Can Miss Christmas find her spirit again?
After a devastating betrayal, Claire Branham packs up the pieces of her life, along with a twenty-million-dollar secret, and moves to Eternity Springs. She opens a specialty shop—Forever Christmas—and, with the help of a surprise romance with the town’s sexy new handyman, Claire’s heart begins to heal. Until her past comes knocking…
Jax Lancaster never questioned the need to abandon his career as a Navy submariner in order to care for his young son in the wake of his ex-wife’s death. Desperate to help with this loss, Jax straps on a tool belt to give Nicholas the one thing he wants: A life in Eternity Springs. What Jax never expected to find a second chance at love with a fascinating woman for whom Christmas has become a business. But when the truth about Claire threatens their newfound happiness, can Jax prove to her that in Eternity Springs, the spirit of Christmas is real. . .and will last a lifetime?
READ AN EXCERPT:
In her apartment, he discovered she’d been busy since making the decision to move to Three Bears Valley.
“That’s a lot of boxes.”
“I know. I’m not quite sure how I’ve accumulated so much stuff. My closets aren’t that big. Of course, most of the boxes are filled with books.”
“That sound is my back groaning.”
She glanced at him in alarm. “You don’t have to help, Jax. I planned to hire some—”
He cut off her protest by placing his index finger against her lips. Her full, soft, cherry- red lips. His voice rough, he said, “I was teasing.”
She’d gone still. The pulse at her neck visibly fluttered.
Jax recognized that he’d made a mistake by touching her.
However, now that he’d done it, he couldn’t seem to stop.
He allowed his fi n ger to slide, stroking her bottom lip back and forth. Her mouth fell open. Back and forth. “Do you like to be teased, Miss Christmas?”
“No. Yes. It depends,” she replied, her voice low and breathy.
Jax chuckled softly. “ You’re quite a tease yourself.”
“Why do you say that?”
Had she swayed toward him as she spoke? Maybe so.
“You have mistletoe hung from every doorway in the building.”
“That’s not t- t- teasing. It’s marketing.” Her gaze was locked on his mouth. “Customers who shop with their significant others tend to love it. They linger.”
He lifted his free hand to her waist. “I like to linger.”
“Oh, yeah.” He pulled her closer. “I’ve been thinking about lingering since last July.”
“You ask a lot of questions, Miss Christmas.”
“ You’re delicious.”
“How do you know?” she challenged. “You haven’t kissed me.”
“Now, you have a point right there. But like I said, I like to linger.”
He tilted her face up to him and finally . . . finally . . . lowered his mouth to hers.
Jax hadn’t kissed a woman in a very long time, and he wanted to savor the experience, so he lingered as promised. He nipped and nibbled and leisurely explored, banking the rising heat her response triggered and keeping the moment within the bounds of a totally appropriate first kiss.
So when it suddenly caught fi re, it caught him by surprise. He wasn’t aware of backing her against the wall. He didn’t consciously tug the tie of her apron and free the knot, then slip his hand beneath her blouse to skim across the downy softness of her skin. She tasted of peppermint—
of course she does, she’s Miss Christmas— and smelled of cinnamon and made him ache. For sex, oh, yeah, definitely for sex, but also for something more.
Whoa. That last was just what he needed to shock himself out of the sensual haze into which he’d fallen. He shifted his hands back to safer territory and broke the kiss, lifting his head and gazing down into her upturned face.
The vision of her lips pink and wet and swollen from his kiss proved irresistible. He needed one more taste, so he dove in again.
The one more taste became a second taste and then a third. Only when it threatened to flare out of control completely was he able to release her and take a step back. For a long minute, they gazed at one another in a bit of a daze. When Jax finally found his voice, he said, “Wow. You pack
a punch, Miss Christmas.”
The slow smile that spread across her face was as sweet as a candy cane. “That’s the nicest thing anyone has said to me in a very long time.”
“That kiss is the nicest thing I’ve shared with anyone in a very long time,” he responded honestly.
She opened her mouth to speak, but hesitated. A shadow crossed her face and her teeth nibbled at that sweet lower lip. “What’s wrong?” Jax asked.
“I just . . . well . . . this is probably the absolutely wrong thing to say. Way too presumptive. But . . . after my last romantic disaster, I promised myself . . . you see . . . expectations are a dangerous thing. I don’t ever want anyone to think . . . I don’t want you to think . . .”
“Spit it out, Claire.”
“I like you, Jax. I really, really like you. And Nicholas, too. Like I said, I know this is presumptive, but I’d like to spend time with you. I’d like to share more . . .” She waved her hand about, obviously searching for a word. “More. But I’m not in the market for a relationship, and I want to be up- front about that.”
Christmastime has not been kind to Claire Branham. As a child, she suffered a devastating family loss, then, as an adult, she found out she was betrayed in the worst possible way by her fiancé. Rather than give up on Christmas, Claire decides to boldly celebrate it by opening up a year round shop called Forever Christmas in the town of Eternity Springs. The town begins to work its magic, and Claire begins to heal, though she steers clear of any involvement, or even dating. One evening, while partaking in the springs, she strikes up a conversation with an attractive man who is also enjoying the fragrant waters.
Jax Lancaster is just about to leave town after his son, Nicholas, completed his stay at a camp designed to help troubled children. Nicholas was in a traumatic accident in which his mother was killed – this accident also occurred around Christmas, leaving him terrified of anything to do with the holiday, as well as a fear of dogs. The wonderful people at the camp were able to help Nicholas overcome his fear of the animals, but Christmas still can send him into hysterics. Jax and Claire share a long and satisfying conversation in the springs, and on impulse, Claire buys him a gift before he leaves town – a journal with the encouraging word “Believe” on it. She urges him to write down something positive every day, and wishes him and Nicholas well.
Nicholas doesn’t do so well once he leaves Eternity Springs, and he longs to go back. Jax also has to deal with his former wife’s parents, who have overstepped their boundaries many times regarding Nicholas. Jax decides to take Nicholas back to Eternity Springs temporarily, hoping that the town and its people will help Nicholas to further improve. Truth be told, Nicholas looks forward to furthering his acquaintance with Claire, as well. While still a little gun shy, Claire decides to enjoy Jax’s company without becoming emotionally involved. As the two of them get to know each other better, they decide to have a “no strings” fling.
CHRISTMAS IN ETERNITY SPRINGS is a beautifully written, heartwarming romance. Jax and Claire have both suffered loss and hurt and are very wary of love. Toss in an endearing little boy trying hard to be brave and normal, and all the ingredients are there for a perfect holiday read. I loved the slow build up to intimacy – though they decided to have an affair, they didn’t jump right into it. They got to know each other first. It’s obvious that they make up the perfect family, but they had to get past the roadblocks first. This book flowed along at a great pace, tugging at my heart with each page. I loved this visit to Eternity Springs, and look forward to catching up on the other books in this wonderful series by Emily March.