Tag Archives: Christmas

Review of “Once Upon a Romance (A Dream Come True Book 1)” – Alex Bailey

The first book in A Dream Come True series is a heart-warming holiday romance set in “The Most Magical Place On Earth.”

Christmas. Disney. Romance. No greater magic.

When Sophie’s eight-year-old niece, Ariel, asks Santa Claus for a single wish to honor her mom’s memory, Sophie knows she must grant it. Unfortunately for Sophie, Ariel’s wish is to ride her mom’s favorite ride on Christmas day, and it’s at the last place on earth Sophie wants to visit—Walt Disney World. It will be the first Christmas without her sister, and reliving childhood memories of her best friend is not how she wants to spend her holiday. Sophie’s only desire is to spend Christmas on the slopes with her reliable and stable beau, Darren, who has reluctantly agreed to postpone their trip until the day after Christmas. 

But when Sophie runs into a charming stranger, who offers up his extensive Disney knowledge, he instantly becomes her hero. A wave of relief washes over Sophie—he may just be the one to give Ariel the magical experience she desires. And, even though Sophie doesn’t realize it, he may be exactly what she needs too.

Can a bit of Christmas magic help this ruggedly-attractive stranger win Sophie’s heart when she believes it already belongs to Darren? And will Sophie continue to allow her painful past to haunt her, or will she let it go?

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“Can I help you?” asked a quite attractive man wearing Mickey Mouse ears and a Mickey Mouse Hawaiian shirt, standing a few feet away from them. His broad shoulders and almost-black close-cropped beard and mustache completed his rugged outdoors-type look. He was the exact opposite of Sophie’s type.

Oh good, a concierge! “Yes, please.” Sophie was drawn into his smiling deep-brown eyes. “Could you point us in the direction of the restroom?”

“I’ll do you one better. Follow me.” He headed away from the Christmas tree with Sophie and Ariel in tow.

Ariel dumped her bags and ran in while Sophie tried to gather them. She needed to be in the restroom with her niece, Sophie didn’t allow Ariel to go into public places alone. But with her own luggage, she wasn’t able to manage it all. She looked at the concierge, muscles bulging under his short sleeves. He looks strong enough to carry all this. “Would you be able to take these bags to the check-in station while I tend to my niece?”

“Sorry?”

His confused look made Sophie wonder if Disney had slacked off of their standards of only hiring the chirpiest employees, or rather as Disney referred to them, cast members. “The bags?” She dropped everything back on the floor, except her cross-body purse.

“Okay, I get it now!” he laughed heartily. “You think I work here?”

“Well, don’t you?” She looked him up and down, as though her scan of his outfit proved the fact that he did, indeed, work there. When her gaze rested on his face, there was something pleasingly familiar about it. “The Mickey Mouse Hawaiian shirt? The ears?”

He eyed her as if she’d just said his foot was growing out of his nose and then shook his head. “You’ve never been here, have you?”

Annoyed at his insinuation, she said, “I have. But it’s been a while.”

“Well, stick around. You’ll see a lot of things here that you don’t see in everyday life.” Then he winked and said, “And you may just see some magic if you keep your eyes and heart open to it.

 

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

 

I absolutely adored Once Upon A Romance by Alex Bailey. It, without a shadow of a doubt, captured the true magic of Disney.

If you’ve never been to a Disney park, I know you’ll be booking a vacation there after you read Once Upon A Romance. Alex Bailey’s love for Disney shines throughout the story. If you have been to a park before, then I’m sure it’ll bring back fond memories of your time there. It did that for me.

Like Sophie, Ariel, and Ray, I stayed at the Animal Kingdom resort. I didn’t go during the Christmas season but my time there was no less magical. Like Ariel, I was captivated by the wildlife grazing below my balcony. The resort is pricey but well worth every penny.

