Tag: Sunday Spotlight

Sunday Spotlight: The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas by Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace and Scarlett Dunn

Posted October 25, 2020 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

An ex-soldier, has lost his way, and Emery, a woman running to find a new life, and five little rich girls just wanting to get home before Christmas.

When I started THE COWBOY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS, I knew it would be a historical set in 1867, starting in a small inland port when Trapper Hawkins takes a job to haul freight. The pay is good, maybe enough to give him a start, but the cargo is five girls.

I’ve driven the roads from Jefferson, Texas to Dallas many times. But this time, in my mind, I was making the journey in a wagon with outlaws determined to kidnap my cargo, the little girls.

The story came alive in my mind and I laughed then cried, then fell in love with my characters. I learned to survive in the untamed land and fight off outlaws.

I drove as the story played out in my head. In three hours I’d covered a month by wagon while fighting storms and hunting for my supper every night.

By the time I stopped in Dallas and pulled into a hotel, my head was packed. It took me two months to write it all down and I think “Father Goose,” the story of one broken soldier and a runaway woman risking their lives to save five little girls may very well be my favorite short story ever.

Celebrate the holiday by making the journey across Texas with me this Christmas.

Jodi Thomas

Sunday Spotlight: The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas by Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace and Scarlett DunnThe Cowboy Who Saved Christmas by Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace, Scarlett Dunn
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: October 27, 2020
Genres: Westerns
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
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In these Texas-set stories of romance and adventure, the Civil War is over, Christmas is coming—and it’s time for three rugged fighters to become lovers...

FATHER GOOSE by New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Jodi Thomas

Dispirited by war, when Trapper Morgan accepts a job hauling five little rich girls to Dallas, all he cares about is the money. He doesn’t expect they’ll awaken his spirit—or that their intriguing nursemaid, Carolina, will awaken his heart. And when danger strikes as Christmas Eve nears, he definitely doesn’t expect Carolina and the girls to risk their lives—for him . . .

THE MISTLETOE PROMISE by Sharla Lovelace

A catastrophic storm, an ailing herd, and a failing cattle ranch have left Texas rancher Josie Bancroft in danger of losing everything her father worked for. Still, she’d rather die than merge with her neighbor rancher Benjamin Mason, the man who broke her heart years ago, on Christmas Eve. As old sparks fly and secrets are revealed, however, Ben is determined to help Josie—and prove that this time around can be different. That the misunderstandings of Christmas past need not define their future...

CHRISTMAS ROAD by Scarlett Dunn

Yellow Fever has hit Clint Mitchum’s Texas hometown and taken his father and siblings, leaving Clint ever more cynical. Racing homeward to be by his mother’s side, Clint finds only a note from her, asking that he help her caregiver, a young woman named Amelia. Assuming his mother has passed, in his grief Clint ventures out to search for Amelia—and finds the best of gifts—just in time for Christmas...

Excerpt

The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas by Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace, & Scarlett Dunn

Excerpt from “Father Goose” by Jodi Thomas

Trapper spent the morning preparing for his new job as if it was an assignment during the war. He studied maps, learned a bit about his employer, the girls’ father, Colonel Gunter Chapman. He’d been an officer in the Mexican–American War back in the 1840s.He was ruthless and came home with injuries. But that hadn’t stopped him from moving farther west from the protection of even the forts and starting a huge ranch.

Trapper had seen that kind of man many times in the war. A king on his land.

Trapper bought clothes for winter, a new hat and a warm coat from his winnings last night. He’d worn most of his clothes too long for them to be presentable. Now, when he got to Dallas, he’d be dressed more like a cowboy, a Westerner. And, if the raiders killed him along the way, he’d have a fine funeral outfit.

Walking toward the dock, he planned. He’d meet the little ladies, tell them the rules for the trip, and get underway. He decided he only needed three rules. One: Be ready to travel at sunup. Two: Stop at midday for thirty minutes to rest, take care of private needs, and drink water. Three: At sundown make camp. He’d cook a meal of whatever he shot along the way or use the supplies.

When Trapper had checked the wagon, he noticed the teamster hadn’t packed but two blankets, so he bought the girls each one. After all, they were little girls, and they’d need comfort.

He also added apples and canned peaches to his load.

Trapper was feeling hopeful about the journey. He’d bought two extra rifles and several boxes of bullets. He’d get these girls home safe and collect his five hundred dollars. Then he’d drive away in his new wagon with Midnight tied to the back.

