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“The Boyfriend Swap,” new holiday romantic comedy from Meredith Schorr

BLURB:

Is Christmas really the most wonderful time of the year? New Yorkers Robyn Lane and Sidney Bellows aren’t so sure. Robyn has always dated struggling creative types. For once, her parents would love her to bring someone with health insurance and a 401(k) to their Chrismukkah celebration. Her actor boyfriend doesn’t qualify. While across town, Sidney’s professional life already belongs to her parents. She’s an attorney at her father’s law firm and she works tirelessly to keep her love life private. If she brings her lawyer boyfriend to their annual Christmas extravaganza, her parents will have the wedding planned by New Year’s Eve.

A mutual friend playfully suggests they trade boyfriends for the holidays. The women share a laugh, but after copious amounts of wine, decide The Boyfriend Swap could be the perfect solution. This way, Robyn can show off her stable attorney boyfriend and Sidney’s high-society family will take no interest in her flaky actor beau.

It’s a brilliant plan—in theory. In practice—not so much. When Will turns out to be the boy-next-door Robyn crushed on hard throughout her teenage years, and Sidney’s family fawns all over Perry like he’s an Oscar-winner rather than a D-list wannabe, one thing is certain: The Boyfriend Swap might just change their lives forever.

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Buy Links:  Amazon.com  B&N.com

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EXCERPT:

“Holding hands, some touching, and little pecks are fine. As long as we show some affection, my parents won’t question the lack of making out,” I said, almost choking on my words. I was having trouble focusing on the road with Will Brady as my passenger, and the current topic of conversation wasn’t helping. I flashed back to the last time we’d ridden in a car together. School had closed early due to an ice storm. I was terrified to drive home and the buses had already left. Before I could protest, Jordy, who was a freshman, asked Will to give us a ride and, of course, he said yes. I remembered sitting in the backseat and trying not to get caught looking at Will’s reflection in the rearview mirror.

“Do you and Perry full-on make out in front of your folks regularly?”

Even though I was looking at the road, I could still see Will’s amused grin through my side vision. To talk myself out of blushing, I focused on the vanity plate of the car in front of me—GRNSON1. “Not at all. I meant if we make small shows of affection, no one will be skeptical.”

Will tapped my thigh. “I’m teasing you. I don’t think it will be too difficult. Unless your parents are suspicious by nature.”

My leg tingled in the spot where Will’s fingers had been. “They’re not. But they’ll be surprised.” To my knowledge, Will had no idea of the extent of my crush back then. He probably assumed my parents would consider it a humorous coincidence that their daughter was dating an old neighbor—nothing more, nothing less. I should have warned them, but I was too afraid they’d see right through my lies.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

A born-and-bred New Yorker, Meredith Schorr discovered her passion for writing when she began to enjoy drafting work-related emails way more than she was probably supposed to. After trying her hand penning children’s stories and blogging her personal experiences, Meredith found her calling writing romantic comedy and humorous women’s fiction. She secures much inspiration from her day job as a hardworking trademark paralegal and her still-single (but looking) status. Meredith is a loyal New York Yankees fan, an avid runner, and an unashamed television addict.

To learn more, visit her at http://www.meredithschorr.com.

Social media:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MeredithSchorrAuthor/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/MeredithSchorr
Website: http://www.meredithschorr.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/meredithschorr/

Buy Links:  Amazon.com  B&N.com 

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“The Christmas Wedding Swap,” small-town contemporary romance by author Allyson Charles

BLURB:

SOMETIMES YOU GET WHAT YOU NEED . . .  

Allison Stuart has always been the odd-woman-out of her family. She wears her jeans a little too tight, colors her hair a little too blonde, and instead of going into medicine and law like her sisters, she runs a diner. She’s also the only single sibling left. And while she won’t change her style, and her meatloaf is to die for, thank you very much, she wouldn’t mind her share of wedded bliss. So she makes an early New Year’s resolution: No more meaningless flings.

Drop-dead sexy Luke Hamilton is everything Allison has sworn off. His only serious relationship has been with his five-star restaurant, Le Cygne Noir, in Chicago. When he’s threatened by a lawsuit, Luke decides to hide out in Pineville, Michigan, until the statute of limitations runs out. The small town is filled with Christmas charm, but he can’t imagine living there. Heating things up with the hottie who owns the local diner would make his exile bearable—if he can convince her to give up her ridiculous resolution . . .

