Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Book Spotlight & #Giveaway ~ The Christmas Countdown (Holiday Lake,Book One) by Ani Gonzalez ~ Romance, Romantic Comedy @_ani_gonzalez

A perfect Christmas in twenty-four hours? 
What could possibly go wrong…or unexpectedly go right?



The Christmas Countdown
Holiday Lake
Book One
Ani Gonzalez


Genre: Romance, Romantic Comedy
Publisher: FAC Publishing LLC

Date of Publication: 12/1/2018

Number of pages: 175 
Word Count: 35k

Cover Artist: Ani Gonzalez

About the Book:

For the residents of Holiday Lake, Minnesota, there is no such thing as too much Christmas cheer. The tiny town prides itself on celebrating the holiday every day of the year and their halls are decked with boughs of holly all year round.

Yet this December twenty-third, professional holiday decorator Nat Quinn, known as "The Christmas Queen”, has had enough. After a hectic year helping clients set up the absolutely-perfect-to-the-last-detail backdrops for the festive season, she is ready to relax. That’s when divorced billionaire and workaholic Cyrus Blackstone makes a proposal she can’t turn down: Provide the perfect holiday for his children in exchange for the beach vacation of her dreams.

A perfect Christmas in twenty-four hours? That’s a tall order, even for the Queen of Christmas and her team in Holiday Lake. As Nat races to fulfill her assignment, she realizes that the real challenge isn't the tinsel and pudding... it’s not falling in love.

Read an Excerpt:

