Taste of Christmas

Will Izzy’s Christmas be naughty or nice… or a complete disaster? A funny romantic mystery story for the holidays.

Mistletoe seems a whole lot less romantic once you’ve been poisoned by it.

Isobel Avery would know—it’s one of the perks of being an undercover poison taster for the rich and famous. Still, with the weather as cold as it gets in Los Angeles and a hot new date, Izzy has a few ideas on how to keep herself warm this Christmas. They just don’t start under mistletoe.

However, before her cozy plans can come to fruition, she needs to survive meeting her date’s family over Christmas lunch. With a long, awkward road trip that has her wondering whether she’s fallen for the Grinch, a mysterious poisoner intent on killing the holiday spirit, and a Santa’s sackful of secrets she’s not allowed to spill, Izzy will need a Christmas miracle to avoid disaster.

The real question is, will her evening be naughty… or not?

Chapter Two

I surveyed myself in the mirror and sighed. Why had I said yes?

Okay, I’d been mooning over Connor ever since I found out he had a soul under the hard-ass exterior, and I would’ve paid to meet his family. If I wasn’t so broke, that is.

It was human nature: plunk a box in front of me and tell me I’m not allowed to open it—all I can think about is opening it. So when the man of mystery had invited me in, I would’ve been hard-pressed to decline even without his sweet, steadfast, and stupidly sexy qualities. But who thought having Christmas with someone’s family was a good idea as a first date? It’s the thing comedy shows are made of, and I was envisaging disaster upon disaster like Meet the Parents.

My heart sped up at the sound of someone knocking on the door. Connor. I hadn’t seen him since he’d asked me out two days ago, and my whole body trembled with nerves and anticipation. I braced my knees to hide their shaking, reminding me of the first time we’d met, and opened the door.

His tall, athletic form was backlit by the morning sun, which didn’t help my nerves as his gaze swept over me. “Merry Christmas, Isobel.”

He would have said, “I found a dead fish, Isobel,” in almost the exact same tone.

I stared at his perfect, composed face: the stern dark eyebrows, strong jaw, and warmer-than-usual eyes that offered the only hint he was pleased to see me. Okay, his nose was bruised green from its recent encounter with a walking stick, so he wasn’t quite perfect.

I realized I hadn’t replied. “Merry—”

The rest of the sentence and everything else fled from my brain as he leaned down, cupped my head in both hands, and kissed me thoroughly. “I’ve been looking forward to that,” he murmured, voice and breath soft against my cheek.

I didn’t say anything since my brain was malfunctioning. Maybe if I’d had that coffee…

“Are you ready?” he asked. “Or should I bring your coffee up from the car?”

Once again, I had let the silence drag out for too long. I’d been imagining dragging him into my bedroom—in spite of my secondhand duvet cover, which looked like a rainbow with a nasty stomach bug—and arriving at his family lunch late, but decidedly more merry.

I blinked and snapped out of my fantasy.

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