With: Viv Royce
I'm a huge fan of the seasons: the first green of spring, long summer nights full of crickets, the golden beauty of fall and the dark tree silhouettes against a fiery winter sunset. I love putting those distinctive elements of each season into my writing and for my very first romance, for Entangled Bliss, I was actually writing two seasons: winter turning everything into a snowy wonderland and Christmas bringing its festive cheer inside. Of course, it also helps that my heroine is a bonbon maker catching the flavors of Christmas (gingerbread, cranberry, marshmallow and candy cane) in her sweet creations. Emma has just moved to smalltown Wood Creek to open up her chocolate shop and her to-do list is full of assignments for customers, in addition to manning a booth at her very first Christmas fair. But when a little girl walks into her shop one snowy afternoon with a very special request, Emma's life is about to change forever …
“Oh, no.” The girl’s cheeks turned as red as her little coat. “I don’t want any. It’s for Daddy.”
“For your father?” Emma asked, a little surprised. Her customers were mainly women who bought the treats for other women—mothers in law, sisters, friends—or who wanted to impress guests at a party.
The girl said, “You have to make them especially. Grandma said it. She said that you can make people fall in love.”
Emma’s eyes widened. “That I can do what?” she asked.
The girl hung her head and said something in a whisper.
Emma rounded the counter and squatted beside the girl. “What’s that? You can say it in my ear.” She tucked the white cotton of the protective cap behind her ear as if to hear better.
“What’s that for?” the little girl asked, eyeing the cloth on Emma’s head.
“It’s for when I work with the chocolate. To prevent any hairs from falling into it. That wouldn’t be nice for the customers. I also wear plastic gloves when I take bonbons out of their tray and put them into a box. So I don’t leave any fingerprints on them.”
The girl giggled. “You’re smart.” She looked Emma over. “I think you can really make people fall in love.”
“Why did your grandmother say that?”
“I don’t know. But it was about chocolate. And you have a chocolate shop here. You can help me to…” She fell silent and eyed Emma as if she was suddenly reluctant to share. She wore a mitten and, turning her palm up, she opened her hand. On the wool rested a few coins, probably not making two dollars. “I don’t know if you sell them like Grandpa sells plants,” the girl said with a weighty frown. “They go one by one or by the dozen. I’d really like a dozen, because then I can be sure Daddy will really fall in love. You see, I don’t think he wants to.”
“I see,” Emma said, furiously trying to process everything.
“Last week Aunt Fay was watching a movie where they kiss, and she asked Daddy to come and watch with her. But he said he didn’t want to see it. And when he noticed I had overheard, he told me that he doesn’t like kissing. That he thinks it’s stupid.” She laughed. “He asked me if I think it’s stupid too and he tickled me all of the time. I had to laugh and laugh until I fell on the floor. Then he carried me to bed.” She became serious again. “Then I thought about kissing. I don’t know if it’s stupid. Grandma and Grandpa kiss all the time and they’re happy. I want Daddy to be happy.” She put her mitten on Emma’s arm. “Please help me make Daddy happy again.”
Emma’s heart clenched at the tone of the little girl’s voice. She had to clear her throat before she could say, “But I don’t really understand what I should do. What’s your name?”
“Casey. Casey Galloway.”
Of course. Now the reference the girl had made to plants clicked into place. Galloway Nursery was well known in the entire region. They delivered plants and trees, mostly Christmas trees at this time of year. So, the elderly man Emma had seen around town with his white beard, as if he was Santa himself, and with a matching deep belly laugh was this little girl’s grandfather.
It must be great to have a big extended family and get together for Christmas.
Promising to help Casey with this special request brings Grant Galloway into Emma's life, a dashing pilot set on course to leave Wood Creek after the holidays. Emma is determined to stay and make roots in her new hometown so even though they form an emotional bond, with each other and Casey, nothing can come of it, right?
Or can the Christmas season change their best-laid plans?
A FAMILY BY CHRISTMAS is out now from Entangled Bliss! It's book 1 in the brand-new Little Shops on Heart Street series about smalltown shopkeepers finding love when they least expect it. Book 2, A VALENTINE PROPOSAL features bookshop employee Cleo, entering a daring wager with her new boss, coming in January 2020.
About the author:
With the same trademark atmospheric settings, relatable characters and cute canines that made several of her cozy mysteries #1 Amazon US and Canada bestsellers in multiple categories, Vivian Conroy pens romance as Viv Royce, creating the little shops on Heart Street she herself would like to frequent to stock up on bonbons, books and cute home decorations. When not hanging out in fictional worlds, she likes to hike, craft and spend way too much time on Twitter where readers can connect via @VivWrites.