Release date: December 1, 2014
Born an orphan in Russia, Nashville Sound center Nickolai Glazov never knew the warmth of a big family. Luckily, at age six, his talent for hockey was discovered. Now, with a multitude of championship titles, a berth on the 2014 Russian Olympic team, and plenty of puck bunnies to warm his bed on cold nights, he’s not wasting his energy crying over his lack of roots. Even if he wouldn’t mind a special someone to come home to…
Artisan quilt maker Noel Verden, on the other hand, has so many roots they’re threatening to strangle her. Her family depends on Noel for everything, from talking them through using the television remote to deciphering the telephone bill—all from 200 miles away. She loves them, but wishes they were more self-sufficient and would stop trying to force her to close her quilt shop in Beauford, Tennessee, to move back home to Kentucky. If only she had the strength and power to stand up to her family…
A chance meeting and a snowy ice storm bring this unlikely pair together on the most enchanting day of the year, and a special connection flares between them. But when the ice melts, will the magic disappear too?
by Alicia Hunter Pace
“I absolutely love Alicia Hunter Pace’s books. They have such a quirky sweetness, and the characters always ring true and make me cry!” – Linda Howard
Sensuality Level: Sensual
Alicia Hunter Pace is a writing team, Jean Hovey and Stephanie Jones, who live in North Alabama where they share a love of football and old houses while having a lot of fun writing romances together.
An excerpt from Nickolai’s Noel:
Noel loved hockey—and the Sound in particular—the way other Southern women loved football. Much as hockey had been late in coming to the South, Noel had been late in becoming a fan, and there was still a lot she didn’t understand about the game. But, merciful heavens, she loved the chaos, the fast pace, the noise, and—if she were going to be honest—the fights. Noel knew these were odd things for a quiet, mild-mannered woman to love, especially one who spent her days patiently fitting pieces of fabric together with perfect precision and the tiniest of stitches to paint a picture meant to last several lifetimes.
People who ought to know said Noel was an artist of the finest degree, but they might revise their definition of artist if they ever saw Nickolai Glazov on ice. He looked more powerful in person, even without all that gear. And power was something Noel admired, probably because she’d never felt like she had much.
The woman who had come in with Nickolai was trying to get everyone’s attention and not having much luck. She had to be a model or a dancer. Dressed in gold shorts, a black tank with a wide, jeweled, gold belt, and really high platform sandals, she was tall and very beautiful with skin the color of milk chocolate, and cheekbones that looked like they could cut glass. Even if Noel had the nerve to wear an outfit like that, it would wear her, not the other way around.
“What can I do for y’all today?” Noel asked, though she knew what the answer would be: just browsing.
Nickolai pushed his loose black curls back and let his smiling, electric blue eyes meet hers.
“Tewanda saw the article about the artisans of Beauford in Garden & Gun magazine and thinks she would like to have a quilt for her birthday gift.” His English was nearly perfect, though charmingly accented with Russian. She also thought she detected a little French inflection, probably from his days of playing for the Ottawa Senators.
Tewanda’s plethora of gold bracelets jangled when she placed her hand on a jutted-out hip. “The article said you made a baby quilt for Nicole Kidman. Is that true?”
Noel reluctantly nodded. She never divulged her clients’ names, but it was true, and it had been in the article, along with a quote from the woman herself attesting to the quilt’s beauty and fine workmanship.
“I did. She was lovely to work with.” Noel smiled at Tewanda, who did not smile back. “Did you have anything in particular in mind, Tewanda? I do custom commissions, but I have a few quilts in stock.”
“Custom.” Tewanda caressed her chin, even as her tone caressed the word. There was something a little crazy in her deep-brown eyes that made Noel want to back up a step. “How long would something like that take?”
That, always that.
“It depends on a lot factors—size, complexity of pattern, whether you would want embroidery, appliqué, or a combination.” Noel picked up her commission calendar. “For something small, like a simple appliquéd lap quilt, I could deliver sometime from mid to late February.”
“February! I can’t wait until February,” Tewanda shrieked. “And I don’t want something small! I need a king-size.” She turned and gave Nickolai a lascivious look—something Noel could have done without.
“It does take some time.” Noel tried to sound sympathetic. “I don’t use a sewing machine at all—for piecing or for quilting. And my quilting stitches tend to be twelve per inch.”
“So the magazine article said.”
It had been a long time since Noel had needed to remind herself that she was in business and couldn’t afford to sell only to people she liked, especially considering what she was compelled to charge for her handcrafted babies.
“Then maybe you’d like to look at what I have on hand.” Noel stepped from behind the counter and moved toward the back wall where the five quilts she had in stock were suspended from wooden dowels.
Nickolai, who had seemed oblivious to their conversation, turned away from the thread display he’d been looking at and gave Noel a crooked grin.