Saturday, December 23, 2017

Saturday's Series Spotlight: North Pole City Tales by Charlie Cochet Part 2

Everyone has heard of Santa’s home in the frozen north, where elves and reindeer work hard to ensure Christmas cheer for the world. But that’s only part of the story….

All is not sparkly snowflakes and sweet candy canes in Mayor Kringle’s city. Sometimes it takes more than a little courage to keep the workshops running smoothly and enemies at bay. When their duties are complete, the Rein Dear, elves, winter spirits, and a legendary figure or two are ready to spice up their chilly nights—and hopefully find a happily ever after along the way. Sometimes it’s waiting in the last place they expected.

With adventure, magic, and romance hot enough to melt the polar ice, these holidays won’t soon be forgotten. Welcome to North Pole City, where love is the greatest gift of all.

Loving Blitz #4
From North Pole City to Winter Wonderland, preparations are underway after a royal announcement sweeps everyone into a frenzy of festivity. At the heart of the celebration are the city’s most beloved elf pilots, the Rein Dears. Once the Big Flight is behind them, the pilots prepare for the royal event. Assigned a special task of finding an Elska rose, Cupid and Blitzen are unaware of how their friendship is about to change forever.

Yet not all that glitters is gold. The sweet, angelic Cupid hides a dark secret, one that threatens to destroy his Rein Dear status, his friends, and the elf who’s captured his heart. It’s up to Blitzen to help Cupid see the light in the darkness and show him that together they can mend broken hearts.

Disarming Donner #5
As a beloved Rein Dear and Christmas elf for Mayor Kringle, Donner prides himself on his flawless reputation, good sense, and wise decisions. Donner never does anything until he’s thought it through properly. He’s certainly not one to get flustered, infuriated, or fall prey to romantic nonsense. At least not until the most unlikely of elves begins chipping away at Donner’s defenses.

Calder is a Dockalfar—a dark elf. He’s wicked, untrustworthy, and armed with lethal magic. At least that’s what everyone thinks. It’s easy for them to believe the worst and mistrust him before they’ve even spoken to him, but Calder is out to prove that he’s more than his Dockalfar blood, especially to a certain Rein Dear who has caught his eye. But it will take more than sweet words for Donner to admit what’s in his heart.

The King's Courage #6
With the wedding of Jack Frost and Rudy Rein Dear only three weeks away, everyone travels to Jack’s palace in Svalbard, Norway, where the happy couple will exchange vows beneath the northern lights. Festivities have been planned leading up to the wedding, and Dasher eagerly anticipates not just the fun, but staying under the same roof as the blustering winter spirit who’s caught his eye—the King of Frost, Jack’s father.

A long-ago tragedy has left Eirik fearing to ever love again. As the King of Frost, Eirik maintains his distance from everyone, especially the young Christmas elf who insists on intruding on Eirik’s solitude. But Dasher is determined to find a way to show the lonely king that his heart still beats and he shouldn’t fear allowing it to beat for another.

Books #4-6 Overall Review:
Blogger Note: This is a combined review for the last three because frankly I can't imagine just reading one of the series, for this reader its all or nothing and as I've broken the series into 2 parts for my Saturday Series Spotlights on my blog I decided that's how I would divide up the reviews as well.

Having read the first three books in less than 2 days time and seeing as the final book wasn't released until the 20th, I decided to wait until the 19th to begin #4(Loving Blitz) because I knew that once I started Loving I would go directly into Disarming Donner(#5) and then I'd have a heartbreakingly near week-long wait for the finale, The King's Courage.  So anywho, on to my second half series review.

As with so many series that each installment centers on a different couple, it takes a couple of chapters to get into each new pair because I'm just not ready to let go of the previous duo.  Well, North Pole City Tales was no different really but seeing as this is more of a holiday novella series, I tried to open my heart before beginning each new entry and it worked because Cupid/Blitzen, Donner/Calder, and Dasher/Eirik were all brilliant.  I just can't get over the creativity and imagination the author put into this Christmas universe.  I know I touched on it in my review for the first three but seriously, Rein Dear Squadron, Toy Solider Army, Elves, King of Frost, and my personal favorite the Mayor Kringle.  Its just such a unique take on the legendary characters we've come to love with the holidays and a wonderfully adult version that sets your pulse racing.

If you are looking for something different and yet scream Christmas spirit than North Pole City Tales is worth checking out.  Don't think though that just because I said it screams Christmas spirit and is full of characters we were introduced to as children that its all happy happy with no drama because there is just the right amount to make NPCT a well rounded heartwarming journey.  I wouldn't call it angst but there is some drama but there is also humor, lust, friendship, and tons of love.  Now that the author has written the finale, if you haven't read it this is the perfect time to start.  Charlie Cochet has once again proven that we are never too old to let the holiday magic into our hearts.


Loving Blitz #4
Chapter One
THE SILVER Bells Christmas Ball was truly a sight to behold. Its splendor never ceased to enchant Cupid. This year it was even more magnificent due to it being held at the King of Frost’s palace in Winter Wonderland, rather than Santa’s Grotto in the heart of North Pole City. Cupid had been to the king’s palace on previous occasions with his fellow Rein Dear, but never for anything as illustrious as this. Festivities were held in the smaller ballrooms, with only the most prestigious of events appointed to the grand ballroom.

The room seemed infinite, a never-ending stretch of gilded ivory columns, grandiose arches, and gleaming marble floors. The rows of diamond chandeliers hanging from the ceiling sparkled like a sea of stars. It was as regal and elegant as the king himself. At one end of the room, the orchestra’s musicians were dressed in white from head to toe as they played sweeping waltzes and holiday carols on their white instruments. On the opposite end of the room, tucked in an alcove atop several steps, sat the king’s white-and-silver throne. It was magnificent and befitting its king, with armrests carved into fierce polar bears. The back fanned out in twisting and swirling branches, and the seat was of tufted blue velvet. It was intricately carved and decorated from clawed feet to the tip of each branch.

Cupid was mesmerized from the moment he stepped foot inside the ballroom. There was certainly something different about this year’s Silver Bells Christmas Ball besides the change in venue. Something in the air made it feel… especially important. There were far more guests than usual, many whom Cupid didn’t recognize.

“Here you go.” Blitz handed Cupid a glass of bubbly pink strawberry champagne, Cupid’s favorite. Blitz was always so thoughtful. Cupid didn’t know what he would do without him. They were as different as night and day, yet their differences seemed to complement each other. Cupid couldn’t think of anyone whose company he preferred more than Blitzen’s.

“Thank you,” Cupid replied sweetly. “You look wonderfully dashing, as usual.” Blitz always looked handsome, but in the auburn frock coat with gold braiding and matching vest, he looked even more fetching. His broad shoulders, tapered waist, and muscular legs had more than one sugarplum faery taking notice. Elves too, for that matter. “I see you’ve yet to set fire to your cravat.”

Blitz tugged at the offending article of clothing. “I feel like this blasted thing is trying to strangle me.”

“I know it’s uncomfortable, but it’s only for one night.” Cupid chuckled at Blitz’s pout. Blitz didn’t enjoy dressing up as much as Cupid did. Actually Blitz hated it. He was far more content in his everyday Rein Dear garb of wine-red shirt and black vest. Whatever Blitz wore, he always looked large and imposing. Especially when he stood next to Cupid, which was more often than not. Blitz was taller and larger than the rest of the Rein Dears. Wherever they went, he stood out. Some elves were intimidated by Blitz and his somber expression, but few knew the burly elf the way Cupid did. He was really just a big softie, and he gave the most wonderful hugs.

The two of them stood to one side of the ballroom, sipping their drinks and watching the crowd as they danced or chatted. To think another year was almost gone. In a few days it would be time for the Big Flight. Cupid could barely contain his excitement. It was his favorite time of year.

All at once the guests around them broke off into applause. Cupid’s drink frosted over and he smiled brightly. Rudy and Jack had arrived.

“Fashionably late as usual, I see,” Blitz muttered. He turned his glass upside down and cursed under his breath. His champagne was frozen solid. “For the love of holly. Jack and his blasted games. I thought he’d outgrown them by now.” He placed his frozen drink on a nearby silver service cart.

“I thought so too. I’m glad to see he hasn’t. It’s obviously Rudy’s influence.” It saddened Cupid to know Jack had lost himself for so long. He’d always been a playful and mischievous winter spirit. After the queen’s death, Winter Wonderland lost its heart to the ice, much like its prince. Thanks to Rudy and his love for Jack, the Prince of Frost was becoming the winter spirit he’d once been. “I’ve never seen him so happy.”

“You’re right,” Blitz conceded. “He doesn’t seem as grumpy. Sometimes. On leap year.”

Cupid laughed and teasingly nudged Blitz with his elbow. “Admit it, you think they’re adorable together.”

Blitz huffed and folded his arms over his chest. “I’ll admit to no such thing. Adorable is not a word I would ever associate with Jack Frost. I can think of a few choice words, but I assure you none are remotely close to adorable.”

Despite Blitz’s cranky demeanor, Cupid could see the humor in his gray eyes. The orchestra broke off into a cheerful melody Cupid instantly recognized. Oh! It was his favorite dance. He swiftly handed his glass to a passing waiter and grabbed Blitz’s wrist. “Dance with me.”

Blitz looked uncertain. “But this dance is for sweethearts.”

“Well, we’re best friends. That’s kind of like a couple.”

“I, uh….” Blitz’s uncertainty melted into a warm smile. “Okay.”

They headed to the circle of sweethearts forming in the center of the dance floor, among them Jack and Rudy, and Lieutenant Vale and Vixen, who’d emerged from out of the snowy blue. Those two were like a couple of snow bunnies, always scurrying off to do who knew what together. Cupid hadn’t seen them since they arrived together over an hour ago. Vixen seemed to draw out the more mischievous side of the bashful lieutenant, while the lieutenant had the oddest calming effect on Vixen.

Blitz was right, this dance was for sweethearts, but it was so much fun. Besides, there was no one he wanted to dance it with other than Blitz. It was an odd sentiment to have toward his friend, but he enjoyed dancing with Blitz too much to care or give it any more thought. And seeing as how Blitz was currently without a beau, there was no reason for them not to dance together.

Everyone held hands and they danced in a loop. They stopped so Vixen could break from the group and take Cupid’s hand. The two of them danced in a circle before parting. Vixen took Vale’s hand while Cupid took Blitz’s. They whirled, then switched partners again.

Jack was in especially good spirits, twirling Rudy at the end of his turn and making Rudy laugh before they switched partners. The circle continued, this time with small lifts instead of taking hands. Cupid couldn’t help his giggle when Blitz took hold of his waist and lifted him off his feet. The lifts were really meant to be hops, but Blitz could lift Cupid without the least bit of effort. The pairs broke off into a scandalous version of a waltz where they were all but pressed up against each other. As always, Cupid was forced to look up to meet Blitz’s eyes.

“I can see why you enjoy this. It’s fun and very sweet.” Blitz’s hand pressed ever so subtly against Cupid’s lower back when they turned, and the strangest tingle went up Cupid’s spine. That was… unusual.

“Are you all right?” Blitz asked so only Cupid could hear.

“Yes, of course. Why wouldn’t I be?” Cupid smiled. Was his face red? It felt a little hot.

“Your cheeks are flushed. More than usual. Are you tired? Would you like to stop?”

“I’m fine,” Cupid reassured him. He hated that he made Blitz worry. Maybe it was the champagne. He wasn’t very good at all the bubbly stuff. Two glasses was usually his limit. Though now that he thought about it, he’d only had one, and not even a full glass at that.

“All right. But you’ll tell me if you’re feeling unwell?”

“I promise.” Cupid gave Blitz’s arm a gentle squeeze in assurance.


They finished the waltz when Cupid noticed everyone moving on to the next part. Plum pudding! “I forgot about this part.” The very last dance included giving your sweetheart a kiss. That was all very well and good for the other elves in the circle, but…. Cupid turned to Blitz, who shrugged.

“It’s just a small kiss.” Blitz gave him a wink. “I’m sure I’ll survive.”

Cupid nodded. He wasn’t quite certain he would survive. This evening was taking a somewhat unexpected turn. The two of them were very close. They’d snuggled together on the love seat at the White Hart or at the Rein Dear Estates in the lobby. Usually with cups of hot cocoa, and sometimes in front of the fire. It was Cupid’s favorite spot. At times they’d even fallen asleep together. But kiss?

Everyone leaned forward and puckered up. Cupid did the same. Sort of. He stood on his toes and Blitz bent at the waist to meet him. The kiss was a small, quick press of the lips. A spark unlike Cupid had ever felt spread through him when Blitz’s lips touched his own. It took Cupid by surprise and he jerked back, his fingers going to his lips. Blitz’s eyes were wide, and it was clear he was as startled as Cupid. The circle broke off into applause, drawing their attention and snapping them out of whatever trance they had been in.

“There you are, cutie. I’ve been looking everywhere for you.” Dasher ruffled Cupid’s hair, and Cupid swatted his hand.

“Stop it.” Cupid smoothed down his hair and glared at Dasher.

“Can’t help it. You’re so adorable.”

“I’m three hundred and sixty-five years old. Nearly as old as you.”

“Don’t remind me. Are you sure you and Blitz didn’t swap birthdays? Because you look more like two ninety-eight than he does.”

“Hey, watch it, old timer.” Blitz narrowed his eyes at Dasher. Uh-oh. Here we go.

“Old? I’m slightly older than Jack. Slightly. I’d like to see you call him old to his face,” Dasher muttered.

“What do you suppose is going on?” Cupid’s question was aimed at no one in particular, but if he didn’t intervene, these two would get into an argument over something silly like they always did. The last thing he needed was to break up another of their roughhousing sessions. Not an easy task considering both elves were so much bigger than him.

“Why would you think something was going on?” Blitz asked.

“There are more dignitaries in attendance than usual. There are even a few monarchs from other kingdoms. Also, when has the king ever attended the Silver Bells Christmas Ball?” Did the king never get lonely in this huge palace all by himself? His only company appeared to be the help, his brother who often visited him, or Jack. It was common knowledge the king rarely left his home. It had been that way since the queen’s death. So very sad.

