Harlequin’s 12 Books of Christmas Winter 2019 #BookTour

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Harlequin’s 12 Books of Christmas Winter 2019

 

A WEDDING IN DECEMBER

SARAH MORGAN

This funny, charming and heartwarming new Christmas novel is USA TODAY bestselling author Sarah Morgan at her festive best!

In the snowy perfection of Aspen, the White family gathers for youngest daughter Rosie’s whirlwind Christmas wedding. First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret of their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.

Rosie’s older sister, Katie, is also dreading the wedding. Worried that impulsive, sweet-hearted Rosie is making a mistake, Katie is determined to save her sister from herself! If only the irritatingly good-looking best man, Jordan, would stop interfering with her plans…

Bride-to-be Rosie loves her fiancé but is having serious second thoughts. Except everyone has arrived—how can she tell them she’s not sure? As the big day gets closer, and emotions run even higher, this is one White family Christmas none of them will ever forget!

The road curved through a narrow valley. Huge walls of granite and limestone rose steeply, silver gray and stark, mostly too steep to hold the snow. Patches of white clung to the less vertiginous sections, and coated the trees.

“This is an impressive place.”

“Welcome to Glenwood Canyon.”

“I can’t imagine how they built this road through the mountains.”

“It was a compromise between the engineers and the environmentalists. It’s one of the main routes through the Rocky Mountains. That’s the Colorado River right there.”

It was spectacular.

She gazed out of the window at the soaring walls of the canyon. There was something soothing about being in a warm car, looking out at the snowy mountains outside. Her life felt distant, too far away to be more than a niggle of anxiety. For once she had no responsibility, no one relying on her judgment. Jordan was a good driver, confident, not flashy. Not that she had any intention of telling him that. She was a feeling he was a man who already had the true measure of his worth.

“Does this road ever get blocked in winter?”

“It can have its tricky moments. There’s a rest area up ahead at Grizzly Creek. We’ll stop there for a short time. Are you hungry?”

She discovered that she was.

After a hastily eaten snack she headed down to the water with him, her hands wrapped around the drink he’d bought her. The air was fresh and cold, the mountains rising straight up from the river. Snow clung to boulders and the water bubbled past patches of ice.

“I bet that water is cold.”

“Icy.” He stood, legs spread, hands thrust into his pockets. “Dan and I used to spend our summers rafting on this river. Further downriver you have the Shoshone rapids—Tombstone, The Wall and Maneater.”

“Funny, none of those names are tempting me to ask you to take me white-water rafting. I can’t think why.”

“Come back in the summer and I’ll take you. I think you’d enjoy it.”

“What makes you think that? Do I look sporty?”

“No, you look tense. And clinging to the side of a raft while you’re being thrown around in wild water surrounded by breathtaking scenery is a good way of making you forget everything except the moment.”

“I’m going to have to take your word for it.”

“You’re missing out on a real adrenaline rush. It’s pretty thrilling.”

She took a sip of coffee, feeling the warmth spread from the cup to her fingers. London, with its gray skies and rain, seemed like a long way away. For the first time in a while she felt half-human. “Thanks but I think I’d prefer to get my thrills elsewhere.”

He finished his coffee. “You shouldn’t be afraid of adventure.”

“Who says I’m afraid?”

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Sarah Morgan is a USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of romance and women’s fiction. She has sold over 18 million copies of her books and her work has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Booklist.

Sarah lives near London, England with her family and when she isn’t writing or reading, she likes to spend time outdoors hiking or riding her mountain bike.

Join Sarah’s mailing list at www.sarahmorgan.com for all book news. For more insight into her writing life follow her on Facebook at www.facebook/AuthorSarahMorgan and on Instagram at @sarahmorganwrites Contact Sarah at sarah@sarahmorgan.com.

COMING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

RAEANNE THAYNE

Hearts are lighter and wishes burn a little brighter at Christmas…

Elizabeth Hamilton has been lost. Trapped in a tangle of postpartum depression and grief after the death of her beloved parents, she couldn’t quite see the way back to her husband and their two beautiful kids…until a car accident stole away her memories and changed her life. And when she finally remembered the sound of little Cassie’s laugh, the baby powder smell of Bridger and the feel of her husband’s hand in hers, Elizabeth worried that they’d moved on without her. That she’d missed too much. That perhaps she wasn’t the right mother for her kids or wife for Luke, no matter how much she loved them.

But now, seven years later, Luke finds her in a nearby town and brings Elizabeth back home to the family she loves, just in time for Christmas. And being reunited with Luke and her children is better than anything Elizabeth could have imagined. As they all trim the tree and bake cookies, making new holiday memories, Elizabeth and Luke are drawn ever closer. Can the hurt of the past seven years be healed over the course of one Christmas season and bring the Hamiltons the gift of a new beginning?

Her throat closed with emotions, regret and sorrow and guilt. She had to clear them away to speak. “Why…why didn’t you try to have me legally declared dead?”

“Because I didn’t want to.” The raw emotion in his voice seared through her.

“Luke.”

His name. That was all she could manage through the tangle of emotions.

He gazed down at her, his expression almost…tortured.

One moment he was skewering her with his furious expression; the next he threw his arms around her, yanked her toward him and lowered his mouth to hers.

Shock held her motionless for only a moment. Then the sheer delicious glory of being in his arms again overwhelmed her. She wrapped her arms around him and returned his kiss with all the pent-up longing she had held inside her these long years of being alone.

The heat that had always been between them flared, wild and unrestrained. His mouth was hard on hers, fierce, demanding. Delicious. There was no trace of tenderness, only anger and loss, betrayal and sorrow and desire, all twisted together.

When he finally yanked his mouth away and released her as if she had scorched him, she stumbled backward, her knees drained of all strength. Her soul felt drained, too.

“Does that answer your question?” he asked, his voice raspy and low. “I never stopped hoping you would come back. Even when I was ninety-nine percent certain you were dead, that tiny one percent of hope wanted desperately to be wrong.”

