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Having spent my every Christmas in the USA has left me wondering from time to time what it would be like to experience a “warm” Christmas. Fortunately, Jane Beckenham is here…and she has answers. Take a little trip with us, and before you head back home be sure to check out Jane’s new release, THE HIGHWAYMAN’S BRIDE, available now from Entangled Scandalous.

THB COVERJane Beckenham: Christmas in New Zealand

Christmas is nearly here, and for most of you who are reading this, it will be winter time and you’ll have snow and ice and be bundled up in winter woolies and drinking egg nog.

Spare a thought for me.  I’ll be swimming in the pool, or whiling away hour at the beach, having barbecues and it’ll be our long summer holidays.

Yes. It’s summer downunder and Christmas for us means summer time and barbies, and the end of the school year.  So the kids are out, beaches are full, and everyone is going away for their long summer break.

The mossies (mosquitos) are out too, and its hot and sticky and humid, and where I live which is about an hour out of the city on a ten acre block the ground will be drying out and cracking, the grass dead and brown by mid January.

But still as we race towards Christmas day what do we see.

Santa in his red suit and long fluffy white bed, sweating profusely LOL

Chrsitmas trees are decorated in shops and malls, and even some still use that fake spray on snow.  It seems even though New Zealand has been settled for over 150 years there is that hankering for a winter Christmas.

Santa still comes down the chimney – I always did wonder how Santa came down chimneys in the northern hemisphere winters because if the fire is going the poor chap’s butt might just get a tad singed!

Christmas dinner is still surprisingly traditional. Turkey and ham, though we have lots of salads and shrimp salads, desert is Pavlova – named after the famous ballerina. Imagine a lovely meringue styled desert that is soft and marshmallowy like in the centre, topped off course with lashings of whipped cream and slices of kiwifruit – of course.  This is a traditional kiwi (New Zealand) desert and is served on special occasions.  Trifle is another desert, but that originated in England – broken up bits of sponge, mixed with fruit, topped with custard (cold) and then whipped cream.  I’ll add some links for these recipes below.

Summer and Christmas in New Zealand also mean the flowering of the Pohutukawa tree. This is a native tree for us and is typically abundant around the coastal regions. It has beautiful scarlet brush type fronds and Maori legend has it that if it flowers early (November) we’ll have a great summer.

Here’s a picture of the tree in full bloom.

Click image for additional views.

Click image for additional views.

 

Here’s the Pavlova Recipe

New Zealand Pavlova
Recipe By     : Edmonds Cookery Book
4   Egg Whites                                                1 1/4  cups  Caster Sugar
1tsp White Vinegar                               `            1 tsp vanilla essence
1  Tbsp Cornflour (corn starch)                              
1/2  litre Cream (whipping cream)
2 Kiwi fruit                                             
4 Passion fruit
Preheat oven to 180 C. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and sugar for 10 minutes or until thick and glossy. Mix vinegar, vanilla and cornflour together. Add to meringue. Beat on high speed f r a further 5 minutes. Line an oven tray with baking paper (Don't grease). Draw a 22 cm circle on the baking paper. Spread the pavlova mixture to within 2 cm of the edge of the circle, keeping the s ape as round and even as possible. Smooth top surface over. Place pavlova in oven then turn oven temperature down to 100 C. Bake pavlova for 1 hour. Turn oven off. Open oven door slightly and leave Pavlova in oven until cold. Carefully lift pavlova onto a serving plate. Decorate with whipped cream, sliced kiwi-fruit and the pulp of fresh passion fruits.

And so the countdown is on to the big day. Yes we are in different seasons, but the one thing that is universally true, is that this is a time for family and friends. For sharing. For hope and love and caring.

So from me to you, wherever you may be, wishing you a wonderful festive season and may joy be yours…and let’s hope Santa doesn’t eat too much and still get down the chimney!

Merry Christmas

Happy reading

Jane Beckenham

PS:  I’ll be celebrating big time this year as The Highwayman’s Bride is being released today. So that’s the best Christmas present of all.

THB COVERTHE HIGHWAYMAN’S BRIDE

England, 1813

Forced into a marriage . . .

Compelled by her uncle to marry a man who has a predilection for violence, Tess Stanhope resorts to a ploy from her favorite novels to fund an escape—highway robbery. But her attempt is botched by a maddening, handsome rogue named Aiden.

Driven by revenge . . .

Aiden Masters, the Earl of Charnley, is hell-bent on avenging his sister’s brutal treatment at the hands of the criminal Florian Nash. He single-mindedly seeks vengeance at the expense of all else—even by furtively roaming the highways at night.

Blackmailed for love . . .

At a London party Tess meets up with Aiden once again and blackmails him…marry her or she’ll divulge to society his clandestine life as a highwayman. She desires a marriage in name only—but the more time they spend fighting their desire, the closer they come giving in.

Find it @ Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Excerpt

Her mind reeled at his closeness, a sensory world of heat and touch. Of sinful thoughts. Concentrate. Stick with the plan.

What plan? This had been a spur of the moment idea. Now she had to make it work.

A flurry of nerves and fear coiled tight in her gut. This man was big. Her gaze dropped to his hands. Big hands. Hands that could break her with one flick of his wrists.

Tess knew she tempted him, which was exactly as it needed to be if she were to succeed. Then he did something she hadn’t expected. He lifted a hand to her neck, scraping the back of his fingers along its curve. Her breath hitched for a heartbeat.

Do it, Tess. He’s your only hope.

“I desire the independence of a married woman,” she said in a rush.

His eyes darkened to the color of the deepest night sky. “And?”

The tip of her tongue slid along the rim of her mouth, and butterflies fluttered in her stomach. “Marry me, Aiden, and you’ll never see me again. Marry me, or I will announce to the world your penchant for robbery.”

His hand fell away, his expression instantly stony. “You are either very brave, Tess Stanhope, or extremely foolish.”

“I know what I want.”

“So do I.”

Then he kissed her—and that changed everything.

Find it @ Amazon Barnes & Noble

About the Author

For author Jane Beckenham there’s nothing better than people watching. In her world, she never knows what story it may inspire her to write.

Jane’s world is one of happy ever afters which is just as well, since after a blind date Jane found her true love and married him eleven months later.

Life has been a series of  ‘dreams’ for Jane.  Dreaming of walking again after multiple surgeries. Dreaming of raising a family and subsequently flying to Russia to bring home her two daughters. And dreaming of writing.

Writing has become Jane’s addiction – and it sure beats housework.