Love Never Takes a Holiday… New Book & Giveaway!
I’d planned to draw just one name, but there were so many wonderful comments, I had to draw two… Thank you all SO much for celebrating this new book with me!!
Congrats to June A and Lisa S on winning a copy of HOLIDAY MAN! Please email me (marilynbrant AT gmail DOT com) or let me know your best email address in the comments section below, and I’ll send it out to you right away.
And, to everyone reading this, a very Happy St. Nick’s Day to you all!!
Just a couple of weeks ago, I released my sixth novel — a light, steamy, contemporary romantic comedy called Holiday Man – and I’m thrilled to get to share it with all of you!! In celebration, I’m giving away one PDF copy (open internationally) to one commenter on today’s post. The random drawing will be around noon on St. Nick’s Day, December 6th!
This is a romance told over a year of holidays, much like one of my favorite classic Christmas musicals, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire’s “Holiday Inn.” (Have you seen it? Do you like it, too??) The love story is between Shannon Quinn, who owns the holiday-themed resort in scenic Door County, Wisconsin, and Bram Hartwick, the wealthy businessman from Minneapolis, Minnesota who keeps coming back to visit her.
Unlike my debut novel, According to Jane, this new story isn’t an Austenesque one, but the cover (which I love!) was designed by Abigail Reynolds’s talented daughter, Rebecca Young. She also designed the cover of my upcoming January book from WSP, Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match, which — as I’m sure you can guess from the title! — is definitely an Austen-inspired novel.
Below is an excerpt from HOLIDAY MAN (this scene is from the middle of the book, but you can also read the entire first chapter in The Writer’s Block). I really hope you’ll enjoy it!
*** EXCERPT ***
Bram dialed room service in his Belgian hotel and had them send up a cup of decaf with cream and a chocolate croissant. Carbs usually knocked him out fast and he needed that. He was having a devil of a time falling asleep. But the sweet pastry, like virtually everything else he laid his eyes on, made him think of Shannon.
So he tried some strong bourbon from the mini bar. No such luck.
The late-night TV show in Flemish didn’t help either. Nor did the French one.
He checked the clock and, counting backward seven hours, he decided there remained only one viable option. He punched in a phone number he’d long since memorized.
“Hello, you’ve reached the voicemail of Shannon Quinn. I’m unable to take your call right now, but please leave your name and message, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Have a wonderful day.”
“How the hell can I have a wonderful day?” Bram grumbled after waiting for the familiar beep. “I’m bored, horny and on my way to becoming an insomniac. Call me the second you get this and put me out of my misery. Please.” He recited the phone number of his hotel suite and his room number. Then he slammed down the receiver.
This international travel gig had long ago curtailed his social life, but he hadn’t resented it quite so much until recently. Trying to stay in contact with someone when you were seven or eight time zones away…who could do that and not go out of their freakin’ minds?
Twelve long minutes later the phone rang.
“Hi, birthday boy. How are you?” Shannon’s soft voice was like a salve on a wound.
Bram exhaled a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. “Not great. And my birthday isn’t until tomorrow.”
“Isn’t it already tomorrow in Belgium?”
He glanced at the clock. She was right. Three minutes past midnight and, having been born a late-night baby, he was less than a half hour away from officially turning thirty-one. He was educated, responsible, highly successful, and yet… God, when had he become so boringly adult?
“Yeah, okay, it’s tomorrow here,” he said. “But I’m getting impatient in my old age. I wanna kiss you and do other things to you. Tonight. And, sorry, I’m not being subtle but, frankly, I don’t care.”
She laughed, sort of. “You’ll have to come back to the inn then. That’s where I am and where I need to be. At least for now.”
He heard a touch of something in her voice. Couldn’t quite put his thumb on it, but it sounded like…yearning, maybe. Which gave him a great idea. “Why don’t you fly here instead and meet me? I could FedEx you a ticket in the morning and—”
“I’d love to, Bram, really. But you know I can’t just pick up and leave. I’ve got the party coming up this weekend with over a hundred registered guests, and there’s just too much to do beforehand.” The tone of her voice continued to mystify him. Longing? Resignation? Did she burn to see him or did she merely want to get away?
Bram let his mind drift back to the cozy comfort that was Holiday Quinn. The warm, homey feel of the place, the tasteful décor, the relaxing environment where the hotel was situated. No way would she wish to leave such a sweet spot so, perhaps, it was really him she missed.
Something unfamiliar in the vicinity of his chest soared at the thought. He’d fly back to her in a heartbeat if he could, but business requirements claimed his time and sapped his energy. He was as bound to his world at present as she was to hers. But, hey, maybe there was a middle ground.
“What about the weekend afterward?” He’d still be in Europe, but he could maybe swing a day or two off and, of course, they’d have the nights…
“I’m working at The Ashland next weekend. I’m off the following one, though. What are you doing then?”
For a split second he was hopeful. Then he checked his electronic calendar. “Dammit. I’ll be in Tokyo.” And the following week would be spent in Beijing. His company, Lathericious, was expanding their bath products to the Asian market and he had serious work to do in both cities.
She sighed when he explained this. “Well, it’s looking like we’ll have to wait until the next holiday weekend.” She paused. “You are still planning to visit then, aren’t you?”
“Hell, yeah.” He’d made his secretary Miranda block out that weekend, since he already knew this month would be a lost cause. But he hadn’t counted on missing Shannon so much in the interim. He looked forward to her phone calls and e-mails like a seventeen-year-old looked forward to a driving his dad’s convertible on a Friday night in summer.
“Good.” He heard her exhale before adding, “So, what does the birthday boy want to do to celebrate his big day?”
Bram almost laughed. The last time he’d done anything worthy of note on his birthday had been a decade before when he’d celebrate legal adulthood by earning his first six-figure salary and, consequently, his financial freedom from his parents. Four years later, he became the owner of his own company, had worked until at least ten p.m. on every birthday since and never once considered it unusual.
“I want you to touch me,” he admitted before censoring himself.
There was a long pause on the other end of the line. “I’m putting you on hold…and going up to the Astaire Suite,” she said, her voice low and undeniably seductive.
He waited for what seemed like an eternity, though the digital clock by his bed flipped only one number in her absence. Then her voice returned to the line.
“Hi,” she said, a little breathless. “I locked the door and am lying down on our bed.”
He swallowed hard at those words, but he, too, had begun to think of the silk sheets of the Astaire Suite’s king-sized bed as “theirs.” He slid onto his hotel mattress, got as comfortable as he could under the circumstances and whispered, “Yeah? We’ll I’m lying down, too. What’cha gonna do with me, sweetheart?”
He flicked off the bedside lamp. “Done.”
“Close your eyes.”
He did. “They’re closed.”
“What are you imagining?” she asked him.
Marilyn Brant writes award-winning contemporary women’s fiction and romantic comedy. Her latest romance, HOLIDAY MAN, is available now from Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, Kobo, Apple/iTunes and more! Look for PRIDE, PREJUDICE and the PERFECT MATCH, coming from the White Soup Press imprint in mid-January 2013!!