Dasher shrugged. “It’s rather hard for him not to attend when it’s in his own palace.” He took a peppermint julep from a waiter’s tray with a wink. Ever the flirt.

“You know what I mean,” Cupid said. “Jack’s often mentioned how his father is somewhat of a recluse. He hates parties. Why would he host the Silver Bells Christmas Ball at his home? And why so many distinguished monarchs?”

“It’s a shame he doesn’t leave this place more often. He’s quite something to look at, isn’t he?”

Cupid gaped at Dasher. “Are you mad? It’s the King of Frost.”

“What?” Dasher looked genuinely perplexed. “It’s a simple observation.”

Simple observation? Did the elf have any idea of who he was discussing, as if he were some heartthrob elf from the magazines?

“We all know your ‘observations’ too well by now,” Blitzen scoffed.

“How can you not see?” Dasher motioned across the floor to the throne where the king had taken a seat, his royal white-and-ice-blue robe flowing around him. He certainly was a sight to behold, and Cupid supposed the king was rather handsome. But Cupid would never dare to look at the King of Frost in such a fashion. Dasher must have slipped on some oil in his hangar while tuning up his biplane and hit his head. “He’s… incredible,” Dasher added.

Cupid and Blitz exchanged glances. Oh my. This didn’t bode well. Blitz was the first to speak up.

“I hope you’re kidding.”

“I’m not kidding. I mean, I have no idea how old he is. No one does, but he barely looks any older than Jack, yet more distinguished and regal. He’s not as immature.”

“Well, he is ancient.”

“Blitz!” Cupid gasped. “For holly’s sake, have you forgotten where we stand? What if someone overhears you two?”

Blitz gave him an apologetic smile. Dasher, on the other hand, continued as if Cupid hadn’t said a word.

“He’s fascinating.”

“And powerful,” Blitz added. “And unobtainable for a vast number of reasons. Setting your sights on the King of Frost is like wishing for the stars. Everyone knows he’s not loved anyone since his queen, who was a faery, by the way. You’re an elf.”

Dasher looked down at himself and frowned. “Is that what I am? I hadn’t noticed.” He raised his head, his expression unimpressed. “Thank you, Blitzen. I wouldn’t have known otherwise.”

“Suit yourself, but don’t come complaining to me when he turns you into an icicle or banishes you to the Mountain Fortress. While you’re at it, why not court his brother?”

Cupid sighed. Now would probably be a good time for that second glass of strawberry champagne. If these two continued the path they were on, he might even need a third glass.

“Don’t be absurd. Malachi Frost is handsome, I suppose, but he’s not my type. He’s also not into elves.”

“Neither is the king,” Blitz reminded Dasher. Again.

“You don’t know that.”

“And you’re going to be the one to find out?” Blitz shook his head in disbelief. Seeing he wasn’t about to dissuade Dasher from whatever madness had struck him, he gave in. “Just wait until after the Big Flight. It’ll be difficult to find a replacement so close to the day.”

Dasher arched an eyebrow at Blitz. “Your faith in me is underwhelming.”

“Perhaps if you weren’t discussing getting under the robes of one of the most powerful seasonal spirits in existence, I might have more confidence in your ability to charm. You’re going to end up an ice cube.”

“And why is that?” A deep, throaty voice brought them all to still.

“Your majesty.” Cupid bowed along with Blitzen. He almost choked when he noticed Dasher just standing there. “Dasher!” Cupid whispered hoarsely. Had the elf gone mad?

Dasher tilted his head to one side, seeming to study the king, who was staring at Dasher as if he were some strange, otherworldly creature. Several awkward seconds ticked by before Dasher bowed gracefully. “Your majesty.”

“So you do have manners,” the king said, arching an eyebrow at Dasher.

Cupid straightened and remained silently beside Blitz. It was quite possible they’d be down one Rein Dear for the Big Flight. With Dasher there was no telling what might come out of his mouth.

“My apologies, your majesty. I was momentarily distracted by your beauty.”

Cupid suppressed a groan, and beside him, Blitz coughed. The king’s eyes widened in shock before his expression darkened. “You’re far too bold, elfling.”

Dasher’s lips lifted on one side, as he met the king’s pitch-black eyes. “With all due respect, your majesty, I may be young in your eyes, but what I lack in years, I make up for in experience.”

Holy holly, it was worse than Cupid could have imagined. Was Dasher actually discussing his sexual prowess with the bloody King of Frost? Should Cupid say something? Intervene? What if the king had them all arrested? Judging by the indignant look on the king’s face, they’d be getting off lucky with imprisonment. Where was Rudy when you needed him? He would know what to do. Most likely give Dasher a good kick in the backside.

“I should have you thrown out into the snow for your insubordination,” the king growled. A chill swept around them, and Blitz gingerly wrapped his arm around Cupid, holding him close against him. A few guests had taken notice, and Cupid prayed Dasher wasn’t about to start an incident. Mayor Kringle only held so much sway with the King of Frost. They were in Winter Wonderland, not North Pole City. Here the Frost monarchy ruled unconditionally.

“Then throw me out.” Dasher took a step toward the king, who remained where he stood. The king lifted his chin and straightened to his full height. He was at least a foot taller than Dasher and far more imposing. His eyes frosted over, and to Cupid’s astonishment, Dasher remained unmoved.

“You insolent, impetuous elfling. You dare defy me as if I were some common elf? I could crush you without lifting a finger.”

“I hear a lot of what you could do, and yet….”

Cupid held on to Blitz. This was it. They were all doomed. How could Dasher put the whole of Christmas in jeopardy simply to flirt? Was his head full of pinecones?

The king’s eyes returned to their usual darkness. “Tonight is a special occasion. Consider yourself fortunate I am feeling merciful.” He closed the distance between him and Dasher, and Cupid watched with slacked jaw as the king took hold of Dasher’s chin. His voice was grave when he spoke. “Cross me again, elfling, and you shall know the true power of winter. I am no one’s conquest, least of all some puny little Christmas elf.” With that the king spun on his heels and stormed off, his long robe swirling in haste to catch up to his brisk pace.

The silence stretched until it was broken by Dasher’s somewhat shaky laugh. “I think he likes me.”

“Have you lost your berries?” Blitz hissed. “What the holly was that?” He put his fingers out as if he were about to strangle Dasher, but somehow restrained himself.

“Didn’t you see? He likes me.”

“Likes you? He was seconds away from causing a blizzard in here!” Cupid turned to Blitz. He was genuinely concerned for their friend. “Perhaps all the excitement has gone to his head.”

Blitz scoffed. “Maybe he’s just a loon.”

“The both of you can go roll down a snowy hill.” Dasher stomped off, and Cupid watched him go.

“Plum pudding. What’s gotten into him? Since when has he been so interested in the king?” He turned to Blitz, who was attempting to look indifferent, but Cupid could see in his eyes how worried he was for Dasher. Their friend had been lucky this time, but what about the next? Perhaps Cupid should have a word with Rudy. Dasher was behaving odd, even for him.

“I think he’s just in need of a good romp in the snow.”

“Blitz!” Why must his friends be so scandalous? Vixen was always telling him he was a prude. Was he? He was rather certain he wasn’t. He was just a little more reserved with that sort of thing than the other Rein Dears. Honestly it was always romp in the snow this, sugarplum faery that. His brethren needed to find themselves a good hobby that didn’t include jingling someone’s bells.

