All She Wants For Christmas Excerpt


ALL SHE WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS releases in eBook on Dec 6th from Carina Press. That’s less than a month! I’m SO excited!

How about an excerpt?

Big Star, Small-town Christmas

Country singer Riley Jensen would never have returned to her small Missouri hometown if her publicist hadn’t come up with the scheme to tape a Christmas special there. So she never would have known that the man who broke her heart at eighteen—causing her to flee to Nashville—was now a widower with a seven-year-old daughter. Riley has ten years of angst-filled hit songs and Grammy awards to prove she doesn’t need Ethan Kent. But suddenly, she can’t help thinking of all she gave up by running away…

Ethan Kent knew Riley had the talent and the drive to make it as a singer. He also knew she wasn’t going anywhere if she stayed in their nowhere town for him. Then one night and one huge mistake sent her running on the road to fame. Which doesn’t mean he ever stopped loving her…

But with so much separating them, can Riley and Ethan find their way back together one magical country Christmas?


It hovered on the tip of her tongue, the why not me question Riley wanted to ask. But Zoey lay sleeping like an angel on the sofa a foot away from Ethan. Now wasn’t the time.

It would never be the right time to ask a question for which there wasn’t ever going to be a good enough answer.
Because he’d preferred Amanda, and she’d never seen it coming. She’d spent years going over it in her head—all the times the three of them had been together. Why hadn’t she seen it?

Enough. She wasn’t eighteen years old anymore. Amanda was dead, and there was no point in rehashing old hurts.
But the question still burned inside of her, desperate to be asked.

She hoped she could get out of this town and soon before the question spilled out.

“Great crowd tonight,” he finally said, no doubt to fill the silence in the room.

“Yeah, it was. Who knew everyone would come?”

He tilted his head to the side. “Riley, everyone here is proud of you.”

“I didn’t think anyone here liked me anymore. I hadn’t been back since I left.”

“People don’t hold grudges like that. You know how this town is.”

“I guess I forgot how forgiving folks could be.” She’d forgotten a lot of things. Like how to be forgiving.

She lifted her gaze to Ethan, remembered the past, only this time the good parts instead of the bad.

He looked good tonight in his dark jeans and long-sleeved dark blue button-down shirt, his muscles filling out every square inch. He used to be on the skinny side, but strong. Judging from the way he fit the shirt, she could only imagine the muscles now.

He studied her and she wondered what he saw.

Country diva who couldn’t be bothered to come home once she’d left.

Ex-girlfriend who’d run and never returned.

Bad friend who hadn’t been here when her best friend had needed her most.

What else must he think of her?

Then again, she hadn’t created this mess alone, had she? She hadn’t been the one to climb into bed with Amanda and ruin what she and Ethan had.

And again, the question burned on the tip of her tongue, begging to be asked.


Ethan shifted, dragging the smoke of the past away and reminding her that she was a lousy hostess.

“Yeah, well, I should get Zoey home and into bed.”

Great job, Riley. “Sure.”

He put on his coat and turned to her. “Thank you again for the backstage passes.”

She wanted to tell him she hadn’t even known about the passes, that it had been Suzie’s doing. But what point would that serve, other than self protection?

“You’re welcome. Glad you came.”

“How much longer are you staying in town?”

She cocked a brow. “Anxious to get rid of me?”

His lips lifted. “No. No, that wasn’t it at all. I was just wondering if there was someplace you needed to be, with the holidays and all.”

She shoved her hands in the pockets of her jeans. “No. I have to hang out here with a few of my people until this…thing is over with.”


“Biography thing.”

“Oh. Yeah, right.”

She shrugged. “Not my idea. Honest. I’m a little young for a bio.”

“The television people seem to think otherwise.”

He was delaying leaving. She wondered why. “They said I’ve lived a lifetime in twenty-eight years, or some nonsense to that effect.”

“Haven’t you? You’ve gone through a lot to get where you are now.”

Was it her imagination, or was he drawing closer?

“Not really. I just got lucky.”

She found herself focusing on his lips, which was such a bad idea, because it got her thinking of how great a kisser he was, and how long it had been since she’d kissed him. And then she licked her lips, and his gaze traveled to her mouth and settled there.

“Luck had nothing to do with your success. Pure talent.”

She really wished he’d look somewhere other than her mouth, because now her throat went dry, and she had to swallow. And lick her lips again. She suddenly wanted to kiss him more than she wanted to breathe.

He took a step closer and reached for her.

“Daddy, I have to go potty.”

Riley took two steps back and so did Ethan, both of them turning to focus on a very sleepy-eyed Zoey, who sat up and rubbed her eyes.

“Sure, muffin.”

“Where are we, Daddy?”

“In Riley’s dressing room.”

Zoey blinked, yawned and grinned at Riley. “Hi, Riley Jensen. You sing good.”

Riley laughed. “Thanks, sweetie.”

He took Zoey’s hand and she slid off the sofa.

“We’d better go find a bathroom, and then head home. I’ll see you later.”

“Okay. Bye, Zoey.”

Zoey waved. “Bye, Riley Jensen.”

Only after Ethan closed the door to the dressing room did Riley sink onto the sofa and exhale.

Ethan had almost kissed her. Even worse, Riley had really wanted him to.

She had to get the hell out of this town, and fast.


Text Copyright © 2010 by Jaci Burton Cover Art Copyright © 2010 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. ® and TM are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.