Author Marilyn Brant recently released her latest novel, Holiday Man. Let me just tell you how excited I am to read this novel! I have yet to read a book by Brant that I did not devour. Even though this kissing scene does not take place under the mistletoe like the rest in this series, it is filled with such heat and desire, I just had to share it! Enjoy!
Excerpt from Holiday Man by Marilyn Brant
Bram pulled into the Holiday Quinn parking lot at 6:47 p.m. Christmas Eve, turned off the car engine and opened the driver’s side door, taking several fortifying breaths of the wintry air.
The scent of snow mingling with pine grounded him in the moment. And the flashing holiday lights, which surrounded the inn with color and brightened up the dark December sky, reminded him that it was, in fact, supposed to be a time of celebration.
He’d been on the road much of the day, driving with a feeling of nervous anticipation usually reserved only for big corporate takeovers or long sit-down conversations with his father. Since it had been several years since he’d experienced either, the tense edginess that had been lurking inside of him all day could only mean one thing: Shannon.
He wasn’t a man prone to doubting himself or second guessing his decisions, but he’d been mentally running scenarios for hours about how it would go seeing her again after nearly two months apart. Would they fall right back into the patterns they’d begun when they first met…or had that only been an illusion? How well did they know each other really? And was he a fool to care so much about what she thought of him? Or to imagine that they had a shot at a life together?
Bram didn’t know the answers to any of these questions, but he was determined to find out once and for all.
He stepped out of the car, grabbed his bag and, with determined strides, marched toward the front entrance.
It was like the movie set of Holiday Inn come to life. When he walked inside, it seemed as though they’d imported the soundstage for the film and transplanted it to eastern Wisconsin.
Guests milled around the lobby like cast members, dressed in cozy winter garments and sipping cups of cocoa with candy canes as stirring sticks.
Snowflake clings adorned every window and the soft sounds of “White Christmas,” complete with jingling bells, played in the background along with the hum and chatter of the happy couples.
There was a hint of peppermint in the air (from the candy canes, no doubt) melding with the scent of pine from the large Christmas tree in the corner. A beautifully decorated blue spruce, lavishly trimmed with tiny white lights and silver and gold ornaments.
Bram saw an angel in white atop the tree, complete with gossamer wings, a fur-lined cloak and glinting silver sequins…but he knew the real angel was dressed in a red sweater and standing behind the counter, checking in the guests.
“Ah. Hartwick, you’ve returned,” Jake the Prick said coldly.
The chill from behind him made Bram shiver as he turned to stare down the guy. He gave his best attempt at a Machiavellian scowl. “Yes,” he said slowly. “Yes, I have.”
There was something different about the assistant this time, though, Bram realized as Jake stared back. He couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was, but he felt a definite undercurrent of change behind Jake’s expression. Almost as though the assistant knew something that he felt gave him an advantage. He looked bolder as a result.
The mask is fully off. The jester has gone into fighting mode, Bram thought.
He intensified his glare at the other man and watched as Jake’s green eyes twinkled with a brighter light of cunning than Bram had ever seen.
One side of The Prick’s mouth quirked upward. Then, as if laughing at an inside joke that Bram wasn’t in on, the assistant said, “Hope you’ll enjoy your final stay.” There was a significant pause. “Of the year.”
Before Bram could respond, he heard his name. He looked up and saw Shannon waving to him from behind the counter. When he glanced back at Jake, he found the other man had disappeared. Odd.
He walked up to Shannon. It’d been too long since he’d last seen her in person. Not that he’d forgotten anything, just that she was more vibrant, more alluring than even he had remembered. He had to tell his heart to slow down, force himself to take deeper breaths before he could speak.
“It’s good to see you, Shannon,” he managed. “Very good.”
She didn’t reply at all at first. She just smiled at him. That was enough.
Then, finally, she said, “It’s good to see you, too.” She fiddled with the computer for a moment before handing him his keycard. “The Astaire Suite is waiting for you.”
He took the plastic card from her, caressing her hand in the process. He could see her pause. Hold her breath. Swallow a time or two. A line was beginning to form behind them. He knew he had her attention for only a moment more.
“When will you be free?” he asked in a low voice.
“Ten-thirty,” she murmured. “The evening events should be over no later than that.”
Bram picked up his few items and leaned across the counter until his head was only a few inches from hers. “Until then, Shannon.”
Her heart pounded in double time as she knocked on the door to the Astaire Suite. Seeing Bram again, just a few hours ago, brought rushing back every single memory they’d shared since February.
Shannon was surprised by how many there were, despite the fact that they’d only gotten together in person on scattered holiday weekends. But it was amazing how fast you could get to know someone if you were motivated…
Or, at least, think you’d gotten to know someone.
Nervousness made her almost turn away, but Bram was quick to open the door. Too quick.
“Hi,” he said, his voice deep and husky, his eyes trained on her face. His white dress shirt was unbuttoned all the way down the front, and his feet were bare below his black slacks.
“Hi,” she whispered back.
He motioned her inside the room. “What have you got there?”
Lost in the intensity of his stare, she’d almost forgotten the basket she was carrying. It was a gift of sorts, being that tonight was Christmas Eve and all.
“A present for you,” she replied, setting it down in a nearby corner. “For later.”
One of his dark eyebrows rose to mid-forehead and a smile tugged his lips upward. He closed the door behind them and then nodded at the table closest to the bed, where a gift-wrapped package sat prettily in wait.
“Got one of those for you, too. Thought we’d save it until Christmas morning, though.” He took a step toward her and pulled her into his arms with a smooth, proprietary movement. “Unless—well, unless you aren’t planning to be here then.” His voice held an unasked question.
She met his gaze and held it. “Bram, my plan was to stay with you tonight. Unless, of course, you’d rather—”
But he cut her off, blanketing her mouth with a kiss so passionate she felt its heat singe her toes.
Shannon wrapped her arms around him, underneath his open shirt so she could run her palms against his bare skin, and let herself be consumed by the flames of their reunion.
I suggest picking up a copy of Holiday Man to find out what happens next for Bram and Shannon! I am curious to know what their Christmas presents for each other are!
Because I simply LOVE everything I have read by Marilyn Brant, and this novel is no exception, I am giving away ONE ebook copy (Kindle or Nook) of Holiday Man to one luck commenter! To enter, simply comment on this post and fill out the Rafflecopter form! Good Luck!! Open Internationally!
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From the Publisher:
A Year of Holidays...
Shannon Quinn is the small-town girl who runs "Holiday Quinn" -- a holiday-themed inn and resort based in scenic Door County, Wisconsin.
One winter evening, wealthy Minneapolis businessman, Bram Hartwick, blows into town along with the fast-falling snow. The sparks Bram and Shannon create succeed in heating up the chilly Midwestern night, not to mention plenty of holiday weekends in the year that follows...
But is their relationship only for special occasions, or might it be the elusive everyday love that neither of them thought could be found?
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