Christmas is in the air at Mia Loughry’s Yellow Butterfly Café, the heartbeat of Azalea Valley serving up Mia’s legendary matchmaking and renowned home-cooking. For years, local track coach Buck Chance has flirted but failed to leave the starting gate in pursuit of Mia. Could love have passed her by?
Temperatures rise when a mouth-watering stranger, Chance Stengle, enters the café and steals her attention from Buck. A singer/songwriter and owner of a construction company, Chance believes Mia is exactly what he’s been looking for. Faced with fresh competition, Buck is not ready to yield the field to the new guy and lose Mia for good.
With two handsome men vying for her attention, Mia is determined to give each a chance to win her heart for life. Her destiny becomes uncertain when a confrontation reaches a boiling point after a fateful trip. Will Buck make it to the finish line or will Chance reconstruct her future?
Torn between two loves, indecision could cost her both Christmas Chances.
Mia struggled to keep from staring at the man who took her breath away. “Good morning. Welcome to the Yellow Butterfly. Table for one?”
“Unless you want to keep me company,” he said with cocky confidence of someone who always succeeded and attracted any woman he wanted.
Keeping him company? A lot more than that came to mind. “In your dreams. I have a café to run.” She grabbed a menu and led him to a table. “I haven’t seen you around. Visiting, or new in town?”
“My grandmother, Jeanine Stengle, passed, and I’m here to attend to her estate.”
“I’m so sorry. I loved Mrs. Jeanine.”
Surprise flashed across his face. “So you knew her?”
“Hon, I know everybody in Azalea Valley, and she was one of the best. When she was well, she came in here often. Mama and I visited her after she got sick, and we went to her funeral.”
“Thanks. I’m Chance Stengle.” He held out his hand.
His heart-stopping smile almost caused her to forget her name. “Mia Loughry.” She slipped her hand into his large, calloused one. When he didn’t let go, warmth rushed to her face as though she’d opened the oven door. Unsteady, she grabbed the edge of the table to keep her balance. Seldom at a loss for words, she waited for him to speak.
He stared as if memorizing her face. It had been way too long since any man looked at her like that.
“A pretty name for a pretty lady.” He settled into his chair.
Considering herself average, she questioned his motive for the blatant flirting. People didn’t describe her as pretty except for her mama and the boy in high school who wanted to get into her pants. But Chance . . . his powerful jaw and well-defined facial features made it hard for her to look away—or speak. “I’m not . . . Y-you don’t have to tell me stuff that’s not true.” She’d blathered like an idiot, but it wasn’t every day someone strolled in as good looking as him. She glanced at his empty ring finger. “Coffee?”
“Strong and hot.” He didn’t mean his coffee. “For the record, I tell it like I see it.”
“That makes two of us.” And Jeanine’s grandson or not, if she told him precisely what she was thinking, he might run for the closest exit.
“I’ll be right back to take your order.”
To settle her nerves and regain control of her senses, she spun around and hurried to the kitchen. On impulse, she glanced over her shoulder. Oh my, Buck stared at her like he saw her for the first time. Competition wouldn’t hurt. Hmm, Buck Chance and Chance Stengle. Not one, but two chances. She chuckled at her own joke.
After she took a deep breath, she returned to the newcomer’s table who tracked her movements all the way with his smoldering eyes. Her mind blanked for a second.
She delivered the steaming cup and handed him a menu. “So, how long will you be in town?”
“Depends. I’m hoping to finish by Christmas.” He blew on his coffee with enticing kissable lips.
“Must be nice to take that much time off work.” She pressed for more information.
“I own a small construction company in Nashville. Finished a major project. Not as much going on this time of year. My men can handle it. I like to work with my hands, and this will be a perfect break for me to get out of the city.”
Hmm, another business owner. They had something in common. “I understand what you mean. Although I run the place, I love to interact with customers.” Especially when they’re as sexy as you. “I know almost everything about this town. If you need anything, you know where to find me.”
“Don’t you worry, I’ll be around.”
Those words and his attentive gaze shot a tingle up her spine. “Well, well, well” she whispered after she grabbed the coffeepot and sauntered away.
