Spotlight: Leigh Ellwood and Holiday Bliss

Shifting Into Holiday Mode

Thank you for joining me today, and thanks to Starla for hosting me.

I enjoy the final two months of the year for a number of reasons. One of them, however, isn’t for extra time to write despite NaNoWriMo. Around this time I’m surrounded by people and have my attentions elsewhere. We tend to travel more in the late fall and winter because of the holidays. My daughter is still young enough to appreciate the magic of the season without complaining about the cold. Me, I get to drink hot tea and read a lot of books.

As much as I enjoy cool weather, fall festivals, sitting by the fireplace and holiday eating (oof), I don’t write much about winter. Prior to Holiday Bliss (more on that in a minute) I had only two winter-themed shorts published. It could be the Florida girl in me, I can’t say.

When I was approached to contribute to a Christmas/Winter themed box set last year, though, I jumped at the chance. I had wanted to write a follow up to two paranormal stories in my Love is Bliss series. Here, shifters live among humans on the Jersey Shore as kind of an open secret and deal with life’s problems as anybody would…except shifters here have some rules when it comes to relationships. When I sat down to write Holiday Bliss, I wanted to focus on an older heroine from the first two stories, a widow who isn’t exactly looking for love but finds something in a handsome, younger handyman.

Sheila is a live by the rules panther shifter. She likes to keep up appearances and wants to help townsfolk for Christmas post-Hurricane Sandy. Jonah’s family is as prestigious among panthers, but he feels he deserves everything the other shifters have, including a companion. He just happens to want Sheila, and intends to make her holidays bright.

Holiday Bliss is available in eBook. It was part of Hot Holidays Treats last year, but has been revised for re-release. If you’re looking for an unconventional paranormal romance for the winter, hope you’ll try it.

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HolidayBlissAbout Holiday Bliss

Two years after super storm Sandy ripped up the Eastern seaboard, panther shifter Sheila Houlihan has finally rebuilt her home in the shore town of Bliss, New Jersey. She looks forward to her first Christmas there, if only Jonah will finish with the interior painting.

Jonah, however, is interested in being more than Sheila’s handyman. He doesn’t care about the difference in their ages, and with Sheila soon to become an empty nester he knows she’ll want some company to keep her warm this winter.

It’s only a matter of getting Sheila to see that age is only a number.


EXCERPT (R) – Holiday Bliss

Jonah paused a moment to study the family photos stacked atop a dresser in the guest room, which held the only bathroom Sheila would let them use. Sheila had a tweener son, staying with a friend until the paint job was completed, and a young married daughter who lived in New York City. He recognized a few people in some group photos—mainly panthers from various circles—and at the bottom of the stack rested an older wedding shot. Sheila hadn’t aged much since the day it was taken, and Jonah thought she looked beautiful in her long white gown, standing next to the former head of the Houlihan family.

Jeez, guy, get a grip. In his head he sounded like such a girl.

He did his business and washed his hands, then checked himself in the mirror. A bit of paint had splattered in his hair, but he’d cut out the clump if it didn’t come out with some shampoo later. Nothing in his teeth, a quick side-check of his torso to tuck in his gut for a model-like pose, and he started back downstairs.

Another set of photos, these tucked halfway under a pile of books on a coffee table, caught his eye first. Jonah knew he shouldn’t snoop, but with Sheila in the backyard playing hostess to that loud-mouthed wolf lady he figured it wouldn’t hurt to peek. Pictures fascinated him, and he often wondered why many of the panther families around Bliss never snapped shots of relatives in animal form. Grant joked once that a panther could barely manipulate a camera. He chuckled at the memory.

He rubbed away a flake of marigold paint from his fingertips and cut the book stack in half. He lifted the last two, set them aside, and tugged a corner of photographic paper. The gilt logo of a photography studio shone and it took him a moment to process that Sheila had gone in on one of those boudoir packages. The picture appeared recent—Sheila posed provocatively in a spaghetti-strapped red nightgown slit up one side. She reclined on a curved plush settee with the red silk dripping over one side to expose a shapely, smooth leg.

