With her usually reserved boss sending her heated looks, Lisette Gardner is in a bind. The nurturing nanny has always loved the eldest Harrison from a distance. But coming from a vastly different world, with a painful past that still haunts her, Lisette is determined to resist Charles’s advances. Because Lisette can accept nothing less than forever with Charles . . . and forever might be too much to hope for with the reigning prince of the Harrison clan.
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'Tis the Season
By Jennifer Gracen
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2016 Jennifer Gracen
All rights reserved.
The last thing in the world Charles Harrison III wanted was a big party for his fortieth birthday, but it wasn't like he'd had much choice in the matter. His sister Tess had told him that she wanted to have a little family get-together for his upcoming birthday, and he'd agreed to let her. But when he'd showed up at the Kingston Point Yacht Club, the "little family get-together" was actually a huge surprise party, with more than two hundred relatives, friends, and business associates crowded into the largest ballroom.
He truly appreciated Tess's efforts and intentions ... but Jesus Christ, he did not want to celebrate his big milestone birthday. He'd been swatting away flashes of uneasy angst about it for weeks.
Even now, nursing the one scotch he allowed himself at public gatherings, he looked around the packed room and couldn't shake the feeling that had gripped him recently with a vengeance: the sense that something was missing.
"Tripp!" His father's steely voice boomed from a few feet away. Only his father and his father's old friends still called him that. Charles turned to see his father waving him over to where his father stood with four older men, all equally distinguished and polished. A pack of sharks, Charles thought fleetingly as he made his way to them. His father, Charles Roger Harrison II, didn't have friends; he had business cronies. It was hard to keep friends when you were a multibillionaire in charge of an international conglomerate, and heir to a family legacy of four generations. Hard to trust anyone, and hard to know if you were genuinely liked. Charles knew that better than anyone, because it held true for him as well.
"Still can't believe my oldest is forty years old," Charles II said, giving his son a hearty slap on the back. "Especially when I'm still only thirty-nine."
The other men laughed as Charles commented, "Ah now, Dad, you don't look a day over thirty-eight."
"Atta boy." The patriarch tapped his glass of scotch to his son's. "Listen. We were just discussing the Benson Industries merger. I was thinking — "
"Do we have to discuss this now?" Charles asked, a stab of annoyance piercing him. "It's my birthday. Tonight, I'm off the clock."
"You're never off the clock, Tripp." Charles II's voice was light, but his gray eyes glinted like blades. "You're COO of Harrison Enterprises. Sun never sets on our empire. Want to keep it that way, you're never off the clock. God knows I've never been. Now" — he held his son's gaze for a long beat — "about the merger."
Charles bit back a sigh and let his father continue. At times like this, Charles wished he allowed himself more than one drink at a party. But the heir to the throne had to be in control and proficient at all times. Above reproach. There was no room to ever be even slightly drunk in public, or to be drunk enough to be gossiped about negatively, or to be off the clock, or to just ... be.
His entire life, since childhood, Charles hadn't been able to think about much of anything but his place in the family company. As his father droned on about business in the middle of what was supposed to be a party, Charles longed for the ability to just walk away. Of course, he never would. He'd been too well trained. Groomed to be proper, reputable, capable, sophisticated, and most important, to be the shining example of the next generation of Harrisons. From the day he was born.
Charles took a long sip of his scotch as his father's associates launched into the pros and cons of the merger. He gazed at his father's face, the wrinkles and deep frown lines etched into his skin, and thought, Forty years down ... forty or so to go.
* * *
Lisette Gardner sat quietly at the round table in the corner with the three kids, who were all completely consumed by their handheld electronic devices. Being the live-in nanny to Charles Harrison III's children was a full-time, arduous task, but she truly loved her job. She glanced at each of them, their dark heads bowed over their games. They were often difficult, but she understood why and had tried to be a source of warmth for them since her first day on the job.
