A Bad Boy for Christmas

By: Jessica Lemmon

To the brave men and women who serve our country.

Thank you for your sacrifices.


Connor’s book wasn’t always a Christmas book. In fact, its first inception years ago (albeit, only halfway written) took place in the spring! But, oh, how my ex-military landscaper fit beautifully into the chillier months, despite his dislike for the season. I blame Faith for changing him for the better. I admit, I really, really wanted to hate her (just a little) for her bodily perfection, but she ended up one of my favorite heroines.

Thanks to Lauren Plude, who suggested we make this a Christmas book. You worked through the synopsis with me, making sure we had the characters right before I ever set fingers to keyboard. You also went the extra mile to make sure the cover was perfect.

Thanks to everyone at Grand Central/Forever, including and not limited to Julie, Jodi, Leah, and Jamie—you keep the plates spinning at a dizzying speed. You all rock!

Thank you, Nicole Resciniti, for lending an ear whenever I need one.

Thank you, readers, for sending me your photos and comments and e-mailing me your praise. You’re the lifeline to this whole writing thing. With no eyes to read my words, where would I be? (Let’s not ever find the answer to that question.)





Glitter everywhere. Lining the seams of the car’s seats, sprinkled liberally across the floorboards, and at this point, probably a part of Faith Garrett’s DNA.

She had spent the day gluing pink glitter onto the surface of one hundred pumpkins in various shapes and sizes for a Breast Cancer Awareness dinner. The woman in charge of said dinner had oohed and ahhed over the dinner’s bedazzled centerpieces, going as far to throw her arms around Faith’s neck and sing the praises of Make It an Event. As well she should. Faith and Sofie had busted their butts to pull together the last-minute dinner, which was why Faith had taken a sudden interest in arts and crafts. There wasn’t time to hire out the task.

With the heel of her pump, she kicked off the shop vac and blew out a sigh. This was not working. Maybe she could use tape. She ran the back of her hand over her forehead, feeling a dab of perspiration there. The crisp October weather she loved had yet to make an appearance in Evergreen Cove. Instead, the temperature was in the high seventies, and there was not a prayer of a breeze blowing through the colored leaves still clinging to the trees lining the mansion’s drive.

She leaned back into the car, snagged her fountain Coke from the cup holder, and took a long, delicious, sugar-laden sip. While she stood basking in the noonday sun, she admired her home away from home. The quartz blocks twinkled and the gold turrets stood regally against a blue sky filled with puffy white clouds.

The mansion looked more like a fairy-tale castle than a house, but then it was the host to Sofie’s fairy-tale romance, so that was not an inaccurate description. Since Sofe had closed the doors on her business downtown, Faith was lucky enough to get to spend her workdays here, planning events in the library-turned-office, drinking coffee in the gorgeous kitchen, or helping set up the massive ballroom for the occasional fundraiser.

Maybe it was her way of having a slice of fairy-tale life for herself. Because face it, after the epic mess with Michael last year, a fairy tale was clearly not in the cards for her. Had she listened to her mother about “the curse” (legend had it the women on the Shelby side of the family “couldn’t marry”), maybe Faith could have saved herself the heartache.

Then again, maybe not.

The last thing she needed, the very last thing she wanted, was a relationship. Been there, done that, cleaned the toilet with Michael’s T-shirt. No, what she wanted more than anything was not a man. What she wanted—what she needed—was to find her independence. She wasn’t going to rely on a man any longer. She was moving on. Her life had taken a turn, but not for the worst. For the better. She’d see to that.

In the meantime, she was content to be happy for her friends. Sofie and Donovan seemed to have found their happily-ever-afters, and Evan and Charlotte had found theirs. Freed of her fiancé and, finally, freed from living with her mother for way too long, Faith was on a different path altogether. The path to find her inner strength.