Category: Adult Fiction

Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan | Book Review (+The Christmas Sisters Giveaway)

Posted December 12, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review, Giveaway / 9 Comments

Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan | Book Review (+The Christmas Sisters Giveaway)Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan
Series: O'Neil Brothers #1
Also in this series: Suddenly Last Summer, Maybe This Christmas
Published by Harlequin on October 29, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Once upon a time, Christmas was Kayla Green's favorite time of year. Now all the workaholic wants for Christmas is for it to be over—as fast as possible! So when duty calls her to snowy Vermont to close a deal with a new client, Kayla is grateful for an excuse to avoid the holidays for another year.

Jackson O'Neil left a thriving business behind to return home and salvage his family's resort—it's in his blood, and he can't let it fail. Now that he's got marketing whiz Kayla Green working with him to put Snow Crystal on the map, success is on the horizon. The fact they strike enough sparks off each other to power all the Christmas lights in Vermont is just an added bonus.

Kayla might be an expert at her job, but she's out of her depth with Jackson—he makes her crave the happy-ever-after she once dreamed of, and it's terrifying. As the snowflakes continue to swirl, will the woman who doesn't believe in the magic of Christmas finally fall under its spell?

I love Christmas romances, especially if they are set in a picturesque place and have wonderful characters. As soon as I read that Sleigh Bells in the Snow takes place in Vermont, I was very excited! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The Snow Crystal is a cozy ski resort nestled in the mountains of Vermont. The O’Neil family has run it for years, and it is a bit of a hidden gem with lots to offer. It has cabins with hot tubs on the porch, amazing views, and a homey lodge with a sitting room and kitchen that just screams holidays. I would LOVE to pack up and move there right now. If any guest wants a Christmas tree for their cabin, one of the O’Neil brothers goes out and chops one and delivers it at their front step. How fun is that?! I really want to visit. The setting was definitely my favorite part of the book.

2. I liked Kayla, but I felt she was a bit too cynical and cold at times. I just wanted to shake her! She has a sad past of abandonment, and does not like Christmas at all. Honestly, though, I’m pretty sure she does not like any kind of family holiday. She arrives at the resort in her designer pumps and pencil skirt, bent on being a complete stick in the mud as she hides in her cabin in the hopes of letting Christmas painlessly pass her by. The longer she stay there, though, the more comfortable she gets. I liked the transformation she went through as she got to know the O’Neil family. She bought some snow boots, let her hair down, and allowed herself to get close to them even though it scared her. I liked this side of her much more than the hardened, emotionless side we see at the beginning of the book.

3. I adore the O’Neil family, and how close they are. Jackson has come back to Snow Crystal after making it big in Europe. He wants to help get the resort on the map and show the world what it has to offer, before it goes under and the family loses it. That’s why he hires Kayla to come out. As he updates and elevates the resort, he is met with a lot of resistance from his family. They are not keen on change, and are scared that a snooty New Yorker will ruin their image. As they soften Kayla, though, she softens them. I loved the conversations between family members, as they all open up and grow closer together. This family ends up being extremely loving despite their high maintenance demands.

4. I really liked the non-family staff members at the Snow Crystal. I particularly liked the spitfire of a French chef and the ski instructor. Each character in this story is unique and loveable.

5. Jackson is so wonderful. He is tender and persistent, and boy can he chop wood. I love his devotion to his family, even though they are fighting him the whole way. I love that he gave up his big life to come home and save his family lodge. I love how sweet he is to Kayla.

6. The romance is slow burning. It begins as a simple professional relationship, with that initial attraction on both sides. It then slides into this love-hate friendship kind of thing before turning into something really special. I really liked that it was not just lust, which seems to happen a lot in the Christmas romances I’ve read before. There are real feelings at play.

Sleigh Bells in the Snow is a fun, cheery Christmas romance with a wonderful family dynamic, a cozy setting, and a swoonworthy male lead. I definitely recommend you read it it you’re in the mood for some Christmas cheer! I can’t wait to read about the other O’Neil brothers, which will happen as the series continues.

