top of page
  • N. N. Light

Snowfire by Charlotte O'Shay is a Christmas and Holiday Festival pick #holidayromance #giveaway



Title: SNOWFIRE, a steamy, opposites attract, holiday novella


Author: Charlotte O’Shay


Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Release


Book Blurb:

Ballet dancer Natalya Nieves sacrificed everything, including a social life, to become a world-class performer. But when she meets Luca, her focus shifts -—to a man who could fulfill her every fantasy.

When Luca Fiero escaped his routine life in his family’s Hell’s Kitchen bakery, the cost was life-altering. These days, ex-con Luca values work and family and he knows all too well what he can never have.

But Christmas magic doesn’t care if straight arrow Natalya and fallen angel Luca never should’ve met. With holiday cookies sweetening the deal, will Natalya and Luca be granted a future they don’t believe they deserve?


Excerpt:


My trained ear picked out the faint ding of the front door opening over the rising emotion of Una furtiva lagrima coming from my turntable. I eased the door of the industrial oven closed with my elbow, lowered two hot trays of cookies onto the marble-topped table in front of me as I glanced at the security monitor hanging from a hook in the corner of the kitchen.


A young woman was bent at the waist as she leaned over the front counter. She was examining the cookies in the case like she had to ace a test on them tomorrow. As I watched, she walked back toward the door then turned to the counter again, eyeing the cookies one last wistful time as she took in a big gulp of air. The beginnings of an unaccustomed smile tugged my lips upward. It did smell good in here and that was just one of the many unmatched aspects of my family business I’d taken for granted all those years ago. I tossed the oven mitts onto the stainless table behind me before I shoved the kitchen door wide and strode into the area behind the counter.


“Can I help you?”


She let out an actual “eek” like a cartoon heroine as she jumped a foot backward. Damn. Though I’d quit smoking as soon as I’d been released, like I’d promised my mother I would, the rasp lingered on. I forgot how harsh my voice sounded, especially when it was scratchy from underuse, like today when customers had been few. Sometimes I opted to keep the place closed on a Monday to spend the entire day alone, baking. But most of the time I chose not to, because we didn’t have the luxury of missing out on walk-in trade.


Her hesitant smile turned into a self-conscious chuckle. “You surprised me. I was lost in thought I guess. I just came in to…look.” Her gaze was fixed on my stubbled face as she backed away and jeez, with her big, wary eyes, in the long crimson sweater she wore, she looked like Red Riding Hood waiting for the wolf to pounce.


I consciously attempted to alter my expression into something approaching friendly. Gina said my default look wasn’t “resting” anything face. It was more like don’t-make-me-hurt-you face. Just the thought of my sister’s jokes relaxed my jaw. I looped a forefinger up to pull at the black bandana catching the perspiration around my neck, strangely tongue-tied. Strange because I knew the customer service drill like I knew the recipe for the penguin-shaped butter cookies cooling in the back. Why was I so tense?


Straight-backed as a soldier at attention, she didn’t look particularly relaxed either. More like she was deciding how fast she could cut and run. Regret tightened my chest. Back in the day, smiles and laughter with women came so easy, it was another thing I took for granted. Back then, women hadn’t shied away from me, or more likely, my looks. Back then, if I thought about it at all, and in those days I did very little thinking, I would’ve figured my good looks and carefree life would last forever. I was now the perfect example of how did my father put it? If you’re gonna live, you might as well learn.


“I’ll stop by another time,” she said, as she eased back another step while wrapping the long sweater closed around her slender body.


I attempted a smile and man, it was like the skin of my cheeks cracked. Judging from the way her eyes widened, my smile was as scary as my default glare. Her gaze remained fixed on me and her unusual dark gold irises mesmerized me.


And just like that—every thought, every bit of my usual sales patter flew out of my mind as I struggled to form a sentence. What the fuck was wrong with me? When had I ever been unable to chat up a customer? Never. Even when I’d been a disinterested teenager, I knew how to smile, how to talk the talk.


