Santa and the Saddler

Santa and the Saddler by Cathryn Hein

He’s found the girl of his dreams, but she’s just passing through. Can he turn fleeting Christmas magic into forever?

Windmill fabricator Danny Burroughs doesn’t have time to wait in line at the local saddler—no matter how pretty the girl behind the counter—he’s juggling two jobs as it is. But his little sister has her heart set on a unique piece of saddlery for Christmas and he can’t let her down.

Expert saddler Beth Wells has no idea that when she comes to small town Levenham to look after her grandfather’s shop she’ll be swamped with customers. Overrun by day, Beth is forced to work late into the night on Christmas orders. The last thing she needs is another.

When super-cute Danny arrives at the saddlery after midnight wearing a Santa suit, a broad grin and pleading she make his sister’s present, Beth makes a deal—she will take the order in exchange for Danny’s help. Except this flirty Santa’s idea of helping involves more than stacking shelves, and in the confines of the saddlery their smouldering attraction soon becomes a blaze. But no matter how hopelessly drawn she is, Beth has a job interstate and a mum who needs her. Anything more than friendship is pointless.

Will these two chance-met strangers find the courage to gamble on their love? Or will the girl Danny’s been looking for all his life leave nothing behind but a sweet Christmas memory?

 

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testimonials

“I’m a complete fan of the heartfelt small town rural romance reads, and Santa And The Saddler didn’t disappoint. From start to finish, the story held its own. An exceptional, feel good, warm-hearted read not to be missed.”

5 Stars from Talking Books Blog

excerpt

 

Though it wasn’t even seven, daylight saving and their distance from the equator meant plenty of light remained. The sun sat huge against the crystalline sky and streaked the wave crests with gold. Beady-eyed seagulls hovered and squabbled at their feet, hungry for chips. The tide lapped the sand with hypnotic rhythm. It was vibrant, unpretentious, and a perfect first date setting.

They ate, hardly speaking, simply enjoying the beauty of the beach and the bustling village and the long summer day, and despite her confusion over Danny and her weary bones, Beth suddenly realised she felt happy.

‘I needed this,’ she said, popping a last chip in her mouth before leaning back on her elbows to stare at the sea. ‘I feel like I haven’t seen daylight or smelled fresh air for weeks.’

‘That’s why I brought you here. Finished?’

At her nod, he gathered up the paper and scraps and took them to a nearby bin. On his return Beth expected him to sit close, but he kept an un-datelike distance between them and leaned on his elbows like her.

‘This date business,’ said Beth after a while. ‘You know it won’t lead anywhere.’

Danny slid a look her way, his mouth curved enigmatically. ‘If you’re talking about me hoping to get you into bed, I’m not that presumptuous. Not that I don’t want to take you to bed, I do. Pretty damn badly. But I don’t expect it.’

She rolled on her side and propped her head on her hand so she could study him properly. ‘What do you expect?’

He copied her movement until they were facing one another, and reached to tangle his fingers with hers. ‘I don’t expect anything. What I’d like is to spend whatever time we have together, and I don’t care how we do it.’

‘But I’m leaving. My life is in Sydney.’

‘I know, but you’ll be back to visit.’

‘Exactly. To visit. See, it’s pointless.’

‘Not pointless. Never pointless.’

‘Then what is it?’

‘What it is,’ he said, leaning closer, his gaze flickering to her mouth, ‘is right for now.’ He paused as though considering the best way to kiss her, his breath light on her lips, his skin smelling of leather and lemon, of fish and chips and sunshine. ‘Think of it as a little bit of Christmas magic.’

‘Magic, huh?’

His mouth edged even closer, his voice low and husky. ‘Well, yeah. I have been known to wear a Santa suit and channel the big fella on occasion.’

Everything inside Beth was fluttering. Pointless, stupid, whatever, she wanted this. She wanted him.

Her own voice dropped to a whisper. ‘Your version is very naughty though.’

‘Naughty but nice. Want me to show you?’

story-behind

Ticking Clocks and Horsey Stock

Santa and the Saddler is the first story I’ve ever started where I had pretty much nothing but the title in my head. All I knew was that I wanted to write a Christmas themed story, I wanted it set in Levenham (also the setting for Rocking Horse Hill, Summer and the Groomsman, and Wayward Heart) and that the heroine would be a saddler. The rest… no idea!

Basically I winged it. I sat at the computer, opened a blank page…

© 2014 Cathryn Hein All rights reserved.