#BlackFriday: Bittersweet Christmas Shopping… by Nina Croft

It’s that time…Black Friday is here and we’re discussing the season with Nina Croft’s Winter from Bittersweet Christmas.

Orphan Liam Ryan isn’t asking for much this Christmas–just his Uncle John. And he’s counting on Father Christmas to find a way to make that happen.

But when Father Christmas tosses Liam’s letter, claiming that the kid is asking the impossible, his daughter, Winter, takes over. Half-pixie, Winter, longs to do something important with her life, starting with getting a job at the Order of the Shadow Accords, the organization that polices the supernatural world. When she discovers Liam’s uncle works for the Order, it seems like fate.

Savaged by werewolves and bitten by a vampire, no one knows what to expect of John Ryan, but it won’t be anything good. So there’s no way he’s getting involved with his nephew…or anyone else. Worse, he’s getting a babysitter over the holidays. But when he meets irrepressible Winter, all that matters is whether she likes her guys to be naughty or nice….

The fourth ebook, Bittersweet Christmas, comes out November 27th; so if Bittersweet Christmas Shopping gets your interest, make sure you check out the first book in the Order series, Bittersweet Blood.

Bittersweet Christmas Shopping…

Dear Santa Claus,

My name is Liam. I’m probably a little old to be writing to you—I’m fifteen. But I’m an orphan, so I’ve got no one else to ask. How fucking sad is that? My mom died in June this year. She had cancer, but she never told anyone. She just got really sick, really quickly, and then she was gone.

But I’m not entirely alone in the world. I have an uncle. His name is John Ryan, and he’s my guardian. Except I haven’t seen him, or even talked to him, since my mom died, and not for a while before that. We never saw much of him, but he always promised he’d be there if we needed him. And then he wasn’t. Just fucking poof and gone. Like my mom, except without the really good excuse.

My mom used to say it was complicated. Uncle John was a policeman and my grandad was a thief. He probably thought it best to stay away, like opposite ends of the country away. Grandad’s dead now, and Uncle John’s not a policeman anymore, but I guess it’s still complicated. Now he pays someone to look after me, like I’m some unwanted fucking puppy in a crappy kennel.

But Christmas is for families, right? And while he’s obviously a total dickhead, I miss my mom, and he’s all I’ve got. So, Santa, I would really fucking appreciate it if you could bring me my Uncle John for Christmas.

Yours sincerely,

Liam Ryan.

Leaning against the wall outside Ryan’s apartment, waiting for the sun to go down and her charge to wake from the dead, Winter re-read the letter for about the hundredth time. Then she ran her fingers over the tear-stained words.

Failure was not an option.

It was a matter of pride and principle and besides…she really wanted to make Liam’s Christmas wish come true.

There was just one thing standing in her way. One very large thing.

Gosh, but that man was so stubborn.

She hadn’t wrangled her way into a job of bodyguarding John Ryan just to…well, bodyguard him. She was a woman with a mission: somehow, she had to get John Ryan and his nephew Liam together for the holidays.

So far it wasn’t happening.

She’d tried every way possible to get Ryan to talk about his nephew. To admit that he wanted to see him over the holidays, but Ryan was stubborn and ornery and ultimately, a really decent guy. He genuinely believed that the best thing he could do for his nephew was stay as far away as he could. He was so wrong.

If all else failed, she had a plan. But it wasn’t a particularly good one, and was only to be used as a last resort. Before that, she had one more thing to try. Christmas shopping. She was hoping a session would instil a little Christmas spirit, and Ryan would magically realize that Christmas was a time for families, and go see his nephew.

An hour later, she strolled through the double glass doors that led into the shopping mall. And realized that she’d lost her charge. He’d come to a halt outside, and was standing rooted to the spot, the Christmas shoppers giving him a wide berth as they flowed around him, leaving him a little island in the sea of holiday madness. A look of abject horror was stamped on his handsome face, and a giggle escaped her.

“So let me get this straight,” he said. “The really important thing you had to do tonight was shopping?” His tone was incredulous.

She nodded. “Christmas shopping.”

“And I have to come along because…?”

