Hello all! Thank you for joining me on the next stop of my little tour celebrating the release of Vixen's Valor, the third book in the North Pole City Tales series. I'm here with an exclusive excerpt from this sweet and sexy little tale of a mischievous Christmas elf and the handsome lieutenant out to capture his heart. Enjoy!
Vale followed Hollis to Vixen’s hangar, and they stood outside, watching as, one by one, nine biplanes landed on the Causeway in a neat little row with Rudy’s cherry-red plane at the head. Vixen’s plane was fourth in the lineup and, like its owner, was bright and bursting with flare. From nose to tail, it was painted in red-and-white candy-cane stripes.
The propeller on each plane slowed its spinning, and the Rein Dear pilots emerged from their cockpits. The crowd erupted into cheers and catcalls while the Rein Dears waved and Vixen blew kisses. The audience wasn’t as large as it would be the day of the Big Flight and mostly consisted of helpers, mechanics, toy soldiers, and friends of the Rein Dears, with the exception of a few determined fans who had somehow managed to gain entrance.
Mayor Kringle tended to keep the test runs private in case there were any mishaps. Although the pilots had hundreds of years of experience, along with the aid of the Frost family where weather was concerned, one never knew what could happen. The Rein Dears broke off into small groups, chatting with one another and their helpers, who ran to assist. Vixen looked quite dashing in his red-and-black flight jacket, a contrast to his fair hair, which was windswept and falling roguishly over his brow. His flight goggles were perched on his head, and he was removing his black gloves. A dark-haired toy soldier appeared on the tarmac, and Vale watched curiously as the elf approached Vixen, a broad smile on his face. Vixen returned the toy soldier’s smile.
Hollis’s frown mirrored Vale’s own. “It looks like someone else has his eye on your Christmas elf.”
“Do you know him?”
“No, but then, I can hardly keep track of every toy soldier in our service. Your Vixen doesn’t seem all that put off by him.”
His brother was right. Then again, Vale wasn’t courting Vixen. The Christmas elf was free to spend time with whomever he wished. Vale had heard all the rumors of Vixen and his affections, but Vale didn’t fault him. Vixen was free to do as he pleased, and it was no one’s place to tell him otherwise. Still, Vale couldn’t help but feel a tinge of jealousy.
“Well what?” Vale asked his brother, unable to stop himself from sounding disheartened. He really wished his brother wouldn’t look at him like that. As if the answer was obvious.
“You’re merely going to stand here and watch some toy soldier sweep him off his feet? Honestly, Vale, that’s hardly romantic.”
Vale was uncertain of what stunned him most: his brother offering advice on matters of the heart or his suggestion he should be bolder. He watched the attractive toy soldier brazenly flirt with Vixen, who in turn laughed and flirted back.
“For Holly’s sake, you’re Lieutenant Vale Frost. Get out there and show that willful Christmas elf who you are and what you want. Or is he merely a passing fancy?” Hollis asked, arching an eyebrow at him.
“Absolutely not! You know very well I don’t have dalliances.”
“Then make your intentions known, or that pixie is going to make off with some other elf.”
Crabapples. His brother was right. If he wanted to win Vixen’s affections, he would have to be bolder. After all, Vixen wasn’t a timid elf in the least. He was intrepid, confident, and unafraid to speak his mind. Bidding his brother farewell, Vale squared his shoulders and strode over to the two elves.
“Forgive me for interrupting.”
“Lieutenant, Sir!” The toy soldier saluted and stood at attention, the gesture seeming to catch Vixen by surprise. Aware of Vixen’s sudden interest, Vale stood to his full height, lifted his chin, and donned the authoritative tone he used when addressing their kingdom’s army.
“At ease, Officer. If you would excuse us. I have matters to discuss with Vixen.”
“Uh, yes, sir. Of course.” The dark-haired toy soldier bowed several times before darting off. When Vale turned his attention back to Vixen, the heated look in Vixen’s eyes caught him off guard. The Christmas elf stepped up close to Vale and ran his fingers along the gold braiding on Vale’s jacket. Vale steeled himself. It was difficult to concentrate when Vixen focused his attention on him in such a manner.
“I didn’t know you could be so… commanding.”
It appeared Vale had just learned something new about the mischievous elf. “One of the many parts I play,” Vale replied, his voice going low.
“Hm, I’m interested in learning more about this playing,” Vixen purred at him, sending the most delicious shiver up Vale’s spine. He hoped his face wasn’t too flushed. Having smoldering Christmas elves brazenly touching him wasn’t exactly a common occurrence. If he were honest with himself, he’d admit he rather enjoyed it. A lot.
“I’d be happy to assist. I came to pick you up for our sleigh ride. Providing you don’t mind leaving your toy soldier friend behind.”
