Do you believe in the magic of Christmas?

They say Christmas is the most magical time of the year, that miracles can happen on the day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. I don’t particularly believe in miracles, but there’s still some magic of the winter holidays left in my heart.

I loved Christmas when I was a child, even though my parents were not wealthy and we never had a pile of gifts under the tree. But we were better off than a lot of other people, and I’m grateful for that now.

As I became an adult, the practicalities and problems that come with being a grown-up took away a little of my holiday enthusiasm each year. Stretching the budget, organizing things, breaking my back in the kitchen… The real tree turned into a plastic one to avoid the hassle and the mess, buying gifts turned into a stressful process, even going shopping is less fun every year because of the growing lines and interminable city traffic.

However, this year I believe in the magic of Christmas more than I ever had. Why? Because my friends in the Authors’ Billboard practically put the most amazing present under my tree: a USA Today bestseller badge!

A little over a year ago, the seed of what seemed like a crazy dream took root in my mind: to become a USA Today bestselling author. Not only that, but I realized that if I made it, I would be the first Romanian in history to achieve this prestigious title. Since that moment, I worked relentlessly toward this goal, and I’m still amazed by how many incredible people I met on the way, people who joined me in my journey and fought hard to help me achieve my dream.

Together, we did it with the anthology Love, Christmas 2!

My story in this box set is a romantic comedy called Boyfriend Wanted for Christmas.

THE DESPERATE YET HUMOROUS QUEST OF AN AMERICAN BRIDGET JONES TO FIND A BOYFRIEND IN THE SEVEN DAYS SHE HAS LEFT UNTIL CHRISTMAS

Thirty-three-year-old librarian Andrea Sachse doesn’t have the time or skills to date. No man can ever live up to her dreamy book boyfriends, so why bother? But with her parents looking more desperate each time she shows up solo for their annual Christmas party, this year she’s determined to find herself a boyfriend by any means—fair or foul.

There are so many people I owe this accomplishment to, and who deserve a special THANK YOU:  Carmen, Mimi, my editor Sue, Jackie, all my wonderful co-authors of Love, Christmas 2 and of course, all of you, our dear readers and friends, who bought this box set.

The most meaningful THANK YOU goes to my husband, for being there for me, for believing in me, for offering moral and financial support, emergency hugs, pep talks, for playing housekeeper, tear-wiper, even chef when I was too exhausted, and never complaining when I worked twelve hours a day until 2 or 3 am, for keeping my spirits up with his endless supply of optimism, and for putting up with me – which is no easy job.

Each and every one of you who read this post, this victory is yours, as much – or even more – than it’s mine.  ♥ ♥ ♥

Now do you believe in the magic of Christmas? Here’s something that will make your holidays even more fun:  We’re looking for Santas and Reindeer! Visit our December Contest and YOU could win gift cards, paperback books, and book bundles. Click here to play! 

Wishing you the best holidays ever!

Family, Friends, Fun, Food, and a Good Book

Hello! This is Alyssa Bailey and I’m so excited to chat just before my favorite family holiday, Thanksgiving! My son would also add to the above list … football!

My contribution to the fabulous boxset Love, Christmas 2 – In the Spirit of Christmas begins the weekend after Thanksgiving so now would be a great time to pick up the book and have a read.

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Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year, with Native American Heritage Month (my family is Irish and Native American), Thanksgiving, fun and family snuggled in the wonderland of the autumn season. Because of the military and my adventuresome husband, I have had the pleasure and privilege of experiencing holidays in many parts of the country and world.

We have a large family and for years, have been blessed with a great number of friends, foster children, family, and whomever wanted to visit for the holiday. In the island in Alaska where we live, there is always the expectation of a Thanksgiving Storm and we often lost electricity. Early on, we learned to cook quickly if bad weather was expected. In our early years, we always had a huge cast iron earth stove to finish out the cooking if needed. The sturdiness of the power lines has increased as our number of children still home has decreased. But everyone comes if they can for Thanksgiving.

In the Spirit of Christmas shows Tara in search of the warmth of family and yearning of the traditional, the security of home and family, no matter the size of that family or the age of the person. She finds it. May your season be all you hoped for and you have family and friends to share your good fortune.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Excerpt from In the Spirit of Christmas

The hot air from the heater warmed her. “By the way, I’m Chase Nichols.” He eased the truck back onto the highway.

