November

CELEBRATING HOLIDAY ROMANCE STORIES

11-17-18 – Sue Moorcroft “A Christmas Gift”

Saturday, November 17, 2018

A Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft


I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed creating a performing arts college for A Christmas Gift. Acting Instrumental is a rock school, kind of ‘Kids from Fame’ yet it fits exactly into the current British educational scene. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to join a vocational college like this when I was a teen - but, oh, I wish I had had the talent and the opportunity! I play the piano to a modest(ly bad) standard and I love to dance.

Georgine is the events director of student productions, and I’m pretty sure that if I had got to a performing arts college that’s the kind of job I would have ended up with - nurturing the talent of others and stopping the various artistic directors from hating each other (too much). Nevertheless, it would be fantastic to get involved in a Christmas show, where props glitter and students shine. It’s against this background that I set the story of Georgine and Joe and, like every Christmas tale, behind the tinsel lurk human conflicts and joys.

Georgine tries valiantly to help her American dad, Randall, who suffers from ill health, and is supported by Grandma Patty in North Georgia. I ended up with a really soft spot for Grandma Patty, I can tell you. When sister Blair turns up on Georgine’s doorstep looking for somewhere to stay and willing to share living costs it seems like a way of improving the financial situation Georgine’s ex-boyfriend dumped on her. But it’s a small house and Blair is used to a big one …

Joe, well Joe’s an enigma, a man haunted by his past yet succeeding in his career beyond his wildest dreams. Does he still want the trappings of success, though? Taking time out at Acting Instrumental as a volunteer feels like a great way to take stock, to work with the stars of tomorrow instead of the tarnished and spoiled ones of today. Asked to act as Georgine’s assistant, he immediately recognises her from his youth.

But she doesn’t recognise him.

It’s the Christmas that changes everything for Georgine - the Christmas when she thinks she’s found love, her past, her present and her future. And then she thinks she hasn’t.

Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times and international bestselling author and has reached the coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle. She’s won the Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary, and has been nominated for several other awards, including a RoNA. 

Her short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses have appeared all over the world.

LINKS:

Website
 [www.suemoorcroft.com]

Facebook profile [Sue.Moorcroft.3]


Twitter  [@suemoorcroft]

Friday, November 16, 2018

Out of this World Holiday Reads #scifi #romance

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of scifi and supernatural stories to engage your emotions.
while my little Christmas SFR story is still in edits (ugh!), I have some more to warm your heart this winter, including a new release at the end of this post from one of my favourite authors (saving the best until last!):

Open With Care by Pauline Baird Jones and Genie Davis
Beware of aliens bearing gifts 
Christmas is coming and so is All I Got For Christmas. Inside you’ll get the evocative and haunting, ”Riding for Christmas,” and the offbeat and heartwarming, "Up on the Housetop.” 

Riding For Christmas:
A mesmerizing tale of interstellar time travel and romance!
Jane MacKenzie, visiting her grandfather’s abandoned ranch, discovers something in the snow. When she opens the ribbon-wrapped box, it mysteriously returns Sam Harrington, who “disappeared” in an 1885 blizzard. 
There’s nothing alien in this enduring tale of holiday homecomings and the hope of love that lasts a lifetime. 

Up on the House Top:

Will her Christmas be ho, ho, ho? Or oh no, no, no?
Gini knew Christmas in Wyoming would be challenging as she headed over the frozen crick and through the woods to the family cabin. The lights are going out in her mom’s attic, the guy who broke her heart is on the porch…and there are aliens on the roof.
According to her mom, it’s going to be the best Christmas ever.

194 pages, $3.99
Amazon, Kobo, Nook


Batteries Not Required by Christine D'Abo (Christmas themed and erotic)

Love Transcends Circuits

Zoe is all alone on an outpost monitoring a lonely quadrant of space. It’s nearly Christmas and all she has for company is her computer AI, Rupert. She isn’t expecting a present from Xion Corporation to help pass the time, but when she opens the box to find a sex bot, a whole world of steamy entertainment possibilities come to mind.

When Zoe activates Sam she doesn’t realize the trouble she’s in for. Sam takes Zoe to sexy new heights and Rupert does a stellar impersonation of a jealous boyfriend. Zoe struggles to ground herself in reality despite her growing lust, but it’s becoming more and more obvious she’s falling in love. But with who—Sam or Rupert?

