Hi Eve and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Under the Mistletoe!
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Spencer McBride dates a lot of women, but he’s not a player and he has nothing against marriage. He simply hasn’t found anyone he wants to spend his life with. But then he meets Georgie Durant, literally under the mistletoe, and does she wow him. Too bad she won’t date coworkers. Spencer’s a firefighter paramedic and Georgie’s a paramedic. Doomed from the start in her opinion.
It takes him a while but Spencer is nothing if not determined. Throughout the Christmas season he woos her and Georgie has no defense against a man who volunteers for any good cause and is someone everyone–friends, family, older people, women and children–can depend on. And damn, does he have to be so sexy to boot?
Please share the opening lines of this book:
Spencer McBride loved Christmas. He especially loved Christmas in Last Stand, Texas. He loved the whole season. The parties, the food and drink, the Christmas trees, the decorations, Santa and his elves, the Christmas market, Christmas carols, presents, mistletoe. If it had to do with Christmas, Spencer loved it.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
- Under the Mistletoe Song List:
All I Want For Christmas is You– Mariah Carey
Oh Holy Night– John Berry
Hero– Chad Kroeger
- I have a friend who’s a firefighter paramedic in Houston and was able to ask him a number of my questions. He also gave me some things to research on the Internet. That helped a lot in understanding the job. He was very patient answering my questions.
- As for inspiration, mistletoe and Christmas.:) And hot chocolate, gingerbread, cookies, fudge…
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
Spencer makes me want to hug him. He can be a smart ass–because all the men I write about are to some degree. (Yes, I live with and around smart asses.) But he has the proverbial heart of gold.
Georgie is gun shy. And her ex isn’t a bad guy, he just wasn’t able to commit like she wanted. But it left her wary of workplace romances since she worked with him for quite a while. Spencer, though, is really hard for her to resist.
The main thing that surprised me and will probably surprise my regular readers, is how long it took Spencer and Georgie to get to the (yes, the only) love scene. But that’s what worked for this book. And it was a lot of fun to write.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?
This shows their initial meeting–later that night. I think it shows a little of their banter.
“Hi. Why do we keep running into each other?” Georgie asked.
“Probably because I’ve been looking for you. You realize you’ve done it again, right?”
“Done it again?”
He cast his eyes upward. “You should be more careful. All men aren’t as understanding as I am,” he added modestly.
She looked up too, and frowned. “Oh, for—I can’t go around looking up every time I stop to talk or to glance around a room.”
“I suppose not. But you do seem to have a knack for the mistletoe.”
“Entirely accidental. I’ve never been to a party with mistletoe coming out the yin-yang.”
Spencer laughed. “Great description. How about we shake hands again? Unless you’ve changed your mind?” he added, knowing she hadn’t.
“You’re very persistent, aren’t you?”
“You say that like it’s a problem.” Solemnly, he held out his hand.
What do you want people to take away from reading this book?
I want them to enjoy a feel-good, happy romance without a ton of angst. I want them to laugh a little at the town and the characters and sigh a little over the romance and love of the Christmas season.
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?
I’m working on the fourth and last book of my Heart of Texas series. Heart of the Texas Warrior is Jessie McBride’s and Asher Chapman’s book. Asher is a wounded veteran, the brother of the hero in my most recent Whiskey River book, No Ordinary Texas Billionaire.
After that I have a three book series (so far) set in Whiskey River. The Texas True series follows the stories of some of the secondary characters from my other Whiskey River books and the heroes are the Walker brothers. Gabe Walker, the hero of the first book, is mentioned in a number of other books in both my Whiskey River and Last Stand series. He’s the metal artist/sculptor and his heroine is Chantel Chandler, one of the sisters who own the Fallen Angel’s lingerie shop in Whiskey River.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: Tule swag and ebook of Under the Mistletoe
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Excerpt from Under the Mistletoe:
Spencer loved the toy drive. His sister Jessie told him that was because he was like a kid about Christmas himself. So sue him. He enjoyed the season. He got a kick out of seeing the toys people donated and he really liked seeing the kids’ faces when they realized the toys were for them. Some of them had never had a new toy. Hell, some of the kids had never had a real toy at all. It made him happy to be able to bring some joy into the kids’ lives.
He had a system, perfected—well, almost—over the last few years since he’d first volunteered to run the drive. The Daughters of Last Stand service organization always took care of collecting the kids’ names and what they wanted or needed. There was a printer in town who donated his time and equipment to make flyers and posters. At Spencer’s insistence, LSFD paid for the paper and poster boards but Mr. Penny covered the labor and production costs. The Defender, Last Stand’s newspaper, ran a free ad for the drive every day in the lead-up, listing drop-off locations, the dates of the toy drive, and most desired gifts.
