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Kittens & Kisses – Berry Lake Cupcake Posse Book 3 by Melissa McClone


Kittens & Kisses
Berry Lake Cupcake Posse Book 3
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Melissa McClone

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Can a chance meeting
open a grieving heart to love?

Widow Missy Hanford buried her heart with her Marine husband. She spends her time baking cupcakes, rescuing animals, and staying out of jail. When abandoned kittens bring a handsome sheriff’s deputy into her life, Missy’s friends tell her to give love a second chance. But she’d rather help the four women deal with their issues:

Nell’s dating the wrong guy to keep her mom from meddling; Selena’s dividing her time between friends in her hometown and her husband in Seattle; Bria’s piecing together the secrets she’s uncovered, and Juliet’s trying to forge a life on her own.

Now, more than ever, the Cupcake Posse will need to rely on their friendship to support each other. As answers only bring more questions, they must face hard truths about life, family, and love as they work to save their beloved small-town bakery.

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If you haven’t read the first two books in this series, STOP, go back and read them. This book begins where the last one ended.

Bria and Declan have traveled up the coast to find the evidence that her father says will clear him of the arson charge against him. What they find is quite the shock for Bria. This discovery also impacts Declan although he doesn’t know that at the time.

Juliet is worrying about Lulu who has to stay at the vet at least overnight, now with Bria staying in Wishing Bay she’s alone and worrying more. When her neighbor and vet Roman shows up with his daughter Katie and a pumpkin, she’s grateful for the task and the company.

Missy is struggling and really missing her late husband. Even though it’s been nine years, it still hits her hard now and again. The cupcake shop fire which injured her has also left her with limited ways to combat her loss and anxiety. The creation of new recipes and baking has always been her go to way to cope. The other was working at the animal rescue, but even that is on hold as her foot heals from the burns. She’s more than happy with her foster cats Mario and Peach to keep her company, even though her friends and sister-in-law think she should expand her horizons.

When Sabina calls about possible kittens she jumps at the opportunity to do something. Unfortunately, she doesn’t think things through all the way and ends up trapped in a dumpster without her phone in pouring rain.

Then there’s Nell’s brilliant plan to keep her mother off her back about marriage is sort of dating Gage. However, she’s also keeping him at a bit of a distance by having Welles the paramedic who is her neighbor and has a crush on her join them on their adrenaline filled adventures.

When Sam Cooper gets the call that there’s an emergency at the closed market he didn’t expect what he finds. Missy’s car is there with the headlights on, but no sign of Missy. That is until he hears her call out.

This is a favorite scene.

He turned into the Berry Lake Market’s parking lot. The place appeared deserted, but he made a slow pass in front of the entrance— no flashes of light or movement inside.

Better check the other side.

He rounded the corner and slammed on the brake.

A car parked haphazardly, which might count as an emergency. The doors were closed, but the headlights shone toward the recycle and garbage bins.

Not a raccoon.

A thief wouldn’t announce their presence, unless they weren’t very smart, so dumpster diving, perhaps. But that didn’t count as an emergency. And he saw no one around the bins.

Sam typed the vehicle’s plates into the mobile data computer and waited.

Information popped onto the MDC’s screen.

He did a double take. Rubbed his neck.

Missy Hanford’s car.

What was it doing here? And where was she?

His pulse kicked up a notch. Sam surveyed the area but saw no movement. Sure, the headlights didn’t illuminate everything, but nothing moved.

A band around his chest tightened. He closed his eyes and counted to ten. That loosened the pressure.

Sam opened his eyes.

He hadn’t seen Missy in years. Nine, if he were counting, which he wasn’t. But he’d avoided her whenever he returned home for the holidays and later to watch Josh during his first year of sobriety. Sam never went into the cupcake shop.

It wasn’t Missy’s fault.

His silly schoolboy crush on her was to blame.

Not that she even noticed him.

Nope.

Her heart belonged to Rob Hanford, Sam’s teammate on the wrestling team. Great guy, but Sam used to tease Rob endlessly about being crazy in love with Missy. The guy never denied it, which sucked then. Man, jealousy had burned badly. Sam would have traded places with Rob in an instant.

And then an IED killed Rob.

Instantaneously, according to Charlene Culpepper, who knew most things that happened in town.

Sam’s first thought hadn’t been about the loss of his friend. Nope. He’d wondered how long to let Missy grieve before he made his move.

Pathetic.

No, disgusting.

One thing had been clear to Sam.

He didn’t deserve Missy.

Which was why he hadn’t stepped foot in the cupcake shop. He’d never sought her out. He hadn’t even sent her a condolence card. And now…

Had her vehicle been stolen? If so, he wouldn’t have to see her. Though Berry Lake was small, so he might not be able to put that off forever.

“On location, Unit Three?”

The radio sprang to life, the dispatcher’s voice shaking Sam out of his head and the past.

“On site,” he called in. “Missy Hanford’s car is here. But no sign of her.”

“Sabine Culpepper called it in. She lost contact with Missy, who’s on a rescue mission.”

“Repeat that?”

“Sabine asked Missy to go to the market for an animal rescue. Someone dumped kittens.”

“Knowing that would have helped.”

“Sabine’s first call dropped after she said there was an emergency at the market. Got more information after she bought a phone charger, but you beat us there.”

Life in a small town.

That didn’t keep him from touching his revolver. Sam never wanted to have to draw a gun on anyone again.

He swallowed.

“Copy that.” Sam parked his patrol car and shrugged on his rain jacket. “Exiting the vehicle now.” He slid out of the car. Rain poured off the brim of his hat.

“Someone out there?” a shaky voice asked from either the recycle bin or the garbage can.

Not any voice.

Missy’s.

He’d recognize it anywhere.

Sam ran. Three milk crates sat in front of the recycle bin. A phone lay in a puddle. “Missy?”

“Help.” Her voice sharpened, cracked.

His heart slammed against his rib cage. “It’s Sam Cooper. Deputy Cooper. I’ll get you out.”

He peered over the edge. Rain had soaked Missy from head to toe. Shivering, she leaned the upper part of her body over the top of a cardboard box she clutched.

“I-I found kittens. T-They’re wet.” Her teeth chattered. “Need to get them to the animal clinic fast.”

“You’re freezing.” Sam removed his raincoat and covered Missy with it. Raindrops pelted him, but his vest would keep him from getting drenched. “We need to get you to the hospital.”

“The animal clinic.”

They would discuss where Missy would go after she was out of the rain. He rearranged the milk cartons and stacked them to be sturdier. “Are you injured?”

“No. Not really. The kittens…”

Not really didn’t tell him much. Climbing into the bin in the dark was dangerous.

He stepped onto the crates and peered down.

Missy covered the box, he assumed full of kittens, with his coat.

Of course, she did. She’d loved animals in high school and volunteered for Sabine then.

She lifted the box toward him. “Put them in your car.”

“I need to get you out first.”

“They’re only hours old. Fragile.”

Her pleading tone blanked him, tugging at his heart as if trying to wake the organ after a winter hibernation.

What is going on?

After all these years, he should be over her.

Wait. He was over her.

“Please,” she added.

Grrrr. Sam took the box, ran to his car, and put the cats in the back seat. He turned the heater on full blast, grabbed the raincoat, and sprinted to the recycle bin.

He was back at the dumpster in a split second, and he wasn’t even winded. His brother might be the famous jock in the family, but Sam held his own, which had helped him graduate second in his class at the police academy.

He scooped up the phone from the puddle and tucked it into his pocket. “The kittens are in the car where it’s warmer.”

“Thanks.” The same green eyes that had haunted his dreams since he was fourteen met his. His heart thudded.

Hold it together, Cooper. You still have a job to do.

Training kicked in. Her face was scratched, covered in blood and water unless she’d been crying.

His gut twisted. He covered her shoulders with his coat. It would keep her from getting wetter. “Let’s get you out of here.”

She shivered again. “T-Thank you for coming. I didn’t think anybody would hear me.”
Melissa McClone. Kittens & Kisses (Kindle Locations 1167-1247). Cardinal Press, LLC.

Sam does so much more than just rescue her and the kittens. These two have a spark but they both ignore it.

As this tale unfolds, so does the romance. A couple on rocky ground and one just beginning. There are lots of twists here and not a lot of resolutions.

With an OMG ending, I can’t wait for the next book!

5 Contented Purrs for Melissa!

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Coming Soon!

Melissa McClone

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!

Christmas Countdown: Her Christmas Secret – Mountain Rescue Romance Book 2 by Melissa McClone


Her Christmas Secret
Mountain Rescue Romance Book 2
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Melissa McClone

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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?

NOTE:
Previously published as Christmas Magic on the Mountain.

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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.”

“Exactly.”

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.”

“I know.”

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.”

“You wouldn’t.”

“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.”

“You think?”

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!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Melissa McClone

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!

Christmas Countdown: His Christmas Wish – Mountain Rescue Romance Book 1 by Melissa McClone


His Christmas Wish
Mountain Rescue Romance Book 1
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Melissa McClone

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Carly Bishop loved Christmas…
until tragedy struck.

Distraught and grief-stricken over the deaths of her fiancé and brother, she left Hood Hamlet and her Christmas spirit behind, to start over somewhere new. But now, six years later, her family needs her. Carly returns home to face her past and give her niece and nephew the best Christmas ever.

Burdened with guilt, Jake Porter believes he could have saved his two friends on that fateful day and kept Carly from experiencing such a heart-wrenching loss. When she arrives in town, Jake wants to make amends so they can both finally move forward with their lives.

As Jake helps Carly experience the magic of Christmas so she’ll embrace the holiday again, will he also be able to open her heart to something else she’d given up on…love?

NOTE:
Previously published as Rescued by the Magic of Christmas.

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The prologue of this book had me in tears. I don’t think there is anything more heartbreaking than to lose your fiancé and brother in an accident. Let alone one where they are doing something they both are very experienced doing, climbing. It’s not only Carly that’s devastated by those events it’s also their best friend Jake. He believed he could have saved them, if only he’d not opted out of the climb that day.

It’s six years later and Carly has returned to Hood Hamlet for Christmas. Well not exactly for the holiday, her sister-in-law Hannah is remarried and expecting a baby any time now. She’s going to be helping with her niece and nephew. She’s a bit surprised to find Jake there as well.

This is a favorite scene.

As snow flurries fell from the gray sky, Carly Bishop stared at the charming log house surrounded by towering fir trees and decorated with strands of white icicle lights. A lopsided, four-foot-tall snowman, complete with carrot nose, stood in the front yard. A single electric candle shone through a wood-paned window, the flickering flame-shaped bulb a welcoming light.

Carly walked along the snow-dusted path, dragging her wheeled suitcase behind her. A green wreath tied with a red velvet bow hung from a brass holder on the front door. The scent of pine was sharp in the air. The same way it had been…

Her breath caught in her throat.

The house, the wreath, the candle, the snowman. It was as if time had stopped, as if the past six years had simply been a bad dream. Any second, Carly expected Nick to fling open the door wearing a Santa hat and greet her with a jolly ho-ho-ho. And Iain…

Iain.

She closed her eyes, fighting an onslaught of unwelcome memories.

I can’t believe you’re going climbing two days before our wedding. Why don’t you just admit it, Iain? You love climbing more than you love me.

She’d wanted to forget. The argument and tears before and as he’d left to climb. The thoughts about his selfish behavior while he’d been climbing and dying. The grief and guilt after his body and Nick’s had been found.

Carly thought she’d forgotten. Put the past behind her. Moved on.

She forced herself to breathe.

Returning to Hood Hamlet had been a mistake.

She should have stayed in Philadelphia, where she’d made a new life for herself, far away from the shadow of Mount Hood and all the mountain had stolen from her. If only staying away had been an option, but her brother’s widow, Hannah, was expecting a new baby and needed help with her two children.

So here Carly was. Ready to be an aunt extraordinaire for her niece and nephew. For better or, most likely, worse.

All she had to do was survive her time here, including December twenty-fourth, the twenty-fifth, and New Year’s Eve.

How difficult could that be?

Given she hadn’t celebrated the holidays in five years, she didn’t want to know the answer.

Carly tightened her grip on the suitcase handle before climbing the steps to the front porch. With a tentative hand, she reached for the doorknob before remembering this was no longer her brother’s house. She pressed the doorbell and waited.

The doorknob jiggled.

Straightening, Carly forced a smile. Years of working with customers had taught her how to put on a happy face no matter how she felt inside.

The door cracked open.

“Welcome back, Carly,” a male voice greeted her warmly.

She’d expected to see Hannah’s husband of two years, Garrett Willingham, but the man standing in the doorway looked nothing like the clean-cut, non-risk-taking, business-suit-wearing certified public accountant. This guy was too rugged, too fit, too…familiar.

“Jacob Porter.”

Over six feet tall with brown hair that fell past his collar, he still had piercing blue eyes, a killer smile, and a hot, hard body that made the girls, herself included, swoon back in high school. Those features had only improved with age.

Her pulse kicked up a notch. “What are you doing here?”

“Waiting for you.” His grin widened, the same way it had whenever he and Nick teased her. “Merry Christmas.”
McClone, Melissa. His Christmas Wish (Mountain Rescue Romance Book 1) (pp. 125-152). Cardinal Press, LLC. Kindle Edition.

This is just the beginning of a healing journey for both Jake and Carly. Their attraction is undeniable, and even the children are encouraging them to get it together.

Carly needs find her joy of Christmas again and Jake, well he needs to step out of his comfort zone and court her.

A wonderful Christmas story, with laughter, tears and so much more.

5 Contented Purrs for Melissa!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Melissa McClone

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!

A Keepsake Christmas – A Sweet Christmas Anthology


8 Special Ornaments,
8 Special Women,
8 Memorable Christmases.
Bring the spirit of Christmas
into your heart with this collection
of all new sweet holiday romances
set in the popular series of
eight bestselling authors.

A Keepsake Christmas

Featuring

The Last Cottage on Pinewood Lane by Melissa McClone
The Cowboy’s Christmas Wish by Kristen Ethridge
I’ll Be Home For Christmas by Tess Thompson
No Matter How Far by Barbara Hinske
Blessings on State Street by Rachael Bloome
A Lot Like Christmas by Kathryn Cantrell
One Unforgettable Christmas by Tammy L. Grace
Tinsel and Teacups by Elle Rush

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The Last Cottage on Pinewood Lane

Melissa McClone

Will performing during a Christmas fundraiser bring a former figure-skating star the healing and love that have eluded her? Or will being back under the glaring spotlight only lead to more heartache and regrets?

