Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cozy Christmas Reads: JoAnn's story

Interview with JoAnn Durgin, author of A Serendipity Christmas:

Alexis: What does your story’s title, “A Serendipity Christmas” mean? Is there a special significance for it as related to your story? Explain. 

JoAnn: Serendipity is the name of the novel’s setting, a charming small town outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The town was introduced in the first book in the series, The Christmas Challenge (released last Christmas). The word serendipity is whimsical and means “finding something valuable or delightful when you’re not looking for it and least expect it.” Isn’t that fun?

Alexis: Victoria (Tori) Harper is the female lead in this story. What is she like? Describe her looks, personality and heart. 

JoAnn: Introduced in the first book of this series (sister of Donovan Harper, the hero in The Christmas Challenge), Tori works as a paralegal in a criminal defense firm in Philadelphia (a source of concern for her family and others), but she’s taking a month of accrued/paid vacation time. After living on her own for almost a decade, she’s back in her parents’ home in Serendipity and “solid” (her term) with God. The reasons behind the move back home are gradually revealed throughout the book.

Although smart and quick with a comeback, Tori’s sarcasm hides a very tender yet wounded heart. Physically, Tori is 5’8” tall, blue-eyed with dimpled cheeks and long dark hair. After battling image and body issues when she was younger, Tori still doesn’t feel quite “worthy” in some ways. She’s not one to sit still, so she’s helping out at HarperMorgan, her brother and sister-in-law’s advertising agency in Serendipity. Donovan asks her to join the HarperMorgan team for The Christmas Challenge, but then she finds out Donovan also asked the irritatingly handsome Henry Adams to join the team…

Alexis: Henry Adams is the male lead in this story. What is he like? Describe his looks, personality and outlook on life. 

JoAnn: Henry is American, but born to English parents, so he speaks with the proper “Queen’s English” accent (think Colin Firth and Hugh Grant) and prefers calling her by her given name. He is six feet tall, athletic, with warm brown eyes and wavy dark hair. A graduate of NYU and Columbia Law School, Henry practiced for several years in a Manhattan firm. For reasons stemming from becoming a Christian, he left New York and settled in Serendipity. Although he spars with Tori, Henry’s true generosity, compassion, and gentlemanly qualities become readily apparent.

Alexis: Why is Tori resistant to Henry’s charms? 

JoAnn: After a string of failed relationships—and after her most recent boyfriend, Quint, took off for Mexico with his tattoo artist—Tori’s had a moratorium on dating for the past year. Henry had also briefly dated her now sister-in-law, Claire (the heroine in The Christmas Challenge). Tori thought of Henry as somewhat arrogant and pompous, partly because of his English formality and wry sense of humor. Now that she’s home in Serendipity for the month, and as Tori spends more time getting to know the man she’s nicknamed “Snooty Scrooge,” she discovers they have much more in common than she could have imagined. Let the fun begin!

Alexis: The Coffee Nook sounds neat. What is it like? Describe its significance. 

JoAnn: In many of my books, particularly those set in a small town, a coffee shop, café, or diner, is a central meeting place for the town’s residents—including Tori and Henry. It’s the place where everyone meets, greets, and catches up on the news from their neighbors and friends. One of the sweet senior citizens (Mary, introduced in the first book), starts a new ministry in The Coffee Nook, and you can find out what that ministry is in the book!

Alexis: What about writing this book brought joy to your heart? 

JoAnn: In many ways, writing my books is a way I dig deep into God’s word, and A Serendipity Christmas is no exception. As my characters grow and learn biblical truths in their story, I never fail to learn, as well. One of the highest compliments a reader can pay me is that she either gleans a nugget of truth or wisdom from God’s word or that she’s convicted to examine, evaluate, or change something in her own life as a result of reading my book. What a blessing!

Alexis: Did you have a holiday song playlist when writing this story? If so, share some of your favorite songs on it. 

JoAnn: Most definitely! I still listen to CDs, and I recently visited my local Lifeway store to stock up! I listen to the WOW Christmas CDs, Jordan Smith, Danny Gokey, Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, and many other Christian artists. Depending on what I’m writing, I sometimes prefer instrumental music, so I’ve also been listening to Lindsey Stirling’s new holiday CD, as well as the amazing Piano Guys. “O Holy Night” is one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs, and it’s featured in a pivotal moment in this novel.

Alexis: What do you want your readers to remember most about this book? 

JoAnn: There are events, often in our childhood—both good and bad—that can shape or even change our lives in some way. In recent days, these types of life events have been referred to as “watershed moments.” Many of these moments come from our relationships with our families. Forgiveness plays a large factor in Henry’s story. Feeling worthy has always been a struggle for Tori. I’d like for the stories of the two main characters to give readers hope—and isn’t the Christmas season all about hope?—that no matter where they’ve been, where they are now, and the struggles they’ve faced, God is there, He listens, and He walks beside them. Accepting that Christ paid the price for the sins of man is truly the greatest gift of all, no matter the season.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, JoAnn! Do you have closing thoughts to share? 

JoAnn: Thank you so much for allowing me to visit with you and your readers today, Alexis! I’ve enjoyed sharing about Tori and Henry’s story. The book is only 99 cents and releases on December 3rd. Why a Sunday, you might ask? Well, that’s my birthday, and I started a fun tradition last year with The Christmas Challenge (also only 99 cents!) of releasing a Christmas-themed, full-length novel on that day as my holiday gift to readers (although they can be read at any point in the year!).

Blessings to all for a happy, healthy, and joyous Christmas season!

Author Bio:
A Serendipity Christmas is the second in USA Today Bestselling Author JoAnn Durgin’s Serendipity Christmas Series, following The Christmas Challenge (2016). 

JoAnn is also the author of the beloved Lewis Legacy Series as well as Prelude, the prequel to the series. 

Her other works include the Amazon bestselling Catching SerenityHeart’s Design and its sequel Gentle Like the Rain, The Wondrous Love Series, Echoes of Edinburgh, Perchance to DreamWhisper to My HeartThe Valentine VerseThee Will I Cherish, and the popular Starlight Christmas Series.

Blurb for JoAnn Durgin's book, A Serendipity Christmas
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 another handsome man with a smooth line, even delivered with Henry’s smooth-as-silk British accent.

As the youngest attorney in town, Henry 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.

Connect with JoAnn:
Website - www.joanndurgin.com
Facebook - www.facebook.com/authorjoanndurgin
Twitter - https://twitter.com/gr8treads

Enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below: 

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  1. Serendipity sounds like a wonderful town. I’m quite content where I am right now so no need for a Serendipity Christmas for me!

  2. Great name for the female lead! My eldest daughter is also a Tori! :) Beautiful cover.

  3. Reading this one now and loving it.


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