By Caroline Clemmons
Thanks to Anna Kathryn for hosting me today to help celebrate the days leading up to Christmas.
What puts you in the holiday spirit? Snow does it for me. I wouldn’t mind being snowed in as long as I had my family, treats, and gifts. That is, I wouldn’t mind for a few days. After that, I’d probably go bonkers.
Before I go further, let me tell you that I’m giving away an E-book copy of SNOWFIRES to two readers who comment today.
Actually, I love the holidays and almost anything puts me in a celebratory mood filled with anticipation of the days to come. Although I think Christmas adornments should come after Thanksgiving, seeing them lightens my mood. I ooh and ahh at light displays as I drive along the city streets. I sit in my living room and stare at our tree covered with a lifetime accumulation of decorations. I shop, plot, and plan making list after list. The days between Thanksgiving and Christmas are definitely my favorite time of year!
But what if you’re in a dysfunctional family? (Isn’t everyone?) Do you still look forward to celebrating special days?
Penny Tucker is chairman of Dysfunctional-R-Us. For years she managed the household finances and tried to balance funds with her gambler father’s losing streaks. Now that he’s dead, she learns he gambled and lost his share of the family-held company. Her inheritance is a spendthrift stepmother and two stepsisters. No, Penny’s not Cinderella.
In fact, she has loving maternal grandparents who have insured that her home in a luxury area of Dallas will remain under her control. She works in the family business, and is remarkably good at her job. Imagine her concern when the infamous Trent McLeod acquires her father’s shares of the formerly family corporation. Worse, her stepmother insists the man’s visit enraged Penny’s dad so much that he had a heart attack. She holds Trent responsible for her father’s death.
Trent McLeod is an orphan who worked his way up from nothing. His reputation as a corporate pirate is unjust. He’s a hard worker, determined to put down roots in Dallas and make the ailing company profitable once again. He doesn’t understand why Penny tries to thwart him, or why she dislikes him. When he’s invited to meet with Penny’s grandfather in West Texas on Thanksgiving, he is surprised to find Penny there when he arrives. And then, as they drive together toward Dallas, they’re caught in worst blizzard for the area in decades.
Where did this idea originate? Back up to snow. My family and I had to spend an extra day or two with my parents in Lubbock, Texas one year after Christmas due to a rare heavy snowstorm. On the way home to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, we drove through ranching country. In several counties, there are few homes. Most are part of big ranches like the 6666, the Pitchfork, and the Spur. A small ranch, usually with a small house and a bigger barn, is wedged in occasionally between the larger ranches.
This made me wonder...what if? “What if” is a writer’s best friend. What if two people were snowbound in one of those tiny houses? What if the owner wasn’t home? That’s how I came up with the plot for SNOWFIRES, my holiday book that begins on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and ends on Christmas Eve.
Here’s a blurb from SNOWFIRES:
Set up: Penny Tucker hates that her father lost his shares of the formerly family-held company and that Trent Macleod now owns them. To delay their trip from her grandparents’ home in the West Texas to Dallas, she deliberately sent them down a slower route. Unfortunately, they became lost in the worst blizzard to hit the area in decades. They found refuge in a tiny ranch house with only one bed and a faulty floor furnace. Penny told Trent she would not share a bed with him if Hell froze over. Now she’s creeping into bed, shivering with the cold.
He smiled as he recalled her shocked expression when he mentioned shared body heat. At least he got a little of his own back then. She turned toward him in her sleep, snuggling up to him with her palms against his chest, one leg thrown over his.
He fought the instinct to pull her even closer and make passionate love to her. They fit so well together. He wondered how she would be as a lover, then mentally kicked himself for that line of thought.
Now he knew why the young Martin family had children so close in age. On this sagging mattress, which forced their bodies into intimate contact, a man and woman who loved one another would be drawn naturally into frequent lovemaking. Even with this ice princess with whom he had nothing in common, his mind and body cried out for their coupling.
He had no idea why she so resented him. It was more than their differences in business theory, because she had hated him at their first meeting two months ago. He racked his brain for a possible reason, but nothing came to him.
Maybe she just resented his buying the shares lost through her father's gambling. Why hold him responsible for her father’s stupidity? From all accounts, Walter Tucker was charming and glib but an absolute loser in all the ways that counted.
Grayson skirted the issue, but made it clear he hadn’t approved of his late son-in-law's management of Marvel, his ostentatious lifestyle, or his choice of Penny’s stepmother. So, why had Grayson stayed in the background? Buying into what had previously been solely a family-owned business left Trent an outsider with insufficient information.
If only Walter Tucker had stopped ranting long enough that day to listen to him...but why even go there? He would figure it all out eventually, but so far hadn't discovered how all the pieces fit. Trying to unravel the puzzle, Trent drifted softly to sleep.
The pirate returned to Penny's dreams. They were in the cabin of his ship, snug together in his bunk. This time his caresses inflamed her beyond her wildest imagination. Her fingers traced the line of the scar on his chest, her lips trailed kisses along the jagged ridge.
His mouth scorched a path down her neck and across her shoulders. Strong hands pushed her bra aside. Warm lips found her breast and his tongue laved her rigid nipple. The calluses of his fingers scintillated her skin as they moved to the elastic of her panties. His hand slid gently inside to touch her—
Her eyes flew open. "Hey! Stop it right now." Penny pounded Trent on his shoulders. "Get off me."
This book is sensual, but not erotic. I hope you’re intrigued enough to want to read SNOWFIRES. Here are the buy links:
Speaking of holiday treats, how about my mom’s recipe for Fudge? This is a family favorite for Christmastime. We love it far too much to have it all year. ☺ Of the many fudge recipes I’ve tried, this is by far the best!
MILLION DOLLAR FUDGE
4 1/2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons butter
1 large can evaporated milk (12 1/2 oz)
1-12oz. package chocolate chips
1 lg. jar marshmallow crème
1. Pour chocolate chips and marshmallow creme into a large bowl. (My mom always used my grandmother’s crockery bowl)
2. Boil sugar, butter, milk together for 7 minutes after first bubbles come, or until soft ball stage is reached. Take it off stove and pour syrup over chocolate chips and marshmallow creme.
3. Stir until chocolate is dissolved. Add nuts if desired. Beat until cool and creamy. Pour onto a buttered pan.
4. Cool and cut. Keep with waxed paper between layers and store in airtight container until served.
Caroline Clemmons writes mystery, romance, and adventures—although her earliest made up adventures featured her saving the West with Roy Rogers. Her career has included stay-at-home mom (her favorite job), newspaper reporter and featured columnist, assistant to the managing editor of a psychology journal, and bookkeeper. She and her husband live in rural North Central Texas with a menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family, reading, travel, browsing antique malls and estate sales, and delving into genealogy/family history.
Excerpts from some of her exceptional reviews can be found on her website, along at www.carolineclemmons.com. View her blog posts Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com and find book reviews, giveaways, interview, and miscellany. Sign up for her newsletter on her blog or website to enter for more giveaways!
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