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EXCERPT:

“This is a small-town diner. Your stock isn’t going to drop if you have a bit of fun with your newest employee.” His eyes raked her body, taking in every curve.

She swallowed and rose to her feet. Staying seated while he stared down at her looking like he wanted to…well, eat her up, wasn’t a strong authority position. Since this man now worked for her, he was off-limits. Her stomach quivered.

No. No, making him the forbidden fruit. He might be sexy, but he was also an arrogant know-it-all. At this stage in her life, she wanted someone she could settle down with, not tear up the sheets. She thrust her shoulders back, realizing too late it could look like she was shoving her D cups in his face. Fighting the heat crawling up her neck, she said, “If you want a tour, my advice would be to visit the tourist bureau. They have information on the sights to see. The holidays are a busy season for me, more so with Sadie’s wedding. I don’t have time for anything else. Got it?”

He nodded slowly, but Allison didn’t believe him. The tilt to his full lips was impish, as if she was a challenge he couldn’t wait to take on. The moment he spoke, she knew she was right. “I get it. You own a restaurant; you’re busy.” Sauntering to the door, he waited until he was just outside before hitting her with his parting shot.

“But a month is a long time. You won’t always be busy. And I’ll be waiting.”

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AUTHOR Bio and Links: 

Allyson Charles lives in Northern California. She’s the author of the “Pineville Romance” series, small-town, contemporary romances published by Lyrical Press. A former attorney, she happily ditched those suits and now works in her pajamas, writing about men’s briefs instead of legal briefs. When she’s not writing, she’s probably engaged in one of her favorite hobbies: napping, eating, or martial arts (That last one almost makes up for the first two, right?). One of Allyson’s greatest disappointments is living in a state that doesn’t have any Cracker Barrels in it.

Sign up for Allyson’s newsletter at http://www.allysoncharles.com/newsletter

You can find her at http://www.allysoncharles.com

…on Twitter @1allysoncharles

…and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAllysonCharles.

Buy links for THE CHRISTMAS WEDDING SWAP

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/?field-keywords=9781601836090
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-christmas-wedding-swap/id1209823636?mt=11
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-christmas-wedding-swap-allyson-charles/1125489708;jsessionid=7895472FF3C5A0BDE501E6AB0E760A87.prodny_store02-atgap02?ean=9781601836090
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-christmas-wedding-swap
Google: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9781601836090&c=books

“Holiday Ever After,” a romance short story anthology from LARA!

winter-holidays-romance-from-los-angeles-romance-authors

I’m thrilled that my sensual Regency short story, “Bed of Sweet Surrender,” was chosen to be included in this amazing new collection of contemporary, historical and paranormal holiday romances from LARA – the Los Angeles Romance Authors. All proceeds benefit the chapter, so please download your copy today from the buy links below and find some wonderful new stories (and maybe some “new-to-you” authors, as well!) to get you in the mood…for the holidays, that is!

Amazon.com    B&N.com   Kobo.com   iTunes.Apple.com

EXCERPT from “Bed of Sweet Surrender”:

By the middle of the carol, when the Wise Men came from country far, John wondered where Miss Jennings had disappeared to. Standing at the rear of the group assembled around the pianoforte, he slipped away and went to look for her. His plan to see his fiancée often and convince her of his affections had so far been less than successful.

He paused at the open door to the dining room and found her there, seated alone, with no servant in sight. For once, she looked relaxed, her eyes closed as she put the last bite of a piece of gingerbread in her mouth, then licked the crumbs from her fingertips and sighed in pleasure, savouring the taste. Her honey-blonde hair shone in the candlelight, making her an entrancing sight to behold.

For a moment, he forgot to breathe. “Miss Jennings,” he found his voice at last, even if it came out barely a whisper.

Her blue eyes flew open and she gasped, bolting upright in her chair. “Mr. Ashton, I’m sorry, I—”

“Don’t.” He held up his hand to stall her as he advanced into the room. “You have no reason to apologize. Once we’re married, if you wish to eat gingerbread every day of the year, you may do so.”

