Thursday, December 31, 2015

Review: The Queen's New Year Secret by Maisey Yates

I almost didn't read this book because I didn't like the first part of the Princes of Petras - A Christmas Vow of Seduction. But it was on my list of books to read for the year and I do usually like Yates' Presents stories, so I decided to give it a try.

I liked it a lot more than I liked Christmas Vow of Seduction. In this story the queen, Tabitha, has asked the king, Kairos, for a divorce on New Year's Eve. He's furious about this and doesn't understand why his wife is suddenly unhappy with the cold, convenient marriage on which they both initially agreed.

The story is about his attempt to win her back, and I enjoyed reading about how these two work through their issues. Toward the end, I did begin to think that Kairos was such a jerk that maybe Tabitha would be better off without him. But he does finally face his problems and try to move past them.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. Not by any means one of my favorites, but still enjoyable for a quick read.

I received a copy of this via NetGalley.

Review: One Breathless Night by Jo Leigh

I liked this book a lot, but it certainly does make every other New Year's Eve celebration seem very dull. Rick and Jenna watch in horror as their significant others kiss at midnight and in retaliation, Rick turns to Jenna and kisses her in a way described later as "alarmingly amazing." The two run off to the apartment Rick is staying at in Boston. At first the two are consoling each other. Jenna was in the midst of planning a wedding - the dress was already bought and Rick had an engagement ring in his pocket, planning to propose at midnight.

But then they realize it's a new year and time to begin new lives and try new things. A snow storm forces them to spend the next few days together, and they make the most of their time in the very sophisticated, high tech, "smart" apartment Rick is staying at - testing it for a friend.

The weekend together leads to an attempt at a long distance relationship - Jenna's a school teacher in the Boston area and Rick is a storm chaser in Oklahoma. They're both forced to re-evaluate what they thought they wanted in a relationship, versus what they need.

These are great characters, with very real emotions and reactions to their situations as they struggle to figure out how to be involved in a real, though somewhat inconvenient relationship.

Enjoyable, fast paced story, great characters, great story, very steamy. I'd say perfect read for New Year's Eve, but it sort of makes me realize how pathetic my own New Year's Eve is going to be in a few hours. Oh well, good book anyway.

I received a copy of this via NetGalley.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Review: Christmas Vow of Seduction by Maisey Yates

I did not like this book very much at all. I've read several Harlequin Presents in the past few days, and loved them, which is why I kept reading them instead of doing other things I should be doing around the house. And I'm usually a fan of Maisey Yates, but this book bothered me quite a bit.

The story begins with Zara, who is given to a king as a gift, and to his credit, he's kind of horrified by this. But then decides she'd make a great wife for his brother, Andres. His brother though was such a creep. Something of a sociopath, wanna-be rapist. I could not get past the first few scenes in the story when Andres is with Zara. He's trying to make clear that she has to do what he says and if not he's threatening to rape her. What? Yuck. As readers, we're shown his thought process and told he would never do this to a woman, but the very fact that he's threatening her in this way is upsetting. Lots of, "well, I'll show you what I mean" as he towers over her, thrusting his hips against her. As the story progresses, his behavior only gets worse. We learn he's had control issues his whole life, he was so badly behaved his mother left. He does not need a wife, he needs an extended stay in a mental health facility.

As for the story line, after he gets angry with Zara, then has sex with her against the wall during a luncheon - her first time, how romantic - he suddenly decides he can't get enough of her. She feels the same about him, which I guess is supposed to make it all okay. They grow closer, ready to get married on Christmas, then all of sudden Andres wants to make clear he doesn't love her. The way the story is told, this came out of nowhere, didn't flow with the story at all. Then there's all this about him dealing with his mother not loving him and he thinks he doesn't deserve love.

Of course they end up together in the end, everyone loving each other. That's not a spoiler, that's simply how these books always end. But none of it felt convincing. I need more than the thoughts in his head to believe any of this.