(This review was originally posted on 12/6/13 and was re-posted for some extra love.)

Sarah is sponsoring a giveaway for my readers this Christmas, with a signed copy of her newest Christmas release, The Christmas Sisters!

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan
Published by HQN Books on September 25, 2018
Genres: Adult Fiction — Contemporary, Holiday, Women’s Fiction
Add to Goodreads

In the snowy Highlands of Scotland, Suzanne McBride is dreaming of the perfect cozy Christmas. Her three adopted daughters are coming home for the holidays and she can’t wait to see them. But tensions are running high…

Workaholic Hannah knows she can’t avoid spending the holidays with her family two years in a row. But it’s not the weight of their expectations that’s panicking her—it’s the life-changing secret she’s hiding. Stay-at-home mom Beth is having a personal crisis. All she wants for Christmas is time to decide if she’s ready to return to work—seeing everyone was supposed to help her stress levels, not increase them! Posy isn’t sure she’s living her best life, but with her parents depending on her, making a change seems risky. But not as risky as falling for gorgeous new neighbor Luke…

As Suzanne’s dreams of the perfect McBride Christmas unravel, she must rely on the magic of the season to bring her daughters together. But will this new togetherness teach the sisters that their close-knit bond is strong enough to withstand anything—including a family Christmas?

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The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis | Book Review

Posted December 9, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 0 Comments

The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis | Book ReviewThe Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #2
Also in this series: One Snowy Night, Chasing Christmas Eve
Published by Avon on September 27, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
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2 Stars
If she has her way ...

Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her ...

He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.

Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead-gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him ...

Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice ...

Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish—and let the mistletoe do its work ...

Congratulate me on my first full-length Jill Shalvis! I read a Christmas novella or two of Jill’s every December, and have enjoyed them but never really connected on a deep level with any of her characters. This year I decided to carve out some time to read one of her full-length novels to see how I felt. While I enjoyed The Trouble with Mistletoe, it didn’t grab me like I had hoped it would. I’ve read some reviews since I finished, and multiple people say this isn’t their favorite of hers and that she has many stronger novels in her repertoire, so perhaps I picked the wrong book to read first! In any case, it was a fun, festive read! I did have some issues with it, though. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I really appreciated Willa and her love of animals and Christmas. We’re kindred spirits in this regard. She loves to decorate anything and everything, and she loves to dress like it’s Christmas everyday. She hasn’t met an animal that she doesn’t love, and that doesn’t love her. She owns a dog grooming business and hosts doggy weddings for some extra money. She loves her friends, and her past has caused her to it upon herself to scoop up lost or troubled souls and take them under her wing. One of her employees ran into some trouble as a young teen and Willa came to her rescue, gave her a job, and looks after her. She takes care of the homeless man in the alley outside her shop and brings him food. She even decorated the alley with Christmas lights so he could have some holiday cheer. She’s pretty likable, and a good friend to have in your corner.

2. Keane was very meh for me. He was a jerk to Willa in high school and has no idea who she is now. That’s surprising. I’d remember a person I went to high school with even if I didn’t know them well, so this kind of indicates what a crappy teen he was. I have a hard time with people like that. 16-17 years old is not young enough to get away with being an awful person, in my book. I never was able to convince myself hat he isn’t a crappy person anymore.

3. I don’t like animals as characters, and Petunia the cat (nicknamed PITA by Keane because he hates her and considers her to be a pain in the a**) bothered me. I LOVE cats. I’m a crazy cat lady. But when an author starts choosing what a cat is thinking and feeling and using it as a plot point, I start to drift off. It’s just too hokey.

4. I did not feel any chemistry between Keane and Willa. Willa was in love with him in high school, so she’s got this little girl infatuation with him now. I don’t understand harboring a crush for THAT long. Especially when it’s on a really jerky guy who broke your heart and doesn’t even remember. Keane only begins to like her because she looks good in her jeans and her wet clothes after a day of dog washing. There was just no depth to them at all.