“Because I’m your bodyguard, which means I can’t let you out of my sight, which means if I go shopping, you go shopping.” Actually, it was more along the lines of because she needed to persuade him to go spend Christmas with his nephew, but probably the direct approach wasn’t a good idea.

Ryan gave her one of those you’ve-got-to-be-kidding looks and didn’t budge.

“Come on,” she said. “It’ll be fun.”

“No, it won’t. And what if I lose it? What if I go crazy in the middle of the mall? Rip throats out under the mistletoe…eat people.”

“I’ll risk it.”

Ryan was an unknown quantity—a cross between a vampire and a werewolf—and no one knew quite what to expect of him. Hence the bodyguarding gig. Winter was just supposed to keep an eye on him and phone in if he looked like he was…turning into a furry vampire. She sort of hoped that he would at some point. It’d be cool. Unfortunately, her boss didn’t agree.

“Look,” she said in her best reasonable tone, “I got an email from my dad. He wants me to pick up some last-minute presents.” Apparently, his “nice” pile this year was somewhat larger than expected. And as picking up last minute additions to the list was usually her job, he’d just emailed it to her. It was like a mile long.  And he was sending someone to collect them up in the morning, so she’d better get a move on.

“Your dad? The mysterious guy you don’t like to talk about?”

She gave a little shrug. “There’s not a lot to say.”

No way was she telling Ryan who her dad was unless she absolutely had to. Once people knew who he was, they never saw her for herself. And they always wanted to meet him, and then she never saw them again. Because he so wasn’t what they were expecting.

Ryan still hadn’t moved.

She strode back, hooked her arm through his, and sort of dragged him through the doors. Not easy…even in her four-inch heels he was still a foot taller than her. Maybe next time she bought a glamor, she’d not only hide her wings but add a few extra inches as well.

She stopped just inside and looked around. Unlike Ryan, she loved everything about Christmas. It was all so beautiful. The decorations and the tree… the choir singing carols. She sighed. “Just look at all the pretty lights.”

“Bah humbug.”

“And don’t you just love the carol singers?” she asked.

“No. And be warned—if I hear ‘Jingle Bells’ one more time, I will definitely lose it. Complete carnage.”

At that moment the music changed, and the familiar strains of “Jingle Bells” came over the sounds system.

Ryan snarled, and Winter giggled again, then tugged him further into the mall.

“Don’t you need to do some shopping?” she asked. “Isn’t there anyone you want to buy a last-minute present for? Any family?”


Grr. “What about your nephew, Liam?”

“I’ve sent him an Amazon gift card.”

“And you don’t think it would be nice to send him something a little more personal?”

His face settled into that closed up look, the one he always got when she mentioned his nephew. “No.”

She heaved a huge sigh. But she’d always known the Christmas shopping idea was a long shot. Which meant she was going to have to resort to the plan. She really hadn’t wanted to go down that route, but what choice was he leaving her?

No choice.

So the consequences were on his head.

Liam would get his uncle for Christmas if it killed her.

And why did she have a little shiver of foreboding at that thought.

What could possibly go wrong…?


Meet Nina Croft!

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia, which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of nine-to-five work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain. Nina writes all types of romance, often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction

Contact Info: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Amazon | Sign up for her newsletter here

Want to purchase Nina’s novels?
The Order

  1. Bittersweet Blood
  2. Bittersweet Magic
  3. Bittersweet Darkness
  4. Bittersweet Christmas

The Bad Girl and the Baby
His Fantasy Girl (Things To Do Before You Die #1)
Unthinkable (Beyond Human #1)
Falling for the Bad Girl (Cutting Loose #1)
Saving the Space Pirate (Ruby Robbins’ Sexy Space Odyssey)
Losing Control (Babysitting a Billionaire #1)
The Laws of Segregation
Sisters of the Moon Box Set

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About Jackie 3282 Articles
I am a 30-something SAHM with two adorable boys and a supportive husband who is very tolerant of my reading addiction. I love to read and easily go through about a dozen books a month – well I did before I had kids. Now, not so much. After my first son was born, I began to take my hobby of reviewing a little more serious and started Literary Escapism to help with my sanity. I love to discuss the fabulous novels I’ve read and meeting all the wonderful people in the book blogging community has been amazing.

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