Saturday, December 6, 2014

Blitz : Secret Santa

Secret Santas Holiday Collection

Includes: Calista Fox, Erin Quinn, Mary Leo
Publication date: November 2014
Genres: Adult, Romance
Goodreads: Click

Kissing Kris Kringle

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In the spirit of giving and paying it forward, all of the author’s proceeds for Kissing Kris Kringle will be donated to The Animal Welfare League, an amazing organization dedicated to saving animals lives and working to improve the way they are treated and regarded by society.
Kris Kringle is just an average guy living in the tiny town of North Pole, Maine where Christmas isn’t just a holiday—it’s a way of life. But not for Kris. He might be named after the big guy in red, but Kris is more Scrooge than Santa.
Until he wakes up from a night of partying with his friends to find himself in possession of a Santa suit, a toy bag and a puppy. Kris soon discovers that he’s been relegated to Santa’s naughty list and there’s only one way to get his name removed….put on the suit and spread some cheer.
Lucky for Kris every cloud has a silver snowflake and his quest to get off that list lands him in the arms of the woman he’s been lusting after for years.
It takes a little magic, but Kris is about to get everything he didn’t even know he wanted for Christmas.

 He opened his bag of muffins and pulled the second one out, snagging doggy bagel number two for the puppy as well and tossing it down. Holly watched him suspiciously as he took a big bite. With a grin, he offered it to her.
“Want some?”
She almost smiled. “I mean it,” she warned. “If I hear any complaints, I’m going to….”
She trailed off and he sat calmly, eating his muffin and drinking his coffee.
Finally he prompted, “What? What are you going to do to me, Holly?”
He hadn’t meant it to sound so suggestive—okay, maybe he had—but he and Holly had been circling each other since junior high. Somehow they’d always managed to avoid connecting. He’d gone away to school and by the time he’d come back, she’d gone and gotten married for about a week and a half to some dick she’d met at Boston University. He’d met the guy when she’d brought him home. Kris hadn’t liked him on sight.
But as she stood there now in her boxy red sweater that tried to hide all her lush curves, her straight skirt that covered most of her shapely legs and those sensible heels, Kris wanted nothing more than to change the status quo between them. Except he was stuck in this damned Santa suit and who could take a man dressed like Santa Claus seriously? Especially when said man had been cursed with a name like Kris Kringle in real life?
As if she’d heard his thoughts, she shifted and a faint blush crept up her cheeks. “This is a bad idea,” she said. “I think you should take your muffins and your puppy and go home, Kris.”
“I’d really like to do that Holly,” he said. “But I can’t.”
She narrowed her eyes and leaned toward him. He got a whiff of perfume that smelled so good he wanted to wrap an arm around her and pull her closer. Hell, he wanted to wrap both arms around her and pull her right onto his jolly, old lap.
She frowned. “Are you drunk?”
“Nope.” Not anymore. He was stone cold sober now, like it or not.
His disclaimer seemed to do little to lighten her mood. She said, “You’re not on our payroll. You’re not covered by our insurance. If something happened… If someone tripped on the way up to see you. If you fell out of your chair—”
Kris choked on his coffee. “If I fell out of my chair?” he repeated.
“It could happen.”
He laughed and dammed if that ho, ho, ho didn’t boom out like fireworks on the Fourth of July. All around them people who’d been bustling by, wrapped in their own thoughts, faces strained with the burden of a holiday season without any cheer—all of them stopped and stared.
“Jeez,” Holly said. “That was impressive. But it doesn’t change a thing.”
Actually, it did. Because in that instant, Kris once again had a glimmering memory from the night before.A voice, deep and merry, telling him he’d been a very naughty boy and that it was time to make amends. Disturbed and unsure now if it had been real or an alcoholic brain burp, Kris tried to follow the echo of the voice to its source but came up blank. In a town like this where holiday cheer lurked in every corner, everyone had a story about seeing Santa Claus. Some years the jolly fat guy was spotted daily, others only a time or two. But Kris could name at least a dozen people off the top of his head who claimed to have had conversations with Santa.

