Saturday, September 30, 2017

Meet the Authors of Sweet Christmas Kisses 4 - Josie Riviera and Christine Bush

A Portuguese Christmas
Josie Riviera

Feliz Natal means Merry Christmas in Portuguese!

I had such fun writing A Portuguese Christmas, my contribution to our Sweet Romance Reads 4 boxed set. And, in turn, I learned a great deal about Portugal, and the country’s lack of snow during the holiday season.

The story is set in December. Krystal Walters, the heroine, is an American professional surfer, and is competing in Portugal during the holidays in a world-class surfing event. She misses the snow, and envisions returning to her home in snowy Rhode Island to celebrate Christmas with her father.

However, the average temperature in Portugal in December/January boasts a high of 59 degrees, with temperatures dipping to a low 46 degrees. So, snow is very rare, especially in the cities, such as Lisbon.

Through my research, I also learned that Portugal’s climate is diverse. The river Tejo goes through Lisbon, and any regions south are warm and dry, and reportedly it’s only snowed there once in twenty years.

Any regions north of the river are rainy and cold in winter.

Here’s the first cover of A Portuguese Christmas.

The hero, Adolfo, is an olive farmer, and this hero didn’t look like a man who farms the land to me. Those of you who’ve heard my praise of my wonderful cover artist, know I trust her judgement. However, in addition to a hero who didn’t fit my vision, she forgot one important thing. There’s no snow in Portugal!

However, I LOVE the hero on this cover, which was unanimously approved! J

The moment world-class surfer Krystal disappears under a mountain of sea water, Adolfo’s single-minded focus shifts from running his Portuguese olive farm to keeping the sun-kissed American spitfire safe. But first he’ll have to convince her that spending Feliz Natal with him isn’t the end of the world. Because she’s become the center of his.


To celebrate our Sweet Christmas 4 boxed set release, I’m giving away one of my favorite Bath and Body Works body cream. The scent is “Fresh Sparkling Snow.” I’m sure Krystal, the heroine of A Portuguese Christmas, would approve!

In order to enter the giveaway, please answer the following question and leave a comment below.

Do you like snow during the holiday season, or do you prefer warm, sunny weather?

One lucky winner will be selected and announced, so stay tuned.

Feliz Natal!

Josie Riviera is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author of contemporary, inspirational, and historical sweet romances that read like Hallmark movies. She lives in the Charlotte, NC, area with her wonderfully supportive husband. They share their home with an adorable Shih Tzu who constantly needs grooming and live in an old house forever needing renovations.


I love our Christmas bundle of sweet romance stories. Our new “Sweet Christmas Kisses 4” has just arrived to launch the season! Each novella is full of love and tenderness and the joy of the holiday.  And every one is different. Each author emphasizes some aspect of that Christmas spirit in their story.

When I’m not wearing my “author hat”, I’m a therapist, a calling that sometimes brings me deeply into my clients’ feelings about the difficult situations of life.  So many people (and so many readers) arrive at the holiday season facing grief, loss, pain, and loneliness.  It can be a tough time of year. 

But I believe in the healing power of love. So my stories at this time of year often reflect that. Because I believe Christmas time can also be filled with healing, and growth, acceptance and new love. We can help each other as we face the challenges of life. I’ve seen that the spirit of “giving” at this holiday season can bring joy and healing both to the “giver” and to the “receiver.” And that’s important!

 In my story this year, “Christmas with the Cat Lady,” our hero and heroine deliver Christmas dinners, rescue cats, and sing carols with some endearing nursing home residents. The joy and healing spreads, right along with that Christmas cheer.

For me, Christmas is a great time to “act” in love, as well as read about it!  I get inspired with “Christmas Spirit” to share love and care when I hear your stories of how YOU share love at Christmas.

So here goes! Let us knows some of the ways (past, present or even inspirations for the future) that you have come up with to make the holiday joyful for someone else.  Let’s hear some good ideas to spreading Christmas cheer!

And if you didn’t get your fantastic Sweet Christmas Kisses 4 bundle yet… go get it right now!  And feel free to share our blog and link whenever you can.  Spread the love at holiday time, and all year around! We sure appreciate it!





Friday, September 29, 2017

Meet the Authors of Sweet Christmas Kisses 4 - Jean C. Gordon and Shanna Hatfield

A Team Macacheck Christmas
Jean C. Gordon

Jean C. Gordon here with a riddle and a giveaway prize. What involves skill, endurance, nerves of steel, and a lot of time away from home driving from event to event with a trailer hitched to a pick-up or RV? If you guessed rodeo, you'd be right. You'd also be right if you guessed motocross racing. That's the premise behind “A Team Macachek Christmas” in Sweet Christmas Kisses 4 (and my other Team Macachek stores), that the motocross circuit mirrors the rodeo circuit.

