Books, Writing

The Christmas RomCom You Helped Make is Here

Last year, after I spent autumn deep into writing the paranormal world of Coven of Desire, I needed a break. I wanted to do something cute and hilarious and extremely Christmas. And I wanted your help.

Over a hundred readers voted to help create my newest, sweetest Christmas romcom Tangled in Tinsel and readers LOVE IT!

Dean Hancock does not have time for the gorgeous, red-haired, cowboy lumberjack that nearly shattered his windshield with a Christmas tree. Levi Bruce spends his days waking before dawn, tending his tree farm, going to bed after dark, and starting the cycle all over again.

Will these two fools open their hearts by the fire of the farmhouse’s hearth? Or will the promise of millions, a family secret, and an eccentric artist’s masterpiece rip them apart forever?

“The author created the perfect quirky and cliché Rom Con atmosphere and plot! I recommend this book for those looking for a truly Fluffy Holiday read. It really is as cute and sweet as the Cover portrays!”
Neep6 — ★★★★★

The first question I asked my readers was where the fun should happen. It was nearly a cabin in the woods, which I hope a tiny farmhouse will work for too. But you wanted a tiny town with a Christmas pun name and thus Tinsel was born. I had so much fun crafting a town of characters to bring Tinsel to life.

Excerpt from Tangled in Tinsel

All of Tinsel was in a festive uproar—shop doors flinging open, brooms sweeping in a flurry, tumbleweeds of knotted-up Christmas bows rolling in the wind. Levi had one hand hooked outside the window of his truck as he rolled down main street. Been a damn near close one on the road. He wasn’t expecting anyone to be traveling on the back highway. At least not anyone who wouldn’t expect to see him and the tree wagon out about this time of year.

Levi stopped at the lone light in town that only flashed red and stared at the man damn near falling into traffic. “Morning, Mr. Fielder.”

“Ah, Levi.” Oval glasses hung off the end of Mr. Fielder’s nose, while Mr. Fielder hung precariously off a single line of garland strung across the streetlight pole.

“You need any help?” Levi asked carefully while eyeing up the deputy mayor.

Tinsel wasn’t big enough to require a deputy mayor, but no one could stop Mr. Fielder from shoving his nose into everyone’s business. And no one in their right mind would vote him into actual power. Giving him a pseudo title kept him content to just bug people a bit instead of constantly.

“No, I believe I have this,” Mr. Fielder declared. He strained with a far reach, his chubby face redder than holly. Just as his fingers glanced against a sprig of greenery, all of Mr. Fielder swung out. Shrieking, he spun back around and wrapped his arms to the rickety ladder. White-faced, the deputy mayor slowly climbed back to the ground where it’d be harder for him to crack open his skull.

“What are you doing?” Levi asked. Boxes of giant red and green ornaments sat beside the stoplight, along with a mess of Christmas lights. “I thought the FFA decorated the town after Thanksgiving.”

“Oh, they did, they did.” Mr. Fielder pulled out a hankie embroidered with two candy canes. He swiped at his forehead, wicking away the sweat icicles. “But you can’t expect them to do a proper job. They’re just kids.”

“Tommy Mitchell could throw a bear,” Levi said to himself.

The next question was who the first hero should be. I wanted him to be the first POV character who we begin the story. It was a close run with a Nanny or Kindergarten Teacher, but you wanted an Antique Dealer.

I got the idea that the crux of the book should be about a long-lost American relic that was found and what would be better for Christmas than a manger? It took me a while to get Dean nailed down until I got the idea to write him as a character that Dan Levy could play. In an instant, he became this often sarcastic but deep down teddy bear character who has a habit of saying whatever’s on his mind.

Excerpt from Tangled in Tinsel

Shouldering past the workers double-securing the tree, Dean could only stare in rising rapture at the beauty before him. As he drew closer, he noted the curved lines that’d give the illusion of waves when the cradle was rocked. But more than that, it was the carvings that sent him tumbling to his knees.

His fingers shook as he reached for the basket of the cradle. Where most would do nothing more than add perhaps the child’s name, the artist carved an unending story just below the surface. Dean swung his bag forward and quickly slipped on a pair of gloves. Once suited up, he dared to touch a finger to the wood. The cradle began to sway, Dean lost in the hypnotizing rock of a young woman—a child herself—learning she’d been chosen to carry the son of god. 

