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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Christmas in July Blog Hop ~ J.D. Faver's Spin on Christmas in July

Well, it's roasting hot here in southeast Texas. I've been keeping cool by writing the next romantic thriller set on the Texas Gulf Coast, just north of the border with Mexico. Christmas comes to the Texas Riviera with the usual body count, but lots of love thrown in. This is novel #5 in the Edge of Texas series. 
I have some exciting giveaways for everyone. First of all: BAD KARMA, the second book in the series is FREE today through July 22, so please download your copy right here> 
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0081SGPZW
And as a reward for leaving a comment below, you will be entered into a drawing to receive a free download of BAD MEDICINE, the first book in the series.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007H5IUQ2

Since it rarely (and I mean RARELY) snows down here, we have slightly different Christmas and holiday traditions than our northern neighbors, but I remember making forts and having snowball fights as a kid in Oklahoma. One of our adopted traditions down here in Texas is to have tamales on New Year's Day for good luck. This is served right alongside the black-eyed peas and greens...Can't have too much good fortune and prosperity. What kind of holiday traditions do you celebrate in your family?

Scroll down to read the excerpt and leave a comment, but be sure to visit all the exciting blogs on the hop and rake in all the goodies from the awesome authors. 



The Christmas novel is tentatively titled BAD SPIRITS. This excerpt is from the beginning and shows what's going on with two of the couples whose lives are twined together in The Edge of Texas. I hope you enjoy the excerpt. 

