Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Enjoy an Excerpt from Mistletoe Magic by Linda Wisdom



For lovers of Brigadoon here's a Christmas version. Warm-hearted and wonderful.

Quinn was more than ready for a getaway. To avoid her family, friends
and would-be fiancé she sought refuge in the Vermont mountains.

Then the blizzard hit like a freight train.

Santee wasn’t sure what drew him to the snowy east at Christmastime.
And he sure didn’t expect to find the lovely Quinn or a room at the
picturesque Mistletoe Inn.

The charming town of Mistletoe keeps the holiday cheer all year round.
And a glow that envelopes Quinn and Santee gives them something
magical neither expected to find.

The question is, is this merely a wish for the holiday season only or
something that will last forever?


December 9 Boston

"Quinn, I don't understand why you have all this hostility toward your mother. I think the real reason you're upset with her is because she and Nick want to spend the holidays in Barbados rather than here in town."

Quinn O’Hara gripped the receiver in one hand and crumpled the lacy bra in the other, wishing it was her mother's lovely swanlike neck instead.

"Alan, I really don't care to discuss my mother's holiday plans. I'm glad she and Nick decided not to go to Jamaica this year. Especially with Dad and Mindy spending the holidays there. It wasn't a pretty sight the last time Mother ran into Dad with his wife of the moment." She rolled her eyes at the mental picture of her father's latest wife. She had to be a good ten years younger than Quinn and boasted a former career as a well-known stripper.  Correction, exotic dancer. "The two couples staying on the same island is just as dangerous as their staying at the same hotel. They never understood the meaning of amicable divorce."

"You need to fully express your inner most feelings, Quinn. I know you'd feel better if you did."

It was times like this she hated dating a clinical psychologist specializing in family matters. He always insisted on analyzing everything to death and there were days when she just wanted to leave it alone. Especially when it came to her dysfunctional family.

"Alan, I'll feel much better once I reach the Crystal Falls Lodge. I can work off my excess energy on the slopes." She carefully smoothed out her bra and folded it before tucking it into a corner of her suitcase.

"I wish you'd stay here for the holidays." He sounded forlorn.

"I know that, Alan, but I need to get away." She purposely lowered her voice in hopes she would sound surer of herself since, right now, she wasn't sure of anything. Unless you counted her strong need to drive up north and hole up there until the holidays were over. She wasn't sure why, but her compulsion to go up to Crystal Falls seemed to grow stronger each day.

"If you need to be somewhere for the holidays, come home with me," he urged. "You know how much my parents would love to have you for a visit. And with my traveling to all those seminars these past few months, we haven't had very much time together lately."

Not an unreasonable request considering Alan had been trying to persuade Quinn to marry him for the past seven months, fourteen days, fifteen hours and so on.  And, for the past seven months, fourteen days, fifteen hours and so on, Quinn had been politely putting him off, even though she continued dating him. She told herself it wasn't fair to keep leading him on. She had to make a decision soon. For a woman who could make split-second decisions in business, she was hopeless when dealing with her own personal problems.

She didn't know why she was feeling so indecisive.

She did enjoy his company and they had known each other since childhood. In their social circle, Alan was considered a wonderful catch. She reminded herself of his up-and-coming career -- there's always someone who needs a psychologist who has a thriving practice. Then there’s his excellent family background -- his ancestors settled in Boston a hundred and fifty years ago and quickly was well known in the medical field. Alan had no bad habits and was so faithful he sometimes reminded her of a loyal beagle. She was really more a cat person. He was the perfect catch. Especially for a woman whose own ancestors arrived on a boat, happy to get work as domestic help, he was manna from heaven. There was only one problem. Every time Alan proposed to Quinn, she promptly headed for a bottle of antacids. If she hadn't insisted he stop proposing every time he saw her, she would have been tip to a bottle and a half of tablets a day. For now, she was managing with just half a bottle.

