“…one of the best Christmas stories I have read.”–5-star on Goodreads from Dianne.
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The last thing Joy Evans needs is to have the hunky bane of her existence move in next door.
But he did.
And just in time to witness the collapse of the perfect life she’d always said she’d have. She’s divorced, her son keeps poking fun at the town gossip, her job sucks, and if she wants to keep her broken family in the same timezone, she’s going to have to move halfway across the planet.
But her new neighbor Steve insists that Joy is still that take-charge woman with big dreams that he used to know, and that it’s a perfect time to reinvent herself. And possibly even find some room in her heart for a man like him…
Will these two old rivals find a chance to not only see eye-to-eye, but heart-to-heart as well?
Find out in this charming small town sweet romance about the guy next door, a single mom, second chances, and a heartwarming Christmas romance. Grab your copy today and start reading!
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This sweet, funny and charmingly real Christmas romance begs for a treatment as a Hallmark movie.–Jane, 5-star review on Goodreads.
Sneak Peek from Unexpectedly in Love…
I adored the holiday season. Not just because of my festive name, Joy Noelle Evans, and because my birthday fell on a date halfway to Christmas, but because I believed the holidays brought everyone together, highlighting their innate kindness and generosity.
Today, however, I wasn’t feeling my usual level of holiday joy. I also wasn’t feeling the tips of my fingers, due to the frigid December air here in the town of Christmas Mountain, Colorado. The colored lights I was stringing along the eaves kept tangling, leaving me frustrated.
As I contemplated the lights again, I caught a glimpse of my seven-year-old son as he tore by with his elbow out—a sure sign he was attempting another running wrestling flop onto the inflatable snowman sitting in the front yard.
“Max, cut it out! You’re going to wreck poor Frosty.”
“He had it coming! He’s a wily, frozen-headed monster! He stuck his tongue out at Ms. Smith when she walked by.”
“Max, you better not have done that, too!”
There was a telling silence and my shoulders sagged. Judith Smith was a ruthless gossip who had a hobby of pumping people for information so she could spread it about town. She was well-intentioned, but the last thing I needed was for Max and myself to wind up on her radar—for any reason.
“What have I said about being polite?” I called.
“Okay. I will.”
“No sticking your tongue out at people, and next time you see her you need to apologize.”
“She didn’t see me.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
I readjusted the ladder, wondering where Max had learned his wrestling moves. Surely not from his father, Calvin, a mild-mannered man who was on the same parenting page as I was. Other single moms worried about the influence of their children’s fathers and their lax rules, but I knew Max had the same boundaries at Calvin’s, which meant no wrestling. No sticking out of tongues, either.
Up on the ladder again, I could see that Max had somehow managed to wrangle the seven-foot-tall snowman into a headlock, and our golden retriever, who Max had named Obi-Wan Kenobi after the Star Wars character, was barking and dancing as though a stranger had entered the yard.
“What was I thinking, buying that snowman?” I muttered to myself. “Obi, hush! And Max, cut it out. You’re getting the dog all excited!”
Something caught my eye as our retriever continued to bark. There was a stranger, although not in our yard. The new neighbor, whom I’d yet to meet, was rolling some fancy grill, which had likely cost as much as all the furniture in my living room, from his truck, then behind the fence and hedge that separated us, and around to the back of his house. He had a lanky build and improbably wide shoulders. He also had a familiarity that made me think of someone… Someone who didn’t bring up entirely pleasant memories.
It couldn’t be Steve Jorgensen. Like Calvin and me, he’d left town after high school. In fact, the last time I’d seen Steve he’d been smirking from his spot across the street from the police station as I’d shuffled out with my parents, completely mortified, my shoulders hunched to my ears as I’d tried to hide. My friends from Ms. King’s choir group and I had released a few pigs down the high school hallway after our graduation ceremony and gotten caught. After that night we’d all gone our separate ways, despite our promise to Ms. King that we’d stick together.
But back to the man next door. He couldn’t be Steve which meant I needed to shove aside my introverted nature and bring him a plate of gingerbread cookies. Not the burned ones, or the ones where Max had gone nuts with the icing, but the prettier ones that I’d taken some time with.
The man came back through his side yard, causing Obi to bark again. Our new neighbor snugged the zipper of his coat farther up under his chin as he walked. Due to the distance between our houses, I couldn’t quite catch his features even from my higher-than-usual vantage point on top of the ladder.
The man turned as Obi let out another bark, and I caught his familiar blue-eyed gaze. I let out a yelp as my foot slipped on the ladder rung, nearly sending me tumbling.
It was Steve. Steve Jorgensen.
No, no, no, no. No…! my mind howled. What had I done to deserve him as my neighbor? I was a good person. Karma should be on my side, not against me!
I didn’t dare look back his way as I carefully climbed down to the safety of the frozen earth. It was simply my imagination playing games with me, because why would Steve return to this small, quiet town when he was all about noise and adventure?
Back on solid ground, I cringed and dared a glance over my shoulder toward Maybe-Steve’s house. I could no longer see him or his walkway, due to the fence and hedge.
Maybe he’d turned away before I’d slipped.
Not that it had been Steve. There were plenty of men who were handsome like Steve had been—if his cocky, know-it-all opinion about my life hadn’t overshadowed the whole typical good-looks thing he’d had going on.
Man, if he could see me now—with my lovely, peaceful life—his sharp, bright eyes would be brimming with judgment. For all his smarts, he hadn’t been able to comprehend why I hadn’t continued chasing my dream of medical school, and had instead fulfilled my plan to marry Calvin once out of high school.
In fact, marriage and starting a family had been pretty perfect until Calvin and I had discovered that what we had was friendship and not actually true love. Now we were back in Christmas Mountain, in separate homes and co-parenting cohesively, as well as considering a move to Paris, France so Calvin could pursue an engineering project.
Steve could put adventure in his pipe and smoke it. I was not idly accepting some boring, stagnant life just because I had followed Calvin to college. I wasn’t complaisant, like Steve had claimed, unable to accept my life as anything more than what was in front of me. Calvin and I had worked hard for what we had, which was surely more than Mr. Judgy-Pants Adventure had in his hollow, empty, meaningless life.
The old anger burned through me, renewed. Steve had even been there the moment my life dreams had changed, but like everyone else, he hadn’t seen why I’d had to give up medical school.
It was a good thing it wasn’t Steve next door, because the last thing I needed was him prodding me to change my very happy, quiet life
* * *
It was Steve.
I knew it the second his boot came around the edge of the white fence that separated our properties—even before his upper body was visible.
Uh oh! What’s Joy’s going to do with the hunky Steve living right next door to her? And what will she do in the next scene when he has to save the day and carry her into the house?
Grab your copy of Unexpectedly in Love and keep reading!
ebook price $3.99!
paperback available soon!