Saturday, December 14, 2013

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: A Christmas Family Wish by Helen Scott Taylor

A Christmas Family Wish
Helen Scott Taylor
A heartwarming tale of second chances for Christmas. 

When a tree falls on Rachel's house in a storm, the person who rescues her is Ian, the same man who rejected her declaration of love when she was eighteen. She has banished him from her thoughts for eight years, but all her feelings rush back as he plays the white knight and takes Rachel and her son into his home. The young man she once knew is now a wealthy, successful business owner, and more gorgeous than ever. Life has left them both bruised, but can they put the past behind them and start again?

Chapter One
Rachel Carne lay awake, her heart pounding with alarm, unable to sleep for the noise outside. Wind howled around the house, sending things clattering along the street. Rain pelted the windows in a torrential downpour, drumming against the glass.
She climbed out of bed and went into the bathroom to peer through the window at her small red car parked in the road. A wooden box skidded past it and banged into another vehicle. Her hand pressed over her mouth. She half expected to find her car wrecked in the morning, but there was nothing she could do except wait for the weather to pass.
After peeping in on her little boy, she climbed back in bed and pulled the covers over her head. So far Toby had slept through the noise. She hoped he stayed asleep. Her shift at work started early tomorrow. She would feel bad leaving him in day care if he was tired and irritable.
A new noise started outside, a groaning, wrenching sound as though the very earth was screaming. Rachel's already frayed nerves strung tight with fear. She hated this. Hurricane-force winds were rare in England. In all her twenty-seven years, she didn't remember a night like this before.
The groaning increased, then her house trembled. A crashing, tearing sound filled the air. The trembling became a shudder, the horrendous noise almost deafening.
Fear streaked through her. She must get to Toby. Rachel yanked her covers aside and scrambled out of bed, tripping as the loose fabric caught around her legs. She kicked it aside and reached for the light switch. She clicked it up and down with no result.
Then her little boy's terrified scream cut through the cacophony.
"Toby! I'm coming, sweetheart."
In darkness, she pulled open her bedroom door. Cold, wet wind hit her, knocking her back a step.
Her son's terrified wails spurred her on. Tree branches poked through the splintered wood of her son's bedroom door. The old oak tree at the roadside must have blown down and hit her house.
Frantically she pulled apart the damaged door and pushed into Toby's bedroom. Rain drove through the gaping hole in the wall where the massive trunk laid balanced precariously on the crumbling brickwork, Toby's bed right underneath.
Breath sawing in and out in painful jerks, Rachel fought her way between the spiky branches, barely noticing the pain as twigs scraped her exposed skin, and rubble and splinters dug into her feet.
"Mummy, Mummy," her son wailed in fright.
"I'm coming, Toby. You're all right, baby. Mummy will be there in a minute." Her sodden nightdress clung to her body as she crawled under the trunk to reach the bed. Rachel snapped off some twigs and blindly extended a hand.
"I'm here, sweetheart. Wriggle out to me. Come on, you can do it, baby." He crawled out from under the trunk resting a few inches above him. If it slipped…
As soon as her hand grasped his arm, she dragged him from underneath the tangled branches and hugged him against her.
"You're all right, Toby. You're all right."
He wailed and clung to her as the bitter wind and rain lashed at them. She had to get him to safety. He wrapped his arms and legs around her. Half crawling, half crouching, she fought her way back to the door. She grabbed the door frame as the house tilted and a section of damaged wall collapsed and tumbled to the ground outside with a crash.
Rachel stumbled, pressing her hand into the soggy carpet to help her stand. She tripped into her bedroom on bruised feet and slammed the door behind her to keep out the wind and rain.
Toby's fearful cries filled her ears, his little body stiff with terror in her arms.
Please, God, let him not be hurt. Please. She laid him on her bed and ran her hands over him in the dark. He was so wet from the rain, she had no idea if he was bleeding. She grabbed her mobile phone and switched on the flashlight app. The volume of Toby's screams increased as she shone the blinding white light at him. She stroked back his hair and examined his face.
"Okay, sweetie. It's okay. I need to check you over. There's a good boy." Rachel pulled off his wet pajamas and dried him with her bedcovers. Holding the flashlight above him, she ran a hand all over him, searching for cuts and bruises.