About the Author
Influenced by travel, Hope Malory writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense in whatever destination she finds herself. Her descriptive settings transport readers to the places she has experienced first hand.
After a career in education, Hope traded in a commute, traffic, and early mornings for inventing delightful, adventurous, strong-willed characters and putting them in unpredictable situations.
She and her husband live near Nashville, Tennessee. Now, whether relaxing on the beach, traveling with her husband, or spending time at home, she is busy writing her next novel.
When Sophie Davis sorts through a box of donated books to her church, she’s surprised to discover a soldier’s journal. As the daughter of a veteran who watched her father struggle over the years, she feels a deep connection to the man who wrote the emotional entries.
Former Marine Cole Aaron battled to find peace after returning to civilian life. He’s always needed to protect others. Now, fighting fires in Pine Hill, Kentucky helps him put out the demons within him. When Sophie shows up at the fire hall with his journal from when he’d first returned stateside, Cole can’t believe it was in the box he’d donated. Not wanting to face painful memories, he tells her to trash it.
Sophie and Cole are drawn together as they both volunteer for their community, but it’s hard for Cole to let down his guard, and he doesn’t need anyone’s pity. After all he’s been through in the past, can he find faith in a more hopeful future…one touched by joy?
This heartwarming romance includes a free Hallmark original recipe for Dilly Duchess Potatoes.
Other Holiday Romance Novel By Janice Lynn:
Wrapped Up in Christmas
Published: October 2019
A USA TODAY Bestseller!
A gift of warmth to heal two hearts…
Sarah Smith in Pine Hill, Kentucky has had her heart broken in the past. She pours herself into her work at church and into special projects—like making a quilt for a wounded warrior.
Bodie Lewis is lost. All he’s ever wanted was his career as an Army Ranger, but he was injured in an explosion that killed his brothers in arms. In the hospital, he receives a handmade quilt. Later, he sets out on his final mission: to find and thank its maker.
Bodie expected Sarah to be an elderly lady, not a lovely young woman. When she mistakes him for a handyman, he doesn’t immediately set her straight. Instead, he sets about repairing the home she’s turning into a bed and breakfast. Sarah’s presence and the spirit of the small town bring Bodie something he thought he’d left far behind on the battlefield: hope.
This heartwarming sweet romance includes a free quilt pattern from the Quilts of Valor Foundation and a new original Hallmark recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Bread.
USA TODAY best selling author Janice Lynn strives to write characters who evoke strong emotions and make readers want to go along on their journeys.
Her first sweet romance, Wrapped Up in Christmas, was Hallmark Publishing’s first release to hit the USA TODAY and Wall Street Journal’s bestseller lists; and was a finalist in the Bookseller’s Best Award. Janice also writes contemporary Medical Romances for Harlequin, and her books have won numerous awards, including the National Readers’ Choice Award, the Golden Quill for Best Short contemporary Romance and for Best First Book, Romantic Times Magazine’s American Title, and the Holt Medallion Award of Merit.
Janice lives in Tennessee with her Prince Charming, their seven kids, her vivid imagination, an adorable Maltese named Halo who’s the true princess of the house and a bunch of unnamed dust bunnies who took up permanent residence after Janice started her writing career. In addition to writing romance, Janice is a nurse practitioner, a quilter, an exercise queen, a military mama and a member of and an avid supporter of the Quilts of Valor Foundation. Just kidding on the exercise queen.
Can a little girl’s wish for Santa to bring her mom a new husband come true?
In 1946, Sarah Delaney writes to Santa for a husband for her mom for Christmas. She’s never known her father, who went missing during WWII so five-year-old Sarah decides it’s the perfect gift for her mother—a husband, and a daddy for her. Her mother, Rose Delaney, has been working as a banking accountant—until Jack Campbell, the man who held the position first returns from the war and her boss gives him back his job. Rose, unhappy about losing her job begins looking for another position but can’t find one that pays well enough. Jack, feeling guilty since he’s a single guy with no child or wife responsibilities convinces his boss to hire Rose as his secretary. Rose takes up the offer as nothing else is available. Within weeks, Jack falls in love with Rose, even though she refuses to date men she works with. He has big plans in his life though and pursues her until she eventually accepts his offer of marriage. Rose can’t deny she’s in love with him also, until she learns the ‘real’ reason he’s looking for a wife.
