Spotlight & Giveaway: The Christmas Wager by Holly Cassidy

Posted October 2nd, 2023 by in Blog, Spotlight / 39 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Holly Cassidy to HJ!


Hi Holly and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, The Christmas Wager!

Hello, I’m so pleased to be here. Thank you for the invitation.

Please summarize the book for the readers here:

Real-estate hot-shot Bella Ross is tasked with purchasing an old, failing Christmas store called Always Noelle in the quaint little town of Maple Falls, which is nestled in the Colorado mountains. She thinks it’ll be easy…until she meets the owner’s stubborn but hunky grandson, electrician Jesse Harrison. Bella wants the store for next to nothing, Jesse refuses, and they end up competing in the town’s quirky annual Holiday Games. Sparks fly—as do snowballs—but will these rivals find love together?

Please share your favorite line(s) or quote from this book:

1) To prove my theories about Bella weren’t totally incorrect, I’d grabbed my phone and opened Instagram. No doubt she thought I’d never heard of social media. Probably believed Maple Falls communicated via ravens and carrier pigeons, townsfolk traveled by stagecoach, and thought Snapchat was a form of witchcraft.

2) He kissed me, whispered, “You had me at Christmas.”


Please share a few Fun facts about this book…

  • Bella’s fear of singing in public closely mirrors mine.
  • I once played a version of the Human Singing Christmas Tree game that features in the books at an office holiday party, with hilarious results.
  • Maple Falls was inspired by multiple towns I’ve lived close to or visited in Switzerland.
  • I love including at least one British character (e.g. Tim from Tipsy’s Pub) in my novels because of my English background.
  • My original name for Maple Falls was Mittensville (my agent said, “Hold the cheese!”)!
  • When I told my husband I was making Jesse “a hunky electrician just like you” he laughed and called me daft…but secretly liked it ha, ha, ha.


What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?

Aside from the physical attraction from both sides, Bella loves Jesse’s integrity, and how much he cares for his grandfather and the town of Maple Falls. Jesse’s impressed by Bella’s ambition and drive, and how she tries to see the positive in everything. They could be a great match if they could see past their rivalry about the building that houses the Christmas store Always Noelle, which Bella needs to buy for next to nothing from Jesse’s grandfather.


Did any scene have you blushing, crying or laughing while writing it? And Why?

During a round of edits, we decided to add a snowball fight scene, but I wanted to make it a little bit more special, so I came up with the idea of Jesse’s street having a tradition where every house on his street makes a snowman, and names them. This is part of that scene, where Bella has walked back to Jesse’s house with him to drop off Buddy the dog:

“After watching them disappear into the house, I looked around, saw Jesse didn’t yet have a snowman in his front yard. Maybe the fresh mountain air went to my head, because before I knew what I was doing or gave myself the opportunity to stop, I’d rolled a large snowball. As I deftly worked on the second, Jesse came outside.
“Are you building my snowman?” he said with a laugh. “Thank you. I’ve been meaning to get to it, but work has been way too busy.”
“Well, I figured you can’t let your street down,” I said with a grin. “Come on, don’t just stand there. Give me a hand.”
When Jesse went straight back into his home I wondered if I’d offended him somehow after all, but he returned just as fast with a red beanie, two potatoes, and a carrot in his hands. Working together, we finished the second and third snowballs in record time and stacked them on top of one another.
“You do the honors,” Jesse said, after adding the beanie and handing me the carrot.
“I won’t pretend this guy’s my best effort,” I said, popping the vegetable in place as Jesse added the potatoes as eyes. “He looks more like the leaning tower of Pisa.”
“I think he’s great,” Jesse said. “What shall we name him? Or her?”
“You name your snow people?”
“That’s one of my traditions. Snow people need names, too, you know.”
“Really? Why?”
Jesse shrugged. “Pops always said it would be rude if they can’t introduce themselves properly when they come to life.”
I let out a giggle. “Um, okay. How about Frosty?”
“Last year’s was Angelina Jolly.”
“I see . . . how about Keanu Freeze?”
“Ha, that’s genius.”
“Or Melty McMeltyson?”
“Even better.” Jesse turned to the snowman, held out a hand. “Pleasure to meet you, Mr. McMeltyson.”
“You’re daft,” I said, grabbing more snow from the ground to add to Melty’s head so his beanie wouldn’t slide off.
“Oh, I’m sure you can be daft, too . . . sometimes.”
“Only sometimes?” I said, before looking at Jesse, who watched me intently as I slowly and very purposefully packed the snow in my hands into a ball without us breaking eye contact.
“If you’re thinking what I think you’re thinking,” Jesse said, his lips curving upward. “Don’t you dare. I mean it, Ms. Ross. Put. The. Snowball. Down.”

