Today it is my Pleasure to spotlight – Entangled Anthology: Baby It’s Cold Outside !!!Four novellas from four of the biggest names in romantic fiction!!! Heidi Rice, Kate Hardy, Aimee Carson and Amy Andrews.
I asked Heidi, Kate, Aimee and Amy to share with all of us here about the inspiration behind their stories….. Here’s what each of them had to say…
Aimee Carson’s ‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE TEMPTED
The setting for ’Tis the Season to be Tempted has been brewing in my mind for a very long time. For the last seven years I’ve commuted six thousand miles a month to get to my “day” job in Alaska. As you can imagine I spend a lot of my time in airports. I’ve been snowed in, cancelled, delayed, and left behind in many different cities. I’ve always dreamed of writing a story about two people who get weathered in together because of a blizzard. And now I finally got the chance!
After a recent string of bad luck, Evie Lee is dreading returning home after ten years away, especially as her status as the black sheep in her family hasn’t changed. In her attempt to muster up her courage to board her New Year’s Day flight to Boston, she had one too many drinks. Unfortunately her brother’s hunky childhood friend, Mr. Responsibility himself, sat next to her for the flight. A flight she doesn’t remember much about . . .
Excerpt: ‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE TEMPTED
She pushed back the memory and slowly let out a breath. “How hard did I hit on you?” Wes’s expression revealed nothing. “Are you sure you want to know?” “Yes, I do.”
“Let’s see.” He set his paper aside and shifted on the bench to face her, unmistakably enjoying the current state of affairs. The tension in her stomach increased. “You praised my ‘finely honed athletic body.’”
She refused to cringe, although the memory of squeezing his biceps resurfaced, and she hoped to God that was all the touching she’d done.
He shot her a mock serious look. “And in answer to your question: the pool.”
She lowered her brow, staring at the gorgeous eyes, the beautifully masculine face. “What question?”
The most unusual place he’d ever made love to a woman? How she could best put an end to her current humiliation by drowning herself?
“You asked me how I maintained my droolalicious physique.” His brow crinkled in suppressed humor. “Your word, not mine.”
“I’m sure a Harvard grad would never use such a phrase.”
He looked as if he were fighting to maintain a serious expression.
Gaze steady, he went on. “You offered me a night I would never forget.”
Heat speared her gut and moved lower. Maybe she was better off not knowing what she’d said. But now that she’d asked Wes to share, he appeared to be really warming up to the task.
“And then there was the mention of kitchen utensils,” he said.
She coughed hard and sat up straighter, her mind racing. “Kitchen utensils?” Her voice sounded embarrassingly husky. “What kind of kitchen utensils?”
“Pastry brushes,” he said. “For the chocolate sauce.”
She’d never been that creative.
His mouth twitched, as if biting back a smile. “Cheesecloth in lieu of handcuffs.”
Her heart slid into third gear.
“And my personal favorite,” he said, the amused flicker in his eyes growing stronger. “The spatula.”
The words sent her pulse into overdrive. When the rest of his expression didn’t budge, she tipped her head at him, a glimmer of suspicion taking root. The pause was awkward for Evie, but apparently not for him. And who would have guessed Wes Campbell had a devilish side?
Wes went on in a brisk, businesslike tone, as if reciting the latest financial figures of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. “But my favorite part of the event was when you promised to let me keep your Hello Kitty undies as a souvenir.”
The underwear she’d been given as a gag gift. But she would never, ever demean the ridiculous panties, or any other article of her clothing, to the level of a “souvenir.”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “Are you teasing me?”
The faint smile was breathtakingly sensual, and frustratingly enigmatic.
“About the Hello Kitty part?” he said, and then his voice shifted lower, making her uncomfortably aware of him as a man. “Or the promise that I could keep them?”
Tis The Season To Be Kissed by Amy Andrews
The initial inspiration when the four of us started talking was from this version of Baby It’s Cold Outside by Lady Antebellum – Watch Video
And then it grew organically from there about four couples stuck indoors through the holiday seasons due to inclement weather. Tis The Season To Be Kissed came purely from my Aussie-girl fantasies of a snowed in cabin with a roaring log fire and a big old rug just waiting to be put to good use. (Christmas where I come from is the complete opposite to snow and sleigh bells!)And then I had this picture in my head of a woman, Tamara, inside the cabin all alone and rugged up because she couldn’t start the fire, looking like Kenny from Southpark in every piece of clothing she owned, drinking eggnog to stay warm – at nine o’clock in the morning. And I knew she was down on love. And then into my head strode Sgt Luke Jackson, younger than the heroine, and just returned from Afghanistan and I knew Tamara was going to get herself a New Year’s Eve she’d never forget 🙂
Excerpt: Tis The Season To Be Kissed
Luke reached out a hand. “Ma’am?” he asked, looking at her a little closer. Pink cheeks. Red nose. Unsteady on her feet. A waft of …eggnog? “Are you…drunk?”