A man who has a wagon, a horse, and enough money in his pocket to buy land was rich indeed. For the first time since the war he allowed himself to dream. He thought about something besides surviving one more day.

As he waited, he saw a small widow lady sitting on a bench near the dock. Trapper remembered the teamster had told him to hire a woman to travel with him, but surely he could handle five little girls.

There were so many women in black right after the war, it seemed like every woman dressed the same. Strange, he thought; the men wore blue and gray, but all the widows wore black. Mourning had no side, no color.

The paddleboat pulled up to yells and waves from the waiting crowd. As cargo began to roll off the side, passengers walked off the front in a thin line. It wasn’t long before he saw a tall woman in a light blue cape marching with five little girls behind her. She had to be the nurse traveling with his cargo. They all wore a uniform of sunny blue and white. They reminded him of a mother goose and her goslings. He guessed he was about to become the father goose.

Trapper had no doubt these were his charges. The first girl was tall, only a head shorter than the nurse. Her blond hair was tied back, as if she was trying to look older. The next two were shorter, with auburn hair. The younger and thinner of the pair wore an old wool cap and seemed to be crying. The fourth girl was probably about five and was round as a goose egg. The last one, and the smallest, seemed to be having trouble staying in line. She weaved back and forth as she kept jumping up and down as if she could see everything if she was two inches higher.

Trapper straightened and removed his wide-brimmed hat. There were several families meeting travelers, but he was the only man standing alone in front of a small covered wagon. Eventually, the nurse would find him.

The tall woman weaved her way around groups of people and the girls followed in a row. Well, all but the last one followed. The littlest one seemed to be having trouble keeping up.

Finally, the lady noticed him and headed his way. She stopped three feet from him and the girls lined up behind her. Except number five, who bumped into four and almost knocked two and three out of line.

“Are you the driver for Colonel Chapman’s girls?” The woman’s voice was cold and held no hint of a Southern accent.

“I am.” Trapper bowed slightly, not sure what to say or do. He decided to keep the poker game quiet. “I’m Trapper Hawkins, ma’am.”

“I understood there would be a nurse traveling with you to take care of the girls’ needs.”

He thought of saying he could handle them, but for the first time he wasn’t sure. Number five had lost her shoe and was starting to cry. The tall one, number one in the line, was glaring at him and the chubby one, number four, was laying her head on one shoulder, then the other, as if trying to see if he might look better from another angle.

“Mr. Hawkins, I’m sure you got the instructions. I assure you I will not be releasing my charges to you until you fulfill your part of the bargain. A woman to tend to their needs is essential.”

He thought of giving up. Letting the oh-so-proper lady take them back. They’d be safer on the boat, if the rumors were true. “If I don’t have a lady with me, you planning to turn around?”

“No. I’m going to file charges on you for breach of contract. Then I’ll notify the girls’ father and wait here until proper escort can be arranged. Colonel Chapman will not be happy if his exact orders are not followed.”

Trapper didn’t even know if there was a crime called breach of contract in Texas. They had too many murders, robbers, and cattle thieves to mess with a breach of anything.

The woman pushed out her chest and made her stand. “If the colonel doesn’t have his daughters home by Christmas, there will be hell to pay.”

Trapper had no idea what she was talking about. He was starting to look forward to the outlaws on the trail.

“I’m loaded and ready, ma’am. I’ll get them to Dallas.”

She opened her mouth to fill him in on all the facts when number five started limp-walking on one shoe and fell over her bag. Her foot went through the handle, so now she limped with one leg and dragged the bag with the other.

He just watched her. This last kid had the coordination of a day-old calf.

To no one’s surprise, the tiny girl started crying.

The chubby one, number four in line, started to help the littlest one up, but the nurse cleared her throat so loudly several people turned in her direction.

Number four looked like she might cry too, but she let go of number five.

The nurse said to him in her lecture voice, “We don’t baby our girls. Not even the littlest one. Understood? These girls are Texas princesses. Born in this wild state. They’ll grow up to be strong women, not crybabies.”

Trapper thought of pushing the nurse off the dock and seeing how strong she was, but he figured she’d file charges for that too.

Before anyone could move, a lady in black knelt down and lifted number five off the dock, freed her foot from the bag, and cradled the crying girl in her arms. “Come sit on the back of the wagon, child, and I’ll put your shoe back on. It’s far too cold a day to go without it.”

The nurse glared at the woman for a moment, then seemed to relax. “I see the traveling companion for the girls has finally arrived. She’ll be too soft on the girls and we’ll have our work cut out for us when they come back to school in February. However, it is good to see you picked a proper lady.”

