Sugarplums and Scandal by Dana Cameron, Mary Daheim, Lori Avocato, Kerrelyn Sparks | | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Sugarplums and Scandal

Sugarplums and Scandal

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by Dana Cameron, Mary Daheim, Lori Avocato, Kerrelyn Sparks
     
 

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SUGARPLUMS AND SCANDAL brings together the best of romance and mystery in one delightful collection of Christmas tales. In the expert hands of six of Avon's best storytellers, the holiday season takes on an air of love and scandalous surprises! Filled with Christmas miracles, romance, and suspense, this will make the perfect gift for both romance and mystery fans.

Overview

SUGARPLUMS AND SCANDAL brings together the best of romance and mystery in one delightful collection of Christmas tales. In the expert hands of six of Avon's best storytellers, the holiday season takes on an air of love and scandalous surprises! Filled with Christmas miracles, romance, and suspense, this will make the perfect gift for both romance and mystery fans. Each author brings their own unique voice and characters to the collection, as well as their fan followings.

All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth – Lori Avocato

The Lords of Misrule – Dana Cameron

The Ghost of Christmas Passed – Mary Daheim

Partners in Crime – Cait London

Holly Go Lightly – Suzanne Macpherson

A Very Vampy Christmas – Kerrelyn Sparks

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061136955
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/31/2006
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
493,944
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.84(d)

Read an Excerpt

Sugarplums and Scandal

Chapter One

According to the druids, mistletoe was traditionally considered to be the semen of the gods.

I looked at the Hope Valley Sentinel article and wondered if the editor of our local newspaper had gone nuts. "Semen of the gods"? They had the nerve to print such sexual innuendoes in this ethnic, moral, homespun, Wonder Bread suburban Connecticut town?

With my jaw down to my chest (a very common occurrence when I am stunned), I read on that the liquid of the berries looked and had the texture of semen. Geez. They actually printed that in a newspaper where folks like Mrs. Kaminski, the local gossip, Mr. Gansecki, the local over-eighty stud, and Miss Nawrocki, the local moral majority would read it? Yikes.

Slowly I looked up to see the ball of mistletoe hanging from my mother's foyer ceiling. Then I scrunched up the newspaper (only the semen/berry article) and stuck it into the pocket of my jeans.

Stella Sokol would rather die than hang those kinds of berries from her nineteen sixties ceiling.

And to think I'd kissed Jagger, The Delicious, under it last Christmas Eve. He was my sometimes partner in solving crimes, my all-the-time fantasy man. Yum.

I gulped.

"Pauline? Pauline Sokol, what is taking so long?" my mother yelled from the kitchen.

Even as a nurse, a thirty-something, and as her only single adult child, I couldn't tell her the truth. "Just reading the paper, Mom."

"What is so darned, excuse my language, important that you can't come help your mother make pierogies?"

I blew out a breath. For one thing, I hate making the little pillows of Polish dough, and each year put in my vote to buy ready-made ones, much to Stella Sokol's horror. And each year I end up taking time off from work to stuff the suckers with cabbage, mashed potatoes or cottage cheese, a process which takes about twenty hours since my married siblings have toys to buy for their kids and don't have time to help.

I shook my head and told myself that I had no life.

Since I'd given up a thirteen-year nursing career to switch to medical insurance fraud investigating for Scarpello and Tonelli Insurance Company, things haven't been going too well for me.

"Pauline!" Mom's voice was so loud I could swear she was...I swung around..."Oh! Hey, Mom"...then I knocked the rest of the paper onto the floor.

She'd snatched the paper up as if I were some male teen who'd been reading Playboy (okay, nowadays all they had to do was boot up the Internet for peeping, but Stella wouldn't know that).

She looked down at the paper. "Toothless Holiday? Oh my."

I said a silent prayer to Saint Theresa for letting me have the foresight to pocket the berry article.

"Pauline? Are you reading about this poor man who doesn't have his front dentures yet?"

Lying never came easily to me. Catholic school induced conscience and being raised by her, I guess was the reason. I looked at my mother waving the paper at me. "Yep. Very sad, huh?" and wondered why the hell the guy didn't have his front teeth yet.

She snatched my father's reading glasses from the top of his head. Daddy had been napping within snatching range in his favorite La-Z-Boy recliner.

He never even stirred.

Guess that's what over forty-four years of being married did to a couple. Me, I wouldn't know.

The paper crinkled and crackled in her grip. She stuck on the glasses and read for a bit.

