Moonlight, Menorahs, and Mistletoe
Holliday Oregon Book 1
Harlequin Special Edition
Nov 30th, 2021
Moonlight, Menorahs, and Mistletoe by Wendy Warren has Chanukkah, the Festival of Lights, as a subject. In the story there is a mystery, but readers also get a glimpse of what Chanukkah is about, its meaning, customs, and traditions. Beyond that is a theme of finding a soulmate, knowing they will be together their entire life.
“The relationship I wrote in this story is frenemies to friends to lovers. She loved to push his buttons. They end up being partners that want to be a witness to the other’s entire life: the ups/downs, friends forever. They relationship is solid. They will never outgrow each other. They want to explore every facet of life together. They are enthusiastic and hopeful about their future because they embraced a bittersweet past. I knew I wanted to write about a town called Holliday in Oregon that celebrated every holiday, to have the town diverse. As time went on, I wanted someone finding bashert, a person’s soulmate. I wanted to follow that as they searched for wholeness, where the romantic partner would be a witness to it.”
Chanukkah celebrates an ancient military victory of the Jews over foreign rulers. While the Jews were hiding in the Temple, they found a lamp that had just enough oil to last one night, but miraculously it lasted eight. To celebrate the eight nights of Hanukkah people light candles on a branched candlestick called a Menorah. They start with one candle and add a new candle each night. A book quote helps to understand, “Think of your cell phone with 10% battery, but it lasted eight days.”
“For me, it is about being marginalized. Standing up to a tyrant. These characters had an internal tyrant. The heroine, Eden, had a lack of self-esteem that comes from having scars as a teenager. For the hero, Gideon, it is the self-blame that he did not do enough to save his wife. But now we want to share different worlds and show the Jewish culture. From now on, more and more of my books will have Jewish characters. I mentioned Shabbat, Latkes, and Challah.”
The heroine, Eden Berman, has visible and invisible scars, but has not let them damper her spirit. The hero, Dr. Gideon Bowen, represents the mystery of the story. He is very reserved and quiet. Both start out as antagonists, but after he rescues her from a medical incident, she suspects there is more to him than meets the eye. They grow to be friends and eventually lovers.
“Eden is witty, ballsy, and uses that to cover her pain. She is also strong, sarcastic, optimistic, humorous, adventurous, empathetic, sassy, and irreverent. All these point to ‘I do not want to be vulnerable’. While Gideon is this man who has this tremendous capacity for love, but it has broken him. He has walled himself off. He is caring, has integrity, but cynical.”
Just as readers do not have to be Christian to enjoy the Christmas stories, it is also true that readers do not have to be Jewish to enjoy this story. They can take a journey with the characters as they overcome their vulnerability and strive for a lasting relationship.