Disney is ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ for a reason. It brings joy to hearts, no matter what age, gender, ethnicity, color, and so on. Disney is all about love and happiness. Once Upon A Romance was all about love and happiness as well: the love for a deceased wife/mother/sister/daughter, the love for a deceased fiancée, the love and compassion a child expresses for everyone, and the love blossoming between two people.

I just can’t praise Alex Bailey enough for this feel-good book. I encourage everyone, young and old, to read Once Upon A Romance. It will warm your heart and make you smile.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤❤

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Alex Bailey was a bored writer/editor of documents as humdrum as vacuum cleaner manuals. She left that life behind to create more exciting worlds than the one she lived in. The Future Memoir of Ann Jones was the first book under her (absolutely necessary) assumed identity (in order to hide Ann Jones’ identity). When she’s not dreaming of being swept away to “The Most Magical Place on Earth,” she’s tending to her organic garden while belting out Disney tunes. Some of her favorite hobbies include: telling her children that “Mother knows best,” attempting to convince woodland creatures to clean her house for her, wishing upon stars, and Disney-ing.

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Happy Holidays!

There are many holidays celebrated during the month of December. No matter where you are from or who you are, I wish you all a happy holiday season.

(Sorry if I didn’t list your holiday/celebration below. If you don’t see yours listed and would like it added, please let me know and I will add it.) 

 

 

(Stay tuned: More reviews, interviews, showcases and giveaways coming in 2019.) 

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Author Showcase – Lori Wilde (The Christmas Key: A Twilight, Texas Novel)

There’s a legend in Twilight, Texas. If you sleep with a kismet cookie under your pillow on Christmas Eve, you will dream of your one true love.

She saw him in her dreams . . .

It’s impossible! Naomi Luther was standing face-to-face with the man she’d dreamed about over a year ago. Was it the magic of kismet Christmas cookies that brought him to her? Or is there an even greater force at work? All Naomi knows is she is falling, hard and fast, for the one man all good sense says she should not have.

She was his buddy’s sister . . .

Rebellious Mark Shepherd found order in the Marines but chaos on the battlefield. In a mission gone wrong, Mark is injured and one of his fellow soldiers loses his life. Haunted by guilt, he arrives in Twilight to keep a solemn promise. But when the Luthers mistake him for their handyman, he’s swept up in playing Santa to his buddy’s orphan son . . . and falling hard for Naomi’s irresistible bright spirit and sweet, sexy smile. But what will happen when she learns the truth?

 

(Excerpt courtesy of Lori Wilde’s Website)

 

December 2nd, The Teal Peacock, Twilight, Texas.

“Hon, if I put another thing on top of that pile, you’re not going to be able to see where you’re going.”

Undaunted, Naomi Luther dropped her shoulders. The subtle move lowered the boxes stacked in her arms about half an inch. She was a pro. For the past five years, she’d owned Perfect Fit, a personal-shopping business. She had this.

“Lookee,” Naomi said. “If you take that last box out of the bag, there’s enough room to slide it right on top of the others. And I’ll be able to hold it all down with my chin.”

The older woman behind the counter, Patsy Crouch, looked skeptical. “One false move and the whole shebang will come crashing down.”

“I’ll be fine,” Naomi reassured her with a jovial grin. “Go ahead. Stock it to me.”

“You are so funny,” Patsy laughed. “It’s amazing the way you’ve bounced back after—”

“Gotta keep my spirits up for Hunter.” She polished her smile, brightening its sheen. Hoping to head Patsy off at the pass. This Christmas mustbe a happy one. Which granted, was hard to pull off when everyone in town kept recounting her family’s sorrows.

“How are things with Robert?” Patsy asked.

Naomi pressed her lips together. She didn’t want to get into her love life. Or lack there of. “Robert and I are….”

What was her situation with her long-distance boyfriend? She wished she knew. When Robert took the job in Denver, they’d had an understanding. Robert would get his life and career in Colorado established and then she would join him and they’d get married. It wasn’t an official engagement. Nothing formal. He’d not asked for her hand in marriage. But she’d planned on marrying him since she was a junior in high school. She had a hope chest, and a wedding idea book stuffed with dreams.

