Sasha's Secret Santa by @peggy_jaeger is a Christmas and Holiday Festival pick #romance #giveaway
Title: SASHA’S SECRET SANTA
Author: PEGGY JAEGER
Genre: Holiday romance, Dickens Holiday romance, Coming home again, later in life, smalltown, friends to lovers
After a terrifying incident derails Sasha Charles’ career and confidence, she moves back to her hometown of Dickens to heal, reorganize, and start over.
The only problem? The paralyzing panic attacks that plague her whenever she thinks about going back to nursing. Sasha is mentally, and emotionally stuck, and has no idea how to move forward.
Steve Caldwell is the new Director of Services at Dickens Memorial Hospital. After witnessing her save the life of a local resident in Dorrit’s Diner, he knows Sasha would be perfect for the new trauma center he’s planning. When she refuses his job offer outright, he sets out to change her mind.
But Sasha has thick, protective walls erected around her so Steve must first break through them. With patience and kindness, he does. As the two grow closer, each begins to have second thoughts on what their futures should look like, until idle, small town gossip threatens to derail their budding relationship.
With the imminent arrival of Christmas, will Steve be able to convince Sasha he has her best interests at heart?
“I just wanted to…apologize,” Sasha said after a moment. “For the other day. When I, well…when I bolted out of Trim-A-Tree.”
She didn’t need to clarify, but it charmed him she did.
“You said you had an appointment you forgot about.”
“Yeah, about that.” Now she swiped her hands along the thighs of her jeans. Up, then down, nervously, a few times. “That was a…fib. I didn’t have anywhere to be. I just…” she shrugged
“Needed a moment?” he offered.
“Something like that.” She blew out a breath, her lips fanning outward with the exertion. “Anyway, I’m sorry I left you in the lurch, as it were. I promised to help you with deciding on ornaments.”
“No worries. Mrs. Cudworth stepped in and guided me toward some good pieces.”
Sasha rolled her eyes, the tiniest of grins lifting the corners of her mouth. “How much did that guidance cost you?”
His own smile bloomed. “Upwards of five bills. But worth every penny,” he added when her eyes went wide. “I’ve got everything I need to decorate the house before my son arrives. The tree was delivered this morning, as a matter of fact.”
Sasha lifted her head when her name was called from a neighboring table. She nodded at the customer, then to him said, “Have fun decorating.”
As she began to move away he asked, “Want to help me?” without giving the idea any thought or consideration.
She stopped dead so fast the tips of her sneakers squeaked on the old linoleum floor. “Wh-what?”
“I could use all the help I can muster, and I’m not afraid to beg. I’ve never decorated a tree, or the house, by myself before and I’m worried it’s going to look like a huge haphazard mess when my son arrives. My ex always took care of the holiday decorating.”
The intense, cryptic way she peered at him, as if examining an unfamiliar insect under a microscope, had him shifting a bit on the vinyl seat. “I’d really like a second opinion on where to put stuff. In all honesty, I don’t even know how to hang the yards of garland Matilda sold me. She gave me a bunch of plastic holders, but no instructions. And in case you haven’t guessed by now, I’m an instructions kind of guy. I need everything written out in detail before I can start a project, and even then there’s no guarantee things will work out correctly.”
That just-hinted-at-grin grew until it bloomed into a full-mouth smile.
“So, what do you say?” he asked, trying to gauge her reaction. “Want to give a guy a hand so he doesn’t look completely inept in front of his only son?”
She tipped her head to the side, making her long ponytail swish across her shoulders and back. “When were you thinking of doing this?”
“Tomorrow. I’m free so I thought I’d start it then. When he delivered the tree, John Gridley told me to let it rest for twenty-four hours, so the branches all have a chance to fully open and I’ll be able to decorate it easier.”
Sasha nodded. “He would know.”
She still hadn’t answered him and he commented on it.
“Tomorrow, when? Because I’m going to the tree lighting at noon.”
“I’ll be there, too, actually. It’s my first one, ever, and I don’t want to miss it. How about after that? Any plans? Are you working after that?”
“She’d got the weekend free,” Amy said, breezing by the table. “And about time, too.”
Sasha rolled her eyes and shook her head at her mother. “Nosy, much?”
Amy’s entire face lit up with a huge grin. “Always, when it comes to my kids.”
Turning back to Steve, Sasha said, deadpan, “If you want your son to love you until the end of time and respect you as an adult, please don’t embarrass him with smother-love like some people”—she ticked her head in Amy’s direction—“do.”
“I heard that,” Amy called out.
“I meant you to.”
Steve smiled at their banter, recognizing the love flowing between mother and daughter.
“I try my best not to embarrass him when we’re together, but most of the time I fail.” He cocked his head a bit, then asked, “So? Want to help a guy out?”
She bit down on her bottom lip as she regarded him.
“I can meet you at the lighting ceremony and we can go from there if you’re up to it,” he added.
Just when he thought she was going to decline, she nodded and said “Okay. Decorating is one of my superpowers, a talent left over from all those years working at Trim-A-Tree.”
“Oh, great.” Why he was so relieved she’d said yes he’d give considerable thought to later. For now, though, he let himself fill with a sense of pleasure and anticipation.
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
Amazon & KU: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0B7ZHMPBP
Share a holiday family tradition:
Ever since my daughter was little, when we put up the Christmas tree and decorate it, we play every holiday CD I have (which is a great deal!) and we make a batch of sugar cookies to eat while we are decorating. My daughter is off and grown and has a child of her own now, but I still do this every year. My husband eats the cookies, now, though! Ha Ha!
Why is your featured book perfect to get readers in the holiday mood?
Holiday romances can be a dime a dozen, but Sasha’s Secret Santa has a few themes that you don’t ordinarily find in a small town romcom: Adult children coming home to live again, and PTSD. Even those are weighty topics, SSS deals with them in a humorous and uplifting way, weaving the magic of the holiday season in the tiny town of Dickens into the story and showing just how important family and community are to healing and existing. From the town’s tree lighting, to the tradition of Secret Santa, this book will uplift you and entertain you at the same time.
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Runs December 1 – 31
Drawing will be held on January 3, 2023.
Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes Romantic Comedies about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them. If she can make you cry on one page and bring you out of tears rolling with laughter the next, she’s done her job as a writer.
Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, she brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she’s created the families she wanted as that lonely child.
When she’s not writing Peggy is usually painting, crafting, scrapbooking or decoupaging old steamer trunks she finds at rummage stores and garage sales.
As a lifelong diarist, she caught the blogging bug early on, and you can visit her at peggyjaeger.com where she blogs daily about life, writing, and stuff that makes her go "What??!"
Social Media Links:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00T8E5LN0
Authors database: https://authorsdb.com/community/15814-peggy-jaeger