Welcome to the blog tour for BELLS ARE RINGING, the fourth book in the adult contemporary holiday romance series, Christmas in Evergreen, by USA Today bestselling author Lacey Baker. See below for information on the book, buy links, an exclusive excerpt, and details on her giveaway.
About the Book
Title: BELLS ARE RINGING
Series: Christmas in Evergreen Series #4
Author: Lacey Baker
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Release Date: November 2, 2021
Genre: Adult Contemporary Holiday Romance
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon IT | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
Welcome back to Evergreen,
the town built on Christmas wishes…
And learn what happens
after one snow-globe wish comes true.
Life is going great for Hannah, really. She’s fallen in love with her best friend, her brother is getting married, and she’s looking forward to another festive Christmas in Evergreen. Still, between her job, taking charge of the choir, and being the town’s jill-of-all-trades, she’s feeling uninspired…especially when Elliot starts to question his own role in the town.
Hannah finds fresh inspiration in the brand-new Evergreen Christmas Museum, and she volunteers for their storytelling project. When she interviews her fellow Evergreenians, however, she learns that not everyone wants the museum around; specifically Mr. Cooper who owns a third of the building. As Hannah finds herself with more and more responsibilities, and as her relationships with Elliot and her family grow strained, she starts to wonder about what she really wants. Can her love and newly-found purpose survive the changes that loom after the holidays are over?
Walking through the narrow foyer toward the big country kitchen at the back of the house she peaked up at familiar pictures that lined the walls. One was old, the frayed edges visible through the black frame. It was a black and white of her parents in front of the church where they’d been married. Her mother’s ankle length dress with its lace edges was still the most elegant wedding dress she’d ever seen, while her father looked debonair in his three piece suit and fedora hat. She loved how the picture instantly brought to mind big red heart boxes of candy and jazz music, two things that were always in the house on Valentine’s Day thanks to Isaac’s love for Barbara.
Another picture was of the whole family, she and Thomas seated in front of their parents, all of them sporting huge grins, happiness practically beaming through the frame. There was also contentment in those faces as they were all happy to be together and in this town. That’s the feeling that reached out to Hannah tonight, that same contentment that she’d felt all her life, even now.
“I had to drop off David at the skating pond,” she said walking into the kitchen and immediately dropped the box and sheet music onto a counter.
“Then I ran into Mrs. Pringle and Sonya and Michelle,” she continued, but paused when she noticed Elliot finishing a glass of wine.
He looked so comfortably handsome in black slacks and gray button front shirt. When she’d seen him at the museum earlier he’d kept his coat on so she had no idea what he’d been wearing today. His black hair had always been curly and now he kept it longer on top and close-cut on the sides. The barest hint of a five o’clock shadow was now showing along his jaw and he looked right at home in her kitchen. The sight touched her heart. “You started without me,” she said when she saw he already had the bowls filled with different candies and plates stacked with cuts of gingerbread.
“No. No,” he insisted. “I had some time, so I got things ready. How were the Cooper sisters today?”
She accepted the glass of wine he offered. “You know finishing each other’s sentences and being lovely as—” Her words trailed off as she glanced into the dining room. “Eliot.”
Hannah was speechless—a new thing for her—at the scene. He’d set the dining room table with white candles and sprigs of holly tucked into a red vase. There were bowls of food and two place settings on the cherry wood table.
“Did you make dinner?” she asked.
“I did. But, it’s cool.”
Now Hannah felt horrible. She’d been so busy taking care of everything on her schedule, then stopping to hold conversations with people she could’ve easily told she had plans, instead of focusing on getting here in time. She set her glass on the island and dropped her head down to groan.
In seconds, Elliot was there, touching her arm. “It’s cool,” he repeated.
Coming to a stand, Hannah circled the island. “Oh, it’s not cool at all. I’m so sorry.” She hugged him and loved how comforting it felt when he hugged her back. Her thoughts circled back to moments ago on the porch. Eliot could’ve been upset that she was late, yet again. He’d gone through so much to prepare dinner for her on top of his offer to help her with the gingerbread house. She should’ve been more considerate, should have prioritized him in the way he seemed to have done with her tonight. “I just lost track of time.” It was the truth and yet it didn’t sound like enough of an excuse.