 But since last Christmas, everything had changed. And Naomi was no longer quite sure where she and Robert stood. She hadn’t seen him in four months. They texted, but it was not daily. They’d both been so busy. Shocked, she realized they hadn’t even talked on the phone in over a month.

“It’s complicated,” she said as much to herself as to Patsy. “All my focus is on Hunter right now. It has to be.”

“Does that mean he’s free to date other people?”

That pulled her up short. She hadn’t really thought about it. Robert hadn’t mentioned wanting to see other people. Was he seeing other people?

“How about you?”

Naomi made a dismissive sound. “If I had time for dating I could fly to Denver every few weeks and reconnect with Robert..”

“Robert’s not coming around to the idea of you adopting Hunter, is he?” Patsy looked at her over the rim of the reading glasses perched on the end of her nose. “That’s the real issue.”

Patsy made a good point, but she wasn’t going to discuss that. She and her parents had decided as a family that Naomi should be the one to adopt Hunter since her mother’s health was fragile and her parents were both over sixty. Robert hadn’t understood, and asked why her parents were trying to “saddle” her with her dead brother’s baby.

They’d had a huge fight over it. He didn’t get that adopting Hunter had been heridea, not her folks. In fact, they’d tried to dissuade her, telling her they didn’t want her to give up her life to raise her brother’s child. But Hunter was everything to her.

Her relationship with Robert had not been the same since, even though he’d apologized, and they’d smoothed things over.

On the surface, anyway.

“I’m sure everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.” Patsy took the box out of the shopping bag she’d just put it in.

“Hopefully..” Naomi felt unsettled by Patsy’s questions because she didn’t know the answers, and she hated not being in control.

“How’s your mother?” Patsy’s voice lowered, knitting a sympathetic tone.

Naomi flinched at the pity, but kept the smile pasted on her face. Nothing was gonna get her down. The family had been steeped in sorrow long enough. Being happy didn’t mean they still didn’t grieve their losses. But if she’d learned anything, it was that life was short and you had to make the most of it.

And hey, in high school, she hadn’t been a cheerleader for nothing. Rah, Rah Twilight Titans.

“Mom’s good.”

“I know this is a rough time of year for your family. The holidays—”

“We’re fine.” Her smile stiffened, but she kept her voice loose. A flag flapping in the breeze. Oh, say can you see, life is good, good, good. “We’re doing great. Honest.”

“You’ve all suffered a huge loss.” Patsy added the box to the leaning Tower of Pisa in Naomi’s arms. “It’s okay to grieve. I—”

“Could you open the door for me, please? Thank you.” Naomi locked her elbows to help brace the load. Mashed her chin against the top package. Squelched the sad feelings rising up inside her.

None of that, Missy.

“How far to your van?” Patsy asked.

“It’s in the shop. Transmission overhaul. It’ll be out of commission all week.” But she wasn’t letting the inconvenience get her down.

“So how are you getting all this home?”

“Jana’s swinging around to pick me up at the curb.”

“You sure you don’t need help getting the packages into Jana’s Jeep?” Patsy folded the empty bag emblazoned with a teal peacock and stuck it back inside the drawer.

“Juggling packages is all part of the Christmas fun, right?”

Patsy hustled across the old wooden floor to open the door, moving fast for a woman in her late sixties. “Do mind your step, hon, and watch out for the workmen setting up Dickens.”

During the first weekend in December, tourists flocked to Twilight. Looking for fun at the annual Dickens on the Square festival. Normally, Naomi loved this time of year. But after last year’s tragedies…

Stop. No unwanted thoughts. Come hell or high water, this was going to be the best Christmas ever. No excuses.

With the packages blocking her view, Naomi inched down the stairs of the Teal Peacock. Workmen were stringing electrical cords and wiring. Two crewmembers carried neon orange sawhorses. They were using them to block off the cross streets.

