Small Town Christmas Baby – An Excerpt

Small Town Christmas Baby Cover Twins Bow-2I’m very excited for the upcoming Authors of Main Street Christmas box set! It’s scheduled to be released in October and we’ll keep you posted. We’ll have over ten novellas about the warmth of Christmas, romance and BABIES!

My story in the anthology is set in the small (quasi) fictional town of Hamlin, New Hampshire. This is the fourth book in my Small Town Romance series.

To give you a taste of what’s to come, here’s an excerpt from Small Town Christmas Baby:

Chapter 1

Lumberjacks adore New Hampshire. Trees grow faster here than Usain Bolt runs the 40-meter sprint. Julie, not being a lumberjack, had little appreciation for the giant trees with their enormous branches overhanging the Stillwater Inn. They’d need to call the tree chopper guy in again and it would cost thousands. Again.

She turned away from the window and vowed there was no way she would ask her husband for the money this time. She’d find it in the Inn’s budget if she had to make beds herself to save money.

Running her hand over her disappointingly small rounded belly, she turned her attention back to the cupcake frosting. One way to get a bunch of cash quick would be to win the Bake-off in Boston next month. She shoved aside the thought of rumblings from Jack about her needing to take care of herself and concentrate on the arrival of their first baby in a few months. Surely she could do two—maybe three or four—things at once. Lots of women did.

But as of today, Julie officially hated cupcakes. It was a shame because she was starving and she was staring at racks filled with all kinds of gems. But even the smell of her fresh-baked specials didn’t tempt her any more. These days she craved chocolate covered potato chips and hot dogs.

As she squeezed the bursts of frosting on the hundred and twelfth cupcake, the back door slammed and she looked up. It had to be Tammy. Only her oldest and best friend slammed the door open like that. It had always been Tam’s way to announce her arrival.

“You’re in time to help me.”

“You must be desperate. You know how I am with cake and icing—“

Julie waved her tube of icing.

“Not with that. I wouldn’t want your drool to contaminate the cake-lets. I need help with something far more important.”

“What the heck could that possibly be?”

Shoving aside the issue of tree-chopping money—because she knew deep down Jack would talk Uncle Billy into letting him pay on the grounds that Jack was part owner of the family Inn now since he was part of the family—she lasered in on the real gut-twister.

“I need to come up with a show-stopper of a Christmas gift for Jack.” She paused a beat while Tammy predictably rolled her eyes.

“Something I can afford on my own.”

* * * *

More to come when the entire set of Christmas Babies on Main Street by the Authors of Main Street will be available in a few short weeks.

In the meantime, look for the cover reveal soon!

A New Novella ~ Raine English

I tend to get more writing done in winter than any other time of year. And this year has been no exception. Living in New England where it’s cold and snowy, who wants to go outside? Even my dogs want to stay snuggled up in their beds. Most of my time is spent in my office working on my books, and even though I feel like a hermit, I love what I do.

I recently finished FROM NOW ON, a sweet contemporary romance set in Atlanta. It’s available for pre-order and will release on April 24th.

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Who says love’s sweeter the second time around?

When Whitney Adams discovers her first love is back in Atlanta, she can’t help but wonder if they might have a second chance at love. But after she learns there’s more to his kisses than wanting to rekindle their romance, she isn’t about to let her heart rule.

Cash Galloway has never forgotten his high school sweetheart, so when he might have another chance with her, he’s elated. However, his happiness is short lived once he discovers his new dream job involves acquiring Atlanta Belles—Whitney’s popular salon and spa. Will Cash lose the perfect woman a second time, or will love prevail?

Preorder FROM NOW ON today at the following retailers for just $0.99:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MTFXQ2N

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/from-now-on-raine-english/1125582062

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/from-now-on-11

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1200596315

~*~

 USA Today bestselling author Raine English writes sweet small-town contemporary romance, along with paranormal and romantic suspense. She’s a Daphne du Maurier Award winner and a Golden Heart finalist.

Small Town Romance

Guest Author – Magdalena Scott

Hello! I’m so excited to be with you here today. I’m a USA Today Bestselling Author of small town sweet romance and women’s fiction. I have two series so far–one set in Legend, Tennessee, and the other in Serendipity, Indiana.

The excerpt below is from WHERE HER HEART IS, book 3 of the McClains of Legend, Tennessee series. During the month of February, you can buy WHERE HER HEART IS for only 99 cents. And book 1, MIDNIGHT IN LEGEND, TN, is free!

