Countdown to Christmas: A Merrily Matched Christmas

Unwrapped in time for Christmas 2017!

Snuggle up with new holiday favorites for a kiss under the mistletoe. From handsome strangers to second chances, this collection will keep your heart warm and toasty this holiday season! So grab some eggnog and a blanket and curl up by the fire with a sexy new book boyfriend!

A Merrily Matched Christmas
Six Holiday Novellettes
By
Virgina Nelson
Ashelyn Drake
River Ford
Beth Fred
Cate Grimm
Lily Vega

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A Merry Matchmaker Mess
USA Today Bestselling Author
Virginia Nelson
Veronica “Ronnie” Murray loved fixer-upper projects, and she’d never met one as challenging as her absentminded and sometimes grumpy genius coworker, Elijah Conrad. She’s determined to help him find love, but a stolen Christmas kiss has her more than a little conflicted.

I have to say I love Ronnie, she’s quirky, mischievous and generous. However like many of us, she doesn’t see what’s right in front of her.

Elijah, is lonely. Something he discovers as he spends more time with Ronnie. He finds it ironic that she keeps pushing single women his way but really he wants her.

This is a favorite scene as they get to know each other.

Then she was taking a step back and laughing a bit nervously. “Sorry, I’m flighty—everyone says so. Never watch where I’m going.”

“You’re not flighty,” he corrected with a scowl. “Animals are great.”

“Sorry?” she asked, looking confused.

Stepping very intentionally into her space, he did what he’d been longing to do for months. He reached out and brushed the hair back behind one of her ears, stroking his fingertips down her lobe before touching the hidden hot pink hair beneath. He’d wondered if it would be as soft as the rest of her hair looked or if it would feel dried out or harder due to the color.

Soft and sleek, he found. Warm from her scalp and slipping through his fingers with the speed and silky slipperiness of sand through his hands at the beach. A soft flush touched her cheeks and she didn’t move away as he said very slowly, “I like animals. You asked what I thought about animals, and I was answering you. I like animals, although I’m not sure I’d ever want to own a goat.”

He turned and walked away from her before her startled flush tempted him to do more—to duck down and steal that kiss he’d been thinking about, or maybe twine their fingertips.

“Hey!” she yelped, springing into motion. “Wait up!”

“Not going anywhere, Veronica.” He liked the way her name slid off his tongue—all those syllables because she was fascinating and her name should be, too. “Just grabbing a loaf of bread.”

“Why not a goat?” she asked.

He didn’t resist the smile that tugged his lips upward. “They eat anything, and I have a lot of expensive cords and devices. I’d hate to bring an animal into my home that might chew up my phone.”

Her nose scrunched delicately. “Who brings a goat in the house?”

“A responsible goat owner,” he said, smile stretching further.

“That’s the weirdest thing I think you’ve ever said in my presence, Elijah Conrad.”

“Just wait,” he advised. “We’re just getting to know one another. I’m sure I’ll come up with some weirder stuff, given time.”
Nelson, Virginia. A Merrily Matched Christmas (Kindle Locations 798-817). Kindle Edition.

A fun, sometimes silly, with a just touch of snark, holiday read.

5 Contented Purrs for Virginia!

Virginia’s Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Amazon Author Page


Lovers of Christmas Past
USA Today Bestselling Author
Ashelyn Drake
Nick Masters never got over Holly Michaels leaving him at the altar five years ago. Now, he’s volunteered to play the part of Santa at the children’s center’s Christmas celebration to get close to Holly again. Can he convince her he’s worth a second chance?

When a bride leaves the groom at the alter, there’s always a good reason. In Holly’s case the reason was children, and since Nick didn’t want them she couldn’t face a life not ever being a mother.

Nick hasn’t gotten over the fact he was left at the alter, but over the years he has changed his mind about children.

This is a favorite scene when she kind of gets trapped into a dinner date with Nick.

I’ve always liked April, but right now I could kiss her. She just pushed Holly into my waiting arms.

“Perfect. Do you need to go home first or are you good to go as is?” I’m hoping she’ll opt to go home first. I’d love to see where she lives and maybe convince her to spend the night in with me. I want her all to myself to find out if she still feels what I do between us.

“I’m fine like this,” she says.

“Great.” I force a smile on my face and motion for her to lead the way out of the office. She walks past April, glaring at her.

