Please give a warm welcome to Penelope Peters! We had the pleasure to sit down with Penelope for an interview to talk about her new release Ben’s Bakery and the Hanukkah Miracle, what role the characters faith and culture play in the story and more!
Plus there will be a giveaway at the end of this post!
Adam Bernard’s love-life is on ice.
Adam gave up his dreams of professional hockey when his mom died ten years ago; now his only focus is being the Jewish son his dad’s always wanted. Problem is, the pee-wee hockey team he coaches is in Boston for an international tourney the same week as Hanukkah. Now he’s stuck in a foreign city without so much as a candle. Enter Ben Daniels, the super-cute owner of the local kosher-style bakery. All Adam wants is a chance to celebrate the holiday away from home – but sweet and sexy Ben could light more than just Adam’s candles.
Ben Daniels’s love-life is on the back-burner.
Ben hasn’t stepped on the ice in three years. The official reason is that he’s too focused on making his kosher-style bakery a success. Problem is, he’s never kept kosher in his life, and internet searches only take you so far. Enter Adam Bernard, in town for one week only, with all the cultural touchstones anyone could want. All Ben wants is Adam’s Certified Jewish Opinion on his sufganiyot – but Adam could be the one to light Ben’s desire for ice again.
This Hanukkah, Adam and Ben find their miracles aren’t only on the ice.
Their fling was only meant to last for the holiday. But Adam’s about to get the chance to rewrite his history – and Ben’s dreams of business success are about to come true. Will they be so willing to extinguish their relationship in eight days – or will their Hanukkah miracle last for a lifetime?
Hi Penelope! Welcome on From Top to Bottom Reviews!
Hi, Annie! It’s a pleasure to be here, thanks for having me. 😊
Let’s start easy: Tell us about your new release Ben’s Bakery and the Hanukkah Miracle.
Ben Daniels owns a kosher-style bakery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Adam Bernard loves Hanukkah, but he’s away from his family for the holiday this year. When he sees Ben’s storefront all decked out in blue and white, he can’t help but walk in. Ben wants validation for his recipes; Adam wants a little bit of holiday spirit. They end up falling for each other – but will their relationship fizzle out with the last of the Hanukkah candles?
What do you especially love about Ben’s Bakery and the Hanukkah Miracle? Do you have a favourite scene?
I’m terrible, I always end up loving all the scenes in my books. If I didn’t love them, I wouldn’t include them! And I always think the one I love the best is the last one someone mentions to me – I just had an ARC reader tell me that they’d read the scene where Adam meets Sheldon aloud to their husband because they couldn’t stop laughing, so now that one’s my favorite.
This story is set in a bakery, so of course we have to ask about what baked goods you love the most and how your taste differs from your characters?
I love baking, and I love trying out new recipes. There are probably more recipes saved in my “Recipes to Try” Pinterest than is really possible to make in a lifetime. Last night I made buckeye brownies (they didn’t quite work the way I thought they would, but they were fun!)
Ben, the owner of Ben’s Bakery, loves baking, too, but he’s probably a lot more intuitive about flavors than I am. He’ll come up with flavor combinations no one else thinks of, and then he’ll figure out how to make them work. When I watch GBBO, I think, Yum. Ben takes notes.
Adam is very traditional, he likes the classics exactly as they are, with very little variation. But he’s been known to get up in the middle of the night and sneak bites of those really weird orange peppermint mocha cupcakes that Ben’s been experimenting with and hasn’t quite perfected.
Everyone loves holiday movies, so let’s say Netflix picks this up to turn it into a movie. Who would you cast?
(I’m now imagining a weird mash-up of Ben’s Bakery and OITNB, and it’s amusing the hell out of me.)
I’ve never been one to form casts for my books, honestly. Part of the problem is that I tend to form such strong images of my characters in my head that unless I’ve modeled them on a specific person, I can’t usually find anyone in real life that can overtake that image. (I would make a horrible casting director, honestly.) I’ve been wracking my brain for the last few days, and I seriously can’t think of how to answer this!
What did you do to get into the holiday spirit for this story?
It can be really hard to get into a “Hanukkah spirit” even during the holiday. It’s not like there’s a lot of Hanukkah music outside of Adam Sandler on the radio, and apart from random menorahs on government lawns, you aren’t going to see many public decorations that don’t have a Christmassy vibe to them. I started writing Ben’s Bakery right after the holidays last year, though – so that really did help set the tone for the first draft.
It also helps that I’m terrible about putting away decorations after a holiday. I am sitting at my desk right now, looking at a decorative light-up wine bottle that says “Let it Snow.” It’s been sitting on the same shelf for the last two years, because I have never actually put it away. And I have a stash of Hanukkah socks that stay in rotation even after the holiday is over.
Speaking of the holiday season, what role do the characters faith and culture play in the story and what is something you look forward to the most? Any special traditions you want to tell us about?
Faith is a huge part of the story. Adam and Ben both come from different experiences of Judaism: Adam grew up as part of a large, active congregation where his father was the rabbi. He grew up surrounded by Jewish culture and traditions, so they’re very much a part of his life. Ben didn’t have that; he grew up in a small town, where there were many 10 other Jewish families. No synagogue, no real congregation, definitely no regular services or Sunday School or anything else. He’s Jewish, but he doesn’t have the same sense of belonging to the Diaspora that Adam has. Part of the conflict between Adam and Ben is how they view each other’s experiences and relationship with faith.
My kids love lighting the candles for Hanukkah – my favorite part is watching how much more their faces light up on each subsequent night. Much to my dismay, neither of them like latkes – but that just means more for me. 😊
Penelope Peters wrote her first story at the age of nine, based on a dream she couldn’t shake. This is probably why most of her romances usually include the weird and whimsical. Penelope has been happily married to her college sweetheart for nearly two decades, which is probably why her romances are practically guaranteed happy endings. Armed with her two kids, the cat, and her somewhat-trusty laptop, Pen’s traveled to more countries than you can count on two hands. (She’s very close to filling up that third.) Currently Penelope lives in Country of Residence #4, where she is surrounded by sand, surf, and her collection of unfinished counted cross-stitch kits.
Penelope graciously offered to give away 1 e-copy of Ben’s Bakery and the Hanukkah Miracle! (PDF, mobi and e-Pub format are available.)
To enter simply leave a comment on this post. Maybe tell us about one of your holiday traditions? Or a holiday story you love.
The winner will be chosen on Friday, November 16th, 10 pm CET!
This giveaway is open internationally!