Cover image for The lodge on Holly Road
Title:
The lodge on Holly Road
Author:
Roberts, Sheila, author.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Don Mills, Ontario : Harlequin MIRA, [2014]

©2014
Physical Description:
354 pages ; 17 cm.
Summary:
Widower James Claussen, widow Olivia Wallace, and single mom Missy Monroe and their families spend Christmas at the lodge in Icicle Falls, Washington, where not everything goes as planned and some receive the most unexpected gifts of all.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780778316619
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

How Santa Gets His Christmas Spirit Back... 

James Claussen has played Santa for years, but now that he's a widower, he's lost interest--in everything. So his daughter, Brooke, kidnaps him from the mall (in his Santa suit!) and takes him to Icicle Falls. She's arranged a special Christmas at the lodge owned by long-widowed Olivia Wallace and her son, Eric. And yet...Brooke wants Dad to be happy, but she's not ready to see someone else's mommy kissing Santa Claus. 

Single mom Missy Monroe brings her kids to the lodge, too. Lalla wants a grandma for Christmas, and her brother, Carlos, wants a dog. Missy can't provide either one. What she'd like is an attractive, dependable man. A man like John Truman... But John's girlfriend will be joining him in Icicle Falls, and he's going to propose. 

Of course not everything goes as planned. But sometimes the best gifts are the ones you don't expect!


Author Notes

Sheila Roberts has been writing since 1989. Her books include Angel Lane (Center Point Pub 2009), a Amazon Best Pick in 2009, Bikini Season (Gale Cengage 2008), and The Snow Globe (St Martins Press 2010). In 2014 her title Welcome to Icicle Falls, as part of Together for Christmas, made Harlequin's Hot Romance List.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Icicle Creek Lodge. Even after all these years, innkeeper Olivia Wallace still misses her husband, but she keeps busy taking care of her guests and her family. When widower James Claussen checks in with his daughter and son, Olivia is surprised when she finds herself thinking about James as more than just a guest. John Truman plans on proposing to his girlfriend, Holland, while they enjoy Christmas at Icicle Creek Lodge. However, after meeting single mother Missy Monroe, who has brought her two young children to the bed-and-breakfast as a special Christmas treat, John starts to wonder if he is really marrying the right woman. Roberts (Better Than Chocolate, 2012) does a terrific job of juggling her lively cast of characters in the eighth installment in her popular Icicle Falls series, and readers who enjoy a-second-chance-at-love stories will especially appreciate this sweet romance that perfectly captures the charm and cheer of the holiday season.--Charles, John Copyright 2014 Booklist


