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Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Maxine Morrey’s Best Little Christmas Shop!  I am so excited to be able to share an extract from the book and there’s a fab competition to win some goodies and a signed book too!

TBLC - Cover

Description:

Come home for Christmas to the Best Little Christmas Shop – the snowiest, cosiest place you can be!

Home for the holidays…

Icing gingerbread men, arranging handmade toys and making up countless Christmas wreaths in her family’s cosy little Christmas shop isn’t usually globe-trotter Lexi’s idea of fun. But it’s all that’s keeping her mind off romance. And, with a broken engagement under her belt, she’s planning to stay well clear of that for the foreseeable future…until gorgeous single dad Cal Martin walks through the door!

Christmas takes on a whole new meaning as Lexi begins to see it through Cal’s adorable five-year-old son’s eyes. But, finding herself getting dangerously close to the mistletoe with Cal, Lexi knows she needs to back off. She’s sworn off love, and little George needs a stability she can’t provide. One day she’ll decide whether to settle down again – just not yet.

But the best little Christmas shop in this sleepy, snow-covered village has another surprise in store…

You can buy a copy of The Best Little Christmas Shop now via Amazon UK


Extract:

The Four Seasons had started life as a quirky little gift shop many years ago – opened by my newlywed parents. It had a USP before that was even a thing in that it followed the seasons. In summer, it was stuffed to the roof with bunting, picnic blankets and baskets, tiki lamps, parasols and everything else you could think of, and plenty you hadn’t, for a perfect summer’s day.

But now, in the grips of winter, it was overflowing with Christmas-related goodies and a warm, cosy ambiance. This was enhanced by a massive tree that had only just fit in the door and was topped off with classy but festive instrumental music playing softly in the background.

Much of the stock was locally made, some by my family, others by friends, and the rest sourced from artisans both here and abroad. My parents had always loved discovering and nurturing new talent, although since Dad’s heart scare a couple of years ago they’d stepped back a little and my brothers now took it in turns to do the travelling for this side of the business, cramming it in around everything else including their families.

From a little shop in the village, over the last forty years, the business had grown into a very successful online one too and my brothers still had more plans for it.

The shop was part of my childhood, part of the fabric of my life. I’d actually taken my first steps in it, and growing up, I’d help choose new stock for the next season. Talking shop was never banned at our dinner table. It was positively encouraged. My brothers and I had been chief toy testers for many years and now my nieces and nephews had taken over that mantle.

Even though my own career had taken me out of the country for over half the year, my family had always made sure I was still included as much as I had the time for. Mum would email me a few pictures, or send me some product samples, asking what I thought. Depending on my mood, and how far away from home I was at the time, it was sometimes a bittersweet experience. I loved that they made a point of keeping me involved in any way they and I could manage, but I knew that had I been closer, I’d have been sat around the big, timeworn pine table discussing that same product with my family in person. Laughing, teasing, talking. And the truth was, I’d never stopped missing that.

Running a business was hard work but the shop had grown along with our family and, as such, it was almost another family member. Even when it took nearly every minute of our time, we loved it. And, much to my surprise, I now found myself sat back behind the project desk next to the till and experiencing exactly what Matt had meant about orders having shot up.

I put aside a completed wreath, gave a glance around my currently quiet surroundings, smiling at the warm fuzzies it set off somewhere deep in my soul, and began work on the next one.

Winding mistletoe around the main structure, I held it up, eyeballing it and sussing where the holly would go. The process was remarkably soothing and although I’d been doing much the same thing for the past week, in between serving customers, I’d felt some of the tension I’d been carrying around for a long time very slowly begin to ebb out of me.

Creating was good for the soul my parents had always said, and although I’d been taught some basic skills, I’d always been more interested in tinkering with the old Jag Dad had in the garage below my room. It was one of those projects he always meant to get around to but never had, and then his heart attack had happened. It had been a huge scare for all of us. Dad had always seemed full of life and indestructible – big and broad like my brothers – but his heart attack had brought us down to earth and now we all fussed him probably a little too much for his liking.

But, thank goodness, he’d been sensible and my parents took the opportunity to step back a little, leaving much of the day-to-day running to Dan and the others. And leaving the Jag to me. But it was still sat in much the same condition as when he’d given it to me. I just never seemed to get the time to do anything on it. During the times that I did get to visit home, I wanted to be with my family and friends, catching up on everything I’d missed, not stuck out on my own in a chilly garage. As much as I loved cars, and that Jag particularly, I loved my family more.

