Published by Avon on September 25, 2018
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
The Christmas bells are chiming across the Outer Banks town of Bell Cove, North Carolina, but there’s one local ‘grinch’ who’s not listening . . .
He’s got bad-boy looks and a Bah Humbug attitude, so when the local paper asks the villagers to vote on the “Biggest Local Grinch” as a fund-raising project, Ethan Rutledge isn’t surprised to hear he’s made the ballot. He might own the local Christmas Tree Farm, but the holiday hasn’t been welcome in his home since Wendy Patterson left him heart-broken twelve years ago.
But now Wendy’s back, fresh from a tour of duty as a female Navy SEAL. She’s bold, beautiful, and has five Navy buddies trailing after her—as if she needs a bodyguard! And what’s all this about them wanting to start a treasure hunting company right here in Bell Cove’s failing bell factory? Then Wendy learns about how Ethan’s been nurturing the one thing he has to remember her by: a gorgeous Norway Spruce tree.
Can the magic of Christmas and the spirit of the town help rekindle the romance between two people who thought they’d left love behind years ago?
CHRISTMAS IS FOREVER
I love Christmas with a passion; so, it’s no wonder that I would write a Christmas novel. But THE FOREVER CHRISTMAS TREE, first book in a new Bell Sound series, has special importance to me, other than the usual fondness for the season. There’s much more to the story than that.
I’m one of those people who put up a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. I love the time leading up to the holiday almost as much as Christmas day itself. First the tree, then the door wreaths, holly for the fireplace with the handmade stockings made for my four sons when they were toddlers (they’re now grown men with families of their own) by Aunt Janice (now deceased), the mice characters made by Grandma Hill (also long gone), the large framed sampler of a village holiday scene created by my mother forty years ago, the gilded cage with three birds that tweet alternating yule songs (which are beautiful but annoying at the same time), so many special things.
And then there are the tree ornaments. Each with some special story. I’m especially fond of the coyote in a choir gown singing a Christmas carol, a Hallmark keepsake that my husband Robert gave to me years ago. Robert, a financial consultant, always believed in the coyote principle of doing business (and living, actually). There was even a course about it and a symposium he attended. The story is, coyotes live in the wild and everyone tries to kill them off, and yet they are still found thriving in the woods, sometimes without a limb, sometimes carting around a trap on one of their appendages. They survive despite all the hardships thrown their way. Like brokers in the financial world. Like people in their everyday lives. Every time one or the other of us was feeling down, Robert or I would say, “Be a coyote.”
It is important to note that my husband has been wheelchair bound or bed ridden for six years now. And he’s still a coyote!
Which brings me to one of the most special parts of the Christmas holiday to me. Books.
I love Christmas books, especially children’s books, although even those appeal to adults and wee ones alike. Need I say, I have a vast collection which I haul out every year, some beautifully illustrated, some just a neat story told in a different way. One of my favorites is a plain little book called THE TREE THAT STAYED UP UNTIL NEXT CHRISTMAS.
And voila! The idea for a romantic humor Christmas novel.
In THE FOREVER CHRISTMAS TREE, Ethan and Wendy were childhood sweethearts growing up in Bell Cove, a small town between the Atlantic Ocean and Bell Sound, on the Outer Banks. They always intended to marry someday, after they both got to medical school, she as a GP and he as a verterinarian. When they were sixteen, they planted a Christmas tree which they called their Forever Tree, the intention being that the first year they were married, it would be their Christmas tree. Unfortunately, betrayal and broken hearts caused them to go their separate ways. Wendy is a member of WEALS, the female unit of Navy SEALs, and Ethan is a reluctant Christmas tree farmer, whose evergreens are more like those poor Charlie Brown trees (Ah, another favorite Christmas book.), which are surprisingly popular despite their scraggliness.
It’s twelve years later and Wendy is back in Bell Cove where the wacky town folks are holding a Grinch contest. (Yep, another Christmas book.) And against all odds, the Forever Tree has survived the hurricane, and winds, and elements that should have destroyed it years ago. (Can anyone say Coyote?)