As the widow tied the little girl’s shoe, the nurse stepped away to direct the luggage to be loaded into the wagon.

Trapper leaned toward the widow. “Lady, if you have the time, would you act like you’re traveling with me? Just till we get out of sight of that woman. I got to get these girls to Dallas and I’m not sure that nurse will let me do my job without a proper lady traveling with us.”

“I was going to Dallas also.” The widow’s voice was low, almost a whisper. “The stage doesn’t seem to be running this week. If you’ll let me ride along with you, I’ll play the part all the way.”

Trapper was shocked. “You would?”

She nodded. “I’d be safer with you and five girls than traveling alone. If you prove to be a not-so-honorable man, I have a weapon and will shoot you.”

He smiled. Her voice had a bit of the South in it and she could shoot. She had to be a born Texan. They understood each other. If he broke his word, she’d shoot him, no breach of contract needed.

“I’m Mrs. Adams.”

Trapper removed his hat. “I’m Trapper Hawkins. You’re doing me a great favor, ma’am.”

The nurse came back as men finished loading the wagon. “I’d like to introduce my little ladies before I leave them with you.”

She started with the oldest. “Catherine Claire, thirteen. Anna Jane, eleven. Elizabeth Rose, ten. Helen Wren five.” The nurse pointed to the smallest, still in the widow’s arms. “Sophia May is four. Colonel Chapman had three wives. All died in childbirth and none gave him a son. Poor man.”

Trapper studied them as the nurse gave instructions to Mrs. Adams and marched back to the boat. The tallest daughter, with her blond hair, would probably be from the first wife. Two and Three from a redheaded wife. And Four and Five from the third wife. He’d guess that wife had brown hair and big brown eyes.

Trapper turned to his charges. “Look, little ladies, I doubt I’ll straighten those names out in three weeks, so how about I call you in order by number?” He pointed to the tall blonde, first in line. “One.” Then the two auburn-haired girls. “Two and Three.” He smiled at the next and couldn’t help but laugh as she giggled, waiting for her number. “Four,” he said, touching her nose. The tiny one waited for her new name. “You’re Five. It’s a game we’ll play.” He glanced at the widow. “A secret game. Like code names.”

When he noticed the widow asked no questions, he added, “Only we have to call her Mrs. Adams. She deserves our respect. She lost her man in the war.”

All the girls nodded except Five. She was spinning around again like an unbalanced top.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Bane’s Choice by Alyssa Day

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!


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Sunday Spotlight: Bane’s Choice by Alyssa Day

Posted October 18, 2020 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 4 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

We have not one, but two giveaways for you today! Don’t forget to enter using the widgets below.

Sunday Spotlight: Bane’s Choice by Alyssa DayBane's Choice by Alyssa Day
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 27, 2020
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

When a centuries-old vampire in search of redemption meets a doctor who’s on a mission of her own, a searing, world-destroying passion is the last thing on either of their minds.
Minds can be changed.
A doctor with secrets of her own is drawn to a dangerous predator in this pulse-pounding paranormal romance from New York Times bestselling author Alyssa Day.
What better way to hide the existence of vampires from humans than in plain sight? Thus, the Vampire Motorcycle Club was born. Bane, the 300-year-old vampire who leads the club, has fought for years to protect his kind. But the truth about vampires is not only that they exist, it is that they are creatures of pure desire. Conscience and restraint has been burned out of them by the process of Turning. Any woman Bane meets is either prey—or food.
Dr. Ryan St. Cloud finds out that vampires exist when one steals her patient out of the hospital right beneath her nose, leading her to question her own sanity. But when the dangerous man whose touch inflames her senses and whose gaze enthralls her comes to her for help, she is unable to refuse. Bane is a dangerous predator, but somewhere beneath his arrogance and power, she can see his heart—and she knows it could belong to her if she is strong enough to claim it. She is bound to a vampire, but loving her would be … Bane’s Choice.

Excerpt

Ryan finally settled on the best, most awesome choice for a drunken movie fest and settled in to watch it, saluting the TV with the bottle, having quit bothering with the glass a while back. “Yippee ki-yay!”

But before John McClane could get off the plane with that enormous teddy bear, things started to get weird.

She laughed. No, that was a stupid thought after the night she’d had.

Correction: things got even weirder.

Because that’s when the magical kidnapper from the hospital appeared on her second-floor balcony.

The balcony that had no stairs, ladder, or fire escape.

“I’m more the Hans Gruber type,” he said. “Hello, Dr. St. Cloud.”

