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New Release | A Secret Santa Christmas by @LucindaRace #holidayromance #romance #giveaway



Title A Secret Santa Christmas


Author Lucinda Race


Genre Small town holiday romance


Publisher MC Two Press


Book Blurb


Holly Ivey needs a change. After sacrificing everything for the big city office, her career is over, frozen as firmly as Antarctica. At a loss of what to do next, her father suggests she relocate to Dickens and run her grandmother’s yarn shop. But Holly doesn’t know a knitting needle from a crochet hook. How is she going to run Ivey’s Knittery? Fueled by determination and sweet memories of her grandmother, Holly accepts the challenge and moves to the quaint town, even though she feels like a fish out of water. Even worse, the holidays are huge in Dickens and, despite her festive name, Christmas just isn’t Holly’s thing. Gabriel Reyes is the Director of the Dickens Community Center and loves working with kids and the families in town. Every year he runs a toy drive but this year more families need help. Will the town’s Secret Santa step in to fill the town’s needs, and just who is the mysterious benefactor? When Gabriel meets the town’s newest shop owner, he begins to think the lovely Holly Ivey might be the girl to capture his heart. But only if he can help her find the Christmas spirit. Will the magic of the Christmas season melt Holly’s heart before it’s time for her to leave Dickens and Gabe behind?


Excerpt


Holly Ivey stood among the red and gold leaves littering the sidewalk, staring at a large wooden sign that was carved to look like balls of yarns and knitting needles jutting out at a ninety-degree angle from the facade, Ivey’s Knittery. Her shoulders slumped even lower as she pulled a large old-fashioned key from her jacket pocket and it fit in the lock. For now, running her grandmother’s knitting shop was her future and it was a far cry from the financial district in New York City. But what choice did she have?


A tall, dark-haired man walked by her and nodded his head with a polite smile. “Good morning.” She looked away and then back with a tentative smile before he entered the brick building a couple of doors down. If she remembered correctly, it was the community center.


She felt her cheeks grow warm and called after him with a tentative, “Hello,” but it was too late and he had disappeared from sight. Great, now someone was going to get all judgy and think she was some city slicker too stuck up to be friendly.


With a turn of the key, the shop door creaked as she pushed it open and the smell of old, stale air assaulted her nose. She flicked the light switch just inside the door and the interior was bathed with light so soft she had to squint to see the room. It appeared to be smaller than the last time she had been here two or maybe even three years ago. But it had been before high school that she helped out in the shop. Much to Grammie’s dismay, Holly worked every other odd job she could get to save money for college on her own; she wasn’t taking her parents money—not by a long shot. She had plans and goals and the only way to get there was hard work.


The door closed behind her with a soft thud. Straightening her shoulders, she strode to the back counter, determined to devote all her energy into turning her life around even if that meant living in the tiny town of Dickens. Depositing the small brown paper bag that held her lunch on a shelf and her laptop bag on the smooth oak counter, she might almost be ready to open for the day.


She walked around the shop, her fingers trailing over the tops of waist-high open shelves, each one filled to bursting with skeins of yarn in all colors of the rainbow. The two long walls had a similar style about them with a small rack of knitting and crochet needles. The scarred wooden floor was polished to a high gleam with the tapping of her kitten heels echoing off the high ceilings.


Then she noticed the OPEN sign was facing her, and with a flip of the slab of wood, she was now officially open for business. She peeked out the open door and glanced up and down the street, disappointed not a customer was in sight. Might be just as well. She needed to set up a new payment system for credit cards and check the safe for any surprises. But first she needed coffee and with any luck the old percolator that Grammie always had was still on a shelf in the back; at least that’s what her mother had said when her parents suggested she run the place while she got her bearings again.


It was a long morning but maybe it was a good thing she hadn’t had any customers. It had given her time to get the business side set up the way she wanted, including looking into better lighting. Her stomach grumbled and she had just set out her sad little peanut butter sandwich when the front door squeaked and the same man she saw early this morning walked in. Without looking in either direction, he headed right to the back counter.


His smile was wide and she couldn’t help but notice his dark hair, smoky black eyes, and well-trimmed beard and mustache. Extending his hand, he said, “Hello, welcome to the neighborhood. I’m Gabriel Reyes, the director of the Dickens Community Center.”


Returning the gesture, she provided a tentative smile of welcome. “I’m Holly Ivey, the new owner of this yarn shop.”


“You’re Chrissy’s granddaughter.”


His eyes softened and she couldn’t help but think he bore a striking resemblance to Jimmy Smits, the actor she had a crush on years ago when he was on that police drama.


“I’m sorry for your loss. She was a wonderful friend and a good neighbor to all in Dickens and I hope you can take comfort in that she’s sorely missed.”


A small lump lodged in her throat before she forced it down. Her grief still lingered. “Thank you. She was an amazing woman.”


He gave her a slow appraising look. “You favor her, the same blue eyes and cheeks.”


She pulled herself up a little taller. “Thank you. Most people say I look like my father.”


Leaning against the counter, he cast a quick look at her meager sandwich. “I was on my way to Dorrit’s Diner to pick up some lunch. Can I get you something?”


“That’s really nice of you but the peanut butter is just fine.” She wasn’t about to confess she hadn’t made time to go to the market and this was all that had been in Grammie’s cupboard. Well, that and a loaf of old bread in the freezer. It was better than nothing.


