Tag Archives: Christmas

A Cupcake Christmas: A Christmas Elf Romance by Beth Barany (Book Review)

Love, chaotic magic, and cupcakes. What could possible go wrong?

What if you risked losing your baking legacy by cooking up a love truly special?

Florian MacMillian needs a final job to complete his baking resume—preferably a job where he’s unlikely to blow things up with his unruly magic—before returning to the North Pole and taking his rightful place as Master Baker to all the elves.

Kate Delore desperately needs help in her fast-growing cupcake business. Florian is a perfect fit, so she brings him on as baker. For a short time, Florian is happily up to his elbows in batter, and Kate’s business is booming.

But when things heat up between them, Florian wonders if he should risk his legacy to cook up something truly special.

Kindle Purchase Link

Print Purchase Link

 

(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)

 

If I had a sweet tooth, this story would’ve been torture on it. There were so many delicious desserts mentioned. Here are a few that even had me tempted to search out a sugary treat: donut cupcake, chocolate croissant cupcake, apple nut cupcakes, and a chocolate shake.

Kate served these sweet treats and a variety of savory options with her temporary assistant, Florian. Florian was a delightful character. He exuded joy! He even made me smile when his magic went off the rails, and Santa came a callin’. Yup, THE SANTA. Those scenes were just so precious and had me smiling from ear to ear.

Sweet holiday read!

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤  

Kindle Purchase Link

Print Purchase Link

 

 

Beth Barany writes magical tales of romance and adventure to transport readers to new worlds where anything is possible.

All the Books in the Touchstone Series:
All books are stand-alone, yet are connected.

Touchstone of Love (A Time Travel Romance) (Touchstone, #1)
A Christmas Fling (A Christmas Elf Romance) (Touchstone, #2)
Parisian Amour (A Fairy Tale Romance) (Touchstone, #3)
A Labyrinth of Love and Roses (A Fairy Tale Romance) (Touchstone, #4)
A Cupcake Christmas (A Christmas Elf Romance) (Touchstone, #5)

Buy All Five At Once!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Christmas Fling: A Christmas Elf Romance by Beth Barany (Novella Review)

What if falling in love put the life you cherished in jeopardy?

Dahlia, a Santa’s Elf, has 21 days left before Christmas to create the best toy in the world without using magic or revealing her true identity.

tuck on how to complete the prototype, and working as a temp in San Francisco’s financial district with no time for love, will her Christmas fling get her unstuck, or will she turn her back on her beloved career for her heart?

Liam, an up-and-coming financial analyst, swore off women after getting dumped by the love of his life.

He just found out his ex is going to the company Christmas party with his rival Michael Hendricks.

Up for promotion against Hendricks, Liam has to win the favor of his boss.

His best bet is to invite the vivacious secretary Dahlia to the party.

Kindle Purchase Link

 

 

(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)


A Christmas Fling was a unique, adorable novella. In it, an elf goes to the Human world for vacation and to work on her toy. She had no plans to fall in love. Her toy, winning the toy competition, was her everything. That is until Liam came into her life. 

Liam was all work and no play until a woman, Dahlia, literally ran into him and the dog he was watching for a friend. They had a deal to keep things light, but you know how those go — pesky feelings always seem to pop up. 

The unordinary romance character (the elf) made this novella highly enjoyable. I do love plots that break away from the norm, and this plot was certainly not your typical one. The author should consider pitching it to the Hallmark channel. I bet they’d jump at the chance to bring it to life. 

 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤  

 

Kindle Purchase Link

 

 

Beth Barany writes magical tales of romance and adventure to transport readers to new worlds where anything is possible.

All the Books in the Touchstone Series:
All books are stand-alone, yet are connected.

Touchstone of Love (A Time Travel Romance) (Touchstone, #1)
A Christmas Fling (A Christmas Elf Romance) (Touchstone, #2)
Parisian Amour (A Fairy Tale Romance) (Touchstone, #3)
A Labyrinth of Love and Roses (A Fairy Tale Romance) (Touchstone, #4)
A Cupcake Christmas (A Christmas Elf Romance) (Touchstone, #5)

Buy All Five At Once!