Miraculously, he was unmarked. "You're okay, Toby. You're not hurt. Calm down, sweetheart." She grabbed one of her T-shirts from a drawer and pulled it over his head, then sat on the edge of the bed, hugging him close, rocking him.
Gradually his crying stopped and he scrubbed his fists over his eyes. "The wall fell down and the rain came in."
"I know, baby. Don't worry about it. You're safe with me."
He cuddled closer. "Where's Jimbo?"
Rachel closed her eyes and fought to stay calm. She couldn't go back to Toby's room for a teddy bear. "Jimbo is watching over your things until it gets light and Mummy can rescue them."
Toby pouted but seemed to accept that explanation.
"Let's get you all warm and snuggly in Mummy's bed, shall we?" She lifted the covers and Toby crawled inside and curled up. "You go back to sleep, baby." She sat beside him and stroked his damp hair for a few minutes until his breathing grew even and she was sure he slept.
For a few moments she rested her head in her hands, eyes closed, shivering in the chill. She needed to pull herself together, dry off, and change clothes.
Trembling with a mix of shock and relief, Rachel dragged off her clingy, wet nightdress, gave herself a cursory wipe down, and wrapped herself in a warm dressing gown.
Thank God Toby was unhurt. Rachel snuggled under the covers and curled around her four-year-old, her heart still pounding. She hugged Toby close, stroking and kissing his hair until she could think more clearly.
The house was half fallen down. She couldn't stay here. Yet where could she go in the middle of the night? It would be dangerous to try to drive anywhere in the storm. She didn't have any relatives she could stay with. Her parents had retired to Spain for her father's health.
The last thing she wanted to do with her dad so sick was worry him, but she didn't know who else to turn to. With a shaking hand, she reached for her mobile phone and dialed her father's number. It went through to voice mail. She cut the connection and dialed again. On the second try, he picked up.
"Rachel. What's wrong?" Her father's voice was scratchy with sleep.
"A tree's come down on my house in the hurricane. It hit Toby's bedroom. I don't know what to do, Dad."
"Is Toby all right?"
"Yes. He's here with me."
"Thank the Lord." There were a few moments of muffled conversation as her dad told her mum what had happened. Then he came back on the phone.
"Where are you, Rachel?"
"In my bedroom."
"Is it safe there?"
Rachel sucked in a breath, her gaze going to the door. The temperature had plummeted, and wind and rain battered against the wood.
"I don't know. The front of the house where the tree hit is falling down."
Her father cursed. "Can you get down the stairs?"
"I haven't looked."
"Okay. Don't worry, darling. You stay put. I'll call Ian Harper and get him out to you. He'll know what to do."
Hearing Ian's name sent a strange shock through Rachel. She hadn't heard her dad mention him for years. Ian had worked for her dad's construction company, then left to set up his own. "Will he come out in the middle of the night?"
"Of course. He owes me one."
"Okay, Dad. Thanks."
"You just stay safe and look after that grandson of ours. I'll call Ian now."
Rachel ended the call and sighed. She pulled away from Toby, careful not to wake him, and climbed out of the warm cocoon of the bed into the cold room.
She should be good at coping with emergencies. As a flight attendant for an airline, she'd been trained for all sorts of eventualities, including what to do when a plane crashed. A tree falling on her house wasn't quite the same thing, but it was close.
It was time to pull herself together, get dressed, and deal with this mess.
GIVEAWAY:  Helen Scott Taylor has offered to provide a copy to one person.  For this giveaway, I want to know your favorite family memory.  Please make sure you leave a valid email for Ms. Taylor to send your book to, if you are the winner. 
Sarah's Review
Thanks to Helen Scott Taylor for providing us with a copy of her newest Christmas story.  I had found one on my kindle when I was looking for Christmas romances and when I let her know that I was looking for the media kit, she let me know that she had this one. 
This story was such a sweet romance with a touch of heart break.  Rachel and Ian have a history and when there is an emergency, Ian is the one that Rachel’s father calls to rescue her and Toby, her son.  Ian used to work for Rachel’s father and when he called, he goes to help. 
What happens when a tree comes down during a storm and you get the one thing you never thought you would get?  What happens when the past threatens the new happiness?  Oh, this wonderful journey to finding a family together.

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