Title: Northern Hearts (Heroes of the Tundra)
Author: Laurie Wood
Genre: Inspirational Romantic Suspense
Wealthy socialite Kali McIntyre dreams of opening her own dessert bar, Sassy Sweets, in downtown Winnipeg—until her father crushes that dream when he cuts her off financially. He’s determined to get her to use her law degree to join the family’s high-powered law firm. She’s determined to do anything but that. And when an unknown-to-her aunt dies in Churchill, Manitoba, leaving her an unbelievable inheritance, Kali’s on the next flight up north to make her dreams a reality.
Chef Jake Miller has lived in Churchill for the past ten years, working hard to keep The Great Northern Lodge afloat through some tough times. But then his business partner dies unexpectedly, without telling him that she’d changed her will or that she had a niece who is set to inherit everything. Now, Jake and Kali have thirty days to work together and decide–who will stay and who will go–before Christmas rolls around. Secrets, attempted murder, and a new menu all add up to a Christmas unlike any other.
JAKE’S EYES BURNED WITH EXHAUSTION. He hadn’t slept; although, Tripod had slept well beside him on the bed, dreaming of better days chasing birds. Jake put down dog food and fresh water for the gangly mutt and took his coffee out onto the small balcony to watch the sun come up. He didn’t need to be a cop to figure out someone didn’t like Kali, or her tenure at The Great Northern Lodge. The olive oil spill was innocuous enough, although it cost them money. But setting a fire? He sipped the scalding black coffee and petted Tripod’s silky ears. The dog yawned and flopped at his feet. And he’d kissed her— Holy Hannah— as if he did it every day. As if they were a… couple… which they decidedly were not. She wanted to sell and go back to Winnipeg to start up this Sassy Sweets place. He couldn’t blame her. She’d never met Cora and had no ties to Churchill. He still didn’t know what their connection was or why Cora had done this; why she’d never told him about Kali McIntyre. She’d turned the place upside down in a week through sheer force of energy. Well, he admired her drive, but he’d better figure out where he’d get the money to buy her out at the end of the thirty days. A loan would’ve been easier to get prior to the fire.
“Come on, boy,” he said to Tripod. “Let’s go to work.” He locked his balcony door and poured another coffee in a travel mug. Despite his three legs, Tripod raced down the stairs, then patiently waited at the outer door for Jake to check outside for bears. The coast was clear so they both jumped into the truck. Set for the day, they headed over to pick up Kali at Cora’s townhouse. He couldn’t stop thinking of it as Cora’s townhouse and secretly hoped Kali hadn’t been “organizing” Cora’s things, ready for that thirty-day deadline to sell everything.
The snow squeaked beneath his tires, and the fresh air helped to wake him up. Kali stood at the door, watching for him. He looked around and then waved her forward. No bears in sight today. A bear was the last thing he felt like dealing with on no sleep. He managed a smile as Kali jumped in the front seat and yanked the door shut.
“Hey! You look terrible.”
“Thanks, you look beautiful.” He laughed as she blushed, her cheeks pinking.
They rolled along the next street and turned down on to Kelsey Boulevard.
“I can always count on your emotional reactions. Hasn’t anyone ever paid you any compliments?”
“Not regularly, no.” She’d only been here for eleven days, but her turquoise down-filled parka and mukluks made her look like a Churchillian. She fit right in now. Ruby had even found her a pair of leather gauntlets trimmed in arctic fox fur with beaded edging. Still, he knew better than to think clothes made her part of the community. Her desire to be part of the community would make her stay. She petted Tripod’s head as he stuck himself in between the two of them from the back seat. “How’s this guy getting along with Domino?”
“Fine. Although, I don’t think Domino appreciates the finer parts of living with a dog who’ll take your toys and hide them on you.”
Kali laughed, the sound warming him down to his boots. Tripod licked her face and she let him. “My Yorkie lived to be thirteen years old, but when she died, my mom said no more animals. I’ve missed having a dog around.” She rubbed her cheek against Tripod’s head. “I’m so glad I’m not allergic to dogs, too.”
“Me, too,” he said, and when she shot him a quizzical glance, he coughed to cover up his gaffe. “I mean, you’re pretty much allergic to everything in Churchill, so it’s a good thing you’re not allergic to dogs.” She quirked her left eyebrow at him.
“Yeah, right,” she said. “Well, we’re here. What are you going to tell the staff this morning?” He tapped his fingers on the steering wheel, ignoring Tripod’s scratching at the back door. “The RCMP will interview everyone, and we have to continue on with work because Lukas’s tour group arrives on the 9: 30 a.m. plane this morning.”
“Who’s going to get them from the airport?”
“I will. You can ride herd on the employees and the kitchen for now.” He took her left hand in his and squeezed it. “Let Megan run the front desk, and Corporal McKenzie will deal with the interviews. You’ll need to speak to him, too. It’ll all work out.”
She took his hand back, her pupils wide as she leaned into him. “This is serious, Jake. Someone tried to burn the place down last night. Someone doesn’t want me here. I can feel it.”
He put his right hand against her cheek, and she leaned into it. The feel of her soft skin burned up the palm of his hand. He slid towards her, releasing her hand and putting both hands on her face, pulling her towards him as his lips came down on hers. She sighed against his mouth as he kissed her, moving his lips against hers as he eased his right hand behind her neck. He wanted her here. She kissed him back, her hand reaching for him and grabbing onto the front of his parka. With a jolt, he realized they were kissing in front of the Lodge in plain sight of anyone looking out their hotel window. Or, the restaurant.
He pulled back. “Whoa, I’m sorry,” he said.
She touched her bottom lip with her fingertips. “You’re sorry?” She turned with a rush, threw open the truck door, and leapt down.
“Kali, wait, I meant…”
She was already up the stairs and yanking on the front door. Tripod whined and scratched at the back-truck window as Kali disappeared into the Lodge. Jake smacked his driver’s window. Romance Rule 101: never tell a woman you’re sorry you kissed her. But, what a kiss… So, she felt it, too. Good. Why should he be the only one to suffer?
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What I love most about the holiday season:
I love shopping for stocking stuffers for my family. We still do “Santa” and my husband and I enjoy putting a lot of thought into surprise gifts for each other and the kids – personal items that really mean something from the past year. We don’t do really big gifts, as we prefer to put an emphasis on the true nature of Christmas, so stocks are the fun part of Christmas morning. And I love putting our “Narnia” tree up and decorating it with our collection of ornaments from over the years. The kids call it the “Narnia” tree because it’s flocked with so much artificial snow it looks like one of the trees in the Narnia movie. Memories of them decorating it every year are precious to me.
Why is your featured book a must-read to get you in the holiday mood?
Northern Hearts will satisfy those who love Hallmark movies about women who “go home” to discover parts of their past and find their futures with the man of their dreams. The snow, pink Christmas trees, nativity scenes, Christmas foods, and polar bears will get anyone in the mood for Christmas!
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Runs July 1 – July 31.
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Laurie Wood lives in Central Canada and writes inspirational romantic suspense with an edge of danger. She’s also a military wife who’s raised two wonderful special needs children to adulthood. They’ve lived all over Canada and are still on that journey. When she’s not writing she can be found at her spinning wheel, knitting, or hanging out with her dogs in the garden. She loves to hear from readers and always replies so feel free to get in touch with her below.
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Please visit her at https://www.lauriewoodauthor.com
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