April hesitates, a smile on her face, and then she whispers to me, “You’re welcome.”

“Thank you,” I whisper back.

Holly starts for the back door but then hesitates. “Oh, how should we do this? I’m parked in the back. Do you want me to follow you, or do you want to follow me?”

It’s like she’s determined to keep space between us.

“Why don’t I drive and I’ll bring you back to your car after dinner?”

She doesn’t respond right away, and I’m sure she’s trying to come up with a reason why this plan wouldn’t work. She can’t, though. “Okay, I guess.”

I start for the front door and hold it open for her. Instead of walking through it, she pauses. “Oh, I forgot my coat in my office. Just give me a second.”

“No worries,” I say, removing my jacket. “You know I’m always hot.”

She pauses at my words, and I realize how that must have sounded to her.

“I mean, I don’t get cold easily.” I force a laugh. “Remember I used to wear shorts well into December? I can’t do that anymore, but…” I’m babbling like a frickin’ idiot.

She smiles. “You still ramble when you’re nervous, huh?”

I sigh. “What can I say? You still have that effect on me.”
Nelson, Virginia. A Merrily Matched Christmas (Kindle Locations 261-267). Kindle Edition.

I have to say I sniffled a lot in this one. There’s a lot of love, children, Santa and well everything that makes Christmas, Christmas.

A thoroughly enjoyable read with just the right amount of heat!

5 Contented Purrs for Ashelyn!

Ashelyn’s Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Amazon Author Page


A Christmas Prayer
River Ford
Lindsey prays that moving east with her two year-old daughter will give them both the life they deserve. A car accident leaves her stranded in the middle of Wyoming. Jake comes to her rescue, and if Lindsey can learn to trust, they may find that love is the answer to both of their prayers.

Lindsay has been thrown the worst curve of her life. Now on the road with her daughter to stay with her brother, she ends up in a huge snowdrift when a truck speeds by her and she over corrects in the blast of snow.

Jake had been some distance behind her and saw her go off the road. In the middle of relative nowhere, he knew help would be a long time coming if he didn’t stop. Sometimes, prayer or fate, whatever you choose to call it, works.

This is a favorite scene as Jake gets her settled in his family’s not yet opened bed and breakfast.

Lindsey looked physically and emotionally worn out. She slumped in the chair with circles under her puffy eyes. The seat belt mark was lighter, but she’d have a burn mark for a few more days. She tried to sit straighter, her hand moving halfway to her hair before she let it rest on the table.

“Jessica was telling me she’d like you to stay for Christmas. We’d love to have you here, but didn’t you mention a brother?” Jake almost winced. Smooth. He just didn’t know how to ease into things, but he’d work on it.
Lindsey looked from Jessica to Jake and back. “Yes, I’m heading to his house. He sent me a key to his apartment.”

“Wait, he won’t be there?” Jessica asked.

“Not until after New Year’s.”

“Then you should stay here. There’s loads of fun stuff coming up in town. The dance at the resort, and we still need to decorate the tree for the front parlor. I bet Katie would love that.” Jessica fairly danced in place.

“I already feel like I’m intruding on your family time.” Lindsey glanced at Marion, then refocused on Jake. “Maybe we should see about my car and then I’ll think about it.”

Jake nodded. “TJ is headed out there now. It’ll take him a while to bring it in and look it over. If you want, Dad and I will play with Katie so you can get a nap. You look worn out.”

Jessica elbowed him in the side. When he glanced at her, she rolled her eyes.

“What?” he whispered.

“You’re hopeless.” Jessica threw her hands in the air. “I’ll keep an eye on the men while they watch Katie.”

Marion laughed. “They’ll be fine, Jessica. You need to help me bring the decorations down from the attic.” She stood and pulled Lindsey to her feet. “You do need some sleep though. Come with me.”

“But I want to play with Katie too.” Jessica put on an exaggerated pouty face making them all laugh.

“Thank you. All of you.” Lindsey’s eyes looked watery, but she didn’t cry. “If Katie needs me, please come get me.”

“Will do.” Jake watched his mom lead Lindsey out the door.

Jessica punched him again. “What was that for?” he asked.

“You’re supposed to make her want to stay, not tell her she looks tired. No woman likes to hear that.”
Nelson, Virginia. A Merrily Matched Christmas (Kindle Locations 1333-1354). Kindle Edition.

