Under the "Kissing Bough"

Under the "Kissing Bough"Happy Christmas from USA Today Bestseller Jennifer Ashley, Emily Bryan and Alissa Johnson! We’re sorry as we can be to be rushing the season, but A CHRISTMAS BALL will hit the bookstores on September 29th! And we’re just so excited, we can’t wait a moment longer!

Our three novellas take place in 1822 London, which means Christmas is celebrated very differently. For example, there are no Christmas trees in the home of Lord and Lady Hartwell, the hosts of our CHRISTMAS BALL. That came later, after Queen Victoria married her German cousin and imported the “Tannenbaum” custom from his culture. But an English Christmas in 1822 did feature something called “a kissing bough.”

Under the "Kissing Bough"More than just mistletoe, this decoration was fashioned of evergreens (which symbolized life), ivy (which represented women), holly (whose prickly leaves remind us of men!) and mistletoe (as always, an excuse to steal a kiss!). However, the kissing bough represented a limited time offer. Each time a young man got a kiss, he was supposed to reach up and pluck off one of the mistletoe berries. When the berries were gone, there were no more free kisses!

Under the "Kissing Bough"

But there are plenty of kisses in our stories! Jennifer Ashley’s The Longest Night will please fans of her Nvengaria series with her logosh hero Valentin and Mary, the Scottish miss from his past.

Under the "Kissing Bough"Emily Bryan’s My Lady Below Stairs takes a peek down the back staircase to see what the servants are up to. When head groom Ian Michael learns his love Jane is impersonating her well-born half-sister at the ball, Hartwell House will have more than one party crasher.

Under the "Kissing Bough"

Finally, in Traditions by Alissa Johnson, William Renwick, Earl of Casselbury learns to cast off his careful plans and enjoy life to the fullest with the bespectacled, quirky heroine Patience.

That kissing bough will see plenty of use. Watch for A CHRISTMAS BALL in stores starting September 29th! Or you can pre-order here.

So now it’s your turn to share. What’s your favorite Christmas decoration? Why is it special to you?

Thanks for having us here today, Romance Junkies! Someone who leaves a comment or question will win their choice from Emily Bryan’s backlist so be sure to let us know you’re here!

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  14. Chrissy

    Good day! I just wanted to say I love your blog and read it religiously.
    I have to agree with Lindy because yes the best decorations are from my son from school or/and daycare. We tried to make some at home but they’re not as great as school or daycare. Sentimental and even my mother in law has ones from her sons on her tree every year. So great to see every year.
    I love romance novels so much and find so many from here to read.
    I recently read one called My Splendid Concubine by Lloyd Lofthouse .
    Wondering if you have heard of it or not?
    I really liked it personally and just thought I would ask while I stopped by.
    Talk with you later.

  15. Romance Junkies

    We had a blast chatting with you guys! Thanks so much for blogging with us


  16. Guestauthor

    Thanks so much to everyone who shared here! And thanks to Romance Junkies for having us.

    My winner today is Shirley McCann. Please visit http://www.emilybryan.com and choose any title from my backlist. Then email your choice and mailing info to emily@emilybryan.com . Thanks.

    And the tour marches on, bells jingling, to The Romance Studio today. We’re sharing exclusive excerpts from each of our novellas featuring a Christmas kiss!

  17. Lindy

    I’ve gotten some special decorations over the years, but my favorite Christmas decoration is one that my son made in preschool last year. 🙂


  18. Romance Junkies


    Our fire was not heating related, it was the wires in the walls. They had aluminum casing around them, I guess they were from the before the 50’s.

    We actually have to get new Christmas stockings too for us, My mother in law got the kids theirs and we borrowed two from my mom. the kids just wouldn’t take to the idea of us having ones that were as tall as me. LOL I tried putting that one out but they nixed that idea.

  19. Dena

    Hello, When I was young, I always got to hang the last ornament on the tree. It was a beautiful Angel with gossemer wings. I loved that little Angel, that’s a reason my daughter was named Angelena. denwal1@aol.com

  20. stacey smith

    Hi Every Body
    My Fav thing while growing up was the stockings and woundering what threats and little toys and gifts would be in the stocking and the lights on the tree was magic.I would sit in the dark whit only the tree lights on and dream little girl dreams.

  21. etirv

    Emily! No Christmas Village collection for us! It’s more an “any kine” collection!

