Note: This was a single title previously published, which has been substantially edited & expanded and is now Book 1 in this new, exciting paranormal small town romance series.
She hides behind her broken heart…
Natalie suffered through a loss no mother should ever have to and came out the other side vowing to keep her fractured heart locked away forever. She moves back to the magical town she grew up in after the death of her beloved grandma, where she plans to live in isolation, nursing her broken body and shattered emotions.
When a little cherub suddenly appears her first day there insisting Natalie decorate for Christmas, she snaps at the child and comes face to face with a man she’d spent a week with years ago, standing vigil at her meddling cousin’s hospital bed—a man she’d held in her heart since then.
Recognition as she meets those gunmetal gray eyes is instantaneous, and she’s ashamed and miserable to have berated his little girl.
When tragedy befalls her again, she find herself ensconced in his home next door, reluctantly falling under the spell of this compassionate, handsome-as-sin man, and his sweet young child.
He doesn’t want to feel the tug of attraction for his buddy’s sexy cousin…
Zach couldn’t believe someone would snap at his little girl just because she’d suggested turning on Christmas lights. When he bounds up his new neighbor’s porch steps to retrieve his child, he comes face to face with the woman who’d burrowed into his mind and heart years ago—a woman he couldn’t forget—and was shocked at the pain and sadness still radiating from her beautiful eyes.
He knew it would be best to ignore this emotionally damaged, sensuous woman, but his heart and soul knew she was meant for him and refused to cooperate.
The tug of sympathy and compassion at the pain radiating from her beautiful eyes vie with the desire to get to know her as a woman—to find out if the attraction that had enveloped them both years ago in her cousin’s hospital room was still as strong as ever.
When tragedy strikes again and forces her into his home, to be cherished and cared for, he’ll finally get his chance to prove they belong together.
The flames in her house kindle the heat flaming between them…
Neither Zach or Natalie are prepared for hearts tripping and emotional barriers falling when he snatches her from the flames engulfing her home and winds up tucking her into his spare bedroom. He’ll have the chance to prove to her not all men have evil intentions—that their mutual attraction had evolved to much, much more—and that a certain little cherub needed and wanted a mommy for Christmas.
Will holiday hearts awaken to passion and new love, or will Zach and Natalie let this chance at healing their broken hearts pass them by?
Holiday Hearts Awakening is a steamy magical paranormal romance featuring a dominant, protective hero, a heroine who’s coming into her own again after tragedy befell her, a sweet cherub looking for a mommy—and a matchmaking grandma from the afterlife. Grab your copy today
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
A Word from the Author
From the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence statistics, on any given day, there are 20,000 plus phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
When there is a gun in a domestic violence situation, the risk of homicide increases by 500%.
This subject is important to me because I was married to a violent man for a short period of time, and when the verbal abuse became physical, he was out the door the same day.
However, not all women are able to extricate themselves as readily as I did—for a variety of reasons. In this story, the heroine has lost her child because a violent ex reappeared and kidnapped them. This is not an anomaly, and happens far too often.
If you feel so inclined, you can make a donation to this organization here: https://ncadv.org/donate
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I love writing about men protective of not only their loved ones, but innocents around them, as well as women who are strong and generally don't need saving – however they're not too stubborn to admit when they need help, nor too stubborn to accept it.
I also love the paranormal, and writing about instant attraction – whether that results in love almost-at-first-site, or it takes a while to get there.
In this book, the woman lost her son to domestic violence, and is mired in depression, but a stubborn little girl and her stubborn father chip away at her resolve to stay alone.
She’d conquered them, and wasn’t by God going to fall apart just because of the stress of the move. Or the reminder that another Christmas was going to pass without Matty, and now without her beloved grandma.
Her shoulders bunched, her vision dimmed and her bones about rattled as she shook off being sucked into the darkness. Her gaze darted around to see if anyone caught her losing control in public, her eyes closing wearily as she sank back into the chair with a sigh.
When she dragged her eyes open again, she cringed to see one of the movers eyeing her as he walked past. No doubt he wished they could get the furniture moved and escape the prickly wacko spacing out on the porch.
She winced as she pushed to her feet, the fresh pink scar running the length of her right shin a stark reminder of her third surgery in as many years. She’d gone under the knife two months ago and it still pulled and ached.
At least there’s muscle tone again. She stretched her foot carefully to a point, thankful she’d at least kept up with her physical therapy over the years. Not as if Calum would let her skimp on that.
“Why aren’t your Christmas lights on? What’s wrong with your leg?”
Her gaze snapped to the bottom step, and she felt her breath strangle in her throat to see a little cherub perched there, small fists on pudgy hips, accusing eyes fixed on the unlit string of lights.
She couldn’t tear her gaze away from the almond-shaped, dark-chocolate eyes set in a cute-as-a-button face as the little girl clomped her way up the stairs on short chubby legs. Natalie’s jaw ached from clenching her teeth, her fingers bleached of color as she gripped the porch rail. Her frantic heart tripped over itself like butterflies flitting against her breastbone, frantic to escape.
“I’m not turning them on. I’m taking them down.”