Who knows? Maybe now that the career I’d worked so hard to build was swirling around the plughole, I might finally have the time to do something on it. Not exactly the way I’d planned things to go but still. Although I loved the shop and had worked in here since I could remember, possibly as more of a hindrance than help in my early years, I never thought for a moment that I’d be sat back here in my thirties. A sharp jab in my thumb from a particularly robust holly leaf brought me painfully out of my reverie.

‘Oh f –’ I glared at the leaf now firmly attached to my digit. And then I looked over it and directly into the wide, soft grey eyes of a little boy around five years old who was regarding me curiously. Behind him stood a pair of long, indigo-denim-clad legs. My gaze followed them up and I found myself on the end of an intense stare from a similar pair of eyes.

But these were a much stormier grey, set in the ridiculously good-looking face of a man I assumed to be the boy’s father. I cleared my throat and swallowed my words, making a mental note to get one of my brothers to fix a bell to the back of the door as soon as possible.

‘I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you come in.’

The man quirked a dark brow almost imperceptibly. ‘Evidently.’ His expression was firmly set to unamused. I gave him a fixed smile and looked back to my desk, hoping he’d leave to go and practise his ninja shopping skills elsewhere. The young boy’s eyes were focused on my hands as I picked up the holly again, a little more carefully this time.

‘Come on, George, let’s –’

‘What are you doing?’ George asked, seemingly not hearing his father and sitting the teddy he’d been holding on the table at the end of my supplies so that he could observe too.

I smiled at them both, almost expecting the father to repeat his request to leave but he remained silent, evidently happy to let George’s curiosity be fulfilled and probably aware that the glare he’d given me moments earlier was enough to stop me even thinking about swearing again for the rest of my life. Well, at least until they left anyway.

‘I’m making Christmas wreaths for people to hang on their doors.’

His eyes widened as his fingers reached out and touched the mistletoe. ‘It’s real?’

‘It is. Mind the holly though. That can be a bit spiky.’ I risked a glance up through my lashes and met his father’s eyes, a glimmer of a smirk on a mouth that some might call tempting. I’d probably call it that too but I already had way too much to worry about.

‘We had one like that last year but it was plastic.’

‘Some of those can be very nice too.’ I smiled.

‘Not as nice as yours,’ George said, moving to peer around me at the others he had now noticed hanging behind, ready for shipping out later.

‘Thank you.’

George came around the front of my desk again and watched for a moment as I continued to work. His father had taken a couple of steps away and was now looking at the rows of chutney, fudge, and other delicious temptations on the shelves to my right.

‘I do like your bear,’ I said to George. ‘Does he have a name?’

‘He’s just called Bear.’

‘That sounds like the perfect name to me.’ I gently took Bear’s paw and shook it. ‘It’s very nice to meet you, Bear.’

George giggled. ‘I’m George.’

I shook his hand in the same way. ‘My name’s Lexi. It’s very nice to meet you too.’

George smiled. ‘This is my daddy.’

‘Hello, Daddy … I mean …’

Oh God, that sounded so weird!


 

Giveaway time!

For your chance to win the goodies in the picture below just click on this link
Please note this is for a Rafflecopter giveaway and is open to UK entries only.

TBLC - Giveaway Prize

 

About the author:

Maxine has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember and wrote her first (very short) book for school when she was ten. Coming in first, she won a handful of book tokens – perfect for a bookworm!

As years went by, she continued to write, but ‘normal’ work often got in the way. She has written articles on a variety of subjects, aswell as a book on Brighton for a Local History publisher. However, novels are what she loves writing the most. After self publishing her first novel when a contract fell through, thanks to the recession, she continued to look for opportunities.

In August 2015, she won Harper Collins/Carina UK’s ‘Write Christmas’ competition with her romantic comedy, ‘Winter’s Fairytale’.

Maxine lives on the south coast of England, and when not wrangling with words loves to read sew and listen to podcasts. As she also likes cake she can also be found either walking or doing something vaguely physical at the gym.

Follow Maxine Morrey

Website           www.scribblermaxi.co.uk

Twitter                        @Scribbler_Maxi

Instagram        @scribbler_maxi

Facebook         www.Facebook.com/MaxineMorreyAuthor

Pinterest          ScribblerMaxi

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