About Me

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Clare writes inspirational romance, usually of a suspenseful nature. Her books are available through her publisher Pelican Book Group and Amazon. She is married with three kids and lives in the UK. She loves watching sci-fi, crime drama, cross stitching, reading and baking.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

It's almost December....

 
Advent calendar made by me several years ago

It's almost December and that means it's time for the annual Christmas Extravaganza from lots of authors. Over the next three weeks or so, finishing on Christmas Eve, I'll be highlighting one book a day, some of which I've had the privilege of reading advance copies, some I haven't, but will have read other stuff by those authors.

Each post will contain buy links, if the extracts and blurbs appeal to you.

So we have....

1 - Delia Latham
2 - Marianne Evans
3 - Marilyn Leech
4- LoRee Peery
5- Katie Clark
6 - Pamela Thibodeaux
7 - Dora Hiers
8 - me
9 - Mary Manners
10 - Mallary Mitchell
11 - Lucette Nel
12 - Jan Elder
13 - Jan Elder
14 - Robin Bayne
15 - Terri Weldon
16 - Marian P. Merritt
17 - Tanya Hanson
18 - Lucy Naylor Kubash
19 - Mary Alford
20 - me
21 - Nicola Martinez
22 - 
23 - 
24 - Michael Duncan

Okay, so I now have to turn on the carols, fill the advent calendar, and hang the decorations... oh and schedule posts for the next 3 weeks.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Kisses, Kids and Bundles of Joy: 7 Christian Winter Romances


Kisses, Kids and Bundles of Joy: 7 Christian Winter Romances
Box Set Blurb

Snuggle up with seven brand new, never before published Christian winter romances from bestselling and award-winning authors. Kisses and kids abound in this collection of novellas that will warm your heart all winter long. 

One Winter Kiss - Lindi Peterson - Deena Ross travels to Ohio to try and sway her grandfather from making a big mistake, a mistake his neighbor Andrew has been encouraging. When a winter storm hits, and Deena is forced to stay with Andrew and his young son, Evan, Deena's vision of love is tested and she might lose her heart in one winter kiss. 

Childish Ways - Jenn Faulk - Kevin Peterson, a teacher at a small town elementary school, is unexpectedly reunited with Lisa Walker, a girl who spent most of their childhood tormenting and bullying him, when she comes back to town where she helps organize a winter carnival to benefit her niece's school. Lisa has no idea who he is, though, and as they work alongside one another and Kevin sees how much she has changed, he begins to question whether or not he can really trust her and let her into his life. 

The Baby & the Bachelor - Cindy K. Green - Playboy bachelor, Alec, discovers a baby on his doorstep only days away from being appointed to a political office, prompting him to appeal his assistant, Jane, for help. Misunderstandings and accusations from the press abound, leading Alec to wonder, even if he were prepared for a ready-made family, could sweet, church-going Jane ever find it in her heart to marry a sinner like him? 

For Tracy - Trisha Grace - One phone call led to Sarah Carter becoming the guardian of her favorite student, Tracy, while waiting for Tracy’s Uncle Keith to show up. But Sarah has no idea Uncle Keith was Keith Sutton, Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor, and doesn’t realize how much trouble she is heading for. 

Tropical Kiss Or Miss - Liwen Y. Ho - Therapist Olivia Chan can’t wait to escape it all—a failed marriage, a struggling practice, and her son’s recent health scare. The Hawaiian getaway she planned, however, gets rained on—quite literally—by a tropical storm and the unexpected arrival of her estranged husband Matthew, who’s determined to win her back. 

To Gain a Mommy - Tanya Eavenson - When Hope Michaels decides to face her past, she unknowingly purchases the house across the street from her former fiancĂ©—the man her twin sister married, then widowed. Fire Captain Carl McGuire can put out any flame, except for the one Hope sparks within him—some things never change. 

Foolish Heart - Cindy Flores Martinez - Judy and Graham have feelings for each other, but they won’t admit it. After all, she lives in America and he lives in Scotland with his daughter, Mairi, who he could never leave to be with the woman he loves. 

Review:
Normally when I read a box set I end up with a story I really love, one I’m not that keen on or don’t finish reading. This one is an exception. It contains 7 amazing stories that made me smile, laugh and cry. One even got a cheer at the ending. Definitely a set to curl up with as the winter nights get colder and longer.