5. I loved the Christmas scenes. The entire city is decked out in lights, garlands, wreaths, and trees. I loved the descriptions of those scenes, and they were the only thing keeping me going with this book.

6. There was a lot of needless drama and repetitive conversations and inner monologues about why they shouldn’t be together (all the while they have no problems continuing to sleep together). Things moved so slowly, and I just wanted the story to get to the point. This book should have been a novella! Not much happened at all.

7. The supporting characters were cookie cutters and I don’t remember the names of any of them. 

8. The writing… it just wasn’t good. There were come continuity issues and some of the author’s phrasing bothered me. For example, a character frequently “went eyebrows up” or “went hands on hips”. That’s a really annoying way to write it!

All in all, I’m disappointed. I liked Willa and all the Christmas, which made the book fun to read at times, but for the most part The Trouble with Mistletoe really didn’t do anything for me. I’m not giving up on Jill Shalvis yet, though, so don’t worry!


The Dance Before Christmas by Victoria Alexander | Book Review

Posted December 5, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 0 Comments

The Dance Before Christmas by Victoria Alexander | Book ReviewThe Dance Before Christmas by Victoria Alexander
Series: The Lady Travelers Society #2.5
Published by HQN Books on October 1, 2018
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 113
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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3 Stars
A fake fiancé and a Christmas engagement are a recipe for trouble in this delightful holiday romp featuring New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander’s Lady Travelers Society

Miss Anabel Snelling needs a fiancé, and fast. If her father, Sir Archibald, has his way, she’ll be married in time for Christmas—to a man she doesn’t love. That’s why she and her aunt have concocted a brilliant plan to hire an American actor to play the role of her suitor. But the charming Wesley Grant is playing the part a little too well, and Anabel is in danger of falling for him. What Anabel doesn’t know is Wesley is not the actor her aunt hired. Still, what kind of a gentleman would he be if he didn’t come to her rescue? He has a new plan of his own—win Anabel’s heart…for real.

I really love fake romance tropes because these kinds of relationships are always laced with tension and wondering and so many feelings. I also love historical romances set at Christmastime because they feel so cozy and traditional, with the candles and the traditional Christmas decorations. I’d been intrigued by The Lady Travelers Society series as well, so I was happy to jump into this novella for multiple reasons. While it was cute, it did fall victim to the same plight that so many novellas to: the shortness prevented character and plot development.

I did really enjoy what I saw of these characters, which is always the most important thing to me in any story I read. Anabel is resourceful and liberal during a time when women did what they were told. I loved that she and her aunt dreamed up a plan to fake an engagement in order to avoid an arranged marriage set up by Anabel’s father. I loved Wes, and the fact that we’re dealing with mistaken identity with him made things even more fun. I liked watching him try and figure out how to play the part of an actor. The romance was a bit fast and unbelievable for me, but I guess that’s where the magic of Christmas comes in! The three elderly ladies who meddle and snoop and conspire under the surface cracked me up. I’m not usually a fan of silly characters like this, but I liked them.

All in all, The Dance Before Christmas was a fun little holiday romance that got me into the spirit of he season. I wish the characters had been a little more developed because they had such great potential to be. I wish the story had a little more depth as well, but that’s what I get for reading a novella. I’m definitely interested in the rest of The Lady Travelers Society series!


Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham | Book Review

Posted July 5, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham | Book ReviewUnder the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham
Series: The MacDonnells #1
Also in this series: Sound of the Heart
Published by Berkley on January 3, 2012
Genres: Historical Romance, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 319
Format: Paperback
Source: From the Publisher
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3 Stars
The year is 1746. A young woman from South Carolina and a Scottish Highlander share an intimacy and devotion beyond their understanding. They have had visions of each other their entire lives. And yet they have never met.

Now, with their lives torn asunder, Maggie Johnson and Andrew MacDonnell's quest to find each other is guided only by their dreams— and by the belief in the true love they share.