  22. Patricia Barraclough

    My favorite decoration is a Hummel nativity set. I got it the first Christmas we were married. My husband was in Guam on a B-52 crew flying missions over Viet Nam. We bought it a few days before I headed back to the states and the Linebacker raids over Hanoi kicked off. All crews were held on base and were flying missions almost every day. The set’s figures remind me of the children in Disney’s It’s A Small World. It reminds me of a start to a 37+ year marriage and the tenuous situation life was in as we began.

  23. Kimmy L

    I love decorating. Especially my treet. B/c it’s something me and my kids do together. Every year we add new stuff to it. Out tree has been to hell and back. It has went through our house burning and moving to two other houses and I still can’t part with it.

  24. Jane

    I have some old wooden Christmas decorations. My dad bought these decorations for our first tree. We threw a few of them away when we moved a while ago. I wish I kept all of them. I also have a few Precious Moments decorations that I treasure.

  25. Guestauthor

    From Emily Bryan

    Chelsea–Unboxing the ornaments each year is a little like a visit from old friends, isn’t it?

    Kim–I thought all the fires were related to heating oil, which is a common source of heat around here. I was feeling safe in my all electric condo there for a minute!

  26. Guestauthor

    Alissa! I’m so glad you’re here. And thank you for supporting your brother while he served in the military.

    LOL for your split-personality gingerbread man!

  27. Alissa Johnson

    Hi everyone!

    Thanks for having us here today!

    My favorite Christmas decorations are the sentimental ornaments on my parent’s tree. Ones like the balsa wood cut-outs my mom stayed up all night painting more than thirty years ago and the pewter dove of peace that commemorates the Christmas day my brother rode a humvee into Bosnia.
    Best of all are the decades’ worth of four children’s attempts at ornament making. I’m particularly fond of the gingerbread person (she’s a girl on one side, boy on the other) I made out of brown felt and pillow stuffing in the third grade. It does not, despite what my brothers might tell you, resemble South Park’s Mr. Hankey in any way.

  28. Romance Junkies


    It does seem like there are a lot of house fires and such around here. Just in our town since my fire there have been 4 others that were just as bad. Ours ended up being electrical, it was my grandfather’s house that his great uncle built in 1918.

    The funny thing though is every year the Christmas tree fell on my youngest son, it never failed. He could be napping on the couch and it would fall over on him. Last year was the first year after we rebuilt and the tree fell on my older son. LOL it was like he picked on the little guy so much about it that it happened to him. My brother used to bolt his to the floor when his kids were little.

  29. Chelsea B.

    I love tree ornaments! I’m a junkie when it comes to those;I could shop for them and never feel like I have enough! lol:)

    I love the cover to the book! Its simple, but pretty 🙂

  30. Guestauthor

    From From Emily Bryan

    Quilt Lady–That name sounds crafty. I admire people who have such abilities. I have a Lone Star quilt my grandmother made for me across the foot of my bed. (Not Christmasy, but we seem to be talking about generational connections a lot today.)

    Etirv–Do you collect Christmas Village things as well as Santas? When we lived in Wyoming, our neighbor had to start setting up her Christmas Village at Halloween. It took that long for her to bring in the special bases and wiring for them. Amazing!

    Oh, sad, Kim! You know, it seems that there are more housefires and more house explosions (!) here in New England than anyplace we’ve ever lived.

    Julie–I still have a number of homemade ornaments from our much slimmer years (financially and figure-wise!) They always remind me to be thankful for what I have and to remember that real happiness doesn’t come from things.

    Mitzi–My grandmother always had bubble lights on her tree. They were always such fun to watch. I was easily entertained as a child.

  31. Mitzi H

    My favorite Christmas decoration is a couple of old strands of bubble lights that my mom and dad bought when I was a baby. They still work…and I just love watching the bubbles in the lights on the Christmas Tree.

  32. Julie Robinson

    Hi ladies,

    Looks like all of the favorite Christmas decorations are special “memory” items. I am no exception. I have decorations on my Christmas tree that are from my childhood—i.e. my long deceased grandma had put a saxophone on my present one year; it is now an ornament. Or from my son’s childhood—hand made picture frame ornament with his 2nd grade picture in it. Despite all the beautiful ornaments and balls in the stores, it seems that Christmas items that provide the link to the past are the ones we hold dear.

