Saturday, December 7, 2013

25 Days of Christmas Stories: FALLING FOR THE CEO by Audra North

A ball. A dress. All that's left is for her to win the prince...

Finance genius Meredith Klaus prefers numbers to people, especially around the holidays. At least the large sum of money that’s mysteriously vanished from the company accounts will distract her from the ghosts of Christmases past. Until her sexy boss asks her to be his last-minute date to a fundraiser gala, that is, and the promise of a special evening calls to something long-buried in her.

Andrew Stanton, Manhattan’s best-known philanthropist, has worked hard building his reputation in the industry. He offers to work closely with Meredith to fix his company’s financial crisis, but the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to look at her as just a colleague.

A beautiful dress. A handsome man on her arm. A challenge she can’t refuse. Can they find the missing money and fulfill their holiday wishes, or will Meredith be unable to overcome the demons of her past and lose her chance at happiness?

Her fairy godmother’s name was Lily.
The second her fingers had closed around that dark-purple tag, Meredith had known. The fabric felt like heaven and the dress was in her size. She had to have it, or she’d die.
And that was the moment that she’d finally admitted that, yes, possibly, some kind of magic was at play, because in the past half hour she’d never felt more sexy and powerful in her life. Andrew was looking at her like he wanted to eat her up. She hadn’t fallen or spilled something or broken anything since she’d stumbled into his arms back in the elevator. Something was changing in her, and she simply couldn’t say no.
So she’d said yes, instead.
Andrew had grinned as though she’d given him the best Christmas present he could think of, and told her to take it home with her that evening, then. And then he’d hung it back in the closet and joined her at the table and pretended that everything was normal.
But it wasn’t. She wasn’t. She could feel it.
Her mind kept wandering away from the spreadsheets in front of her. She was wound up with excitement and nerves and…something else. Something hotter and more sensuous and—
“Want some coffee?” Andrew rose as he spoke, and she blinked. Had her thoughts been somehow transmitted to him, but gotten jumbled a bit along the way? She blushed. If so, thank God some mystical static had rendered the message all choppy. It was one thing to imagine a connection between them. It was another thing altogether to pursue it. To ask for it.
But he was doing the offering, even if it was just coffee, so it was okay for her to nod and say, “Yes, please. Three-quarters—”
He interrupted her. “Three-quarters full, one packet of sugar, then cream until the cup is seven-eighths full. Don’t stir. Which is weird, I will add.” He smiled at her in that way that popular high school boys smile at each other—mischievous, happy, and full of life, and Meredith couldn’t hold back a smile in return, her heart swelling with pride in him and, strangely enough, in herself. He’d noticed how she liked her coffee. And he was gorgeous.
But just in case she was completely misreading the situation, and he was just being nice while she was acting like a silly fool on some six-day trip to Crazytown, she wiped the goofy grin from her face and gave a perfunctory nod, instead. “Exactly. You’re so—” She fumbled for words for a moment. Handsome? Sexy? Lickable? “Observant,” she finished lamely.
“Thanks.” He said it slowly, drawing out the word into a couple of syllables while giving her a strange look, but he didn’t say anything else after that, just turned and walked out of his office. With him gone, the air seemed suddenly too thin, as though some vitally important element had just been sucked out of it.
Had he noticed that, too? The way she drank him in so deeply? He saw so much…
“It’s just coffee,” she whispered to herself, before sighing and turning back to focus on her work.

Review by Melissa Snark:
If you're looking for a Christmas love story this holiday season, then FALLING FOR THE CEO offers a whimsical story of romance and humor. This contemporary romance novella contains elements of the Cinderella folktale with a dowdy girl transformed into an irresistible woman who is then taken to a fabulous party and seduced by “Prince Charming”.

Heroine Meredith Klaus in the CFO of a successful software company. In the tradition of Lucille O'Ball, she is a green-eyed, red haired mobile disaster. She more than lives up to her nickname of “Klutzy Klaus”. The physical humor is funny, although there are moments when the slapstick humor is so over the top that it strains the heroine's credibility as a competent professional executive. Initially, the heroine is too retiring for my taste but she does gain in confidence and spontaneity as the story progresses.

In contrast, Andrew Stanton is handsome, wealthy, and so highly evolved in his generosity that the press has saddled him with the nickname “CEO Santa”. His company is famous for their corporate philanthropy, a Christmas Bonus Fund from which every employee can draw funds to support their favorite charity.  I really liked Andrew. (It's refreshing to meet a hero who's not a bitter cynic or a self-contained rock.)  I cheered his efforts to draw Meredith out of her shell and really wanted him to succeed.

