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Book Excerpt – Sweet Noel

Book Excerpt – Sweet Noel

This sweet holiday story was so much fun to write! Gina makes her first appearance in Sweet Illusions as Ben’s sister, but from the first time we meet her at crab cookout on the beach, I always suspected there was more to her story.

I loved teasing out her romance with Noel…the artistic drifter with the heart of gold. *dreamy sigh* I hope you enjoy it!

Sweet Noel

by Jeanette Lewis (All rights reserved)

Chapter 1

Gina pulled into the familiar driveway in Cinnamon Hills, South Carolina, and killed the engine. Janice Millstead, her former mother-in-law, always went all-out for holidays. The two-story Victorian-style house was fully decorated for Thanksgiving, with pumpkins lining the porch and a garland of curly willow and autumn leaves woven through the gingerbread detailing. Gina knew that tomorrow, Janice would begin swapping out the autumn decorations for Christmas, and the entire house would sparkle like a piece of glass in the sand.

Janice was one thing Gina missed about her marriage. She’d been close to her former mother-in-law, but in the nine months since the divorce, Janice had made it clear that her loyalty was with her son, Lee, and not a cast-off daughter-in-law.

Lee and the boys, to be fair. Janice and Reid Millstead doted on their grandsons, and who was Gina to deny them the opportunity? Especially when the visitation schedule had been ordered by the court. Lee got Thanksgiving this year. She got Christmas.

Gina plucked her phone from the center console of her car and pulled up Lee’s number. She typed out a quick text. 

I’m here.

An ache pounded in her chest. Thanksgiving was yet another bullet point in a long series of firsts this year, and she’d dreaded each one. She and Lee had divorced last February, deliberately timing it so the boys would have almost a year to adjust to their new situation before they faced the holidays. It seemed like a decade since she’d signed the divorce papers, and back then, it’d been easy to believe this time would never come. But it had, and each day in the calendar took her away from the comfortable life she’d known with Lee and onward toward a boatload of milestones she’d never wanted to reach.

First night moving back in with her parents in Indigo Bay. First time using her maiden name again. First birthday alone. First time at a parent/teacher conference as a single mom. And now, first Thanksgiving alone.

Well, not alone. She’d been with her family. But her boys were with Lee, so she might as well have been alone. The sting of missing them had been constant, a hovering sadness that hung low like the fog on a misty morning. But that was the deal. At least she could look forward to Christmas.

Her phone buzzed, and she picked it up. It was Lee.

They’ll be out in a minute.

Gina sent a simple thumbs-up emoji back. She leaned into the headrest and closed her eyes. In her long experience with Lee, “a minute” could mean two minutes or two hours. He’d keep them inside until he was ready to let them go and not a moment before.

That was how it had always been. They played by Lee’s rules. Even the divorce had been his idea. Funny how you needed two people to agree to a marriage, but only one to decide on a divorce. But then, you couldn’t force someone to stay married when they clearly wanted out. How could that be fair?

Gina’s attention drifted in the wash of the lights coming from Janice’s autumn décor. Orange and gold wound with warm white lights and gold-wired bows tied among the leaves, vivid against the ashy gray of the curly willow. Last year, she’d helped her mother-in-law hang this same garland along this same porch the day after Halloween. The sight was weirdly normal, like the past year hadn’t brought so much turmoil and sorrow.

It felt like everything from that life should have been destroyed with the divorce. But life went on, even though it seemed to have left her behind.

The front door finally flew open, and her boys barreled out. Gina pulled her attention back and watched as they exchanged hugs with Lee and then Janice on the porch. Jordan was eight now and showing signs of entering a growth spurt. Arthur, at age five, was still chubby cheeked, with wide blue eyes that were at once full of childlike innocence and dashed with pain someone so young should not endure. The boys were holding bags of something, most likely treats from Grandma’s pantry. Janice loved to spoil her grandchildren, just like she’d spoiled her children. Maybe that was part of the problem with Lee.

