Monday, September 30, 2019

Book Review: The Amish Christmas Matchmaker by Vannetta Chapman

The Amish Christmas Matchmaker by Vannetta Chapman



Publisher & Release: Love Inspired, October 1, 2019

Time and setting:  Present Day, Goshen Indiana

Genre: Amish Romance

Length: 224 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Sweetheart

Rating:  3.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

She’ll find him a wife for Christmas…Which of these Indiana Amish Brides is next?

With her wedding business thriving, Annie Kauffmann could never leave her beloved Amish community. So when handsome Amish cowboy Levi Lapp tries to convince her father to move the family to Texas, she must put a stop to it. If Annie finds Levi a wife, he might forget his dream of moving…but can she keep from falling for him herself?

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Vikki’s Musings

While searching titles on Net-Galley, I found The Amish Christmas Matchmaker, and the book description appealed to me. I requested it from the publisher, and they were kind enough to approve my request to read and review. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

This is the first book I’ve read by Vanetta Chapman, and it’s a heartwarming tale of a young couple who must find their way past a huge obstacle. Annie Kaufmann has a thriving business with her close, English friend as wedding planners. 

Levi Lapp arrives in Goshen. He convinces families to join him in Texas and form a new Amish community. Annie’s father, ever the dreamer, is eager to agree, and even her brothers find it appealing, as are several others in their community. Land is expensive in Goshen and it will be difficult to acquire additional land. The land in Texas is much more affordable.  

While Annie is heartbroken, when her plan to Levi to find him a girl to hold him in Goshen, fails. She knows she must stay in Goshen. After all, she has a thriving business. A strong attraction between Annie and Levi develops as she plays matchmaker, but since he plans to go to Texas, it can never be allowed to grow. Can Levi and Annie find a way beyond their differences or are they too great to overcome?

This is a romance between two individuals whose strong faith guides their decisions. The pacing is a tad slow in the first half of the book, but it moves better later on. There is no doubt that Ms. Chapman has studied the Amish community and their language. She uses just enough to give it a strong sense of what it is like in an Amish community. I enjoyed that aspect of the story a great deal.

Annie Kaufmann’s character is different from most Amish heroines. While her faith and family are very important to her, she’s also driven to succeed with her business and will not consider setting it aside when her family makes the decision to move. Her stubbornness keeps her from seeing what God has in store for her. It took me a good part of the book to warm to her character, but by the end of the book, I ached for her hurting heart.

Levi Lapp is a great hero. I liked him from the beginning. His drive to honor what he sees as God’s will in his life is admirable. His passion for his goals is very persuasive, and I was not surprised when he convinced many to join him. He wants Annie but knows she will never come with him. I felt his pain and confusion when he realizes, he must choose between his life long plan to move to Texas and the girl he has grown to love.

The romance between Levi and Annie is sweet and typical for this sub-genre. The part where Annie tries her hand at matchmake is amusing. I enjoyed how their love story played out, and I truly wanted them to find their happy ending. 

If you enjoy Amish fiction with engaging characters and an interesting plot, then you will like The Amish Christmas Matchmaker. While the Christmas theme is not strong in this book, it’s still a heartwarming story. There’s a good bit of conflict between the main characters, which is resolved in a most satisfying way. Happy reading!

Author Bio:

The first thing you need to know about me is that I write Fiction full of GRACE.  Every plot is different. The characters change. Some of my books are mysteries, others are novellas, and some are romances. But they all are stories of light, hope, and truth. Stories that at least for a moment touch the deepest places in our heart.
Tales that whisper hope. That speak of family and community. That remind us of God and His love.
What do I write? If I had to reduce it to four words, I suppose I’d say I write Fiction full of GRACE.