Vixen gave him a knowing look and wagged a finger at him. “Why, Lieutenant, is that the green-eyed monster I see peeking out from behind those alluring eyes of yours?”
“I’m afraid it might be.” He took Vixen’s hand in his and bowed over it. “Please, call me Vale.”
“I can work with that. Let’s go on that sleigh ride.” Vixen looped his arm through Vale’s and accompanied him to his sleigh. Vale helped him in, smiling when Vixen gasped with delight. He took one of the fur blankets and wrapped it around himself before sliding in under the rest. He wriggled happily, snuggling in and making Vale chuckle.
“You certainly know how to travel in style.”
“I wanted you to be comfortable.” He climbed in beside Vixen and motioned to the basket on the floor before taking the reins. “I had the kitchen put a little something together for our excursion.”
The bells jingled as Vale maneuvered the sleigh out of the Claus Causeway toward the snowy fields leading to the Enchanted Woods. He’d spent several months pondering on what he would do if Vixen accepted his invitation. Beside him, Vixen lifted the basket from the floor and placed it carefully on the blankets next to him. When he opened it, a multitude of mouthwatering scents wafted up to greet them. The kitchen staff had done a marvelous job filling the basket with freshly baked sugar cookies, small pies stuffed with spiced meat, roasted chestnuts, confectionary, a bottle of mulled wine with two glasses, and two sealed tankards of hot cocoa.
Vixen gasped and swiped up a cookie. “Sugar cookies with sprinkles! These are my favorite.” He cast Vale a shrewd glance. “But you knew that, didn’t you?”
“You caught me red-handed,” Vale confessed. “I asked Rudy what your favorite treats were.” Vale felt a hand on his thigh, and he gave a start.
“Apparently he didn’t list my most favorite treat.”
Vale swallowed hard. Holy holly, it was getting rather warm under these blankets. Seeming to sense his distress, Vixen chuckled and pulled his hand away. He nibbled on one of his cookies and took another from the basket. He snapped a piece off and held it to Vale’s mouth.
“Open up, handsome.”
Unable to do anything else, Vale did as asked, and Vixen popped the small chunk of cookie into this mouth. The cookie all but melted on his tongue, and he couldn’t help his moan. Catching himself, he gave Vixen an apologetic smile.
“It’s been some time since I’ve indulged.”
The heated look returned to Vixen’s eyes, and he pressed himself up against Vale. “Well, we’ll have to change that.”
To Vale’s relief, Vixen pulled back when they reached the forest. He looked around, curious. “Where are we going?”
“You’ll see.” He hoped Vixen liked his surprise. It most likely wouldn’t be anything like what the Christmas elf was expecting, but he hoped Vixen wouldn’t be disappointed. Either way, he’d do his best to sweep the fiery Vixen off his feet and show him that although Vale might not be as adventurous as some toy soldiers, it didn’t mean he had little to offer.
Vixen’s Valor (North Pole City Tales #3) by Charlie Cochet
Title ~ Vixen’s Valor (North Pole City Tales #3)
Author ~ Charlie Cochet
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 3rd December 2014
Genre ~ M/M Romance, Christmas, Fantasy.
Rein Dear is a prestigious title, accompanied by admiration, devotion, and celebrity status, all of which one saucy Vixen thrives on. Alas, Vixen’s only concerned with having fun, unlike his stuffy and sensible best friend, Rudy Rein Dear, who Vixen has always been jealous of. Aside from being chosen by Mayor Kringle to be Captain the Rein Dear Squadron, Rudy’s managed to snag himself a prince, even if that prince is the dangerous and imposing Jack Frost.
All’s not lost for Vixen though. He discovers Jack’s cousin Vale has a soft spot for him. Vale Frost might not be a dashing prince, but he’s the next best thing: a decorated Lieutenant for the Toy Soldier Army, and a member of the Frost monarchy.
Determined to get what Vixen feels he deserves, he sets off on a mission to ensnare the kind-hearted lieutenant. But Vixen’s selfish ways are sure to lead to disaster, and it’ll take more than a little courage to set things right.
If you've not read any of the North Pole City Tales yet, then you're in for a treat because these really do bring to mind the fantasy Christmas stories that I remember being entranced by when I was a kid. Tales of the North Pole, filled with jolly old Father Christmas in his red suit, Christmas Elves in his workshop, Reindeers pulling the sleigh, Jack Frost nipping at noses, dancing Sugarplum Fairies and Toy Soldiers battling the Mouse King (who's still the "boo hiss" baddie in this series). Only in Charlie's enchanted world Santa becomes Mayor Kringle; minus the red uniform but still the big guy who runs the whole caboodle,Toy Soldiers are hunky and a crack elf military and reindeers become The Rein Dears: dashing 'Famous Star' style pilots who every Christmas Eve deliver presents in their candy cane colored bi-planes. Sugarplum Fairies are their fan girl groupies and in a great twist on the norm, squadron leader Rudy is definitely not a four legged creature with antlers and a shiny red nose! Nope! He's a beautiful man with bright shiny red hair instead, and he's partial to a bit of sizzling, ice melting, man on man action, but only if it involves the love of his life, the gorgeous, sexy son of the Frost King: Jack Frost. A man you don't mess with unless you want a case of the blue baubles as this guy could freeze the balls off a brass monkey! Brrrr!!! If anyone's hot enough to thaw the ice around Jacks heart it's Rudy...literally!