On the Carolina frontier Maggie Johnson’s family struggles to survive. Maggie’s gift of “the sight” and her visions show her a presence she calls Wolf. She watches him grow from a boy her age to a man even as she goes from child to woman.

Andrew MacDonald has always wondered about the girl he sees in his dreams. He is able to talk to her through their thoughts and vows that even if he must cross an ocean he will find her.

They are thrust into different situations: Andrew fights for the doomed Jacobite cause and Maggie is captured by slavers, then rescued and brought into a kind, loving Native American tribe. They each believe in destiny and the power of the love they have shared forever.

Lots of things about this book excited me. I love historical romance, the back of the book and the cover reminded me of a light, fluffy romance with a paranormal twist (like a Lynn Kurland book), and I loved the idea of telepathic communication across the world, between two characters who have never actually met each other. During tough times these two characters appeared to one other to help, either delivering advice or actual strength. As they got older, their ability to communicate grew stronger and they began to fall in love. The romance was incredibly sweet. They were childhood sweethearts, who were there for each other all the time, even though they were on completely different continents. I love this idea.

While I did like it, this book is far from the light, fluffy romance I was expecting. The cover is quite deceptive, as this book is a rather heavy and sometimes dark read. This time period was a pretty awful time, especially for women, and the author does not sugar coat it, which I respected. At the very beginning of the book, Maggie witnesses the death and/or murders of several family members. She and her sisters are abducted by men hoping to sell them, and are beaten and raped to within an inch of their lives. Andrew goes to war in Scotland, and also experiences a lot of death and heartache. This is all described in great detail, and it actually upset me so much that I thought I would not be able to continue. I was so curious to see how things ended, though, that I decided to continue on with it. To all my fellow tender hearts out there, if you can make it to page 115, you are going to be just fine. The book does lighten up, and it even gets suspenseful and exciting!

A tribe of Cherokee Indians rescues Maggie and her sister from their captors, and takes them in as part of their family. I loved this entire protective and loving group of people. I have not had the opportunity to read much about Native American tribes, except for my history books in school. I learned so much about the culture and belief system of this tribe, and was captivated by their story and strong, almost religious, ties to Mother Nature.

I really, really liked Maggie and Andrew. Maggie is so incredibly strong and resilient. I admire her, and wish I had the kind of strength she has. Andrew is the perfect sexy Scottish highlander. He cares so much for Maggie, his family, and his friends. He’s also very loyal and honorable. We see him interact with two very young orphaned children, and he is amazingly sweet with them. He really is pretty perfect, and I know I would love it if he came to me in my dreams! His accent is also pretty adorable, but sometimes I had to read his lines out loud in order to understand them. :)

Genevieve’s writing style is gorgeous. Her word choice stirred the same emotions in me that her characters felt. She sent me to the woods where Maggie was held captive, to the battle fields of Scotland, to the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands, and to the deep southern colonies of North America. The dreams Maggie and Andrew had about each other were mystical and magical. Everything seemed so real to me, and I was completely captivated, even though parts of this book really upset and disturbed me.

I would definitely recommend this book to lovers of historical romances with a bit of a paranormal twist. Yes, it’s heavy and dark in places. Yes, I had a hard time convincing myself to finish it at one point, but I am so glad I did. You can’t fault the author for retelling history. This all really happened, and I was amazed reading what people are willing to do to each other. The story is also magical and romantic, and I really loved reading about Maggie and Andrew’s journey to find one another. We are left with no loose ends, and you’ll be very happy with how things turn out in the end.


A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare | Mini Book Review

Posted February 8, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

A Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare | Mini Book ReviewA Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare
Series: Spindle Cove #1
Also in this series: Once Upon a Winter's Eve
Published by Avon on August 30, 2011
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 372
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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3 Stars
Welcome to Spindle Cove, where the ladies with delicate constitutions come for the sea air, and men in their prime are... nowhere to be found. Or are they?

