About the Author
Amy Andrews is an award-winning Australian author who has written thirty plus romance novels both with traditional and digital first publishers. She has sold over a million books and has been translated into a dozen different languages. In what she euphemistically likes to call her spare time, she works part time as a pediatric intensive care nurse. She is married with two teenagers.
Read an Excerpt
'Tis the Season to be Kissed
A Baby it's Cold Outside Novella
By Amy Andrews, Heather Howland, Tahra Seplowin
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2012 Amy Andrews
All rights reserved.
Fifteen hours 'til midnight
Tamara was already three-quarters of the way through the pitcher of eggnog before she realized she was a little on the tipsy side.
At nine o'clock in the morning.
She sighed. She'd never been very good at holding her liquor. But at least the delicious, nutmeggy rum had managed to do what every piece of clothing she'd packed — plus the patchwork quilt off the bed — hadn't. She was warm right down to her bones. Even if she did look like Kenny from South Park with the faux-fur lined hood of her parka pulled tight around her face.
Her head flopped over the arm of the couch as the alcohol buzz bathed her in its glow, a stark contrast to the winter wonderland outside. So what if she was drunk at breakfast? There was no one here to judge her and, besides, it must be five o'clock somewhere in the world.
Australia? It had to be well past five in Sydney. In fact, they'd probably already rung in the New Year by now. Did they have a ball that dropped somewhere? she wondered, and then smiled and shut her eyes as the room rocked from side to side.
Gradually Tamara became aware of scraping and then thudding at the door, like something — or someone — very big was stamping its boots. Her head snapped up, and her pulse took off at a gallop. Unfortunately, the room took a few seconds to catch up.
Who the hell could that be?
Georgia had told her the place was hers. It was written on the note. The one she'd attached to the pitcher of New Year's eggnog she'd so thoughtfully whipped up before making the long drive to New York City early this morning during a break in the awful weather.
Something thumped against the door. Tamara leaped from the couch, quilt dropping to the floor. There'd been reports of looters around with all the unprecedented wild weather they'd been having along the Eastern Seaboard. Not in the deepest darkest corner of Vermont, sure, but maybe this looter had champagne tastes?
The door handle rattled. Her pulse spiked as she wildly scanned the room for some kind of weapon with vision that seemed to turn everything double. She spotted a bag of golf clubs by the door and scrambled over to them.
Something metallic scraped at the lock.
She froze. Was he picking it?
Didn't they usually just throw something heavy through the window?
She whipped out the closest golf club, her breath loud in her ears as she stood behind the door and watched it slowly open. A blast of cold wind and a flurry of snow preceded the tall, hooded intruder. A surge of adrenaline shot into her system, mixing with the rum. The door slammed shut and she brought the putter down in the direction of the intruder's head, yelling, "Yaaaaaaa!"
She wasn't quite sure what happened next but there was a deep muffled curse, then somehow she was flat on her back, pinned to the floor by a hulking weight. Thankfully her parka and multiple layers of clothing cushioned the fall.
For a moment, neither of them moved or spoke and she noticed two things at once. This man — she had no doubt he was male — didn't feel like some skinny, looting teenager. And he smelled like soap, pine needles, and the wild blue yonder. Looters didn't smell like that, did they?
An errant part of her, possibly the part that hadn't had a man on top of her for a very long time, or the part of her that was really feeling the effects of the rum, wanted to stay right where she was and just sniff him. Damn, she'd missed the way men smelled.
But then he shifted and sense returned to her sluggish brain. "Get off me!" she demanded and began to struggle.
Sergeant Luke Jackson had gone straight into combat mode at the sound of the blood-curdling banshee yell, and it took several seconds for the adrenaline spike to release him from its grip long enough to compute the fact that there was no danger. He had no idea who was beneath him, but the landing had been too soft to register it as a threat.
Still holding firm to the attacker's splayed wrists, his father's old putter discarded and well out of reach, he looked down into stormy gray eyes. He may only have been able to see an oval cut-out of her face from the confines of the hood she had pulled tight around her head, but it was definitely a woman. No man owned such delicate bone structure and had a nose as cute as that.
"What the hell?" he demanded back at the woman moving ineffectually underneath him. He'd just trudged two miles through a freaking blizzard from the bus depot to be greeted like this?
"Get off me right now you ... giant ... ass!"
"Who the hell are you?"
The woman stopped struggling and glared at him. "Hey buddy, this is my house. I get to ask the questions and you" — she struggled some more — "are" — more interesting squirming, shoving, and pushing — "squashing me!"