I usually really like Harlequin Presents, with their over the top, rich, powerful, ruthless men. But what makes me love these books is that the men, despite their power and often times arrogance, still fall hard when they fall in love and even if they treat everyone else horribly, they treat the women they love like the best thing that has ever happened to them. I didn't feel that with this book. In fact, I felt like Zara needed to run as far away as possible from this guy.

I received a copy of this via NetGalley.

Review: Angel by Victoria Dahl

I love just about anything written by Victoria Dahl, including this.

It's a short story - that might be my only complaint, I would have liked to have read more about these characters.

Melisande Angelle is a prostitute in New Orleans. She's been doing this work for a while and views sex as nothing more than a job. But then Bill meets her on Christmas day outside the brothel with a gift. This is when Melisande realizes being with Bill isn't work. Bill wants to take her away from New Orleans, away from her current profession. Melisande has never had anyone want to take care of her before.

Very sweet, sexy story.  I love that Dahl always sticks to her feminist principles. Melisande isn't ashamed of her work. She isn't searching for a man to rescue her. But she's also not going to deny herself a chance at love, a chance to be something other than a prostitute.

Perfect if you are in need of a quick read. And even better, when I got this it was free on amazon, So do yourself a favor and get a copy.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Review: The Price of His Redemption by Carol Marinelli

I liked this a lot. If someone had described the story to me, I would have said it was a story line I don't like. But the characters are so well-written, and their chemistry seems so natural, and so very hot, that I ended up really enjoying this story.

Libby, trying to help out her dad, meets with very wealthy, powerful, Daniil Zverev, to try to persuade him to attend his parents' anniversary party - a party her father is in charge of planning. Daniil has no interest in attending, but he finds himself very interested in Libby. While Libby may not be able to convince him to attend the party (and honestly, she doesn't try that hard, she hates that her father put her in that position) Daniil is quite successful in convincing her to join him for dinner.

The chemistry between these two is sizzling. I usually roll my eyes at this kind of immediate attraction, but in this story it works.

Libby has recently ended her career as a ballerina and she's grieving the loss of her childhood dreams, while also trying to start her own dance studio. She's surprised when Daniil provides her with detailed business plan for her new business to present to the bank when she asks for her loan.  She thought her night was him was a one night stand, but they keep finding reasons to see each other.

Libby is emotional and bold, and she gets frustrated with Daniil's need to maintain full control of their encounters. After multiple dates, she doesn't even have his phone number.

This guy, Daniil, had the potential to be such a jerk, and I was bracing myself to hate him, but he always seemed to redeem himself, more aware of his flaws than anyone else. He didn't behave like a jerk because he was a jerk, but rather because he didn't know how to act any differently, but he makes great strides to change his behavior and be someone that Libby wants.

There is a scene toward the end of the book, when Libby has decided she's had enough of Daniil and retreats to her studio to get away from him, and he comes to find her and apologize for his earlier behavior - that might be one of my favorite scenes ever in a book like this. He says all the right things and completely redeems himself for any previous bad behavior. Made me sort of love this book and Daniil. I already liked Libby a lot.

I will definitely be looking to read more by this author. I received a copy of this via NetGalley

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Review: Christmas in Da Conti's Bed by Sharon Kendrick

For the most part I enjoyed this book.

Niccolo Da Conti is furious about his sister's choice of a bridesmaid - Alannah, a former school friend who made a name for herself by posing nude for a magazine. He's afraid her association with his sister will look bad for his sister.

Overall, I found his behavior a little silly. Yes, he wants what is best for his sister, but causing a scene seems to be more embarrassing. The two agree to a truce until after the wedding. But then when he needs an interior designer, he remembers that is Alannah's current profession and gives her a call.

We also learn that ten years earlier, the two met at a party and kissed, before Niccolo realized Alannah was his sister's school friend. Now that attraction between the two seems to still exist and is growing at they spend time together working.