He released a heavy breath and she watched in fascination as he tucked away any trace of emotion, becoming self-contained and expressionless once more.

“Do what you want to the house. Paint or don’t paint. I don’t care. This place means nothing to me anymore. The kids and I have moved on and are happy in our new house. I just want this one sold and out of my life.”

Like her. She meant nothing to him either, that wild, heated kiss notwithstanding. She did her best to blink back tears but was afraid he still saw them.

“I don’t know how much I can do in only one day but I’ll…I’ll try.”

He looked as if he wanted to argue but finally gave her one more long look and headed out the door.

After he left, Elizabeth touched her lips, the long-familiar taste lingering there. Oh, how she had missed him.

She still loved him.

Had never stopped.

She collapsed onto the sagging sofa, unable to contain all the emotions raging through her. She loved Luke and wanted what was best for him. That could never be her. Not then and especially not now, with all her baggage.

She might not be able to be part of his life or their children’s lives, but she could do one small thing for them. She could freshen up this house a little bit, make it more attractive to prospective buyers.

It was a small gift, but one she wanted desperately to give them.

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#1 Publishers Weekly, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including seven RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews magazine. RaeAnne loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.raeannethayne.com.

STEALING KISSES IN THE SNOW

JO MCNALLY

It’s Christmas in Rendezvous Falls and love’s waiting to be unwrapped…

Single mom Piper Montgomery’s plate is full. Between her two adorable kids, two jobs and a fixer-upper house, she’s so busy she can hardly see straight. But when rugged biker Logan Taggart strolls into the inn where she’s working, she can’t help but stare. He has bad boy written all over him. And with two kids relying on her, that’s the last thing she needs this Christmas.

Rendezvous Falls is nothing but a pit stop for Logan. Once his grandmother is back on her feet and ready to reclaim the inn, Logan can get back on the road. It’s where he belongs, even if his grandmother’s matchmaking book club try to convince him otherwise. Still, there’s something about beautiful spitfire Piper that makes him wonder if family and forever might just be what he needs after all.

But as the holidays draw ever closer, so do Piper and Logan. Could these polar opposites find that all they want this Christmas is each other?

Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.

Piper’s heart hammered as they left the attic, and all those holiday boxes, behind. What was she doing? How could she do this? She couldn’t really do this, could she? Even if was her idea? No, she couldn’t do it. Use a room at the inn for sex with Logan Taggart? There were so many things wrong with this idea. So. Many. Things. It was foolish. It was unprofessional. It was dangerous. She turned to him when they got to the base of the attic stairs.

“Logan…” She met his heavy gaze and her breath hitched. He didn’t move as she searched his face. She had a feeling he’d be fine if she said “forget it” and walked away. And he’d be fine if she didn’t. He was heading for South America right after Christmas. She probably wouldn’t leave a ripple in his life either way. But here in this silent, empty inn, he wanted her. And she couldn’t deny how much she needed to feel wanted. She tried her damnedest to remember again why this was a bad idea, but when she opened her mouth, there were no arguments to be found.

“Do you have a lucky number?” she asked.

His brows rose on his forehead. “I’m sorry?”

“Your lucky number? To pick a room?”

He chuckled low and soft. “Babe, whatever room you pick will be my new lucky number.”

She swallowed hard. “Okay. Uh…probably the first floor. It won’t be suspicious if someone sees us on the main floor, and we can hear the bell if someone comes in the lobby. And if we decide to…you know…do it again…the first-floor rooms don’t rent out as quickly as the upper floors, so…”

“Piper.” He shook his head, bemused. “Do you always think out your decisions this carefully? Even the ones about booty calls?”

“Booty calls?” She exclaimed it so loudly the words echoed in the hallway. She slapped her hand over her mouth, then lowered her voice to a hiss. “I’ve never had a booty call in my life!”

Logan’s eyes went dark and hot. “You won’t be able to say that after today. Let’s go.” His smile faded just a bit. “Unless you’ve changed your mind? Is that what all this babbling is about?”

She hesitated, then shook her head. “I’m…anxious. Nervous. But no, I haven’t changed my mind. But…maybe we should set some parameters?”

He rolled his eyes. “Look, I know you like to have all your little ducks in a row, but we don’t need parameters around sex. I got this, trust me.”

“Not about the sex. About…after.” She laid her hand on his forearm. “You’ve literally been around the world, so you’ve probably done this sort of thing a million times.”

Logan barked out a laugh. “A million might be a stretch.”

“You know what I mean.” She waited for him to nod in acknowledgment before continuing. “I haven’t. I want you to know that I won’t try to talk you into being my boyfriend. I know this is just…”

The corner of his mouth lifted. “A shag in the afternoon?”

She tried not to smile, but finally gave in. “I don’t know if that sounds any better than a booty call. I want us to be on the same page. It’s just sex…”

Logan put his hand over his heart and pretended to be pained. “I’m hoping it will be a hell of a lot more than ‘just sex.’ Look…” He reached for her hips, pulling her closer. He smelled like outdoors and spice and sweat and it was all a bit overwhelming. She focused on his words again. “I get it. No strings. You’ve got the kids and they come first and you don’t want a boyfriend. It’s all good. Whatever you decide is good, babe, but you’re killing me right now. I want you so bad I can’t think straight.”

There was a beat of silence before she pulled away from him. His expression fell until she pulled her master key from her pocket and waved it at him.

“Let’s see how Room Three feels.”

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I write the same kind of romances I like to read – stories about people facing real-life challenges with real-life consequences. The stories are emotional and character-driven.

I live in coastal North Carolina with 100 pounds of dog and 200 pounds of husband – my slice of the bed is very small. When I’m not writing or reading romance novels (or clinging to the edge of the bed…), I can often be found on the back porch sipping wine with friends while listening to great music. If the weather is absolutely perfect, I might join my husband on the golf course, where I always feel far more competitive than my actual skill-level would suggest.