That didn’t mean he believed a damn one of them, though. Only kids and dotty old women believed in that crap.

Naughty St. Nick

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‘Tis the season for Christmas miracles…
Having landed himself on Santa’s Naughty List, Nick Santos is given a chance at redemption. Granted, he’s tasked with some daunting challenges—pimping Santa’s ride and fixing the town’s holiday bling in the once year-round Christmas Capital of the World, North Pole, Maine. But playing Secret Santa comes with some unexpected perks, like finally catching the eye of the woman who sparks his deepest desires, Vixen White.
Vixen has no idea what’s come over Nick this holiday season, but his good deeds around town help her to remember the magic of Christmas, long forgotten. And his sexy grin and a searing, stolen kiss under mistletoe have her wishing her dream of being Naughty St. Nick’s one and only will finally come true.
All she has to do…is believe.

 Vixen couldn’t remember the last time she’d smiled so much that her cheeks actually hurt. Yet, she couldn’t contain the grin, no matter what. That kiss Nick had given her was more potent than moonshine, intoxicating her and making her so warm and fuzzy inside that she’d had to change into a tank top and shorts when she’d returned home. Despite the slight chill in the air, she’d been burning up most of the night.
She’d left Nick with a smile on his face, too. And the promise of something electric and unexpected surrounding them both.
He hadn’t pushed her further, and she was grateful, needing a little time to process the change in the air, the shock of what had transpired between them. And the heat from that kiss—good Lord!
She was still giddy the next day as she wandered along Blitzen Street, noting that the storefront windows were all alight and filled with holiday displays. That was new.
Whoever had taken over as Santa was perched in the big, elaborate chair, listening to more wishes from the kids. And if Vixen weren’t mistaken, those children didn’t appear to be locals. In fact, the entire square was abuzz with activity and there were many faces she didn’t recognize.
The tourists had returned.
Her heart swelled. Tears prickled her eyes. Even the weather had turned frigid—she’d had to put on her jacket before leaving the house this morning. And the unbelievably delicious scent wafting from Sugar Plums was magic unto itself.
Vixen stood in the center of the square and absorbed the sights and sounds—including the perfectly timed It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas from the wandering group of carolers, all decked out in festive garb.
Indeed, it truly was looking a lot like Christmas. And Nick and his co-conspirators, whoever they were, deserved the full credit.
“This is so wonderful, isn’t it?”
Vixen turned at Jenny’s voice and smiled. Around a lump of emotion, she said, “I’d actually forgotten how sensational all of this was. Like I put it out of my mind as soon as my grandfather died and everyone stopped celebrating.”
“I know,” Jenny said, clearly feeling some strained emotions as well. “It’s been pretty painful for all of us. Traditions die hard, you know? We cling to them, especially when they’ve been such a huge part of our lives. Every day. With Mr. White and the endless holiday spirit, it was all we knew. So when it went away... It really went away.”
Vixen glanced around the square, then said, “What’s interesting, though, is that there are still some similarities—the tree, for example. Although, the lights have never blazed so bright. It’s stunning. And the new setup—putting Santa and his village in the square instead of keeping it all contained to the department store... I mean, he’s what this town is all about and for it to be showcased right here... That’s incredible. It’s impossible not to be sucked into Christmas all over again.”
“Yes,” Jenny said with a knowing smile that made Vixen wonder what she knew about the Secret Santas in town. “It’s sort of a new generation of North Pole, don’t you think?”
“That’s exactly what I think. And it’s gorgeous.”
“And still so perfect.” Jenny admired the festivities a moment longer, then said, “Oh! I almost forgot.” She handed over a small gift bag. “This is for you.”
Vixen eyed her curiously. “Our tradition is to exchange gifts with friends on Christmas Eve, family on Christmas Day.”
“Well, this isn’t from me, per se. And I think we’re seeing that traditions are meant to be broken. Or, at least, brought along with the changing times.”
Vixen couldn’t dispute that. She opened the bag and pulled out the box inside. Jenny took the bag to hold for her so Vixen could lift the lid. She peeled back delicate, silvery tissue paper and gasped.
“Those look divine,” she said with a dreamy sigh.
“There’s a card.”
It was tucked into the lid. Vixen extracted it.
For your sweet tooth. All you have to do is believe, Vix.
Vixen’s heart fluttered.