Dang it. Now, Jana wouldn’t be able to drive through that way and pick her up. She’d have to wait on the curb with her unwieldy load while Jana circled around to the back of the building.

No worries, no worries. Smile. Life is good. Yes, her arms were screaming at her to put down the packages, but she could ignore the burn for a little longer.

Hurry, Jana, hurry.

It was okay. Achy arms weren’t going to kill her, and it wasn’t as if she didn’t have a loving community to help. Things were so much better than they were a year ago. She counted her blessings. She was healthy. Her business was turning a profit. She had parents who loved her. She lived in the best small town in Texas.

And she had the sweetest little boy who was about to become her son. Who could ask for anything more?

“Thank you,” she murmured skyward. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Jana’s black Jeep Grand Cherokee pulled up to the curb. Whew! Nick of time. Relieved, she headed toward the back of the Jeep.

“Here, here,” said one of the workmen. “Let me help.” The man stretched out long, reached for the handle, and flung the door open.

“Thank you.” Naomi breathed, offered him a harried smile. Nice man. Helpful. She dumped the packages in the backseat, and slammed the door. Heard her cell phone ding from the bottom of her purse.

She wanted to ignore it, but with Hunter in preschool, she didn’t dare. Digging in her purse for the phone, she hopped into the passenger seat. Without looking around, she clicked on her seatbelt.

The workman shut the door behind her. She nodded at him, waved.

“Hello,” she said into the phone, but the caller hung up. She pulled the phone from her ear to see who’d called.

Jana.

Huh? Why was Jana calling her when she was sitting right here in the car with her? She turned to her best friend.

But it was not Jana sitting in the driver’s seat.

Rather, it was a man. A tall man. A handsome man. A complete stranger. And…

Sweet

Holy

Mother

of

baby

Jesus…

He bore an uncanny resemblance to the dark-haired man she’d dreamed of last Christmas Eve, when she’d slept with a kismet cookie under her pillow. Not that she believed in the legend.

And yet, here he was.

Believe me now?Taunted the legend.

“Eeep!” Naomi cried, scrambling for the door handle to jump out.

But the seatbelt yanked her backward, Tightening down on her chest. Which he must have noticed. Because he was staring at her breasts with an amused expression on his gorgeous mug.

Feeling like a ginormous idiot for getting into the wrong vehicle, she blurted, “Who are you?”

“Better question,” he said in a voice as deep and dark as the Brazos River at midnight. “Who are you?”

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Lori Wilde is the New York TimesUSA Today and Publishers’ Weekly bestselling author of 85 works of romantic fiction. She’s a three time Romance Writers’ of America RITA finalist and has four times been nominated for Romantic Times Readers’ Choice Award. She has won numerous other awards as well. Her books have been translated into 26 languages, with more than four million copies of her books sold worldwide. Her breakout novel, The First Love Cookie Club, has been optioned for a TV movie.

Lori is a registered nurse with a BSN from Texas Christian University. She holds a certificate in forensics, and is also a certified yoga instructor.

A fifth generation Texan, Lori lives with her husband, Bill, in the Cutting Horse Capital of the World; where they run Epiphany Orchards, a writing/creativity retreat for the care and enrichment of the artistic soul.

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Author Showcase – Adam Wallace (How to Catch an Elf) (Only YOU Can Save Christmas!) (The Holiday Heroes Save Christmas)

Age Range: 4 – 8 years | Grade Level: Preschool – 3

New York Times and USA Today Bestseller!

“With delightful rhymes, How to Catch an Elf slots itself into place along such classics as “The Night Before Christmas.”―Foreword Reviews

You’ve been waiting all year long, and now it’s finally Christmas Eve! Is this the year you’ll finally catch an elf? Start a new Christmas tradition with this hilarious children’s book from the creators of the New York Times best-seller How to Catch a Leprechaun!

 

“It’s Christmas Eve! Hip hip, hooray!
Yes, Santa’s coming ’round.
He’s bringing toys to girls and boys
in every house in town.”