“What? It’s obviously been a while.”

“I really don’t want to discuss Dasher’s love life,” Cupid muttered. He needed to find the nearest waiter and have some more champagne. He couldn’t even recall the last time he had a good frolic. Maybe that’s what was making him so grumpy. Hmm.

“Or in Dasher’s case, lack thereof.”

“Oh? And when did you last have a good romp in the snow?” Did he really want to know? Why the holly had he asked such an inane question?

Blitz took a step back. “Uh, well, I, um. Hey, look. Cake!”

“Where?” The moment Cupid turned his head, he realized his mistake. Why, that sneak! Cupid darted after Blitz, who dashed off with a laugh. For all of Blitz’s speed and strength, Cupid had the advantage. Whereas Blitz could easily be seen among the crowd because of his height, Cupid was able to get lost among the taller elves. Blitz would have trouble spotting him, and that’s when Cupid would launch his silent attack.

Darting behind a pillar, Cupid peeked out and spotted Blitz attempting to conceal himself behind a large flower arrangement. He might as well have been trying to hide behind a twig. Cupid crept out from behind his hiding place and dashed behind a guest’s expansive silk ball gown. Goodness, it was like a small hut. It could easily house several elflings. Turning his attention back to Blitz, he frowned. Plum pudding! Where had he gone?

Cupid cautiously left his hiding spot and headed for the flower arrangement where Blitz was moments ago. Just as he ducked behind it—as if Blitz had somehow shrunk himself in order to fully conceal himself—someone wrapped a strong arm around his waist, and Blitz’s hot breath tickled his skin as he whispered in Cupid’s ear.


The butterflies returned to Cupid’s stomach and he remained very still. A tiny voice in his head told him he didn’t want to be let go, but good sense prevailed. Cupid pulled away with a smile. He pretended not to notice Blitz’s puzzled expression. Cupid had never pulled away from him before. He had no idea why he was doing it now, but he had to.

Blitz opened his mouth to say whatever was on his mind, when the room broke out into applause. The king stood before his throne, ready to address his guests. Whatever it was, it had the king smiling, which was an occasion in itself.

“Thank you all for joining us on this most festive occasion. I’m sure you’re wondering why the change in venue this year. You’ll find out very soon. But first I’d like to thank you, the illustrious citizens of our great kingdom. The Frost monarchy owes so much to you. When the time comes, my son will become king. At one time the thought filled me with uncertainty. The war took so much from us all, especially my son.” The king turned to the end of the stage and held a hand out. “But in the last few years, I’ve seen how wrong I was to doubt him.”

Jack joined the king at his side and embraced him. It was good to see the two close once again. For so long there had been a rift between them. Rudy would often confess his worries to Cupid, his fear the king would never approve of his love for Jack. At first the king was furious, but over the last few years, he’d come to see what Rudy meant to Jack, and how he’d underestimated the fiery Christmas elf.

Jack turned to the quiet room. “As my father said, thank you all for coming. Our great kingdom would be lost without you. The last few centuries have been difficult. Losing my mother—your queen—was a fierce blow, one I didn’t believe I would ever recover from. Although my heart still mourns the loss, it remains beating with warmth, all thanks to one very special elf.” Jack smiled down at Rudy. “Will you join me up here, sweetheart?”

Rudy smiled and took Jack’s hand, allowing him to help him up to the stage beside him. The ballroom was in complete silence as Jack spoke to Rudy for all to hear. “For years you’ve been a beacon in the snowstorm. The warm, bright red light guiding me home. I lost my heart to the ice all those years ago, and thanks to you, it was thawed. I never knew how much I needed that heart until the day I gave it to you.”

Jack lowered himself onto one knee, and the room collectively gasped. He drew a small gilded box from his ceremonial military uniform and opened it before Rudy.

“Rudy, will you do me the great honor of being my husband, and one day ruling at my side as prince of the Frost kingdom?”

Tears welled in Rudy’s eyes, and he nodded fervently. “Yes!”

The ballroom erupted into cheers and applause as Jack slipped a ring onto Rudy’s finger. Without hesitation, Rudy threw himself at Jack, and the two nearly toppled over, causing the guests to laugh. Cupid gave a sniff and did his best not to shed a tear, but what the holly, it was just the sort of occasion for it. He was so happy for Rudy. Perhaps the rumors circulating last Christmas regarding Jack proposing hadn’t been rumors after all. Jack stood and drew Rudy into his arms before kissing him. A roar of cheers and catcalls swept through the room. The excitement was palpable. There hadn’t been a royal wedding in centuries, much less one directly connected to the Frost monarchy.

Rudy and Jack thanked everyone and left the stage. The room was buzzing with talk of the wedding. When would it be, where would it be held, what would the couple wear…. It went on and on. Cupid and Blitz joined the rest of their Rein Dear brethren as they circled Rudy to offer their congratulations.

Cupid gave his dear friend a big hug. “Congratulations, Rudy! I’m so happy for you!”

“Thank you. I was wondering why the Silver Bells Christmas Ball was being held here. Jack said his father wished to be present when he asked for my hand in marriage.” Rudy wiped a tear from his eye. “I still can’t believe it.”

“Really? Jack adores you. I’m not surprised at all. And who better to rule at his side?” His friend and captain was always too modest. Rudy deserved all the wonderful gifts he received in life. He was the most selfless elf Cupid knew.

“Thank you.”

A crowd gathered around them, all eager to talk to the happy groom-to-be. Everyone wanted to know what type of wedding Rudy wanted. While poor Rudy was ambushed on all sides with questions on everything from wardrobe to menus, Jack’s cousin Vale turned to Blitz with a smile. “Will you be bringing your family?”

Blitz beamed proudly. “Of course. My parents would love it.”

“Also, Ruse would be very displeased with you if you didn’t bring her,” Cupid teased.

Blitz let out a snort. “Displeased? My sister would have my baubles if I allowed her to miss a royal wedding. I think Sage might enjoy himself. Plenty of sugarplum faeries for him to court.” He shook his head in amusement. “That elfling. I swear, one of these days a sugarplum faery is going to sweep him off his feet, and then we’ll see who’s feeling brash.”

Vale chuckled and turned his attention to Cupid. “What about you, Cupid? Will you be bringing your family to the wedding?”

“Oh, um, my mother passed quite some time ago. She was my only family.” A lump formed in Cupid’s throat, but he did his best to keep smiling. Vale’s expression became sympathetic.

“I’m so terribly sorry.”

“It’s all right. Will you excuse me?” Cupid bowed graciously before turning and walking off at a brisk pace. He needed some air, and all of a sudden, it felt rather stuffy in here.

“Are you all right?” Blitz’s hand landed gently on Cupid’s shoulder to stop him.

“Yes. Just being silly.” Breathe. Everything’s all right.

“About what?”

“Everyone’s families will be in attendance. Even Vixen will have Vale at his side.” Cupid swallowed hard. It still hurt terribly even all these years later. “I’ll be alone.”

“That’s not true.” Blitz cupped Cupid’s cheek. “You’ll have me. I’ll be at your side.”