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Happy Holidays

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

One More for Christmas by Sarah Morgan (Book Showcase)

For sisters Samantha and Ella Mitchell, Christmas is their most precious time of the year. But this year, they’ll be buying presents for the most unexpected guest of all—their mother. It’s been five years since they last saw each other. But when their mom calls out of the blue, Samantha and Ella cautiously agree to spend Christmas all together in the beautiful Scottish Highlands…

Gayle Mitchell is at the top of her career, but her success has come at a price—her relationship with her daughters. Her tough-love approach to parenting was designed to make them stronger, but instead managed to push them away…until a brush with her own mortality forces Gayle to make amends.

As the snowflakes fall on their first family celebration in years, the Mitchell women must learn that sometimes facing up to the past is all you need to heal your heart…

Kindle Purchase Link

Print Purchase Link

Audiobook Purchase Link

 

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Gayle

When Gayle Mitchell agreed to a live interview in her office, she hadn’t expected her life to fall apart in such a spectacular fashion in front of an audience of millions. She was used to giving interviews and had no reason to think that this one might end in disaster, so she sat relaxed, even a little bored, as the crew set up the room.

As usual, the lights were blinding and kicked out enough heat to roast a haunch of beef. Despite the frigid air-conditioning, the fabric of Gayle’s fitted black dress stuck to her thighs.

Beyond the soaring glass walls of her office lay what she truly believed to be the most exciting city on earth. Also one of the most expensive—but these days Gayle didn’t have to worry too much about that.

Once, the place had almost killed her, but that had been a long time ago. That memory contributed to the degree of satisfaction she felt in being up here, on top of the world, gazing down from her domain on the fiftieth floor. Like planting a stiletto on the body of an adversary, it was symbolic of victory. I won. She was far removed from those people scurrying along the freezing, canyon-like streets of Manhattan, struggling to survive in a city that devoured the weak and the vulnerable. From her vantage point in her corner office she could see the Empire State Building, the Rockefeller Center and, in the distance, the broad splash of green that was Central Park.

Gayle shifted in her chair as someone touched up her hair and makeup. The director was talking to the cameraman, discussing angles and light, while seated in the chair across from her the most junior female reporter on the morning show studied her notes with feverish attention.

Rochelle Barnard. She was young. Early twenties? A few years older than Gayle had been when she’d hit the lowest point of her life.

Nothing excited Gayle more than raw potential, and she saw plenty of it in Rochelle. You had to know what you were looking for, of course—and Gayle knew. It was there in the eyes, in the body language, in the attitude. And this woman had something else that Gayle always looked for. Hunger.

Hunger was the biggest motivator of all, and no one knew that better than her.

She hadn’t just been hungry—she’d been starving. Also desperate. But usually she managed to forget that part. She was a different woman now, and able to extend a hand to another woman who might need a boost.

“Ten minutes, Miss Mitchell.”

Gayle watched as the lighting guy adjusted the reflector. In a way, didn’t she do much the same thing? She shone a light on people who would otherwise have remained in the dark. She changed lives, and she was about to change this woman’s life.

“Put the notes down,” she said. “You don’t need them.”

Rochelle glanced up. “These are the questions they want me to ask. They only handed them to me five minutes ago.”

Because they want you to stumble and fall, Gayle thought.

“Are they the questions you would have chosen to ask?”

The woman rustled through the papers and pulled a face. “Honestly? No. But this is what they want covered in the interview.”

Gayle leaned forward. “Do you always do what other people tell you?”

Rochelle shook her head. “Not always.”

“Good to know. Because if you did, then you wouldn’t be the woman I thought you were when I saw you present that short segment from Central Park last week.”

“You saw that?”

