The Road to Christmas
From USA TODAY bestselling
author Sheila Roberts comes a multi-generational Christmas road trip story
filled with humor and heart, set against the snowy mountains of Washington
Michelle and Max Turnbull are not planning on a happy holiday.
Their marriage is in shambles and the D word has entered their vocabulary. But
now their youngest daughter, Julia, wants everyone to come to her new house in
Idaho for Christmas, and she’s got the guest room all ready for Mom and Dad.
Their other two daughters are driving up from California. Audrey
from L.A., picking up Shyla in San Francisco and hoping to meet a sexy rancher
for Audrey along the way. What they don’t plan on is getting stranded on a
ranch when the car breaks down.
The ones with the shortest drive are Grandma and Grandpa Turnbull
(Hazel and Warren). They only have to come from Medford, Oregon. It’s still a bit
of a trek and Hazel doesn’t like the idea of driving all that way in snow, but
Warren knows they’ll have no problem. They have a reliable car for driving in
the snow—and snow tires and chains if they need them. They’ll be fine.
Surprises are in store for all three groups of intrepid travelers
as they set out on three different road trips and three different adventures,
all leading to one memorable Christmas.
About the Author
Sheila Roberts lives on a lake in
Washington State, where most of her novels are set. Her books have been
published in several languages. On Strike for Christmas, was made into a movie for the Lifetime Movie Network (love it) and her
novel, The Nine Lives of Christmas,
was made into a movie for Hallmark. You can visit Sheila on Twitter and
Facebook or at her website (http://www.sheilasplace.com).
Author Q & A
Are any of the holiday scenes in this book
inspired by your own holiday traditions?
is a vital part of our Christmas celebrations, and, like the characters in my
book, I will travel as long and as far as it takes to be with them. And the red
velvet cake mentioned? Can’t have Christmas without it!
· What are the key elements of a holiday romance?
You must have the
holiday trimmings: lights, mistletoe, snow if possible, candlelight moments and
sweet gestures. Best of all, if possible, I like to wrap up the story with the
perfect present: a grand gesture on the part of the hero. Christmas is a time
for unexpected kindness, miracles and love. If you have those in a book I think
you have a great holiday read.
· Is it difficult to come up with a specific
Holiday themed novel every year?
Well, so far so
good. The holidays offer so many opportunities for a great story – family
drama, holiday events and gatherings, special requests for Santa, stress,
misunderstandings, joy. Lots of possibilities in all of that!
· Do you decorate your writing room when you are
writing a holiday book?
I have a laptop so
my writing room is often the living room and that is always decorated to the
hilt. I never get tired of looking at our pretty tree, all dressed up for the
holidays. And candles – love ‘em! Have to have lots of scented candles burning
– Frasier fir and Bath and Body Works’ Twisted Peppermint are always
· What is the best gift you've ever given?
A few years ago I
gave my daughter a quilt my mother had made. That quilt had so many memories
wrapped in it and I know she will treasure it as she was very close to my mom. Of
course, she was thrilled.
What is the best
gift you've ever received?
Best gift I ever
received? It was years ago. My husband and I were struggling financially. My
parents gave us a Christmas ornament wrapped in five ten dollar bills. Fifty
dollars doesn’t sound like much these days but back then, to us, it was a
fortune. And my parents weren’t exactly swimming in money at the time
themselves, so I knew that gift involved some sacrifice. I cried. When it comes
to Christmas and giving it’s never really about the gift. It’s about the love
it comes wrapped in.
· What’s next for you?
I am actually hard
at work on next year’s Christmas book. But before that comes spring and another
installment in my Moonlight Harbor
series: Mermaid Beach. That’s a fun one, following the adventures of the
mother, daughter and sexy grandma who make up the band, The Mermaids. Who doesn’t
love mermaids, right? Meanwhile, merry Christmas and happy travels, and may
your road trips go exactly as planned.
The Road to Christmas by Sheila Roberts is a sweet holiday novel. I look
forward to reading Sheila Roberts’ latest Christmas story each year. The Road to Christmas has family members
traveling to Idaho for Christmas. Julia,
Max and Michelle’s youngest daughter, has invited everyone to her new home for
the holidays. Max and Michelle are
traveling from Washington. It is guaranteed
to be a tense trip since the two have been sniping at each other and are weeks
away from separating forever. Hazel and
Warren, Julia’s grandparents, are traveling from Oregon. The trip gets off to a messy start. Audrey and Shyla, Julia’s sisters, are
traveling from California. A flat tire
turns into an unexpected blessing for the sisters.
I thought the story was well-written with
steady pacing. The characters and
situations were realistic. I could
picture each of the incidents happening to me or one of my family members (one
was similar to an experience I had one year).
I enjoyed the beautiful descriptions of Leavenworth, Washington. It is a picturesque town during the
holidays. I loved the ending which had
me smiling. The Road to Christmas shows us
how “mishaps can turn into golden opportunities.” This is a story that will get you in the mood
for the holidays (is September too early to put up the Christmas tree). The Road to Christmas is about family, forgiveness, second chances, and
happiness. There is nothing better than
a story that makes you laugh. The Road to Christmas is a special holiday tale with a holiday invite, squabbling
sisters, a snowstorm shut down, parent problems, ticker troubles, a car
misfortune, and red velvet lava.
MICHELLE TURNBULL WOULD HAVE TWO turkeys in her house for
Thanksgiving. One would be on the table, the other would be sitting at it.
“I can’t believe he’s still there,” said Ginny, her longtime
clerk at the Hallmark store she managed. “You two are splitting, so why not rip
the bandage off and be done with it?”