Retired figure skater Natasha ‘Tasha’ Ramson manages the ice rink her parents built in their hometown for her brother Alec and her to practice. Her pairs then individual and him hockey. This year however her parents decided to sell the rink without telling anyone. As the rink closes breaking her heart, Tasha decides to spend Christmas alone in Berry Lake. She needs to figure out what she wants to do with her life.

Elias Carpenter, is technically the youngest partner in his family’s law firm. In reality he’s being overworked by his father and grandfather. Now with the holiday’s coming his father puts even more in his lap. His grandmother is having heart issues and she won’t slow down unless her husband does, which means Elias gets the brunt of it all.

I love the way these two meet while she’s skating and his dog gets away from him.

So was Elias, but he would never admit that to Grammy. “It’s not so bad. The Berry Lake Cupcake Shop provides dessert and Brew and Steep brings coffee.”

“That’s the spirit.” Grammy’s enthusiasm filled Elias with warmth. “Did Sabine drop off the foster dog?”

Elias gripped the phone. “About fifteen minutes ago.”

“Tell me about the dog.”

“His name is Higgins, and he’s potty trained. Sabine said he’s chill.”

The clicking of paws made Elias look over at Higgins. A blur of blue headed out the front door. His stomach dropped. “Grammy, I need to go.”

“Talk to you later, dear. I love you.”

He disconnected from the call. “Dog. Higgins. Stop.”

Pulse pounding, Elias raced out the door. His feet sank into the snow covering his front yard.

Higgins ran toward the end of Pinewood Lane. The blue leash dragged behind him like a malfunctioning kite tail.

The dog wouldn’t get far. Elias’s legs and strides would overtake the dog’s shorter legs soon.

His breath huffed. At least no cars. “Higgins!”

The dog didn’t slow but sped up.

So much for Higgins being smart and chill. The dog needed obedience lessons.

Or a new foster.

Elias picked up the pace, ignoring the stitch in his side and the burn in his thighs. He’d been away from the gym for too long if a brief run wore him out.

Higgins ran past the last cottage. He veered between the tall pine trees onto the path that led to the lake. For a dog who’d only arrived, he seemed to know where he wanted to go.

Please don’t go on the ice.

The lake remained frozen most of the winter, but Elias didn’t want Higgins out on the ice. It was solid enough near the edges for people to skate, but farther out wasn’t as thick.

“Higgins.” His voice hung on the wind.

Elias cleared the trees to a snow-covered area known as Pinewood Beach in the summer. Higgins sat facing the lake at the edge, where a short ridge of snow had built up. He walked slowly so as not to spook the dog.

Movement caught Elias’s attention. He glanced past Higgins to the lake and squinted.

Someone was on the ice. He did a double take. A figure skater, wearing black— except for her skates and a multicolor beanie— glided across the ice. Her graceful movements with outstretched arms and fast spins reminded him of the ice show his grandmother dragged him to when he was twelve. He’d gotten snacks, which made the two hours pass quicker, but he would have rather watched the Mariners or Seahawks. That was well before the Volcanoes, an expansion hockey team, arrived in Seattle.

No music played, yet she skated as if performing for a packed arena. She… captivated Elias.

The skater must have tucked her hair inside the beanie, and he wanted to know what color her hair was. Eyes, too, but he stood too far away.

And then he remembered…

Higgins!

The dog sat facing the skater.

Elias took a slow, careful step and then another. The dog didn’t flinch.

Only another two feet to go. Snow crunched under his left foot. He inhaled sharply.

Higgins bolted across the ice directly in the path of…

“Stop!” Elias yelled.

Neither the dog nor skater listened. The leash slid across the ice right in front of the skater, who skated with her chin up.

“Be careful!”

The scene played out in slow motion. Higgins froze. Her right skate hit the leash, and she stumbled. The skater tried to keep her balance by sticking her arms out, but her action didn’t stop gravity. She hit the ice with a thud.

Higgins jumped on top of her and licked her face.

The skater laughed. She reached into her jacket pocket. “Well, this is a first. Where did you come from, cutie?”

Her voice wrapped around Elias, as warm and comfortable as a fleece blanket. He wanted to hear it again, only he wanted her to speak to him.

He stepped onto the ice, taking small steps to keep from falling. “Are you okay?”

The skater looked at him.

Gorgeous green eyes. Elias’s mouth went dry. He nearly fell flat on his back.

Forget speaking. All he could do was breathe.

“Is this your dog?” she asked.

“Sorta.” He came closer, unsure why he found himself so tongue-tied. A friend from law school had once told Elias that dogs were a chick magnet. But Higgins running into this woman seemed more like luck. “I’m fostering him for the holidays.”

She rubbed Higgins with a gloved hand. “Friendly.”

“He’d been in my house for less than five minutes when he took off. I’m sorry. Did you hurt yourself?”

She grabbed onto the leash, placed Higgins on the ice, and carefully stood. “I’ve taken much harder falls over the years, but thanks for the concern.”

“You skate a lot?” he blurted.

“Yes.” The amusement in her voice matched the twinkle in her eyes. “Not a fan of the sport?”

He shrugged. “I prefer hockey.”

“Of course, you do.” She appeared more resigned than upset. “Here you go.”

He took the leash from her.

“Thanks. I’m Elias.”

She hesitated. “Tasha.”

Tasha. The name suited her. “You’re not from around here.”

Tasha brushed off the snow from her backside. “No.”

Only locals came to this part of the lake unless… He remembered seeing a car he didn’t recognize drive by when he’d brought in the mail before he ate lunch. “You’re staying in the last cottage on Pinewood Lane.”

Tasha stiffened, and her eyes narrowed. “How do you know that?”

“I live in the second house on the right. The one you’re in is the only rental on the lane.” That might change. Dalton Dwyer had bought the cottage where Tasha was staying and would take possession in January. No one knew Dalton’s plans yet.

She laughed. “Small towns are always the same.”

“Everyone knows your business.”

Tasha nodded. “Aren’t you freezing out here?”

Elias wasn’t wearing a jacket, but somehow, he was warm. “I ran after Higgins, so I’m not cold.”
Melissa McClone; A Keepsake Christmas: A Sweet Romance Anthology – The Last Cottage on Pinewood Lane(Kindle Locations 564-571).

As Elias does the things necessary for his Grandmother and the Christmas Fund raiser, Tasha helps with an idea.

This brings them closer to each other and also to resolutions regarding their futures.

A lovely Christmas story with a special Christmas ornament sealing the moment.

5 Contented Purrs for Melissa!


The Cowboy’s Christmas Wish

Kristen Ethridge

Sarah Murdoch knew bringing her daughter, Jamie, halfway across the country to Port Provident, Texas would cause more anxiety than feel-good Christmas memories. But when Jamie bonds with Grant McCray, the owner of Beachcomber Stables, she begins to come out of her shell.

A family Christmas far away from home is not what Sarah would have chosen, especially the way her daughter Jamie’s anxiety ramps up during their travels. Port Provident is the small town her parents have chosen to gather and rented a home on the beach.

Grant owns Beachcomber Stables and he’s the first person Jamie sees as he’s riding down the beach with two other horses behind him.

Jamie’s apparently done a bit of research on her own and she really wants to go horseback riding. Sarah on the other hand is a bit conflicted what with business calls coming in, she obviously needs some down time as well.

This is a favorite scene.

Grant McCray adjusted the black hat atop his head. A breeze decided to blow in off the water today. It felt good. It didn’t feel like Christmas, exactly, but he was a native Texan. Grant had grown used to Decembers not feeling like they were described in the refrains of holiday songs.

He’d also grown used to early morning silence. It soothed his soul.

During the spring and summer, the lines at Beachcomber Stables formed early and lasted until the sun began to drift out of the sky. But in the winter, the tourists didn’t usually think about horseback riding first and foremost. Visitors to Port Provident were more interested in the party-like Santas on the Street annual event or the recently-revived Victorian Christmas goings-on. His horses would be participating in the Christmas Day parade, but that was about as close as he would get to holiday events this year.

Grant kind of liked it that way. He took a deep breath and smelled the salt in the air. Some people preferred pine and cocoa this time of year. But Grant thought salt and sand— and a little horse— smelled perfect, no matter what the date on the calendar said.

“Do you offer horseback rides here?” A woman’s voice behind him bounced off the roar of the waves.

Grant turned back toward the edge of the dunes. “Welcome to Beachcomber Stables. How can I help you, ma’am?”

The dusting of a smile passed across the blonde woman’s lips. The ladies loved the “ma’am.” The number one rule of riding horses for a living and wearing a cowboy hat was always call the ladies ma’am. It was an unbreakable part of the cowboy creed.

And women who felt special and respected tended to tip better. No sense in denying that fact, either, since the number two rule was to never tell a lie.

She pointed at a short, skinny young girl next to her. The blonde was fair as a snowflake, but the skin of the young girl was as strong as espresso. Her eyes reminded Grant of the color of the skin on the outside of an almond. They focused sharply on the crest of his black Resistol.

“My daughter would like to ride a horse if you have availability today.” She squeezed the little girl’s shoulder gently.

Grant nodded. Time to get to work. “We don’t have any appointments booked this morning. Would you like to go now?”

The little girl wore a pair of neon-pink closed-toe tennis shoes. They’d do. Grant would just need to make sure her feet were settled well in the stirrups.

She nodded, just barely enough to make her intentions known.

Grant reached the edge of the wooden-framed stable area and pointed to a dappled, older gray. “Great. I’d like to introduce you to my friend Master Y.”

This time, the little girl’s head shifted from side to side. “Chewie,” she said.

Grant looked at the palomino in the first stall. “Chewie is a great horse, but he’s usually the one that I ride. We go back a long way.”

The little girl bit her dusky-rose lip. She took a deep breath and held it, then let it out slowly.

“Is there any way that she could ride Chewie?” She dug in her purse and pulled out a credit card. “I’ll pay extra, if that makes any difference.”

It wasn’t the first time someone had tried to pay Grant to bend some rule or go back on something he’d said.

But as Grant’s eyes locked with the almond-brown center of the little girl’s own eyes, he knew it would be the first time he’d ever given in.

“Does she have any experience riding horses?”

The woman’s blonde ponytail bounced and strands of hair danced in the Gulf air. “No. This is her first time.”

Grant shrugged. He couldn’t explain it, but something in the little girl’s eyes tugged at his soul. She didn’t say much and the words she did say were barely above a whisper. Despite being on the beach and next to a stable of horses— two of Grant’s favorite places— the little girl hadn’t even cracked the smallest hint of a smile.

And Grant wanted to see her smile. There wasn’t much to envy about his life these days, but one of the perks was getting to see little faces light up with delight.

“Chewie’s a gentle giant. I’m sure they’ll get along well. I’ll ride Master Y. Are you going to ride with us? Luke Skytrotter would be happy to take you out.”

Grant walked into the equipment area of the stable and pulled out a black child-sized riding helmet, then gave the interior a spritz of disinfectant— he didn’t like to take chances with clients’ safety, whether it was protecting them from a fall or from sharing more than just the helmet.

Suddenly, a sound like tinkling windchimes cut through the air. The woman pulled a sleek cell phone out of her purse with no hesitation.

“Mama? Could you come?”

The woman’s thumb stopped a hair’s breadth above the rectangle on her screen that would connect the call. She hesitated, and Grant felt the stretch of tension in the air. She pursed her lips, then looked down at the glass-and-metal encased technology. Grant could see the color of the screen change as the call stopped ringing.

“It went to voicemail.” The look on her face seemed similar to the aftermath of sucking on a lemon. “I guess I can call them back in a bit, Jamie.”

As the phone slid back in her mother’s saddle tan leather purse, Grant saw the little girl’s shoulders slip into a more relaxed station.

Jamie. The shy little girl’s name was Jamie.

And somehow, Grant knew they’d be friends. It was her uptight mother he just wasn’t sure about.
Kristen Ethridge; A Keepsake Christmas: A Sweet Romance Anthology – The Cowboy’s Christmas Wish(Kindle Locations 2232-2277).

A horseback tour of the area and the Lighthouse begins a relationship that can’t be denied. Jamie speaks more freely and is more relaxed than ever before. Especially when she’s with Grant and her mother.

A beautiful Christmas story with hope, laughter and a special Christmas Ornament.

5 Contented Purrs for Kristen!


I’ll Be Home For Christmas

Tess Thompson

High school sweethearts Jennifer and Jack were supposed to be together forever. But Jack’s one night mistake tore them apart. Will they have the ultimate second chance at love more than 30 years later? Or is the secret she kept from him too much to forgive? Can the magical spirit of Christmas in Emerson Pass bring forgiveness and healing for these two star-crossed lovers?

Jack and Jennifer were high school sweethearts. They planned to go to college in Seattle together, but Jack’s summer indiscretion with Malinda changed everything.

Jennie was pregnant too, but she never told Jack. He married Malinda, his daughter Brandi the only glue to that marriage until it wasn’t enough and they divorced. Jennie moved to Seattle and has only returned a couple of times. Her daughter Crystal now lives here in Emerson Pass.

It’s been thirty years, Brandi and Crystal have been friends for a long time. Crystal spent summers here growing up. Now it really didn’t come as a surprise that Jack would want to see her. Even though it was more of a confrontation.

This is a favorite scene.

The server arrived with our food, saving me from having to answer. I hoped he’d forgotten the question he’d asked earlier, but no such luck. He dangled a French fry from his fingers. “You’ve stayed away because of me, haven’t you”

I smashed an avocado with the tines of my fork. “Not you. Seeing you with her.”

“It would have pretty much destroyed me if I’d seen you with anyone.”

I swallowed, unsure what to say. He needn’t have worried about me with anyone. I dated no one during the entirety of Crystal’s childhood. After she moved out of the house, I dated some, falling for a few men, only to be cheated on by each one of them. Why I evoked betrayal from men I initially thought were good was beyond comprehension. My therapist thought it was wrapped up in the original betrayal by Jack. That perhaps I purposely chose cheaters to prove to myself that they were all cheaters, regardless.