Gina’s smile was genuine as the boys threw open the doors of the car and climbed in, one on each side. Arthur’s cowlick was back with a vengeance. No matter how much water or gel she used on it, the hair refused to be tamed, and Arthur finished every day looking like he’d just tumbled out of bed.

“How was it?” she asked.

“Great!” Jordan blurted. “I ate almost an entire pumpkin pie by myself. And Grandma gave me these.” He held up a plastic bag full of homemade rolls.

Gina’s mouth watered. Her own mother was a terrific cook, but no one could match Janice’s homemade dinner rolls. How many times had she sat at a family dinner in this house and eaten the same rolls drenched in butter? A pang hit her heart. She was not welcome there anymore, and she knew it.

“An entire pumpkin pie?” she asked, pushing away the sadness. Her therapist had told her to focus on the positive, and she was gradually getting better at steering her thoughts in an optimistic direction—at least around the boys. “Impressive,” she told Jordan. “Are we talking slice after slice, or did you just belly up to the entire pie and go for it?”

He giggled. “Slice after slice. But next time I’ll ask Grandma to make me one of my own. I’ll bet I could eat it all.”

“Next time” would be Thanksgiving with Gina, probably at her parents’ house in Indigo Bay, but she wasn’t about to burst his bubble. “I’m sure Grandma would be happy to make your own special pie,” she told her son. “Both buckled?”

She twisted in her seat to check the road and their seat belts, then looked back to the house. Her throat went tight. Lee still stood on the porch, lifting one hand in farewell.

“Wave to your dad,” Gina instructed.

Lee was wearing a pair of khakis she’d bought him at the mall in Charleston and hemmed by hand. Lee had short legs, so she’d always had to hem his pants. She’d tried to act like it was no big deal, but he was sensitive about his height. Gina never wore heels around him, since that would make her taller than he was. Even on their wedding day, she’d worn flats.

Paired with the khakis, Lee wore a red plaid button-up and a tie the boys had given him for Father’s Day last year. That could be a good sign. If he was still wearing the clothes from their marriage, maybe he wasn’t entirely ready to move on. Maybe he was having second thoughts—remembering how good they’d been together. They’d been happy once; maybe they could be again. It was the idea she’d been secretly clinging to since the divorce.

She forced a smile and waved quickly at her ex-husband, then backed out of the driveway. Lee returned the wave halfheartedly, but it was enough to lift Gina’s spirits. She wouldn’t push. Lee never reacted well to pressure. He’d have to come back around on his own, and in the meantime, she would do her best to be patient.

The boys chattered about the day, filling her head with memories of other Thanksgivings as she made the series of the slow turns to take them out of the neighborhood and to the highway. It was a two-hour drive from Cinnamon Hills to Indigo Bay on a normal day, but with Thanksgiving traffic, Gina expected it would take much longer.

“Can we listen to Christmas carols?” Arthur asked from his seat directly behind her.

“Sure.” Gina jabbed at the buttons on the radio, searching through the stations.

“It’s too early for Christmas carols,” Jordan moaned loudly. He sprawled across his side of the car, straining his seat belt to its limits. “Besides, they’re lame. Let’s listen to something good, like OneRepublic.”

“Christmas carols are good,” Gina said evenly. She pressed a few more buttons and finally found a station. “Frosty the Snowman” burst from the speakers.

“No!” Jordan let out a frustrated howl. “This is so dumb.”

“I like it,” Arthur shot back.

“It’s a baby song,” Jordan insisted.

“Stop it, both of you,” Gina ordered, turning the radio down. “You just got in the car and you’re already fighting.”

“But Mom, he likes stupid stuff,” Jordan said.

“Do not,” Arthur said. “You’re a bully.”

“Stop!” Gina took the next turn a little faster than normal, and the boys went quiet. At least she had their attention. “We’ll do a Christmas carol and then a OneRepublic song. Deal?”

“Why does he always get his way just because he’s the baby?” Jordan mumbled.

“No more complaining,” Gina said. “Tell me something good about today.”

“Dad has a girlfriend,” Arthur said after a moment of silence.

