Monday, November 30, 2020

If He Had Not Come by Nan F. Weeks and reintroduced by David Nicholson

Book Description:  If He Had Not Come, a Christmas story by Nan F. Weeks set in the ‘30s, asks the profound question: What if Jesus Christ had never come to Earth? David Nicholson provides a refreshing update to this timeless classic, originally included in Cynthia Pearl Maus’ anthology entitled, Christ in the Fine Arts. Through an eye-opening, somewhat bewildering dream, a young boy discovers some of the enormous changes the world would face if Jesus had never come to Earth.

My Thoughts: I've loved this story for years and almost every Christmas I've read it in a church program never realizing that a book had been made and published.  
So, as I researched this story I found a hardback copy on excited!  I snatched it up because this is one of my all time favorite stories for the Christmas holiday!
If He Had Not Come is a children's book but I believe that the message is for adults too.  I love the message in this story!  
The message of this story in incredible...just to think what if He had never come?
In fact, once you read this I believe reading it at the holidays will become a tradition at your house just as it has become at our home.
As an added bonus there are pages at the back of the book that include interactive topics for families and Sunday School teachers, Going Deeper (this provides Bible references and questions for helping the child/adult to think more about the story), and there is a Gospel Message that has the ABC's of leading someone to Christ. 
What a wonderful book!

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Auschwitz Escape by Joel Rosenberg


Book Description:  A terrible darkness has fallen upon Jacob Weisz's beloved Germany. The Nazi regime, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, has surged to power and now hold Germany by the throat. All non-Aryans -- especially Jews like Jacob and his family -- are treated like dogs.
When tragedy strikes during one terrible night of violence, Jacob flees and joins rebel forces working to undermine the regime. But after a raid goes horribly wrong, Jacob finds himself in a living nightmare -- trapped in a crowded, stinking car on the train to the Auschwitz death camp.

As World War II rages and Hitler begins implementing his "final solution" to systematically and ruthlessly exterminate the Jewish people, Jacob must rely on his wits and a God he's not sure he believes in to somehow escape from Auschwitz and alert the world to the Nazi's atrocities before Fascism overtakes all of Europe. The fate of millions hangs in the balance.

My Thoughts:  Joel C. Rosenberg writes with a death defying description that left this reader gasping for breath and a rapidly beating heart.  
The scenes, the senselessness of it.all, the hope, the courage and the escape!  Oh!what!a!read!  
Reading about WWII is a passion of mine but when an author like Mr. Rosenberg writes a novel that feels so real, that feels like it took place yesterday, and when the events seem as if they could be happening right now, in this very country....well, the reader may, just as I did, gently close the book, take a deep breath and timidly open the pages again to read about Jacob.  
Ah!  This was not an "easy" read for me.  Breath taking, heart pounding, mind could could one man {Hitler} be so cruel!??!  Why would people follow a mad man?!?! How do these atrocities come to pass?!?!?  
At times it was hard to read but yet, hard not to read!  Wanting to know what was going to happen but barely daring to that's a book that begs to be read by all!
What a read!

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1414336241
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414336244

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday}

 I love fall and I absolutely LOVE pumpkin spiced latte.  However, I don't live near a Starbucks or any coffee place so when I found this recipe on Pinterest I was so happy!  

recipe image

I love this recipe!  However, I simply add 1/4 cup water and 1 cup milk (2%), then I warm in the microwave for 2 minutes in a glass measuring cup.  I use all the listed ingredients and mix well with a spoon.  Don't skimp on the whipped topping (smile).  You may want to follow this recipe exactly.  It is so good and it's so much cheaper to make your own.
3 cups hot whole milk
4 teaspoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
6 ounces double-strength brewed coffee
3 tablespoons sweetened whipped
3 pinches pumpkin pie spice
1.Combine the hot milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice in a blender; blend until frothy. Pour the mixture into 3 coffee mugs to about 2/3 full. Pour 2 ounces coffee into each mug. Garnish each mug with whipped topping and pumpkin pie spice.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Let's Get Ready for Bed (Nurturing Steps) by Michael W. Smith


Book Description:  From Grammy Award-winning artist Michael W Smith and the co-creator of Veggietales Mike Nawrocki comes Let's Get Ready for Bed, the second in a series of bedtime books in the Nurturing Steps line. This sweet and sleepy picture book will lull your little one to sleep with their favorite stuffed animal characters the Nighty Nights.