Quinn thought of Alan's mother whose life revolved around the Thursday afternoon garden club, the opera, the symphony and her chairing various charity committees. Even with Quinn’s less than stellar family background Vivian’s latest aim in life was to see her son married to here so she could sponsor Quinn to her many clubs and polish her to a high gloss. She shuddered in horror at the thought and immediately reached for the tablets on her dresser.

"Alan, reservations at the Crystal Falls Lodge for this time of year are more valuable than platinum or diamonds," she reminded him, her teeth crunching down on the tablets as quietly as possible. "You know how hectic work has been for me lately. I really need to get away. So I plan to do a lot of skiing, and squeeze in some relaxation."

"And will you be thinking about us?" He lowered his voice to an intimate rumble. She hoped she wouldn't have to break open a new bottle. She only had a few tablets left in this one. "Darling, you know how much I love you and want to marry you. Please, Quinn, put me out of my misery and say yes." He went on to tease, "I won't even flinch when you leave your clothes scattered all over the house or don't balance your checkbook for six months."

She looked heavenward for advice. It was easier than marrying every man she met the way her mother did, So far Fate has been pretty darn quiet.

"All right, Alan," she said finally, now desperate for a cigarette since the tablets didn't seem to be working. And here she’d quit smoking two years ago. It seemed all her bad habits were starting to rise up. If she wasn’t careful she’d be biting her nails down to the quick. "I promise you I will think very hard about us and I'll give you my answer when I get back."

"Then I'll hope it's the right one," he said, convinced she would have the good sense to say yes. "We're perfect together, Quinn, and everyone knows it. And we both want children."

Yes, she wanted to marry. Yes, she wanted children. But even though Alan was a wonderful man, was he the man she wanted as the father of those children? Everyone thought they were perfect together, but was that reason enough to get married?

"Yes, Alan, you're right."

His voice displayed the proper amount of soothing caress. "Don't worry, darling. I know you'll make the right decision. Call me when you reach the lodge, so I know you've arrived safely. You know I'll worry about you on the road. I wish you'd told me about your plans earlier, so that I could have arranged to go with you."

That was exactly why Quinn hadn't said anything until a couple days ago. She quickly terminated the call and resumed her packing.

She chewed the last of the antacid tablets as the burning in her stomach intensified.

"I have to decide to either marry Alan or put us both out of our misery and just break it off," she said. With a sigh, she dropped down onto the bed next to her suitcase and flopped backward against the pillows.

Quinn closed her eyes and visualized the freedom of racing down the slopes with the wind burning into her face. That compulsion to leave her apartment and drive up to Crystal Falls was growing strong again. She jumped up and collected her luggage.

"I need this. I need to know I won't be making a mistake no matter how I decide."


December 9 Ontario Airport, Ontario, California

"I NEED THIS, Dean."

"Bull! You don’t need to go anywhere. What you need is to be with your friends, people who understand you."

Santee looked at Dean Cornell and inwardly laughed at the picture before him. The scruffy ex-L.A. cop wasted no time in changing from a hotshot detective to a married man. Two years ago, Dean had left LA for Murrieta to protect Elise Carpenter from her husband's killer, and in the process fell in love with the lady veterinarian and stayed to join in raising her three daughters and their new baby son. How the mighty had fallen.

"You really change your kid's diapers?"

Dean looked affronted at the question. "Of course I change his diapers. I'm damn good at it, too."

"Elise told me the last time you diapered Chad, you used duct tape because the adhesive tabs had you confused."

"It did the job. There was no way that diaper was going to fall off," Dean argued.

"No kidding. She said she had to cut if off him."

Santee thought of the man he called a good friend. And the woman who had also become a friend. He envied their happiness.