CYRUS ENDED the call, satisfied. That was one action item taken care of.
He headed for a built-in mahogany cabinet that served as the study's bar and grabbed a bottle of scotch and a glass. A perfect Christmas with his kids. This was worth celebrating.
He sat on his desk chair and poured the amber liquid into the glass. The cut-glass pattern made everything sparkle, which was rather festive. Now all he had to do was get the kids on the plane. Everything else would be taken care of.
Happy as Cyrus was about giving his children the perfect Christmas, there was more to his feeling of jubilation. He smiled as he realized that the quirky holiday decorator had improved his mood. She seemed almost entirely too Christmassy to be real, but she also appeared to be someone you could count on, a quality that was lacking in this world.
He sipped his drink, feeling the fiery liquid slide down this throat. That had been a good negotiation.
And he was looking forward to the next one. As Nat had said, everyone wanted the perfect Christmas and it wasn't all that easy. An eleventh-hour version would, he was certain, encounter a few challenges, and he had a feeling he would enjoy maneuvering through them with Ms. Quinn. He felt a lot more confident after talking with her, like a weight had fallen off his back.
Leah walked into the studio, all well-tailored slacks and glossy hair. She definitely wasn't the slouchy sweater and Ugg boots type.
"The kids are packing," she said, a tinge of worry in her voice. "They sound really excited. Is she going to do it?"
"Of course," Cyrus replied. "Did you have any doubts?"
"Some," Leah exclaimed with a happy smile. "She was dead set against it. How did you convince her?"
"Money, flattery, and bottomless margaritas," he replied.
But that wasn't quite accurate. Ms. Quinn had given in when he'd mentioned his kids. That had been her weak spot. It made sense that a holiday specialist would be a sucker for kids. They were the point of her job, after all.
"How much do you know about this Nat Quinn, Leah?" He asked.
"She's fantastic," Leah answered, eyes shining. "You know Christmas is not my thing, so it takes quite a lot to wow me."
Cyrus nodded. Leah was Jewish, and she'd worked for some of the wealthiest families in Manhattan and London. She was notoriously hard to impress.
"But the Hagens hired me one week before Christmas and I was blown away. We drove up to the lodge and it looked amazing with a ten-foot-tall tree, garlands everywhere, and Mrs. Hagen's favorite vintage German decorations. Ms. Quinn even found the large old-fashioned bulbs that Mrs. Hagen wanted. She had an intact set and everything."
Cyrus suppressed a smile. At least he wasn't demanding rare Christmas lights and antique ornaments. Ms. Quinn was likely relieved about that.
"Christmas dinner was divine," Leah continued. "The main restaurant has an all-year-round holiday buffet with a citrus cranberry chutney that is out of this world. You can use it as a sandwich spread for the leftovers too."
His nanny's eyes grew dreamy as she described the food.
"And the pastry shop makes this amazing Black Forest cake with cherry Kirsch." Leah gave a deep sigh of longing. "It has so much alcohol you can't drive after you eat it, but it is delicious. Absolutely worth being housebound afterwards."
"So you want to go back for the food?" Cyrus asked, swirling the amber liquid in his glass.          
His question was greeted by an awkward silence.
Leah avoided his gaze. "Er, not exactly. The town is lovely and the people are, um, quite pleasant." She paused. "Particularly Ms. Quinn. She even gave us some Chinese food for Christmas Eve dinner, which was very thoughtful." Her eyes grew dreamy again. "The kung pao chicken was delicious. I hear the place closed though, which is a pity."
Cyrus smiled. "Let's hope Ms. Quinn can whip us something similar despite the time constraints. Given what we've given her to work with, we'll be lucky if she can find a Christmas tree."
"Oh, but I'm sure Noah's dad—"
Leah raised her hand to her mouth, eyes wide.
"Oh?" Cyrus raised a brow. "Who's Noah?"
A tinge of pink spread across her cheeks. "No one. I'll, er, go check on the kids now."
And she hurried out of the room.
Cyrus sipped his drink. Leah had been working for him for almost two years now, and she'd become part of the family. Yet he'd never seen her blush, not once.
Holiday Lake was going to be a lot more interesting than he'd expected.
He turned on his computer. A picture of his kids popped up on the screen. It was from the last time he'd taken Jack to the FDNY open house. His son stood in front of a fire truck grinning widely while his sister made bunny ears behind his head.
It was Cyrus’s favorite picture, partly because he'd made it to the field trip for a change, but mostly because Jack was wearing a t-shirt that read "Firefighters Like It Hot", seemingly oblivious to the double entendre.
Cyrus clicked on the Internet browser icon and waited for the program to load. An e-mail came as he waited. The sender was Nat Queen at TheChristmasQueen-dot-com and the subject line read "Contract for Immediate Signature." The words were punctuated with a dozen exclamation marks.
Ms. Quinn, it appeared, was quite efficient, a woman after his own heart.
When his browser window opened, he typed in "Nat Quinn Holiday Lake Minnesota." A surprisingly large number of sites popped up, most of them featuring the Christmas Queen motto and a mistletoe crown logo.
Ms. Quinn, it turned out, was a busy gal. She'd appeared on various morning shows, giving holiday decorating tips. She wrote a column on how to plan the perfect holiday. She had authored numerous magazine articles on virtually every challenge one could encounter during the holidays, and at least three of the articles dealt with gravy consistency. She had done sets for holiday movies.
No wonder she longed for a beach holiday. The poor woman must be exhausted. She even had a sponsorship agreement with a candle company. The ads boasted that her Citrus Cranberry Christmas Delight Candle was their all-time best-seller.
Well, there were worst things one could be remembered for.
He clicked on her website, TheChristmasQueen.com, and was immediately assaulted by loud music, The Carol of the Bells, if he was not mistaken.
It seemed the otherwise admirable Ms. Quinn had one serious character flaw: She was one of those people who had pop-up music on her website.
He muted the sound and scrolled down. There was another mistletoe crown logo, a recipe section, and several pictures of lavishly decorated houses.
Leah had not exaggerated. Ms. Quinn could put on a show. She'd even done a party with a real sleigh and live reindeer. He peered at the computer screen, jaw dropping in disbelief as he counted the animals. Eight reindeer, all suitably labeled. She'd done a holiday party with eight reindeer.
Maybe she could do Christmas in a day.
He kept browsing through her site. She had social media accounts with current pictures of the town. It had snowed recently and Holiday Lake could rightfully claim that it would be a white Christmas. The bakery that Leah loved was shaped like a Swiss chalet with twinkling lights and a giant Black Forest cake replica in front.
The Chinese restaurant, it turned out, was re-opening. Leah would no doubt be overjoyed. The Bavarian Brathaus sounded intriguing and the Holiday Lake Inn would be sponsoring a Christmas carol concert tomorrow night. The kids would enjoy that.
Holiday Lake seemed to have a fetish for measuring things. All their statistics were carefully noted on the various websites. They'd received sixteen inches of snow last week. The Holiday Lake Inn's all-you-can-eat turkey buffet had served seventeen gallons of citrus-cranberry chutney on December 26 of last year. Year-to-date, the tree farm had sold eight hundred and twenty-two trees.
He scrolled through the social media accounts and checked all the friends lists, but try as he might he could not find what he was looking for.
There were no clues as to Leah's mysterious Noah.
And there were no pictures of Nat Quinn. The Christmas Queen seemed surprisingly shy. No pictures of herself on her website. No selfies on her social media. Nothing.
But then he checked the images search tab and found that the local Christmas tree vendors had a picture of her. The image was blurry, so all he could make out was a slender woman standing next to an enormous Christmas tree, but clicking on the picture took him to the tree seller's website.
And there she was. Nat Quinn had filmed a television segment with Northstar Tree Farm, which had aired on the Minneapolis public television station. The tree farm had the video on its website.
He clicked play and sat back to watch.
Nat Quinn was a tall woman with bright red hair, green eyes, and a loud cheerful laugh. She knew more than any human being should about decorative conifers, and she could make a Christmas wreath in five minutes flat. She liked Balsam firs because they looked shaggy and natural, but she admired the Fraser fir's longevity. She wielded a chainsaw like a pro and she did not like artificial trees. As far as she was concerned, they were an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. She owned thirty-seven ugly Christmas sweaters and her favorite featured an unhappy-looking antlered Chihuahua. And she was single.
Cyrus found himself smiling. Nat Quinn was adorable.
She was also dead serious about Christmas.
She was the perfect choice for this job. Even the single part. Not that he cared, of course, not personally. It just left her free to concentrate on the job.
That was the important consideration here, the job.
But there was something. He scrolled up. He could swear he'd seen—
He laughed as he reached the top of the website. There it was in all its glory—The Northstar Tree Farm's Christmas tree counter.
And it read "zero."
There were no trees left. Zero balsams. Zero Frasers.
Nada.
He was still laughing as he pulled up Nat's email, opened the contract, and affixed his electronic signature.
He couldn't wait to see what the Christmas Queen would do.

