A Christmas Carole: The Dickens of a Romance by @AndiDowning is a Christmas in July Fete pick #books
Title: A Christmas Carole: The Dickens of a Romance
Author: Andrea Downing
Genre: Contemporary Western Romance
Carrie Matheson is happy to start a new life at the Wyoming ranch she has inherited, but her six-year-old son wants to return to New York. As Christmas approaches and his pleas to Santa receive replies, it’s alarm bells, not sleigh bells that start ringing. Tate Schrugge is amused by his new neighbor when she jogs over with some mis- delivered mail, but after she calls him Scrooge, she’s definitely not on his Christmas list.
If these two can get together, it might be the Dickens of a romance.
She spotted the mailbox for the Schrugge ranch. Not bad. As Grayson had advised, she headed up their ranch road and admired the long, low log-cabin-style home—certainly larger than any log cabin she’d ever seen. There were rocking chairs on a front porch and hooks where she could envisage hanging baskets in the spring and summer, large old milk urns crying out for geraniums or other flowers. From beyond came the sound of some cattle lowing and the nickers of horses. Probably the rancher had also brought his herd down from high ground for the winter.
Carrie jogged in place so she could make the run back to her ranch, and knocked with a somewhat heavy hand on the front door. Footsteps sounded from inside and Carrie pulled the letters out from her pack, scanned them briefly before the door opened and revealed a stout woman.
This person smiled a welcome as she stood giving Carrie the once over, and then took a step back.
Carrie continued her jogging. “Uh. Mrs. Scrooge…I mean, Schrugge?”
The woman’s face abruptly changed. “You call anyone around here Scrooge and you’ll be the one wishing for Christmas past. What can I do for you?”
“Sorry. Sorry, only these letters were mistakenly left over at the Lazy M so I—”
“Hetty? Do you need me?” A deep, rich voice came from further inside the house, followed by the soft tread of socked feet approaching.
Carrie was trying to continue to jog in place but nearly tripped over her own feet when the owner of the voice appeared. She found herself peering up at about six foot three of brown-haired, blue-eyed, chiseled cowboy. Somewhat embarrassed, she noted his gaze run over her from her baseball cap to her sneakers and back up again, a suppressed smile on his face before he spoke. She swiped a line of sweat winding its way down from under her cap.
“Uh.” He seemed at a loss for words. “Can I help?”
Hetty’s knuckled fist sat on her expansive waist and she shook her head. “She’s brought letters from the Lazy M.”
He looked confused. “An invitation?”
Was there the merest glimmer of hope in his voice? “No, um . . . letters meant for you were mistakenly put in my box.” Carrie handed over the pile. “I mean, I’m sure if I were inviting . . .or having a party—oh hell, I mean, I’m sure—”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake. Get hold of yourself, will you, and stop jiggling about like that for a second.” Hetty shook her head in dismay, then looked up to the rancher. “I’ll leave Miss Smelly Neon Bright with you to sort out, I’ve got work to do.” And with that, she waddled away.
Carrie took in a deep breath and started again. “Sorry. The letters were left in our mailbox so I brought them over. That’s all.”
“Got it the first time. Or maybe it was the second.” His gaze examined her once more and his brow wrinkled. “You said ‘our box’. Are you…?”
“Sorry, I should have introduced myself. Carrie Matheson.” She extended her damp hand and the cowboy grasped it.
Carrie noticed he didn’t give his last name, but then again, he didn’t have to since she had his letters.
“I was sorry to hear about Tom’s passing. You must’ve been very close.”
“Well. No, actually, he was my father’s older brother and we rarely saw him.”
“But he left me the ranch I guess as his only relative, so I’m here now.”
“I can see that.”
Carrie stood in stupefied embarrassment for a moment before she tried to jog once more. “Well. I better be off. I’m running.”
“Yeah. I can see that, too. I was sort of hoping that wasn’t your normal attire.”
Carrie caught her breath and had to stop herself from smacking him. The nerve! He probably never wore anything other than jeans and a checked shirt. Even if those jeans did fit remarkably well, and the blue checked shirt brought out his eyes. She glared at him one long instant before stepping off the porch to leave. Then she twisted back to him.
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Scrooge.”
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A native New Yorker who has spent most of her life living in the U.K., Andrea Downing currently divides her time between the canyons of city streets and the wide-open spaces of Wyoming. Her background in publishing and English Language teaching has transferred into fiction writing, and her love of horses, ranches, rodeo, and just about anything else western, is reflected in her award-winning historical and contemporary western romances.
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WEBSITE AND BLOG: http://andreadowning.com
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/Andrea-Downing/e/B008MQ0NXS/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
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