Jo McNally – Writing Stories of Forever Love

AN ALASKAN CHRISTMAS

JENNIFER SNOW

In Alaska, it’s always a white Christmas—but the sparks flying between two reunited friends could turn it red-hot…

If there’s one gift Erika Sheraton does not want for Christmas, it’s a vacation. Ordered to take time off, the workaholic surgeon reluctantly trades in her scrubs for a ski suit and heads to Wild River, Alaska. Her friend Cassie owns a tour company that offers adventures to fit every visitor. But nothing compares to the adrenaline rush Erika feels on being reunited with Cassie’s brother, Reed Reynolds.

Gone is the buttoned-up girl Reed remembers. His sister’s best friend has blossomed into a strong, skilled, confident woman. She’s exactly what his search-and-rescue team needs—and everything he didn’t know he craved. The gulf between his life in Wild River and her big-city career is wide. But it’s no match for a desire powerful enough to melt two stubborn hearts…

A fuzzy memory of being the one Reed put to bed flashed in Erika’s mind and her cheeks flamed. He’d carried her inside…had she cuddled into him? Yep.

Just focus on the dog. “What happened?”

“She’s narcoleptic. She could be out for a minute or an hour.”

Was he kidding? “A narcoleptic dog?”

“Yep.”

Okay then…

“I brought you coffee and breakfast,” he said, opening the paper bag.

“Why?” Glancing down, she saw her nipples pointing through the fabric of her thin tank top. She folded her arms across her body. Her bra was draped over the back of the couch. She hadn’t expected visitors.

Reed picked up a coffee and closed the gap between them in two easy strides. “Because, I told you last night that I’m not the kind of guy who has sex with a woman and then doesn’t call.”

Her mouth gaped. No freaking way. It had just been a dream. “We…no…there’s no way…” She shook her head, but a flashback of him laying her down on Cassie’s couch the night before had her panicking slightly.

Nope. There was no way. She was sticking with that. “We didn’t.”

But her confidence wavered as he grabbed her hips and pulled her closer. “Final answer?” The intensity in his blue eyes made her shiver. His soft, manly smelling cologne made her mouth water slightly as her body stiffened. Shit, if they had, she just might not regret it…

Reed grinned. “You’re right, we didn’t.”

She pushed him away and reached for the coffee. “I knew that.” She took a desperate sip, the hot liquid scorching her tongue and the back of her throat as she forced it down.

“You kissed me, that’s all,” he said with a shrug, opening the bag and taking out a plastic-covered container.

She scoffed. “You’re so full of sh…” Oh crap, she had kissed him. Reality had somehow blended with her dream, but she was starting to distinguish between the two. She had kissed him. And it was a fantastic kiss… “Oh, that was nothing… And so completely out of character for me.” Damn, she’d really let her guard down the night before.

“Why? Because I’m just a bartender and you’re a brilliant, beautiful surgeon?”

Her cheeks flamed, her mind still caught on beautiful. Ignoring the question, she reached for the plate of food piled high with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages and toast, but he pulled it back out of reach.

“This is mine.” He took out a small container of what looked like oatmeal and handed it to her. “You said last night you only ate ‘clean’.”

She’d said that? Man, she must have sounded like a complete holier-than-thou asshole. His breakfast looked so good and the greasy food was exactly what she was craving that morning, but she squared her shoulders and accepted her fate. She could always head out for a second breakfast once he left. “The oatmeal’s perfect.” She opened it and, grabbing the plastic spoon, she forced herself not to gag on it. She normally skipped breakfast and sometimes lunch with her busy schedule. But she was on vacation and she planned to eat. A lot. And the faster she could get rid of him, the faster she could get to the breakfast diner on Main Street.

Reed grinned, watching her put another spoonful of the thick, tasteless gunk in her mouth. “Good?”

“Delicious.”

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Jennifer Snow writes contemporary romance fiction for Grand Central Publishing and Harlequin. Her stories range in heat level from sweet to sexy and are set everywhere from big cities to small towns. Her books are light and humorous, but also full of heart, featuring families and communities readers love to visit over and over again.

Originally from Newfoundland, Canada, she now resides in Alberta with her husband and son and three mischievous cats. She is a member of RWA and the Alberta Writers Guild.
She currently publishes psychological thrillers under her pen name J.M. Winchester and writes screenplays and TV shows in her ‘spare’ time.

More information can be found on her website at www.jennifersnowauthor.com
You can also find her at Twitter and Facebook.

COWBOY CHRISTMAS REDEMPTION

MAISEY YATES

He didn’t want to come home for the holidays—but can an unexpected reunion with a woman from his past make this cowboy’s Christmas merry and bright in this sweet and sizzling novella?

When Cooper Mason left Gold Valley, Oregon behind him eight years ago, he told himself he wouldn’t be back. But when a Christmas promise sends him home to face his demons, he’ll find that not everything is as he remembers—especially family friend Annabelle Preston, who’s somehow morphed from childhood pest to full-grown, hot-blooded and oh-so-tempting woman.

Growing up, Annabelle had built a lot of dreams around the ruggedly gorgeous Cooper—dreams she’s long ago learned to put behind her. Until a chance encounter with Cooper leads to a night neither can forget, and all the old feelings come blazing back to life. Now, Annabelle has a week to prove there’s more between them than a no-strings holiday fling…and with a little Christmas luck, she just might convince Gold Valley’s favorite cowboy to come home for good.

“Caleb!” Amelia flung herself off his parents’ front porch and into his arms. He picked her up, and she wrapped her legs around him, clinging tightly to him. And then she leaned forward and kissed his cheek. She smacked her hand against his jaw. “Prickly,” she complained.

Something in his chest tugged. “Well, you caught me at the end of the day, squirt. I need to shave.”

She looked at him and wrinkled her nose. “Am I going to need to shave someday?”

He laughed. And he was surprised how genuinely light he felt in that moment. “Not likely. Your mom doesn’t have a beard, does she?”

“No,” she said, frowning. “My mom says that you have Christmas trees.”

“I do,” he said. “At least, they’re about to be mine. It’s going to be a whole farm of them.”

“I didn’t know you had Christmas trees on a farm,” she said.

