Worst. Day. Ever. After Lyssa Barnett’s sister tricks her into reprising her role at Snowflake Valley's annual children's party, she doesn’t think anything can be worse than squeezing into her too-small elf costume. Then tall, dark, and way too handsome Nick Tavlock shows up to play Santa...and an unexpected storm leaves them snowbound in the isolated lodge.
The last thing Nick wants is to spend a cozy Christmas Eve with a trio of kids and the woman who dumped him. But as much as Lyssa frustrates him, he can't stop thinking about her. And soon, he's fighting very un-Santa-like thoughts of kissing a certain sexy Miss Elf under the mistletoe. As Nick starts to fall for Lyssa all over again, he knows it will take nothing short of a miracle to have Lyssa inhis arms on Christmas Day.
Each book in the Snowflake Valley series is a STANDALONE story that can be enjoyed out of order.
* Snowbound with Mr. Wrong
* One Week to Win Her Boss
About the Author
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Snowbound with Mr. Wrong
A Snowflake Valley Novel
By Barbara White Daille, Alycia Tornetta
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Barbara White-Rayczek
All rights reserved.
The elf suit definitely hadn't felt this tight a year ago.
Sitting half-dressed in a virtual stranger's bedroom, Lyssa Barnett muttered under her breath as she continued to struggle into her green velvet costume. She should have known better than to give in to her sister's pleas for help with this Christmas party again. After all, it wasn't as if what happened after last year's party had ultimately left her with such pleasant memories.
Amber had assigned Lyssa the largest bedroom in her boss's private ski lodge for her transformation into Miss Elf. One glance into the full-length mirror on the closet door proved they had a major problem with that plan.
This year's Santa — whoever he was — might have to make his appearance at the town's children's party without a happy helper. Last year's Santa —
Trying not to think about him, she yanked so fiercely on the capped-sleeved bodice, she lost her balance and nearly slid off the edge of the bed.
A knock sounded on the closed door. "Lyssa, it's me."
"Come in, Amber," she said grimly.
When she saw the frown on her sister's face, a pang of guilt ran through her. She dreaded the thought of adding to Amber's troubles. A year younger than Lyssa and the single mom of a four-month-old, she already had plenty of things to worry her, not even counting this afternoon's Christmas party.
"Everything all right?" Amber asked.
"No, it's not. This thing doesn't fit, and I know why." In Snowflake Valley, the Christmas season started in April and rolled right on to January. Now, three days before the year's biggest holiday, the gift shop she managed was full to bursting with homemade goodies. Unfortunately, so was she.
She sucked in her stomach, leaned over, and tugged harder. "I can't turn around in Holidaze without someone giving me something fattening to taste-test."
"Is that the only reason?" Amber paused, then added in a rush, "Your cravings for comfort food don't have something to do with Nick?"
"I told you, I'm over him." So what if her snacking habits had shot out of control at the end of this summer, right after she'd split up with the man. "It's not him, it's my suppliers. Every single one of those ladies bakes like an angel. But get any two of them together, and they fight like the devil to make sure I sample whatever new goodie they've come up with. And you know how I feel about sweets." Lyssa groaned, then raised her brows and leaned forward encouragingly. "Why don't you play elf this year?"
Amber nearly jumped a step backward. "No, thank you. I have to run the show."
Her parties were legendary, but her annual Christmas gathering for the children of Snowflake Valley topped them all. That had been especially true last year, the first time she'd held the party at the lodge, not too many months after she had been hired to work here. Amber held multiple jobs as a caretaker and, occasionally, as a live-in cook, maid, and housekeeper when the lodge owner came to stay.
All the parents who had attended the previous party were looking forward to today's event almost as much as the kids were. It gave the adults a chance to enjoy life on a higher plane, in more ways than one. The lodge sprawled nearly at the peak of a snow-capped mountain, far above the more drool-worthy homes of the millionaires and film stars who owned property in this most popular ski area of Nevada. Amber loved her job here, claiming the spectacular views more than made up for the isolation. Lyssa had her own ideas about her sister's devotion to duty.
Besides, she didn't see the appeal of being stuck alone so far from the valley. She preferred the tight-knit community of their hometown — even if the neighbors did spend way too much time in everyone else's business. And she definitely loved the coziness of her small shop.
"Hurry it up," Amber begged. "The kids are already arriving and there's no way that costume will fit me. I haven't lost the baby weight yet." She frowned again. "And speaking of baby, she's still colicky."
"Don't worry. Mom told you Penny will outgrow it." Lyssa gave another ferocious tug. At last, the costume fell into place, though she didn't have much hope for the seams holding together.