Luke pushed away immediately and stood towering over her. She looked like a felled Eskimo in full winter regalia. "Ma'am, I don't know who you are, but I think you'll find that this is my house."
She gave him an indignant look as she lay there waving her arms and legs like a stranded beetle. "While I appreciate your manners," the beetle with the elfin nose and pixie cheekbones said, "I'll have you know that this cabin belongs to the Jackson family."
Luke nodded. "Yes. Edward and Sophie. My parents. I'm Luke. Luke Jackson."
He offered her his hand to help her up, fearing that with all those clothes thwarting her attempts she would never make it unaided.
The angry pixie's eyebrows knitted together as she glared up at him, but reached her mittened hand for his anyway. "Nice try. Luke Jackson is in Afghanistan and I think impersonating a US soldier on active duty is" — she paused as Luke pulled her to her feet — "beneath contempt."
Luke didn't bother to look at the portrait of him and Georgia that he knew hung on the wall to his right. He just jerked his thumb toward it and waited patiently for the penny to drop. The woman blinked at the picture as if she was having trouble seeing it. She peered at him, then back at the wall, then back at him, squinting and scrutinizing it carefully, as if she'd been asked to pick him out of a lineup.
The picture had been taken a few years back on his return from his first tour to Afghanistan, but he hadn't changed that much.
Not anywhere that was visible, anyway.
And then he heard her gasp and watched as her face fell. Yep. Now she was with the program.
"Oh God," she groaned as she lurched away, heading for the low table next to the couch, picking up a glass, and taking a hefty swig before facing him again. "I'm so, so sorry. I thought you were a looter ... or a burglar ... or at the very least up to no good. I didn't know you were home. Georgia was so disappointed you were going to miss her thirtieth birthday party and if I had known, I would never have yelled and attacked you with a golf club. I teach kindergarten ... we use our inside voices, we keep our hands to ourselves ..."
Luke folded his arms across his chest, amused at the horror on her face. She obviously wasn't a violent person. Which only made her actions at defending his family cabin that much more endearing. "You're Tamara, aren't you?"
The pixie raised her glass in salute. "That would be me."
"Pleased to meet, you ma'am," he said.
She nodded then stopped abruptly. "Wait." She frowned. "How do you know about me? Georgia and I haven't known each other that long."
He shrugged, noting the way her gaze traveled over the contours of his shoulders. Interesting. "Georgia writes a lot of newsy e-mails."
"Ah," she said and swayed a little.
Luke reached out a hand. "Ma'am?" he asked, looking at her a little closer. Pink cheeks. Red nose. Unsteady on her feet. A waft of ... eggnog? "Are you ... drunk?"
She held up her index finger and thumb and tried to narrow the distance between them to indicate just a smidgeon. But, with those eggnog goggles firmly in place, she didn't seem to have the ability to get them close enough without meeting. "Maybe just a little," she eventually said, giving up her attempts at demonstration.
He quirked an eyebrow. "Starting early?"
She shook her head. "It's the middle of the night in Australia."
"I suppose it is." Luke rubbed at his jaw. He needed a shave. And a shower. He needed to sleep for a week. But suddenly he didn't feel so tired. With the adrenaline now settled, something else permeated. He looked around and rubbed his hands. "It's freezing in here!" He looked at the logs stacked up around the fireplace — there was enough wood for a week. "Why haven't you started a fire?"
"Can't find the matches," she said miserably. "I've looked everywhere."
He laughed. "So you were just going to sit here and freeze?"
"No. Why else would I be dressed in every piece of clothing in my suitcase and be drinking eggnog for breakfast?"
She looked indignant and cranky again. "So ... bundling up and drinking was your plan?"
"It was a temporary plan. Just until I thought of something better."
It was just as well he'd arrived when he did. In a few hours, she'd either be a Popsicle or have drunk every bottle of booze in the cabin. "Alrighty then. Step aside, ma'am, and I'll get this sucker fired up."
Luke was conscious of Tamara curled up on the couch behind him, watching as he gathered wood and retrieved the matches from a small, carved wooden box that sat on the mantel. He had no idea what she looked like beneath all those layers, but she'd made him laugh and there'd been precious little of that these last few months. He'd planned on being alone but maybe some company wouldn't be so bad.
In no time he was crouching beside a roaring fire, its heat warming his cold face. He sensed rather than felt her being drawn to his side like some pixie Eskimo.
"Ah," she murmured, crouching beside him, her hands extended toward the flames. She smelled like nutmeg and Jamaican rum, reminding him of home and Christmas. It had been a long while since he'd smelled anything quite as sweet. "You have the gift of fire, oh wizard."