Romancing Rudy Raindear

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Rudy Raindear thought he’d left North Pole, Main in his rear-view mirror. Now, after several years, he’s returned to convince his beloved grandfather to retire and sell his struggling bakery, Sugar Plums – the linchpin in a potentially lucrative real estate deal – great for Rudy, devastating for the town.
But all is not what it seems in this magical Christmas town, especially after Rudy lands on Santa’s Naughty List. Suddenly Rudy’s nose is turning red for the tiniest of white lies and the one girl he wanted to impress, Jenny Bells, is on his case for trying to close Santa’s favorite bakery.
What’s a guy to do?
Start baking and just maybe Rudy can save the bakery, and convince Jenny that sometimes, being a little naughty, is oh-so nice.
That’s when it came to him. “Jenny Bells! You’re Jenny Bells from Donner Street. You were my very first kiss.”
“Good grief, how bad off are you?”
He chuckled, careful of any actual movement. “Apparently, pretty bad.” Then he stared at her for a moment as last night began to come into focus. “You were there, along with Kris and Nick, and some guy who looked a lot like the real Santa or was that a dream?”
“I don’t remember the Santa guy, but your buddies Kris and Nick were absolutely there. I came in at midnight with a plate of your grandfather’s cookies which you all devoured. Carol told me you kept buying rounds, and everybody kept drinking. I’m sure the guys are feeling just as bad as you do this morning.”
“Why aren’t you dying like the rest of us?”
“Somebody had to be the adult. After just one of those Christmas Bombs, I knew you three would never make it home if I didn’t drive. Besides, I’ve been living here in this attic ever since my apartment building went into foreclosure, so any way I can help out your grandfather, or his grandson, seemed like the right thing to do.”
“You live here?” He looked around at the long, narrow room and could tell she had transformed half of it into a livable, feminine space, but still . . . “Why the hell would you live here?”
She shrugged. “Your grandfather needed some help both in the bakery and around the house after your gram passed. I needed a place to live. It just made sense. He won’t let me pay rent, so I try to do the things he can’t.”
“I’m sure Gramps loves having you around, but doesn’t your day job get in the way?”
“Helping your grandfather is my day job. He’s teaching me how to bake Santa’s favorite cookie, or at least that’s the plan. We haven’t exactly gotten around to it yet. Gramps can’t remember the recipe, nor can he find your grandmother’s recipe book, but we’ve got ten days to go before Christmas. I’m sure we’ll figure something out by then.”
Rudy hoped to have the Smart-Mart deal locked-up by then.
He sneezed.
“Bless you,” she said.
“Thanks. Don’t you miss your own place? I mean if this is your room, it’s not very private for overnight guests.”
Rudy felt a mild pang of guilt for taking her bed, but on the other hand, he was over six feet tall and that sofa would never have been long enough.
“It’s a small town, remember? Not much guest action going on. Besides, I thought you’d have a room at the Inn, and when you didn’t, I had no choice but to bring you home.”
“You could have slept in bed with me. I wouldn’t have attacked you,” he lied. If he had awoken and been at all coherent, he probably would have tried it. Of course, he wasn’t about to tell her that. 
His nose suddenly itched. He tried to ignore it, but it tickled like a son of a bitch.
She threw him a little grin that told him there was no way in hell she would have climbed into bed with him. He had the distinct feeling she knew his game.
“It was tricky enough just sleeping on the couch. You kept telling me how much you still loved me. You must have tried to get me into bed ten times before you finally gave up and fell asleep.”
“Sorry ‘bout that.”