I hold a BA and MA degree in English, and I am proud to be represented by Mary Sue Seymour, AAR. I have published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines and have received over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups.  I am honored to be a member of Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Faith Hope and Love.
I live and teach in the Texas hill country with my husband, cats, and a rather large herd of deer. Our four children have flown the nest; however, we are fortunate that they all live close enough to visit.
I have always felt that my faith was at the very center of who and what I am, and I am thrilled beyond words to be able to now write about something that is so near to my heart. At various times I have served as a pianist, teacher, church secretary, and worship team member. While living in the Dallas area, I served as an adjunct professor of English Literature at Dallas Baptist University. When we moved to a small town in Central Texas, I continued teaching for a few years, but I now write full-time and I play the keyboard in our church’s praise band.
My grandfather was born in Albion, Pennsylvania, and I am currently researching whether I might have Amish roots.

December 2013, I was honored to be featured on the ACFW page. In that interview I discuss how I came to write Amish fiction, and why I continue to do so. You can read that interview here. I was also featured on the ACFW page when I first began writing. That piece speaks to the amount of grace in my life. I’m enormously grateful that God is so willing to give each and every one of us more than one chance, more than two chances, but in fact a multitude of chances …
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Friday, September 27, 2019

Book Review: Highland Jewel by May McGoldrick

Highland Jewel by May McGoldrick



Publisher & Release: St. Martin’s Press, September 24, 2019

Time and setting:  Regency, Scotland 

Genre: Historical Romance

Length: 313 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Flame

Rating:  5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

A REBEL AT HEART
Maisie Murray’s sweet, docile exterior masks the courageous spirit of a firebrand determined to champion women’s suffrage with like-minded friends. But fighting for her principles has swept her directly into harm’s way—and into the arms of a man she cannot resist. 
A WARRIOR BY BLOOD
A trained officer with the Royal Highland Regiment, Niall Campbell has spent his life serving the Crown. Battle-weary and searching for peace, he nothing to do with trouble—until he meets Maisie. But unless Niall and Maisie can find a way to stand up to the destructive forces that threaten to divide them, long-buried secrets and political schemes are destined to stand in the way of the glorious love they’ve found…

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Vikki’s Musings

Highland Jewel is the second book in May McGoldrick’s Royal Highlander series. When I received an invitation from the publisher, via Net-Galley, to read and review, the book description sounded fascinating, so I eagerly accepted. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

Oh, my! Highland Jewel is an outstanding Scottish historical romance, but it’s so much more. I thoroughly enjoyed the historical aspects of this book. This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. McGoldrick, but it will certainly not be the last. Her writing is vivid, and her detail is amazing. I felt as if I had been dropped right into the middle of the action! The emotions of the characters are so strong, I could feel them deeply.

Maisie Murray’s character is not your typical Regency heroine. She is way before her time and is willing to risk all to stand up for her beliefs. There is nothing meek or mild about her, even though she has presented that demeanor to her family, but it’s to protect them. 

Niall Campbell is a great hero. He’s a roughened officer, recently retired from active duty, looking for a new place. He’s not sure what he wants to do, but he knows it’s not politics. I enjoyed his personal journey to find his way as an honorable man in a world filled with political machinations.

The romance between Maisie and Niall is lovely. While it isn’t blazingly sexual as so many are in Regency romances today, it is most satisfying, if not more so. It’s deep and abiding and both characters are determined to protect the other. I truly wanted them to find a happy ending.

If you enjoy historical romance with plenty of substance and detail, then you will love Highland Jewel as much as I did. I can’t wait to read the next book which comes out in March 2020. Now I must go back and read the first book in this amazing series. Happy reading!

Author Bio:


May McGoldrick
USA Today Bestselling Author
(a.k.a. Nikoo & Jim McGoldrick)
www.MayMcGoldrick.com 

USA Today Bestselling Authors Nikoo and Jim wrote their first May McGoldrick romance using historical figures that Jim researched while earning a PhD in sixteenth-century Scottish and English literature. Nikoo, a mechanical engineer, is a born storyteller. She is all about characters and feeling. Jim is about action and sense of place. Together, they have crafted over forty fast-paced, conflict-filled historical and contemporary novels and two works of nonfiction under the pseudonyms May McGoldrick and Jan Coffey.