“Some kids have tried to catch him,
but Santa’s fast, you see!
So they’ve set their eyes on a smaller prize,
and now they’re after me!”

 

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Age Range: 5 – 10 years  | Grade Level: 1 – 5

It’s Christmas Eve, and Santa needs YOUR help in this fun, interactive picture book from the New York Times bestselling author of How to Catch an Elf!

It’s Christmas Eve, and everything at the North Pole is going according to plan…until an elf discovers that Santa doesn’t have a present ready for Mrs. Claus! Time is running out, and you’re the only one who can help. But you’ll have to honk, whistle, wiggle, and shake to make things turn out all right.

 

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Age Range: 4 – 8 years | Grade Level: 2 – 3

This just in–breaking news from the North Pole!

Santa Claus can’t deliver presents on Christmas Eve and he needs backup. But not just anybody can help him–he needs the Holiday Heroes!

This Christmas, it’s up to the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, a Witch and a Leprechaun to fill in for Santa and save Christmas.

Can the Holiday Heroes deliver presents without being spotted? Will they be able to pull off Christmas in the end?

 

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I am a New York Times Bestselling author who loves writing stories that make children laugh and get excited about reading and drawing and writing and naps and music. As in I like naps and music. The books don’t make kids excited about naps and music.

I now have over 45 books published and out in the world, and love each one as if it were my child … except if that child is like really naughty and always breaks my favourite things and writes bad words on the walls of our house.

None of my books are like that.

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Author Showcase – Laura M. Baird (Rory’s Christmas Angel)

Print Length: 110 pages

Instinct kicks in as Frankie Chandler, former Navy nurse, now soon to be veterinarian, witnesses an accident and rushes to save a man’s life. When State Trooper Rory Sanders arrives on the scene, he’s awestruck at the sight of the gorgeous woman taking charge. Once the frenzy is over, both are reluctant to walk away from their mutual attraction. But they’ll each have to get beyond their hesitations, such as Rory telling himself it’s okay to let love in while raising his daughter after losing his wife, and Frankie who’s never had a serious relationship in her life because she’s been focused on school while also helping raise her nephew. Will the power of love win out and make their Christmas wishes come true?

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~~ Excerpt ~~

 

Widower, Florida State Trooper Rory Sanders encounters ex-Naval nurse, Frankie Chandler, at a road-side accident. One look has him bewildered at his instant attraction. Is it a sign that he’s ready to open his heart in order to find love again?

While pursuing her degree in veterinary science as well as helping raise her young nephew, Frankie doesn’t have time for a relationship. But fate has no concept of time when the striking Rory Sanders bursts onto the scene.

Rory ran to the scene and catalogued what was happening. An older man stood by while a younger man and a woman were crouched down attempting to pull someone out of the car. He couldn’t see the woman’s face as her back was to him. All he could see was a red and black flannel shirt atop jeans that fit snugly to a shapely backside.

Jesus! What’s wrong with you? You’re at an accident, not here to ogle this woman!

As he got closer, he heard the woman yell, “Three!” And everything seemed to happen at once. He heard the clicking of the seat belt, and he saw rapid movements of the man and woman cradling the victim as they carefully maneuvered him out of the crunched car. He saw the woman turn and bright green eyes collided with his, leaving him momentarily stunned. Short blond hair haloed her face as a rosy blush colored her cheeks. Probably from the exertion. Or more likely from the heat of the car which suddenly had flames bursting from the engine compartment.

“Move!” the woman yelled.

While they scrambled to pull the man further away from the vehicle, Rory shot forward to assist. He grabbed near the victim’s shoulders while the woman held the torso and the younger man moved to hold the legs. Together, they got the victim a safe distance from the burning car before setting him down, he and the woman kneeling at his upper body. Looking at the man, he noticed a gash across his forehead that was bleeding freely, and he appeared unresponsive.