Jack draped his arms over the table. “And I hate thinking of you leaving the place you loved so much. Worse, that it was my fault.”

I pushed a slice of boiled egg nearer the blue cheese crumbles.

“Jennie?”

I jerked my head up at the sound of my old nickname. When I moved to Seattle, I’d made sure no one ever called me anything but Jennifer. “Yeah?”

“There hasn’t been a day I haven’t thought about you and felt deep remorse.”

“Time heals all wounds.” That’s what my mother had told me when they sent me off to school with assurances that all I needed was time and a few new boys to turn my head. I’d forget all about Jack, my mother had promised me. What a joke that had proved to be. Still, one goes on. What other choice do we have?

“That’s not what you really want to say, is it?” Jack watched me with wary eyes. “What do you really want to say to me?”

I wanted to tell him about my first year in Seattle. How alone and sad I’d been. Because of you, I wanted to shout at him. You wrecked everything.

I’d lived in the apartment that Jack and I had rented, all the while hiding my belly with large sweatshirts. Fortunately for me, it never stopped raining in Seattle. Sweatshirts were the attire of choice during almost all seasons for everyone, not just a girl with a hidden pregnancy.

“Jack, I don’t understand what we’re doing here. We were kids back then. You can stop carrying around all this guilt. It’s nothing to me now.

“Whatever happened to the soda fountain?” I asked, changing the subject. “When did it close?”

“Back in the nineties, I think.” He ran a hand through his silvery blond hair. “I’d forgotten about that place.”

How could he forget? We’d shared so many laughs in the back booth of that place. Hoping to hide my hurt, I asked another question. “Someone should open another one. For all the old-timers in need of nostalgia.”

“Brandi’s bakery is kind of the new soda fountain. Only it’s coffee everyone wants these days.”

“And her scones,” I said. “Do you know she used to practice her recipes in my kitchen in Seattle?”

His deep sigh caused his shoulders to rise and fall. “I didn’t.”

“Did I say the wrong thing?” I asked.

“No, it’s not you. I wish she’d been able to do more of that at our house. Malinda was always too worried about her messing up the kitchen.”

“I never worried too much about any of that,” I said with a chuckle. “Crystal was the one in our house who kept everything tidy and organized. She loves a good spreadsheet and her lists.”

“I like spreadsheets and lists.”

I looked down at my salad, afraid to meet his eyes for fear he’d see right through me.

“Jennie, who was Crystal’s father?”

My turtleneck seemed to have grown tighter around my throat. I slipped a finger between the collar and my skin. “No one. A fling. I didn’t even know his name.”

For my parents and anyone else who cared enough to ask, I made up a story that just days after I moved to Seattle, I’d met a guy at a bar and had a one-night stand that produced a baby. A stranger, I told them. I hadn’t even known his name. My mother bought it, or seemed to, anyway. She and my father were as smitten with the baby as I.

“That seems unlikely,” Jack said.

“What do you mean?”

“You always remembered every detail about people. Their names and anything else you could draw out of them.”

“I was drunk,” I said. “You’re not the only one who could have a meaningless night of sex.”

“It wasn’t like that with Malinda. I mean, the night of sex. It was over in a second.”

I cringed and covered my face with my hands. The pain that image caused was undeniable.

“See there,” Jack said. “Whatever you’re thinking, that’s what you should say to me.”

“How could you have done that? After what we had?”

Jack let out a deep breath, looking for a moment like the man I’d once seen have his dislocated shoulder put back in place. “I was an idiot. There’s no explanation. What’s even worse— it was the only impulsive thing I’ve ever done. Trust me, I regretted it the moment it was over. If you’d known Malinda you might understand better— she was relentless like that. A dog with a bone. If she desired something, she wore a person down until she got what she wanted.”

“You broke my heart,” I whispered. All pretenses were gone. Tears had gathered at the corners of my eyes.

“When I heard you’d had a baby, I couldn’t believe it,” Jack said. “I assumed you’d met someone the minute you moved to Seattle. Should I continue to assume that?”

My throat was so dry and tight, I could barely get the words out of my mouth. “I already told you that.”

“There’s something missing from your story,” Jack said.

“None of this is any of your business. You decided you didn’t want any part of my life the minute you cheated on me.” I stuck my fork into a cherry tomato. Seeds and juice exploded onto its neighboring piece of turkey.

“Have you ever noticed how Crystal looks like my mother?”

The floor seemed to fall out from under me. I sank into the depths of a hole as dark as my secret.
Tess Thompson; A Keepsake Christmas: A Sweet Romance Anthology -I’ll Be Home For Christmas (Kindle Locations 3209-3255).

The startling revelation leads to telling their girls they’re sisters and all that goes with that. Even as the two of them get closer again.

A tearful Christmas tale that gets brighter and a special Christmas ornament plays a role as well.

5 Contented Purrs for Tess!


No Matter How Far

Barbara Hinske

Where hidden treasures can hold the key to a heart and offer an unexpected path home…

Judy Young and her mother had a special sort of relationship with William Olsson, the owner of the Victorian Mansion behind their store. He gifted them gorgeous hand carved ornaments at Christmas, no two were the same. William died in 1990 and up until about 4 years ago the property had been well maintained. Now it’s showing some damage and as she approached in the back alley Judy notices a paper attached to the front door. The house is being auctioned for back taxes, not wanting the property to go into the hands of some developer, Judy enters the fray and wins. It takes a while but finally the property is legally hers and she can figure out what to do with it. But first she’s going to explore and get estimates from her best friend’s husband. She finds a box of ornaments meant for his nephew Jeffrey. It becomes a goal to find him and give him the ornaments that should be his.

Jeff Carson lost his wife to cancer, his son and daughter-in-law are now helping him clear out the house they shared. Jeff is ready to move on, but before he settles in a place for himself he’s going to travel a bit. As he’s going through some of the things for sale he finds a Christmas ornament gifted to him by his Uncle William and realizes he doesn’t want this particular box to be sold, it’s his only link to his mother and uncle.

Judy’s best friend Maggie’s daughter Susan helps her find Jeffrey and she emails him not expecting to hear anything since it’s Thanksgiving night. She does get a reply though along with a phone number and time to call the next night.

This is part of that conversation and a favorite scene.

“You can’t force someone to accept help. Sometimes people are on journeys that we wouldn’t choose for them, but we have to let them live their lives,” Judy said. “You said in your email that you found the ornament in your mother’s things?”

“Yes. I sold Mom’s house, furniture and all, and had her personal effects boxed up and sent to me. I put them in storage and didn’t touch them. I’d forgotten about the ornament— I hadn’t seen it in decades— until last fall when my son and daughter-in-law helped me with a garage sale. In fact, I found it in a bin, priced to sell.”

“Oh, no!” Judy looked at the box containing the wooden ornaments that William had carved for his nephew. “Do you remember your uncle?”

“Very vaguely. He stopped at our home one Christmas when he first came to this country from Sweden. He brought me the ornament that I sent you the photo of. He said that he made it. I remember being fascinated with it as a child.”

“So, William and Alma were on good terms?”

“At the time,” Jeff said, “but like she did with everyone else, she became suspicious of him and paranoid, and finally cut him out of her life.”

“The notes on these ornaments testify to the fact that your uncle loved you a great deal. He never forgot you, Jeff.”

Jeff swallowed hard against the lump in his throat.

“You must have these in time for Christmas,” Judy said, sensing his emotion. “Where can I send them to you? I’m happy to use an overnight delivery service, and I’ll insure them. Just give me an address. I’ll get them out tomorrow.”

Jeff had answered the call planning to ask Judy to mail the ornaments to Jason’s house at his expense. So, he was surprised to hear himself say, “Do you mind if I pick them up? I’m starting a road trip in about three weeks. I’m going to end up with my cousin in Phoenix for Christmas, and I’ll be driving right by Westbury on the way.” He winced as he said this since he knew Westbury was at least two hundred miles out of his way. He hoped she wouldn’t realize that.

“Sure,” she said. “I’m not going anywhere during the holiday rush. I’ve always wanted to close the shop for a week during January and go somewhere warm, like Phoenix. One of these years, I’m going to do it!”

“Great. I don’t want to risk the ornaments getting lost in the mail,” Jeff said. “And I’d love to meet you. I’ve enjoyed talking to you.”

“Me, too. This has been fun. I’ll keep them in the back room at Celebrations. I’ll email you the address.”

“Terrific.” He did some quick mileage calculations in his head. “I’ll plan to be there in the middle of the day on the twenty-first.” That would allow him ample time to complete his drive to Phoenix.

“I’ll be at the shop.”

“I’m looking forward to meeting you,” Jeff reiterated.

“Have a safe trip. See you soon.” Judy swiped to end the call and clutched the phone to her chest.
Barbara Hinske; A Keepsake Christmas: A Sweet Romance Anthology – No Matter How Far (Kindle Locations 4875-4899).

Their meeting is both sweet and serious as she offers him a tour of the home. She explained the massive repairs needed and he took quite the interest.

I truly enjoyed how this relationship grows so quickly yet perfectly.

5 Contented Purrs for Barbara!


Blessings on State Street

Rachael Bloome

Abigail Preston wants nothing more than to skip Christmas this year. But her holiday-free hideout in the quaint, charming town of Blessings Bay comes with a mysterious and unexpected house guest. Can two heartbroken strangers find hope and healing in the most Christmassy town on the coast?

Abby Preston is cancelling Christmas, what better place to do that but at a house she didn’t know her husband owned. She found out after Donnie, her test pilot husband, died in an accident last Thanksgiving. Facing another Christmas surrounded by memories of how he loved the holiday wouldn’t do. Blessings Bay seemed the perfect plan, a small town and a house she needs to figure out why was kept from her.

We meet Logan Matthews as he’s trying to rescue his neighbor’s Christmas decorations from the mud produced by the raging storm. Verna would be devastated at the destruction so he’d do what he could. Even though he’s mostly a recluse she won’t stop trying to get him to participate more around town. Little does he know he’s going to be getting company.

It was close to midnight as Abby arrives at the house, she got drenched between the car and the door. The darkness made her wish her phone hadn’t died so at least she’d have the flashlight. A noise from upstairs puts her on alert and she tasers the man who comes down the stairs.

This is a favorite scene.

Logan wasn’t sure which hurt worse, the cattle prod to the rib cage or his face getting cozy with the hardwood floor. Either way, he wouldn’t let his attacker get away with the cheap shot.His fingers curled, prepared to fight back.

“Who are you? And what are you doing here?” a strong yet feminine voice demanded in the darkness.

His assailant was a woman?

He hadn’t seen that coming. But then, he hadn’t seen the electrified metal prongs before they’d zapped him, either.

Whoever this woman was, she had gumption.

Detecting the faintest warble of fear in her words calmed his self-preservation instincts and he uncoiled his fist.

“Logan Mathews. I live here. Who are you?” He rolled onto his back, but didn’t get up, in case the movement provoked her again. While he was pretty sure a standard-issue Taser couldn’t cook his vital organs, he didn’t want to risk it.

“Abigail Preston. I own this house.”

He squinted, straining to glimpse her features in the shadows. But although he couldn’t see her face, a clear picture formed in his mind.

Abigail Preston… Donnie’s wife.

In all the years they’d served together in the Air Force, no other man had been prouder of his better half than Donnie. Even in boot camp, he’d taped a photo of her above his bed for everyone to see. Nothing crass or inappropriate, like some of the other guys posted.

In fact, all things considered, the snapshot had been fairly simple— a dark-haired woman at some restaurant, but Donnie couldn’t remember which one. She held a glass of ice water in one hand, her head thrown back, laughing at something Donnie said. As he told it, late afternoon sunlight had hit her just right, creating a halo effect. She’d looked so beautiful, so captivatingly blissful, he’d snapped a photo to preserve the memory.

What had stood out to Logan the most was the woman’s smile— the kind that lit up the world, but also seemed to belong only to you.

While it was a pleasant visual from the past, he had a feeling Abigail wasn’t smiling right now.

“I’m a friend of Donnie’s. We were in basic training together.”

“Really?” She didn’t bother hiding her skepticism, and he envisioned her dark eyebrows raised, her lips scrunched to the side. “I’ve never heard of you.”

He sighed inwardly, suppressing a groan.

Of course she hadn’t.

“What about Nugget?”

You’re Nugget?”

“The one and only.” He rose, stretching his full six foot two frame, hoping to regain some dignity.

He’d loathed that call sign every single day of his service. If he’d been smart, he would’ve participated in some good-natured bribery, which was how one of his buddies wound up with the name Shooter.

But no, he’d taken the moral high ground, and they’d named him after the sugary, walnut-laden dessert bar his grandmother sent him in regular care packages. But hey, at least they were delicious.

Besides, if he had a choice, he’d give anything to be back in the cockpit of an F-16, even if it meant reclaiming a call sign as humiliating as Nugget.

“Donnie used to talk about you all the time. And weren’t you the one who sent the box of desserts the day of the funeral?” Her words blended with a mixture of gratitude and something softer, something close to affection.

At the time, he’d wondered if he should’ve sent flowers instead, but the homemade Nevada Nuggets seemed more fitting, somehow. At least, Donnie would’ve gotten a kick out of it. “They’re an old family recipe. I hope you liked them.”

“I did. They were wonderful. So much better than flowers.”

Her tone carried a hint of a smile, and he was surprised by how badly he wanted to see it. “Why don’t we move into the sitting room? The power’s out because of the storm, but there’s a fire in there and I can scrounge up a couple of battery-operated lanterns.”

As she followed him into the next room, Logan mentally rehearsed half a dozen ways to ask the awkward yet all-important question— what was she doing here? And how long did she plan to stay?

But no matter how he phrased it, he couldn’t bring himself to form the words, realizing his future hung on her response.

After all, she owned the place. If she wanted to kick him out, she could.

The smoldering embers cast a peripheral glow, allowing Logan to glimpse Abigail for the first time.

Even dripping wet and a little worse for wear, she did something to his insides that closely resembled internal combustion. Only, in this case, it was ignited by striking hazel eyes instead of jet fuel.

Abruptly looking away, he rummaged through a desk drawer for a flashlight, then moved to the closet and retrieved two lanterns.

Clicking them on, he set them both on the coffee table, turning to look at her again.

