Today I’m welcoming a stop on Mary Anne Yarde’s Coffee Pot Book Club blog tour, with an excerpt from Heidi Eljarbo’s lovely Christmas story. Nothing like a snowy night and a starlit sky to get you in the mood for the holidays.
Fair Mountain Christmas
By Heidi Eljarbo
Nostalgia and Christmas miracles burn bright in this uplifting and heartwarming story about new beginnings and falling in love under a blanket of stars.
Fair Mountain, December 1972.
A few days before Christmas, Juni’s editor gives her a writing assignment that throws her far outside her comfort zone. She and her terrier, Leo, retreat to her grandparents’ old cabin in the Norwegian mountains in hopes of inspiration. But the trip turns into a heart-wrenching and emotionally challenging encounter.
Memories of Juni’s childhood seep in as soon as she enters the cabin, and as for the writing assignment…what does she know about what children need for Christmas?
Juni’s focus changes when handsome Henry Norheim from Moose Lodge down the hill unexpectedly shows up outside her cottage door. His dedication to family, traditions, and Christmas celebration is contagious, but for Juni, coming out of her lonely shell is easier said than done.
As Juni’s deadline draws closer, and the snowflakes softly swirl down on Fair Mountain, she has to face up to her past, open her heart, and dare to take a step forward.
Will the miracle of Christmas live up to its promise of hope, goodwill, and love this year?
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Minutes later they were outside. It was a cold night, and the sky boasted a deep indigo covered in a blanket of stars. Henry carried a stuffed rucksack and two sets of snowshoes. He handed her a pair.
“Are you ready? We’ll head for the woods over there away from the lights from the lodge and the surrounding cabins.”
They strapped the snowshoes on the bottom of their boots and made their way into the forest. Leo struggled a little but ran up ahead as if he knew where they were going. Silly dog. He put his tail up and darted around like a bouncing tennis ball to the left side of the path, to the right…then back to the left.
They followed the trail through the woodland and up a hill to a glade with a spectacular view of the valley below. Henry put his rucksack on a rock and pulled out two sleeping bags, a woolen blanket, a thermos, and two cups.
Juni started laughing. “Are we sleeping here tonight?”
He pushed some of the snow away from a large, flat rock and arranged the woolen blanket with the sleeping bags on top.
“No time for sleep. The night is young, and you’re in for some serious stargazing.”
Juni removed the snowshoes and eased into one of the sleeping bags. Leo came and snuggled next to her, and Henry crawled into his bag on the other side. He poured hot chocolate into the cups and handed her one.
“Careful. It’s steaming.”
“Thank you.” She blew on the cocoa and tasted some. The warm, sweet chocolate went down easily.
“My father used to take me out on dark winter nights and show me the stars,” Henry said. “You could call him a space science nut. He was very enthusiastic and always reading about constellations and planets. His nightstand held a pile of astronomy books, a glass of milk, and a banana. He’d read into the night, and the next day, weather permitting, he’d take me outside and share his findings.”
Henry’s enthusiasm and devotion to his father was contagious. Just hearing about the man made Juni wish she’d known him.
“I know little about stars,” she said and leaned back, taking in the myriad of sparkling lights above them.
Henry smiled. “Well, then. Look up, and I’ll show you some patterns of stars. After you’ve seen the patterns, you’ll always notice them when you look at the sky.”
“So, you’re saying this will change my view of the heavens?”
She settled into a comfortable position. “Then go ahead. I’m ready.”
Heidi Eljarbo is the bestselling author of historical fiction and mysteries filled with courageous and good characters that are easy to love and others you don’t want to go near.
Heidi grew up in a home filled with books and artwork and she never truly imagined she would do anything other than write and paint. She studied art, languages, and history, all of which have come in handy when working as an author, magazine journalist, and painter.
After living in Canada, six US states, Japan, Switzerland, and Austria, Heidi now calls Norway home. She and her husband have a total of nine children, thirteen grandchildren—so far—in addition to a bouncy Wheaten Terrier.
Their favorite retreat is a mountain cabin, where they hike in the summertime and ski the vast, white terrain during winter.
Heidi’s favorites are family, God’s beautiful nature, and the word whimsical.
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