Romance With a Dose of Sweet Sugar and a Dash of Steamy Spice!

Romance With a Dose of Sweet Sugar and a Dash of Steamy Spice!

Thursday, July 4, 2024

Let's Celebrate Christmas in July!

Merry Christmas in July, friends! As many of you know, Christmas is my favorite holiday. I start shopping for gifts during the summer, decorating my home way too early, and watching X-Mas movies well before Thanksgiving (all year long, actually...). This slight obsession inspired me to write several holiday novels over the years. From sweet to spicy to suspenseful, the subgenres of each book vary. But one thing remains the same--they all celebrate Christmas. Keep reading to find out more about the books along with a few fun facts! 💓

After apprehending a notorious killer, Deputy Sheriff Sara Berman 
receives an invitation to celebrate the holidays…

Back in 2023, I published a Harlequin Intrigue Online Read titled, A DEADLY CHRISTMAS INVITATION. I had such a great time penning this novelette, which is free for those of you who have a Harlequin account. Here's a quick snippet:


Deputy Sheriff Sara Berman slowly rolled over onto her back, staring up at the vaulted bedroom ceiling. She massaged her sore shoulder as thoughts of the attack flashed through her mind.

Shake it off, she told herself for the hundredth time. But trying to erase the memory wasn’t easy.

Two weeks ago, Sara had been assaulted by Jimmy Dunn, also known as the Red River serial killer of Middlebury, Vermont. She had unwittingly pulled him over for a broken taillight. The moment she approached his window, he pounced, swinging the door open and tackling her to the ground.

Sara’s hand shook as she reached for her weapon. The gun barely left the holster before Jimmy kicked it from her grasp. She wheezed, struggling for air as he squeezed her neck. She flinched from the pain of his jagged fingernails digging into her flesh.

Just when she began to lose consciousness, Sergeant Rob Goodall pulled up to the scene and intervened, overpowering Jimmy and saving Sara’s life. Together, the pair arrested him. She was relieved knowing he was now locked away in the state penitentiary while awaiting trial.

You’re doing it again. Brooding over the attack…

CLICK HERE to read the full story!

BACKCOUNTRY COVER-UP is my Harlequin Intrigue holiday novel that was published in November 2022. Here's a fun fact that I've never shared--the book was originally titled, A DEADLY CHRISTMAS SCHEME. I was a little disappointed that the new title didn't capture the holiday spirit. But considering how popular the "backcountry" theme is amongst readers, and that the story takes place in mountainous, small-town North Carolina, I went with the change. I'm glad I did as readers really resonated with the new name. Here's the scoop on the book:

Can they find justice before one of them dies?

When her body is found on a hiking trail, deputy sheriff Todd Jacobson believes his sister was murdered. Her best friend, private investigator Elle Scott, agrees to help Todd prove it. When she infiltrates an unusual, elite social club, Elle becomes embroiled in a scheme of high-stakes payouts and deadly consequences…and Todd realizes he’s Elle’s only hope against becoming a corpse under the tree this Christmas.

CLICK HERE to check out an excerpt from BACKCOUNTRY COVER-UP, and CLICK HERE to purchase your copy!

CHRISTMAS IN FULL BLOOM is my sweet holiday romance that was released in October 2021. It's my following up to LOVE AT THE ICICLE CAFE, which was published by Tule in 2020. Here's the scoop:

This Christmas, can they slow down long enough to smell the roses and fall in love?

When savvy, up-and-coming floral designer Lauren Beal returns home to Maple Valley, Michigan, for her sister’s holiday wedding, she’s determined to be the perfect maid of honor. She didn’t expect the best man to be the college crush she’d reluctantly left behind to pursue her Chicago-based dreams.

Family practice doctor Mel Jennings always knew he’d remain rooted in Maple Valley to work for his father’s clinic. He happily juggles his demanding practice with philanthropic endeavors that connect him to his tight-knit community. Sparks fly when he reunites with Lauren, the one who ran away. As they enjoy Maple Valley’s Christmas festivities, Mel remembers how close they once were. But can they ever have a future?

Lauren finds herself falling for Mel and suspects the feelings are mutual. Yet they’re both pulled in different directions by work and family. Will the pair find a moment alone during the hectic holiday season to figure things out, or will they miss their chance at love once again?

A few fun facts:

💗 Lauren's dream of becoming a floral designer was inspired by my mother, who used to create the most beautiful flower arrangements for family and friends back when I was a teenager.