After a quick inspection in the mirror, she marched across the room. "All right, let's get this party started. The sooner Santa gives out his gifts, the sooner you can get my niece home." She opened the door and stepped into the long hallway.
Turning back, she found Amber right behind her, her expression still troubled. "Penny will be fine," Lyssa said as reassuringly as she could. What did she know about kids, except that she'd grown up in a house full of them? "It runs in the family — Mom says we were all colicky."
"It's not that. I —"
"Miss Elf! Miss Elf!"
Excited voices drowned out Amber's voice. Shoes squeaking on the polished wood floor, a half-dozen kids pounded down the hallway and skidded to a stop in front of them.
A familiar blond-haired five-year-old tugged on Lyssa's green velvet skirt. "Where's Santa Claus?"
"To tell you the truth, Tommy," she said, "I don't know. But I'm sure he's around here somewhere. Let's go and see if we can find him."
Amber shot her an agonized look. "Lys — Umm ... Miss Elf."
"It's okay, Miss Amber." A ten-year-old named Mollie leaned toward them both and whispered, "I know she's really Miss Lyssa."
With a family that included five sisters and two brothers in one very small town, allowing the kids to use the Barnetts' first names was the easiest way to avoid complete confusion. Only their oldest sister, a teacher, was actually called "Miss Barnett." She taught Mollie's class at Snowflake Valley Elementary. And Mollie was a very bright student.
Lyssa watched Amber give the girl a strained smile. As soon as Mollie turned away, Amber grabbed Lyssa's arm. "I need to talk to you alone for just a min —"
"Later, Miss Amber." Lyssa flashed an apologetic smile at her even as she took Tommy's hand to stop him from yanking on her skirt. As tight as her outfit was, she didn't need any additional stress on the material. "Gotta go — Santa's waiting."
A child now held her by each hand, pulling her along the hallway like a couple of tugboats towing a barge.
They entered an immense living room, the heart of the lodge, where an open staircase climbed to lofts jutting into space above their heads. Beyond them, the ceiling soared upward, creating an echo chamber for the noise and laughter from the crowd.
"Miss Elf! Miss Elf!"
Her arrival hadn't gone unnoticed by the children in the room. She smiled and returned the greetings with her own cheery hellos.
The youngest kids gazed at her with wonderment in their eyes. The older ones gave smug grins at knowing her true identity. The adults smiled and pretended not to see her at all.
Suddenly, the loudest noise she'd heard yet cut through the din. The bellow came from a sturdy, well-padded individual with a white beard and a fur-trimmed red suit, who shouted his familiar "Ho, ho, ho."
No, no, no, Lyssa chanted silently. It can't be.
But that voice ... she could have picked that voice out from among any Santas, anywhere. Her vision blurred, filling with twinkling lights though she wasn't anywhere near the Christmas tree. She knew her face had turned as white as Santa's fake beard.
No wonder Amber had wanted a moment alone with Miss Elf. Amber always rounded up the volunteers for the Christmas party. She knew exactly who was inside that Santa suit. The man Lyssa had met and played assistant to at last year's party. The man she didn't want to be near now.
From across the room, Amber sent Lyssa a wannabe-innocent glance before slipping away in the direction of the kitchen.
Lyssa looked frantically at the people around her. If her sister couldn't fit into the elf costume, plenty of other women here could. Surely one of the neighbors would take pity on a friend and save her from this situation.
Of course, they didn't know there was a situation to save her from.
In any case, time and the two kids tugging on her hands worked against her. She felt herself towed along by her pint-sized escorts, aided by the sea of children flowing around all three of them. With growing horror, she saw her every reluctant but inevitable step bringing her closer to Santa Claus, the jolly old elf she'd split up with this summer. The one she had hoped never to see again.
The man who — no matter what fibs she'd told Amber — had well and truly broken her heart.
* * *
Someone's going to pay for this.
Nick Tavlock stared at the woman in the elf costume and swore under his breath. When his so-called friend and associate Michael DeFranco had roped him into playing Santa at his lodge for a second year, he'd agreed to do the man the favor. Michael brought a lot of business his way. But this was pushing friendship and client satisfaction too far.
He'd had Michael's word there would be a new elf this year.
He had barely set foot in the door before Michael's housekeeper, Amber, had hustled him upstairs. On the way, she'd thrown an excellent one-two punch, first breaking the bad news that Michael wasn't showing for the party, then attempting to soften that blow by assuring him all the kids were eager for his appearance.
She hadn't lied. He could see the proof of her words right here in front of him. But she had forgotten to close with the kicker — that her sister would be here, too.
