- N. N. Light
Snowflake Cottage by @lcarrollbradd is a Christmas in July Fete pick #sweetromance #99cents #99c
Title: Snowflake Cottage
Author: Linda Carroll-Bradd
Genre: Sweet contemporary romance
Receiving a life-altering health diagnosis sends Jada Beldane into holiday seclusion. Using self-help exercises, she vows to face a new year with a positive attitude. All she needs is time to herself and to stay away from children.
Single dad Graham Seaver avoids getting involved with the tourists in his hometown. Hopefully, keeping his young daughter busy will distract her quest for a new mother.
Jada and Graham appear to be a horrible match. But when they keep running into each other, will they succumb to the holiday magic?
In the clear light of day, playing like a child seemed the easiest from the book’s suggested tasks. She glanced at the swings, slides, and overhead bars. But she kept returning her gaze to the slightly tilted merry-go-round. When she was a kid, she used to love that apparatus. Pulling on her gloves, she looked in the car mirror. A few strands of long, dark hair dangled along her cheeks, and she tucked them into the forest green knitted cap. She took one last look at the book opened to the correct chapter on the passenger seat and scanned the instructions.
Play like you did when you were a younger version of yourself and every activity was an adventure. Tackle that single task and dig for your inner child to share the joy.
Once outside the car, she shivered and rubbed gloved hands along her arms. Even with a sweater underneath, this fleece jacket was not thick enough. When she knew skiing wouldn’t be part of the trip, she’d left behind her insulated clothes. Big mistake. Jada jogged to the merry-go-round painted in primary colors. She rested her right knee on the metal platform and shoved off with her left about every two feet in the wet dirt as the speed increased. Ah, the feeling of almost flying. Such a wonderful sensation for a kid who felt trapped by other people’s rules.
After she built up enough speed, she hopped on and slid her body flat, resting her neck at the outside edge. Miniature clouds formed above her mouth as she caught her breath. The cold from the metal platform seeped through her clothes. She hooked a leg around the upright bar in the center and stretched out her arms. The circling motion didn’t feel like too much as long as she focused on the puffy cloud directly overhead in the cornflower blue sky. If she closed her eyes, she could imagine all those times when she and Issie did—
“Daddy, what’s that lady doing?”
At the voice, Jada popped open her eyes and spotted two sets of legs—one jean clad, and the thinner one in gray sweatpants—as she circled. No…not a child. Her breath caught in her lungs and stuck. The merry-go-round slowed and came around again. The upside-down image of a tall man in a cowboy hat holding the hand of a small girl flashed then disappeared again.
“But why is a grown-up playing on the playground?”
Good question, kid. Unfortunately, Jada didn’t have an answer. She rubbed a fist on her chest to release the painful breath. Of course, a playground proved a risky place for avoiding kids. Why hadn’t she chosen a solitary child’s activity—like skipping rope or blowing bubbles?
“I want to spin and hang my head upside down.”
“It’s not safe.”
The stern note prompted Jada to sit upright. Her stomach fluttered at the throaty warning. At the quick change in position, combined with the spinning, she swayed and wrapped both arms around the closest handle. His comment about safety stabbed her conscience. Setting an example for young observers never entered her thoughts as she sought her own enjoyment. A deep breath calmed her jumpy stomach.
“Let’s go to the swings.” The man stretched out an arm toward the other side of the playground.
“No, I want to spin.” The girl scrambled onto the platform and hugged the closest upright bar. “Hi, lady.”
“Hi.” Hearing the girl’s piping voice, Jada bit back a groan. The exact encounter she wanted to avoid sat not three feet away. She studied the little girl, who looked swallowed by her puffy clothes and winter scarf. She had big blue eyes and a blonde ponytail peeked out from a knitted cap. Butterfly-shaped hairclips over her ears controlled stray hairs. A few freckles dotted her cheeks. Jada glanced at the man, unsure of how to proceed, since she was a stranger talking to his child. “Hello, sir. My name’s Jada, and I’m visiting from Wyoming.”
“Figured you for a tourist. Name’s Graham Seaver, and this is my daughter, Tatum.”
“Hi, Jada.” Tatum glanced around, eyebrows raised. “Are you here by yourself?”
“I am.” His first response was strange and held an unnerving, almost personal, undertone. She loosened her hold and scooted toward the edge. The faster she could escape, the better.
“Daddy, push us.” Tatum smacked a snow boot on the metal surface.
Graham crossed his arms and didn’t move as the platform inched around another rotation.
Jada recognized his expression and wasn’t about to get in the middle of a parent-child standoff. Even frowning, he presented quite an appealing sight—over six feet tall, blondish hair a bit on the long side, light-colored eyes, and wide shoulders under a fleece-lined denim jacket. What on earth was she doing checking out the guy who was obviously a family man? Time to get out of here.
“I want to spin, Daddy. Please.”
“The exact word I was waiting for.” Dropping his arms to his sides, he reached for a handle.
The merry-go-round picked up speed, and Jada again grabbed for a handhold. This guy had some power in his muscled legs. The trees and the other playground equipment, previously discernible as individual objects, now passed in a multi-colored blur.
“Faster, Daddy. Faster.”
The girl’s high-pitched glee stabbed her heart. Being near a child was the last place Jada wished to be as she made peace with her diagnosis. Never would she feel life growing inside her own body. Never would she hear the sound of her own child’s laughter. Never would she share a special look with her child. She blinked fast. The moisture gathering in her eyes must be a factor of the fast spinning. She kept her head turned outward, even if she couldn’t focus on anything that whizzed past. Maybe, if she didn’t look at the child, the girl’s presence wouldn’t affect her as much.
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What I love most about the holiday season:
The holiday season is one of the few times a years that I get to spend time with family who lives over 400 miles away. I cherish those everyday moments of sharing a meal, playing a board game, or watching a movie with my two granddaughters.
Why is your featured book a must-read to get you in the holiday mood?
The conflict is strong in that Jada wants to avoid anything to do with children. Yet, she is thrust into a situation where the man who attracts her heart like none other is a single dad. Holiday season events make it inevitable.
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Runs July 1 – 31
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As a young girl, Linda was often found lying on her bed reading about fascinating characters having exciting adventures in places far away and in other time periods. In later years, she read and then started writing romances and achieved her first publication--a confession story. Married with 4 adult children and 2 granddaughters, award-winning author Linda now writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor and a bit of sass from her home in the southern California mountains.
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