I had something of a problem with Alannah thinking so little of herself that she seemed to have no problem giving into Niccolo after all the things he's said about her. Of course, he changes his mind when she tells him why she posed nude and why she needed money. But that also bothered me, the way her reasons excused what she'd done, but if she'd done it simply for money, then that would have been wrong? He just wasn't a guy I liked very much.

Another thing that bothered me a lot was that right after, as in moments, after they have unprotected sex they discuss this as in, "Oh no, what if you're pregnant?" and the answer is, "I guess we wait and see." Are you serious? These are supposed to be fairly intelligent adults who run their own businesses. I get tired of women being portrayed as being so helpless and ignorant with regard to their reproductive decisions. The next few chapters of the book are underscored with the idea that they may as well spend time together and get to know each other because they might have a baby on the way. Story lines like this remind me that I am not the audience for which these stories are written.

Other than the things mentioned, I liked the story. Typical story of a man who thinks he isn't capable of loving anyone being proven wrong by the woman who loves him. I liked their Christmas in a cottage. I'm always a fan of a snowed in cottage for Christmas. Very steamy, sexy, fast-paced read.

I received a copy via NetGalley.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Review: Unwrapping the Castelli Secret by Caitlin Crews

I liked this book a lot.

Be warned, the characters are more than a little bit messed up.

While the rest of the world watched wealthy Rafael Castelli hook up with D-list celebrities, he was having sex with his college age step-sister, Lily, on the side. In public, he treated her as the awkward, brainy little sister, but in dark corners and hidden rooms, he couldn't get enough of her. And she couldn't seem to give him up either. She viewed this an addiction that was bound to destroy her.

When she's involved in a horrible car accident, she thinks she finally has an escape. People begin to assume she's dead, and she allows it.

Then she runs into Rafael five years later. He demands answers as she makes a weak attempt to pretend she doesn't know who he is. Then he catches sight of her son and knows he's the father.

Rafael has been consumed with guilt and grief for years, but now his main priority is his son. He may not be able to win Lily's heart, but he's not going to let her disappear with his son again. I liked the way Rafael and Lily worked through their issues. There isn't any immediate forgiveness. They both need to move past the people they were when they were younger and figure out how they're going to proceed with their future, for the sake of their son and for each other.

Their relationship isn't by any means healthy, and I appreciate that the author made no attempt to gloss over how twisted both characters are in some of their actions
. They're both deceptive and cruel to each other, with clear control issues. I also really liked that the end is not an immediate, "oh, I love you, let's get married" and everything becomes magically perfect.

One thing that bothered me though was the frequent and inconsistent mention of Lily's hair color. Sometimes isn't strawberry blonde and other times it's honey gold. I see those as two different colors. Maybe it wouldn't have bothered me so much if it hadn't been mentioned so often. But her hair color is mentioned every time she is looked at.

Other than the inconsistent hair color, I really liked this story. This story may not appeal to those seeking more traditional or fairy tale like stories, in which the good and bad guys are well defined and their transformations obvious. But for those wanting a story with complex characters and emotions, this works pretty well.

Highly recommend if you're wanting a sexy, steamy holiday read with a bit more (okay, a lot more) angst than a Hallmark holiday movie. These characters had a very rough beginning and have a lot to work through before getting their happy Christmas.

I received a copy of this via NetGalley

Friday, December 25, 2015

Review: Touch of Frost by Rhain Cahill

Nothing much happened in this story. A couple meets, they have sex for the weekend they really like each other. No conflict, not drama, nothing of much interest at all.

I have to admit, based on the title, I thought this would have some element of the paranormal, so was a little disappointed to discover there is nothing paranormal at all in this story. No magic Jack Frost or anything like that.

I read this because I was tend to like short stories around the holidays. I like to read a lot of them because there are a lot of well written novellas that manage to still create some emotional impact and character development. I didn't feel like there was much of that in this story.

It isn't that I disliked the story, there simply wasn't enough of a story to evoke any sort of strong feelings, good or bad.