The group that met to hash out the details was loud and raucous, consisting of fire and EMS people, and most of them knew each other well. There were several people who worked both fire and EMS as well as people who only worked one or the other. Spencer made spaghetti and meat sauce, since he could easily make enough to feed a whole bunch of people. He threw in some crusty French bread and a green salad and called it a meal.
Georgie brought brownies as she’d promised. They were gone as soon as Georgie put them out. He managed to snare one before she set them out and was sorry he hadn’t taken more.
Spencer knew that no matter what they said or what their intentions were, not everyone would follow through with their part in the toy drive. Shit happened. He was used to it. But as long as his counterpart among the paramedics contributed, and with the help of at least a few other people, the toy drive was always a success. Some years were better than others, of course.
He noticed his buddy, Cable Jackson, had managed to sit next to Georgie and was regaling her with, he suspected, mostly fictional stories of his adventures. Georgie was laughing and he thought again how pretty she was.
After they split up the workload and people were milling around, Spencer noticed Cable looking at Georgie with a mystified expression. He walked over to him and said, “Struck out, I take it.”
Cable shrugged. “Yeah. One minute we’re having a great time and then after I asked her out she blew me off.”
“What did she say?”
“That she doesn’t date coworkers. I told her we weren’t really coworkers since I’m a firefighter and she’s a paramedic but she still said no.”
“I thought you were still with Marcella? What’s up with that?”
“She broke it off.” He shrugged as if it didn’t matter but Spencer knew it did. Cable had been hung up on Marcella for a long time.
“Did you screw up?” Cable had a tendency to shoot himself in the foot when it came to women. He probably had, he thought when his buddy denied it and changed the subject.
“No, Marcella screwed up. But we were talking about the new hire. Rumor has it you two were gettin’ it on at the Corbyns’ tree-trimming party. You’re a coworker. How did you rate?”
“We weren’t getting it on. It was just a kiss.” An amazing kiss but his buddy didn’t need to know that. “And I haven’t asked her out.”
“Did you set it up for her to be the paramedic in charge of the toy drive?”
“No. That was just luck.”
“You always have been a lucky bastard.”
Several people signed up to check and unload some of the barrels, but the remainder went to Spencer and Georgie. Plus they had to cover for anyone who couldn’t manage because of work.
“Great brownies,” he told Georgie.
“Thanks. They’re pretty much my only domestic talent.”
“Really? You only have one?”
“Pretty much,” she repeated. “Alas, I’m no domestic goddess.”
“You’re a paramedic. You don’t need to be a domestic goddess as well.”
“True but sometimes I wish I was a little more talented in that direction. I do make a mean peanut butter and jelly sandwich, though.”
He laughed. “You’ve got my sister Jessie beat. If it isn’t a horse or something related to horses she doesn’t give a rip about it. She could truly burn water if any of us were crazy enough to ask her to cook.”
“Since she’s a horsewoman I’d say she doesn’t need to be a cook either.”
“You got that right.” His sister could do anything she set her mind to. Cooking wasn’t on her list of necessary evils. She either ate what someone else cooked or scrounged for food. “I should introduce you two. You’d like each other.”
“I’d like that. I’m always up for meeting new people.”
He filed that away to talk to Jessie about. Spencer generally spent the afternoon and evening prior to the start of the drive getting set up to collect the toys. “Looks like tomorrow we need to distribute the flyers and the barrels.”
“I can do that. Do you always put the barrels in the same place?”
“Some of them. Some of them rotate. We reassess yearly to see which ones get the most action and change location accordingly.”
Georgie fished her phone out of her pocket and looked at the readout. “I need to take this.” She walked out of the galley, returning a short time later.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off. That was my sister’s daily call.”
“I hope everything is okay.”
“Oh, it’s fine. Erin’s first baby is due in a few weeks and she’s convinced she’s going to come early. So Erin calls me every day with an update.” She laughed and added, “Sometimes several times a day.”
“Congratulations. Is this the first time you’ll be an aunt?”
“Yes. I only have the one sister. Erin is a couple of years older than me. She lives in Fort Worth.”
“Is she having a difficult pregnancy?”
“No, but she miscarried the first time she got pregnant and she’s nervous so we talk a lot. We’re close, even though we haven’t lived in the same town for years.” She sighed and added, “I was born and raised in Fort Worth and my family is still there. They wanted me to come back to Fort Worth when I left Houston, but this was a better job than I could find back home. And besides, as I told you before, I wanted something different. And I discovered I liked the Hill Country.”
