Saturday, August 29, 2015

Minty's Kiss - P. C. Zick
When newly divorced Molly retreats to a family cabin with Gracie, her ten-year-old daughter, she's surprised to find her childhood crush, Nick, still living in the area. Can a small kitty named Minty help Gracie accept the love developing between Nick and Molly in time for her first Christmas in the mountains of North Carolina?


The bundle of black fur became Molly’s trusted companion the year she turned ten. It was her consolation prize for being the child of two people who hated one another so much they ended their marriage right before Christmas. Molly’s father brought the kitty over on Christmas Eve, and left it in a box with holes in the top under the Christmas tree. When Molly and her mother returned from midnight Mass, she heard squeaks coming from a box laden with a large red ribbon, sitting beneath the tree.
“A kitty!” she screamed when she tore open the top. She pulled the furry creature out of the box. The squeaking stopped only to be replaced by a loud purr.
“That purr is bigger than it is,” her mother said as she knelt down on the carpet next to Molly. “Your father finally got one thing right this Christmas.”
Molly ignored her mother as she buried her nose in his fur. “We need food, Mommy. Everything’s closed.”
“Go look in the kitchen.”
She carried her present with her and found cans of food and a box filled with litter on the floor by the sink.
“Just point it to the box, and everything should be fine.”
“Is it a girl or a boy?” Molly asked as she carried the fur ball to the litter box.
“It’s going to be hard to tell with all that fur. Knowing your father, he got you a male cat.”
“I think I’ll name him Harold. I think he’s a boy.”
“Harold? Why?”
“It fits. I like it.”
“It’s not very cat-like, but I suppose you’ll do what you want no matter what I say. Just like your father.”
Harold helped Molly ignore her mother and her bitterness over the divorce. He became her constant companion and confidant during the dark days of the winter, holed up in the mountain cabin in North Carolina. Her father’s family owned it, but her mother decided she would start her new life as a single mom in the Smoky Mountains, even though she never liked the cabin. Marilyn Irving enjoyed going to the theater and shopping at the mall. When the family did come to the cabin for vacations, Marilyn complained about the backwardness of Murphy, the closest town, and the rural area surrounding them. Her decision to move to the cabin came as an effort at revenge because Molly’s father enjoyed escaping to the mountains, and he loved the cabin. Since he initiated the divorce, he wasn’t in a position to deny his daughter and ex-wife much of anything.
“Molly, Nick is here.” The announcement came on Christmas afternoon as Molly sat on the kitchen floor playing with Harold. Nick was one of the only reasons she hadn’t protested too much when her mother made the surprising announcement about moving to Murphy.
“I see Santa was very good to you.” He knelt down next to her and gave Harold a rub on the head.
“Meet Harold. Harold, this is my friend Nick.”
Nick, two years older than Molly, reached for the kitty and rolled him over on his back in his arms. “People don’t think cats like their undersides rubbed like dogs do, but if you scratch right here on the chest between the front paws, most of them love it.” He scratched Harold in that spot and instantly his eyes closed and his purring machine started working.
“He loves it.” She looked at Nick with his blonde hair falling down into his eyes. He still wore his down jacket, but had pulled off his knit cap.
“How’s it going, Molly?” Nick looked at her with his bright blue eyes, and she lost herself in his gaze.
“It’s better now that you and Harold are here,” she said.
“My mom said you’ve moved here for good.”
“That’s what she says.” Molly nodded her head toward the living room where her mother sat reading a novel. “I hate her. She’s so mean.”
“It’s tough, isn’t it?” Nick reached for her brown hair and rubbed her head. “You just come find me anytime you need a friend, you hear?”
Molly nodded, and right there, on the kitchen floor, she vowed that one day she would marry Nick.
About the Author
P.C. Zick describes herself as "a storyteller no matter what I write." And she writes in a variety of genres, including romance, contemporary fiction, and nonfiction. Her female characters are strong and sexy and her male heroes are easy to love. She's won various awards for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction. When she’s not at the computer, she’s boating, kayaking, golfing, and just generally enjoying life with her husband—a lost love from her youth who resurfaced six years ago. Talk about a romantic story!