My Thoughts:  I've always enjoyed Michael W.Smith's music so when I saw this book I thought it would be great for the littles at our house.
This is the second book in the Nurturing Steps "series."  We didn't read the first book but it didn't matter because these are stand alone reads.
This is a smallish hardback book that's just right for little ones to hold.  And because it's hardback it's quite easy to clean off with a wipe.
The story is cute and the illustrations are by Mike Nawrocki co-creator of Veggietales.
Our two years olds loved the book.  Of course we didn't read it word for word because we had to talk about the pictures and getting ready for bed.  So this does open up "talk time" for you and the kiddos.
This would make a great gift too, for that little one on your list.

  • Series: Nurturing Steps
  • Hardcover: 24 pages
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz 
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310767482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310767480

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Made for the Journey: One Missionary's First Year in the Jungles of Ecuador by Elisabeth Elliot


Book Description:  In her first year as a missionary to a small group of native women in the Ecuadorian jungle, Elisabeth Elliot faced physical and spiritual trials. In Made for the Journey, Elliot captures the mysteries and stark realities surrounding the colorful and primitive world in which she ministered. More than just a recounting of her early days, this is a beautifully crafted and deeply personal reflection on the important questions of life and a remarkable testimony to authentic Christian obedience to God.

My Thoughts:  Elisabeth Elliot has long been a hero of faith for me.
When I was in third grade I read Through the Gates of Splendor.  This book opened up a whole new world for me.  I began to understand that some people gave up "things" in their lives to reach people who may never hear the Word of God.
Made for the Journey is Elisabeth Elliot's story/recounting of her early days in the jungles of Ecuador.
Even though they were all young missionaries the road (literally) was not always easy.  And then there was the language barrier too.
Elisabeth Elliot brings out some "uneasy" questions that make the reader think.  
This is one missionary book that everyone should read.
What a story.  What a testimony!
And this is not an expensive book nor is it long, only 176 pages, but it will transform your thinking.

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Revell 
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0800729463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0800729462

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday}


It's getting cooler in our neck of the woods and time for soup.
Here's one of our favorites!

**Even though this is a crockpot soup, if I forget to put everything in the crockpot in the morning I just make it on the stove top using the same ingredients but I cook it for 45 minutes and then the last 30 minutes with cream cheese.  It's still great!

Paula Dean's crockpot potato soup recipe

Combine 1 bag frozen hash browns ( I use the small, diced hash browns)

2 (14oz) cans chicken broth, 1 can cream of chicken soup

1/2c chopped onion

 1/3tsp black pepper

Cook in crock pot on low for 5 hours. 

**Must be last **Stir in 8oz block of cream cheese, cook 30 minutes, stir occasionally.

Garnish with bacon bits, onions and/or shredded cheese.


Monday, November 16, 2020

All Is Calm, All Is Bright: A Colleen Coble Christmas Collection by Colleen Coble


Book Description: Return to two of Colleen Coble’s most beloved settings—Bluebird Ranch and Hope Beach—for holiday romance and mystery!

All Is Calm
It’s going to be an unexpectedly romantic Christmas at Bluebird Ranch.
Brendan Waddell has always considered Bluebird Ranch a little piece of heaven: an idyllic ranch that pairs abused children with abused horses, run by one of his Marine buddies. Now, it seems just the place to spend Christmas recovering from an on-the-job injury.
Lauren Everman first came to the ranch as a foster kid, but now knows it’s the perfect hideout. As the witness to a murder, Lauren needs somewhere to lie low. Her beauty immediately catches Brendan’s attention—but so does her secretive behavior. This Special Ops Intel man knows a woman on the run when he sees one. Can he trust her, or is she putting the ranch at risk? One thing is certain: he’s going to do everything he can to keep her safe so he can see what magic Christmas brings.
All Is Bright
A romantic Christmas wedding at Tidewater Inn gives Delilah’s unique gifts a chance to shine. But will her light be snuffed out before the bride and groom say “I do”?
As manager of the Tidewater Inn, Delilah Carter has been planning a spectacular Christmas wedding for her friend, Elin Summerall. But when Delilah’s car is forced off the road and into the ocean, she finally has to admit that the strange phone calls she’s been receiving lately may be more than just pranks.
Sheriff Tom Bourne has always had a soft spot for Delilah, and he’s determined to protect her. He hopes to win her heart by giving her the surprise gift of a lifetime . . . but first he has to make sure nothing happens to her before Christmas Day.

