Good morning. A few months ago, one of my publishers, Crimson Romance, began releasing bundles of similarly themed books aimed at introducing readers to its authors. These bundles have been archived to make it easier for readers to find them all in one spot. At 99 cents US or less, they’re an incredible reading bargain. Crimson Bundles available now: include Winter Dreams.
Winter’s crisp cold is the perfect backdrop for holiday lights, snowball fights, and starry nights by the fire, curled up with hunky heroes. Let these seven couples show you how to find the warmth of red-hot romance.
- Christmas Dinner by Robyn Neeley Amanda dreads returning home single for Christmas, but the only available man is her rival for the TV anchor spot. Can the holiday spirit turn animosity into love?
- The Winter Fairy by Lola Karns: Recuperating ballerina Penelope Glazier can enchant the young girls in her class, but will her magic work on Carson Langley, the sexy but straight-laced single father of her most talented student?
- Holiday Hoopla by Dana Volney: Halle is about to lose her gift shop, until banker Blake walks into her life, dangling an offer that could save it all, or cost her everything.
- Wynter’s Journey by Jennifer De Cuir: Twelve years after tragedy tore Wynter and Sam apart, can another predicament bring them back together?
- The Winter Promise by Jenny Jacobs: War throws Lady Emma and Lord Robert together, where they must decide if they can listen to their hearts – or if they would be wiser never to trust each other.
- Winter Storms by Lucy Oliver:: Daniel’s sailing accident cost Carly her shot at Olympic dreams, while his own athletic success was unhindered. Now he’s returned and they’re stuck in the Cornish village where storms lash them from outside – and within.
- Old Christmas by Kathryn Brocato: Casey needs help from the magic that walks on Old Christmas Eve to find her way back home, and to the love she left behind.
Sensuality Level: Sensual
Here are excerpts from each of these great books.
Christmas Dinner by Robyn Neeley
“Arrive at destination on left.” The familiar voice of Tate’s GPS echoed throughout his Jeep, interrupting the soft sounds of Christmas music. This couldn’t be right. Could it? He pulled onto the side of the road. His navigation system had taken him down a dark and twisty path for the last fifteen minutes. There were few homes on either side. He shook Amanda’s shoulder gently. His eyes focused on the spectacle in front of him.
“What time is it?” She yawned and sat up. “Are we here already?”
“That’s what I would like to know. Amanda, is this your parents’ house?” He leaned over his steering wheel and peered out the window. In front of him, thousands of decorative red and green lights flickered on rows of Christmas trees at the bottom of a hill, showcasing what he could only describe as a cross between Santa’s Village and the middle of Times Square. A blanket of snow stretched at least a quarter of a mile up the hill. At the top was a beautiful two-story mountain log cabin. Glistening white Christmas lights outlined the house.
Amanda sighed. “Yep. We’re here.”
“This is amazing. Amanda, is your dad Santa Claus?” he asked, half joking.
“They could land 747 jets on your front yard. That tree in the middle has to be over thirty feet tall.” He pointed to the west side of the lawn. “Is that a horse and sleigh over there?”
“The horse is fake. I’d rather not talk about the sleigh.”
“Then we won’t.” He suspected she might have some unpleasant memories of it involving the infamous ex. Perhaps it was the scene of the aborted proposal.
Amanda sighed. “Good. Did your parents decorate their lawn for the holidays?” She reached behind her for her bags.
“No. Well, yeah, I guess. But this, well, this . . . wow . . . It’s just really something.”
Robyn Neeley is an East Coaster who loves to explore new places, watches way more reality TV than she cares to admit, can’t live without Recess Peanut Butter Cups and has never met a Christmas cookie she didn’t like. (Her favorite cookie made it into Holiday Wedding!) She writes romantic comedy, sometimes with a hint of magic, but always with a happy ending. Visit her at http://www.robynneeley.com.
Winter Fairy by Lola Karns
The sight of Penelope sitting on his sofa with her long legs tucked up beside her drew his attention as soon as he stepped inside. Her blue eyes blinked at him, giving her an expression that managed to be both innocent and alluring at the same time. He set down the cups he held in his hand, and after a long minute remembered to take off his coat and boots.