She blinked and then took another swig of wine, still staring at him. “Hey, call me Ryan. I’ve decided I should be on first-name basis with all my hallucinations. And damn, but you’re just beautiful, aren’t you? At least my brain dreamed up a hottie when it decided to go ballistic.”

“I don’t… You…” He shook his head and then raised a single eyebrow and pinned his glowing gaze to her, decidedly non-glowing, own. “I assure you, I am quite real.”

“Right. And so, Mr. Quite Real, what did you do with my patient? You know, the one who was dying? The one I had no chance in hell to save, even before you picked him up and disappeared with him?” she was on her feet and shouting at him by the end but didn’t remember standing. Also, unpleasantly, the rage smashing through her was, to borrow one of Annie’s expressions, harshing her mellow.

“How do you remember that?” His eyes narrowed. “Luke said he’d compelled you to forget.”

“I’d like to forget so much about tonight,” she muttered. “And who the hell is Luke?”

“I’d like to explain, Doctor… Ryan, if you’d invite me in,” her magical mystery guest said.

Ryan pointed her bottle at him. “No. Nuh-uh. No way. You keep your glowy-eyed magical ass away from me. And how did you climb up to my balcony? How did you even find me, more to the point?”

“Invite me in, and I’ll tell you,” he said, but his voice had a weird, buzzy resonance that tickled the inside of her mind somehow.

It made her laugh. “Nope.”

His eyes widened. “So it was true.”

“What was true? And why are you here?”

He folded his arms and said nothing, which infuriated her.

“Where is my patient?”

“Invite me in, and I’ll tell you,” he said again, shrugging.

She blew out a breath. “Fine. Whatever. Come on in, Mr. Drunken Hallucination. And then you damn well better tell me where my patient is.”

He smiled and took a step forward, into the room, and she started toward him but tripped over the coffee table and fell.

Into his arms. Damn, he smelled good. She rested her overheated cheek against his chest for a moment and inhaled.

Wait.

“You were clear across the room,” she muttered, struggling to back up while pushing him away at the same time. Trying to push him away, rather, because he had chest muscles like iron boulders. Was that a thing? Iron boulders? Rock-hard steel?

Some kind of metaphor for hard, for sure.

Yummy. Hard.

Also, damn. Maybe opening that second bottle of wine had been a mistake.

“You seem to have been having a party,” he said, and there was amusement mixed with something darker in his rich, deep voice.

God. He was the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen—imagined? Dreamed?—and his voice sounded like silken sin. A tingle of heat and electricity raced through her, and she could actually feel her nipples harden. Now she was really losing it, because her hallucination was making her hot.

No different from fantasizing about a movie star in the bathtub, she tried to tell herself. Except bath-time fantasies never came to life and walked into her living room.

She’d never felt one hold her in his arms before, either.

Vampire Motorcycle Club

>

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: October 2020

Alyssa has kindly offered a paperback copy of Bane’s Choice. U.S. residents only.

Bane’s Choice by Alyssa Day

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Alyssa Day

Alyssa Day is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with more than a million books sold --all filled with kissing, laughter, mystery and magic. Alyssa’s paranormal series include the Vampire Motorcycle Club, Poseidon’s Warriors, and Cardinal Witches paranormal romances and the Tiger’s Eye Mysteries paranormal mysteries. In an Alyssa Day book, the good guys (and gals!) always win and happily ever after always prevails!

Alyssa's many awards include Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® award for outstanding romance fiction, and the RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Paranormal Romance novel of 2012. Her books have been translated into a zillion languages but she’s still holding out for Klingon.

Before she became a full-time writer, Alyssa graduated summa cum laude from law school and practiced as a trial lawyer in three different states for more than a decade. She is a past president of Romance Writers of America.

Please visit her online at http://www.alyssaday.com to sign up for her newsletter for news of releases, free stuff, and pictures of her dogs and her baking. But not of her dogs baking, because that would just be wrong.


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Sunday Spotlight: Coming Home by KB Alan

Posted October 11, 2020 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight: Coming Home by KB AlanComing Home by KB Alan
Series: Fully Invested #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 25, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 224
Add It: Goodreads
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Rose never expected to return to Wildlife Ridge after she graduated high school, but here she is, sixteen years later. She wants to spend some time focusing on her new life as an entrepreneur, away from the big city rat race, and her quiet hometown in the mountains seems like the perfect place to do that. She’s excited to spend some time with her parents and has barely given a passing thought to seeing Ethan again. Really. Hardly at all.
Ethan hasn’t seen Rose on her infrequent visits home. He’s never forgiven himself for cancelling out on taking her to prom at the last minute. His life hasn’t panned out the way he expected, but he loves his town, and he’s hopeful she’ll love it enough to stick around for awhile, give Wildlife Ridge a second chance. And maybe give him a chance to make it up to her after all this time.