And there are many more similarities. When they’re not on the road traveling from event to event, both competitors hone their skills by putting in many grueling practice hours at home. Riding a bronco or a bull requires strength, focus, and courage. Completing a motocross race requires strength, focus, and courage. Rodeo cowboys start young and retire young. Motocross racers start young (some as young as five) and retire early. Rodeo cowboys are driven to succeed. Motocross racers are driven to succeed. Rodeo cowboys at the top of the rankings can take home huge prizes. Ditto, top-ranked motocross racers. Lower ranked cowboys and racers can struggle to stay in the game, but stay they do for the thrill of competing.
You see the pattern. It’s what led me to create Team Macachek and write Jesse and Lauren’s reunion story for Sweet Christmas Kisses 4. That, and a fondness for rodeo cowboy stories coupled with a weakness for a hunky guy on a fast bike. So, if you like rodeo cowboys, why not give motocross racers a try?

Sparks fly from a Christmastime reunion of motocross racer Jesse Brewster and his ex-girlfriend Lauren Cooper. Being thrown together to plan the race team’s Christmas party reignites a flame Lauren thought she’d extinguished when she broke up with Jesse six months earlier. But will Jesse’s well-meaning secret Christmas gift—meant to help win her back—compromise the independence Lauren is fighting to establish? Is it, as she maintains, the wrong time for their love?

TEAM MACACHEK: Fall in love with the strong women and fearless men of the motocross circuit.

And now for that prize. Leave a comment below for a chance to win the pictured motocross charm bookmark.
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Twitter: @JeanCGordon


Saving Mistletoe
Shanna Hatfield

Back in April, I released a novella about a pastry chef from Portland. Her best friend was Ellen, a girl who added some humor to the book. Readers asked if I would consider writing Ellen’s story, and so I did.

 Here’s a fun little interview with Ellen…

Tell us about life in Portland. What do you do there?

Ellen: I’m an attorney. I work downtown and the vibe of the city there is very energetic and busy. My apartment is just a few blocks away, so I’m close to everything.  I love it.

How did you meet Officer Burke Tipton?

Ellen: I bumped into him… literally. One afternoon I was running late for an appointment. My phone died, so I had no address or contact info for my appointment, so there I was, frantically trying to recall the address. I turned around and smacked right into Officer Burke Tipton and his partner.

 What do think of his partner?

Ellen: I love him! He’s so handsome and charming. And his name is awesome — Sugar Bear. Although Burke prefers to call him Bear. Honestly, I don’t think the horse cares. Oh, did I mentioned Burke’s partner is a horse? Burke is a mounted patrol officer. Isn’t that such a cool job?


 It is a great job. So you met each while you were both working?

 Ellen: Yes, although Burke didn’t seem to like me much that first time we met. The second time we met, I did the exact same stupid thing… blindly walked right into him and Sugar Bear.

 Oh, my! What did he do?

Ellen: (Laughs) He threatened to arrest me then helped me pick up all the files I dropped when I ran into him. Later that afternoon, he saw me buying flowers and walked me home.  

Tell us about Mistletoe.

Ellen: From the moment I met Mistletoe, she stole my heart. She’s a sweet little girl who hides her hurts behind a bit of sass and sarcasm. I could tell you more about her, Sugar Bear, and Burke’s loveable dog, Lovey, but I’ll let you read about it for yourself. Be sure to download your copy of Sweet Christmas Kisses 4 today. Saving Mistletoe is one of fourteen brand-new holiday novellas featured in the collection.

Hotshot attorney Ellen Meade seems to have it all: a powerful position with her firm, a posh downtown apartment, and a bright future ahead of her. But for Ellen, the future grows dimmer with each passing day. Her apartment is lonely without her best friend, and the demands of her job are slowly killing her soul. She’s simply surviving until she bumps into a police officer who changes everything.

Burke Tipton loves his job as a Mounted Patrol Officer in downtown Portland.  The life he’s built away from his family’s ranch is simple and uncomplicated. At least it was until a beautiful woman bumps into him and turns his world upside down.

Add in Burke’s partner Sugar Bear, Lovey the dog, and a child named Mistletoe in need of a Christmas miracle, and you get a heartwarming, holiday romance.

I love coming up with creative names for my characters, but especially for the animal characters. Share a great pet name for a chance to win a Mystery Prize from me!