“Yes. Your questions were excellent, and you refused to let that weasel of a man wriggle out of answering.”

“That interview was the reason you asked for me today? I’ve been wondering.”

“You struck me as a young woman with untapped potential.”

“I’m grateful for the opportunity.” Rochelle sat straighter and smoothed her skirt. “I can’t believe I’m here. Howard usually does all the high-profile interviews.”

Why were people so accepting of adverse circumstances? So slow to realize their own power? But power came with risk, of course, and most people were averse to risk.

“Things are always the way they are until we change them,” Gayle said. “Be bold. Decide what you want and go after it. If that means upsetting a few people along the way, then do it.” She closed her eyes as someone stroked a strand of her hair into place and sprayed it. “This is your chance to ask me the questions Howard Banks wouldn’t think to ask.”

Which shouldnt be too hard, she thought, because the man had the imagination and appeal of stale bread.

Howard had interviewed her a decade earlier and he’d been patronizing and paternalistic. It gave Gayle pleasure to know that by insisting on being interviewed by this junior reporter she’d annoyed him. With any luck he’d burst a blood vessel in the most valuable part of his anatomy—which, for him, was probably his ego.

“If I don’t give them what they’re expecting, I could lose my job.”

Gayle opened one eye. “Not if you give them something better than they’re expecting. They’re not going to fire you if the ratings go up. What’s on their list? Let me guess… My work-life balance and how I handle being a woman in a man’s world?”

Boring, boring.

The woman laughed. “You’re obviously a pro at this.”

“Think of the people watching. Ask the questions theyd ask if they were in the room with me. If you were a woman eager to make a change in your life, what would you want to hear? If you were struggling to get ahead in the workplace—” which you are“—constantly blocked by those around you, what would you want to know?”

Rochelle picked up the papers from her lap and folded them in a deliberate gesture. “I’d want to know your secrets—how you handle it all. How you handled it at the beginning, before you had everything you have now. You started with nothing. Put yourself through college while working three jobs. And you’ve become one of the most successful women in business. You’ve transformed companies and individuals. I’d want to know whether any of your experiences might be of use to me. Whether you could transform me. I’d want to come away feeling so inspired I’d call the show and thank them.”

“And you think they’d fire you for that?”

The woman stared at her. “No, I don’t.” She slapped the papers down on the desk. “What is wrong with me? I’ve read all your books several times, and yet I was about to ask the questions I’d been handed. One of my favorite sections in your last book was that bit about other people’s expectations being like reins, holding you back. You were our role model in college.” She pressed her palm to her chest. “Meeting you is the best Christmas gift.”

To read more, click HERE!

 

Kindle Purchase Link

Print Purchase Link

Audiobook Purchase Link

 

 

USA Today & Sunday Times bestselling author with HQ Stories and HQN Books

Twitter Link

Website Link

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

‘A Christmas Fling’ and ‘A Cupcake Christmas’ by Beth Barany (2 Book Christmas Showcase)

Dahlia, a Santa’s Elf, has 21 days left before Christmas to create the best toy in the world without using magic or revealing her true identity. Stuck on how to complete the prototype, and working as a temp in San Francisco’s financial district with no time for love, will her innocent Christmas fling get her unstuck, or will she turn her back on her beloved career for her heart?

Liam, an up-and-coming financial analyst, swore off women after getting dumped by the love of his life. He just found out his ex is going to the company Christmas party with his rival Michael Hendricks. Up for promotion against Hendricks, Liam has to win the favor of his boss. His best bet is to invite the vivacious secretary Dahlia to the party. Will Dahlia be a welcome distraction, or will she turn his life upside down?

Kindle Purchase Link

 

 


Chapter 1
December 1, Oakland, CA

Dahlia strolled through the small neighborhood park. It was great fun to think about how the children would enjoy her toy once she was done with it, but she had to complete it first. She only had twenty-two days to fix whatever was wrong with it before returning home. She’d gone over her designs and schematics and taken it apart and put it back together a dozen times, but it still wouldn’t work.