Excerpt

Ethan paused at the entrance to apartment 212. The door was wide open, likely for the cool blast of late-winter air. Music played, loudly but not too loudly, and the charming voice singing along had him pausing before he knocked on the doorjamb.

He’d wondered if he’d feel anything when he saw Rose again. High school was a lifetime ago, and he’d started to think some serious thoughts about her back in the day. But they’d been children, really. And he’d disappointed her, let her down. Story of his life. She’d grown up, he saw now. In all the right ways.

She did a little wiggle as she unwrapped some kind of figurine and placed it on the shelves in front of her, and he tried not to watch her ass. But he didn’t try very hard. Even though her back was to him, he knew it was Rose. They’d known each other since kindergarten, after all. In a small town like Wildlife Ridge, it was impossible not to know someone your own age. They’d played together as children, but they’d never been especially close. Not until those last couple of months.

She was not sporting a California-girl tan, might even be paler than he remembered her. Apparently she hadn’t turned into a beach bum during her life out in LA. Her previously long hair had been cut and shaped into a wavy brown mass that bounced on her shoulders and invited him to tug. He wanted her to turn around so he could see it framing her face.

Another voice joined hers in song, and he watched a long-legged Black woman dance her way down the hall to join Rose. They grabbed hands and circled around the room for a moment before Rose’s eyes landed on him and she came to an abrupt halt.

He let his hand, knuckles still pointed towards the doorjamb, fall as she blinked at him from behind her glasses. That was another change. She’d almost always worn her contacts, once they got to junior high school.

“Hey,” he said, sounding lame to his own ears. “Sorry to interrupt. I just wanted to bring you this, and make sure you have everything you need.” He held up a spider plant. “Welcome to Salmon Springs apartment building.”

She dusted her hands along her thighs and came to him, reaching for the plant. “Wow, that’s so sweet, thanks. It’s good to see you, Ethan.”

“Rose. It’s been a long time.”

“This is one of my best friends, Naomi Washington. Naomi, Ethan Woodford.”

The woman who approached him was all city. At least, that’s what he chose to attribute the air of no-nonsense confidence to. He supposed she’d heard about him and was prepared to be unimpressed.

“Ma’am,” he said, as he offered his hand.

She blinked at him, apparently astonished. Then she looked to Rose. “Did he just insult me to my face?”

Rose’s lips twitched and she adjusted her glasses higher up her nose. “No. He was being sincerely polite.”

Naomi stared at her friend for a moment, then returned her attention to him. “It’s nice to meet you.”

He shook her hand, forcing back a grin. Yeah, she was all city.

“Naomi’s helping me move. She took a little vacation to drive out with me.”

“How was the drive?” he asked, leaning back against the doorjamb.

“We broke it up into two days, but with the big push yesterday. Spent the night just inside Colorado. It wasn’t too bad.”

He nodded. “Be sure and let me know if I can help out with anything. I’ve got my toolbox, in case you haven’t unpacked that yet.” He nearly shook his head at how stupid that sounded. Her parents owned a hardware store, for crying out loud, surely she’d have access to whatever she needed.

She raised her eyebrows. “Thanks, will do.”

He nodded, backed up. “You have my cell, just call or text if you need anything. It was nice to meet you, Naomi.”

They said their goodbyes and he retreated, shaking his head in disgust at himself as he walked down the hallway. It wasn’t like he didn’t interact with women all the time, but somehow seeing Rose had set him back about a decade and a half. No, that wasn’t true. When he was in high school, he hadn’t had any trouble talking to girls. As the quarterback, he’d been one of the most popular guys around.

A lifetime ago.

Fully Invested

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: October 2020

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About KB Alan

KB Alan Headshot

KB Alan lives the single life in Southern California. She acknowledges that she should probably turn off the computer and leave the house once in a while in order to find her own happily ever after, but for now she’s content to delude herself with the theory that Mr. Right is bound to come knocking on her door through no real effort of her own. Please refrain from pointing out the many flaws in this system. Other comments, however, are happily received.