Before Rory could act, the woman was tearing off her flannel to reveal a black tank top beneath. As well as more shapely anatomy. Rory tried hard not to stare at the generous breasts and the well-toned arms, at the intricate tattoo gracing an arm—the design he couldn’t quite make out due to the woman’s quick movements.

“He’s unresponsive!” she yelled. “Hold this to his head while I start CPR.” She shoved her shirt into Rory’s hands while she assessed for a pulse. She must have felt one, because her next step had been to check for breathing. As her cheek hovered above the victim’s mouth, she looked down at the man’s chest. Her next move then had been to tilt the chin up and pinch this nose while she gave breaths.

Oh, to have that beautiful face so near to him. To have those lips touch his.

Rory shook his head to clear his incredible thoughts, wondering what the hell was wrong with him.

“His pulse is faint but he’s not breathing,” she said. “I’ll continue breaths until the ambulance arrives.”

That prompted Rory to speak. “An ambulance should be here shortly, coming from Gainesville.” While kneeling down on the opposite side of the victim, across from the angel … er … the woman, he continued. “I’ll relieve you if needed. I’m Trooper Sanders. Rory Sanders.”

After two more breaths, the woman pierced him with her emerald eyes and said, “I’m Chandler, Frankie Chandler.” Her voice had been almost lyrical even in the tense situation, and he shouldn’t have been zeroing in on her plump lips, but that’s exactly what he did.

“Used to be a nurse in the Navy,” the older man supplied as he stated his name while standing over the scene. “I didn’t think it wise to move the man, but she seemed certain it had to be done. Good thing, seeing as he would have burned to a crisp if not for her actions.”

Rory looked to see flames licking over every inch of the vehicle. He clicked his radio to update the situation, saying they’d need a fire truck and a wrecker on scene. Once he got the affirmative from Dee, he faced the group again.

“That’s for sure,” said the younger man. “I’m Frank and that’s my truck.” He indicated to the parked semi with a nod of his head. “Saw this guy weaving all over, in and out of traffic until he clipped my truck and flipped. Scariest thing I ever saw.”

Rory looked at each person before his gaze fell back onto Frankie as she finished another round of breaths. Or was it Franki? Or Franky? Dammit! Concentrate! “Pretty brave and quick thinking.”

“I couldn’t not help. Instinctual training took over.” She once again positioned her face over the victim’s mouth while feeling his pulse. Bringing her head back up, she said, “Still not breathing and his pulse is even weaker. May have to start compressions.”

Rory nodded. “Are you still a nurse?”

“No.” She shook her head. “I’m in my final year at U of F, becoming a vet.”

“A veterinarian?” Rory asked, knowing he must have seemed dumbfounded. All he could do was stare at Frankie, wanting to know more.

“Yes.” She smiled. And boy, what that did to her face, her entire presence. Even with the smudged dust on her skin and her hair in disarray, she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. “Are you all right, Sanders?” she asked.

Was he? 

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Wife, mother, former U. S. Army, and dental hygienist, I can now add published author to the list. I’m slowly transitioning out of hygiene, hoping to make writing a full-time endeavor. After writing for many years, my publishing dreams came true in August of 2017 with the release of my debut contemporary romance, “Keyed Up”. Since then, I’ve had the fortune to work with several publishers, and as of June 4th, my eighth title was released. Hopefully many more are on the way!

I write in a variety of romance subgenres: contemporary, comedy, and erotic, with stories containing suspense and small-town romance in the works. I’m constantly learning, loving the journey, and all the amazing people I’m meeting. A voracious reader myself, I enjoy all romance from contemporary to erotic to paranormal to suspenseful.

I strive to write stories I can be proud of and enjoyed by many; ones that are not only sexy and fun, but thoughtful as well.

I grew up on the East Coast and now reside on the West Coast, having lived in FL, GA, SC, MA, ID, and WA. Hubby and I hope to fill our passports with stamps from Scotland and Fiji, to name a few destinations. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy the beauty of the PNW.

 

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