It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (Reads) GIVEAWAY: Between Stairs and Stardust (+ guest post)

Posted December 13, 2020 by meezcarrie in Author Interview, Christian, Christmas, fairy tales, giveaway, historical, It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (Reads) 2020, Pepper Basham, romance / 38 Comments

today’s book: Between Stairs and Stardust

Welcome to another post in my annual blog series spotlighting new and recently-released Christmas reads! (Over 50 this year – And I’m SO EXCITED about it!)

Christmas is only 12 days away (Can you believe it?!?) and I think we all could benefit from some extra Christmas cheer this year, right? Continuing through just before Christmas, I’m going to spotlight several new/recent Christmasy releases. So… snuggle in, grab your fave hot beverage and comfiest blanket, turn on some Christmas tunes and start your bookish Christmas list! Oh… and did I mention there are GIVEAWAYS with EACH POST in this series??!! (Because authors are awesome!)

Today’s first book is a gorgeous historical romance with all the Cinderella fairy tale feels – and author Pepper Basham shares the history of Christmas mistletoe kissing balls!

Blue Ridge Fairytales #1
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Romance
RELEASE DATE: November 9, 2019
PAGES: 132

An illustrator in hiding
A millionaire with a gardening fascination
And the possibility of a perfect fit for a happily-ever-after

Once Upon a time…

A young illustrator, forced from her home in Boston, must return to her Blue Ridge Mountains to escape a scandal. Certain that her dreams are on hold, Stella Emory doesn’t expect to find a prince charming in the form of James Craven, a young man who works in the gardens of the famed Biltmore Estate. Brought together unexpectedly, the two begin a tender friendship inspired by James’s little sister and the story of Cinderella, but James isn’t all he seems. As their friendship grows into a romance, the truth of James’s millionaire status shakes Stella’s confidence. When her past follows her to Asheville, Stella thinks her chance at romance with James is over, but will a Christmas masquerade and the remnants of a charm bracelet somehow provide the magic Stella needs to clear her name and claim her own happily-ever-after?


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Also available to read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited

Christmas Kissing Balls – Bring on the Mistletoe!

by Pepper Basham, author of Between Stairs and Stardust

Do you know what kissing balls are?

I mean, as a romance writer, you’d think I’d know, but I only recently learned about them while researching the lovely Biltmore estate, because kissing balls are a big part of their Christmas decorations.

Now, you add kissing to Christmas and sprinkle in a little Biltmore and I’m a goner!

Just in case you are as clueless about kissing balls as I was, I’m going to fill you in.

Created in the Middle Ages, villagers would bundle together evergreen branches, herbs, and twine and shape it into a ball. In the center of all the twine and branches, they’d place a figure that represented the baby Jesus. These decorations were hung through houses or at the entrance of shops or castles to remind folks of the reason of the season, so to speak (and impart a blessing). Now, you can imagine that during this time they weren’t called “kissing balls”, but instead were referred to as “holy boughs”.

So how did a holy bough turn into a kissing ball? I mean, it’s not a far stretch to believe that the beauty of God’s love through Christ could twist (through time) into another kind of love, right?

As time went on, and the holy boughs popularity waxed and waned with various religious shifts, the meaning behind them did too. During the Victorian era, the kissing ball truly found it’s current definition. As Queen Victoria and Prince Albert brought the popularity of Christmas trees into fashion, many other decorations followed. Folks who’d held on to the concept of the holy bough modified the original idea by taking an apple (or another round fruit), tying a ribbon to it as a hanger, and then decorating the apple with evergreen, twine, holy, and other small fragrant plants. The aromatic result produced romantic notions and, thus, the kissing ball was born. Thanks to author Charles Dickens and his romanticizing of mistletoe, many kissing balls also incorporate the Christmas kissing plant into their creations. Folks began designing these “kissing balls” from all sorts of things, but the Christmas ones continue to maintain many hallmarks of their origin: evergreen, ribbons, and twine (and usually a touch of mistletoe).

If you’d like to make your own kissing ball, here is a link 🙂

However, if you’d like to see more than 75 of them on display, take a little trip to the Biltmore in Asheville, NC. Our local castle knows how to deck the halls like few other places and has been in the business of Christmas celebrating since the grand house opened its doors on December 22, 1895.

I’m planning to create a few of my own Christmas kissing balls for Christmas because…well, if any of you know me, you know I’m a big fan of kissing 🙂

Have you ever heard of kissing balls before? Have you made your own?

Speaking of mistletoe…. don’t miss Pepper’s swoonilicious Christmas romance, releasing September 2021! It’s one of my very fave books she’s ever written and I can’t wait for y’all to read it too! Preorder now HERE

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes historical and contemporary romance novels with grace, humor, and culture clashes. She’s a Blue Ridge Mountain native and an anglophile who enjoys combining her two loves to create memorable stories of hope. You can connect with Pepper over at her group blog, The Writer’s Alley, her website, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter.

Pepper Basham is offering a print copy of Between Stairs and Stardust (or winner’s choice of another of Pepper’s books) + a $10 Amazon gift card to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

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What about you? What makes you want to read Between Stairs and Stardust by Pepper Basham? Have you heard of Christmas mistletoe kissing balls before? Have you ever made one?

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38 responses to “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (Reads) GIVEAWAY: Between Stairs and Stardust (+ guest post)

  1. Suzanne Sellner

    I love kissing too, and the holy boughs or kissing balls make great decorations. This novel sounds delightful, and I’d love to read it.

  2. Roxanne C.

    First off, Pepper Basham is a terrific writer. So, of course, I want to read this book, especially because it is a historical romance. I am familiar with kissing balls but never made one.

  3. Janice Moore

    Pepper Basham’s books are always wonderful, with delightful plots, characters, insight, descriptions and faith!

  4. Becky D

    The Biltmore…what an incredible place as a setting! I loved visiting it & already am planning to go back, after the Rona has calmed a bit. Thanks for sharing!! 🥰📚🎄

  5. Pepper

    thank you all so much!!! It was such a fun story to write, especially since I get to place it in my “backyard” so to speak at Biltmore!!!

  6. Julie Waldron

    This sounds like a good book that I would enjoy. I’ve heard of mistletoe kissing balls but I’ve never made one.


    Boston and the Blue Ridge Mountains! I don’t need to know any more! I have a smocked ball that I made more than 50 years ago! I’m not sure if it’s a kissing ball or just a Christmas ball! People have asked me!

  8. Cindy Merrill

    I am a History Buff and I’m enthralled with anything from the Victorian era, including the food.

  9. Teri DiVincenzo

    This book just has the most perfect cover! I love the idea of kissing balls but never imagined that at one point they were holy boughs!

  10. Vivian Furbay

    I’d like to read it to see what happens to their relationship when she founds out who he really is.

  11. Megan

    I love Biltmore, and that book cover is so gorgeous!! I’d never really heard of kissing balls before but the idea is really cool

  12. Patty

    I haven’t heard of kissing balls before. But I have been to the Biltmore estate at Christmas time, it’s a sight to behold, in all it’s glory!

  13. Diana Hardt

    Nice cover. I liked the blurb. It sounds like a really interesting book. No, I have never heard of mistletoe kissing balls.

  14. Debbi Wellenstein

    I have never heard of kissing balls, but if it involves kissing, I’m all for it! The book sounds delightful.

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