Everything about the settings in this book are dreamy - white Christmas, passenger liner, Europe. All beautiful, exotic locations. It was great fun to write. And I loved working with a wounded heroine - my favourite. Rachelle's wounds are partly self-inflicted - she's too hard on herself and hasn't come to terms with her past mistakes. Don't we all suffer from regret at some stage in our lives but it becomes dangerous when it stops us from opening our heart to love.
Rachelle runs a little wedding chapel on the Coderica Passenger Liner. Two years on the passenger liner haven’t helped her find peace from past mistakes. Ray brings his girlfriend on the Coderica’s grand cruise to Europe. When his plans to marry her in the little chapel go horribly wrong and the relationship fails, Ray and Rachelle are drawn to each other like moths to a flame. Romance blossoms in Europe, culminating on Christmas Day. But the cruise ends and Rachelle isn’t sure she’s ready to leave the Coderica with Ray. Will the memory of their white Christmas kiss be strong enough to bring them together forever?
“I’m thinking of ending the whole relationship.”
The woman walked to the fire and placed her hands near its warmth. “The air by that window is cold.”
“The weirdest thing is that I’m actually enjoying being away from her.”
“Would you like another drink?”
It was actually humorous how she avoided the conversation. He shook his head. “I’d like to get to my ship cabin safely without toppling overboard.”
“Are you feeling relaxed?”
He couldn’t bear it any longer. In a moment, he rose and moved to her, placing his hands on her sagging shoulders. “What did you run away from?”
“I’m sorry?” She turned to him, her eyes haunted, cheeks flushed with embarrassment—or was it the heat of the fire?
“I can see it in your eyes…the hurt…the confusion.”
She pulled away and attempted to walk back to the window, but he grabbed her hand, desperate for her to open up and release the pent-up, albeit negative, energy. The force of their opposite movements made her spin around to face him, her soft cheeks inches from his gaze. Her lips were pursed and pale pink—no lipstick, no cracks, just smooth and plump. A warm vanilla scent wafted from her hair, mingling with the lazy smell of liqueur and wood smoke. In a moment, he’d tucked her up against him, and he’d moved his lips onto hers. The pressure he gave her surprised even him, as also the need to remain there, locked in a kiss in a smoky bar in Spain when his future wife stood vigil in a hospital back home.
He expected her to pull away and break the contact. Waited for her scathing comment to add fuel to his guilt. Instead, her whole body softened in his grasp, making him unable to retreat. He explored her mouth with simple movement, which she mirrored. They were instinctively in tune, and the arousal he experienced sent shock waves through him. It felt so intense that he was now convinced Desia wasn’t the only woman who stirred him to such passion. In fact, this felt far deeper and more intense than Desia’s…
“I have to go.” She pulled away and turned from him, grabbing her jacket in haste.