“It’s no trouble and Amy makes the best soups at this time of year. Trust me, they’re not to be missed.”


A cup of soup did sound a lot more appetizing than the pathetic sandwich drying out as they talked. A smile slipped from one side of her face to the other. Gabriel had a way of making it sound like the best idea of the day.


“You’ve talked me into it, but I don’t think I should close the shop.”


Gabriel glanced around and grinned. “I can see you’re slammed today.” With a twinkle in his eye, he winked. “Not to worry. I’ll pick up lunch, and then we can eat together if you’d like so you can get to know a little more about day-to-day life in Dickens. Chrissy mentioned you didn’t come around much, something about a big job in New York City.”


She didn’t feel that he was baiting her, but did she need to explain why she was here now? “Well…” She shifted from one foot to the other and glanced at the floor. “It was time for a change.”


He gave her a sympathetic smile. “Anything you absolutely can’t stand?”


Gabriel had changed the topic back to soup. She quirked her lips. “I like to keep the roof of my mouth unharmed so take it easy with spicy foods. Other than that, I’m game for anything.”


He tapped the top of the counter. “I’ll be back in a while. Anything else you think you might want or need?”


With a shake of her head, she said no, and then she pulled a twenty-dollar bill from her wallet. “Since you’re flying, I’m buying.”


He held up his hand and pushed the bill back toward her. “I’ve got it this time. You can get it another day. Consider it a welcome to the neighborhood gesture. It’s a small-town thing.”


Without letting on that she thought he was right, there might be a next time, she decided to have a little fun with him. “What makes you think we’ll eat lunch together again?”


“I’m a great lunch partner and working in a shop all day without stimulating conversation for something other than yarn might grind on you.”


He had nailed that one. Especially when nary a customer had come in so far today. “Okay, you got me on that point.”


After a quick, “See you in a while,” he sauntered out the door and she watched him. He was one good-looking man and at least this part of her change was looking up, not that she wanted to date, but that man made her heart beat quicker.


Thirty minutes later Gabriel walked in with a white paper bag looped over his arm and balancing a cardboard cupholder. “Sorry it took longer than I thought. Dorrit’s was busier than normal. A tour bus stopped off for lunch which is good for her business and any others nearby if the driver lets them poke around a bit.”


Her eyes grew wide and she perked up with the sound of potential shoppers. “Do you think they’ll find me?”


“Maybe, if they have time. But maybe in some small way it’s good you’re having a quiet first day. Let you get your feet wet before you have a lot of customers popping in.”


She could feel her shoulders sag. “At least one customer would be nice for today. Just to remind myself this is a viable business.”


He had set out cups of what smelled like chili, a bag of corn bread, and pats of butter on the counter. Handing her a spoon, he said, “I ordered the mild version. I hope you enjoy it.”


“Hold on. I have another stool in the back.” She hurried into the other room and using a paper towel, she wiped off the seat of the stool before returning to the front. “Here you go.”


“Thanks.” He dipped his spoon in and sighed. “This is good.” He watched her as she did the same. “Am I right?”


She rolled her eyes back for dramatic effect and his hearty laugh filled the shop. “This is delicious. You can make lunch suggestions any day if you keep this up.”


“Anytime.” They ate for a minute and he put his spoon down and buttered a piece of the corn bread. “Amy’s been running the business for over thirty-five years; she took over from her parents and everything is homemade.”


“That’s good to know.” She ate a little more. “Tell me about Dickens. Have you lived here long?”


“I moved to town two years ago for the director position at the center. Prior to this I lived in a suburb of Chicago and was an AD for a community center there.”


“A small town like Dickens is a little different than Chi-town.”


He gave a half nod. “The same could be said for you. NYC and Dickens don’t exactly have the same vibe.”


“My grandmother was from here; do you have family close by?”


“If you call close Puerto Rico via Miami, then sure.” He scraped the bottom of his chili cup.


“It sounds like we’re both on our own in small-town USA.” She thought of her parents still in New York, living their jet-set life as if nothing unpleasant had happened to Holly.


“Then maybe we need to stick together.” He held out his hand to her. “Want to be partners?”


Buy Links (including BookBub)





Giveaway I’m one of the authors participating in the Spooky Halloween Bookish Giveaway and you can win an audiobook code of Blends by Lucinda Race (US only).



Runs October 1 - 31 and is open internationally for many prizes. Winners will be drawn on November 1, 2022.



Author Biography


Award-winning and best-selling author Lucinda Race is a lifelong fan of romantic fiction. As a young girl, she spent hours reading romance novels and getting lost in the hope they represent. While her friends dreamed of becoming doctors and engineers, her dreams were to become a writer—a romance novelist.


As life twisted and turned, she found herself writing nonfiction but longed to turn to her true passion. After developing the storyline for The Loudon Series, it was time to start living her dream. Her fingers practically fly over computer keys she weaves stories about strong women and the men who love them. Lucinda lives with her two little dogs, a miniature long hair dachshund and a shitzu mix rescue, in the rolling hills of western Massachusetts. When she's not at her day job, she’s immersed in her fictional worlds. And if she’s not writing romance novels, she’s reading everything she can get her hands on.


Social Media Links




Lucinda’s Heart Racers Reader Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/118597305361578


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