“Well, you can. It’s where most of the Christmas trees from the lots come from.”

“I want to see them.”

He hesitated because he knew that if he took Amelia to see the trees, in all likelihood he would have to take Ellie with him. And really, spending time with Ellie and Amelia in the same space right now was strange and loaded.

“All right,” he said. “But only if your mom’s okay with that.”

“She will be,” Amelia said, full of confidence.

He set her down, and she scampered into the house.

“What am I going to be okay with?”

He turned around and saw Ellie. The sight of her just about set him back on his heels. She looked the same as she always did.

But that was the problem.

“Amelia wants to go out and see the Christmas trees,” he said. “I didn’t figure you would mind. I don’t mind taking her by myself, if you need to go home.”

She lifted her shoulder. “No. I don’t mind going up.”

She started to take a step toward him, and his gut tightened. Then the door opened again, and Amelia reappeared with her backpack from preschool, and another stack of old printer paper that his mother had given her to scribble on.

“Can we ride in Caleb’s truck?”

“Yes,” Ellie said.

“I’m sitting in the middle.”

A smile tugged at the corner of Ellie’s lips, and she narrowed her eyes slightly. The impish expression making his gut feel hollow, and effortlessly conveying that she had been hoping for the middle seat.

She was flirting with him.

Now, that, he hadn’t expected.

So maybe this whole making her wait thing was really going to work in his favor.

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New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Maisey Yates lives in rural Oregon with her three children and her husband, whose chiseled jaw and arresting features continue to make her swoon. She feels the epic trek she takes several times a day from her office to her coffee maker is a true example of her pioneer spirit.

In 2009, at the age of twenty-three Maisey sold her first book. Since then it’s been a whirlwind of sexy alpha males and happily ever afters, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Maisey divides her writing time between dark, passionate category romances set just about everywhere on earth and light sexy contemporary romances set practically in her back yard. She believes that she clearly has the best job in the world.

A COLD WATER CHRISTMAS

DELORES FOSSEN

Sometimes a little Christmas magic can rekindle the most unexpected romances…

Sheriff Kace Laramie and his brothers found long-awaited happiness when they moved to Coldwater, Texas, as foster children. But the feel-good story has one bittersweet twist—his brief marriage to local rich girl Jana Parker. When that blew up, Kace vowed never to marry again and has kept Jana mostly off his mind…until she comes back to town, needing his help.

Recently divorced for a second time, Jana just wants to create a good life for her young daughter—and keep her mother from marrying Kace’s gold-digging father. Asking him for help may be wrong given their history. But as the stakes—and their chemistry—make the Christmas season sizzle, Jana knows how much more wrong it would be to let a love this magical slip away again…

Wincing and rubbing her knee, Jana motioned for Kace to follow her. He did—while rubbing his shoulder.

“I need to tell you I’m sorry,” she said the moment they reached the front door, “and don’t wave that off until you hear what I have to say.” He had indeed been about to wave that off, but Jana just rolled over him and kept talking. “Since I’ve come back to Coldwater, I’ve thrown your life into chaos, and I want you to know that I’ll fix that.”

“Chaos?” he repeated. That seemed to put way too much importance on her return. “I’m just doing my job,” Kace said, opening the door.

Since she frowned and huffed, that obviously wasn’t the response she wanted. “I’m talking about the whole package. You having to see me because of the Smelly Bobs and Peter. You having to see my mother. And now me being your neighbor. But I swear once things settle down, I’ll do my best to stay out of your way. I won’t even come into town unless it’s necessary.”

Hell. It made him feel crappy that she would have to rearrange her life. Especially with a baby. After all, there’d be times when she needed stuff for Marley, and he didn’t want her postponing her errands just because she was worried about running into him.

“It’s okay,” he assured her. The cold air was starting to seep in, a reminder that he should finish this conversation and head out. “What happened between us was a long time ago. We’ve both moved on with our lives, and it won’t bother me to run into you.”

Kace was proud of himself. That actually sounded good. A “water under the bridge” outlook.

“Oh,” she muttered.

That put a halt to his heading out plan. For such a little word, it seemed to mean a whole lot. But what?

Kace was trying to figure that out when Jana took a deep breath. One of those soft, silky sounds that took him back to another time, another place. When there was no bridge over the water.

Kace made the mistake of looking at her face, and their gazes practically collided. This time, he was the one who took a deep breath when her attention lowered to his mouth.

His attention lowered to hers, too.

He couldn’t have told anyone how it happened, but suddenly there was no space between Jana and him. One or both of them had closed the distance, and Kace found his hand on the back of her neck. All in all, it wasn’t a bad place for his hand to be because he used it to haul Jana to him. And then he broke every rule in the frickin’ book.

Kace kissed her.

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USA Today bestselling author Delores Fossen is a former Air Force officer who’s sold over 100 novels. She’s received the Booksellers’ Best Award for romantic suspense, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award and was a finalist for the Rita ®. You can contact the author through her webpage at: www.deloresfossen.com.

LOW COUNTRY CHRISTMAS

LEE TOBIN MCCLAIN

Come home to Safe Haven, where the best Christmas surprises aren’t the ones under the tree.

Holly Gibson has one wish this Christmas season: to find her young niece’s father. And she’s traveled hundreds of miles to the small town of Safe Haven to make that wish come true. But the mysterious Cash O’Dwyer is nothing like she expected. Strong and kind, he makes her heart beat faster. And suddenly that little secret she’s keeping about her sister stirs up all kinds of guilt…

Cash is stunned—and more than a little wary—to discover he’s a father. Having a family of his own was never part of his plan…until sweet baby Penny and her fiercely independent aunt Holly arrive in town. Now he’s trimming trees and stuffing stockings for three. But when the ghosts of Cash’s past threaten the future of his fragile new family, he’ll do whatever it takes to be the father Penny needs—and the man Holly deserves—for more than just the holidays.

Later that evening, Cash joined with his family talking and laughing as they waited for the giant, ancient oak tree to be lit, as it was every year in mid-November. It was the town’s traditional kickoff to the holiday season.