“Thank you for picking me up, Sheriff Nichols. My ex must have had a flat and neglected to tell me, among other things,” she murmured.

“Just Chase, and it’s obvious your ex neglected to repair it as well.” His tone was condemning. Tara’s first inclination was to defend Roger, but she closed her mouth. Roger was the reason she was even doing this, in the dead of winter.

“Ex-husband?”

“Boyfriend.”

He nodded. “I’ll get you to the garage. They’ll fix you up in no time.”

“Thank you for your trouble.”

“No trouble. I was going this way and it’d be wrong to leave anyone on the side of the road in this cold.” He turned and grinned in her direction. “Besides, it wouldn’t look good if the Sheriff left a motorist stranded, would it?” She didn’t know what to say to that, so she didn’t respond with more than an answering nod of her own. He continued to watch her. “You shouldn’t be out here alone. New Yorker like yourself should understand about cold weather.”

“I’m from Wyoming and I didn’t plan it, all right? It just turned out that way.” Her tone snapped, but she was dangling precariously at the end of her rope. If she weren’t so close to the ranch, she would have just stayed the night in the next town.

“You sound worn out.” Concern laced his words. “We’re almost there.”

“I’m sorry. I left New York in the early hours day before yesterday, it’s late, and I’m ready to be home.”

He whistled. “You drove that far, alone, in a couple of days, in the middle of winter? Your daddy knows you did that?”

He did listen, she’d give him that. “I’m an adult, Mr. Nichols—”

“It’s Chase, and I get you’re grown but I bet you’re always a little girl to your daddy.”

She hesitated, his correction putting her off her line of thought. He was right. “In answer to your question, yes, he knows I’m coming. And it isn’t that far. I was careful.”

“Mmm hmm.”

 

USA Today and Best-selling author in Regency and Contemporary Romance, Alyssa Bailey, is a dyed in the wool Texan living amid the beauty of Alaska. She loves writing about consensual power exchanges between strong, intelligent, sassy women who are not afraid to make a stand and men confident enough to give his woman space, but Alpha enough to keep her safe in spite of herself.  If she can throw a little mystery, humor, and suspense in her stories, it’s even better. Her characters are from varied eras and walks of life. Come take a stroll with her.

Love, Christmas 2: A mix up in reservations leaves a mother and her son to share a cabin with a brokenhearted stranger.

My contribution to Love, Christmas 2: Movies you love is based on a Hallmark movie titled: Christmas Getaway.

The premise is simple: two single people stuck in the same cabin during the holidays. In the Hallmark version, a father and his daughter have a Christmas check list and the heroine decides that list is just what she needed. It’s a really cute idea, but I wanted to add a little depth to it.

A female character had been whispering in my ear long before I started writing this novella. I’d been wanting to write a strong, single mother, doing everything she could to keep her husband’s memory alive for her young son. I based Olivia (the heroine) loosely on my best friend who lost her husband four years ago. Deb is the strongest, most loving woman I know and I wanted to use her strength and willingness to do whatever it takes to protect and care for her family. Olivia is a lot like my friend. Family first.

I also LOVE to write strong, alpha military men who are deeply wounded. Ryder Jameson lost his wife and son a year ago and his guilt for not only leaving them for a special assent with his Navy SEAL team, but believing it should have been him, not his family. All he wants to do is crack open a bottle of Jack and drowned his sorrows at night, and ski during the day.

That brings me to Vermont and Killington Mountain. I spent many winters skiing in Vermont and many summers hiking the same mountains. I love writing about places I’ve been. It makes it easier for me to see the setting and put those descriptions on the page. So, between a mix up in reservations and major snow storm, Olivia, her son Noah, and Ryder aren’t going to be going anywhere anytime soon.

There is an odd parallel between Olivia and Ryder. Olivia’s husband was a Navy Pilot and died before her son had been born in a mission that Ryder’s SEAL team had been remotely involved in. While Ryder never know her late husband, he knew of him because his death in a way saved his life.

Olivia only wants on thing: to honor her husband and give her young son some insight into what a great man his father had been. Ryder wants nothing to do with the holiday, but is forced to become part of the traditions, and perhaps create a few news ones along the way.

Here is a little taste of the novella:

The young boy pointed to the rucksack. “Are you in the military?”

