Merry Ex-Mas (Life in Icicle Falls Series #2)

Merry Ex-Mas (Life in Icicle Falls Series #2)

by Sheila Roberts


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780778313922
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication date: 10/23/2012
Series: Life in Icicle Falls Series , #2
Edition description: Original
Pages: 314
Product dimensions: 5.42(w) x 8.08(h) x 0.88(d)

About the Author

Sheila Roberts lives on a lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her novels have been published in several languages. Her book, Angel Lane, was an Amazon Top Ten Romance pick for 2009. Her holiday perennial, On Strike for Christmas, was made into a movie for the Lifetime Movie Network and her novel, The Nine Lives of Christmas, was made into a movie for Hallmark . You can visit Sheila on Twitter and Facebook or at her website (

Read an Excerpt

Once in a while, if a woman is really lucky, the perfect day she envisioned turns out to be just that. This was going to be one of those days, Cass Wilkes thought as she set the platter of carved turkey on her dining table.

She surveyed her handiwork with a smile. Everything was Martha Stewart-lovely from the china and crystal to the Thanksgiving centerpiece she'd bought at Lupine Floral, and her old Victorian home was filled with the aroma of herbs and spices. The dining room window framed a greeting-card-worthy winter scene—her front lawn with its trees and shrubs draped in frosty white and the snowcapped mountains looming beyond.

The snow had done what all good snow should do; it had stopped in plenty of time for road crews to clear the way for travelers. Unlike Thanksgiving last year, the town of Icicle Falls was humming with visitors looking for a holiday getaway. Great for business, especially when you owned a bakery. This weekend, gingerbread boys and girls would march out the door of Gingerbread Haus in droves and money would march right into Cass's bank account—a good thing since she suspected she was going to have a wedding to pay for in a year or so.

A whoop of male excitement came from the living room, followed by cheers. The football game on TV was nearing its end and obviously the favored team had scored a touchdown.

"Okay, that's everything from the kitchen," said Dot Morrison, Cass's mentor and former boss, as she placed a serving bowl heaped with stuffing, along with another full of mashed potatoes, on the table. Normally Dot would have been celebrating with her daughter, but Tilda was on patrol, keeping Icicle Falls safe from…who knew? Their town wasn't exactly a hotbed of crime.

Dot had dressed for the occasion, wearing jeans and a white sweatshirt decorated with a turkey holding a sign that said "Think Outside the Box. Serve Ham." Dot, who owned the town's most popular pancake place, Breakfast Haus, had encouraged Cass to think outside the box years ago, even lent her money to start her bakery. Cass owed her Thanksgiving dinners for life.

"Get those clowns in here," Dot said. "There's nothing worse than cold food."

Cass could suggest a few things—taxes, yeast infections, exes.

Oh, no, she wasn't going to ruin a perfectly good holiday with even a hint of a thought about her ex-husband. That man, that self-centered, undeserving rat who'd tried to lure the kids away this weekend with a trip to Vail, who…

No, no. No thoughts about Mason. It was Thanksgiving, after all, a time to count her blessings.

Three of those blessings were sitting out there in the living room—her kids Danielle, Willie and Amber. Dani's boyfriend, Mike, was there, too, tucked beside her in an overstuffed easy chair.

Twenty-year-old Dani was Cass's oldest and her right-hand woman at the bakery. She'd inherited Cass's passion for creating in the kitchen, and after a year of community college had opted to work full-time at the bakery. Cass had hoped she'd put in at least another year, but she'd had no interest. "I can learn more from you than I can from any college professor," she'd told Cass. When it came to baking, well, what could Cass say? Dani was right.

Amber, her youngest, sat curled up on one end of the couch, texting. A few months earlier she'd been adding to Cass's gray-hair collection, hanging out with the kind of kids no mother wants her child to be with or, worse, become. Thank God (and, possibly, Cass's pal Samantha Sterling) Amber had changed direction and found some new and improved friends.

Willie, Cass's high school jock, was sprawled on the floor, holding the favored stuffed toy of high school boys everywhere—a football. The only trouble she had with Willie was keeping him full. The boy was a two-legged locust.

Then there was her younger brother, Drew, who'd come over from Seattle. Recently divorced (was this tendency toward divorce something in their genes?), he'd been more than happy to spend the weekend hanging out with her family. He'd never had kids of his own, so she'd shared. He made a great uncle and a better father figure than her ex.

No, no, no. Not giving him so much as a thought today.

Cass stood in the archway like a lady butler and announced, "Dinner, guys."