Holly seemed to be having an okay time, but they’d never gotten the chance to talk because his nieces and nephew wouldn’t leave him alone. And he had to admit, he loved it. He’d shut down the whining of his CFO for the night. What good was owning the company if you couldn’t take a night off to hand out candy to a bunch of kids you loved?

He knew he was too work-focused and impatient, could never be a good father, but he was determined to excel as an uncle. You didn’t have to be the biological parent to help and influence a kid. He was living proof of that.

He glanced over at Holly now and noticed that she was shifting the baby to her other shoulder. He’d brought her here and he hated to see her looking so tired. Typical thoughtlessness on his part. “Let me hold her for a while,” he said. “You’ve got to be worn out.”

She tilted her head to one side and studied him as if evaluating his worth as a baby-holder. “Okay,” she said, “if she’ll let you. She’s picky.”

“As a lady should be.” Gently, he lifted the baby out of Holly’s arms.

The weight of the child settled something in him, felt good. Little Penny studied him with round blue eyes and then yawned, and when he patted her back, she leaned her head against his shoulder and sucked her hand.

Cash’s heart expanded about three sizes.

Holly looked surprised. “She doesn’t go to everyone.”

He refocused on the here and now. “I’m a baby whisperer,” he said casually, brushing off the often-paid compliment. “Listen, they’ll light the tree any minute now. After that, we can have our talk and I’ll take you back to your hotel. Where are you staying?”

She named a small inland town, not exactly known for tourism, and a motel he’d never heard of.

“How’d you land there?” Cash mostly met women who wanted luxury. Holly was different. Or maybe desperate.

“Cheaper,” she said. “I don’t know how long we’ll need to stay.”

Aha, desperate. But he didn’t have time to think about it because the tree lit up in a blaze of white lights. Gasps and oohs and aahs went through the crowd, and then as more and more lights came on, kids started shouting.

“So pretty,” Holly said, leaning closer. “Look, Penny—pretty!”

The baby stared and waved chubby arms. And for just a moment, he felt like he and this woman and this baby were a little family, doing a holiday tradition together, and his chest tightened with crazy longing. It must be the Christmas season that was making him soft and emotional.

He had to toughen up. The crowd was dispersing, all the little ones needing home and bed, and he handed the baby back to Holly and hugged everyone goodbye.

“Don’t stay away so long next time,” Yasmin, Liam’s wife, said sternly.

Anna, Sean’s wife, nodded. “The girls miss you when you’re gone,” she said.

They made it sound like he lived here, but he didn’t. He lived in Atlanta. It was just that, with all the weddings and babies and family events in the past two years, he’d spent more and more time here.

Finally, he broke away and ushered Holly toward the car, hitching her diaper bag over his shoulder to lighten her burden a little. Funny how she’d seemed to become part of the group in just this one evening. He was a little reluctant to spoil the sweet, holiday family feeling with a conversation about whatever she wanted from him.

But that was ridiculous; best to get things out into the open right away. “So what did you want to talk to me about?” he asked. “Sorry it took so long, took up your evening.”

“It’s okay,” she said as she shifted the baby from one arm to the other. “I’m glad to find out a little more about you and your family.”

A strange uneasiness gripped him. “Why’s that?” he asked.

She nodded down at Penny. “Because she’s part of the family, too,” she said. “She’s your daughter.”

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USA Today bestselling author Lee Tobin McClain read Gone with the Wind in the third grade and has been an incurable romantic ever since. When she’s not writing small-town, heartwarming love stories with happy endings, she’s probably snapchatting with her college-student daughter, mediating battles between her goofy goldendoodle and her rescue cat, or teaching aspiring writers in Seton Hill University’s MFA program. She is probably not cleaning her house. For more about Lee, visit her website at www.leetobinmcclain.com.

CHRISTMAS IN WINTER VALLEY

JODI THOMAS

Ransom Canyon welcomes you back for a Christmas that has everything you’re looking for: romance, family and a whole lot of Texas.

Cooper Holloway would take nature over people any day—especially visiting relatives. That’s why he’s headed for a rustic cabin in remote Winter Valley, where he’ll care for a herd of wild mustangs. But Cooper’s plans are quickly thwarted by the arrival of two unexpected guests: one, a stranger in desperate need of his help, and the other, a very attractive young veterinarian.

Elliott is busy trying to keep Maverick Ranch running smoothly with Cooper gone, which is no easy task with family visiting. And when a long-lost love suddenly reappears in his life, Elliott knows he’ll have more than just books to balance this season.

With a big, chaotic family Christmas around the corner and love blooming in surprising ways, the Holloway men will have to make big choices about the future—just in time for the holidays.

Finally, he kissed her more gently than any man had ever kissed her. Both knew they were turning down an untraveled road. Having an adventure. Changing their lives, if only by adding one memory.

When he moved his hand beneath her shirt, he whispered, “I like the way you feel, Danielle. It takes a strong woman to do all you’ve done, but there is a softness to you that I sense.”

His fingers brushed just below her bra and hesitated.

“Don’t stop,” she whispered. She felt suddenly young and shy and hungry for life.

“Which one, the touching or the talking?” he asked with laughter in his tone. “I want to get this right.”

“The touching. We’ve talked enough.”

He nodded in agreement and continued with the touching.

Silently, each knew they were feeling alive for the first time in a long while. She’d seen that his hands were scarred and rough, but they slid over her like silk. She knew she wasn’t beautiful, but the way he touched her made her believe she was to him. She’d had passion a few times and sex she didn’t want more than once, but she’d never had caring. He touched her as if she was a rare treasure.

Gentle on the eyes whispered through her mind like a melody. It might not be beauty, but it was enough.

Long after midnight, when he kissed her one last time at the back door, she whispered, “I’ll put an extra biscuit on your plate at breakfast as an invitation to come back some night when I know the house will be quiet.”

His hair was wild, making him seem younger, and his voice was low and rusty. “I hope to be fat by the New Year.”

They were both laughing as he disappeared into the night.