 BAD SPIRITS
Christmas at Home
December 15
Something about her face always brought a little clutch of joy to his chest. My wife.
Rafael Solis had just pulled up in the parking lot in front of his condo. From his tenth-floor vantage point he had always enjoyed a clear view of the bay.
His current view was centered on the lovely Chloe Solis as she maneuvered both his children from their car seats in back of the Escalade.
He turned off the ignition and sat in his department vehicle for a moment, smiling.
The wind was blowing off the bay. Chloe grasped four-year-old Lacy’s hand and clutched Daniel close to her chest. Her hair blew forward, and she turned into the wind to get it out of her eyes. She spotted him and a grin lit up her face. She commanded his presence with an upward jerk of her chin.
Rafael chuckled and swung out of the cruiser, pocketing the keys.
She gave out an exasperated sound in greeting. “And just when were you going to come to my aid, Mr. Raffy Solis?”
He reached for Daniel. “Sorry, baby. I was just admiring the scenery.”
“Less admiring and more man power, please.”
“Want me to grab those packages?” He nodded at the bundles filling the rear of the SUV.
“No, I want you to take Lacy while I bring some surprises inside.”
He squatted down to lift Lacy in his other arm. “Surprises?”
“Yes, I’m allowed to have surprises. Santa Claus isn't the only one with a naughty or nice list.”
He grinned at her. “And which list am I on?”
She laughed. “Both. Now, head for the elevator and I’ll be right behind you.”
“Not close enough. I will wait for you.” He still had nightmares about his near-misses with Chloe. Her sometimes rash actions had given him a couple of serious scares.
“Wait inside out of the wind. The children don’t need to be out in this gale.”
“I will be watching you from inside the lobby.” He fixed her with a stern glare.
“Yes, Sheriff. You can watch me, but you can’t peek.”
Rafael turned toward the entrance and carried his children inside. He turned to watch as she opened the back of the Escalade and gathered an armload of packages. “Careful, baby,” he said under his breath.
She made her way to the entrance and Rafael backed against the door to open it for her.
“Thanks,” she murmured. “Do not look at these p-r-e-s-e-n-t-s.”
“Not looking.” He stepped inside and followed her across the lobby. “Lacy, push the elevator for daddy.” He leaned down to allow his daughter to punch the up button. “Good girl.”
Lacy flashed a grin and squeezed his neck with both arms.
As they rode up to the tenth floor, he stole a glance at Chloe’s face. She looked happy and that made him happy. “Did you find something for your mom,” he asked.
“Noooo. She is the hardest person on the planet to shop for.”
“That doesn't sound right. Your mom is so down to earth. Just get her a gift card.”
“I can’t do that. A gift card is so impersonal.”
He cleared his throat. “Isn't that what we’re giving my parents?”
She blew out an exasperated breath. “And I’m giving them some nice framed pictures of the kids. They’re lucky to be on my shopping list at all.”
He chuckled, knowing full well why they weren't rating higher on Chloe’s ‘nice’ list. His mother’s efforts to break them up in high school had resulted in Chloe leaving him. Got her back, thank you very much. The elevator came to a stop and the doors swished apart. He trailed behind her to their condominium and managed to juggle kids and keys to open the door.
“I’m going to stash this stuff and you three stay right there.” Chloe disappeared in their bedroom and kicked the door shut behind her.
He set Lacy on her feet and put Daniel on the leather sofa. “Let’s get your coats off.” He took Lacy’s jacket and knit cap and draped them over a coat rack close to the front door and began the task of unwrapping Daniel. He pulled off the knit cap with ear flaps and tousled his dark curls. “That’s my boy,” he growled and grinned as Daniel giggled and kicked in response. “Chloe, I have a wet boy in here. Can you bring me a diaper and wipes?”
She backed into the room with a disposable diaper and a tub of wet wipes and closed the door firmly behind her. “Here you go.” She set them down on the sofa beside them. “Is everybody hungry?”
“Yes,” Lacy crowed. “I want ‘paghetti.”
“One vote for spaghetti. Any other requests?”
“Anything is fine with me,” Rafael said while finishing cleaning his son. “I’m just glad to be home.”
Chloe gave him a long look and took a few steps to the kitchen. “Hard day?”
Rafael scooped Daniel up and deposited him in his play pen. “Just a day.” He tried not to bring home his work-related issues, preferring to leave it all behind. His home was his sanctuary and his family would be sheltered from the ugliness he dealt with on a daily basis.
He tossed the soiled diaper and washed his hands in the sink. “You know what I would like?”
She turned from the refrigerator with a head of romaine lettuce and a bag of tomatoes. “What?”
“I would like a kiss from my busy wife, and I would like it right now.” He divested her of the veggies and placed them on the counter top.
Her expression softened, morphing to one of tenderness. “I can help you out with that.” She stepped into his embrace and offered up her face.
Rafael kissed her, savoring her lips, pressing her softness against his frame. Deliciosa.
“Would you like to start off with a salad?” she asked.
“Whatever you want to make is fine.” He grabbed another quick kiss and released her. “What I would like is a real Christmas tree. I’ll head over to Harlingen tomorrow after work and pick out a really nice one.”
She whirled around to gaze at him. “Really? I got us a nice artificial tree. It’s pretty and convenient to store.” She looked at him hopefully. “And it doesn't shed.”
He gave her an elaborate eye-roll. “Come on. A real tree smells like Christmas.”
“I got some pine scent spray.”
“Ugh! Not the same thing. You can do whatever else you want, but I insist on a real tree. You don’t have to do anything. I’ll find us the perfect tree.”
“Okay,” she said, using the same voice she used on Lacy when she was being petulant.
“I get your point,” he said. “But I’m holding firm on this one. Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without a real tree.”