He swallowed his irritation. Or tried to. "Lyss —"
"Hello, Santa!" she interrupted with a meaningful glance at the kids around them.
"Saved by an elf," he murmured. "Almost put my boot in my mouth with that one, didn't I?" He was still trying to pick his jaw up off the floor after the enthusiasm of her greeting. Too bad she hadn't meant that beautiful smile for him. Too bad she had dumped him months ago, or he'd have had more chances to see that smile of hers. "Thanks for the warm welcome. A big surprise, considering the chill of your last goodbye."
"Those Arctic blasts at the North Pole will do that to an elf." She smiled again, but her eyes didn't meet his. "So ... Santa, are you ready to hear some wish lists?"
"Sure am," he said in his best jolly-old-Saint-Nick voice.
He followed her to the velvet-covered chair set in a cleared space beyond the fireplace. Though the flames danced behind a safety screen several yards away, he'd already started to sweat. And it didn't have a thing to do with the fire or the extra padding inside this Santa suit. His quick inspection of Lyssa had his temperature soaring, something he should have anticipated. She had always managed to get him overheated — in the best way possible — every time he was around her.
She looked as good as she had the first time they'd met, right here, a year ago. The elf outfit gave her hazel eyes a green sparkle and showed off a great pair of legs. She'd tucked her long brown hair under a red and white cap, but a few pieces had already slipped free. He didn't need to touch to know how silky and soft those strands would feel between his fingers.
"Santa?" Her brows rose to fur-trimmed cap level.
"Huh?" Great. After all the years he'd spent attending his parents' cocktail parties, that was the best he could do? But any sophisticated comment he'd ever learned had flown right out of his head.
He couldn't let Lyssa throw him. Clamping his jaw closed, he resettled his own cap firmly and raised his brows back at her. She gestured with both hands, indicating the mob of children now surrounding him. How had he missed that?
Lyssa provided more distraction than he needed.
No, Lyssa didn't provide anything for him anymore.
"Are you ready?" she asked.
"Yeah," he muttered.
She frowned at him over the kids' heads. Her cheeks had turned pink, and not from the fire, he'd bet. The glow certainly didn't come from overheating herself, either — not in that skimpy elf suit. That outfit led him naturally to other visions of her he'd had the pleasure of seeing over the past year. But this wasn't the time or place to relive those memories. He pushed them firmly out of his mind.
"Hey, Santa!" The pint-sized boy in front of him tugged on Nick's sleeve and grinned, showing several gaps from missing baby teeth. "It's my turn first."
"Well, aren't you the lucky one?" He lifted the kid and put him on his knee. "What's your name, little guy?"
"I'm not little. I'm five. And I'm Tommy."
Nick nodded. "Okay, Tommy, what have you got in mind for this Christmas?"
"I want a bike."
"Good choice. A Harley, naturally. Top of the line. You can get it customized with —"
Tommy shook his head, cutting him off. Two long lines creased the kid's forehead. "No, Santa, I want a bike."
Lyssa cleared her throat and leaned over Nick's shoulder. He tried to ignore the subtle vanilla-and-spice scent that instantly reminded him of sharing cookies — her contribution — and a bottle of wine — his offering — in front of another fire.
"A bicycle, Santa," she clarified. "You know, with pedals? And training wheels?"
"Oh yeah." Nick nodded. He should have realized that himself. And, of course, he had to make the slip in front of Lyssa. It had probably only reinforced in her mind what she had claimed when she broke up with him, that their thinking was worlds apart. He focused again on the kid. "Tommy, that bicycle sounds like an excellent idea. Make a note, Miss Elf."
A girl who looked twice Tommy's age moved close to his elbow. Her frigid-blue eyes nearly bored into his as she whispered, "No, Santa. You're supposed to remember our wish lists."
"Sorry, kid," he whispered back, "but the old memory's not what it used to be."
She whipped her long brown braid over her shoulder and frowned, even though he'd given her his best smile. His fake beard must have gotten in the way.
"Besides," he added, "I don't have my organizer with me. That's why I brought the elf along." He glanced up at Lyssa. Beard or no beard, he knew it would be a waste of time smiling at her. She seemed to be looking pointedly away from him. He turned back to the boy. "So tell me, what did you get your mom and dad for Christmas?"
"I made them a card at school."
Nick gave his best ho, ho, ho. "Nice start, son, but you've got to take that up a notch. You'll need to get them a gift, too."
The kid's brown eyes rounded like a couple of tarnished pennies. "But I'm only in kindergarten!"
