Christmas Heat [Kimani Romance Series #72] [NOOK Book]

Overview

A season of miracles...and second chances

Audrey Lamour was a successful artist and devoted mother, forever indebted to the heroic fireman who pulled her from a blaze twenty-five years ago on Christmas Day. She honored him by painting his portrait--never dreaming her picture would become a lifeline to love...

Conrad Pearson was driven to meet the woman whose emotional painting of his father seared his soul, even if it meant returning home to ...

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Christmas Heat [Kimani Romance Series #72]

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Overview

A season of miracles...and second chances

Audrey Lamour was a successful artist and devoted mother, forever indebted to the heroic fireman who pulled her from a blaze twenty-five years ago on Christmas Day. She honored him by painting his portrait--never dreaming her picture would become a lifeline to love...

Conrad Pearson was driven to meet the woman whose emotional painting of his father seared his soul, even if it meant returning home to the Pacific Northwest, and painful memories. But Audrey's beauty, grace and unforgettable kiss ignited the kind of sensual fire that made a man glad to be alive. Now he was ready to confront all the ghosts of Christmas past to keep this angel in his arms forever.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426809958
  • Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises
  • Publication date: 5/1/2008
  • Series: Harlequin Kimani Romance Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 661,964
  • File size: 178 KB

Meet the Author

After a long and distinguished career as a bestselling nonfiction writer, in 2004, R. Barri Flowers first turned to mysteries as his entry into commercial fiction, penning the legal thriller, Persuasive Evidence. This was followed by Justice Served, a finalist in the 2005 Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards, and in 2006, State's Evidence.

Not content to rest on his laurels, this prolific author has added romance fiction to his repertoire. In 2005, writing as Devon Vaughn Archer, Barri was one of the first two male authors to write for the wildly popular Arabesque romance line. His novel, Dark and Dashing, which appeared in the two-novels-in-one volume, Slow Motion, received rave reviews and became a Black Expressions Book Club selection.

In 2006, Barri's first contemporary romance with Harlequin's Kimani Press line was released, Love Once Again.

"I'm thrilled as a male author to successfully make the jump into romance fiction, joining such esteemed male romance authors as Robert Waller, Nicholas Sparks and Harlequin's own K. N. Casper," he says proudly. "I look forward to writing more love stories filled with romance, passion and interesting characters."

Barri has a BA and MS from Michigan State University, which is where he met his college sweetheart, marrying seven months later. They currently live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest in Oregon, which Barri considers a natural setting for his romance and mystery novels.