“Good. The Hill Country likes you too.”
She laughed. “We’ll see about that. But I hope you’re right.”
Spencer didn’t see Georgie until late afternoon the day after the organizational meeting at the fire station. It was all he could do not to do a double take when he saw her. Tight jeans, scuffed red cowboy boots, obviously broken in, a red turtleneck sweater that molded to her figure and her leather jacket slung over her arm was a picture that while nice, shouldn’t have knocked him for a loop. But it had. Maybe it was simply Georgie who knocked him for a loop. Ever since that kiss…
Nope. Forget that. You said you wouldn’t kiss her again until she wanted you to do it. Which could be never.
“Hi,” she said. “Where do we start?”
“Main Street,” he replied, handing her a bundle of flyers. “You handle those and I’ll put up the posters in the windows. Almost everyone lets me do that and the few who won’t will at least distribute the flyers.”
“How many do I give each business?”
“At least ten. More if they request them. Mr. Penny can make more as needed.”
“More? There are a ton of them here. You think we’ll need more?”
“Yup. We hand them out like candy. Especially at the Last Stand Country Christmas Market this weekend. And at every other event any of us attend. We usually get a big rush of presents on the last day, which is next Sunday.”
“Why is the toy drive over so long before Christmas?”
“We have to have time to sort the toys, wrap them, and get them and the party ready for the kids.”
“Oh. I should have thought of that.”
“Have you ever taken part in a toy drive before?”
“No, never. This is a new experience for me.”
“You’ll enjoy it. At least, I hope you will. We hold the gift-giving party on Christmas Eve day at the station house. We move the trucks out and hold it in the bay. It’s the only place big enough. We’ve set up a room to store the toys and get everything ready. We’re supposed to wrap and tag as the gifts come in, but—” He made a “what are you gonna do” gesture with his hands.
“Hardly anyone wraps the toys and tags them,” she said, “so we have to do it all after the drive is over. Right?”
“You got it,” he said with a grin. “The first time we didn’t wrap them, but just handed them out. But the kids were disappointed to not get a wrapped present. We found that out from one of the little ones.”
“They do tend to be more honest.”
“Don’t I know it. Anyway, now we wrap them. The bakeries donate their specialties for the party, the grocery store handles the soft drinks, and we have a supplier for the Christmas wrap as well.”
“Sounds like y’all go all out for Christmas.”
“We do. I’ll tell you about some of the events but first we need to hit the shops on Main Street, then we’ll go out to the grocery store and other places that aren’t on the main drag. We try to put advertisements anywhere people will see the flyers and posters.”
They started on Main Street. It took them a while to put up the posters and hand out the flyers. Mostly because they hit every shop or eating establishment on Main Street. Spencer noticed that Georgie already knew a lot of the shop owners. She was going to have no trouble at all fitting into Last Stand.
After they’d taken care of Main Street, they distributed the barrels. Then more flyers to a variety of locations. There were some places off Main, a few restaurants here and there, the grocery store and a few other locations farther out of town. The fire station itself had a huge bin which was emptied every morning and the toys were stored for later.
“How often do you check all the barrels?” Georgie asked.
“Daily. The timing varies depending on our work schedules. We take all the toys to the fire station.”
“Daily? You must get a lot of toys.”
“The citizens of Last Stand are very generous.”
“They’re certainly nice and welcoming. I know small towns are supposed to be like that but having never lived in one I hadn’t experienced it.”
“It’s a great place. Even though there are basically no secrets. And you haven’t met The Matchmaker yet.”
“I’ve heard about her, though. Clara Perkins, isn’t it?”
“Yes. So she hasn’t found you a match yet?”
“No, but I haven’t actually met her. Is it true your brother Graham and his wife met through her?”
He grinned. “True as can be. They met at Minna Herdmann’s yearly birthday bash.”
She looked confused so he explained about the Last Stand matriarch’s yearly birthday party. “It’s a birthday party for our oldest resident. Minna’s an institution around here. One hundred and two and still going strong.”
“Wow, how long has the town been doing that?”
“We started when she turned ninety-five. Whoever feared Minna wouldn’t live much longer obviously knew nothing about her. Minna’s from an earlier generation, and she is as tough as they come.”
“You sound fond of her. And proud.”
He shrugged. “Everyone around here is.”
“I guess you’ve managed to avoid The Matchmaker?”
