genre: Historical Romance

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Lady Catherine Trevilian and Gabriel Shepherd met in the Earl of Edenwell’s household, he the earl’s bastard nephew adopted as an infant, and she the countess’s highborn niece taken in after being orphaned as a young lady. Though not a suitable match by society’s standards, they fell hopelessly in love – but everything ended when they were caught kissing under the mistletoe. To protect Cat from Gabe’s lowborn charms, the earl bought him an army commission and shipped him out of the country. Catherine eventually accepted an arranged engagement, but never stopped scouring casualty lists for Gabe’s name.

Five years later, Gabe is home on leave for Christmas. Catherine and Gabe quickly learn their feelings have not dimmed – and a forbidden kiss confirms they’ve deepened into passion. But with Cat due to be married in eight days and Gabe still far below her social station, it will take a Christmas miracle for the star-crossed lovers to find happiness…









Chapter One


London, December 19, 1810


Five Christmases ago, Gabe had been driven from England in disgrace. Now he returned with a captain’s rank, dispatches from Lord Wellington to the commanders at Horse Guards, a measure of respect—and another man’s baby.

When he returned to his inn from Horse Guards, the baby in question ran to him as fast as her toddling legs could carry her, crying, “Gabe! Gabe!”

He scooped her into his arms and settled her on his hip. Strange how just a week ago such a pose had felt awkward and precarious, and now it was the most natural in the world. “I’m here.” He smoothed the little girl’s dark hair. “I told you I’d come back.”

“She cried for you the entire time, Captain Shepherd.” A worried frown marred the inn landlady’s kind features.

He snuggled the baby more closely against him. It warmed his heart to be missed by someone, even this tiny orphan. “It was very good of you to look after her.”

“It’s no trouble. We aren’t so busy today, and I miss having children about now that mine are all grown. Also—” her eyes twinkled at him, “—you did say you’d pay extra.”

He grinned back. “Indeed I will, and for everything else you’ve done for us.” The landlady had dug out a cradle, pointed Gabe to secondhand shops where he could buy suitable clothing and advised him on what a child her age ought to eat and drink.

“Have you decided what to do with her when you go back to your regiment? There’s foundling homes, or you might pay someone to care for her.”

He shook his head. “Not a foundling home.” He’d been an orphan at Christmas once, too. The family who had found him had given him a home even before they’d suspected his true parentage. Now, twenty-five Christmases later, he couldn’t go back to Portugal until he’d made sure this child would be just as well cared for. “I’ll be writing my friends on her behalf tonight.”

He hadn’t intended to tell the friends in question he was back in England—there was too great a chance they hadn’t yet forgiven him for the sin that had led to his exile. Still, for this child’s sake he’d set his guilt aside and risk their lingering wrath.



Edenwell Court, Kent, December 20


Cat always drifted into the breakfast room just after the post was delivered. Anthony wrote so faithfully now that they were engaged and it was proper for them to exchange letters. Such dear, amusing letters they were, too. When Aunt Edenwell had asked why she was marrying him, when she’d had richer and more handsome suitors, she’d explained that none of the others made her laugh so much. If she couldn’t be madly in love, at least she would go through her life as Lady Colville with a smile.

There was always the chance, too, of a letter from one of her Trevilian cousins or some of the friends she’d made in her London Seasons. And if she happened to glance at the newspaper to make sure there were no familiar names on any casualty lists that might be printed there and to see if the Sixty-First Regiment of Foot had been mentioned in the latest dispatches, what of it? Neither her parents nor Lord and Lady Edenwell had ever thought it unladylike for a woman to take an interest in the wider world.

So she couldn’t understand why Richard looked so startled and guilty as he stood when she walked in this morning. “Good morning, Cousin,” she said as she slipped past him to the sideboard to select a warm roll and pour herself a steaming cup of coffee.

He smiled and resumed his seat, though he still seemed edgy. “A good morning to you, too, Kitty.”

She’d given up hope her family would ever stop using that childish name. Anthony called her Catherine, which pleased her. If she sometimes missed a rich, teasing voice saying Lady Cat, she’d had five years to grow accustomed. They’d been so young then. It had been all mistletoe and infatuation, nothing more. Well, perhaps there had been a measure of rebellion, too—the plain defiance of bestowing her affections upon the forbidden baseborn foundling instead of the noble cousin her aunt and uncle had all but served up to her on a platter.