My Thoughts:  The Christmas reads are coming in...yay!  
Coleen Coble has two great novellas in one sweet book. 
The first novella, All Is Calm, is full of suspense.  Ironically, all is not calm at Bluebird Ranch.  Lauren Everman comes to the ranch to hide out.  She remembers the ranch from her days as a foster child. And Brendan Waddell comes to the ranch to visit friends. 
Brendan feels "love at first sight for Lauren.  But as he gets to know her he knows she is hiding something.  
A great short story full of suspense and mystery!
Then All Is Bright is the story about Delilah.  Delilah wants her friend to have the dream wedding she always wanted.  Sheriff Tom Bourne has admired Delilah and wants to protect her...he also wants to win her heart.  He plans a great surprise for her.  
Another great suspense short story with wonderful characters that come to life in the pages of a great read!
This book would make a nice Christmas card for someone who needs a lift during the holidays.

  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson 
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718037820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718037826


 Vannetta Chapman's newest book releases tomorrow.  Don't miss it!

Amazon:   Hard copy


if you can't wait the ebook release today!


Sunday, November 15, 2020

{Kregel Blog Tour} Joy to the World By Carolyn Miller, Amanda Barratt, and Erica Vetsch

Book Description:  In Heaven and Nature Sing, two music lovers, parted in youth, find their way back to one another. A woman and child cross paths with a wounded veteran and discover healing in Far As the Curse Is Found. And in The Wonders of His Love, can a portrait painter thaw a widow's heart? 

"Heaven and Nature Sing" by Carolyn Miller

When family obligations part two people in love will they ever have a chance to love again?  Edith and George take family quite seriously, almost too seriously, until per happenstance they are in each others company once again after having fallen in love years before.  Edith longs for a family and George longs for Edith.  George must once again win Edith over.

"Far as the Curse is Found" by Amanda Barratt

This was an interesting short story.  A woman with a child out of wedlock in a day and age when such things were frowned upon.  And a poor, wounded solider.  When Dwight offers Jenny a job so she can feed her child happiness begins to blossom in two hearts.

"Wonders of His Love" by Erica Vetsch
Oh, my!  This story was so toughing,  A widow with a heart frozen with hurts as wide as a glacier and a painter with a warm heart just ready to heat up a frozen tundra.  The way that Hamish melts Cilla's heart is such a sweet story.  A story full of love and grace.

These three stories are perfect to begin the holiday season.  Stories that will brighten your day and help you to get ready for warmth and happiness.

*This book was provided for review by Kregel Publications*


Saturday, November 14, 2020

The Blended Quilt by Wanda E. Brunstetter & Jean Brunstetter

Book Description:  Sadie Kuhns has a lot happening in her life. She is creating a unique quilt by blending a traditional Amish pattern with a Hawaiian pattern as a tribute to her time spent in the islands, and she is working on a self-published book. But her relationship with Wyman Kauffman has stagnated after six months of courtship. He can’t seem to commit to a profession that would secure a future, and he is jealous of the time Sadie gives to her own pursuits. Is there really any reason to drag this courtship out? 

My Thoughts:  Ahh!  The trials of budding romance.  Except that poor Sadie seems to have a bit more of the trial then most.  Her relationship with Wyman seems to budding and thriving and then nothing!  A nothing more than 'hi' relationship.
Sadie like most Amish young women knows how to quilt and do it well.  The only thing is Sadie has been to Hawaii, remember the Hawaiian Quilt?  Now Sadie wants to make a quilt putting Hawaii and her Amish roots together.  What a grand idea!  Sadie also wants to self publish a book. But her relationship or lack or relationship with Wyman seems to keep all her projects and thoughts on the back burner.
As the story evolves so does the relationship of Sadie and Wyman evolve with all of its ups and downs.
Sadie learns to overcome and Wyman learns to be productive.  Quite a gut story.