Minty's Kiss is EXCLUSIVE to Christmas Pets & Kisses from October 6 - November 6, so pre-order Christmas Pets & Kisses today and be the first of your friends to read Minty's Kiss by P.C. Zick
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Christmas Wish - Michele Shriver
Ashley McLaughlin is strugglingto move on from her husband's infidelity. Brennan wants to make amends for his transgression. Their young daughter, Hayley, has only one wish for Christmas- for her family to be together again. When Hayley suffers a head injury after a fall from her horse, will it help her get her wish? Or do the wounds from Brennan's betrayal run too deep for Ashley to forgive?


“That stupid horse,” I hear my mother say. “You had to go and get her that stupid horse, as if that might somehow assuage your guilt, and now here we are. Watching our daughter lay unconscious in the hospital.”
Assuage. I don’t know what that word means, but it doesn’t matter. I can tell my mom is angryat my dad, like she always seems to be these days, and now she’s blaming him for buying me Thunder. And even worse, blaming Thunder for me being here, just because I fell off of him and hurt my head.
I’m not sure what my dad’s supposed to feel guilty about, either. Maybe moving out and leaving my mom and me alone? I miss the way things were when we used to be a family, the three of us. We were happy, and I thought we were the perfect family. I even asked my parents for a baby brother or sister for Christmas last year. I didn’t get my wish. Instead, my mom got mad at my dad and my dad moved to an apartment in the city, where I only seem once a week. And I got Thunder.
Yeah, I’ve always wanted a horse and I love Thunder. I think he’s the best horse ever, and the prettiest, even after what happened today. But I’d trade him in a minute to have things back to the way they used to be.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sneak Peak at Dante's Gift another of the sweet Christmas stories in Christmas Pets and Kisses

Dante's Gift - Aubrey Wynne
Seventy years ago, a collie mix brought two hearts together in war torn Italy. Will their story help their grandson find his own Christmas love?
~ Anne Landers
Chapter One
The piles of discarded clothes resembled the glorious Chicago skyline at dusk. The deep sunset colors cluttered the floor and the bed as Katie James systematically emptied out the huge walk-in closet. She shook her head in frustration each time she gazed at the mirror in a new outfit.
This was the night. The night Dominic would pull a dazzling ring from his pocket and ask her to become his wife. He had been like a kid with a big secret for the past three weeks: distracted, smiling for no apparent reason, and cracking stale jokes. All sure signs that he plotted with the “happy gods.” Several times when she’d texted or called, he told her he was Christmas shopping. Ha! No man bought holiday gifts in October. He said to dress up because he had something special planned. There could be only one explanation—a proposal.
Looking out the window from her Lake Point Tower condo, she watched the sailboats bob in Lake Michigan and played out the evening in her mind. Dominic would be dressed in a tailored suit that hugged his wide shoulders. His long fingers would betray his nervousness as they combed through his thick, dark wavy hair. She would shiver delicately when those smoky eyes caressed her face. He would reach for her hand—
Good grief, get a hold of yourself. This is real life not some sappy chick flick.
A loud buzzing announced company had arrived. She waded through the sea of outfits and pushed the intercom.
“Jazzy? Is that you?”
“No, it’s Cinderella. Hurry up and let me in. The creepy doorman is staring again.”
Katie pushed the button with a laugh. Her best friend had a love-hate relationship with Thomas. He would smile at her, she would call him a lecherous old man, and he would respond with a wink. If he didn’t smile at her, Jasmine rushed to check her make-up. He must not have flashed a grin because she made it up to the forty-fourth floor in record time and pounded on the door.
“Come in, it’s open.” She watched the slim blonde rush to the hall mirror for a quick self-inspection. “You look fine. He does it on purpose, you know.”
“I don’t want to talk about it. He’s lucky he’s not bad-looking for an older guy or I’d have slapped him by now.” Jasmine plopped onto the couch. “What are you wearing tonight? I came to give my approval. I have a better sense of romance than you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Her friend snorted. “You’re a CPA. Accountants are efficient not romantic.”
“I’m a tax consultant but I could use another opinion. My room looks like a tornado hit it. I’ll pour you a glass of Merlot and put on a fashion show.”
An hour later, both women stood in front of the full-length mirror with huge grins. Katie turned from side to side, watching the vibrant jade dress sway under the black silk jacket. A hint of cleavage peeked out from the scooped neckline. “You are brilliant. I would have never put this together.”