    Shirley, I’m sorry about your sister. You have a beautiful way of having her spirit present during the holy season.


  33. Romance Junkies

    Emily, I am in New England as well, closer to Worc though. We lost our decorations in a house fire halloween night in 2007 so we just started collecting them again.


  34. etirv

    The house is a mess but during the holidays, that mess looks better with Christmas decorations! My favorite are the Santas, especially G. deBrekht collectible Santas (such exquisite detail!) that we put all over the house! It’s nice to think that we’ll pass on all these Christmas decorations to the kid!

  35. Guestauthor

    A Gift From Emily Bryan

    Since so many of you have enjoyed the tale of the “kissing bough” I thought I’d offer you all my short story that features one. I wrote it last year and it takes place between the events of PLEASURING THE PIRATE and VEXING THE VISCOUNT. If you’ve read those books, you’ll enjoy a visit with some of the characters you already know. If you haven’t, it’s a chance to have a Georgian Christmas.

    Please click HERE for A DRAGON CAERN CHRISTMAS! Enjoy!

  36. Guestauthor

    Ok, I’m logged in as GuestAuthor, but I’m really Emily

    Shirley–Living here in New England, I have a fresh appreciation for light houses (and secretly wish I could live in one. You know how authors crave solitude!) How special that something that saves lives and lights the way for others reminds you of your sister.

    Teddy–An angel for your angel. Very precious indeed.

    Kim–I know what you mean about losing decorations. We had to downsize when we moved to Boston since we’re condo-dwellers now. Most of our things are still in MO–the hand-painted Charlie Brown ornaments, the Chrismons the kids made at church, the nativity scene that takes up the entire coffee table. The kids used to start December with the wise men in another room (they came from afar, you see!) and each day, they’d reposition the gift-bearers closer to the stable.

    But traditions have to start someplace, so we’re in the business of making new ones now.

    Jane–Popsicle sticks! I love it.

    Carol–I wonder if your old Santa and mine are the same style.

    Pam–I know what you mean about decorating. I’m more into zen-style because it means less to dust.

    Jennifer–I so envy your German Christmas. I’ve visited that lovely country a number of times (it’s where I had my first and only beer!), but we’ve never been at Christmas time.

    Susan–My girls have a couple of ornaments from their grandparents (who sadly are no longer with us). They really cherish those little mementos.

    KatiO–I think Jennifer’s hero doesn’t like mistletoe because it’s poisonous. Are you sure you aren’t logosh, too?

    Booklover–“Made with love.” Isn’t that the best thing you can say about something? It ought to be stamped on all our foreheads.

  37. Quilt Lady

    My favorite Christmas decoration would have to be the tree. We have always had a tree for as long as I can remember and all of the ornaments have fond memories. We add a new one every year. I have ornaments on my tree from the first year my son was born and every year there after. Its wonderful to look back on them and remember.

  38. Booklover1335

    Love the story behind the Kissing Bough. I always like to hear the original stories behind traditions, and this one was not exception.

    My fav christmas decoration has to be our christmas stockings. My grandmother made them for us from those sequined and stuffed sewing kits (you can still buy them today) They are colorful, sparkly, and cute, not to mention they were made with love. We are continuing the tradition with making the same kind of stockings for my nieces and nephews and while they take many many hours, and pricked fingers to complete they will always be able to look back and say “grandma” made that for me….not to mention all of the goodies that are found in them on Christmas morning.

  39. KatieO

    I love the story of the kissing bough! Alas, we hang plastic mistletoe in the doorway at our home because I’d heard it was toxic for pets.

    I have tons of Christmas decorations – my favorite season – but two sets stand out in my mind. One is the set of hand-painted glass balls my great grandparents brought from Germany. The paints are crackled with age, but they are very special to me as I’ve seen them every Christmas of my life.

    The other set are all the ornaments made by my kids over the years. It’s fun to unwrap them with the kids each year and take a trip down memory lane together. It makes the holiday more special to fill it with personal treasures, even if they aren’t shiny and new.

  40. susan leech

    My family has some old santa ornaments that was my mother’s and we hang them on the tree every Christmas. they have to be at least 60 years old as my mother would be 108 if she still was here with us. I always wrapped them and each has their own box as I hope to keep them as long as I live and than my daughter will get them. I also made each of our children a name ornament when they were born and they go on my tree every year so we started our own personal collection. susan L.