She held up her index finger and thumb and tried to narrow the distance between them to indicate just a smidgeon. But, with those eggnog goggles firmly in place, she didn’t seem to have the ability to get them close enough without meeting. “Maybe just a little,” she eventually said, giving up her attempts at demonstration.
He quirked an eyebrow. “Starting early?”
She shook her head. “It’s the middle of the night in Australia.”
“I suppose it is.” Luke rubbed at his jaw. He needed a shave. And a shower. He needed to sleep for a week. But suddenly he didn’t feel so tired. With the adrenaline now settled, something else permeated. He looked around and rubbed his hands. “It’s freezing in here!” He looked at the logs stack up around the fireplace—there was enough wood for a week. “Why haven’t you started a fire?”
“Can’t find the matches,” she said miserably. “I’ve looked everywhere.”
He laughed. “So you were just going to sit here and freeze?”
“No. Why else would I be dressed in every piece of clothing in my suitcase and be drinking eggnog for breakfast?”
She looked indignant and cranky again. “So…bundling up and drinking was your plan?”
“It was a temporary plan. Just until I thought of something better.”
It was just as well he’d arrived when he did. In a few hours, she’d either be a Popsicle or have drunk every bottle of booze in the cabin. “Alrighty then. Step aside, ma’am, and I’ll get this sucker fired up.”
Luke was conscious of Tamara curled up on the couch behind him, watching as he gathered wood and retrieved the matches from a small, carved wooden box that sat on the mantle. He had no idea what she looked like beneath all those layers but she’d made him laugh and there’d been precious little of that these last few months. He’d planned on being alone but maybe some company wouldn’t be so bad.
In no time he was crouching beside a roaring fire, its heat warming his cold face. He sensed rather than felt her being drawn to his side like some pixie Eskimo.
“Ah,” she murmured, crouching beside him, her hands extended towards the flames. She smelled like nutmeg and Jamaican rum, reminding him of home and Christmas. It had been a long while since he’d smelled anything quite as sweet. “You have the gift of fire, oh wizard.”
He laughed at her reverence. Fake and drunken as it was. “Yes, ma’am. Although I think my mother would put it down to borderline pyromania.”
“Luke, do you think you could do me a favor?” she asked. He turned his head just in time to watch her fall back inelegantly on her ass.
“Easy, ma’am.” He reached out his hand to steady her but she waved him away, drawing her knees up until she was sitting cross-legged, eyes shut, a little sigh of pleasure escaping her slightly parted mouth as the fire glowed warm and yellow across her delicate features.
“A favor, ma’am?” he prompted with a smile when it looked like she may just have fallen asleep in her fireworshipping position.
She opened drowsy eyes and his breath hitched as two luminous gray pools sucked him into their sexy shimmer. He had a sudden urge to peel her hood back so he could see the rest of her face.
“Do you think you could not call me ma’am? I know that thirty must seem ancient to someone like you, but I’m spending New Year’s Eve alone and thinking it’s perfectly okay to drink eggnog for breakfast for a reason, you know? Please don’t make me feel any older than I do.”
Luke held her gaze. “I don’t think thirty is ancient.”
She sighed again as she looked back at the fire. “Wait ‘til you get here.”
Amy has kindly offered a copy of Taming the Tycoon to one lucky Winner. Here’s My Review of Taming The Tycoon.
