Exclusive Excerpt: Linda Lael Miller's A Snow Country Christmas

A SNOW COUNTRY CHRISTMAS by Linda Lael MillerLinda Lael Miller's Mustang Creek series is beloved by readers — a fact that was confirmed when our Cover Breakdown for Linda's A Snow Country Christmas was shared on Facebook over 23 times! Since A Snow Country Christmas will be out next week, we figured today would be the perfect time to share an excerpt from this heartwarming holiday tale. But first, a bit more about the plot ...

A blast from the past has Raine McCall all aflutter. She first met movie executive Mick when he visited Mustang Creek to work on a documentary ... with Raine's ex. Now it's Christmas in Wyoming, Raine and Slater are no longer a couple and Mick is asking for a dinner date to discuss ... business? Maybe. Possibly. 

     Raine McCall first frowned at the screen and then stared at the clock.

     Her computer was right. Two in the morning? No way.

     Oh, she’d be the first to admit that when she was working she lost track of time, but she was always there to put her daughter on the school bus and make sure Daisy had done her homework and had a healthy breakfast.

     She’d always suffered from what she called WSS. Whimsical Sleep Schedule.

     Awake at all hours, losing track of time if the muse was in the mood, and she’d been guilty of falling asleep in the chair at her desk.  Daisy had told her more than once, with a maturity beyond her years, she thought she worked too hard, but then Raine didn’t really think of it as work. Spinning dream images into reality was a unique joy and she felt sorry for every person in the world that had a job they disliked.

      She wasn’t the only one awake either. Taking a break, she checked her email and was startled. Mick Branson? The Mick Branson had sent her a message? Hotshot Hollywood executive, way too focused, and no sense of humor—though come to think of it, he did smile now and then. He was good-looking, but she couldn’t get beyond the sophisticated polish. She was a Wyoming girl through and through and thousand dollar suits weren’t her preference. Give her a hat, jeans, and some worn boots.

      Of course she’d met the man quite a few times at the ranch because he was the driving force behind the documentaries that Slater Carson, her ex-boyfriend and father of her child, made, but getting an email from him was a definite first. Sent five minutes ago? She was too intrigued not to open it.

     I’m going to be in Mustang Creek for the holidays. Can we have a business meeting? Maybe over dinner?

     That was interesting, but currently she was up to her ears in deadlines trying to produce artwork for the labels for Mountain Vineyards wines. Her graphic design business had really taken off, and she wasn’t sure she could handle another project.

      From what she knew of Mick Branson, it wouldn’t be a small one either.

     She typed back. When did you have in mind?

      Tomorrow night? If you don’t already have plans, that is.

      On Christmas Eve?

      Well, Daisy did usually spend that evening with her father’s family and Raine spent it alone with a nice glass of wine and a movie. They always invited her, but she went the next day instead for the big dinner celebration and skipped the night before in favor of solitude. It was never that they made her feel like an outsider; quite the opposite, but Slater needed some time with his daughter to make memories without Raine always in the background. So while she appreciated the invitation, she’d always declined. It had been difficult when Daisy was little to spend such a magical evening away from her, but he was entitled. He was a wonderful father.

     She typed: On the 24th of December, I assure you no place is open in Mustang Creek. This isn’t California. You’d have to come to my place and I usually just eat a hamburger and drink wine.

      He wrote back: That sounds fine. I like burgers and I enjoy wine. Let me bring the beverages. Please excuse me if I’m inviting myself.

      She couldn’t decide if he had, or if she’d done it. She really did need to get more sleep now and then. She typed: Mountain Vineyards for the wine.

     You got it.

     Have a safe flight.

     Thank you, but I’m already here. See you tomorrow. Don’t mention to anyone, especially Slater, that I’m in town please.

     Raine sat back and let out a breath. She hadn’t ever anticipated spending an evening with someone like Mick Branson, much less Christmas Eve.

     Luckily, she thought, she’d thoroughly cleaned the house the day before when she realized that sound she abstractly heard in the background was the vacuum. Daisy was voluntarily doing a chore she usually argued over? Raine decided then and there—once she recovered from her shock—that maybe she had been spending too much time in her office. Sure enough, the house needed dusting, the kitchen floor had crumbs on it and the laundry room was in dire need of a workout.

      Not that someone like Mr. Hollywood Executive Mick Branson, who probably lived in a mansion in Beverly Hills, would be impressed with her small and eclectic house anyway, no matter how tidy. Wait until he got a look at her Christmas tree. There was no theme to the ornaments; if something caught her eye, she bought and it put it up. There were owls, glittery reindeer, a glass shrimp with wings wearing a boa, all right alongside her grandmother’s collection of English traditional antique glass orbs in brilliant colors. Those heirlooms were hung up high thanks to Mr. Bojangles, her enormous Maine coon cat. He was somewhat of a reclusive character, but he became positively playful when the Christmas tree went up. Walking past it usually meant an unexpected guerilla attack on your ankles because he considered it his covert hiding place every December. Therefore the ornaments on the bottom were soft stuffed squirrels and bunnies with a few fake pine cones he could bat around. Add in Daisy’s giant dog, Samson, who accidentally knocked an ornament off every time he walked by, and her tree had no hope.

      “Definitely not a designer tree, unless a deranged leprechaun arranged it” was how Daisy described it.

      Raine loved it.

      It was exactly her style. There was nothing wrong with being quirky. She went and switched off the lights and headed off to bed, wondering how she’d gotten roped into this situation.

      Hollywood Hotshot Mick Branson eating hamburgers at her house on Christmas Eve?

      Slater Carson was going to laugh himself into a fit.

A Snow Country Christmas will be available in digital and print on September 26. Digital copies start at $8.99, grab yours here: Amazon | B&N | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo. And for more romantic reads, stop by our Everything Romance page!

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