USA Today Bestselling Author
Sean Hughes likes being single—much to his family’s dismay. They want him to settle down…now. When he gives fun-loving snowboarder Zoe Flynn a ride to the slopes, Sean hatches a plan to throw off his matchmaking relatives. He asks Zoe to pose as his girlfriend at Thanksgiving dinner, which will take the pressure off him and make the evening more enjoyable all around.
Zoe agrees to be Sean’s fake girlfriend. Who wouldn’t want a free meal or a chance to hang out with the handsome mountain rescuer and his adorable husky? When an injury occurs, the two are forced to continue their one-night ruse. As Christmas approaches, make-believe turns into reality. But Zoe has a secret…a big one.
Is their new relationship strong enough to withstand the truth, or will she find herself with no one to kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve?
Previously published as Christmas Magic on the Mountain.
Sean is a confirmed bachelor and an only child. His parents would really love it if he’d settle down as would all his extended family. The love of his life currently is his dog Denali and he has no intention of changing that.
As the base of the hill leading up to the Timberline Lodge he sees a snowboarder looking for a lift up to the top. As he used to do this himself as a kid, he stops. He’s a bit surprised to see it’s not a kid but a woman, and as they get to know each other he invites her to Thanksgiving with his family.
This is a favorite scene.
Sc“Are you meeting your family later?”
“No.” She stared out the window. “I’m on my own this year.”
Interesting. Maybe there wasn’t a boyfriend in the picture. At least not a serious one.
“Lucky you.” Sean negotiated the truck around a tight curve. “I wish I were on my own today.”
Zoe angled toward him. “But it’s Thanksgiving.”
She eyed him suspiciously. “The holidays are a time to spend with family.”
“I know,” he admitted. “That’s why I’ll be at my parents’ house this afternoon with more than three dozen extended family members. Picture total chaos with cooking in the kitchen, football blaring on the TV in the living room, kids running around screaming, and my uncle Marty snoring in the recliner. It’s so crazy you can’t even keep track of the football score.”
Lips parted, she leaned forward until the seat belt tightened across her. “It sounds wonderful to me.”
Zoe’s tone was wistful, a little sad. Maybe she wasn’t as keen on spending Thanksgiving by herself as he would be. Sean couldn’t deny his attraction. Truth was he wouldn’t mind spending time with her. “You want to come?”
Uncertainty filled her gaze. “I don’t know you or your family.”
“You want references? I can get ’em for you.”
He cocked his head inquiringly, not understanding what she meant.
“The OMSAR sticker,” she explained, not missing a beat. “And you gave me a lift. You must be used to rescuing damsels in distress.”
“Rescue is my specialty.” That earned him a smile. “So dinner?”
She shook her head.
“Is it my family? Because my relatives make me nuts, but not in an ax-murderer kind of way. The rugrats are pretty cute, and the pies are delicious. Ask anyone at the ski area about the Hughes family. We’ve lived in Hood Hamlet forever.”
She laughed, as he hoped she would. “No, I meant… You can’t spring an unexpected guest on your mother.”
Pretty and polite. Not too shabby. “My mom lives for holidays. She makes enough food to send leftovers home with everyone, including Denali.”
“It’s kind of you to offer, but—”
“You have other plans?”
“No. I wouldn’t want to impose.”
“Last-minute guests are impositions.”
Letting it go would be for the best, except Sean didn’t want to. He could tell Zoe was considering his invitation. She might not want to be on her own for the holiday. He didn’t want her to be alone, either.
Besides, he was the last unmarried first cousin. The relatives he had who were close to his age, some younger, were chasing after kids or holding babies now. He didn’t have anything in common with them anymore. Sean chose to remain single and enjoyed his lifestyle—running a successful company, boarding, climbing, mountain rescue. But a part of him felt as if he’d been left behind, and his cousins—make that all of his relatives—were trying to get him to catch up.
Bringing home a pretty girl in need of a family Thanksgiving dinner tonight would not only help her, but also deflect the personal questions about his sex life from male relatives, questions about who he’d been dating from the female ones, and put a stop to any matchmaking attempts from, well, everybody over the age of thirteen. Yes, even the middle-schoolers had tried to set him up with their favorite teachers, dance instructors, or coaches.
“It’ll be fine.” Dinner at his folks’ would be good for Zoe’s morale. His, too. “You can ask my mom yourself.”
“No, I couldn’t.”
“Then I will.”
Zoe stared at him. “Do you really feel comfortable inviting a total stranger to have Thanksgiving dinner with your family?”
He didn’t want to explain how her presence would take the heat off him, or how being with Zoe might make tonight fun instead of a chore. If things went well during dinner, maybe they could spend more time together afterward. At his house. Alone. “I can handle you if you pull any funny stuff.”
Sean’s blood pressure spiked. He’d been around the block enough times to know when a woman was interested. Zoe was. Her flirting suggested tonight would turn out way better than he’d thought when he woke up this morning.
“Definitely.” He flashed her one of his most charming smiles, the one that had melted his share of female hearts. “Besides, one of my cousins is married to a sheriff’s deputy, and another is a martial arts instructor. You wouldn’t stand a chance against us.”
She laughed. “No funny stuff, I promise.”
“So you’re in.”
Uncertainty flashed in her eyes. She bit her lower lip. “Only if it’s okay with your mom.”
McClone, Melissa. Her Christmas Secret (Mountain Rescue Romance Book 2). Kindle Locations (118-161). Cardinal Press, LLC. Kindle Edition.
Unfortunately, an accident on the slopes puts Sean in the hospital, but Jake meets her at Sean’s truck with Denali and takes her to the hospital.
What starts at pretend to be my girlfriend for a meal becomes so much more. Especially when the doctors inform him he can’t stay alone in his own home.
Zoe becomes his caretaker and the two of them slowly develop not only a friendship but a relationship that just might last.
Zoe has a secret though and the way it comes out just might destroy everything they built.
I am already reading the next book in this series. They have been delightful so far.
5 Contented Purrs for Melissa!
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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!