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(The first book in the Lavender, Texas Short Stories series)
A Novella by Barbara Bartholomew
Not many young women are as alone in the world as twenty-two-year-old McKinley Alva who grew up in a children's home after being abandoned by her parents at an early age. Plain and shy as a child, she never was offered an adoptive home, but being quite bright was given scholarships and work opportunities to attend college. So she has a decent job, a share in an apartment, but few friends, having never learned how to relate comfortably to others. She has told her apartment mates that she'll be spending Christmas with her Aunt Ida in Iowa, a fictional relative whom she made up back in her teen years when other kids talked of their families. Prepared for a pleasant but solitary holiday with her videos and books, most of them about families and Christmas, she is literally thrown off her feet by an encounter at a grocery store with handsome young Jerry Caldecott. Jerry, along with his parents, spirit her off for an old-fashioned Christmas in a place she's never heard of before, Lavender, Texas where celebrating with family in the big Victorian house on Crockett Street is like stepping back in time. (Christmas Time is an 8,000 word short story). Though an independent story, its place in the sequence of Lavender novels falls after the fifth book, 'Lavender Dreaming' and takes place just before 'Murder in Lavender', first book in the upcoming cozy mystery series.
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November 2015 : USA, Canada, UK Kindle edition