Her eyes were fixed on his bare chest, and when he caught her staring, she flushed, quickly averting her gaze.

“The fire feels nice.” She stepped toward the hearth, stretching out her hands to gather warmth. And maybe mask the sudden rosiness in her cheeks.

“There’s a fireplace in the master bedroom, if you’d like me to build one in there for you….” He intentionally let his words trail off, hoping she’d fill in the blanks with her plans for the foreseeable future. When she didn’t, he added, “My room is upstairs, so you’re not putting me out or anything.”

He didn’t want to go into the morose psychological reasons of how he’d chosen the smallest room in the house over the large master suite because he didn’t feel he deserved it.

And thankfully, she didn’t ask.

She stood in an uneasy stance, kneading her lips together as though massaging the right words out of them. “I’m sorry to intrude like this. I had no idea you were living here. How, uh, how long has it been?”

“A couple of years. Donnie didn’t tell you?”

Something flashed in her eyes. Embarrassment? Sadness? Perhaps a mixture of the two. She shook her head.

Guilt clawed at Logan’s stomach. Why hadn’t Donnie told her? Was he worried she wouldn’t approve of the arrangement?

Logan always knew his friend had been far too generous. Sure, he paid the utilities and maintained the property, which wasn’t exactly easy considering large historic homes needed a ton of work. But Donnie would have made a small fortune selling the place. Maybe he hadn’t told his wife to avoid the conflict.

Logan hated the thought of being a wedge in their marriage even more than he hated being a burden.

“I’m sorry for the… mix-up tonight,” he said, putting it mildly. He’d likely have a nasty burn on his side in the morning. “This is your house. If you need me to leave, just say so. Only, I’d prefer to wait until after the storm, if that’s okay. Otherwise, the moving boxes might get a little soggy.” He grinned, hoping to add some levity to an all-around uncomfortable situation.

The corner of her mouth lifted, giving him a small taste of the smile he remembered. “That won’t be necessary. Honestly, I don’t really know what I plan to do with the place long-term, but for now, I was just hoping to get away for the holidays. Or more accurately, get away from the holidays.” She hesitated, slicking a strand of damp hair behind her ear. “I suppose we could work something out for the next few weeks. Find a way to coexist without getting in each other’s way. Would that be okay with you?”

She met his gaze, and his heart rate skyrocketed like the first time he experienced g-force. Coexist? As in, live within the same four walls? He wasn’t used to sharing his space with anyone, let alone someone like Abby.

His brain shouted, Eject! Eject!

But the rest of his body didn’t heed the warning. “Sure. We can make that work.”

“Great. I just have one… request,” she said in a tone that indicated it was more of a nonnegotiable. “I’m skipping Christmas this year. Which means no decorations, no tree, no holiday music, nothing festive whatsoever. Is that going to be a problem for you?”

“No, ma’am.”

He could handle nixing Christmas.

The real question was whether he could handle living with his attractive new houseguest.
Rachael Bloome; A Keepsake Christmas: A Sweet Romance Anthology – Blessings on State Street (Kindle Locations 5479-5546).

An overboard Main Street, a child falling out of a tree and an attraction Abby can’t deny, changes her feelings on celebrating this year.

Plus that special Christmas ornament to remember.

5 Contented Purrs for Rachael!


A Lot Like Christmas

Kathryn Cantrell

The place where destiny is the ultimate matchmaker. All you have to do is believe.

I have to say even though Iris Duncan believes in love at first sight, and believes Wesley is her one and only. The reason she’s in his father’s antique store is quite naïve. She’s tracking down her grandmother’s Christmas ornament, it’s signed by Lillian Davenport, the film star, who was her grandmother. She assumes she would just have to identify it and he would just hand it over.

Of course, Wesley can’t and won’t do that. Even though she says it was stolen and it was reported, he needs to go through proper channels, it’s his father’s store after all. After calling the sheriff, an ice storm begins, preventing the Sheriff from getting there and also them going anywhere. Fortunately, there is an apartment above the store where Wesley has been staying.

As soon as she got that ornament. Then she’d get started on their happily ever after. Her gran came first.

When the phone rang, a sinking feeling told her who would be on the other end of the line.

Wesley’s mouth firmed into a flat line as he listened. When he hung up, she held up a finger. “Let me guess. The sheriff isn’t coming.”

Wesley shook his head and her stomach dropped.

“The storm is much worse than forecasted,” he told her with a grimace. “The roads are impassable. He doesn’t think he’ll make it out until tomorrow morning at the earliest.”

Looked like she’d be staying in Superstition Springs then. She nodded once, mentally preparing for an overnight stay sans an overnight bag. “Is there a hotel nearby?”

He shrugged. “I’m not sure. Probably in La Grange. If you want me to call around for you, I don’t mind.”

La Grange was thirty miles away. No way was she putting that much distance between herself and that ornament. Plus she had a feeling that he’d mentioned it strictly as a ploy to get her to go away. Not happening. “I thought you just said the roads are bad. I meant here. In town.”

The very long pause did not reassure her. For someone who liked calculators so much, he sure wasn’t adding two and two together very fast.

“Maybe the roads aren’t too bad out here.”

She shot him an incredulous look. “In the boondocks? Sure. In Texas, bad weather always veers away from wide open spaces with few residents. Let’s check and see about that.”

Weaving through the furniture, she headed for the front to peer through the window. Big, white flakes fell from the sky at an alarmingly rapid rate, obscuring her vision.

“It’s snowing!” she called back to Wesley, charmed by the picturesque scene. “So beautiful. I guess I should have checked the forecast before driving this far from home. I mean, I knew it was cold. Can’t miss that. But snow in Texas? It’s been ages since it actually snowed here.”

She sensed him coming up behind her, an odd anomaly where she could feel his presence that she didn’t recall ever experiencing before with another person. It had been happening since she’d first noticed him, made more pronounced by her new understanding of why they’d been brought together— to help him believe in love again.

“Wow,” he said, sounding a bit dazed, his gaze roving across the landscape on the other side of the glass. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen snow. Especially that much of it.”

In the hour or so she’d been in the shop, white had coated every surface as far as the eye could see. Odd bumps stuck up every so often in a straight line edging the street. Bushes of some sort, the leaf tips dark against so much white.

“Christmas miracle,” she murmured cheerily.

“If you still think I should try to drive to La Gran—”

“You can’t drive in that.”

Well, then. She hid a smile. He’d cut her off a good two sentences before she’d expected him to. “Is there another choice? Someone who might have an extra room?”

His lid slammed shut and he heaved a sigh. “Yeah, someone as in me. My dad’s apartment is above the shop. It’s two bedrooms. But I can sleep down here in the store.”

“Oh, hmm.” She pretended to think about it, mostly because she had a feeling she’d overplay her hand if she jumped all over the invitation as lightning quick as she wanted to. His heavy sigh had told her scads. He was a good guy who had no intention of letting a woman drive alone in bad weather, but he was also a guy who didn’t enjoy having his self-imposed relationship moratorium challenged.

Also, she could be completely misreading the situation, and he really had a second career as an axe murderer.

Her best tactic here would be treading very lightly.

She held up her cell phone. No bars. But he’d warned her that would be the case already. Did axe murderers tell their victims cell service sucked? How would she know? She never watched those kinds of movies. In her world, good guys with well-defined shoulders always played the hero.

“You don’t have to sleep down here,” she said. “I would feel terrible for putting you out. Besides, I have a concealed handgun in my purse, just so you know.”

His brows shot up. “Really?”

Caught in the lie, she debated and finally shook her head. “No. I’d probably shoot myself before I shot anyone trying to harm me.”

“That’s okay.” He looked like he was trying not to laugh. At her. “I used to be a SEAL, so firearms are kind of my specialty. I won’t hurt you. I know that’s what someone with nefarious intentions would say, so probably it’s a small comfort.”

She wasn’t scared of him, if that’s what he’d meant. Maybe she should be, but she’d been alone with him for a while now already and she’d gotten no sense of him being a threat.

“Can I call my Gran to let her know I won’t be home tonight?” she asked with a nod to the corded phone behind the register. “So she won’t worry.”

Which doubled as a mechanism to make sure she didn’t disappear, never to be heard from again. Well, technically, that could still happen, but at least they’d know where to start looking.

“Of course.” He jetted back to the register and lifted the receiver, holding it to his ear, then extending it to her. “It’s working.”

That sealed it. An axe murderer definitely wouldn’t make sure the phone was operational and then let her make a call. She took a moment to study him surreptitiously as she dialed and waited for the call to connect.

Man, he was something to look at. Almost too pretty to be considered handsome, but his face had a rugged quality matched by his brawn that was too masculine to call him anything other than smoking hot. His eyes killed her. The color was something in and of itself, but after you got past the bright green/ hazel/ topaz combo, a depth shone from them. This guy had dimensions and she wanted to know about all of them.

Especially the name of the incredibly stupid woman who had worked him over to the point that he refused to even entertain the idea of a casual movie with another of her species. That was some next-level hurt he carried around inside.

The private nurse Iris had hired to look after Gran answered on the second ring. She explained the situation and gave the woman the number displayed above the dial, which she assumed was assigned to the shop. Not as good as the number upstairs at the residence but better than nothing.

It would have been lovely to actually speak with Gran but she’d been so confused lately. It wouldn’t have done any good to spend ten minutes explaining who she was, plus it hurt Iris’s heart to have to.

That ornament could be the key to unlocking a flood of Gran’s memories. It had to be.

“Well, that’s done,” she told him brightly instead of dwelling on things she couldn’t change. “Care to show me to my room so I can settle in?”

Which would take about two minutes since she had no luggage or even a toothbrush. Her host’s hospitality probably only extended so far, or she’d ask for some basics, and she’d rather save what good will she might have at the moment to fry bigger fish.

Silently, Wesley extended a hand to the rear of the shop, where thankfully, a staircase unfolded upwards to the second floor. She’d envisioned a building this old having an external staircase, requiring a stout constitution to brave the cold in order to get to the residence.

“Oh, this is lovely,” she exclaimed as the staircase led straight to the open living room and kitchen.

Glass comprised most of the far wall, giving her a bird’s eye view of the nothingness spreading beyond the edge of the town. A blanket of white covered everything, a smattering of trees and scrub brush standing sentinel, but she had a feeling it was just as breathtaking without the snow.

The owner had selected some of the best pieces from his business, choosing to furnish his personal space with honey-red finishes. German influences mostly, judging by the ornate legs on the wardrobe converted into an entertainment center. The fabric couch stuck out as the lone modern hold out, which was unsurprising given the fussy patterns often favored by furniture makers of the previous centuries.

“The extra room is this way,” he said and she didn’t miss the stiffness.

He didn’t like her being here, but he didn’t feel like he had a choice, so he was making the best of it. Which she appreciated. Everyone had choices and he could have kicked her out into the storm. The snow still fell in furious swirls, easily the worst snowstorm she’d ever seen in real life. The fact that he’d instantly assessed the weather situation and made the difficult choice spoke to her soul in a way she’d never have anticipated.

That’s okay. She fully intended to reverse the way he thought about her presence in his life. There was no telling how long she had to make that happen, but the weather had certainly done its part to assist fate. She’d make full use of the opportunity presented to her.
Kathryn Cantrell; A Keepsake Christmas: A Sweet Romance Anthology – A Lot Like Christmas (Kindle Locations 7741-7813).

The progression from strangers to something more is rather interesting as Iris pushes and Wesley retreats.

However, there is something about snow in Texas, Christmas and being stuck together.

A beautiful ornament, secrets, and the beginning of a romance.

5 Contented Purrs for Kathryn!


One Unforgettable Christmas

Tammy L. Grace

An exhausted ER doctor looking to escape the city. A beach-loving workaholic executive stuck in a snow-covered valley. Will the charm of the town and the magic of the holidays be enough to mend their broken hearts?

Hugh Whitman just got the surprise of his life. His Aunt Betty left him not only her home in Snow Valley but also her bookstore and rental properties, but there’s a catch. He can’t sell anything or hire a manager for the book store until he’s worked there for 30 days. He really prefers LA and beaches to the cold of Snow Valley but he couldn’t just turn his back on it all.

The cold is getting to him since he really doesn’t have the proper clothing. Thoroughly chilled he first stops at Latte Dah for coffee enjoying the warm atmosphere as he arranges the time off. He’d also need to find some appropriate clothing for his stay. He has lunch at Rosie’s diner, where he meets Harper. It’s snowing as he heads towards his aunt’s house observing the prime location of the book store. He doesn’t get very far before he slips and falls flat.

He’s rescued by Harper, who lives just past his aunt’s Victorian home. With his ankle injured, she assists him inside only to realize he won’t be able to maneuver the stairs. She property she’s renting is one of his Aunt Betty’s and has a small guest cottage so she offers that to him. I got a real kick out of him thinking her dog Duncan was a guy.

Hugh begins his time at the book store and discovers the closeness of the community as the Christmas spirit seems to come alive.

Harper’s mother, Allison is coming to town for the holidays. Allison is an overworked ER doctor and her contract is ending. She’s hoping her time with her daughter in Snow Valley will help her sort out what her next steps should be.

Hugh invites Harper to bring her Mom to dinner at the Mistletoe Lodge as his treat and a thank you for the help she’s given him. There’s going to be quite the surprise coming.

This is a favorite scene.

She met his eyes and stifled a gasp. The deep blue eyes she hadn’t seen in over twenty-five years, widened. Hugh stepped closer, his face inches from hers. She could smell the woodsy scent of his aftershave and detected notes of sandalwood along his strong jawline.

He grinned and said, “Allie Oop? It is you.”

Harper’s brow furrowed as she looked at Hugh and then her mother. “That’s what Grandpa always called you. You two know each other?”

Allison swallowed hard. “Uh, yeah, a hundred years ago.” Her eyes met his again. “Hugh, I can’t believe you’re here and, uh, well, I just can’t believe it.”

He wrapped her in a long hug, and then took her hands in his. “You look just as stunning as ever. You haven’t changed a bit.” He smiled and moved to pull out a chair. “Please sit down.”

He did the same for Harper, who sat wide-eyed between them. Both she and Hugh rearranged their place settings to accommodate their left-handedness. Harper turned toward her mom. “So, I met Hugh a couple of weeks ago. He fell on the sidewalk and hurt his ankle. He’s Betty’s nephew.” She shrugged her shoulders. “Well, you know that. Anyway, I offered to let him stay in my guesthouse because of all the stairs at Betty’s.”