Internal conflict stems primarily from Meredith low self-esteem. Even though she is smart, attractive, well-educated and holds a prestigious job, the heroine has not formed any solid relationships. At the age of 9, a car accident left her an orphan. She grew up in the foster care system and doesn't seem to even have a real friend. Her doubts and fears keep her apart from the hero and fuel the plot.

External conflict comes in the form of a two-hundred thousand dollar shortage in the Christmas Bonus Fund. As CFO, it is Meredith's responsibility to locate the missing money even though she only has a few days to determine what happened before the promised donations must be paid out. She and Andrew wind up working closely together on the issue and their proximity serves to fuel their intense attraction to one another.

The couple shares charming charisma, which leaves the reader really rooting for them to get together. Under the pretext of needing a date, Andrew asks Meredith to a ritzy Christmas gala. The love scene that follows is the grown up version of the Cinderella story with a heat level that bubbles somewhere between spicy and erotic. In addition to learning new wonders in his arms, Meredith learns a valuable lesson about asking for what you want and how to feel worthy of what you receive.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Available for purchase:

Author Bio:

Audra North fell in love with romance at age thirteen and spent the next twenty years reading as many romance novels as she could.  Even now, after having read over one thousand of them, Audra still can’t resist the lure of a happily ever after, and her collection continues to grow.  She lives near Boston with her husband, three young children, and a lot of books.  Visit her website at or find her (way too frequently) on Twitter @AudraNorth.

Find out more about Audra North:  

A word from the author:
Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. Even though I live in a multi-faith, multicultural household, there's something about Christmas that really stands out for me. I don't know if it's the memories of my childhood, or the twinkling lights everywhere, or all the awesome presents, but regardless, Christmas for me is a time of joy and celebration. Christmas also plays an important part in my debut novella, Falling for the CEO!

To celebrate the season and the book, I'm giving away this super cute stack of books ornament to one commenter. All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment! Tell me what your favorite holiday is, or why you also like Christmas, or what the best present is that you've ever gotten. Tomorrow morning, I'll choose one lucky commenter to receive the ornament!


  1. Audra, Your Cinderella story sounds fabulous. Congratulations on your debut!

    My favorite part of Christmas is the tradition that goes along with every aspect of it. From the celebrations to the parties to the decorations to the baking to spending time with family and friends...everything always brings wonderful memories of years past as new ones are made for the future.

    1. Thanks, Debra! I love making the memories, too. It never fails to amaze me that my 8 y/o now talks about our holiday traditions. They're already ingrained in his memory!

  2. Good morning, Audra! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story with us. I loved reading it. :-)

    1. Thanks for having me, Melissa! You are so fantastic both as a blogger and person. I'm honored to be here!

  3. What a cute ornament! My favorite holiday is actually Halloween. I just love the decorations the paranormal elements and the spooky fun of it. lol Christmas is a close second. The decorating of the tree is my favorite. Seeing the ornaments we've collected through the years brings back special memories. Then I love St. Patrick's day! Shamrocks, wearing green, and a wee bit of magic! lol

    Your book sounds great. I love a Cinderella tale with a happily-ever-after ending.

    I wish you and yours a very happy Christmas!

    1. Thanks, Karen! Halloween is so cool, too. We have a tradition in my family where the kids get a new ornament every year. With three kids, that means our tree is filling up fast, but they have so many great stories for every one of them!

  4. I love Christmas the best but I like sharing things throughout the year with those who are important to me, usually a little goodie bag of the munchies I have discovered or a cute knick-knack or a small plant. Happy Holidays and thanks for the excerpt, it sounds like a wonderful story!

    1. Oops, this will make a double reply but I messed up before--meant to reply directly.

      Thanks so much! I love your year-round "holiday" spirit. :-) That's lovely!

  5. Thanks so much! I love your year-round "holiday" spirit. :-) That's lovely!

  6. All right, folks! I asked my son to choose a number between one and four and he chose...FOUR! So that means that E.L.F. is the winner of the giveaway! E.L.F., please drop me a note at north.audra at gmail dot com with your mailing address and I will send it out!

    Thanks, everyone, for commenting! Happy Holidays!

  7. Wow, thank you so much! I sent you an e-mail. Happy Holidays to everyone!