He laughed at her reverence. Fake and drunken as it was. "Yes, ma'am. Although I think my mother would put it down to borderline pyromania."
"Luke, do you think you could do me a favor?" she asked. He turned his head just in time to watch her fall back inelegantly on her ass.
"Easy, ma'am." He reached out his hand to steady her but she waved him away, drawing her knees up until she was sitting cross-legged, eyes shut, a little sigh of pleasure escaping her slightly parted mouth as the fire glowed warm and yellow across her delicate features.
"A favor, ma'am?" he prompted with a smile when it looked like she may just have fallen asleep in her fire-worshipping position.
She opened drowsy eyes and his breath hitched as two luminous gray pools sucked him into their sexy shimmer. He had a sudden urge to peel her hood back so he could see the rest of her face.
"Do you think you could not call me ma'am? I know that thirty must seem ancient to someone like you, but I'm spending New Year's Eve alone and thinking it's perfectly okay to drink eggnog for breakfast for a reason, you know? Please don't make me feel any older than I do."
Luke held her gaze. "I don't think thirty is ancient."
She sighed again as she looked back at the fire. "Wait 'til you get here."CHAPTER 2
Fourteen hours, thirty minutes 'til midnight
Ten minutes later the cabin was toasty warm. Not surprising, given it was the tiniest cabin Tamara had ever seen. There was a small living area with a compact kitchen attached, an elegant arched entrance to an alcove dominated by a massive feather bed, and a bathroom made for hobbits. It wasn't exactly the family-sized cabin she'd been expecting. More honeymoon retreat or lover's hideaway. But she was grateful to Georgia anyway for offering it as a place to hide from the frivolity and temptation of New Year's Eve.
"So what's the reason?"
Tamara opened her eyes when he nudged her shoulder. She looked up — all the way up — at temptation personified. No. She couldn't think like that. She'd only known Georgia for six months, but they'd become quite close, which made Luke — her friend's little brother — a no-go zone. Not that she would call the hot man standing in front of her little. But, the point was, he was off-limits.
So what if he'd shed his hoodie to reveal a white T-shirt that clung to flat abs and nice pecs? So what if he had the most fascinating number one buzz cut in all of existence and a face that belonged on a Calvin Klein billboard? So what if his faded jeans clung to legs that could tempt a perfectly good girl to turn bad? So what if she was so horny every cell in her body was drowning in lust? It wasn't terminal.
The fire's glow danced across his tanned biceps as he handed her another glass of eggnog. He smiled, displaying a very sexy cleft in his chin that made Tamara's nipples scrunch into tight little balls. Luckily they'd been rendered almost extinct from the layers pressing down upon them.
"What's what reason?" she asked as she took the drink. She should probably refuse — she'd already had way too much and God knew her inhibitions had fled at the sight of all those muscles.
He sat beside her again, their knees almost touching. She noticed he had a beer so she didn't feel like she was one step away from a park bench so much. "Why aren't you in Times Square watching the ball drop with Georgia?"
Tamara stared at the nutmeg floating on top of her drink. She could have told him it was the weather. The roads were treacherous — she'd barely made it to the cabin this morning before the blizzard had landed. But it wasn't the truth.
She pressed the chilled glass to her flushed cheek. "There'll be kissing," she said.
Luke laughed. "That's bad?"
Had there been one infinitesimal part of her where the heat from the fire and the burn from the rum had not reached, his laughter took care of it, licking warmth into every last cell. She set the glass down so she could strip off her gloves and push the hoodie and knit cap off her head. "It's been so long, I may just get arrested for public indecency."
It wasn't the real reason, although it had been a while, but she doubted a fine piece of man-flesh like Luke would understand how depressing New Year's Eve could be with no one special to kiss.
He laughed again and took a sip of his beer. Tamara was aware of the long tanned ridge of his throat and the press of his pulse as his head tipped back. He swallowed and his eyes twinkled — yes, twinkled! — at her. "I've got nine months, the length of my deployment. How long you got?"
Tamara snorted. "Piece of cake, soldier boy. Try twelve."
He whistled. "Okay," he conceded. "You win."
"Great," she huffed into her drink, then took a sip. "I excel at abstinence. The nuns at my all-girls' school would be so proud."
He frowned. "If it's been so long, wouldn't New Year's Eve in New York City be the perfect place to be?"