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WHERE HER HEART IS

Betsy McClain left Legend, Tennessee two years ago, with a broken heart, a baby to care for, and precious little else. She’s done well in the city, and so has daughter LizBeth Ann. A heartfelt request from Dorothy McClain is the only thing that could bring them back to Legend, even temporarily.

Mike McClain wants to get to know his only child, but Betsy isn’t cutting him any slack. Good looks and the old McClain charm seem to be failing him. Betsy is not the same love-struck girl he married, nor the girl who left Legend in a flurry of anger and tears. But he’s changed too. Can’t she see that?

Mike is renovating the house where Betsy and LizBeth Ann are staying. Everyone in Legend would like to see them get back together. The only thing standing in the way is Betsy’s stubbornness…or is it Mike’s?

Set-up for the excerpt:

Mike is driving Betsy and LizBeth Ann back to the house in Betsy’s car. They’ve been to see Old Doc Parker because Betsy fell at the house. She’s on crutches with a badly sprained ankle.

Excerpt:

Betsy swatted at him gently, and smiled. It could have been a moment from a few years ago, when they’d been carefree.

“I hope you didn’t have other plans for the morning that all this has ruined, Mike.”

“Nope. Not really. Hey, why not have an early lunch while we’re out? You’re not gonna be walking around in the kitchen right away.”

“Well. I’d hate to make a fool of myself with these crutches in a restaurant.”

“We could have a picnic,” said LizBeth Ann.

“Sure,” Mike said, smiling. He caught her eye in the rear view mirror. “We like picnics, don’t we, Princess?”

“We love picnics!”

He drove to The Pig—the Piggly Wiggly grocery—and took LizBeth Ann in with him to choose their lunch. Then they went to Lake Legend, where he parked the Bug under a big maple tree.

“You feel like hobbling over to the picnic table, Betsy, or you want me to drag it over to you?”

“Drag it here, slave.” She threw her head back, closed her eyes, and gestured royally for the table to come hither.

In a moment she heard the scrape of wood on pavement and opened her eyes to see the picnic table six inches from where she sat. He hadn’t dragged it, of course. She could see the grass was fine. He had picked it up and carried it to her. Big strong guy, this Mike McClain. She looked up at him, noticing his goofy grin. Handsome too, for an almost-ex-husband.

“I can get to the table okay, I think.”

“All right. You get settled on the bench, and I’ll carry it back over in the grass.”

“Yay!” LizBeth Ann clapped her hands.

“No he won’t, honey. He’s just kidding.” She looked up at Mike. “You’re kidding, right?”

“I could do it.”

Well. Maybe he could. But what was brute strength without… She forgot what it was that Mike lacked. Not consideration for others. He definitely had shown that. Not responsibility. He’d made a very noisy point of that every morning since she’d come back to town.

His faults didn’t bear thinking about, of course. It was just a matter of time before they’d get the divorce papers signed.

The sandwiches, chips, apples, and bottled drinks made for a simple picnic, but somehow the mood was festive.

“Can I go on a boat?”

“What?” Betsy came out of the blurry reverie she’d been enjoying, watching the pedal boats move around on the lake.

“Can I go on a boat, Mommy?” She looked over at Mike then and batted her eyelashes. “Daddy?”

Lord help us. Where had the child learned eyelash-batting? She wasn’t even three years old for goodness’ sake!

Amazon link: http://a.co/5paVGnq

Romance with a Sense of Humor

Everyone here on Main Street wishes all of our readers a wonderful Valentine’s Day filled with love.

So what happens when you’ve been set up on a blind date for the Downtown Business Association dinner with the super handsome guy who managed to spilled coffee all over you?  This relationship isn’t off to a very good start. But maybe a romantic spin around the dance floor will change everything.

This excerpt is from the first book in the collection.

With This Ring

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Cody opened DeeDee’s door and offered her his arm as he held a large umbrella over her. She wanted to growl and bare her teeth. Instead, she ignored him.

The black pavement shimmered under the large floodlights, and in places looked white. Icy pellets hit the umbrella, cars, and pavement, creating a noisy staccato. Part of her was glad she wasn’t walking the eight blocks, but Cody Montgomery was probably the last person she wanted accompanying her.

She watched where she was stepping and realized he was wearing black snakeskin boots with gold tips this time. The desire to touch them and see how they were made overwhelmed her. She wanted to feel the leather and take notes on how they attached the metal tips. Why did they have to look so good? Why did he have to look so good in them?

When they reached the protective covering of the hotel’s baldachin, he closed the umbrella. The doorman opened the door and they stepped inside.