Gina gasped, the air rushing into her lungs so fast it hurt. Her eyes pinned Arthur’s in the rearview mirror. “What did you say?”

“Dad has a girlfriend.”

“How do you know that?”

“She was there today,” Jordan said, with all the carelessness of a young child who doesn’t consider parents could have feelings. “She’s nice.”

Gina felt her cheeks flush with heat. “He brought her to Thanksgiving dinner?”

“Yeah,” Arthur said casually, as if those words didn’t have the power to cut straight through to Gina’s heart. “Her name is Kim. She’s pretty.”

“Pretty how?”

“Mom, look out!” Jordan screamed.

Gina whipped her attention back to the road, but it was too late. A man had appeared out of nowhere, stumbling from between two parked cars. Gina stomped on the brakes, and there was a squeal of the tires and then a muffled thump as the bumper of the car struck the man’s legs. She met his shocked gaze through the windshield for a split second; then he was gone, crumpling to the asphalt in front of the car.

Read More

Sweet Noel is available as an ebook or in paperback.

The Passionate One is in Audio! And it’s Free.

The Passionate One is in Audio! And it’s Free.

I am way late to the party on audio books. (Also, very late updating this site, but that’s another story.) Anyway, we’re getting there. The Passionate One is available in audio on YouTube and it’s free!

Erin put Matt firmly in the friend zone. But he’s not taking no for an answer.

As the creator of the Billionaire Bride Pact, Erin Parker is determined to see it through. And now that superstar actor Brennan Avery has been cast as her costar in a play destined for Broadway, things couldn’t be better.But Erin’s best friend, Matt Walters, isn’t ready to give up on her. He has a plan to escape the friend zone and prove to Erin that there are more important things than money and fame.

I loved writing this book and going through the audio has made me love it all over again. Erin is kind of a sticky character and coaxing her through her personal growth was challenging. She is impulsive and tends to look before she leaps, but most of her troubles come from her big heart and her desire to help others.

Matt is a perfect foil for Erin’s flightiness. He’s calm and steady and always willing to help Erin get out of her predicaments. In so many ways, he is modeled after my husband, Dan. I am not quite so flighty as I used to be, but Dan has had to get me out of a fair number of fixes–always with his gentle, patient smile. I wouldn’t be here without him.

Writing this book was a bit of my love letter to him, an acknowledgement of all he does for me and how much I love and cherish him.

Narrated by the fantastic Emma Faye.

Go here to start listening. Free on YouTube!

Book Excerpt – Feels Like Love

Book Excerpt – Feels Like Love

Feels Like Love

by Jeanette Lewis (All rights reserved)

When they got off the Tidal Wave, April glanced at her phone and was startled to see how late it had become. “I’d better get Em and Trevor home,” she said regretfully. She began texting Trevor, but Wade plucked the phone from her grasp. She looked up.

“Wait,” he said in a low tone. “Talk for a minute?”

Her pulse sped up and she nodded.

They sought privacy behind the tractor trailers that held the mazes, spook alleys, and fun houses. When they reached the shadows, Wade stopped abruptly and she almost crashed into him as he turned to face her. The urge to wrap her arms around his waist was so strong it left her aching and breathless. She took a few steps back to put some distance between them and for a long moment they stared at each other.

“You can’t marry him,” Wade finally said.

Her throat was dry and her heart pounded in her ears.

“I mean it, April. I still love you. And you still love me – I can see it in your eyes.”

She took a shaky breath, trying to think, trying to sort through the emotions crashing through her. What was nostalgia and what was real?

“Well?” he pressed.

“Please, don’t do this,” she pleaded.

“Why?”

“Because I can’t … I don’t know how to respond to that.”

“Yes, you do. You still love me, don’t you?”

All she had to say was no. No, Wade, I don’t love you anymore. He would go away and she could go back to her life, back to Scott, and pretend none of this had happened.

I don’t love you anymore.

She looked into his brown eyes. “I still love you,” she whispered.

He closed the distance between them in two quick strides and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close. They were both wearing down filled coats and for a moment she felt like two marshmallows trying to hug. It would have been funny if she hadn’t been trembling at his closeness, his familiarity, the way he was the perfect height to rest her cheek against his chest. If not for the coat, she would have been able to hear his heartbeat.