Dahlia left the park and headed down the street toward the detached studio she rented on Miles Avenue.

A dog bark had her look up just in time to almost but not quite avoid getting tangled up in a long leash. A man with the warmest brown eyes she’d ever seen gazed down at her, a half smile on his face.

She smiled back startled out of her daydreaming, but not before she noticed his endearing dimple on one side of his mouth.

She said, “Sorry, I didn’t see you. Thank goodness for your dog. Oh, she looks like a Husky.”

Dahlia shifted her bag to one hip, so she could bend down and pet the dog.

The dog wagged her tail.

Dahlia said, “You must feed her really well. Her coat is so soft and luscious.”

“She’s a Bernese Mountain Dog. Sally. My roommate’s.”

His voice was deep. She had to look up to smile into his deep brown eyes. He was a whole head taller than she was. Almost two meters. She translated into American measurements. Six foot three or something.

“My uncle, well one of my uncles has one—that he uses for work. But I hardly see him because he lives—” She paused. “I’m prattling, aren’t I?”

“Yes, you are, but I like listening to your accent. Scottish?”

“Yes, wow, you guessed correctly. Most people here can’t do that. Yeah, we’re from Scotland, but it’s been a few generations.” She couldn’t very well tell him how Santa’s elves lived a very long time. It had only been her grandparents that had immigrated with Uncle, known as Santa to most, and some neighbors to set up the North Pole.

“So, you’re in school here?” He waved off toward what she knew was the art college a few blocks away.

“No. I’m here on an independent research project for a few more weeks.”

“So you’re from—”

“Alaska. Well, near Alaska, anyway. I—I best be going,” she interrupted and gestured to her bag of goodies. She shifted from foot to foot on the corner of Miles and Clifton Streets, still tangled up in the Bernese’s leash. “Gifts to wrap. For the kids. Big project.” She gulped and held out her hand. “I’m Dahlia, by the way. Dahlia MacMillian.”

With a half-smile, he shook her offered hand. His grip was firm and strong. “Liam. Nice to meet you, Dahlia MacMillian.” He led the dog around her, slowly untangling the leash.

How he moved with grace and power, even in his simple gestures. He was tall, lean and muscular, broad shoulders identifiable even in his sweatshirt with the UC Berkeley name and logo on it.

“There we go, Sally,” Liam said, his voice a rumbling, soothing cascade.

Sally licked Dahlia’s hand, bringing her out of her staring. She gulped and felt the heat of a blush creep up her neck and onto her cheeks. Dahlia stroked the soft fur to cover her embarrassment. It had been a long time since she’d felt attracted to anyone. Everyone she’d dated at the Pole was so familiar to her, and mostly related. She didn’t have time for a distraction.

She looked up when she heard Liam chuckling. He was shaking his head.

“What?” She couldn’t help but ask.

He shrugged. “I guess I should run into girls more often with my roommate’s dog. I didn’t realize it could be such a pleasant experience.”

“You must not walk her very often then.” Oh my, she was flirting. The Elf boys back home never brought that out of her. She felt her pale skin flush. Och, yes, this was a man, she thought. “Thank you, then. For the pleasant experience. And the untangling.”

“You’re welcome.” Liam said to her, smiling, that one dimple showing again. Then he spoke to the dog. “Come on Sally. Let’s finish your walk, so we can go watch the game.”

Dahlia waved good-bye and turned to go down the street and head for her apartment. But first she had to watch Liam walk away. He fit nicely into his jeans. For a moment, a pang of wistfulness washed through her. She shook her. She had other things to focus on, like completing her toy on time so she could get her Master Elf badge, and even win the Grand Prize.

She was sure she’d be able to make progress on her toy tonight. Maybe it was something about meeting a happy dog and tall brown-eyed man that made her feel hopeful. Yes, she would get her toy done in time.

