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Chocolate Chip Charm by Margaret L. Carter is a Christmas in July Fete pick #paranormalromance #holidayromance #christmasinjuly #giveaway



Title: Chocolate Chip Charm

 

Author: Margaret L. Carter

 

Genre: Paranormal Romance

 

Book Blurb:

 

Just before their church choir’s Christmas party potluck, Stacy learns her former boyfriend, Rob, has broken up with her best friend, whom he was dating. Stacy got over Rob a long time ago, or so she thought. Shouldn’t she try to repair her friends’ fractured relationship? A love potion recipe she finds in her grandmother’s old notebook of magic spells might fix the problem. On the wild chance that it could work, Stacy mixes it into a cookie. But the charm misfires, and now Rob insist he’s been in love with her all along. The spell will wear off in seven days. But does she really want it to?

 

Excerpt:

 

Stacy’s pulse accelerated. What’s wrong with me? I see him once or twice every week without reacting like a lovesick teenager. The awareness that Rob was nominally single now must have stirred feelings she thought she’d long since buried under the friend-zone layer. “By the way, I baked Grammie’s chocolate chip Christmas cookies for the first time. I’d like to hear your verdict on how they turned out.” She pressed the star cookie into his hand and gestured toward the kitchen door. “Try it after you drop those off, okay?”

 

Nodding, he headed for the kitchen. She watched him to make sure he didn’t take a bite too soon. Doreen had to be the first human female he saw after consuming the potion. As soon as he was safely clear of the main room, Stacy looked around for Doreen. Now all I have to do is get her in there somehow. 

 

Fortunately, Doreen wandered over to sample the lime punch that very minute, providing a plausible pretext to maneuver her into the kitchen while Rob was there. Giving the contents of the bowl a tentative stir, Stacy said, “I think it could use more sherbet. Could you go check whether there’s another quart in the freezer?”

 

“Okay. Oh, I tried one of your cookies, and they’re perfect.” Doreen strolled toward the kitchen.

 

After she’d walked through the door, Stacy watched it in case anybody else headed that way to foul up the planned encounter. After a minute or so, Phoebe played a chord on the piano to call the crowd to attention. She then stood up and led them in a pre-dinner prayer, after which she invited everybody to line up and fill plates.

 

At that point, Stacy noticed Doreen lingering by herself at the entrance to the kitchen. Stacy strode over to her and took the carton of sherbet Doreen was carrying. “Where’s Rob? Wasn’t he in there?”

 

Doreen shrugged. “Didn’t see him.” She took her place in the food line.

 

Oh, no, now I’ll have to set up those two all over again. Stacy strolled into the kitchen. Sure enough, the room was deserted. She set aside the carton and walked between the stainless steel center island and oversize double sink to the back door. Propped open, it let in a gust of frigid evening air. Stepping outside, she scanned the parking lot. The lights showed Rob coming toward her along with a husky boy from the youth group. He carried a pot, while Rob held a brown-paper grocery bag.

 

“There you are,” she said when they climbed up the back steps.

 

“I’m just helping Ken bring in the stuff that goes with his chili so he won’t have to make two trips.”

 

The aroma of beef, tomato sauce, and hot spices drifted toward Stacy. She held the door open wider for the two of them.

 

“Uh-oh, I forgot to try that cookie you gave me,” Rob said as they entered the kitchen. “Can’t fail my taste-testing duties, can I? Ken, you go on, and I’ll catch up.”

 

After the boy disappeared into the main room, Rob set down the paper bag and pulled the slightly squashed cookie out of a side pocket. He bit off one point of the star and chewed thoughtfully. “Yeah, that matches the specs I remember, maybe with a little extra spiciness.” He wolfed down the rest of it.

 

His gaze locked onto her. He wadded up the plastic wrap and tossed it in the nearest trash can without glancing away from her face. His eyes widened, and he took a step toward her. “Stacy?” He continued to stare as if in a trance.

 

Oh, no, he saw me first. How could I let this happen?