Spindle Cove is the destination of choice for certain types of well-bred young ladies: the painfully shy, young wives disenchanted with matrimony, and young girls too enchanted with the wrong men; it is a haven for those who live there.

Victor Bramwell, the new Earl of Rycliff, knows he doesn't belong here. So far as he can tell, there's nothing in this place but spinsters... and sheep. But he has no choice, he has orders to gather a militia. It's a simple mission, made complicated by the spirited, exquisite Susanna Finch—a woman who is determined to save her personal utopia from the invasion of Bram's makeshift army.

Susanna has no use for aggravating men; Bram has sworn off interfering women. The scene is set for an epic battle... but who can be named the winner when both have so much to lose?

It goes without saying that I love Tessa Dare. She’s amazing, and always delivers when I need a good dose of historical romance filled with swoons, banter, and warm fuzzies. I discovered her Castles Ever After series and devoured those quickly. Then I decided to read her backlist starting with Spindle Cove. Guys, Spindle Cove is this adorable, quaint little seaside hamlet that I completely fell in love with and the people there have really big hearts.

Susanna and Bram are such a fun couple. They are one of those hate-to-love duos that I so enjoy. She’s in Spindle Cove to build it up and take care of the other ladies who society has kind of rejected for one reason or another. Bram is there to infiltrate their leisurely lives and build a volunteer militia from the town’s citizens (honetly, what were they thinking sending him to a town like this?). Luckily the ladies in Spindle Cove are no strangers to weaponry, as they shoot on Thursdays. Why not build a militia of spinster women? Susanna and Bram butt heads like you wouldn’t believe, but that passion ignites a romance that gave me all the swoons. The supporting characters are all wonderful, and it’s exciting to think about returning to visit them and read their love stories as well. While this is not my favorite romance, it definitely sets the tone for a series that I’m sure will continue to get better and better.

Dare’s writing is wonderful. She’s so great at capturing humor and romance and hatred and rolling them together into a romance filled with sparks and tension and excitement. This is a very sweet story that I’d definitely recommend.

 


Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham | Mini Book Review

Posted January 15, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 5 Comments

Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham | Mini Book ReviewMr. Kiss and Tell by Jennifer Graham, Rob Thomas
Series: Veronica Mars #2
Also in this series: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line
Published by Vintage Books on January 20, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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4 Stars
The Neptune Grand has always been the seaside town’s ritziest hotel, despite the shady dealings and high-profile scandals that seem to follow its elite guests. When a woman claims that she was brutally assaulted in one of its rooms and left for dead by a staff member, the owners know that they have a potential powder keg on their hands. They turn to Veronica to disprove—or prove—the woman's story.

The case is a complicated mix of hard facts, mysterious occurrences, and uncooperative witnesses. The hotel refuses to turn over its reservation list and the victim won’t divulge who she was meeting that night. Add in the facts that the attack happened months ago, the victim’s memory is fuzzy, and there are holes in the hotel’s surveillance system, and Veronica has a convoluted mess on her hands. As she works to fill in the missing pieces, it becomes clear that someone is lying—but who? And why?

In my raving review of The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line I explained how much I love Veronica Mars. And I’m going to pretty much ditto everything I said there in this review (so maybe go read that review as well?). Mr. Kiss and Tell is another great Veronica Mars mystery novel, although I did not love the mystery as much as I did the first one (although it’s very close to Veronica’s heart because of her own past). But that’s ok because Veronica and Logan!!! He wasn’t really around in the first book, save for some Skype calls (he’s in the military), but he’s here now and he brought all of wit and banter with him! This is what we marshmallows have been waiting for.

I don’t have much else to say because I don’t want to take away from anyone’s reading experience. I TOTALLY recommend this book and the first to fans of Veronica Mars.


Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle | Book Review

Posted January 3, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 5 Comments

Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle | Book ReviewHold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle
Series: Search and Rescue #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on April 5, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense, Suspense
Pages: 365
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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4 Stars
In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder...

