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Vermont Escape by Marsha R. West is a Christmas in July Fete pick #99cents #romanticsuspense


Author: Marsha R. West

Genre: Later in Life Romantic Suspense

Book Blurb:

Two years after the murder of her husband, someone guns down Jill Barlow’s father, a Texas State Representative. The authorities suspect a connection between the murders but can’t find proof. Jill longs for the peace she found when she visited Vermont after her husband’s death. With the perpetrators still at large, she flees to the small town of Woodstock.

The gambling syndicate, believing she has damning evidence against them, pursues her, shattering her dreams of peace. Trying to protect her grown children, she doesn't tell them violence continues to stalk the family.

Despite having lost so much already, with the lives of her family and friends at stake, will Jill be required to make more sacrifices? And what about the second chance at love with a Vermont politician, Jerrod Phillips?


Monday, December 24

Jill was frankly amazed at the improvement in her health in the two weeks she’d spent in Marathon, Florida. She walked every day, exercised in the pool, and soaked in the hot tub. Her daughter’s physician, Dr. Sullivan, told Jill she’d be able to take on the ocean in a couple more weeks.

For Christmas tomorrow, they’d planned a traditional meal. Ethan hadn’t been able to get away, so they were using a turkey breast instead of cooking the whole bird. They had the makings for all the rest, including the pumpkin pie made from her mother’s recipe.

Because her shopping trips had been limited to grocery runs, Jill ordered her gifts online. Not the personal touch she liked to have, but for this year, it worked.

Jill dithered for quite a time about what, if anything, to get Jerrod. They had no commitment to each other. Other than the one she was afraid her heart had made.

And to a politician. What was she thinking? She strongly believed in the adage “to those whom much is given much is expected.” But hadn’t they given enough already? She hoped so. Jill had finally settled on a book which seemed impersonal, but it was a listing of humorous “facts” about Vermont.

One of Jill’s favorites was, “The driving is better in winter because the potholes get filled with snow.” She also loved, “You know you live in Vermont if you have more miles on your snow blower than your car.” She’d inscribed it simply. “Miss you all and the snow.” The “all” was kind of a cop out, but—

“Hey, Mom. You okay? I’ve been trying to get your attention. If you need to stay home, we can.”

Ellen hadn’t always had the worry lines above her nose that seemed to have sprung out overnight.

Her fault.

Jill pulled herself to her feet and pushed the corners of her lips upward into something she hoped would pass for a smile.

“Sorry dear. Your beautiful ocean view must have lulled me into a kind of stupor. I’m fine. Let’s go.” She looped her arm through her daughter’s, and they set off together for the Christmas Eve service.

Tuesday, December 25

Christmas Day dawned picture perfect in Woodstock, Vermont. Thirty-two degrees with no wind. Mid-morning, Jerrod trudged through the snow from his house to his mother’s. Smoke from fireplaces filled the air and tweaked his nose. Don had arrived yesterday and spent the night at his grandmother’s. Liz’s call fifteen minutes ago to see what was keeping “good ol’ Dad” made Jerrod get his act together and head over.

It would be a bittersweet holiday. Mitch had seldom been home at Christmas, but still this was the first one since his death.

Jerrod glanced down the street toward Rainbow Reflections. Much had changed since his mother sold her store. A long sigh blew white vapor in front of his face.

Jill was a good change, but she was in the Florida Keys with Ellen. He couldn’t imagine not having a white Christmas, but people in other parts of the country routinely celebrated without snow.

His mother’s tree stood in its traditional place in the front window. The sparkling red, green, and yellow lights reflected on the white coverlet of snow in the yard. Snow flocked the evergreens, and the red bow on the mailbox at the sidewalk made the setting almost perfect.

“Merry Christmas, Dad.” Liz threw her arms around him after he entered. “I was afraid you’d gotten lost.” She helped him with his coat and brushed off the snow.

Her teasing brought an almost contented smile to his face. “Merry Christmas. I was enjoying our town this morning. Nothing like a brisk walk on a cold day to get my appetite ready for your grandmother’s dinner. Well, Don. What are you doing?” Jerrod nodded toward the large chef’s apron his son wore.

“Be careful.” Don stepped away from Jerrod’s hug. “Grandmother’s got me helping with the dough for the rolls.”

“Don.” His grandmother’s voice came from the back of the house.

“Guess I’m needed.”

Jerrod laid a hand on his son’s arm to stop him. “How does she seem to be holding up?”

“She’s doing well.” He winked. “Coming.” Long strides carried him toward the kitchen.

“Nobody else is here yet, huh?” His mother had invited the Livingstons, but their car wasn’t out front.

“No, but they’re on their way.”

Jerrod threw an arm around Liz’s shoulder. “Let’s go see if we can talk your grandmother into letting us help.”

The day was great. Outstanding food, of course. Few cooks were of his mother’s caliber. Tim, Karen, and their kids helped break the tension. The talk flowed smoothly throughout the meal.

He and Tim talked about a proposed bill’s possible effect on veterinarians.

“Don’t you, Dad?”

“I’m sorry, Liz. What?”

“I said it was thoughtful of Jill to send a Christmas gift, and I really wish she were here. Then I said, Don’t you, Dad?”

It seemed everyone at the table focused on him. His heartbeat skipped, his breathing got shallow. He’d give almost anything to have Jill sitting here next to him for this holiday. But she couldn’t be, and he didn’t know if she’d want to. His fingers clenched around the napkin in his lap. How was he expected to answer?


Liz was nothing if not persistent. He needed to come up with an answer. He opened his mouth, closed it, and opened it again. “I’m sure she’d want to be with her children.” He managed the statement in a flat tone, not giving away the churning in his gut about the woman.

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):

E-Book is on Sale for 99 Cents July 15-22!

What I love most about the holiday season:

I love the colder weather, winter clothes, baking & eating cookies, watching holiday movies, and extra time with the family.

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

What’s more festive than a Christmas in New England? And when it’s paired with one in Florida, you make everyone happy.

Giveaway –

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

Open internationally.

Runs July 1 – 31, 2023.

Drawing will be held on August 1, 2023.

Author Biography:

A retired elementary school principal, a former school board member, and theatre arts teacher, Marsha R. West writes Romance, Suspense, and Second Chances. Experience Required. She lives in Texas with her supportive lawyer husband and Charley, a deaf, Chihuahua/Jack Russell Terrier mix. Their two daughters presented them with three delightful grandchildren all who live nearby.

She’s a member of North Texas Romance Writers, Authors Marketing Guild LLC, & the WORD BY WORD Blog. She has her own weekly blog and monthly newsletter. Her books can be found on AMAZON, B & N, KOBO, and iTunes and other sites. Print books are also at Draft 2 Digital, Indie Lector Stores, and Amazon. Blurbs for each of her books with links can be found on her website.

Social Media Links: Where you can also sign up for her blog and her NEWSLETTER MRW Press LLC ( her at , and follow her on…


Jul 30, 2023

Spending time with my family is my fave part of holidays!


Marsha Riegert West
Marsha Riegert West
Jul 17, 2023

Thanks for having me. :)


N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Jul 17, 2023

Thank you, Marsha, for sharing your book in our Christmas in July Fete!

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