I was thrilled to be able to send them a check for $300 in January and have since decided that each December I will pick one of my books to donate that month’s royalties to someone or an organization in need.
This year, the choice is Mistletoe Magic. Why the second book in my Romancing Wisconsin series, you ask? (Even if you didn’t, let’s pretend, shall we?) Well, for one, it earns a higher royalty rate than the first in the series, which means more $ for my charity of choice, and two, my heroine in the story runs a non-profit animal rescue at the old, shut-down resort my hero purchased right out from under her.
Lots of conflict, but it’s a romance, so you know there’ll be a happily ever after. In honor of Janelle’s efforts in the story, my royalties for December from Mistletoe Magic will be donated to the no-kill shelter Happily Ever After.
Their mission: Through the work of the sanctuary and its education, adoption, and spay/neuter programs, the mission of Happily Ever After is to provide both temporary and lifetime care to animals and bring about a time when all the companion animals born into this world will be guaranteed a quality of life in a loving home.
In my book, this is precisely what Janelle tries to accomplish with her animal rescue shelter, but she’s going to have some major bumps along the road—especially when she has to deal with the stubborn new owner. Here’s a brief glimpse of the struggles she faces.
Mistletoe Magic: Major Mark Riley plays Court Jester to Janelle Walsh's Snow Queen at the Christmas Parade and is instantly captivated by the cute redhead whose grandpa just happens to be Santa. When Mark learns she's the tenant he evicted from his newly purchased property, it's going to take a little bit of Santa's mistletoe magic to save their romance.
Two nights later, after a long day spent with the animals in a failed attempt to keep her mind off her new landlord, Janelle stepped from the bathroom in a cloud of steam. The tucked end of her sage green towel slipped loose and she made a quick grab as it began to unravel from around her body.
The low, muttered curse about gave her a heart attack. She whirled with a gasp and pressed her back to the wall, nearly losing her towel yet again.
Mark Riley stood in the hallway. Her heart thundered in her ears. There wasn’t enough air in the narrow space to fill her lungs.
Then she realized his attention focused below her chin and she clutched the terrycloth covering in a trembling death grip. She glanced down to make sure it covered top and bottom before shooting him a glare.
“What the hell are you doing here?” she demanded.
His brown gaze rose to hers. “I own the place, remember?”
“Like I could forget that lovely fact. How’d you get in? Where’s Duke and Daisy?”
He held up a key in answer to the first question. “As for your dogs, they’re currently enjoying beef strips on the porch. I came prepared.”
His gaze flicked down, up for a split-second, then down again. Heat inundated her limbs, all the way to her toes. She turned toward her bedroom doorway until she noticed he carried a large military duffle bag in each hand.
Suspicion stalled her escape. “What are those?”
“I’m moving in.”
Janelle’s stomach lurched. “You can’t do that.”
He smiled as he started forward. “Of course I can, it’s my house.”
Her fingers tightened on the edges of the towel. She backed into her doorway, less brave now wearing a scrap of cloth with water dripping from her hair onto her bare shoulders than the other day when she’d refused to let him intimidate her. His smart-ass grin made her hold what ground she had left, but he walked past her toward the master suite in the lodge’s private wing.
Suspicion narrowed her eyes and she followed him, flicking her wet curls back over her shoulder. “I know exactly what you’re doing, but it’s not going to work.”
He tossed his bags into the bedroom. After they’d thumped to a halt on the hardwood, he turned back and leaned against the doorframe with his arms crossed, legs braced slightly apart. “No?”
“No.” She refused to let her gaze linger on the bulge of his biceps—or anywhere else. “You moving in will not make me leave.”
His gaze took a blatant journey down the length of her towel-clad body. Goosebumps broke out over her skin. A hint of a smile tugged at his lips when he lifted his eyes back to hers. “Now that’s a real shame.”
The potent combination of his low husky drawl and the heat in his eyes almost made her run to her room and pack her bags. Almost. “Laugh all you want, I’m—”
“Who’s laughing? I’m heartbroken you’re not already on your way out the door.”