“That’s why I design clothes and you add numbers. See how the darker colors showcase that deep auburn hair?” Jazzy said as she arranged the mass of waves into a loose chignon, leaving long curls to frame her oval face. “I wish you would show more leg, but this is subtly sexy. Now where are the green topaz earrings and pendant your parents bought you last Christmas? They’re the exact color of your eyes.”
An hour later, after a professional make-up session, she gave her friend a hug. “Good luck tonight. I hope it’s everything you have dreamed of since we were girls.”
Katie laughed. “No, you hope it’s everything you have dreamed of since we were young. ”
“Same thing. I admit I always thought I’d find my soul mate first, though.”
She rolled her eyes. “You know I don’t believe in that. Love, yes. True love, love at first sight, fate? No. Compatibility, similar backgrounds and interests, friendship—those are the things that determine lasting love.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. But you can’t tell me your stomach never flips when he looks at you a certain way, or your legs get wobbly during a particularly passionate kiss.” Jazzy waggled her finger and ignored the second roll of eyes. “Now remember to get at least a little teary-eyed when he pops the question. Pinch yourself if you have to but let him know how much this means to you. We both know you’re lousy at saying what you feel.”
“You make me sound like a cold fish,” she said with frown. “I don’t ooze emotion but I can show affection. Besides, I didn’t have much practice in my family.”
“When was the last time you gave me a hug?”
“Just now.” Katie bit her lip, knowing what was next.
“No, I hugged you. There’s a difference. I’ll get off my soapbox if you promise to try to make tonight as special for Dom as he is making it for you. Throw sensibility to the wind and kiss him in public.” She headed for door. “And for god’s sake, don’t forget to tell him you love him. He should not have to take it for granted when he puts a ring on your finger.”
“Time out! I promise to wear my heart on my sleeve and follow all the rules of Miss Jasmine’s School of Romance, if you promise to leave now,” she agreed and pushed her friend toward the door. “Go pretend you hate Thomas and leave me in peace. I’ll call you first thing in the morning.”
“Call me from the bathroom afterwards. I want to know all the details.”
Katie shut the door. From the other side came a muffled, “And text me a picture of the ring.”
She chuckled as she heard the ding of the elevator and pictured her friend adjusting her hair and taking a quick peek in the mirror before the door opened. The handsome doorman would give her a sly smile. Jazzy would glide past as if she hadn’t noticed, but Thomas would know better from the exaggerated sway of her hips.
Checking her makeup for the umpteenth time, she thought about what her friend had said. Overt affection had never been part of her upbringing. It’s not that they didn’t care for one another. Her parents just didn’t talk about it or physically show it. A nanny had raised her until she turned thirteen. Katie had thrown a tantrum at the mention of a boarding school. She finally won the public education battle and met her best friend the first day of math class.
It wasn’t until her teens that she began to build a genuine relationship with her mom. Her father often absent, she began to accompany her mother to some of the local charity events and volunteer activities. Her mother’s popularity surprised her. She watched Eleanor use her gracious manner and good looks to charm the most tightfisted businessmen to open their checkbooks. Her fund-raising abilities were legendary; she gathered the most prominent guests and always met or exceeded the goal.
Her parents exposed her to the arts and entertainment provided in Chicago, adding a sophistication beyond her years. She could spot a rare painting out of a collection of copies, identify any classical piece of music, and knew an excellent wine from a mediocre vintage by the time she turned twenty-one. She also knew right from wrong, grey from black and white, and that everyone must give back in some way. Her business education began on her sixteenth birthday with extensive travel that led to internships with foreign finance companies. She would soon be ready to take her place as CEO at James’ Financial Services.
But was she ready to share her heart and her bed with a man? Dominic Lawrence checked off all the must-haves on her list. He had a thriving organic food business that provided fresh produce to the best restaurants in the city and suburbs. Successful, check. Her family approved of his background; he had a similar upbringing and the same values. Shared ethics, check. They loved the cultural activities Chicago offered: plays, opera, museums, and festivals. Both physically active, they enjoyed biking and running along the lake, hiking and skiing in the winter. Compatibility, check.
His Italian descent gave him the tall, dark good looks she’d always preferred. Handsome, check. He was devoted to a grandmother in Italy and wanted children but did not insist on having them right away. Family man, check. There would be no issues with in-laws and holidays since his parents had died in a car crash ten years earlier, and he was an only child. Not that it was a plus, but she had heard horror stories from her friends about their monster-in-laws fighting over which side had more time with the grandchildren.