Convinced everyone deserves a happy ending, USA Today bestselling author Shanna Hatfield is out to make it happen one story at a time. Her sweet historical and contemporary romances combine humor and heart-pumping moments with unforgettable characters.

When this hopeless romantic isn’t writing or indulging in rich, decadent chocolate, Shanna hangs out with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller.

 Connect with Shanna:

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Meet the Authors of Sweet Christmas Kisses 4 - Raine English and Denise Devine

Christmas in Walnut Creek
Raine English

“I absolutely love second-chance stories and when that story is as sweet as Christmas in Walnut Creek the love was instantaneous. I was born, raised, and still live in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont which serves as the setting for this story. Trust me when I say that snow, power-outages, and impassable roads are a part of life during a Vermont winter!

Christmas in Walnut Creek is the story of Jillian and Dane. They are a married couple that own and operate a beautiful inn until Dane takes on a great job offer that moves him to New York. Jillian is left to run the inn and as the months wear on (and loneliness sets in), Jillian decides that a divorce is the best option. It isn’t what she truly wants but she steals her heart against the hurt of his absence all while keeping a secret.

A holiday blizzard ensures that Dane (who was on his way to visit his parents while trying to figure out how to win Jillian back) is stranded at the inn. There are a few uncomfortable moments, a bit of heat, and a wonderful ending that prove that love can conquer all.”

~Heather G., Amazon Reviewer

Once Upon a Christmas
Denise Devine
Like the reviewer above who said she loved second-chance stories, I too, am in love with the idea of two people reuniting and reconciling their past. I also love the idea of setting my story in a small town. I spent 5 years of my youth living in several small towns and I learned a lot about the unique characteristics of small town life that makes it so interesting. Here are ten true facts about small-town living in Minnesota:

The gossip mill is very active.
Everyone knows everyone else’s business.
Everyone has an opinion about everyone else’s business.
Many people are related to each other in some way. Distant relatives are referred to as “shirttail” relatives.
“Main Street” is usually only 1-2 blocks long.
There are usually more churches than beer joints.
People are very conservative and opinionated.
Most people drive pickups.
Hunting and fishing is a way of life.
Most little towns are principally one or two nationalities (Scandinavian, German, etc.).

In Once Upon a Christmas, the town is called West Loon Bay and it’s on Lake Tremolo. Though we have over 10,000 lakes in Minnesota, there is no such lake called Lake Tremolo. (Do you have any idea how hard it was to come up with a unique name?? Yikes!) I thought long and hard about what to name my lake and I eventually came up with the word tremolo. What makes that weird word so great? The dictionary describes it as “a wavering effect in a musical tone” and the word tremolo is used to describe the call of a loon—which is the Minnesota state bird.

There are many more stories to come set in this town. This year, the story is about Ashton. Next year it will be about Allyson and the year after that, Grace.

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Sweet Christmas Kisses 4
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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Meet the Authors of Sweet Christmas Kisses 4 - Milou Koenings and Merrillee Whren

The Gift of Yesterday
Milou Koenings
The Gift of Yesterday is my new holiday novella included in the Sweet Christmas Kisses 4 box set.
The heroine of my tale is Bailey, a pastry chef who moves to Green Pines to open up her dream pastry shop. Of course, she's got a signature confection and it is the stuff of dreams: the merveilleux.

The word is French for marvelous, which describes the thing just right. 

It's made of three layers of meringue held together by whipped cream, covered over by more cream, and rolled in dark chocolate shavings.
The merveilleux is a Belgian treat that only made its way south to France in the last 20 years or so. I found out while I was writing this book that there are now merveilleux shops in London and New York City. So I guess the secret is out. Or at least some of it...

My uncle was a baker and pastry chef in Belgium. Merveilleux were my absolute favorite thing he made. His secret—which I have yet to see anyone else copy—was that he hid pieces of fruit at the center of each merveilleux. My favorite was the pineapple one, but the red currant version he made only in December were pretty special, too.
I'd like to share with you a taste of Bailey's magic in The Gift of Yesterday, so here is Bailey's recipe (courtesy of my uncle!):

 Chocolate Merveilleux

Makes about 6
150 grams egg whites (that's about 3 medium egg whites)
300 grams of sugar
600 ml whipped double cream* or heavy whipping cream
3-4 Tbsp icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla
Dark-chocolate shavings

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Pour the sugar evenly over the paper and bake in the oven for 5 minutes, or until the edges of the sugar layer start to melt.

Whisk the egg whites in a stand mixer set on low speed. Once bubbles form, increase the speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form.
Remove the sugar from the oven. With the mixer set on high, add the sugar to the egg whites one tablespoon at a time. Keep beating the eggs for at least 5 more minutes after all the sugar has been added. The mixture should be smooth and glossy.

