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We recently had the privilege of meeting JoAnn Durgin when she shared Only a Heartbeat Away. I am excited to have JoAnn visiting again today to share her newest Christmas novel, A Serendipity Christmas. Before we hear the story behind the story, let’s take a peek at the back cover.
The holiday season has rolled around once again, and the townspeople of quaint Serendipity, Pennsylvania, are preparing for their annual Christmas Challenge. This year, the funds raised from the various events and activities will benefit the continuing relief efforts in the aftermath of a brutal hurricane season.
Victoria (Tori) Harper agrees to participate in the more physically demanding sporting events of The Christmas Challenge alongside her brother and new father, Donovan, on behalf of his HarperMorgan Advertising Agency. But why has Donovan invited the insufferable and irritatingly appealing Henry Adams to join their team? The man seems determined to drive her to distraction, but Tori’s not about to fall under the charms of a handsome man with a smooth line, even delivered with Henry’s irresistible British accent.
As the youngest attorney in town, Henry Adams has grown to love little Serendipity, and especially his verbal sparring sessions with Victoria Harper in The Coffee Nook and elsewhere around town. She might call him a Snooty Scrooge, but he’s determined to win her heart. If he can’t win that personal challenge by the end of the holiday season, he might as well move on and accept a tempting job offer from a New York law firm.
The second in The Serendipity Christmas Series, following The Christmas Challenge (2016), join Henry as he seeks to win Tori’s love and they’re both reminded of how God is always faithful in His promises. A Serendipity Christmas celebrates the very best of the holiday season—love, faith, family, small-town charm, and the true miracles of the Christmas season.
Welcome back, JoAnn! What inspired you to write this series, or this novel in particular?
A hallmark of all my books, not just the Christmas novels, is God’s people serving others in some capacity. We are called to gather workers and help others in need, and I believe in showing that aspect of my characters’ lives. They’re imperfect Christians trying their best to live godly lives. In The Christmas Challenge, Book 1 in The Serendipity Christmas Series, the townspeople of Serendipity, Pennsylvania, formed teams and participated in all kinds of activities—from wreath decorating, building snowmen, wrapping packages, making candy canes to more athletic events like The Snowflake Plunge and a snowmobile race. The purpose of the challenge was to raise money for charity. Through their participation in many of those events, the hero and heroine of the first book—Donovan Harper and Claire Morgan, co-owners of the HarperMorgan Advertising Agency, and former sweethearts—rekindled their romance.
Donovan’s sister, Victoria (Tori), and Henry Adams—the new British-speaking attorney in town—were both introduced in the first book, and now they take the lead roles in A Serendipity Christmas. This second book focuses more on their individual lives and their families (and, of course, their evolving love story!) but mainly highlights The Snowflake Plunge and the snowmobile race. The book’s setting is current day, and the monies raised from The Christmas Challenge this year are all being donated to the continuing cleanup in the aftermath of the brutal hurricane season.
What a great challenge, to move beyond complacency and seek opportunities to give! Why did you choose this particular setting and have you been there?
Serendipity, Pennsylvania, is a small, quaint, charming fictional small town in the shadows of Philadelphia. My heroine, Victoria Harper, normally works as a paralegal in Center City, Philly. However, she has accrued vacation time she must either use or lose, so she’s spending the holiday season helping her brother and sister-in-law’s advertising agency in her hometown (Claire’s still on maternity leave, as well). Our family lived in Philadelphia for a period of about five years, and two of our three children were born there. It’s a fascinating city filled with rich history and character, and I also featured Philly in the last installment of my previous Starlight Christmas Series. I love to add sightings of crossover characters from my books, and there are a few of those in this series, especially in A Serendipity Christmas. Please note, however, that it’s not at all necessary for readers to be familiar with these other characters.
How fun to discover them there, though! What do you hope your readers take away from this novel?
Many of us harbor doubts, insecurities, guilt, or hurt from our pasts. Sometimes those feelings are amplified during the holiday season. Henry, in particular, struggles with forgiving a family member due to a long-ago wound from his childhood. During the course of the book, he discovers new revelations and then has an epiphany which brings about reconciliation. Even as the author, I love that aspect!
By reading both of these books (or any of my books, really), I would hope readers might be inspired to think about how they can help in their own communities. No matter how big or how small, there’s so much need in the world today. One demonstrable way to show our faith is by reaching out and offering our unique and God-given gifts and talents to others. Every effort counts!
