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The Bells of St. Dickens by Judy Kentrus is a Christmas in July Fete pick #holidayromance #giveaway



Title: The Bells of St. Dickens


Author: Judy Kentrus


Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance


Book Blurb:


Karla Sorensen dreamed of restoring the bells of the old church in downtown Dickens. She felt a deep connection to the place, as her great-great-grandfather, Sorenson, was the first pastor there back in 1870.


Karla's two-year project is nearing its deadline, and she's struggling to gather the funds required for the necessary repairs. She's been conducting online visits as Mrs. Claus to raise funds. However, her concerns are mounting as her online visitations start to decrease. To make matters worse, she discovers that her competition is none other than the Grinch.


Sebastian Nielson is a devoted single father, taking care of his six-year-old daughter and teenage son. Karla Sorensen has always had a significant place in his heart, as their high school romance ended abruptly when he left for college. However, he still has no idea why she ended their relationship.


He is the music teacher at Dickens High School and leads an exceptional jazz ensemble that he has entered state competitions. Unfortunately, the instruments used by the ensemble are outdated, and there are no funds available to replace them. Secretly, he has been earning money by impersonating the Grinch online to purchase new equipment.


It will take the spirit of Christmas for Karla and Sebastian to rediscover their first love, and opposing sides can work together to make the bells chime.


Excerpt:


The throbbing in her feet was a sure sign she’d been standing too long when she walked out of the shop a little after nine o’clock. The only vehicle in the rear lot used by shop owners should’ve been hers, but her heart raced when she saw the red lights of an SUV. She breathed easier when Sebastian got out of the driver’s side.


Keep things light.


“Sorry, the shop is closed, and we’re all out of kringle.”


“I didn’t come here for either. I’m in need of a listening ear, and I thought my girlfriend would be able to give me some of her precious time.”


“Former girlfriend. If you’ve a warm place to sit down, you’ve got a deal. I want to talk to you, too.”


Between the craziness of the past hours working in the shop, she’d thought about what she’d taken on this morning. Cold, hard reality had hit her in the face when Lynnie had reminded her that the old church’s bells still didn’t work.


This was no longer just about her. This project had started out with her wanting to do something for her own family, but something had happened this morning. The kids she met with week after week had jumped in to help, no questions asked.


The little boys in the original story sacrificed their last coin, hoping to make the bells chime. Sacrificing her pride for her kids was a no-brainer. She needed Sebastian to make the bells chime, even if a musical instrument produced their sound.


“Would you settle for a lean-to, a wood stove, a couple of camp chairs, and some hot chocolate down by Grosvenor’s Pond?”


“That’s an invitation I can’t resist.” She got into his warm truck, rested her head on the headrest, and expelled a deep sigh. Nat King Cole was singing “The Christmas Song.”


He pulled onto Main Street. The white lights on the Victorian-themed storefronts still glowed. A light dusting of snow had fallen, leaving the tops of the streetlights with white elfin hats.


“They went all out decorating the gazebo with white lights, pine garlands and red bows, yet no matter where you look, the Christmas tree is the focal point,” she pointed out.


“Do you ever feel like you’re living in one of those sweet Christmas movies where everyone makes cookies, drinks hot chocolate, and decorates a tree?”


Karla jerked up but didn’t get very far when the seat belt tightened across her chest. “You actually watch those movies?”


“Are you kidding me? My mother is addicted, and Lynnie caught the bug.”


A few cars were in the lot at the pond. The minute they got out of the SUV, she breathed in the pungent smell of wood fires.


Sebastian carried a thermal bag in one hand and held Karla’s hand with the other as they made their way down the cleared path toward the lean-tos with the small woodstoves.


The three-sided wood-framed interior was cozy and warm. Karla opened two of the camp chairs before she removed her hat and scarf.


Sebastian added two more pieces of wood to keep the fire going before he took out a thermos, two mugs and a bakery box she recognized from Leslie’s Bakes and More.


Her mouth watered. “You even brought my favorite peppermint chip shortbread and peanut butter cookies.” She helped herself to one of each.