Dean rifled for his research even while he traced the tale from Mary pleading with her cousin Elizabeth on to the burdened woman traveling across an endless desert of wood while her stomach grew. The book opened to Gilt’s lost piece. Only a single drawing by his apprentice remained of this historical treasure, revealing just one side of the cradle for the world. But here in this hootenanny town, Dean could finally see what Gilt had carved on the back.

Trembling, he began to slide around on his knees, doing his best to not even breathe on the piece, when a heavy hand smacked into his shoulder. The spell shattered, Dean staring up into a face blotted by the sun. 

“Very cute, heartwarming second-chance MM romance. There is: a mischievous dog (Harry), friendship, comradery, humour, drama, intrigue, secrets, memories, attractions, surprises, some steamy scenes, love & a delightful epilogue with a sweet happy ending.”
—Patricia H ★★★★★

Who should Dean fall madly in love with? You wanted a lumberjack! And where would be a better place for a lumberjack than owning a small Christmas tree farm?

Levi came to me right away. I wanted a quiet, stoic tree farmer who’s found himself isolated on his family farm due to past tragedy. When he meets Dean, he doesn’t want to hide out on his tree farm any longer.

Excerpt from Tangled in Tinsel

Levi loved this time of year. He’d better, owning a tree farm and all. While supplying wood for houses and buildings was steady work, nothing compared to the joy on a kid’s face when he picked out the perfect Christmas tree. Even now, tourists turned to the man driving the red wagon full of pine trees with twinkles in their eyes. They’d point and gasp, all of them kids again no matter how many wrinkles they wore.

His coat was denim and the beard a stubbly auburn, but Levi felt like Santa—a Santa with a very specific list. Still… Waving a hand out the window, Levi shouted, “Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas.”

The fourth question determined exactly what kind of relationship Levi and Dean should have. It’s the big one! Enemies to Lovers nearly won, but in the end, you guys wanted some adorable friendship. I may have worked in a little second chance too.

Since Dean was the big city historian/antique dealer and Levi was an ex-rodeo star/tree farmer, I wasn’t certain how best to have them already be friends. Then I had the idea, what if they went to camp together and everything came together!

Excerpt from Tangled in Tinsel


The most handsome red-haired stranger Dean had ever seen stood outlined by the halo of the sun casting off the snow. The whole of his body glowed along with the tree he propped up against the wall. Cowboy hat, form-hugging flannel, tight-ass jeans, muddied boots—the man was picture perfect for roping and wrangling. And those rough-and-ready lips had his name perched on them.

“Sorry?” Dean closed his eyes tight, certain he’d imagined the angel cowboy before him. When he opened them, a hand in a calfskin glove pushed itself in front of him. He followed up the square wrist to a forearm and a set of biceps hidden below the shirt.

“Yer Dean, right? From the…”

…the Smoky Hills Riding Academy. It hit him smack in the head like a horse that didn’t want that weirdly quiet kid anywhere near it. He remembered another boy with a strong frame for a sixteen or seventeen-year-old. A frame he’d shown off in the summer sun, setting off a whole box of puberty fireworks in Dean. 


“Levi,” he said, extending his hand again.

Numb, Dean took it. He was on autopilot while his brain tripped back through time to a dusty and dry summer. All of thirteen, with braces, acne, and a t-zone so oily Texas was threatening to tap it—his parents thought riding camp would ‘make a man’ out of him. The whole summer he gave a wide berth to the horses, the camping, the canoeing, and anything that required bug repellent. If not for that striking counselor with hazel green eyes and a shock of red hair, Dean would have hitched a ride back home after day one.

For question five, I wanted to lean more into the Hallmark Christmas romance aspect. It’s not a Christmas Romcom without at least one of these and you wanted Dean & Levi to pick a tree. This also influenced me making Levi a Christmas tree farmer.

Excerpt from Tangled in Tinsel

Levi slipped through the pressing branches that he really needed to trim down. Something else that he shouldn’t have put off that was just getting worse. Shaking his head to try to clear away the maudlin thought, he spotted Dean’s black hair and coat among the sheet of white and his breath froze.