On the other hand, they were complete opposites in so many ways, which she considered a plus and minus. He appreciated comedy and musicals and tolerated her docudramas and incessant reading. Adds variety, check. She liked to have a plan for everything but enjoyed his spontaneity. Flexible, check. He believed in being frugal throughout the week but letting loose on vacation. She balanced a checkbook to the penny and weighed the importance of every expenditure. Minor flaw #1. She considered punctuality a virtue, while he considered time an approximation. Minor flaw #2.
In general, they complemented one another. He softened her black and white outlook; she gave some edge to his grey areas. Katie found herself enjoying his unexpected surprises. His love of people drew her into unexpected and delightful conversations with perfect strangers. Dominic ticked each box. He wasn’t perfect but his flaws defined him as much as his strengths.
No, she didn’t throw her arms around him in a passionate hug each time he walked through the door. No, she didn’t gush, “I love you” every time he made her heart skip a beat. But he did make her heart skip a beat, and her body responded each time he wrapped his arms around her in a passionate hug. His huge heart and Italian affection had been overwhelming at first but thought she had come a long way in the past year. Dominic called her “a work in progress.”  
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons played on her cell phone. “Dom” appeared in bright letters and she quickly swiped the screen. “Hey there. Not cancelling on me, are you?”
“Not a chance. Finished up the week’s orders and cleared some days on next month’s calendar.” He paused then continued in a low, caressing tone, “I miss you, Kathleen James. It’s been a week since I’ve held you in my arms. No more extended business trips if you want me to remain a gentleman.”
Her pulse raced as his deep voice flowed through her like a rich cup of coffee. “Don’t threaten me, Mr. Lawrence. You’re the one working twelve-hour days. Besides,” she added, getting into the spirit of the game, “maybe I like an old-fashioned rogue once a in awhile.”
The moan on the other end made her chuckle. “Are you still picking me up at seven?”
“What time is it now?”
“Grrr. It’s six-fifty.” She tapped her foot on the hard wood floor. “You’re late again, aren’t you?”
“Is that your toe making a staccato beat? I-am-ir-ri-ta-ted. Why-can’t-he-be-on-time.” She could hear the grin in his tone. Sense of humor, check.
“You took the words right out of my—” A knock at the door. “Hang on a minute, okay?”
Not expecting anyone, she looked through the peephole. A charcoal-grey eye stared back at her. She quickly opened the door.
“Boo!” He held out a bouquet of white and pink flowers.
The aroma of white roses and star lily gazers filled the room. Thoughtful, check. Then he pulled her close, nibbling at her lips as her arms went around his neck. When the kiss deepened, the flowers fell to the floor. Katie leaned into him, allowing his strong hands to hold her up.
Strong and sexy. Check.
About the Author
Award-winning author Aubrey Wynne resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule and barn cats. She is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. Obsessions include history, travel, trail riding and all things Christmas. Her debut story, Merry Christmas, Henry, received Best Short Romance in the Preditors & Editors Reader’s Choice of 2013 and her humorous shorts include Pete’s Mighty Purty Privies, also Best Short in P &E 2014 and Top 100 Laugh Out Loud List on Goodreads. Aubrey’s first love is historical romance and the medieval fantasy Rolf’s Quest, will be released in 2016.
Dante's Gift is EXCLUSIVE to Christmas Pets & Kisses from October 6 - November 6, so pre-order Christmas Pets & Kisses today and be the first of your friends to read Dante's Gift by Aubrey Wynne
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Christmas Pets and Kisses

Mavy's Christmas Miracle - Sharon Coady
Anne Hurd returns to the Pocono's to help her elderly grandfather. Six years earlier Kyle Shafer disappeared from her life. She rescues a kitten, takes her to a vet who turns out to be Kyle. Kyle can’t believe Anne walked back into his life. Will he scare her away, or will she give him another chance? Kyle decides to take a chance and try for the love he gave up on.
Anne couldn’t believe this was happening. She knelt down and sobbed as the tiny gray kitten tried to raise his head. His body was shaking and foam spilled from his mouth along with a diminutive meow.
“Oh poor baby, why would someone do this to you? I’ll be right back.” She ran into her grandparents’ cabin.
  “Pop, one of the kittens is hurt. I think someone poisoned him. He can’t move and foam is coming from his mouth.”