When a computer virus is unleashed on the outpost, Zoe must choose—or risk losing them both.

128 pages, $1.99
Amazon, Kobo



Noelle In His Heart (Celestial Seasons #1) by C.E. Kilgore, now available with other holiday SFR tales as an omnibus edition: Details here: http://cekilgore.com/books/celestial-seasons/
A Christmas romance with a Sci-Fi twist!
Noelle has made the same wish for the past six years to the angel on top of Father Nathan’s Christmas Tree. All she wants for Christmas is someone with warm arms to hold her and who can understand that she has commitments – commitments which include the twenty-six children at the foster center she volunteers for.
Stranded on Earth six years ago, Steve and his crewmates have done a pretty good job of secretly finding a place in human society, but it doesn’t erase the loneliness that hits hardest around the holidays. He longs for companionship and someone who will understand that his alien heart can love just as deeply




Hey, Santa: SciFi Holiday Romance by Jessica E Subject

She doesn’t want a lot for Christmas… 
Claire Otton dreads spending another holiday alone. When her best friend convinces her to approach the sexy mall Santa, she takes the chance and asks him out, hoping for so much more. 
He’s waiting under the mistletoe… 
Although Andreas Castellanos blends in on Earth, he knows he will never belong. But when the gorgeous woman he’d been staring at invites him to dinner, he has a hard time saying no. 
All they’re asking for… 

Can these two lonely souls find magic together or will their secrets steal their chance of a happy Christmas?
Amazon



A Galactic Holiday: SciFi Romance trilogy
Do androids dream of electric sugar plums?
A detective who refuses to modify her body teams up with her cyborg rival to track down a burglar who is putting toys into homes. A solitary ice miner finds love and friendship while stranded on the surface of Galileo. And two hardheaded negotiators put their differences aside to evade an assassin and save their planets. Enjoy these visions of Christmases yet to come with three science-fiction novellas from Carina Press.
How the Glitch Saved Christmas, by Stacy Gail
Galileo's Holiday, by Sasha Summers
Winter Fusion, by Anna Hackett
Stories also available for purchase separately. 86,000 words
Amazon, $7.99


Even Villains Have Interns is set around Christmas and ends with a Christmas Day proposal (psst, recommended - this is one of my favourite series!)
It's Chicago's favorite city son vs Delilah, daughter of Dr. Charm. America's second city will never know what hit it. 
Bootleggers, drug dealers, crooked cops, and dirty politicians... Chicago has always had a reputation for indulging in the finer vices of life. That’s why Doctor Charm’s favorite daughter found America’s Second City so appealing; criminals are never boring. As second in command for the powerful Subrosa Security group, Delilah Samson finds opportunities to use her superpowers at every turn. Whether it’s stealing a priceless French painting from a mobster or stopping a drug deal, she’s game. 
In fact, the only thing she doesn’t care for is Chicago’s favorite native son, Deputy Mayor Alan Adale, the man who made Lucifer jealous. Sinfully handsome, or possibly just sinful, Adale has been pursuing Delilah since she first arrived, and she’s been dodging. 
When she finds ties between the new kingpin in town and a drug The Company wants to buy so they can create more superheroes, Delilah takes the gloves off. Teaming up with the spooky Spirit of Chicago, she aims to take down the dealers, the mobsters, the kingpin, and The Company. All without falling in love with the one man capable of capturing her heart. 
Amazon

The Polar Terror
Kaddy Chaak’s career is in jeopardy, her social life is non-existent, and instead of spending the holidays at home with everyone she loves, she’s in the hospital with her chronically-ill, probably-dying nephew Everett, wondering if her dead sister could have fixed this. The one bright note in an otherwise bleak winter is a potential visit from the Polar Terror, the only super villain north of the 66th parallel, to make little Everett’s hospital wish come true.  

Kaddy’s not really expecting him to show. At best, she expects a lackluster cosplayer with a half-hour to spare.  

What she gets is a swoon-worthy stranger full of secrets, who might just sweep her off her feet–and maybe help her leave the past behind, once and for all.  

Publisher's website
(not set at Christmas but it is mentioned, and the book is set in Alaska).

Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Yes Virginia, Thanksgiving is Still a Real Holiday Complete With Romance


Hi everyone! 

I am Young Adult, and now Middle Grade author Barbara Binns, writer of contemporary and realistic fiction for adolescents and teens. My tagline syas it all, I write Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men - and the people who love them.  My debut middle grade novel, Courage, was recently published by Harper Collins. More about friendship than romance, it's still a great read for this, or any season. Check my books out at http://babinns.com

After I saw my first Christmas commercial on TV in September, and trees and lights in stores right next to the Halloween decorations, I wasn’t sure the turkey day still existed. (Blink and Thanksgiving is over, especially with the holiday coming so early this year. It's barely a week away)

In the interests of total honesty, Thanksgiving is not the greatest time of the year for the Binns family. My sister's well-loved son died over Thanksgiving more than a decade ago, from a major asthma attack. For years she could not even spend that holiday in the country, she had to be somewhere else to make it through. Even now she still keeps herself isolated. Fortunately she still has her daughter, and two grandchildren. One is a junior and track phenom at Clarke University in Indiana. (You rock, Mikayla!)

That's why I chose to go seek out romances set during Thanksgiving.  I know, Christmas romance is all the rage, but believe it or not, there actually are Thanksgiving-themed romances floating around. At least, a few. Here are some turkey-day stories you might have missed.


In A McClendon Thanksgiving, by Sean D. Young, Faith McClendon put her promising fashion career on hold to support her investment banker husband's climb to financial success. Once he achieved his goals, he dumped her for another woman. In A McClendon Thanksgiving Faith moves home to Chicago (my home town) to hit the “reset” button.

One bright spot is the renewal of her long-time friendship with her childhood best buddy, Michael Montgomery. Michael pretended to be Faith's husband to fend off unwanted attention, gave her a shoulder to cry on, and cheered the loudest when she left home for fashion school. She never knew that he actually loved her, and that time has not dimmed the feeling. Now he decides to break down the walls around Faith’s heart and convince her they can be much more than friends.

This is a story about putting past hurts aside in the hope of finding your HEA with the one you love. It’s about learning not to judge all men because of one bad one. This book demonstrates that there is love after heartbreak. And who doesn’t love a good friends-to-lovers romance?


I write stories aimed at younger readers, so I always love reading young adult and middle grade books with the right touch of romance. Ready or Not by Meg Cabot is both a sequel to her All American Girls, it’s a romantic escapade centered around Thanksgiving.
At Camp David.
With the president’s son.
Who wants to take their relationship “to the next level.”

Samantha Davies is dating the First Son. And now, not only does her art teacher think she’s ready to for life drawing, which means drawing naked people. And the First Son seems to agree. At least, he’s invited her to spend Thanksgiving with him at Camp David. She’s the only one who’s not so sure about any of this. It’s a teenaged romantic comedy set around this almost forgotten holiday, where Samantha and her boyfriend have some decisions to make. (And a little misunderstanding to clear up)


In His Road Home, a 2015 RITA winning novella by Anna Richland, Staff Sergeant Reynaldo Cruz invents a fiancée to avoid an Afghan warlord’s matchmaking. Finding a picture online of a girl he barely knew back home, he fakes an engagement photo, thinking no one else will see it.

When Reynaldo loses both legs and the ability to speak while rescuing a local boy, the image goes viral. He ends up in Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where his so-called fiancée, marine biologist Grace Kim, is summoned to his hospital room. The lonely biologist who barely remembers him, has one question: why did you lie?

Cruz can’t explain. In addition to losing his legs, he has a traumatic brain injury causing aphasia, a language impairment affecting his ability to speak. But he can communicate via text. Touched by his funny texts and the determination she sees in him, Samantha, who generally prefers the company to killer whales to men offers him friendship.

She agrees to help drive his classic muscle car across-country at Thanksgiving. His hands-on method of teaching her to operate a manual transmission is the beginning of a spark. She introduces him to the steamy world of South Dakota ice-fishing shacks. This once-in-a-lifetime road trip leads to what feels like real love, and they both learn to look beyond labels into each other’s hearts. But Samantha is uncertain what will happen once Rey is ready to be on his own again.