Ryder nodded, not wanting to get into the million and one questions a young, inquisitive mind had. It had been sheer hell when he’d stopped to visit an old friend from boot camp who had retired a couple of years ago. His son and daughter wouldn’t stop with the rapid-fire questions on what he did, and when they found out he was a Navy SEAL, well, the reminder of his own son’s curiosity was like a hot poker being jabbed into his lungs. “What’s your name, kid?” Now that was a question he shouldn’t have asked. Anytime you put a name to an acquaintance, it became personal.

“Noah.”

“Nice name.” Ryder swallowed hard as his mind snapped to his own son, Owen. He’d been only three-years-old when he and his mother had been murdered. Ryder wondered how much Owen would have grown this past year. He would have finished his first few months of pre-school, and Ryder wondered if Owen would have clung to his mother’s legs or raced past all the other kids so he could be the first to explore. Olivia and Noah only served as a painful reminder of what he’d lost.

What he’d never have again.

“No. Giving me two free nights does not make up for the fact that you can’t get me a room anywhere for the next four days, and frankly, I don’t care that there is an unnecessary travel ban going on right now. I’ve got my young son with me, and I’m not staying with a perfect stranger.”

Ryder chuckled. He never understood how a stranger could be perfect.

Olivia glared at him, handing him her phone. “Why don’t you try talking to them?”

“Gladly,” Ryder said, moving the phone to the side of his head. “This is Ryder Jameson.”

“Mr. Jameson. We’re so sorry for this mix-up. But honestly, we are totally booked until December twenty-sixth. I have one of my associates calling all the other resorts, but so far everyone is booked, and there is the added problem that the side roads aren’t being plowed right now, and the main roads are about as snow-covered.”

“I’m sure one of the other resorts has an opening, and I have four-wheel drive, so please, call us when you find something. I’m willing to move to another mountain, and I’ll gladly take a few free nights, and I’d appreciate it if you made sure Mrs. Tate’s son has free lessons for our trouble.”

He ended the call. “For now, we might as well make the best of the situation.” He tilted his head so he could see out the window. Another inch had to have fallen, and it didn’t look like it was going to let up anytime soon. “Where’s your husband?”

“I’m not married,” Olivia said.

Noah looped his arm around his mother’s elbow, resting his head on her biceps. Noah couldn’t have been taller than four foot eight at best. He had almost no muscle definition, like most scrawny, young boys.

“I see.” God, he didn’t want these people in his space. No way could he deal with a single mother and her son. Too many reminders. He glanced at Olivia’s phone, cradled in her hand.

Her gaze followed his.

“I’m willing it to ring too, no offense.”

“None taken.” He took his glass and headed for a refill. “You can have the family room and television while we wait. Hopefully we won’t be sharing the cabin all night, but if that happens, there are two bedrooms upstairs.”

“Where are you going?” Noah asked.

“There is a room over there. I’m going to take my drink and go put my feet up. Just knock when you hear anything.” He snagged his rucksack, tossing it over his shoulder effortlessly before tucking the bottle of Jack under his arm. Without looking back, he took the ten steps to the master bedroom. He set his glass and the bottle on the nightstand and dug into his bag, pulling out the small picture frame.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, sipping his whiskey, he stared at the last picture he’d taken of his family. It had been Christmas day, right before he’d been called for a deployment to an undisclosed area on a dangerous mission.

He chugged his whiskey.

“I should have died, not you,” he whispered, setting the frame, face down, on the nightstand.

Download you copy of Love, Christmas 2 today! 26 great stories written by fabulous authors!

Are you interested in winning a gift card or a free book? Click here to find out more details on this month’s contest!

We also offer you a taste of all the novellas in Book Bites 11 ~ A collection of first chapters of the twenty-six, brand new love stories in LOVE CHRISTMAS 2. Discover a new favorite author in these entertaining romances for these special holidays!

Get it here, with our thanks!

We also put together a cookbook. All the recipes are featured in the novellas.Read the small excerpts that prefaces each recipe as each author tells you why her recipe is important to her story.

Get your copy here.

Welcome to my World! I’m an Award-Winning and Bestselling Author of Romantic Suspense, Contemporary Romance, and Paranormal Romance. DARK WATER, book 2 in the NY STATE TROOPER series hit number 10 in Barnes and Nobel overall. THE BLIND DATE hit number 1 in the Contemporary Romance/Kindle Worlds List on Amazon. JANE DOE’S RETURN won both THE MOLLY and the BEACON before being published by the WILD ROSS PRESS.