Purchase Links




1) How does your faith play into your writing?

Trisha Grace: Jesus loves you regardless of who you are or what you’ve done. That’s the message behind my books. I’m blessed to be planted in a church where my pastor preaches the grace message, reminding me each week that I’m loved and blessed despite of my flaws and sins. And that’s the same message I hope my readers will get when they read my book.

2) Why do you write the kind of books you do?

Jenn Faulk: I write Christian chick lit and romance, and my intention with every book is to point readers to Christ and His sufficiency. I think there’s great biblical truth that can be communicated through a love story about two normal, believable, imperfect people who need and find redemption in Christ as they deal with relationships and real life issues. It’s my hope that someone would read my book and enjoy the story while they’re also being encouraged and challenged to know Christ better, love Him more deeply, and serve Him more fully.

3) What advice would you give to a beginning writer?

Liwen Y. Ho: Writing is a solitary exercise, but it should not be done alone! For beginning writers, I’d recommend joining a writer’s group, whether online or in person. The best thing you can do is to share your work with other writers and get their feedback. And read, read, read! Read books in the genre(s) you want to write and discover what you like/dislike about certain stories. Read about writing techniques and how to create characters that come to life and how to keep a story flowing from beginning to end. Then do what you love to do the most—write! And don’t forget to have fun while doing it!

4) What’s on your reading list?

Lindi Peterson: My reading list lately has been amazing. Over the summer I read Rita winner Kristi Ann Hunter’s A Noble Masquerade. Awesome book. Then I read The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig. I couldn’t put this book down. Three different generations whose stories intertwined. Loved it. I read a cool short story, A Spoonful of Spice by Liwen Ho. Right now I’m reading The Idea of Love by Patti Callahan Henry, one of my favorite authors. I have so many books on my TRB pile. What a good problem to have, right?


5) How do you celebrate the release of a new story?

Tanya Eavenson: Growing up my parents would celebrate special occasions by taking the family out to Red Lobster. Fast forward twenty years, my wonderful husband takes me out to celebrate a new release. Can you guess where? Yep! Red Lobster. Love that man!

6) What do you like to snack on while writing a story?

Cindy Flores Martinez: I love this question because I can just picture it in my mind, casually reaching over and grabbing a snack while writing. I’m sure every writer would tell you that there isn’t time to stop when you’re in the middle of writing, especially if you’re working on an important scene. Sometimes I find myself feeling weak because I’ve skipped a meal. And just in case that happens, I always have fruit or a granola bar nearby that I can reach for. But that’s only if I am absolutely about to lose consciousness.

7) What type of research do you enjoy doing for your stories?

Cindy K. Green: I love research! I’m a trained historian so research is exciting to me. In fact, when I am stuck on a project whether plot or otherwise, research is one of the best ways to get out of a bit of writer’s block or it just inspires me to write period. I write both contemporary and historical novels. Of course, every story includes some research. I had to research golf & golf courses, as well as, how a company goes through the process of going public for one contemporary novel. But the historical ones are the ones I love to research most. I’ve been working on a historical western series for the last few years. It has been such a joy learning more about old Carson City, Nevada; the 1870’s clothing and hats; and everything else relating to the period of the booming silver mines in the area of the Comstock Lode. My father lives in that area, and he is a terrific resource for background information.

Would You Rather

1) Would you rather drink coffee or tea?

Cindy K. Green: This is an easy one for me. I am a total tea drinker. (In fact, I am one of those odd ones who actually hates coffee!) If you came to my house, I would have a myriad of different types of teas to choose from, and I would serve it to you in a proper cup and saucer (no mugs please). My favorite is green tea with a bend of acai and blueberry.

2) Would you rather live on the east coast or on the west coast of the US?

