In Kismet, Michigan, Christmas is special: big fluffy snowflakes, sleigh bells, carolers singing. It's a picture-perfect holiday--you just have to choose who's in the frame. . .
Jason Hamilton is on thin ice with the board of his toy company. The young CEO may be a kid at heart, but his party boy reputation requires damage control. So Jason's off to Kismet to inspect a model store, stay on Santa's Nice list, and stick to business--no goofing around. Which is too bad, because the store manager, Danielle Sharpe, is the definition of what makes Naughty fun. . .
Danielle is thrilled to show off her thriving little toy store--especially if it's her ticket out of Kismet. The single mom is tired of manufacturing cheer solo while her ex-husband has all the fun. But if she'd known Jason was this hot, she wouldn't have offered to host him. With Jason in her house, Danielle is getting warmer than spiked cider. She's supposed to impress him with her expertise, not daydream about catching him under the mistletoe. Now whatever she does, she can't get swept up in the magic. . .
Raves for Lisa Plumley's Kismet Christmas Romances
"Laugh-out-loud. . ..Tugs at the heartstrings from the beginning and doesn't let up until the final page." --Publishers Weekly on Together for Christmas
"A deliciously satisfying, cocoa-worthy holiday read." --Library Journal on Holiday Affair
About the Author
When she's not reading romances, Lisa can usually be found writing one. "I feel lucky to have the greatest job on earth," she says, "creating stories I hope will touch readers' hearts, spark their imaginations…and tickle their funny bones, too." Her work includes contemporary romantic comedies, western historical romances, and stories in time-travel romance anthologies.
Lisa lives in sunny Arizona with her husband and two children, and in her free time maintains her author website, reads romances and research books by the dozen, practices yoga, and spends time with her family—hiking in the mountains and deserts of Arizona, visiting ghost towns and historical sites, and watching classic movies.
Readers are invited to stop by Lisa Plumley's website at lisaplumley.com to read an excerpt from any of Lisa's current or upcoming books or to request to be added to Lisa's mailing list and receive a copy of her current newsletter.
Read an Excerpt
All He Wants For Christmas
By Lisa Plumley
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2014 Lisa Plumley
All rights reserved.
Los Angeles, California
Three minutes into the board meeting Jason Hamilton had been shanghaied into attending, he realized he was being set up.
Not two minutes. Or one minute. But three minutes.
Three whole minutes went by before he understood that his persnickety squad of planners, investors, and overgrown babysitters had an agenda that went beyond figuring out how to move even more Barbie dolls and Tonka trucks at the Moosby's Toy Stores that (nearly) covered the globe.
Hell. He must be losing his edge. Ordinarily, his bullshit detector would have gone off the minute he'd gotten the first phone call summoning him back from his pre-crunch-time vacation.
Instead, he'd blithely agreed to this meeting without giving it much thought. Or preparation. It was four days after Thanksgiving. Everyone should have been knocking back turkey sandwiches and pumpkin pie, not sitting around a boardroom table sharpening their knives for a good absentee CEO slice-and-dice.
Because that's what this was. Jason could tell, now that he was paying attention. He hadn't gotten to the top of his field by being oblivious. The rarefied boardroom air held a definite hint of "this is all your fault," tinged with a "so fix it" chaser. He was there to be called on the carpet. For ... something.
Well. This took the buzz off the freedom he'd been enjoying while out of the office. It wasn't nearly as much fun as being named People magazine's first-ever CEO "Sexiest Man Alive," either. He'd kind of enjoyed that. Disgruntled to know he'd been suckered by the board, even temporarily, Jason leaned back in his executive chair. He'd have to handle this situation differently than he'd planned to.
But that was all right. He could roll with the punches.
Proving as much to himself, he caught the eye of the nearest board member, Mary Sue Marbury, who was fifty-six and steely, with a dignified demeanor. He gave her an easygoing nod. Mary Sue blushed in response. She grinned. Jason grinned back, then pulled a funny face. Mary Sue touched her hair. She glanced away, seeming simultaneously amused and pleased.