So don't go mixing this up with your copy of 'The Night Before Christmas' because this is obviously NOT the book to read to the family whilst you're sat around the Christmas tree, eating your Chrissy nibbles and drinking your egg nog! What I do love, is that even though these charming treats are for a more mature audience, Charlie still manages to give them that enchanting fairytale feel, and she really injects the true magic of Christmas into these cute, sexy "Toyland" style stories in a way that just works! Don't get me wrong these are not filled to the brim with explicit sex scenes, they're much more story lead and romance oriented than that, but of course this is m/m so as well as being nice, these smexy elves do get a little "naughty" every now and again. LOL.
Because they're novellas, before jumping into Vixens tale I decided to do a re-read of the first two so I could get myself back in "Elf mode" and I really enjoyed catching up with the two original Christmas elves Tim and Noel from book #1 Mending Noel and of course Rudy and Jack who also appeared in that but got their main story told in the second book:The Heart Of Frost.
We actually got to meet Vixen briefly in book two, and even then he was the type of character you wanted to know more about as he's a got that touch of the naughty boy persona about him. Out of all the Rein Dear Squadron, apart from Rudy, he's probably the next best known amongst the famous, gift delivering pilots as his reputation does tend to precede him.
A bit of a male floozy he's always got a new lover waiting in the wings and is definitely a love 'em and leave 'em type. However Vale, Jack Frost's cousin and the love interest in this, is a true gentleman. Handsome but quiet, retiring and a tad shy, he's got a bit of a thing for the party boy pilot but after the hint of attraction we were shown between them at the finish of the last novella, this begins with Vixen...having decided the good lookingToy Soldier Officer is a bit too nice for him... back on the prowl again, looking for someone more exciting and it looks like Vale might be fighting for his affections against a dashing new Toy Soldier who arrives on the scene and catches Vixens eye.
The trouble with Vixen is that he's got a touch of the green eyed monster about him concerning his Captain and bestie, Rudy. They're buddies but he's always been jealous of the fact that his friend, who everyone loves, has all the things he ever wanted in life: great leadership qualities, loyalty of his peers, a real likability factor and the biggest bug bear of all...the love of a prince! And not just any prince but the prince of all princes...Jack Frost!
Like all flawed hero's there are deeper reasons for Vixens superficial behavior, and like Vale we do get to see his softer side. He's not always as arrogant and vain as he seems, but it's when he decides that perhaps lieutenant Vale (who is still a member of the Frost monarchy) might not be a bad catch after all, that things begin to change for the flighty flyboy. What starts as just a seduction for his own devices, slowly changes to something that even he never thought could happen to a more frivolous guy like himself, and things begin to go well for him and his soldier; until he inadvertently finds out some information, secret to the Frost royalty, that if it got into the wrong hands could be extremely dangerous for the safety of everyone who resides in the North Pole. Unfortunately during a peppermint julep drinking session, he's tricked into divulging the sensitive information and suddenly it's a matter of will Vixen lose everything he's always wanted or will he rise above his shallowness and become the elf that Vale was just starting to believe in?
Each book in the series has been really enjoyable. They've been sweet, funny, very Christmassy but surprisingly not too saccharine as there's always been a touch of mystery, action and adventure thrown in to stop it all getting too twee. In fact each one has felt slightly different in its mood. The first book had a more contemporary feel to it even though its world building was truly "Santa and his elves' in its setting, whereas book two had a touch more 'darkness' and danger in it. This one was definitely the sweetest of the bunch but on the whole all three are very appealing, endearing reads. I would definitely read as a series, even though it's not totally necessary to do that but I think you'd be missing out on a really fun, seasonal experience if you don't. I'm getting very fond of these guys and I'm looking forward to seeing what next year brings, if we get another trip to the world of sugar canes, gingerbread houses, and cinnamon smelling sexy elves! Dasher and Cupid were kind of getting a bit cosy in this and I reckon Hollis definitely needs his story told...so I ho..ho..hope there's more on the horizon. It might even be a case of I saw Santa kissing ???...
Well it's m/m so its certainly not going to be mommy! Hahaha...
Buy it Here
Series Reading Order
Mending Noel also available in audiobook. All books can be read as standalone but for maximum enjoyment, it's recommended they be read in order as characters appear in previous books.
Meet Charlie Cochet
Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!
Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.
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