Of course, no one was listening. Another touchdown happened in TV Land. "Yeah!" whooped Mike.

"My team sucks," Willie muttered, giving his football an irritable bounce.

"My dinner's going to suck if you don't get out here and eat it now," Cass warned.

"The game's pretty much over, anyway," Mike said, demonstrating good boyfriend etiquette. He stood, pulling Dani up with him. He was a big boy, a former football star and her son's new hero. Mike was currently employed at the local hardware store, which, as far as Cass was concerned, was ideal. Once he popped the question, he and Dani would get married and live in Icicle Falls, near family and friends, a win-win for everyone.

"You're right," Drew agreed. He shut off the TV and led the parade to the dining room table.

Cass only had to look at a cookie to gain five pounds. Her brother, lucky dog, was tall and reedy, and could eat anything. He was a better dresser, too, always had been. And better-looking. But he couldn't cook, and when he came to town he was her best customer. He was also her best friend, and she was glad he'd come here for the holiday.

The only ones missing as everyone settled around the table were Cass's mother and stepfather, who'd become snowbirds and were with his family in Florida. But Mom and Fred planned to come out for Christmas, and if Cass had to choose she'd rather have her mother with them for that holiday.

Drew reached for the turkey and Cass rapped his hand with a serving spoon. "Grace first, you heathen."

Willie snickered, which earned him the privilege of offering thanks. He barely had "Amen" out of his mouth before he was into the dressing, piling it high on his plate.

Normally she'd remind him that other people might actually want some, too, but not today. Thanksgiving was for feasting and she'd made plenty. Besides, she was going to have an extra serving herself.

For a while conversation consisted of comments like "Pass the rolls" and "Where'd the olives end up?" As plates and then stomachs filled, new topics arose: whose fantasy football team was going to win, how well Cass and Dani's new gingerbread necklaces were selling, Dot's upcoming bunion surgery.

Then it was time for pie. In spite of how crazy-busy Cass had been with work, she'd managed to bake pumpkin, pecan and her brother's favorite, wild huckleberry. "This will be enough for me," he joked, grabbing the whole pie.

With dessert came another tradition, one Cass had started when the kids were small.

"Okay," she said once everyone had been served, "it's gratitude time. Who wants to go first?"

Gratitude. Sometimes the challenge to be grateful had been as big as the word. Often she'd been a world-class hypocrite, encouraging her children to look on the bright side while she indulged in resentment.

It seemed like she'd spent most of her married life in that particular mental state. She'd resented Mason's decision to join the navy when they were engaged. They'd barely set up housekeeping when he shipped out the first time. He'd missed his daughter's birth; Cass's childbirth partner had been her mother. Better her mother than his, she'd told herself. That was something to be grateful for. And she'd been grateful when he got out of the navy. Not so much when he went back to school and neglected his family for his studies. Not so much when he carved out a career that seemed to keep him gone more than it allowed him to be home. Mason had been determined to find the path to success but that path had little room for his family. She was the one who'd always been there to soothe every heartbreak, puzzle over every math problem, cheer at every ball game. And what had he done?

Gratitude, remember? Okay, she was grateful she wasn't with him anymore.

"I'm grateful for something," Dani said. She reached into her jeans pocket and pulled out a diamond ring and slid it on her finger.

"Oh, my gosh, you're engaged!" cried Amber.

Cass set down her fork and gaped. Of course she'd known this was coming, but she was a little upset that her daughter hadn't told her before everyone else. "When did this happen?" she asked.

Dani's brown eyes sparkled with excitement. She looked at Mike and they shared the smile reserved for a couple in possession of newly minted love. "Last night. We wanted to wait and surprise everyone."

Well, they had.

"Don't know how surprised anyone is," Dot said, "but I think you made your mother's day."

Of course she had. Why was Cass sitting there like a turkey in a pan? She jumped up and went to hug her daughter and future son-in-law. "This is wonderful. You two are going to be so happy."

How could they not be? Unlike her mother at that age, Danielle had been wise and thoughtful when selecting a mate. She hadn't rushed into a relationship with her hormones on fire and her brain dead from smoke inhalation. She'd held out for the right man. They even looked perfect together, Mike with his dark hair and eyes and that big frame, Dani with her lighter coloring and sandy hair and willowy figure. In their wedding garb they'd look fit for the top of a wedding cake.

"This calls for more pie," Drew said with a grin, and helped himself to another piece.

"I'm going to be a bridesmaid, right?" Amber asked her sister.

"Of course," Dani said.

"You'd better dig out your Armani," Cass said to Drew. "Dani's going to need you to walk her down the aisle."