Ah. That was better. The first step in defusing a disaster was lightening the mood. The second step was collecting allies. Those were things Jason was good at. Those skills had taken him—a kid who'd loved cracking wise in the back of the class (when he showed up)—and turned him into one of the youngest and most successful CEOs ever. At thirty-two, he'd been the subject of innumerable media profiles, a fair amount of Wall Street speculation, and more than one Man of the Year designation.
Fun was officially Jason's business. He excelled at it.
The chairman of the board droned on, describing the day's agenda. On the table, Jason's cell phone vibrated. Offhandedly, he glanced at it. He blinked, then squinted at the suggestive text message on his screen. Whoa. Apparently, Mary Sue Marbury was a lot more freewheeling than he'd given her credit for.
Another board member cleared her throat. Everyone sat up straighter. They turned their attention to the agenda again.
Suppressing a sigh, Jason did too. Board meetings made him antsy. Even dressing up Moosby's luxurious top-floor boardroom with a towering Oregon Christmas tree and swags of garland at the floor-to-ceiling windows didn't make up for all the tedium involved. If he'd known that success meant nothing but memos, meetings, and PowerPoint presentations, he might have thought twice about becoming a world leader in targeted niche retailing.
Whatever the board had gotten worked up about this time, though, Jason knew he could handle it. He was ready, capable, and relaxed. He'd cut short his tropical Thanksgiving vacation just that morning to fly into L.A. He probably still had beach sand between his toes. That showed dedication. None of the women and men who comprised his board of directors could say that.
Besides, he was the CEO. He was the heart and soul of Moosby's. He'd brought the company into the big leagues and into public trading ... with all its attendant profits and demands.
Sure, technically Jason served at the board's behest. They'd hired him. They could fire him. He could, theoretically, lose everything he'd worked so hard for. But business was booming. Expansion into overseas markets was burgeoning. Days after Black Friday, the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season, Moosby's had never sold more toys to more kids in less time than they had this year. There was no reason anyone in their right mind would want to oust their fearless leader.
"... and so we've decided to take meaningful action," intoned Chip Larsen, Moosby's elected chairman. He pointed at the screen that was the meeting's focus. "In response to this image."
Jason transferred his attention to the image being shown.
It was a photograph. A grainy, crookedly framed, utterly incriminating photograph. Of him. At a party. With several other people. In it, five scantily clad women clustered suggestively around Jason. All of them were laughing. Most of them held cocktails. The woman nearest Jason was lifting her mojito with one hand and hoisting her sequined tank top with the other, gleefully showing her (now digitally pixelated) breasts.
The photo must have been taken a few days ago. Jason couldn't remember posing for it. Probably because he hadn't.
He was no stranger to seeing surprise photos of himself. These days, who was? But that unplanned photo jarred him.
Examining it gave Jason time to realize a few things. First, that this was undoubtedly what had prompted his board-instigated ambush here in L.A. Second, that nothing made an ordinary man look like a knuckle-dragging mouth breather faster than the sudden appearance of bare breasts. To Jason's credit, though, he knew he'd tactfully looked away an instant later.
He'd also held the woman's mojito for her while she put on her top again, having accomplished her mission for the night: being a part of a new Internet meme involving posting topless "selfies" taken with "hot" strangers.
Unfortunately, those gentlemanly impulses of Jason's had not been caught on camera. Instead, in the photo, Jason was grinning while holding up his Guinness stout ... giving the unmistakable appearance of not just ogling Miss Best Breasts' nudity but also saluting her breasts for good measure.
At that moment, Jason recalled, he'd been surprised to find himself looking at a topless woman. His board members were not similarly caught off guard now, though. In response to the photo, a dry buzz of disapproval made its way around the room.
For another man, smoothing over this issue would have been impossible. For Jason ... well, he was famously charismatic, wasn't he? That word turned up so often in articles about him that he occasionally joked about having it tattooed on his forehead to spare journalists the trouble. Sure, it was flattering—the first two dozen times or so. After that, the novelty wore off.
Jason knew he was just a regular guy. A guy who'd gotten lucky. A guy who wanted to stay lucky, if he could.