Cupid couldn’t help the way his heart swelled. “You’re too sweet.”

“Humbug. I’m not being sweet. When have I ever not been at your side?”

It was true. Ever since their days at Claus College and then the Rein Dear Academy, Blitz had been at Cupid’s side. They’d been like two peas in a pod. Still were.

Blitz drew Cupid into a warm embrace. “Besides, Ruse loves you. So does the rest of my family. My parents have all but adopted you.”

Cupid smiled at the thought of Blitz’s sweet mother. She was always fussing over Cupid, even more than she did over Blitz. Whenever they visited Blitz’s family, she’d feed him far more than he could ever hope to eat, insisting he be well rested, and the slightest sniffle was cause for a healthy broth. Cupid stood on his toes and kissed Blitz’s cheek. Blitz’s dopey smile made him chuckle.

“What was that for?” Blitz asked softly.

“For being you. Thank you.” The music kicked off in a sweeping waltz. Blitz bowed and held his hand out.

“May I have this dance?”

Cupid smiled brightly and nodded. “I would love to.” He was so very lucky to have a dear friend like Blitz. He hoped things never changed.

Disarming Donner #5
Chapter One
“NO! STOP! Please!”

Donner’s head shot up, and he snapped his book shut. Was that Cupid? There was another shriek, and Donner took off, book in hand as he sped out of the vast library. He was running so fast he almost hit the wall at the end of the corridor, his boots slipping on the pristine white marble floor when he tried to make a sharp turn. Plum pudding! Was it really necessary to shine the blasted thing so thoroughly? Just because they were in Jack Frost’s palace didn’t mean the floor had to feel as if he were gliding on ice. He’d have a word with Rudy about this.

“Mercy! I beg of you!”

A chill swept through Donner. It was Cupid. His friend was in trouble. Donner’s heart beat furiously, and he was all but winded by the time he reached the room from which the shouting came. Donner barged in, gasping when he saw the huge brute bent over his sweet friend, who was curled onto his side on the chaise lounge. The brute’s size eclipsed Cupid’s smaller frame. The breadth of his shoulders was expansive, and long white hair fell over a weathered leather tunic, the sleeves of which struggled to retain bulging biceps. His charcoal gray skin revealed his nefarious nature.

“Release him, Dockalfar!” Panicked and uncertain of what to do against a creature possessing dark magic, Donner did the only thing he could think of. He hurled his book at the elf. It conked him on the head.

“Ouch! Son of a nutcracker!” The beastly elf straightened and rubbed the back of his head. He turned and narrowed his near-black eyes at Donner. “Did you pitch a book at my head?”

Donner swallowed hard as the dark elf frowned at him. For a slip of a moment, he had forgotten how big and imposing the elf was. There was also the tiny matter of the dark magic Calder possessed. Perhaps launching reading material at the fellow’s head had not been his brightest idea. Especially when the reading material in question was a hefty volume with sharp corners. Still, Donner straightened to his full height, which sadly came up rather short where the dark elf was concerned, but Donner wasn’t about to cower in front of this menace.

“Step away from my friend, you fiend!”

“Donner!” Cupid scolded. He hopped off the chaise lounge and folded his arms over his chest. “That’s an awfully mean thing to say.”

Donner gaped, looking from Cupid to the dark elf and back. “But… he was attacking you!”

Cupid’s expression softened as he approached Donner. “Oh, Donner. You thought I was in danger, so you came to my rescue?”

Donner nodded, his bottom lip jutting out pathetically. “That’s what friends do, isn’t it?” Granted, now that he realized the danger he could have put himself in, he felt rather weak at the knees.

“Of course.” Cupid threw his arms around Donner and hugged him tight. “Thank you, my dear friend.” He pulled back, smiling warmly. “But I wasn’t in any danger. Calder was simply being a mischievous brother. We were teasing each other, and he launched a terribly effective tickle assault. He’s very good at those.”

“Oh.” Donner was relieved. Then the reality of what he’d done set in. He had just pummeled a dark elf with a book. Oh dear. He looked up at Calder, who watched him in amusement. Well, at least the elf hadn’t turned him into a frog. Donner held back a gasp. What if he was biding his time? Dockalfar were tricksters and spiteful creatures. Perhaps Calder was waiting until Cupid turned his back. Then with a snap of his fingers he’d turn Donner into a toad or gnat to be crushed in his large hands. Donner took a wary step back when Calder approached.

“I suppose I should thank you for the fierce defense of my brother.”

Donner simply nodded. He gave a start when Calder reached out to him, then noticed the book in his hand.

“Your weapon.”

He had no idea what the elf found so amusing. With a sniff, Donner swiped his book. He took Cupid’s arm and turned him away from Calder.

“You should be more careful. What if it had been Jack who’d overheard you and come to your rescue?”

Cupid’s eyes went wide.

Jack wouldn’t have hesitated in turning Calder into an oversized ice cube. What the Prince of Frost thought of Dockalfar was no secret, and it mattered very little that Calder was Cupid’s brother, or that Calder supposedly was unlike their treacherous brother Gunne, who’d brought such misery and heartache mere weeks ago.

“I know you disagree, Cupid, but this is a terrible idea. Having a Dockal—”

“Calder,” Cupid corrected politely. “His name is Calder.”

Donner summoned patience. How could Cupid not see? “Very well. Having Calder under the same roof as Jack Frost is a terrible idea.”

Cupid blinked up at him innocently. “Jack was the one who offered his home for my training.”

“Yes.” Donner lowered his voice. “So that he could keep a close eye on Calder.”

“Excuse me, but I can hear you,” Calder stated, his smooth voice a deep rumble. “Turning away from me doesn’t stop me from still being in the room.”

Donner spun on his heels and glowered at the ridiculously tall elf. Honestly. What elf needed to be so blasted tall? Or wide. Or… square jawed. “Then stop listening to a conversation that doesn’t concern you.”

Calder arched an eyebrow at him. “You’re speaking about me, so it concerns me. Greatly. This whole encounter concerns me greatly.”

Donner bristled. “Just what are you implying?”

“You’re a perplexing elf.”

“And you’re… you’re very… tall. And irritating.” Donner wanted to smack the amusement right off the infuriating elf’s face. His eyes were also very unsettling. As if staring into them for too long might cost Donner his immortal soul.

Calder nodded slowly. “I see.”

“No, I don’t think you do.” Donner marched up to Calder, then jabbed a finger against his chest. Plum pudding, that hurt! He discreetly pulled his hand behind his back to shake it off. Was the elf made of granite? “Mayor Kringle might have thought it a jolly good idea for you to train Cupid, but you shouldn’t be here. And I don’t mean here in Jack’s palace—though you clearly shouldn’t be here either—but in North Pole City. No good can come of it.”

Instead of getting angry, Calder leaned forward, his smile wicked. “It would seem, my little dear, that you could use some bad in your pristine and perfect life.”

Donner’s jaw dropped. He sputtered madly. “How dare—what did you call me?” He turned to Cupid. “Did you hear what he called me?”

Cupid bit down on his bottom lip and nodded. Was that amusement in his eyes? The traitor! Donner spun back to Calder, unaware the elf had moved closer. They were practically nose to nose. Donner retreated swiftly, tripping over his own feet and letting out a squeak as he fell. A strong arm caught him midway, and Donner stared up at Calder.