*This book was provided by Barbour Publishing*

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Fabulous Friday


DIY Advent Calendar

 I've had a difficult time finding a non candy advent calendar so when I saw this one on Pinterest I knew I could make it.  It's pretty self explanatory {No directions} And it looks like fun.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday}


Recipe Ingredients

16 chocolate wafer cookies (such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers)

1 tube orange frosting with piping tips

16 small peanut butter cups

Recipe Preparation

Place cookies on work surface; squeeze a dime-size dot of frosting in center of each

Unwrap and invert peanut butter cups on frosting, pressing down gently

Using the round piping tip, pipe a "hat-band" with frosting around peanut butter cup and a square "buckle." Let frosting set before storing. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

In the Shadow of Denali (The Heart of Alaska) by Tracie Peterson, Kimberley Woodhouse


Book Description:  Cassidy Ivanoff and her father, John, work at the new and prestigious Curry Hotel outside Mt. McKinley. While John will be expedition and wilderness exploration guide for the wealthy tourists, Cassidy has signed on as a cook's assistant. Both are busy as the hotel prepares to welcome the president of the United States on his way to drive in the golden spike to officially complete the railroad.

Allan Brennan travels to the Curry Hotel to be an apprentice of a seasoned Alaska mountain guide. Ever since his father's death climbing Mt. McKinley, he's worked to earn enough money to make the trek to the Alaska territory himself. His father's partner blames their guide for the death of his father, but Allan wants to find the truth for himself. He finds an unlikely ally in Cassidy, and as the two begin to look into the mystery, they suddenly find that things are much less clear, and much more dangerous, than either could ever imagine.

My Thoughts:  I've always loved books authored by Tracie Petersen and now she has teamed up with Kimberley Woodhouse to write a great story set in Alaska.
Cassidy Ivanoff and her father, John, are in Alaska to work at the famous Curry Hotel which is within view of Mt. McKinley.
Cassidy is working as a cook's assistant and her father will be a guide in the wilderness for wealthy guests.
Then Allan Brennan comes along to be an apprentice as a mountain guide.
This historical romance was fascinating!  And Cassidy's cooking well as, the mountain guides adventures was a fun lesson for this reader.
There is a bit of a mystery in this read too.  Allan's father's guide blames the death of his father on their guide but Allan is there to be an apprentice so he can to find out the truth concerning his father's death.
Meeting Cassidy and finding that she is a great partner in helping him find out the truth in this somewhat dangerous mystery.
Then the president of the USA is making a stop at the hotel as he travels to drive the golden spike to complete the railroad.
A lot of history and mystery combined with some sweet romance.

  • Series: The Heart of Alaska (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers 
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764219235
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764219238

Sunday, November 8, 2020

at Peace in the Storm {Experiencing the Savior's Presence When You Need Him Most} by Ken Gire


Book Description:  When you need a Savior who stills the wind.
"Here's the rub about faith. Sure, prayer often changes outward things, but the only guaranteed miracle God offers us is inner peace, the peace of Christ. A peace so crazy deep that it cannot be analyzed or understood. It descends on us even when everything else is falling apart, while the drug-addicted child does not come to his senses, or the job offer doesn't pan out, or the cancer rages and the marriage is a hollow mess. But I'll let you in on a secret. This miracle of the 'inner variety,' this inexplicable and supernatural calm in the storm, is the greatest miracle you'll ever experience."

My Thoughts: All of us are human and so, all of us will go through a "storm" of some kind in our lives.  The storms are life are not always easily handled by humans, therefore, we need a Savior who will calm the storm and help us through this storm.
On page 57, Mr. Gire gently reminds us that, "As we weather storms, trying to navigate through the darkness, our temptation is to turn our eyes not toward God's Word, but toward the raging skies."  This statement was the whole pivotal point of this read for me.  I must keep my eyes on Jesus. . . just like Peter when he saw Jesus on the water . . . when I take my eyes off Jesus I will fall.  Thankfully Jesus will be there to catch me (if I let Him).  Oh!the!love!He!has!for!me!
This isn't a point by point, do this kind of read.  This is a walk by faith, keep your eyes on the One who loves you most.  An encouraging read for when we are faint of heart.
I love the way Mr. Gire makes life with Jesus so very real.  At the end of this wonderful book we see Jesus having merriment with His friends and disciples.  Yes, sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to have fun.  The storm will not always last, Jesus will be by our side.  "I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint."Jeremiah 31:25  (end of book, p. 159)
This encouraging book would make a wonderful "card" for that special person who may be going through a storm in life.  It's also a a great read just for you to know Jesus is there for you!