It’s a fun and playful scene that made me laugh each time I read it.


Readers should read this book….

…if they love sweet Christmas stories packed with romance, fun characters, outrageous team games, and – of course – a happily ever after.


What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have in the works?

I write thrillers as Hannah Mary McKinnon, and my next one (as yet untitled) will publish in 2024. It’s about the rise and violent demise of the all-female pop-rock group called The Bittersweet, when, after a fatal accident, one of the surviving members decides the band is now worth more dead than alive. Think Daisy Jones & the Six meets Ruth Ware’s One by One. I’m excited for readers to meet my protagonist, drummer Vienna.

My next Holly Cassidy rom-com also publishes in 2024 and is a friends to lovers story. When all Callie wants for Christmas is hibernation, and she insists she can’t go home for the holidays because her ex-boyfriend will be next door with his new partner, Callie’s sister intervenes with a homemade “give’n’get” Advent Calendar, sending Callie on a journey of self-discovery and providing her with an unexpected shot at love. The end of The Christmas Wager features a give’n’get Advent calendar, so it’s a lovely little hint.

Thanks for blogging at HJ!


Giveaway: (1) A print copy of THE CHRISTMAS WAGER by Holly Cassidy


To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Do you have any traditions you like to observe or games you play with family or friends during the holidays, and if so, what are they?

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Book Info:

A delightful enemies-to-lovers holiday rom com set in the quaint mountain town of Maple Falls, Colorado, about a city girl and a small-town boy who compete in the town’s annual holiday games in order to win the right price for a charming, local Christmas shop, perfect for fans of The Hating Game and The Twelve Dates of Christmas.

One rivalry. Eight days until Christmas. Let the holiday games begin.

When L.A.-based real estate developer Bella Ross arrives in the sleepy mountain town of Maple Falls, she has one mission: to acquire the local failing Christmas shop, Always Noelle, securing the promotion of her dreams. Nothing can get in her way. Except the shop owner’s stubborn grandson, Jesse Harrison.

Both refuse to budge, until an unlikely wager is struck: Bella and Jesse will compete in the Maple Falls Holiday Games, an annual tradition of eccentric feats of strength and skills. Winner decides the selling price. They’ll give each other a run for their money, but as the competition heats up, Bella and Jesse’s icy feelings toward each other begin to thaw. It’ll take a Christmas miracle for them to admit there’s a spark, but what if it’s just another game?
Book Links:  Amazon | B&N | iTunes | kobo | Google |

Meet the Author:

Holly Cassidy is the pen name for internationally bestselling author Hannah Mary McKinnon. Her suspense novels include The Neighbors, Her Secret Son, Sister Dear, You Will Remember Me, Never Coming Home, and The Revenge List. McKinnon was born in England, grew up in Switzerland, and now lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and three sons. The Christmas Wager is her first novel writing as Holly Cassidy. Connect on Facebook, Instagram, and Threads @hannahmarymckinnon, and on Twitter @HannahMMcKinnon. For more, visit and
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | GoodReads |

39 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: The Christmas Wager by Holly Cassidy”

  1. Mary Preston

    We like to play Monopoly and most nights when we get together we like to play 500.

  2. Lori R

    We make Christmas cookies and we start decorating our house the day after Thanksgiving.

  3. Janine

    The only tradition (if you can call it that) is my husband and I like to drive around looking at lights and decorations on houses. But we don’t always do it every year.

  4. Amy Donahue

    We have a tradition of opening one gift on Christmas eve, the rest on Christmas morning.

  5. dodgerfannnat - Pat Lieberman

    My granddaughter decorates the tree with me as well as making sugar cookies in different shapes. I also make cakes to give away.