***

To read the entire first chapter, click HERE
Kindle Purchase Link

 

 

 


Love, chaotic magic, and cupcakes. What could possible go wrong?

What if you risked losing your baking legacy by cooking up a love truly special?

Florian MacMillian needs a final job to complete his baking resume—preferably a job where he’s unlikely to blow things up with his unruly magic—before returning to the North Pole and taking his rightful place as Master Baker to all the elves.

Kate Delore desperately needs help in her fast-growing cupcake business in downtown San Francisco.

Florian is a perfect fit, so she brings him on as baker.

For a short time, Florian is happily up to his elbows in batter, and Kate’s business is booming.

But when things heat up between them, Florian wonders if he should risk his legacy to cook up something truly special.

Kindle Purchase Link
Print Purchase Link

 

 


Chapter One
Monday, December 1, San Francisco

“Help wanted. Must be good with pastry baking, parties + kids. Part-time/Holiday Temporary. Competitive pay. Flexible hours. Apply in person. Bring printed resume. Must love cupcakes.”

Florian jumped off the trolley at the bottom of Market Street and checked the address on his smart phone’s map. He peered around at the busy area, looking for his new possible employment, Kate’s Cupcake Cart. He didn’t see it. He must be off by a few blocks. He hustled back up Market Street, one of San Francisco’s main boulevards.

A cold brisk wind had him turning up his collar, pulling down his cap more over his ears—couldn’t have people spotting them and asking questions—and tightening his scarf. He loved the weather at the city on the bay. Way warmer than New York City where he’d been working up to last week, and way, way warmer than back home at the Pole.

He stood on the busy street corner of the city’s Financial District and swiveled, not just his head, but his whole body. He still didn’t see it. He was about to wave his hand to stir up some magic, maybe bring a magnifying glass in front of him—he never knew exactly what he’d conjure—but then saw as the busy crowd thinned for a moment what he was looking for. A small food stand perched on the corner, kitty corner to where he stood. A big sprinkle-top cupcake jauntily capped the sign that stated in broad flourish font, “Kate’s Cupcake Cart.” At the other end of the sign, a frothy cappuccino angled in nice symmetry. He smiled. His sign-making elf cousins couldn’t have done a better job.

He crossed the street, a bounce in his step, and wiggled his fingers in his pockets. Nerves. This job would work out. Had to. He needed one more stint of unique work experience to round out his resume, emphasis on the unique. Uncle, known as Santa to the rest of the world, expected him to have a diverse and eclectic resume when he returned home to finally ascend to his rightful place as Master Baker for the entire North Pole community. He was young for a Master Baker but ambitious. He still had to prove himself.

He approached the cupcake cart and stood in line, already ten people deep at 9 a.m. He bounced up and down on his toes. A busy boutique business, how fun. What a refreshing change from the bigger business he’d worked in recently. He’d mostly worked in storefronts or pastry kitchens this past year. He was almost done with his year abroad. His family would so delight in his travels. He couldn’t wait to tell them about his confection adventures at the festivities Christmas morning.

Vibrant, hopping San Francisco was his last stop. A nice bonus. There was something special about this sparkling city by the bay. Another bonus: He’d enjoy a taste of a mild winter before returning home.

What better way to end his year abroad than to make cupcakes in a vibrant city for quirky Californians? Now he just needed to wow the proprietor of this cute establishment for the final flourish to his resume.

***

To read the entire first chapter, click HERE

Kindle Purchase Link
Print Purchase Link

 

 

Books, the perfect Christmas present! 

All the Books in the Touchstone Series

Touchstone of Love (A Time Travel Romance) (Touchstone, #1)
A Christmas Fling (A Christmas Elf Romance) (Touchstone, #2)
Parisian Amour (A Fairy Tale Romance) (Touchstone, #3)
A Labyrinth of Love and Roses (A Fairy Tale Romance) (Touchstone, #4)
A Cupcake Christmas (A Christmas Elf Romance) (Touchstone, #5)

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized