Hello, I’m Sandine Tomas and I’m pleased to introduce my new holiday novel, Santa’s Last Gift, by giving you an exclusive excerpt. Plus, there’s an opportunity to win a free e-book copy at the end!
One of most fun—or irritating—depending on your point of view, aspects of Christmas is the classic Elf on a Shelf. This humble toy has an interesting history. The Elf on a Shelf is based on a 2005 children’s book by mother-daughter authors Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell. Aebersold based the story on a family holiday tradition she’d started for her twin daughters that featured an elf that would report back to Santa about good deeds the girls had done. The elf would fly to a different location every day.
Self-published and financed, the family took a big gamble on their catchy tale. Interest started slow but in 2007 it took off and was featured on an episode of The Today Show. Today more than 11 million elves have been mysteriously moving around homes all over the world.
In Santa’s Last Gift, Matt and his best friend Stephanie create ever more elaborate set ups for their Elf on a Shelf. Enjoy an excerpt:
Chance pulled him into the living room. The tree was lit and twinkling. He loved spotting the ornaments he’d made for them in positions of honor on the front-facing side of the tree. Kneeling, Steph poked at the logs that were crackling in the fireplace, causing a swoosh of flame. Several of his figurines decorated the mantel, and warmth squeezed his heart.
Little bits of him were embedded in the fabric of this family. And the winter holidays, the happiest time of year, made it all the more literal as shiny ceramic trees and Santas and mischievous elves danced across the mantel. That reminded him. “Has the elf visited?”
He helped Steph set up Elf-on-the-Shelf scenarios throughout the holiday season, trying to top their cleverness each year. Now each of his adopted nieces took one of his hands and tugged him to look behind the tree. Sure enough, there was that irascible elf, makeshift grappling hook in hand, starting the long hike up the tree. The corner of Matt’s mouth quirked as he met Steph’s eyes. “Good one,” he mouthed, and she tossed her hair cockily.
Sniffing the aroma wafting from the kitchen, he grinned at Stephanie. “Garlic.”
“Yep,” Steph agreed with a corresponding nod. “Seb’s been at it all day. I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.”
“Mama! You don’ eat horses! You ride horses!”
Steph chuckled at Rowen’s reaction to her comment. “Guess I’ll just eat Uncle Seb’s meatballs, then.” She looked back at Matt. “Seb said it will be ready soon.” With a flip of her hair, she addressed her daughters. “You two should wash up.” She peered at her eldest. “And maybe take off the dress, princess, so you don’t get red sauce on it?”
“Aww, Mommy, no,” Chance whined, eyes turning to Matt for support, but he knew better than to disagree with Steph on practical matters.
“I’d hate for you to stain that beautiful gown,” he said diplomatically.
Resigned, Chance trudged up the stairs.
Rowen took his hand, tilting her head back to take him in. “You look pretty.”
Flushing, he tugged at the hem of his sweater. It had been a holiday gift from Stephanie last year. Soft cashmere in a deep aubergine. He loved it but lived in his well-worn hoodies most of the time.
“Thank you,” he said to Rowen, ignoring Steph’s cross-armed observance.
Cheryl stood on tiptoe to kiss his cheek in greeting when Matt walked in the kitchen before stepping back and taking both his hands in hers. “You clean up good,” she teased with a wink. What was with these women and the need to one-up each other on how much they could make him blush?
A cough interrupted his thoughts. Baz stood with his back to the stovetop, eyes boring into Matt. “She’s right,” he said hoarsely, before seeming to catch himself and looking down to study his Vans.
Title: Santa’s Last Gift by Sandine Tomas
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Imprint: Dreamspun Desires
Genre: Contemporary, Gay, Romance
Length: 231 pages/Word Count: 60,475
The greatest gift might be what they already have.
After years away building his career, event planner Sebastian Chesnut returns to his small hometown of Fir Falls to reconnect with his mother, sister, and young nieces before his job takes him to London.
He doesn’t expect to find his high school boyfriend, Matty, has become a virtual member of Seb’s family. Back then, Matty only offered a casual relationship, but Seb fell hard, and history is soon repeating itself. Seb’s afraid to hope for a second chance, no matter how much they’ve grown and despite the family they share. Instead, he focuses on creating a last perfect holiday, which won’t be easy with his sister’s ex planning to take the girls over Christmas.
Seb and Matty might not know what to do about their feelings for each other, but one thing’s for sure—it won’t be Christmas without the kids. Can these star-crossed lovers pull off a holiday miracle?
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Sandine Tomas grew up an unapologetic bookworm, making friends with characters from the ancient past to the farthest reaches of the universe. Her career as a marketing writer has given her insight into the divergence between what a person thinks they want and what they truly need. Relationships are at the heart of her writing, and she enjoys creating characters who become so real that their stories beg to be told. Writing allows her to explore people and ideas from all sides, spinning a notion around like a gem until its facets glisten.
Twisting the old adage about writing what you know into writing what you feel, Sandine doesn’t shy away from raw emotions, turbulent circumstances, and above all, deep passions, fueled by humor, honesty, and trust. She enjoys instilling her characters with the flaws, courage, and idiosyncrasies that brings them to life.
Sandine lives in New York with her husband, daughters and a Golden Retriever puppy named Noodle. An unabashed TV and film enthusiast, she happily binge watches her favorites until her eyes glaze over. Her other guilty pleasures include attending fandom conventions, sleeping in on weekends, and recharging solo by holing up with a caramel macchiato and an amazing book.
Where’s the most interesting place you’ve ever placed your Elf? Or do you avoid this particular tradition? Let me know in the comments and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a free e-book copy of Santa’s Last Gift! Please provide contact information.