I can’t say enough how much I just LOVE this time of year – holiday romances are one of my most favorite things ever!
And I am so, so, SO happy that Casey Dawes took a little bit of time to stop by today to share with us a little inside look at her newest. You guys are going to be so excited to meet Findley (and Reese) after this 🙂
Second Chance Christmas grew from a promise.
I’m a substitute teacher for a school that has K through 8th grade. Yes, that’s quite a range, and I’ve done it all. I’ve been there for about five years.
I tell them I’m a writer because I want to encourage them to dream big dreams. And they always want to be in my books.
I made a promise to Findlay that my next book would be about her. She was in seventh grade at the time–blond, braces, and loud! She’d charge into the classroom, see I was there, and shout, “Ms. D-a-a-a-ws!” at the top of her lungs. Unfortunately, the family left town before this book was published. I know I’m not the only one at school that misses her.
Working my fair share of special needs jobs, I’ve come to know and respect the teachers and other professionals who patiently work with them, teaching them not only their ABCs, but also how to use words instead of fists, comb their hair, and learn to be a friend. I pulled a name from one of those students, as well as the image of the tall teacher who supports Kelly Anne in her growth.
I do love to read romantic suspense, and I saw writing Second Chance Christmas as a way of experimenting with it. My son works in the aerospace industry with a subcontractor. He had mentioned the minute specifications he has to meet. That gave me an idea for a company.
After spending a huge chunk of time in Silicon Valley, I had a good idea of what they start-up world was like. A number of stories about entrepreneurs embezzling from their company caught my eye, and the suspense story fell together.
Even with a romantic suspense, though, the love story needs to be central. What about an interrupted romance? Haven’t you ever wondered what happened to your high school love? (Word of warning: I found mine. He was very different from what I’d remembered and realized we never would have worked if we’d stayed together!)
If you’ve been in love for more than a gnat’s breath, you know there is plenty of opportunity to forgive and be forgiven. We all do boneheaded things now and again. When we’re very young, those things are amplified by our inexperience. If Findlay and Reese have a second chance, they’re going to have to dig down deep and do a whole lot of forgiving and develop some solid trust.
That is if Findlay can prove her innocence.
by Casey Dawes
Genre: Contemporary Romance with Suspense Elements
’Tis the season for second chances, in this heartwarming story of star-crossed lovers reuniting.
Findley Callahan has until Christmas, a scant six months away, to prove to the court she can provide a loving and safe home for her learning-disabled child. So she retreats to the only haven she’s known: her mother’s house in Missoula, Montana, where she can make a new start and find a good job.
Reese Moore can’t believe it when his teenage love arrives to work at his father’s company. But there’s bad blood between their families, dating back to a business partnership that drove Findley’s father to suicide.
When Findley is targeted by someone trying to pin corporate fraud on her, Reese is determined to save her—but will their broken hearts be able to forge a new future amid old hurts and new threats during this season of love and goodwill?
“A Christmas card from Montana filled with mystery, hope, and a hard-won happily ever after.” Kari Lynn Dell, best-selling author of the Texas Rodeo series.
Findlay Callahan’s bare fingers gripped the steering wheel as she pulled into her mother’s driveway in Missoula, Montana. The crunch of gravel drowned out the soft snore of her four-year-old daughter, sound asleep in the back seat. The little girl was safe for now.
She turned off the car and breathed a sigh of relief. The normal seven plus hour drive from Seattle had stretched to ten with frequent stops. Long trips made Kelly Anne cranky. Only a potty stop would do.
The girl didn’t drink enough to have to go that much.
Fingering the locket at her throat, Findlay smiled, her first since the last push from Spokane.
Six months. That’s what the judge had given her to prove her case. If she failed, it would be the worst Christmas in her daughter’s life.
She wasn’t going to let that happen.
Leaving a sleeping Kelly Anne in her car seat, she pulled a few suitcases from the trunk and walked up the side walk.
“Hi, Mom,” she said when her mother opened the door.
Instead of answering, her mother pulled her close, like she’d done when Findlay was a child who’d had a rotten day.
Now it was a rotten life.
“Kelly Anne sleeping?” her mom asked.
“Poor little thing. I’ve got your rooms all ready. Let me take your things.”
