Monday, November 18, 2013

Blog Tour: Timeless Keepsake: Secret Santa by Julie Rowe

This virtual book tour is presented by Bewitching Book Tours.
Click HERE for more tour information.
Welcome to The Wormhole and another stop on the tour.
It is my pleasure to feature:
Julie Rowe and Secret Santa.

About Julie Rowe:
Julie Rowe’s first career as a medical lab technologist in Canada took her to the Northwest Territories and northern Alberta, where she still resides. She loves to include medical details in her romance novels, but admits she’ll never be able to write about all her medical experiences because, “No one would believe them!” In addition to writing contemporary and historical medical romance, and fun romantic suspense for Entangled Publishing and Carina Press, Julie has a short story in The Mammoth Book of ER Romance (September 2013). Her book Saving the Rifleman (book one of the War Girls series) won the novella category of the 2013 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in several magazines such as Today’s Parent, Reader’s Digest (Canada), Canadian Living, and Romantic Times Magazine.


For more information about Julie, please visit her online at www.julieroweauthor.com, on Twitter @julieroweauthor, or at her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/JulieRoweAuthor.

Secret Santa
Julie Rowe

Excerpt Secret Santa:
Chapter One
“I hate Secret Santa,” Kenzie Bowman muttered to herself. She crossed her arms over her chest and leaned against the wall, as far away from the crowded hospital’s emergency department lunch room table as possible. The table was covered in wrapped boxes and gift bags. A bevy of nurses rummaged through them looking for their name on a tag, squeals of glee and laughter filling the remaining space in the room.
Anyone walking by would think it was Black Friday. They’d be lucky if they didn’t end up treating one of their own for a bloody nose.
She used to love Christmas. The decorations, buying just the right gift for a friend, singing carols, and spending time with the people she loved.
Until last year.
Until her twin brother, Kennon, was killed on Christmas Day.
Now, she just wanted the entire event to be over. She never wanted to see another Christmas tree, hear another Christmas song, or taste eggnog ever again.
Her friend Amy surfaced from the circling sharks with a gift in each hand. “I found yours, Kenzie,” she said with Christmas cheer that darn near dripped sugar.
Oh joy.
Amy bounced up to Kenzie and thrust the gift into her hands, then proceeded to rip the paper off her own.
“Ohh,” she squealed, segueing into a victory dance as she hoisted her booty into the air. “A bottle of Baileys! Santa loves me, yes he does.” Amy paused mid-dance to lever her laser-sharp gaze at Kenzie. “Your turn, Ebenezer. Open it.”
“What’s the point? I don’t wear perfume, I don’t like scented candles, and I don’t drink alcohol. We know the likelihood of one of those three items being in this box is eighty-six-point-three percent.”
“You sound like a computer when you talk that way,” Amy said, enunciating each word individually.
“Better than having your eardrums blown out by indiscriminate screaming.”
Amy’s eyes narrowed to two slits. “Open the box.”
“Have I mentioned how much I hate Secret Santa?”
“The box, Kenzie. Now.
“Fine.” Kenzie rolled her eyes and picked at the festive paper. “But if this gift sucks it’s going home with you.”
Amy’s fierce expression slowly turned into a frown. “You don’t just hate Secret Santa, you hate Christmas, don’t you?”
“Do you blame me?” Christmas was supposed to be a time of joy and love, spent with friends and family. All that was impossible for her now. She and Kennon had been all each other had for eight years now. A heart attack had taken Dad from them. Mom followed him to the grave four months later.
Amy glanced away at the crowd of nurses and doctors for a second, then met Kenzie’s gaze. “I suppose not. But it’s not healthy for you to brood.” She watched Kenzie’s fingers as they slowly peeled the tape from the paper. “Come to my place Christmas Day,” Amy said, the words rushing out of her mouth like a five-year-old who’d had too much candy. “Don’t stay home alone. Please.”
“I won’t be good company.”
“That’s why you should come.”
The last of the tape came off the paper and Kenzie carefully folded it and threw it into the garbage can. The box in her hand was too small for a bottle of Baileys, so it was down to perfume or candles. She opened the top, pushed aside the tissue paper, and pulled out a glass ball about the size of her fist.
The glass was plain, no decoration or sparkles. Something hung inside it, tied up in some string. She turned the ball to see if she could get a better look—
A bullet.
A smashed, wrecked bullet.
Pain seized her diaphragm and brought her breathing to a screeching halt. The agony ricocheted through her body until even the tips of her hair hurt.
“What’s that?” Amy asked, staring at the ball, confusion furrowing her forehead. “It’s not very festive looking.”
It could only be one thing.
“The reason why I hate Christmas.” Her voice sounded strangely calm.
“Huh?”
“This isn’t from staff, it’s from my brother’s best military buddy.”
Why? Why would he do this? Give her the one thing guaranteed to rip her heart out while it was only barely still beating.
“It’s the bullet that killed my brother.” The words came from far, far away. Almost an echo.

My Thoughts:
Fantastic love story.  Reading this tale brings loss and life into a different light.  I found myself marveling at the ability of the author to create so much intensity in a short story.  Although the characters are paramount, and I fell for them fast, the pull to turn the page and find out more was what got me the most.  Secret Santa is well written and compelling.

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