Title: Holidays, Inc.
Author: Rachelle Paige Campbell
Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance, Holiday Romance
Former child actress, Danielle "Dani" Winter, left Hollywood to transform an old cinema into a dinner theater, seeing the project as her chance to take control of her future. The middle-of-nowhere location in Wisconsin is a perfect escape from backstabbing celebrity friends. The small town welcomes her help with open arms, but one man questions her plan.
After unsuccessful writing stints on both coasts, Paul Howell returns home to New Hope. He's shocked to discover that his sister has sold the family business to a beautiful woman. With the encouragement of his neighbors, he reluctantly agrees to write Dani's next musical.
Working together, they discover more similarities than differences and grow close. When Dani's former best friend and America's sweetheart, Kara Kensington arrives, their blossoming relationship is threatened in more ways than one.
“May I help you?” Her voice cracked.
“I’m not sure.” He swiveled his head, scanning the entire room. Scrubbing a hand over his face, he stuffed his hands in his jeans pockets and shrugged. “I must have wandered into the wrong building.”
“Oh, of course.” She stopped tapping and lifted the corner of her mouth in an approximation of a friendly smile and relaxed her shoulders. With her lifetime experience of constantly meeting new people at auditions and on sets, she should be used to the basic conventions of polite introduction. Six months of interacting with the same faces, however, she’d grown rusty. “I’d be glad to guide you to the right building but…” She pursed her lips. Why was he so familiar? His eyes glinted like chrome and triggered some recognition past her memory’s reach. Did she know him? “Since you’re here, do you mind helping me?”
He stood taller and puffed out his chest. “Do you need me to move something?”
She scanned the muscles straining under the basic T-shirt. He probably purchased a multi-pack on a grocery run, yet the cotton hugged like a custom fit highlighting a trim figure. As she met his gaze, she spotted the fine lines around his eyes. He was definitely a few years older than her, but not by much.
Her chin trembled. “No, no, heavy lifting.” She smoothed a stray tendril behind her ear, brushing her fingers against her warm cheeks. With her years of repeated exposure to attractive people on TV sitcom sets, she hadn’t been susceptible to another person’s good looks in years. Taking in a steadying breath, she crossed her arms. “Getting an honest opinion in New Hope can be a little difficult.”
He ran a hand through his dark hair.
His fingers nearly disappeared in thick locks overdue for a trim. The slightly unkempt hair suited him. With his even features, he’d look too perfect with a short haircut. She gave her head a shake. She wasn’t casting him for one of her productions. The stranger would answer her question. She’d steer him to his destination and would never see him again.
“Really? You can’t get someone’s unwanted opinion in this town?” He arched an eyebrow.
Pursing her lips, she cocked her head to one side. His incredulous tone raised her hackles. “Since I moved here, I’ve heard nothing but yes, ma’am. Not that I mind.” She uncrossed her arms and held up both hands, palms to the sky. “I’m not used to the consideration.”
“Interesting. I’ve had the opposite experience. I’m told no before I finish asking the question.” He folded both arms over his chest.
“Maybe somewhere between us is one person who has the benefit of constructive criticism with positive feedback.”
“Perhaps.” He lifted the corner of his mouth. “What’s on your mind?”
Too much. She swallowed the lump lodged in her throat. His half-smile invited her to drop her guard and speak freely. He sparked an instant connection, like running into an old friend. Was he someone she’d forgotten? If she told anyone her fears—even a helpful stranger—she empowered her insecurities. She refused to ever give anything—or anyone—agency over her life again. Everyone was counting on her plan, and she wouldn’t disappoint. “I’m wondering if you think the backdrop looks okay.” Spinning on her heel, she faced the backdrop. “I painted the Atlantic a different color from the Pacific.”
“Rob couldn’t color match for you?”
“You know Rob?” She twitched and turned toward the stranger. He knew the owner of the hardware store on a first-name basis. What if he wasn’t passing through town? Dragging her gaze over his face, she pursed her lips. She’d swear she never saw him, but doubt tickled her mind.
He shrugged. “Of course, I know Rob. Everyone does.” He narrowed his gaze and stared once more past her toward the stage. “The background looks like blue and blue. The left side is a little darker, but nothing significant. If you hadn’t prompted me, I wouldn’t have noticed a difference.”
“Oh, good. Thanks.” She sagged her shoulders. “I can tweak the lighting. My staff wouldn’t have been so forthcoming.”
With a nod, he lifted the corner of his mouth.
A smile of commiseration? She shook her head. Why was she sharing anything with this mystery man? “They’re wonderful. My employees are a little green but very determined. Converting a movie theater into a real stage for live performances has tested everyone.” She clamped her mouth shut. Would he spread her comments through the local gossip mill? She shuddered. Some lessons—like be careful who to trust—never took, despite learning the hard way.
Frowning, he drew back his chin. “Movie theater?”
“Sure.” She rocked back on her heels, grinning broadly. “Welcome to the former Howell Cinemas, now home to my musical theater company.”
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What I love most about the holiday season:
I love spending time with my family and embracing every “seasonal” activity that comes our way. When my kids were very little, I found a farm where we can cut down our own tree and that’s become one of our favorite traditions. Our town hosts a tree lighting on the public golf course that we love to attend. We’ve taken rides on the polar express, watched parades, visited elaborate Santa displays, made gingerbread houses, attended story times, and viewed gorgeous lights. All of these are special because we’re together.
Why is your featured book a must-read to get you in the holiday mood?
Holidays, Inc. follows Dani Winter as she opens a dinner-theater of the same name. Dani celebrates every special day from St. Patrick’s Day to Labor Day, but Thanksgiving to New Year’s are the highlight of the business’s year. She might need some Christmas magic to make all her dreams come true.
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.
Rachelle Paige Campbell writes contemporary romance novels filled with heart and hope. She believes love and laughter can change lives and every story needs a happily ever after.
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Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Rachelle-Paige-Campbell/e/B00T0T533Q