As the captain of Field County's ice rescue dive team, Callum Cook is driven to perfection. But when he meets new diver Louise "Lou" Sparks, all that hard-won order is obliterated in an instant. Lou is a hurricane. A walking disaster. And with her, he's never felt more alive...even if keeping her safe may just kill him.

Lou's new to the Rockies, intent on escaping her controlling ex, and she's determined to make it on her own terms...no matter how tempting Callum may be. But when a routine training exercise unearths a body, Lou and Callum find themselves thrust into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a killer who will stop at nothing to silence Lou-and prove that not even her new Search and Rescue family can keep her safe forever.

I am a huge fan of romantic suspense, and I’ve been on the hunt for amazing ones all year. When I asked for recommendations on Twitter, Quinn suggested I give Katie Ruggle a try. I flew to Amazon and read the synopsis for Hold Your Breath and immediately became very excited. Each book in the Search and Rescue series focuses on a different branch of the search and rescue team in Field County, Colorado. Hold Your Breath features the dive team, and I think setting a story about a dive team during the cold Rocky Mountain winter was the best choice ever. I also just love wintry settings for romantic suspense because they seem so much more exciting to me. Less daylight, colder temps, quieter nighttimes. And search and rescue? YES. I went in with high hopes and wasn’t disappointed one bit. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Lou and Callum were very fun to read about. She’s spunky and hilarious, with a bright personality and he’s quiet and surly. He’s also very loyal and intuitive and caring. Such a sweet guy, and I fell in love with him a little as I read this book. The mixture of the two of them was pretty funny. I picture her bouncing off the walls and him sitting there glaring for being disturbed. But the chemistry and heat between these two is amazing. Such a fun couple!

2. The banter between Lou and Callum is wonderful and will make you giggle. He’s just so grumpy and she’s so sunshiney!

3. Hold Your Breath is quite a page-turner. So much action and excitement! Lou becomes the target of someone, and Callum moves in to her remote cabin to protect her. We get to jump inside the head of her stalker, and oh my creepy. I’m already scared of having my curtains open after dark, but even more so now.

4. The book is written in dual perspectives, which I enjoy if done right. And it was done right! I liked hearing from both Lou and Callum and getting their takes on the situation.

5. So swoony! So romantic! 

6. Not only does each book in the series center on different rescue units in the county, but there’s a mystery that appears to flow from book to book. Lou discovers a body in this one, but the mystery continues in the next book and so-on. I think it’s a fun way to set up a series, but I’m slightly worried I will forget important elements as I read other books in between.

For fear of giving too much away, I’m going to quit here. I’m super excited to read book two, Fan the Flames, about Ian the firefighter. I got to meet him in this book, and I like him a lot. I like everyone, actually, and am excited to read all their stories. Definitely pick this one up if you like romantic suspense. It was refreshing to find a suspenseful, romantic storyline that isn’t erotica and doesn’t include paranormal aspects like so many do. Highly recommended!


Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis | Book Review

Posted December 23, 2017 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis | Book ReviewChasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #4
Also in this series: One Snowy Night, The Trouble with Mistletoe
Published by Avon on September 26, 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Edelweiss
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Meet cute...

Run for the hills—temporarily. That's Colbie Albright's plan when she flees New York for San Francisco. Wrangling her crazy family by day and writing a bestselling YA fantasy series by night has taken its toll. In short, Colbie's so over it that she's under it. She's also under the waters of a historic San Francisco fountain within an hour of arrival. Fortunately, the guy who fishes Colbie out has her looking forward to Christmas among strangers. But she's pretty sure Spencer Baldwin won't be a stranger for long.

Make merry...

Spence's commitment to hiding from the Ghosts of Relationships Past means he doesn't have to worry about the powerful—okay, crazy hot chemistry—he's got with Colbie. Just because she can laugh at anything, especially herself... just because she's gorgeous and a great listener just because she gets Spence immediately doesn't mean he won't be able to let Colbie go. Does it?

and hope for a miracle.