I received a copy of this via NetGalley.

Review: Christmas with the Laird by Scarlet Wilson

I'm always in search of romantic books set in Scotland and this one worked well. This story even includes a haunted mansion.

Juliette is getting ready to leave work and looking forward to spending a pleasant Christmas alone. But before she can make it out the door, she's informed there's something of an emergency, and hey, since she doesn't have a family, no big deal if she gives up her holiday. She's the host for a show that features haunted houses. They need to quickly film an episode that will be ready by the beginning of the new year. Andrew says he knows of the perfect place, and convinces her to accompany him.

Soon Juliette learns this place Andrew mentioned is his family home in Scotland. A huge, largely abandoned home that he only visits when he has to make repairs. He doesn't even believe it's haunted, but he admits he doesn't think any of the places they film are haunted so they can just make something up.

During their time together though, the setting seems to enhance their attraction for each other. What could have been a very dull, working Christmas turns into much more.

I liked the setting, liked the characters and enjoyed reading about the way they handled their increasing attraction for each other.

A very nice, romantic holiday story.

I received a copy of this via NetGalley.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Review: Humbugs and Heartstrings by Catherine Ferguson

I liked this story. It's a take on Christmas Carol, which is a favorite of mine.

It's around Christmas, and Bobbie is trying to save up money so her brother can have an operation. But her boss, Carol, is horrible. However, Carol is also her former best friend. In this version of the story, Carol is Scrooge and Bobbie is well, Bob Cratchit. There aren't any actual ghosts, but there is a woman who reads tea leaves, the appearance of a old DVD and some odd electric shortages in place of the spirits.

A man named Charlie is the catalyst who enters their lives. Bobbie meets him first, via email and the phone, and against her better judgment is developing a rather powerful crush on him. She thinks Carol also likes him, until it because clear she is trying so hard to impress him in hopes of some financial backing for her failing business.

The story is more about Bobbie and Carol's friendship than any sort of romance, which was fine with me. But some parts of the friendship didn't seem very realistic. If Carol was such a great friend, why did things fall apart so badly? The story goes back and forth and it's hard to tell what kind of person Carol really is.

Some of the situations were a little ridiculous and unbelievable. Set up a huge Christmas Fair with practically no experience. Huge absurd fights. This is something of a lighthearted story that avoids going into too much depth as to the underlying emotions and causes of their actions and behaviors. As terrible as things may be at one moment, they are as quickly and easily resolved in the next.

Overall an enjoyable, light, quick read focusing on friendship, set around the holidays.

I received a copy of this via NetGalley.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Review: A Viennese Christmas by Lynn Craig

I didn't like this story very much at all.

I read it because years ago, I visited Vienna and thought it was a beautiful city. I'd hoped for more of Vienna in this book. I assume when the city's name is somehow included in the title that the location will play a prominent role in the story. But other than a brief mention of the Belvedere and some Christmas Markets - no detail at all - this story could have taken place anywhere. There aren't even any locals involved in the story. It's an American who meets another American and turns out they work in the same place. Not interesting.

I didn't like the style in which it was written, the characters lacked depth. There just wasn't much of a story. Woman has lived in Vienna for a year but has made no attempt to learn anything about city. Meets a guy while at a Christmas market - her first attempt to explore city - they date, fall in love by Christmas, the end. I especially disliked the ending. The guy decides to invite her parents to Vienna for Christmas for his proposal - even though the character has explained she has no real relationship with her parents. I thought that was creepy. In this day and age a woman should be able to make big decisions without her parents' approval - especially if they aren't even a significant part of her life.

Disappointing story. I wouldn't recommend it.

I received a copy of this via NetGalley. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Review: A Yorkshire Christmas by Kate Hewitt

This is the kind of holiday novella I love.