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Read an Excerpt

Audrey Lamour held on to the steering wheel with both hands as she negotiated her Jeep Grand Cherokee down the slippery road en route to Festive Cove Elementary School. It was the same school she had attended as a child. Now she had passed the reins onto her daughter and hoped that Stacy learned as much as she had—and kept on learning right through college and beyond. But Audrey would take one year at a time and even one day, knowing full well that a person could not look too far ahead in life.
She glanced through the rearview mirror at her child, safely settled into her belt-positioning booster seat, and smiled. God had blessed her with the best daughter a woman could ever have. Surely that had to count for a lot, even against the backdrop of Audrey losing her own parents at a young age and Stacy being deprived of a father's love and devotion.
At seven, Stacy was small-boned and tall for her age. Audrey felt that her daughter was a remarkable, well-adjusted girl, considering that she had never known the man who fathered her. He had ended his relationship with Audrey shortly after learning she was pregnant. In spite of this, Stacy was healthy, had excelled in school, seemed happy and was often the one to lift her mother's spirits when they were down, rather than the other way around.
What would I ever do without the one constant ray of light in my life?
Audrey felt emotional at the thought as she neared the school. She couldn't imagine not being there for her daughter in every way. Her own parents had always been there for her, before tragedy struck and she had to learn to live without them.
And vice versa.
She pulled alongside the curb, then reached back to helpStacy extricate herself from the child safety seat.
"Did you bring your homework?"
Stacy pretended to think about it. "Yeah, right here."
"Good." Audrey noted her lunchbox. "So we're all set, then."
"I think so." Stacy climbed out of the car. "Bye, Mommy."
"Bye-bye, baby. Have fun."
Stacy gave her a crooked smile. "I always try to, but sometimes there's just too much to do."
Audrey laughed. "Tell me about it. Don't worry, you'll appreciate everything they put you through one day."
"Yeah, maybe," she said skeptically. "I have to go now."
"Aren't you forgetting something, young lady?" Audrey stuck out her high cheek.
Stacy leaned in and planted a quick kiss on it, giggling self-consciously.
"That's more like it," she said with a twinkle. "I'll see you this afternoon."
"See ya."
Stacy ran off, blending in with the other students. Audrey watched for a moment longer before pressing slowly on the accelerator. As usual, she had a lot on her mind. Apart from work and household chores, Christmas was just a little more than three weeks away. Meaning there was precious little time left to make sure that Stacy's wish list was fulfilled. Audrey made no bones about it. She was spoiling her daughter rotten, just as her parents had spoiled her when she was a little girl. She knew that as a single parent she was probably overcompensating a bit in providing the love and devotion every child should have.
I just hope she appreciates it. I know I did.
Passing by the Festive Cove Fire Department, Audrey thought about the painting of Grant Pearson that she had bestowed them. It was a small thing to give to honor the memory of the firefighter, and a long time coming at that. But she had a feeling he understood and was smiling down on her, at peace with himself.
Audrey's thoughts turned toward her upcoming visit to Grant's gravesite. There was no doubt in her mind that he was watching over her in his own way, just as he had so many years ago when he saved her life and did his best to save her parents.
Audrey picked up her cell phone and called the art gallery where she was delivering a couple of landscape paintings. Like her seascapes, these were more experimental than the classical portraits she had put her heart and soul into. There would be an exhibit at the gallery later on in the month to gauge the public's interest. She could only hope her audience would be receptive to this side of her talents, giving her the confidence in opening up a whole new front in her art career.
Zack Abu, the Ugandan owner of the gallery that represented Audrey, and a fine artist in his own right, answered the phone. "Good day, Audrey," he said with an accent. "Hope you're calling to tell me you have more exquisiteAudrey Lamour pieces to show?"
"As a matter of fact, I do," she said proudly. "I'm on my way to you even as we speak."
"Marvelous. I can hardly wait to see them."
Audrey swallowed uneasily, having never really gotten comfortable with the expectation her paintings brought. There was always a part of her that feared they might not measure up and she would have to look for another means of support, heaven forbid.
Ulysses Conrad Pearson drove his rented Range Rover along the winding path, admiring the view from all sides. It seemed never ending. Snow-covered pines and fir trees blanketed miniature mountains like soldiers on the field ready to do battle. Pale blue ice hung like daggers from limestone cliffs at the side of the road. Conrad could almost hear the rush of water behind tumbling waterfalls frozen into works of sculpture and imagined that if he were to look carefully, he might actually see a deer or two running amongst the plethora of frosted birch and maples in the woods.
In the distance, Conrad could see the outline of the Cascade Mountains, almost eerie in their magnificence. The snowy valley and the near-frozen lake below seemed to complete the picture postcard of his surroundings.
It had been nearly twenty-five years since his father had died in the line of duty. Although two others had died in the house fire that morning, a young girl had miraculously survived, thanks to his father's courage and determination.
It was after the tragedy that Conrad had begun using his middle name, somehow making him feel like a different person than the Ulysses left without a father. With no other family in Festive Cove, Conrad and his mother moved away to live with relatives in Charleston, South Carolina. Everyone agreed that was the best thing for a young widow and her nine-year-old son.
Conrad brushed aside the thought as he drove away from the coastal range and headed down the narrow road that would take him into Festive Cove, Washington. At thirty-four, he realized he'd spent the better part of his life doing what others felt was best for him. He'd been forced to abandon the only real home he'd ever known for all the wrong reasons. He had played on the basketball team in high school because it seemed "the thing to do" for a six-foot-three youth who was still growing. By the time he had graduated, Conrad had gained two inches and torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, ending any possibility of playing pro ball.
At the University of South Carolina, where he majored in photography, Conrad had met and fallen in love with his now ex-wife, Natalee. They had gotten married within nine months of meeting because she had given him an ultimatum. Either he made her his bride or she would return to her native Ethiopia for graduate studies. Three years later they were divorced and regretting what they both realized was a mistake.
Through it all, Conrad had managed to hold on to his one true passion in life: photography.After college he'd moved around a lot, working as a photojournalist and freelance photographer for years before opening up his own studio in Charleston three years ago. His business had become a major success, and his work behind the lens had made him a top choice for models, newlyweds and others who wanted the best photographs for their money and time. Conrad still had the camera he had gotten for Christmas at age eight, keeping it as an indicator of how far he'd come and how much the past meant to him.
Conrad came upon the Festive Cove Fire Department. He choked up at the memory of his father wearing his uniform, seemingly indestructible. He knew now that this was merely a child's fantasy that fell well short of reality. His father had proven to be all too human at the end of the day.
Something I'm very much aware of in my own life.
Conrad sighed and picked up the magazine that he had brought with him from Charleston. It was an issue of The Portraiture Artist. He opened to the page that had a picture of his father—Grant Pearson. With its rich texture, depth and character, the portrait almost seemed to bring him to life.
Local artist Audrey Lamour had recently donated the painting to the Fire Department in memory of the man who had saved her life.
The former Audrey Beaumont was seven at the time and two grades under Conrad at Festive Cove Elementary School. Audrey was the first girl he had ever kissed. Or had she kissed him first? Neither quite knew what to make of it, but were definitely attracted to each other in the innocent way grade-schoolers found themselves grappling with young romance.
Luckily, Audrey had managed to escape the fire with only a few superficial burns and some tense moments.
The others had not been so lucky.
Conrad gazed at the magazine page again. Audrey had initiated contact with his mother some time ago—exchanging Christmas cards. She had indicated in the last one a desire to do the painting. His mother had provided a photograph to that effect.
Conrad had been less inclined to keep in touch, ignoring Audrey's attempts to reach out. With no one else to vent his frustrations over losing his father, he'd chosen to be bitter toward Audrey, unfair as it were.
Now Conrad only wanted some closure and hoped she could help him to achieve it.
Will coming home again really make any difference this time around?
Guess I won't know till I can sit down and talk to Ms. Lamour face-to-face.