~*~

“Hello, my Bridget, my beautiful baby girl.” Darla gazed in rapture at the lovely infant in her arms. Brushing her fingertips over the fine wisps of red hair, perhaps a bit lighter than her own, she marveled that she had created such a perfect miniature creature. Of course she’d had a little help. She gazed into the same silvery-blue eyes that set her husband apart from the everyday Adonis. The blue eyes, the rugged features, the set of his jaw, and oh, yes, that fine muscular body of his.
Mike was ridiculous. His grin went viral every time he caught her eye.
Yeah, Mr. Burke. I got your number. You would be so happy if I just stayed home and played mommy, wouldn't you? She was still out on maternity leave from her job as deputy in the sheriff’s office. She hadn't thought she would be so content to stay home with her twin boys and this new little addition, but, so far...it was going okay.
She watched as Mike laid a fire in the fireplace he had recently added to their home. There seemed to be no end to his talents.
This house had been a small, two-bedroom without any particular distinguishing characteristics. That was before she married this big gorgeous specimen. He had doubled the size of her home by adding on a master bedroom wing that elled around the back of the house and looked out onto the elaborate deck he had also built. Now he was talking about ripping out her tiny kitchen and bumping it out to include a family room. Whatever you want to do is fine with me. You have better taste than I do anyway.
“Do you want me to pick up a tree when I’m out tomorrow?” he called over her shoulder.
“Oh, we have a tree,” she said. “It’s in the garage.”
He stood and stuck his hands in the pockets of his camo pants, no doubt left over from his soldiering days. “Um…no we don’t.”
“What?” She sat up, jostling Bridget in doing so. “Where could it have gone? I know exactly where I put it last year.”
“I…uh, I tossed it out. Seriously, babe, it was gross. How long have you had that ratty old thing anyway?”
“You threw it out?” The breath in her lungs seemed to be frozen. How could you? I've had that tree since… She heaved a sigh. “You’re right. It was getting to be pretty ratty.”
“We can get a new one. And maybe some new ornaments too.” He sounded confident, but he sent her a questioning glance.
“Yeah, whatever.”
He flashed a boyish grin. “I’ll take Kip and Tad. They can help me pick out the perfect tree. You and baby girl stay here out of the wind. It’s pretty brisk out there.”
He had fallen into the habit of calling his unborn daughter Baby Girl Burke before she made her appearance. Now, although he had agreed on naming her after St. Bridget, the first female saint in Ireland and a favorite of the entire Bailey clan, she would probably always be baby girl to her doting daddy.
“Mike, I've lived here all my life. I managed to get the boys this far without killing them off with a gust of wind from the bay. I do know to cover her up when we’re outside.”
“Yes, your Snarkiness.” He grinned at her. “Just be careful. Don’t take any chances.” He came to stand beside her and placed one of his big, paw-like hands on her head, stroking it over her hair with remarkable gentleness. “I’m in love with you and with baby girl. I can’t help but be a little protective.”
She gazed up into his eyes. Her daughter’s eyes set into a rugged manly face. I’m powerless to resist. “I know. Sorry. I’m not a very patient person.”
He mimicked a stricken expression. “No!”
“Shut up, smart mouth.” She grinned. “I’m trying to chill out and be a mom for a while, but it’s not easy.”
I've noticed. I want to protect you and you want to go out and shoot people.”
“I do not! I just miss the day-to-day action. I miss the team.” She broke off, realizing that he, having given up his career as a federal agent, must miss the same things. “I’m sorry, Mike. I know you gave up so much to marry me…to marry us. You’re doing such a great job of being a husband and you’re an awesome dad. I’ll try to be a better wife.” She grabbed his hand and laid her cheek against it. “I love you.”
He squatted down beside her. “Don’t worry, Darla. We’ll get this right.” He planted a kiss against her temple and went back to his fire-building. “This is our first Christmas as a family and I want everything to be perfect.
She chortled and adjusted Bridget on her shoulder. “Well, take a number. You’re a Bailey by marriage and mom has the market cornered on making a big production number out of Christmas. We will be allowed to celebrate Christmas eve here in our own home, but Christmas day will be spent at the Bailey patriarchal household where we will be showered with presents and stuffed with every kind of goodie you can imagine.”
He kept his gaze averted. “Sounds great.” His voice sounded strained.
A stab of pain seared through her chest when she grasped that Mike had never enjoyed the kind of family events she had always taken for granted. His mother had abandoned him at a very young age and he had grown up with his grandfather, a carpenter who taught Mike his skills.
She cleared her throat. “I mean, I want us to have a chance to make our own Christmas traditions. I’m not going back to work for a while, so I want to make our first year very special.”
He raised his head to glance her way.
Encouraged, she went on. “This is Bridget’s first Christmas, and it’s our first Christmas as husband and wife.”
He flashed a grin, signaling his return to good humor. “And it’s the first year for me to be a dad to the boys. I want it to be special for them too.”
“Oh, Mike.” She blinked back tears. “You do so much every day to make my life better. The best thing is the way you treat my boys. They needed you as much as I did.”
He smiled and came back over to her. Squatting down close to her, he cupped her cheek in his hand and placed a tender kiss on her lips. “That’s about the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.”