Finally, he loosened his hold, but didn’t let her go. “Did you mean it? You’re not saying what you think I want to hear?”

“Do you think I’d start this much turmoil if I didn’t mean it?” she said. Things were tense before … now what? She’d just tossed a grenade into the ring.

Get Feels Like Love free when you join my VIP Reader’s Club

Or

Buy it on Amazon for only 99¢

Tag Yourself …

Tag Yourself …

This picture is used a lot in motivational context to encourage you to be the girl on the right.

And I say … eh. If that’s who you are, go for it. But if you’re not that girl, it’s okay.

Personally, I’m the girl in the middle. Shoe untied, confused about the steps, not sure what to do about a severe leotard wedgie, but still determined to dance.

I love you, Bookworms!

Q&A – 5 Things (Part 4)

Q&A – 5 Things (Part 4)

This will be an ongoing series where I answer the most common questions I get from readers:

Q1: Do you have a favorite book you’ve written?

A:  I don’t have a favorite. I like them all for different reasons and I think they could all be improved for different reasons.

Q2: Do you have a muse? Why or why not?

A:  Not in the sense that there is one particular person or one specific thing that inspires me.

Q3: Do you listen to music when you’re writing?

A:  Mostly instrumental and in the vein of whatever I’m writing. Listening to Christmas music in August while writing Christmas romances is very disorienting!

Q4: What part of the book do you have the hardest time writing?

A:  That murky middle! I don’t usually write chronologically, instead I take the major scenes and write them first, then link them together.

Q5: What other genres would you like to try writing?

A:  I’ve had a YA adventure churning in my head for about ten years. I’m finally starting to work  on it and I’m so excited!

 

 

Have questions? You can submit them here as a comment or email me: AuthorJeanetteLewis@gmail.com

Book Review: Coraline

Book Review: Coraline

Coraline

by Neil Gaiman

How have I missed this book? I really enjoy the movie, but for some reason, I’ve never investigated the book.

And that’s a bummer because it’s such a fun read! The story moves fast and the characters are wonderful. I liked the side characters much better in the book than I did in the movie. The story strikes exactly the right tone between whimsical and creepy and it’s a very quick read.

My rating: 5 stars

Have you read Coraline? What did you think of it? Do you prefer the book or the movie?

New Adventure – Write with me!

New Adventure – Write with me!

Hi Bookworms!

I have been working on this project for several weeks and I’m so excited to announce this new adventure. Introducing … Write with Me! Happening every week on YouTube and Instagram Live!

This will be a place where you can shut the rest of the world out and join me to work on creative projects. Whether it’s brainstorming a new series or going through final edits, I will have a quiet, peaceful space for you to relax in. No music, no ambient tracks — though there may be a few live interruptions from the cat. I’m going for periods of quiet productivity, punctuated by short breaks. The length of time between breaks will change based on what I’m doing – for example, brainstorming might need a few uninterrupted hours while actual writing needs more frequent breaks.

The schedule is still a work in progress since I have kids that need chauffeuring and a part-time job out of the house. And, I can’t use YouTube live’s features until I reach 1000 subscribers, so for now, those videos will be prerecorded. But, I’ll be going live on Instagram or Facebook. I don’t know about live chat or live comments, we’ll see how it goes, but hopefully, we can have some fun and build a community around creativity.

I will post the exact schedule here ASAP. In the meantime, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel – here.

Hope to see you soon!

Book Excerpt – Sweet Noel

Book Excerpt – Sweet Noel

Sweet Noel

by Jeanette Lewis

Neither is looking for love, but is love looking for them?

****

“How was the drive?” he asked, unable to help himself.

She rolled her eyes. “That thing is a devil to drive, and you know it.”

“Oh, come on, it couldn’t have been that bad,” he said.

“You’re lucky I didn’t leave it by the side of the road and call an Uber,” Gina huffed. “If you make big money-winning sculpture contests, why do you drive such a piece of crap?”

