Reeling from the upheaval of a failed marriage, Annie Hanahan is desperate for a new start—and when she inherits a cottage on Ocracoke Island, she may finally get it. Without a second thought, she packs up and leaves everything behind: her first name, her job, and her ex-husband, because more than anything, she wants to get her son away from his father’s partying and neglectful ways. But when she arrives in the Outer Banks, she finds the island—and her promised refuge—ravaged by Hurricane Dorian.
When their parents died in a tragic car accident, Trey Kingsley dropped out of college to raise his sister. Now that she’s grown and moved away, it’s his turn to find a life of his own. As a contractor who has given so much of his time to helping Ocracoke recover from the devastation of Hurricane Dorian, it surprises no one when he offers to help the beautiful newcomer, but something is holding her back. Life keeps throwing them together, though, or perhaps God’s hand is giving them a nudge. Will a little bit of divine intervention be enough for a Merry Christmas on Ocracoke?
Welcome back, Christina!
Tell us how your characters celebrate the holidays
Annie grew up in Charleston, South Carolina so she’s used to seeing the Nutcracker at the Gaillard and driving through James Island County Park to see the outdoor Christmas lights. But now she lives on Hatteras and trying to move into her broken-down cottage on Ocracoke, she is trying to come up with new traditions.
Trey has a surprise for Annie—not only is he and his construction crew repairing the damage Hurricane Dorian did to her inheritance, but they decorated the little place as if they could cram all of Christmas in one cottage. They are going to celebrate in her new home and she doesn’t have a clue.
Does you hero have a favorite Christmas carol or movie? Does your heroine?
Trey loves “Home Alone” because well, there are a lot of hammers and nails and the whole premise is so unrealistic. Right now, he could use some dreams coming true.
Annie loves “Miracle on 34th Street” because the theme reminds her of her new life—Santa, or rather her ex-teacher, has gifted her with a new house and her son is the miracle. Then, there is the idea of a little holiday magic—even though she knows there is no such things, only Jesus, but still.
What is the theme of this book? If it’s part of a series, how does this book fit into the series?
The theme of this book is trust—that God will be there for you in the hard and worst of times. This is the first book in a series, but I’m waiting to find out if, when, and how the others will be published. Trusting in God and not letting anxiety take over is a theme in all of these Outer Banks books.
Why do you write this genre? What inspired this story? Do you write any other genres?
I write contemporary romance because I like to explore issues people are dealing with in the here and now. When I wrote this book, I had just come from a visit to my sister’s rental house on Hatteras Island and we’d taken the ferry to Ocracoke. I was so stunned at the mountains of debris and the boarded-up businesses months after the storm. I was also moved by the people who live there and stay, despite the hardships. Ocracoke is also a beautiful place, in a wild and rugged way, very different from Charleston despite the geographical proximity as the crow flies (not as we have to drive).
I do write devotions and would love to write historical romance, but I haven’t published any other genres in book form yet.
Any tips to share with fellow authors/aspiring authors? What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?
I would advise aspiring authors to never stop learning about your craft and the business. I have been attending writing workshops, seminars, and conferences for decades and I continue to learn new things. The best advice I’ve ever heard is know that we all have our own journey. Don’t compare. Enjoy the writing process and the rest will either come or it won’t, but you will still have the joy.
What is your favorite Christmas tradition and/or memory?
Since I am doing two posts and I have so many Christmas traditions and memories, I’m going to share a different one from the first post. My favorite Christmas memories are from when my children were young—we were blessed to be able to give them a number of gifts and then we played with them. We enjoyed every minute of being with them (at least during Christmas).
Finally! Answer for either yourself or your characters: Real Christmas tree? Or fake?
Real. Annie’s favorite tree is the one Trey put up in her cottage on Ocracoke—now that she’s seen it, nothing could be more beautiful than the time he took to go buy a tree on one of the other islands and haul it over on the ferry. You know a man is a keeper when he goes to that much effort to give you and your son Christmas.