First Kiss: Tuesday – MONTANA SECRET SANTA

‘Tis the season…to stroll down memory lane. It was my great privilege to be part of a six author, twelve book series called Love at the Chocolate Shop. And, lucky me, I was given the privilege of writing Book #3, which takes place in December. In case you missed it, here’s a snippet from MONTANA SECRET SANTA (©Tule Publishing).

I’m happy to say it includes a bit of mistletoe mischief:

With the entire table pressed into taste-testing service, Jonah stood and motioned for Krista to follow him across the room to an open space near a gorgeous holiday display. “Mom assured me this Santa thing won’t take every hour of every day. She said it’s gotten a lot easier since your partner set up an online presence.”

Krista tried not to inhale too deeply because his scent–a combination of winter fresh air, chocolate, and hint of pine–was too distracting. “We might consider creating a private Facebook group and doing the initial critique process for wishes there.”

He held up a hand for a high-five. “Great idea. Then, a few of us can meet here each morning to brainstorm ways to fill the agreed upon wishes and set a budget.”

The touch of his palm connected in a weird way that made her close her fingers in a fist as she dropped her hand to her side. “I may not be able to make every…” She pictured the check. “I’ll be here.”

“Me, too. It’ll be the incentive I need to walk the dogs early. Tonight, I’ll set up an overall plan and flowchart so we can track when and how our requests come in. We’ll need to do the same for the income side of things. I’m curious as to why the donation well suddenly went dry. The sooner we get our account set up online, the sooner we can track things in real time.”

Krista found his analytical approach reassuring. His grand gesture with the check might have had a bit of the theater behind it, but his approach to business was a lot like her own.

“Simple and transparent works for me. As I said earlier, my family is in show business. Nothing is ever straightforward when you’re surrounded by thespians.”

He moved a smidgen closer. “Simplicity of design is key to both my inventions and my business strategy. When I start overthinking something, I step back for a new perspective. I usually hop on my bike. Exercise is a great distraction for an overactive mind.”

“Well, this is Montana. Your bike riding is going to be limited to cycling in the gym for the next few months.”

She chewed on her bottom lip debating about how frank to be. He’d given her ten thousand reasons to say yes to this partnership, but what exactly would that involve? Her inner bullshit reader said he had to have another agenda. And she sure as heck never considered herself a spokesperson for Christmas.

“Blue Sky is my baby. Christmas is a one-off. Four weeks. Blow and go. It’s over and done and I’m looking at a new month, a new intern and no jobs lined up.”

“What about your partner? Is she out of the picture completely?”

Krista didn’t know and the not knowing kept her awake at night. She hated ambiguity. Black and white. Bottom line. Profit and loss. Those were her touchstones.

“Amanda should be able to provide backup by phone. But I want you to know that Blue Sky will always be my first priority.”

He held out his hand. “Understood.”

She shook it twice, intending to let go and return to their table, but as Sage passed by on her way to the counter, she said, “Mistletoe.”



Sage pointed up. “House rules. A kiss is mandatory.”

Krista groaned. She’d witnessed this bit of holiday mischief several times when she’d been in the shop. “But–“

Before she could express her protest, Jonah wrapped his arms around her–not unlike the way he had when he broke her fall. Only this time, he was in front of her. And his lips hovered an inch from hers, waiting for permission.

She closed her eyes and leaned in to get the silly kiss over.

The instant his lips touched hers, the magnitude of her mistake hit. Not only had Jonah Andrews been drinking her favorite cocoa, but the sweetness mixed with his natural chemistry created a potent combination that made her knees turn rubbery and her heart begin to pound. She kissed him back because she was powerless to do otherwise.

Luckily, a smattering of applause brought her back to her senses.

Cheeks burning, she turned and bowed. Being the daughter of an actor had to be good for something, right?

If you’re intrigued and want to read more, the first chapter is free at Tule Publishing, click here to: READ MORE.

Or if you missed it last year, you can purchase from the retailer of your choice here: BOOKS2READ

Either way, I hope you’ll check out the Love at the Chocolate Shop Facebook page, where I’ll be running some giveaways this month, including free recipe cards like this one.