💗 The book takes place in Chicago and Maple Valley, Michigan. I was born and raised in Chicago, and Maple Valley is a fictitious town. The details surrounding this warm, cozy community were inspired by Leavenworth, Washington. Leavenworth is known for being a magical place around Christmastime, with its elaborate holiday decor, snowy atmosphere and holiday festivals. Needless to say, it served as an excellent muse during my world building process.

💗 My novel's hero was inspired by actor Morris Chestnut after seeing him play a pediatrician in the film The Brothers. But unlike Morris's character, Mel is no commitment-phobe. These two handsome heroes were both simply good, intelligent, fun-loving men.


BAYOU CHRISTMAS DISAPPEARANCE was released by Harlequin Intrigue in November 2021. Here are the deets:

She’ll help him find a kidnapped victim. He’ll keep her alive in the process...

Mona Avery is a hardworking investigative journalist known for her uncanny ability to assist law enforcement in solving criminal investigations. As her long, grueling year of covering cases draws to a close, she looks forward to leaving southern California behind and spending Christmas with her family in Evergreen, Colorado. But Mona’s holiday plans are put on hold when she learns that her old college roommate Olivia Whitman has gone missing. She hops on the first flight out to Lake Landry, Louisiana to cover the case.

Detective Dillon Reed is new to Lake Landry’s police department. He’d worked for the Baton Rouge PD for over ten years before growing tired of the city’s high-crime rate. As he settles into peaceful Lake Landry, the last thing Dillon expects is for a high-profile missing persons case to land on his desk. He’s shocked when Chief of Police Richard Boyer assigns him to head up the Olivia Whitman investigation.

Dillon is under an immense amount of pressure to solve the case considering the prominent nature of Olivia’s family, known for their vast real estate fortune. He hopes to keep the investigation out of the media as much as possible so not to jeopardize its integrity. Just as Dillon begins examining the circumstances surrounding Olivia’s disappearance, in walks the beautiful hotshot investigative journalist, Mona Avery.

The pair immediately clash. Cracking Dillon’s hardened demeanor proves difficult for Mona. While she can’t help but feel drawn to his rugged sexiness, his aloof behavior is off-putting to say the least. As for Dillon, the last thing he needs is for Olivia’s investigation to turn into a media circus. He’s convinced Mona’s involvement will do just that. Despite being uncontrollably mesmerized by her, he refuses to participate in any of her on-air broadcasts and is standoffish when she attempts to delve further into the case with him.

But when Mona begins receiving deadly threats, it becomes clear that a killer wants her story silenced. And only Dillon can keep her safe…

A few fun facts:

💗 The book was inspired by the film Gone Girl. But once you read it, you'll see that Bayou Christmas Disappearance has a much different twist.

💗 I'd originally titled the book CAPTURED AT CHRISTMAS. But come to find out, that title had already been chosen by another Harlequin author. So I switched it to TAKEN AT CHRISTMAS. Then when I submitted book cover ideas to the art department, I described a scene where my main characters arrive at a rundown shack located in a swampy marsh, near a haunting sugar cane field. The marketing team was so inspired by the scene that they suggested we change the book's title to represent it. And that's how the name BAYOU CHRISTMAS DISAPPEARANCE came about.

💗 I wrote this book at the top of 2021, during the middle of the pandemic, just as I was selling my condo and planning a move. My anxiety was at an all-time high, and I was struggling to meet my deadline. I have to admit, once the book was done and it was time to edit, I had no idea what I'd be facing. Thankfully, I hadn't written a disaster (lol) and I was quite pleased with the end result. This book is actually one of my favorites. CLICK HERE for more on it and to order your copy!

2020 was a rough year for us all. But there were a few bright spots. The release of LOVE AT THE ICICLE CAFE was definitely one of mine.

I was overjoyed with the feedback this book received from both critics and readers. Publishers Weekly said, "As Mina and Scott rekindle their romance, mouthwatering descriptions of desserts, cozy small-town closeness, and lively secondary characters add excitement. This affecting love story is a delight." The Library Journal wrote, "Wheatley creates a cozy European village setting, combined with mouth-watering descriptions of pastries and a feel-good romance, making this heaven for lovers of made-for-TV holiday movies." Here's more on the book:

Can an icicle-themed festival thaw the most unlikely hearts?

