Friday, December 20, 2013

25 Days of Christmas Stories: WHITE LIE CHRISTMAS by Christine Bell and Riley Murphy

Leah Latrelle needs a man, fast. To keep her parents from freaking out and moving back to Chicago, she invents a boyfriend who quickly turns into a fiancé. Her plan works until her parents announce they’re visiting for Christmas—tonight. Now Leah has no choice but to come up with the goods. Her friend and business partner Mick is handsome, dependable, and a willing sacrifice. What could go wrong?

‘Tis the season, and Mick Kilpatrick can’t say no to a damsel in distress. Especially when that damsel is a woman he cares about professionally and personally. But being a dad is priority number one, and a sexy woman like Leah will only distract him. He’ll pretend to be her fiancé, but when it’s over, everything will go back to normal. Sure, he’s fantasized about her once or…a million times but that doesn’t mean he’s in love with her. Does it?


“Mick, tell me, how’s Petey doing?"
"Petey? Who the hell was Petey? He glanced at Leah and grappled for an answer.
Although she turned in his direction, she didn’t look him in the eyes. Not directly, anyway. Her gaze was decidedly askew. What the hell—?
Her fist landed on the table and the vibrations this action caused appeared to make her tremble until her head jerked with a curt nod of finality.  “Dead.”
Three collective gasps sounded. He would have said four, but his was more like a hiss. He studied Leah and waited to see if she was going to add more to this fascinating declaration. Petey…was supposed to be his grandfather? Father?
Clearly soused and unsure of where to take her little tale, she shrugged and turned to her dad. “It was the angina that got him.  He’s in a better place. Poor guy. He was the cutest three legged sixteen-year-old you ever saw.”
Mick tried to make sense of that, but the accompanying visual was pretty horrific. Truth be told, he was glad when Rita put him out of his misery as she placed a gentle hand on his arm and whispered, “I’m sorry about the loss of your pet.”
Leah’s dad cleared his throat. “Sorry, Mick,” he held up his champagne flute. “Here’s to Petey.”
Mick picked up his glass and turned to Leah, freezing mid-toast. The defeated look in her eyes stopped him cold. “Sweetheart?” Was her confidence in their plan fizzling? She wasn’t even trying.
“To Petey.” She waved her glass in a sloppy salute and then downed the contents in two cheek-bulging gulps. Then she slammed her glass back to the table, gave him a broad wink and mumbled, “Giddy up.”
Oh, he was going to ‘giddy up’ all right, but before he could, she yanked the table cloth on either side of her cutlery, shifting everyone’s plate. The abrupt action forced him to make a grab in an attempt to halt the slide, preventing complete disaster. Perfect. Tipsy and in panic mode. A dangerous combination. She needed to get in the game, drunk or not, but he didn’t get the chance to tell her as Cassandra tugged on his shirt.
“So, Mick, where did you and my sister meet?” Her assessing eyes roving over him sent a warning bell ringing in some corner of his brain.
“Meet?” Shit. They’d gone over this, as well as where he’d proposed and where their first date had been, but the pressure was getting to him. He couldn’t for the life of him remember which was which. He willed Leah to look at him, because as long as she paid attention and went along with what he said, it didn’t really matter what their story was. Consistency was the key. But in spite of the covert SOS he was throwing her way, he was out of luck. She was too busy hunched over her champagne glass, with one eye closed, and her bottom lip caught between her teeth as she attempted to refuel. Fantastic.
Review by Melissa Snark:
Some romances are Cinderella stories. Others are Beauty & the Beast. WHITE LIE CHRISTMAS is a Pinocchio tale of duplicity that results in hilarity and a heart-warming scenario where two people somehow manage to fall in love in spite of their best efforts to the contrary. My favorite part of the story was the witty, wicked humor present throughout.

 This contemporary novella is set in scenic Chicago, and features a zippy plot and snappy dialogue. I believe I detected variations in "voice" as the story progressed, but that's easily attributable to the fact that there are two authors instead of just one. So it's not necessarily a bad thing and it made the hero's POV distinctive from the heroine's, which can sometimes be an issue in romance. I found the secondary characters to be well developed and used in the right proportion so they advanced the romance.

Leah Latrelle and Mick Kilpatrick are partners in a real estate agency. As the story begins, Leah's lies to her parents (about having a fiancée) are coming back to bite her on the butt when her family decides to unexpectedly drop in for a visit over the Christmas holiday. Mick volunteers to help her out by pretending to be her significant other.  Throw in a suspicious sister, two oblivious parents, a cute little boy and a cougar client, and you have a recipe for laughter and love.

As a hero, Mick is instantly likeable—a devoted single father, sweet, considerate and handsome. There's so much about him to love. He is complex and easy to emphasize with and I was rooting for him right from the start. His long-term attraction to Leah is convincing, as are his reasons for having delayed becoming involved with her. His love scenes with Leah are sensual and wonderfully descriptive. I appreciated the fact that they weren't rushed and really hit the right emotional notes.

The heroine is a little crazy.  I felt confused for the first half of the story about Leah's motivation and her behavior frustrated me. Don't get me wrong, I actually prefer a heroine capable of executing deception over one of those vanilla "I cannot tell a lie" types. But unlike the title, Leah's lies aren't white. They are big. BIG. And snowball with some extremely funny results. But funniness aside, it's my nonprofessional opinion that the heroine needs therapy.