“Hi, yourself.” She smiled. “How did your shopping go?” She skeptically eyed the one bag and the cups resting on the entry table.
He approached the couch, carrying the bag and coffees with him, the same time as she stood. “Very good. I’ll have to empty the trunk later. I brought you something.” He waved the coffee cups. “I didn’t know what you like. I got a peppermint mocha and a gingerbread latte. Which would you prefer?” She bit her lip and furled her brow. “Stay for a bit. I can’t drink all this coffee by myself.”
Her gaze slid to the cups, the left side of her mouth raised slightly as she glanced back to him. “I’m such a typical girl. I can’t say no to chocolate.”
He offered her the mocha before sitting beside her. He couldn’t agree with her – she was no typical girl in his book. She unsettled him. “Then I know which piece of cheesecake you’ll want.” He reached into the bag and handed her a box and a fork. “I could get plates if you want.”
She opened the box, revealing chocolate cheesecake decorated with chocolate ganache and white chocolate drizzle. “This is great. Thank you.”
Her fluttering eyelashes distracted him, but the moan she let out when she took her first bite went straight to his groin. Now he was second-guessing his decision to bring dessert. He’d wanted his grown up company to stay longer – he hadn’t anticipated being reminded of the more carnal pleasures he missed with his self-imposed solitude. Or had he? As he tried to resolve his true motive, she interrupted his thoughts.
“If it’s not too rude, what prompted this delicious treat?”
“I was by the shop and cheesecake sounded good. It’s been a long time since I’ve indulged in dessert after Eloise has gone to bed. Dessert always tastes better when…”
He hesitated. Calling her a friend didn’t seem quite right. She seemed more than that, even though he barely knew her.
She looked up,“When it’s shared.”
Having worked as a wide variety of jobs as she moved through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey, Georgia, and Virginia, Lola decided she needed a more portable career. Writing fit the bill.
Lola currently resides in Minnesota with her husband, two children, two hairless cats, and a fluffy ex-stray cat. When not writing, she enjoys baking, reading and drinking coffee.
She is the author of Bad Traveler and Winter Fairy. Visit Lola at lolakarns.com
Holiday Hoopla by Dana Volney
Blake Ellison continued to watch the woman. Can’t I have a moment of peace? I can’t even Christmas shop without . . . This gal has the right idea, drinking in the afternoon. That’s my kind of day. He wished it was just because of the holidays, but lately his life was complicated with unfair obligations that made him want to drink—a lot . . . a whole lot.
Blake assessed the friendly sales gal. Her blonde hair was tied back in a messy pony tail that was weirdly sensual. Her fresh face was a welcome relief from the overly made up women he usually encountered.
“I’m Blake by the way.” He offered his hand.
“Halle, nice to meet you.” She slipped her hand in his firmly. Strong. Good. Limp fish handshakes were the worst.
“You don’t happen to have another glass or bottle of beer hiding back there, do ya?” He raised an eyebrow again.
Halle laughed and her green eyes danced. He grinned, getting swept up in the moment.
“Tsk, tsk.” She crinkled her nose. “Isn’t it a little early?”
“Well, you made it look so fun.” He cocked his head toward the counter where she’d spilled what smelled like a Zinfandel.
“You, my new friend, are in luck. I happen to have a glass and, better yet, a new bottle.”
She knelt down to fish under the counter and Blake leaned over to check out the view his higher perch now afforded him. Sexy. Halle popped back up and his startled eyes found hers. She fetched a decorated glass off the shelf and waggled it in her hand.
“Convenient.” He nodded toward the spot she’d just made vacant.
“Perk of being the owner.” She winked and headed to the back of her store.
Blake wasn’t sure what do to, but he followed because she had wine. She owns this place? Huh. He couldn’t keep his eyes from roaming. Nice ass.
Halle motioned to a couple of high backed, brightly patterned green and pink chairs. A sitting area had been set up in the middle of the store, complete with an end table between the chairs and a rug. They sat and she poured.
They clinked glasses.
“So, Blake, what drives you to drink in the middle of the day?”