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Sunday Spotlight: In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

Posted October 4, 2020 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 7 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight: In a Holidaze by Christina LaurenIn a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: October 6, 2020
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

One Christmas wish, two brothers, and a lifetime of hope are on the line for hapless Maelyn Jones in In a Holidaze, the quintessential holiday romantic novel by Christina Lauren, the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions.
But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy.
The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe.
Jam-packed with yuletide cheer, an unforgettable cast of characters, and Christina Lauren’s trademark “downright hilarious” (Helen Hoang, author of The Bride Test) hijinks, this swoon-worthy romantic read will make you believe in the power of wishes and the magic of the holidays.

Excerpt

The vacation has always been the celebratory red circle on my calendar countdown. The cabin is my oasis not only because Andrew Hollis is here, but also because it’s the perfect winter cabin, the perfect amount of snow, the perfect people, and the perfect level of comfort. The perfect Christmas, and I don’t want to change a thing.

So did I just completely ruin everything?

I lean forward and hug my knees. I am a mess.

“You’re not a mess.”

I startle, looking up to find Andrew standing over me, grinning and holding a steaming mug of coffee. With a view of his face in the bright morning light—mischievous green eyes, the shadowy hint of stubble, and pillow creases on his left cheek—my body reacts predictably: heart takes a flying leap off a cliff and stomach sinks warm and low in my belly. He is both exactly who I wanted to see right now and the last person I want to know what’s bothering me.

Trying to remember what my hair looks like, I pull the blanket up to my chin, wishing I’d taken the time to put on a bra. “Was I talking to myself?”

“You sure were.” He smiles, and Lord, if the sun doesn’t come out from behind the clouds. Dimples so deep I could lose all my hopes and dreams inside them. I swear his teeth sparkle. As if on cue, a perfect brown curl falls over his forehead. You have got to be kidding me.

And oh my God, I made out with his brother. Guilt and regret mix sourly in the back of my throat.

“Did I reveal my plans to overthrow the government and install Beyoncé in her rightful place as our fearless leader?” I ask, deflecting.

“I must have come in after that part.” Andrew gazes at me with amusement. “I just heard you say that you’re a mess.”

Something’s in his expression, some playful twinkle I can’t quite translate. Dread gives me a swift kick to the solar plexus.

I point to his face. “What’s happening here?”

“Oh, nothing.” He sits down beside me, puts his arm around my shoulders, and plants a kiss on the top of my head. The kiss is distracting enough for the dread to dissolve, and I work to not grab for him as he pulls away. If I could ever be on the receiving end of a long, tight Andrew Hollis hug, it would be the affection equivalent of chugging down a tall glass of water on a scorching day. I know I’ve never deserved him—he’s too good for any mortal—but it never stopped me from wanting him anyway.

A film of unease settles back over me when he laughs out my name against my hair.

“You’re awfully chipper this morning,” I say.

“And you are not,” he remarks, leaning forward to playfully study my face. The headphones around his neck fall forward slightly, and I can tell he never bothered to turn off the music; “She Sells Sanctuary” by the Cult filters tinnily through them.

“What’s going on, Maisie?”

This is what we do together; we become our old-person characters Mandrew and Maisie. We make our voices shaky and high-pitched—to play, to confide, to tease—but I’m too freaked out to play along.

“Nothing.” I shrug. “Didn’t sleep well.” The lie feels oily on my tongue.

“Rough night?”

“Um . . .” My internal organs disintegrate “Sort of?”

“So you and my brother, huh?”

Everything in my head is incinerated. Brain ash blows out onto the snow. “Oh my God.”

Andrew’s shoulders lift when he laughs. “You two kids! Sneaking around!”

“Andrew—it’s not a thing—I don’t—”

“No, no. It’s okay. I mean, no one is surprised, right?” He pulls back to get a look at my expression. “Hey, relax, you’re both adults.”

I groan, burying my face in my arms. He doesn’t get it, and worse—he really doesn’t care.

His tone softens, instantly apologetic. “I didn’t realize you’d be so freaked out. I was just messing with you. I mean, to be honest I figured it was just a matter of time before you and Theo—”

“Andrew, no.” I look around, desperate now. A surprise escape hatch would be a great discovery. Instead, a glint of silver catches my eye—the sleeve of Andrew’s hilariously awful holiday sweater hanging over the edge of the trash can. Miso, the Hollises’ corgi, got ahold of it on Christmas Eve and Lisa must’ve decided it was beyond saving. I wouldn’t mind joining it in the trash right now. “It’s not like that between us.”

“Hey. It’s fine, Maisie.” I can tell he’s surprised at the degree of my alarm, and he puts a reassuring hand on my arm, misinterpreting my meltdown: “I won’t tell anyone else.”