After having her heart broken, Claire is trying to escape and spend Christmas alone in her godmother's cottage in Yorkshire. She doesn't want to deal with all the perfect families and her own failures. All she wants is to be alone. But that first night, her car gets stuck in the snow and she meets Noah, who lives on the farm next door. Unexpectedly, while accompanying Claire to the store to stock up on supplies for her stay, Noah gets a phone call informing him he's going to be keeping his daughter for the holidays - his eight year old daughter who has never even visited his house. His relationship with his daughter's mother is complicated, and his relationship with his daughter tends to consist of meeting up on Saturdays. But never long visits.

He's clearly panicking and Claire offers to help, since he did help her when she was stranded. This ends up being a wonderful Christmas for all involved. Two lonely people discover what they've been missing in their lives. A family, a home, love.

Very sweet, very romantic. I liked this a lot. It's a quick read, just a little over a hundred pages. Perfect story to accompany the holidays.

 I received a copy of this via NetGalley.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Review: Midnight Assignment by Victoria Dahl

New story from Victoria Dahl is an instant buy for me. This is a re-issue of one of her older stories - but it's new to me. And the gorgeous cover is certainly eye-catching.
During the month of December, I tend to only read holiday themed stories, so I thought I'd have to hold off on this. Then I saw that it takes place right around the holidays, so seemed like a good reason to include it.

It's a short story about some FDIC agents who have to work around the holidays. Still a Christmas tree up in the lobby of the bank as they make their take-over.

The story focuses on two agents who have been attracted to each other for a while. Even for a fairly short novella, the characters are well-developed, interesting people. They've both struggled with balancing work and their personal lives. 

Finally after finding themselves together and giving into their attraction for each other, they're ready to try and figure out a way to put a bit more focus on their personal lives. 

Highly recommend this if you're wanting a quick read. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Review: Definitely Naughty by Jo Leigh

I loved this book.

The blurb that accompanies book makes is sound like some stupid story all about hipsters obsessed with social media with textspeak and hashtags. That's why I'd avoided this book. But fyi, this is not the case at all. In fact, there's even a mention of the characters not paying much attention to social media, being oblivious to memes. There's maybe one mention of the characters texting each other. So not sure what all that in the blurb is about other than a desperate attempt to attract a younger, "hipper" sort of reader. And if that's the sort of person they attracted - they probably disappointed a lot of people. No hashtags at all in this story.

Great story. Love the New York City setting.
Loved the characters so much. Aubrey is on deadline, trying to put together a *window display for a lingerie story on Broadway in New York City.  It has to be great, her career depends on it. She's overwhelmingly stressed out, steps outside and a "hot guy" trading card lands in her hand. It has been part of some sort of dating club in which friends submit photos and info of guys they trust. Aubrey is certain this is fate, a gift from the gods, sending her a muse. So she calls up the guy and arranges a date.

Liam is a police detective, someone who takes his job very seriously. At first, he thinks this is a joke - his cousin Mary had submitted his info for the card, but then promised to destroy it. Then he thinks maybe Aubrey is a little insane. But he's also very intrigued by her and very attracted to her. So he goes along with her plan.

After some crazy hot sex at his place, he can't stop thinking about her. The two begin spending more and more time together, as Aubrey continues to stress about the window display. What was supposed to be a few nights of fun, inspirational sex, begins to turn into something much more than either of them expected. This freaks Aubrey out. In her opinion, she's just a window dresser who didn't even get her college degree. She has a tendency to run when things get serious (hence the lack of a degree.) She's terrified by her feelings for Liam. He's dedicated to his work, with big plans for advancing his career and Aubrey doesn't think she fits in with those plans.

This couple is so great and so sweet and so real. I liked that Aubrey was so bold and willing to go after what she wanted, and yet was real enough to fall apart when she wasn't sure she could handle having what she wanted. And Liam, if only there were guys in the real world who were like this. Attractive, sexy, committed, feminist, completely okay with being with a strong woman and okay with letting his date - who did ask him out on the date, so completely fair - pay for the drinks and meal, not an insecure ass who constantly needs to prove his masculinity. He wants to help her anytime he notices she's upset, but also knows when to step back.