Fortunately, he knew he could. He always had. In this situation, all he had to do was explain himself. His board members knew him. They knew who he was. Plus, he'd been on the straight and narrow for so long that his character was unimpeachable. He'd simply explain what had happened, and then—
"Public disapproval of this image is overwhelming," Chip went on in a censorious tone. "Our customer hotlines have been going crazy. Our website actually crashed. Two days ago, our Twitter account single-handedly pushed the service over capacity."
"Well, all publicity is good publicity, right?" Jason said, looking for a segue into his explanation. Maybe now would be a good time to mention his charity work. "Speaking of which—"
"Not when it comes to the face of our company—our family-focused chain of toy stores—looking like a giant perv." Tony Estes, another board member, shook his head. He did not, Jason noted, swerve his gaze a single millimeter from the photo while he spoke. He just kept right on gawking. "We sell toys! To children! You plus booze plus nude coeds isn't good publicity."
"Okay. Come on, now," Jason cajoled with a grin, not bothered by their corporate-mandated outrage. His board members were required to be dicks about misunderstandings like this. They were doing their jobs. He knew he could make them see reason. In fact, he was happy to have things out in the open, where he could deal with them. "Yes, I had a few drinks," Jason told them genially. "I was on vacation. Yes, they were coeds—grad students in anthropology, to be precise. I know that because I had conversations with them during the party. And yes, one of them is topless in that photo." He took a moment to make eye contact with each board member, making sure they understood his explanation. "But that was a big step forward for Bethany. She's very shy. She's been coping with some body-image issues—"
The men around the board table scoffed. But the women looked interested. Also, sympathetic. For whatever reason, Jason usually had greater success building alliances with women.
Maybe that was because he liked women. He liked most people. He had two younger sisters and a younger brother. He couldn't have survived his rocky childhood without them.
"—and posting her picture online was going to be a big deal for her," Jason finished, knowing that, if nothing else, the woman who'd made him look most guilty of wrongdoing would not have minded that image becoming public. That was the whole point of the meme. There weren't any secrets online. But Bethany probably hadn't bargained on this. He needed to contact her and apologize for the media mêlée. He'd been unplugged while on vacation. He hadn't known. "She was proud to be part of the—"
Meme, he'd been about to say, winding up his (technically unnecessary) explanation and earning his (almost) inevitable absolution. All he needed was a chance to tell his side of the story. But Tony Estes cut him off with an impatient hand wave.
"Save it for the Oprah show, Hamilton," he said. "We're not here to listen to you wheel and deal. This is an epic disaster."
"'Wheel and deal'?" Jason tightened his jaw. For the first time, he felt irked. Also, unfairly dissed. What had he ever done to Tony except earn him scads of cash? "I'm telling you what happened, straight up. I went to a party. I met those five women. I met lots of other people, too. I got caught on camera—"
"I'll say you did." Chip made that snarky comment without so much as glancing up from his PowerPoint presentation. "It was bound to happen sooner or later. We all knew it. This is the downside of your popularity, Hamilton. We never should have—"
Kept you on as CEO, he was about to say. Jason knew it. That's what Chip always said whenever there was a problem.
Rather than be sidetracked, Jason kept his focus.
He was a patient man, he reminded himself. He could be patient with his board members. He had to be.
He'd survived worse circumstances than this.
"Look, this photo is misleading." Jason gestured at it. He shrugged. "It's one moment, frozen in time. It's not indicative of anything except that Bethany has a very nice smile and nice breasts, and I have an appreciation of a good Dublin stout."
"Looks to me like your 'appreciation' has more to do with her boobies than it does with your beer," Tony chortled.
All but offering up his palm for a high five, Estes looked around the table with a grin. Am I right? his face asked. Am I?
"Mr. Estes, that kind of talk is inappropriate. Frankly, it borders on actionable." Mary Sue pinned him with a stern look. "I'd suggest you keep your puerile observations to yourself."
"We were all thinking it!" Tony nudged his tablemates.
They sat stonily, rightly not agreeing with him.