The minute the words were out of her mouth, she regretted them. She’d never spoken harshly to a child before and didn’t know why she’d done so now. The little girl didn’t deserve her tone just for asking such an innocent question.
The porch shook as long, muscled legs took the three porch steps in one stride and a muscled arm snaked around the little girl’s middle. Natalie’s eyes jerked up to land on full lips, seamed shut in a hard line slashed across a fallen-angel face with warm toned, tawny skin framed by jet black, curly hair. Her eyes continued their trip up that harshly handsome face, to the sharp gray eyes, narrowed beneath dark brows, pinning her in place. Recognition slammed into her.
He looked just like she’d remembered, whenever she pulled him up in her memories—a throwback to some Aztec God. With his hair just brushing his collar, and his wide-as-a-bow shoulders straining a forest green polo shirt, he could model for the cover of ‘Modern Warrior, if there was such a magazine.
Her gaze took in his sexy, washboard stomach clearly defined behind the tucked-in polo shirt, and narrow hips showcased in jeans that molded to muscular thighs.
At least ogling this handsome man beat back the last vestiges of her panic attack. It had been years since she’d looked twice at a man—since the last time she’d laid eyes on him—and only hours since she’d thought of this particular man.
The universe was completely screwed up if her libido awakened from its deathbed by her cousin’s angry friend. The man she’d lusted after and thought of far too often since last they’d met.
A man with a child Matty’s age when he was taken from her.
* * *
ZACH COULDN’T believe his eyes. It had been barely a month since he’d moved to the small coastal town of Beacon Bay, settling into the old Victorian right next door. This house to the right of his, an old painted lady almost identical to his own, had stood empty and lonely the last few weeks, since the sweet old lady who’d lived there passed on.
He and his daughter used to enjoy hanging out with the older woman, his best friend Calum’s grandma, while she played adopted grandma to his little girl. There were always cookies and milk available, along with entertaining conversation.
His buddy had mentioned just last week he’d have a new neighbor soon, however he’d failed to mention it was his cousin. The very woman Zach hadn’t been able to forget since the day he’d met her while visiting Calum in the hospital, where he’d been recovering from a life-altering injury while overseas as Marine Special Forces. He’d hoped for a nice quiet family, with kids his daughter’s age.
Instead, it was a woman who evidently wanted nothing to do with kids—not that he could blame her. He didn’t have the full story, but knew she’d lost her little one years ago and was coping with that loss and subsequent surgeries from injuries sustained that fateful day.
Physically, she was looking better, except for her eyes—still as haunted as when he’d first met her. He could totally understand why, having no clue how a parent could survive the loss of a child with their heart or emotions intact.
Her mahogany hair flowed to her shoulders and framed a pixie face with cheekbones a model would kill for. Hazel didn’t do justice to describe her eyes, gold bits sparkling amidst the green like glitter—her upper lip a sensuous cupid’s bow, fuller than the bottom.
He ruthlessly pushed aside the burgeoning desire to know how it would feel to nibble on that lush fullness. Apparently, he was still as susceptible to her beauty and vulnerability as during the week in the hospital in Germany, watching over Calum.
If the clothes hanging on her slim frame were any sign, she’d lost weight. Some good old-fashioned Southern food would get meat back on her bones. Not that she wasn’t drop-dead gorgeous just the way she was. He shook his head.
What was wrong with him, craving a lip-lock with someone who’d snapped at his little girl, and was apparently still dealing with issues he’d be better off staying as far away from as possible? He bit his tongue against offering sympathy and asking how she was as he snuggled his little sweetie against his shoulder.
“Hi, Natalie,” he said softly. “It’s good to see you again. Cal didn’t mention you were our new neighbor. We’re just next door. This is my daughter, Belle. She loves Christmas and just wants the neighborhood to be pretty. I’ll make sure she doesn’t bother you again.” He turned to head back home, but the soft apology spilling from her full mouth had him turning back in surprise.
* * *
“I’M S-SORRY, Zach—B-Belle. Truly. I didn’t mean…” For the life of her, Natalie couldn’t spit out another word. She’d bottled up too much for far too long, and to see the sympathy in his eyes on the heels of her grandmother’s death, the move from Portland, along with the flash and fancy of the holiday drumming home the missing piece of her life, just did her in. She was on the edge of completely losing it. Of all places—in front of Zach, his child, and the movers—her emotions were going to pick now to fracture?
Her throat tightened as she choked back another sob and spun toward the front door, mortified to see a glint of sympathy in his sharp gaze turn into full on protector-mode. The heat of a broad palm on her shoulder was almost too much to bear.
“Hey, Nat? What can I do to help?” She felt a jolt of surprise to feel the rumble of his deep voice run right through that big warm hand to her shoulder, then on to the very heart of her. It was electric and sent tingles north and south through every nerve ending in her body. What the ever-loving heck was that about? She brutally cut off her reaction, knowing sympathy from this man would be her downfall.
She was a hairbreadth away from losing her composure and had to get into the house before she melted into a puddle of tears. She flung up her hand as the tears won, and with a jerky shake of her head, limped into the house and slammed the door in their faces.
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