If humor, youth, and duty are not what you want with your turkey, maybe you are looking for suspense. In that case let me recommend Thanksgiving Protector, a Harlequin love-inspired suspense novel from Sharon Dunn. Border patrol agent Kylie Perry finds herself responsible for the ten-month-old daughter of a murdered informant and the target of her mother's killer. Texas Ranger Austin Rivers, a true lone wolf, finds himself drawn to the new mother and her tiny charge. No, it's not his business, but he is totally man enough to step forward to protect both of them. His heart opens first to the little girl, then to the woman pledged to care for her. (And who doesn't love a man who adores babies?)

Thanksgiving is on the way, but so is peril. Fortunately, Kylie has her Thanksgiving Protector who is discovering he wants to be around both girls for more than just one holiday.
Now it's your turn. Don't let the turkey holiday be forgotten. Please let me know of any Thanksgiving themed romances you can share? Lets push back on the idea that this holiday no longer exists.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Snuggle With a Book This Month

by Madelle Morgan



The October fall colors were spectacular in Ottawa, Canada.

In contrast, November is grim. It's cold, damp, and dreary. Outside my wet window, bare, dripping tree branches are silhouetted against a leaden sky.

The bikes and patio furniture are put away. My husband has overhauled the snowblower, and we've stocked up on salt for the steps and path. We're ready for snow and ice.

November is a good month to curl up under a blanket and enjoy the peace and quiet before the hectic holiday season. My thoughts turn to... you guessed it. The To-Read pile of novels in my bookcase and ereader!

My choices aren't as overwhelming as in this picture below, but I do have quite the selection amassed over the busy summer months.



How I Find a Good Story

So far I'm usually an ebook buyer rather than a borrower from the library, but I'm totally cheap. I rarely buy a book or boxed set that costs more than $4.99. Even when there's a must-read new release from one of my favorite trad-published authors, I'll wait months or over a year until the ebook price drops to something reasonable. When I love an author's voice and characters, I usually binge read the rest of the series.

I discover new books to read in at least four ways:

  • I subscribe to a free daily newsletter that recommends deals; 
  • I check out books recommended to me by Amazon based on my buying history;
  • I buy $0.99 or bargain box sets that include first-in-series novels by several authors; and
  • I review my lengthy Amazon Wish List to see if any of the books I've saved have dropped in price.

I'm not quite ready for holiday-themed stories. I'll wait until snow is on the ground. In the meantime, stories set in warm climates are very appealing to me right now!

Since I write straight contemporary romance, for entertainment I like to read mystery with romantic elements. I also like to learn something, such as in these series below involving psychology and wine, respectively.

My latest discovery is the Talk Radio Mysteries series by Mary Kennedy. The protagonist is a psychologist with a Florida radio show. Her cop love interest and ditsy actress mother are great characters. 




Another fun, light series I enjoyed was A Wine Lover's Mystery series by Michele Scot set in Napa Valley, California. The heroine has not one but two hunks in love with her. Decisions, decisions...




With so many novels to choose from, how do you decide what to read? 

Do you have any romantic cozy mystery series to recommend?

Happy reading!

Madelle

Madelle Morgan writes the Hollywood in Muskoka series. Her hot latest release, Seduced by the Screenwriter, is set in the dead of winter with lots of snow.


Love scenes wearing movie costumes—a hot romance with a playlist!


Ex-cop Catrina Turner is lonely. After a traumatic recovery dive she quit the force and ran away to remote Muskoka with Titan, her retired police dog. They provide winter security for luxury lake houses owned by rich celebrities. Her PTSD, a closely-held secret, makes a relationship impossible…until a handsome visitor makes a tempting proposal.
Screenwriter Chett de Groot needs a hit to save his career. He accepts a film star’s offer to use her secluded lake house as a writing retreat, and discovers a closet full of her old movie costumes.
Bored, freezing in Muskoka and desperate for inspiration, Chett entices the beautiful security guard to wear costumes and role-play in seduction scenes. They discover how satisfying acting can be. Soon Catrina is ad-libbing passionate lines in scorching “performances” that knock Chett’s thermal socks off.
A film producer makes Chett an offer that will put him back in the game. But if Catrina finds out what Chett did to close the deal, will he lose her forever?
Catrina’s path to love and healing is Book 2 in the Hollywood in Muskoka series. This curl-your-toes romance can be read as a stand-alone short novel. Love music? Enjoy the optional “soundtrack”—a playlist.
Buy the Ebook  or paperback on Amazon.com
Connect with Madelle on her website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Wattpad