Dani's face lost some of its bride-to-be glow and she bit her lip.

"Hey, I'm cool sitting in the front row with your mom," Drew said quickly. "I don't have to be the one."

Oh, yes, he did. Who else was going to? Oh, no. Surely not.

"Actually, I was hoping Daddy would walk me down the aisle," Dani said.

The undeserving absent father? The man who'd been MIA for most of Dani's life? Cass fell back against her chair and stared across the table at her daughter.

Dani's cheeks bloomed with a guilty flush and she studiously avoided her mother's gaze.

"Daddy?" Cass echoed. It came out frosted with scorn. Way to be mature and poison your daughter's happy moment, she scolded herself.

With her sunny disposition and eagerness to please, Danielle was generally easy to get along with, but now her chin jutted out at a pugnacious angle. "I know he'll want to."

Oh, he always wanted to be there, but he never had been.

Until lately. Now that their children were practically grown. He and his thirty-two-year-old trophy wife, Ba-bette, seemed to think they could have the kids come over to Seattle anytime he swooped in from his business trips and buy their affection with shopping expeditions and Seahawks tickets.

Obviously it was working, and that made Cass want to break the wishbone she'd been saving into a thousand pieces. This wasn't right. How to get Dani to see that, though?

She cleared her throat. "You know he travels a lot."

"I know," Dani said, "but we want a Christmas wedding and he'll be here for Christmas."

"Christmas Day?" Willie made a face.

Dani frowned at him. "What, are you afraid Santa won't come?" To the others she said, "We thought the weekend before."

"That's not much time to plan a wedding," Dot pointed out. "What's the rush?"

Now Mike was beaming like a man with a big announcement.

"Because Mike got a job as assistant manager at a hardware store in Spokane," Dani announced for him, "and when he moves for his new job I want to go with him."

Everyone at the table got busy offering Mike congratulations.

Except Cass, who was in shock. They'd be moving away. Her daughter would be leaving practically the minute after she got married. The vision of Dani raising her family here in Icicle Falls, of someday taking over the bakery, went up in smoke. It was all Cass could do not to cry. She pushed away the plate with her half-finished pumpkin pie and hoped nobody asked her what she was thankful for.

"Anyway, we just want a small wedding," Mike said. "Nothing fancy."

Nothing fancy? Dani had always wanted a big church wedding. What happened to that?

"And I know Daddy can come that weekend," Dani added.

"You already talked to your father?" Before you even shared the news with me? Hurt welled up in Cass, giving her the worst case of heartburn she'd ever had.

"Just to see if he's going to be around," Dani said. "I thought maybe everyone could come up and stay for the week."

"Here?" Cass squeaked.

"Whoo boy," Drew said under his breath.

"There's no room," Cass said firmly. No room at the inn.

Dot shrugged. "You could probably put them up at Olivia's."

Thank you, Dot. Remind me never to invite you over for Thanksgiving dinner again.

"Dani, you know how crazy it gets this time of year," Cass said. "I'm sure the B and Bs are booked solid."

"Olivia still has a couple of rooms," Dani said.

"You talked to her?" She'd told Olivia, too?

"This morning. I just called to ask if she had any left."

"Well, then, I guess that settles it," Cass said stiffly.

"You'll help me plan it, won't you?" Dani asked her in a small voice.

Cass was hurt and she was mad, but she wasn't insane. "Of course I will. And I'll make the cake."

"Well, duh." Amber rolled her eyes.

Dani ignored her sister and smiled happily. "Thanks, Mom."

Cass sighed. She'd even suck it up and be nice at the wedding. It would be wrong to spoil her daughter's big day with petty jealousy.

It's not petty, whispered her evil twin. Cass told her to shut up.

"I know it's a busy time of year," Dani said.

"'Tis the season," Dot cracked.

The season to be jolly. That was going to be hard with her ex-husband strutting around town, pretending to be the world's best dad. It was going to be hard to greet his bimbo trophy wife with good cheer. And she didn't even want to think about dealing with her ex-mother- and sister-in-law. If Santa thought this was what Cass wanted for Christmas, he needed to retire.

"This is going to be a pain in the butt for you," Dot said to her later, after the dishes were done and the kids were playing on the Wii.

Cass leaned against the kitchen counter and stared at the contents of her coffee mug—black, just like her mood.

"But you'll get through it."

Of course she would. Exes were a part of life. She'd put on her big-girl panties and cope. After all, it was only a couple of days. Anyway, they'd all be staying at Olivia's place. She'd hardly have to see them.

Cass managed a reluctant smile and raised her mug. "Well, then, here's to getting through."