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Heidi Rice’s ‘TIS THE SEASON TO GO SHOPPING
The idea to do four stories about snowed in couples set over the Christmas and New Year season and linked by a freak blizzard on America’s Eastern Seaboard was a group effort between me and the three other fabulous authors in this anthology – namely Aimee Carson, Kate Hardy and Amy Andrews. After Amy showed us a YouTube video of Lady Antebellum singing Baby It’s Cold Outside, we all felt suitably inspired to brainstorm something really terrific. I came up with the idea of having my couple stranded in an empty department store on Fifth Avenue on Christmas Day basically because I have this little fantasy of being able to go ‘shopping’ at a department store after hours and being able to take anything I want (sort of a grown-up version of the old ‘stuck-in-a-sweet-shop-overnight’ fantasy from childhood). And then I started to think, how that particular fantasy would be sooo much better if you were doing it in the company of a really hot guy – I mean, seriously? Fantasy sex plus fantasy shopping? It sounded like the ultimate Christmas wish come true scenario to me… Then uptight and very proper assistant marketing manager Kate Braithwaite (who’s working at the store on Christmas Day because she’s just been dumped by her boyfriend via email from London) and sexy bad boy photojournalist Ryder Sinclair (whose father own’s the store and who’s there picking up a last-minute gift for his daughter after flying in from an assignment in Afghanistan) just seemed like the perfect pairing to heat up this particular fantasy sex/shopping scenario to fever pitch.
Here’s the excerpt, after Ryder and Kate have realised they are now snowed in at Sinclair’s luxury department store on Fifth Avenue overnight… Ryder has suggested they take whatever they need to survive….
Excerpt: ‘TIS THE SEASON TO GO SHOPPING
It occurred to her what he was suggesting. “We can’t just take the stuff,” she said, trying to push the prickle of alarm front and centre so it drowned out the inappropriate thrill.
“That would be shoplifting.” She tried to think, not easy when he was looking at her as if she’d accused him of cannibalism. “Although I suppose we could leave an IOU.”
“No way,” he said, the flirtatious smile replaced by a stubborn frown.
“Because this is an opportunity I’ve been waiting for my whole life, and you are not going to screw it up for me.”
“Are you joking?” she said cautiously, and wondered if this had something to do with his apparent dislike of his father.
“No, I’m not. Didn’t you ever have that dream as a kid where you’re in the candy store after hours, and you can take whatever you want? As many Hershey Bars and Babe Ruths and Reese’s Pieces as you can stuff into your mouth?”
“I doubt it, not if it was after hours, it might have been dark,” she said.
He gave a rough chuckle, the frown disappearing—and it occurred to her that she’d actually made a joke of sorts about her phobia… Um, paranoid fear.
“Katherine, then you’ve been missing the best dream there is. And we’re now living the adult version of it. We’re stuck here all night. We can take what we want and do what we need to do to survive.”
“We’re not going to starve to death in one night,” she pointed out, deciding to ignore the thrum of anticipation at the thought of “doing what they needed to do”. What exactly was that going to entail?
“And there’s no one here to stop us,” he continued, riding roughshod over her objection. “And don’t forget I’m one of the fat useless directors, so I get to make the rules.”
“I never said you were fat,” she pointed out, relieved that they seemed to have gotten over the pointless argument.
But as he led her up the stairs, she couldn’t deny that she was seriously tempted for the first time in her life to do something reckless, and irresponsible and inappropriate. As a child and then as an adult she’d always been so careful to follow every single rule down to the letter, to read the small print, to be productive and scrupulous and sensible and most of all cautious, partly because her mother had never been any of those things and it had always made her feel hopelessly insecure.
Those characteristics had got her a job she loved, in a city she had come to adore—and she’d still have those things tomorrow. But it had also left her getting dumped via email and feeling lost and alone and worthless on Christmas Day.
Would it really be so terrible to be led into temptation by Ryder Sinclair — just for one night?
“You ever heard the expression “What happens in Vegas”,” Ryder asked conversationally.
“Yes, I think so,” she said, knowing she should definitely be objecting to this line of reasoning. “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” she quoted. “But we’re not in Vegas.”
“True enough, but as it happens there is another, less well known statement that begins… “What happens in a snowbound department store on Fifth.”” His voice trailed off, the implication clear as he released her hand, to place one warm palm on her hip.
She stood stock-still, not able to move, as the fingers of his other hand curled round her neck and threaded into the hair at her nape. “We’ve got all night, Katherine.” His lips touched hers, the kiss tender and yet hot enough to make her gasp. “We’re here alone, with everything Sinclair’s has to offer at our fingertips. And I don’t know about you.” His fingers roamed into her hair, massaging her scalp as he nibbled kisses along her jaw. “But I’m suddenly thinking this could be a Christmas gift—instead of a Christmas nightmare.”
Her head dropped back, letting his lips find the pulse point in her throat, and the hot, hard spike of desire, that she hadn’t felt in such a long time, rushed into her sex.
