Christmas with the San Valentino Family

Please welcome guest author Peggy Jaeger to the Cafe.

We all have our own traditions when it comes to the holidays, but what about our characters and their families? As writers, we’re encouraged to know everything about the people we create so that they are well-rounded, believable, “real” people to our readers. With this in mind, I’ve been thinking about the San Valentino family, my new family of characters, who will be introduced in February 2016 under the Candy Heart Series of the Wild Rose Press. How does this big, boisterous, loving family celebrate the happiest day in their religion?

The San Valentino’s are a modern day Italian-American clan with old world Italian traditions. Ninety-three year old Nonna Constanza is the matriarch and she rules with an iron –yet malleable – hand. She lives with her daughter Francesca, or Frankie as everyone lovingly calls her, and Frankie’s husband of forty years Guiseppe, “Joey V” San Valentino. Their youngest child, twenty-one year old Gia, is the only one of their six children still living at home.

Christmas eve is the typical family gathering for the San Valentino’s as this is the traditional la festa dei sette pesci , the feast of the seven fishes. In Italy it is know as La Vigilia, or the vigil, awaiting the birth of Jesus. Starting with a late lunch, the family will eat seven fish based courses, ending at midnight, the hour of the baby Jesus’s birth. Christmas music plays from the old fashioned stereo in the living room, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra family favorites, and the tree is lit with thousands of white lights.

As for the delectable menu, Frankie is well known for her calamari and linguini in white sauce, and her shrimp diavolo, a very spicy and utterly delectable shrimp dish that even the bambini (babies) in the family love to eat.

Nonna will usually bake cod with an oregano and parsley breadcrumb coating – from breadcrumbs she makes herself using three daily old ciabatta bread (also homemade) and serve it over fat rigatoni with a splash of creamed red sauce. Another family favorite is her clams casino.

Aunt Gracie, Frankie’s oldest sister, brings her delicious fried scallops in white wine. Frankie’s sister-in-law Ursula will fill everyone’s plate with her steamed lobsters and then a course of scungilli salad. Gia was eight years old before she knew that scungilli was sea snails. And she still ate it, and loves it to this day!

Now, just so you don’t think all the family does is eat for those twelve hours, there are other activities planned. The children – and that includes the grown and married ones as well – are all allowed to empty their stockings at eight p.m. Nonna and Frankie are in charge of filling the dozens of handmade stockings that line the spacious brick fireplace, practically obliterating the view of the cherry wood mantle, with candies and little toys purchased at the dollar store.  The living room is thrown into happy chaos while the kids joyfully dump out their stocking contents onto the rug, as the men in the family fall into carbohydrate induced mini-comas in the family room recliners.

Then it’s off to ten p.m. Christmas Eve vigil/mass at the family church, St. Rita Armada de Jesus.  After mass, where most of the children fall asleep, they are carried to their warm beds to await the arrival of Babbo Natale ( Santa Claus) and the wonderful toys and presents he brings them.

I am one hundred percent Irish-American by heritage, but I grew up in my step-father’s Italian family and was an active participant in the feast of the seven fishes for most of my young life. The best part of the tradition for me wasn’t the cooking and eating of the fish courses, or the arrival of Babbo Natale, but the solidarity and the active celebrating together of a large, raucous family.  I wanted my fictional characters to feel this sense of commitment to family and traditions as well.

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3 Wishes

3 Wishes coverValentine’s Day is chocolatier Chloe San Valentino’s favorite day of the year. Not only is it the busiest day in her candy shop, Caramelle de Chloe, but it’s also her birthday. Chloe’s got a birthday wish list for the perfect man she pulls out every year: he’d fall in love with her in a heartbeat, he’d be someone who cares about people, and he’d have one blue eye and one green eye, just like her. So far, Chloe’s fantasy man hasn’t materialized, despite the matchmaking efforts of her big, close-knit Italian family. But this year for her big 3-0 birthday, she just might get her three wishes.

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Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance author who writes about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them. 

Her current titles, available now, include SKATER’S WALTZ and THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME, and FIRST IMPRESSIONS books 1 through 3 in her 6-book The MacQuire Women Series, published by The Wild Rose Press.

