Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan
Congratulations to our giveaway winner – Mary Jo.
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Publishing Date: October 29, 2013
Paperback: 384 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Once upon a time, Christmas was Kayla Green’s favorite time of year. Now all the workaholic wants for Christmas is for it to be over—as fast as possible! So when duty calls her to snowy Vermont to close a deal with a new client, Kayla is grateful for an excuse to avoid the holidays for another year.
Jackson O’Neil left a thriving business behind to return home and salvage his family’s resort—it’s in his blood, and he can’t let it fail. Now that he’s got marketing whiz Kayla Green working with him to put Snow Crystal on the map, success is on the horizon. The fact they strike enough sparks off each other to power all the Christmas lights in Vermont is just an added bonus.
Kayla might be an expert at her job, but she’s out of her depth with Jackson—he makes her crave the happy-ever-after she once dreamed of, and it’s terrifying. As the snowflakes continue to swirl, will the woman who doesn’t believe in the magic of Christmas finally fall under its spell?
Jackson O’Neil left home and opened Snowdrift Leisure, specializing in luxury hotels for winter sports. But after his father’s sudden death, he returned home to Vermont to take care of the family business. Snow Crystal has been a family owned vacation resort for four generations, but his father’s bad business decisions have left the company in ruins and Jackson will use all his hard earned knowledge to keep the family from losing everything.
He has sunk a great deal of money into building new cabins, adding a spa, and a world-class restaurant and creating the Snow Crystal Report and Spa. But what good are all the improvements on top of the classic features of their amazing ski slopes, horse drawn sleigh rides and skating on a lake, if no one knows about it. They still don’t have rooms booked and they are still in jeopardy of losing everything.
So Jackson contacts a big New York public relations firm. He wants Kayla Green to work the same PR magic on Snow Crystal that she brought to Adventure Travel to make them a household name. In order to convince his family, he needs Kayla to come to Vermont to explain to his family what Kayla and her company can do to bring in the paying guests.
Kayla is willing to do anything to get away from the Christmas crazies which takes over this time of year. Christmas memories bring about nothing but pain to Kayla and the sound of spending Christmas week in a secluded cabin away from the holiday cheer sounds like her own Christmas miracle.
Yet her hopes of isolation away from Christmas and family is an unfulfilled fantasy. Kayla never expected to walk into the O’Neil family’s home and be engulfed by such a loving family atmosphere full of happy Christmas memories. Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire. This might just be one client that Kayla loses when her own family traumas surface and fails to impress.
Jackson won’t let Kayla walk away so easily. He has pinned all his hope on her working her magic to save Snow Crystal. He just needs to show her that Snow Crystal has a magic all its own and how much it is worth saving.
This was a truly enjoyable story. There is a definite set up for the other brothers already and I am excited to see where their stories will go. Heck, if Snow Crystal was real, I would be booking my own vacation there and I hate the snow.
Kayla was an only child of divorced parents who went on to start new families after their divorce, neither one interested in the child created during their failed marriage. Kayla was well aware that she was the outsider in both her mother’s and her father’s new lives. Even to this day, Kayla is an unwelcome reminder of their past failure. So she spends her holidays alone. She also protects her heart by now allowing anyone to be close to her. All she has is her work which she is very good at.
But a close family like the O’Neils shakes her to her core. The loving family who hug and argue and stand by each other is absolutely foreign to her and she is overwhelmed by it so much so that she fails to make a decent first impression. But Jackson and his family break down her walls and she grows to accept the love and friendship that they offer her.
The O’Neils have a great family dynamic and every character is unique and lovable from grumpy Grandpa Walter to Tyler’s young daughter, Jess, who unlike Kayla was send away by her mother into the loving arms of her father.
Personally, the last few days have been very bad for me and this story was enjoyable enough to draw me away from my troubles and into the world of the O’Neils and Snow Crystal, and give me a few hours of peace.
Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Enter to win a copy of Sleigh Bells in the Snow, these adorable snowflake earrings and some Harlequin gift tags for your holiday gifts.
Congratulations to our winner – Mary Jo.
Her feet crunched on the surface of packed snow and soon they were enveloped by the silence of the forest. Jackson was slightly ahead and she was gazing at the width of his shoulders when he stopped suddenly. She crashed right into those shoulders and would have fallen again had he not grabbed her hand and hauled her against him.
“Look.” It came as naturally to him to touch as it did to her to keep herself at a distance, but she didn’t have long to dwell on that because they’d reached a break in the trees and there, towering above them was a cascade of ice, a frozen sculpture formed by nature and cutting between the rocks.
“That’s a waterfall?” She tried to imagine how such a force of nature could ever freeze.