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers 
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764208845
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764208843

{Blog Tour} An Amish Winter (Love Inspired) by Vannetta Chapman (Author), Carrie Lighte (Author)

Book Description:  Snowstorms and babies bring couples together.  In Vannetta Chapman’s Stranded in the Snow, widowed single mother Faith Yoder and her baby find temporary refuge from a snowstorm with Elijah King’s generous help. And in Caring for the Amish Baby by Carrie Lighte, after her trip south for the winter is delayed, Amish spinster Leah Zehr must work with Jonathan Rocke to care for her sick friend’s baby.

My Thoughts:  The first thing that caught my attention is the cover of this book.  A sweet chubby baby!  Probably because of all the bad news and the pandemic reading has become a sweet way for me to escape from the doldrums of society.                                                                                   Stranded in the Snow by Vannetta Chapman is about bachelor Elijah King.  Elijah is likable fellow and he is determined to find a the next 12 months!                                                                                                             This is a down to earth short story of a bachelor and a widow.  A widow with a baby.                                                                                                      What a great story of love and giggles!

The next short story, Caring for the Amish Baby is from a new to me author...Carrie Lighte.  This fun story caught my heart strings as Leah Zehr and Jonathan Rocke try to help a sick friend.  Leah seems to know more about babies than Jonathan but Jonathan comes through at the best of times. Such a fun story!

Two stories in one book!  Novellas at their best and not to be missed!

*This book was provided by the author*

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Fabulous Friday

Anything is possible when you have the right friends to support you.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday}


Creamy Chicken and Rice Bake...Another great recipe from Pinterest!


  • 1 can (12 fl. oz.) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk
  • 1 pkg. (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can (10 3/4 fl. oz.) cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 bag (16 oz.) frozen broccoli, cauliflower and carrot medley, thawed
  • 2 cups cubed, precooked chicken
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked instant white rice
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease 13 x 9-inch baking dish. 
COMBINE evaporated milk and cream cheese in baking dish with wire whisk until smooth. Add soup, water, garlic powder and pepper; mix well. Add vegetables, chicken and rice. Cover tightly with foil. 
BAKE for 35 minutes. Uncover; top with cheese. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and mixture is bubbly. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. 

PREPARE as above; do not bake. Do not top with cheddar cheese. Cover; freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator.
PREHEAT oven to 350° F.
BAKE, covered, for 45 to 55 minutes. Uncover; top with cheddar cheese. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and mixture is bubbly. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, November 2, 2020

The First Noelle by Deia Latham


                                        About The First Noelle

Noelle Joy stopped celebrating Christmas ten years ago, when Trevor Holden skipped out on their long-planned Christmas Eve wedding. He destroyed her trust in men, crushed her belief in God, and left her cynical about love. Gone is the bright, cheery spirit of the girl she thinks of now as “the first Noelle.” Stronger and savvier, the new Noelle would never be found waiting at the altar for a groom who didn’t show.
When a famous-but-mysterious architect commissions her to decorate his mansion for a holiday event, Noelle finally returns to her hometown. Even as she finds an unexpected peace in facing ghosts from the past, her fiercely private client disturbs her. Michael Holliday is kind and considerate, but far too handsome…and hauntingly familiar.
Holliday didn’t choose Noelle to make his home a Christmas wonderland by accident. She’s the only one who can do the job he has in mind—and once she’s in his mansion, he never wants to let her go. But he’s hiding a secret that could destroy any chance of a relationship with the beautiful decorator.