Now the clock's ticking for Colbie and Spence: Two weeks to cut loose. Two weeks to fall hard. Two weeks to figure out how to make this Christmas last a lifetime.

I think it’s worth recognizing and celebrating my very first full-length novel by Jill Shalvis! I’ve read a handful of her Christmas novellas, and I decided that it was finally time to settle in for a longer novel and really discover what all the fuss is about. I own all but one of the books in the Lucky Harbor series and all the Heartbreaker Bay books that have been released thus far, so I really haven’t had any excuses to not read them yet. The synopsis of Chasing Christmas Eve really grabbed me, and it ended up being a really good choice! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I wasn’t too excited about reading a Christmas book that takes place in California. I lived in California for 6 years and it’s a beautiful place, so this isn’t personal, Californians! I just love snow in my Christmas novels, and that obviously was not going to happen here. Colbie is nuts for fleeing New York at Christmas, but I digress.

2. The lack of snow didn’t take away from the festiveness of the book, though! There were Christmas lights and enough warm fuzzies to make me forget that there wasn’t snow swirling around outside.

3. Colbie is a verrrrry successful YA author, and that’s the main reason I was drawn to this book! I love YA, and I love many YA authors, so Colbie immediately felt like my friend. I thought of her the way I think of any of my favorite YA authors. She’s so sweet and down to earth, not to mention incredibly nice. She’s dealing with writer’s block and she’s under a ton of stress from that, plus the fact that her entire family depends on her for every little thing. I love that she took the plunge and ran away to take care of herself. She’s also really funny and has this bright personality that made me smile. I would totally be friends with her.

4. I loved nerdy Spence. He’s a hot, rich, reclusive genius. But he’s not rich in a snobby way. He takes care of a homeless man that lives outside the building! He keeps to himself and lives his own life, and when he needs a breather he walks dogs! I mean, come on. He’s a bit of a workaholic, which has sealed off the part of himself that can have a love life. But all it takes is the right girl, right?

5. I love how Colbie and Spence meet for the first time. The description mentions a meet cute, and that’s exactly what we were given with this book. I’m not even going to say how it happens because I don’t want to spoil it. Just know that a dog is involved.

6. The romance is very sweet, regardless of the secrets they are both keeping from each other. What was supposed to be a quick little fling turns into something more than that, and forces Colbie and Spence to smooth out some of the wrinkles in their relationship.

7. I liked the supporting characters a lot, but can tell it would have really been great if I’d read the other three books in the series first so I’d know them a little better. The book works fine as a standalone, but I could have used a few more details on Spence and Elle especially.

All in all, this was a very fun Christmas romance! I loved watching Colbie and Spence fall in love and work through what being in love means to them. I’m definitely a fan of Jill Shalvis, so yay! It would have really sucked if I’d come out of this hating her and already owning a million of her books. I’m excited to read more of the books in the Heartbreaker Bay series and then start working on Lucky Harbor!

Which Jill Shalvis book is your absolute favorite?


Operation Mistletoe Magic by Nicki Edwards | Book Review

Posted December 21, 2017 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

Operation Mistletoe Magic by Nicki Edwards | Book ReviewOperation Mistletoe Magic by Nicki Edwards
Series: Escape to the Country #4.5
Also in this series: Operation White Christmas
Published by Momentum on October 25, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas
Pages: 91
Format: eBook
Source: Bought from Amazon
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4.5 Stars
Christmas is looking grim for Melissa Allen. She has no one to celebrate with, as her boyfriend of five years left her for her best friend and, after losing her home in a fire, she has nowhere to live. Left without a choice, she accepts the offer to the stay with family friends Rob and Linda Nicholls.

Chris Nicholls is excited about bringing his five-year-old daughter, Jasmine, home to Lakefield, Ontario for her first white Christmas. The trip is a surprise for his parents, though no one is more surprised than Chris when he finds his childhood best friend in his parent's spare room. Surprise soon turns to delight as Chris has always had feelings for Melissa, feelings that are only getting stronger the longer they are together.

