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 traveled 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 Belorussian 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 carry-on 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 Belorussian 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 Belorussian friends insisted on treating me with vodka, their universal remedy against cold, cough, stomach pain, and headaches!
The Belorussians 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.

Short Synopsis for AN UNUSUAL CHRISTMAS: Dr. Jillian is always running away to the end of the world to avoid Christmas celebrations and the sad reminders of her dead son. But in Belarus, a baby girl, four little boys, and a handsome doctor will teach her the true meaning of Christmas.

If you like this novel you may also enjoy: 

CHRISTMAS HERE AND THERE: A box set of Christmas Stories.

HER CHRISTMAS CRUISE (Christmas Wedding Muddle): 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.
AN UNUSUAL CHRISTMAS: Dr. Jillian is always running away to the end of the world to avoid Christmas celebrations and the sad reminders of her dead son. But in Belarus, a baby girl, four little boys, and a handsome doctor will teach her the true meaning of Christmas.
CHRISTMAS BABIES: When a health problem jolts Dr. Madelyn into the realization than there's more to life than just work, she longs to surrender to the magic of Christmas. But can she handle the charming and secretive Dr. Nick Preston who carries his own package of disillusions? Can she allow two newborn twins to worm their way into her heart?


HOLIDAY BABIES SERIES: A box set of three bestselling books at Amazon.com

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?

 


DOCTOR’S ORDERS BOX SET: A box set of three bestselling books at Amazon.com


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?


If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international romances. I will take you around the world through stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with passion.

10 comments

  1. Mary Marvella // November 13, 2013 at 11:55 AM  

    Mona, girl! I need to get busy and read some short stories! I miss spending time with Mona characters!

  2. Mona Risk // November 13, 2013 at 2:02 PM  

    Mary, please get back to reading. We need you. Heck, I am coming back to blogging.

  3. Barbara Monajem // November 13, 2013 at 6:27 PM  

    Brr. No heat until November? Sounds c-c-c-cold. But it also sounds as if you had a wonderful time there, Mona. What a great setting for a story!

  4. Mary Ricksen // November 13, 2013 at 8:10 PM  

    Mona you are a terrific author and have such an interesting past. It sure gave you an incredible gift of places to write about!

  5. Mona Risk // November 13, 2013 at 9:33 PM  

    Hi Barbara, brrr is the right word I kept repeating. LOL It was a wonderful time and the people were so nice.

  6. Mona Risk // November 13, 2013 at 9:34 PM  

    Hi Mary, I wish I had more time to write about all the places I've seen.

  7. Mary Marvella // November 13, 2013 at 11:59 PM  

    Mona, I'll MAKE time for this one. I am reading one of Barbara's books now and have to sandwich time to read for pleasure. No more reading a book from beginning to end with no stops.

  8. Mary Marvella // November 13, 2013 at 11:59 PM  

    Mona, I'll MAKE time for this one. I am reading one of Barbara's books now and have to sandwich time to read for pleasure. No more reading a book from beginning to end with no stops.

  9. Beth Trissel // November 14, 2013 at 9:15 PM  

    Mona, you are amazing.

  10. Josie // November 18, 2013 at 9:39 AM  

    Mona,
    All of your books are wonderful reads. Best wishes on the Christmas boxed set. You are so well-traveled and it's enjoyable to hear about your exciting adventures.