Today Julie Brannagh talks about the little town of Noel, Washington. The town sounds divine and I would love to visit. I guess I’ll have to visit through the pages of Guarding Sophie: A Love and Football Novella.
Once upon a time, in a state known for rain, coffee and software, a small town was born. Noel, WA bears a slight resemblance to an existing small town in Eastern Washington, with one exciting difference. It’s all Christmas, all the time in Noel. Those visiting the town can shop for holiday decorations year-round. It’s not unusual to hear holiday music every day of the year (and in all musical styles possible) in Noel. There’s usually a line at the bakery for the same types of holiday cookies and baked goods your grandmothers made. In April, Santa and the Easter Bunny host the Noel Egg Roll in the town square. In July, Santa goes water-skiing or rafting on the river that runs through Noel.
Noel is ringed by snow-capped mountains and thickly planted with evergreens. There’s snow on the ground from mid-October until the end of March. The population of Noel swells from 5,000 to 50,000 during the holiday festivals, which happen each weekend in November and December. There’s plenty of snow for his sled, but Santa prefers more modern transportation during the big event: He catches a ride on a fire engine from the Noel Fire Department. The local churches ring their chimes as the holiday lights come on each night at 6:00 PM. Roving carolers invite the crowds to sing along with holiday favorites. There’s always plenty of marshmallows to roast in the big bonfire the firemen built at the far side of the town square, too.
Noel has the typical businesses any other small town might have. The Noel post office hand-cancels holiday cards each year sent from all over the country. A brightly painted mailbox is erected in November each year so children can mail their letters to Santa Claus. There’s a bakery or two, a few restaurants (one of which always has Thanksgiving-style turkey and stuffing on the menu), retail stores that sell holiday decorations, funny souvenir t-shirts, and winter clothing. There’s a bookstore. There’s a yarn shop, and the owner teaches customers to knit when they get snowed in, which happens every winter. There’s an espresso shop at either end of town. They both do a brisk business. The Noel Merchants Association makes sure there’s plenty of variety for everyone.
Children play in the snow. Their parents sip hot chocolate and reminisce about holidays gone by before tucking their rosy-cheeked kids into a comfortable bed at a local B&B and relaxing in front of a roaring fire. It’s also not unusual to see some pretty big guys enjoying some time off in the little town. Pro football’s Seattle Sharks (and their families) are frequent visitors. It’s not unusual to see very large men tugging sleds containing laughing, shrieking children through the town square.
The citizens of Noel are like most small-town residents – they stick together in good times and bad, and they take care of their own. Their town is a haven for people who wish that the love and happiness of the holiday season would continue throughout the year.
Title: Guarding Sophie Love and Football #5.5 by Julie Brannagh
Release date: November 10, 2015
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Hearts beat and sparks fly when two people find shelter in each other.
Seattle Sharks wide receiver Kyle Carlson needs to escape and Noel, Washington, is the perfect place for him to do it and figure out his next step. He likes the seclusion and predictability of the small town…until the biggest surprise of his life turns up in the local grocery store.
Sophie Hayes has her own reasons for disappearing without a trace and moving to Noel. This mountain town makes her feel safe for the first time in a long time. But her quiet routine is threatened when Kyle walks back into her life. Growing up in the same Florida town, she always had a little thing for the sexy football player. This tie to her old life, though, could mean she has to run again, even if her heart wants to stay.
When the reason she fled shows up in Noel, Kyle and Sophie, with a little extra help from his teammates, must decide to stay and fight for the life, and love, they’ve found together.
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About Julie Brannagh
USA Today Bestselling Author, Julie Brannagh has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She lives in a small town near Seattle, where she once served as a city council member and owned a yarn shop. She shares her home with a wonderful husband, two uncivilized Maine Coons and a rambunctious chocolate Lab.
When she’s not writing, she’s reading, or armchair-quarterbacking her favorite NFL team from the comfort of the family room couch. Julie is a Golden Heart finalist and the author of contemporary sports romances.