Monday, September 25, 2017

Blog Tour: Yuletide Truce by Sandra Schwab. Includes Guest Post & Giveaway


We are thrilled to welcome Sandra Schwab to Sinfully today as she celebrates the release of Yuletide Truce. Go check it out!


Crimson Delights — Victorian Christmas Books

Thank you so much for having me today, as I celebrate the release of my Victorian holiday romance Yuletide Truce! The story starts off with duelling book reviews of The Fairy Ring, a selection from the Grimms’ fairy tales, published on 9 December 1845, just in time for the Christmas season.


9 December? Isn’t that a bit, well, late for the holiday rush? After all, when you look at publishing schedules today, holiday books might be published as early as September (ahem…). However, back in the 1840s, the busy pre-holiday season started in early December, with some of the most anticipated titles coming out just a few days prior to Christmas Day. Among those highly anticipated titles of 1845 was Charles Dickens’ The Cricket on the Hearth: A Fairy Tale of Home, illustrated by some of the most popular artists of the time, among them Daniel Maclise, John Leech, and Richard Doyle (you will encounter the latter when you read Yuletide Truce). Throughout December, newspapers and magazines ran large ads for the book, announcing the publication for the morning of 20 December.

Around mid-December even more ads appeared in the periodicals of the metropolis, this time announcing plays based on The Cricket on the Hearth. Many of them opened on the evening of the book's release day, like the one at the Lyceum, as an ad in the Examiner proudly proclaimed: “On Saturday Evening, December 20th, this Theatre will open for the Winter Season, on which occasion will be produced an entirely New and Original Drama, founded on [Mr. Dickens'] Fairy Tale, and which was been several weeks in preparation, entitled THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH: a Fairy Tale of Home. Dramatised by Albert Smith, Esq., from early proofs of the Work, by express permission of Charles Dickens, Esq."

All in all, seventeen London stages ran theatrical versions of The Cricket on the Hearth during the Christmas season of 1845. With all this publicity, it is hardly surprising that Dickens’ book became a smashing hit: the first edition (16,500 copies — a huge print run for the time) had sold out by 31 December. It’s even less surprising when you take into consideration that it had been Dickens himself who invented the Victorian Christmas book and revolutionized the pre-holiday publishing cycle.

In 1843, he published his first (and today, most famous) holiday story, A Christmas Carol. A short book, heartwarming and richly illustrated, bound in crimson cloth, with gold-stamped lettering on the cover — this became the standard formula and the visual markers for Victorian Christmas books. The crimson bindings lent an air of festivity to the displays of the bookshops, something that you can find reflected on the first pages of my own holiday novella:

Aigee loved the Yuletide season, when the windows of Munro’s Bookshop would exhibit a host of crimson books with gold embossing on the covers and beautiful illustrations inside. The mere sight gave him a warm, tingly feeling and made him think of evenings spent in an armchair by the fireside.

Well, in his case it would be a very old and tattered armchair and a very small oven, and he couldn’t exactly afford to buy one of the Christmas books, but a man could dream, couldn’t he?

This sort of hearth-love Aigee expresses here was part of the Christmas utopia created by Victorian Christmas books, which typically featured domestic stories with a strong moral message, namely to abandon greed and selfishness and focus on home and family. This fit perfectly with the new form of celebrating Christmas that also emerged in the early part of the Victorian Age: As the religious aspect of the holiday became less important, a new focus was placed on Christmas as a family holiday and as a celebration of middle-class family values. Ironically, this revised form of Christmas led to the creation of a huge commercial demand — not the least for books that would make a perfect Christmas gift.

Yet not everybody was delighted with this new trend nor with Dickens’ Christmas offerings. In 1849, a reviewer for Macphail’s Edinburgh Ecclesiastical Journal wrote, somewhat sourly, “Christmas was Christmas […] many, many centuries before Charles Dickens began to celebrate him in Carols and Chimes. But, as it is, a Christmas book from him is as regular as a Christmas goose; and the one is not more certain of being devoured than the other of being read, extensively and with strong relish.” (Ouch.) (Yes, snarky Victorian book reviews were a thing.)


Yuletide Truce

Sandra Schwab

YuletideTruce-FINALPublished ~ 22nd September 2017

Genre ~  historical romance, Victorian romance, mm romance, holiday romance



London, 1845

It's December, Alan "Aigee" Garmond's favorite time of the year, when the window display of the small bookshop where he works fills up with crimson Christmas books and sprays of holly. Everything could be perfect — if it weren't for handsome Christopher Foreman, the brilliant writer for the fashionable magazine About Town, who has taken an inexplicable and public dislike to Aigee's book reviews.

But why would a man such as Foreman choose to target reviews published in a small bookshop's magazine? Aigee is determined to find out. And not, he tells himself, just because he finds Foreman so intriguing.

Aigee’s quest leads him from smoke-filled ale-houses into the dark, dingy alleys of one of London's most notorious rookeries. And then, finally, to Foreman. Will Aigee be able to wrangle a Yuletide truce from his nemesis?

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Meet Sandra Schwab

Award-winning author Sandra Schwab started writing her first novel when she was seven years old. Thirty-odd years later, telling stories is still her greatest passion, even though by now, she has exchanged her pink fountain pen of old for a black computer keyboard. Since the release of her debut novel in 2005, she has enchanted readers worldwide with her unusual historical romances (some of which she now uses to shamelessly fangirl over Punch, her favorite Victorian magazine).

She holds a PhD in English literature, and in autumn 2015, she appeared on the BBC documentary Great Continental Railway Journeys to talk about another favorite topic of hers, the Grimms’ fairy tales (while walking through a rather muddy stretch of the Black Forest) (there were a lot of slugs, too).

She lives in Frankfurt am Main / Germany with a sketchbook, a sewing machine, and an ever-expanding library.




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  1. Thank you so much for having me today! <3

  2. Now I want a red-bound book with gold lettering and a fire in the fireplace... :)
    Congrats on your release!!

  3. I love Christmas...Can't wait to read this!

    1. I hope you'll enjoy Aigee & Kit'story, Diane!