St. Paul Minnesota
Captain Jack Campbell, a schooled architect and account, and a medic during the war, honorably discharged from the United States Army, sat on the doctor’s examination table, wondering if his leg would ever heal completely.
Dr. Richardson gave him an answer without Jack having to ask. “The leg’s better than I expected, Jack. But I’m afraid you’ll have a permanent limp for the rest of your life from the lodged shrapnel.”
Jack shrugged. “Guess dancing’s out for me.”
“You’ll be able to manage the ones that count…the slow ones. “He gave Jack a sly look. “Bet you can’t wait to hold a pretty girl in your arms for a night of dancing. You were gone nearly three years, weren’t you?”
Jack nodded. “Yes, it’s good to be back in familiar territory.
Dr. Richardson’s smile slipped. “Have you been home yet? Seen your father?”
“No. He doesn’t want to see me. I met my mother for lunch last week, though. She, at least, appreciates the fact I survived the war.”
“He’ll get over you enlisting, sooner or later. Don’t think badly of him. You are, after all, his only child. And now that you’ve returned you can take up the reins of the family business.”
“Father threatened to will the business to a distant cousin, if I enlisted. I’d never wanted to make a career out of the steel business anyway, so I gave him my blessing.”
“Think that’s a wise move?”
“It’s the smartest one I’ve ever made, Doc.”
“So, what are your plans?”
“I’m going to return to LaSalle National Bank as head accountant. Then I’m going to search for a woman willing to be my wife and bless me with children. I’ve seen friends die and know life can be too short.”
The doctor frowned. “I heard you’d made marriage plans before leaving for the war.”
“Things never worked out between Veronica and me.”
He heard bitterness in his voice when he thought about his ex-fiancée. Thought how he’d received letters from friends about how she’d been seen around the city with an old friend of his, Sedrick Hawthrone. She’d never even had the decency to write him a ‘Dear John’ letter while he was in the Army but had simply stopped replying to his own.
“Veronica Miller wasn’t your style, son. Bah! Society girls are nothing but spoiled debutantes with no brain inside their pretty little heads. You need a smart woman, one who’s independent and can think for herself; a woman who can be a helpmate, not a noose around your neck. Besides, there are plenty of ladies around who’d be proud to marry a war hero, who also happens to be a millionaire.”
Dryly, Jack said, “I won’t inherit that money until I marry. And if I don’t marry and get my millions, well, it’ll only mean I’ll have to work a while longer at the bank to save up enough money to launch my business. My grandmother and her will—it’s ridiculous.”
“Your granny sure knew how to rile things up when she was alive, but now she’s doing it from the grave, too.” The doctor chuckled. “She was a hell of a gal.”
“If it hadn’t been for my mother wanting me home in one piece, I probably would have stayed in the Army, and to hell with those millions. It’s tough being an only child.”
“Yeah, real tough,” the doctor said with a laugh, slapping Jack’s back.
Jack left the doctor’s office and limped down the street to his new model Studebaker, noticing dames of all shapes and sizes sending appreciate glances his way. He had gained twenty pounds of muscle while serving his country, so none of his pre-service clothes fit him. Home for nearly a month, he still hadn’t had a chance to have new clothes made so he still wore his Army uniform.
He started thinking about his long-range business goals and smiled, knowing he was on the right track. Soldiers were getting married every day with the ending of the war, and there was a definite housing shortage. The home-building industry was set to explode, even though his father still felt steel was the clear ticket to success.
Perhaps he was right, but Jack had never had the interest his father had in the steel mining business. He also recalled how his father would be gone for weeks at a time, running his business, traveling and selling, leaving Jack and his mother alone. Jack had long ago decided he’d work no more than nine to five at his business and spend the rest of his time surrounded by his lovely, loving wife and children.
At twenty-nine, he was ready to find the right woman to marry and settle down to a normal work schedule, unlike his father. A sweet, compliant, pretty woman with a sensible head on her shoulders would be a good companion for him; one who cared more for him more than society events. A woman who wouldn’t mind keeping a home and caring for children and having him be the provider; fulfilling his needs would be enough for his wife.