Madelle writes romance set in Canada. Find all her books on Amazon.com

Monday, November 12, 2018

A Malawi Time of Year







By: Marcia King-Gamble
www.lovemarcia.com


Today's post is supposed to be about Holiday Romance Reads. While I can think  of several including my popular Red Dress Series and the novel penned with author  Sandra Kitt. I'd rather address a more serious topic, that of malnourished kids in Africa.

  http://a.co/d/hjezZgH






http://a.co/d/fvLgB9L


As  we begin preparations  for another festive season.  It may be helpful to remember there are people who are desperately in need.  For many, this is not  a season of gift-giving, but  rather a time of surviving. So many are simply holding on and trying to just stay healthy.


As Americans, we truly are blessed to live in a country with easy access to a nourishing meal, or at least have the ability to find food; even if that means showing up at a food bank. Few people starve to death in the USA or are considered malnourished.   

That said, last  month I was fortunate enough to visit another country where many exist,  if lucky, on one meal a day. That meal is often provided by an organization, and may consist of corn meal and not much else. 

My day job, chose me along with six others as UNICEF ambassadors. What that meant was a life changing trip taking me to Malawi, Africa.  Visiting Malawi made me realize that despite the many issues we face in the USA, we are very fortunate to live here. 




Where is Malawi?  Malawi is in southeastern Africa. It is one of the poorest countries in the world. Many exist on  38 cents per day or less. The average family can easily have 8 -10 kids. Getting fresh water and adequate nutrition is a huge challenge for many. 




Here are the facts about Malawi: 

 Malawi gained independence on 6th July 1964 and was previously known as Nyasaland. It's capital is lilongwe.The languages spoken are English and Chichewa. 80% of its people are Christian and 20% Islamic. 

The currency in Malwi is the Kwacha.  The country is half the size of the UK and is considered sub tropical with a rainy season in December to May and a dry season running from, May to December. according to the World Bank, the population in  2015  was 17.2 million and is growing at 3.1 %  per year. 

45% of the population is 0-14 years old.  52% are 15-64 years old. The infant mortality rate is 44.2 deaths per 1000 live births. As of 2015, 980,000 people live with Aids. The average annual income is 100-200 US dollars. 84%  of Malawi's population live in  rural areas. The main export is tobacco.



Selfie!

This trip was hardly a vacation.  After an almost thirty hour trip, I arrived in Blantyre; Malawi's second largest city.  I along with my fellow ambassadors, were met by UNICEF representatives and transported to our hotel. We were given about 4 hours to rest before attending a briefing.

At that briefing we received an overview of what was expected of us as ambassadors. It was impressed on us that we were to be respectful, and not take photos of the police or of anyone who appeared to be distressed. We were also not to take photos without asking permission.  


As ambassadors we were up at 5 am (6am the latest) every day. What followed was a two to three hour drive into the country.



Pumping fresh water

On our second day we visited Gonda  Village and were addressed by chiefs, and greeted by many children. All appeared happy to see us. My company had donated  bicycles, mattresses and cooking utensils to this village.  We cooked  and helped screen children for malnutrition.  In the afternoon we visited the Chikwawa District Hospital and saw many heartbreaking sights. I especially enjoyed sprucing up a room that was to be used for recreation. 




Feeding hungry kids
My painting Class


Day three was spent in Neno where we visited a refugee camp and observed the early childhood development program. Kids were 3-5 years old and  we were fortunate to  participate in games and activities with kids and their caretakers designed to stimulate learning.The challenge we were told is that there were insufficient numbers of teachers to provide an adequate education.  



Class room Learning 


On day four we were off to Machinga where we visited the Kaombe primary school and put to work gardening. This school has a living schoolyard.  The idea behind this is to teach communities how to use locally available food to prevent malnutrition. At the same time, children get  to watch the transformation of barren land into a place that can now provide nourishment. We lost at a game of netball as many of the children have the making of  star athletes. It was all in good fun.