“Are you kidding? No, I haven’t. Clara’s had me going out with almost every single female in town.”
“But none of them have stuck.”
“Not yet. But you never know.” As they drove out to the grocery store he glanced at her. Damn, she was pretty. But he’d found that dating coworkers could get sticky. Regretfully. Still, for her he might be willing to chance a little stickiness. Of course, that assumed he could talk her into dating a coworker, which, according to Cable, she didn’t want to do either.
Why was he so gung ho about getting Georgie to go out with him? He didn’t usually go to that much trouble for a woman. Was it simply because she was elusive or was there another reason?
“Want to get some Mexican food after we hit the grocery store? I’m starving.”
“Look, Spencer, I like you but I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. I don’t date coworkers.”
Exactly what she’d told Cable. “It’s not a date.” He held up his hand when she started to argue. “If you’re going to refuse food every time we are together working on the toy drive you’re going to get awfully hungry.”
She seemed to think about that. Shrugging she said, “Okay. I could do with Mexican food and a beer.”
His kind of woman, he thought but knew better than to say it.
Owned by the Valencia family, Valencia’s was the best Mexican food restaurant around. Tex-Mex food at its finest, it had even been written up in magazines as the best place for Mexican food in the entire area. Spencer knew the family well. The Valencias had been there from the beginning, when Last Stand was only a wide spot in the road and a saloon. During the Texas Revolution the Texians from the area had holed up in the saloon and held off a contingent of Santa Anna’s army. There were still bullet holes in the Last Stand Saloon’s walls from the battle. The Valencias themselves had been firmly with the Texians and fighting against Santa Anna’s much larger conquering army.
“I haven’t been here yet,” Georgie said.
“Then you’ve been missing the best Tex-Mex in this part of Texas.” He opened the door for her and followed her inside. “Georgie Durant, this is Elena de la Cova, the manager of Valencia’s. Elena, Georgie’s a new paramedic in town and she’s never been to your place.”
“We’re so glad you came in,” Elena said after shaking hands with Georgie. “Let me show you to your table.”
“What happened to Rosalina?” he asked, referring to the hostess.
“Out sick,” Elena said. “I’m taking over hostess duties for the night.”
“Esteban here?” he asked her as she led them to a table. Esteban Valencia was the owner and an old friend of Spencer’s. They’d gone to high school together.
“Not at the moment but he should be here soon. I’ll tell him you’re here. I know he’ll want to say hello.” She left them with menus and told them their server would be with them soon. As soon as she left a teenager brought chips, two bowls of hot sauce and water.
“Do you eat that much hot sauce?”
“Yes, but this one—” he gestured to the bowl closest to him “—is extra spicy. Want some?”
“No, thanks. I don’t mind some spice but I don’t like it so hot it burns my mouth and opens up my sinuses even when it’s lukewarm.” Georgie opened the menu and looked it over. “What’s good to eat here?”
“Do you like queso?”
He smiled. “The Valencias are known for their queso. It’s an old family recipe that only a Valencia is allowed to make. Lots of people have tried to imitate it but there’s some secret ingredient that gives it a unique flair.”
“A secret ingredient? That sounds very mysterious. Is it really that good?”
“Wait until you taste it and you can tell me.”
“You’ve certainly piqued my interest. What else is good?”
“Everything. But I usually get the Valencia—the enchilada plate with a little bit of everything.”
“How are the fajitas?”
“Great, but everything on the menu is good. I’ve liked everything I’ve tried. I don’t like mole, so I haven’t tried it, but I hear it’s good.”
Most of the staff was connected in some way to the Valencia family, either a relative or a family friend. Tonight Juana was their waitress. Spencer ordered queso, and then they both ordered their main dish. As usual, Spencer ordered the Valencia plate.
“I’ll take the fajitas. Chicken, please,” Georgie said. “What beer do you have on tap?”
Juana named an American beer and a Mexican beer. Georgie took the Mexican beer.
Spencer ordered the enchilada plate and the same beer. “Here I thought you were a traditionalist,” he said to Georgie after Juana left.
“I am,” she said, reaching for a chip and dipping it in hot sauce before eating it. “What makes you think I’m not?”
“You didn’t get American beer.”
Georgie laughed. “That hardly makes me nontraditional. I’m pretty boring.”
“Somehow, Georgie, I don’t believe that.”