The oldest was feisty Ava, nine going on nineteen, her tongue already as sharp as a teenager's; then sullen Thomas, who already at seven and a half barely swallowed his resentment every day; and little Myles, just turned six a few weeks before, who was rambunctious, but as sweet as they came. They were never boring, that was for sure. Myles was the friendliest of the children — probably because he had only been eighteen months old when his parents had divorced and his mother had moved across the country, so he'd never known a different life. The other two remembered what it was like to have their mother in their lives, and felt the absence more keenly.
Lisette reached over to run her hand over Myles's dark, wavy hair, and he looked up from his game for two seconds to flash a smile. She smiled back before his eyes went back down to the screen. He was the most affectionate, but really, she adored all three. In her almost two years with the kids, she'd watched them grow, and had grown to care for them so deeply she sometimes felt like they were hers. Which was understandable, since she was with them day in, day out, five or six days a week. Caring for the Harrison children was her whole life. And she was fine with that.
"I'm bored," Thomas grumbled without even looking up from his tablet.
"Me too," Ava said. "Why do we have to be here?" Her bright blue eyes, so like her father's, regarded Lisette with irritation. "It's not like Dad even cares we're here."
"Of course he does," Lisette said. "Don't say that."
"He hasn't come over to see us since we got here," Thomas said. "Not once."
"I want cookies," Myles said, and yawned.
Lisette glanced at her watch. It was almost nine, and even though it was a Saturday, it was the kids' bedtime. "It's too late for cookies, sweetheart," she said. If they were home, they'd be doing the nightly routine for bed right then. "You know what? Let me talk to your father. It is your bedtime ..."
"I want to go home," Thomas said.
"Me too," Ava said. "This party's boring. It's for grownups. We're just ... on display."
Lisette marveled at how astute the nine-year-old girl was. In this instance, it was sad. "I'll be right back," she said, rising to stand. "You guys stay here, okay? Be good."
"Okay, Set." Myles singsonged the nickname he used for her.
She smoothed out her dress and scanned the crowd, searching for her employer. Among the guests, she spotted the always charming middle Harrison brother, Dane, holding court near the bar with his arm around his sexy wife, Julia. Next to them were the youngest brother, Pierce, and his girlfriend, Abby. Lisette had gotten to know Pierce and Abby well, and she liked them. They came over once a week to see the kids, taking them out to the movies or the park, anywhere that was fun. The kids adored their lively uncle and always looked forward to his visits.
Ah. There was Charles, across the room by the large floor-to-ceiling windows, talking with a group of men that included the Harrison patriarch. Talking business no doubt, she thought, as she started to weave her way through the crowd in her boss's direction.
She found Charles fascinating. He always carried himself with such focus, attentive as a hawk to everything around him. For the most part he was a serious man, exuding intelligence, confidence, and quiet power. His manners were impeccable, and his poise and composure were renowned. But as Lisette had grown to know him, she'd seen glimpses of the humor and warmth he hid from the world and stuffed down inside. At home, alone with his children, was the only time she saw him smile freely or heard him laugh. And even then, it wasn't often enough.
Now, Charles smiled mildly at something his father said, but she could see the smile didn't reach his eyes. He wasn't enjoying himself, which was a shame, considering he was the guest of honor. And a very handsome guest of honor, at that. His face, all angles and strong lines, was a study in masculine beauty. At his temples there were already a few glints of silver in his wavy dark hair, proof of his stressful career. There was an urbane sophistication about him; he'd been born to that. Tall, lean, broad-shouldered, his build was flattered by the lines of his navy suit, and his pale blue shirt set off his bright blue eyes. Instead of his black-rimmed glasses, he'd opted for contact lenses tonight, showcasing those captivating eyes, which locked on her now as she approached. Her heart gave a tiny flutter, as it often did when he focused on her.
Before she could even speak, Charles's brow furrowed with concern. "Is everything all right with the kids?"
"Fine," she assured him quickly. Her voice always felt softer, smaller in her throat when she spoke to him, but especially in front of others. The other men, all in their sixties, were either ignoring her or studying her. She cleared her throat and said, "But they're getting tired. It is their usual bedtime. I was wondering if you'd mind if I took them home."