Lindi Peterson: I love this question because I’m on the east coast, in Georgia, while my brother and his family live in Seattle, the city I call my favorite city in America. I’ve spent a few weeks in Seattle over the years, but never for an extended period of time. If you’ve never been you must go! The green is different in Seattle. It’s hard to explain, but it’s how I see it. The city itself is amazing, Lake Washington and the surrounding area is beautiful. Seattle is my west coast experience and I’ve said for years if the rest of my family would move there with me I’d go in a heartbeat. But they won’t, and I’m kind of partial to living with my husband, so I’m staying on the east coast. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful here, too. We have coastline and mountains within a short driving distance. So my east coast body wants to live on the west coast, but that may simply be a case of the grass is always greener on the other side. (No pun intended on the green thing!)

3) Would you rather have a castle in Scotland or a countryside villa in Italy?

Trisha Grace: This is a tough one! I love historical romance, so a castle in Scotland would be a dream come true. But I have a soft spot for Italy, too. It’s a beautiful country, and I went there for my honeymoon. If I really have to choose, I’ll rather have a . . . castle in Scotland. As beautiful as a countryside villa in lovely Italy would be, I’ve never been to Scotland. For a city girl, a castle is something I’ve only ever seen in movies and pictures. So yeah, castle in Scotland it is!

4) Would you rather watch a football game or baseball game?

Jenn Faulk: Honestly, I would much prefer to watch a basketball game over football or baseball either one! But if given a choice between the two in this question, I would pick football, mainly because baseball moves sooooo slowly. I went to a MLB game with my husband a couple of months ago (he got me there by promising me a lot of trips to the concession stand), and we made it all the way to the fifth inning with NO home runs! I told him, “If this was an NBA game, we’d be up seventy points by now.” (See why I prefer basketball?) Football is the same! I like seeing action on the field, not everyone just standing around, ha ha!

5) Would you rather vacation on the beach or in the mountains?

Cindy Flores Martinez: I’m fortunate to live close enough to the beach and the mountains that I can visit both places. But if I had to choose only one of them to vacation at, it would have to be the beach. Although the mountains are beautiful, there’s just something about being by the ocean that’s much more exhilarating for me. I also find that the mountains are a bit more isolated compared to most beach towns, which is awkward for this suburb girl who is used to being around a lot of people.

6) Would you rather go horseback riding or whitewater rafting?

Tanya Eavenson: I love horses so horseback riding for sure! My husband and kids are another story. They go whitewater rafting every year in Georgia. I rather stay dry! =)

7) Would you rather live in Hawaii or Alaska?

Liwen Y. Ho: Definitely, without a doubt, in a heartbeat—Hawaii! I am a beach girl and the beaches of Hawaii are breathtakingly beautiful. I love Hawaii so much that I made the island of Oahu the setting for my story, Tropical Kiss Or Miss. I wouldn’t mind visiting Alaska though; I have an aunt who’s lived there for over thirty years.

Finding Sarah, Finding Me by Christine Lindsay



Sometimes it is only through giving up our hearts that we learn to trust the Lord.
Adoption. It’s something that touches one in three people today, a word that will conjure different emotions in those people touched by it. A word that might represent the greatest hope…the greatest question…the greatest sacrifice. But most of all, it’s a word that represents God’s immense love for his people.
Join birth mother Christine Lindsay as she shares the heartaches, hopes, and epiphanies of her journey to reunion with the daughter she gave up...and to understanding her true identity in Christ along the way.
Through her story and glimpses into the lives of other families in the adoption triad, readers will see the beauty of our broken families, broken hearts, and broken dreams when we entrust them to our loving God.

BIO
Christine Lindsay is the author of multi-award-winning Christian fiction with complex emotional and psychological truth, who always promises a happy ending. Tales of her Irish ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India inspired her multi-award-winning series Twilight of the British Raj, Book 1 Shadowed in Silk, Book 2 Captured by Moonlight, and explosive finale Veiled at Midnight.
Christine’s Irish wit and use of setting as a character is evident in her contemporary and historical romances Londonderry Dreaming and Sofi’s Bridge.
A busy writer and speaker, Christine, and her husband live on the west coast of Canada, and she has just released her non-fiction book Finding Sarah—Finding Me: A Birthmother’s Story.
Please drop by Christine’s website www.ChristineLindsay.org or follow her on Amazon on Twitter. Subscribe to her quarterly newsletter, and be her friend on Pinterest , Facebook, and Goodreads
Short Excerpt
Foreword to Finding Sarah Finding Me

