Title: Champagne for Christmas
Author: Jean C. Joachim
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Can a summer romance survive the cold of winter?
Nina Wells, a widow in her late forties, had buried love with her husband. Until she met the playwright next door. Clint, a school teacher by profession, is sweating through his first play. When he accidentally dumps his mint chip ice cream on Nina’s chest, he meets the one woman who believes he can write.
Nina, an actress, sees Clint’s talent. Using her experience in the theater to guide him, she bonds with him over the play. They collaborate, writing and cooking together. The summer flies by as Nina falls in love and hopes her new man will revive her dormant acting career as well as her love life.
But once back in the City, reality bombards them at every turn. There’s no sentiment in the theater, only cold, hard reality. What will Clint do when faced with the option of losing his dream or the woman of his dreams?
The sultry, August air hung heavy around Nina, quickly melting the ice cream in her sundae. While gazing up at the clear, night sky to look for the Big Dipper, she dribbled fudge sauce on her new, aqua T-shirt. She pursed her lips. That’s what I get for not paying attention. With a disgusted sigh, she reached for a napkin before realizing she’d forgotten to take one. “Damn,” she muttered under her breath and doubled back to the stand before the stain set.
She rushed up to the tiny counter right as a tall, good-looking man holding a double scoop cone turned. They collided. Half of his cold treat fell onto her chest, causing her to gasp at the shock against her skin. She looked up into his light brown eyes as she grabbed the melting ball.
He slipped one arm around her waist to keep her from losing her footing. She stood wobbling, mesmerized by him. He was almost a whole foot taller than she was, with thick, straight, brown hair and shoulders a mile wide. Nina shifted the ice cream from hand to hand, not knowing what to do.
“I don’t think you can put that back on the cone. Maybe the garbage?” he suggested with a grin.
Nina jerked back to reality and stepped toward the trashcan, tossing in what was left of the melting mess. “I’m so sorry. I’ll buy you another one,” she said, reaching for napkins to wipe her shirt and hands.
“It was my fault…completely. You don’t have to buy me anything. Besides, I still have one scoop here. I’ll just…,” he began, approaching her with more napkins, and then stopping, his hand in midair, color suffusing his face.
Nina had raised a hand to halt his actions. “It’s okay. I’ve got this.” The young woman behind the counter offered him a replacement scoop for free. Nina sat down at the picnic table set up for people to eat outside. After a good look at her shirt, she knew it was ruined.
The tall, attractive man joined her. “At least let me pay for a new shirt,” he offered, sitting down next to her on the bench.
“It’s okay. I had a spill on it already. That’s why I was coming back and got in your way,” she said, finishing the last of her sundae.
“What flavor?” he asked.
“Mint chip…is there any other?” She laughed.
“Not for me.”
Nina’s gaze was drawn to his mouth, then his tongue, as he licked the cold confection off the cone first, then his lips. She ran her own tongue over her bottom lip unconsciously, in tandem with him. Wonder what it would feel like to kiss him? “I’m Nina Wells.” She offered her hand, as soon as she could rip her stare from his mouth.
He shook it. “Clint Hayworth.”
“You look familiar,” she said, with hooded eyes, admiring his physique.
“I’ve seen you, too…in the garden? Next door?” he asked, looking away from his ice cream.
“You’re renting the Willis place?”
“Thinking about buying it, too.” He stopped eating long enough to shoot her a confident smile, his gaze resting on her face before sweeping over her chest and back again.
“It’s a lovely house. The neighborhood’s terrific, too. Lots of space and nice people.”
“Then, why did I see a ‘For Sale’ sign in front of your place?”
“Oh.” She could feel the heat of her blush. “I’m alone now…and it’s kind of…I’m not…”
“Not used to taking care of it by yourself?”
She nodded. Why am I still embarrassed about being a widow? It’s not a personal failing.
“Have you owned it long?”
“Since my son was eight…seventeen years.”
“You have a twenty-five-year-old son?” His eyebrows shot up, and he stared at her.
She nodded, forming a weak smile and trying to hide her nerves.
“You don’t look old enough.”
“Looks can be deceiving.” Nina crumpled up her sundae cup and moved to the trashcan to discard it.
“Not in my book,” he said, giving her figure a frank once-over as she crossed his path.
“Was the boy helping you in the garden your son?” Nina asked, changing the subject to hide her discomfort at his scrutiny.
“Where is he?”
“He went back to his mother’s place.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.” She put her hand on his forearm.
“I’m used to it by now…” He rubbed his fingers over his two-day growth of beard and closed his eyes for a second. “I lied. Not used to it at all. Hate it, in fact.” He took a big, loud bite of the sugar cone, crunching it between his teeth.
“My son lives in Seattle. Has for three years. I’m not used to him so far away and probably never will be.”
“Can I at least buy you a cup of coffee to make up for the shirt I wrecked?” He finished the last of the cone and turned to face her, holding her gaze as a seductive grin inched across his face.
She swallowed, and her pulse kicked up. “Why don’t you come over, and I’ll make us both some coffee? Some company in my too-quiet house would be welcome.”
“Great. Meet you there,” he said.
Christmas in July Fete Sackful of Giveaways:
Grand Prize: $75 USD Amazon Gift Card
Two e-copies of Champagne for Christmas
(plus more prizes…)
Starts July 1, 2017 12:01 am EST and ends August 1, 2017 12:00 am EST
iTunes/Apple Books – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id967977890
Author’s Favorite Holiday Food/Tradition:
Baking Christmas cookies with my 25 year old son. My favorites are molasses cookies, his are chocolate pixies.
Jean Joachim is an award-winning, international best-selling romance author, with books hitting the Amazon Top 100 list in the U.S. and abroad since 2012. She writes mostly contemporary romance, which includes sports romance and romantic suspense.
Dangerous Love Lost & Found won 1st place in the suspense category in the 2015 Oklahoma Romance Writers of America International Digital Awards contest. The Renovated Heart won Best Novel of the Year from Love Romances Café. Lovers & Liars was a RomCon finalist in 2013. And The Marriage List tied for third place as Best Contemporary Romance from the Gulf Coast RWA. To Love or Not to Love tied for second place in the 2014 New England Chapter of Romance Writers of America Reader’s Choice contest. She was chosen Author of the Year in 2012 by the New York City chapter of RWA.
Married and the mother of two sons, Jean lives in New York City. Early in the morning, you’ll find her at her computer, writing, with a cup of tea, her rescued pug, Homer, by her side and a secret stash of black licorice.
Jean has 35 books, novellas and short stories published. Find them here: http://www.jeanjoachimbooks.com. Sign up for her newsletter, on her website, or using the link below, and be eligible for her private paperback sales. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jean-JoachimAuthor/221092234568929?sk=app_100265896690345
Social Media Links:
Twitter – @jeanjoachim
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Jean-C.-Joachim/e/B001ITRQKY/
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