 

He closed the gap between them and captured her hands. “I can’t believe I’ve been such an idiot all this time.” Too quick for her to dodge, he bent to kiss her. The fragrance of his aloe-scented aftershave and the taste of coffee he’d been drinking flooded her senses.

 

For a second, she relaxed and let the warmth from his lips radiate through her. Her arms wrapped around his waist before she realized what she was doing. Wrong! He was supposed to do this with Doreen.

 

Stacy broke off the kiss and squirmed out of his embrace. “Stop that. We’re in church.”

 

He reached for her again. “We’re in the kitchen of the parish hall.”

 

She stepped back a couple of paces. “Well, we’re within the curtilage of the church.”

 

“You sound hot when you speak legalese.”  Putting his arms around her again, he nibbled her neck.

 

Struggling to ignore the tingle that danced along her nerves, she pushed him away. “What’s gotten into you? You’re supposed to be in love with Doreen.” Stacy knew what had gotten into him, of course, since she’d put it there herself, but she could hardly tell him he’d ingested a magical Christmas treat. Unbelievable—it actually worked.

 

Rob held her at arm’s length and gazed down at her with a quizzical arch of his eyebrows. “Huh? I’ve never been in love with Doreen.”

 

“You two have been going together for months. You seemed perfect together. Why did you break up?”

 

“Mutual decision,” he said, echoing Doreen’s non-answer. “We’re just good friends. I’ve never stopped loving you.”

 

As much as Stacy longed to believe that statement, she couldn’t trust any claim he made while under a spell. She shook her head. “Friendship is what you and I have. Let’s not wreck it with any complications.”

 

“I don’t see it as a complication. I think of it as an inevitable development.”

 

She eased out of his loose grip. “If we hang around in here any longer, somebody will come looking for us.” She picked up the carton of melting sherbet and exited the kitchen before he could stop her. 

 

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I love most about the holiday season:

 

Advent and Christmas music in church; enjoying our Christmas tree with all our keepsake ornaments for an entire month (early December through the day of Epiphany and slightly beyond – artificial tree, of course).

 

Why is your featured book a must-read to get you in the holiday mood?

 

It’s a feel-good, lighthearted “second chance at love” story with plenty of Christmas atmosphere and a sprinkling of magic.

 

Giveaway –

 

One lucky reader will win a $100 Amazon gift card.

 

 

Open internationally.

 

Runs July 1 – 31, 2024

 

Drawing will be held on August 1, 2024.

 

Author Biography:

 

Reading Dracula at the age of twelve ignited Margaret L. Carter’s interest in a wide range of speculative fiction and inspired her to become a writer. Vampires, however, have always remained close to her heart. Her first published book was an anthology of vampire stories she edited, Curse of the Undead. Her work on vampirism in literature includes Dracula: The Vampire and the CriticsThe Vampire in Literature: A Critical Bibliography, and Different Blood: The Vampire as Alien. She holds a PhD in English, and her dissertation contained a chapter on Dracula. In fiction, she has written horror, fantasy, and paranormal romance on vampires, werewolves, Lovecraftian entities, and other “monsters.” Her stories have appeared in various webzines and anthologies, including several of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover and Sword and Sorceress volumes. Her vampire novels include Dark Changeling and its sequel, Child of Twilight, now available in an omnibus edition, Twilight’s Changelings, as well as several vampire romances. With her husband, Leslie Roy Carter, a retired naval officer, she co-authored a fantasy series beginning with Wild Sorceress. Her recent novellas include a Christmas paranormal romance, Chocolate Chip Charm, and a spring-themed contemporary fantasy, Bunny Hunt. Her most recent novel, Against the Dark Devourer, is a dark paranormal romance with Lovecraftian elements. She and Les, who live in Maryland, have four children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

 

Social Media Links:

 

2 Comments


andreadrake1
andreadrake1
Jul 10

Spending time with my family is my favorite part of holidays

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N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Jul 08

Thank you, Margaret, for sharing your book in our Christmas in July Fete!

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