Thursday, 1 December 2011

Welcome Jill Sorenson!

Today's guest of honour is fabulous romantic suspense author, Jill Sorenson, who's sharing some of her favourite Christmas romances with us - as well as giving us a sneak peek at her own! Welcome to the party, Jill!

Jill’s Favorite Holiday Novellas

Who has plenty of time to read during the holidays? Not me! It seems like I’m always on a tight deadline in December. Novellas are perfect for a quick, relaxing pick-me-up. Here are some sexy winter stories guaranteed to keep you warm on a cold night:

1.      White Out by Linda Howard
I love Linda Howard. She writes to-die-for heroes. This one features a handsome stranger who stumbles in from a blizzard, incoherent. The heroine strips him down and cuddles him by the fire. Soon, they’re generating plenty of heat!

2.      Tangled Sheets by Lori Foster
I’m a big fan of Foster. This is her first Winston Brothers story, and it’s a hot little number. A bartender has a crush on his sexy cocoa-drinking customer. She pretends to be someone else and allows him to seduce her.

3.      Snow Blind by Virginia Reede
Warning—this one is extra naughty! Good friends turn lovers on a steamy winter vacation. After a few nights of illicit hookups in the hot tub, two couples end up swapping partners for the long term.

As you can see, holiday novellas aren’t always sweet or traditional. Some are sexy and suspenseful, like my story in the Risky Christmas anthology for Harlequin Romantic Suspense:

Two Christmas stories brimming with passion and danger…

Holiday Secrets by Jill Sorenson
After witnessing her husband's murder eighteen months ago, Leah is in hiding and has no plans to celebrate Christmas. Though she tries to resist, her handsome new neighbor awakens long-buried feelings of attraction…and brings a killer to her door.

Kidnapped at Christmas by Jennifer Morey
Chloe is a struggling artist and thoroughly bored with her life—until a rugged FBI agent pulls her into a fast-paced adventure…and a sizzling love affair! The only damper on their mistletoe madness is a vengeful mobster who won't stop until they are both silenced…forever.

Do you have a favorite holiday novella? Let me know in the comments and I’ll enter you to win a print copy of Risky Christmas.

Happy Holidays!

HOLIDAY SECRETS by Jill Sorenson
Chapter One

Brian adjusted the red stocking cap in an attempt to cover his dark brown hair.
            He’d bought the costume on a whim a few years ago with the intention to play Santa for his sister’s children.  Due to unfortunate circumstances, it had never been used.  The cheap red suit came with an itchy white beard, but no wig.  His own black rubber boots, which he used to wade through concrete, completed the look.

            Leaving the hat askew, he stepped back and studied his reflection.  He needed a haircut.  His costume was “one size fits all” and poorly made.  The fuzzy white cuffs of the jacket didn’t reach his wrists, the pants were too baggy, and the black plastic belt gaped at his waist.  He looked like Homeless Santa.

He grabbed a pillow from the mattress on the floor and stuffed it under his jacket, fashioning a jolly paunch.  There, that was better.  As he headed outside, he picked up the bag of gifts and put the “Dear Santa” letter in his front pocket. 

            At 9:00 a.m., the sun was already blazing.  It was going to be a hot Christmas in Oceanside, California.  There wasn’t a cloud in the perfect blue sky.  Brian had spent most of the morning on his surfboard, and the waves were in fine form.  He might go back later for an afternoon session.

            His pulse kicked up a notch as he approached the house next door.  He hardly knew his neighbors and wasn’t sure what they would think of his getup.  The single mom who lived there had never even spoken to him, and her daughters were quiet as mice. 

            If the girls hadn’t left a letter in Brian’s mailbox last week, he wouldn’t have considered buying them gifts.  When he found the envelope, addressed to the North Pole, he’d opened it to investigate.  At first he’d assumed that the girls had mistaken his mailbox for their own, because the two were side by side.  Then he read the letter and realized that they hadn’t wanted their mother to see it.  

            The girls had penned the note to Santa in simple words and neat sentences.  Judging by her careful signature, Mandy was the older daughter.  Her sister, Alyssa, had scrawled her name at the bottom of the page in pink crayon.  They asked for a couple of moderately priced toys that “Mommy can’t buy this year.”

            Brian could easily afford the extra gifts; he had very few family members to shop for.  But the last item on the list was something that no one could deliver—not even Santa.  He’d been touched by the request and felt a powerful compulsion to make his neighbors’ holiday a little brighter. 

They could all use some cheering up.

            Whistling the tune to Jingle Bells, he knocked on the front door.  “Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas,” he called out, preparing the leave the wrapped presents on the stoop.  Before he had a chance, the door swung open.

            Mandy and Alyssa stood there in red dresses, their dark hair shining.  Twin expressions of wonder lit up their well-scrubbed faces.  

            “Santa,” the younger girl breathed, fooled by his outfit.

            Brian winked at her.  “Have you girls been good this year?”

            The both nodded dutifully, eyes wide. 

He reached into his bag, finding a present for Alyssa.  She jumped up and down, delighted to receive it.  Mandy, who was at least five, probably knew he wasn’t the “real” Santa.  But she accepted the second gift with a shy smile, examining his ill-fitting suit.  If she found it lacking, she didn’t say. 