Their stories have touched the hearts and minds of millions of readers all over the world. Their work has been translated into over a dozen languages, and counting. Because of their success, they have been frequent guests on local and national radio and television. They travel regularly, speaking at writers' conferences, libraries, classrooms, and book group gatherings. 

For the past decade, Nikoo and Jim have been conducting workshops bringing 21st century collaboration and writing skills to students and teachers. 

These popular and prolific authors write historical romance, suspense, mystery, and young adult novels. They are four-time Rita Finalists and the winners of numerous awards for their writing, including the Romantic Times Magazine Reviewers' Choice Award, the Daphne DeMaurier Award, three NJRW Golden Leaf Awards, two Holt Medallions, and the Connecticut Press Club Award for Best Fiction. Their work is included in the Popular Culture Library collection of the National Museum of Scotland. 

Nikoo & Jim now reside in Southern California where Nikoo writes and Jim gazes out at the Pacific (Nikoo's side of the story (-: )

Nikoo and Jim love hearing from their readers and can be contacted through their website. Visit their website for family trees of their books and latest giveaways. 

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Friday, September 20, 2019

Book Review: Cowboy Christmas Homecoming by June Faver


Cowboy Christmas Homecoming by June Faver



Publisher & Release: Sourcebooks, September 24, 2019

Time and setting:  Present Day, 

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 352 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Flame

Rating:  3.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

This cowboy's finally coming home for Christmas
Zach Garrett is home from war, haunted by PTSD, trying to fit in to what has become an alien world. With the holidays fast approaching, his uncle Big Jim Garrett offers him a place on the family ranch. Zach isn't sure he's up for a noisy, boisterous Garrett Christmas...until he meets beautiful Stephanie Gale, and all his protests go up in flames.
Firefighter and EMT Stephanie Gale is ready for anything. She's got her life under control...until she locks eyes with Zack and realizes her heart's in a whole new kind of danger. But with a little help from Zack's long-lost army dog, maybe he and Stephanie will be able to make this a Christmas of new beginnings after all.
Dark Horse Cowboys series:
Do or Die Cowboy (Book 1)
Hot Target Cowboy (Book 2)
When to Call a Cowboy (Book 3)
Cowboy Christmas Gold (Book 4)
Praise for Do or Die Cowboy:
"Guaranteed melt-your-heart romance."—Romancing the Book
"Heartwarming...a very entertaining story with some surprises."—Harlequin Junkie

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Vikki’s Musings

This is the first book I’ve read by June Faver. Cowboy Christmas Homecoming is book 4 in the Dark Horse Cowboys series. When I received an invitation from the publisher, via Net-Galley, the book description appealed to me, so I agreed to read and review in advance of publication. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

The premise for Cowboy Christmas Homecoming is intriguing, and the characters are engaging. The pacing is good because the story has a good bit of action. There are plenty of suspenseful scenes that kept me engaged from the beginning to the end.

Stephanie Gale’s character is fiercely passionate about her work as a firefighter, but underneath, she yearns to be a mother. She rescued two little children who have lost their mother, then their father had abused them. They are in state custody, and she wants to adopt them, but the caseworker believes they would be better off with a two-parent family. I could feel her pain when it looks like she will not get to adopt the children.

Zach Garrett is a tortured hero who suffers from PTSD, after he loses several members of his team. He feels a lot of survivor’s guilt, to the point that he left the military when he’d expected to make it his career. He’s struggling to fit in with his uncle’s family. He’s lost a lot. His mother sold the farm he’d expected to come back to when his father died, and now he must find a new way to make his way.