Purchased from Amazon

About the Author:

Ani Gonzalez is a USA Today bestselling author of holiday-themed romantic comedy and cozy mystery stories set in Banshee Creek, Virginia (The Most Haunted Town in the USA!) and Holiday Lake, Minnesota (Where Every Day is Christmas!). Her books feature feisty, irrepressible heroines dealing with holiday mayhem, paranormal critters (ghosts, cryptids, pagan gods...the sky's the limit) and mysteries. They find love and laughter (and sometimes corpses) along the way, and readers get to follow them every step.






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Deck the Halls with Books 2018 Holiday Extravaganza & #Giveaway ~ Not So Secret Santa (Men of London, Book 10) by Susan Mac Nicol @SusanMacNicol7



Please welcome Susan Mac Nicol Today!!

I used to work in the West End of London – the theatre district – which was an amazing experience even if it did take me two hours each day to get to work.

The West End is a magical place to experience the cosmopolitan flavour of London, and a great place for people watching. Especially if you have a yen to try and spot someone famous.



At Christmas, though, it shines brighter than ever. To get home, I walked back to the tube station about half a mile away, through the teeming streets of people, and snapped some shots of London in full Christmas regalia.

The vibe is something to be experienced, an excitement in the sir, coupled with a lot of swearing from fighting couples tired of endless shopping, and tempered with the quickfire conversation of Japanese tourists. And the men in kilts playing the bag pipes were a welcome addition too 😊


It is a city that never sleeps, like a hummingbird that flies on the periphery of your vision and catches your attention. And you fly along with it, caught up in its thrall and soak up the season in all its vibrant and sparkly majesty.


Leslie's feeling the season in a big way. After the Kissmas Drag Stravaganza at Club Delish, he plans to ask Oliver to marry him, but, as with all things Leslie, nothing goes quite as planned.

Not So Secret Santa
Men of London
Book 10
Susan Mac Nicol

Genre: Gay Romance, LGBT romance, contemporary

Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group

Date of Publication: 6th December 2018

ISBN: 978-1-948029-42-1

Number of pages:  70
Word Count: 25 000

Cover Artist: Boroughs Publishing Group

About the Book:

Leslie Scott couldn't keep a secret if his life depended on it...and this one's a doozy. After years of blissful co-habbing, Leslie plans to ask the love of his life, Oliver Brown, for his hand in marriage. Leslie agrees to help with the Kissmas Drag Stravaganza at his dear friend's nightclub, Club Delish, which is also the site of the impending proposal.

