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The Scarred Santa by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is a BHW pick #holidayromance #sweetromance #wrpbks

Title: The Scarred Santa


Author: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy


Genre:  sweet contemporary romance, holiday, Christmas

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press


Book Blurb:


Once handsome Rafe Sullivan is left scarred, injured, and with PTSD from his Marine Corps service in Afghanistan. Returning to civilian life is far from smooth, and the burn scars on his right side are extensive. Although he lives close to family, he lives a solitary life and changes jobs more often than most people change their socks. A temporary job as Santa at the mall is presented, but Rafe first rebels, then relents. His Santa gig affects his PTSD. Then he meets Sheena Dunmore. When she doesn't run from his scars or issues, she intrigues him. An unmasking by some rowdy children is a test of his stamina and spirit. His greatest fear is fire. Will Rafe conquer the fear so he can move forward into the new life he desires?




Mike grinned and held out the suit. “It’s a top-of-the-line Santa Claus outfit. This is the best. Look at the velvet jacket and pants, the faux ermine fur trimmings, the leather belt, and the matching boots. Jolly Old St. Nick himself couldn’t dress any better than this.”


Rafe quit believing in Santa at the age of seven. He would rather be in uniform than wear the ridiculous getup. “Then take it to the North Pole.”


Mike ignored his request and beamed. “It’s for you. I got you the best job ever. You’re gonna love it.”


Realization brought horror. Rafe’s stomach tied into a knot. “Oh, no, you don’t. I’m not playing Santa Claus, Mike. It’s not happening.”


His brother’s smile wilted. “Come on, you love Christmas.”


Rafe balled his fists. “No, correction: I used to love Christmas when I had a face and a life. It’s just another day on the calendar to me.”


“You’ll be fantastic.”


Rafe resisted the urge to punch the wall. “Mike, what are you talking about? What is all this about?”


“I told you I’d find you a job, right?”


He hadn’t thought Mike really would. “Yeah, you did.”


“This is it!” Mike sounded excited, but his enthusiasm wasn’t catching.


Rafe blew air through his nose and asked the obvious. “Do you want me to play Santa?”


His brother offered a grin and shouted, “Yes!”


Nothing sounded less likely than donning the suit and playing the old elf but he asked, for Mike’s sake, “Where would this be? Is it at your office Christmas party or at church or what?”


“Oh, it’s even better. It’s at the mall!!” Mike put the suit back into the box.


Rafe’s recent experience at the mall had triggered an episode. It had also given him a chance to interact with Sheena, but he doubted he had the courage to brave it again, especially not as Santa Claus. “You’re outta your mind. I hate the mall.”


“No, you don’t. Mom said you hung out, went to the food court and all when she got her glasses.”


Rafe came to his feet. It was time to admit the truth. “Mike, I freaked out.”


Mike stood. “She said you were sitting with Sheena Dunmore.”


“So?” He lifted his eyebrows, trying to be casual and convince Mike spending time with Sheena didn’t matter.


“So, you survived the mall,” Mike stated. “It’s a great job, Rafe. The pay is excellent for the season. And it’s short term, November through Christmas.”


Rafe could use some cash inflow, but he still found the idea ridiculous. “How good is excellent?”


“It’s eight hundred a week to start. If you do a fantastic job, they’ll up your pay even more.”


He must have heard wrong. Rafe paced the length of the room twice, then faced his brother. “You’re crazy. I look more like some evil Santa thing—what is it, Krampus—than I do Kris Kringle. I’m not old or fat, but I have scars.”


Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub)


Advance reviews:


Author Biography:


From an early age, Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy scribbled stories, inspired by the books she read, the family tales she heard, and even the conversations she overheard at the beauty shop where her grandmother had a weekly standing appointment. She was the little girl who sat at the feet of the elders and listened.

As an author, she has published more than sixty novels and novellas written as both Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy and as Patrice Wayne for historical fiction. She is also the author of a new Faery Folk series from Evernight Publishing writing as Liathán O'Murchadha. Her books are found in many places, online and in brick-and-mortar stores including some in both Ireland and Australia.  Her current publishers include The Wild Rose Press, World Castle Publishing, Evernight Publishing, and Champagne Books.

She spent her early career in broadcast radio, interviewing everyone from politicians to major league baseball players and writing ad copy.  In those radio years she began to write short stories and articles, some of which found publication. In 1994 she married Roy Murphy and they had three children, all now grown-up. Lee Ann spent years in the newspaper field as both a journalist and editor and was widowed in 2019.

She teaches 7th and 8th graders each Sunday at church.

In late 2020, she hung up her editor’s hat to return to writing fiction. A native of St. Joseph, Missouri, she lives and works in the rugged, mysterious, and beautiful Missouri Ozarks.


Social Media Links


Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy: Rambling and Writing (blog)


 Personal page













Dec 19, 2023

Sounds good, Lee Ann! Meryl Brown Tobin


Barbara Bettis
Nov 28, 2023

Hi from a fellow Missouri Ozarker and a fellow newspaper journalist, Lee Ann. Wishing you gobs of luck with your Christmas book. ❤️

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