He poured two mugs of hot chocolate before sitting next to her. “This is what I needed.”


“You really sound down. How can I help?”


“I’ve loved every minute of the twelve years I’ve been a music teacher. The special jazz group I’m working with is amazing, but the equipment we have is old, and of course, there isn’t any money in the school budget for new equipment.”


He shifted so he could look at her. “They’re all eager to enter the county and state competitions. Today, I drove to Augusta to get a supposed discounted price on percussion instruments, but they’re still out of my price range. I hate to disappoint these kids.”


“Sebastian, you’re a wonderful teacher, and I wish I had a lot of money to help you out.”


“I’m not telling you for that reason. I’m just venting.”


“I hate to even bring this up, since you’ve got your own troubles.”


He turned his chair to fully face her. “What kind of a boyfriend would I be if I didn’t help you?”


“Because you know me—we’ll get to the boyfriend/girlfriend part later—but I’m overwhelmed by a situation I can’t handle alone.”


“Wow! Karla Sorenson asking me for help?”


“Bite your tongue, smart aleck. You know about my last-ditch effort to make the bells chime on Christmas Eve. I’ve put together, with the help of the children, our own story, focusing on the giving-from-the-heart theme of the original story.


“Our play is called The Bells of St. Dickens, but your smart daughter reminded me today that the bells don’t work. I need help.”


She didn’t stutter over the word help and gripped his hand. He’d removed his fleece-lined vest and gloves. His skin was very warm. “Now, about the bells.”


“That won’t be a problem. I’ll have one of the kids play the percussion chimes at the end. With the cathedral ceiling, the notes will reverberate like we’re in Westminster Cathedral.”


“That all sounds wonderful, but do you really think I can pull this off in three weeks?”


“It’s a little less than that. You have all of two Saturdays to put this together. So, basically, the only thing you’ll need from me is music.”


She shrugged a shoulder at the irony of the situation. She was coming to him for the thing that was important in his life, but she’d never had a part in that. “Yes.”


He leaned closer, giving her a direct stare. “I’ll help, with one nonnegotiable point. Answer this question—why did you lie when you said you didn’t love me anymore?”


Buy Links (including BookBub):



On sale for 50% off when you purchase an e-copy on Smashwords:





What I love most about the holiday season:


I love the decorations, music, and the tradition of celebrating the holidays with family and friends. And of course, baking, especially cookies.


Why is your featured book a must-read to get you in the holiday mood?


The storyline takes place in Dickens, a fictional town in New England. You’ll find a heartwarming storyline with wonderful characters, but you will be surrounded by the flavors, sights, fun, music, and tradition of celebrating the holiday season.


Giveaway –


One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card:



Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.


Runs July 1 – 31, 2023.


Drawing will be held on August 1, 2023.



Author Biography:


Judy Kentrus, Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, Later-in-Life

Historical Romantic Suspense, Sweet Romance, Rom-Com

I’ve always been a romantic at heart and I married my high school sweetheart. I make my home in the Poconos of Pennsylvania. I’m a mom with two grown children who have given me six grandchildren. Two live with me and the other four live in Florida. I visit them twice a year.


We love to travel. Many of the places we’ve visited have inspired me to use them as a storyline. I loved my land/sea tour of Alaska so much I wrote Frozen Hearts, a romantic suspense that re-creates the entire trip. I live fifteen minutes from the Delaware Water Gap. A Timeless Kiss, the third book in my US Park Ranger series, is based on the troubled history of the national recreation area. I never know what will inspire me, but my mind is always working.


I can hear you asking the question, does she ever stop writing? That’s a Yes! When I’m not giving couples their happily-ever-after, you can find me in the kitchen, baking, especially cookies. I’ve been dubbed the cookie queen by my family and friends. You’ll find a new recipe every month on my website.


Want to find out more about my books and what’s coming? Be sure to sign up for my newsletter via my website. My stories are fun, sexy romances that will make you laugh, cry, and fall in love.


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