“Accepted. I really loved my old apartment. I would have lived there forever if I could have. I heard someone bought the building, but they haven’t done any work on it yet. Shame, it’s such a cute place. With the right TLC it could be beautiful again. I’ve been hoping to move back in, but so far, I haven’t heard who bought it or when the renovations are going to start.”
Rudy didn’t want to tell her he was the owner and when his deal went through with Smart-Mart the apartment building, along with this building and several others on Prancer Street, would be demolished to make way for the mega-store. 
“I’m sure the new owner is just waiting until after the holidays to begin the repairs.” As he spoke his nose itched again, and he could feel a sneeze coming on. “Excuse me,” he said, as he grabbed another tissue and sneezed five times in a row.
When he finished, he gazed over at her. She had a curious look on her face as she tried to stifle the grin spreading across her sweet lips.
“What’s so funny?” Rudy asked. His headache had begun to retreat, and his stomach had calmed down to manageable ache.
“Nothing, at least I don’t think it’s anything. It’s just that as you were talking, your nose seemed to get a bit pinker. Even bordering on red.”
“I’m probably getting a cold.”
She giggled. “Does your nose usually turn this red when you get a cold?”
Concerned, Rudy said, “Define ‘this red.’”
“Stay right there. Let me get you a mirror.”
Jenny slid out of bed, and walked to the back of the attic. While she was digging around through the trunks, Rudy grabbed a sugar coated cookie off the tray and ate it in two bites. It tasted all sugary and yummy, but as he swirled the sweet-goodness around in his mouth, he could tell it lacked the proper amount of cinnamon, and it needed an extra pinch of vanilla.
He had grown up baking alongside his grandparents, something his parents had discouraged, and developed a distinctive pallet for every cookie in the bakery, so he knew when his grandfather was on target. This cookie, although good, was not perfect.
Gramps was slipping.
“Found it,” Jenny said as she held up an ornate hand mirror that undoubtedly had belonged to his late grandmother.
She handed it to him and he gazed into the mirror at bloodshot eyes, bed hair, rosy cheeks and an unnaturally deep red nose.
“What the hell?”
It was at that moment when Rudy remembered exactly what that Santa guy with the white beard and heavy black boots had said to him, or rather, sang to him as they stood outside in some cold place that looked an awful lot like the real North Pole, complete with miles of packed icy snow, and several reindeer grazing alongside a huge log cabin. There may have even been an elf or two visible through a snowy window.
You better look out. You better not lie. You better not doubt, I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town. He sees you when you’re sleeping, and knows when you’re a fake. Your nose will shine when you really lie, so be good for goodness sake.
Then another vivid memory gave Rudy a momentary full body shudder.
Santa had placed him on his Naughty List
Rudy put the mirror down, and leapt out of bed.
“I am so screwed!” he mumbled.

Erin Quinn is an award winning author who writes haunting romance for the thinking reader.  Her books have been called “riveting,” “brilliantly plotted” and “beautifully written” and have won, placed or showed in in number awards.  Look for THE THREE FATES OF RYAN LOVE, coming in January from Pocket Books.  Go to Website for more information.

Calista Fox is a former PR professional, now writing fast-paced, steamy books to set your pulse racing--including the BURNED DEEP trilogy, coming in 2015 from St. Martin's Press! She is an Amazon bestseller and has won Reviewer’s and Reader’s Choice Awards, as well as a Best Book Award, and competitions with publication as the prize.

USA Today bestselling author Mary Leo writes contemporary romance, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, and mystery. She loves to travel for research while she’s writing a book, or for that matter, even when she’s not writing a book . . . which always leads to yet another book.

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