I bet you’re all looking forward to Halloween? My office is throwing a party in a pub, promising games, food, drinks and “scary” cocktails. Whilst I doubt they mean the 100% proof rice liquor that once saw me waking up dazed in a rice paddy in Bali (true story) I’m still not sure I’ll go this year. I’d have to rummage into boxes deep at the back of my storage cupboard to find my cloak and witch’s corset… and even if I did, I doubt the corset would fit. Hey, I ate a lot of cheese in lockdown, what can I say?
Anyway, maybe I’ll decide on that later, but for now I’m more excited about CHRISTMAS!
Well because, for the first time in my life, I will be part of a box set! And I don’t mean the part that jumps out of a decorated gift parcel in another ill-fitting piece of seasonal apparel. I mean a Harlequin box set.
Check it out.
How cool is it that my words – all fifty-thousand of those wintery babies – get to dwell amongst the snow-covered greatness of Alison Roberts and Louisa Heaton? It’s like Christmas came early.
Here’s the premise of my first Christmas romance, WHITE CHRISTMAS WITH HER MILLIONAIRE DOC.
Can Christmas together mend their broken hearts?
Montana Ski-resort owner and single dad, Dr Jax doubts the new locum from NYC can survive five minutes in his busy clinic, let alone two months! Until dedicated Dr Ophelia’s kindness towards his son thaws a heart that’s been frozen since his wife died.
Yet Ophelia must return to her own reality and, no matter how tempted, a just-for-Christmas romance can’t lead to forever… can it?
And here is a sneaky snippet, the meet-cute, I guess you’d call it.
Enjoy lovely people, and whether you’re more pumped up for Halloween or Christmas, I hope you have yourself some seriously happy holidays.
The teenage girl at the coffee cart in the airport took seven minutes to make her latte. It was almost amusing, watching how she did it with such pride, at a pace that wouldn’t much rival a snail’s. She’d be fired for being that slow in Brooklyn.
Ophelia spun around at the voice, and promptly had her words snatched away by her sudden intake of breath. He was much taller than she’d expected.
‘Jax Clayborn,’ she managed, adjusting her hat and matching scarf. His dark almond eyes studied her with the same depth and intensity that had stirred her up in their video call, but it reached inside her now on a whole different level. Jax was as striking as she remembered, but he was all about presence too, commanding the attention of everyone who passed, especially the women.
‘It’s so nice of you to come pick me up.’ She watched him remove one glove, then took his bare outstretched hand. Big, she noted, like my father’s hands.
Tufts of his dark hair flicked outwards from his beanie hat, and when he clamped his palm firmly to hers, something told her she should wake up now and pay attention. It was the strangest feeling. It totally caught her off guard as he studied her eyes up close.
‘Shall we?’ he said. He pushed a stuffed bear into her hands and then bent to pick up her suitcase.
‘What’s this?’ she asked, turning it over in amusement.
‘A welcome gift. Everyone gets one.’
The air was freezing outside. A dark cloud promised more snow. Craggy white-peaked mountains framed Jax like a moving painting as he carried her case towards a huge white truck in the parking lot. Damn, he looked good in those jeans, she thought. He was even seriously pulling off a flannel shirt under his ski jacket—not an easy task for any man.
He caught her eye as he flipped the trunk on the shiny four-wheel drive. ‘Again, my apologies for being late, Doctor, I was out on the slopes, then I got the call about the bear attack…’
‘A bear attack?’ she echoed.
Jax lifted her suitcase into the back as if it were nothing but a feather and flicked the red scarf she’d tied around the suitcase handles. ‘I wouldn’t go waving this colour around here. Unless you want to attract that bear right into your room.’
She swallowed. ‘I’ll remember that.’
The first step up into the truck was almost knee height. Ophelia placed the stuffed bear on the seat first and tried to climb in gracefully. Jax hovered behind her to make sure she wouldn’t fall—he was probably fighting the instinct to make a comment about her rather impractical high-heeled boots, she thought.
‘I like the heated seats, nice touch,’ she told him, self-awareness making her hot.
