Beloved YA author and multiple award-winner, Christina Benjamin, is the master of meet-cutes and teen romances that melt readers’ hearts. Here she shares a few details about her newest novel, The Winter Boyfriend, and offers an exclusive sneak peek at an excerpt.
What details can you share about The Winter Boyfriend?
This story takes place at a Christmas Tree Farm in Upstate New York. I know what some of the readers are thinking. (It’s not the same farm from The Holiday Boyfriend. I had to mix it up a bit, but I promise there’s just as much holiday magic.) The comical part about the setting is that Chloe, the main character, lives and breathes Christmas every day of her life because it’s her family business. Imagine how old Christmas music would get if you had to listen to it every day?
Needless to say, Chloe is pretty Bah Humbug when it comes to Christmas spirit, especially since she’s nursing a broken heart after being dumped in a humiliating way by the boy of her dreams (who just so happens to live next door). The only thing Chloe’s looking forward to this winter break is forgetting about boys. She plans to do nothing but romance novels and drink hot cocoa in front of the fire during the few spare moments her parents give her off work.
But things take a surprising turn when Chloe’s older sister suddenly returns home from college with not one, but two boys in tow.
The cover is beautiful! What do you love about it?
I think choosing the covers is one of my favorite parts. I get so excited looking through artwork and most of the time the cover I chose helps inspire the story. In this book, Ethan’s wealth was inspired by the guy’s posh shoes. I mean who wears shoes like that in the snow? I certainly didn’t. LOL.
Many of your books feature the feet of cute couples on the cover. What can you tell us about the couple in The Winter Boyfriend? What made it fun to write about them?
I ended up loving so much about Chloe and Ethan. It’s funny, when I start writing I don’t really know the characters yet, so I’m hesitant to form opinions about them in case they surprise me. I give myself a fairly loose outline so the characters can take hold and lead certain parts of the story. But by draft three I was rooting for both of these poor, sweethearts to find some sort of joy. Especially Ethan. You know I love my damaged boyfriends and Ethan has been through the wringer. Ya just want to hug him. And Chloe is pretty special too, she just doesn’t know it.
I think the thing I love the most is how through each other’s eyes they start to see each other more clearly, and how much value they each hold.
What can you tell us about the excerpt we’re about to dive into?
So keep in mind this is unedited, but I chose a fun dialog section they really shows the bond between brothers. Ethan and Owen are brothers. Chloe and Margot are sisters. Owen and Margot are dating, and Ethan and Chloe are, well . . . you’ll see.
It was really fun playing with the sibling dynamic, especially in a book that deals with holidays since that usually when family is thrown back together and we find ourselves back in our old bedrooms trying to walk the blurred lines between who we were and who we want to be.
Excerpt from The Winter Boyfriend.
“Come on, bro. It’s my year to pick,” Owen argued.
Ethan Hall growled at his brother as he continued stuffing board shorts and t-shirts into his duffle bag. “Yeah, but this wasn’t really your choice, was it?”
“It’ll be fun, E.”
“For you maybe, but I don’t really care about going to some cheesy Christmas wonderland to meet your girlfriend’s parents.”
“If you gave her a chance you might like her,” Owen argued.
“Brother, I could give her a million chances and I’m still not going to like her. She’s like an over-caffeinated Chihuahua.”
Owen got that stupid giddy smile on his face that Ethan loathed. It was the same lovesick expression he always got when thinking about his girlfriend. “Yes, but she’s my over-caffeinated Chihuahua and I want you to like her, E.”
Ethan rolled his eyes. “She took Bermuda from me so she’s not off to a good start.”
“We’ve been to Bermuda the past three Christmases,” Owen replied.
“And what’s wrong with that?”
“Variety is the spice of life, little brother. You should try it sometime,” Owen said with a peppy wink. “Besides, we can go to Bermuda next year.”
“Damn straight we will. Next year I get to pick where we spend Christmas.”
Owen laughed. “Fine. But this year, I’m in charge and I say we’re going to the Everett’s Christmas Lodge and Tree Farm. So if you don’t want to freeze to death, you should probably pack something other than shorts and t-shirts.”
Ethan shrugged. “Well, see.”
“I’m not going to change my mind, bro. You need to get on board or you’re not going to enjoy Christmas.”
“When is Christmas ever enjoyable?”
Owen’s face softened. “That’s what I’m trying to change, Ethan. Maybe it’s time you try, too.” With that, he walked out of their dorm room.
Ethan sighed heavily. He hated when he pushed his brother too far. He didn’t mean to. Owen was the only other person on the planet who understood why the holidays were so hard from Ethan. Usually, they were on the same page and commiserated together on some far away beach with sunshine and cocktails to help them forget why they hated Christmas, but everything was different this year.
Owen’s new girlfriend had brought a happiness back to him that Ethan hadn’t seen in years. Ethan should be happy for his brother, and for the most part he was, but not during the holidays. During the holidays, Ethan wanted his brother to himself so he had someone else to share his pain. He was the only family Ethan had left, so the fact that Owen’s girlfriend was stealing him was another strike against her.
“Maybe it’s time I try?” Ethan muttered to himself. “How can he even say that?” Ethan grumbled as he continued to slam vacation attire into his duffle bag. “I try every single day.”
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Interview by Author Jan Moran. Love Romance, Travel and Fashion? Check out her series on Amazon.