"Santa," Lyssa said in a warning tone.
Nick sighed. Even the Chief Elf himself can't get good help nowadays.
He reached into the sack on the floor beside him and pulled out a wrapped gift. "Here you go, Tommy. This package is for you, a little something to keep you busy until your real presents arrive on Christmas morning."
"Santa," the girl beside him said severely, "you always give real presents."
"That's true, Mollie," Lyssa said. "Isn't it, Santa?"
"Oh ... yeah, right. You sure know all the rules, don't you?" He eyed Mollie. She'd make a good arbitrator — or, at least, one heck of an elf. She could take Lyssa's place.
No one could take Lyssa's place.
That again. Now he felt grateful for his face-covering beard. It would hide the fact that he was grinding his teeth together. How many times since this past summer had he tortured himself with similar thoughts of Lyssa?
He gave another ho, ho, ho to distract himself. No sense worrying about a replacement elf when he had no intention of taking on this job again. And no sense worrying about Lyssa when this was the last he'd see of her.
Tommy slid from Nick's knee to the floor and began ripping at the package, tossing paper left and right. The gift turned out to be a small fire truck with a movable ladder.
"Not bad," Nick said over the boy's shoulder. "Not top of the line, of course, but —"
"Santa." Lyssa's voice interrupted just as her spicy perfume filtered into his senses again. "May I speak to you for a moment?"
He looked up at her. "Of course, Miss Elf."
That, he wasn't so sure about. As he recalled from previous experience, being alone with Lyssa was dangerous. He knew better than to try anything with her, though.
Excerpted from Snowbound with Mr. Wrong by Barbara White Daille, Alycia Tornetta. Copyright © 2016 Barbara White-Rayczek. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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
Compromise After reading SNOWBOUND WITH MR. WRONG, it reminds me of what too many people forget about all year, especially this time of year. Showing you care comes from the heart and any relationship whether it's a love relationship, family, friends, or even co-workers it's always a compromise. This was a GREAT heartfelt holiday story that makes you smile. It was my first Barbara White Daille story, but I want to see what her other stories entail. Lyssa is coerced into being Miss Elf again this year, by her sister Amber for her annual Christmas gathering for the children of Snowflake Valley. The only reason she agreed was because Amber needed her help, and she promised he wouldn't be playing Santa this year. The minute she heard Santa say "HO HO HO" she was going to kill her sister, she'd recognize that voice anywhere. It was Nick, the same jolly ol' elf she'd met at this same party last year, had a whirlwind romance with and then split up with a few months ago. Yep her sister was gonna pay for this! The minute he walked into the room and seen her, someone was gonna pay! His business associate Michael and so called friend, convinced him to play Santa again this year. Michael gave him his word that there'd be a new elf this year. No matter how he tried to convince himself, he wasn't over Lyssa, no one could take her place. As soon as he finished this gig he was out of here and away from her again, for good this time. However Mother Nature had other plans. With a blizzard on the way, everyone packed up and hit the road off the mountain. Lyssa, Nick and three children end up stuck at the lodge, with no phone service until they can be rescued. At least they have shelter, food, water, heat and a generator just in case. How will things turn out between Nick and Lyssa? I loved how Nick dealt with situations with each of the children that surprised Lyssa in the process. Did she really know him, or give him a chance before walking away? You'll have to read SNOWBOUND WITH MR. WRONG to find out what happens. While relaxing and reading this HEA love story, I dreamed of being stuck in a blizzard instead of the rain. I hope you do as well. I received an ARC via IndieSagePR and Entangled Publishing through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. FAVORITE PASSAGES ~ - That just shows you what amazing things can happen when people compromise. - the best way to show you care is to give gifts that are both meaningful and come from the heart. - All for one and all for me.
This is not a story that really grabbed me it was a cute sweet read. It starts out really good but is just missing something. Two people who have dated in the past end up being Santa and his elf neither wanted to see each other and are very surprised to see the other one. As they go to leave due to the snow that is coming Nick gets hurt which puts Lyssa trying to take care of him, the kids that need to go home to their parents, putting away all the party food, and get back off the mountain before it snows. They work their way down the mountain through the snow fall only to get stopped by a tree. Having no way to get home they most go back up the mountain, trying to stay out of each other’s way, keep the children entertained and hope that someone will come get them before Christmas. The characters are very likeable from the two main to the children. I thought this was cute and at time funny. Nick and Lyssa are forced to work together taking care of the children and facing their issues that her sister hopes they will work out. This is a very clean read that is enjoyable. The author goes throw in a little passion which is delightful. It was fun to see how they kept the children entertained I really enjoyed that. I did feel Nick’s foot healed much faster than I would have thought along with him running around out in the snow faster than I would have thought possible. It would have been nice to have seen the Epilogue to have been about later on and not the same day or maybe it was the next day. To me it was more of a next chapter not an Epilogue. I thought the ending was rushed but likeable. I thought this was a cute fun read that I did enjoy.
