Sasha's Secret Santa by @peggy_jaeger is a KU Event pick #holidayromance #mustread #ku #giveaway
Title: SASHA’S SECRET SANTA (A Dickens Holiday Romance: Dorrit’s Diner)
Author: Peggy Jaeger
Genre: Holiday romance, Dickens Romance, Smalltown, later in life, 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 begin 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?
“Excuse me, Miss?”
Startled, Sasha turned and found herself staring up into the bluest, most striking eyes she’d ever seen. Deep azure filled the other ring while the irises grew lighter and more crystalline the closer they came to the pupils. Long, dark lashes framed the lids, which had a slight upturn in the outer corners. Short honey-wheat, salt and pepper threaded hair, well-groomed and shiny covered his head, while a smattering of the same color stubble lined his cheeks and jaw. For Dickens, he was severely overdressed in a black pinstripe, three-piece fitted suit, a stark white shirt underneath the jacket with a bold reindeer-themed tie circling his neck.
He stood at the counter holding what she instinctively knew was a camelhair coat in his arms. All in all, he didn’t look like a townie. His head tilted a bit to the side as he regarded her and hitched a thumb over his shoulder. “That was pretty impressive,” he said, his meaning clear. “Are you a doctor?”
“Ah. A nurse then.”
She shook her head. “Just a…waitress.”
His brows beetled and that head tilt slipped another notch. “How does just a waitress know how to diagnose a cardiac emergency, much less start an intravenous line without batting an eye or losing her cool?”
Her cheeks must look like ripe tomatoes about now, she thought. Her terse reply was cut short before she was able to voice it by her mother coming to stand next to her.
“Mr. Caldwell, good morning,” Amy said with a smile for the man.
“Now how many times have I told you to call me Amy? Mrs. Charles was my mother-in-law, God rest her soul.” She half-turned to Sasha and gave her a little push. “Go take your break.”
With a thankful nod, Sasha pushed through the swinging door to the kitchen. Before it closed behind her she heard her mother ask the man with the haunting eyes, “What can I do for ya?”
You could have let me talk to that stunning woman for starters, Steve thought.
With his lips pulling into a wry grin he said, “I need a little information.”
“Not what. Who.” He ticked his head to the door the so-called waitress had pushed through. “The name of the young lady who came to that elderly gentleman’s rescue.”
He saw her back shoot straight and her smile drop a hair.
“Why would you want that?” she queried.
What he wanted to say -- Because she’s the most intriguing person I’ve encountered since I moved here – was better left unsaid, especially since he sensed Amy’s strong protective vibe toward the woman.
“The way she came to the man’s aid was impressive. I’d like to talk to her about a job. Skills like hers are rare around here and she’s exactly the kind of person the hospital administrators hired me to find.”
“She’s not looking for a job in health care,” Amy said. With a sigh, she muttered, “Which is a cryin’ shame because she’s so darn good at—”
With a decided shake of her head, Amy glanced down at her shoes for a beat then back up at him. He didn’t know her well, but from what he’d observed the two months he’d been in town she was a force to be reckoned with in the community. The chief of staff at the hospital mentioned numerous times if he wanted to get a feel for Dickens, find out what made it tick and how it ran, Amy Charles would be the person he should seek out.
The well-established diner she ran was a staple in the town and from what he’d observed and learned since he’d arrived, the chief was correct. Amy Charles knew everyone personally and had a finger on the pulse of everything happening in her town.
“Suffice it to say Sasha’s not interested in working at Dickens Memorial and leave it there.” She glanced over his shoulder when her name was called from the kitchen. “If there’s nothing else, I’ve got a diner to run.”
With that, she moved past him all but dismissing him in the process. He nodded then pulled out his wallet to pay for his routine to-go breakfast.
He didn’t know if she realized she’d given him a clue to the woman’s identity.
An unusual name, exotic even, in a place steeped in ordinary and robust Yankee tradition and atmosphere. It shouldn’t be too hard to find out who she was in this tiny town. Once he knew her full name he’d be able to find out more, other than the fact she had medical skills worthy of a seasoned battlefield doctor and she was utterly beautiful.
In the all-too-brief moment he’d spoken with her, her looks made more of an impression than her skills—and those had been considerable.
Golden-red hair clipped back from her neck and tied into a messy topknot on top of her head had him wondering what it would look like free-falling about her face. Tiny errant curls brushed the back of her neck and swirled from her forehead. He’d had the insane notion to reach out and twine one of them around his index finger just to see if it was as silky soft as he imagined it to be.
Huge green eyes with the natural light brows and lashes of a redhead peered across the counter at him, free of makeup. The color, what his grandmother would have termed sage, was hypnotic and alluring. He got the impression when she laughed or experienced pleasure, the color would darken. For now, weariness and some inner turmoil seemed steeped inside her gaze as she lifted it to him. He wondered at the cause.
She was thin, almost unnaturally so. The apron tie circled her waist twice before being secured. The t-shirt under it hung loosely at the shoulders. Steve thought she might have been ill recently. Would that explain her aversion, according to Amy, about working in a hospital? A question he really wanted an answer to.
She’d been cool, calm, and focused when she’d been working on the stricken gentleman. Her movements precise and exact, her skills evident to anyone around her. She knew what she was doing. This wasn’t the first time she’d encountered a medical emergency.
What was the phrase he’d heard someone say recently? Not my first rodeo?
Yeah. This, obviously, wasn’t Sasha’s, either.
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
If you like heartwarming holiday stories about family, small towns, and the strength of love, this is the book for you. The Charles family has become a favorite with the Dickens fans, and prodigal daughter Sasha gets her own HEA in this story.
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Runs November 15 – November 24, 2022.
Winner will be drawn on November 25, 2022.
Peggy Jaeger writes contemporary romances and rom coms about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.
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, Peggy brings all aspects of 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 has created the families she wanted as that lonely child.
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??!"
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Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00T8E5LN0