~ * ~
Rose Delaney sat in her boss’s office, fingers twisting the corner of her handkerchief, wet with her tears.
“Mrs. Delaney,” Mr. Jorgenson said carefully, “a woman’s place is in the home, unless there’s a war on. You were fully aware of the fact you’d lose your job once Jack Campbell returned from active duty.”
Disappointment settled deep inside Rose but somehow, she managed to keep her voice calm. “What am I supposed to do? I’ve a child at home to support, and no husband.”
“I’m so sorry,” he murmured.
Rose didn’t think he sounded a bit sorry though she saw color flood his cheeks. He continued, “LaSalle National Bank promised our men they’d be given their jobs back upon their return from the service, and you were informed about this when you took the job. Jack Campbell’s a decorated war hero and is ready to return to work now that his injuries have healed. His position’s the one you currently occupy.”
“Is he married?” she daringly asked.
The benign smile he’d given her he replaced with a scowl. “I don’t see why it’s any concern of yours,” he said, picking up a stack of papers from his desk and shuffling them.
“I do,” Rose said, leaning toward him. “You see, I could understand him needing this job if he were married and had a family to support. If he’s only responsible for himself, then I can’t see why he can’t find a job elsewhere and leave this one to me.”
He rose from his chair and came around to the front of his desk. Taking her elbow in a light grasp he pulled her gently from her seat and walked her to the door. “I’m sorry. Your last day is the sixteenth of the month. I’ve a meeting in a few minutes. Perhaps we can find another position for you. Let me think on it.”
In her office, she sank into the chair behind her desk. Her hand shook as she tried smoothing out her frizzy hair. What would she do now? How would she support herself and Sarah, her four-year old daughter? Then hope filled her. Perhaps Mr. Jorgenson could find another position for her, one that hopefully paid as well as her current job. She could only hope.
Her husband, Timothy, had been listed as missing in action, assumed to have died at Pearl Harbor, leaving her pregnant and jobless. Other than her neighborhood soda fountain waitress job she’d held as a teenager she hadn’t worked upon graduating from high school. She’d attended business college for two years and studied accounting. But then she and Timothy had married. They’d spent just one night together—their wedding night, before he left for active duty. Six weeks later Rose discovered she was expecting a baby. Timothy never knew about the pregnancy, nor ever saw his daughter.
Rose’s business college certificate was the reason she’d managed to secure a well-paying job at LaSalle National once America became involved in the war. The bank had been desperately seeking a head accountant and had been delighted to hire her—even if she’d been four months pregnant at the time. Now, with the return of a local war hero, they apparently had no qualms about letting her go.
Rose received a small widow’s pension but that was all. Her home was a modest one-story with a quaint, enclosed front porch, which required many repairs she couldn’t afford. Now she was faced with the dilemma of keeping up the mortgage without a decent paying job.
The next morning, after a neighbor with a child Sarah’s age picked her up in the family car to take Sarah to school as they did each school day, she dressed for work in one of three suits she’d purchased upon her hiring at LaSalle Bank. She felt extremely blessed that Sarah had been deemed with advanced intelligence and had been able to start kindergarten school a year earlier.
She pulled a navy serge suit from her closet. The jacket was double-breasted with well-padded shoulders, the skirt pencil-thin, emphasizing her trim figure. Her starched white blouse contrasted dramatically with the suit. She pinned a sapphire and diamond broach to one lapel, a wedding gift from Timothy, and stared at her reflection in the mirror positioned on the wall behind her dressing table.
Depression settled over her. She didn’t feel like venturing outdoors where it had been raining for two days but knew she must. She still had her job and two weeks of pay coming. Quickly, she pulled on her raincoat, grabbed her umbrella from its stand then locked the front door.
It rained often in the fall in the Midwest, and on this cool morning torrents of rain fell from the sky, pounding the sidewalk and streets. As Rose stood on the corner a few blocks from her house, waiting for the streetcar to take her to work downtown St. Paul, a shiny, deep blue Studebaker screamed past her. Rose caught her breath as ice-cold water splashed up into her face, soaked her feet and plastered her seamed silk stockings to her legs.
