Santa's List: Lee McKenzie

Her Problem
As a busy single mom to her teenage daughter, Kristi Callahan doesn't have time for a man. But it sure would be nice if her mother believed that, too. She keeps setting Kristi up on disastrous blind dates, determined to find her "the one."

His Problem
After Nate McTavish's wife died, he was faced with raising his twin little girls alone. Making it up as he goes along and sometimes questioning his daddy skills, he also has to fend off women his well-meaning family keep throwing at him.

Their Solution
When Nate hires Kristi to stage his house before selling it, they instantly realize they've found the perfect answer to their problem: be fake dates for each other! It's a great plan—until they start to wonder if the real thing might not be even better….

Heart & Home
ISBN: 9780373754366

Kristi Callahan rang the doorbell of her dream home. A sprawling 1960s rancher with two fireplaces, a breezeway separating the house from the two-car garage, and enough West Coast flair to appeal to potential buyers searching for their own dream home in one of Seattle's family-friendliest neighborhoods. And it was just her luck to be on the wrong side of the door.

This house was well beyond the reach of a single mom raising a teenage daughter on a single mom's income, but that didn't stop her imagination from playing with the idea of actually living in a house like this someday. And since she'd been hired to get this one staged for the real estate market, she would at least get to put her personal stamp on the place before returning to reality. Her modest two-bedroom town house was no dream home, but it was hers. Or it would be hers in twenty-three and a half years.
The other reality was that by the time she and her team at Ready Set Sold were finished here, this client would get top dollar, even in today's less-than-stellar market, putting this house even further out of her reach.

Speaking of clients, she had an appointment and she was only five minutes late. Okay, eight, but surely Mr. and Mrs. McTavish hadn't given up on her and gone out. There was a big silver-colored SUV and two pink plastic tricycles parked in the driveway but that didn't necessarily mean anyone was home.

She dug her phone out of the side pocket of her bag. No messages, no missed calls. Taking care not to get tripped up by a tattered teddy bear missing half its stuffing and three small yellow rubber boots strewn across the wide front step, she rang the bell again, and waited. A moment later her patience was rewarded with footsteps, lots of them. Two identical faces with earnest blue eyes and blond Cindy Brady pigtails appeared in the glass sidelight next to the door. One had her thumb in her mouth; the other's pigtails were oddly askew. No doubt these were the tricycle riders. And then they were dwarfed by a huge dog whose head appeared above theirs, a panting, drooling Saint Bernard.

From the time Lee McKenzie was ten years old and read Anne of Green Gables and Little Women, she wanted to be a writer like Anne and Jo. Since then she's written everything from advertising copy to an honors thesis in paleontology, but becoming a Harlequin author is her proudest accomplishment yet. Lee and her family live in the Pacific Northwest. She invites you to visit her website.

SANTA: Do you believe in Santa Claus? 
LEE: Of course! I also believe in the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, leprechauns, and miracles!

SANTA: What’s your favorite Holiday Movie?
LEE: Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Every year, after the house is decorated and the gifts are wrapped and the menu is planned, I dig out my ancient VHS copy and curl up in front of the TV with a big steaming mug of hot chocolate. Even though all the preparations have been made, it just isn’t Christmas until I’ve watched it. At the end of the film, when the doors swing open and the snow is falling as Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye and Vera Ellen sing “White Christmas”…then it’s Christmas!
ANGI: Just had to pop in and say this is one of my favorite scenes from WHITE CHRISTMAS.

SANTA: Which Holiday film can you watch over and over without falling asleep?
LEE: Love Actually. I love Christmas and I adore romantic comedies, so what could be better than lots of love stories in one film set at Christmastime? I have this one on DVD and yes, I watch it every year!

SANTA: What’s your favorite Holiday cartoon special?
LEE: That’s easy! A Charlie Brown Christmas. Charlie Brown’s search for the meaning of Christmas has always resonated with me. And haven’t we all had a least one “Charlie Brown tree” at Christmastime? I had Snoopy’s decorated doghouse in mind when I wrote The Christmas Secret,  and I was over-the-moon happy that they put the doghouse on the cover! This is the first book in my Seattle-set Ready Set Sold series, and I’m giving away a copy today! See details below.
I also found this adorable snow globe last Christmas, and it now sits on the “inspiration shelf” in my office.

SANTA: What’s your favorite Holiday desert you’d share with friends?
LEE: I have a trifle recipe that is best described as completely over-the-top and absolutely delicious! Readers who’d like to check it out will find it on the Bistro page of my website. 

SANTA: What is your favorite Holiday tradition?
LEE: I have two. I decorate the house in early December, but we save the tree for Christmas Eve. My husband brings it inside on the morning of the 24th and we spend the morning decorating it. I love the smell of a real tree and the memories associated with each ornament, but mostly I love that finally having the tree in the living room means Santa will soon be here!