  41. Jennifer Ashley

    Hi and thanks for hosting us RJ!! Mistletoe comes up in my story, because my hero (who is not English) is mystified by the tradition of kissing under it. My heroine explains. 🙂

    I had a lot of fun researching pre-Victorian customs for this book. In fact, most of what we do at Christmas nowdays (tree, Christmas cards, and the like) come from Queen Victoria. I think she single-handedly started the greeting card business!

    I don’t have one ornament with special memories–I have tons of them. When I first got married, I lived in Germany, a country that loves Christmas. We’d go to the Kristkindlmarkts in December, but there was a store in Rotenburg that specialized in Christmas year round. You’d wander through a “winter wonderland” inside, picking out your ornaments from the forest of Christmas trees in there. It was cleverly laid out.

    I remember every single ornament I bought in that store and hang them on my tree every year. The memories are special because of those first magic years I spent with my sweetie.

    (We’re still married, mumble years later. Maybe those Christmas ornaments are magical.)

  42. Pam Keener

    I love the Kissing Bough Story too.
    My mother loved to decorate for Christmas. I don’t do much decorating for Christmas myself since it is really just me but I do decorate the fireplace mantle with an artificial spray of greens entwined with pointsettia lights. It always makes me smile because my Mom used to use those lights on the tree she decorated. I also put a little fiber optics tree in the bow window. I have a rope wreath my mother decorated for me down in the basement. She was very artistically inclined but sadly she didn’t pass those genes my way. LOL
    Love & Hugs,
    Pam Keener in PA

  43. Carol L.

    Hi ,
    I found the kissing bough story very interesting. I never knew the story behind it. So “Thank You ladies”.
    I have many ornaments and statues from years ago but I have a very old Santa from my Mother who passed away and I put it on our table every year.
    I also have many ornaments my 7 children made when in kindergarten, now their own children are in H.S. 🙂
    Carol L.

  44. Jane L

    Good Morning Emily!

    I have several family heirloom ornaments that I put on my tree every year , but my favorite is a little wooden manger my daughter made in second grade out of popcicle sticks! It is so very basic and plain, but she was so proud of it, I tuck it into the tree with a little wooden shepard and sheep I found years ago with baby Jesus! Priceless!

  45. Romance Junkies

    Welcome Emily, Jennifer and Alissa!

    Christmas is my favorite holiday

    I had tons of christmas ornaments from through the years. When I first was married I asked my parents, hubby’s parents and my grandfather for a couple ornaments for our first tree. Then every year we bought an ornament for each child through the years and ones that we liked as well. We lost them all almost two years ago, it has been hard trying to get back a collection. You can never go back and get the first year ones and such, I thought about getting new ones but it just isn’t the same. So we decided to just keep getting new ones for the kids for their current interests 🙂


  46. Teddyree

    I had no idea that christmas trees weren’t part of christmas tradition back then. The “limited time” kissing bough sounds like a fun, if a little tame aternative though.

    Emily that’s so special having such a beautiful old christmas decoration that holds such wonderful memories. I have 2 very special decorations. One is a little glass angel in memory of our baby girl who is no longer with us, and the other is a little red stocking knitted by my great gran when I was born. It has a couple of little moth holes in it & although it’s just a simple, unembellished stocking, I treasure it.

  47. Shirley McCann

    I do have a special holiday ornament that I cherish, although it’s not very old. My sister died five years ago, and she used to collect lighthouses. So whenever we see a lighthouse, it has special meaning to us. A few years ago, I purchased a lighted-lighthouse ornament from Hallmark and gave one to my mom and each of my remaining siblings. That way Judy spends Christmas with all of us.

    I also found a poem called “I’m Spending Christmas with Jesus This Year”, and we have that framed and set out each year also.

  48. Guestauthor

    Emily Bryan here. I wanted to kick off the day by sharing my favorite Christmas decoration. I have a 75 year old St. Nick that belonged to my dad. His parents put this little six inch doll under their tree on my dad’s first Christmas. His articulated legs and arms are a little loose and his nose has been smushed. (I’m happy to report my dad is in much better shape!) But I love displaying that little old Santa each year as a visual connection with my dad and my grandparents.

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