Damn. The woman looked good. Of course, she’d been made up and her hair teased out to make it appear fuller, but Jonah could tell it wasn’t an old picture. Underneath that, the stack of photographs were progressively racier—the outfits shrank and the setting changed from a bordello-style lounge to a lush bed.

Jonah’s pulse quickened a bit as he shuffled the snapshots before replacing them. His cock stiffened and he reached with his free hand to shift it for comfort. How long since he had sex? He couldn’t remember, and seeing any woman with a come-hither expression helped matters none. Why did Sheila pose for these, he wondered. Maybe she intended for them to be a gift to a suitor, but according to local gossip the widowed she-panther wasn’t attached to anybody, and hadn’t been since her husband died.

He knew some women did the boudoir thing for self-esteem, but couldn’t think that Sheila needed that kind of boost. She was a brassy broad—his mother’s words, anyway. It wasn’t like he could ask her, either.

He wished a woman would give him such pictures. When he did date, he ended up with the demure type. She-panthers in particular weren’t willing to put out if they knew they weren’t going to be mated to you. Since Jonah’s family lacked the status of the Houlihans, it reduced the number of prospects. He tried dating fully human women, too, but many of them knew about his panther and only wanted the thrill of being with a shifter—as though he had supernatural sexual powers. He’d lost count of the times he had to explain to a woman that fucking her wouldn’t give her his supernatural abilities, or make her immortal.

Lost in thought, he looked down to see he was stroking himself. It felt good. Damn. He missed having a woman’s lips wrapped around his cock. Warm and tight and wet, pulling with enough suction to get him to come. Then he’d wait a short while and he’d be hard again, ready to lay back and have her ride his cock, bouncing up and down so that her tits swayed and shook. He’d reach up to pinch those thick, pink nipples and watch her moan.

The drawstring keeping his work pants secured loosened now, and Jonah’s hand slipped under his briefs and took hold of his balls. They ached for satisfaction and he rolled them over his fingers for a few seconds before he snaked upward to rub his shaft. The soft skin pulled easily despite the lack of lubrication, but he kept working on his cock and encouraging the tingle of a growing orgasm.

He closed his eyes and pictured Sheila—a sexy cougar in panther’s guise—naked and bent, pressed against the wall with her ass pushed back. He’d seen her around in a swimsuit on the beach, and the differences in their ages didn’t matter to him. Her body certainly defied her years, for she looked fitter and toner than any of the bikini babes trotting along the shore in the peak of summer. Winter meant coverage, though with the recent warm days it called merely for light jackets, but it didn’t stop Jonah from fantasizing about Sheila’s exposed pussy, wet and waiting for him.

“What are you doing?” cried a high-pitched voice.

Jonah’s heart exploded, right at the same time he came in his pants. He hadn’t intended to finish right here, but move to the bathroom and squirt the evidence in the toilet. He definitely didn’t expect to open his eyes and find a very shocked, and clothed, Sheila gawking at him from the open doorway.

Her gaze panned his body, and Jonah looked down at the fist covered by his stained pants. Yeah, it would be a challenge coming up with an excuse for this.

“I asked a question, Jonah,” she said. “What are you doing in my study fondling yourself? I am paying you to wrap your hand around a paintbrush, not your dick.”

“Sorry,” he muttered, and released his sticky cock. He brought up a shining trail of cum with him and Sheila groaned at the mess. Without another word he dashed into the bathroom to clean himself.

“We’re almost done with the front room,” he called out, and felt silly if she wasn’t standing there listening. “We’ll start on the hallways next.”

“I was hoping to have the whole house finished today, but I see that’s not going to happen. Just get back down to work. I’m sure Grant’s not happy carrying the whole…ah, load.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Fuck, he felt like he was ten years old. He wet a few squares of tissue paper and scrubbed his cock, used the toilet, then flushed everything away. After washing up and straightening his appearance, he loped into the study to find Sheila gone.

In the upstairs hallway, he caught a glimpse of her reflection in the full length mirror of her bedroom. She paced slightly with her hand covering her mouth. Even so, he could tell she was smiling.



Leigh Ellwood writes romance and erotica. She enjoys reading and binge watching 70s-80s British TV. She is active on Twitter and invites you to drop her a line at @LeighEllwood.

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