WHITE LIE CHRISTMAS is an excellent choice for a reader who loves to laugh, Christmas stories, and "fake fiancée" romances. Happy reading!

Available for purchase:
B & N  

Author Bios:

Christine Bell is the USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romances, and one half of the happiest couple in the world. She and her handsome hubby currently reside in Pennsylvania with a four-pack of teenage boys and their two dogs, Gimli and Pug. She doesn't like root beer, clowns or bugs (except ladybugs, on account of their cute outfits), but lurrves chocolate, going to the movies, the New York Giants and playing Texas Hold 'Em. Writing is her passion, but if she had to pick another occupation, she would be a pirate...or, like, a ninja maybe. She loves writing fun, sexy romances, but also hopes to one day publish something her dad can read without wanting to dig his eyes out with rusty spoons. Christine also writes erotic romance under the pen name Chloe Cole and YA fiction as Christine O’Neil.

Christine loves to stay in touch with readers, so please feel free contact her via her website and on Twitter @_ChristineBell.

Riley Murphy writes sexy, humorous and emotional romance, happy ending guaranteed. An optimist, she believes life is awesome, people are complicated, but in a good way, and we should never stop learning. Riley currently resides in Florida with her gorgeous husband. She has two wonderful kids and one very bossy English Bull terrier she has dubbed ‘The divine One’. When Riley’s not working she enjoys reading, oil painting and getting to the Sunday crossword puzzle before anyone else does, so she can fill-in all the easy answers first. If Riley wasn't a writer she’d be an international spy with top-level security so she could have a peek at Area 51 and decide for herself if those green guys are for real. Failing that she’d probably go with chicken sexer. Riley loves to hear from readers. Swing by and say hello to her on her website at or connect with her on twitter @Riley__murphy where she’s always sharing her deep-dark secrets.



  1. Ladies, this sounds like an excellent, fun read. Can't wait to download and enjoy. Merry Christmas

    1. Thanks Carole. Merry Christmas to you too!

  2. I prefer humor over saccharine, so your story sounds right up my alley! Best wishes for a successful release and happy holidays!

    1. We totally agree with you! Love humor. Chris and I had a blast writing this one. As the comments in the sidebar during the Crit/edits phase of the project had me crying laughing. I keep threatening to write a book about those. Thanks for the comment and happy holidays to you!

  3. Hi Melissa!

    Thanks for the awesome review! We were a little bummed though, about your therapy comment as that was going to be our big surprise in the sequel. *consults notes* Yep, by Valentine’s Day she’s on the couch. Which is a kind of fortuitous as we wanted to do a Valentine’s Day release. ;) But she’s not the only one. Mick is right there with her because the poor shrink can’t figure out why Mick- a guy so totally together – would chose such a zany woman. And, you know? If Mick didn’t find the head-miner’s couch so comfy he probably would have given the guy the answer to that question first session in. Instead he waited until the one-on-one weekly sessions interfered with his golf game before he enlightened him. Here’s the conversation:

    Shrink: “Mick, I want to understand. Tell me how you’d describe Leah.

    Mick lifted his head off the cushion and tried to not to scowl at the guy. Lately he’d been pissing Mick off with his digging. For a professional who got paid by the patients who could afford his exorbitant bills the Doc had balls to suggest anyone of his clients where lacking. After all they were all making serious enough dough to keep him in the lap-of-luxury. He was just about to say as much when he caught sight of the clock hanging on the wall. With a quick calculation he figured it was time to ditch the rest of this session and the next five that were scheduled. Maybe he could still make that golf game.

    He sat up and raked a hand through his hair before he stood. “Gee, Doc, if you don’t understand by now I don’t think you ever will.”

    “Wait, where are you going?”

    Mick was almost to the door when he spun around. “To play golf.”

    The doctor tapped his clipboard. “But what about our session? You said they’ve been helping you relax.”

    “They have. I’ve had the best naps on that couch. Would you consider selling it?”

    “What?” The guy stood and tossed his clipboard on the chair behind him. “We’ve made progress, don’t you think? We’re close to a break through. Your epiphany moment was supposed to happen today right after you described Leah to me.”

    Mick took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I did have my epiphany. I’m leaving aren’t I? In fact I wouldn’t be here at all if Leah hadn’t asked me to come. There’s nothing wrong with her. She’s human which means she’s flawed just like the rest of us.”

    “Why won’t you describe her then?”

    Normally he would have let it go and left, but he knew the guy wouldn’t be satisfied until he got an answer so he gave him one.

    If you guys want to read Mick's response click here: I know, heheheh. Sneaky right? :D

    Thanks again Melissa!

  4. This sounds like a terrific story, Ladies. Can't wait to read it. Best of luck. Barb Bettis

  5. Sounds like a great story. I love marriage-of-convenience and engagement-of-convenience stories.

  6. Sounds great! Love this kind of story. :) I wish you the best of luck!

  7. Hmn? A Pinocchio romance?! That is a great description. I'm going to put this in the TBR list for sure...and I do love 'fake fiance' stories!

  8. This sounds really good. I like fun stories and I love Christmas stories :)