3 stars Snowbound with Mr.Wrong was an okay second chance read. The storyline held my interest, I found myself turning the pages until the end, but something was missing. Makes me sad to say this, while I enjoyed the storyline, I failed to form a connection with the characters, especially Nick. Not sure what it was exactly but I just didn't feel him and he left me wondering how deep his love truly was for Lyssa. (pls don't let this deter you from reading this book, I'm just being honest on how I felt.) Overall, Snowbound with Mr.Wrong was a sweet second chance romance that will make a nice read over the holiday season.
Snowbound with Mr. Wrong was the perfect Christmas read for the beginning of November to put me in the holiday spirit! This book was extremely cute and entertaining! Even though I believe in waiting till December to start prepping for Christmas/Chanukah, I was perfectly okay with reading this one a little early! I love cute little romances, especially ones that are under two hundred pages. I think they are the perfect way to escape for a little while and immerse yourself in someone else’s life. While I enjoyed the overall story and idea of the book, I found it a little lacking at times. The whole premise was that this couple, Lyssa and Nick, are snowed into this cabin in the woods. They are exes and of course they have their problems, but instead of talking them through, they just acted childish. I also felt like I was missing some vital information. There seemed to be a back story with other characters that was not explained to me and this is the first book in the series. It could be a spin off, but I’m not completely sure. Though those were some things that irked me, I still found the story enjoyable. I was able to zip through it in about 2 hours during a class break. The romance was also very well done. There are some books that are steamy scene after steamy scene with no real plot, but this was not one of those books. The romance was a focal point, but it wasn’t the only thing going on. All in all, the story was well-written and very cute. If you are looking for a book to curl up next to a fire, then this is the perfect story for you!
This was a cute fun story that left me with a huge smile on my face. Unwittingly exes Lyssa Barnett and Nick Tavlock are set up to meet again at the Snowflake Valley's Christmas party. The very place they met a year ago. After dating for 8 months Lyssa broke things off. It was clear they had very different viewpoints on what made life great. He's a workaholic and thinks money is the answer to a happy life. She's a small town girl who thinks family and community are what really matters in life. Will a weekend trapped together at the lodge with several precocious kids help them find their way back to each other?? This was very well done and a book I definitely recommend.
‘Tis the season for holiday romances and when I heard Barbara White Daille wrote a contemporary holiday romance, I jumped at the chance to read it. Thank you to Netgalley and Entangled Bliss for offering me an ARC in the hopes I’d review it. Lyssa agreed to reprise her role as Elf on the promise that Nick didn’t play Santa. So, when Santa makes his big arrival (and it turns out to be Nick, the only man who’s ever broken her heart), Lyssa wants to flee. But Amber has a sick child and needs to leave the party so Lyssa is in charge and in far too close proximity to Nick. One look at Lyssa dressed up as an Elf has Nick sweating and it’s not because he’s dressed up as Santa. Just being around Lyssa brings back all those feelings he buried long ago. His libido is in overdrive but get cooled quickly when he’s stranded with Lyssa and a few kids in the cabin, thanks to a snowstorm. He knows she wants him, too, but can he prove to her he’s worth her love and forgiveness or is Santa doomed to be cast as the villain in Lyssa’s eyes? I love this couple and the circumstances Daille thrusts them in. Talk about a conflicted romance. There’s a lot of misunderstandings between Nick and Lyssa and they need to start talking to each other (and not at each other) before they can even start exploring these romantic feelings. This is a true holiday romantic comedy and I must admit, I chuckled during the crafting scenes. With dashes of comedy, holiday fun and romance, Snowbound with Mr. Wrong is the right book to read this holiday season. My Rating: 5 stars
ARC Review: Snowbound with Mr. Wrong (Snowflake Valley) by Barbara White Daille Snowbound with Mr. Wrong has all the right ingredients to heat things up. Take two clueless exes, add kids and an unexpected snowstorm for good measure and than wait for the sparks to begin. Things are about to get naughty this holiday season. Ms. Daille brings on the laughs with Nick and Lyssa. Lyssa is adorably frustrating, She has no clue how falling in love works. Nick is equally dense, but a temptation all the same. If the romance doesn't take away the chill, the laugh out loud antics sure will.