"Is it?" Charles flicked a quick glance at his Rolex. "Damn, you're right. Of course, take them home. They're probably bored anyway. I'll catch a ride with Tess."
She smiled demurely, grateful for his understanding.
"Hell no!" Charles's father said with disdain. "They're Harrisons. It's your birthday. They should be here. They have their video games; they'll be fine."
Biting the inside of her cheek to keep quiet, Lisette just stared. That man proved over and over that he was the coldest, most selfish bastard she'd ever met. How someone as wonderful as Charles had come from someone as horrid as his father, she'd never know.
* * *
Charles turned to glare at his father. "Dad. They're young children. They're bored, and they're tired. They've been here long enough. Now they're going home."
Charles II just snorted, rolled his eyes, and looked around at his cronies, his expression condescending as he shrugged. "Pandering to children. I thought you were smarter than that."
Feeling his blood pressure rise, Charles reined in his temper as he replied evenly, "I'm smart enough to know what young kids need and to respect that. Excuse us." He turned his back on the group of men, grasping Lisette gently by the elbow and walking away with her.
"He's such an ass," Charles muttered.
Lisette only nodded in response.
"Thank you for finding me on this," Charles continued. "I didn't realize what time it was. Also, you got me away from that pack of wolves. I owe you."
Lisette finally cracked a tiny grin. "Didn't know I was on a rescue mission."
"I should have sent up smoke signals." He grinned back and looked down at her, stopping a few feet from the kids' table. "I hope you got something to eat here? The food's pretty good."
"I did, thank you. The children did also."
"Good." Charles's eyes skimmed over Lisette briefly. All night, it had felt like his effort not to stare at her was an exercise in restraint. Because she didn't get dressed up and made up like this very often, and the problem was, she looked beautiful. Wearing a simple sheath dress of burgundy silk and matching heels that showed off her shapely calves, her thick dark hair up in an elegant twisty bun and her coffee-colored eyes set off by smoky makeup, she looked like one of the glamorous socialites who crammed the room. Actually, she was one of the prettiest women in the whole place.
Even in her usual attire — plain tops and yoga pants, hair in a braid or ponytail and little or no makeup — he'd always thought Lisette was attractive. But tonight, from the minute she'd come down from her room ... Every time he looked at her, something hot and hungry hummed in his veins. It had taken him off guard, these new stirrings, and he wasn't comfortable with it. Nevertheless, he suddenly felt compelled to say some of what he was thinking out loud. "You look really lovely tonight, by the way. I'm not used to seeing you all dressed up like this."
A soft blush colored her cheeks, and her dark eyes rounded before flickering away shyly. "Tess said to dress up, so ..." Lisette shrugged. "Thank you," she murmured.
"You're welcome. That color is great on you." He realized he was staring and cleared his throat. Many times he'd cursed himself for hiring a nanny who was beautiful. Tonight was no exception. In fact, tonight he was cursing himself for it more than ever. It was more than a distraction, it was ... What the hell was it? He walked over to his children, sitting at a table looking bored out of their minds. "Hey, guys."
"Hi, Daddy!" Myles smiled and shot out of his chair into his father's arms. "Are you having a fun birthday party?"
"It's fine," Charles said, hugging his youngest. "But you know what? Lisette said you guys are kind of bored. And it's past your bedtime. She's going to take you all home now, so I wanted to say good night."
Myles hugged his father tighter. "I love you, Daddy."
Charles's heart filled. He kissed the top of his son's head. "I love you too, little man." He looked over at his other two kids. "Anyone else have a hug for your dad?"
Ava put her tablet down and got up slowly, circling the table to give her father a weak hug. Thomas didn't even look up from his tablet; he kept playing his game with total concentration.
Charles hugged his daughter, then said to Thomas, "Didn't you hear me?"
"I heard you," Thomas grumbled, still not looking up. "Good night."
