Gingerbread & Jingle Bells
Publication date: October 12th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Holiday, Romance
You never get a second chance at a first kiss…
Eve Richards has made every sacrifice to become a rising corporate executive in the big city–until this December. Her grandmother needs help running the family bakery, so Eve is finally taking her unused vacation to return to her small hometown to count cookies instead of corporate cash.
Eve isn’t the only person returning to town. Her childhood sidekick, the recipient of her very determined (but fairly disastrous) first-ever attempt at a kiss, has returned as well. Daniel Shepherd, the once-shy boy from England, is now the town’s swoon-worthy new veterinarian. Grandma’s obvious matchmaking attempts are as mortifying as the memory of the awkward kiss that ended their friendship so many years ago, but the more time Eve spends with Daniel, the harder it is to resist the temptation to take a second chance at that first kiss.
But Daniel has come back to Masterson to put down roots; Eve will be gone after the holiday rush at the bakery. Nothing good could possibly come from letting herself fall for the man who was once her best friend.
A kiss before Christmas could be the key. Will it be the sweet ending to their childhood story…or will Eve risk everything for the chance to turn her first love into a forever love?
A heartwarming wintery romance from a USA Today Bestselling Author and RITA Award winner, set in a wonderfully unique 1980s setting. Perfect for fans of sweet and sincere happily-ever-afters.
“Caro Carson writes books that touch the heart; they’re witty, wise, emotional and filled with intricately layered, fascinating characters.”
–NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne
Eve clutched the apron to her chest, wishing she could rewind the conversation—and this time, keep her mouth shut. “Listen, the gingerbread giant is on the house. One-hundred percent discount. I don’t even work here. It was my goof. Please, don’t tell anybody about this. My grandmother always does everything right when it comes to the bakery.”
“I insist on paying for it. It’s even more festive now that you’ve fixed the damage.” He reached out to take the apron from her, admonishing her lightly in that posh British accent. “Besides, you cannot seriously think I would ever harm your grandmother’s reputation. She is kindness itself. She never charged me for a single cookie she gave me as a child.”
As a child? Eve searched his handsome face, its masculine angles appealing but unfamiliar. His smile lit his eyes, which were as warm and brown as rich gingerbread. Posh, British gingerbread…
“Oh, my goodness. I know you. You’re—”
“Jingle Bell!” the man shouted, as the brown dog came sprinting back into the kitchen.
Eve squealed in terror as she dove to save the freshly frosted giant, but with a stern sit and stay, the man stopped the dog in its tracks as if he were some kind of magician.
“My apologies,” he said. “She was a stray until quite recently. I’ve been working with her, but her instinct to steal food still overcomes her at times.”
“Daniel Shephard.” She pressed her hand over her hard-beating heart. “It’s me, Evie Richards. From fifth grade. I didn’t recognize you, now that you’re all…” She nodded toward his sharp black slacks, his narrow tie. Toward the broad chest that filled out a burgundy dress shirt. Up, way up, to those eyes. Hadn’t she been the taller one? “…all grown up, and—and tall. Do you recognize me?”
“Yes, of course.”
She dropped her hand. She liked to think she was a polished, worldly woman of business, but apparently, she didn’t look much different from a girl in cable-knit tights. She forced a chuckle. “I haven’t changed, huh?”
“We are standing in your family’s bakery. That’s quite the clue.”
“Right.” Her cheeks were warm. “This is such a coincidence, because I was thinking about you today with the snow flurries, and now here you are.”
Daniel crossed his arms over his chest and returned her gaze with an indulgent sort of smile, like he knew she was a little flustered as she tried to reconcile the boy she’d known with the man in her bakery.
He apparently was having no trouble seeing little Evie Richards in her. He didn’t look flustered in the least. Then again, he hadn’t been putting his foot in his mouth about discounts and patch jobs or yelping in terror at a dog.
She turned her back to him and picked up a wide box of cellophane wrap, taking two seconds to compose herself. Then she turned around like the brisk, efficient woman she was, ready to secure the giant cookie to its support board for the short trip to the veterinary clinic. “So, you’re back in town and going to the party. Who do you know at the vet’s office?”
Are you somebody’s date? Maybe he had a wife. She dropped her gaze to his hand.
He ruffled his dog’s ears affectionately.
Stop petting your dog. I want to see your ring finger.
“I am the vet, actually. Dr. Shephard, at your service.”
Despite a no-nonsense background as a West Point graduate and U.S. Army officer, Caro Carson has always treasured the happily-ever-after of a good romance novel. After her military service, she worked in the healthcare industry with a Fortune 100 company, talking science with doctors who were rarely handsome bachelor Texans like the doctors in her books. Now a USA Today bestselling author and RITA™award winner, Caro is delighted to be living her own happily-ever-after with her husband (who actually is a handsome Texan) and their two children. They live in the great state of Florida, a location which has saved the coaster-loving theme park fanatics a fortune on plane tickets.
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