"Oh, my. How sad. How awful indeed. This poor man's dentist is holding his dentures hostage. Do something about this. Be a Good Samaritan for the holiday season. Or, you could, of course, go back to nursing. I'm sure they have those fill-in kinds of jobs at all the hospitals. Go back to Saint Gregory's where you used to make a decent living."

She never failed to remind me about the gigantic, nationwide nursing shortage. "Actually," she continued, "since you are not snooping around for the next week, go help this man so he can eat his Christmas dinner." With that she shoved the newspaper at my chest and gave me one of her "motherly" looks. "Seems right up your alley."

Now, none of us five kids could ever duck fast enough to avoid one of those looks. If "When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen," then when "Stella Sokol tells her kids something, they better damn well do what she says."

I grabbed the paper, held it in one hand, and knew that my Christmas vacation plans of R&R, overdosing on chocolate, and maybe dating a few hot guys had come to a screeching halt.

Seemed, for me anyway, the "you know what" of the gods was going to stay in the little white mistletoe berries this year...yet again.

As I stared way too long at the now-fascinating mistletoe, the doorbell rang.

Mother yelled from the kitchen, "Come in, Mr. Jagger," My heart did a one eighty in my chest. She'd once again invited him over without my knowledge. And he'd never corrected her when she called him "mister" either.

And how the hell did she know his phone number?

The door opened, Jagger nodded at me, and then came forward.

Oh . . . my . . . god.

His kiss landed on my right cheek. Cheek? Cheeeeeeeek?

Semen schmemen.

My hands ached from stuffing a gazillion pierogies with Lord knows what. My mother would stick a bowl in front of me, and I'd spoon it into the dough robotically. I looked up to see Jagger sitting across from me as if nothing on his body pained him...even though he'd been the official dough roller. Mother'd had her wooden rolling pin since the dawn of light, so it didn't exactly roll like Teflon; but with the strength in those arms (I took a deep breath for a Jagger moment), rolling a gazillion pillows of dough didn't seem to bother him in the least.

Sugarplums and Scandal. Copyright © by Dana Cameron. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Dana Cameron is a professional archaeologist, with a Ph.D. and experience in Old and New World archaeology. She has worked extensively on the East Coast on sites dating from prehistoric times to the nineteenth century. Ms. Cameron lives in Massachusetts. Ashes and Bones is her sixth novel featuring archaeologist Emma Fielding.

Mary Richardson Daheim is a Seattle native with a communications degree from the University of Washington. Realizing at an early age that getting published in books with real covers might elude her for years, she worked on daily newspapers and in public relations to help avoid her creditors. She lives in her hometown in a century-old house not unlike Hillside Manor, except for the body count. Daheim is also the author of the Alpine mystery series, the mother of three daughters, and has three grandchildren.

After serving in the Air Force as a registered nurse, Lori Avocato decided to give up nursing to write fiction. She lives in New England and is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, PASIC, NINC, Romance Writers of America, the Author's Guild, and Sisters in Crime. She's raising two teenage sons (heaven help her!), and one darling dog, Spanky. Lori is the author of six novels featuring Pauline Sokol: A Dose of Murder; The Stiff and the Dead; One Dead Under the Cuckoo's Nest; Deep Sea Dead; Nip, Tuck, Dead; and Dead on Arrival.

Kerrelyn Sparks is the bestselling author of the Love at Stake series, which has hit as high as number 5 on the New York Times list and 22 on the USA Today list. Kerrelyn is honored that her band of merry vampires and shifters is spreading love and laughter worldwide in fourteen different languages.

Dear Readers,

Sometimes when you write a special book, the characters move into your heart and take up residence. This was the case with the cast of Hysterical Blondeness. I enjoyed my time with each and every one of them and I hope you do, too.

Peace, Suzanne Macpherson

Cait London is a national award-winning, bestselling author who fully enjoys the perks of her career, like traveling and meeting readers.

Cait's contemporary, fast-moving style blends romance with suspense and humor, and brings characters to life by using their pasts and heritages. Her books are filled with elements of her own experiences as a scenic and wildlife artist, a photographer, a mountain hiker, a gardener, a seamstress, a professional woman, and a homemaker. She also enjoys computers and reading, aromatherapy and herbs.

Of German-Russian heritage, Cait grew up in rural Washington State. She is now a resident of Missouri and the mother of three daughters, all taller than she.

The best events in her life have always been in threes, her good luck number. Cait London says, "I enjoy creating romantic collisions between dangerous, brooding heroes and contemporary, strong, active women who know how to manage their lives. I believe that each of my books is a gift to a reader, a part of me on those pages, and I'm thrilled when readers say, "That was a good book.'"

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