But Ginny can’t pretend any longer. When she finds out she’s going to be alone for the holidays this year, her Christmas spirit goes out the window, along with her luck. Everything that can go wrong does, and Ginny just wants to spend the holidays hiding under the covers…until Dean Riley comes back into her life. With their shared past, old feelings begin to resurface almost immediately, and Ginny thinks Dean might just be the Christmas miracle she’s been waiting for to help her remember why Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year.
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
by Marie Landry
Release Date: 11/05/13
Summary from Goodreads:
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, right? At least that’s what twenty-year-old Ginny Bailey’s grandmother always told her, and Ginny believed it until Grama died. She even put on a brave face the following two Christmases, carrying on Grama’s traditions and decorating her house and café with Grama’s favorite decorations.
What people are saying about The Most Wonderful Time of the Year:
“While The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is a quick read, it is an adorable one. This story shows the value of friends and family and the importance they have in our lives, no matter what time of the year it is…If you’re looking for a well-written, heartwarming story for those cold days, pick this up.”
~ Jessica Sankiewicz, author of If Only We
“Marie Landry delivered the perfect little holiday novella with The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. It has a small-town coffee shop, memories of Christmas with Grandma, snowballs, hot cocoa and a yummy man from our heroine’s past. Mini review: romantic, sweet and filled with holiday spirit.”
Kimberly from Caffeinated Book Reviewer
“The Most Wonderful Time of Year was quick and sweet, just how I like my holiday reads.”
~ Christy from Love of Books
“I never forgot about you,” Dean said. “When I saw you in the café yesterday, I knew you looked familiar but I couldn’t even begin to hope it was you. You look so different, and I figured you’d probably left town after your grandmother passed. But now…this is like…I don’t even know, it’s too crazy to put into words. After all these years, here we are. Adults, living next door to each other.”
“All grown up,” I said with a little smile. “Now two years doesn’t seem like any age difference at all, does it?”
“It doesn’t.” His bright blue eyes shifted to my mouth, and his lips twitched into a smile. “And I bet if I wanted to kiss you, I wouldn’t have to find an excuse.”
My breath hitched and my heart did a weird little tripping thing in my chest. “You never asked if I have a boyfriend. How do you know I’m not married with kids?”
He chuckled. “I don’t think you’d be looking at me the way you are if you were married with kids,” he said. “Or even if you had a boyfriend.”
“And how am I looking at you?”
“Like you used to all those years ago.” I hadn’t noticed him leaning forward, but now his face was just inches from mine. “Like I imagine I used to look at you when I wanted to kiss you, but you had no clue.”
I couldn’t believe I was sitting in my kitchen staring into the eyes of my childhood crush. The years we’d spent apart faded away, and all I could think about was that sixteen-year-old boy who’d told me I should hold his hand whenever we jumped into the lake, or who always rubbed my arms over my towel when we got out dripping wet. Now I could see what I hadn’t seen then—the look of affection in his eyes, the way he’d use any excuse to touch me, just like he said. I had no idea what Dean the man was like, but I’d known and loved Dean the boy and that was good enough for me at this moment.
“Nothing’s stopping you from kissing me now,” I told him, surprised by the low, throaty sound of my voice.
A grin flashed across his face, and he closed the distance between us. His lips hadn’t even touched mine when the doorbell rang, startling us apart.
“And so my bad luck from yesterday returns,” I muttered.
Dean looked at me questioningly, but I just shook my head regretfully and slid from the stool. “Hold that thought.”
He nodded, his eyes following me as I stood. “I’ll just use your phone while I wait.”
Freddy was standing on my front steps when I opened the door. “Hey, sweetheart,” he said, holding up his toolbox. “My first appointment was pushed back so I thought I’d come take a look at that beast of a water heater, see what I can do.”
I stepped aside and let him in. “That’s great, Freddy, thanks.” He kicked off his snowy boots and headed down the hallway, pausing when he met Dean, who was coming out of the kitchen. Freddy looked over his shoulder at me with raised eyebrows, and I said a silent prayer of thanks that he wasn’t one of the gossipy people in town.
“Fred, this is my new neighbour, Dean Riley,” I explained. “He’s Mr. Riley’s grandson.”
“Ahh, right, I heard you’d be moving to town to take over the old man’s house.” Freddy shook Dean’s hand and they exchanged pleasantries before Dean started telling him about how he’d checked out the water heater but didn’t know if he had the right tools to fix it.
I stopped paying attention. I took the opportunity to admire Dean; he stood with his hands in his jeans pockets, nodding along to something Freddy was saying, and when he laughed I felt my lips twitch in response. He had a great laugh—he didn’t hold back, and his whole face lit up.
His gaze slid past Freddy and landed on me, and I blushed at being caught staring. His grin morphed into something different, something almost secret and private, and my body grew as warm as my cheeks.
Freddy excused himself to get to work, and Dean sauntered over to me, his hands still shoved in his pockets. “I need to get going.” I must not have done a very good job of hiding my disappointment because he reached out and rested one hand on my shoulder. “I have to go meet with the realtor who handles my granddad’s properties, but…what do you say we hang out tonight? Get to know each other as adults instead of kids.”
“I’d love that,” I said, unable to control the almost-giddy smile that overtook my face. As much as I wished we hadn’t been interrupted in the kitchen, I had to admit it would have been weird to kiss him after being reunited for such a short time, especially considering we hadn’t seen each other in years. I wasn’t a prude, but I also wasn’t the type of girl who moved that quickly.
Even if I may have wanted to…
I watched Dean wrestle his boots onto his feet before slipping into his coat. “I saw a flyer downtown yesterday for some big Christmas concert happening tonight at Town Hall. Maybe we could go to that, then see where the night takes us?”
The Christmas concert. Damn! I’d forgotten all about it. Every year local groups got together and put on a variety show of sorts—the dance school did a short rendition of The Nutcracker, the choir led a sing-along, and the elementary and high schools did different skits and musical acts. Grama had been on the organization committee for years and I’d always helped her.
With my Christmas spirit waning fast, Town Hall was the last place I wanted to be tonight. Dean was looking at me with a mixture of hope and expectation, so I said, “The Christmas concert sounds great.”
“Perfect.” He leaned toward me and I was sure he was going to kiss me, but instead he whispered in my ear, “I hope they have mistletoe at this concert.” He brushed his lips over my cheek and stepped back to meet my eyes with a devilish smile. “I’ll pick you up at six?”
I nodded mutely, stepping numbly out of the way when he moved past me to open the door. He stood in the doorway for a moment, regarding me with an unreadable expression.
“It’s really good to see you again, Ginny.”
“It’s really good to see you again too, Dean. I hope we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other.”
Dean’s smile widened, and I realized I should have chosen my words a little more carefully. “I hope so too. I’ll see you tonight.”
About the Author
Marie Landry is the author of BLUE SKY DAYS (contemporary YA—January 2012), THE GAME CHANGER (women’s fiction—November 2012), WAITING FOR THE STORM (contemporary YA—April 2013), and THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR (a new adult holiday novella-November 2013). Marie has always been a daydreamer; since early childhood, she’s had a passion for words and a desire to create imaginary worlds, so it only seemed natural for her to become a writer. She resides in Ontario, Canada, and most days you can find her writing, reading, blogging about writing and reading, listening to U2, wandering around with a camera in her hand, watching copious amounts of TV on DVD, or having grand adventures with her nephews and niece.
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