Allison ran her finger along the edge of the menu. “I can’t believe you didn’t mention him.”

The color rose in Harper’s cheeks. “I didn’t want you to worry. I know you aren’t wild about me renting out the guesthouse.” She winked at Hugh. “To total strangers who could be serial killers.”

He chuckled. “I told her the same thing. I’m back at Betty’s now. I didn’t want to be in the way when Harper’s mom came to visit. She never said your name or I might have put it together.”

They studied the menus. “Everything looks terrific,” said Hugh. “My treat, so you ladies order whatever you like. Lobster, steak, the sky’s the limit.”

Harper shook her head. “No lobster for me. I’m allergic to shellfish.”

Hugh’s head snapped to face her. “Me, too. I can do fish, but not shellfish. I don’t need any more medical visits while I’m here.”

The waitress came to take their orders. As much as Allison had been looking forward to dinner, her appetite had disappeared and nothing sounded good. She settled on a chicken dish, and since Harper was driving, a glass of merlot.

“So, your ankle is better?” asked Allison, before taking a healthy swallow from her glass.

“Not one hundred percent, but much better.” He stuck his foot out. “Doc Archer gave me a brace and I’ve been diligent about wearing it.”

“Ah, good old Doc Archer. He’s a sweetheart.” Allison brought her hand to her mouth in such a hurry, she almost tipped over her wineglass. “I forgot to say how sorry I am about Betty. She was such a lovely person.”

Hugh pressed his lips together. “Oh, thank you. She was a much better aunt than I was a nephew, I’m sorry to say. I have a new appreciation for her after spending these last weeks trying to fill her shoes.” He took a sip of water. “She was my only family and now she’s gone. It’s really made me think.”

“I’m truly sorry. We lost my mom almost two years ago and my dad before that. I understand that horrible sense of loss.”

He nodded. “I’m so sorry, Allie.” He met her eyes with such intensity, she looked away and took another drink from her glass.

He turned his attention to Harper. “So, is your mom excited about your news?”

“News?” Allison turned toward her daughter and watched her eyes widen and smile fall.

“Uh, well, I haven’t told her. I meant to, I’ve just been so busy and we haven’t had time to talk much.” She looked between Hugh and her mom. “I’ve decided I want to stay in Snow Valley and be a teacher, like Grandma.” She went on to say she’d looked into online programs and that she could complete her degree and then get a student teaching job at the local school district.

It warmed Allison’s heart to hear the excitement in Harper’s voice and the idea of her following in her mom’s footsteps. But that her daughter had discussed her future with Hugh, a relative stranger, made her eyes sting with unshed tears.

Harper rambled on, telling her she’d been helping Hugh, and Duncan had been staying at the bookshop while she worked. Allison half-listened to the conversation as she watched her daughter.

Her daughter with the same dark hair and blue eyes as Hugh, who was allergic to shellfish, and left-handed. She watched the two of them and wondered how she was going to tell him. Her stomach buckled at the idea. How would Harper react? Would Hugh figure it out?

She asked the waitress for another glass of wine.
Tammy L. Grace; A Keepsake Christmas: A Sweet Romance Anthology – One Unforgettable Christmas (Kindle Locations 9374-9411).

The attraction between Allison and Hugh is apparent, and her secret won’t remain that way long.

I thoroughly enjoyed the way this romantic tale plays out, with love, laughter and some tears as well.

5 Contented Purrs for Tammy!


Tinsel and Teacups

Elle Rush

A bubbly barista and a shy, single-father antique dealer must set aside their rivalry to find the best Christmas teacup ever when they are nominated to run the Holiday Beach food bank fundraiser. Will the spirit of Christmas overcome their competitive streaks?

Rachel Best is on the hunt for tea cups, she does a holiday auction at her coffee shop, By The Cup, to provide for the food bank.

Owen Daye is already at the Christmas craft and antique sale and Rachel is sure he’s already snatched up all the good stuff. Owen’s grandfather owns Golden Daye Antiques and Owen has been taking over for him. Unlike his grandfather, Owen hadn’t responded to her request to partner with her on the auction.

The last straw for Rachel was when he bought a rare Prairie Pioneer a style from the days of the Great Depression. Unfortunately it was her fault she was stunned to see it, her mind going in all directions as she stared at it, not processing when he asked if she wanted it.

There’s an interesting catalyst in this story, a cat named Holly. Apparently the stray goes between Rachel’s shop and Owen’s. His young son Ritchie has befriended the cat who spends time in their storage area.

This is a favorite scene.

The next afternoon, Owen was ringing up a customer’s purchase when Rachel slipped in through the front door. She’d arrived early to ensure nobody else purchased the Prairie Pioneer before she had a chance to, but she didn’t see it on it any of the shelves in the housewares area. She moved through the fine arts corner and came up empty there too. She was preparing to start a row-to-row search, when Owen approached her holding a massive red latte cup covered in white polka dots.

“It’s on the house,” Owen said when he handed it to her. “Pops was upset when he realized you didn’t contact the store to for our usual donation. Maybe you’ll accept this as part of our contribution.”

That was strange. And slightly accusatory. “I understand nobody returning my calls with both Goldie and your father being in the hospital, but I also sent a letter asking Golden Daye Antiques if they wanted to participate. I assume you still had somebody going through the mail to pay bills and such. I still didn’t get any response. So please tell your grandpa I didn’t forget about him and his previous generosity.”

The shocked look on his face seemed genuine. “I don’t remember any letter. But the store was in such upheaval when I arrived, it could have accidentally been thrown out. I’m very sorry if it had been. Pops is all about being active in the community but can’t do a lot this year, which is why he volunteered me.” Owen grabbed a sheet of tissue paper from underneath the counter and gave it a flick.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t pay attention to the direction, and the delicate wrapper flapped against the bulletin board and dislodged several of Richie’s masterpieces. The rectangular drawings flew across the counter and onto the floor. “Nuts!” he exclaimed.

Rachel scooped up two that landed by her feet, turning them over so she could see the drawings. “Your son has a thing for snowmen,” she said as she offered them back, “but it’s a clever way to keep him occupied at the counter.”

Owen didn’t take them. He was staring at the letter in his own hand. The unopened letter, she noted, with her name as the return addressee. Owen flipped it to the backside to look at what might be a horse and cowboy according to the hat, then returned to the front. He handed it to her.

“This is the letter I sent,” she said after a quick glance.

“I didn’t see it. By the looks of it, Richie confiscated it for his artwork before any of us had a chance.” Owen slit it open and withdrew a plain sheet of printer paper. Rachel knew what he was reading: best wishes for a fast recovery, and a request for her to come by the store to discuss teacups if Goldie was feeling up to it at a later date.

Rachel pinched her lips together. The whole situation was a dumpster fire. Nobody would benefit if she continued to let it burn. “I guess it’s kind of pointless to be mad at the next Picasso simply because he escaped supervision,” she said.

“I am really sorry. I didn’t realize we hadn’t opened your letter before he drew on it—”

“It’s not your fault.” She gave a little snort. “Okay, it’s ninety percent not your fault. At least I know now that you weren’t ignoring me on purpose. I was starting to wonder.” Then she gave Owen a truly friendly smile for the first time. “Can I start over?”

“Sure.”

“Hi, I’m Rachel Best, and I own By the Cup. It’s a coffee shop on Lakeside Drive. I know you’re new to Holiday Beach, but would you like to contribute to my annual fundraiser for the local food bank and donate a teacup to a good cause?” She stuck out her hand.

He gave it a hearty shake. “Hi, Rachel Best. I’m Owen Daye, the new manager for Golden Daye Antiques. My son and I just moved to town, and I’d love to participate in your fundraiser.”

“Daddy, why are you holding the lady’s hand?” A blond boy raced over to him from the front door.

“We just agreed to work together, so we shook hands to make a deal,” Owen explained. He lifted the now-opened letter, but Rachel shook her head, letting him know he didn’t have to mention it now. Instead, he introduced Rachel to his son Richie.

“Are you going to work here now?” Richie said. “Do you know old stuff?”

“No. I work at a coffee shop.”

Without warning, Richie pivoted and changed the conversation.

“I have a cat.”

“I have a cat too. Well, half a cat. She doesn’t live with me all the time,” Rachel said.

“My cat lives in the store. I’m going to go play with her now.” Owen’s son didn’t even say goodbye before he took off, leaving a trail of dirt and melting snow on the floor.

“That was Richie,” Owen said. “On a cookie high, apparently.”

“We napped really hard after day care. We needed to refuel,” Goldie said, as he stomped the snow off his boots at the front door. “In fact, I could use some caffeinated fuel, so I’m going to run. Rachel, it’s lovely to see you again.”

“You too, Mr. Daye.”

“Are you and Owen all organized?”

“We’re just about to start.”

Owen ushered Rachel through the store to the large storage room. She heard Richie talking to somebody in one corner, but Owen led her in the other direction and showed her two conveniently empty metal storage units against the far wall. “Will these work?” he asked.

“I think they’ll be fine. I can’t imagine that we’ll get enough to fill all those shelves.”

“I think you’re underestimating your appeal. I’ll bet you a beer at the Escape Room that all these shelves are full to bursting by the time the auction’s over.”

Owen might be new to Holiday Beach, but that didn’t mean he was wrong. Christmas was the season of giving, and Josh had already sent her the names of two businesses wanting to make donations. She was certain the various businesses around town would fall over themselves to be part of the auction. “Bet accepted. I’ll happily pay up if I’m wrong.”

“While I have you here, I want to apologize about the antique show the other day,” Owen said.

She froze. The revelation about her letter going astray had completely shoved their antique show confrontation and her intention of asking for the Prairie Pioneer out of her mind. Owen’s apologetic green eyes and his adorable son were dangerous distractions. “Before you say anything, I have to ask a huge favor,” she interrupted. “Do you still have the Prairie Pioneer in stock? I want it. Badly.”

Before he could respond, there was a crash at the other end of the room. Then one word. “Daddy!”

Rachel didn’t have kids, but she could differentiate between a “come and see” and a “I need help” scream. Owen could too; he was already halfway there before her feet moved.

They found Richie surround by a sea of shattered glass and crockery. The little boy’s tear-stained face looked up at them in fear. “Daddy,” he cried again. An art piece that was balancing precariously on the edge of an upper shelf trembled at the noise.

Owen strode through the broken shards, shoved the glass sculpture further onto the shelf, then scooped up his son and handed him off to Rachel. She backed away and watched Owen study the scene.

“Are you okay, kiddo?”

“I didn’t do it.”

“I know you didn’t.” Rachel could see the little boy couldn’t reach that high. “Did you see what happened?” Owen asked gently.

Richie sniffed in her arms. Rachel dug a tissue out of her coat pocket and wiped his nose. “Are you hurt, Richie? Did you get cut?”

“No. Daddy, the cat did it! She was walking on the top shelf and I told her no and I said get down and then she pushed the thing and it crashed and then she got scared and pushed more things off when she ran away.” Richie sniffed again.

“I know she’s normally good about staying off the shelves, but I also don’t usually put light breakables up on them either.” He looked around the storeroom. “Richie, do you know where she went? I should make sure she’s not cut either.”

“She ran away out the window.” Rachel guessed it was Owen’s steady manner that calmed Richie so quickly. His tears dried, and he twisted in her arms as he took in the shattered glass and china on the floor. “Wow, she really made a mess.”

“She sure did. Will you go with Miss Rachel while I sweep it up? I don’t want any little boys or cats to cut themselves.” He raised his eyebrows to her as he spoke to his son, and she nodded. She could watch a child for a few minutes while he cleaned the disaster zone. Rachel spotted busted wine glass stems, pieces of a large bowl and a pitcher handle, and more broken cups and saucers than she could count, all laying in a puddle of water.

She was glad it wasn’t her cleaning up. “My cat likes fish a lot. What does your cat like to eat?” she asked Richie as she took him back into the store.

By the time Owen was finished cleaning, Rachel had to get back to the coffee shop. She was restocking sugar packets when she realized that she’d never received an answer about buying the Prairie Pioneer.
Elle Rush. A Keepsake Christmas: A Sweet Romance Anthology – Tinsel and Teacups (Kindle Locations 10333-10405).

From the injured cat to the elusive Prairie Pioneer cup, to the silent auction this is a wonderful Christmas romance.

5 Contented Purrs for Elle!


Melissa McClone’s Bio and Links

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!


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Kristen Ethridge’s Bio and Links
Kristen Ethridge is a USA Today Bestselling Author who writes Sweet Escape Romance— stories with hope, heart and happily-ever-after. You can find Kristen in her native habitat— a Texas patio— where she’s likely to be savoring the joy of a crispy taco, along with a glass of iced tea.

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Tess Thompson’s Bio and Links

Tess Thompson is the USA Today Bestselling and award-winning author of contemporary and historical Romantic Women’s Fiction with nearly 40 published titles. When asked to describe her books, she could never figure out what to say that would perfectly sum them up until she landed on, Hometowns and Heartstrings.

She’s married to her prince, Best Husband Ever, and is the mother of their blended family of four kids and five cats. Best Husband Ever is seventeen months younger, which qualifies Tess as a Cougar, a title she wears proudly. Her Bonus Sons are young adults with pretty hair and big brains like their dad. Daughters, better known as Princess One and Two, are teenagers who make their mama proud because they’re kind. They’re also smart, but a mother shouldn’t brag.

Tess loves lazy afternoons watching football, hanging out on the back patio with Best Husband Ever, reading in bed, binge-watching television series, red wine, strong coffee and walks on crisp autumn days. She laughs a little too loudly, never knows what to make for dinner, looks ridiculous kickboxing in an attempt to combat her muffin top, and always complains about the rain even though she chose to live in Seattle.

She’s proud to have grown up in a small town like the ones in her novels. After graduating from the University of Southern California Drama School, she had hopes of becoming an actress but was called instead to writing fiction. She’s grateful to spend most days in her office matchmaking her characters while her favorite cat Mittens (shhh…don’t tell the others) sleeps on the desk.

She adores hearing from readers, so don’t hesitate to say hello or sign up for her newsletter.

