Title: Christmas Cookies at the Cat Café: a Furrever Friends Sweet Romance
Author: Kris Bock
Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance
Christmas isn’t the same since Diane’s kids grew up and her husband died – so when her high school sweetheart comes back to town, maybe it’s time for some cozy new holiday traditions.
Diane had a great marriage and a wonderful life. Now she’s a widow at 53, and her grown children are encouraging her to slow down and do less – but she wants more. She starts planning for a new career by arranging a photo shoot at the cat café her daughters run. Unfortunately, the cats won’t cooperate.
Rick loved Diane in high school, but he chose to travel the world while she settled down with another man. Now he’s back for a visit, but he’s not planning to stay – even if Diane still tugs at him. He’ll help her get what she wants from life, and then he’ll say goodbye.
Rick temps Diane to quit her job, sell her house, and travel. But she can’t leave the people she loves so dearly, the family that might still need her just a little bit. Diane tempts Rick to end his wandering ways, but he can’t simply step into the hole left by her husband’s death. As the weeks pass from Thanksgiving to Christmas, the holiday season brings out complicated emotions.
Can Diane and Rick find a way to make a new life together while holding onto the best parts of the past? They'll need more than attraction and affection. They might even need a Christmas miracle.
The Furrever Friends Sweet Romance series features the workers and customers at a small-town cat café, and the adorable cats and kittens looking for their forever homes. Each book is a complete story with a happy ending for one couple (and maybe more than one rescued cat). These sweet romances will leave you with the warm feeling of cuddling a purring cat.
The cat did not want to wear a hat.
“Come on, Miles, it’s for your own good,” Diane muttered. “I’m not trying to insult your feline dignity. I’m trying to find you a forever home. Wouldn’t that be nice?”
Once again, Diane got the cat settled on a table against the autumn backdrop. Miles seemed perfectly content to sit there and watch the proceedings. But as soon as Diane tried to put the sunflower hat on the cat’s head, he dropped and flailed as if touched by flaming thorns rather than soft felt. Miles wrestled with the hat as Diane rushed to wake up her cell phone. Maybe she could get something cute, with the cat chewing a sunflower petal.
Diane aimed the camera. The hat sailed to the floor.
Miles leapt off the table, streaked across the room, climbed one of the cat trees, and calmly perched on a platform staring out the window, pointedly ignoring her.
“That Cat in the Hat book is nonsense,” Diane said. “I used to get a diaper on a squirming baby in under a minute. You’d think I could get one cat to wear a lousy hat or at least pose nicely.”
Diane slumped into a chair and sighed. This had seemed like such a good idea. Many animal rescues reported higher adoption rates after professional photo shoots. Instead of posting pictures of the dirty, matted, cringing creatures they first brought in, they waited until the dog or cat had been groomed and any health issues addressed. They gave the animal time to relax and get used to being around people. Then they took a nice studio portrait of the calm cat or smiling dog.
It was basic psychology. It wasn’t that people didn’t care about the animals that suffered the most; they simply wanted to envision their future with a happy, loving pet. Great photos helped potential adopters see what was possible.
A series of holiday photo shoots should have been winners. Make the cats extra cute, and they might clear the shelter before New Year’s Day.
The cats didn’t seem to appreciate her brilliant idea.
She looked around for one more candidate. Maybe one who was sleeping and would take a while to wake up. If Diane could pose the cat in time, she might get lucky enough to take a photo as the animal grew alert but before it got restless. She might finally manage a good shot or two.
A tapping came at the window. Diane turned toward it, but with the glare, she could only make out a bulky silhouette. She got the impression of a man with broad shoulders, but with the heavy winter coats everyone was wearing after the cold snap earlier in the week, she couldn’t say for sure. It didn’t look like either Colin or Adam, and they both had keys anyway.
She crossed to the window. Would she be able to convey the message that the café didn’t open for another sixteen minutes?
As she neared the window, she caught the glare at a different angle. She still couldn’t see the person clearly, but a jolt of recognition hit her like a punch to the gut.
She did know this man. Had known him for a long time, or at least had known him well long ago. But she couldn’t yet name him, as her mind hadn’t caught up with what her gut knew.
The bright winter sunlight lit up a pom-pom on top of a jaunty knit cap in rainbow colors. It took a certain type of man to wear a hat like that in public, and the prickle of recognition deepened.
She shifted and bobbed her head, trying to get a clear view. He leaned closer to the window, grinned, and waved.
The breath left her lungs. Of course. Rick. How many years had it been since she’d last seen him? They’d been closest in high school, bonding in a photography class and dating for almost two years, until he graduated a year ahead of her. He’d been her first love. But that was thirty years ago – no, more like thirty-five. When he graduated, he left to see the world. He hadn’t asked her to wait for him. He probably knew then his journeys would take him years to complete, maybe a lifetime. Still, she had waited, optimistically, for six months.
Then she met Patrick. They fell in love. They shared the same dreams: family, a home, work in the small town where they’d grown up. They’d had two beautiful daughters and a good life until he died suddenly, far too young. The second anniversary of his death was coming up.
Memories crashed over her. The grief, the loss, the affection for both men. The dreams lived and the dreams never explored.
She gave herself a little shake and blinked to clear her eyes. Diane was good at holding back all the messy feelings and only showing the world what she wanted people to see. She could think about everything later. For now, one thought jumped to the front of her mind.
Rick was a professional photographer. He’d had photo essays in National Geographic – people, wildlife. If anyone could help her figure out how to corral a few playful house cats, it was Rick.
She smiled, waved back, and went to answer the door.
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What I love most about the holiday season:
The holidays are a time for family. I don’t care as much about the decorations or traditions, although it’s fun to see Christmas lights and watch the occasional holiday movie. The important thing is seeing my mother and brother. Years ago, when my parents lived overseas, we all met each year in a different country. We’ve done Christmas in Germany, Australia, Egypt, England … The location doesn’t matter as much as being with the people you love.
Why is your featured book a must-read to get you in the holiday mood?
One reader called the book charming. Another said, “This is a sweet and clean book full of hope, joy, delicious baked goodies, and cats.”
It’s a second chance romance featuring high school sweethearts finding each other again. “I especially appreciated Bock’s insights into a ‘second chance romance’ as it reflects on the hopes and fears in a later-life relationship I’m experiencing in my own life,” said one reader. “I found Christmas Cookies to be an engaging, feel-good read which came at the perfect time right before the holidays.”
Why not enjoy a little hope, joy, and good feelings year-round?
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon (US) gift card.
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US account to win.
Runs July 1 – 31
Drawing will be held on August 2.
Kris Bock writes novels of romance, mystery, and suspense. Her Furrever Friends Sweet Romance series features the employees and customers at a cat café. Watch as they fall in love with each other and shelter cats. Get a free 35-page novella set in the world of the Furrever Friends cat café when you sign up for the Kris Bock newsletter. You’ll also get a printable copy of the recipes mentioned in the cat café novels.
Kris also writes romantic suspense set in the Southwestern U.S. If you love Mary Stewart or Barbara Michaels, try Kris Bock’s stories of treasure hunting, archaeology, and intrigue in the Southwest.
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