It wasn’t the tree. He knew it from a little sapling he’d planted himself years back. A nice blue spruce with an above-average spread of branches, though there were better on the lot. No, it was Dean with eyes as bright as the sun and a grin bigger than the mountains that ensnared him. He was beyond giddy; the joy warming Levi’s soul until he felt himself melting under his coat.

“This is it,” Dean said. He cupped his palm under a single branch and brushed it back and forth. “What do you think?”

Levi hadn’t cut a tree for himself in five years. He hadn’t wanted to put in the effort of pretending everything was normal. Every Christmas, he’d sulked in anger at a world that’d taken his father and ripped away his dream in one cruel toss. That, one day in the future, Levi would trek out in the middle of a blizzard just for a single pine tree was ludicrous.

Even if an angel told him that one day he’d find a reason, he wouldn’t have believed it.

Taking the branch next to Dean’s, Levi shifted the ax and said, “It’s perfect.”

For the last question, I needed to know what Christmas themed party was included. There’s always a ball, or street fair, or wrapping party, so I asked and you provided.

Excerpt from Tangled in Tinsel

“Mr. Hancock!”

He glanced up and noticed his errant pen had wandered off of the journal’s page and almost hit pew instead. Oops. Slapping the journal shut, he looked up into the ecstatically happy eyes of the mayor and the reserved scowl of the priest. It was the mayor who spoke up in a tone sweeter than the candies decorating her blouse bow. “You’ve been cooped up in here all day. Why don’t you take a break and enjoy the festival?”

“Oh, no, that’s not necessary.”

“Levi could show you around.”

That wasn’t a shot from the hip. The mayor smiled with her full arsenal at the blushing cowboy. Levi tugged his hat off and cupped it over his chest. “Suppose that, yeah, I’d…could do it. If you want to, I mean.”

Leave the Gilt piece alone unsupervised where any common criminal could try to steal it—assuming they had access to a hauling truck and burly men to carry it. He’d been so focused on the minute details while trying to clear away the years of wear, Dean didn’t realize the beauty it’d been hiding. The oak glistened from his oiling, and the treacherous journey of a pregnant virgin glowed as if from holy intervention. He couldn’t leave its side. It had to be protected from both the greedy and the ignorant—which the historical academic world had in spades.

“I think…” Dean stood and realized far too late the makeshift desk of his lap had drained all the blood from his leg. He would have cracked his skull on the pew ahead were it not for the kindly intervention of a palm spreading over his heart.

“Careful there,” Levi said as if he was steadying a skittish horse. He clapped his other hand around Dean’s shoulder, holding him upright and not letting go. 

Lost in the edge of red scruff riding up to pale cheek flushing pink, Dean’s mouth took over. “The festival sounds fun.”

“This book delivers exactly what it promised…’gay, Hallmark-influenced romance is a heart-warming, hilarious, steamy mug of Christmas cocoa.’ Dean and Levi are both so great and watching them get flustered around each other was so endearing.”
—Lindsayreadsalot ★★★★★

If the runner-ups had won, here’s a summary of the book I’d have written for you in another dimension:

When winter break from his kindergarten class begins, Derek hopes to enjoy a much-needed vacation in a cabin deep in the impenetrable mountains. Once he finds all the glitter stuck to his body, anyway. His plans are thrown into chaos when the cabin he rented is occupied by none other than Mr. Cookie himself. Instead of the crumbly old face on the package, Garret puts bodybuilder gingerbread men to shame.

Too bad Mr. Cookie wants to bulldoze Derek’s school and replace it with a chocolate chip factory. It’s going to be a frosty Christmas as the two refuse to give up their cabin rental. And yes, there’s only one bed. The hate-cookie begins to crumble when Derek and Garret build snowmen then break into a snowball fight that nearly becomes a kiss.

Before there can be any frosting licking, a limo arrives to whisk Garret off to the Mr. Cookie Holiday Ball. He asks Derek to join him, but before he can answer, a woman pokes her head out to ask Garret to sign the destroy the school order.

What happens next? How can the two reconcile? Will Derek ever get rid of all the glitter?

 I think you made the right choices for Tangled in Tinsel. But who knows, maybe next year The Cookie Grinch will appear under your tree. In this universe, I hope you enjoy Tangled in Tinsel!