When he and Elise married, Dean left the Los Angeles police force and now worked with Santee at the Riverside County sheriff's station. Because of his more than relaxed manner of dress and abundance of charm, he easily gained the confidence of the lower elements. Marriage may have tamed a part of the cocky cop, but he still insisted on keeping his hair shaggy, his clothing disreputable, and doing everything possible to disconcert the normally unflappable Elise. But she couldn't stop loving him any more than she could stop breathing. Furthermore, she gave him the grounding he needed.

"I'm burned-out, Dean," Santee said bluntly. "I'm tired, and there are mornings when I wonder if I should bother even getting up." He recognized the message written-on Dean's tense features. "No, I don't have any desire to eat my gun, but I do want to get away for a while. Just rethink my life a bit."

"Fine, rethink it around your friends," Dean argued with concern, "You're not going to find your answers in the backwoods of Vermont. Why there?"

He shook his head. "I wish I had an answer for you, but I'm not even sure why. Maybe I just needed someplace new to brush up on my rusty skiing skills. There's nothing earth-shattering going on around here, so I figured it was a good time to use up some of my vacation,” he explained.

"What about Debbie?"

Santee looked uncomfortable. "Since I was leaving, I gave her her Christmas gift early. Unfortunately, she wasn't expecting a necklace."

Dean winced. “She was hoping for a ring?”

He nodded. "I'm not ready and she is. So we're not seeing each other anymore."

"I'm sorry, man," Dean commiserated.

 "I'm just sorry I hurt her."

Santee turned his head as he heard his flight announced. "Take it easy." He held out his hand.

Dean took it, then stepped forward and gave him a one-armed hug. "You take care. There are not many men who're willing to put up with me."

A smile curved Santee's lips. "I'll send you a postcard from Vermont." He picked up his bag and headed for the gate.

"Hey, Santee!" Dean called after him. "What name did you book your flight under?"

He waved his arm over his head. "Detective Santee, what else?"

"Son of a gun!" Dean smiled, watching his friend walk away. "I thought I’d finally learn what his first name is."

Santee boarded the jet and took the window seat assigned to him. As he looked over to the gate, he could see Dean standing there, his hands jammed into the pockets of his beat-up leather jacket. He had a feeling he wouldn't be the same person the next time he saw his friend.


December I0, Midnight Vermont

THE SILENCE IN the remote valley was comforting as snow fell to earth to form peaceful drifts untouched by man or beast. Silvery moonlight created shadows across the field. With an abrupt shift in the air, the climate changed to humming expectancy.

The air soon shimmered in the moonlight with a life of its own. Ethereal shapes twisted and turned in the silvery light until they took on solid form with paved roads snaking through the snow drifts. It wasn't long before the forms looked as if they had always been a part of the countryside.

By morning, the formerly empty valley was covered with small buildings, old-fashioned lampposts dotted the paved roads and the musical ring of voices echoed in the valley. It looked as it had each Christmas for the past few hundred years:

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

In Memory's Shadow by Linda Wisdom



MISSING MEMORIES...Sam Barkley had promised to protect her. But Keely Harper was beginning to think she would never be safe again. Since she'd returned to Echo Ridge, the town of her birth, she'd been plagued by nightmares--not to mention that her new neighbors looked at her strangely.

Keely had been orphaned at five, and left with no memory of her early life. She'd come to Echo Ridge hoping to fill in some of the gaps, yet all she'd found were more questions. Her handsome lover seemed to know something he wasn't telling her. Could she trust the safety she felt in Sam's warm embrace? Or would her fragile serenity be destroyed by the devastating secret of her past.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Only Love by Linda Wisdom



She would defy him with all her might.

After a headline divorce, Kali Hughes had abandoned Beverly Hills for the lonely hills of Virginia. Bitterly, she vowed never to love again...until a man who knew her darkest secrets appeared on her doorstep, awakening long-buried hungers, bringing back searing memories of passions--and betrayal.

He would make her his at any cost.

He had come 3,000 miles to find her--and she greeted him with a shotgun at her cabin door. Once before Kali had gotten away. Travis Yates swore it wouldn't happen again. He was determined to walk over that threshold on her terms...and stay on his watch, to wait, to listen, demanding that Kali face the past, respond to the needs she could no longer deny, admit he was her...

