Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Simultaneously arousing and literate – #HolidayRomance #LaterInLife #MFRWHooks

Gray Christmas book cover

For today’s MFRW Book Hooks blog hop, I’m featuring one of my favorite books. Gray Christmas is a holiday tale that makes it clear that you’re never too old for love.

And, as an added bonus, it features an author heroine, and a great cat!


Widowed author Emma Granger has reconciled herself to spending Christmas Eve in snowy Boston, with a bottle of wine and her cat. A crash from the apartment above overturns her plans for a quiet evening at home. When she investigates, she meets Nick North, an energetic iconoclast with a gray ponytail, a silver earring and bright blue eyes that kindle feelings she’d thought were gone forever.

The Hook

I came back to find Nick ensconced in my favorite reading chair to the right of the fireplace, with Vronsky draped across his lap.

Oh! I see you’ve met the real owner of this place.”

Nick scratched behind Vronsky’s ears, much to the owner’s approval, then smoothed a big palm down over the cat’s lush, steel-hued fur, along his spine to the tail. “What a handsome fellow! What’s his name?”

Usually he’s Vronsky. Except when he acts silly, Then I call him Mousesorgsky.”

My guest laughed. The gray cat’s whiskers twitched in indignation. “Very appropriate, I suspect. Both names.” He sipped at the glass of wine I’d handed him. “Oh, that’s delicious. Thank you!”

My pleasure.” The wine was lovely—I’d splurged a bit, for the holidays—but Nick’s reaction made me appreciate it even more. He closed his eyes and licked his lips as though savoring every last hint of flavor. I watched his bare throat as he swallowed another, larger gulp. I ached to lick along that stubborn chin and down the side of his neck.

A bit of gray frizz peeked out from the neckline of his tee. I wondered if he was hairy all over, then blushed when I realized he was looking at me. Did he know what I was thinking? God, I hoped not! How embarrassing it would be if he realized a horny old grandmother was lusting after his body!

I nibbled at my cheese, glancing out the window so I wouldn’t have to meet his eyes. “It’s snowing harder.”

Good thing we’re warm and cozy together in here.” Something in his tone made alarm bells ring. When I turned my attention to him, though, he was studying his cracker.

So—um—what about you? Are you married?” Might as well take the bull by the horns.

Was.” He wiped his elegant fingers on his napkin. “She left me for a younger man. About ten years ago.”

Ouch! That must have hurt.”

Yeah, especially since I was in the hospital recovering from heart surgery at the time.” His manner was nonchalant, as though we were still discussing the weather. My chest grew tight in sympathy. “She was a selfish bitch.”

I think you’re being too kind.”

I’m lucky she’s gone. I’m better off without her.” A faint smile lit his face. “Though I have to say she was great in bed.”

For that, I had no reply. I fumbled with a piece of flatbread, trying to hide my confusion, but I could feel my cheeks were flaming red.

What about your husband? Was he a good lover?” I couldn’t look at him. I knew there’d be a saucy grin on those enticing lips, and a brash twinkle in those eyes.

How could I explain about Tom and me? All the great years we had together, so many erotic adventures, and then the pale, bland final decade, when he’d lost interest in fucking. Not that it had been his fault. Between menopause and arthritis, sex simply stopped being fun for me. He hated knowing that penetration caused me pain, so he pulled away, and God help me, I was almost relieved. But now I missed the days when we both loved my body, almost as much as I missed Tom himself.

I could hardly share all that with a stranger, though.

The silence lengthened. Nick watched me. I stared into my wine glass.

I see we share the same tastes in reading.”

The sudden shift in topic startled me enough that I looked up. “What?”

He’d extracted a paperback from the shelf just behind him. He held it up for me to see. Of course I recognized the cover, a tastefully shadowed nude in a blindfold. “One of my favorite authors.”

You like erotic romance?”

In general, no. But I think I’ve read everything Emmanuelle de la Grange has written.”

I returned my wine glass the tray and stared at my guest. Who was this guy and why was he torturing me? “You’re joking, right?”

Not at all. I really love her style, not to mention her filthy imagination. She’s simultaneously arousing and literate. Not many authors can manage that.”

He set the book down on the table beside him. I picked it up and flipped through it. The Passion of Priscilla. One of my earlier works, but still one of my best sellers.

Okay, so what’s your favorite de la Grange title, then?” Mentally I reviewed the rather short list of my acquaintances who knew how I supported myself. Could one of them have put my upstairs neighbor up to this? Or even planted him in the apartment above, as a Christmas jest?

Nick stretched out his legs and sat back in his chair, his arms crossed behind his head. Vronsky hopped off, arched his back, then curled up on the window seat.

It’s really difficult to say. Maybe Satin Submission? Or Doing It the Hard Way?” He leaned toward me, resting his hands on his thighs. His weathered face was earnest and open. “Which one do you like best?”

A storm of emotion raged inside me—pride, anger, curiosity, and of course desire, so familiar and so rare. Rising from my seat, I walked to the window, where I stood for what seemed like a long time, petting Vronsky and watching the snow swirl in the street lights.

I can’t choose,” I said finally. “Any more than I’d choose one of my children over the other. Since I am Emanuelle de la Grange.”

Utter silence greeted my announcement. Even the cat stopped purring. I swear I could hear the hiss of the snow hurtling toward the pavement outside.

Buy Links

Amazon US

Amazon UK -


Barnes and Noble -

Kobo -

Apple Books:


Be sure to visit the other authors joining in today’s hop!

1 comment:

Janet Lane Walters said...

Interesting. I'm all for older people to find love.

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