Maggie Blackbird

Romancing Canada's Indigenous People

Today, I’m hosting author Maria Imbalzano and her holiday release Red Velvet Crinkles and Christmas Sprinkles, a contemporary romance.  Be sure to read my review.  And don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.


Title: Red Velvet Crinkles and Christmas Sprinkles
Series: Christmas Cookies
Author: Maria Imbalzano
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: November 2, 2021
Pages: 81
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Competitive, work-obsessed Bella Simonetti has just been fired from her high-paying job at a Manhattan law firm. At an all-time low, she returns home and helps her parents at their small-town gift shop, but the business is failing and may not make it past the Christmas holidays.

Successful landscape architect Dean Jackson is like a son to Bella’s parents. But he’s a persistent annoyance to her—he seems to have forgotten his unforgivable blunder thirteen years earlier.

When Bella transforms her parents’ gift shop into a cookie cottage, Dean’s generosity and magnetic smile are hard to resist, and those feelings of unrequited adolescent love come rushing back. But can Bella let go of the past and accept Dean for the man he is today?

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“I agree with Dean. Barb’s Gift Cottage has been in Princeton for thirty years. You don’t decide one day to revamp the entire business. Get rid of the old, make way for the new. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Bella bit her tongue before responding, reminding herself to stay cool. “Okay. I’m open to anything. Let’s talk about your ideas to stay afloat.” She sat, poised with her pad in front of her, pen in hand.


She looked directly at her dad first, eyebrow arched. “I’m listening.” Then she scanned over to Dean.

Her gaze moved up to his eyes—sea green in the harsh kitchen light but beautiful just the same.

His gaze locked with hers and held her hostage— an unwilling prisoner to his warden. All ire morphed into a swirling eddy of primal lust, and she felt herself disappearing into his aura. She needed to save herself as well as her ego. Fighting the pull, she surfaced, blinking to clear her eyes, inhaling to bring her back to the present.

She disconnected and glanced at her parents. Had they noticed she’d been missing?

The smallest smile quirked Dean’s lips—surely acknowledging her lapse into Dean-land. She reached for the annoyance she’d let slip from her grasp and pulled it back into her arsenal.


I always enjoy a holiday read, and the author serves up more sweetness than red velvet crinkles.  Having been fired by her going-nowhere job as a third-tier lawyer at an exclusive law firm in Manhattan, Bella feels like the biggest failure who has ever lived.  And she’s returned to her parents’ home in Princeton to lick her wounds.  I enjoyed the opening, because who doesn’t need the time to grieve after suffering such a big loss?  This is not a pity trip Bella is indulging in, but one where she is worried about her future and what she’ll do next.  The emotion and suffering are well written, and draws sympathy from the reader for Bella.

As for Dean, although he’d moved to Florida after finishing university, he returned to Princeton to help his father save the family business because Dean has come to learn there is more to life than his career.  Such wisdom for one in his twenties.  I know in my twenties how focussed I was on my career.  He’s also like a second son to Bella’s parents, and this doesn’t sit well with Bella.  Why?  Because Dean was cruel to her when she was a complete misfit in high school and left her holding her prom dress on the night of her junior prom.

Therein lies the conflict for these two.  To top it off, Bella finds out her parents’ business is sinking very fast.

Bella shows what a survivor she is and how she doesn’t wallow too long feeling bad for herself.  She takes the bull by the horns and sets out to turn her parents’ business around.

I really enjoyed the family closeness, the slow burn romance unfolding between Bella and Dean, and the self-discovery in this short story.  It contains everything a reader is looking for in a holiday read:  romance, family, and most of all hope.  It’s like a holiday miracle without the Santa and cuteness.  Just people who are struggling and find strength in one another’s attributes.

I recommend you give this novel a read.  The author does a great job fleshing out the characters, producing sexual chemistry, and some great conflict.  It’s perfect for a Sunday afternoon read after trimming the tree.


Maria Imbalzano is a retired matrimonial lawyer who now writes full time. Instead of drafting motions, legal memoranda, and briefs, although fascinating, she now spends her days creating memorable characters and taking them on their emotional journeys through her contemporary romance novels.

Her novel, “Unchained Memories,” won the Wisconsin Romance Writers Write Touch Readers’ Award and the ACRA Readers’ Choice Heart of Excellence Award. “Sworn to Forget,” the first of the four-book Sworn Sisters Series was a finalist for the illustrious RONE award as well as the Book Buyers Best Award. Her novellas, “The Blueberry Swirl Waltz” and “A Song For Another Day” each came in first in their category in the National Excellence in Story Telling contest.

Visit Maria at

Find Maria:  Web Site | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | BookBub | Amazon | Newsletter Sign-Up


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5 thoughts on “Maria Imbalzano – Red Velvet Crinkles and Christmas Sprinkles

  1. Thank you Maggie, for hosting me and for the review. I really appreciate it.


  2. Jenny Ham says:

    What a sweet cover love it. Sounds like my kind of book and perfect time of year to read it.


    1. Hi Jenny: I love the cover too! I hope you get a chance to read this book. I had such fun writing it.


  3. Diana Hardt says:

    Nice cover. It sounds like a really interesting book. Thank you for sharing.


    1. Hi Diana: Thanks so much for stopping by. This is the first holiday story I’ve written, and it was so much fun. Especially the banter between Bella and her mom about her baking mistakes (a little autobiographical I’m afraid.)


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