A sweet fun filled read, with all the components of that make a perfect Christmas.

5 Contented Purrs for River!

River’s Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Amazon Author Page


All I Want for Christmas Is My Book Boyfriend
Beth Fred
Katie doesn’t need a real boyfriend when she has the perfect book boyfriend, but when she ends up on a Christmas cruise–of sorts–alone with Eledon she finds the mutual attraction hard to ignore. Can Katie find a real happily ever after or is she destined to live in books?

This one had me cracking up right from reading the blurb. I mean who doesn’t want to meet their book boyfriend in a guy that’s not make-believe.

Of course the book makes me tear up at the beginning, with a selfless act by Katie. Then it has me laughing with the alternate plan made possible by ‘Santa’.

This is a favorite scene as her ‘cruise’ to Jamaica get off to an unusual start.

“You dock this boat right now, or I’ll have you arrested for kidnapping.”

Eledon laughed. “But you have your ticket. I’m sure no one would believe I stole you away.”

“What happened to the couple you mentioned?”

“I called Ryan to make sure he was okay before I pulled the anchor. Pete told him they were flying down to meet us and would sail back with us. Ryan might be able to fly in to.”

“Why would you pull the anchor without even asking me?”

He held her gaze. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize I needed permission to pull my anchor back up to my boat. You were sleeping and since you seemed a bit…” He paused as if considering his words. “Tightly wound, I thought you could use the sleep.”

“The whole night, though?”

He held her gaze. “That generally is what people do at night.”

She shook her head. “You need permission to cart me off to Jamaica with you.”

“I kind of thought I had your permission when you came aboard and then sent my friend home.”

“Your friend is very lucky I happened to be here. If he had waited much longer, his illness would be a whole lot worse.”

“All the same, you seemed to be in complete control of the situation. If you didn’t want to be here, you should have left.”

She folded her hands in front of her, inhaled, and exhaled, the way Eliam taught Elizabeth to do. Finding enough calm to settle herself, she lifted her head and met his gaze. “I will pay you to dock and let me off.”

His grin grew wider.

She noticed a dimple. That dimple made it harder not to stare. This man was gorgeous.

“If you give me money, I’ll throw it overboard.”

She bit her lip. “Well, then just let me off.”

“No.”

“Why?”

He laughed. “I have no idea why, but I enjoy seeing Dr. Fake Nails in a situation she can’t control.”

Her cheeks heated, and she bit the inside of her lips to keep from smiling. His confession both infuriated and elated her. “That’s horrible. You don’t even know me and you enjoy seeing me upset. What kind of monster are you?”

He leaned in and whispered, “The kind that makes you blush.”
Nelson, Virginia. A Merrily Matched Christmas (Kindle Locations 2076-2098). Kindle Edition.

The snark, the ‘book boyfriend’, hold your breath unexpected, and things that bring tears, make this a perfect holiday read.

5 Contented Purrs for Beth!

Beth’s Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Amazon Author Page


A Cowboy for Christmas
Cate Grimm
Fashionista Sarah Jayne traded in her Laredos for Louboutins and planned to make it big in New York City. When her life in the Big Apple falls apart, she comes home to Love, Texas and runs into Cody Hayes. Will Love, Texas be the perfect place for two people with wanderlust to find a happily ever
after?

I love second chance love, and this one has it in spades.

Cody and Sarah have each pursued different goals, far away from Love, Texas. She opened a boutique in Manhattan, and he travels the world photographing anything with a story behind it.

They both end up in Texas for Christmas, Cody with his son, and Sarah without the fiancé she expected to bring.

This is a favorite scene as Sarah tells her Aunt about Cody and his son being in town.

“Speaking of worthy men. Guess who I saw at the airport last night?” Sarah tried to force a bit of breezy nonchalance into her tone when she added. “Cody.”

“The Hayes boy? Now there’s a nomad if ever I saw one. I seem to remember him being the no strings attached type.” Aunt Jo was right about that. Except, Cody had said he wasn’t quite so opposed to strings.

“He seems to be warming to the strings. He has a son now.”

“I had no idea he’d married,” Aunt Jo said. “Ellen never said anything. I would have expected her to be shouting that from the rooftops.”

“Cody’s not married,” Sarah said.” His son’s name is Davie and he’s eight.”

“An eight-year-old definitely comes with strings,” Aunt Jo said. “And they tie your heart up with a bow.”