I was a third generation baker. Third generation shop owner. And that was just in this country. Back in Palermo there’d been Fieros baking for centuries. There was nothing I could do about it. It was my identity. I’d been born to this life and I didn’t fight it anymore. Yeah, I’d tried to escape it once upon a time but blood is blood and this life was in my blood. My father always told me a wolf is nothing without his pack and in prison I’d been a lone wolf. Useless and unbearably lonely. I might still be lonely but I was back with my family and it was all I needed.


I hadn’t always accepted my fate. I’d watched my father and his father, my mother, my entire family come to that—bake, create, work the store and handle customers day in and day out, year after year, till it was all I could do not to run.


So I’d done it. I’d bolted from family, the bakery, from school—everything good. I’d abandoned it all to hang with the wrong crowd, a gang of two-bit thugs, where small-time trouble-making soon turned into big mistakes even the cops couldn’t ignore.


By the time I figured out I was going nowhere, I was already sitting alone in a cell, with plenty of opportunity to think; to wish I could take back time. Because by then, I would’ve traded anything for the blazing hot bliss of the kitchen and the constant jingling of the bell over the front door signaling it would be a good day.


I cleared my sandpaper throat. Tried again. “Were you looking for anything in particular?”


Her gaze was still fixed on me and after a beat she said, “Not really. It’s warm in here and it smells so good.” Her mouth clamped shut like she hadn’t meant to actually say her thoughts out loud. She lifted her shoulders and dropped them, then spread her arms out in a graceful arc. “Sorry to disturb you only to leave again.” Pink washed over her high cheekbones. Aside from her sweater, she was dressed entirely in black. With no makeup, her hair in a windblown bun, she should have looked plain but there was an elegance to her which had nothing to do with clothes or makeup. Her skin, the little I could see of it, was flawless, and the proud set of her shoulders and the poised way she clasped her hands in front of her reminded me of royalty.


“No trouble. Warm, great-smelling baked goods is what we do here.”


Realization followed by inspiration hit me, like my father’s hand at the back of my head. The woman was hungry. Why the fuck else do people wander into bakeries, Luca?


I couldn’t fix very much in this world but I could fix that. She seemed reluctant but that could be my resting don’t-make-me-hurt-you face rattling her. Or could it be bakery goods were a treat and not in her budget? I had to find a way to make her stay.


Without conscious thought I said. “I thought you might be here to participate in the cookie tasting challenge.”


“Challenge? You mean like a contest? Really?” Her pale pink lips tipped up at the corners. “No, I didn’t know about it.” She looked around the basic white walls of the bakery and she saw the same décor that had been in place for decades: two oversized posters; one advertising Fanta and another depicting a beach on the Gulf of Palermo in the Tyrrhenian Sea. “I don’t see anything about…”


Was I now running a contest? Well, yeah, okay, it looked like I was. I tried another smile. “Today’s the first day.” I shrugged. “I’m late getting the signs posted.” I made a mental note to get Gina to create said signs—pronto. “For the holidays, we’re having a taste test of cookies…ah…all month long, till New Year’s. Customers come in, they taste, they vote. At the end of the month, we reveal which cookie wins cookie of the year and select one random person who participated in the contest to get a pound of their favorite cookie.”


Her eyes crinkled at the corners when she smiled. “That’s a cool idea. I definitely want to do that. But,” she chewed her lip, “not tonight. I’ll be back… towards the weekend, for sure.”


“I forgot to say all the contest cookie samples are free.” I leaned over the counter toward her and this time my smile was a little more natural. Her eyes, now as warm and golden as the salted caramel in the kitchen waiting to fill thumbprint cookies, widened again, this time with interest rather than alarm.


“This is like market research for me, you know? So it wouldn’t be fair to charge people,” I said.


“Oh, yeah, I can see that.” She nodded her head slowly catching her bottom lip between her teeth. “Which cookies are you taste testing today?” She gazed down into the case and I followed her lingering glance.


“Well, today, the two I’m featuring are,” I grabbed a yellow pad from the counter behind me and pretended to consult it. “Linzer tarts and almond cookies sprinkled with sugar and ginger crystals.”