The romance between Stephanie and Zach moves incredibly fast, and I must admit, it felt unrealistic to me. They go on one date, and then they fall into bed together. Although neither characters were into flings. Zach’s not been with a woman for many years, and Stephanie’s always held herself back from entanglements after she had her heart bruised. It all just moves too fast.

Now, the part of the story involving the children was very appealing. The children were adorable, and Stephanie’s generous heart called to me. I also enjoyed the interaction between her and the other women in Zach’s family.

If you enjoy Christmas stories with large family gatherings, and a suspenseful plot, then you will enjoy Cowboy Christmas Homecoming. While this wasn’t a strong, emotionally fulfilling love story, the other aspects of this book made it an entertaining reading experience. Happy reading!


EXCERPT:

Stephanie Gayle looked at the check. “Oh, Big Jim. This is so generous. You’re going to make sure the children have a nice Christmas.”
Big Jim shrugged. “It’s the least I can do for those poor kids.” He looked around the room, his gaze falling on a little red-haired girl and a blonde girl, maybe a little older. “I think all children need to be loved.”
I feel the same way.”
Big Jim’s face morphed from sentimental to grim. “How are those two kids you saved? The ones whose mother got killed.”
Stephanie tried to control the tremor in her voice. “They—they’re still at the children’s center. They don’t have any family members willing to take them in.”
Well, that’s a damned shame.”
She nodded. “Rafe Neeley, the step-father...He’s been arraigned and bound over for trial.” The image of Rafe’s angry face as he screamed threats made her shudder.
Good,” Big Jim pronounced. “I hope that sumbitch gets what’s coming to him. I can’t imagine a man hurting a woman or a child...much less murdering the woman you’re married to.”
Stephanie’s throat tightened. “Hope they put him away for a hundred years. The children...they witnessed their mother being murdered. They—they were so traumatized.”
 Big Jim let out a snort and reached in the back pocket of his Wranglers. He produced a worn leather billfold, and pulled out a couple of hundred dollar bills. “Here ya’ go. Buy them two angels a little something special...and let me know what happens to them. I hope they wind up with some good family.”
She swallowed hard. “Thanks, Big Jim. I’ll find something special for them.” The words ‘some good family’ were stuck in her craw.
Come have a cup of coffee, Stephanie.” Big Jim motioned her into the kitchen.
Stephanie took a seat at the counter while Big Jim filled two cups with coffee. He set one in front of her and leaned on the other side of the counter.
This was where Colt’s voice could be heard from the front of the house. “Hello! Where is everyone? I brought my brother from another mother.”
Back here,” Big Jim called.
Misty and Mark led the way, both grinning. “We got him,” Mark announced.
Colton came next, followed by a tall, muscular man wearing camouflage gear. This guy appeared to be on edge, like he’d just been plucked from a battle ground. His gaze took in the entire interior and everyone in the large kitchen. When he locked eyes with Stephanie, she felt a jolt like an electric shock. He was a Garrett.
It was the Garrett eyes. Those amazing, smokey turquoise eyes, ringed with black lashes. They held her in thrall for a moment before releasing her.
Big Jim let out a yelp. Zachery Garrett! Come here, boy!” Big Jim held out a hand, and when the newcomer reached for it, Big Jim dragged him closer and clasped him in a man hug. “Dang! It’s been a long time...and look how you’ve grown.”
Yes, sir. It’s been forever.”
Big Jim pounded him on the back, and then pulled back to look at him. “I’m glad you’re here, son. We all are. Just in time for Christmas.”
Glad to be here, sir.” His gaze flicked back to Stephanie.
Where are my manners?” Big Jim asked. “This fine young man is my nephew, Zach Garrett. He’s just been discharged from the US Army.”
Stephanie smiled. Nephew, huh? Garrett through and through.
Big Jim gestured toward her. “And this lovely young lady is Stephanie Gayle. Believe it or not, she’s a firefighter.”
Stephanie gave a one-sided grin and rolled her eyes. “Why do people always find it difficult to think of me as a firefighter?”
Because we always think of firefighters as big burly men,” Misty said. “One has to see you in action to know what a bad ass you are.”
This caused a round of laughter, all except this Zach guy. He just continued to stare at her as though he was committing her to memory, molecule-by-molecule. It was unsettling, to say the least, but there was something else...something simmering just below the surface.
Stephanie swallowed hard, something that felt like a roll of razor wire at the back of her throat. She straightened her shoulders, refusing to be intimidated by his scrutiny. Who is this guy, anyway?
Good to meet you, ma’am,” Zach said.
Ma’am?She nodded and offered a hand, which he wrapped with a large, baseball mitt size paw that was warm and very rough.
Colton slapped Zach on the shoulder. “C’mon, bro. Let’s get you settled in.” Colt shouldered the huge duffle bag and headed off toward the room he planned to settle Zach into.
Zach hit her with his laser beam eyes again, gave a little nod, before turning to follow his cousin. Misty and Mark trailed after them.
He’s had a rough time,” Big Jim said. “My brother died while Zach was deployed so he never got to say goodbye to his father.”
Oh, that’s so sad,” Stephanie said.
He’s a good boy. He’s going to be just fine.”
Stephanie agreed. Fine. That pretty much summed up the hottest guy she had laid eyes on in a long time...and she worked with the hottest men in the county.