Only Love.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

This Old House by Linda Wisdom




Devlin Grant and Megan Abernathy wed in a fever of passion. A short time later they divorced in a fit of fury. No one would have dared to bring them together again…

Except a woman who had an even more notorious past. When Megan and Devlin met at the run-down California Victorian they’d inherited from Devlin’s grandmother, it was anyone’s guess how the reunion would end.

But Devlin and Megan couldn’t have been more surprised when their hands-on renovation project unleashed the torrid flame of temptation. And just about the time they learned about the scandalous past of Gram’s house, it began to have an equally scandalous present…


Thursday, November 9, 2023

Mommy Heiress by Linda Wisdom



Toto, I Don't Think I Want to Be in Kansas Anymore…

Stranded without her credit cards, heiress-on-the-run Cori Peyton had nothing to depend on but her wits—and Dr. Benjamin Cooper. When the feisty blond beauty fainted in the car repair shop in a backwater Kansas town, she woke up to the sexy doctor's bombshell: she was pregnant.

Ben was perfectly happy mending the bodies and breaking the hearts of the women in his small town. And he delivered babies all the time. Why did this woman and this pregnancy affect him so much? And when the rumor hit town that her baby was his, why did that sound so good?  

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Midnight Lady by Linda Wisdom



Kyle – A dangerously handsome temptation …


The reporter expected an unusual greeting when he knocked at the door of the spooky manor house, but Kyle Fletcher wasn’t ready for the fireworks in Samantha Lyons sparkling violet eyes! He’d come to interview her movie-legend grandfather, but the mysterious wildcat who ran Baron Lyons’ film stupid captured Kyle’s interest more … even if courting her meant facing down ghosts!


She made him dream of silk sheets and thunderstorms.


No one else dared call her Sam, dared stroke her with sensual magick until she lost control in his arms – but still she fared Kyle was the enemy; a reporter who might betray her family .. or break her tender heart. She had a talent for making illusions seem utterly real, yet desperately yearned to believe in the truth of Kyle’s love. Could he convince his stubborn witch that he adored the woman she was?


Kyle Fletcher had expected an unusual greeting when he knocked at the door of the spooky manor house, but he wasn’t ready for the fireworks in Samantha Lyons sparkling violet eyes!


Samantha feared Kyle was the enemy; a reporter who might betray her family .. or break her tender heart. Could Kyle’s love convince his stubborn witch that he adored the woman she was?

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Rachel After Midnight by Linda Wisdom



Sardonic homicide detective Jared Stryker didn’t believe in fairy tales or ghost stories. Only monsters of the human persuasion. Things change when he inherits an old ranch and surrounding land with less than law abiding neighbors – and a haunting link to his past …

Savagely murdered by her cruel husband a black magic curse doomed Rachel Bingham to be trapped within the house for eternity, but when the sexy streetwise cop came into her bleak world and showed her glimpses of the outside world, Rachel yearned to find a way to break the curse and become mortal again.

Jared never wanted to be tied down, yet he found himself captivated by the ghostly beauty. But to be together they had to break the curse that imprisoned her – and escape the deadly danger that threatened to take his life.




"You're doing it again, Stryker."

"I am not."

"Yes, you are!"   

"I'm just standing here having a drink!"

"Dammit, you've got your cop face on! What are you trying to do, put me out of business?"

Detective Jared Stryker pulled off the bar towel that had just been thrown at his face and dropped it on the bar. His expression was about as innocent as any bad boy's persona could be. Which meant there wasn’t one hint of innocence on his face. 

"Darlin, I can't help looking that way." He rested his forearms on the bar's scarred surface. A half-empty bottle of beer sat in front of him. Since it had been sitting there for the past hour, it was obvious he wasn't there to drink. No, he came here for the atmosphere.