Every detail is planned with Swiss watch precision: enjoy the show, bring Oliver back to a private room, seduce him then pop the question. But, as with all things Leslie, his scheme goes tits up.

Never one to shy away from drama and public displays of affection, this proposal turns out to be one for the books.

Purchase from Amazon    

Add to Goodreads


Finally, the door opened to reveal a pink faced and flustered Leslie, hair suspiciously out of shape and with silver glitter on his face. He beamed at Oliver. “I’ll just get my jacket, and my man bag and be with you in a second.”
The door shut in Oliver’s face and he stared at it in disbelief.
What the hell is going on in there?
He opened the door and entered. Leslie looked up with a start and Oliver couldn't help but notice the other man bent over in the corner, covering something up with a piece of fabric. A man who had a very nice arse and when he finally stood up to face him, looked like a Latin wet dream. The man was petite and utterly gorgeous. And looked as guilty as hell.
“What’s up, sweetheart?” Oliver strode over to his boyfriend and pulled him close for a kiss. Leslie melted against him and returned the kiss with fervour. When they finally drew apart, Leslie seemed to realise someone else was in the room with them.
“Uh, honey, this is Chester. He works here with me. Chester, my boyfriend Oliver, if you hadn’t already guessed by that kiss. That very possessive kiss.” Leslie’s eyes glinted dangerously and he brushed a strand of glittered hair back from his face. Oliver didn’t care if he’d overstepped the mark. He wasn’t a jealous man, and trusted Leslie, but this situation was a little weird. If Leslie could embarrass porn stars on his behalf, Oliver could stake a claim.

About the Author:

Bringing lovers together, one book at a time

Susan writes steamy, sexy and fun contemporary romance stories, some suspenseful, some gritty and dark and others that hopefully make you think. She’s also Editor in Chief at Divine Magazine, an online LGBTQ e-zine, and one third of the deadly trio of Cover Thoughts.

Susan attained PAN status with the Romance Writers of America with her first M/M book, Stripped Bare. She’s currently a member of The Society of Authors in the UK and the Authors Guild in the US. She enjoys being a member of Queer Romance Ink, All Author, Book + Main Bites and the Paranormal Romance Guild.

She loves going to the theatre, live music concerts (especially if it’s her man crush Adam Lambert) walks in the countryside, a good G and T, lazing away afternoons reading a good book, and watching re-runs of Silent Witness.

Her chequered past includes stories like being mistaken for a prostitute in the city of Johannesburg, being chased by a rhino on a dusty Kenyan road, getting kicked out of a youth club for being a ‘bad influence’ (she encourages free thinking) and having an aunt who was once engaged to Cliff Richard







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10 Holiday Gifts for Your Supernatural Friends by Sharon Ashwood, Author of Gifted: The Dark Forgotten (Dark Forgotten Series, Book Five) #PNR #UF @RowanAshArt #Giveaway



10 Holiday Gifts for Your Supernatural Friends

Christmas shopping can be challenging at the best of times, but the non-humans on the list can present special problems. Need ideas for what to get the vampire with centuries of clutter in his garage or the mermaid who needs everything waterproofed? Here are some suggestions from our retail experts:

1. Get that vampire a month’s rental on a storage locker big enough to house his spare coffin collection!

2. For the shifters we suggest many, many lint rollers or a rechargeable hand vacuum!

3. For the fussy feline shifters, how about modern art that doubles as a scratching post?

4. As a stocking stuffer, nothing beats fake human teeth for the vampires!

5. A definite must have: non-toxic chew toys for the werepuppies.

6. Environmentally friendly dry cleaning options for the mummies on your list.

7. Steaks

8. Stakes

9. A personal crossroad for that special demon. Top seller: something on Route 666.

10. High-strength spray adhesive is a thoughtful present for those zombies who just can’t keep it together.

Just remember, whatever you choose, it’s the thought that counts—or possibly the deliciously fresh brains that just manufactured that thought …

Gifted: The Dark Forgotten
Dark Forgotten Series
Book Five
Sharon Ashwood

Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy



Publisher: Rowan and Ash Artistry


Date of Publication:  November 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-7750279-3-5
ASIN:  B07K5DYCBK

Number of pages: 124
Word Count: 35,000

Cover Artist: Wicked by Design

Tagline: Who says the holiday season is just for humans?

