Title Red Velvet Crinkles and Christmas Sprinkles
Author Maria Imbalzano
Genre Contemporary Romance
Publisher The Wild Rose Press
Competitive, work-obsessed Bella Simonetti has just been fired from her high-paying job at a Manhattan law firm. At an all-time low, she returns home and helps her parents at their small-town gift shop, but the business is failing and may not make it past the Christmas holidays.
Successful landscape architect Dean Jackson is like a son to Bella's parents. But he's a persistent annoyance to her—he seems to have forgotten his unforgivable blunder thirteen years earlier.
When Bella transforms her parents' gift shop into a cookie cottage, Dean's generosity and magnetic smile are hard to resist, and those feelings of unrequited adolescent love come rushing back. But can Bella let go of the past and accept Dean for the man he is today?
This is my very first Christmas story and I’m thrilled to add my book to the thousands out there that bring joy and happiness to readers during the holiday.
Bella loved Christmas—at least in the past, when she wasn’t dealing with her terrifying unemployment situation. Thus far, she hadn’t shared with her parents the extent of her shame. Acknowledging that their Ivy-League-educated, scholarly daughter had been let go three whole months ago and couldn’t find a replacement job was too humiliating. All she had revealed when she arrived was that she’d been unhappy working at a mega law firm and wanted to find something more suitable. As if she had voluntarily left the job yesterday.
To add insult to injury, she’d had to terminate her lease on her now-unaffordable, fabulous apartment on the Upper West Side. Which did happen yesterday. Her troubles were too soul crushing to blurt out upon arriving.
She ignored the little voice in her head encouraging her to come clean. Especially since she planned to live in her parents’ house until she could find a job. Maybe she’d share at dinner tonight. After a bottle of wine.
The back door squeaked open, and a gust of air blew in before the door was firmly closed. “Good morning, Barb. Clive.”
The guest came in and gave her mom a kiss on the cheek before slapping her dad on the back. Bella’s mouth flew open as she watched the scene, a tiny gasp escaping.
Dean Jackson! What is he doing here?
“Honey, you remember Dean, don’t you?” Her mom’s smile grew much bigger than it had been all morning. “Your brother’s friend from high school?”
“Of…of course I do.” Bella fastened the top button of her pajamas before her hand flew up to assure her messy bun was still on top of her head. Fire flamed her face as she puzzled out the reason for his presence at seven thirty on a Wednesday morning. Or any time, for that matter.
“Dean’s been like another son to us.” Her dad beamed. “Ever since your brother took that job in Boston, he’s helped us do whatever needs to be done around here or at the store. And he’s my golf buddy.”
Dean’s gaze zeroed in on her, and her thoughts fuzzed. She would have loved to slink upstairs, but no way was she going to get out of this chair, sporting flannel pajamas and bunny slippers. Was nothing sacred around here?
“It’s going up to sixty-five degrees today.” Dean rubbed his hands together. “Perfect for a round of golf.”
Even though he was speaking to her dad, his gaze never moved from her face. Did she have syrup on her cheek or crumbs on her lips? She grabbed her napkin and brushed it over her mouth, getting both cheeks in its pass through.
She balled the napkin in her lap, but it didn’t prevent her nails from digging into sweaty palms. Unfortunately, time had not diminished his gorgeousness—or the powerful hold he had on her traitorous libido. Confusion over colliding emotions stiffened her spine as her fluttering stomach made her queasy at his appearance here today.
His deep voice cut into her agitation. “What brings you home, Bella? It’s too early for Thanksgiving, and it’s the middle of the week.” He arched a brow over sparkling green eyes, mischievous eyes. “Did you get fired or something?” He chuckled at his joke.
“Of course she didn’t.” Her mom came to her rescue. “She decided Coley Green wasn’t the right law firm for her. She’s interviewing for other jobs.”
Bella’s throat closed, preventing her from speaking. But it didn’t stop Dean from barreling into dangerous territory.
“How long are you visiting? A few days?”
All three of them looked toward her for an answer.
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Maria Imbalzano is a retired matrimonial lawyer who now writes full time. Instead of drafting motions, legal memoranda, and briefs, although fascinating, she now spends her days creating memorable characters and taking them on their emotional journeys through her contemporary romance novels.
Her novel, “Unchained Memories,” won the Wisconsin Romance Writers Write Touch Readers’ Award and the ACRA Readers’ Choice Heart of Excellence Award. “Sworn to Forget,” the first of the four-book Sworn Sisters Series was a finalist for the illustrious RONE award as well as the Book Buyers Best Award. Her novellas, “The Blueberry Swirl Waltz” and “A Song For Another Day” each came in first in their category in the National Excellence in Story Telling contest.
Visit Maria at http://mariaimbalzano.com
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