She pulled to a stop at a pair of imposing gates fronted by a guard shack. To her surprise, her heart pounded with expectation. Her mind wouldn’t be quiet either, tossing out a horde of unanswered questions.
Was Holliday an older man, or was he young for his accomplishments? Was he handsome? Maybe he was hideous, like the fairy tale beast, and that’s why he maintained such a fiercely private existence. Was he kind, as seemed to be indicated by the media-inspired title? Or was that all hype? Perhaps the whole Phantom Philanthropist thing was a ruse to hide his real personality, which might be anything from a mouse to a monster.
A man’s voice crackled across the air. “Identification, please.”
Holliday should be expecting her. Why all the cloak-and-dagger? Well, his house, his rules. She dug out her driver’s license and the guard took it, his alert gaze darting back and forth, side to side, as if expecting an attack.
Noelle bit back a giggle when he broke from his fastidious survey of the surrounding countryside to peruse her license, seemingly line by line. What did he expect to find there?
At last, he returned her ID and gave a single, terse nod. “When I open the gates, follow the drive and park by the front steps. A valet will take your car.”
Sure enough, a uniformed valet met her at the base of a series of steps leading to massive oak doors that would have served well in any medieval castle. The man actually smiled as he took her keys. Having passed the intense scrutiny of the portly guard, it seemed she’d earned a bit more friendliness.
“Mr. Holliday will meet you at the door, Miss Joy.”
Potted plants lined each side of the wide steps— gorgeous bursts of azalea, bonsai-shaped miniature wisteria, hoya, plumeria, fuchsia, and a number of plants Noelle didn’t recognize and was almost certain shouldn’t survive the cold of the Northern California mountains. Holliday must have a sizeable greenhouse.
The door opened as she reached the top step. A man stepped outside but seemed reluctant to venture beyond the shade of the overhang. He towered well over Noelle’s five feet, nine inches. Muscles strained at the cloth of his sleeves and across his chest.
“Good afternoon, Miss Joy.”
Something caught in Noelle’s heart, and she swallowed repeatedly. Had she heard that voice before? Why did it make her want to cry…or maybe scream and throw rocks through the beautiful stained glass windows that fronted the huge estate?
She allowed her gaze to travel beyond the broad chest to a firm, square chin, and upward. Nicely shaped lips curved into a smile that seemed a little shaky around the edges and revealed perfect white teeth. A straight nose, not too long, or too short. High cheekbones.
For some reason, she avoided his eyes, instead moving on to take in slightly longish, golden-brown hair with a smidgen of gray at the temples.
“Miss Joy?” A hint of concern tinged the oddly familiar voice.
Noelle swallowed again and forced her cowardly gaze to his, only to be caught in a dizzying vortex of confusion and familiarity. I know this man. I’ve met him before. Where? She stood up straighter, hiked her chin, and mentally donned the ice cloak that had stood her in good stead over the course of her career. Holliday wasn’t the only one with a media-dubbed moniker. She had one of her own, and the Ice Princess of Design wouldn’t be put off by a furrowed brow and a tense expression. “Mr. Holliday. I’d like to get started right away, if you don’t mind.”
Forced to meet his gaze—his eyes were hazel, but somehow she’d known they would be—she saw a flicker of something that made her breath a little shallow. She was way off her game. Was it because those eyes held a strange familiarity?
“Of course. Come in, please.”
He indicated she should precede him into the house…no, the mansion. “House” didn’t even begin to describe the residence. Noelle had seen a great number of multi-million-dollar homes in her line of work but nothing that compared to the one in which she now stood.
“This is…quite lovely.” She was careful to maintain the chill in her tone. “Professional distance at all times” was the mantra by which she’d lived for the past decade. It had served her well. No need to change it now, just because something about Michael Holliday made her skin tingle and sky-rocketed her heartbeat. “If anything needs improvement, it’s well hidden.”
His low laughter sent something almost unbearably electric skittering up her spine. “It isn’t improvement I’m looking for, Miss Joy. It’s a mood, a certain look…an ambiance, if you will. And since my event will be held on Christmas Eve, it must be themed very specifically around that holiday.”
She nodded, despite the rock of dread that landed in her stomach with a thump. Up until now, the only Christmas event she’d ever created had been her doomed wedding a decade earlier. After that, she never again celebrated the holiday she’d once loved most. She refused to have a tree in her home and never sent a Merry Christmas card to a single soul. Stockings, mistletoe, and hot apple cider—things she’d once loved—were now just unavoidable traditions she muddled through every year while counting down the hours until the bells stopped jingling, the carolers’ songs died away, and her favorite radio station started playing real music again.
Joy Designs absolutely never, ever, ever accepted a design job with a Christmas theme. She opened her mouth to tell Michael exactly that but remembered just in time that she’d already signed the contract, without checking into the specifics of what Holliday needed or for what occasion. She uttered a pathetic inner moan. Christmas. She’d signed a legal contract saying she and her team would create a holiday environment somewhere in this castle-sized home.
Noelle steeled her spine and pasted on a smile she was certain didn’t fool the handsome architect for even a split second. Well, the contract had not included a clause that said her smiles had to be genuine. Then again, she hadn’t realized it mentioned anything about a Christmas event either, because she barely noticed anything other than Holliday’s name. She knew better than that. Now she had no choice but to design a winter wonderland in this massive mansion.

Bah Humbug.