Tamara knew twenty-something men did not understand the powerful dictates of biology. That traipsing from one relationship to another got very old very quickly and that at some stage, commitment stopped being a dirty word. That being with one person was more exciting than playing the field. That the yearning for a home and a family could hit you out of the blue.
Twenty-something men had it easy.
And with him looking at her like that, with a puzzled look and the confidence of a male in his prime, her temperature soared from hot to smoking and her hormones whispered him.
So she stood to deliver herself from temptation. Another win for the nuns.
The room spun a little as heat, alcohol, and sexual deprivation played havoc with her equilibrium.
When it righted itself he was looking at her expectantly with that blue, blue gaze, looking fit and vital and so damn muscle-y and male she wanted to gnaw on his perfectly delineated, denim-clad quad. More heat flowed through her at the thought and she tried to remember what they'd been talking about but God, she was so freaking hot now she felt like her brain was boiling.
She unzipped her parka. Where were they? Oh yes ...
"I made a resolution last New Year's Eve" — she shrugged out of her puffy coat and slung it on the lounge — "after waking up with some guy who seemed so with it and together the night before ..."
His gaze dropped to her body and roved around for a bit and the heat inside her turned to flame, her clothes seemingly catching on fire. She started to pace as she pulled at the layers, trying to get them off.
Luke couldn't believe his eyes as the heavy woolen sweater hit the couch, revealing another sweater of a finer knit and weave.
"... And this guy ran like there'd been some zombie apocalypse overnight and I'd been infected ..."
Excerpted from 'Tis the Season to be Kissed by Amy Andrews, Heather Howland, Tahra Seplowin. Copyright © 2012 Amy Andrews. 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
Absolutely adorable quick feel-good read. Perfect for a holiday pick-me-up.
This story was cute & funny! It is not only hilarious in spots, but reminds you that, when you least expect it, that special someone can waltz right into your life. Would definitely read again, especially if I need a good laugh.
Fun fast read
Originally posted on my blog: Tangled Up In Books If I hadn't already instantly added Amy Andrews to my auto-buy authors list with the first book of hers that I read, No More Mr. Nice Guy, than this sexy, fun filled novella would have done the trick. I don't know how it's possible but I've fallen more in love with her writing style and her humor. --"It was just the rum talking. It gives me this...temporary insanity...kind of like Tourette's. It's not pretty."" Meeting Tamara is hilarious because that spiked eggnog mentioned in the summary is already mostly gone by the start of the book. So needless to say she was feeling no pain. And she's the type of drunk that I always ended up being, funny and running at the mouth. I loved her right away, she was definitely someone I could see myself being friends with. She's had really bad luck in the relationship department and has sworn off anything meaningless in the future. Which is why she's locked herself away in her friend Georgia's cabin for New Year's Eve. --So what if his faded jeans clung to legs that could tempt a perfectly good girl to turn bad? Luke was all kinds of sexy. The kind of sexy that you pray you get stuck, snowed in a cabin with. Sigh. Oh right. Review! Imagination got the best of me. Anyway, Luke is sweet and funny and all around adorable. He's instantly attracted to Tamara and makes plans of his own to break through Tamara's rules and show her how good they could be. I adore the way he goes about it. Trust me he won me over instantly. --"You have the gift of fire, oh wizard." For such a short book it sure was filled with lots of humor and passion and heat. Normally I attempt to stay clear of novellas unless they're part of a series or something because the curse of the novella is usually insta-love. The bane of most of our existences. Deep down I just knew though that Amy Andrews wouldn't do something like that to us and thankfully I was right. There are no declarations of love and forever at the end of this story. Just this feeling that what these two shared was the start of something wonderful. --She laughed. "You have an m stuck to your butt." 'Tis The Season To Be Kissed was the perfect quick and light read. If you want a quick does of passion and sweetness without being stuck with all the angst and drama this is the novella for you! Especially for the scrabble game alone. ;)
Tamara is staying at her best friends’ parents’ cottage in the woods for New year’s Eve. She made a resolution the year before that she was going to stay away from meaningless encounters with men and she just doesn’t want to be kissing another dead end. What she was not counting on was to be sharing the cottage with Georgia’s brother, Luke. Luke just returned from a tour in Afghanistan and just wants to sleep his weariness away. But having to share the space with the attractive woman posses a challenge. One he is gladly to accept. Through flirtatious banter and humorous dialogue, Amy Andrews delivered a wonderful story of new beginnings. There were emotions thrown into the mix along with a heap of explosive chemistry. These two just lighted up the room anytime their eyes met. I loved the tension their mutual attraction brought and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Luke was sweet, caring and completely in lust with Tamara. I enjoyed his way of thinking and the way the author went about him finally getting together with Tamara. Their coupling was flirty and fun with an abundance of passion. I loved it! All in all, an amazing sexy read with fun and interesting characters that will heat up your holidays!