***
Excerpted from Cowboy Christmas Homecoming by June Faver. © 2019 byJune Faver. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

Author Bio

June Faver loves Texas, from the Gulf coast to the panhandle, from the Mexican border to the Piney Woods. Her novels embrace the heart and soul of the state and the larger-than-life Texans who romp across her pages. A former teacher and healthcare professional, she lives and writes in the Texas Hill Country.



Author Websitewww.junefaver.com

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Book Review: A dash of Christmas by Samantha Chase


A Dash of Christmas by Samantha Chase



Publisher & Release: Sourcebooks, September 24, 2019

Time and setting:  Present Day, NYC and New Orleans

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 352 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Flame

Rating:  4.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

With a dash of Christmas magic...
Two people who have spent most of their lives being rivals...
Learn a little something about following their hearts...
Carter Montgomery broke the family mold when he went to culinary school. Now a successful restauranteur, he's at a crossroads: should he continue on his successful path or look for a new challenge? What he needs is time alone to think things through. But his matchmaking family has other ideas...
Emery Monaghan's no-good fiancĂ© has embroiled her in scandal and she needs a way out. When mentor Eliza Montgomery offers her a refuge, she's relieved—until she realizes that the deal means rubbing elbows with Eliza's son Carter—Emery's childhood nemesis.
The Montgomery Brothers series:
Wait for Me (Book 1)
Trust in Me (Book 2)
Stay With Me (Book 3)
More of Me (Book 4)
Return to You (Book 5)
Meant for You (Book 6)
I'll Be There (Book 7)
Until There Was Us (Book 8)
Suddenly Mine (Book 9)

Praise for Samantha Chase:
“Utter rock star perfection. I dare you to stop reading until the end.”—Rachel Van Dyken, New York TimesBestselling Author, for One More Moment
“Chase’s three-dimensional characters leap off the page, encouraging readers to sit down, put their feet up, and enjoy...charming.”—Publishers Weeklyfor Until There Was Us
“Chase just gets better and better.”—Booklist

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IndieBound: http://bit.ly/2IRHqZT
  
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Vikki’s Musings

A Dash of Christmas is another delightfully emotional romance by Samantha Chase. When I received an invitation from the publisher, via Net-Galley, to read and review, the book description appealed to me, so I accepted. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

Wow, what a great Christmas romance. I loved the characters and the plot. The writing is emotional but without too much angst. The pacing is steady and fits this story perfectly. The dialogue is real.