My gaze lingered on her lips as her tongue rimmed her mouth and then she looked up at me with a broad smile. “Ginger and almond, hmm? That’s an interesting modern pairing to go along with a classic Linzer tart. Okay, I’ll taste them for you.”


Why did her statement sound like a proposition? I hated to admit it, but Gina was right. I had to get out more.


“Thank you,” I said. “Please sit down. I’ll bring them to you.” I dipped my chin then waved to the six empty cafe tables spread around the interior. Her gaze was glued to the ink sleeve on display when I extended my right arm before she backed up and settled into a chair at the table closest to the door, crossing one flat-heeled, black-booted leg over the other. I put the two selections on a paper plate and carried them over to her. Then I backed up to the counter again, to make her feel more comfortable, unaccountably anxious about her response. Both cookies were fresh and damn good. I knew that. But would she like them?


She picked up the almond sugar cookie first. One, a quick nibble. Two, a bigger bite. Three, the whole thing was in her mouth. And by everything holy, what a mouth. Mother of God. No lipstick, nothing on it, except a stray crumb till she flicked out her tongue to grab it. Damn, watching this woman eat a cookie was like watching a porno. My body should not be reacting to a customer eating a cookie. What the hell was wrong with me? I’d definitely neglected my social life for far too long.


Then she was nodding and grinning as she swallowed. I looked down at the old-fashioned, black and white hexagon tiled floor as heat flooded my face at her enthusiasm. You’d think I was a high school freshman trying out my flirting skills at the school dance instead of the thirty-three year old ex-con. Hell, I’d been less awkward as a fourteen-year-old than I was now. All I knew was when I’d seen her eyeing the cookies with something that approached longing, I’d needed her to stay. I could almost feel my mother looking down from above, nodding her head and saying, Good, Luca. Feed the girl.


Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):



Bookbub: Snowfire


Goodreads: Snowfire



Share a holiday family tradition:


Since our family is lucky to live in and near NYC, we adore everything the city has to offer around the holidays. We enjoy traditional fare like listening to Handel’s Messiah at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, watching The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, going to Radio City Music Hall’s Holiday Show featuring the Rockettes, as well as visiting Christmas after hours pop-up bars. We also love to skate at Rockefeller Center or at Wollman Rink in Central Park, take pictures at the Rockefeller Center tree before strolling north on Fifth Avenue to window shop all the gorgeous holiday window displays. Then maybe enjoy afternoon tea at the Plaza. As a lifelong New Yorker, I can confidently say the abundance of sights, sounds and activities, both old and new, are more than enough to keep one fascinated throughout the holiday season.


Why is your featured book perfect to get readers in the holiday mood?


Snowfire is the story of Luca, a baker with a dark past and Natalya, a ballerina with a bright future, who meet by chance one blustery December 1st evening. These opposites attract in the midst of a New York City holiday season. Talya and Luca’s happily ever after is heartfelt and steamy and is set against a backdrop of the holidays in New York City with family, holiday cookies and the Nutcracker Suite all playing a role in their romance.


Giveaway –


One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon gift card



Open internationally.


Runs December 1 – 31


Drawing will be held on January 2, 2024.



Author Biography:


There's only one thing award-winning NYC author Charlotte O'Shay loves more than reading steamy, page-turning, contemporary romance.


Writing them.


Her writing has been called "intoxicating, emotional and irresistible." N.N.Light BookHeaven


Whether they're blue-collar guys or billionaires, Charlotte writes protective heroes who fall hard for the independent women who challenge them on every level.


Charlotte lives with her real life hero, Mac, in NYC, where her walks along the Hudson River serve up fresh story ideas every day.


Social Media Links:






4 Comments


andreadrake1
andreadrake1
Dec 17, 2023

We do elf on the shelf and Xmas movies!

Like

dsknight
Dec 08, 2023

Added to my Wish List!

Like

Charlotte O'Shay
Charlotte O'Shay
Dec 08, 2023

Thanks for the opportunity to share Snowfire in the Christmas and Holiday Featival. Good luck everyone and good reading.

Like

N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Dec 08, 2023

Thank you, Charlotte, for sharing your book in our Christmas and Holiday Book Festival!

Like
bottom of page