A Holiday for Romance Novel
By: Peggy Bird
Releasing September 29th, 2014
Getting a life do-over in the small theater town of Ashland, Oregon, has suited lawyer Julie Payne to a T. After ten years in the Portland prosecutor’s office, she’s enjoying her new, easy lifestyle, and she’s not looking for any complications.
Trace Watkins comes to town seeking the same refuge from life as a big city banker. A new job might make Ashland his permanent address, and he likes what he sees of the place, especially when he meets Julie one hot Halloween night.The sparks fly instantly between the costumed couple, and Julie and Trace waste no time connecting beneath the sheets while literally hiding behind their masks.
But when the holiday hook-up ends, their real identities present a serious snag: Trace manages the bank Julie happens to be suing. The only way they can turn this trick into a treat is if both of them are willing to face their pasts and finally bury the skeletons in their closets.
Julie was reasonably sure there were more people crammed into her living room, dining room, and kitchen than the number she’d expected from the RSVPs. Dozens of people laughing, flirting, having conversations about the future of the theater, who should run for mayor, and God knows what else, drowned out the carefully chosen background music. Most of the catered food had disappeared in the first couple hours, so she was down to crackers, chips, the remains of a wheel of brie, and a few lonely olives, carrots, and celery stalks on the dining room table. However, since the wine and beer were holding out, no one seemed to object. Her first party in Ashland appeared to be a success.
She should have been smugly satisfied. Instead she couldn’t shake the sense there was something going on, something more to the evening than friends, food, booze, and good conversation. The atmosphere felt charged. Not some scary the-dead-walking-the-earth- on-Halloween feeling, but something exciting in a good way. The energy in the crowd gave her goose bumps. She tried to talk herself down with reminders of what a practical person she was, a lawyer, for God’s sake. She didn’t believe in woo-woo or spirits. The only thing in the house right now was half the population of Ashland, Oregon.
But she couldn’t get it out of her mind. There was something going on. She scanned the room, trying to figure it out. All she could see was a mind-boggling array of people in fabulous costumes, no two dressed alike. There was, for instance, only one Queen Elizabeth, one Princess Leia. One Santa Claus, one Napoleon. One Easter and one Playboy bunny.
Could her feeling be based on something as simple as seeing the mix of time, place, and reality in what her guests were wearing? The time warp of a NASA astronaut chatting up an Elizabethan woman? The clash of cultures as a belly dancer walked in with her Puritan date?
Maybe that was it. Maybe it was just the comfortable way everyone seemed to inhabit a different persona for the evening. Well, except for the guy across the room, the one who looked like he’d stepped off the Elizabethan stage of the Shakespeare Festival. He seemed ill at ease in the costume, or maybe in the crowd, hanging back, not looking at anything or anybody except the bottle of beer in his hand.
Peggy Bird lives in the Pacific Northwest where she sets most of her novels. To stay out of trouble—and the rain—she writes stories about smart women and sexy men and creates the occasional piece of glass art.