“But, I’m not sure those strings will lead to roots.” Sarah wasn’t even sure Cody wanted roots. “Maybe the strings between him and Davie are enough.”

“Maybe that’s worth exploring while you’re here. Since you don’t have other plans.”

“Maybe.” Exasperated with her inability to make a firm decision about anything right now, Sarah said, “Maybe I should just wrap myself up in a Christmas bow and offer him a no strings affair.”

Aunt Jo leaned in, patted Sarah’s knee and said, “Maybe you should.” Then she stood and added, “Right now, maybe you should be neighborly and say hello. I’m sure I need to borrow a cup of sugar from Ellen.”
Nelson, Virginia. A Merrily Matched Christmas (Kindle Locations 2857-2869). Kindle Edition.

Laughter and fun with some steamy thrown in for good measure. Blending of the past and present, plus some Christmas activities I’m sure will trigger memories of your own.

5 Contented Purrs for Cate!

Cate’s Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Amazon Author Page


Merry Mismatch
Lily Vega
Stick-in-the-mud Director of Finance Aaron gets under edgy party girl Zara’s skin. Can they survive the Windy City Gaming’s holiday retreat in spite of their growing attraction and Aaron’s ex-girlfriend’s quest to eliminate the competition by getting Zara fired?

It truly sucks when your immediate boss is the ex of the company owner. Zara knows there’s a good chance she’s going to lose her job at Windy City Gaming, but she’s going to pitch her game, and try to save her favorite from the axe.

Aaron knows Zara is the one who taunts his OCD by changing out his office supplies and rearranging his desk slightly. He finds it amusing, and he likes her far more than he’d care to admit. He knows that work-place romances can end up quite uncomfortable when things end.

This is a favorite scene as Aaron picks Zara up for the ride to the retreat.

Thank goodness Zara volunteered for the trip. Cheryl had been acting strangely. He worried one of her goals for the trip was a reconciliation. He didn’t want to get back together with Cheryl. Zara was the person he couldn’t get off his mind.

Her unpredictability was as exhilarating as it was frightening. Until he met her, he’d thought himself allergic to surprises.

She was off limits. Unfortunately, his libido didn’t get the memo on his ban on dating company employees.

He poured a dollop of coconut milk into his coffee, added a couple of packets of raw sugar, and stirred before taking a sip. Different than he was used to, but not bad. The drink could grow on him like Zara had.

Something rubbed against his leg. He jerked and splattered coffee on his shirt.

A black cat blinked up at him. “Licorice likes you.”

Zara reached around him to scratch behind the cat’s ears. Her scent, a combination of rose and vanilla, stirred his desire.

“I like licorice,” he said, “but not the cat kind. I’m a dog person.”

“What kind of dog do you have?”

“I don’t have a dog. Well, I did have one. Tiny is a toy poodle.” He hadn’t argued when Cheryl insisted on keeping the dog, but he missed being greeted when he came home from work. Even if the one doing the greeting was dyed cotton candy pink.

“Losing your pet must have been awful.” She scooped up the cat. “Poodle, huh? I never pictured you with a purse-sized pet. I figured you’d own a big dog.”

“Tiny has too much energy to be contained. Will the cat be okay while you’re gone?”

“My neighbor will be watching Licorice.” She gave her pet one last cuddle and placed him on the floor.

“She has a key?” He really needed to have a chat with her about security.

“Yes, he does. Warren bails me out whenever I accidentally lock myself out.”
The idea of a strange man having 24/7 access to Zara’s apartment twisted his insides.

“Does that happen often?” He pictured a guy who fit perfectly in her life, someone spontaneous and quirky just like her. His polar opposite.

She shrugged. “Enough that I was glad he hung on to the key after we broke up.”

“We should get on the road. There’s a winter storm advisory.” His words came out clipped and formal as though they were at work rather than in her kitchen chatting about former lovers.
Nelson, Virginia. A Merrily Matched Christmas (Kindle Locations 3365-3387). Kindle Edition.

The retreat proved to be more of set up by Cheryl made even worse by the fact they were the only ones in attendance and it was pretty obvious she planned on having Aaron in her bed.

I loved how Aaron and Zara got to know each other better in spite of Cheryl. Even with the overtones of a holiday firing, this story was heartwarming, fun and sizzling.

5 Contented Purrs for Lily!

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