Second Chance Christmas
Prominent DC attorney Emma Taylor is pulled away from a promising date the week before Christmas to pick up her ex-fiance from the ER after a bar fight. She's in no mood to re-open old wounds, but it’s Christmas and she can’t just leave him alone and injured.
Eight hundred eighty-four days. That’s how much time has passed since Major Colton Evans made the biggest mistake of his life. Even after two tours of duty and too much shrapnel in his leg, it’s still the loss of Emma that haunts him. And if he can win her back, he’ll take any chance.
When she insists he stay with her during the holiday, they put out enough sexual electricity to rival the most decorated house on the block. But will it be enough to light the way to a future together?
My hair slipped over my shoulder to brush across his chin. His coffee colored eyes snapped open to meet mine and stole my breath away. He gripped my wrist then pulled it off his forehead and across his shoulder. My upper body shifted closer, bringing our mouths only a hairsbreadth away. Long fingers gently cupped my cheek as his other hand released my arm and snuck into the slit of my dress, gliding high up my thigh. Passion I hadn’t felt since our breakup had my body springing into flames.Our gazes remained locked upon one another. He exhaled and the heat from his breath intermingled with mine as I fought the unwanted desire. My lips ached to drift down and meet his, but far away, in the back of my mind, a voice nagged at me. His thumb drifted across my lower lip. The sound of my heartbeat thundered in my ears and Colton’s dark gaze pierced my soul.“Emma.” His passion-laced whisper released me from the mesmerizing trance.I shot off the bed.“Emma, wait!”I froze in the doorway with my back to him, head bowed. My hands clutched the doorframe as I struggled with emotions threatening to swamp me. “I’m sorry.”“Emma, wait. Please.”I shook my head. “It’s a bad idea. It’s two in the morning. You’re hurt, in pain, and grieving the loss of a loved one. Going down this road will only bring regrets in the harsh light of day.”The bed creaked as he shifted into a sitting position. “I need help getting my shoes off,” he mumbled.Glancing back, I found him tiredly rubbing his eyes. “Take your medicine. I’ll return in a minute.”I took that minute to get back into a proper frame of mind as I changed into a pair of red flannel pajamas with dancing penguins and warm bunny slippers. I returned to find Colton pulling the T-shirt over his head. It was a pleasure to watch the harmonic motion of his stomach muscles before the shirt dropped into place. Without a word, I knelt at his feet and untied the brown oxfords, slipping them off one at time. Dark socks followed the shoes. I looked up to find him studying me with a frown.“Pain?”He shook his head. “I was marveling at the fact that you can make a chaste pair of pajamas and stupid bunny slippers look sexy.”I chuckled and patted his knee. “I’d forgotten what a charmer you are. Can you get into the sweats by yourself, or do you need help?”“I can do it.”“Then I’ll leave you to it. I’ve put out a towel in the bathroom for you and there should be a spare toothbrush and toothpaste in the medicine cabinet. Tomorrow, I’ll find you a razor. Since you’re not moving too swift, I’m putting this trashcan next to the bed in case you experience nausea from the head wound. If that happens, give a shout out. I’ll leave my bedroom door open.”He nodded. “Thanks.”My bunny slippers and I shuffled to the door.“Emma.”I turned.“Thanks.”“No problem.”“I’m sorry.”I figured he was referring to our libido-induced lapse in judgment. “It’s no big deal. No harm, no foul.” I shrugged.“No, I mean I’m sorry for dragging you away from your French party tonight. I’m sorry for being a grumpy pain in the ass.”My face softened, and I permitted the glint of a smile to show through. “It’s okay. Really. I’m actually thankful we had a chance to talk. Now I see our breakup in a different light…I needed that. Maybe one day you can forgive me.”“I already have.”“I’m glad.” I turned to go.“I am sorry we didn’t finish the kiss,” he said in a velvety tone.
Review by Stephanie Cage:
I was half-way sold on Second Chance Christmas before I read a word. The title gave a strong indication of the type of love story it would be, and second chance love stories are among my favourites. The blurb and opening sentences convinced me further that it was a book I would enjoy reading and reviewing. Second Chance Christmas features a hot military hero and a feisty lawyer heroine. The writing immediately draws the reader in, using the senses and raising more questions than it answers.
Why is the (initially unnamed) heroine in a hospital, inhaling the smell of antiseptic? Why has she been called away from a piano concerto, and why is her reaction annoyance, rather than the expected concern?
When we learn that she’s been called because her number is still the emergency contact in her wounded ex’s phone, and his family are far away this Christmas, it’s clear we’re in for an emotional roller-coaster of a read, and Ellen Butler follows through admirably on the promise of the opening pages.
Major Colton Evans is in some ways a stereotypical hero, but he has enough contradictions to make him interesting: he is handsome and strong but deeply wounded, infuriatingly self-contained, yet endearingly thoughtful. In the beginning, Emma Taylor teeters on the edge of unlikeability as she hardens her heart against him, yet as the story goes on it is clear that her feelings for him run deep, and her resistance is only a result of the ways she’s been hurt before. Colton and Emma are two determined people, so when his determination to win her back comes up against her determination to keep him at a distance and not be hurt again, it’s no surprise that sparks fly.
A likeable cast of secondary characters and a flirtation with the deeper issues surrounding military life make this a more thought-provoking read than one might expect from a book of its length. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good second chance love story, or military romance.
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About Ellen Butler
I am an old, new writer. In other words, old to writing, new to novel writing. My history includes a long list of writing and editing for dry but illuminating professional newsletters and journals, and windy papers on public policy and political science. The leap to novel writing is simply a creative outlet for my over active and romantic imagination to run wild.
My genre is Women’s Fiction and Romance. I like to provide strong female characters, romance, and suspense in my novels. I work hard to envelop you in the story, to make you root for the heroine by laughing with her or yelling at her when she makes mistakes.
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