"I'm just glad someone had the good sense to pixelate Bethany's image." Jason angled his head toward the digitally blurred portions of her anatomy. The pixelation, while leaving the scandalous situation clear, managed to preserve about as much modesty as a bikini would have. "She would have appreciated that." Which made him wonder ... "Where did you get this, anyway?"
"I did that! I did the pixelation," the admin, Amber, piped up before he could pursue his latest line of thinking. "That was me." She aimed a chastising glance at her boss, Chip. "Mr. Larsen said we should present the photo 'undoctored' at the meeting today, for the sake of 'veracity,' but I disagreed. I mean, at some point, it just crosses the line, doesn't it?"
"Good call, Amber." Jason flashed her a smile. "Nice job."
She flushed, looking pleased. "Thanks very much."
"No problem. Now let's get back to clarifying things."
Confidently, Jason got up to pace the room. He wanted to engage everyone. "This image is out there now. It can't be taken back. It can't be changed. But I can assure you that this is a misunderstanding. In fact, an instant later, after this photo was taken, I looked away from Bethany. Politely. Considerately."
A few skeptical sounds wafted toward him from his board members. Undaunted, Jason veered toward the doubting Thomases.
"Not long after that, I held her drink so she could get dressed again. We talked for quite a while. It wasn't indecent—"
"If you expect us to believe that, you're dreaming," Chip interrupted hotly. "Whatever you want to pretend happened—"
"It happened," Jason said tightly, "exactly the way I said it did." He hated being doubted. His integrity was rock solid.
Maybe it hadn't always been rock solid, but it was now. He'd be damned if anyone would doubt his integrity and not get called on it. He'd earned the right to be taken at his word.
Especially with this group of reactionary corporate stiffs.
"—it looks like you're a drunk degenerate preying on young college students!" Chip argued. "Did Walt Disney scam on his nubile twenty-something animation artists back in the day?"
"'Nubile' is beside the point, Chip. And anyway, I doubt they were farsighted enough to hire very many female animators during the golden age of cartoons." Jason's own board of directors was reasonably assembled of five women and three men. Why shouldn't it be? They were all qualified—even if they were a pain in his ass most of the time. "It's too bad, really. Who knows what kinds of stories we might have gotten if they'd been more visionary?"
Chip fumed. "Does Barney the dinosaur peddle tricycles while—while—while ogling Miss Piggy next door on Sesame Street?"
There were so many things wrong with that idea.
Jason wasn't sure where to start.
"Miss Piggy is a Muppet, sir," Amber said.
"Right. Also, Barney isn't selling anything." Jason had viewed two lifetimes' worth of that big purple dinosaur while babysitting his younger siblings. "Except maybe friendship, cooperation, and learning to tie your shoes. Neither is Sesame Street. Or the Muppets. They're licensed characters, but they aren't damning examples of corporate leadership corrupting their innocent customers." With a deliberate frown of fake puzzlement, Jason added, "That is what you're trying to do, right, Chip? Draw a parallel between me and a misbehaving kiddie figure?"
Chip turned purple. "Fine. Does Ronald McDonald show up in a raincoat and flash kids on the playground?" Jason shuddered at the very idea. So did several others.
Curly red hair ... all over? Only one thing needed to be said.
"You're getting out of hand, Chip."
"Not at all! This is serious. Our social media tells the story." With anticipatory triumph, Chip wielded his mousing finger. Using it like a weapon, he clicked. "Just look at this!"
Squinting, Jason eyed the screenshot his chairman put up. It depicted a torrent of irate, mostly unintelligible messages.
Excerpted from All He Wants For Christmas by Lisa Plumley. Copyright © 2014 Lisa Plumley. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fun filled slow Holiday ride in Michigan. This was my first read from Plumley. I enjoy romance in any form. This holiday read was one to make me happy was fun filled. There are ups and down but the romance prevails. Thanks to NetGalley and the delightful Holiday Read.
