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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…

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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.”

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

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The Christmas House Romances by Jennifer Griffith (3 Holiday Books)

The Christmas Cookie House 

Christmas, love, and a batch of cookies.

Leela Miller’s mom passed away last spring. Now, Leela is desperate to fill Mom’s shoes in the Ladies’ Auxiliary by chairing the Cookie House fundraiser. The hitch: mean-eyed Mrs. Coldicott refuses to host the event at her Society Row home as planned.

Leela must find a new venue big enough and fancy enough to draw in customers, or Mom’s event might get canceled. There’s only one perfect place: the Layton Mansion.

New vet school graduate Jay Wilson has been remodeling the Layton Mansion since he inherited it this summer. It’s almost Christmas, and the house is nearly ready to flip!

If he can get a good price for it, he can buy a partnership at a veterinary clinic out of town.

However, by stipulation of the will, Jay can’t sell the house until he cleans out the attic.

Jay needs help completing the enormous task before his deadline. The beautiful Leela will eagerly help—if he agrees to allow her to use the house for her event. But, when Jay learns that the Cookie House event is the same day as his sale deadline, will he sell the house out from under the girl he might just be falling in love with?

The Christmas Cookie House is Book 1 in the Christmas House Romance series by award-winning author Jennifer Griffith. Other books in the series include The Sleigh Bells Chalet and The Holiday Hunting Lodge. Jennifer writes clean, escapist fiction she calls Cotton Candy for the Soul—light, sweet, gone.

 

 

The Sleigh Bells Chalet 

Christmas, sleigh bells, and dashing through the snow—toward love.

Hotel owner Ellery Hart’s business is on the rocks. Rooms are empty, the lobby is ugly, and a huge loan payment is due. Unless she can pay, she will lose her grandpa’s legacy, the Bells Chalet. While her mom would have her marry the rich banker who is holding the hotel’s title ransom, that idea is beyond unacceptable.

Ellery needs brilliant business solution. But how to make one happen fast?

Bing Whitmore has been running the family business, Whitmore Thoroughbred Stables, on his own. But when his heart is broken by two females—horses, that is—he is thrown for an emotional loop, and all he wants to do is quit. Sell the stables. Never look at another horse again.

Instead, his cousin convinces him to take a vacation. They travel nine hours to the quietest hotel he can find—the Bells Chalet. Meeting a beautiful hotel owner makes this escape better than he could have hoped.

When Ellery needs help, Bing wants to do anything to make her smile, even if it means helping her fill the perfectly serene hotel with more guests. But when he learns that her hotel-saving plan involves the very thing he’s traveled so far to avoid, can Bing put aside his pain and help Ellery save her grandpa’s business and the jobs of the employees she loves?

The Sleigh Bells Chalet is Book 2 in the Christmas House Romance series by award-winning author Jennifer Griffith. Other books in the series include The Christmas Cookie House and The Holiday Hunting Lodge. Jennifer Griffith writes clean, escapist fiction she calls Cotton Candy for the Soul—light, sweet, gone.

 

 

The Holiday Hunting Lodge 

Snow, a hunting lodge, and a flight—both to and from—love.

Music composer Jesse Parrish has a dream contract! He’s been signed to write the soundtrack for a film with award potential. This one job could make his whole career. Twelve themes, all due to the producer at Christmas—but he’s completely blocked. He doesn’t have a single theme, let alone twelve.

He needs to get out of Vancouver and somewhere he can think.

Aspiring private pilot Mattie Daines has been crushing on Jesse since before he started dating Mattie’s older sister. His music makes her heart sing—but what kind of creep-o falls in love with her sister’s boyfriend? That’s half the reason she’s been working as an outdoors guide anywhere but Vancouver for the past couple of years.

When Mattie hears that Jesse is desperate for a private plane to take him to a friend’s mountain lodge, she leaps at the chance, if only to prove that she can be around him without her knees going weak.

Mattie whisks Jesse off to the mountains in her plane, but when bad weather threatens the flight, will this dangerous plane ride also threaten Mattie’s firm resolve not to let feelings for Jesse back into her life?

The Holiday Hunting Lodge is Book 3 in the Christmas House Romances series by award-winning author Jennifer Griffith. Other books in the series include The Christmas Cookie House and The Sleigh Bells Chalet. Read all three for a sweet holiday treat.

 

About Jennifer

Finally, a good hair day.

Jennifer Griffith is the award-winning, bestselling author of over twenty novels, both traditionally and independently published. She received a degree in English/Technical Writing and Japanese from Utah State University, and worked as a writer for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives before becoming a mother and switching to writing romantic comedy novels from home. She has done professional editing since 1991 and loves helping novelists take their work to the next level.

Jennifer has written for newspaper, her work appearing locally as well as in The Chicago Tribune and Meridian. Her book Big in Japan has been selected for both high school and college curriculum and has been optioned for film. She’s been a presenter at many workshops and conferences, including Salt Lake ComiCon and the ANWA Conference. She and her husband Gary have five brilliant and hilarious children ranging from ages 18 down to 8, who don’t care if she’s a writer; they just call her Mom.

Jennifer has no plans to write the Great American Novel. She’d rather compose what someone would read on a rainy afternoon with a cup of cocoa, or sitting on a beach chair while the waves crash. Light, frothy, gone.

To learn even more about Jennifer and get a view into her beliefs and what makes her who she is, read her spiritual blog here.

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