USA Today Bestselling Author
One beach cottage,
and a secret that could ruin everything…
Sheridan DeMarco would rather be anywhere than home for the holidays. Housesitting in South Carolina, far away from her new and chaotic blended family, sounds like the perfect way to spend Christmas. Until she arrives and realizes she isn’t as blissfully alone as she thought she would be…
Michael “Mikey” Patterson has a secret, one that requires him to stay out of sight until his attorney gives him the all clear. He finds the anonymity he needs in a small coastal town, but there’s a problem. Mikey isn’t the only one at the charming beach cottage, and the last thing he needs is a beautiful roommate named Sheridan who pushes all of his buttons.
All it takes is a sprig of mistletoe and one memorable kiss to make Sheridan and Mikey forget their plans to stay away from each other. But when his secret is revealed, can their newfound bond outlive the holiday season? Or will their happily ever after get tossed out with the discarded wrapping paper, ribbons, and tinsel?
In spite of the seriousness of the situation I almost had to laugh as Michael ‘Mikey’ Patterson faces off with his family. Thinking he needs an intervention because he now has two phones, he’s jobless, crashing on friends couches, being very secretive and now he wants to spend Christmas alone. Michael’s secret is a big one, he’s won a huge lottery and is going through a process to both help and protect his family. His state allows him to claim the prize anonymously and that’s how he’s handling this. However a video of people buying tickets has surfaced and his team recommends leaving town for a while.
Sheridan manages the only gallery in her hometown for her father, she also lives in the apartment above it. After a disastrous Thanksgiving dinner where she up and left in the middle, she’s waiting for the confrontation with her father. This confrontation occurs on the Saturday after, and what he does totally shocks her. He not only fires her, he informs her that Remy, his stepdaughter would be taking her job and her apartment. He’s giving her three days to vacate and has the audacity to tell her she has to train Remy. I have to say I was glad she quit on the spot, handing him the gallery keys and refusing to train anyone.
When Hope calls and asks Sheridan to housesit in Indigo Bay over the Christmas holiday, she jumps at the chance. She can use the time to regroup and be far away from the pity and rumors of Berry Creek. In exchange Sheridan would be cataloging Hope’s artwork and delivering a painting to be auctioned at a fundraiser.
Van who is marrying Michael’s sister, offers him the house in exchange for preparing stuff for the family New Year’s celebration. The location is perfect for Michael to be away and not have to constantly lie about things.
I really got a kick out of their first meeting in the cottage and the subsequent making of rules. However it’s as Sheridan finds she can’t transport the painting to the venue in her rental that begins a shift in the rules.
This is a favorite scene.
Sheridan headed to the framed seascape of Indigo Bay, hanging on the far wall where Hope told her the oil painting would be. The view appeared to be from the back deck. The sun’s position suggested morning. The picture captured the beach grass blowing in the breeze so realistically, she almost felt the wind against her skin. Two dogs ran across the sand near the waves rolling to shore.
The piece should raise a lot of money for the animal rescue.
In the closet, she found the carton and materials she needed. A few minutes later, she carried the box outside, but unlike the SUV crossover she drove in Berry Lake, the four-door rental car’s interior and trunk were both too small for the painting to fit.
What should I do?
Sheridan noticed Michael’s much bigger SUV. It was older, in need of a wash, but big enough to fit the painting. Yes, they’d agreed to keep their distance, but this was— not an emergency— but a way to help a person who was helping her. If he said no, she would see which ride app was cheapest in Indigo Bay.
She returned inside and placed the box against the wall near the entryway. A glance down the hallway showed Michael’s closed door, but music played. Not Christmas carols, but what sounded like classic rock. He must be awake because no one could sleep through that.
“Come in,” he called out.
Sheridan did and froze.
He was in bed. A blue-plaid comforter covered part of his bare chest. Okay, this was his room, not common space, but this was the third time she’d seen him, and twice he’d been shirtless.
He yawned. “Hey.”
His voice sounded sleepy, matching his bed hair that made him look even hotter.
What was wrong with her? She couldn’t blame thinking of him this way on jet lag. “Sorry if I woke you. I heard the music, so I thought you were up.”
“I’ve been hitting the snooze button for a while.” He sat, sending the comforter onto his lap. “What’s up?”
Oh, no. She stared at him as if she were seeing a man’s bare chest for the first time. She’d seen this view yesterday, too. But she had to admit his broad, muscular shoulders appealed to her more than those of the men who hung out at Berry Lake’s public beach.
She glanced around the room, trying to focus on anything except him. Her gaze landed on a Charleston RiverDogs bobblehead.
“Sheridan?” he asked.
“I need you.” As soon as the words left her mouth, she cringed. She hadn’t meant to say that. “Your help. I need your help. With Hope’s painting. The box won’t fit in my rental car. Your SUV looks big enough.”
Ugh. She was rambling. Time to try again. “Would you mind driving me to the B and B this morning? It isn’t far.”
If only she’d started with that.
No biggie. In less than two weeks, she would never see him again.
“Do you want to go now?”
“Yes.” The word shot out of her mouth. “I mean, sometime today. I’d like to get it dropped off sooner rather than later, but there’s no rush.”
As she pressed her lips together, she wondered about the odds of a hole opening and her falling inside. That might be a less painful way to go than facing Michael’s scrutiny. Something about him disarmed her. That wasn’t like her.
“Sure.” He dragged his hand through his hair. “Let me take a quick shower first.”
“Great. I’ll wait in the living room, but don’t rush.” She hated bothering him and asking for his help, so she didn’t want him to feel pressured. “We can go whenever you’re ready.”
Wicked laughter lit his eyes.
Her muscles bunched in anticipation of being teased or cut down. Deena and her minions had done that ever since the wedding. Sheridan had wanted to escape from that in Indigo Bay, but she would put up with anything Michael threw at her so she wouldn’t disappoint Hope.
“I won’t be long,” he said. “I’ll just need two sips of coffee before we leave.”
Wait. That was… it?
She waited for the punchline— him saying negative stuff about her.
His forehead creased. “Is there something you want to say?”
“Thanks.” As the word tumbled out of her mouth, the tension evaporated from her body.
Sheridan remained frozen in place, but she didn’t know why.
“Anything else?” he asked.
“Enjoy your shower.” No, that wasn’t right. She would try again. “How do you like your coffee?”
Melissa McClone. Sweet Yuletide (Kindle Locations 700-738). Cardinal Press, LLC.
From the venue, to breakfast and shopping these two start to get to know each other.
As they plan a real Christmas the fun begins and Mistletoe plays a part in getting them together. Of course nothing is going to go as planned and they both face a challenge to their beliefs. All on top of Michael’s BIG Secret!
I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful Christmas story.
5 Contented Purrs for Melissa!
The Indigo Bay Christmas Romances
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Melissa’s Books In Indigo Bay
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USA Today bestselling author, Melissa McClone has published over forty novels with Harlequin and Tule Publishing Group.
With a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, Melissa worked for a major airline where she traveled the globe and met her husband. But analyzing jet engine performance couldn’t compete with her love of writing happily ever afters.
Her first full-time writing endeavor was her first sale when she was pregnant with her first child! When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim practices and other activities.
Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds, and cats who think they rule the house. They do!