I'm not even sure where to get started with this book. It was so very amazing that I think I will go back and read it every holiday season - maybe closer to New Years next time. Tamara was beyond perfect for a character. It can be difficult to really delve deep into a personality with a novella, but within the first few pages Tamara was coming to life beautifully as she goes on a drunken rambling to her best friend's little brother. The "little" brother, Luke, is on a surprise trip home and stumbles upon Tamara using the spiked egg nog to keep warm in the family's cabin. Luke's personality was just as big and he was everything I could ever want in a hero. The story is full of humor, as both characters are very intelligent and can use their words to make some very interesting conversation. The scrabble game was amazing - won't say more or I'll ruin it. You must go read this book the holiday season. I don't think I would change a single word. I need to make a bonfire image because five flames just isn't enough.
Reviewed by Kim for Read Your Writes Book Reviews It’s New Year’s Eve and Tamara, a Kindergarten teacher, has decided not to go to New York City with her friend, Georgia, to watch the ball drop. Instead, she’s spending New Year’s Eve alone at a cabin owned by Georgia’s parents. Sergeant Luke Jackson wants to surprise his older sister, Georgia for her birthday. He spends thirty-six hours traveling from Afghanistan to the U.S. Due to a horrible snowstorm, he ends up going to his family’s cabin in Vermont. After walking two miles through a blizzard, Luke is greeted by an unexpected golf club wielding guest. It’s fifteen hours until midnight and Tamara is already drunk on eggnog. Because she knows that kissing leads to other things, she has a ten date rule, before she will kiss a guy. But when the sexy soldier shows up, she starts to question her own ten date rule. Tamara is definitely attracted to Luke, but he’s off limits, since he’s her friend’s brother. Luke desperately wants to be Tamara’s New Year’s Eve kiss. Over the course of twelve hours, Luke manages to pull off ten non-traditional, yet fun and sometimes romantic dates with Tamara. Once the kiss is granted it could be the start of something permanent and forever for both of them. ‘Tis the Season to be Kissed is more of a happy for now story, than a happily ever after story. Source: Publisher
Adorable novella about two strangers that are stranded in a blizzard on New Year's Eve in a log cabin. During the course of the day, on New Year's Eve, they meet, bond and stage 10 mini dates (let's face it these are unusual circumstances). They do all this to set the stage for the "midnight kiss" that is to come. This story is not only entertaining but delightfully amusing. Glad I read it! Recommended to all over 18 years of age who know what loneliness feels like on New Year's Eve.
Tamara wants to avoid people and the expectation of a New Year's Eve kiss. She heads to a remote mountain cabin in Vermont. Here she can avoid the pressure and expectations of the holiday tradition. How wrong can she be? While a blizzard howls outside she is trapped with a very sexy man. Luke Jackson is just home from Afghanistan. He wants to recharge before he goes to his sister's birthday party. Now he is here with a beautiful pixie. The attraction between these two is powerful. Will there be a New Year's Eve kiss? Amy Andrews has written a steamy novella. Tamara and Luke are such a great couple. They are ready for a forever love. Their story is humorous and very, very sexy. I will never play Scrabble without thinking of 'Tis the Season to be Kissed. This is a perfect holiday treat.
A Holiday Must Read! I received this book for review from the publisher and the author. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. Tamara loves eggnog and she’s celebrating New Year’s Eve. Sergeant Luke Jackson got the surprise of his life. You will love the first conversation that these two have – it will have you in stitches. Playing games also takes on a new meaning. Amy writes a very hot and sexy read that’s over too quickly. During this holiday season, when things are rushed, why not take a little time for yourself and read this feel good story. It’s a book that you can read at anytime and it’s also a nice one to cuddle with. Even though it’s short, she has time to make you laugh which is a good thing when life is so full of stress. If you are thinking of what books to read during this holiday season, why not have this one set aside for New Year’s Eve. And if that’s not possible, save it for one of those winter nights where you can’t go anywhere and it will help to keep you warm.
I am really starting to fall in love with novellas. this holiday novella really had me wishing it was New Years Eve, just so i could bring in the New Year like these two fantastic characters. Tamara had me laughing my ass off with her drunken confessions. And Luke... Oh Luke... *sighs deeply* Seriously, I suggest you stop whatever you are doing for an hour or two, buy this book and just get lost in the sexiness of the story.