Device used to measure for malnutrition

Then began the long journey back. The memories of this trip will forever be stored in my heart. I have so much to be grateful for.

I share my experiences to remind you that as the holiday season approaches, many are simply not as fortunate as you. I urge you to reach out to a child or elderly person in need. You too can bring a smile to stranger, simply by filling a shoebox with basic necessities.  




The information is provided below. 


Give thanks all by giving back to someone who needs you. Happy Thanksgiving all!



About Marcia King-Gamble
Romance writer, Marcia King-Gamble originally hails from a sunny Caribbean island where the sky and ocean are the same mesmerizing shade of blue. This former travel industry executive and current world traveler has spent most of life in the United States. A National Bestselling author, Marcia has penned over 34 books and 8 novellas. Her free time is spent at the gym, traveling to exotic locales, and caring for her animal family.

Visit Marcia at www.lovemarcia.com or “friend” her on Facebook: http://bit.ly/1MlnrIS

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Christmas is a Romantic Time of Year + Free Book

Dora is short for my birth name Dorothy which means Gift of God. So how could I not have a connection with the spiritual side of Christmas? I love the nativity story, however, I don’t expect everyone to celebrate Christmas the way I do. For many Father Christmas and his magical reindeer pulling a sleigh full of presents for the children is a wonderful tradition that supports the idea of giving to one another. That’s the important thing. That Christmas is experienced as a time of loving one another and giving.

As a child I rarely received presents. My birthday and Christmas were the two times of the year I could look forward to as times to receive something special. As an adult, I have the means to enjoy treats anytime but I also get to give which I like just as much. Christmas remains important because of the family gatherings and spirit of generosity. Sometimes Christmas is hard, like the first one without my mother. But the consolation of family gathering together went a long way to bringing me comfort. Family and gathering together is a hallmark of the festive season.

You’re wondering by now when am I going to make the link to romance. Here it is. What makes Christmas a romantic time of year. Romance is about couples before they are a family. It’s the pre-family we are reading about. How the couples find each other, bond, and become better people is a joyful story of a family just before it’s born.

Romance is about loving relationships. It’s not just about a man and a woman but the idea that at the end there is a happy ever after or at least a happy for now. It leaves me with the hope that they will become a family as well.

Do you agree with me, that romance and Christmas are linked? Comment below with your ideas about what makes Christmas romantic.

In my book The Scottish Billionaire’s Secret Lover there is a strong thread of creating a family. I’m doing something unusual by posting the Epilogue from the book as an excerpt. It shows the happy family that was created during this romantic story on the morning of Christmas day.


In the spirit of Romance at Christmas, I’m giving away a copy of The Scottish Billionaire’s Secret Lover, to everyone reading this blog. For your copy email me at dora@dorabramden.com and tell me what format you’d like your book emailed to you in. You will also receive an invitation to join my newsletter list but do not need to accept to keep the book.

I don’t think it will spoil your enjoyment of the book if you read the epilogue now. But if you think it will you can skip to emailing me straight away for your copy and read it from the start.