Victorian elegance screamed from every direction. It felt as though she had stepped back in time. In the very center of the room was a Christmas tree that had to have stood more than twenty feet high and was decorated in feathered ornaments and cut glass bubbles. Tiny candle-like lights flickered and added a magical touch to the tree. She wanted the name of whoever had decorated the tree. That took talent, and it was that kind of talent she wanted in her shop.

“This way.”

Cody’s words brought her back to why she was standing in the hotel’s large reception room. She followed him past the old curved mahogany desk that must have been fifty feet long. Brass bells sat every few feet along its polished surface and old-fashioned brass keys hung on the wall behind it.

This place is unreal! It’s gorgeous.

Cody yanked on her.

She gasped.

He chuckled as she tried to compose herself. If he hadn’t almost pulled her off her feet, she would have walked into a large column.

“Hello, Mr. Montgomery.” A woman sitting at a long table smiled as she handed him a name badge along with a handful of papers and several tickets. “Hold onto your tickets for our drawings. You wouldn’t want to miss out on all the fun.”

He nodded. “And this is Miz Deanne Drayden, our newest business owner on Main Street. I’d like you to meet Miz Margaret Olsen; she’s the secretary for our group.”

“Oh, yes. Elizabeth told me you’d be bringing her.” She looked at DeeDee and smiled, except it looked way too forced. “It’s here someplace. Oh, she picked up the nametag. “I’m afraid we have your name wrong. I thought Elizabeth said DeeDee.”

“That’s fine. DeeDee is a nickname. Pleased to meet you.” She offered her hand, but the woman placed the badge and the papers in it.

“Go right through those doors. Your seats have been assigned.” She pointed to a set of doors to their left. “Elizabeth made sure you were both together.”

Great! I’m stuck with him the entire night!

One long table sat near the wall and in front of it, there were several large round ones set for eight. The room was quickly filling with people. Cody kept his distance, but introduced her to everyone and made certain she knew who the important people were within the group.

After the usual dinner, a group of young scouts entertained them with carols. Then Carol Brady, who owned an income tax service franchise, took the mic and began to reiterate the year’s financial standing and accomplishments. “I’d also like to announce that we succeeded in our goal to collect over four hundred thirty-seven toys for needy families in the area.”

The room clapped and cheered, forcing the woman to stop until the revelry died.

“And as you know at the last meeting, we were under in our goal to raise money for fuel assistance to heat the homes of those less fortunate in our area. Since the mill closed, the needs of the community have risen significantly, and we expect this year to be even colder…”

DeeDee’s mind wandered to her own salon. She was standing on her head trying to get it off the ground and it had taken a fortune to do it. Now she’d be asked to contribute to the community. I cannot fail!

“But I’d especially like to thank Cody Montgomery for his anonymous donation of fifty thousand dollars to our community outreach fund.”

What! DeeDee gazed sideways at Cody who had dropped his head into his hand as the entire table muffled chuckles. DeeDee whispered, “Did she just say anonymous?”

“Well, it’s not anymore.”

Dr. Karen Hoovaar patted him on the arm and in a low tone said, “Thanks. It was much needed.”

By this time the entire room hummed in soft chuckles, giggles, and whispers.

Mr. Tyson spoke up, “Carol, anonymous means no one is supposed to know who donated the money. But I think everyone in this room appreciates what Mr. Montgomery did. That was very generous. I’ll remind everyone here that it was anonymous, so please keep the information to yourselves. What happens in this hotel stays in this hotel.”

A few minutes later, DeeDee was asked to stand, as she was welcomed to the association.

Then the DJ took over and tried to lighten the mood.

Cody put his hand on her back and whispered near her ear, “May I have this dance?”

She glared at him and he shrugged.

He held up both hands. “No coffee.”

She couldn’t hold back the smile that pulled at her cheeks. “Why not? I’ll warn you I’m not much of a dancer. I’ve had very little practice in my life.”

He held her chair. “I find that hard to believe. You have a natural grace.”

She raised her eyebrows and stared into his very blue eyes. “Chubby little girls don’t take ballet. They take tap.”

He chuckled. “Let’s see what you can do.”

He stopped by the DJ’s table and said something, then waited until Bill Medley crooned I’ve had the time of my life before escorting DeeDee onto the dance floor.

Butterflies rose in her stomach as he took her hand.

“Nice and easy, just follow me.”

It took her a second to catch onto the footwork.

Cody talked her through most of the steps. His grin was contagious and the room sort of fell away. It was just the two of them. He spun her around and even dropped her back over his arm. His arms encased her and she was pressed to his body. Her heart beat with the music but something deep inside her burned from his touch.