In the years between, after relinquishing Sarah at three days old and before our reunion many years later, if I just happen to attend a women’s conference or a ladies’ church function around her birthday, and as happens so often, the organizers of the event just happen to hand out carnations at the door…and as they randomly give out a variety of colors to the ladies leaving…as I inch my way slowly toward the exit in a long lineup of women, I watch with mounting expectation.
The flowers arrive every year around her birthday, those silly blooms that started on the day I got out of the hospital. Sometimes just a card with flowers on it, and always from someone who has no clue what February 24th means to me. Sometimes a friend might send a potted plant—always pink—just because they’re thinking of me.
So as I shuffle forward in each lineup at any ladies’ function I happen to attend, while the last strains of the last song float over the venue, and as the women in front of me smile and with thanks receive their red carnation—or yellow or white—as a gift for coming, without ever asking, mine is always, always pink.
I lift my bloom to my face and breathe in the sweetness. Yes, Lord, you want me to find Sarah.

Read Chapter One of Finding Sarah Finding Me: Click HERE

Purchase links:
Amazon (Paperback and Kindle)

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Bells on Her Toes - Delia Latham

Nestled into five beautiful acres just outside Hope Creek, Tennessee, Christmas Inn is an unforgettable place known for its joyful atmosphere and festive setting. Holiday decorations adorn each room. Trees glittering with ribbons and ornaments, gorgeous wreaths, velvet stockings and pine-scented candles brighten visitors’ stay at this vacation spot dedicated to Christmas all year, every year. The resort offers all the usual enticements plus one unique amenity…love. The little white chapel behind the inn, built by the Christmas family in the 1890s, boasts bell tower bells that toll when couples fall in love.
But Christmas Inn has fallen on hard times. The chapel bells haven’t rang for many years, and this Christmas may be the final celebration at the resort…unless love finds its way home.


Book 4



Blurb:
As part of an elaborate birthday gift from her sister, Karynn Michaels gets a pedicure that includes a pretty bell on each toe and a promidiction—part promise, part prediction—for each of the next ten days. Quiet, sensible Karynn finds the whole thing ridiculous. But it’s just for fun and she is, after all, on vacation at Christmas Inn, where bells are legendary.

The same day, she comes face to face with Daniel Sheridan—the male standard by which she’s measured, and found lacking, every man she’s dated since he moved away during their senior year of high school. Is it mere coincidence that her first promidiction hints at a reunion with someone from her past?

A widower, Daniel is at the Hope Creek, Tennessee resort with his adorable little girl and her less-than-agreeable nanny, who’s unpleasant to everyone—except her handsome boss. Karynn refuses to hope for a rekindled romance, but her old flame has lost none of his irresistible high school charm. She should have stayed at home in Quillpoint. She was doing just fine without bells on her toes, a jealous nanny, and a sapphire-eyed airline pilot who might fly away with her heart…again.