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New York Times and USA Today’s bestselling author Jodi Thomas has published over 30 books in both the historical romance and contemporary genres, the majority of which are set in her home state of Texas. Publishers Weekly calls her novels “Distinctive…Memorable,” and that in her stories “[tension] rides high, mixed with humor and kisses more passionate than most full-on love scenes.” In 2006, Romance Writers of America (RITA) inducted Thomas into the RWA Hall of Fame for winning her third RITA for THE TEXAN’S REWARD. She also received the National Readers’ Choice Award in 2009 for TWISTED CREEK (2008) and TALL, DARK, AND TEXAN (2008). While continuing to work as a novelist, Thomas also functions as Writer in Residence at the West Texas A&M University campus, where she inspires students and alumni in their own writing pursuits.

THE GIVING HEART

TONI BLAKE

Spend a white Christmas on Summer Island, where the fires are warm and the romance is hotter

Lila Sloan wonders why she ever thought house-sitting for her sister Meg on the remote Summer Island was a good idea. And to make matters worse, local real estate developer Beck Grainger is trying to cut down the beautiful trees that line the property. Lila can’t let this happen; Meg will never forgive her.

Beck can understand Lila’s anger—sort of. The trees are actually on the neighboring property, and the land was zoned for development months ago, so his plans were no secret. But he dislikes being at odds with his friend’s sister, especially because Lila is appealing in every way: loyal, quick-witted and completely stunning.

Lila hates that she’s so attracted to Beck, who seems like a genuinely good man, despite his tree-murdering tendencies. And their chemistry is off the charts. She just wishes he’d let this development go. As Summer Island counts down to a snowy Christmas, Lila and Beck will have to strike a compromise that seems impossible for them both—or risk losing the best thing either of them has ever had.

THE KISS WAS small, light, warm—a test kiss. And damn—for a kiss so small and tentative, it was the best thing Beck had felt in a long while. Despite the weather outside, it moved through him like heat lightning on a Kentucky summer night.

Given that she kept trying to dislike him so much, though, he had to make sure he wasn’t the only one welcoming that heat—so he drew back a little, met her pretty gaze. Her hazel eyes shone on him, big and round, maybe a little stunned, her rosy lips parted. Surprised—but wanting. Just like him.

So he bent, leaned, lowered another soft kiss to her waiting lips. Heard her quick intake of breath. Maybe at first she’d been surprised it was happening, but now she was clearly only surprised at how good it felt, and how fast.

When she drew her hand away from beneath his on the ornament, he’d thought maybe she was stopping this—but no. Instead, she lifted the same hand to touch his cheek. And the next kiss was deeper, longer, more consuming. No more test kissing—this was turning into the real deal. His hands went to her waist—slender beneath the big sweater she wore—and she released a little gasp as he pulled her closer.

She kissed him back now with all the passion rising up inside him, as well. The kind that slowly makes you stop thinking, measuring, until you just give yourself over to it.

It was the kind of kissing Beck hadn’t had the opportunity to indulge in for longer than he cared to admit. Summer Island had been isolating, and on the few occasions last summer when he’d almost connected with attractive female tourists looking for vacation fun, he’d realized that at thirty-nine, he’d apparently moved past wanting a meaningless, one-night connection—no matter how the rigid part of his anatomy between his legs had protested the decisions.

This, now, seemed like it had all the ingredients to be exactly that—a quick, nonlasting connection. Except for one thing. He liked her. And one more thing. Nothing was telling him to stop. Even if it seemed like an awful idea in ways. She was angry with him. She seemed angry in general. She was Meg’s little sister. Maybe it would spell even more drama.

But she felt too good in his arms. Her lips too soft beneath his hungry mouth. Every little sigh and gasp that left her made him harder. And soon that hardness pressed hotly against the sweet crux of her thighs through their blue jeans as they made out next to the Christmas tree, her palms now at his chest, beginning to knead him through his T-shirt same as if she were a cat, his own hands molded around her hips, learning her curves.

“This changes nothing,” she told him breathlessly between kisses.

His reply came in a rasp. “What do you mean?”

She peered up at him, bit her lip, looking sensual and defiant all at once. “If you think sex is going to make me give you back the key to that bulldozer, or just look the other way about the whole situation, you’re barking up the wrong tree.”

“I’m not barking up that tree,” he assured her, voice deep and low.

“What tree are you barking up?” More kneading fingers at his chest. The slight scrape of feminine nails. He liked it.

And he tried to think of an answer, but it was difficult. Due to the fingernails, and the way their bodies pressed together below. “Pretty much just the this-feels-good-and-I-want-to-be-inside-you tree.”

Another little gasp. This one she tried to squelch, he could tell—but what he’d just said had excited her even more. “That’s…a good tree.”

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Toni Blake’s love of writing began when she won an essay contest in the fifth grade. Soon after, she penned her first novel, nineteen notebook pages long. Since then, Toni has become a RITA™-nominated author of more than twenty contemporary romance novels, her books have received the National Readers Choice Award and Bookseller’s Best Award, and her work has been excerpted in Cosmo. Toni lives in the Midwest and enjoys traveling, crafts, and spending time outdoors. Learn more about Toni and her books at http://www.toniblake.com.

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CHRISTMAS FROM THE HEART

SHEILA ROBERTS

USA TODAY bestselling author Sheila Roberts takes readers to the charming, snowbound town of Pine River in this irresistible holiday romance.

Sometimes you need to look beyond the big picture to see what really matters

Olivia Berg’s charity, Christmas from the Heart, has helped generations of families in need in Pine River, Washington, but this year might be the end of the road. Hightower Enterprises, one of their biggest donors since way back when Olivia’s grandmother ran the charity, has been taken over by Ebenezer Scrooge the Second, aka CFO Guy Hightower, and he’s declared there will be no more money coming to Christmas from the Heart.

Guy is simply being practical. Hightower Enterprises needs to tighten its belt, and when you don’t have money to spare, you don’t have money to share. You’d think even the pushy Olivia Berg could understand that.