Dana Volney lets her imagination roam free in Wyoming where she writes romances and helps local businesses succeed with her marketing consulting company. Surrounding herself with good friends, family, and boating on the lake whenever she can, she thrives on moments and memories created with loved ones, especially on sun filled days. That’s when Wyoming’s charm really sinks in. Dana is bold, adventurous and–by her own admission–good with plants, having kept a coral cactus alive for more than one year. Visit Dana at http://www.DanaVolney.com.
Wynter’s Journey by Jennifer DeCuir
Okay, it was go time. What was the first thing they were supposed to do? Sam looked wildly around the room. He kept his voice calm, and hid the tremors that threatened to rattle his teeth loose. Wynter was counting on him.
He got her into bed and rushed to his desk in the corner. Jerking at the mouse to wake up the screen, Sam brought up the website he’d been studying just a few short hours ago. He thought he’d had more time.
Yeah, he’d been anticipating this. It was Vermont–in the dead of winter. Chances were pretty damned good that a snowstorm would make a routine hospital delivery less and less likely. And he’d been right to assume that Wynter wouldn’t take the contractions seriously until it was too late. She was too stubborn for her own good.
So they were doing this. Another scream from the bed had him yanking the power cord from the laptop and carrying it with him back to the other side of the room. The website hadn’t bothered to explain that hearing his best friend’s gut-wrenching cries of pain would push his own stress levels beyond human endurance.
“Amazing what you can learn from the internet.” That ridiculous statement earned him a glare. Yeah, probably best to keep the chatter to a minimum.
“Sam. Call 9-1-1,” she panted.
He was going to do that. It was next on his list. Really. He reached for the cell phone that he kept on the nightstand charger next to his bed. It wasn’t there. He stared frantically at the empty charger.
Wynter watched him closely, her eyes pleading with him.
“Sam, please!” She clutched at the sheets with a white-knuckled grip, her entire body going rigid. Crap.
“I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere.” Sam spun on his heel and raced for the stairs, taking them two at a time, falling on his butt and sliding down the last few. Not letting it stop his momentum, he ran to his office.
Jennifer DeCuir grew up in a small town in Maine, which provides the basis for Scallop Shores, the fictional town in Drawn to Jonah. She’s busy raising two kids and a husband. She loves including children and babies in her stories, as her own provide endless story ideas. Currently residing in rain-soaked Washington, she can usually be found working on her latest book in a local Starbucks. Visit Jennifer at http://www.jenniferdecuir.com/home.html.
The Winter Promise by Jenny Jacobs
The painful stirrings of a headache began to throb behind Robert’s temples. He knew he was about to hear a story. He hoped it would at least be entertaining. He very much doubted it would be true.
The foreigner stared at his face with wide violet eyes. He narrowed his own gray eyes at her. He knew he was not the most attractive man to women, but she needn’t gawp at him in such a rude way.
He acknowledged her with a curt nod and seated himself on his chair, rough-hewn from one of the alders that flourished on Athelney, as sturdy and as solid – and as undecorative – as he.
Nettled by her stare, he responded in kind with a thorough and thoroughly offensive inventory of his own. She looked young but must have reached her majority or she would have a guardian to look after her and would not require his generosity. For he had no doubt that was what she was here to obtain. She must be a widow, or at least unmarried, or there would be a husband. Unless – he hoped she didn’t expect him to intervene in a marital dispute. He would never let a wife like this run away, not one with such delicate features and soft unmarred skin, masses of dark hair demurely covered with fine linen, the spark in her eye hinting that her spirits had not been entirely quelled by whatever misfortune had befallen her. Her wide violet eyes were compelling, and he found himself looking into them for a long timeless moment.
He made himself shift his gaze, cataloging all of her failings: the borrowed dress she wore, which could only mean she had arrived at Athelney without personal possessions of any kind; the lack of companions to accompany her, where any lady of quality would have at least one or two trailing after her, annoying his servants; the awkwardness of the curtsy she’d given him, which meant she didn’t care about her manner, and he already had enough of those in his household; the boots on her feet, which meant she would not be the quiet, retiring type who stayed indoors and consoled him with gentle murmurs and warm compresses; the outline of a dagger in her sleeve. He sighed again.