Excerpt:
“We’re early.” Karynn Michaels glanced at her cell phone screen. “By a whole two hours. How could we have over-estimated driving time by that much?”
“We didn’t.” Her sister swung her luxury sedan into a small shopping center a few blocks from their destination and slid smoothly into a parking slot. She shot Karynn an impish grin and opened her door. “I got us here early so you could get a head start on unwrapping your gift.”
“Savannah!” She climbed out, and then stood for a second, listening for the beep that assured her the doors were locked. “What are you up to now?”
Her gaze swept the storefronts lined up side by side. The little strip mall boasted only a half dozen or so businesses. Which of them was her sister all set to dash into and lay down more money?
Savannah could afford to spend lavishly, now that she’d married Dr. Darren Quinn, brain surgeon extraordinaire. Karynn rejoiced in the couple’s happiness, and was thrilled for her sister—who grew up right along with her in the school of hard knocks, hard work and staying hard at it to keep the wolves from the door.
Still, despite her genuine joy in Savannah’s happiness and financial security, she cringed when the younger woman tossed money around like game board cash. This trip to Hope Creek, for instance. Why couldn’t her sister be like everyone else and just wrap up a bathrobe or a good book for her birthday? But no…nothing would do but to bring Karynn here—several hours from their hometown of Quillpoint—for a ten-day vacation at Christmas Inn. They’d be in Hope Creek all the way through Karynn’s birthday on December 25th. Darren would join them on Christmas Eve.
She didn’t dare think about the fact that Hearth & Home, the bed and breakfast that was her livelihood, would be closed for two entire weeks. She’d manage the loss of income by cutting corners for a while. Growing up poor taught a person how to live on less than most people thought possible.
Savannah rounded the hood of the car and pulled her into a tight hug. “Sis, just let me do this for you. Please? Darren wants me to. He gave me specific instructions to pull out all the stops and show you the time of your life.” She batted her long lashes like a preening prima donna. “He said he owes you for taking such awesome care of his ‘Precious’ until he could take over.”
They both burst out laughing, despite the truth of the exaggerated presentation. Dr. Quinn adored his wife and always referred to her as ‘my Precious,’ never mind the negative connotations brought about in recent years by a popular book-turned-movie. Unlike Karynn, Darren didn’t waste time and effort trying to please everyone.
Savannah grabbed her hand and tugged her along as she stepped out of the parking slot and up onto a wide sidewalk. “Seriously, Karynn, my husband thinks you’re pretty special, and he’s right. You are. So this year, we want to pamper you for your birthday. Will you just let us do that without fretting the entire time?”
“Oh, sweetie…I promise to try, but you know how I am.” Karynn heaved a hopeless sigh. “If life were to roll along without a single kink in the works, I’d fret because there’s nothing to fret about.”
“Well, then I’ll consider it my job to foil your frets. See this?” Savannah whirled in a circle and pivoted to a stop directly in front of Karynn, who came close to barreling into her.
“Vanna!” She brushed off her sweater, which didn’t need brushing. Still, it made her feel better to administer a stinging slap to something.
“Sorry, Sis. But look at me.” Savannah tilted her head forward, raised one perfect eyebrow and dipped the other one. “When you see me do this, you’ll know you’re being an old fuddy-duddy fretter.”
“What are you, eight years old?” Karynn tried to give her sister a stern look, but when Savannah only repeated the ‘fuddy-duddy’ alert, she burst out laughing instead. “Fine. I will try to behave more like my crazy, lighthearted, totally irresponsible little sister. Now, will you stop doing that?” She cast a furtive glance around. “People will think you’re strange.”
“Uh-uh…that’s fretting!” Still, Savannah stopped rolling her eyes, linked arms with Karynn and they were on the move again. “Anyway, I am strange.”
“Well, you got that right.” Karynn giggled, and then blinked. Twice. Giggling? Really? Now who’s the eight-year-old?
“This is it!” Savannah trilled. “We’re here.”
Karynn read the sign on the window and suppressed a sigh.
Nail It.
“I take it we’re getting manicures?”

“And pedicures—a double-digits treat. And we’re right on time for our appointment.” She opened the door, enacted an exaggerated bow, and waved Karynn inside with a flourish. “After you, birthday girl!”



My review:
I love the idea of promidictions and the way they've been woven into this charming story. Karynn and Daniel have a past and a present that could very well impact any future they could have. Not to mention a totally adorable child who takes to Karynn immediately.
This was a lovely story to curl up with on a bitterly cold day.


AMAZON US      AMAZON UK

Character Interview.

1. Tell us your name and a little bit about yourself?
My name is Karynn Michaels. I’m a few years shy of 30, and I own a bed and breakfast called Hearth & Home. I’m not the most exciting person in the world. I mean, seriously…I’m the official maid, doorkeeper and billing manager for a revolving cast of strangers—not that I’m complaining. I inherited Hearth & Home when my aunt passed away, and having that source of income allowed me to become my sister’s legal guardian when we lost our parents in a plane crash. God had that path all smoothed out for us before we ever knew we’d need to walk it, and I’m so, so grateful!
Oh, I’m not married. Working 24/7 doesn’t offer lots of opportunity to meet people, but I have to be honest—that’s not why I don’t have a husband. My single status probably has more to do with a young man I knew in high school, and a box of memories stashed on a shelf in my closet…
2. Tell us about where you live and why you choose to live there?
I’ve lived my whole life in Quillpoint, Tennessee. It’s where my parents lived, and their parents too. This town’s a Michaels family tradition. It’s not big—population’s around 19,000. Nevertheless, we are proud to be “The Sharpest Little City in the Country.” Pretty pointed play on the word, wouldn’t you say?
3. What is a quirk of your personality that most people wouldn't know?
I’m a fretter. If life rolled along without a single kink in the works, I’d fret because there’s nothing to fret about. But I manage to hide it most of the time, and most folks just think I’m shy (which I am) and withdrawn (which isn’t true, and I don’t like that label!). Savannah knows I fret , and refuses to allow it when she’s around. My high school boyfriend knew too…and he figured out pretty fast that if I’m having fun, I don’t remember to fret. But then, that was a lifetime ago. I’m not even sure why I mentioned it.