With charitable donations dwindling, Olivia’s Christmas budget depends on Hightower’s contribution. She’s focused her whole life on helping this small town, even putting her love life on hold to support her mission.

When Guy’s Maserati breaks down at the edge of the Cascade foothills, he’s relieved to be rescued by a pretty young woman who drives him to the nearby town of Pine River. Until he realizes his rescuer is none other than Olivia Berg. What’s a Scrooge to do? Plug his nose and eat fruitcake and hope she doesn’t learn his true identity before he can get out of town. What could go wrong?

He didn’t want to go too far into the future, either. Except maybe he could change it. Maybe he could change her opinion of him. His was changing toward her. Olivia Berg, he was coming to realize, was something special.

They played out a few hands, the score remaining close. Until the last hand. Oh yeah, luck was being a lady tonight. He stuck Livi with thirty points and that won the game for him.

She looked stunned. “I can’t believe you beat me.”

“Well, you know what they say. Pride goes before a fall,” he teased.

She stuck out her lower lip. Oh yeah, he was ready for that kiss. “Hey now, no pouting just because I’m not making breakfast.”

“You got lucky.”

Oh, how he’d like to get lucky. “Okay, time to pay up.”

Her cheeks turned pink again.

“I promise I’ll make it painless,” he murmured with a smile.

He leaned across the table and she did the same. Then he slipped a hand behind her neck and drew her to him. He could smell that peppermint perfume. Her hair was so soft. So were her lips and they tasted like hot chocolate. She sighed into the kiss and he let the moment stretch out, threading his fingers through her hair. Her hands slipped up to the nape of his neck, her fingers soft and warm against his skin.

He could have gone on like that all night, moving them away from the table and out onto that living room couch, deepening their kiss, pulling her close, enjoying the feel of her curves, inhaling her scent. But that wouldn’t have been right. Even what he was doing was sure to put him on Santa’s naughty list for life.

It had been worth it though. He pulled back. “You’re a good loser. And a good kisser,” he added, making her cheeks turn pink. “Now, you have to have had other men tell you that,” he said.

She shrugged.

“There’s been no one special?”

“In college. And Morris and I once, when we were younger. But…” She sighed. “I don’t know what I’m waiting for.”

“The right one?” Someone who deserved her. Which instantly disqualified him.

“I guess. How about you?”

“I thought I was in love once. Turned out I was wrong.”

Okay, they were wandering into chick territory. Next they’d be sharing their every heartbreak. He stood. “I’ve had enough sitting. How about a walk?”

She smiled up at him. “I love walking in the snow.”

Of course she did. He sensed a holiday movie scene coming up.

Sure enough. The scene came to life when she turned on the Christmas lights and they stepped outside. Between her house and the neighbors, the street looked like a set on the Universal back lot. A light snow was falling to add to the already-thick white coat frosting yards and houses. Rooflines, bushes and trees all dripped with colored lights like jewels on a woman’s neck.

The woman he was with needed no jewels. Her smile sparkled more than any diamond ever could.

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USA Today best-selling author Sheila Roberts lives in the Pacific Northwest and has three children and one long-suffering husband. Her books have been printed in a many different languages. Her Christmas perrenial “On Strike for Christmas” was made into a movie for the Lifetime Channel and her novel “The Nine Lives of Christmas” was made into a movie for Hallmark. When she’s not playing with girlfriends or on the tennis court Sheila can be found writing about those things dear to women’s hearts:family, friends, and chocolate.

CHRISTMAS IN SILVER SPRINGS

BRENDA NOVAK

Come home to Silver Springs for the holidays, where broken hearts learn to love again…together.

So much for forever. When Harper Devlin’s rock star husband ditches her on his way to the top, she takes her two daughters to her sister’s place in Silver Springs for the holidays, hoping family can heal her broken heart. But comfort comes in unexpected places when she crosses paths with local Tobias Richardson.

The moment Tobias spots Harper, he recognizes a sadness he knows all too well. After spending thirteen years in prison paying for his regretful past, Tobias is ready to make amends, and maybe helping Harper is the way to do it. But offering her a shoulder to cry on ignites a powerful attraction and a desire neither saw coming.

Fearing her reaction, Tobias doesn’t reveal his checkered past. He’s falling hard, and if Harper finds out, he’ll lose her for good, especially because her famous ex is now trying to win her back. Secrets have a way of coming out, but maybe this Christmas will bring Tobias the forgiveness—and the love—he deserves.

When Tobias woke up, light was streaming through the kitchen window, the only window without a blind, and the TV was off. He couldn’t remember turning it off, but he figured he must have—until he grew alert enough to realize he wasn’t alone. Harper hadn’t gone into the bedroom after the movie ended. She was right there, snuggled up against him, her head on his shoulder.

He needed to change his position. His foot had gone to sleep. But he was reluctant to move. Her hand rested on his bare chest and her leg was slung over his.

There wasn’t any other way for them to fit on the narrow couch, so he told himself not to get too excited. It probably didn’t mean a whole lot. But her openness and trust were even more intoxicating than the weight of her pressing him into the cushions.

His arm tightened around her as the desire to kiss her rose inside him. He’d kissed quite a few girls when he was a kid. Since he’d had little adult supervision, and he’d seen his mother making out so many times and with so many different men, he’d become sexually aware early. But he hadn’t been with many women since being released from prison. He’d decided he needed to heal first, get on his feet so he’d have something to offer a partner. And if he ever wanted to be liked in this place, he had to be careful. Otherwise, his actions would reflect poorly on his brother—and Aiyana Turner, since she’d been kind enough to give him a job. So there was that, too.

Besides, he’d known that getting involved too soon, or with the wrong person, could destroy his peace of mind quicker than anything else. He’d seen it happen with his mother far too many times. So after breaking things off with Tonya, he’d been with only one other woman in the past five months—a one-night stand he’d later regretted. After calling him incessantly for three weeks, the woman had shown up out of the blue, despite what he’d already told her on the phone, and wound up sobbing on his front doorstep when he had to reiterate that he wasn’t interested in continuing the relationship.