He spun her off, and inside she froze until she realized he was shedding his suit jacket. There was something about a man wearing a tailored vest and it caused that little fire to glow brighter. Then he grabbed her and they started again. It was the same basic steps done over and over. Some were closer and slower and some were faster and at a distance.

The music was inside of her. She was thirteen and dancing in her bedroom. Closing her eyes, she raised her arms above her head. She found herself smacked against his hard body. His breath was on her face, his hands on her waist. He lifted her into the air, and then slowly returned her feet to the floor as if she were a little feather. Her heart still pounded as the music died.

Still against his chest, Bless the Broken Road played as she found her breath during the slow dance. Her one arm rested over his shoulder while her other hand was entwined with his. His free hand pressed against the small of her back. A few minutes later, she rested her head on his shoulder and swayed to Elvis Presley singing I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You. The trance began to break and she realized she was on a dance floor with Cody Montgomery.

He escorted her back to their table, then out of the hotel, and into the freezing cold. “My place?”

Instant red flags rose in her. “No, take me home. I’m not some desperate female looking for a hot night. Besides, where’s your wife? Away for the weekend?”

He chuckled. “Oh, you are quite safe with me. And you don’t have to worry about the last female in my life, I dropped her in the compost pile years ago.”

Her insides turned to ice.

Wedding Vows is a collection of three books, in the Montgomery family saga, bound into one and specially priced to save you money. Or you can read for FREE as a Kindle Unlimited. It is also available in print.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Small Town Romance: Real or Fairytale? by Stephanie Queen

I’m on “Team Real”. Small towns are real. Romances are real–they happen all the Small Town Hot Shot Bride-2time–even in small towns (or else where would they get all those kids playing in the streets and the parks?)

It should come as no surprise however, that Myren, my chauffeur, is on “Team Fairytale”. He says small town romances remind him of Disneyland–all shiny and pretty on the surface,  and nothing but an illusion once you look behind the curtain.

So I said to Myren, “Quit looking behind the curtain.” I mean after all, why bother reading a novel if you’re looking behind the curtain to see what’s there?

What it comes down to is this: [Stephanie Queen Wisdom coming up] it’s a matter of being authentic rather than being real. It’s a matter of capturing the magic moments from life and blowing them up into a proportion that you can wrap your arms around and enjoy for a few hours as you read the story. The moments are real. Everyone has some in their life. The settings are ordinary and authentic. We all know a town with a charming Main Street that looks picture perfect at least sometimes.

The kind of magic moments that happen in small towns romances are particularly charming and have a tendency to make this reader very wistful. Because we could imagine being there, imagine that moment from our own life maybe. That first kiss with a guy you’ve admired from afar for months. Or the moment a special man proposed to you at the town fireworks display and you actually saw the explosions of color in the sky. Ordinary authentic moments.

We can look back or forward at our own lives to see moments like those in small town romance novels. Unlike a romantic suspense where most of us don’t have magical moments from our lives about capturing bad guys at gunpoint or being rescued by a super spy. [I’m on the record saying now that I’ve never been shot at.] The feeling I get from the larger than life stories is more like an escape into someone else’s life than wistfully remembering or imagining a snippet of our own.

That’s why I love writing small town romance novels–you know, the kind set on Main Street. Writing these lets me explore those wisps of time where the stars aligned and things were wonderful, and then expand on them. Writing these stories lets me re-imagine my world with some minor adjustments to make things exactly right. You know–the kind of world where the characters say the things you wish you could have said when you were there in that situation–when you were tongue-tied.

In my small town story world, things work out, at least for that magical moment in time, perfectly.  Until the next story starts with a new journey to the next moment of magical perfection.

You can read my latest story about Tammy from the small town of Hamlin who is wary of a charming guy from out of town. It’s a classic tale of a small town girl being swept away by the irresistible force of the forbidden stranger. Small Town Hot Shot Bride is available now in the Authors of Main Street Boxed set Love Blooms on Main Street.

Small Town Glamour Girl Wedding – a Novella by Stephanie Queen

Julie and Jack are over-the-moon crazy Romeo-and-Juliet in love with each other, but with their soon-to-be mothers-in-law battling for influence over the wedding plans they find themselves struggling to keep the peace. Small town traditions are pitted against big city-big money glamour in every decision from the wedding gown to the wedding reception. Finally when their mothers reveal a stunning secret from the past, Julie and Jack are forced to re-think their wedding. Will they or won’t they say I do?

Find out on June 9th with the release of the new boxed set from the Authors of Main Street, Weddings on Main Street!