Book Title: The Week Before Christmas
Author: Beth Laycock
Publisher: Rainbow Romance Press
Cover Artist: Free To Be Creative
Release Date: November 11, 2022
Genre: Paranormal M/M Romance (shifter)
Tropes: Saving Christmas, Forced proximity, Friends to lovers
Themes: Found family, acceptance
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Length: 23 000 words
It is a standalone story and does not end on a cliffhanger.
Buy Links - Available in Kindle Unlimited
What better Christmas present is there than finding your fated mate?
’Twas the week before Christmas
And all across Christmas Cove the elves were snowed under.
Preparing presents for Santa’s sleigh
To deliver to children all around the world.
But Dash—Santa’s favourite reindeer—is missing.
In his place, Aubron, the elf responsible for looking after all of Santa’s reindeer, finds a naked man in Dash’s stall.
A stranger he is inexplicably drawn to.
Can Aubron find Dash, and figure out who the mystery man is before Christmas is ruined?
This M/M romance from Beth Laycock features fated mates, a reindeer shifter, an elf definitely not left on the shelf, Santa, the North Pole, lashings of Christmas spirit, and of course a HEA.
The workshop was abuzz with activity, even at this early hour, but before I could unwrap my scarf, Santa waved me over. Dodging the elves already hard at work, I followed him into his office, trying to shake off the uneasy feeling of déjà vu.
“Did you check on Dash?” Santa asked as he paced the length of his small office.
“Yes. As soon as I left you yesterday. He was fine—even managed to polish off a good helping of his favourite moss. Then I took him out for a walk along the seashore once I'd finished all my jobs and he had fun splashing in the shallows.”
Santa stopped and spun to face me, tugging on his white beard. “Really?” I nodded and he dropped into his chair with a grunt. “I don't understand. When I went in last night before I went to bed, the other reindeer were sound asleep, but Dash was pacing his stall, scraping his hooves across the stones over and over. Even when I spoke to him, he didn't settle but eventually lay down. He looked so sad though, and he was still awake when I left.”
Santa sounded distraught, but I didn't know what to say—Dash had been fine when I’d left him.
“What if it's something serious?” Santa’s eyebrows disappeared beneath the white curls falling over his forehead.
I swallowed thickly at the thought.
“What if he can't fly on Christmas Eve? What would we do then? There’s no other reindeer that could take his place—none of them can fly.” Santa’s eyes met mine across the desk. “Christmas will be ruined.”
I stared at Santa not knowing what to say. There was nothing to say, he was right, it would be. So, I did the only thing I could and hurried away to check on Dash.
Christmas will be ruined. All the way to the barn those words echoed through my mind. Christmas will be ruined. I yanked my feet out of the snow—almost buried to my knee—hurrying as best I could over last night's snowfall. By the time I reached the barn, my chest was heaving, plumes of my breath misting on the air, and I didn't think it was just the exertion of rushing.
I grabbed the large iron handle and tugged on the door—nothing. It didn't move an inch and my dream flickered in full technicolour beneath my closed eyelids. This could not be happening.
I heaved on the handle, putting my full weight behind it, and was rewarded by the squeal of the wheels as the door slid open. Releasing a sigh of relief, I hurried inside, dashing down the centre aisle of the barn, past the stalls with the other reindeer, a couple of them lifting their heads to peek out at the commotion I was making.
I reached Dash’s stall and pulled up short. It was empty. Huh? The gate was bolted shut and Santa hadn't said anybody else was checking on Dash. I leant over the wooden slat to peer into the stall and almost fell over the gate and inside when I spied the stranger curled up in the corner—the strange man who was butt naked.
About the Author
Beth Laycock’s books are influenced by her time living overseas as well as the gritty, urban landscape of the north of England where she grew up. She has been reading romance since she was old enough to tell herself that line every book lover does—just one more chapter.
As a teenager, she attempted to write her first novel, and many more since then are still gathering dust on her bookshelf. It wasn’t until she discovered the M/M genre that her muse showed up and refused to quit telling her stories about beautiful men finding love together. She hasn’t stopped scribbling them down since. Beth’s muse usually shows up when she is in the shower, is allergic to cleaning, rarely lets her watch TV, and insists she drinks copious amounts of coffee so she can turn caffeine into words.
Beth’s books range from sweet to sexy, long to short, contemporary to paranormal, but a HEA is always guaranteed.
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