If you want a sexy, fun, holiday read, also with a nice story about a couple having to come to terms with some very real, somewhat scary feelings, I highly recommend this book.

I received a copy of this via NetGalley.

* This was my one negative issue with the story - why would a store put together a window display to be revealed the day before Christmas Eve? Most windows go up around Thanksgiving. By Christmas Eve, they're getting ready for the after Christmas clearance.

Review: Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson

I really liked the way this book started. Leah is on the run on what was supposed to be her wedding day after she finds her soon-to-be husband shagging a bridesmaid. The wedding was supposed to be the perfect fairy tale, set at a Scottish castle. She takes off in the snow and her car breaks down. So, at risk of freezing to death, she begins to walk to the nearest building - all while still in her wedding dress.
The door is answered by a handsome American who Leah is certain must be a god. Rob is hiding out in Scotland to avoid his family during the Christmas holidays. He takes Leah in, where she promptly passes out from her walk through the cold. He warms her up and she recovers, and because of the weather, the two are trapped together for a while.

During this time, they give into their attraction to each other, both assuming it's just a holiday thing from which they will both soon walk away. But after Rob learns why Leah ran, he offers her a new beginning in Chicago. He's wealthy and can afford to help her out, but he's very clear about not wanting to continue having any sort of physical relationship with her, that part of their relationship is over.

Leah takes him up on the offer, but later has regrets. The fun Rob she spent Christmas with in Scotland is gone, replaced by a workaholic serious, angry man.

This is when I began to like the book a bit less. What started out as fun and cute, took on a much darker shade as the characters begin to deal with some nightmares from their past. And yet, the writing continued to provide this information in the same, light-hearted style which felt odd to me.  Though, at one point, Leah is described as always handing serious issues by making light of them and trying to remain humorous - and that's how this story was written.

Leah and Rob are still drawn to each other, but Rob is avoiding relationships - he has his reasons. Leah is heartbroken. They go back and forth for a while and then Leah moves out.

I'm not going to spoil what happens next. But it's the sort of thing that tends to put me off a book. One of my least favorite twists to a story. For a moment, I began to really regret the time I'd spent with this story. It's not necessarily something most people dislike, in fact, a lot of romance readers probably love this sort of storyline. I hated it for a while, but in the end, I hated it less and even sort of liked it. To be clear, the author handled a story line I usually hate in such a way that I still enjoyed the book.

Overall, it's a fun, light-hearted story, despite some serious issues with which the characters are dealing. A nice, happy ending most people will enjoy.

I received a copy of this via NetGalley.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Review: Christmas in Venice by Joanne Walsh

I enjoyed this quite a bit. Exactly what I want in a quick holiday romance. It's short, nice, descriptive setting, with just the right amount of emotion, romance and steam. I sometimes feel like Goldilocks in my quest for holiday romances - too sappy, not romantic enough, not enough or too much drama, too much or not enough sex,  But this one was just right.

Ashlynne's plane is routed to Venice during a snow storm near Christmas. She was on her way to London to spend the holiday with her family. Instead, she runs into her ex-husband, Lorenzo, who she hasn't seen in five years. He offers to let her stay with him, in the home they once shared, until the airport re-opens.

Their marriage ended bitterly, with Ashlynne heartbroken and grieving, convinced her husband was cheating on her. During their five years apart, the two have both matured some and learned more about themselves and what they did wrong during their time together. What they think at first is nothing more than lingering sexual chemistry eventually turns into emotional breakthroughs for each of them. Together they begin to realize that he hid his feelings while she clung to her anger causing their marriage to fall apart.

I enjoyed the way the characters finally learned to communicate with each other and forgive the misunderstandings of their past, all while strolling along the beautiful alleyways of Venice or riding along the canals.

Very nice story with a happy ending.

