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Author Spotlight: Love & Games (And a First Kiss!) with Mia Heintzelman

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I am always so happy to feature fellow Tule Publishing authors here in the Author Spotlight, so today is a special treat! The adorable Mia Heintzelman is here with her newest Love and Games novel, Clued In Christmas. I met Mia at the Tule Author retreat this summer and she was a delight! Mia is a polka-dot-wearing, horror movie lover, who always has a book and a to-do list in her purse. When she isn’t busy writing fictional happily-ever-afters, she is likely reading, or playing board games and eating sweets with her husband and two children. She writes fun, unforgettable, more-than-just-laughs rom coms about strong women and men with enough heart to fall for them.

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Hi, all! Thanks to Nan for inviting me to stop by today!

The Love & Games series is coming to an end, and I’m both proud and emotional about it. This series is love and board games plus so much more. The seasons, the holidays, the fun-loving, bighearted heroes and heroines. The game store that started off as a figment of my imagination and ended up fueling three happily-ever-afters, plus—hopefully—reading enjoyment to many. We swooned as Harper and Declan fell in Monopolove. We held our breath as Murph wooed Rox in Trivialized Pursuit. Now, it’s beginning to look a lot like a second-chance Christmas, and Nadia and Micah don’t have a clue.

In Clued in Christmas, this series is all wrapped up with a pretty red bow from me to you. It’s got a jaded game store owner and a single dad bookstore owner thrown into a real-life Clue game with secret admirers, coded notes, a sweeping romance, and all the holiday cheer.

Check out the excerpt of their first kiss below.

Thank you for hanging out on Nan’s blog with me, and I hope enjoy the Love & Games series.

Giveaway! For a chance to win an e-book copy of Clued in Christmas, follow me on BookBub and comment here with your favorite Clue game character. 

Clued In Christmas

Nadia Sikes usually loves the holidays—cozy game nights, snowy mountain girls’ trips, hours decking the halls at Love & Games. But when her two best friends and co-owners find love, all she wants is to tuck away her heart and make it through the season.

Quietly handsome bookstore owner and single dad Micah Hamilton is determined to a) build lasting Christmas memories with his little girl and b) avoid Nadia. When his daughter asks to attend the holiday festivities at Love & Games, though, Micah is forced to introduce the woman who broke his heart, to his child she never knew existed.

The scene would drive anyone to plot their romantic reunion…and someone does. Between turkey dinners, tree decorating, and mistletoe kisses, mysterious notes begin showing up at the game store. As Nadia strings together clues, motives, and suspects for this twisty whodunit, she and Micah are blindsided by the return of their desire.

Is it a mistake to lose themselves in each other again? Or will a Christmas miracle bring them back to where they belong?

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Ow, ow!” Harper howls. “Look who’s under the mistletoe!”

Someone remind me why I have a best friend.

I look up as Harper waggles her brows at me. She and Declan have been kissing under this wilted sprig of mistletoe every chance they get. She’s engaged and in baby making mode, so her compulsion to spread the love is almost unbearable.

“Nadia, it’s cool. You don’t have to—” Micah starts, but Harper interrupts him before I can get a word in edgewise.

“No, no. Yes, she does.” Harper claps her hands, fanning them out to her audience. “It’s a holiday tradition and—”

“Actually, the rules of the mistletoe say—” Rox attempts to help me out, no doubt with some age-old trivia meant to give me a break from locking lips with my, um, friend. But Harper digs her hand into her purse hanging on a chair, fishing out… Is that pine-scented room spray?

Sure enough, she wields it at Rox and releases a single warning spritz in her direction.

“Let’s be clear, some people care more about the trivia than the tradition.” She whips her head around when I snicker. I swallow my laugh whole as she holds my stare and points her finger to the doorframe. “In this house, unless it’s a child, a blood relative, or your sister is engaged to him.” She shoots a knowing glance at Rox. Which leaves Micah and me. Nicely done, Harp. “You stand under that beautiful mistletoe with bright red berries and a satin bow, and you lock lips. It doesn’t have to be open mouth…” She pauses, letting her attention drift briefly to Gillian, seeming to consider her word choice before she settles on a very PG, “Tonsil hockey. But it must be a kiss, nonetheless. Now…”

As funny as it seems, she’s dead serious.

A tiny uneasy pang behind my ribs shakes me to my core as I peer up at Micah’s full lips. Work my way up to his warm bronze eyes. The jaded romantic in me wants to rebel. Shut down my needy body aching to rewind five months and kiss this man like it’s a Christmas miracle.

But the rational part of me steps in. After listening to the Sloane sisters bicker all afternoon and Harper’s little speech. Breaking tradition is the last thing I should do if the goal is to prove it’s no big deal.

Somehow, not kissing my “friend” will signal how much of a huge deal it is, so…

“Rules are rules, I guess.” I turn painstakingly slow, my pulse sprinting.

As I swallow and tilt my chin up, my heart trips all over the place and I pray I don’t feel anything. That somehow, I’ve developed a selective memory, and I don’t remember the bad kisses. That our lips didn’t fit like they were made from a one-of-a-kind mold. That I didn’t melt into the heat of his body and the anticipation alone.

Alas, I’m not that lucky.

The instant I close my eyes, he brushes his lips against mine in whisper-light touches, and oh God.

My heart thrums as the scruff of his beard scrapes like flint on my skin, setting me on fire.

A rush of adrenaline washes over me, overloading my senses, and my breath catches. Try as I may, I can’t stop my lips from quivering.

This kiss is so much better than double M&M’s or two-headed goldfish crackers. It’s like The Claw game at the beachside arcade on our first date. We wasted a bajillion quarters trying to get the pink stuffed animal in the far back. After hitting the wall, picking up the wrong toy, or even dropping it. Finally, I got it, and it was mine.

He was mine.