Rip the bandage off. There was an interesting metaphor. That
implied that a wound was healing. The wound that was her marriage wasn’t
healing, it was fatal.
She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and went to
unlock the door. “Because I don’t want to ruin the holidays for the girls.”
“You think they aren’t going to figure out what’s going on
with you two sleeping in separate bedrooms? Don’t be naive.”
Ginny may have been her subordinate, but that didn’t stop
her from acting like Michelle’s mother. A ten-year age difference and a long
friendship probably contributed to that. And with her mother gone, she doubly
appreciated Ginny’s friendship and concern.
Michelle turned the sign on the door to Open. “I’ll tell
them he snores.”
“All of a sudden, out of the blue?”
“Sleep apnea. He’s gained some weight.”
Ginny gave a snort. “Not that much. Max may have an inch
hanging over the belt line but he’s still in pretty good shape.”
“You don’t have to be overweight to have sleep apnea.”
“I guess,” Ginny said dubiously. “But, Michelle, you guys
have been having problems on and off for the last five years. Your girls have
to know this is coming so I doubt your sleep-apnea excuse is going to fool
Probably not. Much as she and Max had tried to keep their
troubles from their daughters, bits of bitterness and reproach had leaked out
over time in the form of sarcasm and a lack of what Shyla would have referred
to as PDA. Michelle couldn’t remember the last time they’d held hands or kissed
in front of any of their daughters. In fact, it was hard to remember the last
time they’d kissed. Period.
“You have my permission to kick him to the curb as of
yesterday,” Ginny went on. “If you really want your holidays to be happy, get
“Oh, yeah, that would make for happy holidays,” Michelle
said. “Audrey and Shyla would love coming home to find their father moved out
just in time for Thanksgiving dinner and their grandparents absent.”
“If you’re getting divorced, that’s what they’ll find next
year,” Ginny pointed out.
“But at least they’ll have a year to adjust,” Michelle said.
“And this is Julia’s first Christmas in her new home and with a baby. I don’t
want to take the shine away from that.”
The coming year would put enough stress on them all. She
certainly wasn’t going to kick it all off on Thanksgiving. That wouldn’t make
for happy holidays.
Happy holidays. Who was she kidding? The upcoming holidays
weren’t going to be happy no matter what.
“Well, I see your point,” said Ginny. “But good luck pulling
off the old sleep-apnea deception.”
Their first customer of the day came in, and that ended all
talk of Michelle’s marriage miseries. Which was fine with her. Focusing on her
miserable relationship didn’t exactly put a smile on her face, and wearing a
perpetual frown was no way to greet shoppers.
After work, she stopped at the grocery store and picked up
the last of what she needed for Thanksgiving: the whipped cream for the fruit
salad and to top the pumpkin and pecan pies, the extra eggnog for Shyla, her
eggnog addict, Dove dark chocolates for Audrey, and Constant Comment tea, which
was Hazel’s favorite.
Hazel. World’s best mother-in-law. When Michelle and Max
divorced he’d take Hazel and Warren, her second parents, with him. The thought
made it hard to force a smile for the checkout clerk. She stepped out of line.
She needed one more thing.
She hurried back to the candy aisle and picked up more dark
chocolate, this time for her personal stash.
Hazel and Warren were the first to arrive, coming in the day
before Thanksgiving, Hazel bringing pecan pie and the makings for her famous
“Hello, darling,” Hazel said, greeting her with a hug. “You
look lovely as always. I do wish I had your slender figure,” she added as they
“You look fine just the way you are,” Michelle assured her.
“I swear, the older I get the harder the pounds cling to my
hips,” Hazel said.
“You look fine, hon,” said Warren as he gave Michelle one of
his big bear hugs. “She’s still as pretty as the day I met her,” he told
“Yes, all twenty new wrinkles and five new pounds. On top of
the others,” Hazel said with a shake of her head.
“Who notices pounds when they’re looking at your smile?”
Michelle said to her. “Here, let me take your coats.”
Hazel set down the shopping bag full of goodies and shrugged
out of her coat with the help of her husband. “Where’s our boy?”
Who knew? Who cared?
“Out running errands,” she said. “I’ll text him that you’re
here. First, let’s get you settled.”
“I’m ready for that,” Hazel said. “The drive from Oregon
gets longer every time.”
“It’s not that far,” Warren said and followed her up the
Half an hour later Max had returned, and he and his father
were in the living room, the sports channel keeping them company, and the two
women were in the kitchen, enjoying a cup of tea. The yams were ready and
stored in the fridge, and the pecan pie was in its container, resting on the
counter next to the pumpkin pie Michelle had taken out of the oven. A large pot
of vegetable soup was bubbling on the stove, and French bread was warming. It
would be a light evening meal to save everyone’s tummy room for the next day’s
“I’m looking forward to seeing the girls,” Hazel said.
“So am I,” said Michelle.
She hated that all her girls had moved so far away. Not that
she minded hopping a plane to see either Audrey or Shyla. It wasn’t a long
flight from SeaTac International to either San Francisco International or LAX,
but it also wasn’t the same as having them living nearby. Julia wasn’t as
easily accessible, which made her absence harder to take. She’d been the final
baby bird to leave the nest, and dealing with her departure had been a
challenge. Perhaps because she was the last. Perhaps because it seemed she grew
up and left all in one quick motherly blink: college, the boyfriend, the
pregnancy, marriage, then moving. It had been painful to let go of her baby.
And even more so with that baby taking the first grandchild with her.
Maybe in some ways, though, it wasn’t a bad thing that her
daughters were living in different states because they hadn’t been around to
see the final deterioration of their parents’ marriage.
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