Charles felt the sting. His middle child was so full of anger; it worried him. Sometimes, Thomas reminded Charles of his youngest brother. As a kid, Pierce had been surly like that, full of simmering hostility all the time. He'd been miserable growing up, with no mother to nurture him and under constant attack from their father. But Charles never attacked Thomas. He made sure that Thomas felt cared for, didn't he? So why was Thomas still so angry all the time? Swallowing a sigh, Charles said,
"Thomas. It's my birthday. A hug good night would be nice. Indulge me."
Thomas's eyes flickered up at his father, then down to his game again.
Before Charles could say a word, Lisette moved in behind the boy and whispered something in his ear, taking the tablet out of his hands as she did. Thomas gave a rebellious whine of annoyance, but pushed back from the table and got up. He hugged his father, quickly and with no warmth. "Happy Birthday." Then he went back to Lisette. "Can I have my tablet back now?"
"In the car," she said, her voice firm and quiet.
She was a magician; Charles was sure of it. She handled the kids, especially Thomas, with skills he simply didn't possess. Patience, warmth, understanding, yet firm with discipline when necessary ... God, he was grateful for her. The three nannies he'd gone through before her combined hadn't connected with his kids like she had. Lisette was a jewel. She was wonderful with his children, and they responded to her better than they did to him. That was the truth.
She turned to the kids and said, "Come on, team. Time to go home."
"But I wanna say good-bye to Uncle Pierce and Abby," Myles protested.
At that, Thomas perked up. "Yeah, me too."
"And Aunt Tess," Ava added. "And Uncle Dane and Aunt Julia."
Charles stuffed his hands in his pockets. He'd had to all but beg for good-byes, but the kids adored his siblings. Yeah, that stung too. "Go ahead. Lisette and I will wait for you here. But come back in five minutes, no more than that."
The kids all ran off to find their uncles and aunts.
Watching them, he sighed and murmured, "They hate me, don't they?"
Lisette turned to him, wide-eyed. "Of course not!"
He arched a brow and stared her down. "Thomas?"
She couldn't hide the look in her eyes or the way she shifted how she stood. "He doesn't hate you."
"He doesn't like me, either."
She obviously didn't know what to say; her gaze fell to the floor. "He's got ... a lot of unresolved anger," she said quietly. "That's all."
"That's all?" Charles snorted. "I'd say it's a little more than that."
Lisette said nothing, suddenly fascinated with smoothing out her dress.
Excerpted from 'Tis the Season by Jennifer Gracen. Copyright © 2016 Jennifer Gracen. 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
Throughout the series, Charles Harrison has always been the quieter, more restrained and constrained brother, with an overlay of sadness. A nasty divorce has been in the offing, and while these siblings are super supportive and wonderful friends, he’s always been the one who best conformed to the family ideals. Not that those were anything to write home about. Now single with his three kids, he’s completely obsessed with the family reputation and ashamed of the scandal his divorce has wrought on the family name. So, even though Lisette is available, sympathetic and the children love her, the last thing he wants to do is court more scandal. Lisette is wonderful: solid and consistent with the children, helpful and everything that one could hope for. Beyond reproach, her interactions with Charles are professional, but laced with the emotion and caring she feels for him and the children. Her only problem is her love for Charles, and something she will do everything to keep her own little secret. With his own dysfunctional (OMG SO BAD) relationship with his father, Charles is determined to have more connection to his children, while still behaving himself. So, a completely uncharacteristic move after his birthday has him reeling. But, there’s so much more here. Lisette is his equal (and possibly his better in terms of emotional balance) than Charles, but she’s no foolish miss falling for the rich man. She’s fallen for the man himself, and while her choices aren’t always the best, she does carry on and move forward despite the missteps….showing her personality and heart. Together these two are adorable, and while Charles may feel that his father would raise a fuss over his budding relationship with Lisette, his brothers and sister ONLY want to see him happy, and know that Lisette, despite her introduction to the family as an employee, is the best person to help Charles find the balance and happiness he so desires. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
## This could've been a five star book with a different heroine. She annoyed me to no end. She was way too insecure and so hung up on social status. I'm just the nanny, I'm not good enough for you. This became so repetative that I just wanted to smack her. The hero on the other hand was perfection. The effort he went to was amazing. So a good read, but would've loved a better conflict or a different heroine. I've already pre ordered Tessa's story so I'm looking forward to that.