Happy reading!


FIRST KISS: TUESDAY – from Prince Charming Undercover

Welcome back to my First Kiss: Tuesday blog! It’s been awhile, I admit, but I’ll try to do better. In fact, all of December I will be featuring first kisses from holiday books to keep us in the Christmas spirit.

Prince Charming Undercover excerpt (© Loner Llama Press)


“No, hey, you. You’re a guest here. I picked you up from the airport, then didn’t see you for the rest of the day. Would it hurt you to play the friendly chatter game?”

That sounded almost as though she was disappointed. Nick kicked off his shoes and walked to the edge of the pool. Grace looked up, her eyes wide and mouth slightly open. He stepped over the edge and sank down, fully clothed. His feet touched the tile bottom and he pushed off. When he opened his eyes, his face was a few inches from hers.

“How friendly did you have in mind?”

Her mouth opened and closed the way it had when her cousin’s kids and her niece had tried to pick his pocket. Nick had a feeling it took a lot to leave her speechless. Instead of answering, she turned to swim away, but he caught her arm.

She tensed as if he were a threat. Maybe he was—to his own peace of mind, most certainly. To this case, very possibly. He had to stop whatever was going on with his libido before it got out of hand. And he would. After he kissed her.

Just once. Because her lips were too tempting to resist. Even now, when her expression was one of consternation, her lips were ruddy and full. Her upper arm was soft, although the muscle seemed solid and ready to fight him off if necessary. But the slightly questioning look in her eyes told him it wouldn’t come to that if he kept things civilized.

He kicked his feet. His jeans were heavy and cold on his skin even though the water was warmer than he’d expected. When he was close enough to detect the faint odor of garlic and spearmint on her breath, he said, “It would probably be uncouth to kiss you, wouldn’t it? We haven’t even dined together, yet.”

She ignored his question. “I work odd hours. Sort of the split shift from hell.”

“How ’bout breakfast?”

Even in the faint light, he could tell that she’d read more into the offer than he’d intended. “My treat,” he added. “We could meet out front. You can take me to your favorite spot.”

She laughed shortly, confirming her embarrassment. Oddly, this small vanity made her suddenly very human, and real. He knew without a doubt that she wasn’t Charles’s stooge or cohort. She was Grace Parlier, her father’s princess who was just trying to keep her family together.

He’d never met a woman like her, and if he had, he’d have pushed her away. This time, he pulled her closer. Her chest brushed against his.

“I think you might be crazy,” she said, laughing. “And here we were worried about you being a hit man. You’re really just plain nuts.”

“That’s one explanation. Dazzled by your beauty is another.”

He lowered his head to kiss her, but she slipped, mermaid-like, from his hold and swam underwater to the far end of the pool. She pulled herself up and out of the pool, grabbing a towel from the back of a lawn chair. Even in the misty lighting, Nick could tell her breathing was shaky.

She started away but stopped and turned slightly. With a smile that made him groan, she blew him a kiss and said, “See you at breakfast. Any day but Saturday— I sleep in on Saturdays.” Then she disappeared into the darkness.

As he sank under the water, he heard the sound of a door closing. Submerged, eyes blinking against the sting of the chlorine, he shook his head. She was right. He was crazy.

Ain’t love grand? 😉

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Happy reading,


Travelogue Tuesday: Sail away with me…

I’m baaack from my travels! Had fun, but brrrr….I only wore shorts once…for two hours…on the last day. Seriously. The weather was not our friend, but thankfully we had blue skies most of the time.

Here are a few pics. (Thanks to my new web guru for fixing the problem so these images finally showed up!)

When I wasn’t hanging out with the guys, I was perched in a sunny spot reading my final three RITA books. That is MY kind of working vacation!!!

The paparazzi was constantly hounding me. Here I am eating ice cream, proving it was almost warm once.

Next blog will be an update on my current website remodeling…and maybe a word or two about my next book. 😉

Read on…