Library Journal Review

Brooke Claussen is concerned that her dad, who used to love Christmas, is losing his interest in life since her mom died. So Brooke kidnaps him and takes him to idyllic Icicle Falls for a family celebration with no sad memories. Naturally, James Claussen rebels, but as the holidays progress, the landscape shifts and soon passion is igniting everywhere. Colorful characters, both old and new, bring the season to life in this light-hearted, engaging romance. A recipe for gumdrop cookies is a bonus. VERDICT A daughter takes matters into her own hands to bring joy and love back into her father's life in this richly peopled heart-warmer that features several memorable couples and is perfect for fans of Debbie Macomber, Sherryl Woods, and Robyn Carr. Roberts (The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane) lives in Bremerton, WA. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Jolly Old Saint Nicholas Th e toddler wasn't simply crying. Oh, no. These were the kind of earsplitting screams that would make the strongest department-store Santa want to run for his sleigh. Her face was a perfect match for James Claussen's red Santa suit, and both her eyes and her nose had the spigot turned on full blast. What was he doing here, sitting on this uncomfortable throne, ruling over a kingdom of fake snow, candy canes and mechanical reindeer? What had possessed him to come back to work? He didn't want to be jolly, even imitation jolly. "Come on, Joy," coaxed the little girl's mother from her spot on the sidelines of Santa Land. "Smile for Mommy." "Waaah," Joy responded. I understand how you feel, James thought. "Joy, that's a pretty name for a pretty girl. Can you give your mommy a big smile?" he coaxed. "Waaah," Joy shrieked, and began kicking her feet. The black patent leather shoes turned those little feet into lethal weapons. Come tomorrow he'd have a bruise on the inside of his left thigh. "Ho, ho, ho," James tried, but the shrieks only got louder. Okay, this was as good as the picture with Santa was going to get. He stood and handed off the child, who was still kicking and crying, barely dodging an assault to the family jewels in the process. The jewels weren't so perfect now that he was sixty-six but they were still valuable to him and he wanted to keep them. Shauna Sullivan, his loyal elf, sent him a sympathetic look and ushered up the next child, a baby girl carried by her mother. Rosy-cheeked and alert, probably just awake from a nap, the baby was dolled up in a red velvet dress with white booties on her feet and a headband decorated with a red flower. She was old enough to smile and coo but not quite old enough to walk or, thank God, kick Santa where it hurt. This baby girl reminded him of his daughter, Brooke, when she was a baby, all smiles and dimples. Big brown eyes that looked at him in delighted wonder. Oh, those were the days, when his kids were small and Faith was still… Don't go there. "And what would this little dumpling like for Christmas?" he asked, settling the baby on his lap. For a few seconds it looked as if she was actually concentrating on an answer. But then a sound anyone who'd had children could easily recognize, followed by a foul odor, told him she'd been concentrating on something else. Oh, man. "Smile, Santa," Krystal, the photographer, teased, and the smelly baby on his lap gurgled happily. James had never been good with poopy diapers but he gave it his best effort and hoped he looked like a proper Santa. Finally, they were down to the last kid in line. Thank God. After this, Santa was going home to enjoy a cold beer. That was about the only thing he'd enjoy. Oh, he'd turn on the TV to some cop show, but he wouldn't really watch it. Then he'd go to bed and wish the days wouldn't keep coming, forcing him to move on. He especially dreaded the next day, December 24. How he wished he could skip right to New Year's Day. Or better yet, go backward to New Year's Day two years ago, when he and Faith were planning their European cruise. Stay in the moment, he told himself. Stay in character. He put on his jolliest Santa face and held out a welcoming arm to the next child. This one was going to be a terror; he could tell by the scowl on the kid's freckled face as he approached. He was a big, hefty burger of a boy, wearing jeans and an oversize T-shirt, and could have been anywhere between the ages of ten and thirteen. Logic ruled out the older end of the spectrum. Usually by about eight or nine, kids stopped believing. "And who have we got here?" James asked in his jolly I-love-kids voice. Normally he did love kids and he loved playing Santa, had been doing it since his children were little. He'd always had the husky build for it, although when he was younger Faith had padded him out with a pillow. No pillow necessary now. And no need for a fake beard, either. Mother Nature had turned his beard white over the past few years. These days he wasn't into the role, wasn't into Christmas, period. Santa had lost his holiday spirit and he was starting to lose his patience, too. Very un-Santa-like. He should never have agreed to fill in today, should have told Holiday Memories to find another Santa. His new customer didn't answer him. "What's your name, son?" he asked, trying again. "Richie," said the boy, and landed on James's leg like a ton of coal. "And how old are you, Richie?" "Too old for this. This is stupid." The kid crossed his arms and glared at his mother. "So you're twelve?" James guessed. "I'm ten and I know there's no such thing as Santa. You're a big fake." Boy, he had that right. "And that's fake, too," Richie added. James was usually prepared for rotten-kid beard assaults, but this year his game was off and Richie got a handful of beard before James could stop him. He yanked so hard he nearly separated James's jawbone from the rest of his skull. For a moment there he saw stars, and two Richies. As if one wasn't bad enough. "Whoa there, son, that's real," James said, rubbing his chin, his eyes watering. "Let's take it easy on old Santa." Now Richie's mother was glaring, too, as though it was James's fault she'd spawned a monster. "Look, Richie," he said, lowering his voice. "We're both men here. We know this is all pretend." And Christmas is a crock and life sucks. So deal with it, you little fart. James reeled in his bad Santa before he could get loose and do any damage. Good Santa continued, "But your mom wants this picture. One last picture she can send to your relatives and brag about what a great kid you are." Not. "Can you man-up and pose so she can have a nice picture of you for Christmas?" Richie scowled at him suspiciously, as if he was up to some strange trick. James sweetened the holiday pot. "I bet if you do, you'll get what you want for Christmas." Now the kid was looking less adversarial. James pressed his advantage. "Come on, kid. One smile and we can both get out of here. Whaddya say?" Richie grunted and managed half a smile and Krystal captured it. "But you're still a fake," Richie said. And you're still a little fart. "Ho, ho, ho," James replied, and rocketed the boy off his