“Everything all right in here?” Rudy asked as he walked into the room, Jack at his side.

Donner gasped. Trust the Prince of Frost to catch him in a compromising position with a Dockalfar. Not that he would ever do anything remotely compromising with this beast. Of course Jack and Rudy didn’t know that. Oh, the gossip would be terrible!

“Take your hands off me, you cad!” Donner swung his book, letting out a yelp when the arm around him disappeared, and he hit the carpet with a thud.

“Donner!” Cupid ran over to help him up. “Are you all right?”

“No thanks to him,” Donner seethed.

Calder shrugged. “You asked me to release you.”

“Have you no manners at all?” Donner scrambled to his feet and quickly straightened his clothes before running a hand through his hair. He glared at the smug Dockalfar. “Perhaps treating others in such a manner is acceptable in whatever dark cave you crawled out of, but out here, where elves are civilized, we do not go about manhandling others and dropping them on their backsides.”

“Oh?” A wicked smile spread across Calder’s face. “I’m intrigued. What do you do with their backsides?”

Donner’s jaw went slack. “You… you….” He waved his book at Calder. “You, sir, are reprehensible!”

“Better reprehensible than a prude,” Calder replied pleasantly.

“All right, that’s enough,” Jack reproached them. “What’s going on in here?”

Cupid stepped in front of Calder, as if his tiny elf frame was any match for Jack Frost. His trust in his brother was admirable, if not sadly misplaced. The Dockalfar was deplorable.

“Nothing. Just a misunderstanding. Isn’t that right, Donner?”

Oh, for Kringle’s sake. “Yes,” Donner replied with a sniff. “Misunderstanding.” There was no sense causing trouble for poor Cupid. It was hardly his fault he was part dark elf or that his brother was intolerable, and…. Why was Calder smiling at Donner? The elf was mad. How Calder and Cupid were brothers was beyond comprehension. Cupid was the sweetest, kindest elf Donner had ever known. He was fair, with wispy blond hair and bright blue eyes. He was the only Rein Dear who was part winter faery. Unlike Calder and Gunne, who were born full Dockalfar like their father, Cupid was born part winter faery like their mother, though he still possessed Dockalfar magic. Thankfully, he seemed to have also inherited his mother’s gentle faery nature.

“Very well.” Jack gave Cupid a nod, but not before casting Calder a warning glance. “We have a rehearsal coming up. It will be held in the ballroom. The rest of the Rein Dears have been informed. Everyone has either been partnered up with their sweethearts, or their choice of sugarplum faery from my father’s court, or toy soldier of the highest regard chosen by Vale himself.” Jack turned to Donner. “Please let Rudy know as soon as possible who you’d like as a partner, Donner. We’ll have someone picked in time for rehearsal.”

Donner cleared his throat, aware of Calder watching him closely. Why, he had no idea. “Toy soldier, please.” Who wouldn’t wish to dance with a dashing toy soldier? Besides, he doubted he could keep up with a sugarplum faery’s gracefulness. Prancer and Comet could easily sweep their faery partners off their feet, but Donner much preferred being the one swept off his feet. Heavens knew, it had been so blasted long.

“Very well. I’ll pass that on to Vale. You’ll be notified of the exact time and place of the rehearsal within the next few days.”

Donner nodded. He was very much looking forward to it. Jack and Rudy’s upcoming wedding was the talk of the North Pole, and preparations were still underway. Being invited to be a part of Jack and Rudy’s court, not to mention taking part in the wedding dance numbers, was the greatest honor he could have been given.

Jack gave them all a bow before turning and leaving. Rudy smiled and waved, then joined his sweetheart.

Calder gently patted Cupid’s shoulder. His smile was warm, and it softened his features. “Why don’t we continue tomorrow?”

Cupid nodded. “Bright and early?”

“Bright and early.” Calder headed for the door, and Donner made sure to keep his distance. He didn’t trust the elf one bit.

“See you tomorrow, little dear.”

“Not likely,” Donner fumed. He didn’t know what it was about Calder that infuriated him so, but oh, he had the urge to throw his book at the elf. Again. “And stop calling me that!”

Calder simply chuckled, a deep rumble of a sound that only irked Donner further. The moment he was gone, Donner turned to Cupid. “How do you put up with him? He’s exhausting.”

“Actually, he’s very sweet.” Cupid laughed. No doubt at Donner’s scandalized expression.

“You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t swoon at his gigantic boots.” With a huff, Donner headed out the door with Cupid at his heels.

“Donner, about tomorrow….”

Plum pudding. Please don’t say it. Please don’t say it.

“I would really appreciate it if you would be here for my training. Blitzen has some repairs he needs to make to his biplane, and I could use the help.”


The last thing Donner wanted was to spend any more time around that brute, but how could he say no to his dear friend? Besides, if it was just the three of them, no one would see him spending so much time with a Dockalfar. After all, Donner had a reputation to maintain. North Pole City was overrun with gossips.

Cupid’s big blue eyes watched him closely as he waited for his reply.

“Yes, of course I’ll be here.” Donner held up his book. “There’s no shortage of books in Jack’s library. I can read while you two do whatever it is you’ve been doing.”

“Magic,” Cupid said excitedly.

“You mean dark magic.” Donner hadn’t meant to sound so harsh when he said it. His friend’s smile fell. Plum pudding. “But in your hands, I bet you do good things.”

Cupid’s bright smile returned, and he nodded as he followed Donner through the corridor. “Calder has been teaching me how to use our magic for good. Just because it’s dark magic doesn’t mean the wielder must use it to do bad things. For instance, Calder is teaching me how to manipulate light.” He waved a hand and the flames in the wall sconce to their right went out.

Donner stopped in his tracks, a lump forming in his throat. “Please don’t do that.”

“Oh. I’m sorry,” Cupid said sincerely, his expression troubled. “You don’t need to be afraid.”

Donner frowned at him. “Afraid? Who said I was afraid? Afraid of what?”

“Of the magic. Calder’s been teaching me all sorts, but especially how to control it.”

“Well, then, I expect him to know what he’s doing.” Just what he needed, to be spending time with a Dockalfar who wielded great darkness. Sounded like a jolly old time.

The King's Courage #6
Chapter One
“MUST YOU look so pained?”

Eirik released a long-suffering sigh before turning away from his brother. He loved Malachi, but at times he was awfully tempted to send the winter elf off a snowy cliff.

“I look pained because I am,” Eirik muttered as he made himself comfortable on the expansive window seat.

“For Kringle’s sake.” Malachi snatched Eirik’s book from his hand, much to Eirik’s exasperation. “Your only son is getting married in three weeks. The festivities begin this evening.”

“You needn’t remind me,” Eirik grumbled, stealing his book back. Why wouldn’t his brother leave him be? All he desired was to be left alone with his books. Was that too much to ask? He’d hoped leaving the safety and warmth of his palace for his son’s vacation home in Svalbard, Norway, would be enough for his family, but apparently it wasn’t.

Ordinarily, all Eirik had to do was give the order and he would be obeyed. He was the King of Frost, after all. His blasted family however—especially his brother—had a terrible habit of ignoring him, stating they were doing so for his own good. What they needed was to mind their own business. That, and a good frosty kick up the backside.