4. Name two things you would hate people to know about you?
You want me to tell everyone two things I don’t want them to know. Hmm…odd question. But I’m answering it, and that’s got to be odder than odd. Two things, then.
1.       I did mention that box in my closet, right?
2.       I’d gladly hitchhike all the way across the country and back to keep from boarding a plane. And the thought of anyone I love going up in one of those metal monsters…well, let’s just say it’s the stuff my nightmares are made of. (Shudder!)
5. Tell us about your special lady/bloke. What makes her/him special? 
I did mention that I’m not married, right? I’m not involved with anyone either, but it’s OK. I can always rock my sister’s as-yet-unborn babies and be the doting spinster aunt. My only serious boyfriend was Daniel. That was a lifetime ago, but I’ll talk about what made him special.
He was handsome, sweet, gentle…all that, despite being a “star” quarterback and one of the most popular boys in the school. We spent every waking moment together. We laughed at everything and nothing, talked incessantly, and just…really loved each other. His family moved away during our senior year, and we tried to stay in touch, but eventually we lost contact. Long-distance relationships….they seldom work out, even when the two parties are adults. Daniel and I were teenagers, and that teary goodbye on the bleachers at Quillpoint High was the beginning of the end for us.
My sister says I’m not hard to look at (Hehehe!), and I’ve given the romance thing a shot with a guy or two since high school, but they all lacked that certain something. You know…? Savannah says the missing element was that none of them were Daniel. She’s an incurable romantic.
6. The first time you saw her/him, what did you think? Did you like her/him immediately, or did she/he have to grow on you?
7. What would he/she hate people to know about her?
8. What is your favourite thing to eat and drink?
I’m a coffee lover, and I like to experiment with different flavors. Peppermint coffee’s my current favorite, but I still love a great cup of hot chocolate too. And food…oh my, I love the stuff. I’ll try any dish once, and if it isn’t love at first bite, well…I’m a good sport. I’ll give it a second try…or third, or… (lol!) Good thing I make a dozen trips up and down two flights of stairs every day. Gives those calories a run for their money.
9. If you had to fight, what would be your weapon of choice and why?
Can it be a word battle, please?
10. Pepsi or coke
Bite your tongue! Dr. Pepper.
11. tea or coffee
12. elephant or tiger
13. roast dinner or burger and chips (fries for our US readers)
14. classical music or pop
Country isn’t a choice? Now there’s something to fret about!
15. sunrise or sunset
If I didn’t have to get up early to lay out the Continental breakfast for my guests, I’d never see a sunrise.  I’ve learned to love them, but I have to admit I still favor a gorgeous sunset.
16. chocolate or crisps (chips for our US readers)
Chocolate. Is that a trick question?
17. What would you like on your epitaph?
He really rang her bell. (Let people guess what it means, right?)

Clare, thank you so much! I’ve enjoyed chatting with you. If you’re ever in Quillpoint, Tennessee, please do look me up at Hearth & Home. I promise not to fret while you’re there—we’ll be having too much fun!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

With Bells On - Mary Manners

Nestled into five beautiful acres just outside Hope Creek, Tennessee, Christmas Inn is an unforgettable place known for its joyful atmosphere and festive setting. Holiday decorations adorn each room. Trees glittering with ribbons and ornaments, gorgeous wreaths, velvet stockings and pine-scented candles brighten visitors’ stay at this vacation spot dedicated to Christmas all year, every year. The resort offers all the usual enticements plus one unique amenity…love. The little white chapel behind the inn, built by the Christmas family in the 1890s, boasts bell tower bells that toll when couples fall in love.
But Christmas Inn has fallen on hard times. The chapel bells haven’t rang for many years, and this Christmas may be the final celebration at the resort…unless love finds its way home.