Jenny Jacobs, a writer living in the Midwest, is still kissing frogs, but likes to write about people finding their happily ever after—even if they have to go through some difficulties to get there. She is the author of Sadie’s Story and The Winter Promise. Visit her at http://www.jennyjacobbooks.com
Winter Storms by Lucy Oliver
Slinging a rucksack over his shoulder, he stepped across the floating jetty to the sea wall. A rank odour of dead fish, salt water, and rust hit him; scents he remembered from his childhood. Boats creaked at their moorings and faint music drifted over from a pub.
Brick steps led up the harbour wall, slippery with rubbery, rotting seaweed and when he reached the top, he froze, waiting for the bright flash of a camera. It never came and he smiled. Of course in winter, the harbour lay deserted. It was during the summer months that scores of flip-flops struck across the warm cobbled streets, sticky with dropped Cornish ice cream. But he always preferred winter when the pavements were empty and waves hit the harbour walls in powerful green swells.
He strode across the cobbles. A new shop had been set up in his absence, a neat, modern place with a window display lit up by bright fairy lights and filled with sugar mice. Tomorrow he’d come back to buy Christmas presents, since he brought none with him, but now it was time to go home, time to surprise his family, to explain about Imogen and the cancelled wedding. He stepped back into the full force of the wind, striding along the harbour to the main town. Here the buildings caught the worst of the gusts and he moved faster.
A few shops were still open, filling the air with the scent of fresh bread and spicy minced pies, making his stomach rumble. A large fir tree dotted with white lights stood in the central town square surrounded by a band who clutched brass instruments and rattled collection buckets, sleet beading on their blue uniforms. Two younger members grinned at him and he smiled back, dropping a few coins into their pot.
“I know you,” the teenager said. “Your photo’s on the hall of the sailing club, you’re Daniel Edwards.”
Lucy Oliver grew up by the sea and particularly loved walking along the harbor in winter, when the streets were deserted and waves crashed against the seawalls. Now living inshore, she likes to return to those memories by writing passionate romances set against the backdrop of the English countryside. Lucy enjoys writing about characters that like all of us, have flaws, mixed in with her trademark touch of spice.
She also writes under the name Lucy Hartbury for higher heat level works, including an exciting and saucy version of Dracula. Join her on Twitter at Writingoliver or check out her blog at http://lucyoliverwrites.blogspot.co.uk/
Old Christmas by Kathryn Brocato
Casey blinked and shook her head. “Now I know what’s wrong here. This is a dream. All of you except Granny are dead. I knew there was something weird about this.”
Cynthia tilted one hip forward in imitation of a model’s stance. “You’re the one who believes in all Mom’s nonsense about Old Christmas. And they do say spirits walk on Old Christmas Eve.”
“I’m getting out of here.” Casey felt her hair attempting to lift off her scalp. “Come on, Granny.”
Alice chuckled. “No one here means you any harm, Casey. We all want the same thing–your happiness.”
Casey reached out tentatively to touch Alice. Alice’s skin was warm and solid, not cool and fragile as it had been in the hospital.
Casey swallowed and regarded her grandmother in shock.
Alice smiled. “Don’t try to hold me, Casey. I’m more than ready to go. It’s Old Christmas Eve, you know. I only came to apologize for teaching you to be ashamed of your mother’s actions. I simply didn’t realize how it would affect you.”
Casey squeezed her eyes shut, then opened them again, and forked her hair back to stare wildly around the barn. She couldn’t see two inches in front of her face.
She was alone.
Kathryn Brocato writes contemporary romance with a small-town touch. She is a scientist and business owner who lives in Southeast Texas with her husband, dogs, and chickens. Her first published romance was a Kismet Romance, Storm Warning. She also wrote The Cartwright Heritage, writing as Katy King for White Rose Press. Currently, she writes contemporary romance for the Crimson Romance line. Visit Kathryn at http://kathrynbrocato.com/.
I hope you enjoyed this peek at Winter Dreams.