Charles is divorced and single in his forties and lonely and dissatisfied and he has three small kids he seldom sees. Charles is also the CEO of Harrison Enterprises. Charles is the quieter brother and the peacekeeper of the family. Lisette is Charles nanny for his kids. She has had a crush on Charles since Lisette started working for Charles but feels that they should not cross the line separating them when he acts like he is attracted to Lisette also. Then one night Charles and Lisette give into their intense chemistry. Finally Charles is feeling something for the first time since his divorce. Charles has known Lisette for two years. Charles is obsessed with family reputation as he feels ashamed of the scandal brought on the family name. Charles doesn’t have a very good relationship with his dad but wants better for his kids but charles has to somehow make the time. Lisette and Charles come from different worlds but Lisette cares about the man not his money and she loves the kids. Lisette has not had an easy life : she lost her mother when Lisette was young. She lost her unborn child in a car accident the fiance left Lisette, and her father is slipping away to Alzheimer's. Then Charles ex wife is making problems for Lisette so she leaves. I really enjoyed reading this story. The plot was good. Charles definitely needed a good woman I was happy to see Charles get close to Lisette. It was a fun sweet story and the plot was very good. I felt bad for all the pain Lisette went through in her life. So finally for Lisette to have happiness and caring just made this story. Lisette was good for Charles as well as his children. I was also happy to see Charles’s brothers and sister just wanted to see Charles happy. No matter with who. I really liked the characters and loved the ins and outs of this story. I recommend.
Charles Harrison III is the last member of the Harrison clan who is willing to talk to his jerk of a father, whom he has tried to please his entire life. His only rebellion was his marriage to his now ex-wife. The one happy spot in his day is his time with his 3 children and their nanny Lisette. Charles has assumed a lot responsibility for the family business and finds himself spending less time with his kids. He is determined to rectify this situation and asks Lisette for help. They end up spending a lot more time together and eventually they give into their shared attraction. Their romance is complicated by family, class differences and their own pasts. I fell in love with both characters and was happily surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I recommend this book to fans of contemporary romance. I was given a free copy for an honest review.
What happens when you take a buttoned-up, workaholic single father and put him in a house with a woman who not only is the best thing to ever happen to his kids, but to him as well? You get a love story that will keep you turning the pages and riding a rollercoaster of highs and lows as these two wonderful people try to find their way past all of the public censure and private insecurities that threaten to keep them apart. Charles has been burned by love before, and he’s not about to tempt fate by breaking the rules a second time. Lisette knows that to go after the man she wants means to risk the security and sense of belonging she’s found living in Charles’s home as the nanny to his kids. Watching them both struggle against the chemistry that practically sizzles on the page is almost painful at times. When they finally do come together…yowza! But even then, the problems keeping them apart aren’t magically solved, and you’ll be rooting for these two star-crossed lovers right to the very last chapter.