Peggy holds a master’s degree in Nursing Administration and first found publication with several articles she authored on Alzheimer’s Disease during her time running an Alzheimer’s in-patient care unit during the 1990s. 

A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.



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Kink up your Holidays

This month’s post is about holiday stories, and what’s more festive than kinky holiday play under the tree or by the light of a Menorah? My holiday novella Matzoh and Mistletoe gives you a feel-good holiday story AND kink.  For … Continue reading


Have You Slept with Santa?

Please welcome guest author Debra Druzy to the Cafe!

Thank You, Samantha Ann King and the gracious authors at the Contemporary Romance Café, for having me on the blog. And Hello to your fabulous followers!

I’m Debra Druzy, author of the contemporary romance story SLEEPING WITH SANTA.

I’m a little late to post about Fire Prevention Week, however any time’s a good time for talking about Firemen. Strong, sexy, smoking-hot firemen. The kind of firemen that make you consider burning down your house so they’ll come rushing to your rescue. The kind willing to dress up as Santa Claus for the fire department’s annual kiddie Christmas party.

In SLEEPING WITH SANTA, the hero Nick Knight is a fireman, newly transferred to the Scenic View fire department and unexpectedly picked to play Santa Claus. During Fire Prevention Week, Lily Lane, the spunky redheaded heroine, must endure Nick’s sexual innuendos as he gives a community CPR training class. No matter how hard these star-crossed lovers try, they can’t fight fate forever and eventually hook up on Thanksgiving. One thing leads to another, and by December, Nick’s renting a spare room at Lily’s place. The lovebirds have fun playing house while being snowed in, but when things heat up can they survive Christmas?

The concept for SLEEPING WITH SANTA came from a conversation with my sister, who eats up all the latest, hottest books. I had a Christmas plot in the works, but I wasn’t sure which direction to take the story, so I asked her via text, “What’s the sexiest thing you can do at Christmastime?”

She replied, “Sleep with Santa,” and in that moment the title was born. She then requested Joe Manganiello be the muse for the hot fireman. Since my sister is a redhead, naturally the heroine is too.

During the time I was writing the story, I had to take a CPR class for Girl Scouts. Although the trainer was tall, he wasn’t sexy like Nick; and as the shortest person in the room, I was chosen for the demonstration like Lily.

The town of Scenic View is modeled after Port Jefferson, New York, and the fictitious name comes from one of the highest points of Long Island once known as the scenic view overlook.

I loved writing SLEEPING WITH SANTA, so much so that I’m working on a spin-off story between Nick and Lily’s friends. And I have a short story coming out for Valentine’s Day 2016, called DARE ME, which also takes place in Scenic View.

Have you slept with Santa yet? If so, I hope you enjoyed it.

If not, get the e-book while it’s on sale for only 99 cents, October 16 – 29.

Thanks again to the Contemporary Romance Café for hosting me today!

I wish you all a Happily-Ever-After,


Find me online at

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Sleeping with Santa

Sleeping with Santa coverWhen Nick reluctantly accepts the temporary transfer to the Scenic View Fire Department he doesn’t plan on playing Santa Claus for the kiddie Christmas party. Sticking around town for the special assignment will give him a chance to get to know lonely, local sweetheart Lily and find out why she wants nothing to do with him. Lily is a lifelong fixture in Scenic View, sick of living hand-to-mouth in a place where everyone’s nose is in her personal business. Just when she’s ready to move out of town, she meets the gorgeous newcomer, and it’s lust at first sight. The only thing is she doesn’t date firemen, which is too bad, because charming Nick seems like a real keeper. With a little Christmas magic and help from the Santa suit, will Nick find a way into Lily’s heart and change her mind?

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Debra Druzy author photoDebra Druzy is a married, stay-at-home mom, writing romance in between running errands and doing household chores. SLEEPING WITH SANTA is her first published book, but there are plenty of unfinished stories in the closet and under the bed, which is probably bad for feng shui, but a good lesson in persistence pays off.


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