‘I liked them too, last time I broke down in a minus-thirty snowstorm,’ he remarked.
When he dropped to the leather seat behind the wheel and closed the door, she still hadn’t managed to fasten her seat belt.
‘Need help with that?’
She stopped breathing as the smooth sleeve of his padded winter coat slid a millimetre above her lap. His fingers made a split-second job of clinking the chunky seat belt into place, and there it was.
His wedding ring.
Disappointment surprised her but there was something in Jax’s expression as he spotted her clocking the ring that stunned her into looking away. She knew that kind of emotional pain very well indeed. A bad divorce?
No, he’d likely have taken the ring off if that was it. It was more than that, something worse.
Something had happened to his wife.
‘So, where did you say this bear attack took place?’ she asked when the silence during the drive got too heavy. He didn’t seem too chatty. She was aware of his every slight movement in the driver’s seat, the way his eyes scanned the mirrors and the roadsides intently, as if he was expecting a grizzly to pounce at any moment.
‘Guy got unlucky out on the Trout Camp Trail… Eagle Peaks Mountain Club community, slightly northwest of Sunset Range.’
The geographical information meant nothing to her. She was still thrown from seeing that look in his eyes, the same one she’d seen all too often in the mirror… She’d know the face of grief on anyone. What had happened to his wife? Jax was older than her, maybe by a decade, but being widowed at his age would be grossly unfair, not to mention tough.
‘Seems like it was a pretty surprise encounter,’ Jax continued. ‘Pretty is probably the wrong word for it. Poor guy had to crawl up to the road after the bear left him for dead.’
She winced. ‘That’s…terrible.’
‘The ranger up there found him. He thought it was weird that some guy was taking a break, just sitting in the snow. Then he saw the blood everywhere. Guy couldn’t speak but he scratched out “BEAR” in the snow with a stick.’
Ophelia put a hand to her mouth. ‘God, I can’t even…’
‘The fire department brought him to us, but we sent him to Willow Crest Trauma. The lacerations were beyond our team’s capabilities to fix on-site. He had puncture wounds on his face, and all down his back. Slashes all up his arms and stomach, and you don’t want to know what those claws can do to a man’s—’
‘I’m pretty sure I can imagine.’ Ophelia hoped she didn’t look as horrified as she felt. She thought she’d seen it all in New York, but never a bear attack. ‘I can’t imagine it, actually,’ she admitted. ‘It’s just too horrendous.’ What sort of job had she walked into?
‘Don’t worry, this kind of thing is very rare. I didn’t mean to scare you. I’ll give you a tour if you like, show you where not to go. Are you going to open that, by the way?’
Ophelia held the stuffed bear up to face her. ‘This?’
Obediently she dug inside the bear’s belly to find a clasp. Pulling out the aerosol container inside, she held it up over the dash. ‘Bear spray. Are you serious?’
‘If you need it, start from the feet, right up to the head. And if that doesn’t work…’ He reached across her knees again, and she caught a whiff of his scent, no cologne, something primal and musky that was all his. It left her breathing in expectantly, wanting more. Pulling the glove compartment open, he revealed loose rags, a few sticks of gum…and a gun.
Ophelia froze. ‘Have you ever actually used that?’
He seemed to contemplate her question. ‘I wouldn’t carry it if I didn’t need it.’
‘So, you have, then.’
He snapped the compartment shut, and his almond eyes narrowed behind the wheel. ‘We’re not at the top of the food chain out here, Ophelia. No matter what happens, we all respect that. But we always shoot as a warning, never to kill. I can teach you how to use a gun for protection.’
‘I probably won’t take you up on that.’
‘As you wish.’
When she looked at him, he was smiling faintly, as if she amused him. He’d probably laugh out loud if she mentioned her own attempts at self-defence, the Taekwondo classes in an old gym hall in Brooklyn that she’d given up on after only three weeks. She shuffled in her seat. How was he affecting her like this?
For more… and you know you want more, readers, you can pre-order WHITE CHRISTMAS WITH HER MILLIONAIRE DOC here.