Dot clinked mugs with her. "Merry Ex-mas, kiddo."

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Merry Ex-Mas 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
InsideBJsHead More than 1 year ago
Wow...Drama...Drama...Drama..OMG!!! Never have I ever read a book with so much drama and loved it! When the title reads "Merry Ex-Mas", you had better be prepared for the exes! I loved how Ms. Roberts flowed from one "ex" to the other so seamlessly.Never staying to long with one "ex" to forget where you were at with the other...Perfect spacing!!!! I have to give credit to Cass as one of my favorite characters....I honestly would never...ever...ever have agreed to let my "ex" stay with me...I mean WHOLLY BOOGERS!!!!! Cass went through everything including doggie doo for her daughter's wedding and some how no one die??? I think that right there says it all...I loved how strong a character she was...well to a point....Moms will bend when it comes to theirs kids. My other favorite, was totally Jake....Yep I'm on an "ex" side...but hey, it's not his fault!!! I really wish Ms. Roberts would have lets us in on a few lines to the Christmas song to mama....LOL Mims....did need to be put in her place! One thing that I have still questioning my mind after reading this... Did Richard start the fire???? I think the loser totally did!!! You'll so have to read the book and let me know if you think so too!!!! ~Get Your Copy~
pattyjoan More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed it so much I couldn't wait to get to the next book. If you like to read about people who could easily be your friends, this book and the rest of the series is for you.
ruthhill74 More than 1 year ago
What a perfect romance for this holiday season! This is the kind of book that you can curl up with and enjoy in front of a roaring fire and have a Hot Chocolate (with peppermint Schnapps--read the book, you'll understand why!). Imagine having your ex come back into your life during the holidays. That is exactly what happens for Charley, Cass, and Ella, Each one has their own story, and the ending just may surprise you. The ride is filled with humor and the true meaning of family. There's no way I couldn't give this book high praise. After all, it has a Pacific Northwest setting! Add some great romance, a daughter's wedding, a fire, and much more. This book was so refreshing in the overpopulated world of romance novels. It was an easy read, and there was practically nothing inappropriate. There was some profanity, but there were no bedrooms scenes. They were only implied. It was neat to see that everyone still went to church in spite of everything. No, it's not a Christian romance, but it is an almost squeaky clean romance that will get you through the tumultuous holidays. Shelia Roberts is an author I would love to read again and again. Looking briefly through her other offerings, it looks like Christmas romances are her specialty. I only wish I had time to drop everything and read all of them! My absolutely favorite part of the book comes right towards the end. It involves a dog and a cake, and that is all I can say. I found my heart melting as I read the outcome. It even caused me to sigh with pleasure. Since I am a divorcee, I could somewhat relate to the characters in the book even though my situation is completely different. If you are looking for a book that you can enjoy this holiday season, this just may be it! I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
Griperang72 More than 1 year ago
 I have not read the first Icicle Falls book yet but it is not stop me from reading this one nor did I feel lost. As with the other two books I have read of Sheila's so far I enjoyed this one as well. There were times I did not want to put it down, times I got mad at a character because they would not wake-up so to speak, and even found myself smiling at something that happened in the story. Sheila has a way a writing that you feel at home in the town and with the characters she is writing about. I like how she takes the real problems her characters are having and turns it around in the end for a nice ending. Things may not always turn out the way you want them to but Sheila has a way of showing you how to make the best of it. This was a fun holiday read and I am happy I got the chance to read it. I look forward to reading the rest of Sheila's books I have on my shelf. I highly recommend this and all of Sheila's books to you for you to read and enjoy. 
amyoneal More than 1 year ago
loved this story. my heart went out to all of them. but my favorite characters were ella and jake. I felt like they had the best chance at getting back together. i wish i could have been there at dani and mikes wedding. seemed beautiful
cjr1 More than 1 year ago
Merry Ex-Mas (Life in Icicle Falls) (Kindle Edition) Being a big fan of Sheila Roberts, I had no problem reading an ARC of her updated version of this book. This is a book about the residents of Icicle Falls, Washington, a small town where everyone knows everyone else. It's about 3 women, their ex husbands, a daughter's wedding and the ensuing angst and chaos that entails. It's also a book about friendship and the fact that you always know that your friends have your back and always will. There's a lot of laughter and tears and angst and drama, but that's life and relationships and Ms. Roberts does them so amazingly well! Read this book if you want a lovely, exceedingly enjoyable story!(less)
Koalabear3 More than 1 year ago