If she prayed for him every night and lived in terror of seeing him on those casualty lists, it was only because she couldn’t bear it if he…if he died, all because Uncle Edenwell had kicked up such a fuss over a kiss. Well, perhaps there had been kisses in the plural, and it had been late at night with neither of them quite fully clothed. Still, she wasn’t ruined, and Gabe wasn’t a seducer. There had been no need to send him out of the country in disgrace.

But it was impossible to change the past, so she made herself smile as she took a chair at Richard’s right. “Anything of interest in the post?” she asked.

He shuffled the stack of papers and took a sip of his coffee before replying. “There’s a letter from Gabriel.”

Good God. Gabe. She darted a glance at Richard’s letters, searching for Gabe’s firm, distinctive handwriting. No. She must be calm. Her heart must stop racing, immediately. With carefully steady hands, she took up her own cup and drank. She was calm. If she was blushing she couldn’t feel it. Why should she blush? She would be married in less than a fortnight. Gabe was…five years ago. “Oh?” she asked, pleased that the syllable came out tolerably composed.






Praise for Susanna Fraser’s Books

“[Susanna Fraser is] a go-to writer for Regency romance that is actually set in the Regency rather than in that Never-Neverland mash-up that’s been dubbed ‘The Recency’ or ‘Almackistan.’” — Willaful at Karen Knows Best

“This is easily one of the best historical romances I’ve read.” — Romantic Historical Reviews on An Infamous Marriage

“…the romance in this story was very sweet. Sydney was immediately relatable and likeable, because she faced such a serious conflict and wanted to make an ethical decision that would preserve the lives of her loved ones.” — Dear Author on Christmas Past

About the Author03_Susanna Fraser

Susanna Fraser wrote her first novel in fourth grade. It starred a family of talking horses who ruled a magical land. In high school she started, but never finished, a succession of tales of girls who were just like her, only with long, naturally curly and often unusually colored hair, who, perhaps because of the hair, had much greater success with boys than she ever did.

Along the way she read her hometown library’s entire collection of Regency romance, fell in love with the works of Jane Austen, and discovered in Patrick O’Brian’s and Bernard Cornwell’s novels another side of the opening decades of the 19th century. When she started to write again as an adult, she knew exactly where she wanted to set her books. Her writing has come a long way from her youthful efforts, but she still gives her heroines great hair.

Susanna grew up in rural Alabama. After high school she left home for the University of Pennsylvania and has been a city girl ever since. She worked in England for a year after college, using her days off to explore history from ancient stone circles to Jane Austen’s Bath.

Susanna lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and daughter. When not writing or reading, she goes to baseball games, sings alto in a local choir and watches cooking competition shows.

For more information please visit Susanna’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

A Christmas Reunion Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 24
Review at Romantic Historical Reviews
Spotlight at Literary Chanteuse

Wednesday, November 26
Review at Laurie Here
Review at Let Them Read Books
Guest Post at Ramblings From This Chick

Thursday, November 27
Spotlight at The True Book Addict

Monday, December 1
Review at By the Book Reviews

Tuesday, December 2
Guest Post at SOS Aloha

Friday, December 5
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Tuesday, December 9
Review at Historical Romance Lover

Wednesday, December 10
Review at Book Babe
Mistletoe Madness Guest Post at The Book Nympho

Friday, December 12
Review at The Christmas Spirit


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Owner/Blogger at The Book Nympho
I coexist with my husband of 15 years, our 11-year-old son and two chilled cats in the Deep South.

After 17 years I've finally finished my BA in English (no I do not want to be a teacher). Before majoring in English I would not have touched anything labeled "classic", but I have enjoyed a few along the way in my college career.

While I hated to read growing up, I am now an avid book reader and audiobook listener. I love rejecting reality one book at a time. I only read fiction within my favorite (at least to date) genres which include: most romance (paranormal, contemporary, D/s, BDSM, M/M)Urban Fantasy, and a few YA (mostly PNR or UF from favorite adult authors, but I'm slowly stepping out of my comfort zone after enjoying a few contemporary YA novels in adolescent literature class I took).
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2 responses to “Susanna Fraser Talks Holiday Music and Shares Excerpt from A Christmas Reunion

  1. That was so fun! I just love thinking about how things like Christmas have changed over the centuries! Music is an area I’m semi familiar with because I’m friends with a musicologist, but still its too neat to think that the songs we use to define a season didn’t even exist centuries ago. I love my holiday music too! 🙂 great post!