The force of the wind made her struggle to keep the umbrella over her head. Once she was certain the umbrella was stable, she dug inside her pocket, found a damp handkerchief and swiped the water from her cheeks, trying not to disturb her makeup; trying not to bawl like a baby.
She heard the shriek of a car’s wheels braking and looked up in time to see the Studebaker barreling toward her, in reverse. She jumped back from the curb, ready to flee when a man’s solicitous deep voice called out to her.
“Sorry about that, miss! I didn’t see you on the corner until the last minute. Can I give you a lift somewhere?”
Rose moved closer to the curb, bent down and peered at the man through the window he’d cranked open. His light brown hair was cut severely short on the sides, but long on top, his eyes deep blue and merry. His smile was wide, and flashing white teeth caught her attention. She was half-tempted to accept a ride but knew she couldn’t. He was a stranger—a stranger who’d drenched her from head to toe, her raincoat and umbrella having afforded her little protection.
She heard rumbling and looked up to see the streetcar arriving. Brakes screeched as the vehicle came to a grinding halt behind the Studebaker. The bus driver honked at the man to move but he didn’t budge.
“Come on! You’re soaking wet,” he shouted.
Rose’s eyes widened on the passenger door he’d swung open. She shook her head as a nervous feeling sent prickles up her spine. It was broad daylight so she shouldn’t be frightened. But there was something about the man’s confidence and tone of voice that made her uneasy. Just the little he’d said led her to believe he was the type who wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.
“Yes, I’m wet, thanks to you!” she finally got the nerve to shout as she continued to back away. She ran for the streetcar, tore up the steps and found a seat right behind the driver.
“You okay, miss?” the driver asked as he peered at her in his mirror. “Was that guy pestering you?”
“I’m fine,” Rose replied, her cheeks heating up.
The man had bothered her. He’d just made her aware of the fact she was, indeed, still a woman. Nearly five years had passed since Timothy left, and she hadn’t had a single date since then. But then, other than young boys and elderly gentlemen, there hadn’t been many eligible men around during the war years, not that she’d gone looking. To her mind she was still married—until Timothy’s death could be proved.
She arrived at her destination, stepped off the streetcar and walked briskly up the street toward the bank building built of red brick and eight stories high. She took the stairs to the third floor, stopped in the ladies’ room to check her makeup and comb her hair, which was hopeless. Her honey-blonde colored hair, which she’d painstakingly pin-curled to make it smoother was now an unruly mass of frizz surrounding her face. Her makeup was streaky and some of it had bled onto the once pristine white collar of her blouse. She groaned when she turned, glanced down at one leg and saw the run in her stocking. Hopefully, she still had an extra pair in her desk drawer.
Rose did the best she could with her appearance, then headed for her office. “Hello, Marianne,” she said as she passed the receptionist.
The young woman’s eyes widened. “What happened to you, Mrs. Delaney?”
As Rose moved toward her office, she said, “Let’s just say I had an encounter with a Studebaker. Okay?”
“Uh, sure. Say, Mr. Jorgenson said you should come straight to his office.”
“Let him know I’ll be in shortly.”
Marianne protested, “Oh, but he doesn’t want you to go to your office until you’ve seen him first!”
Coming to an abrupt halt, Rose narrowed her eyes on Marianne. “Don’t tell me he’s cleared my things out already.”
“Um, no, not yet, but…”
“Good, then my extra stockings should still be in my desk. Ring him and tell him I’ll be there in five minutes.”
She ignored Marianne’s stammering, opened her door and came to an abrupt halt with a gasp. Her chair was turned to face the bank of windows overlooking the city. She saw a pair of chocolate brown pants legs crossed, oxford shoes on feet settled against the windowsill—shoes she guessed that likely cost more than a week’s salary; Then she heard a man’s deep, laughing voice as he talked with someone on the telephone.
He must have heard her enter as he pulled his legs down and swiveled around to face her. She stared in wide-eyed amazement into a pair of astonished, laughing blue eyes—familiar eyes.
About the Author
Nancy Schumacher is the owner-publisher of Melange Books, LLC, still writing under the pseudonyms, Nancy Pirri and Natasha Perry. She is a member of Romance Writers of America. She is also one of the founders of the RWA chapter, Northern Lights Writers (NLW) in Minnesota.