Much to his growing annoyance, Malachi dropped down onto the cushioned seat beside him. “Eirik.”

The soft-spoken word and the concern in Malachi’s near-black eyes—eyes very much like his own—had Eirik groaning. He hated when his little brother looked so blasted miserable.

“He’s your son,” Malachi reminded him gently, as if Eirik had somehow forgotten.

Eirik gazed out the grand arched window overlooking his personal royal garden. It had been gifted to him along with this library by his son, Jack. The vast fields of flawless white called to him. “I am aware. What is your point?”

“My point,” Malachi replied with a sigh, “is that it will break Jack’s heart if you hide yourself away like you always do. You cannot confine yourself to these walls for three weeks, only to emerge for the ceremony and then disappear again.”

“Why not?” Eirik shook his head at his brother. “Do you honestly believe Jack expects me to take part in those ridiculous Rein Dear games?” Three weeks of Christmas-elf mischief, extravagant balls, frivolous parties, and—Kringle help him—socializing. It was enough to make him want to hop on the first glacier to the Antarctic.

Malachi rolled his eyes. “No one expects you to take part, not even Jack. Christmas miracles rarely occur where you’re concerned.”

Eirik’s scowl was promptly ignored.

“But he does expect to see you. You are his father, and the king. This is the most important moment of his life. He needs you. Please, Eirik.” Malachi reached out and placed his hand on Eirik’s knee. “I know I’m asking a great deal of you, but I wouldn’t be if it wasn’t Jack.”

Eirik took a deep breath. He had failed his son on more than one occasion. They hadn’t always seen eye to eye, and it had taken some time for Eirik to comprehend Jack falling in love with Rudy. Eirik never expected his son to lose his heart to an elf, much less a Christmas elf. In truth, Rudy was a perfect match for Jack, and were it not for their love, Eirik would have lost Jack to the ice long ago. Rudy had proven himself to be valiant and steadfast, a noble addition to the Frost monarchy. Eirik couldn’t disappoint his son. Not this time.

“Very well.” Eirik nodded. The thought of venturing outside for extended periods of time and facing the numerous guests due to arrive at any moment made him feel somewhat sick to his stomach, but he pushed away his growing unease. “I will do my best.”

“Thank you.” Malachi beamed brightly at him, and Eirik rolled his eyes.

“You are very annoying.”

Malachi chuckled as he stood. “And you’re a king among elves.”

“Now you’re simply looking to get your nose frozen off,” Eirik muttered, turning his attention back to the window. Off in the distance, tiny dark specs came into view, and he groaned. “Oh look, something more annoying than you is arriving.”

Malachi laughed. “I’ll inform Rudy. Do behave yourself.”

Eirik grunted, his attention on the eight biplanes flying in perfect formation.

The library doors closed, and Eirik snapped his fingers, causing the window’s glass-paned doors to open. With a wicked grin, he blew out a burst of cold air and sent it toward the first biplane in the formation. The plane’s ocean-blue color conjured up images of the vexing elf pilot’s eyes. They were the very same brilliant hue. Eirik frowned. He’d never met a more infuriating creature.

Eirik twirled his finger, his lips curling into a grin as the gust of wind rolled the plane. Hearing the elf’s curses on the breeze made Eirik chuckle. The plane righted itself, and Eirik flicked a finger toward the left wing, laughing softly when the plane tilted right. He did the same to the right wing, forcing the plane to tip left. The wind relayed the elf’s creative swearing, much to Eirik’s amusement.

As the planes approached the airspace around the palace, Eirik pulled on his boots, stood, then picked up his white frock coat from where it lay draped across the wingback chair. As soon as he’d fastened the buttons between the silver braiding, he swung his white fur-lined cape behind him, securing it to his shoulders. Rounding his shoulders, he left the library and headed for the front gate where Jack, Rudy, and several palace staff waited for Kringle’s beloved Rein Dears.

The sound of rumbling propellers met Eirik’s ear, and he stopped beside Jack, who jumped at the sight of him.

“Father.” Jack stared in surprise. “You’re outside.” Rudy gently elbowed him. “I mean, um, good afternoon, Father.” Jack bowed, Rudy following suit beside him, his smile wide.

“It’s wonderful to see you, Your Majesty. How are you today?”

“I am well, thank you.” At least Rudy had manners. Shame the same couldn’t be said about the rest of Kringle’s chipper little elves. How they didn’t get exhausted by all the good cheer and smiling was beyond Eirik. It certainly exhausted him just thinking about it.

The noise from the biplanes was soon replaced by the chattering of Christmas elves, though one voice rose above the others. It was slightly huskier, grumbling, and brash. Dasher Rein Dear had quite the reputation. From what Eirik had gathered, he was fearless, roguish, and loose with his affections. A number of Eirik’s toy soldiers were intimately familiar with the bold Christmas elf.

Several months ago, however, something had changed. According to gossip among his toy soldiers, Dasher seemed uninterested in their advances. One had gone as far as to say that perhaps Dasher had finally met his match, while another teased that Dasher might have fallen in love. Eirik doubted it, considering Dasher’s inability to keep his distance from Eirik, despite Eirik’s insistence. Dasher wasn’t in love. He was clearly too busy being a pain in Eirik’s backside.

“I don’t care if he can turn me into an ice cube. I’m giving him a piece of my mind.”

Eirik held back a smile. Well, Dasher could certainly try.

Rudy hurried down the steps and joined his Rein Dear brethren. There were hugs all around. He laughed as he faced Dasher. “That was quite some flying. What in the name of Kringle creation were you doing?”

“I wasn’t doing anything! It was your blasted beau.”

Jack joined Rudy at his side, his frown deep. “Me? What on earth are you blabbering on about?”

“You were toying with my biplane,” Dasher accused, poking Jack in the chest.

Oh, but this was far more entertaining than Eirik had expected. No one ruffled Jack’s feathers like Dasher. Eirik remained just outside the grand archway as Dasher followed Jack up the main stone stairway, heading in his direction, so absorbed by his grievance with Jack that he hadn’t noticed Eirik. Dasher always noticed Eirik.

“I did no such thing,” Jack insisted.

“As if I’d believe you.”

“When have I ever held my tongue where you’re concerned?”

“Point taken, but if it wasn’t you, who was it?” Dasher reached the top step just as he said the words. He wasn’t paying attention to where he was going and came to a halt mere inches from Eirik. Heads in the clouds, these Christmas elves. It was a wonder they didn’t float away. Dasher’s mouth hung open, and Eirik tapped his fingers under the elf’s chin to aid him in closing it.

“You look like a fish,” Eirik muttered, ignoring the way Dasher’s full lips spread into a wide smile that reached his ocean-blue eyes. Not that Eirik paid attention to that sort of thing. They were simply hard to miss against such fair skin. As was the pink that came into his cheeks. Dasher seemed happy to see Eirik. What a strange little elf.

After that nasty ordeal with Cupid’s brother Gunne, where Cupid had come to Eirik for help in reuniting Jack and Rudy, Eirik had warned Dasher to stay away. Dasher’s words to him that day burrowed deep beneath Eirik’s skin, forcing him to feel emotions he’d long buried. They haunted him.