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Barbara Hinske’s Bio and Links

Barbara Hinske is an attorney who recently left the practice of law to pursue her career as a full-time novelist. Her latest novel, Guiding Emily, was conceived during a tour of The Foundation for Blind Children. She was inspired and moved by their mission and is donating half of her proceeds from the book to the Foundation. Barb is also the author of the bestselling Rosemont series and the murder mysteries in her ‘Who’s There?!’ collection. Her novella The Christmas Club was made into a 2019 Hallmark Channel Christmas movie.

She inherited the fiction gene from her father who wrote mysteries when he retired and told her a story every night of her childhood. She and her husband share their own Rosemont with two adorable and spoiled dogs. A true homebody, she is besotted with decorating, entertaining, cooking, and gardening.

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Rachael Bloome’s Bio and Links

Rachael Bloome is a hopeful romantic. Joyfully living in her very own love story, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two rescue dogs, Finley and Monkey. When she’s not writing, helping to run the family coffee roasting business, or getting together with friends, she’s busy planning their next big adventure.

Torn between her small-town roots and her passion for traveling the world, she weaves both into her stories ~ and her life.

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Kathryn Cantrell’s Bio and Links

Kathryn Cantrell is the sweeter version of USA Today bestselling author Kat Cantrell. She read her first Harlequin novel in third grade and has been scribbling in notebooks since she learned to spell. What else would she write but romance? When she’s not writing about characters on the journey to happily ever after, she can be found at a taekwondo tournament, watching Big Bang Theory or dancing with her kids to Duran Duran and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Kathryn, her husband and their two boys live in North Texas. As Kat, she’s a Harlequin So You Think You Can Write winner and a former RWA® Golden Heart® finalist for best unpublished series contemporary manuscript.

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Tammy L. Grace’s Bio and Links

Born and raised in Nevada, Tammy L. Grace loved reading at a young age. With the help of her middle school teacher, she discovered the joy of writing. After spending a career in local and state government service, she retired and finally has the time to dedicate to writing.

When Tammy isn’t working on ideas for a novel, she’s spending time with family and friends or supporting her addiction to books and chocolate. She and her husband have one grown son and a spoiled golden retriever. Sadly, she lost Zoe in 2017, but is training her new golden puppy, Izzy, to be her writing buddy. Zoe was the inspiration for all the canine companions in her books.

She enjoys a variety of fiction, but is always drawn to characters she loves and wants to be transported to another place when reading. She hopes you’ll feel at home as you meet the small-town characters in the picturesque setting of Friday Harbor in her best-selling Hometown Harbor Series. She’s also created equally memorable and interesting characters in her Cooper Harrington Detective Novels. She released the first book, Beach Haven, in her Glass Beach Cottage Series and plans two more in the coming years.

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Elle Rush’s Bio and Links

Elle Rush is a contemporary romance author from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. When she’s not travelling, she’s hard at work writing books which are set all over the world. From Hollywood to the house next door, her heroes will make you sigh and her heroines will make you laugh out loud.

Elle has a degree in Spanish and French, barely passed German, and has flunked poetry in every language she ever studied, including English. She also has mild addictions to tea, her garden, bad sci-fi movies, and HGTV.

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The Game Changer – The Billionaires of Silicon Valley Prequel 3 by Melissa McClone


The Game Changer
The Billionaires of Silicon Forest Prequel 3
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Melissa McClone

1cf2a-addtogoodreads

blurb-fall-cornucopia

Romance is not part of her plan.
Maybe it’s time for a new plan…

Rachael Saunders, the Posh Planner, is ready to take her event planning business to the next level. Her handsome new client’s upcoming dinner party will help her do just that. Too bad the job isn’t exactly what it seems…

Billionaire Mason Reese never intended to throw a dinner party. But all his intentions went right out the window when he met the charming Rachael. Planning the party together gives him a perfect way to get to know her. He only hopes she’ll be able to forgive his deception if the truth comes out…

She isn’t looking for love. Neither is he. But meeting each other will be an absolute game changer for both of them.

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Attending Adam and Cambria’s wedding and having to join the other bachelors for the garter toss isn’t Mason Reese’s idea of a good time. He’s just glad he didn’t catch it, Kieran did. Of course Mason and Henry are going to come up with a plan there. We already know what happens with Kieran. Mason based his and Henry’s helping Kieran on what Mason believes is working for him.

Henry introduces Mason to Rachel at Adam’s wedding and circumstances throw the two together during the event clean-up. Mason makes what he thinks is a coffee date with Rachel but there is a total misunderstanding there.

This is a favorite scene.

His interest in her was just that— curiosity. It had nothing to do with Rachael’s warm smile or how her clear green eyes reminded him of the park where he used to play as a kid or that her laugh had become his new favorite sound.

Yep, Mason was acting like one of his mom’s curious cats.

Except he only had one life, not nine.

Time to get out of here.

“Mason.”

Recognizing Rachael’s voice behind him, his muscles tensed. So much for leaving. He’d spent too much time deciding what to do. He forced a grin before turning. “Hey.”

“Sorry, I’m late.”

Stray strands of hair from her ponytail framed her face perfectly. Her floral-print skirt fell above her knees, showing off her legs. The short-sleeved peach shirt complemented her complexion. Pink tinged her cheeks, suggesting she’d been hurrying.

Had she gotten prettier since Saturday night?

“I had to pick up something,” she added.

“I’m early.” The words rushed out.

Chill, Reese. Don’t act like Dash.

He opened the door, not wanting to make either of them suffer in the heat any longer. “After you.”

As she passed by, a citrus fragrance tickled his nose. Her shampoo? Soap? He hadn’t smelled that on Saturday night when they sat next to each other in the SUV.

Not that how she smelled mattered.

Mason forced his attention off her and onto the place. The shop wasn’t a massive franchise but a locally owned coffee house Rachael had suggested. He understood why. The cozy atmosphere with subdued lighting and soft instrumental jazz playing was an excellent setting for a first date. Mason joined her in line.

“What would you like?” they asked at the same time.

She laughed. “Let’s try that again. What do you want?”

Wait. Was she offering to buy his coffee? “This is my treat. I asked you to meet me.”

She studied the menu board. “Yes, but this is what I always do.”

Huh? He supposed some women might prefer paying, but he wasn’t used to that. Most expected him to pay, given his net worth. A few even hinted about the expensive gifts they wanted. But Rachael seemed genuine in her offer, so he would let her. “An iced coffee, please.”

“Anything to eat?”

“No, thanks. I had a late lunch with Kieran and Henry.”

“They both seem nice.”

“They are.” Henry had his moments, though.

Tonight, they would talk about getting Kieran together with Selah, who worked for Mason. If the two got married, there would be one less person in the bet.

Rachael stepped up to the counter and removed her wallet from the light-blue purse on her wrist. “One iced tea and an iced coffee for here.”

The barista, a woman with pink hair, rang up the order. “Someone will bring those to you in a few minutes.”

“Thanks.” Rachael handed over a twenty-dollar bill, placed two dollars into the tip jar, and tucked the change and receipt in her wallet. She glanced at him. “Let’s find a place to sit.”

The coffee house was quiet. Only a few tables were taken.

Mason noticed a small round table for two that was more secluded than the others and gave them some privacy. “How about the one in the corner?”

“Perfect.” She headed there and sat. “I hope you’ve had a wonderful week so far.”

“Fairly typical.” That meant crazy busy, but Mason thrived on that. “Did your baby shower go well?”

Rachael’s face lit up. “It did. The mother-to-be was so sweet, and everyone had fun.”

“You love what you do.”

She nodded. “Each client is special to me. It may sound corny, but I’m grateful to be a part of whatever event they’re celebrating.”

Once again, her genuineness struck him. “That’s sweet.”

“It’s also selfish. None of my family lives in Oregon, so it’s almost like being a member of someone else’s family for a few hours.”

Her wistful expression hit him hard. She must miss her family.

Whereas Mason managed a weekly call to his parents. He stared at the table, hoping to find something to snag his attention, but nothing was there. He shifted in the chair. “I rarely see my family, and they live in the same state.”

“It’s hard to make time when you’re so busy.”

He didn’t know if she was talking about him or herself. Perhaps both. He would rather they discuss her. “Do you work most weekends?”

“It depends on my client’s needs. This last weekend I worked both days. But I only have one this Saturday.”

A Saturday night date was out of the question. If— and that was a big if— he wanted to invite her out. Despite his freakout on the sidewalk, he kind of did. “So, you aren’t fully booked?”

“No. That gives me flexibility for clients like Cambria and Adam, who don’t have a lot of lead time.”

“That’s smart.” Mason was glad she’d fit the wedding in, or he would have never met her. “Henry says your business is going well.”

With a satisfied smile on her face, Rachael sat taller. “It is. We’re growing, but…”

“It’s never enough.”

“Exactly.”

Laughter lit her eyes, and his heart bumped. She was so beautiful.

“I have big dreams. Goals,” she added.

He never expected to be so captivated, but he was. That should bother him more than it did.

“I know how that goes.” Mason was glad he hadn’t left earlier. “And after you hit those initial ones, you want to reach for the next.”

She leaned slightly over the table. “Is that what you’re doing?”

He nodded. “But developing a follow-up to a popular product is… challenging.”

“That’s part of the appeal, right?”

“Guilty.” He half laughed. “Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against easy, and I love when things click into place, but much of the creative process happens when I’m trying to overcome obstacles and problems. That’s how I ended up developing TVT.”

“I love your app, and so does everyone I know. I’m glad you made it.”

His chest swelled. “Thank you. We’re working on an update now. It’ll be even better.”

The barista carried their drinks on a tray. She placed each on the table. “Enjoy.”

As he picked up his, the glass was cool against his palm. “Thanks for this.”

“My pleasure.” Rachael took a sip of hers. “I know you’re busy, and I don’t want to take too much of your time today. So, what kind of event are you having?”

He froze, holding his iced coffee halfway to his mouth. “Event?”

She nodded, which told him nothing. “I have brochures, and a few packages are listed on my website to give clients ideas, but most of my events are custom, which is why I love doing consultations like this. It helps me put together exactly what a client needs.”

Consultation. Client.

The word swirled inside his mind, mocking him.

She thought I invited her to talk about an event, not a date.

Mason almost laughed. He placed his drink on the table so he didn’t spill any.

No wonder she’d paid for his coffee.

Henry might be correct when he claimed Mason had no skills talking to women. He’d epically failed with Rachael.
Melissa McClone. The Game Changer (Kindle Locations 381-449). Cardinal Press, LLC.

Mason develops a whole dinner at a winery to get to know Rachel, and it’s working at least in his mind. They share a kiss or two and they are falling perhaps her more than him it’s hard to tell.

You have to know it’s going to fall apart, somehow. The way it does is quite ironic.

I really loved this book, there’s romance, tears, laughter and love.

5 Contented Purrs for Melissa!

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Coming Soon!

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Melissa McCloneUSA 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!

The Kiss Catcher – Billionaires of Silicon Forest Prequel 2 by Melissa McClone


The Kiss Catcher
The Billionaires of Silicon Forest Prequel 2
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Melissa McClone

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Dating a coworker is never a good idea.
But…maybe this once,
she could make an exception?

Chief Product Officer Selah Burton is great at her job. Still, she never expected her boss to ask her to help a friend with his product launch. She didn’t think she’d be attracted to the handsome tech billionaire, either. Yet…here she is…

Kieran O’Neal finds Selah attractive, but he had no idea his friend would rope her into a project to give him an opportunity to get to know her. The ruse is not a good idea. But putting an end to it…well, that’s harder to do than he imagined…

When the truth is spilled, can Kieran convince Selah to take a shot at love with him for real—or will his deception chase her away for good?

The moment Kiernan sees Selah he’s attracted to her and wants to ask her out. Unfortunately for him his friends Mason, Selah’s boss, and Henry Davenport a notorious matchmaker are present at the time. Now Henry and Mason are going to interfere and heaven only knows what they’re going to come up with instead of the simple asking out.

Kiernan owns DigiSoftKO the company that provides project software that Mason’s company uses. When Mason calls him informing him Selah’s on her way, he’s flabbergasted. He literal has no time to think up a project for her to help on. That is until she hands him her list. A list of flaws in that program that if corrected would definitely boost it’s ranking to number 1 instead of 2.

With the project born, Kiernan sets up a meeting with her on a Saturday at his favorite place. Little does he know all his hopes of dating Selah are about to come crashing down.

This is a favorite scene.

A server dressed in black with her hair in a high ponytail came to the table. “Are you ready to order, or will you be having the usual, Kieran?”

Selah found it interesting the server knew Kieran so well.

He nodded. “The chef’s choice and coffee cake.”

The server laughed. “So, the usual.”

Kieran handed her the menus. “Creature of habit.”

“Not really.” The server’s curious gaze traveled to Selah. “You’re not here with the guys.”

Selah waited for him to say this was a working meeting.

Instead, he grinned as if keeping a secret. “I’m not.”

“About time.” The server studied Selah for a moment before checking the carafe. “I’ll bring you more coffee.”

With that, she walked away.

Selah sipped her drink. “You come here a lot.”

He nodded. “But I’ve never brought a date.”

Date? Her muscles tensed, and each nerve ending shrieked. “This isn’t…”

“Or someone for a meeting.” The words rushed out. His eyes clouded with what appeared to be concern. “I hope I haven’t made you uncomfortable.”

The sincerity in his voice sent a sigh of relief to her lips. “No, and sorry if I overreacted. It’s a touchy subject for me. I dated a contract employee who worked at TVT. After that disaster, I promised myself I’d never break that rule again.”

His gaze narrowed. “I didn’t realize TVT has a fraternization policy.”

The memory of Axel’s betrayal and her hurt brought a shudder. “It’s not a company rule but a personal one.”

Kieran appeared to want to say something, but he sipped before lowering his cup. “Then, it’s a good thing this isn’t a date.”

His tone was harsher than usual. His coffee must have gone down wrong. Still, Selah was glad he understood. And why wouldn’t he?

It wasn’t as if someone like him would date a woman like her. She was an organizer and manager, a woman who got things done, not one who men dreamed of dating, especially a billionaire.

For the best.

Which logically made sense after Axel. She only wished her heart agreed.
Melissa McClone. The Kiss Catcher (Kindle Locations 564-584). Cardinal Press, LLC.