Mortification and guilt surge in my throat. “I—I can’t believe he told you.”

“He didn’t,” Andrew says. “I came back to the house last night because I left my phone in the kitchen, and saw you two.”

Andrew saw us? Please, let me die here.

“Come on, don’t make such a big deal about a little kissing. You’re talking to the guy whose mom moves the mistletoe around the house every day. Half this group has kissed each other at some point.” He gives me a noogie and, if possible, my mortification deepens. “Dad sent me out here to call you in for breakfast.” He playfully jabs my shoulder, like a pal. “I just wanted to give you some shit.”

With a little wink, Andrew turns and heads back into the house, and I am left trying to find my sanity.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: October 2020

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Christina Lauren

Yes, there are two of us! Lauren (on the left) and Christina (on the right).

Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners and best friends Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. The #1 international bestselling coauthor duo writes both Young Adult and Adult Fiction, and together has produced fifteen New York Times bestselling novels. They are published in over 30 languages, have received multiple starred reviews, won both the Seal of Excellence and Book of the Year from RT Magazine, been inducted into the Library Reads Hall of Fame, named Amazon and Audible Romance of the Year, a Lambda Literary Award finalist and been nominated for several Goodreads Choice Awards. They have been featured in publications such as Forbes, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Time, Entertainment Weekly, People, O Magazine and more. Their third YA novel, Autoboyography was released in 2017 to critical acclaim, followed by Roomies, Love and Other Words, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, My Favorite Half-Night Stand, and the Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, and Library Journal starred The Unhoneymooners, out May 2019.


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Sunday Spotlight: All Scot and Bothered by Kerrigan Byrne

Posted September 27, 2020 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 5 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

I haven’t read a lot of historical romance in the past few years, but Kerrigan Byrne is one of the few I’ve tried to keep up with. I haven’t read the first book in this series yet, but it’s close to the top of my TBR pile.

Sunday Spotlight: All Scot and Bothered by Kerrigan ByrneAll Scot and Bothered by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Devil You Know #2
Also in this series: How to Love a Duke in Ten Days
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: September 29, 2020
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 416
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

They are a dangerous duke, a fierce lord, and an infamous earl—dark, bold, brave men who know exactly what they want. And there is only one woman who can bring them to their knees...

He is first and foremost—at everything. A man who's made his own way in the world through ruthless cunning and sheer force of will. A strong and imposing Scot who can turn on the charm but does not suffer fools. His title: Lord Chief Justice of the High Court. His name: Cassius Gerard Ramsay. His mission: To investigate the goings-on at London's most notorious gaming hell, owned and operated by one of the most intriguing and desirable women he's ever met.

IN THIS GAME OF LOVE, THE RULES DO NOT APPLY

Cecelia Teague was an orphan facing a rather dire future—until a secret benefactor from her mother's scandalous past swept into her life. Sent to prestigious boarding school and later to university, Cecelia believed high society was at her fingertips...Then, from out of nowhere, she became the inheritor of a gambling establishment.

Now Cecelia must live two lives: one as a proper lady who finds herself undeniably drawn to Lord Ramsay and the other as a savvy gaming hell owner trying to save her business from the very same man. He has no idea she is both women...and Cecelia would like to keep it that way. But what happens when consuming passion and escalating danger threaten to reveal the truth?

Excerpt

From All Scot and Bothered by Kerrigan Byrne. Copyright © 2020 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.

Chapter 3

An unsettling awareness paralyzed Cecelia as she stared into the eyes of her enemy.

Awareness of the child hiding at her feet. Of the book containing possibly lethal secrets clutched in her innocent hands. Of the expectation and caution in Genny’s demeanor.
Of everyone’s gaze glued to her, waiting to see what she’d do next. What she’d say to the brutishly large and powerful man leaning over her desk.

His nostrils flared and a vein pulsed at his temple be- fore disappearing into his thick, luminous hair.

She could almost feel the heat of his breath, like that of a dragon. A dragon, she noted, who’d dined on something sweet for his last meal and washed it down with coffee rather than tea.
Strange that they should both prefer coffee in the morning. What else did they have in common, she and her adversary? Must they be adversaries at all? If she revealed herself, explained her situation, might he soften?

No. No, his expression was diamond-hard and uncompromising, as was his reputation. He was the Vicar of Vice, the sworn enemy of her aunt. And just because his brother was a good man didn’t mean he was.

As she well understood, so many men used piety to disguise their cruelty.

In that case, she decided, if this man insisted upon being her adversary, she’d have to kill him.