~*~

54 comments:

  1. Merry Christmas!
    I can't wait to read the entire Christmas story! It sounds so exciting!

    Our Christmas tradition involves a pickle ornament. LOL Being of German ancestry, we hide a pickle ornament on the tree, and the first child to find it gets to open a family gift. Traditionally it is the youngest that gets to do this, but we have modified it to make it fair for everyone :-)

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  2. Merry Christmas, S.D.!
    I won a really pretty glass pickle ornament last year at a party. Now I know it's purpose. Thanks a lot.
    *hugs*

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  3. Thank you for participating in the BTGN Blog Hop!

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  4. Thanks for the giveway.
    giovannivalentino(at)Verizon(dot)net

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    1. My pleasure, Giovanni. Good luck.
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  5. Thank you for hosting another great Blog Hop!


    parisfan_ca@yahoo.com

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    1. I'm so happy to be able to participate.
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  6. Thanks for the giveaway! We don't really have any unusual holiday traditions...we eat, open gifts, play board games or card games, catch up with one another, etc. My Christmas in July wish is for less stormy-rainy weather this summer. Kyla Patton- kamclauc AT gmail DOT com

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    1. It's all about family. Sounds like a good time.
      I'm so happy for any little drop of rain here in southeast Texas. We need it.
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  7. Doesn't snow much here either...It gets hard to get into it with 80 degree weather...but we manage!! We usually spend the night at my grandmothers on Christmas Eve..that way all the kids can open their presents together!!

    Nikki
    viajeradelmar@aol.com

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    1. That sounds really lovely. We used to go spend the afternoon of Christmas day on the beach. Sometimes taking the catamaran out for a sail. Nice memories.
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  8. Thanks for the giveaway.
    magic5905 at embarqmail dot com

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome. Thanks for stopping by,
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  9. Thank you for joining the hop
    videoclimber(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  10. We get a lot of snow in Central New York state! I feel Christmas in July means it will just be cooler than 90 degrees. Books sound really good.

    susanmplatt AT Hotmail DOT com

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    1. Thanks so much, Susan. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Love New York
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  11. It snowed in May here in Iowa. :) I'm kind of missing that now with the heat index hitting close to a 105 the last few days. Hate heat. Thanks! heather1974 at gmail dot com

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    1. Oh, Heather, that sounds miserable. Stay cool my friend.
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  12. It snows in Chicago pretty fierce, most years. It doesn't stop us from our tradition of looking at decorations downtown.

    Thanks for participating!
    jillynann(at)gmail(dot)com

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    Replies
    1. That sounds lovely too. When I was a little girl in Oklahoma, my mom would take me for a drive downtown to look at all the decorations. Much fun.
      ~JD

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  13. Our Christmas tradition is to open presents on Christmas day and then all the family will sit down to a great meal, which includes turkey and cornbread dressing.
    marlenebreakfield(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Yummy. That sounds wonderful. Great memories and great meal.
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  14. Our traditions are to spend time with family, exchange gifts, and eat till we can't anymore lol
    Thanks for the awesome giveaway!
    dixiedukegurl2 AT yahoo DOT com

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    Replies
    1. That's about what we do...and then we go back and eat some more.
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  15. Spend the day with family.