She stood then with a sway and clung to the table for support. “I fear the wine has gone straight to my head, sir.” He covered the distance between them in seconds and pulled her against him, afraid she might fall if he did not. She turned her face up to his, looking startled.

Whether it was the two cups of the punch he’d had or simply the opportunity, he would never know, but he would kiss her now or die in the attempt.

 

 

Christmas traditions in the time of Jane Austen

Regency Christmas dinner complete with pudding

The Regency period of English history was technically only the years 1811-1820, but practically ran the adult life of King George IV, from the late 1700’s through to 1830, and is sometimes referred to today known as the “long Regency.” Christmas in those days was most definitely not the commercial holiday we celebrate today. There was no mad rush to shop for the latest gadgets, no stockings hung by the fire with care, and certainly no white-bearded gentleman with a sleigh and reindeer flying through the night skies.

Attending church service on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day was a must for the English in Regency times, although only a few of the carols we sing now would have been sung in church then as hymns, such as The First Nowell.(Yes, that spelling is the correct one!)

Instead of everyone looking forward to just December 24th or the 25th, a Regency Christmas was a much longer celebration of dancing and dining spread out over the period of ‘Christmastide,’ from Christmas Eve to January 6th, Twelfth Night. (Hence, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas.’)

Preparations, however, began long before December 24th. ‘Stir-up Sunday,’ the Sunday before Advent, marked the unofficial start to the Christmas Season, so-called because of the traditional church service held that day, but also becoming the day that Christmas puddings and cakes were prepared, in order to allow enough time for them to ‘mature’ (which called for regular doses of brandy!)

Jane AustenChristmas was a time to reflect upon one’s religious faith and to enjoy the companionship of friends and family. Jane Austen mentions Christmas in each of her six major novels. For instance, in Emma, she wrote, “At Christmas everybody invites their friends about them, and people think little of even the worst weather.” In addition, the aristocracy and the landed gentry were expected to entertain their tenants and neighbors and show generosity through charitable acts.

During the four-week period from Advent until Epiphany, the upper classes held balls, parties, dinners and other social events, welcoming both family and friends. Since everyone was usually together, it was also a time for courtships and weddings. Even though there was no Santa Claus, December 6th, St. Nicholas’s Day, was marked by the giving of small gifts. There was no exchange of presents on the 25th itself, but giving ‘Christmas Boxes’ of food and gently-used items of clothing and household goods to servants and to charity was the custom on St. Stephen’s Day, the day after Christmas, now celebrated as ‘Boxing Day.’

Holly, ivy, evergreen and laurel were brought into the house on Christmas Eve, since it was considered unlucky to bring greenery inside before Christmas. These remained in place until the Epiphany on January 6, when they were taken down and often burned to prevent bad luck for the rest of the year. Indoor decorated trees were rare and found only in a few houses of wealthy families with German connections, where they were a long-standing tradition.

Of course, we can’t forget mistletoe, although the custom was more likely practiced below stairs than above. (The requirement of plucking a berry every time a kiss was stolen beneath the bough was already in place, and once the berries were gone, alas, the kissing was over.)

Christmas Day meant Christmas dinner, with the best a family could afford…turkey, goose (the most traditional), mutton, or venison might be served, and for the rich, the table could be laden with all of these at once. A Christmas dinner would not be deemed complete without the aforementioned pudding. The pudding would be doused with even more brandy and then set aflame, a key theatrical aspect of the holiday celebration.

(For the brave of heart among you, or for those who just enjoy setting their food on fire, some traditional holiday pudding recipes can be found at: http://britishfood.about.com/od/christmas/a/xmaspud.htm )

Epiphany on January 6th marked the official end of Christmas festivities. It was yet another feast day to mark the coming of the Magi, and as a result was the traditional day to exchange gifts.

Joseph-Grimaldi_1630699cOne final English Christmas tradition that was present in Jane Austen’s time and is still alive today is the Christmas pantomime. The pantomime usually opened on Boxing Day. Joseph Grimaldi, the famous clown who lived from 1779 to 1837, regularly performed in one at Drury Lane Theatre in London, a theatre often visited by characters in Regency romances.