This was stupid, and insane, and very very bad… But when he shifted closer and the solid length of him prodded her belly, she somehow persuaded herself that, after everything they’d already been through tonight, maybe bad wasn’t completely unforgivable any more.
She lifted her arms, let her fingers curl around his neck.
“But won’t this put us on Santa’s naughty list?” she said, surprising herself with the flirtatious comment.
He snorted out a laugh and hauled her closer. “Katherine, I’m counting on it.”
Kate Hardy’s ‘TIS THE SEASON TO KISS SANTA
I love Christmas stories (‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is my all-time favourite movie), and writing this story was great fun for me as I got to explore American Christmas traditions and contrast them with my own English ones. And I really love stories where opposites attract. Mitch, my hero, is a workaholic PR man who hates Christmas and is running from his past and his family, Ellie, my heroine, is an English chef who loves Christmas and her family but ends up thousands of miles away from them in Philadelphia to help out her godmother. Add a snowstorm and some promises, mix it up, and you’ll discover that this novella’s all about hope, second chances, and finding love in the most unlikely places. It’ll make you cry; it’ll make you smile; and it might be cold outside but this couple will find some heat!
Excerpt: ‘TIS THE SEASON TO KISS SANTA
‘You want me to be Santa.’ Mitch stared at his boss in disbelief. Was CJ temporarily insane?
Or had he eaten way too many candy canes from of the box of candy canes one of their clients had sent and was on the sugar rush to end all sugar rushes?
Mitch wasn’t Santa material. No way. No how. Hadn’t his last girlfriend even nicknamed him Ebenezer? Not that Mitch was ever mean with gifts; he just hated Christmas. For him, Christmas wasn’t the season of joy and goodwill. It was a season of misery, and he’d learned that the hard way. Nowadays, he always worked between Christmas and New Year so his colleagues who had kids could take time off and enjoy the holiday season with their families. It came with the bonus of being the perfect excuse for not being able to join his own family on the other side of the country for the seasonal fights.
Being Santa at a Christmas party for children just wasn’t him, Mitch knew. He was more than happy to give a donation to the party – a donation large enough to give the kids a great time – but actually being Santa, turning up and taking part…
‘You can say no,’ CJ said idly.
But Mitch could read the subtext: if he said no, there would be consequences. Because this was most definitely a test.
He waited, hoping that his face looked a lot more inscrutable than it felt.
‘I’m looking at retiring, next year,’ CJ said.
Which was why Mitch had worked stupid hours for the last six months, proving that he was good enough to step into CJ’s shoes.
‘I need to be sure that whoever heads up the firm after me can keep all the balls in the air. So we run the best campaigns, for the best clients, with the best staff.’
‘Uh-huh.’ Mitch did all that already. And he knew CJ knew it.
‘But it’s not just about business. Holford’s has a heart,’ CJ said softly.
So that was what CJ wanted him to prove? Being Santa would show that Mitch had a heart, too. That he’d lead from the front. And in CJ’s book it was clear that leading meant having a heart.
Mitch didn’t agree. To make a business a success of business, you had to keep emotion out of it. As far as he was concerned, keeping emotion out of everything was the way to go.
Santa—or not Santa.
Baby It’s Cold Outside by Heidi Rice, Kate Hardy, Aimee Carson and Amy Andrews.
Publisher: Entangled Publishing (Indulgence) (November 19, 2012)
Four novellas from four of the biggest names in romantic fiction!
Kate Hardy’s ‘TIS THE SEASON TO KISS SANTA
With the help of a sprig of mistletoe and some snow angels, a recently single pastry chef teaches a highly successful and sexy Scrooge the true meaning of the holidays on a snowy Christmas Eve that quickly heats up.
Heidi Rice’s ‘TIS THE SEASON TO GO SHOPPING
When a Christmas Day blizzard strands an up-and-coming marketing manager and her boss’s very off-limits, very hot playboy son in his department store, the two toe the line between naughty and nice as they unwrap their holiday presents—and each other!
Amy Andrews’s ‘TIS THE SEASON FOR KISSING
A down-on-her-romantic-luck kindergarten teacher plans to drown her New Year’s Eve sorrows in a gallon of spiked eggnog, but the arrival of her best friend’s sexy brother threatens to melt the snow piling up outside the tiny Vermont cabin.
Aimee Carson’s ‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE TEMPTED
After the worst year ever, a jilted music manager rings in the New Year alone, swearing off men forever. But things get complicated when her brother’s best friend, the perfect man with the perfect body, tempts her to break her vow—if only for one hot night!