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

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  16. We bake [well, I do], decorate the tree, gifts, nothing rather special...
    swordlily_girl(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, but it is special just because you're together.
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  17. My husband cooks our Christmas dinner. It's a tradition we began the year we married. I look forward to that special treat every Christmas.
    Kimberly Comeau
    casey 4 4 6 at hot mail dot co m

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    Replies
    1. Awesome, Casey. You got a good man there.
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  18. Its just me and my elderly mom so we don't do much celebrating but we do go to a Christmas and New Year's party at a cousin's house.

    Jmesparza821 at gmail dot com


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    1. That's lovely that you get together with the rest of your family.
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. The movie marathon sounds good too...with plenty of good munchies to go with them.
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  20. Thanks for the excerpt! My favorite holiday tradition is the Christmas dinner. Good natured bickering over who made what, the new favorites and traditional foods, and lots and lots of family fun.

    dancingcelt at gmail dot com

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    1. It sounds like a lot of fun. Now that my mom has passed on, I try to always make some of the things she made. It helps the kids to remember her. I guess we are a family of foodies.
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  21. Our family tradition is for my mom to buy everyone a stocking , no matter how young or old, and fill it with goodies like hand lotion, note pads, candy etc. We have Christmas Eve at my parents and then Christmas day with just my boyfriend, my teens and myself at home. Lots of food, lots of fun!
    cc_clubbs at yahoo dot com

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    1. That sounds great, Cindi. Love the Christmas stockings. We have stockings for the kids, but the kids are getting older now, and still we stuff them.
      *hugs*
      ~J

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  22. We always start Christmas at home with the kids, then go to my in-laws. Then we go through the Way of Lights on the way home.
    Mel
    bournmelissa at hotmail dot com

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    1. What a lovely way to spend Christmas and share it with family.
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  23. Chinese food is a Boston tradition on New Years eve - you have to call in two days ahead of time and you only get a 15 min grace period for picking up that day.

    elizabethingleerichards at gmail.com

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    1. That's a new one for me, but if it involves Chinese food, I'm willing to adapt. :-)
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  24. Thank You for the Giveaway, Love the little teaser! Can't wait for Christmas!

    tigerfly139@aol.com

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    1. I'm so glad you liked the excerpt. I should have it finished in the next few weeks and then come the beatings...I mean edits. :-)
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  25. We have a a huge, traditional Polish dinner with tons of family!

    Thanks for the amazing excerpt & giveaway!
    elizabeth @ bookattict . com
    GFC: BookAttict

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    1. Yummy Nummy! Family and Food. Can't beat that.
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  26. Hi! My parents, brother, cousin and i always do our own Christmas holiday thing. Instead of gifts, or dealing with family, we stay in, make a big dinner, eat tons of junk food and watch movies & play board games! I love it! Thank you for the fun hop and giveaway! :)
    shadowluvs2read(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Hi Shadow. The day of sharing with the ones you love is the best gift ever.
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  27. We sont really have any kind of tradition :(
    Thanks so much for the opportunity!
    farmaki(at)live(dot)com

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Misty. Good luck in the drawing.
      *hugs*
      ~JD

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  28. In my family, we have two kind of different traditional meals at Christmas. The first has been around since I was a kid, whenever all us kids can get together for Christmas we have fondue. The second started when my dad's parents could no longer host the annual Christmas Eve get together for his family. The party moved to my Uncles house & Christmas Eve dinner ever since has been 3 or 4 different kinds of lasagna, salad, garlic bread & christmas cookies.

    drainbamaged.gyzmo@gmail.com
    @drainbamagedgyz
    Kathryn Merkel

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  29. Those sound like awesome traditions, Kathy. I only have 2 lasagna recipes in my arsenal. One is meaty and the other is vegetarian, with fresh spinach and oodles of cheese. Thanks for sharing and good luck in the drawing.
    *hugs*
    ~JD

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