leg, sending him flying. "Hey, he shoved me," Richie said to his mother, and pointed an accusing finger at James. "Trick leg," James said apologetically. "Old war injury. Merry Christmas," he called and, with a wave, abdicated his holiday throne. "Okay," he said to Shauna, "I'm out of here." Thank God today was over. He was never doing this again. He didn't care if every Santa on the planet was home with the flu. "You can't go yet," she protested, and began looking desperately around the mall. After a ten-hour day? Oh, yeah, he could. "No kids, and it's ten minutes till the end of our shift. We'll be okay to leave. Right, Krystal?" Krystal frowned. "Well." It was nearly five o'clock. All the moms and kiddies were now on their way home to make dinner. The next Santa crew would arrive soon to deal with the evening crowd. All they had to do was put up the Santa-will-be-back sign. What was the problem? Maybe Shauna and Krystal felt guilty about stealing a couple of extra minutes from work. Not James. He'd worked hard all his life and he had no qualms about stealing a few minutes for himself now. For over forty years he'd been a welder at Boeing. Then he'd come home and work some more, putting that addition on the house, mowing the lawn, cleaning the garage, repairing broken faucets. Of course, he'd also realized the importance of playing--backyard baseball with the kids, Frisbee at the park, board games on a rainy Sunday afternoon. And real life had taught him that you had to take advantage of everything good, even little things like getting off ten minutes early. Because you never knew what cosmic pie in the face was waiting for you around the corner. "Come on, ladies," he said, putting an arm around each of them and trying to move them in the direction of the Starbucks. "The eggnog lattes are on me." They still balked. He'd never known the women to turn down a latte. He glanced from one to the other. "Okay, what's going on?" "It's a surprise," Shauna said. James frowned. He hated surprises, had hated them ever since Faith got sick. "It's a good one," Krystal said as if reading his mind. And then he saw his daughter hurrying down the mall toward him and the heaviness settling over him was blown away. There she was, his brown-eyed girl, all bundled up in boots and black leggings and a winter coat, her hair falling to her shoulders in a stylish light brown sheet. Once upon a time, it had been curly and so cute. Then suddenly she'd decided she needed to straighten her hair. He never could understand why the curls had to go. But then he'd never understood women's fashion. He'd also never understood why she thought her face was too round or why she thought she was fat. Her face was sweet. And she was just curvy. As far as he was concerned she was the prettiest young woman in Seattle. That wasn't fatherly prejudice. It was fact, plain and simple. "Daddy," she called, and waved and began to run toward him. Krystal had been right. This was a good surprise. "Hello there, angel," he greeted her, and gave her a big hug. "Did you come so your old man could take you to dinner?" "I came to take my old man somewhere special for Christmas," she said. "Thanks for not letting him get away," she told his holiday helpers. "No problem," said Shauna. "Have a great time." "For Christmas?" James repeated as Brooke linked her arm through his and started them walking toward the shopping mall's main entrance. They were going somewhere for Christmas on the twenty-third? Did that mean she wouldn't be spending Christmas with him and Dylan? It was their first Christmas without Faith (well, technically their second since she'd died on December 24 the year before). He'd assumed he and his son and daughter would all be together to help one another through the holidays. But she was an adult. She could do what she wanted. Maybe she'd made plans with friends. If she had, he couldn't blame her for wanting to escape unpleasant memories. Maybe she'd found someone in the past couple of weeks and wanted to be with him. She shouldn't have to babysit her dad. "Don't worry, Daddy," she said. "I've got it all under control." He didn't doubt that. Like her mother, Brooke was a planner and an organizer. She'd organized their Thanksgiving dinner, gathering his sister and his cousin and her husband, assigning everyone dishes to bring. But what was she talking about? "Got what under control?" "You'll see," she said with a Santa-like twinkle in her eyes. Oh, boy, another surprise. "What are you up to, angel?" "I'm not telling, but trust me, you'll like it." He wouldn't like anything this season but he decided to play along. "Okay, lead on." He hoped she hadn't spent too much money. Kindergarten teachers didn't make a lot and he hated to think of her spending a fortune on some fancy meal. He'd be happy enough with a hamburger. Anyway, he'd rather eat in the car than go into a restaurant dressed in his Santa suit. They were out of the mall now and at her trusty SUV. She complained about her gas mileage but he was secretly glad she had this vehicle. It had all-wheel drive and handled well in the snow, so he didn't have to worry about her when she was driving in bad weather. Seattle rarely got much of the white stuff, but they'd had a couple of inches earlier in the month and the weatherman was predicting more by New Year's. James had always loved it when they had a white Christmas. It meant snowball fights with the kids and hot chocolate afterward. Faith would lace his and hers with peppermint schnapps. "No frowning allowed," Brooke said as they got in. "Who's frowning? Santa doesn't frown." "He never used to," Brooke said softly. "Well, Santa's getting too grumpy for this job. It's about time for the old boy to pack it in." His daughter shot a startled look in his direction. "Daddy, are you crazy?" "No, I'm just…" Sick of this ho-ho-ho crap. It would never do to say such a cynical thing to his daughter. "Ready for a break," he improvised. "You can't take a break," she protested as she drove out of the parking lot. "You're Santa." James studied the crowd of cars rushing around them, people busy running errands, going places, preparing for holiday gatherings with loved ones. Most of the men in Seattle would be out the following day, frantically finding gifts for their women. He wished he was going to be one of them. He reminded himself that he still had his kids. He had a lot for which to be thankful, and if Brooke had plans for Christmas, well, he and Dylan could make turkey TV dinners and eat the last of the cookies she'd baked for them, then watch a movie, like Bad Santa. Heh, heh, heh. Now they were on the southbound freeway. Where were they going? Knowing his daughter, it would be someplace special. He smiled as he thought about the contrast between her and his son. Dylan would come up with something at the last minute, most likely a six-pack of beer and a bag of nachos, their favorite football food. Naturally, Dylan would help him consume it all. Excerpted from The Lodge on Holly Road by Sheila Roberts All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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