Epilogue for The Scottish Billionaire’s Secret Lover


Two years later.
Natalie rocked the nursing chair with one foot keeping a gentle beat that swung her and baby Alistair back and forth. Milk flowed into his mouth and ran out the sides. His powerful suck always amazed her. She glanced up at Angus who’d arrived a few minutes earlier. He was about to say something when he walked in but on seeing her feeding Alistair, words had deserted him and now he leaned, as if transfixed, against the change table. His strong features were softened and glowing with pride and heart-melting tenderness. His gaze locked on his son.
“How are things going downstairs?” She asked.
His gaze flicked to hers. His mouth shaped a warm smile full of love. “The troops are assembled and are waiting for the latest recruit to arrive.”
Alistair’s grip on her breast relaxed and he gurgled. Natalie checked on him as he pushed himself back to look up at her. His mouth made the same shaped, heart-warming, smile as his father. Natalie wiped his mouth with a tissue and he giggled and laughed. “I think he’s full. Tell them we’ll be down in a minute.”
Angus took two long strides across the room and kissed his son on his head and gained a happy gurgle and gummy smile reward. He held Natalie’s face and lined up the angle for a deep kiss. His lips, soft and sensuous melded to hers, his tongue sought the recesses of her mouth and she sighed into him. Something in her chest relaxed and swelled every time he did that. He lifted himself away. “He’s worth everything we went through to get him.” He stroked her hair as he straightened up.
“Yes, all the disappointments and difficulties of the IVF rounds were worth it to get this amazing little bundle of love. But even if it hadn’t worked we were still so very blessed.”
“Absolutely. I’ll see you downstairs.”
Ten minutes later, after burping and changing Alistair, Natalie carried him into the sitting room. Before the blazing fire, safely contained behind the screen, her three adopted children played on the room-sized Persian rug.
One little dark brown face was already turned watching for her entrance. “Mummy,” Zahir said, “Can we see what Santa brought us now?” The younger children, Feisal and Aisha were shaking the boxes that spilled from under the enormous pine tree and trying to guess the contents.
“Yes darling, it’s time to open the presents.”
“Zahir, as you’re the oldest, would you please hand them out?”
He searched the boxes for each child’s name tag and then ceremoniously delivered them.
The surgeons had rebuilt his skull so he didn’t have to turn his head side to side anymore. He’d worked with a speech therapist after his mouth was rebuilt and could now speak clearly. “Just like his Daddy.” he proudly said.  He liked to have his curly dark hair styled like his father’s and wear the same style of clothes too.
When each of the children had a pile of presents in front of them, including baby Alistair they began to tear at the paper. Natalie helped the baby open a box that contained a soft book. His chubby hands grabbed it and activated a cow noise toy inside it. He squeaked and gurgled then shook it again.
There were squeals of delight and much scrunching of paper as each child uncovered the present within. “Look what I got, Mummy and Daddy.” Aisha held up a pair of ballet slippers. “Now Aunty Katrina can teach me to dance.”
“I think she might have put in a special request to Santa for you to get those. She’ll be looking forward to teaching you your first steps,” said Natalie.
She’d managed to have several visits a year with her sisters so her children knew their Aunties. They loved showing them their artworks and academic achievement awards on Skype. Natalie kept in touch via weekly video chats with them too.
It was her only dampener on Christmas, that her sisters wouldn’t be coming to Scotland this year. Ruby came over to be with her for a month’s stay when Alistair was born but he was six months old now. Katie’s having become a single mother made it difficult for her to travel.  Ruby hadn’t been able to get time off from her fashion designer job this Christmas. But Natalie wouldn’t let that stop her enjoying her children today.
Feisal stood up, carrying a large box containing a model train set. “Look Mummy.” He brought it over for her to appreciate properly.
“It’s wonderful darling.” Alistair sat securely propped up in the crook of her arm waving his fabric book. With her free hand, she pulled Feisal close and hugged him and kissed his cheek. He bent down and kissed his baby brother’s head. Next, he carried it over to Angus’s chair. “Daddy, will you help me set it up?”
“Just try and stop me. I’ll hold it while you open the rest of your presents.”
When all the presents had been opened and red, green and gold paper littered the floor, the hall door burst open. Katrina strode in with an impossibly light step, in her arms she carried her little boy Alex. “Merry Christmas!” She made a dramatic entrance that only a prima ballerina can. Her faux fur coat still dusted with snow, a testament to her hurry to surprise them.
Ruby followed Katie into the room. Her red wool coat also had a dusting of snow on the shoulders. “Surprise!” she said.
Natalie jumped up from her chair and handed baby Alistair to Angus before turning and catching her sisters into a three-way bear hug. Then she stood back and kissed the baby boy in Katrina’s arms.
“Hello, Alex. I’m your Aunty Natalie.”  She turned to Angus, “Did you do this?”
“I pulled a few strings.” He winked and smiled with satisfaction. “I wanted you to have a real family Christmas and that meant getting your sisters here.”
“He organized first class seats for me and the baby and Ruby,” said Katrina.
Angus had been relentless in moving mountains to clear the way for bringing the Zahir project to life. He’d called in favors with senators, and gained the numbers he needed in the House of Lords to bring in humanitarian friendly legislation. It didn’t surprise her that he’d find a way to bring her sisters on the other side of the world to her.
She went to his side and sighed as she looked at her family. Their children had abandoned their toys and were clustering around her sisters. Each was picked up, kissed and hugged in turn. “Thank you, Angus. I love you so much.”
Ruby put out her arms to cuddle Alistair. Once Angus passed him across to her he slung his arm around Natalie’s waist and drew her up against him. He placed a tender kiss on her lips. “I love you too, and I always will.”