“Your heart still beats, Your Majesty. You’re simply afraid to let it beat for someone else.”

The audacity of the elf! To presume he knew Eirik, or his fears. That for a moment he understood what Eirik felt in his heart.

“Hi,” Dasher said softly.

Eirik arched an eyebrow. Dasher seemed to have lost all thought function until someone cleared their throat. Snapping himself out of whatever trance he appeared to have been in, Dasher quickly bowed.

“Your Majesty.”

“I see you still have quite a ways to go on those manners.” Eirik turned to head back inside. Much to his irritation, Dasher scurried up beside him.

“Maybe you can teach me?”

“Perhaps instead we could test your cold threshold.”

Dasher chuckled. “Admit it, you missed me.”

Eirik let out a snort of disgust. The elf was delusional. He came to a halt, his frown deep as he looked down his nose at Dasher. “Why are you following me?”

“Why are you allowing it?” Dasher’s smile was wicked.

The Christmas elf posed a good question. Why was he allowing it? “My purpose here is to support my son and help him celebrate his marriage. I will not permit anyone to cause him or his groom-to-be any grief. Consider yourself very fortunate.”

Dasher bowed gracefully. “You are most magnanimous, Your Majesty.”

Oh, for Kringle’s sake! The elf was absolutely hopeless.

“Dasher!” Cupid called out from several feet away. “Our rooms are this way!”

“Coming!” Dasher turned back to Eirik, his smile still in place. He bowed before Eirik once more. “Until we meet again, Your Majesty.” When he straightened, he placed his hand over his heart. “I will keep you in my thoughts.”

Eirik rolled his eyes, and Dasher darted off.

The toy soldiers accompanied the Rein Dears, helping them with their vast number of trunks and belongings while several palace staff escorted them to the royal wing where the bedchambers assigned to the Rein Dears were located. Their laughter and chatter reverberated through the halls.

Malachi stood beside Eirik, his gaze on Dasher. “Persistent, isn’t he?”

Was that amusement in his brother’s eyes?

“Exasperating is what he is,” Eirik grumbled as he observed the spectacle before him. “Good Goddess, it’s as if they’re moving in. How can creatures so small have so much luggage?”

Malachi chuckled. “Says the winter spirit with his own caravan.”

Eirik sniffed, unamused. “Are you comparing me to a Christmas elf?”

“Dasher seems quite taken with you.”

Eirik narrowed his eyes at his brother, who wouldn’t meet his gaze. “From what I hear, he’s taken often.”

Malachi arched an eyebrow at him. “Rather quick to judge, aren’t we?”

Eirik opened his mouth to reply but found he had no words. Was his brother defending Dasher? Eirik could only assume this new esteem for Christmas elves stemmed from his family’s sudden penchant for the annoying little creatures. First Jack, then Eirik’s nephew Vale. That one had certainly knocked Eirik for a loop. Vale was the most levelheaded Frost in the family. What was it about those blasted Christmas elves that had the Frost males tripping over their own boots? Before Eirik could utter a word, Malachi bowed, excused himself, and was off.

What the holly was going on around here? It was as if everyone had gone mad but him. Spinning on his heels, he marched down the corridor toward his library, where there would be no annoying family members or pesky elves with personal-boundary issues. Eirik grunted. These three weeks were going to be trying; he just knew it.

Author Bio:
M/M romance author by day, artist by night, Charlie Cochet is quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From hardboiled detectives and society gentleman, to angels and elves, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!


Loving Blitz #4

Disarming Donner #5

The King's Courage #6

North Pole City Tales Anthology: The Complete Set

Release Tour: Velvet & Vows by Stacy Eaton

Title: Velvet & Vows
Author: Stacy Eaton
Series: Celebration #13
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: December 23, 2017

The epic finale of the Celebration Series is finally here. Celebrate Christmas once again with the couple that started it all: Casey Lowe and Thad Wagner.

Velvet & Vows starts out twenty days before the wedding and there is a lot to be done. With wedding showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties, the final dress fittings, holiday preparations and the last of the details for the ceremony and reception, Celebration is crackling with energy—but it’s not all good.

With a few misunderstandings, many secrets and a serial arsonist running rampant in the town, the days leading up to the wedding are far more stressful than Casey and Thad ever planned for it to be. It will take the entire town to tell this story as we pass from one leading character to another.

Prepare yourself for this one-of-a-kind novel that will bring insight into every character you’ve fallen in love with during the series, and even a few characters you’ve never heard from first hand.

The sound of Thad’s heartbeat thrummed steadily under my ear and begged me to stay in bed forever—or at least a few more hours—but we both had to get ready for work.

I sighed heavily, and he tightened his arm around my back. “Only a few more weeks and we will be away from here—just you and me—enjoying ten days of bliss on the beach.”

I tilted my head back and gazed into his handsome face. I couldn’t believe that Thad and I were getting married in three weeks. It had been basically a year since we’d met and he’d saved me from my psychotic ex. I had reflected back on that night many times over the last eleven months and was thankful that Thad was so perceptive and followed his gut on so many things.

“I can’t believe it’s almost here,” I replied and squeezed his torso. “Three more weeks and you will officially be mine—forever.”

“Yep, I’ll officially be Mr. Thaddeus Lowe.”

“You’re not taking my name,” I teased.

He kissed the top of my head. “At home I will, but you know at work I have to stay Officer Wagner.”

“I thought it was going to be Sergeant Wagner soon.”

He smirked and tapped my nose. “You weren’t supposed to know about that.” He paused, “Let me guess: Missy told you?”

“No.” I shook my head and pushed off his chest to sit up. He grabbed my arm and pulled me back down.

“You aren’t getting away from me that easily.” He shifted and rolled me over to my back, laying his leg over mine so he could use his weight to hold me down. “Who told you? It had to be Missy.”

“No.” I grinned and then pushed my leg to the side so it slipped up the inside of his, my thigh coming in contact with his groin. He moaned as he clamped his eyes shut. “It wasn’t Missy,” I whispered seductively.

While he was a little distracted, I shifted and hustled out of the bed while he tried to drag me back. “No, get back here.”

I laughed. “I have to get to work, and so do you,” I told him when he managed to pull me back to the bed with his arms around my waist.

“I’ll let you go, but you have to tell me who told you. It was supposed to be a surprise.”

“It was a surprise.” I leaned forward and kissed him before I pushed on his shoulders to get away. “It would have been a better surprise if you had told me and not your sister.”

Thad’s hands dropped as he gave me an odd look. “Corrine? How the hell did she know?”

Author Bio:
Stacy Eaton began her writing career in October of 2010 and as each year goes by, she releases more and more novels. Stacy recently took an early retirement from law enforcement after over fifteen years of service, with her last three in investigations and crime scene investigation.

Stacy resides in southeastern Pennsylvania with her husband, who works in law enforcement, and her teen daughter who is working toward her second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and on the choral and cheerleading squads at school. She also has a son who is currently serving in the United States Navy.

Stacy is very involved in Domestic Violence Awareness and served on the Board of Directors for her local Domestic Violence Center for three years. She continues to volunteer with them when she has time.


Velvet & Vows #13

Celebration Series

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