Does this mean that the battered love Wendy and Ethan once had for each other had survived as well? If the town folks of Bell Cove have any say, it will. In a town founded on bells (Do you have any idea how many Christmas stories there are about bells?), the senior citizen dance club (which is up to some scandal which might involve something called shagging), the architect who inherited a mansion filled with life size stuffed animals (Can anyone say gorillas, or tigers…or reindeer?), the new treasure hunting company being formed by an ex-Navy SEAL, and a little girl in a wheelchair who has a special Christmas wish…well, there’s something for everyone, even the hardest Grinch.
Humor and sizzle and, yes, a few tears are guaranteed in this new series.
She’ll be home for Christmas . . . unfortunately . . .
The Wet and Wild was hopping tonight with an overflow crowd of military men and women from Coronado, both the North Island Naval Station and the special warfare command center. Sure, it was TGIF, time for blowing off steam, and there was a live band. But, more than that, with only two weeks remaining till Christmas, the air reeked with joy. The Christmas spirit. Not so much, though, at the long table at the back of the tavern, where Lt. Wendy Patterson, U.S. Navy WEALS, sat with two of her teammates, and a half dozen Navy SEALs. Started about ten years ago, WEALS (Women on Earth, Land, and Sea) was the female version of SEALs (Sea, Air, and Land). They often bragged that they were as “hard-assed and ever battle ready” as their male counterparts “and looked hot- damn-better doing it.” Wendy had been with them for eight years. The band, with its female singer, was just finish-could tell under the burka she’d worn, but just in case she tripped over a rock and flipped her hem up to her butt, she supposed, or was captured. No, the reason these teams clung together was because of their shared experiences. They’d seen and done things no one else had. And, frankly, they were a little, or a lot, burned out by the constant missions to curb global terrorism. The images would give the average person nightmares. Like the recent pink mist involving one of their own. Like the reason for them being together tonight. The group of them here at the table had just returned from a memorial service for one of their fallen team members, Master Chief Travis Gordon. Flash had taken a hit from a suicide bomber in Baghdad ten days ago, leaving behind a wife and two kids.“Can you believe the music playing when they rolled Flash’s casket into the church?” Wendy re- marked, attempting to break the silence. “Should’ve Been a Cowboy’ is hardly the traditional hymn for a funeral.” Everyone grinned at her words, mostly somber grins if there was such a thing. She hadn’t realized she’d spoken so loud, but the band had just taken a break. It was one of those odd moments of quiet within a crowd.
Sitting on her right side was Lt. Commander Jacob Alvarez Mendozo, best known by his SEAL nickname JAM. She must have looked confused at the grins because he explained, “Unusual, maybe, honed her skills on grizzlies and other wild game. No wonder her nickname was Grizz. Silence followed Diane’s words for a moment as they contemplated the brother-and-sister bond that existed among them, even when they disagreed with each other, even if they didn’t like a particular person. When you worked in such close proximity, whether in a foxhole, or the jungle, or a Kabul stakeout, you came to know the other person very well. In fact, you came to recognize each other’s smell, the sound of their walk, even the way they breathed. “Well, I’m going on record here. The song I want played at my funeral is ‘Another One Bites the Dust.’ The pallbearers should be Dallas Cowboy cheer- leaders. You can tap a keg at the reception. On my tombstone you can chisel, ‘He laid one thousand chicks.’” Only Sr. Master Chief Petty Officer Frank Uxley would come up with this notion. FU was the most obnoxious, politically incorrect, horny SEAL in the world, and that was saying a lot, but he was an explosives expert with unmatched skills. You’d want him at your back in a Close Quarters situation or any live op. But make a move on me one more time, FU, and I am going to karate chop your favorite body part. Not that she was special in that regard. FU hit on anything with breasts.“What makes you think we would plan a funeral for you, asshole?” remarked Commander Luke Avenil, the highest-ranking and the oldest of their group at close to forty.
To celebrate the release of THE FOREVER CHRISTMAS TREE by Sandra Hill,
Avon books are giving away two paperback copies of Frankly My Dear by Sandra Hill!
For a chance of winning enter HERE