All He Wants for Christmas by Lisa Plumley Difficult reading this book in July and it's about the cold times during the holidays. Story follow Danielle who has 3 kids and works at the toy store. She's so determined to get the promotion, she knows she deserves it as their store is deemed the best model store of the chain. Story also follows Jason who is the head guy but one party might land him out of that job. Pictures are on the net with not such a great rep with what's being shown in them. He now has to go visit all the stores and try to promote higher sales in order to keep his job and that's still up in the air. Part I liked the best was the family plans where he flies in to meet up with his family at a new location to them all. Love family time she and her family get to spend together and I just imagine all the toys during the time-bring back so many happy memories of my own childhood. They do meet up and get to share time among other things. Sleigh ride is the ultimate and will reveal the whole hidden truths. Loved the recipes at the end, what a surprise. I received this book from The Kennsington Books in exchange for my honest review
I've always enjoyed a Lisa Plumley book and this is no exception. I really love Kismet. This is my first book in this series and I can imagine Kismet to be so magical when Christmas comes with snow, the Christmas lightings and all the town festivities. It's no wonder that Jason would come to love Kismet so much too. Jason is actually a much better man that he's portraying to the board and a turn of events resulted in him having to visit the local Mooseby store in Kismet to remedy the loss the company is taking as a result of his bad behavior and to secure his position as the CEO of the company. Danielle has been working for the local Mooseby store in Kismet and she is good at her job, making this outlet one of the best selling stores. She feels up for a promotion and with wanting better lives for her kids, she worked with Chip Larsen, the Chairman of Mooseby to ensure that Jason is fully co-operating with the promotional activities organized by Mooseby HQ. Wanting to secure that promotion, she goes out and beyond what was required. Despite all that, she miscalculated as feelings for Jason developed. You can't not fall in love with Jason. He's such a gentleman and he's so good with kids. I really loved how he put himself out to bond with Danielle's kids when he didn't have to. He gave himself fully to the kids but knowing Danielle has issues with relationships, he was patient, understanding and respectful. This is definitely a feel good Christmas read and you'll warm up as the warm fuzzies kick in as you read this book. The ending couldn't have been better. Many thanks to Kensington Books and Netgalley for the advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
I am a sucker for Christmas stories and though I don't normally like to pick up in the middle of a series, I figured I would give this one a go when I saw it on Netgalley. I just fell in love with that snowman and his purple scarf on the cover. Living in Florida means that we don't experience the joys of building snowmen, so I have to enjoy them vicariously. This was a great feel good Christmas read. We have the womanizing bad boy CEO Jason, who though he plays up the image, is much more of a good family guy than he likes to admit. Then there is Danielle, divorced single mom, who likes to downplay that she is a bit of a rebel. She disregards irrational company policies and uses her organizational skills to make her tiny store one of the best in the country. There is even an evil villain in the mix; the head of the board of directors of the toy company out to oust Jason and has no problem using Danielle to get the job done. Take two people highly attracted to one another, make them keep secrets from one another while trying to withstand the machinations of the board of directors. Add three cute kids, a town full of classic holiday activities and mix thoroughly. It's a combination for a great story. Other couples are mentioned, hinting at some back story, but it wasn't enough to feel like part of the story was missing. On a personal note, like Danielle's oldest daughter, I too got a 'Mom's New Boyfriend' at about that age, and it was amusing to see some of the same attitude and stunts that I played on my soon to be step-dad. This really helped to ground the story in reality for me, while losing non of the holiday charm. I gave it 3 stars.
This is the first book in the Kismet, Michigan series that I have read and I have to say that I really liked it and will be going back to read the other books in this series. Danielle has been burned in the past by her Ex-husband and don’t trust men. When the chance arises for her to woo the CEO of the toy store chain that she works for and a possible promotion is on the line, she is willing to bend the rules. She has her 3 children to look out for and she thinks that the promotion and move to LA will benefit them the most BUT is the really what she wants? Jason is forced by the board of the toy store to spend time in Kismet cleaning up his image and doing damage control due to some photos of him in a compromising situation. He thinks that he is looking for a little old lady who manages the toy store, but what he actually gets is a young, attractive manager in Danielle which he was not prepared for. The more time they spend with each other, the more that they realize that they are running out of time together, and each are willing to do whatever is necessary to extend their time together. Misunderstandings happen, trust between each of them is questioned and realizations of true feelings are discovered. I loved how their relationship developed and caught both of them off guard.