Emery Monaghan is an endearing heroine. She’s been embroiled in scandal, not of her making, and just wants to hide away for a while and lick her wounds. When a kind woman offers her a chance to get away and be a part of her church cookbook, she eagerly accepted. I could feel her pain and humiliation, and the betrayal from her parents who side with her ex-fiancĂ©e. 

Carter Montgomery is a beta hero. He’s focused on his restaurants and is determined to open another one a bit different from his other three. Only, something is stifling his creativity, and the project is plagued by issues. The last thing he needs is to be placed in an awkward position when he shows up at his family’s townhouse in the city and finds Emery in residence, a woman who has always wanting to one up him. I could feel his frustration regarding his mother’s machinations.

The romance between Emery and Carter ignites slowly. After all, they’ve known each other since they were in elementary school. There’s always been the desire to beat out the other. Neither ever imagined that their bickering actually concealed an attraction they discover for each other. I truly wanted them to find their happy ending.

If you enjoy a Christmas romance that has substance with engaging characters and an interesting plot, then you will love A Dash of Christmas as much as I did. I haven’t read the other books in this series, but this is easily a stand-alone. I plan to try another one of the books in this series. Happy reading!

EXCERPT:

“Don’t go.”
His voice was raw and it wasn’t hard to tell there was a battle waging within him. Normally, Emery enjoyed watching Carter squirm and struggle, but for some reason seeing him this emotional after a call with his mother affected her in a way she didn’t expect.
She felt compassion for him—a need to comfort him and tell him it was going to be all right. 
She made her way toward him. “I think it would be best for everyone if I did. You didn’t deserve to be blindsided like this, and I’m sorry it happened this way. I truly believed you were aware of what was going on and you were coming here specifically to work on the book. I had no idea your trip here had nothing to do with it or that you were so against giving it more attention.”
Carter’s shoulders sagged a little. “At any other time…”
“I know,” she said softly, moving a little closer. “I get it. Hey, there isn’t anything I can do about whatever else you’re dealing with, but on this particular subject, I can. I’ll work with the files you sent your mother and I’ll make it into something closer to what she’s looking for, okay? And in the meantime, I’ll stay out of your way so you can have at least one night’s peace.”
They stood in silence for a long time, and as much as Emery wanted to pack and get out of his way, she couldn’t seem to make herself move. In all the years they had known one another, they had bickered and poked fun at each other and essentially gone out of their own way to make the other miserable. It was what they did. It was comfortable. But right now, she couldn’t think of a single snarky or antagonistic comment.
And that freaked her out.
Swallowing hard, she took a step back. And then another. Next thing she knew, she had spun and was walking back to her bedroom, mildly trembling. She went straight to her closet and pulled out her weekender bag. Knowing she wasn’t going to be going out or doing anything other than vegging in her hotel room, she walked over to her dresser and pulled out a couple of pairs of yoga pants, a few T-shirts, a pair of pajamas, and a pair of shorts and tossed them in the bag. Next, she opened her lingerie drawer and was pulling out a handful of panties when a large male hand closed over hers. Gasping with surprise, she turned and found herself face-to-face with Carter.
While they both held her panties.
Awesome.
Emery wanted to be outraged—or at the very least annoyed that he had invaded her space when she was clearly trying to be the bigger person here, but for some reason she couldn’t seem to make herself speak or react.
What was happening to her?
“This is crazy,” he said, his voice deep and low and borderline hypnotic. 
So he felt it, too? This sudden, crazy pull toward one another? The change in the air around them?
“I already said I didn’t want you to go, Em,” he went on and that’s when she realized what he was talking about.
Forcing her gaze away, she carefully pulled her hand and underwear from his. “I think it’s for the best.” Then she moved away, tossing her garments in the weekender bag along with the rest of her clothes. For a few minutes, she busied herself collecting odds and ends—her laptop, her e-reader, her iPod—before going into the bathroom and grabbing her toothbrush, makeup, and brushes. Anything else she needed she’d get from housekeeping. When she walked back out into the bedroom, she found Carter sitting quietly on her bed.
