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!

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.

Something About a Holiday Affair

by Stephanie Queen

Let me tell you a little something about Holiday Affair, the movie and my new novella available now in Love, Christmas 2.

Old Black & White Movies Bring the Holidays Home

My story is inspired by an old black and white holiday movie I’d seen for the first time last year. Holiday Affair, the movie, hasn’t left me since then. It’s set in New York City, as many of my all-time favorite Christmas movies are. It’s essentially about a young woman who chooses an inappropriate stranger who speaks to her heart over a practical old acquaintance who speaks to her head.

In my story, Melissa, who’d been financially successful and living her dream, finds herself suddenly penniless and homeless in New York City on Christmas eve. She’s proud and determined to do anything to claw her way back until a chance meeting with a heart-throbbing Uber driver (got to have the modern twist!), a completely inappropriate man, changes everything.

Of course I added to and subtracted from the original story. In my version, Melissa doesn’t have a young boy but she does have wealthy friends, although she’s too proud to ask them for help. She’s a little too materialistic and a lot of fun in a new adult woman in New York City way. The story is part of my Margo & George hot new adult romantic comedy series.

A Sequel Will Be Coming After the Holidays

But the most important thing I want you to know about this story is how incredible an experience it was to write. If every story I wrote was this exciting and enjoyable and easy to write, I would have written a hundred novels by now. There was something magical in the experience of writing this one for me and so I am dying to write the sequel about Melissa and her inappropriate Uber driver.

I hope the story is as magical an experience for readers when they read it in Love, Christmas 2.

Make sure you get your copy now while it’s only $.99!

Stephanie Queen

About USA Today Bestselling Author Stephanie Queen
A romantic at heart and a writer by nature, Stephanie Queen has the enthusiastic soul of a cheerleader. So of course she loves creating stories where the good guys always win. Although she’s lost count of all the jobs she had before she settled on being a Novelist, her favorite was selling cookies as a Keebler Elf. She is a graduate of UConn (go Huskies!) and Harvard U and lives in New Hampshire with her family, her cat, Kitty, and her (real or imagined?) chauffeur, Myren.

Must love dogs in Alaska

My contribution to the set Love, Christmas – Movies You Love is The Polar Xpress. Unlike the movie The Polar Express, mine doesn’t have a train as the primary means of transportation. It has dogs. The sled dogs and their ‘lead dog’ (musher) in my story come to the rescue of a downed doctor who is trapped beneath a snowmachine in the mountains near Talkeetna, Alaska.
Why did I change from a train to dogs for my story? Who wants to cozy up to a steam or diesel-powered iron monster? Yes, there are trains in Alaska, but to get up close and personal in the Last Frontier’s back country in the winter, you either need a snowmachine or a dog sled…unless you’re a superwoman and can handle cross country skis like Kikkan Randall!
I saw my first Iditarod dog sled race in 1992. In those days, the roads were blocked off so the dog teams could cross them on their way north. Flaggers stopped traffic while the teams of a dozen or so furry friends and their two-legged pets who ran behind their sleds crossed Tudor Road on the way to Eagle River and beyond.
I remember crying that day at the beauty and irony, Alaska’s traditional mode of transportation being granted first rights to the road as the modern exhaust-spewing cars waited for the fragile yet determined teams to pass. I was close enough to see their foggy breath, their smiles that proved to me that running is what they loved to do.
The race doesn’t start from Anchorage now—it’s only a ceremonial one. The ‘real’ Iditarod begins further north where there’s more snow. Those with pull (like a mother-in-law) or for a donation to a charity (there are many to choose from), regular folks can ride in a dog sled, bundled in blankets and furs as the teams scurry over the hauled-in snow-covered roads, the downtown Anchorage streets lined with folks waving as their favorite dogs and mushers hurry past.
I can’t think of any other sport that takes so long to finish and relies on the stamina and tactical skills of the coordinator who is not only a player, but also the chef, vet, mechanic, tactician and who is the only one who is allowed to take care of any problem that arises. The musher can’t get help from anyone (save a veterinarian). If a person so much as gives her a bucket of water for the dogs, she’s disqualified. Her months and years of selecting and training her dogs, vet bills to keep them healthy, costs of transportation to Anchorage and from Nome and the entrance fee, can all go belly up with one well-meaning spectator.
The trail is about 1,049 miles long, depending on where they start and whether the northern or southern route is used. Essentially, it’s from Anchorage or nearby and terminates in Nome. Note: There are NO roads to Nome.
A fast-paced race might take eight days for the winner. The last place or ‘Red Lantern’ winner—as in the caboose carries the red lantern—might come trundling into Nome thirty-two days after starting. The average is more like ten or twelve days, but either way, it’s a long arduous trail with snow melted over canned heat for water, food mixed in five gallon containers, booties put on the dogs to protect their feet, straw laid out for their beds, and if the musher is lucky, four hours of sleep for him or her.
Do you think you’re as tough as these guys and gals—barely eighteen to senior citizens—who run this race? And I do mean run: mushers might take a break by stepping on the runners, but they trot behind the dogs most of the way.
Enjoy my story of the California doctor who is rescued by the nearly blind woman who started Second Chance Kennels and dreams of running the Iditarod or ‘When worlds collide, there are sure to be sparks!’ Part of Love, Christmas – Movies You Love.

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Dani Haviland

Dani Haviland, formerly of Connecticut, Arizona, and Alaska, recently semi-retired from selling tractor parts, tools, and roses. She moved to a more temperate climate in western Oregon to pursue her passions: writing, gardening, and photography.
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