He briefly looked over his shoulder when voices raised in one corner. A gray haze hovered over the pool tables, proof that no one obeyed the no-smoking laws in this place. Since it looked like no one was going to get into a physical fight any time soon, he returned his attention to the bartender.

Jared liked The Renegade. You didn’t walk into the longtime biker bar looking for frou-frou drinks unless you wanted to be tossed out onto your ass. No candles decorated the scarred wood tables. No plants hung overhead, no Happy Hour specials and no tiny tacos and meatballs on a toothpick were offered to the clientele. If you didn't drink beer or whiskey you didn't belong here. Peanuts or pretzels were considered the only appropriate snacks. And if you didn't ride in on a badass bike, or at least own a heavy-duty pickup truck, you might as well ride on past, because tourists weren't welcome.

The customers were also picky about their drinking partners. Jared Stryker might have a badge that declared him a cop-not one of their favorite types-but he owned one of the baddest of the bad Harleys made, and his pedigree hadn't allowed him to live the life of a good guy. He was grudgingly accepted.

Jared looked more bad boy than cop, just brushing the six­foot-two-inch mark, with sun-streaked brown hair that always looked a couple weeks past due a haircut and deep, golden-brown eyes that belonged on a wildcat. The comparison was appropriate, since he preferred to walk on the side of danger.

A small scar zigzagged across one eyebrow and his nose had been broken more than once, but the imperfections only added to his appeal. Men noted he was an admirable foe, while women viewed him as the kind of man they wanted to bring home to Mom and Dad-when Mom and Dad were out of town.

He didn't hassle anyone for the sheer pleasure of doing it, and he didn't abuse his authority. If you left him alone, he'd leave you alone. If you made trouble, he made sure to set you straight.

He was also a close friend of Lea Raines, The Renegade's owner. Rumor among the scruffy clientele had it anyone giving Jared trouble for no good reason would be banned from the bar for life. So far, no one had tested that theory, along with the one that Lea kept a loaded shotgun behind the bar alongside her trusty Louisville Slugger baseball bat. There was no doubt she would use either if anyone started trouble in her bar.  

Tonight was one of those nights where Jared wanted nothing more than to sit at the bar and enjoy his beer. A few women had broadly hinted he was more than welcome to come home with them, but he politely refused each invitation, much to their disappointment.

"So what really brings you out here if not the ambiance?"

Lea asked as she efficiently parted a bottle from its cap and slid it down the bar to a waiting customer.

Jared hesitated before he picked up his beer and finished it. "It's my birthday, Lea."

Her eyes widened in pretend shock at his muttered announcement. "Really? And to think I thought that watch I gave you was for my birthday."

"You think you're such a smart-ass." He flashed her his crooked grin.

"Now that's the pot calling the kettle black." She took his now empty bottle and set a new one in front of him. "You're cut off after this one, lover. So tell me what else is bothering you besides being a year older."

He looked off into the distance as he confided, 'Trust me, your watch was better received than the damn card my old man sent me."  

Lea winced. She was familiar with Jared's history of being raised by an abusive parent. The only good thing that could be said about his father was that the man spent more time in prison than out. "Don't tell me. He signed it 'Love, Dad.’"

Dark golden-brown eyes narrowed with emotion Jared normally kept tamped down. He had no fond memories of the man who donated half his DNA and he would have been happier if he never heard from the bastard again.

"Maybe he wants me to know he's still in one piece? I don't know. Maybe he's feeling his age or got religion or something. He thinks sending me a card will make it all better."

"We both know that won't happen. He's not getting out of there, babe," she gently reminded him.

Jared looked back toward the pool tables that were set along one end of the tavern behind the small dance floor. He studied one man with dirty blond hair who wore old, faded jeans ripped at the knee and a black T-shirt that strained over a massive chest and bulging biceps. Fancy steel tips decorated the toes of his boots. Jared swore he could have been looking at his father fifteen years ago. Damn. More memories he didn't need. Some nights his shoulder ached from injuries his old man had inflicted.

