Christmas Elf Romance
Sweet and Sensual
Forget about the Elf on the Shelf! Instead why not indulge in this magical elf romance by Beth Barany. This short novel (or long novella of 43,000 words) is now available (Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo: $0.99). Scroll down to read the book blurb and an excerpt and find out more about the author. To visit other sites involved in the blog tour click here.
What if you risked losing your baking legacy by cooking up a love truly special? Florian MacMillian needs a final job to complete his baking resume—preferably a job where he’s unlikely to blow things up with his unruly magic—before returning to the North Pole and taking his rightful place as Master Baker to all the elves. Kate Delore desperately needs help in her fast-growing cupcake business. Florian is a perfect fit, so she brings him on as baker. For a short time, Florian is happily up to his elbows in batter, and Kate’s business is booming. But when things heat up between them, Florian wonders if he should risk his legacy to cook up something truly special.
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Excerpts from Chapter One
Excerpt 1 (Florian)
Monday, December 1, San Francisco
“Help wanted. Must be good with pastry baking, parties + kids. Part-time/Holiday Temporary. Competitive pay. Flexible hours. Apply in person. Bring printed resume. Must love cupcakes.”
Florian jumped off the trolley at the bottom of Market Street and checked the address on his smart phone’s map. He peered around at the busy area, looking for his new possible employment, Kate’s Cupcake Cart. He didn’t see it. He must be off by a few blocks. He hustled back up Market Street, one of San Francisco’s main boulevards.
A cold brisk wind had him turning up his collar, pulling down his cap more over his ears—couldn’t have people spotting them and asking questions—and tightening his scarf. He loved the weather at the city on the bay. Way warmer than New York City where he’d been working up to last week, and way, way warmer than back home at the Pole.
He stood on the busy street corner of the city’s Financial District and swiveled, not just his head, but his whole body. He still didn’t see it. He was about to wave his hand to stir up some magic, maybe bring a magnifying glass in front of him—he never knew exactly what he’d conjure—but then saw as the busy crowd thinned for a moment what he was looking for. A small food stand perched on the corner, kitty corner to where he stood. A big sprinkle-top cupcake jauntily capped the sign that stated in broad flourish font, “Kate’s Cupcake Cart.” At the other end of the sign, a frothy cappuccino angled in nice symmetry. He smiled. His sign-making elf cousins couldn’t have done a better job.
Excerpt 2 (Kate and Florian)
Kate Delore finished making the double cap dry with a flick of her wrist, creating her signature swirl on the foam, and handed it to the salt-and-pepper suit-and-tie customer. On the counter, her cell phone buzzed. In quick succession, the heater oven dinged and her phone buzzed again. She handed the man his warmed chocolate croissant cupcake, zapped his iPhone to transact the payment, and thanked him. He replied in French, and then English, smiled at her, and went on his way. She liked her cosmopolitan customers. Maybe one day she’d be able to buy a croissant in Paris and say thank you in English and French. She didn’t have time to dwell on the daydream—when did she ever have time—when her phone buzzed a third time.
She ignored it since at the window the next customer waited. The call was probably another lunch order. She’d have to take it at the next break. She made a mental note to look into an answering service. Kate glanced at the customer, ready to greet him. The tall red-haired man gave her a bright smile. She blinked at him, taken aback by his high-wattage happiness that seemed to roll off him in waves of sunlight.
“A good morning to you,” he said with a lilt.
“Good morning. What would you like?” She glanced at the caller ID when the phone buzzed yet again.
Another number she didn’t recognize. It could be another lunch order, or someone calling about the help wanted ad, or about booking another birthday party. She made a list in her mind for the tenth time this morning—that answering service, another baker, more customer service help so she could breathe a little, and—why not—a personal masseuse and some time away from the business. May as well throw in those last ones too since she was crafting a wish list.
The man didn’t reply to her question, so she glanced back at him.
He was craning his head into her food stand and nodding as if he approved of what he saw.
“Can I help you?” she said, maybe more sharply than she should have to a potential customer. But he was ogling her cart. She checked the time on her phone. Mike would be arriving soon to pick up the day-olds.
“Only if you can help me round out my resume,” he said in a serious tone, all sunlight gone from his voice.
She snapped her gaze back at him. Oh. Right. She’d asked people to come in person. Her brain was like a sieve these days, hence the lists. She opened her mouth to reply, but then he ruined the serious effect and chuckled.
“No, really.” He smiled broadly, the brightness back. “I’m replying to the ad. The help wanted ad. Especially the baking part. I was looking for the oven.” He had a slight musical lilt that evoked Ireland or Scotland. She didn’t know her lilts like she knew her chocolate cream and baking flour.
“It’s not here.” She scanned him up and down from her higher vantage point. The slender man was about her age—in his mid-to-late twenties. He sported a green wool sweater that brought out his sea-green eyes—so striking. Freckles sprinkled across the bridge of his nose and across his cheeks. At the nape of his neck, his curly red hair peeked out under his dark cap.
“Well, with a little more—” He waved his hands around as if he were conjuring up something. “Space, maybe it could.” He smiled sheepishly and tucked his hands under his armpits.
“What? Magic?” She wiped the counter, more out of habit than need.
He shrugged and smiled, making a motion across his lips, as if to zip them shut.
“Top secret, eh? What are you, from the Ministry of Magic?” She folded the towel she’d just been using and straightened the paper cups at her elbow.
He laughed—a big laugh for such a slender man—and shook his head. “I wish. Now that would be fun, wouldn’t it?” His eyes seemed to sparkle and something about his whole demeanor lit up the cold, blustery morning.
Was that a wink?
About the Author
Award-winning author, Beth Barany writes in two genres: young adult fantasy and contemporary fantasy romance.
Inspired by living abroad in France twice and Quebec once, she loves creating magical tales of romance and adventure to enchant readers into new worlds where magic conspires to bring more love into the world.
In her off hours, Beth enjoys walking, reading and watching movies, and traveling, with her husband, author and singer/song writer Ezra Barany.
Beth Barany lives in Oakland, California with her husband, a cat named Leo, and over 1,000 books.
When not writing or playing, Beth runs her own company helping novelists as a book midwife and teacher to help them write, market, and publish their books. She holds authors’ hands while they push their book out into the world. More resources click here.
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