He got back on the road, making a mental note to visit the firehouse once settled in.
***
"These are absolutely stunning," Zack Abu declared, eyeing the two paintings Audrey had brought into the gallery.
"You think?" she asked, looking up at her friend in doubt.
Zack was pushing fifty with silvery dreadlocks and a tall, lanky frame. As usual, he was impeccably dressed in a tailored suit and designer shoes.
His gray eyes flickered. "Trust me when I tell you that these landscapes will go quickly, as do all your paintings."
Audrey blushed, pushing aside worries the public would reject her paintings. She was grateful a local gallery was willing to put her works on display with such enthusiasm.
"Well, in that case," she told him, "guess I'd better try to do some more landscapes."
"That's an excellent idea," he agreed. "So long as you keep making collectors enormously happy with the fabulous portraits you do so well."
"Don't worry, Zack, I intend to," Audrey promised. "At least until I've saved up enough money to make sure Stacy and I can live comfortably for the rest of our lives," she added with a wink.
Truthfully, Audrey doubted she would ever give up painting portraits as long as she could lift a brush. Her talent had been given to her for a reason and she intended to use it to the best of her ability.
"How's the little one anyway?" Zack thought to ask.
"Growing up way too fast." The thought of Stacy becoming an adult and living her own life was more than a little nerve-racking to Audrey at the moment.
"Aren't we all?" Zack twisted his lips, looking a bit weary.
Audrey smiled and wondered if she'd grow old alone. A brief marriage to Stacy's father—who had left her to raise Stacy all alone—hardly constituted that once-bitten, twice-shy adage. She preferred to think that if the right man came along, another marriage was possible. Right now, though, she would settle for a nice romantic relationship with someone who could hold her interest and dazzle at the same time, while being trustworthy and respectful.
Audrey watched as Zack hung up the paintings. She had titled one of the new ones "Our Land" and the other "Nature's Beauty." The names seemed to be apropos for what she hoped to present in the works.
After agreeing upon the value of the paintings and a few minutes of chitchat, Audrey was on her way to buy some art supplies and Christmas presents. With any luck, she might actually get to do some painting before it was time to pick up Stacy from school.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 11 of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 26, 2009