So true! When we start to truly look around us at the needs of others, we discover just how very many there are… Have you given any of your own personality quirks to your characters?
All of my heroines share characteristics and/or habits with me to some extent. I’m not known for writing reticent or shy characters for the most part 🙂 . Tori speaks her mind, often without thinking. She’s feisty, funny, bold, intelligent, and has a heart of pure gold. She loves her family and works very hard. Her paralegal position is challenging, and her family isn’t particularly thrilled with the type of clients she interacts with (for good reason). I believe Tori’s explanation for why she works in that particular field of law reveals her true heart and character.
Okay, here’s a confession. When I read my books aloud to myself (part of the editing process that really works to highlight missing words, etc.), I speak with a British accent. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it makes it more exciting or elegant…who knows? It’s fun! Henry is the only son of two native Brits. He grew up with the accent, and I love his phrasing and tendency to say things like as such, perhaps, daresay, and he throws in lots of adverbs. At first, he might come across as stiff and formal, but it’s the way he was raised and his use of the “Queen’s English”—very proper (think Hugh Grant and Colin Firth). Henry often doesn’t know what to make of Tori (he calls her Victoria). He was a lot of fun to write (my second Brit as a lead character), and some of their interactions had me laughing (always a good thing)!
If we could just sneak in a microphone… 😉 Do you have a personal experience with any of the events in your story?
Sort of, but let me elaborate. Tori had an unusual experience in a fast food restaurant in Piccadilly Circus at the age of 15 when she visited London with her family. The same thing happened to me when I visited and studied abroad in London for a term (I always say it was the best quarter of my college experience!). However, Tori took the circumstances a bit further. Tori tells Henry about the experience and later shows him “evidence.” That same “evidence” is what I still have to this day to prove that the actual circumstances happened. However, Tori was much bolder than me in taking action and in putting her faith to work. But that incident was definitely based in truth.
A fun side note: Charles Dickens plays almost a minor “role” in this book. The author is quoted a bit, and elements of his life are referenced in the plot, as well!
How fun! I am definitely intrigued! Thanks for taking the time to visit with us today, JoAnn!
Thank you for the opportunity to be featured on your blog, Sarah! Wishing you and all the readers of your blog a blessed Christmas!
Your turn! I think it would be fun to hear JoAnn read her story with her best British accent. If she were to create an audiobook of A Serendipity Christmas, who do you think should narrate it?
More about JoAnn:
In addition to The Christmas Challenge and A Serendipity Christmas, JoAnn Durgin is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the beloved Lewis Legacy Series as well as Prelude, the prequel to the series. Her other works include the Amazon bestselling Catching Serenity, Heart’s Design and its sequel, Gentle Like the Rain, The Wondrous Love Series, Echoes of Edinburgh, Perchance to Dream, Whisper to My Heart, The Valentine Verse, Thee Will I Cherish, and the popular Starlight Christmas Series.
A former estate administration paralegal, JoAnn writes contemporary Christian romance full-time. After living in Texas, California, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, JoAnn now lives with her family in her native southern Indiana. Writing Christian fiction is her passion, and JoAnn loves nothing more than sharing the hope to be found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Connect with JoAnn via her website at https://joanndurgin.com
Author JoAnn Durgin on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjoanndurgin
Also by JoAnn:
Book 1 in The Serendipity Christmas Series
Donovan Harper and Claire Morgan are more successful as co-owners of a thriving advertising agency in quaint Serendipity, Pennsylvania, than they were at navigating their romantic relationship.
When an eccentric client makes an unusual request, Donovan convinces Claire their agency should participate in Serendipity’s annual Christmas Challenge. With contests and activities ranging from The Snowflake Plunge, candy cane making, snowman building, wreath and tree decorating, and a snowmobile race, could this be the opportunity Donovan has prayed for to win back the love of his life?
Join the holiday fun with Claire and Donovan in a story celebrating love, faith, family, small-town charm, and the true miracles of the Christmas season.
A Serendipity Christmas Giveaway:
JoAnn has generously offered to give away FIVE ebook copies of either Book 1 or Book 2 in The Serendipity Christmas series (winner’s choice)! Giveaways are subject to the Giveaway Policy.