BLURB – A Christmas Homecoming
A kiss is just a kiss…
Unless it’s under the mistletoe.
Ellie Smith is determined to make up for Christmases past by spreading holiday cheer throughout the Bar V5 dude ranch, but tech “bah, humbug” billionaire, Josiah Whittaker, refuses to bask in the spirit of the season.
Unwilling to let the geek-to-gorgeous Josiah win, Ellie plans to give him a Christmas he’ll never forget. But after a simple kiss under the mistletoe, Ellie and Josiah both start questioning everything. Can Christmas really bring the gift neither one of them were expecting: true love?
Can you tell the readers a little about yourself?
Ellie: I’m Ellie Smith. I work as a housekeeper at the Bar V5 Dude Ranch outside Marietta, Montana. I grew up on a small ranch on the outskirts of town and have lived in the area my entire life.
Josiah: I’m Josiah Whittaker. I grew up in Marietta, but now live in the Bay Area in California where my company Whit Tech is located.
What are a couple of random thoughts about yourself that will surprise the readers?
Ellie: Breakfast for dinner is my favorite meal. I start my Christmas shopping on December 26th.
Josiah: I hated growing up in Marietta and haven’t been back to Montana in eleven years. I sometimes leave hundred dollar bills in random places for people to find.
Ellie: I didn’t know you did that. That is so sweet.
What makes you blush?
Ellie: He does.
Josiah: I haven’t blushed since I was…
Josiah: Sounds about right.
What brought you into contact with each other?
Ellie: He should answer this one.
Josiah: I was zip-lining and cut my leg. I ended up getting a blood infection and spent time in the ICU. My company’s board of directors forced me to take December off to rest and recover. I was staying at the dude ranch where Ellie works.
Ellie: He’s still recovering, but doing so much better than he was when he first arrived.
What was your immediate reaction to each other?
Ellie: I thought he was gorgeous. Very different from the geeky boy I remembered years ago.
Josiah: She looked like one of Santa’s elves with her red and green clothes and Christmas jewelry. But she was still pretty and had a great smile.
What do each of you think about “love and romance”?
Ellie: Love and romance are two things I’ve dreamed about since I was a little girl, but I’ve never had much luck with relationships until now.
Josiah: I always thought love and romance were overrated. My priority has always been work, so I avoided getting serious with anyone until I met Ellie.
Who took the first step in heating things up between you?
Ellie: I guess that would be me. I happened to have a sprig of mistletoe in my pocket so made the most of it.
Josiah: Ever since then I’ve been carrying around mistletoe. You never know when it’ll come in handy.
Would you rather be caught in a wild moment of passion or tied down and taken?
Ellie: Caught in a wild moment, most definitely.
Josiah: There’s no wrong answer here. Either works for me.
What is the kinkiest sexual thing you’ve ever done?
Ellie: Well… our creator is a sweet romance author. Kissing is as far as we go.
Josiah: Yeah, really sucks. Maybe we’ll get to take a honeymoon in a sequel.
Ellie: More likely I’ll just show up pregnant.
Who made the first compromise in your relationship?
EXCERPT – A Christmas Homecoming
“It’s good to see you again, Josiah.” Ellie removed a glass and napkins from the wet bar’s cabinet. She faced him. “You’ve done well for yourself. Everyone in Marietta is so proud.”
“Have we met?”
Typical. She bit back a sigh.
“A long time ago.” Truth was, most people forgot about her. She tried not to let that bother her. Sometimes she succeeded. “I’m Ellie Smith. You tutored my brother Buck in math.”
“Buck Smith. I remember him. Great guy. Loved cows as much as I loved computers.”
Josiah’s friendlier tone was how she remembered him. “The two of you were obsessed.”
“No kidding.” He stared at a painting of a cattle drive hanging on the wall. “I couldn’t believe Buck wanted to teach me how to rope in exchange for tutoring him in geometry. I figured I’d get a glimpse into how cowboys live. Never imagined I’d win the roping championship that year, and he’d bring his D up to a B plus.”
“Buck was excited about his grade, but thrilled you won the trophy.”
“That was your brother. Putting others first when he was sick. Telling me I was the best out there that day, even though I wouldn’t have won if he’d been able to compete.”
Buck’s rare immunodeficiency disease with a name she still couldn’t pronounce properly had worsened by that point. He’d attended the rodeo in a wheelchair. Five months later, he’d died. Josiah had attended the funeral dressed like a cowboy in Buck’s hand-me-downs and been a pallbearer. “You won for both of you.”
“That’s what Buck said. I’d forgotten. And you…” Josiah’s gaze narrowed, then recognition flashed, followed by surprise. “You’re little Eleanor.”
“Yes, but I go by Ellie now. I’m not so little anymore.”
Josiah’s gaze ran the length of her. “No, you’re not.”
The appreciation in his eyes sent a burst of feminine pride through her. That hadn’t happened in months. She wasn’t sure she wanted it happening now, but her heart was beating like a horse pulling a sleigh through freshly fallen snow.
His smile reached his eyes, crinkling the corners, making her mouth go dry. Looks weren’t everything, she reminded herself. A pretty face didn’t make a man. Neither did a few billion in the bank.
“I remember three things that little Eleanor was never without.” His playful tone seemed out of character for the man she’d just met, but not the teenager who would describe video games in detail. “Blue glasses, lollipops, and books.”
So much for thinking she’d been cute and charming.
Laughing, she stepped closer to him. “Exactly how a woman wants to be remembered. A four-eyed, candy-addicted bookworm. Of course, you’re right.”
She was thrilled he recalled her at all. Sometimes she felt invisible. Her brother’s friends called her Buck’s little sister, even though he’d died in high school. She had a feeling none remembered her name.
“Endearing for sure.” Josiah leaned against the sofa. “Your spying, however, was annoying. Buck got so mad.”
She hunched her shoulders, fighting the urge to step back. “You saw me?”
“Being ninja-like and stealthy were not your best skills.”
Bet her cheeks looked like red circle brand marks. “I thought I was being clever. My grades were only slightly better than my brother’s, so clever is a relative term.”
“You were clever for staying quiet. We made sure you didn’t hear anything too juicy….”
USA Today bestselling author, Melissa McClone has published over thirty novels with Harlequin and Tule Publishing Group and been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three school-aged children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds and cats who think they rule the house.