This whole thing blows up in so many ways. I laughed, sniffled and screamed at my kindle. These guys are so dang clueless at times.

This was a fun read with so many ups and downs and that simmer to sizzle romance that I love so very much!

5 Contented Purrs for Melissa!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Coming Soon!

Melissa McClone

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!

The Chocolate Touch – Love at the Chocolate Shop Book 3 By Melissa McClone


The Chocolate Touch
Love at the Chocolate Shop Book 3
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Melissa McClone

1cf2a-addtogoodreads

Chocolate expert Chantelle Cummings arrives in Marietta, Montana with two goals—sign copies of her new book and research a quaint local chocolate shop. When she meets a gorgeous guy passing out chocolate samples, her visit turns sweeter than she ever imagined. The man melts her heart, but her dream of working in France with her family makes her hesitant to pursue a romance.

Former Air Force captain York Parker has one month before embarking upon a consulting career. He never expected to be selling chocolates, but he’s happy to help his sister and her boss. He also likes spending time with sassy, pretty Chantelle. His new co-worker may have the chocolate touch, but he’d rather taste her decadent kisses… That is, until he learns the real reason she’s in town.

Will the truth harden his heart, or will love pave the way to a sweet future?

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York has just come back from the wonderful vacation in Fiji that Dustin won in ‘The Valentine Quest’. Before he moves on to the next phase of his life as a consultant he’s spending time with his sisters Dakota and Nevada. Always willing to lend a hand, he’s helping Dakota with chocolate samples and serving the signature hot chocolate at a book signing.

The author of the book, Chantelle is signing her latest book ‘The Chocolate Touch’ and she plans on visiting and sampling Sage’s chocolates at Copper Mountain Chocolates.

She’s getting some of those treats at her signing, but she needs to check it out closely if she’s going to recommend her Uncle Laurent pursue obtaining the recipes to add to their line. She’s also hoping that her Uncle will finally put her in the position of Chocolatier at her family’s business Delacroix Chocolates. Little does she know that relationship will threaten everything she’s worked for.

What starts as simply helping out becomes more when Portia goes into labor and the chocolate shop is short handed. York steps in along with Chantelle to take care of the customers while Sage and Dakota take care of Portia.

This is a favorite scene.

Standing next to the display case, Chantelle watched York clear the table without a wasted motion or word. He seemed…stressed. Not only that, but he scrubbed as if a contagion on the tabletop could wipe out mankind if he didn’t eradicate it first.

Worried, trying to keep busy, or a combination of the two?

She understood why he needed to keep himself busy because she couldn’t stop thinking about Portia, either. Chantelle hoped the young woman and her baby were okay. Like York, Chantelle needed to do something other than stand here.

“York,” she said finally. He stopped wiping and glanced her way.

He seemed to have forgotten she was there. “Chantelle. Sorry. I…wasn’t expecting this to happen. Dakota seemed worried, Portia looked scared, and I’m not sure what I should be doing.”

His honest words matched how Chantelle was feeling. The urge to reach out to him was strong, but the distance between them kept her from doing that. “Same here.”

“It’s my first day.”

“One you won’t forget.”

“That’s for sure.”

His smile returned full force and hit her like an unexpected gale. She took a step back. Swallowed. Might have been better for her if he continued to be wigged out, but she really liked that smile of his.

“I’m happy you’re here,” he added.

“Me, too.” And she was. Because of him.

Helping was something her parents had taught her to do. She’d grown up being taught the importance of lending a hand if she could. Yet, more was at play here. York Parker intrigued her, even if she knew better than to feel that way.

And she did know better.

But some things—like a second piece of chocolate—weren’t that bad for a person. She hoped that was the case with York.

“Should I put on an apron and stand behind the counter?” she asked.

“Oh, yeah. That would be good.”

He wiped the table again. If he kept that up, his next job would be to refinish the wood.

“Where are the aprons?” she asked.

He straightened. “In the back. Sorry. I keep thinking about…”

“Me, too.”

His gaze met hers, and he straightened. “There are clean aprons hanging by the cubbies. You can leave your purse and jacket inside one of them.”

“Will do.”

“The restroom is back there, too. Wouldn’t want you to have to wander around to find it.”

The amusement in his voice reminded her of two nights ago. He’d remembered what had happened at the bookstore. She hadn’t forgotten one second of their encounter.

She walked toward a door she assumed led to the back as it was where Sage and Dakota had disappeared into during the tasting last night.

Chantelle stepped into a small chocolate factory complete with an industrial-grade stove and roaster.

This was where the magic happened…

A rush of excitement flowed through her.

When she was younger, her mother had told her chocolate makers were magicians who used magic to create the most wonderful things to eat. After touring the Delacroix chocolate laboratory in Bayonne with her uncle, she knew her mother was correct. Seeing all the people working together, and the traditions created by her grandfather, had made the factory feel like home and the employees extended family.

Definitely magic.

But it wasn’t as simple as waving a magic wand, saying abracadabra, and pulling a piece of chocolate out of a hat. Each chocolatier had their own process, but the steps were similar. Cacao beans had to be roasted, cracked, and the nibs heated to remove the husk. But those were only a few of the steps. The process took days for chocolatiers like Sage to complete, but the results were worth the time and effort.

Quality over quantity.

The smells were sharper than out in the retail section. No doubt because the ingredients were stored here.

Inhaling, Chantelle captured the scents of cinnamon and vanilla bean. A hint of chili powder, too.

A potpourri of chocolatey goodness.

Excitement shot to her fingertips.

Her dad had once joked that chocolate ran through Delacroix veins. That seemed to be the case with her mother and uncle. Would it be true for her and her cousin?

The cubbies York had mentioned were against a wall. She placed her jacket and purse inside one. A wallet and phone filled another. It had to be York’s stuff. The rest were empty. As he’d said, the aprons were hanging right there, so she grabbed one.

After another glance around the mini-factory, she grinned. A satisfied feeling settled over her. The urge to take a photo or two for her report was strong, but she couldn’t without permission. Chocolatiers guarded their processes and recipes like state secrets.

Nothing in Chantelle’s reports would be considered confidential. Much of her research was done online prior to her visit. She then formed opinions based on what she saw, tasted, and the answers given to her questions. Once she decided, she gave a buy-or-pass recommendation to her uncle.

Still, she couldn’t believe her luck. Not only did she get to see a different side of Copper Mountain Chocolates, but she also had the chance to view the retail side of a chocolate shop from the other side of the counter. Getting customer-service experience was one of the steps on her uncle’s list.

She couldn’t wait. One afternoon helping in a shop wouldn’t count as enough experience, but it was a start.
McClone, Melissa. The Parker Family Trilogy : Love at the Chocolate Shop. Kindle Locations (6754-6793). Tule Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Now while I’m pretty sure Chantelle isn’t doing anything underhanded, it is very close to the line.

Then there’s also the sleuthing York’s doing to discover the anonymous benefactor.

There’s ups, downs, twists and turns as this story unfolds and romance blooms.

5 Contented Purrs for Melissa!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Melissa McClone

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!

The Valentine’s Quest – Love at the Chocolate Shop Book 2 by Melissa McClone


The Valentine’s Quest
Love at the Chocolate Shop Book 2
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Melissa McClone

1cf2a-addtogoodreads

Keep your competition close…and your heart even closer.

When Nevada Parker travels to Marietta, Montana, she anticipates enough peace and quiet to finish her PhD dissertation. Cupidville turns out to be anything but quiet. In fact, it looks like Valentine’s Day—her least favorite holiday—exploded all over the small town.

Among the sea of red hearts, “Be Mine” signs, and pink, pink, pink, Nevada spots a flyer for a multi-day race called The Valentine Quest. The grand prize—a luxury tropical vacation—would be the perfect welcome-home gift for her brother who’s leaving the military.

Dustin Decker sure could use a break from giving city slickers sleigh rides—and from the now ex-girlfriend who issued an ultimatum. Even with a bum knee from his bull riding days, the race’s grand prize is as good as his—until he realizes he needs a partner for some of the more complicated tasks.

He makes a strategic pact with the prim, bookish Nevada. But with a kiss, their unlikely alliance turns into something more…and soon racing isn’t the only thing on their minds. As the finish line nears, they must decide if the grand prize is worth more than what they’ve found together…or if one of them will walk away empty handed—and broken hearted.

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I purchased this as the Parker Family Trilogy and I’m reviewing them individually.

I realize these are holiday based but I was in the mood for sweet. In this one Nevada Parker has come to Marietta, Montana for the quiet of her sister Dakota’s home and town to finish her dissertation. She’s also teaching three days a week in Boseman. She’s bringing Dakota her boots, since the weather report was wrong again, when she manages to slip. A man helps her up but her glasses are smeared and she can’t see him. He hands her a handkerchief to dry them, tells her to keep it and leaves after ascertaining she’s okay.

You’ll recall Dakota works at Copper Mountain Chocolates and as Nevada drinks her hot chocolate, a man enters. Now he recognizes her, but she doesn’t him, because her glasses were so smeared. Dustin introduces himself and the conversation turns to the upcoming Valentine’s Quest. A surprise all inclusive vacation to Fiji is the new grand prize and the quest has been getting more interest.

Dustin is entering the Quest, he wants the vacation and is determined to win it. Nevada decides the vacation would be perfect for her brother York, as he leaves the Air Force and transitions to civilian life. What Dustin and Nevada don’t expect is that the other contestants are couples which puts them as individuals at a disadvantage. It’s then Dustin comes with the idea to partner up until the last challenge.

This is a favorite scene.

Dustin glanced around.

“Sizing up the competition?” she asked.

“Nice spot for doing that.” His gaze sharpened with what looked like respect. “But you already knew that.”

She shrugged, even though he was correct about why she’d picked this table. Although she preferred the term observing—a more pleasant word to her.

He scanned the crowd again. “These couples and pairs put individual competitors at a disadvantage.”

“Having a teammate isn’t against the rules.”

“No,” he said. “But we need to level the playing field.”

“How?”

“By helping each other out.”

It was her turn to stare at him. “I thought you had this won.”

“Yes, but it’s called hedging one’s bets.” The way his gaze hardened told her how serious he was. “We stand a better chance if we work together against the other pairs.”

She considered his words. “You mean form an alliance like they do on those reality TV shows?”

“You watch those?” He sounded surprised.

“I have. On occasion,” she clarified.

Shows like that were a guilty pleasure. One few knew about, not even Dakota or York.

“A strategic alliance is exactly what I’m talking about,” he said. “We bring different strengths to the quest.”

That was true. Physical versus cerebral. “There’s only one prize.”

“We work together until we near the finish line, and it’s down to you and me. Then we’re on our own.”

His plan had merit. She might do better with a partner. Especially one who was physically stronger than her.

The corners of his mouth curved upward in a charming—dare she say alluring?—grin.

Her heart thudded.

Not the reaction she expected, nor wanted, to have.

“What do you say?” he asked.

No! Her gut instinct wanted her to scream that. If for no other reason than the way his smile made her feel warm all over. Except…

For York. For York. For York.

Her original goal was to win for her brother. Competing on her own would be harder, and maybe, a little of Dustin’s confidence would rub off on her. She could use some.

Amusement filled his gaze. “You want to say yes.”

The man was so darn cocky, but a part of her did want to say that. Which made the other part of her want to say no.

Think.

She had to be logical about this, which was all Dustin was being, and not let emotion get the best of her.

One deep breath followed another. “Okay.”

His smile spread. “Great.”

She hoped she didn’t regret this.

Sage Carrigan O’Dell, the owner of the chocolate shop, and three men—Tim and two who were older—stood in the front of the standing-room only crowd. More people had arrived, and the shop was jam-packed. Still, Nevada had trouble concentrating on anyone except Dustin.

Forming an alliance meant they were using each other to win the quest.

Nothing more.

All she had to do was ignore the way her gaze kept being drawn to his face. How hard could that be?

The crowd quieted.

Nevada forced her attention on the four sponsors standing in front.

“Welcome to the Valentine Quest.” Sage had long, red hair and a welcoming smile. Dakota spoke highly of working for the lovely woman. “The race will begin after this kickoff meeting and continues through this Saturday and Sunday, and next Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The final event will be held in the afternoon on Valentine’s Day, so you’ll have plenty of time for romance afterward.”

Competitors laughed, but not Nevada. That Tuesday would be just another day.

“On each of the seven days, you’ll perform tasks that earn you points,” Sage continued. “Those points will be tallied on Valentine’s Day to determine who wins the grand prize—a luxury, all-inclusive vacation package to Fiji.”

The participants clapped and cheered.

Nevada sipped her hot cocoa. This wasn’t a summer camp activity. She wanted that vacation, but she also didn’t want to embarrass herself.

“Good move not to get caught up in the rah-rah atmosphere,” Dustin said in a quiet voice. “We can’t allow ourselves to be distracted.”

Then she’d better not stare into his blue eyes. Those distracted her, but he was correct.

Someone here—hopefully her, not him—would walk away with the prize. Everyone else would end up with nothing.

“The quest will be full of different kinds of challenges,” Sage said. “The most important thing is to have fun.”

“No,” Dustin whispered. “The most important thing is to win.”

Nevada found herself nodding. Teaming with him would be good for her.
McClone, Melissa. The Parker Family Trilogy : Love at the Chocolate Shop. Kindle Locations (3552-3592). Tule Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Now these two are very different and as partners that does work. Neither of them has any intention of falling in love. But you know how that goes.

Lots of fun, with laughter, tears, both happy and sad, plus the romance.

5 Contented Purrs for Melissa!

Click the Cover for Buy Links and More!

Melissa McClone

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!

A Thankful Heart – Love at the Chocolate Shop Book 1 by Melissa McClone


A Thankful Heart
Love at the Chocolate Shop Book 1
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Melissa McClone

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Chocolate is better than men, and so are dogs. At least, that’s what Dakota Parker tells herself as she mends her broken heart and finds forever homes for rescue animals. So far, so good. She can indulge her love of chocolate where she works while her foster dogs provide her with the unconditional love she craves. What more does she need?

Seattle architect Bryce Grayson is counting the days until he can return home to the big city with his father in tow. That is if he can convince his dad to leave Montana. Bryce’s escape plan, however, goes astray when he meets Dakota. Her sweet kisses put the chocolate she sells to shame. Maybe he should be the one to move to Marietta, but could he be happy living in such a small town?