Harper stirred and raised her head. As soon as she saw that he was awake, their eyes met, and when she moved her leg, he knew she could feel his erection.

He held his breath, waiting to see how she’d react. He thought she should get off him and move away in a hurry. Being so close to her, and in this particular position, he wasn’t feeling much self-control.

But she didn’t.

That was sort of an invitation, wasn’t it?

He lowered his gaze to her lips. Surely one kiss couldn’t hurt.

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Join Brenda Novak’s Online Book Group on Facebook. They’re currently reading CHRISTMAS IN SILVER SPRINGS, the next book in the Silver Springs series. Get an autographed copy in one of Brenda’s popular Brenda Novak Book Boxes.

It was a shocking experience that jump-started Brenda Novak’s career as a bestselling author–she caught her day-care provider drugging her children with cough syrup to get them to sleep all day. That was when Brenda decided she needed to quit her job as a loan officer and help make a living from home.

“When I first got the idea to become a novelist, it took me five years to teach myself the craft and finish my first book,” Brenda says. But she sold that book, and the rest is history. Her novels have made the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists and won many awards, including eight Rita nominations, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Book Seller’s Best, the Silver Bullet and the National Reader’s Choice Award.

Brenda and her husband, Ted, live in Sacramento and are proud parents of five children–three girls and two boys. When she’s not spending time with her family or writing, Brenda is usually raising funds for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). So far, Brenda has raised $2.6 million!

ONE CHRISTMAS EVE

SHANNON STACEY

They couldn’t be more different. Or more perfect for each other.

New York Times bestselling author Shannon Stacey returns with a warm and cozy opposites-attract Christmas story.

Zoe Randall is busy living her life as she damn well pleases. She’s back in her favorite town, her divorce in her rearview mirror, and living out her childhood dream of running a bookstore with her cousin. She has no interest in the uptight nerd who opened his boring-ass business next to her shop…until he complains about one of her sexy window displays.

Then it’s game on.

Preston Wheeler knows he takes life a little too seriously. But when the saucy bookseller next door starts pushing his buttons, he can feel that changing. Beautiful, vivacious Zoe challenges him in all the best ways, and soon he’s pushing her buttons right back: teasing and flirting all the way through the holiday season.

As Preston loosens up and Zoe is treated to the man behind the suit (particularly his forearms), she realizes she’s more interested than she cares to admit. And Preston comes to see the beauty—the absolute delight—in adding Zoe’s bright splashes of color to his once very black-and-white existence.

This book is approximately 34,000 words

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

Don’t be disgusting, Zoe.

Preston still couldn’t get those words out of his head. And the reason for that varied depending on the time of day it was.

During daylight hours—even when he’d been handling meetings and finalizing some real estate things in Boston—he’d mull over the statement because it might help explain why Zoe had been so prickly when he reacted badly to the sexy window display. His disapproval had been strictly for the actual display, but she’d obviously been deeply hurt by a man who’d been judgmental about her sexuality.

At night, when he should be sleeping, he couldn’t stop himself from wondering what exactly Zoe Randall wanted to do that could be classified as disgusting.

If anybody ever asked him, he would say he’d never had an overly active imagination. But when it came to Zoe and sex and picturing doing all manner of things with her, he’d found out his imagination was capable of being not only overly active, but extremely creative.

It made sitting around the small living room with her family on Thanksgiving Day pretty awkward for him, and the discomfort wasn’t just from the third helping of macaroni and cheese and sampling four different pies, or not having an idea what was happening in the football game on TV. He tried to focus on the sports, to get his mind off her, but he was so lost he couldn’t invest in either team. During a break in the play, everybody got up to refill their drinks and pick at the desserts, and Preston used the guest bathroom off the back hall. When he came back to the kitchen, Zoe was alone, covering the desserts with plastic wrap.

“Need some help?” he asked, walking over to the table to stand next to her.

“I’m about done.” She licked apple filling off her finger, which made every muscle in his body tense in response, and then turned to face him. They were so close, she had to tip her head up to look up at him and everything but the urge to kiss her faded away.

She reached up and tucked her finger into the opening at his shirt collar, so her fingertip touched his throat, making him swallow hard. “No tie. Top button unbuttoned. Is this your casual look?”

He nodded, not sure he could actually speak until he cleared this throat. “I figured the suit was a bit much for Thanksgiving.”

When she tugged a little at the button her finger was hooked over, he closed the gap between them, putting his hands on her hips. His brain was short-circuiting and he wanted to make sure they were on the same page. “What are we doing right now?”

“Surrendering to the inevitable?”

“Yes.” He barely had time to whisper the word before their lips met and the world shifted under his feet.

As his mouth devoured hers, his hands skimmed over her back and pressed her even closer before he went back to the delicious curve of her hips. She tasted like sweet apple pie and he dipped his tongue between her lips, needing more.

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New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shannon Stacey lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her two favorite activities are writing stories of happily ever after and riding her four-wheeler. From May to November, the Stacey family spends their weekends on their ATVs, making loads of muddy laundry to keep Shannon busy when she’s not at her computer. She prefers writing to laundry, however, and considers herself lucky she got to be an author when she grew up.

You can contact Shannon through her website, where she has maintains an almost daily blog, or visit her on Twitter, her Facebook page, or email her at shannon@shannonstacey.com.

 

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I'm an outdoor sun loving reader living near San Fransisco. I’m a mother, wife, animal & book lover. I'm the owner, reviewer & mind behind Angel’s Guilty Pleasures. My favorite animals are horses & dogs. As for reading I love all things paranormal & urban fantasy & my favorite shifters are dragons.

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2 comments on “Harlequin’s 12 Books of Christmas Winter 2019 #BookTour

  1. a lot of these sounds so fantastic! I placed an order for A WEDDING IN DECEMBER and was hoping to have it before christmas but I think it got lost ): so, still hoping to read it.

    • Oh no! Hopeful the mail will find it and you can start reading it soon. I agree many of these look enjoyable.