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Hope for the Holidays

Hope for the Holidays

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Hope for the Holidays

4/5 (18 Bewertungen)
105 Seiten
1 Stunde
Dec 12, 2019


Sometimes a first love needs a push... or a pregnancy.

Priscilla Reddy has returned to Hope Springs following a breakup she should've seen coming. The small Texas Hill Country town is where she wants to raise her child. But on her first day back, she runs into the reason she left: the man whose life she ruined.

Cary Browning was a geek in high school and remains a geek today. His work as a comic book creator gives children hope—and a survivor to cheer them on. But now that Cilla's back, he can't escape memories of his own damaged past… or what he did to protect Cilla's.

Is Hope Springs big enough for both of their secrets… and a future?

Dec 12, 2019

Über den Autor

A native Texan, Alison (who is also the author of the RITE OF WRONGS procedural thriller written as Mica Stone) sold one of the first of her over fifty published works live on the "Isn't It Romantic?" episode of CBS 48 Hours. The resulting book, CALL ME, was a Romantic Times finalist for Best First Series Book. Alison's book, A LONG, HARD RIDE, part of Harlequin's 60th Anniversary celebration, was nominated for an RT Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Harlequin Blaze of 2009. STRIPTEASE, a 2003 release from Harlequin Blaze and part of her popular gIRL-gEAR series, was also an RT Reviewer's Choice Award nominee. Her 2005 Kensington Brava release, THE BEACH ALIBI, was a nominee for the national Quill Awards, sponsored by Reed Business Information. Alison is also the author of THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO WRITING EROTIC ROMANCE, and her 2009 novel, NO LIMITS, was a Cosmopolitan Magazine Red Hot Read. THE SECOND CHANCE CAFE, the first in her Hope Springs series from Amazon Montlake, was a 2014 RITA finalist in contemporary romance. If there's a better career out there than writing, she doesn't want to know about it, as she's quite happy putting pen to paper in the backyard of her Texas home. That's where she lives with her petroleum geologist husband, their pack of rescue dogs, and a colony of not-quite-feral cats, battling the heat each year to raise a bumper crop of tomatoes and jalapeno peppers.

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Hope for the Holidays - Alison Kent


Chapter One

NINE DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS, Cary Browning walked out of Bread and Bean, a loaf of warm sourdough tucked in a brown paper sleeve held to his nose, and nearly ran into Priscilla Reddy.

A very pregnant Priscilla Reddy.

Excuse me, she said, sidestepping before their feet tangled and one of them, or both of them, tumbled to the sidewalk fronting the Fourth Street foodie boutiques.

Bread and Bean, Bliss, and Butters Bakery occupied the same block—a block that stayed busy not only during the holiday season but year-round. Not a surprise considering the offerings: coffee, fresh-baked bread, artisanal chocolates, cookies, cakes...

It was a wonder there weren’t more foot-traffic accidents what with additional shops opening, others relocating to this growing business district, and some, like Butters Bakery, being sold. The previous owners had retired and the new owners had expanded into pastries and pies.

Cary didn’t mind the changes but then he was part of them. Because in addition to earning a reputation as a destination for antiques and crafts as well as food and wine, the small Texas Hill Country town of Hope Springs had seen a lot of folks returning for a second chance.

In his case, it was more of a first.


She looked up, blinking and rattled as if she’d forgotten that she’d spoken to him first. Her eyes were a dull sort of green. Flat. The same spruce he used for coloring Tabby Danger’s.

An uncomfortably aching heartbeat passed, then... Cary? Are you kidding me?

Her cheeks flushed and she reached up to brush her hair from her face. It was dull, too, though he was lost for a work-related comparison. He just remembered the way her fat blond curls had bounced around her shoulders while she’d led pep rally cheers.

Her hair wasn’t bouncing now.

It surprised him, her appearance. She’d always been... perfect. And he hadn’t been the only one to think so. Maybe the difference was being pregnant. Except expectant women were supposed to glow or something, right? Cilla looked about as bright as the lead in his favorite slate-gray pencil.

Not kidding, he said, moving clear of the Bread and Bean door. It closed behind him with a Christmas-bell jingle from the overhead chime. He looked around briefly for a husband or boyfriend, but she appeared to be alone. It’s me.