“I know,” he said pulling back a bit so he could look at her while holding her in his arms. “You’re looking after your nephew, your schedule is packed with the town’s Christmas needs. And you’re still fitting in time to celebrate Michelle’s wedding. Tell me how to help.”
“This. This is what’s helping. Thank you, Eliot.” This was also one of the reasons she’d fallen in love with him. His ability to take any situation, examine it and figure out what he could do to make it better.
Case in point, he’d prepared dinner for her, which was a tremendous help. Otherwise she would’ve tossed a frozen pizza into the oven while they worked on the gingerbread house and called it a day.
“Come on, let’s go sit and eat. I hope it’s not too cold,” she told him.
Taking her hand he led her into the dining room. “Not in those great new ceramic dishes you bought, they really hold the heat just like you said they would.”
“See, I told you they were a good investment,” she said as Elliot released her hand and pulled out a chair for her to sit.
Taking the seat as if they were at some elegant banquet dinner, she smiled up at him and watched as he moved around to the other side of the table. When he sat and then extended his hands across for her to hold, Hannah took them quickly. Elliot said a quick blessing over the food and then released her hands.
“Behold, my most famed macaroni and cheese,” he said, lifting the indigo top off one of the two ceramic pots she’d purchased from the TV shopping network.
It was box mac ‘n cheese, not homemade baked, but he always garnished it with bacon bits as his special flourish and it always made Hannah giggle because it was just the right amount of corny and romantic. “Oh, you know I love your famed mac ‘n cheese.”
He nodded, a goofy grin spreading across his face. “I know it.”
Minutes into the meal Eliot asked, “Hey, you remember that time the church had a spaghetti dinner and we were in charge of boiling all the noodles?”
Hannah had just set her glass of wine down and used her napkin to wipe her mouth. “Yes, I do! We had four pots on the big stove down in the church kitchen. Two of them came from the firehouse so we could cook more at one time.”
“And we put too many noodles in one of them then lost track of time because we were so busy talking that the water started bubbling over the top,” he said, forking another mouthful of mac ‘n cheese into his mouth.
“Right.” She was nodding now, the memory so clear in her mind. “That quickly got out of hand and the next thing I know you were mopping up water while I was using the strainer to catch the noodles that were coming out of the pot.”
He chuckled and she did too. “I was trying to get them before they hit the floor.”
“And I was trying to keep you from falling on the water, with the bowl of noodles in hand,” he said after chewing.
“Then, Mr. Finley came in asking what was going on, but we were laughing too hard to explain what had happened.” Similar to the way they’d begun laughing now.
They’d had some fun times together over the years, so many that Hannah was certain they could spend every night for the next five or maybe ten years recounting them all.
“We always had a good time together,” Eliot said when they quieted down a bit. “No matter what we were doing, as long as we were together, it was the best time ever.”
His words were both sweet and true and Hannah couldn’t help but smile. “You know, now that you say that, I realize how true it is. I mean, we’ve been friends for a really long time. It still amazes me that it took until last year while we were fixing the snow globe for us to realize there was something more between us.”
“Well, that’s how long it took you to realize it,” he said. “I’d known for a while.”
“Really? You never told me that.” And she’d never even considered that Eliot had harbored feelings for her. Hearing this now had emotion swirling in the pit of her stomach as she slowly reached for her glass. Another sip of wine was definitely in order.
About the Author
Lacey Baker, a Maryland native, lives with her husband, three children, two grandchildren and English Bulldog in what most would call Suburban America–a townhouse development where everybody knows each other and each other’s kids. Family cook-outs, reunion vacations, and growing up in church have all inspired Lacey to work towards her dreams and to write about the endurance of family and the quest to find everlasting love. To date she has written in several genres including small town romance, YA paranormal (as Artist Arthur), a cozy mystery series titled Rumors and adult paranormal (as A.C. Arthur).
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