A Christmas book you will want to read every Christmas season..The story of three women and their ex's. Filled with humor, drama and friendship. I am rooting for Jake...Sheila Roberts has done it again with an amazing story that will have you laughing and crying....
sbart84 More than 1 year ago
Small town Christmas, the book resolves around three women and their ex husbands. The three women are friends, who help each other out in dire times. Loved the friendship of these women. I must say I was rooting for Jake most of the book, just loved him. After reading this book you need to watch the YouTube of Merry Christmas Mama, a great song. This book is filled with humor, drama and friendship. A great read for the Christmas season.
ivyjoysmotherdog More than 1 year ago
Sheila Roberts, has a good series in Icicle falls, it has all the ingredients, friendship, love and chocolate.
KattyOne More than 1 year ago
Good story. Each character's story frustrated me in the beginning and middle, but the ending for each was great. It's just the way real life should be! LOL!
Ann40AW More than 1 year ago
I love reading Sheila Roberts books, and I must admit I like some of her books better than others. However I am never disappointed by any of her books, and I wasn't disappointed by this book either, I really liked it. With all the exes roaming around throughout the book it made for a fun and entertaining few days of reading. But in the end, it all worked out. Some found happiness, and others disappointment, however, which ones found which was where the fun began. Just imagine this... your ex is moving in with you and your family for a few days with his new arm candy wife, and her snippy little dog. Now, set back and watch the feathers hit the fan...It was just a fun, and funny story to read.
GHott More than 1 year ago
Cass is so thankful this Thanksgiving. Her life is finally peaceful and she’s finally put away the anger towards her ex – mostly. Then, with one statement, her oldest, Dani completely ruins Cass’s peaceful holiday. Dani has accepted her boyfriend’s proposal! They’re planning a pre-Christmas wedding. They’ll be moved to another city by the year. And, oh yeah… Dad’s coming to walk me down the aisle… With that – Cass’s organized life becomes chaos. Hott Review What I liked: This book was very much like one of Debbie Macomber books in that it uses several different sets of characters and follows several interlocking yet separate stories into one. What I didn’t like: It may have just been the formatting of the ARC I obtained but it was very difficult for me to follow this story. I kept confusing the characters. Grade: C Steam: YA
MasonCanyon More than 1 year ago
Holidays and weddings are special times for family and friends. But what’s a woman to do when her exs are included in all the festive events? It seems Christmas is both a joyous and sad time for three ladies in Icicle Falls. As their past and present collide in humorous and life-altering ways. Cass Wilkes, owner of the Gingerbread Haus bakery, is busy preparing for Christmas and her daughter Danielle’s unexpected wedding. She’s thrown for a loop when she learns Danielle has asked her father, Cass’ ex, to walk her down the aisle. To make matters worse - Mason, his new trophy wife, her yappy little dog, his sister, and his mother will all be staying with Cass thanks to Danielle. Meanwhile, newly divorced Ella O’Brien is having to share her house with her ex, a musician trying to land a record deal. Neither one can afford to move until their dream home sells. Thanks to the private detective her mother hired, Ella believes Jake cheated on her. The third friend in the group, Charlene Albach, is having her own problems with the return of her ex. It seems Richard has gotten over the hostess he left with. Now he just wants to forget and make up. As the three friends console and support one another, life throws each one a few new curves. Their friendship holds steadfast as old wounds are reopened before the healing can begin. Author Sheila Roberts does a wonderful job placing the reader in the midst of the charming town of Icicle Falls. Her characters are entertaining with their unique quirks and flaws. MERRY EX-MAS moves at a steady pace with unexpected twists and turns along the way that will have you laughing out loud. The theme of family and friends, friendship and loyalty are well mixed with the story of how life can be more unexpected than ever imagined. This is a heartwarming tale of three friends, their families and the extended families that blend together sometimes inexpertly. FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book in order to participate in the author’s blog tour. The book was sent to me by the author in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A solid 4-star rating and possibly 4-1/2. I read this story by Sheila Roberts as it was in the book following The Christmas Basket. It was a drama and while the reader could begin to dislike the woman who stole the husband the story progressed and gave another point of view. Very good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is here
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ethel55 More than 1 year ago
This return to Icicle Falls focused more deeply on three of the secondary characters from Roberts' earlier novel, Better Than Chocolate. At various stages in their lives, Cass, Charlene and Ella, are all attempting to make peace with their exes during the holiday season. I thought these stories flowed together much better than the first book in the series and I enjoyed the interplay between various moms and daughters very much. It was a great read to kick off the holiday reading season, Icicle Falls would be a great holiday tourist destination.