By Melissa Cutler
If you’re one of the people that walks into a store in August and groans at the sight of Christmas displays, then I feel your pain. Doesn’t it seem like Christmas comes earlier and earlier each year, at least in the retail world? On the one hand, it’s only October and I’m still busy throwing together my kids’ Halloween costumes (my 11-year-old wants to be a devil and my 9-year-old is set on being a ninja this year). But let me fill you in on a little secret: I might have groaned at those store displays in August, but come the start of autumn, I’m more than ready for cold winter nights, hot cocoa, and Christmas songs.
Okay, you should probably be warned that I’m only imagining the cold winter nights because I live in San Diego, where the only way you can tell the difference between January and August is by whether you have to close the bedroom window at night due to the chill in the air. But the holiday season feels different. Christmas is about so much more than the weather. It’s a time to be with friends and family, a time of blessings counted and presents wrapped, and a time to pause and enjoy the many beautiful wonders of our world and our lives. With all that in mind, I created a winter wonderland, Texas style, for THE MISTLETOE EFFECT, my latest Christmas-themed cowboy romance, available starting today.
True, THE MISTLETOE EFFECT is a “marriage of convenience” story so sexy that it melts your e-reader, but it’s also a story about family and true love and finding the courage to go after your dreams. I guarantee that you’ll finish reading this fast-paced, short novel with a warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart and a smile on your lips.
So what’s this book about? THE MISTLETOE EFFECT tells the story of Carina Briscoe, a workaholic hotel heiress who’s roped into pretend marriage with the stable manager of her family’s Texas resort after the resort’s international claim to fame—the titular Mistletoe Effect—is threatened by the possibility of a jinx. The only way that stable manager James Decker will agree to the hoax is if Carina agrees to live with him as husband and wife until Christmas. Lucky for her, this isn’t a hardship because she’s had a crush on James Decker forever. The sparks between them start flying in chapter one and they don’t let up until the book is over.
And, to whet your appetite for The Mistletoe Effect, here’s a scene from the fake newlyweds’ wedding reception for you to enjoy…
His breath stuttered out of him, fanning over her neck and shoulder. His swaying faltered. Then he stopped pretending to dance altogether and searched her face with hungry eyes. When those eyes settled on her lips, she rose up, angling her head, her eyes closing, ready for that kiss he’d almost given her earlier, before they’d been interrupted.
His hands stroked her back and hips. His lips teased her cheek and nose. “You are a beautiful woman,” he said quietly. Beautiful wasn’t a word she often heard directed at her. Hearing it from James Decker’s lips sent a full-body tingle rippling through her. “And sexy. So damn sexy.”
He brushed a hand along her temple, cradling the side of her head in a way that told her that kiss she’d been longing for was on its way. “But it doesn’t matter how beautiful or sexy you are,” he said in a husky voice, his lips so close to hers she could sense their movement. “I’m still going to smash cake on your face during the cake-cutting ceremony.”
So much for that kiss. The closing notes of the dance sounded as her eyes flew open. She gave him a push along with her most chastising glare. “You would not.”
He chuckled. “I’ve always wanted to, but I figure that when I get married for real, my wife won’t allow me that honor. This is my one and only chance.”
It was sound logic. Juvenile, but sound.
With each wedding Carina had planned, the dreaded possibility of cake smashing hung around her neck like a yoke because, besides an unlimited host bar, that was the number one predictor of a reception devolving into chaos and destruction. Because who did that kind of thing, truly? Who was the kind of person to smash a messy dessert into the face of their beloved on the most important day of their lives? A troublemaker, that’s who.
And there was her answer, because Decker was all kinds of trouble, always had been, even if he’d been a gentleman tonight.
They were ushered to the cake table by the DJ, who handed Carina the knife. Decker reached out as though to set his hand over hers as she gripped the handle, but she figured since she was presently armed and dangerous, a mild threat was in order.
She brandished the blade at him. “Don’t you dare smash cake on me.”
Decker eyed the blade and held up his hands as though in surrender. “How are you going to stop me? With that dull knife?”
She gave it a swish. “Maybe.”
“I think stabbing the groom would be considered a Mistletoe Effect jinx, isn’t that right, Granny June?”
Granny snapped a photo of him with his arms raised. “You got that right, honey. Jinx prevention is serious business.”
Decker placed a hand over his heart in a show of sincerity. “Here that, Wife? I don’t want all your sacrifices tonight to be for naught.”
Carina narrowed her eyes at him. If she couldn’t get him to stand down, then it was time to fight fire with fire…
Want more? THE MISTLETOE EFFECT is now available at all major e-retailers: