Rescuing Christmas: Holiday Haven\Home for Christmas\A Puppy for Will

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Overview

Holiday Haven by Vicki Lewis Thompson

All Ben Rhodes wants for Christmas is to be left alone. And yet, in a fit of Christmas-cheer-induced insanity, he agrees to help beautiful shelter director Tansy Dexter find homes for all her rambunctious animals. Little does he know that the one truly in need of a loving home this season…is him.

Home for Christmas by Catherine Mann

Shelby Conrad has had more than her fair...

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Rescuing Christmas: Holiday Haven\Home for Christmas\A Puppy for Will

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Overview

Holiday Haven by Vicki Lewis Thompson

All Ben Rhodes wants for Christmas is to be left alone. And yet, in a fit of Christmas-cheer-induced insanity, he agrees to help beautiful shelter director Tansy Dexter find homes for all her rambunctious animals. Little does he know that the one truly in need of a loving home this season…is him.

Home for Christmas by Catherine Mann

Shelby Conrad has had more than her fair share of silent nights. But even though her husband, Tech Sergeant Alex Conrad, is coming home in time for Christmas, Shelby isn't sure he's in time to save their marriage. Can a road trip to deliver three shelter dogs to their new homes teach the couple that the most precious gift of all is hope?

A Puppy for Will by Kathie DeNosky

Will Parker hasn't exactly had all his hopes and dreams met, but work has filled the gaps in his life. Or so he thinks…until an energetic and large Saint Bernard foster puppy and Will's cute neighbor Macie Fairbanks introduce him to the best thing about Christmas and life—unconditional love.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373837687
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 10/30/2012
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 314
  • Sales rank: 846,247
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author Vicki Lewis Thompson’s love affair with cowboys started with the Lone Ranger, continued through Maverick and took a turn south of the border with Zorro. Fortunately for her, she lives in the Arizona desert, where broad-shouldered, lean-hipped cowboys abound. Visit her website at www.vickilewisthompson.com.

USA Today bestseller Catherine Mann has over two million books in print in more than 20 countries with Silhouette Desire, Silhouette Romantic Suspense, HQN and other Harlequin lines. A five-time RITA finalist, she has won both the RITA and the Bookseller’s Best Awards. Catherine resides in Florida with her Air Force aviator husband and their four children. FMI visit: http://catherinemann.com

USA Today Bestselling Author, Kathie DeNosky, writes highly emotional stories laced with a good dose of humor. Kathie lives in her native southern Illinois and loves writing at night while listening to country music on her favorite radio station.

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Read an Excerpt

On most days, Ben Rhodes enjoyed his job as a cameraman for KFOR, the Tacoma, Washington, TV station that proclaimed We 're here FOR you! But shooting the six o'clock morning news on this first Monday in December promised to be more fun than usual. They were doing a public service announcement for The Haven, a no-kill animal shelter—and its extremely attractive director, Tansy Dexter. Plus she'd brought dogs.

With her mop of curly black hair, unrehearsed smile and laughing blue eyes, Tansy was a cameraman's dream. She easily outshone the stylized perfection of the KFOR news anchors. But even if she hadn't upstaged them, her canine buddies would have.

She'd walked into the studio carrying a too-cute beige-and-brown shih tzu with button eyes, a red bow on its collar and a face that would melt the hardest heart. Close behind, a little blue-haired lady in a red jogging suit held the leash of a cream-colored Irish wolfhound the size of a small pony. The wolfhound sported a larger red bow on its collar.

The dogs were a brilliant choice. By bringing two such different breeds, Tansy had demonstrated a keen understanding of visual drama.

Anchorwoman Lisa Dunbar moved out from behind the Channel 10 news desk and over to the studio set where they'd be shooting the segment. The set featured three dark green easy chairs, a five-foot artificial Christmas tree and a dark wood coffee table topped with a small red poinsettia. Lisa took the center chair.

While Tansy was being fitted with a mike, she talked soothingly to the small dog. After that she was directed to the chair on Lisa's right, and the grandmother type, who had no mike, was settled on the left. The regal wolfhound claimed a sizeable chunk of real estate on the floor. Head up, he kept a close watch on Tansy. Station manager Paul Huntington had a soft spot for The Haven because his family had adopted their beloved golden retriever, sadie, from there a year ago. He'd instructed Ben and the other two cameramen to get as many adorable doggie shots as possible to convince viewers to donate or adopt. Ben planned to follow Paul's directions, but Tansy was so expressive that she'd probably generate as much support as the dogs. In his opinion, faces like hers justified the invention of cameras.

Then again, maybe he was biased. He'd spent so many years training his lens on carefully made-up women like Lisa that Tansy was a refreshing change. Dressed in jeans, sneakers and a blue sweatshirt with the shelter's logo on the front, she seemed genuine and approachable.

Lisa, blonde and elegant in a gray silk suit and a Christmas-red blouse, was the more classically beautiful of the two. But she was also addicted to the spotlight. He wondered if she'd ever competed with animals for center stage. In his experience, the animals won every time.

When everyone was seated, Lisa responded to a cue from the station's director and looked into the camera with practiced ease as she introduced Tansy. "She's brought some friends along," Lisa added. "One of her many dedicated volunteers, Rose Parker, and a dynamic doggie duo." She turned to Tansy. "I hope both these doggies are available for adoption, because I just got a signal from our director that the phones are lighting up."

"They're available, Lisa." Tansy's smile was effortless. "This little guy is Ewok. He's four years old and mostly shih tzu, but we think he might have some cocker spaniel in him, too."

Lisa beamed at the small dog. "What a perfect name. He looks just like those creatures in Star Wars. How're you doing, Ewok?"

The little dog stood on Tansy's lap and wriggled happily as he focused his dark button eyes on Lisa.

"Oh, he wants to come to me!"

Tansy laughed. "He might, at that. He loves people. But I'd better keep him over here. Your suit looks expensive."

"I'm sure it could survive a few paw prints."

"Let's wait until he's adjusted to his surroundings."

Lisa managed a tight smile. "That's fine. He's so adorable I'm sure he'll have a home before we wrap up this segment. I'm tempted, myself."

"Ewok could have been adopted a dozen times since he came in, but we're determined he won't leave the shelter without his pal over there, Wookie."

Lisa glanced at the wolfhound. "Ah, I get it. Ewok and Wookie. George Lucas would be thrilled. What's their story?"

"They grew up together and now they're inseparable," Tansy said. "To place them in different homes would really stress them out."

Now Ben understood why the dogs had been brought in together and why Wookie's attention was firmly on Tansy. She was holding his best pal.

Their story was touching, even to Ben, but he'd decided long ago that adopting a dog or cat was asking for heartache.

"Goodness, that's a challenge," Lisa said. "My little condo wouldn't hold Wookie, I'm afraid."

"He doesn't need as much indoor space as you think."

Lisa chuckled. "No more than a MINI Cooper, at any rate." She turned back to Tansy and Ewok. "I'll put a bug in Santa's ear to give Ewok and Wookie a new home for Christmas."

"Great. And while you're at it, please tell Santa we have plenty of other loving dogs and cats looking for homes."

"Absolutely! We'll be featuring pictures of your cuties right up through Christmas Eve to promote The Haven's Home for the Holidays campaign. Can you fill us in on the details?"

"You bet." Tansy quickly outlined her plan to place as many animals as possible in homes just for the holidays so they wouldn't have to spend the festive season at the shelter. "It's like giving them a Christmas break," she said.

"What a wonderful idea," Lisa said. "I'm sure the residents of Tacoma will respond, especially because it also gives them a chance to try out a pet before making that forever commitment."

"Exactly. But if people can't take an animal over the holidays, I hope they'll consider donating to our Christmas fund-raising campaign."

"Your press release said you're raising money for a special project?" Lisa said.

"We are! We recently removed sixty cats from a hoarding situation. We couldn't accommodate them in our Kitty Condo, which is our free-roaming cat facility, so they're temporarily being housed in a portable building on loan from a generous donor. So we desperately need to build a second Kitty Condo for our new furry friends." As Tansy became more animated in describing the proposed facility, Ewok put his paws on her chest and began licking her face.

Laughing, she tried to coax him back down onto her lap as she continued. "We're hoping that by Christmas Eve… Ewok, now stop!"

But the little dog was determined to give her kisses, and it was great television. Directions came through Ben's earphones to keep his camera on Tansy. He was only too happy to oblige.

"We hope we'll have the money we need to… Ewok, honestly!" Tansy dissolved into laughter again.

Watching her through the lens of his camera, Ben was fascinated. He'd been intrigued when she'd entered the studio, but her amused struggle with the affectionate little dog captivated him so completely that he forgot the time, forgot the studio, forgot everything but the joyful woman captured in his camera lens.

She was love personified, and a longing to have even a tiny bit directed at him stole the air from his lungs. But he'd learned the hard way to beware that telltale ache. Love was great when you had it, but when it disappeared, the pain brought you to your knees. He'd paid a high price to learn that lesson and wasn't about to forget it.

"Let me have him so you can talk." Leaving her chair, Lisa swooped in and gathered Ewok in her arms. More instructions came through Ben's earphones.

"Follow the dog."

He panned from a rather startled Tansy to a smug Lisa. An outsider might view Lisa's move as an attempt to be helpful. But after observing her since she was hired eighteen months ago, Ben recognized her bid to retake center stage. By holding Ewok, she had it.

"Such a cute little doggie!" She hugged and nuzzled him as if hoping he'd start to lick her, too. Instead Ewok squirmed, obviously wanting to escape. "Go on, Tansy," Lisa said. "I have this sweetie under control."

Ben didn't think so. He widened the shot to include Tansy as Lisa continued to maul the dog.

Tansy gave Ewok a worried glance before clearing her throat. "The bottom line is that we're asking the residents of Tacoma to open their hearts, their homes and their wallets so the animals can have a special holiday and an even better New Year. And we appreciate KFOR's support. The station's always been good to The Haven, but helping promote our holiday campaign goes above and beyond."

"And we're happy to do it." Lisa hugged the shih tzu tight. "After all, we're here FOR…" She paused and her eyes grew wide. With a shriek, she tossed Ewok from her lap onto the coffee table.

"Cut! Cue the commercial!" The command came through Ben's earphones a second after he'd already stopped filming.

Tansy made a grab for Ewok, but the spooked dog dashed across the large coffee table, knocking over the poinsettia and spilling dirt everywhere. Jumping out of her chair, Lisa gestured to the dark stain on her silk skirt. "The little bastard peed on me!"

God, it was hard not to laugh, but Ben loved his job, so he controlled the impulse. Still, Lisa had deserved it. Tansy had tried to save her, but she hadn't listened.

"Ewok!" Tansy dashed after the tiny dog, darting through a maze of camera trolleys and cables.

Ben took off his headset so he could help. By pure coincidence the little bundle of fur ran past him. He made a grab and connected with a warm body. Holding Ewok against his chest, he tried to calm the frightened dog.

"Thank you." Tansy stood in front of him, her blue eyes no longer laughing. "Sometimes he gets overexcited and lets loose. I think that's the cocker spaniel in him. Wookie's usually a steadying influence, but with all the people, and the lights, and the noise…"

And the idiot woman squeezing the breath out of him. But Ben was too much of a professional to say that about a colleague. "Bringing them in together was a brilliant idea, though." He handed Ewok to her. "I hope you find a home for them."

"So do I." She stroked the quivering dog with a gentle touch. He whined and reached up to lick her face again. "It's okay, Ewok. You're fine now. We'll go get Wookie and you'll feel better."

"Adopting them out as a pair is the right thing to do," Ben said. "Stick to your guns on that."

"Don't worry. I intend to." She glanced up and her gaze held his. "You're an animal lover, I can tell." She didn't voice her next thought, but it was there in her eyes. Would he take the dogs?

He pretended he hadn't understood her silent question. He did love animals…from a distance. So many people took on pets with a breezy nonchalance, as if loving creatures with a short lifespan was an easy choice that had no consequences. He knew from experience that wasn't true. He wasn't about to explain all that to her, though, so he said nothing.

She blinked as if confused by his silence. "In any event, thanks for capturing Ewok. It's not good for him to race around in a panic."

"It's not good for any of us to race around in a panic." He smiled because looking at her made him want to do that. He swore she had flecks of sunshine in those blue eyes of hers. In Tacoma, where it rained a lot, sunshine in any form was a valuable commodity.

"Guess not." She continued to gaze at him intently. "Have we met before? You look so familiar."

"We haven't met. I would have remembered."

"On the air in five!" called the director.

Ben replaced his headset. "Sorry. Gotta go. Weather's next."

"Right. Thanks again." She hurried away, taking the sunshine with her.

Ben concentrated on filming the weather report and did his best to forget about Tansy Dexter. He preferred his relationships light and breezy—easy come, easy go. And his instincts told him Tansy would expect much more than that.

Judging from the passionate way she spoke up for the animals, her emotions ran deep, deeper than he cared to go. He was glad that people like Tansy existed in the world, but he couldn't follow her chosen path, and she would never understand his decision not to adopt.

She was the kind of woman who would get past his defenses, demand that he drop his guard and become vulnerable again.

There was no way he would risk that.

Tansy's Suburban had been retrofitted for hauling animals. After she and Rose loaded Wookie and Ewok into the back, they hurried around to the front of the vehicle and climbed in, their breath fogging the air. Tansy dug out the keys and coaxed the balky engine to life before switching the heater to high. The cold rain tapping on the windshield could easily turn to snow by nightfall.

Rose rubbed her hands together and held them against her wind-reddened cheeks. "That was interesting."

"It wasn't Ewok's fault." Tansy's anger resurfaced as she left the station's parking lot. "I had to be nice, especially since Paul's running promos from now until Christmas, but I could have throttled that woman."

"She almost throttled Ewok," Rose said. "Good thing she didn't pursue the idea of adopting these two."

"Yeah, that would have been awkward. You and I know she'd only have been doing it as a publicity stunt, but Paul might not have seen it that way. He's a nice guy, and I'd rather not lose his goodwill by refusing to give his publicity-crazed anchorwoman Ewok and Wookie."

"Speaking of nice guys, that cameraman was helpful."

"He was." Tansy's pulse beat a little faster thinking about his sexy brown eyes. "And gorgeous."

Tansy glanced over at Rose and grinned. "You noticed that, did you?"

"I may be old enough to be his grandmother, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate tall, dark and handsome when I see it. If I'm not mistaken, you two shared a moment."

Tansy's cheeks warmed. She hoped she hadn't looked quite as dazzled as she'd felt. "I was trying to mentally place him."

"Don't blame you. Was he on a beach towel in the sand or on a bearskin rug in front of the fire?"

"Rose!" Tansy laughed, bringing an excited bark from Ewok. "I was trying to figure out why he looks so familiar. I swear we've met before."

"Did you tell him so?"

"I did, but apparently we haven't met. He said he would have remembered." Sexual heat curled through her as she thought about the low, intimate way he'd said it.

"Whew!" Rose fanned herself. "A guy who knows how to deliver his lines. And he wasn't wearing a ring. I checked. What's his name?"

"Don't know."

"Why on earth not?"

"Didn't think to ask."

Rose slapped her forehead. "You meet a hero type who rescues precious little Ewok, a man who says he would have remembered if you'd met before, and you neglect to get his name?"

"I'm out of practice with that kind of thing." Though now Tansy wished she had a name to attach to the first man in ages to arouse her dormant libido.

"I know you're out of practice. I've volunteered at the shelter for almost two years, and I don't think you've had so much as a date, let alone a romance. I figured you were either too busy or very picky."

"I'm both."

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 5, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Holiday Haven All Ben Rhodes wants for Christmas is to be left a

    Holiday Haven
    All Ben Rhodes wants for Christmas is to be left alone. And yet, in a fit of Christmas-cheer-induced insanity, he agrees to help beautiful shelter director Tansy Dexter find homes for all her rambunctious animals. Little does he know that the one truly in need of a loving home this season …is him. (via Goodreads)
    Review: I really didn’t enjoy this novella. Honestly, I started this book last Christmas and didn’t realize that it was a set of novellas so I put it aside. It ended up being ok but not something I’d read again.
    Author: Vicki Lewis Thompson
    Grade: C
    Steam: Adult +

    Home for Christmas
    Tech Sargent Alex Conrad is home on leave this Christmas. The only plans he has is saying goodbye to his marriage and the only woman he’s ever loved. He really doesn’t want the marriage to end, but she’s unhappy and he’ll do anything he can to see her smile again.
    As a special marriage farewell his wife, Shelby, has committed them to delivering three puppies to their forever homes – great, he’ll be cooped up in a confined space with a woman he loves but can’t touch!
    Review: This was terribly sad but a good book. It’s quite steamy but felt so real you really don’t even question it.
    Author: Catherine Mann
    Grade: B+
    Steam: Adult +

    A Puppy for Will
    Will can’t believe his Grandmother talked him into fostering a puppy as big as a horse! What was she thinking?!?! She’s probably hoping that Will will leave the office once in a while but he’s way to busy trying to prove the software reviewer who has been criticizing his work wrong and hiding from emotional entanglements… until the puppy takes a liking to his new neighbor.
    Review: Absolutely adorable!! The best of the set!
    Author: Kathie DeNosky
    Grade: A
    Steam: Adult +


    Hott Review
    While overall I enjoyed this set it wasn’t my favorite. The first seemed to drag and then I just wasn’t into the others. The set isn’t a waste of time – but I’d borrow not buy.

    More…
    Source: Harlequin via Netgalley
    Grade: B
    Steam: Adult +

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2013

    Excellent

    All three short stories were fun, lively warmhearted stories revolving around the Haven Animal Rescue and Adoption center. Three special couples either find love or heal there brokenhearts with the help of some very loving dogs and cats.
    I enjoyed this book thoughly.

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  • Posted December 27, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Three sweet Christmas tales loosely connected through a Humane S

    Three sweet Christmas tales loosely connected through a Humane Shelter and the love that rescues can bring to our lives. 




    Holiday Haven by Vicki Lewis Thompson – Television cameraman Ben doesn't want the pain losing love can bring so he holds himself apart with only casual hookups.  Shelter director Tansy knows that love sometimes hurts but oh the joy of having had it.  Ben & Tansy meet when she is at the station asking for people to foster shelter animals over the holidays.  Can Tansy and crotchety cat Max show Ben that love is something everyone needs?




    Home for Christmas by Catherine Mann – Being a military wife is tough.  With their marriage on the rocks Shelby hopes that when Alex comes home on holiday leave a trip to deliver some shelter dogs to their forever homes will give them time to talk.  Can their marriage be saved?




    A Puppy for Will by Kathie DeNosky – Will is divorced and has thrown himself into his work.  When his Grandmother cons him into fostering Harley, a St. Bernard/Bernese Mountain dog puppy (think small pony), over the holidays Will isn't thrilled but then the puppy gives him something to do besides work.  Will’s new neighbor Marcie is determined to have a good Christmas this year.  Can she and Harley help Will realize that there is more to life than work?




    I purchased this because I've enjoyed other stories by Vicki Lewis Thompson.  I enjoyed her story but my favorite in this book was Home for Christmas by Catherine Mann.  It may have to do with the fact that I am a former military wife and know just how very hard it is to make a military marriage work.  All three stories are worth the read.  This book also reminded me just how much our three rescue kitties bring to our lives

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2012

    Oh...How I loved this book!!! This story really got me right fro

    Oh...How I loved this book!!! This story really got me right from the beginning. I just wanted to wrap Alex and Shelby up in a hug. They loved each other so much and were hurting so deeply that their emotions practically leaped off the pages. I was hurting right along with them. 




    One of my absolute favorite books and hero from Catherine Mann is Under Siege with Zach Dawson. I adore him!! I have reread his book more times than I can count and continue to enjoy it just as much as the first time. I was so excited to read that Catherine was writing the story of Shelby~Zach's daughter. I was so happy to read about Zach and Julia again and how their life had progressed from Under Siege. 




    I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that Shelby didn't end up with her high school boyfriend after everything that they had went through. But Alex quickly won me over and I just loved him. I especially loved him with Shelby and I was so rooting for their HEA. Shelby was such a great character and I couldn't get enough of her and Alex. 




    Home For Christmas definitely brought me to tears but I was so happy with the ending that those tears were definitely worth it!! Just another awesome story from Catherine Mann that is definitely going into my keeper pile to be reread. This book is also a perfect example of why I am such a HUGE fan and continually look forward to each new release.  Reading Home For Christmas makes me want to go back and reread Under Siege.  




    BEST OF THE BEST rating!




    ***ARC obtained per Catherine Mann and Harlequin~Thank you so much!! :)  Mariann at Bell's Book Bag

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  • Posted December 14, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Just okay....

    I wanted to like this book. I'm a huge believer in animal adoption--every single one of our many, many pets has come either through a rescue organization or was a stray and came to us through the friend who found him or her. I loved the message behind these stories--finding homes for unwanted animals--and all of the characters in the three stories definitely had their hearts in the right place when it came to this shared goal. The execution of the idea, however, I found left much to be desired. The strongest story by far was Catherine Mann's "Home for Christmas". The characters' issues--their marriage is in danger due in part to the strain caused by his being in the military and constantly choosing overseas assignments, which he's doing to an extent in order to escape those problems--are believable and consistent. Their HEA is predictable, yet mostly realistic. In achieving it, however, there was way too much time spent inside the heads of the characters and not enough eternal action and dialogue going on. Far too much of the novella was Shelby thinking about her relationship with and feelings about Alex, and Alex thinking about his relationship with and feelings for Shelby. Get outside your heads and DO something, people! Still, this was my favorite out of the three. Vicki Lewis Thompson's "Holiday Haven" was a miss for me. Shelter director Tansy Dexter's insistence that Ben HAD to want a relationship with a shelter animal was bothersome. She was way too pushy, and it felt as if she were acting irresponsibly and not at all in the animal's best interest. Ben's reluctance to enter into a relationship, whether with a human or an animal, felt excessive and forced. Perhaps it was just the time restrictions of a novella, but I really didn't feel as if it was sufficiently justified. The fact that it was a short read kept me reading this one. "A Puppy for Will" by Kathie DeNosky wasn't bad, but it had a definite case of insta-love that was hard to swallow. Will's extreme overuse of the endearment "honey" was a sticking point as well. I kept going because I enjoyed the puppy--in order to say I'd finished it, but if it had been a full-length book I definitely wouldn't have. Ultimately, I loved the message and purpose behind this book but the finished product just didn't work for me.

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    Posted December 28, 2012

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    Posted January 5, 2013

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    Posted December 29, 2012

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