Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Blog Hop #8: Tori St. Claire

I'd like to say that my favorite holiday memory was when the man pictured to the left showed up under my tree...

Well it is my blog, so I'll go ahead and say it.  My favorite holiday memory is when the man to the left showed up under my tree.  The mistletoe was fresh, not that cheap, fake plastic kind, his lips were warm, and soft, and...

Ahem!  Okay. No fiction in this blog, time for truths.

My favorite holiday memory comes from the first year I purchased my house.  Nothing overtly special happened; I didn't get priceless gifts, I didn't have a whirlwhind romantic experience.  It was just me, my dogs, a Christmas tree, and a living room with bare plaster walls that I'd recently stripped the wallpaper off of.

But it was mine.  Not a rented room, not the tiny trailer I'd lived in, not space in my parents' home.  All mine.

Christmas Eve, my new neighbor brought a young man in the Big Brothers program over, a young man who frequently spent time at my farm helping with the horses and just generally hanging out.  Nice young man -- good kid with a good head, and I'm glad he had a positive influence in his life such as my then-neighbor. 

Anywho.  My neighbor and I had talked about Christmas gifts, and I had an old pony that really needed a home.  The young man already had a bond with her and my neighbor agreed to house the horse for him.  So that Christmas Eve, we handed this young boy who really didn't have much, let alone a "luxury" such as a horse, a halter, a shiny new lead rope, and a hunter green winter blanket to help the old mare keep warm.

He knew the mare might not have many years left, he'd known that since he met her.  But for him, he was glowing.  And as I sipped on some wine with my neighbor, and we watched him unwrap the gift, with Christmas music in the background and the lights from the tree casting warmth through my empty front room... it was a heartwarming Christmas.  After, we ate the special-order cookies I made at their request(s), played a few games, and we even went out in the freezing cold and played hide and seek.  Laugh.

I had a great time that year.  It was simple.  Quaint.  Memorable.
What about you?  Have you ever had someone give you something unexpected, maybe a little tarnished or frayed around the edges, but it was meaningful?  Or have you ever had the opportunity to give someone something they wanted and make a dream come true?

Gifts come in so many forms, and not all of them have to come at the holiday season. In STRIPPED, my January Berkley HEAT release, Brandon gives tarnished Natalya the gift of her heart.  In exchange, she mends a frayed-around-the-edges cop.   Of course, they have to wade through a pool of lies and fight just to survive, but in the end...

Coming January 3, 2012
Berkley HEAT
Erotic Romantic Suspense

Body of secrets…
As a member of the CIA’s elite, Black Opals, Natalya Trubachev must live a lie, working undercover as the lover of Dmitri, a Russian mob boss. His business is trafficking vulnerable Las Vegas strippers overseas for twisted sex games. Natalya’s business is to blow the ring wide open and bring down Dmitri and his American contacts. But the stakes are raised when she learns that the next target is her own sister Kate, a dancer in the famed club Fantasia. Only now does Natalya realize how personal her mission has become, and how far she’s willing to go to complete it.

Body of lies…
The manager of Fantasia is Brandon Moretti, an undercover detective who keeps a close eye on his girls, and an even closer one on his sinfully sensual hire. For Natalya, working the club could be the break she’s been waiting for. But for Moretti, Natalya is a possible link to a killer. Only he never counted on her being so lethally seductive or so dangerous to get close to.  As every forbidden pleasure between them is stripped away, his own secrets threaten their security, but it’s Natalya’s that could destroy them both.

And here's my gift to you:

One random commentor, who answers the questions I posed above, will receive a signed copy of STRIPPED.
Go to and leave your comment and your email address in case you win.

Click Me!
Don't miss the next stop on the RomFan Reviews Holiday Blog Hop!

Hop over to Amy Romine's Blog tomorrow, or for a complete Tour Listing click on the holiday-wrapped man to your right.

For your convienence, I've included the tour stops below as well:

Bobbi Brattz December 11th
Franny Armstrong December 12th
Regina Carlysle December 13th
Elizabeth Amber December 14th
Brita Addams December 15th
D.B. Reynolds December 16th
Beth Trissel December 17th
Tori St. Claire December 18th
Amy Romine December 19th
Skhye Moncrief December 20th
Carrie Ann Ryan December 21st
J.S. Wayne December 22nd
Shannan Albright December 23rd
Claire Ashgrove December 24th
Jacquie Rogers December 27th
Keta Diablo December 28th
Anne Holly December 29th
K.D. Grace December 30th


  1. My youngest once found her presents at a tag sale. She gave me this mirror that was missing one of the hangers and you could not tell what the design around it was, but she was so thrilled with her present and we still have it.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  2. One year, an elderly aunt give me a pearl necklace and earring set. The thing is, I knew it was her's because I had seen it at her home. Being a bit infirmed, she was unable to go out shopping for Christmas but she was determined to send me something.

    She passed away in September and I still have that set. I'll always cherish it.

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  3. Debby -- That's so sweet. Kids have an amazing way of really grasping the "spirit". My son at four, made me go out of the room, and he grabbed a piece of scrap paper, wrapped up a handful of his blocks, and then helped his younger brother wrap his younger brother's favorite book. They came running into the kitchen and so proudly handed them over with, "Merry Christmas, Mom!"

    Kids are just... really touching sometimes.

  4. Tracey -

    That's a beautiful story. Very heartwarming. I'd cherish the pearls as well.

    Debby -- pardon my inability to log into the right account ;) That response was from me too!

    Merry Christmas both of you.

  5. My great grandmother had an antique Santa that had been passed down to her from her grandmother, and she gave it to me last Christmas. It's so fragile that I am afraid of breaking it, but it is displayed proudly, and has become my favorite family heirloom.

    cathy m
    caity_mack at yahoo dot com

  6. I can't really think of any "gift" like that but after my grandfather passed away, my grandmother gave me one of his pipes. Some of my earliest memories are of my grandfather smoking his pipe, and anytime I smell pipe smoke, or certain cigars, I think of him.
    June M.
    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

  7. Cathy -- have you thought of putting it in one of those little glass dome things? That sounds really charming! Would love to see a picture!

  8. Ah, June, my uncle used to smoke pipes when I was young, as did my grandfather... You made the memory of those aromas come to life! I haven't seen my uncle in years. Thank you :)

  9. Congrats June -- I drew your name for the signed copy of Stripped! Please email me at Tori(at)