Book 3


Blurb:

When Emilee Lancaster’s aunt calls her home to Hope Creek for the holidays, Emmy readily agrees to assist with a charity event at the family theater—until she finds herself front-and-center stage with her high school flame, Jayson Taylor. She’s not thrilled about the pairing, but she’s made a promise to her aunt, and unlike Jayson, she keeps her promises.

Jayson Taylor makes his living building sets for Dahlia Brewster's Family Theater. When the Christmas show's emcee falls ill, Dahlia asks Jayson to step from the backstage and into the limelight. He's more comfortable working behind the scenes, but the country-singing superstar has always treated him like a favorite son, so Jayson reluctantly agrees. Center-stage at Christmas—especially beside dream-chasing Emmy Lancaster, who once ran off and broke his heart—is not where he planned to be.

But God has other plans, and what happens when the curtain falls and the stage lights dim truly reflects the heart of this holiday season.

Excerpt:

Prima donna…
      The words echoed through Emmy’s mind as she fought through dance moves for the opening song of the Christmas show’s second act. Who did Jayson think he was, referring to her in such a manner? Why, she ought to march right over there and—
      “Emilee Marie!” Aunt Dahlia’s tone made nails along a chalkboard seem mild. “Where is your head today—or should I say, where is your timing?”
      “I’m sorry.” Emmy caught herself before she plowed into Jayson who stood behind her. She’d allowed her thoughts—make that Jayson—to distract her, and now all eyes were upon her. Even Max, curled up at one side of the stage, seemed to censure her lack of coordination.
She huffed out a breath and struggled for bearings. They’d been at it for hours, and, though the others in the cast seemed on target, she couldn’t tap into the groove. “I just can’t seem to get this number.”
      “Here, let me help you.” Jayson reached for her hand. There was no animosity in his voice, and he seemed to have completely forgotten their earlier conversation.
But she hadn’t. Prima donna…
“I can manage on my own.” She squared her shoulders and crossed her arms, stubborn taking hold.
“Of course you can.” He winked. How could he be so calm when her insides tangled like spaghetti noodles? “It’s not hard. Just go like this…”
Before she could object, he spun and then dipped her with an ease that seemed almost surreal. His breath warmed her neck and she got caught up in the scent and feel of him, floating in a dream that brought her back to their dating days.
She missed a step, stumbled over his feet, and then she was falling again.
“Wait.” She pressed a palm to Jayson’s chest and felt a firm terrain of muscles that
strained beneath his T-shirt. His hand rested gently along the small of her back, as if it belonged there. “I’ll fall.”
“I’d never let you fall, Emmy.” He gazed at her with a look that said he meant every
word. “You almost had it. Just follow my lead. I’ll get you there. We’ll get there together.”
      “No.” She broke contact and backed away. This—being so close to Jayson—was just too much. Her thoughts churned like a tumultuous storm, her rhythm frayed. She hadn’t expected to feel this…such a strong attraction after so much time apart. What was there to make of it? “I need to catch my breath.”
      Maybe Jayson’s right…perhaps I’m being a bit of a prima donna, allowing my thoughts to sabotage this rehearsal.
      “I think we all need to catch our breath.” Jayson jammed his hands into the front pockets of his jeans. The denim caressed his long, muscular limbs like a specially-tailored glove.
“Can we take five, please?” Emmy dabbed beads of perspiration from her forehead. The stage lights heated her through like an oven set to broil. “I’ll take a quick look at the dance tape once more, and maybe these steps will finally cement in my brain.”
“Sure. Take ten…hours, that is.” Aunt Dahlia nodded from center stage, her teased blonde hair still perfectly coifed but her face flushed into a mask of concern. “We’ve done enough today, and I don’t think you’re fully recovered from jet lag, Emilee. We’ll all take a break and get back at it tomorrow morning.”
      “Thanks, Auntie.” Emmy felt Jayson’s gaze burning a hole through her back. Of course, his dance moves had been seamless, as if he’d practiced for months. But she knew that wasn’t the case, so how did he manage to look like Fred Astaire when she was Left-Feet-Louie? “I am a bit pooped.”
“Rest will work wonders, dear, and we still have a few days to prepare before the show opens to the public.”
“As long as that winter storm the meteorologists are predicting doesn’t decide to settle over us,” Jayson chimed in. “Last I heard it’s spiraling up from the gulf, picking up steam, and is forecasted to dump a good deal of the white stuff over the mountains—and Hope Creek—this coming weekend.”
“Well, we’re just not going to worry our pretty little heads about that until it happens—if it even happens.” Aunt Dahlia headed toward the dressing room area. “You go on, then and enjoy your evening. I have to do a little Christmas shopping in Knoxville, so Jayson will take you to the inn, Emmy.”
      “What?” The idea of being sequestered in a car with Jayson—even for a short drive—thrust Emmy into full-blown panic mode. “No thanks, Aunt Dahlia. I’m sure Jayson doesn’t want to be bothered with driving me.”
“Of course he does.” Aunt Dahlia turned back slightly to offer a saucy wink. “And Max will chaperone, so you’ll be fine.”
Emmy looked to Jayson, hoping he’d speak up against Aunt Dahlia’s manipulation, but he merely stood there, grinning as if they’d planned this all along.
Had they?
Mindful of the cast watching this scene unfold, Emmy cleared her throat and carefully chose her words.
“But a drive to the inn might be out of his way.” If Emmy remembered correctly, Jayson lived the opposite direction. But that had been years ago, so maybe he’d moved. She wasn’t at all sure anymore. How much had changed since she left for California—and how much had remained the same? “I don’t want to inconvenience him.”
      “Oh, no worries there, dear.” Aunt Dahlia waggled ruby-tipped fingers adorned by rings with gemstones that glittered beneath the lights. “Isn’t it a lovely coincidence that Jayson’s staying at the inn too?”

