~ ELISABETH BARRETT ~
I’m thrilled to be back at UTC for the holiday season! I don’t know what winter is like where you are, but it is wicked cold in Silicon Valley. And by wicked cold, I mean that nighttime temperatures have regularly been in the twenties for the past couple of weeks and there is actual ice on the roads. Now, some of you may be out there in truly cold places saying, Elisabeth, you wimp! That’s nothing! Where I am it’s -14˚ with the wind chill factor, my pipes iced over, my car won’t start, and my water pump froze, so suck it up, Cali girl.
And yes, I should suck it up. I mean, 45 degree highs aren’t too bad for the dead of winter. I’ve tasted real winter; I spent half my winters in the frigid Connecticut woods. I know what it’s like—the chapped lips, the cracked hands, and the freezing damp that seeps into your bones.
And while I am well aware that Southern New England winter can’t compare to winter in places like the Upper Midwest, at least my Connecticut home was well-insulated. The homes in our region of California aren’t really built for the cold. The windows aren’t double-paned (in fact, we have some windows that actually don’t even close; they just flip out and in), and there’s no buffer attic or basement floor to keep everything warmer. In fact, in our house we have a closet (with a window, no less) that Mr. B and I call “the gateway to freezing” because during the winter it is 20 degrees colder in there than in the rest of the house. And our poor kids, who have never known what it’s like to really be cold, huddle on a floor vent, trying to warm their feet, even when it’s in the mid-fifties outside.
So when I went to Lake Tahoe last winter to do research for my holiday novella CHRISTMAS IN TAHOE, I knew it would be really, really cold! I pulled out wool rollneck sweaters that I hadn’t worn for years and rummaged through the back of my closet for a long-forgotten winter coat. I even found a pair of sturdy boots that saw me through college. Armed with my gear, I bravely drove north.
The cold, the ice, the snow—everything melted away when I saw the splendor of Lake Tahoe. It was so beautiful! The lake was clear and sparkling and blue, and the snowy mountains surrounding the lake looked like something off a postcard! It was then I knew I’d chosen the right setting for my main characters, Ann and Chase, to move forward with their lives. Both were hurt in the past—Ann personally and Chase professionally—and each needs some time to heal. In the freezing cold of Tahoe, they do that, and more, generating plenty of heat in the process. Whether they’re skiing down the mountainside or nestled in front of a roaring fire, love is everywhere . . . they just have to find it.
Silicon Valley actuary Ann Smith is an expert at calculating probabilities, but lately the odds haven’t been in her favor. Two years ago her fiancé died a week before their planned Christmas wedding, leaving Ann heartbroken and alone. When a friend suggests heading up to Lake Tahoe for a long Christmas weekend of skiing, wine, and relaxation, Ann thinks it might be just the thing to help get her life back on track. But Ann’s plans go awry when her friend cancels at the last minute, and Ann ends up driving to Tahoe with Chase Deckert, a sexy snowboarder who pushes all her buttons.
Chase Deckert is a man who lives by his own rules. A few years ago his business partner betrayed him by selling out their biomedical research for a quick profit. Chase left science far behind, and now spends his days snowboarding in Tahoe, wanting nothing to do with the dog-eat-dog world of Silicon Valley. Chase has closed his mind and his heart and only believes in one thing: fate. But fate seems to be in a giving mood, because joining him for Christmas is a brave, beautiful woman who shows him the true meaning of the season and helps him rediscover a part of himself he’d long forgotten.
Fueled by the mountain scenery, the season, and their unbelievable chemistry, Ann and Chase end up learning more about each other—and themselves—than they ever imagined possible. Can one long, steamy Christmas help them realize they’re meant to be together? Or when the holiday is over will they be right back where they started?
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