He has until Thanksgiving to decide.

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I bought this as The Parker Family Trilogy and I’m reviewing them individually.

Dakota Parker works at at Copper Mountain Chocolates and volunteers at Whiskers and Paw Pals animal rescue in Marietta, Montana. She’s fostering two dogs and a rat at the moment and has also written a proposal to get all the animals adopted by Christmas. The rescue director Lori Donavan thinks it’s too simplistic and the timeline unrealistic. She put a lot into that proposal so Lori’s words hurt. An interesting twist to her day is when a stranger comes in refuses the sample and claims he doesn’t like chocolate, yet purchases some of the top sellers. The man was gorgeous but paid cash so she couldn’t learn his name from a credit card.

Bryce Greyson has come to town to help his father and stay until after Thanksgiving. He’s hoping over that time to convince his father to move to Seattle. He doesn’t like being so far away from his father and now with those two broken legs it proves his point his dad shouldn’t be alone.

Dakota was stopping by to see how Walt was doing and bring him some chocolates. That’s when she first meets Bryce recognizing him from his stop at the chocolate shop. It’s while they were all talking that Dakota gets an emergency call from the shelter. A pipe broke and they need to get the animals out. Walt wants to go but Bryce and Dakota both squash that idea and instead Bryce would be going to see what he could do.

This is just one of my favorite scenes.

Amid the barks and meows, a whimpering sounded.

Oh, no. Someone was unhappy. Most likely afraid due to their new surroundings. She needed to find out who ASAP.

Clipboard in hand, Dakota followed the sound. The whimpers grew louder. She was getting closer, but she noticed none of the dogs near her looked happy.

Molly, a poodle mix, faced the back of the crate as if in a time out, but she wasn’t making a sound. She was a lap dog who loved being petted and brushed. The dog hadn’t gotten along with her owner’s new boyfriend, so Molly had been surrendered. A generous donation had been made for the dog’s care, but that hadn’t helped the dog understand why she’d been left.

“You’ll be inside soon. I promise.”

Molly didn’t move. The only time she perked up was when someone held her.

Poor baby.

If Dakota had been faced with the same decision, she would have dumped the guy and kept Molly. Dogs were the best judge of character. None of her foster dogs had liked Craig or her other ex-boyfriends, either. The men had blamed the animals and the rescue for taking too much of her time. She would have to remember to trust the animals’ judgment the next time she dated.

The whimpering stopped.

That didn’t mean all was well. She needed to find the dog.

The next crate contained Fred, who’d come to them from a high-kill shelter in Southern California. The Dachshund mix trembled, even though he wore a sweater that a volunteer had knitted for him. Fred was another Lonely Heart animal. He’d lived at the rescue for over a year.

“You look dapper, Fred, but it’s colder than you’re used to. You won’t be outside much longer.”

The whimpering sounded again.

Who was that?

She spotted the crate—Maverick, a Border collie whose owner, a retired rancher from Livingston, had entered an assisted living center two weeks ago. Pets weren’t allowed in the facility. With no other family around, Maverick had no place to go, so he’d ended up at Whiskers and Paw Pals.

She kneeled in front of the crate’s door.

Maverick’s head hung low. Being in the rescue was hard enough after having a huge ranch to roam. She had no doubt he hated being locked in this hard-sided crate.

Dakota stuck her fingers through the door’s grate. “I can’t let you out, honey. This is the safest place for you right now.” She touched his fur with her fingertips. “You’re going to spend tonight somewhere else. Maybe tomorrow, too, but you’ll be back before you know it. If not, I’ll come visit. I promise.”

Maverick rubbed his muzzle against her fingers.

Her heart squeezed. The dog was seven, well behaved, and loved kids and cats. Dakota was surprised he was still at the rescue, but adoptions had been slow lately, which was why they were so full.

“You’re such a good boy.” Touching Maverick seemed to calm him. “You’ll find a new home soon.”

Maverick’s ears perked.

“What is it?”

“The dog likes you,” Bryce said. She recognized his voice this time.

“This is Maverick.” She kept her fingers between the grating. “He likes everyone.”

Too bad she couldn’t say the same about Bryce. Okay, that wasn’t nice. The man had brought her pizza. 

Dakota focused her attention on Maverick, who pressed against her fingers. He wanted to be on her lap, but she couldn’t let him out. Instead, she petted him as best she could.

“There’s pizza left,” Bryce said.

She glanced over her shoulder. Her gaze stared right at his pant zipper. She gulped. Not the view she expected or wanted.

Dakota faced the dog.

Maverick pressed his wet nose against her fingers.

She leaned closer to the crate and whispered, “Be right back.”

Dakota stood. “Thanks, but one slice was enough.”

Bryce gave the dog a cursory glance—one that matched his eye roll when Walt had talked about volunteering at the rescue.

Whether he liked animals or not was unimportant. He was here. Sure, his father had told him to come, but Bryce had construction knowledge. Maybe he knew the status of the building.

“How bad is the damage inside?” She asked the question that had been weighing on her mind and her heart.

Bryce didn’t say anything.

“That bad?” she asked.

He rubbed his chin. “A major pipe broke and affected both floors. We don’t know the extent of the water damage yet, but if this hadn’t been discovered until the morning, it would have been much worse.”

“A volunteer had stopped by to give animals their medications and clean.” Dakota glanced at the building. “Seems like a lot of activity inside.”

He nodded. “The water and electricity have been shut off, and plumbers have been draining the pipes while furniture and other things are being moved out of the affected rooms. The insurance agent stopped by, too.”

“One of the blessings of living in a small town.”

“The rescue’s director, Lori, said mold can affect an animal’s health so a professional water restoration company has been called in. They’ll work through the night. We’ll have a better idea of the damage tomorrow.”

“Will the animals be able to return then?”

“No.”

The one word brought Dakota’s worst fears to life. A tennis-ball-sized lump of panic lodged in her throat. She swallowed. That didn’t help. “They’ll be able to return, right?”

“I hope so.”

She crossed her arms over her chest, as if that could protect her, the animals, and the building. “You don’t sound hopeful.”

“It’s hard to say what will happen. The inside is a real mess.” His words increased her worry. “Tomorrow, we meet with the claims adjustor.” “We?” “Since my father can’t be here, I’ve offered to help in his place. Lori asked me to attend the meeting and walk-thru. Though she seems capable enough to handle things herself.”

“Lori is. I call her a pet-saving superhero.” The director spoke what was on her mind, but she would do anything to help any animal, whether they were part of her group or not. “The rescue is her life, but she knows to ask for help when she needs it.”

“Happy to do whatever I can.”

Was he? Dakota wanted to believe him, but trusting was hard for her. Especially someone she had just met.

Maverick whimpered, and she stuck her fingers through the grate again. He quieted.

People with headlamps walked into the shelter.

That made her wonder…hope… “If the electricity’s off, maybe the inside isn’t as bad as it appears tonight. Things could look better in the daylight.”

“That’s one way to look at the situation.” His tone suggested he thought it was the wrong way.

She raised her chin. “What can I say? I’m an optimist.”

“I consider myself a realist because I know better than to get my hopes up.”
McClone, Melissa. The Parker Family Trilogy : Love at the Chocolate Shop. Kindle Locations (618-671). Tule Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Of course Bryce sticks his foot in his mouth yet again. It’s a habit of his.

In spite of his father’s protests, Bryce still insists Walt would be better off in Seattle.

He gets talked into helping Dakota in redoing her proposal to meet the requirements of a challenge set by a very generous donor and even helps with the set up of the adoption events.

These two have chemistry but there’s a lot to overcome for a happily ever after.

5 Contented Purrs for Melissa!

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Melissa McClone

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!

The Gold Digger – The Billionaires of Silicon Forest: Prequel 1 by Melissa McClone


The Gold Digger
The Billionaires of Silicon Forest: Prequel 1
By
USA Today Bestselling Author
Melissa McClone

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A real estate agent, a billionaire, and a mudslide…
On the bright side, not much else could go wrong, right?

Real estate agent Cambria Baker needs to make a sale, or she’ll be homeless. So, when her broker asks her to do a showing on Mount Hood, Cambria jumps at the chance. The only problem? The buyer is as gruff as he is gorgeous and not impressed with her or the dilapidated cabin.

Tech billionaire Adam Zeile wants to build the perfect mountain lodge where he can forget about work and the women who are only interested in his net worth. He’s excited to see a property with a dream view, but the beautiful real estate agent’s eagerness to make the sale raises his suspicions.

When a mudslide traps them in the cabin, they must put aside their differences. As mutual respect grows into attraction, an unforgettable kiss changes everything. But can their newfound connection last once they’re rescued? Or are they better off burying it and saying goodbye?

In the middle of a torrential rainfall, Adam Zeile and his friend Henry Davenport were heading out to look at a property. According to Henry the other interested buyers wouldn’t come out in the storm so it was Adam’s best change to purchase the property if it meets his specifications. One particular photo had caught his eye and if the view was the same he would buy it.

Unfortunately Henry had a meeting to attend so he left Adam at the property with the promise take a look at it when he got back. Adam was hopeful this would be the perfect property and even though the agent Cambria Baker was honest about the condition of the cabin he only needed to see the view. Once he had it was off, this was not the place for him.

While he was waiting for Henry to return, Cambria cleaned up the snack she had prepared and changed into clothing more appropriate for the weather.

This is a favorite scene.

A protectiveness welled up inside him, which was stupid when he was the one who’d made her feel bad. The least he could do was not make her wait.

“Go ahead and lock up the cabin.” He was still damp from when he arrived. A little more rain wouldn’t hurt him. “I’ll wait outside.”

Her forehead wrinkled. “Listen to the rain. It’s pouring again. You’ll get soaked out there.”

“My friend will be here soon,” he countered. “You should get on the road, given the weather.”

An uncomfortable silence descended.

Come on, Henry. Adam shifted his weight between his feet.

A noise sounded.

Henry and Frank must be here. Adam blew out a breath before opening the door, but no SUV was parked next to the other car.

Rain pelted the ground, and water poured like a sheet from the roof. But the noise he’d heard became louder— rumbled.

Her face paled.

Adrenaline surged. “Earthquake?”

“Slide.” Cambria pushed him aside, slammed the door, and grabbed his hand with her free one. “Upstairs!”

The rumble turned into a roar— deafening and frightening and all-consuming.

The bag on her shoulder swung and nearly took him out, but he stayed upright.

As she ran up the stairs and into the bathroom, she never let go of him. “Get in the tub.”

Adam’s pulse raced. He shouldn’t be winded, but his breaths came fast. “Isn’t that for a tornado?”

Cambria released his hand and climbed into the bathtub. She flashed him a stop-being-stupid look.

The rumbling continued.

He didn’t need to be told twice and got in next to her. “We should be safe here,” she reassured him.

Something crashed into the house with an earsplitting blast. The cabin shook.

She gasped.

Adam bounced against the wall and then fell. He held back a shout.

Cambria curled in a ball, so he covered her with his body. He had no idea what was happening, and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to know.

His heart pounded, threatening to explode, but that didn’t drown out the horrible sounds of breaking glass and splintering wood.

Is this how it ends?

He imagined his mom, dad, brother, and sister. A carousel of his friends followed.

Adam gulped in air as if it might be his last breath. Images of the future he wouldn’t have filled his mind— a wife, kids, and a forever kind of love.

“I think it’s over,” a quiet voice said from underneath him.

He straightened so that Cambria could sit up.

She was correct. Everything had stopped, but he had no sense of time or how long they’d been in the bathroom.

Her face was paler than before. Her lower lip quivered.

Adam touched her shoulder. “It’ll be okay.”

She raised an eyebrow. “And you know this how?”

Her sarcastic tone surprised him.

“I don’t.” Tired of cowering, he stood and found his footing in the tub. “But we’re alive. I wasn’t sure if we would be by the time everything stopped. And you look like you needed to hear it.”

She didn’t disagree. Nor did she say anything.

“Thanks for getting me upstairs. I had no idea what was happening.” Adam didn’t know the extent of damage on the first floor, but he assumed— hoped— the immediate danger had passed. “How did you know to run upstairs?”

“My grandpa was on our neighborhood’s Community Emergency Response Team. He stopped when he and my grandma moved into an assisted living center, but now he’s the head of the CERT he formed there. He taught my brother and me what to do in different, um, situations.”

Her voice shook, and her hands trembled.

Was she afraid or in shock? Perhaps both?

Adam hadn’t taken a first aid class in years. His security team included a medic, so he hadn’t needed to remember anything and didn’t. “You okay?”

She nodded. “Delayed reaction.”

That was a relief.

“You should check on your friend,” she added.

Henry and Frank.

Adam’s heart dropped. As he yanked out his phone and hit call, he held his breath.

One ring. Two…

“Are you okay?” Henry asked in a breathless rush.

Tears pricked the back of Adam’s eyelids. He exhaled, letting his tension go, and cleared his throat. “If by okay you mean standing in the bathtub on the second floor, then yes, I’m okay. What about you and Frank?”

“If we’d been two minutes earlier, we would have been caught in the mudslide.”

“Mudslide,” Adam repeated so Cambria would know she’d been correct. Not that he’d doubted her. She’d taken action while he stood frozen, unable to make sense of what was happening. “Something hit the house, but we haven’t been downstairs to see what. How bad is it where you are?”

“The road is covered with mud. There’s no way to pick you up.”

Adam let the news sink in. “But you and Frank—”

“We’re fine.” He needed to hear that again. “How long do you think cleanup will take?”

“Frank is on the phone with someone. But I doubt it’ll be fast. With this weather, calling in a helicopter isn’t an option.”

That meant… Adam scrubbed his face. “So, I’m stuck.”

“Yes, but at least you’re not alone.”
Melissa McClone. The Gold Digger (Kindle Locations 215-266). Cardinal Press, LLC.

Lots of mud, damage to the cabin and no way to get out until either the weather or the road is cleared.

Sparks begin to fly between them even as Cambria’s world starts falling apart more than it already had.

A wonderful romance that is fun and playful in difficult circumstances.

5 Contented Purrs for Melissa!

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Coming Soon!

Melissa McClone

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!