A Christmas Wedding

Dear Reader,

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am that the long, long, long wait for my first book, A Christmas Wedding, has finally come to an end. This is a story near to my heart, not just because it is my first (which would be reason enough) but because it takes place very close to my own home.

I got the idea for the book as I was driving through central Texas one day with my entire family. We had just passed a Thoroughbred farm and my oldest son, who was eight at the time, was fascinated by the place. His questions prompted my research to help him find the answers, and that research hooked me on the idea of a book set in the Thoroughbred racing world.

Though the setting came to me right away, my main characters took a little more time to gel. I knew only that I wanted to write about a bold, strong woman making it in a sport still largely dominated by men. Fiery, red-headed Desiree Hawthorne was born, and because she needed a man strong and sexy enough to stand up to her, so was Jesse Rainwater.

I’ve been a romance reader for over twenty years now—ever since I was in fifth grade and my mom gave me my first romance novel in response to a fruitless trip to the bookstore. I had gone through every book in the YA section of the bookstore and was devastated that there was nothing left to read. So my mom handed me one of her romances and a life-long love (and sometimes obsession) was born.

I hope you enjoy reading A Christmas Wedding as much as I enjoyed writing it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tracy Wolff

by Tracy Wolff
Harlequin Super Romance
November 2008
ISBN: 0373715293

Desiree is determined to hold on to her husband. She’s loved Jesse Rainwater since the day the legendary horse trainer came to work at her father’s ranch. Now, on the eve of their daughter’s wedding, Jesse hits her with a bombshell that forces Desiree to reexamine their life together.

And she isn’t going down without a fight. She hasn’t struggled all these years to lose the thing that’s most precious to her. Desiree knows they share something true and strong, even if they lost sight of it somewhere along the way. Now her toughest battle lies ahead: to prove to Jesse that theirs is a love worth fighting for.

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A Christmas Wedding

Excerpt © Tracy Wolff

Footsteps sounded on the outside stairs and panic crawled sickly through her stomach. This was it, her last chance. If he rejected her now . . .

Forcing any negative thoughts to the back of her mind, Desiree flew to the kitchen and stirred the alfredo, trying desperately to look as normal as possible under the circumstances. As if it was in any way normal for her to be cooking in Jesse's house, dressed to the nines.

She heard the door open and his footsteps come to an abrupt halt. Taking a deep breath, she turned, smiling, to greet the man she was determined to spend the rest of her life with.

He was frowning, his eyes narrow and suspicious as he examined the small table set for two. His eyes met hers from across the room, dark and stormy and anything but welcoming.

For a second her courage deserted her and she had to fight the urge to run as fast and as far as her skinny heels would carry her. But then she noticed the quick flicker in his eyes, the spark of desire that came and went so quickly she was almost afraid she had imagined it.

"Hey, Jesse." She smiled and walked toward him.

He inclined his head, staring at her with his midnight eyes. "Desiree. What are you doing here?"
"We haven't said more than ten words to each other since I got back from school a few months ago. I thought it was past time that we caught up."

He raised a brow sardonically. "Caught up, huh?"

She flushed, fought against the panic skating up her spine. "Absolutely." She gestured to the kitchen. "I made dinner. I thought we could talk while we ate."

He stalked toward her, a sleek, dangerous leopard with prey in its sight. "What is it, exactly, that you want to talk about, Desiree?" His voice was low, silky, unnerving.

She shrugged, forced a laugh, tried desperately to look and sound unconcerned. "You. The horses. The ranch. Whatever."

This time both brows rose. "Whatever?" He continued to cross the room with slow, deliberate steps. She knew she should hold her ground, knew she shouldn't let him see that he intimidated her. But she found herself backing up despite herself. Retreating one step, then another and another, as he drew closer.

Before Desiree knew it, she was backed against the kitchen counter, Jesse's long, lithe body only inches from her own. He smelled like horses, like fire, like sweat-a combination that should have been unpleasant but wasn't. She took a deep breath before she could stop herself, savoring the sexy, seductive scent of him.

Electricity crackled between them. She wanted to touch him, to run her fingers through the silky darkness of his hair as she pressed her body against his and begged him to take her. She wanted to feel his lips on her, needed to touch and taste him everywhere at once. Her nipples peaked beneath her lace bra at the thought and an ache started low in her belly as her breathing grew ragged. She watched his eyes darken to ebony, felt the heat coming off of him and knew, finally, that he wasn't nearly as unmoved as he wanted her to believe.

"Jesse." She was breathless, restless, aching for him in every cell of her being. Her hips moved restlessly against the wall as her nipples plumped and hardened even more.

She watched his eyes drop to her breasts, felt his sudden intake of breath as he stared at the tight buds pressing against the thin silk of her dress. He leaned closer, crowding her, his chest scant inches from her own as his lips hovered over hers.

"Jesse." It was a plea and both of them knew it. Her eyelids fluttered closed for a moment, then lifted as seconds stretched into a minute. And then he was reaching for her, past her, snatching a carrot slice from the salad and turning away.

"I need to take a shower before we eat," he commented as he headed towards his bedroom, his breathing level and his long stride relaxed. "I'll make it quick."

© Tracy Wolff