I received a copy of this via NetGalley. 

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Review: Oh, Naughty Night! by Leslie Kelly

I selected this book because my last few holiday reads have been fairly tame and I wanted something a bit steamier. This sounded perfect.

But from the beginning, the story seemed a bit absurd. Halloween night and Lulu is at a bar with friends when she sees Chaz, a guy she's known since childhood. She's new in town, and the two communicated via email, she used his realtor to find a place. He sees her, smiles and walks over to her. She thinks it's to catch up, as they've not seen each other in years. Midway through the conversation, after they're on the dance floor together, when he introduces himself, she realizes he doesn't recognize her with her mask and hair colored red. Rather than point out his error, she plays along. This part, I could sort of believe, he'd not seen her in a while, she was in costume for Halloween. The two are very attracted to each other, decide to take off to his place and have sex. There are a few stops along the way and then, they get to his place, and find his little sister waiting for him. Lulu disappears while he's talking to his little sister.

The next day, she runs into him again, and this time he realizes who she is, but does not realize she's the woman he was getting all hot and bothered with the night before. That part, I found a little odd. They were quite intimate that night and he doesn't have a clue that this is the same person when he sees her only hours later? He's in search of a gorgeous sexy redhead.

I was about 40% into this book before I realized it was Peanuts fan fiction/erotica. The mention of the kite-eating tree, adults always sounding like "mwah mwah mwah", Chaz having a tattoo of a beagle in memory of the dog he had as a child. Then I started paying attention to the names. Lulu Vandenberg, Chaz Browning, the musician named Schaer (or something like that). Lulu's little brother Lawrence dating Chaz's little sister Sarah. The there are the lesbian neighbors Peggy and Marcia and the African American friend named Frankie. And, of course, Chaz is in search of a mysterious redhead.

I could not take this story seriously after that. In my head the characters became their cartoon selves and it really kind of grossed me out. And maybe it was because of that awareness that the story took on a cartoon-like feel. The author stuck too close to their cartoon characters - Thanksgiving dinner around a ping pong table, Chaz wearing a yellow shirt that made him look like a bumblebee, and then end with the Christmas pageant. To stick so close to their cartoon, childlike characters and throw in explicit sex - and lots of it - felt so very wrong, and not in a good way.

So much for wanting a sexy book. This one didn't work for me at all. I feel a little traumatized after reading this.

I received a copy of this via NetGalley.

Review: Our First Christmas by Lisa Jackson

This book contains four stories set around Christmas. Very different stories. Overall, they were decent reads, but I wouldn't say I loved any of them.

I really liked one story - A Ranger for Christmas by Mary Burton and will probably look for more by this author. The characters were interesting and there was a bit of suspense as well as romance in the story. Of the four, this was easily my favorite.

I liked A Southern Christmas by Mary Carter quite a bit also. The characters were cute and funny. Dani returns home, on assignment for the magazine she writes for in New York, hoping to do a story about a Southern Christmas, as well as win back the man she left years ago (she rejected his marriage proposal on Christmas Eve). The story had a nice twist to it, making Dani realize that maybe she wasn't so certain as to what she wanted.

Christmas in Montana by Cathy Lamb was okay. I didn't really like how it was written, the story jumped around too much, and there were too many strange characters for a such a short story. The romance seemed fairly weak also. I didn't find the couple's story line very convincing.

I didn't like Lisa Jackson's Our First Christmas at all. I didn't find the story to be at all romantic. Megan's getting ready to hand her husband divorce papers and he's in a life threatening car accident. While in the waiting room, she remembers how they met and decides she no longer wants a divorce. That was pretty much the story. That wasn't romantic, that was guilt and nostalgia. Just because they were happy when they were teenagers doesn't mean everything is okay twenty years later. Her deciding to set aside the divorce was more out of obligation than love.

The collection of stories is okay, but I tend to want more romance and something a bit steamier in my holiday reads.

I received a copy of this via NetGalley.