What are you doing here? I don’t mean here—she waved a hand toward his purchase, her laugh strangely effervescent when the rest of her was so drab—because you’re obviously buying bread. But what are you doing in Hope Springs?

Right. She wouldn’t have had any reason to keep up with him. I’m living here again.

Her face paled, what looked like regret—or guilt—etched at the corners of her unmade eyes. She wasn’t wearing makeup. That had to be part of why she looked so... not like Cilla. He couldn’t remember her ever looking like less than a million bucks.

I’m sorry about your parents, she was saying when he found his focus, her eyes reddening, her gaze searching his face for what he thought might be forgiveness though that was most likely his imagination. I heard they’d both passed.

Huh. He and Cilla had never run in the same circles in school—his friends had lived in the pages of comic books—and he couldn’t imagine anyone knowing about his folks, much less talking to her about their deaths. They’d come two years apart, almost to the day. Cancer and grief.

He’d been surprised by the latter. He hadn’t thought his father—either of his parents really—capable of the emotion. Of being struck down by loss. Of feelings at all. Especially not when it came to family. They’d only acknowledged his existence when they had to, leaving him to surmise that he hadn’t been wanted. That ignoring him was how they dealt with what they considered a mistake.

He shook off his past, done with all of it, curious to find out what was going on with Cilla. Because this woman was not the spirited girl he’d crushed on the three and a half years they’d spent together in high school.

He balked at the insistence prickling at his nape and saying nothing about his feelings for her had changed. What about you? What are you doing back?

She started walking and Cary followed as she held up the small red foil package in her left hand. She wasn’t wearing a ring. I’m looking to drown my sorrows in chocolate, she said, lowering the bag from Bliss before lifting the one from Butters Bakery, before I finish them off with vanilla buttercream.

That explained what she was doing on this particular block but not why she’d returned to town. You can’t get chocolate or vanilla buttercream in New York?

This time when she glanced over, a spark of the girl from his past danced teasingly through her expression. And a dimple appeared in her cheek. Now why would you know where I’ve been living?

He shrugged, not sure he was ready to be that honest. I heard someone mention it once.

Uh-huh, she said and kept walking.

And since she hadn’t left him with a farewell of any kind, he kept walking, too, watching as she took in their surroundings: matching wreaths with red plaid bows hanging on the doors of the shops. Glittery garland in silver and gold wrapping street signs and light poles. Twinkling lights like sheets of white stars dangling from storefront awnings. Branches of the tree standing tall in the town square holding colorful, oversized balls.

Her dimple deepened. Her eyes twinkled, too. It’s funny how even with the changes, like the chocolate shop and coffee bar, everything still looks the same. I’ve always loved Christmas in Hope Springs. The decorations. The seasonal smells.

There was something to be said for the familiar, he supposed. He couldn’t think of another reason why he’d stayed after his father’s passing. Or why he hadn’t tossed more of his parents’ stuff and replaced it with what worked for him. He should spring clean now rather than wait.

He could redo the whole house. Give himself new furniture for Christmas, hire Keller Construction to open up the first floor so the house could breathe. He could afford it.

And he was tired of suffocating. Familiarity’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Oh, I didn’t mean it was, she said, stopping at the intersection and looking up for the crossing light.

He couldn’t help himself. Your New York’s showing, he said, walking by and waiting for her in the middle of the empty street.

Ha ha. She smiled playfully, the old Cilla, and shoved her shoulder into his arm as she passed, then kicked at a whorl of cracked brown leaves and pine straw blowing across her path. "I guess you can take the small town out of the girl."

Is that a problem? He asked because of the weight of the sigh she’d used as punctuation.

They reached her car then, a rental angled face-forward against the curb on the next block in front of an art gallery. She used the fob to unlock it. She opened it. She met and held his gaze across the doorframe as if it were a safety barrier, one more thing to come between them, to keep them apart.

I hope not since I’m moving back, too.

Time ticked between them, a slow-motion second hand that clanged like cymbals.

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  • (5/5)
    Fun and sexy and full of warmth and feels very Christmas in a small-towny!