I first started writing while carting my kids to one hockey rink after the other, averaging 170 games per year between 3 kids in 2 countries and 5 states. My first book, IN TWO WEEKS was originally published in 2007. In 2010 I helped form a publishing company (Cool Gus Publishing) with NY Times Bestselling Author Bob Mayer where I ran the technical side of the business through 2016.

I’m currently enjoying the next phase of my life…the empty NESTER! My husband and I spend our winters in Jupiter, Florida and our summers in Rochester, NY. We have three amazing children who have all gone off to carve out their places in the world, while I continue to craft stories that I hope will make you readers feel good and put a smile on your face.

A New Christmas Story Based on the Movie, “The Holiday”

My husband, Walt, and I lived in Hawaii for five years while we were both teaching school. We lived on the island of Oahu, near Waikiki, but neither of us enjoyed water sports very much, so we did a lot of hiking along the mountain ridges there. We bought a topographical map so we could find the trails. Many of the trailheads were semi-hidden, and if we missed one, we just walked along until we came across the trail further up the mountain. Once on the top ridges, the trails were worn so deep into the soil that a foot-high lip formed on each side. The mountainside often dropped away straight down, and sometimes not quite as steep, which is the side we came up on. During the wet season, these trails got muddy and slippery.

Once we had a group of friends who wanted to hike with us, so we took them on a trail we hadn’t hiked before. When we didn’t find the trailhead, we went straight up the mountain, knowing the trail cut across it. Halfway up, Walt, who was in the lead, stopped and said something like, “We might find the trail before we get to the top.” The others were all complaining as they pulled themselves up the steep slope by hanging onto the vegetation. They figured we were lost and wanted to turn back. I remember their surprise, as each in turn put their hands on the trail, then pulled themselves up to where Walt was standing, loudly wondering how much further the trail was. The last one looked around and said, “Here’s the trail. What are you guys talking about?”

We took our Australian collie on the trails, and when we were leading groups and got separated, Walt would send her back to me, then I sent her to him. It gave him some estimation of how far his group was ahead of mine.

Sometimes we spent the night on a wide spot in a trail. We took newspapers with us. The newspapers went under us, our jackets over us, and the dog in between as a heater. One Thanksgiving, we spent the night above a naval air station, which we found out later was off limits.

Hawaii doesn’t have snakes, but they do have mongoose. On one hike we met a mongoose running along the trail towards us, its nose to the ground, sniffing as it ran. About ten feet away it spotted us, and instantly dropped off the trail on the almost vertical side, out of sight. It moved so silently, we couldn’t tell where it had gone, and could just hope it was ok. Earlier, we had come across a wild hog. When it saw us, it also jumped off the trail, but we could hear it, like a rolling boulder, crashing through the underbrush, sounding like it bounced all the way to the bottom.

The Hawaiian Islands are a great holiday destination, and I chose them for the scene of my new book, The Holiday (Christmas). It is based upon the movie, “The Holiday,” where two women swap houses. I put the houses in Seattle and Maui. I put a puppy in it, belonging to the man who also ended up at the Maui home, and based the pup’s description on a dog my grandson owns, named General Washington.

I really enjoyed writing The Holiday, a modern Trahern novella. It is part of the new Love, Christmas 2 collection, now on sale for 99¢. Thanks to our many eager readers, this set skyrocketed into the top 100 on the USA Today bestselling list.

Did you know we are running a giveaway? Are you interested in winning a gift card or a free book? Click here to find out more details on this month’s contest.

Nancy Radke

A USA Today bestselling author, Nancy Radke grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch in SE Washinton State. She attended a one-room country school through the eighth grade. She learned to ride bareback at age 3 (Really! It was a common practice.) and when she got off or fell off, she would pull her horse’s nose to the ground, get on behind its ears, and the horse would lift its head so she could scoot down onto its back. Nancy spent most of her childhood exploring the Blue Mountain trails that bordered the ranchlands. She and a friend once took a trail that turned out to be a two day trip. They always rode with matches and pocket knives, so made camp and returned the next day. These long rides worried her parents, but provided plenty of time to make up stories. Her first novel was set in the Blues, and is entitled APPALOOSA BLUES. TURNAGAIN LOVE was the first one published. It rated a four star review from Affaire de Coeur. Scribes World said “Turnagain Love has some fascinating twists and turns, unexpected complications, and charming scenes.” It is light and humorous. Nancy currently has over 30 books written, both modern and western. All her stories are sweet and wholesome.
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