Let me tell you why I decided to set AN UNUSUAL CHRISTMAS in a little-known country such as Belarus.
In a different life, or more precisely ten years ago, I was a Ph.D. in chemistry and Director of an environmental laboratory. I spent a boring predictable life supervising a staff of chemists who analyzed drinking water, hazardous waste and other polluted materials.
Suddenly everything changed when I won a contract to refurbish a military laboratory in Belarus and traveled fifteen times to Minsk. My first trip to Belarus occurred at the end of October. I traveled with an official delegation that included two government officers, their interpreter, two auditors, my lab manager and computer specialist. The beginning of my book relates my first impressions: cold weather, gray skies and cigarette smell everywhere.
The curious looks of the local people made me feel as if I was wearing the wrong clothes. Of course I didn’t have a chapka (that fur round hat), but I remedied the problem with a visit to the bazaar where I bought myself a cutesy real-mink chapka.
Between May and October there is no heat in Belarus. I literally froze in my drafty hotel room, and continuously requested and begged for a hot cup of tea. I was often offered vodka instead.
I was so well received by everyone, officers, directors, chemists, journalists, I fell in love with this country. Several Belarusians invited us to visit their homes. The men prepared the drinks–unadulterated vodka, with no ice cubes or orange juice. The ladies cooked and the children who were fluent in English acted as interpreters.
When my chauffeur’s wife delivered a baby girl and chose me as a godmother, I visited her right after her delivery, brought her food, and had the unique opportunity to learn a lot about Belarusian hospitals.
Many special episodes of my fantastic trips to Belarus are related in the two books I wrote several years later: HER RUSSIAN HERO and AN UNUSUAL CHRISTMAS.
I hope you will discover a new country and interesting culture while reading AN UNUSUAL CHRISTMAS. It was fun describing Minsk, the capital of Belarus, as my heroine discovers her new working area and shows her impressions of the hero’s daily life and traditions.
My story highlights the hospitality and warmth of the gorgeous and gallant Belarusians who toast with vodka and make a woman feel like a goddess. Is it any wonder that Dr. Jillian Burton, an American physician on a mission to Belarus, loses her heart to the gorgeous doctor in spite of her life-long pledge never to fall in love?
An Unusual Christmas by Mona Risk, USA Today bestselling author.
Running away from Christmas celebrations and the demons of her past, Dr. Jillian has dedicated her life to saving third-world children. In Belarus, a baby girl, four little boys, and a handsome doctor may teach her the true meaning of Christmas.
AN UNUSUAL CHRISTMAS is my contribution to the TEN CHRISTMAS BRIDES Box.