Georgie glanced around the room. In many ways Valencia’s looked like a number of Mexican food places where she’d eaten in the past. The restaurant was in an adobe building, which according to the history written on the back of the menu was a hundred years old. Obviously, it had been kept in good shape all those years. On the walls were large round discs of gold and black, of an Aztec-looking pattern. Colorful sombreros also hung on the wall. One wall was brick with large windows, and in one corner of the main room was an adobe fireplace. There were tables scattered around the center of the room, and carved wood booths with brown leather seats along the edges. The wall at one end of their booth was lined with colorful Mexican tile, with a copper coating below it. “This tile is beautiful,” Georgie said, looking at the patterned mix of bright colors. “Do you suppose it came from Mexico?”
“Nope, it’s Valencia tile, made in the USA. One branch of the family owns the restaurant, the other manufactures tile. I went to high school with Esteban Valencia, the owner of the restaurant. You’ll meet him later. Elena, Esteban’s cousin who you just met, comes from the Valencia tile side of the family but she manages the restaurant.”
“So it really is a family affair.”
“Oh, yeah. Pretty much everyone who works here is some kind of family connection. Even down to the kids who bus the tables and bring chips to the dishwashers, busboys, and servers. Esteban is the eldest of six. Several of the older kids are also involved with the restaurant in some manner. And speaking of Esteban,” Spencer said with a grin, “here he comes now.”
Spencer stood and exchanged handshakes and back slaps with a man who was frankly gorgeous. Black hair, unexpectedly blue eyes and a blinding smile almost knocked her over when he turned to greet her. Spencer introduced them and Esteban held out a hand. “Welcome to Last Stand, Georgie. How are you liking the town?”
His voice was deep and almost hypnotic. Since they’d been friends in high school, she assumed he and Spencer were about the same age. Belatedly realizing she’d been staring at him without answering his question she responded. “I like it a lot. Your restaurant is lovely.”
“Thank you. So are you.”
She nearly blushed. “Thank you.” Damn, the man oozed charm. She glanced at Spencer, who looked resigned.
The two men spoke for a short while and Esteban left, after telling them the queso was on the house.
“He’s very…nice,” she said, rather lamely.
Spencer laughed. “I’ve been watching Esteban’s effect on women since high school. No, he’s not married, and yes, he’s a good guy, and yes, he’s most definitely a player.”
“I didn’t ask.”
“You wanted to.”
Unable to deny it, she laughed. “I take it that’s a common reaction.”
“Yeah. I like him anyway.”
“Poor baby. You’re hardly one to talk.” Spencer might not be quite as jaw-droppingly gorgeous as Esteban but she knew he had his fair share of female admirers. She’d already heard them speculating about who he was going to date next and wondering when he was going to settle down like his brothers had. The consensus on that seemed to be not anytime soon.
Unabashed, Spencer grinned. “I try but I run a poor second.”
Their food came and as promised, the queso was extraordinary and the rest of the food was delicious as well. They sat talking after dinner since unlike many Mexican restaurants Valencia’s was fairly quiet. The more Georgie was around Spencer the more she relaxed. The more she liked him. Tread carefully, she told herself. Spencer had a dangerous charm of his own. She’d realized that from the moment they met, under the mistletoe at the Corbyns’ party. Remember that, Georgie. Charming men are your downfall.
If only she didn’t remember that kiss almost every time she looked at him, or feel that frisson of sexual awareness whenever they touched, being careful would have been a lot easier.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Can a kiss under the mistletoe be the beginning of a beautiful relationship?
Firefighter and paramedic Spencer McBride has never been tempted to change his happy-go-lucky bachelor status – until he literally runs into cute newcomer Georgie under the mistletoe.
Wounded after giving her heart to a man who wouldn’t commit, paramedic Georgie Durant has come to Last Stand, Texas, for a fresh start. Though tempted by the handsome Spencer, she’s too leery of his easy charm and the pitfalls of a workplace relationship to risk one with him.
But as they spend more time together amid the Christmas gaiety and Georgie sees Spencer’s dedication and devotion to the people he helps, she begins to wonder if this beguiling co-worker could be different.
Spencer has always been a man who knows what he wants – and he wants Georgie. But when the man from her past comes to town, determined to win her back, can Spencer convince Georgie to take another chance – with him?
Meet the Author:
Eve Gaddy is the national bestselling, award winning author of more than twenty-five novels. A member of Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll for Bestselling authors, her books have won and been nominated for awards from Romantic Times, Golden Quill, Bookseller’s Best, Holt Medallion, Daphne Du Maurier and more. She was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Innovative Series romance and won the 2008 Romantic Times Career Achievement award for Series Storyteller of the year. Eve’s books have sold over a million copies worldwide and been published in many foreign countries. Eve lives in East Texas with her husband of many years.
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