Hardman Holidays Book 1
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Luke Granger is about to get more than he bargained for…
As owner and manager of the Hardman bank, Luke Granger is a man of responsibility and integrity in the small 1890s Eastern Oregon town. Calling in a long overdue loan, Luke finds himself reluctantly accepting a bargain in lieu of payment from the shiftless farmer who barters his daughter to settle his debt.
Philamena Booth is both mortified and relieved when her father sends her off with the banker as payment of his debt. Held captive on the farm by her father since the death of her mother more than a decade earlier, Philamena is grateful to leave. If only it had been someone other than the handsome and charismatic Luke Granger riding in to rescue her. Ready to uphold her end of the bargain as Luke’s cook and housekeeper, Philamena is prepared for the hard work ahead. What she isn’t prepared for is being forced to marry Luke as part of this crazy Christmas bargain.
Praise for The Christmas Bargain:
“The Christmas bargain focused on the true meaning of Christmas, unselfish love, sacrifice, and helping others who are not able to help themselves.”
“This was a wonderfully romantic book. Some parts were difficult to read when dealing with issues of abuse, but honorable men ruled in this book. It made you believe in miracles and at Christmas, I guess that was perfect timing. I loved this little story and would definitely recommend it to friends and family.”
“Couldn’t stop reading this sweet story about an abused daughter who is rescued when the hunky banker trades her father’s debt to save her from her awful father. Luke was a complete sweetheart and treated her well. I love how Filly blossomed into a true beauty that made Luke truly fall in love with her.”
“I said I don’t know how to kiss. Therefore, it would be nearly impossible for me to do as you asked.”
“I see,” Luke said, once again forcing her chin up so she had to look at him. Grinning at her, he cocked his head to one side and pretended to study her. “I think we need some lessons, then.”
“Lessons?” Filly asked, confused. “What are you talking about?”
“Kissing lessons,” Luke said, drawing her closer into his arms. “I’m going to give you kissing lessons. When I feel you have mastered the art, then you’ll be expected to carry out my wish of a kiss whenever I come home. This may involve some practice on your part.”
“Practice? Luke, you’re teasing me again, aren’t you?” Filly asked, a smile brightening her face.
“I’m not teasing in the least. I’m quite serious about this,” Luke said, tightening his arms around her and bending his head so their lips were only a whisper apart. “In fact, I believe we should start your first lesson right now.”
Luke touched her lips softly, gently, for the briefest moment. Filly thought a butterfly landing on her skin couldn’t have felt lighter.
Pulling back, Luke looked into her eyes, his own a hot blue flame. “There are many types of kisses, so we’ll start with the basics first. That is a kiss you might give a very good friend, someone you are quite pleased to know. A kiss that says ‘Hello, I like you.’”
“I see,” Filly said, relishing the time being spent in the circle of Luke’s arms. Inhaling his spicy scent, she felt warm and languid.
“You try it now,” Luke urged.
Filly returned the quick, light kiss to Luke’s lips.
“Very good,” he said. “I knew you were a quick learner. Let’s try another kiss. This one says ‘I am more than a little fond of you.’”
Luke dipped his head and pressed his lips to hers again. This time, his lips were firm and controlled, like he was holding something back. As his lips moved on hers, Filly felt herself melting into him. His arms crushed her to his chest and when his kiss began to deepen, Luke suddenly pulled back and let out a ragged breath.
Filly didn’t know what to think. Couldn’t think. Her senses were in a jumble and all she wanted was for Luke to continue the lesson.
Convinced there was no wisdom in returning his kiss, Filly ignored the facts and pulled Luke’s head down toward hers, repeating the experience.
When she heard him groan and felt his arms sliding down her back, she ended the kiss and took a step back.
“I am more than a little fond of you, too,” she said, leaving a dazed Luke in the hall watching her while she walked into the kitchen.
Luke stood grinning like a fool, trying to regain his composure. Kissing lessons had to be the best, yet most torturous idea he had ever come up with.