He should have stayed home.

He would have preferred to sit at the bar and get roaring drunk. But since he knew Lea wouldn't let him use alcohol as a balm as his father did it wasn't going to happen. Besides, he'd learned the hard way that alcohol only caused pain. Usually, his own.

Did his old man seriously think that Jared would forgive and forget his cruel treatment after all these years? The elder Stryker was in Pelican Bay for life because his temper had got out of hand and he'd beaten a man to death. It seemed after more than ten years in a cell he wanted to make amends with his only son. Jared didn't see it happening in this lifetime or any time after.

He considered it pure luck he wasn't sitting in the next cell.

"Jared'?" He felt cool fingertips on his arm. He looked up to see Lea's look of concern. He managed a brief smile.

"I'm okay, babe." He reached for his jacket, which lay on the stool next to him, and shrugged it on.

She didn't look convinced. "Maybe you should stay here tonight. It's raining pretty hard out there. Mud and Harleys don't always go well together."

He knew the invitation was for the guest room, not to share her bed. He also knew she never invited a man to stay over. He wasn't the only one with issues.

Jared took a quick glance around the room. "Any reason why you want me to stick around?" he asked in a low voice, wondering if something was going on he wasn't aware of.

Lea shook her head. "No one's gotten out of hand lately. And the only thing I've heard are some rumors there might be a new meth lab nearby, but I haven't heard anything concrete. They're usually pretty careful about saying anything around me." Her rules about no drugs sold or consumed on the property were as strict as the ones she held for no fighting.

He nodded. "I wouldn't be surprised. A couple of county deputies had shut down that one lab a couple months ago. It's about time for another one to start up. As for gettin' home, don't worry. It's not the first time I've ridden home in the rain. Since I moved into the house I don't have as far to ride than if I had to go all the way into Sierra Vista." He leaned over the bar and dropped a kiss on her cheek. "Thanks for the watch."

"So you're doing it? You're really moving into the house?"

 Jared nodded. "Tonight will be my first night staying there. I'm taking my vacation time to put the place into shape now that the plumbing and wiring is up to code. I'll just be up the road about five miles or so. We'll practically be neighbors," he joked.

"He's never coming back, you know," she repeated as he started to leave. "The judge put him in there for life, with no possibility of parole. He'll die in there."

Jared didn't show any reaction to her words. He'd walled himself off years ago when it came to the son of a bitch who'd fathered him.

He stepped outside of the building and stood for a moment, breathing in the clean night air that smelled of more rain coming.

It appeared to have stopped for the time being. He hoped it would hold off until he arrived home. Nothing worse than riding a motorcycle in the rain, where one slip on the road could do serious damage to a man's bike, not to mention his body. He sidestepped puddles as he headed for his wheels. "Whoever said it never rains in California never lived up this way," he muttered.

Jared was so deep in thought he didn't sense he wasn't alone until it was too late. Before he could react, something connected with the back of his head and he fell to his knees. Nothing more than sheer willpower kept him conscious.

"Keep him down," a rough voice ordered as a booted foot planted itself in the vicinity of his right kidney.

Jared swore out loud and lashed out at his attackers, grinning when he got one of them in the crotch. But his victory was short-lived when his retaliation earned him another blow to the skull.

His head was spinning when he was picked up and thrown into the back of a van, which took off the moment the door was slammed shut, tires spinning in the mud. After that, his existence was nothing more than punches and kicks from what felt like ten men, but was probably only two or three. He absently noted a familiar chemical smell in addition to the usual smell of unwashed male, beer and cigarette smoke.

These guys were definitely not leaders of the community.

What seemed like hours later the van stopped and he was carried into a building. He could barely see out one swollen eye, but he instantly recognized the surroundings.

Happy birthday to me, floated through his mind before blackness took over.


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