With kindness.

Drawing on every bit of her finishing school education, she did her level best to smother her panic with politeness. She pressed her hands flat on the desk and forced herself to remain still.
“You may call me Hortense Thistledown.” She plucked her mother’s name out of pure desperation, hating that it would become a blasphemy on this man’s tongue.

What would her name sound like in that graveled brogue of his? Cecelia.

As soon as the unwanted thought filtered into her mind, she shook her head to be rid of it.

“Might I invite you to sit down, my lord, whilst I peruse your documents?” She gestured to one of three dainty chairs facing her desk, belatedly concerned for their structural integrity against his impressive bulk. “Genny, would you please fetch His Worship and associates some tea and refreshments?”

Genny looked as though she’d asked her to consume the contents of a chamber pot.

A few of the constables brightened at the mention of food and tea, immediately deflating when Ramsay put up a staying hand. “Doona be absurd. This isna a social call, madam.” His eyes flickered around the room, his expression suggesting he would rather be surrounded by a Whitechapel cesspool than her aunt’s tasteful décor. “I’m inclined to touch as little in this place as possible. Who kens what depravities have occurred on which surfaces?”

“Oh come now, what sort of wickedness could possibly be conducted upon such dainty furniture?” She gestured to the Louis XIV settee and chairs, genuinely stunned when a few of the constables muffled a chuckle or two.

Heat spread to Sir Ramsay’s eyes as he glanced at the furniture in question and then back to her. Her question had angered him. She read something else in the heat, as well. A banked emotion beneath the anger, something leashed. Chained.

Dangerous.

“It is not in yer best interest to mock me, woman.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it, sir,” she answered, bemused. “But I vow the only blasphemies this room is subject to are taxes and paperwork.” She summoned what she hoped was a charming smile, though her mind whirred with unknowns—she couldn’t have said for certain the surfaces hadn’t been sullied.

“And whilst this visit of yours might not be social,” she added, “we can still be civilized, can we not?”

His eyes narrowed. “Search everything.”

The constables made quick work of the room. They pulled books from shelves, turning them upside down to leaf through pages; took drawers from sideboards, looking beneath them; and upturned the furniture.

Ramsay stood with his arms locked behind him, completely still in the midst of the chaos, his eyes never leaving her. “Civilized,” he scoffed. “Nothing about ye belongs in a civilized society.”

“Upon that, we must disagree.” It was perhaps the most argumentative statement she’d ever made in her life, but the circumstances of the day had frayed her nerves to the snapping point. “As most of civilized society seems to spend their leisure time here.”

His glare was so full of enmity, Cecelia couldn’t bring herself to look at him any longer. How strange, that a man possessed of such a savage countenance could accuse her of being uncouth.
To cover her cowardice, she reached for the warrant, swallowed a lump of trepidation, and began to read.

“Hortense Thistledown,” he said, echoing her pseudonym, thus calling her attention before she’d gotten through the first line. “Ye are related to Henrietta, then? I was unaware she had family. Hid you away in France, did she?”

Smythe had been their family name. Thistledown must have been another of Henrietta’s facades, much like the wigs and masks and makeup.

Cecelia wasn’t ready to answer the question, and so she didn’t. She searched through the legal documents until reaching the appropriate charge.

According to the warrant, the police were searching her property for evidence in connection with the disappearance of a young girl named Katerina Milovic. A Russian immigrant who’d been taken from the streets of Lambeth just yesterday. She was the sixth in a string of missing maidens. All aged about thirteen.

“How did ye come to be in charge after Henrietta’s death?” Ramsay demanded. “I’ve not seen ye on the premises before. I always assumed Miss Leveaux would take up the mantle of the Scarlet Lady once Henrietta—”

Cecelia held up one finger as she scanned the rest of the warrant, her eyes snagging on the distressing pertinent information.

From All Scot and Bothered by Kerrigan Byrne. Copyright © 2020 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.

Devil You Know

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: September 2020

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Kerrigan Byrne

Kerrigan Byrne headshot

Kerrigan has done many things to pay the bills, from law enforcement to belly dance instructor. Now she’s finally able to have the career she’d decided upon at thirteen when she announced to her very skeptical family that she was going to “grow up to be a romance novelist.” Whether she’s writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, Kerrigan uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in almost every story.

She lives in a little Victorian coast town on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State with her wonderful husband. When she’s not writing you can find her sailing, beach combing, kayaking, visiting wineries, breweries, and restaurants with friends, and hiking…okay…wandering aimlessly clenching bear spray in the mountains.


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