4.5 "...her poor heart never had a chance." Stars The third book in The Harrisons series, 'Tis the Season is eldest sibling, divorcee and single-dad-of-three, Charles' quest in finding love unexpectedly and, having had a glimpse of him in Someone Like You, I couldn't wait to get my hands on him. I wasn't disappointed. "He was movie-star handsome, smart and assured, sexy and sweet...but Charles Harrison III was an incredibly wealthy and powerful man." Within a matter of chapters, Charles had won my heart and I'll admit that the extra 0.5 I gave this was just for him. He was unexpected, and it was an absolute treat to discover a man who is the powerful businessman, but at the same time is reserved, gentle, considerate and the peacekeeper of the family. He wooed Lisette, and he wooed me. "I think you’re amazing. Amazing and warm and wonderful. And so beautiful that sometimes it hurts to look at you, because I want you, and I know I shouldn’t." Lisette is as strong and confident as she is insecure and guarded. Regardless of any attraction building she's Charles' employee so there's an imbalance between them and this leads to fear, reticence and plenty of tension between them. "I'm not family. I’m hired help. And we’d all do better to remember that and not cross any lines that shouldn’t be crossed." I won't deny she frustrated at times as she does blow a little hot and cold, but at the same time her reasons are understandable and, as she lowers her barriers and lets Charles in, we're treated to heated passion, tenderness and moments that are a little heart wrenching. I am a fan of Jennifer Gracen's writing and she's taken a well-used trope and created a romantic journey with a relatable couple that pulled me in completely. And with banter between the Harrison siblings injecting humour, and insightful honesty from Charles' kids bringing the smiles, it was a joy from start to finish. I very much hope Tess will get her story.
I've been anxiously waiting for this book since I read SOMEONE LIKE YOU (The Harrisons #2) back in May, and when I finally read it I wasn't disappointed, even though the story wasn't what I was expecting. This third installment in The Harrisons saga was truly enjoyable, although I wasn't quite sure it would be at the beginning (no spoilers...just don't give up after Chapter Three!) But the author pulled it off (which shouldn't surprise me after reading Someone Like You). Having read the first two books in the series (MORE THAN YOU KNOW, The Harrisons #1, and SOMEONE LIKE YOU, The Harrisons #2), I was expecting a dysfunctional relationship between Charles III (aka Tripp) and his father (Charles II). Sure enough, it was as bad as I expected it to be. I could only shake my head and thank goodness I never had to deal with what Charles had to deal with! But the whole dynamic was a great backstory and helped explain who and what Charles was when he celebrated his 40th birthday in a way that horrified him afterward. I adored Lisette, and could totally relate to her. This wasn't the stereotypical "billionaire falls for the sweet little nanny" story you might expect. Lisette had multiple layers to her personality (as do most of us), and the author did a great job revealing little bits and pieces of her character throughout the book. There was a time or two when I thought she was making the wrong decision, but that just made her true to herself. Since it's a romance, I knew Lisette would finally end up making the right decision, but I was biting my lip because there was just that touch of uncertainty... I also loved Charles. He wanted so badly to do "the right thing," not so much for himself but for his children and Lisette. But he was all-too-human, and that made him more likeable, more down to earth. My biggest complaint is something over which the author had no control -- the cover doesn't give you a good feel for the story at all. (I refuse to blame the author, but I did keep looking back at the cover as I read, shaking my head). All I can say is, don't let the cover put you off. Jennifer Gracen delivers once again with 'TIS THE SEASON. As always, it's great seeing the characters from the previous books in the series, all doing well (Dane and Julia, Pierce and Abby, and Tess, aka "Tesstastic.") It's endearing. And the siblings' interactions are so true-to-life, the conversations so realistic, I could see myself saying some of the same things they said to Charles. All in all this was a wonderful read, and I didn't want it to end. I'll be eagerly awaiting the next installment (Tess's story!) (ARC received from the author for an honest review.)
LOVED this book!! It's the third in The Harrison's series but each can be read standalone. Charles Harrison III always knew the path his life would take. Outwardly it might appear that he has it all. Three wonderful children and CEO of the family business but as he celebrates his fortieth birthday he realizes he needs and wants more. He doesn't want to turn into the bitter angry man his father is. Being tempted by the beautiful nanny that cares for his children probably isn't the wisest move but some attractions are to hard to resist. Convincing Lisette that they could have something real isn't so easy though. The differences in their lives seems like too much to overcome for Lisette but Charles is determined and he doesn't care what anyone thinks. This story shows us that if you want something and are willing to work for it, anything can happen. I loved this one and would definitely recommend it.