Any reader would probably wonder why I set my book AN UNUSUAL CHRISTMAS in a little known country such as Belarus.
During the mid-nineties, I often travelled to Russia and Belarus for business. I was quite impressed by the Russian culture and hospitality and decided to set my new book in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. With my heroine, Dr. Jillian Burton, you will discover a different civilization, visit interesting places, marvel at the Russian architecture, taste the exotic food, toast with vodka, wear the warm chapka, experience many of the local customs, and fall in love with a gallant Belarusian doctor.
Traveling to Minsk was a long and tiring twenty-four hour flight. Starting from Cincinnati, OH, I flew on Delta to New York with a couple of colleagues, spent three hours before boarding the big jet to Germany, and arrived in Frankfurt or Munich the next morning around seven. We hardly had two hours to change terminal. Carrying a couple of carryon luggage, we rushed from one terminal to another to catch the Lufthansa flight connection to Minsk that flew only three times a week. When we missed it, we were stuck for two days or rerouted to Moscow.
In Belarus, the government stops the heating between May 1st and October 31st. I went to Minsk for the first time in October 1994 and was greeted by a freezing rain and a brisk cold that seeped through my clothes. Do I have to mention that I was shivering outdoors and indoors? And I never drank as many cups of hot tea—shaye.
Our first official meeting attended by officers, chemists and doctors, took place in a government building called the Hall of Officers. After a series of speech, our Belarusian hosts invited us to celebrate the new contract with toasts of vodka that we were supposed to drink bottoms up while saying Na Dzhrovia. No orange juice or ice was added to dilute the 40% alcohol drink. My throat burned and my stomach caught fire. It took several trips for me to get used to the vodka and find it a practical way to stay warm. When I got sick, my Belarusian friends insisted on treating me with vodka, their universal remedy against cold, cough, stomach pain, and headaches!
The Belarusians are very hospitable people. We were invited for dinner in many homes. After the inevitable toasts of vodka, we ate the delicious stuffed cabbage, potato pancakes, black bread and sausage. The children impressed me with their impeccable manners and their fluent English. They often acted as interpreters for their parents.
In Minsk, I used a car with an excellent heating system and a chauffeur who spoke English. My rental car became a haven during the freezing months of winter and the only place where I felt warm and comfortable. Out of curiosity I took the underground train once. It was old and not very clean, a far cry from the magnificent trains of Moscow.
To go to Moscow, railroads were the most comfortable means of transportation. I traveled with, the overnight Red Train that left Minsk at midnight and arrived in Moscow the next morning. In the sleeping compartment with couchettes, we were provided with sheets, covers, wool blankets. Dinner was included in the fare and came with a bottle of vodka, of course.
Running away from Christmas celebrations and the demons of her past, Dr. Jillian has dedicated her life to saving third-world children. In Belarus, a baby girl, four little boys, and a handsome doctor may teach her the true meaning of Christmas.
USA Today Bestselling Author, Mona Risk, received an Outstanding Achiever Award from Affaire de Coeur Magazine. Her name has often been posted on the Amazon.com 100 Most Popular Authors in Romance list. She’s a two time winner of Best Contemporary Romance of the Year from Readers Favorite; a winner of Best Romance Novel of the Year from Preditors & Editors Readers Poll; and an EPIC Award finalist. A tireless traveler, Mona lives in Florida and writes contemporary romance, medical romance, and romantic suspense, simmering with emotion and sprinkled with a good dose of humor. Her novels are set in the fascinating places she visited–or in Florida, her paradise on Earth.
Other Books by Mona Risk:
BABIES in the BARGAIN: “ER” and “Grey’s Anatomy” in the NICU. RIGHT NAME, WRONG MAN: What’s a girl to do when she whispers another man’s name in her fiancé’s arms? NO MORE LIES: A lie that brings a smile or a truth drawing tears? HER RUSSIAN HERO: Clash of cultures and intrigues between an American scientist and the Major General of Belarus. HER GREEK ROMANCE: A sexy and humorous Romeo and Juliette Greek style, set in Mykonos Island.
NEIGHBORS AND MORE: Too close for comfort for condo owners in a Florida High Rise after a man drowns in a hot spa.
HER CHRISTMAS CRUISE: The perfect fiancé is a cheater and the fabulous Christmas wedding is off. But the would-be honeymoon cruise may fulfill the dreams of Julia and her unexpected companion. CHRISTMAS BABIES: It takes a health crisis and two adorable orphaned babies to bring Dr. Madelyn Ramsay to her senses and force her to look life and love in the face.
VALENTINE BABIES: Can he love a woman expecting another man’s baby?
MOTHER’S DAY BABIES: Can a woman from Kentucky teach an ‘old dog’ new tricks, even if he’s a CEO?