Lower the oven temperature to 200 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius). Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Draw 18 2-inch (5-cm) circles on the paper (9 on each cookie sheet).
Fill the circles with a layer of egg whites about 1 inch (2.5 cm) high. (Use a piping bag or a spoon.) Bake in the oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. The meringues should be crisp to the touch. Turn off the oven and let the meringues stay there for another 2 hours.

Beat the cream with the icing sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form.

*It's almost impossible to find double cream in the U.S. Use heavy cream and a stabilizer instead, such as cornstarch, gelatin or a whipping cream stabilizer. If you follow the link to the recipe for lavender and honey merveilleux below, you'll see that recipe uses mascarpone as a stabilizer.

Spread a layer of cream on a meringue disk, then layer another meringue on it to form a sandwich. Cover that meringue with cream as well. If you want to use fruit, place one or two small berries or pieces of canned pineapple on top of this meringue. Cover with more cream and top with a third meringue. Spread whipped cream all over the sides. Refrigerate a few minutes.

Gently hold each merveilleux sideways, holding it by the top and bottom, which have no cream, and roll it in chocolate shavings until the sides are covered. Top each merveilleux with cream and sprinkle chocolate shavings over the top. (You could also just mound whipped cream all over the top, then sprinkle the shavings all around.)
There are a lot of possible variations on this. You could flavor the cream and/or the meringues with coffee, or pumpkin spice, and use chopped nuts instead of chocolate shavings. Be creative, like in this wonderful recipe for a dark chocolate, honey and lavender merveilleux from the blog.

Enjoy — with a good cup of coffee and a delicious, brand new box set of 14 marvelous holiday stories!

Puppy Love and Mistletoe
Merrillee Whren

Interview with Scott Graham, hero of
Puppy Love and Mistletoe.

What is the most interesting thing about you?
I’m the guardian of a six-year-old girl, Lily, and she keeps me on my toes all the time. She’s the daughter of my best friends who died in a tragic car accident.

What do you do for fun?
I love to spend my free time with Lily. We play games. I read to her, and we walk her dog, Jet. With Lily and that dog, there are no dull moments.

What is your current state of mind?
Concerned. I’ve started a new consulting job with the town of Hallburg, Maryland. The mayor ran on a promise not to raise taxes, and that means he has to cut the town budget. That’s my job, and it often makes me very unpopular with the people whose budgets I cut. It isn’t fun being the bad guy.

What are you afraid of most in life?
I’m most afraid of making the wrong decisions where Lily is concerned. She’s the most important thing in my life. I want to keep my promise to her dad and take care of her. I often consider adopting Lily, but I’m never sure that’s the right choice for her. She needs a mom and a dad. Lily is always on the lookout for a prospective mom. That does get embarrassing. I call Lily my personal matchmaker.

What do you want out of life?
I want to have a peaceful life here in Hallburg, where Lily can grow up without the stresses of the city.

Tell me about your family.
I have one sister. She is married with two boys. They live in Baltimore City, so I don’t get to see her as often, since I moved to Hallburg. Our parents have recently retired to Florida.

What do you most value in your friends?
Friends keep their promises. I made a promise to my best friend Danny to take care of his little girl if anything happened to him. That’s why I guard Lily with my life.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would worry less and enjoy life more. It’s a big responsibility to care for a child, so that worry thing is constantly with me.

Connect with Merrillee:  Website  Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest  Google +


Monday, September 25, 2017

Meet The Authors of Sweet Christmas Kisses 4 - Mona Risk and Beate Boeker

Join Mona and Beate today at the Sweet Christmas Kisses 4 release party!
Noon to 7:30 PM EST

Mona Risk
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author



The previous Christmas anthologies presented by the authors of Sweet Romance Reads have all been USA Today bestsellers:

Sweet Christmas Kisses in 2014

Sweet Christmas Kisses 2 in 2015

Sweet Christmas Kisses 3 in 2016

A few years ago, I was caught in a blizzard while flying to Chicago. Unable to land, our plane was rerouted to Detroit where we waited for more than twelve hours for the bad weather to subside. Many things can happen in a crowded airport when you don’t have anything to do but watch the board covered with canceled flights.

What if the toddler sitting in his mother’s arms, next to you, got sick and threw up on you?

Trust me it wasn’t a pleasant moment, and I’ve never forgotten it. Yet bad things don’t last forever and may lead to the beginning of a happy ending. At least they did for my heroine, Dr. Sylvia Reynolds.

IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS is the story of two workaholic people dedicated to their careers and too busy to waste their precious time waiting for endless hours in an airport or playing with small children. When brought together by a five-month-old baby during a blizzard, the young pediatrician and the successful lawyer have no choice but to cope with the bad weather, the cancellation of flights and the adorable baby who has no one else to care for her.



What better way to spend time when stuck in a plane with a baby than to chat with a smart beautiful woman?

“Well, tell me the baby’s story.” Dr. Sylvia Reynolds narrowed her eyes—large hazel eyes, their almond shape accentuated by dark lashes and dark hair pulled back into a ponytail.

“A messy story. My brother Joshua, a Navy doctor, had an affair with a French-American artist.” James sobered and glanced at his niece lovingly cuddled in Sylvia’s arms. “She got pregnant but wanted to abort. Josh insisted he wanted his child. They signed an agreement. She would leave after the delivery to go back to France and her career, and he would raise the child and let her see it if she so desires.”

“Quite noble on his part.”

“Now, Josh has been deployed to the Mediterranean. My mother offered to keep Clementine during the time he’ll be away. Unfortunately, my mother broke her leg a month ago. She’s still in physiotherapy. The maternal grandmother who lives in Chicago didn’t mind keeping the baby for a week until Mom returns home.”

“Poor Clementine.” Sylvia brushed a kiss on the baby’s silky hair. “No mother, and shuffled right and left.” Did he detect a note of scorn in her voice?

Clementine dug her head into the crook of Sylvia’s neck and whined.

James squinted at the smart baby. “Right now, she’s telling us she likes it in your arms.” No doubt he’d like it too if he had the chance to be in Sylvia’s arms—or better, if he could hold her in his arms. He frowned, puzzled by his sudden attraction to a woman he’d just met. He’d never believed in love at first sight—love meaning desire or interest in his vocabulary. Why today and why with this serious pediatrician who didn’t look anything like the elegant beauties he often dated?

“You want to sleep, little doll.” Sylvia laid the baby in her arms and rocked her.

A moment later, the baby slept peacefully.

“I’ll put her in the car seat.” James took the baby and received a loud shriek of reprove when he bent to set her in her seat. The little angel screamed her head off as if he had tortured her.

“Give her back, please,” Sylvia insisted. “She was so comfy. How would you like to be awoken abruptly and almost thrown on the floor?”

“Huh… on…no…no.” Indignation made him stutter. “I was very gentle, and never threw her.” Ungrateful kid. I took a day off for you and you make me look like a monster in front of pretty Sylvia.

Sylvia held the baby and James let go to avoid a tug of war.

“Relax, sweetie-pie. Everything is okay.” Clementine clutched Sylvia’s sweater and let out a big sigh.

Sylvia cast him the reproachful look of a principal expecting a student to apologize, and caressed the baby’s head until she resumed her nap.

“You really know a thing or two about babies.” In awe of her easy bonding with his niece, he considered her with respect. And amazement. And… She had such a pert profile and luscious lips. To avoid temptation, he spun his head toward the window. Not a reassuring view. Beneath the plane, a gray carpet of clouds forecasted storms and problems in the area they overflew.

Mona's Website

Beate Boeker
USA Today Bestselling Author 

After a hectic December in the office, Chiara is looking forward to a solitary, peaceful Christmas. However, fate has other plans. First, while opening a window, she accidentally manages to nearly knock herself unconscious (yes, she's just a teeny bit clumsy). Next, a gorgeous man jumps through that same window. Dazed, she's not quite sure if he's an elf or some other heavenly being. However, the wildly unexpected events of the next hours soon drive everything else out of her mind, and her Christmas turns out to be truly . . . unique!



The attic window in the house next door, the one that had intrigued me, was alight. I could see it clearly, a rectangle in the dark, like a medium-sized television screen or a tiny theater stage. A man sat at a desk that seemed to have materialized out of nowhere. He had his profile to me, and I could see his strong jaw, his coffee latte skin, and his mop of dark curls as if I stood in the same room. He stared at the screen of a notebook with a frown that made his eyebrows bristle, and he was wearing an ugly, hand-knitted sweater made of some mottled brown wool. Where had he sprung from?

Mesmerized, I took a step forward. In all these weeks, I had never seen a soul up there. The attics had been my private area, giving me the feeling the roofs were my world alone, and now, just before Christmas, this guy had appeared like . . . like Father Christmas.

I smiled at myself. No, he didn't look like Father Christmas at all. I took my time to survey him a bit better. He looked like a teddy bear. A brown, cuddly teddy bear, particularly with that rough sweater and those unruly curls. A Christmas Teddy.

Beate's Website

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