Event planner Julia Fernández is in Chicago for an internship that she
hopes to turn into a full-time job. She’s ready to live on her own, out from
under her familia’s expectations that she take over their catering business
in Puerto Rico and away from their year-round baseball fever thanks to her
three ball-playing brothers. Ex-MLB pitcher Ben Thomas knows what it’s like
to have different dreams than your family intends for you, but since his
injury-caused early retirement, he’s been struggling to find the sense of
family baseball once brought him. When he volunteers as the emcee for
Julia’s big holiday fundraiser for a local youth center, he finally begins
to find a sense of purpose working with the kids and alongside Julia.
She’s focused on organizing the best holiday event the youth center has
ever seen, not on romance. But Ben…he’s got a game plan for them that
Holiday Home Run was previously released as part of the holiday anthology A
SEASON TO CELEBRATE.
About the Author
Priscilla Oliveras is a USA Today Best-Selling author & 2018 RWA® RITA®
double finalist who writes contemporary romance with a Latinx flavor. Her
books have earned Starred Reviews from Publishers Weekly & Booklist, hit
the top 5 on Barnes & Noble’s Top 100 Book Bestseller list, &
notched Amazon #1 Bestseller status. Her latest release, Island Affair, made
it onto O, The Oprah Magazine’s “28 of the Best Beach Reads of Summer 2020”
list. Priscilla earned her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill
University and currently serves as adjunct faculty in the program while also
teaching the online class “Romance Writing” for ed2go. She’s a
self-professed romance genre junkie, who’s also a sports fan, beach lover,
Zumba aficionado, and hammock nap connoisseur. Follow her at
prisoliveras.com and on social media via @prisoliveras and https://www.facebook.com/prisoliveras.
Random circumstances brought them together. Love made them family.
Chef Stevie Fox isn’t just looking forward to a luxurious holiday celebrating her sister’s Christmas wedding, she needs it. A difficult year has her brain bursting and her heart starving. A menu of late-night chats, lots of laughter, and tons of pampering with her beloved foster sisters and Maddie, the woman who made them a family fifteen years ago, promises the nourishment she craves.
But then her sister’s fiancé calls off the wedding, and Stevie’s dreams of a restorative vacation and a love story that actually works out go up in smoke. Heartbroken and simmering with anger on her sister’s behalf, Stevie agrees with her family to stick to their holiday plans to show support.
Throwing oil on her fiery emotions, Stevie runs into her old high school flame and long-cooled feelings boil over. She’s determined to put a lid on them, however. Jackson Bassett may be full of zest and passion, but she’s been scalded too many times.
If you’re a fan of small towns, heartwarming holiday romance stories, second chances, and furry dog friends, you’ll fall in love with Stevie and her soul sisters in CHRISTMAS DREAMS, Book 5 of Soul Sisters at Cedar Mountain Lodge, from USA Today bestselling author Ev Bishop.
Don’t miss a Soul Sisters book – download them all today!
Book 1: Christmas Sisters – perma-FREE prologue book
Book 2: Christmas Kisses by Judith Keim
Book 3: Christmas Wishes by Tammy L. Grace
Book 4: Christmas Hope by Violet Howe
Book 5: Christmas Dreams by Ev Bishop
Book 6: Christmas Rings by Tess Thompson
About the Author
Ev Bishop is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author, best known for her small-town contemporary romance series, River’s Sigh B & B. Readers describe her books as “full of humor, love and wisdom,” set in places “where breathtaking scenery and the magic of love are the best medicine for the soul.”
When Ev’s nose isn’t in a book or her fingers aren’t on her keyboard, you’ll find her with her family and dogs or playing outside, usually at the lake or in an overgrown garden somewhere.
She loves any and all garden related talk and work, cooking (and eating!), and making all sorts of random things – especially out of upcycled or reclaimed items.
She hopes you love Stevie Fox in CHRISTMAS DREAMS as much as she does and that you’ll catch up with her, Maddie, and the other three soul sisters, in the rest of the Soul Sisters at Cedar Mountain Lodge series.