  6. Pat Lieberman

    I made Christmas cookies with my grandaughter and we decorate our tree. I also make cakes to give to some people.

  7. Pat Lieberman

    I decorate my tree and make Christmas shaped cookies with my granddaughter.

  8. LauraJ

    One tradition that we love is on December 1st we put 24 wrapped books under the tree…and each night until Christmas the kids get to open 1 book for our bedtime story!

  9. Glenda M

    We always find a day to bake. The adult children come over and we bake stuff together. I also make several batches of fudge (usually bourbon pecan) to give away.

  10. Kathleen O

    When we were altogether we loved to play Trivial Pursuit on Christmas Eve and then after dinner on Christmas day or in the afternoon play Euchre.

  11. Crystal

    Yes. I started a tradition of buy a food package for the adults for gifts from Omaha Steaks and also some other traditions I have is since my Birthday is a week before Christmas I get most of my Birthday gifts on Christmas then on Christmas Day My family and I celebrate Jesus’ Birthday and to us these are great traditions but since I have no kids no games we play but we do have a lot of Holiday Traditions.

  12. joab4424

    When we lived in the country, we would walk around on our 100-acre property to find the “perfect” tree to cut. We had vaulted ceilings and there were six of us, so it took most of the day to agree on a tree.

  13. Crystal

    Some traditions I have during the Christmas Holiday is celebrating my Birthday on Christmas since it’s a week before Christmas, I started a tradition years ago of buying the adults Christmas gifts food packages from Omaha Steaks and they just loved that, Celebrating Jesus’ Birthday on Christmas Day, of course making Christmas Cookies and making Pineapple Sherbet but as for games if there is a Football game on and there usually is My family nd watch that

  14. joab4424

    When we lived in the country, we would walk around our 100-acre property looking for the “perfect” tree to cut. There were 6 of us and we had vaulted ceilings, so it was usually an all-day event to find the right tree.

    • Dianne Casey

      We usually have a nice dinner with family and friends and spend time catching up.

  15. Pammie R.

    Christmas eve Big Macs. I do the cooking for Christmas day so this gives me a break.

  16. Dianne C Casey

    We have a nice dinner with family and friends and enjoy catching up after dinner.

  17. Dianne Casey

    When usually have a nice dinner with family and friends and spend time catching up after dinner.

  18. Amy R

    Do you have any traditions you like to observe or games you play with family or friends during the holidays, and if so, what are they? Making cookies and hot chocolate while watching Polar Express

    • rkcjmomma

      We have a tradition Christmas morning we have coffee hot cocoa and homemade
      cinnamon rolls before we open presents

  19. Texas Book Lover

    Making holiday cookies and decorating the tree together!  

  20. Kim

    We always drive to the ritzy area of town and look at all the Christmas lights.

  21. Ellen C.

    Baking way too many cookies, traveling to visit family and friends, Christmas Mass, etc.

  22. Patricia Barraclough

    When we lived where there was snow and the children were young, we built snow rinks and flooded them so there was an ice skating rink in our yard. We would build in a slide so they could climb up and slide down across the ice. We would build snowmen and snow forts, then have snowball fights. Every so often, an igloo would take form. Now we are lucky to get enough snow for a two foot snowman sometime during the winter. I really do miss the snow. It is so nice to play out in it, then come inside to sit by the fire and have warm drinks and Christmas cookies.

  23. Laurie Gommermann

    Tradition- we cut down a tree at the local Christmas tree farm, decorate it while playing Christmas carols, bake my MIL’s Spritz cookie recipe. Watch several Christmas movies the week before Christmas: Charlie Brown, Miracle On 34thStreet, Prancer, Will Vinton’s Claymation Christmas…
    We play board games: Ticket To Ride, Mystery Mansion, Clue, Mall Madness, Life…
    Card games: Sheepshead, Crazy 8’s,Up and Over, Golf, Uno,Gin

  24. Donna O’Neil

    We really don’t have many Christmas traditions. We celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas. I also get my kids new Jammies Christmas Eve. 

  25. Terrill R

    We all attend the Christmas Eve service at our church and celebrate my daughter’s Christmas birthday.