Her mom’s shoulders strained under the weight of the bags, but she lugged them toward the back of the house anyway.
No matter what, her mother kept on chugging. It was good to be home.
Findlay returned to the car to rouse her daughter.
“Okay, sweetie. We’re at Grandma’s. Remember I told you we were coming to stay with her for a while?”
The panic in Kelly Anne’s eyes dimmed at the word Grandma.
“Gramma,” she said.
“Yep, that’s right.” She lifted the child from the car seat. “Can you walk, sweetie?”
Her daughter gripped her hand tightly as they plodded toward the house. If they were lucky, nothing would distract her from the straight shot.
When they got close, her mother opened the door.
Kelly Anne yanked her hand away and ran to her grandmother. Mom scooped her up and swirled her around, the girl’s fine blond hair swirling with the movement.
Joy filled Findlay like water pouring into a dry well after a soaking rainstorm.
“Hungry?” her mother asked. She looked at Kelly Anne. “I’ve got chicken nuggets.”
“Nuggets!” Delighted at her favorite food, Kelly Anne dashed down the hallway before stopping abruptly. She turned around, forehead furrowed and stared at Findlay.
“Kitchen is that way,” she said, and pointed to the archway.
“Not any better?” her mother asked.
“She never will be, Mom. It’s not a disease; it’s the way her brain is wired. There’s some things she’s going to have to relearn again and again for the rest of her life. Once she’s been here for a while, she’ll remember where things are.”
Their third therapist had finally diagnosed the problem–a learning disorder that caused her to be overwhelmed by changes. The knowledge had increased her ex’s subtle derision of Findlay’s ability as a mom.
He didn’t think she did anything right.
Findlay blew air out in a big puff. Her daughter was safe from Chris’s sharp tongue for now.
She trundled toward her room in the back.
“I got you two percent milk for your coffee in the morning,” her mom said as she entered the kitchen. “Just like you use. And there’s a bottle of Chardonnay in the fridge. Figured you’d enjoy it after the long drive from Seattle.”
“Thanks, Mom.” Findlay kissed her mother’s cheek. “You’re the best.” She pulled a wine glass from the cupboard where they’d been stored for the last fifteen years of her life, poured a glass of wine, and leaned against the counter while her mother nuked a plate of nuggets. Everything in the kitchen was spotless, outdated, and familiar―the old stove with the tilted electric burners, the side-by-side Sears fridge with the cracking gaskets, and the dish rack on the yellowing countertop.
It hadn’t always been that way. Brian Moore had stolen everything they had, including her father. Someday, somehow, she was going to get back at him.
“You should rest tomorrow,” her mother said, “Get Kelly Anne settled in.”
“I can’t. I need to find a job.”
“Can’t it wait?”
“Not if I want to keep custody,” she said quietly, glancing at her daughter who was happily gnawing on nuggets.
“When’s Daddy gonna get here?” Kelly Anne paused with a nugget in the air.
Knife to the heart.
“I told you sweetheart, Daddy needs to stay at home for now.”
The drawn out word meant bedtime. She exchanged glances with her mother.
“Do you want to see your new room?” Mom asked. “There’s someone there waiting to meet you.”
“Yes, yes, yes!”
“Well, let’s go then. We’ll stop at the bathroom first and get you cleaned up. Mr. H and his banana aren’t going to want to meet a messy girl covered with ketchup.”
“Why does he have a banana?” The nugget dropped to the plate, and Kelly Anne slipped her red-stained hand into her grandmother’s as they left the room.
The late afternoon summer sun streamed through the window. She picked up her daughter’s plate, dumped the food from it, and washed it, staring out the window as she did. Summer in Montana was precious for its brevity. Kind of like her daughter’s life. Kelly Anne grew up more every second, it seemed.
She needed to snatch every moment she had.
But even that would have to wait. Finding a job was her top priority.
Casey Dawes has lived a varied life–some by choice, some by circumstance. Her master’s degree in theater didn’t prepare her for anything practical, so she’s been a teacher, stage hand, secretary, database guru, manager in Corporate America, business coach, and writer.
She has one son, one daughter and four step-children, and is married to the love of her life. They reside in Montana where she writes, supports other authors, and coaches on the banks of the Clark Fork River. The couple has been adopted by an orange male cat named Tigger.