When charming, mysterious, Nik sits next to Jess on a plane home from a Christmas toy trade fair, she never could have imagined the impact he’d have on her life. As they touch down in London, Jess is hesitant to let Nik walk away, and before she knows it, she’s invited him to visit.
As the two take in the delights of the toy store where she works, Jess gets an upsetting phone call. Willow Court, her Grandmother’s care home, is to close before Christmas. With the help of Nik, and her best friend Oliver, Jess is determined to find the perfect new home for her Gran – and throw the best Christmas party Willow Court has ever seen! But time is running out and Oliver isn’t the only one who has suspicions about charismatic Nik’s intentions.
Will a chance encounter on an aeroplane bring love to Jess’s life or is this Christmas miracle too good to be true?
Guest Post – Samantha Tonge – The Randomness of Life
Have you ever thought about the randomness of life? Sometimes, the way things happen by chance, scares me a little! It’s strange to think that if I’d got my first choice of university (bad interview – long story!) I’d never have met my husband, never have had my children. And when my two started their degrees I thought how strange it was that probably the closest group of friends they would develop for life was going to be determined by an administrator allotting them to a particular room in a particular halls of residence.
Life is random and that’s why we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if things don’t always go to plan. In fact, the unexpected nature of our existence is, in my opinion, what makes it so exciting. I think back to my student days… I was never going to get married nor have kids, and I was focused on learning languages, translating, nothing to do with being an author. However for many different reasons, my life went down a different path – and who knows where I will be a decade or two from now.
That randomness is what I wanted to capture in The Winter We Met, by lead character Jess sitting in the wrong seat on an aeroplane and by doing so meeting Nik, a man who was going to change her life in ways she could never have expected.
Travelling is a great opportunity for chance encounters. I remember aupairing in the south of France when I was nineteen. One day I travelled on a bus to meet a friend. I sat next to a young Frenchman, an artist, and we chatted and laughed all the way. As we parted, both of us knowing we would never meet again, he reached into his bag and gave me a silver pocket watch to remember him by. I still have it today. And for several months afterwards he would send me a postcard with a watercolour he’d paint onto the front.
Then a couple of years later, I had a job in London and commuted every morning. I’d sit on the train reading a French magazine to improve my language skills. Often I’d catch the eye of a particular guy with lovely freckles and a great smile. Eventually we got talking – he’d assumed I was French. And that gave rising to another friendship forming and, under different circumstances, could have easily led to a romance.
Several of my books have been inspired by chance encounters. One Summer In Rome has a blind main character and he was inspired by an incredible woman I met and chatted to on a train, who couldn’t see – she travelled the country alone, with her job, training visually impaired people to use special technology.
Chance encounters, life’s randomness, it’s a wonderful thing because when things are going really badly, when you’re in one of life’s ruts, don’t ever forget that there is always the possibility that something totally unexpected will pull you out of it – and that could be just around the corner.
Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely. When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines. She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association romantic comedy award.