My review:
Jayson and Emmy broke up seven years ago and that they thought was that. She moved on and he stayed put in Hope Creek. Charged with building the set for the Christmas fundraiser, he steps in as leading man at the last minute, much to Emmy's dismay.
Yet another page turning story from the Ms. Manners, which tosses you straight into a heartwarming take of love the second time around. Throw in Christmas, a snowstorm and you have just the thing to snuggle up with on a cold winter's night.


Character Interview:
Tell us your name and a little bit about yourself? My name is Jayson Taylor. I have two passions: Set construction for Dahlia Brewster's Family Theater and Emmy Lancaster.

Tell us about where you live and why you choose to live there? I have been a life-long resident of Hope Creek. I love the close-knit community nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, and I especially love my new digs at Christmas Inn. I hope, when Emmy comes home for a visit, that we'll hear the bells toll at the Christmas In Chapel. I plan on testing out the legend of true love by sharing a kiss with Emmy.

What is a quirk of your personality that most people wouldn't know? I sing in the shower--mostly off-key.

Tell us about your special lady. What makes her special? Emmy Lancaster is my special gal. We had something good going before she took off for California. She planned on being a movie star, and because it was her dream I wanted to see her make it. But it broke my heart o watch her go. Things haven't gone as planned for her, I suppose, because she's come back to Hope Creek. I only hope that this time she's come home for good.

What would she hate people to know about her? That she can be pretty high maintenance, but I get that about her and love her even when she's letting her pride get the best of her.

What is your favourite thing to eat and drink? Double chocolate chunk cookies and ice cold milk.

If you had to fight, what would be your weapon of choice and why? Oh, I'd have to say my drill. I'm pretty good with it -- building things. I'm sure I'd be just as good at dismantling them, should the need arise.

Pepsi or coke  Mountain Dew

tea or coffee  Oh, coffee for sure. Load that cup with the sweet stuff, too.

roast dinner or burger and chips (fries for our US readers) Man, I am definitely a burger guy, but I can talk myself into a roast if I'm sharing the meal with Emmy.

classical music or pop   Definitely pop. It's easier to dance and sing to.

sunrise or sunset   Sunset beneath the stars on a clear night with a warm breeze whispering through the trees.

walk or run    Walking hand-in-hand with Emmy. There's sure no reason to rush things.

chocolate or crisps (chips for our US readers)    Seriously? It's chocolate, hands down.