“We have cookies for you!  My mommy made them.”

            Brian glanced around, wondering where she was.  “Okay.”

            Mandy raced into another room, coming back with a loaded plate.

“Thanks,” he said, grabbing a bell-shaped cookie off the top.  He didn’t have much of a sweet tooth, and these confections looked almost too pretty to eat, with silver accents and delicate icing.  But they tasted like a dream, light and almond-y.  “Mmm.”

He was about to wish them a Merry Christmas and take his leave, along with a handful of those delicious cookies, when the girls’ mother appeared.  The moment she stepped on the scene, the cookie lodged in his throat.

She was wearing a short towel, secured over her breasts.  Her skin was wet, her dark hair dripping on her bare shoulders. 

Brian did a double-take, startled by her near-nudity.  He couldn’t help noticing that she had a great figure.  He hadn’t registered that before, but he’d never seen quite so much of her.  She always wore shapeless clothes and big sunglasses.

“What are you doing?” she gasped, staring at him.  She had frantic blue eyes and a smattering of freckles across her nose.

Brian tried to chew the bite of cookie, which had turned to sawdust in his mouth.

“You opened the door to a stranger?” she asked the girls.

Mandy set aside the cookies, appearing stricken.

“Go to your room,” she said, clutching the towel in a white-knuckled grip.  “Both of you!”

“Can we keep the presents?” Alyssa asked.


They ran away, little faces crumpled in dismay. 

            Brian managed to swallow.  “I’m sorry.  I had no idea this would be a problem—”

            “Get out,” she said, pointing her finger.  Although her stance was strong and self-assured, her lips trembled, betraying her fear. 

            He retreated in surprise, unaware that he’d stepped over the threshold.  “I’m sorry,” he said again, tugging the fake beard down his chin.  “I didn’t mean to scare you.  I’m Brian Cosgrove, from next door.”

To be entered in the draw for a print copy of Risky Christmas, answer Jill's question above: Do you have a favorite holiday novella? The contest will close at midnight tonight and the winner will be announced tomorrow on this thread.


  1. I like Wish List by Lisa Kleypas, Claudia Dain, and Lisa Cach. That was the first one I thought of. I love Lisa Kleypas books, and the other 2 others had good stories also.
    This is a new author for me and would love to win and read this book. Thanks for the giveaway and the chance to win.

  2. Hi Jill! Great to have you at the party - loved your excerpt! Do you have a favourite from among your own stories?


  3. I also like White Out by Linda Howard. Thanks for the giveaway.


  4. Hi, Jill! I love anthologies, too, and Christmas ones are especially fun! One of my favorites is a novella by Jane Blackwood called Maybe This Christmas in the collection called Jingle All the Way--it's a second-chance story, and it really hit the spot for me; it's a re-read for me every year :)

    f dot chen at comcast dot net

  5. Thanks for having me, Marie! This is my first novella, so I'm pretty excited about it. I don't know if I can pick a favorite. Crash Into Me seems to be the reader favorite, and it's also set during the holidays. Both heroes are surfers, too. :)

  6. Hi Marie :)
    I love Jill's stories. Looking forward to this one :)

  7. I really like anthologies but unfortunately there are any ones that immediately come to mind that are holiday themed.

    I did receive one holiday book one Christmas year from a very close friend, it's called Home For The Holidays by Johanna Lindsey, it's not a novella but it was still a nice holiday read!

    Your novella sounds really good, I hope I get to read this someday!

  8. Ooh, tempt me some more, Jill :)

    Waving to Toni!


  9. I really enjoyed Lauren Dane's novella Believe. It was the sequel to her story Second Chances. I love to catch up with a couple after they get their HEA.

    geishasmom73 AT yahoo DOT com

  10. i love the way you did on the page the cover
    are great and then i love the blog it self
    thank for the giveway
    desi the

  11. I don't have a favorite holiday novella or novel. I am collecting holiday themed stories to read this season! jepebATverizonDOtnet

  12. Love to read Christmas / holiday stories. Enjoyed the excerpt and would love to read the rest of the story. :)

  13. I don't have a favorite holiday novella but I'm always looking for new stories to read for the holidays. Thanks so much for the giveaway.


  14. The excerpt was all sorts of adorable! I don't have any Christmas-themed novellas in mind, but I'd love to read Risky Christmas. Thanks for sharing!

  15. I don't have a favorite novella as I haven't had time to read lately! Would love to have a new favorite though!:-)

  16. My favorite would be A Vampire Before Christmas.


  17. No. I've barely read any novellas, and pretty much nothing Christmas-y, but I keep seeing so many now that I really want to read. Thanks for the giveaway!


  18. Interesting to see your favourites! Got a few more to add to my track-down list :).

    Jill, thanks so much for being our guest of honour!

    I'll be back in a moment with Jill's winner of RISKY CHRISTMAS...


  19. And the winner of Jill's RISKY CHRISTMAS is...

    Congratulations, Chris, you lucky thing! Please send me your postal address - Marie AT MarieTreanor DOT com.