Today I am so pleased to welcome Hank Edwards to Joyfully Jay. Hank has come to share an exclusive excerpt from his latest release, The Christmas Accomplice. He has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Hank a big welcome!
Merry Christmas Eve friends! Thanks to Jay for inviting me to stop in today, which fits so perfectly with my latest funny, sweet, and sexy Christmas story, The Christmas Accomplice. Because I never met a trope I didn’t want to mash-up with another, I’ve got some seemingly random things going on in this story that all come together for a big ol’ HEA set, appropriately enough, on Christmas Eve. There’s also a bit of witty back and forth amid the falling in love, and a friendship that rises out of the ashes of an old relationship. I’ve posted a long excerpt, but it provides good insight into the relationship between the two main characters, Reece, who works the front desk of the Snowcapped Resort, and Welton, who prefers role playing games to outdoor winter sports. For today, I’m doing a giveaway, too! For a chance to win a digital copy of any of my backlist books, leave a comment with your favorite winter holiday activity, not necessarily for Christmas. My favorite winter holiday activity is taking a walk in the snow at night when everything is quiet and still and houses still have Christmas lights up.
I wish you all peace, good health, and happiness, no matter what holiday you celebrate, and may the new year fill you with hope.
“Do you have a favorite holiday memory?” Reece asked.
Welton sat on the edge of the riser and smiled as he shook his head. “It’s not really a favorite memory, but it’s a vivid one.”
“I’ll allow it.”
“Well, that’s good to hear. It was the year before my parents divorced, and I think they were trying to save the marriage with a big holiday blow out, you know? We owned an artificial tree, but my dad never liked it. He’d had real trees growing up and he wanted a real tree again that year. And he wanted us all to go out to a tree farm and cut one down like he used to do when he was a kid. So me and my sister and brother got in the car and my dad drove us about an hour outside of the city. The snow was deep that year and the farm gave us the option of wearing snowshoes. We thought it would be fun, so we all strapped them on and set out to walk around this farm and look for a tree. It took us a long time. Like, a really long time. And by the time we found a tree we all liked, we were cold and it had started sleeting. It took a while for my dad to cut the stupid tree down, and we were all miserable as we trudged back to the office. I’m the youngest so I was lagging behind everyone else. At one point, I fell and couldn’t get back up because the ends of my snowshoes had gotten stuck in the snow and my feet were in the air and I was flat on my back in the wet snow and the sleet was coming down in my face.”
“Oh my God,” Reece said from where he stood on the ladder. “That sounds awful.”
Welton laughed quietly. “Oh, it was. And none of my family realized I’d fallen and couldn’t get up. My mom and dad were bitching at each other and my sister and brother just wanted to get in out of the sleet. I called and called but nobody heard me.”
Reece descended the ladder and sat on the riser beside him. “That must have been scary.”
“Yeah, it was.”
“How long did you lay there?”
“I don’t know. My dad finally came back and got me. He had been really worried, but he was angry, too, so it was an uncomfortable drive home. All of us were wet and cold and silent.” Welton looked up and smiled sadly. “Maybe that was the straw that broke their marriage. Anyway, we didn’t put the tree up that night. My mom made hot chocolate and we watched Christmas movies. My dad put the tree up the next morning and we all decorated it, and it was a lot of fun. But to this day my brother and sister haven’t let me forget I got stuck in the snow while wearing snowshoes.”
“Siblings are really good at reminding you of the stuff you wish you could forget.”
“That is very true. Do you have any brothers or sisters?”
“Two brothers. I’m in the middle.”
“Ah, the ignored middle child.”
Reece laughed. “That’s pretty much it.”
They looked at each other and the moment seemed to stretch out between them until one of them either had to lean in for a kiss or look away. Reece managed to break eye contact, but just barely.
“This room isn’t going to decorate itself, is it?” he said, and got up.
“Not unless you’ve got some elves in your pocket.”
“Nah, I’m just happy to see you.” Reece gave Welton a wide-eyed look. “Sorry, that just slipped out.”
Welton grinned and, of course, blushed. “Like one of those elves?”
“Yeah, like that.”
They worked well together, and soon the ballroom looked more festive than Reece had initially hoped for.
“Wow, I’m impressed with us,” Welton said, standing beside Reece and looking around the room.
“Me, too. Thanks so much for helping me with this.”
“I really enjoyed it. It’s been a long time since I’ve wanted to get into the holiday spirit.”
“I know what you mean.”
Welton pulled his phone from his pocket. “Oh, wow. It’s almost seven.”
“That late? You must be starved.”
“I am pretty hungry. And don’t you need to get back to the desk?”
“No, my shift ended at six. Nick said she and Ursula had it covered. Did you want to grab some dinner in the restaurant? My treat.”
Welton smiled. “Is that how you pay all your elves?”
“No. Just the ones I like. Come on, I’ll even let you order off the adult menu.”
“Wow, big spender.”
Reece knew Brianna, the hostess, pretty well, and she got them a corner table away from the bulk of diners. They ordered wine with dinner and talked more about holidays and growing up with siblings and their days in college. Reece couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt so comfortable on a date, then had to remind himself that technically this wasn’t a date. It was a dinner to thank Welton for working with him when he was supposed to be on vacation.
Once Reece paid the check, he walked Welton to the main entrance and asked him to wait. After grabbing his coat and personal items from his employee locker, Reece met up with Welton again and waved toward the door.
“Shall I escort you back to your lodging?”
“Oh, you don’t have to do that.”
“I insist. It’s dark and cold outside, and you may accidentally step into a pair of snowshoes and fall on your butt and be unable to get up.”
Welton gave him a gentle glare. “I’m not going to live that story down, am I?”
“Probably not anytime soon.”
“Fine. Let’s go.”
A vacation mix up. A job promotion on the line. A fateful roll of the dice.
Welton Monroe is on his first vacation in a very long time. He’s not a winter sport enthusiast, but the cozy cabin at the Snowcapped resort, and Reece Donaghy, the hunky employee who checks him in, seem perfect to finally put his relationship with Dean in the past. That is, until Dean arrives. In an effort to make up for past wrongs, Dean offers to help Welton win Reece’s heart, an offer Welton grudgingly accepts.
Reece should be focusing on the Assistant Activities Director promotion he’s put in for, but he’s more than distracted by Welton. In a whirlwind week of activities, Welton and Reece discover the Christmas magic in snowman building, karaoke, and tobogganing. But when the secret Welton has been keeping comes to light, and a final, large-scale challenge is assigned to Reece for his chance to win the promotion, it seems a week’s worth of Christmas spirit may not be enough to keep them together once the holiday is over.
Hank Edwards has been writing gay fiction for more than twenty years. He has published over thirty novels and dozens of short stories. His writing crosses many sub-genres, including romance, rom-com, contemporary, paranormal, suspense, mystery, and wacky comedy. He has written a number of series such as the suspenseful Up to Trouble, funny and spooky Critter Catchers, Old West historical horror of Venom Valley, and erotic and funny Fluffers, Inc. No matter what genre he writes, Hank likes to keep things steamy and heartfelt. He was born and still lives in a northwest suburb of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan, where he shares a home with his partner of over 25 years and their two cats.
Hank has brought a backlist book to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Tuesday, December 29th at 11:59 pm ET.
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