She stomped a foot on the hardwood floor. “I’m serious about this. I’ll get my own lawyer if I have to.”
He slipped his hands into his pockets and tilted his head, his expression thoughtful. “How much longer is this conversation going to last?”
My God, he was an arrogant jerk! “As long as it has to—why?”
His thick, dark lashes lowered. “Because that little green towel is a major turn-on.”
Her gaze dropped to the front of his jeans before she could stop it. His low chuckle made her face flush red hot.
Move! her mind shouted.
Still, she hesitated—until reality set in. Retreat was the best option. Her only option, considering she floundered so far out of her depth she couldn’t even tread water.
She spun around and marched to her room, her tattered dignity leaving a pathetic trail. A low groan of male appreciation reached her ears a moment before she slammed her door and her Jello-ed knees refused to hold her straight. She sagged against the wood at her back.
For a second, a brief, insane moment back there, she’d almost stepped toward him instead of saving herself. She closed her eyes and banged the back of her head on the door. Wake up, Janelle! No way in hell this could work out.
After she’d pulled on underwear, socks, a bra and the ugliest pair of sweats she owned, she took a deep breath and forced herself to get right back on the horse, so to speak. Mark sprawled in a chair at the kitchen table with a cup of the coffee she’d set to brew during her shower. Duke lay at his feet under the table, and Daisy sat next to his chair, her head pillowed on his thigh. His large hand stroked her head while he browsed through the pages of a magazine.
What would it feel like to have him stroke me with those fingers?
She stared, mesmerized by the rhythmic caress Daisy enjoyed. Duke’s soft woof broke her out of the dangerous fantasy. Given the state of her traitorous mind, it took a Herculean effort to force her feet forward and face the man.
Not that it mattered. He didn’t even acknowledge her with so much as a blink of an eye. When he continued to flip the pages, she dragged out the chair kitty-corner to him and set it in place with a loud thunk before sitting down. He calmly took a drink of his coffee.
Janelle slapped her palm on the table. Daisy’s flinch sparked guilt, but Mark was the one to calm the dog with a soft murmured word of reassurance. Janelle leaned forward and said through gritted teeth, “We need to talk.”
He spared her a half second glance, then turned another page of his magazine. Something to do with architecture, she noted absently.
“Come on, Mark, this is not going to work and you know it.”
His slow smile stoked her annoyance.
Flip. Silence. Flip.
She reached over, flipped the damn magazine closed, and kept her hand on it while willing him to look at her. “You. Can. Not. Move. In.”
After a long moment, he sat forward, pushed his chair back, and stood. “I’m sorry, I can’t do this right now.”
He grabbed his jacket off the chair and a set of keys from the counter. Her confusion grew. Hands out, palms up, she demanded, “Why not?”
He shrugged into his coat. “Because I just know it won’t be any fun arguing with you while you’re dressed.”
He disappeared into the great room and the door clicked shut before she could get her mind to form a coherent reply. Frustration hit hard when she heard his Jeep start. She slumped in her chair and threw up her hands.
“The man is impossible!”
Normally I don’t ask people to buy my books, but this time I am. Please get your copy of Mistletoe Magic today while all my royalties for this individual story are being donated to the Happily Ever After shelter. Mistletoe Magic can be found at the following locations: Amazon, BN, Apple, ARe, Kobo, Smashwords
Please leave a comment about your favorite charity and I’ll draw three winners for an ebook copy of DRAGONFLY DREAMS.
Thank you so much for helping out a good cause, and I hope you enjoy the book/s. Merry Christmas!
About Stacey Joy Netzel
I fell in love with books at a young age, so for me the graduation to writing them was natural. An avid reader and fan of movies with a happily ever after, I am thrilled to call myself a full-time writer after 20 years as a travel agent. I write romantic suspense, contemporary romance, and the occasional paranormal short story just for fun.
I live in my native Wisconsin with my husband and three children, a couple horses and some barn cats. In my limited free time I enjoy gardening, canning, and visiting my parents in Northeastern Wisconsin (Up North) at the family cabin on the lake.