“Hey!” He was genuinely offended on behalf of the van. “That old girl and I have been through a lot together.”

“Obviously,” she sniffed. But beneath the frown, he caught a gleam in her eye, a teasing spark he hadn’t seen before.

“Well, I need to go help start dinner,” Gina finally said when the silence had stretched too long.

Noel’s brain felt stuck. Here was the perfect chance to find something clever to say, something to impress her, and he’d choked. “Hey, before you go …”

She stopped, giving him a questioning look, and his brain churned frantically. Before you go … what? Tell me why you got divorced. Are you over him? When’s your birthday? Do you like sushi?

“Help me prop up my leg?” he finally said. Oh, good one, Hamilton.

Gina pointed at the stack of throw pillows on the bed. “You can’t prop up your own leg?”

“I can, but what if those are look-at pillows?”

Her eyebrows came together. “Look-at pillows?”

He nodded. “Doesn’t every mom have decorations around the house you’re not allowed to touch, only look at, and you’ll get in big trouble if you mess with them? I’d hate to make your mom mad; she’s being so nice to me.”

Gina’s lips twitched like she was fighting back a smile, and Noel mentally high-fived himself. He’d saved it … barely.

“Here, let me help you.” She grabbed several of the pillows and stacked them near the end of the mattress. “These are not look-at pillows.”

He tried to stifle a groan as he twisted to lift his leg onto the pillows. Gina rearranged them, helping to position them so the strain was off his knee. She was quick and efficient, but surprisingly gentle.

“Thanks,” Noel said softly.

Gina looked up, and their eyes met. Their faces were only a few feet apart, so close he could count the faint freckles dotting her nose and forehead. His heart started pounding entirely too fast. That had to be bad for someone just out of surgery, right?

“What was it at your house?” Gina asked.

“What?”

“The look-at stuff. Every mom has some, right? What was yours?”

***

To read more of Sweet Noel, go here 

Available as an eBook or paperback on Amazon, or as an ebook at your favorite book retailer.

Are you ready for Christmas books?

Are you ready for Christmas books?

 

 

A sweet romance about second chances and finding the love of your life right where you left him.

Christmas in Snow Valley is the perfect way for April Winston to introduce her city slicker fiance, Scott Mecham, to life on a farm. If only Wade Hadley, hometown boy and high school sweetheart, will cooperate! But Wade has no intention of letting April go without a fight. This Christmas, he is determined to overcome their painful past and show April that she already has what she’s been seeking all along.

 

Neither is looking for love, but is love looking for them?

Gina Andrews never imagined she’d be a single mother forced to move back to Indigo Bay and live with her parents. But she’s managing, all the while holding on to hope that her ex-husband will wake up to what he’s missing and agree to try again.

Noel Hamilton is a professional drifter and artist, in that order. He’s happy going wherever the wind takes him. He seeks freedom, art, and serenity.

When Noel meets the business end of Gina’s car and ends up in the hospital, he realizes he’s going nowhere fast. And when Gina’s mother steps in to help him, Gina and Noel are thrown together to stew in their mutual dislike.

But slowly, things change and as Indigo Bay prepares for the Christmas season, Gina begins to wonder if this year could be her sweetest Noel ever.

Available as an eBook or in paperback: Here

 

She wanted to step into the warm embrace of his arms. But he was the enemy.

Lindsey Asher took the Billionaire Bride Pact at girl’s camp, but she’s never taken it seriously. Her dreams were always about building her own a bakery empire, not marrying a billionaire. Years later and all grown up, Lindsey has poured her heart and soul into Sugarbee’s Sweets in downtown Manhattan. All she wants for Christmas are good reviews from a pair of big-name food bloggers and plenty of customers to enjoy her sweet treats.

When Eric Kasabov parks his cookie cart in front of Sugarbee’s and starts stealing her customers, Lindsey’s resolve is tested. And when Eric’s partner starts causing trouble, Lindsey has to make a choice. How far will she go to save her store? Can rivalry turn to love?

Available as an eBook or in paperback: Here