California lawyer Mina Richards spent her childhood helping her mom bake at their winter-themed cafe in the snowy village of Gosberg, Germany. When her retired parents want to sell The Icicle Café, Mina returns to facilitate the sale. She needs this to go right—she’ll fly in, finalize the deal and fly out to rescue her once high-powered career. But faced with Scott, her childhood friend and crush who doesn’t want to sell, Mina’s plan quickly falls apart.

Rising chef Scott Dawson has turned The Icicle Café into a destination restaurant. His parents and their partners want to sell the café to a hotel chain, and Scott can't meet their price. When Mina arrives—more beautiful and determined than ever—he sees the possibility of a new future for the business and the town he loves. He just needs to change her mind…about more than selling the café.

When Scott asks Mina to help with the café’s annual Icicle Fest, their icy relationship warms. Can these former friends find a future together in the snowy village of their past?

A few fun facts:

💗 My father served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in a small German town. Gosberg, the fictional town in LOVE AT THE ICICLE CAFE, was inspired by the stories he'd share with me.

💗 Like Lauren's love of floral design in CHRISTMAS IN FULL BLOOM, Mina's love of baking was also inspired by my mother. Growing up, my mom baked the most delicious lemon sugar cookies and vanilla cakes topped with homemade icing. I miss those days!

💗 Mina and Scott's relationship was inspired by actors Regina Hall and Stephen Bishop, who played enemies-to-lovers in the film With This Ring. I love creating tension between characters, especially when there's an underlying attraction they're struggling to fight.


I'm going to start this one off with a fun fact. I used to do a ton of ghostwriting through Upwork, and the majority of my assignments were erotica. At one point, I thought to myself, self, why don't you start writing your own erotica, under your own name? And that's when I stopped ghostwriting and penned A NAUGHTY JOLLY CHRISTMAS for eXtasy Books. Here's the scoop on the story:

Someone is about to have the best holiday ever...

Sasha Williams is an African-American public relations powerhouse who’s come a long way from Chicago to Los Angeles. While she loves her LA life, she hasn’t forgotten her roots and always goes back home to celebrate Christmas with her tight-knit family. This year, however, Sasha’s holiday plans are nixed when she’s forced to accompany her sexy, notoriously naughty new client Drake Lancaster on a press tour for his upcoming Christmas movie.

Sasha is furious, yet finds herself overcome with lust when Drake strolls into her office. She’s surprised considering she has never dated outside of her race. Drake’s attraction toward her is just as intense, and the pair end up partaking in far more than just business.

Despite Sasha’s promise to keep things professional during the press tour, their sensual trysts heat up even further while out on the road. In the end, Sasha must decide whether their cultural differences, along with her secret painful past and Drake’s playboy reputation, are worth her risking her heart and career—especially without knowing whether this is the real thing or a racy fling.

A few fun facts:

💗 I absolutely adore the city of Los Angeles. This book's setting was inspired by the days I've spent in Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and Century City, soaking in the beauty, business and glamorous atmosphere.

💗 I've met some really wonderful, talented authors who write for eXtasy Books. V.J. Allison, Maggie Blackbird, Dawn Dehel, and Seelie Kay were all so warm and welcoming when I first signed with eXtasy. I learned a lot from them, and I will never forget how generous and supportive they were!

💗 Despite the spicy nature of A NAUGHTY JOLLY CHRISTMAS, I was inspired by several Hallmark holiday movies while writing the story. I had Candace Cameron Bure's film Christmas Under Wraps playing on repeat, which is actually one of my holiday faves. The mix of sweet and spicy ended up being quite motivating.


Tule Publishing's Christmas in July event is happening on July 12th from 8:00 AM to 8:30 PM CST. Authors will be taking over their FB Book Club page to share fun holiday memories, discuss past and present projects, and give away great prizes. Hope to see you there! CLICK HERE to join the group.

QUICK AUTHOR UPDATE: I just turned in Book 5 in my West Coast Crime Story series, tentatively titled PREYED UPON. That'll hit shelves next spring. The outline for Book 6, tentatively titled DEADLY INTENT, is done! I also just completed a secret project that I can't discuss just yet, but I am so excited to share deets as soon as I can. Stay tuned for that!

Thank you so much for stopping by and celebrating Christmas in July with me. For more on my collection of books, CLICK HERE, and to keep up with my life as an author, CLICK HERE!

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