My other tradition involves the pink Depression glass sugar bowl and oval-shaped serving bowl I inherited from my grandmother. She always served cranberry sauce in the sugar bowl and jellied salad in the oval serving bowl…and so do I. No one in my family cares much for jellied salad, but I make it anyway. It’s like having my grandmother with us at the Christmas dinner table.

SANTA’S GOTTA ASK: What’s your favorite gift Santa ever left under the tree?
LEE’S GOTTA ANSWER: As corny as it might sound, I would have to say it’s this rocking horse. Santa brought it when I was three years old, my children played on it, and I still have it. For most of the year it’s stored away in the basement, but every year I bring it up and incorporate it into our Christmas décor. And after all these years, this rocking horse and I still have something in common…we’re both vintage!

Email  Website     Twitter  @LeeMcWrites    Blogs

I’m really excited that I’ll have two books out in May 2013—Maggie’s Way (Harlequin Heartwarming, May 1st) and Daddy,Unexpectedly (Harlequin American Romance, May 7th)!  Daddy, Unexpectedly is now available for pre-order at Amazon.com.  

Check out Lee's backlist with titles like: Firefighter Daddy, The Wedding Bargain & With This Ring.

Lee is giving away a signed copy of The Christmas Secret to one commenter day. And if you sign up for her monthly eNewsletter, Life in the Slow Lane, your name will be entered twice!

Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to any address--INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES WELCOME. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants. Winners of drawings are responsible for checking this site in a timely manner. If prizes are not claimed in a timely manner, the author may not have a prize available. Get Lost In A Story cannot be responsible for an author's failure to mail the listed prize. GLIAS does not automatically pass email addresses to guest authors unless the commenter publicly posts their email address.

DON’T FORGET to FOLLOW us on Twitter #GetLostStories or LIKE us on Facebook to keep up with all our guest authors and their prizes. Join Donnell tomorrow when she hosts my chaptermate, Jerrie Alexander with her debut release. And I’m back on Friday with RITA award winner Kaki Warner. ~Angi

LEE WANTS TO KNOW about everyone’s holiday traditions. What’s your favorite?


  1. Thanks for stopping by, Lee (and Santa) !!

    I especially love that you've kept your rocking horse and work it into your decorations every year. I'm afraid the doll I have from my childhood looks pretty bad and actually gave my daughters nightmares. LOL


  2. It's a pleasure to be here, Angi! Thank you for having me!

  3. Great interview, Lee. It's always a Snoopy Christmas for me. I have so many Snoopy decorations. My favorite traditon is listening to Christmas music on Christmas morning. My favorites are Fred Waring and Andy Williams.

  4. My favorite one is eating the christmas cookies! Love the smell and the taste!

  5. Tammy, I say you can never have too many Snoop decorations! I love Christmas music, too. Last year my daughter gave me the Glee Christmas CD and I love it!

  6. My, I've never met a cookie I didn't like ;)
    Especially shortbread. Love shortbread!

  7. Hi Lee
    Great interview, and the book sounds fantastic.
    I love your rocking horse story. A favorite part of Christmas for me is sharing stories of past Christmases with my children and grandchildren. Memories mingle with love.
    Wishing you the best of the season.

  8. I love Christmas and being with family.

  9. "Memories mingle with love." What a lovely sentiment. Thank you, Jo-Ann!

  10. Me too, Ingeborg. This is my favorite holiday!

  11. Your stories about your rocking horse and movies are very sweet - I've always loved Snoopy's Christmas as well. And putting together interesting stockings for my 4 kids was one of my bestest experiences every year! The past decade, having all the close-living kids and grandkids over for Christmas brunch is always a good experience. Thanks for sharing, and I'll be looking for your next books! Cheers.

  12. Hi, Celia! My family gathers at my house for Christmas every year, and everyone has a stocking! Shopping for stocking stuffers is one of my favorie things!

  13. I'm with you on Love, Actually, Lee. And the music is fantastic, especially the finale! Thanks for posting the trifle recipe, I'll be giving that one a try soon!

  14. Love Actually has a wonderful soundtrack, and "God Only Knows" is my favorite Beach Boys' song! Brian Wilson is a genius songwriter.

    Hope you enjoy the trifle, Roxanne!

  15. Thanks for the recipe.

    I signed up for the newsletter.


  16. Thank you, bn100! That trifle recipe is a crowd-pleaser!

  17. Had to listen to A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS album today.
    Start those jazz swishes on your symbols...
    Dooby doop dooby do do doo, dooby doop doo.


  18. Book looks awesome! Hope I win. Will be signing up for newsletter also! Brat81978@aim.com

  19. We've just decorated the house & Christmas tree, definitely a favorite tradition.


  20. Enjoy your holiday house, Mary! I'll bet it's beautiful!

  21. And the winner of a signed copy of The Christmas Secret is...Laurie Franco! Congratulations, Laurie!

    Special thanks to Angi for interviewing me, and to you all for dropping by!

    Merry Christmas!