“During the summer the water tumbles down here, but in exceptionally cold winters it freezes over.”
“It’s astonishing.” And it was. Not just the spectacle of an entire waterfall frozen in front of her eyes but the detail, the colours and textures, from opaque to translucent, silver threaded through bright white with shimmers of green and blue as the sun hit the surface.
“Sometimes we climb here.”
“You climb the ice?”
“It’s fun. And challenging because the conditions change constantly as the outer surface of the ice melts.” His gaze shifted from her face to something behind her and his expression changed. “Kayla—“
“What?” Turning her head, she saw a large moose watching them through the trees. “Oh, crappity crap. That is big.“
His fingers tightened on hers, his hand warm and strong. “Don’t panic. He isn’t going to be interested in you.”
“That isn’t flattering.” Heart pumping, she stared at the moose. “The design is wrong. The legs are too long for the body, the body is too short for the face, and the antlers are the wrong size and shape for anything, but I’m willing to bet they’d hurt if he chose to drive them into someone.” She hoped that someone wasn’t her.
“The long legs enable him to walk through deep snow. Moose are fine as long as you don’t get too close.”
“Do I look like I intend to get close? I’m trying to run, but you’re holding me. Let’s go.”
“No. This is all part of the Snow Crystal experience.” His voice warm with laughter, he slid his arm around her waist, locking her against him. “Lots of tourists come here hoping to see what you’re seeing now.”
What she was seeing was a strong jaw shadowed by dark stubble and a firm mouth that was too close for comfort.
Suddenly the moose didn’t feel as threatening as the chemistry. “With the benefit of many years of experience I can tell you that the moose is not going to be what gets you on the cover of Time Magazine. Let’s go—“
“The important thing to remember is that there is no safe way to approach a moose.” He tightened his grip, holding her easily. She was pressed against the hard muscle of his thighs and it wasn’t the moose she was thinking about, but him.
“I can assure you I won’t be approaching it. In fact this might be a good time to show me your love of speed.”
“They’re not usually aggressive unless they’re frightened. It’s one of the reasons we tell people to keep their dogs on leads around here. during the mating season, in the fall, the bulls can become aggressive.”
“Note to self–never visit in October.” She tugged at her hand. “Now can we—“
“Kayla–” he tugged her back to him “–he’s not going to hurt you.”
The chemistry was suffocating. The knot in her tummy wound tighter and tighter.
“You don’t know what his intentions are toward me. He might sense I’m a city dweller and decide to send me back to New York with one kick.” She tried to joke. Tried to do anything she could to cut through the tension that was like a steel wire pulling her toward him. “I presume they kick?”
“Yes. Despite their size, moose are flexible. They can kick in all directions, including sideways.”
“Sounds like my yoga instructor. Can we go now?”
He smiled that slow, dangerous smile, his mouth just a breath away from hers. “Don’t you trust me to protect you?” He was all hard muscle and masculinity, and she no longer knew where the threat lay, but she had a feeling it wasn’t behind her.
“I’ve always preferred to be in charge of my own protection.” She felt weird, and she had no idea whether it was the proximity to the moose or the proximity to Jackson O’Neil. “I guard myself.”
“Yeah, I got that.” His voice was husky, his eyes on her mouth. “And what happens when you let your guard down, Kayla?”
“I don’t let my guard down. I don’t let people close.”
But he was close.
And then his mouth wasn’t just close to hers it was on hers, sure and demanding, and his kiss felt as good as she’d known it would. Hunger ripped through her, the sexual chemistry so intense the heat threatened to burn right through them. It was the most erotic, sexually explicit kiss she’d ever experienced, and she wrapped her arms around his neck, lost in it.
I’m so excited about the launch of Sleigh Bells in the Snow, my first full length contemporary romance for HQN. After writing 65 books for Harlequin Presents and Medical Romance, it’s been so much fun to write a longer book, to explore the characters in greater depth and widen the scope of the story. I really hope readers will enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes hot, happy contemporary romance and her trademark humor and sensuality have gained her fans across the globe. Described as ‘a magician with words’ by RT Book Reviews, she has sold over 11 million copies of her books. She has been nominated three years in succession for the prestigious RITA© Award from the Romance Writers of America and won the award twice; in 2012 for her book ‘Doukakis’s Apprentice’ and 2013 for ‘A Night of No Return’. She also won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award in 2012 and has made numerous appearances in their ‘Top Pick’ slot.
As a child Sarah dreamed of being a writer and although she took a few interesting detours along the way, she is now living that dream.
Sarah lives near London with her husband and children, and when she isn’t reading or writing she loves being outdoors, preferably on vacation so she can forget the house needs tidying.