Will the magic still be there when they wake on Christmas morning?
Rudi comes to Santa’s Secret Village in the Arctic Circle looking to sell the resort, having long since lost his Christmas spirit. His seven-year-old daughter already knows the truth about Santa, and neither of them is in the mood for the festive season.
But then they meet Eva, struggling with a suitcase that bursts and scatters her underwear in the snow. Practically a recluse since the death of her husband eighteen months before, Eva’s not looking for romance and is there to try to make Christmas more festive this year for her young son. But she brings an unexpected sparkle to Rudi and Isabel’s lives that renews their belief in the magic of Christmas.
As the weather grows colder, things heat up between Rudi and Eva. But will the magic still be there when they wake on Christmas morning?
Warning: contains hot and sexy scenes in a Finnish sauna and a huge dollop of Christmas magic.
Eva wants this Christmas to be festive for her son Oscar. She’d been pretty much a recluse since her husband died and this holiday to Santa’s Secret Village was just what they needed.
Rudi is the new owner of the Village and in order to evaluate the property for sale, he is there incognito with his daughter, Isabel. It’s his mother’s hope he’ll connect with his daughter more and work a little less.
I really love the whole concept of this story. Two single parents, one a widow, the other divorced coming to the village to reconnect with their children.
Now I admit, Rudi was working more than spending time with Isabel, but Eva and Oliver would change gradually that.
Isabel is a charming well behaved seven year old, and Oscar is a hyper three year old. The two of them together is delightful to read. A favorite scene is when Isabel suggests they join Eva and Oscar in the Exhibition hall.
“Where would you like to go?” he asked. “We could visit Santa’s Playground.” The theme park brought in the most money in the complex, so he was keen to cast his eye over it. “Or maybe go for a reindeer ride.” Every child’s dream!
But to his surprise, Isabel pointed over to the Exhibition Centre. Two figures were disappearing into the building: Eva in her brown duffle coat and a red bobble hat, Oscar running ahead of her.
“There is the lady from last night,” Isabel said.
“Eva,” Rudi said, her name giving him a little glow inside.
“Yes, Eva and Oscar. Can we join them?”
“I thought he annoyed you,” Rudi said, smiling.
“He is naughty. But he is also fun.” Isabel scratched her nose. “Can we, Daddy?”
“Of course.” He took her hand, and they crossed the road to the Exhibition Centre.
They were met with a rush of warm air when Rudi pushed open the door. He stood for a moment in the foyer, taken aback by the high ceilings and the beauty of the decorations. He had expected more sickly-sweet representations of the Santa theme. It was true the woman standing by the door to the main exhibition wore an elf costume, and the décor consisted of the usual red and green colors, but the artist who’d painted the huge mural covering the whole of one wall had done a superb job. It showed a smiling Santa riding his sleigh through a wintry night, with Rudolph leading the reindeer at the front, his red nose shining with sparkling paint. Behind them, the artist had painted the aurora borealis, which glowed with iridescent greens and blues against the midnight sky.
“They did a good job, didn’t they?” It was Eva, who had come over to stand beside him. “What a wonderful painting. I wish I could paint like that!”
He smiled. “Good morning.” She’d undone her duffle coat, and beneath it she wore jeans with a white sweater with a silvery thread that, matched with the red scarf, made her look festive and bright.
“Hyvaa huomenta,” she said, then grinned. “How did that sound?”
“Almost right,” he said, touched she’d bothered to learn the Finnish words. “Except it’s HUU-vaa not HY-vaa.”
She said it again, perfectly this time, and he nodded. nodded. “I’m terrible with languages,” she admitted as they entered the exhibition. “I just don’t have an ear for them. I have no idea how you can be fluent in two.”
“Actually I speak French and German as well.” The truth was he spoke English the best of his non-native languages because Vanessa was half-English, but he didn’t want to talk about his ex-wife today.
She turned startled eyes on him. “Good grief. That is impressive.”
He decided to think of more remarkable things to tell her so she would look at him like that again, a mixture of admiration and wonderment, as if he’d told her he had walked on the moon. “It is not so difficult,” he said, trying to be self-deprecating and not wanting to appear arrogant. “And besides, I am not quite there yet. I still find contractions difficult.”
“I noticed. You say ‘I am’ not ‘I’m’, for example. But you shouldn’t change. You have a lovely accent.”
He’d always considered the Finnish accent comical, hating the tell-tale musical lilt, and tried to eliminate it when he could. But her compliment pleased him. “Thank you.”
She smiled. “That’s a nice picture, look.” She indicated Oscar and Isabel who were sitting on a bench together, watching a cartoon about Christmas customs in different parts of the world. She removed her phone from her jeans pocket and took a photo of the two of them. “I’ll send that to Bridget, my mother-in-law.”
“Good idea.” He took one as well. “I will send it to my mother. She will be thrilled I have brought Izzy out of the cabin and into the big wide world!”
Woods, Serenity. Santa’s Secret (Christmas Wishes Book 1) (Kindle Locations 538-578). Kindle Edition.
The build up is slow and sensuous as Rudi and Eva find more than just friendship.
It’s not all smooth sailing though. Oscar has temper tantrums and Isabel has issues with her parent’s divorce.
With Oscar’s help, Isabel discovers more fun to go with her manners and they both discover there’s more than a little magic to the holiday.
A truly delightful Christmas tale with more than enough heat to melt the snow.
5 Contented Purrs for Serenity!
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USA Today Bestselling Author Serenity Woods lives in the sub-tropical Northland of New Zealand with her wonderful husband and gorgeous teenage son. She writes hot and sultry contemporary romances with a happy ever after, and she would much rather immerse herself in reading or writing romance than do the dusting and ironing, which is why it’s not a great idea to pop round if you have any allergies.