  “Let’s go take a look.” He reached over and took her arm to steady himself as she helped him down the three wooden steps and off the porch. At ninety years old, he was still independent, but smart enough to know his step was no longer steady.
  Tears welled up in his eyes as he looked down at the kitten. “Poor little fellow.” He glanced at Anne. “Looks like you were right. Go get my gun, girl. The Smith and Wesson twenty-two. We don’t want him suffering any longer.”
  Anne ran back into the house, sadness for the kitten engulfing her. She had fallen in love with him the first time he had come out from under the house and stared at her with his dark green eyes. It had taken her almost three weeks to coax him into letting her get close enough to pet him. The kittens were about eight weeks old now and she had hoped to convince her grandfather to adopt the one of them.
Grabbing Pop’s gun carefully, she hurried back outside and waited patiently as he asked her to steady him while he put the kitten down. Taking a deep breath, he pulled the trigger. The bang resonated loudly and echoed in the silence that followed. Pop sighed, shook his head and wiped a tear away from his deeply wrinkled cheek.
“I’ll never understand how some people can be so cruel to little animals. Can you bury him, girl?”
“Yes, but I’ll take you back inside first.” She took his arm and helped him back to the porch, not trying to hide the tears streaming down her cheeks. She glanced at his face as she helped him up the steps and saw how tired he was. He stumbled a bit on the last step and she put her arm around him and gave him a hug.
“Things happen and people are mean sometimes. See if you can find any of the others after you bury him.”
“I will.”
He shuffled over to his cabinet and laid the pistol down. He stood for a moment, shaking his head and mumbling under his breath. His shoulders bent as he put his hands in his pockets.
“I’m going now. I’ll let you know if I see any of the others.” She pulled on her old wool coat and zipped it up, not looking forward to the task at hand.
After she took care of the kitten, she put the shovel back in place and made her way to the porch. It made her sad to see the cracked and peeling paint covering the cabin. She closed her eyes and brought to mind the images of the place she remembered from her childhood: Gram’s lovingly tended gardens full of different types of flowers in front of the small, enclosed porch. The white paint covering the wood siding of the cabin, making it neat and tidy. Her favorite image was of Gram looking out the kitchen window while she washed her dishes, smiling as Anne picked the blackberries off the bush.
Kneeling down, she tried to see underneath the porch, hoping to spot the other kittens. Her heart sank when she saw no movement. I hate to tell him the other ones are gone. I can’t do it. She stood up and made her way slowly into the house.
When she walked in, he glanced at her. “Did you see the rest of them?” His steel-blue eyes searched her face.
“It was too dark. I’ll have to look again tomorrow. I’m going to start dinner now.” She prayed he wouldn’t see the sadness on her face.
“Do you need me to peel potatoes? I always did for your grandmother.”
“That would be wonderful. I’ll bring them to you.” She grabbed four potatoes, the old green Tupperware strainer and his favorite peeler. “Here you go.” She stooped down and kissed the top of his bald head. “Love you,” she whispered.
“Love you too, girl.” He set to work peeling the potatoes.
She wondered if her resemblance to Gram bothered him. Everyone told her she looked just like a younger version of her grandmother. Anne had the same cinnamon colored hair and slight build, but her grandmother’s eyes had been a deep hazel color while hers were green.
Pop interrupted her thoughts. “So, you’ll look for the other kittens?”
“Sure. I’ll go out first thing in the morning and look around.” She glanced over to see his brows drawn down, and his lips pressed together. “Hopefully, they’re okay.”
Reviewer's Comment
"Sometimes, Christmas miracles come in small packages -- a sweet and heartwarming story." - Rachelle Ayala
About the Author
Sharon Coady lives in Florida with her husband, three of their daughters and five of their eleven grandchildren. She wrote two books before discovering Romance novels. She has now written a romantic suspense, a romance novella and is currently writing a Christmas novella. She has two published novels. When not working as a nurse for the Veterans Administration or writing she enjoys spending time with her family and riding behind her husband on their Harley. Facebook:  Twitter:
Mavy's Christmas Miracle is EXCLUSIVE to Christmas Pets & Kisses from October 6 - November 6, so pre-order Christmas Pets & Kisses today and be the first of your friends to read Mavy's Christmas Miracle by Sharon Coady today!
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Get into the Christmas spirit with CHRISTMAS PETS & KISSES. Limited time offer, so grab your set today! ONLY 99c
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