If you’d like to read the full book I’m giving it away to anyone who emails me at dora@dorabramden.com and asks for a copy. You will also receive an invitation to join my newsletter list but do not need to accept to keep the book.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Holiday Books with Author Elizabeth Allyn-Dean

It’s holiday book time with Romancing the Genres, and I chose to interview my friend Elizabeth Allyn-Dean, who has written two holiday romances. The first, A Kiss for Solstice, is available now, and I have the honor of revealing its new cover! 

Here’s my interview with Elizabeth:
I know your books have awesome detailed worlds. How do you build a unique setting? 
In the case of my Midnight Sun Supernaturals series, the stories thus far have been set in Alaska, specifically the Anchorage area. What I like about this area is that it's already unique--the largest city in Alaska, but small compared to large cities in the Lower 48; an urban-ish area where it's not unusual to see bears or moose moving along busy streets, shopping centers, or downtown/outside office buildings. I always thought that if I were a shifter of some sort, this is where I'd want to be--on the edge of wilderness. One doesn't have to go far to be away from people, off the road system and outside cell reception. But you've still easy access to all the modern amenities.   

What do you like about creating paranormal or fantasy characters? 
I think what I like best is creating a character that has a specific supernatural characteristic (like the ability to talk to the dead or shift into an animal form), then making them relatable. While I'm guessing none of us can relate to turning into a wolf when we get mad, we can relate to losing our temper or fighting to control impulses that we know will be harmful to act on. And really, who doesn't love the idea of being able to grow wings and fly, or disappear into the woods and forget the real world for a few hours, or reach out to a loved one who has passed on. Besides, it's fun to dream up a character, someone who's about to go through something big, and ask "what if"--how would that life experience be different if the character shifted into an animal form whenever they became too emotional or had the spirits of the dead pestering them all the time?  

What was the inspiration for your holiday novels? 
In the case of A Kiss for Solstice, my initial inspiration came from the song "Like Real People Do" by Hozier. The first time I heard the song, I imagined a kind of reverse and twisted Sleeping Beauty scenario in which a man is killed by werewolves but brought back to life by a witch's magical kiss only to find he's now infected with the werewolf curse. Around the same time, an author friend asked if I wanted to contribute a novella-length story to an anthology called Once Upon a Midnight Solstice. This story seemed like a great fit. Especially when considering pagan lore in which the winter solstice is a celebration of the return of light, the rebirth of the Sun King, Giver of Life. The inspiration for A Heart for My Valentine was a combination of what seemed like a natural progression from the first book and my warped sense of humor. We say we're giving our heart to our beloved, gift innocent heart-shaped tokens, but what happens if someone takes that literally?   

What do you like about writing around a specific time of year?
 I think season can be a character in a story, much like setting. Alaskans are a bit obsessed with seasons, focused on how much daylight we're getting, its ebb and flows. In the case of winter solstice, it's the shortest day/longest night of the year, the temperatures are often bitterly cold, and there's frequently the stress of preparing for the holidays and time with family. Everything seems to be amplified, full of expectations for good or ill. A holiday can be a great cause of conflict. And for a new couple, experiencing their first holidays together, it can be especially stressful--picking the perfect gift that shows affection without going overboard, meeting the family, navigating the minefield of who's family to spend the holiday with, learning the baggage each person carries in regards to that holiday.
You can learn more about Elizabeth Allyn-Dean at:
Here’s the Amazon link for A Kiss for Solstice:

And here’s the cover of A Heart for My Valentine, to be released in a few weeks!

Happy holiday reading, whichever ones you celebrate! Lynn Lovegreen

Lynn Lovegreen has lived in Alaska for almost fifty years. She taught for twenty years before retiring to make more time for writing. She enjoys her friends and family, reading, and volunteering at her local library. Her young adult/new adult historical romances are set in Alaska, a great place for drama, romance, and independent characters. See her website at www.lynnlovegreen.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.