About the Book:

For all the holly-jolly times, family gatherings are complex no matter who—or what—you are. When you’re hunting for the latest “it” toy to stuff a stocking, it doesn’t matter if you’re alive or Undead, fanged or furry—you’re just as desperate to be the cool dad. And then there are the family grumps who never send cards, the ones who eat all the good candy, and those who drool and dig up the neighbor’s yard.

No, the Yuletide Season isn’t for the faint of heart—and sometimes it’s downright demonic—but holiday miracles make it all worthwhile. Chance encounters and unexpected forgiveness remind us that joy doesn’t come in a gift-wrapped box.

This novella from the Dark Forgotten world catches up with favorite characters for a fresh take on the holidays. Those visiting the world for the first time will understand why Chicago Tribune called it “simply superb.”

Grab this book and return to the world of the Dark Forgotten. Santa Claws is waiting!

Purchase Link:

Amazon



Read an Excerpt:

“Don’t you want to go see Santa Claws?”  Errata Jones asked in her husky, teasing voice.
“Meh,” Perry Baker replied, still grumpy at the prospect of crowds and gift-giving decisions. Plus, it was cold, gray, and rainy—a typical December day in the Pacific Northwest.
“Where’s your boundless holiday spirit?” She turned into the parking lot outside the Fairview Sports and Recreation Center. It was the final day of the Yuletide Holiday Market, an arts and crafts event by and for the local supernatural community. “Counting today, there’s only three shopping days till Christmas.”
“I really hope you’re not going to make me sit on Santa’s knee.”
“I don’t think so, darling. That would be weird, even for us.”
Errata swung her Jaguar coupe into the last parking space, beating out a massive pickup by a whisker. The truck made a sound like a startled dinosaur as it lurched to a stop on the frosty pavement. Turning off the Jaguar’s ignition, Errata smoothed her chin-length, jet-black hair, then glanced in the rear-view mirror, looking pleased with herself. Perry twisted in his seat to see the pickup driver turn a Christmassy scarlet and lurch off. 
Perry willed his heart to resume its normal rhythm.  Errata was a werecougar, and there were reasons cats shouldn’t drive. Werewolves like him were another matter. Wolves appreciated order, including stop signs. Cats did things because they could—like pester him into going to this stupid craft fair. 
That’s what he got for befriending a feline. He cast her a sidelong look, taking in her high cheekbones and smooth, golden skin. It was all he could do not to reach over and stroke her hair, but that would be crossing a boundary. She’d made it clear from the start that cats walked alone.
Errata finished preening and gave him an arch look. “Shouldn’t you be shopping for your human, what’s-her-name?”
Perry released his seatbelt. “Her name is Tiffani. With an i.”
“Tiffani. Of course it is.” Errata patted his cheek with a pitying look. “Come on. First fifty guests get a goodie bag.”
“She’s fun,” Perry said, sounding defensive even to himself.
“Humans generally are,” she said agreeably. “You should buy her something really nice.”
“Men don’t shop before December 23rd,” he protested as he got out of the car.
“Friends don’t let friends give their sweethearts, even ones named Tiffani with an i, gift cards.”
“But gift cards make sense.”
Errata flung the end of her scarf over her shoulder with a flick of one gloved hand. “Be grateful you have me to watch over you.” She clicked the locks and swept toward the entrance of the building, leaving Perry to catch up.
“Cats,” he grumbled. “What do you want for Yule?”
“Not a gift card.”

About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author Sharon Ashwood is a novelist, desk jockey and enthusiast for the weird and spooky. She has an English literature degree but works as a finance geek. Interests include growing her to-be-read pile and playing with the toy graveyard on her desk. As a vegetarian, she freely admits the whole vampire/werewolf lifestyle would never work out, so she writes her adventures instead.

Sharon is a winner of the RITA® Award for Paranormal Romance. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and is owned by the Demon Lord of Kitty Badness.

Website        www.SharonAshwood.com

Twitter         https://twitter.com/RowanAshArt

Tumblr (The Prattler) http://rowanashart.tumblr.com/







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