    Good Quick Read

    The whole way through the book I just kept asking my self, why wont he just tell her. I'm not going to tell you what because that would give away the book. What surprised me is after I got past that initial question I found myself stuck inside the book. I wanted to follow the characters and follow the plot aside from knowing that eventually something tragic would happen. This was the first ebook I purchased and I have to say I really enjoyed it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2007

    Christmas Heat

    This is the first book I have read by this author and I have to say that I really enjoyed reading the book. CHRISTMAS HEAT is about two individual as children did not really know each other. But each of there lives change forever due the tragic fire that killed her parents and his father. You will see that Conrad is still having a hard time dealing with his father death. After several year Conrad return to his home town to try and bring some closure to his life. Audrey Lamour is raising her daughter but not a day goes by that she doesn't think of Grant the man who saved her life as a child. Audrey has kept in contact with Grant's wife but she often wonder what happen with his son. Can't give to much of the book away, but you will not be disappointed this is a great romance story where you believe in the love again also with the season of forgiveness and love how can you miss. Smile :) Louise

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2007

    Ghosts From Christmas Past

    Conrad Pearson is a man plagued by his past. He lost his father, a firefighter that was attempting to save the lives of others. In need of closure, Conrad returns to his childhood home in search of the last person whose life he saved, the last person his father spoke to just minutes before dying...Audrey Lamour. Not a day goes by that Audrey Lamour isn't grateful for the heroism and sacrifice of Grant Pearson, the firefighter who saved her life. She's often wondered what became of his family, particularly his son. Tragedy bonded these two lives. Will fate keep them together? Can their past make way for a future? From the beginning, we are teased by a secret, a secret that could adversely affect the feelings of one. CHRISTMAS HEAT is filled with anticipation. Devon Vaughn Archer has crafted a well-written story of love and loss. CHRISTMAS HEAT is a satisfying read.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a terrific contemporary romance

    Seven years old Audrey Beaumont is excited as she expects presents from Santa Claus having been a good girl for the most part all years. She says goodnight to her parents and goes to sleep so St. Nick can come and do his job. However, she awakens to the smell of smoke and the sound of fire. Pearson the firefighter rescues her but dies when he goes back to bring her parents out they die too.----------- Over two decades later, Audrey raises her seven year old daughter Stacy by herself the father ended their relationship once he learned she was pregnant. Audrey honored the courageous firefighter who saved her life with a portrait of her hero. Conrad Pearson has come home after years away to visit his late father. He holds the little girl that his dad died rescuing culpable for his father¿s death. Unable to let go he meets Audrey and Stacy, but hides his identity from the two females. He learns how much Audrey honors his dad by listening to Stacy tell him the story of the brave firefighter who saved her mom at the cost of his life as much as by the hero worshipping portrait. As he falls in love with mother and daughter, he found closure with his dad, but will never obtain closure with Audrey and Stacy once they learn who he is.--------------- CHRISTMAS HEAT is a terrific contemporary romance starring two individuals who never met before but are connected by the tragic fire that killed her parents and his father. Audrey and Stacy are perhaps too well-adjusted with all that has happened to them especially the mom. However, Conrad steals the show as the audience will know early on when he talks to his dad at the cemetery how much he still hurts and misses his father. Fans of deep character driven tales will want to read Devon Vaughn Archer¿s strong story of love coming out of the ashes of tragedy.-------- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 11 of 9 Customer Reviews

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