Today as a part of the blog blitz, I am sharing an extract from Mistletoe and the Mouse by Elsa Simonetti. If you love anything and everything abut Mickey Mouse, then this is the novel for you!
Can a magical Christmas melt a frozen heart?
Join Belle and James as they visit Mickey Mouse for a sparkling holiday season at Disneyland Paris.
Belle has been numb since her mother died, and she can’t face Christmas at home without her. Instead she books a surprise holiday to her “happy place” – the Magic Kingdom. But her boyfriend James has problems of his own. He doesn’t “do Disney” and what will his mother think of him missing their family Christmas to go to Disneyland with Belle?
A festive romance with a sprinkling of Pixie Dust.
Intro on the Extract:
Belle and James are on a Christmas holiday at Disneyland Paris, where Belle is struggling to overcome the grief she feels following the sudden and unexpected death of her mother earlier in the year. While she sits on the edge of a fountain, drinking mulled wine and waiting for James, Belle meets a young American, “a tall, slender woman of about her own age. The woman was wearing a knee-length deep red velvet dress over a pale golden skirt, with her long dark hair swept up with red roses. She was so elegant it took Belle’s breath away.” Belle falls naturally into conversation with her, and their meeting becomes something of a turning point for Belle, who is wondering if James’s obvious lack of enthusiasm for all things Disney might drive a wedge between them.
‘Shut up! Were you actually named after Beauty and the Beast?’ asked the woman.
‘Yes!’ Belle said. ‘Yes, my mum went into labour in the cinema watching the film. It was her favourite. She refused to leave until it was over; I very nearly popped out into the world in row H of the Cannon Cinema! That’s why she called me Belle.’
She had never told James that; she knew Beauty and the Beast didn’t mean anything to him. It would be pointless.
‘That is so awesome! Your mom must be a cool mother; I wish mine loved Disney as much as that.’
‘She is! She’s the best!’ Belle said eagerly, before remembering. ‘I mean, she was the best. She died earlier this year,’ she said, her face falling.
‘I’m so sorry for your loss,’ the woman said, looking concerned. ‘It’s so hard, isn’t it, first Christmas without your mom. I remember when my grandma died, I found Mom sitting and crying over the Thanksgiving Dinner, the first one she’d had to cook without grandma. Tears all over the turkey!’
‘Yes, that’s why we came here. I couldn’t face doing all the normal Christmas stuff without her. Mince pies and stockings and decorating the tree; it didn’t feel right.’
‘I can totally get that. Are you here with your Dad then?’
‘I haven’t seen my dad since I was four; he’s in America somewhere. No, I’m here with my boyfriend. James.’
‘The one who doesn’t do Disney?’
‘That’s the one.’
‘Then perhaps he is a keeper after all!’ the woman said. ‘Disney at Christmas is quite a thing for someone who doesn’t do Disney.’
‘I don’t know. He’s been so great this year, but it’s like he doesn’t understand me, sometimes. He doesn’t get it. I’m not sure if he’s The One – you know? He doesn’t seem to get Disney at all, and it’s always been such a big part of my life. Bringing him here, it makes me realise how different we are. He likes rugby, and I like Disney. There’s not much overlap there.’
It was the first time she had ever voiced her fears aloud. She had no-one she trusted enough to voice them to, without her mum. But somehow, this woman felt safe, like a friend.
‘Uh huh, I get that – but would he fight off vicious wolves for you, and carry you back safely to his castle? You don’t have to be exactly the same to be in love, you just have to be on the same side!’
She thought about James, and how he had lain awake with her all those nights, holding her in the darkness while she sobbed. She thought about how he had held her up at the funeral when she didn’t think she could stand on her own. She thought about how he had been prepared to abandon his own family at Christmas to come here with her, even though she could see quite clearly now he didn’t want to. He was on her side, firmly and steadfastly.
‘I think he would,’ she said softly. ‘Yes, I honestly think he would.’
‘Then, Belle, perhaps he is your Beast after all!’ she said, with a wave of her hand as if she was carrying a magic wand and sprinkling pixie dust. But her gesture turned into a wave as she saw her companion, dressed in ice-blue like Cinderella, coming out of the ladies’ toilets at the other side of the square. ‘Oh, there’s Gabrielle. Gotta go. Great to meet you, Belle.’
‘I didn’t get your name?’ Belle called after her. She stopped and turned back.
‘I’m Aliyah. But you can call me Fairy Godmother!’ she said with a laugh. ‘Happy holidays, Belle!’
‘Happy holidays, Fairy Godmother!’ she called after her.
Aliyah is only a minor character in the novel, but she’s an important one, as Belle otherwise has only James to talk to, and I realised that she needed someone to talk to ABOUT James at this point. Although Aliyah is very clearly a real person, the way in which she appears at this significant moment to help Belle and defines herself as Belle’s Fairy Godmother has a deliberate hint of magic about it. It’s one of my favourite scenes in the whole novel!
About the Author:
Elsa Simonetti was born in the same year as Walt Disney World, but many miles away in the north of England. Her earliest Disney memory is crying during Bambi at the Saturday morning cinema club! It wasn’t until her own children were small that her husband introduced her to the magic of Disneyland Paris, and since then she has become obsessed, proving Walt Disney’s own belief that “Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age and dreams are forever”. That was the seed of this story – that Disneyland is not just for children, but for anyone who is young at heart.
Elsa also writes romantic women’s fiction under the name of Liz Taylorson.