And her weekender bag emptied.
Okay, nowshe was outraged.
“Seriously, Carter?” she cried. “Why can’t you just let me do this?”
He shrugged. “I already told you. It’s not necessary.”
“To me it is! There’s no reason for me to stay here. And, might I remind you, I’ve been a thorn in your side since we were kids!” 
It pleased her that he paled a little at having his words thrown back at him.
“I would think you’d be thankful that I was leaving,” she said, hating the tremor in her voice. “One less thing for you to worry about.”
The curse that flew out of his mouth followed by a huff of annoyance didn’t really surprise her. This was them. This was the relationship they had. And honestly, she preferred this to the strained silence and whatever it was that she was feeling just minutes ago.
Carter stood and walked over until they were toe to toe. “What I said to my mother,” he began and then stopped. “What I mean is, that was said in the heat of the moment and really, it couldn’t have been news to you. I’ve been telling you that to your face since we were twelve.”
“Eleven, but…whatever,” she corrected and smirked when he growled with frustration.
“That! That right there is why I said it! Can’t you just let some things go?”
Me?” she cried. “How about you? I was being the bigger person here! I was putting your feelings first, and where did that get me, huh? I should be in a cab on my way to a hotel with room service, but instead I’m here arguing with you again! Why couldn’t you just let me leave?”
They both instantly fell silent and Emery felt herself holding her breath while she waited for his answer.
“What’s the matter?” she finally asked. “Is it possible the arrogant Carter Montgomery has nothing to say for himself for the first time in his life?”
Yeah, she was taunting him, but…she needed to. Needed things to be like they always were. If she didn’t get them back on solid ground—back on the familiar turf of a lifelong rivalry—she wouldn’t know what to do. For years she’d been aware of Carter as a person. She couldn’t deal with suddenly being aware of him as a man.
When his only response was a slight tick in his jaw, she figured she’d poke the bear a little more. “Did you burn the sauce? Is that why we’re not eating yet? Or maybe you realized all that pretentious crap you bought was no better than grabbing a couple of slices from the pizzeria on the corner.” She noted he seemed to be almost inflating before her eyes—his posture straightened, his shoulders seemed to grow broader…
Go big or go home, right?
Leaning in, she said, “I bet you really don’t know howto make homemade pizza. At least not goodhomemade pizza.” She let out a devious little laugh. “Probably thought I would be too naive to know the difference. You probably could have served up one of my frozen pizzas and I wouldn’t know the difference.”
He was breaking molars now, no doubt.
“Not that it matters. I’ve got some microwave popcorn I can have for dinner, along with the last brownie. That’s the kind of stuff I can count on—and will probably be a lot more enjoyable.”
This time when Emery tried to move away, Carter’s large hand on her arm stopped her.
She had to hide her smile of satisfaction. “Problem?” she asked innocently.
“You’ve got a real smart mouth, Emery, but you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”
“Oh, really? Care to explain?”
But he shook his head. “As a matter of fact, no. I don’t.”
She shrugged. “Fine, whatever. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my dinner awaits.”
“If you so much as think of making popcorn for dinner, I’ll strangle you,” he said, tugging her closer.
When she leaned in until they were nose to nose, she said, “I dare you.”
“Such a smart mouth,” he said right before he claimed it.

***
Excerpted fromA Dash of Christmas by Samantha Chase. © 2019 by Samantha Chase. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.


Author Bio:


Samantha Chase is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller of contemporary romance. She released her debut novel in 2011 and currently has more than forty titles under her belt! When she's not working on a new story, she spends her time reading romances, playing way too many games of Scrabble or Solitaire on Facebook, wearing a tiara while playing with her sassy pug Maylene...oh, and spending time with her husband of 27 years and their two sons in North Carolina.

Author Website:www.chasing-romance.com

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