But Melissa has had her fill of heartbreak, and isn't willing to fall for a man who is only going to leave. And Jasmine? She doesn't want to share her daddy with anyone. If Chris has any hope of convincing Melissa and Jasmine that they have a future together as a family, he'll need all the mistletoe magic he can get.

Nicki Edwards knows how to write sweet Christmas stories. I fell in love with Operation White Christmas two years ago and was very excited when I found out she had written another Christmas novella set in a quaint Canadian winter wonderland. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Even though Operation Mistletoe Magic is considerably shorter than Operation White Christmas, this little novella is packed with so much! It had enough substance that it didn’t feel fluffy and empty to me, but not so much that I felt like we needed a longer novel to fit it all in.

2. I really liked the characters, and the fact that they were so well fleshed out and filled with personality. Melissa has been dumped for her best friend, has lost her job, and her house has burned down, leaving her with nothing. Emotionally and physically, she has nothing. But she didn’t let it get her down. When she was invited to live with her childhood best friend’s family, she was touched and overwhelmed with gratitude. Not many people could make lemonade out of SO MANY lemons, but she found the sunshine through the storm. Chris is a single dad, and a really sweet dad at that. He’s heading home for Christmas with his little girl to give her a chance to see what a white Christmas is like, and also to figure out what he wants for his future.

3. I loved seeing Melissa and Chris become reacquainted and sift through their shared memories as they explored how their feelings for another had evolved over the years. Friends to lovers and second chance romances are some of my favorite kinds of stories, and this book combines both!

4. The romance was so sweet and completely clean (just like Operation White Christmas). It’s like a Hallmark Christmas movie in book form.

5. The story is so Christmassy! It’s wintry and festive and filled with all the glow and shine I crave from Christmas romances.

All in all, I loved Operation Mistletoe Magic. It’s a sweet, quick, feel-good story that can be read in an evening, but will give you a big enough dose of Christmas cheer to carry you through the entire holiday season.

 


Starry Night by Debbie Macomber | Book Review

Posted December 14, 2017 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 13 Comments

Starry Night by Debbie Macomber | Book ReviewStarry Night by Debbie Macomber
Published by Ballantine Books on October 8, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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5 Stars
Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.

Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a mega-bestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.

Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.

As soon as I read the premise for this year’s Debbie Macomber Christmas romance, I knew I was going to love it. Debbie has become a Christmas tradition for me, and I read at least one of Christmas books every December. I think that Starry Night is definitely my new favorite. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I love that Starry Night is mostly set in the Alaskan wilderness. Carrie gets dumped by a bush pilot on a frozen lake in the middle of a snowstorm in the mountains! I can just picture her trek up the hill to Finn’s house, all cold and wet. I loved Finn’s cabin. It sounds so rustic and cozy, with wall to wall bookshelves and a wood burning stove. Oh, and there is a super romantic moment involving the Northern Lights. I just can’t explain how much I loved this book’s setting.

2. I really liked Carrie. She is adventurous and really goes after what she wants. She wastes no time diving into finding Finn, cancelling her Thanksgiving plans and flying to Fairbanks, AK with no idea of what awaits her. I would have been terrified to hire a bush pilot to drop me off at a hostile stranger’s house in the middle of nowhere! I loved her spunk and her stubbornness. When she finally found Finn, he was a grumpy anti-social mountain man, but she did not let that get her down. She still charmed him, and I loved watching her melt his icy exterior.

3. Finn has a dog named Hennessey that I fell in love with. This dog is huge, and at their first meeting he was out to defend his territory and scared Carrie half to death. But then she melts him too, and he keeps her warm at night on the couch. She talks to him a lot when Finn refuses to do humor her, and I loved how she was with him! I also loved that her conversations with Hennessey broke the ice between her and Finn.

4. Oh Finn. I love Finn. He is a bearded, bulky man who wears plaid and has a big nose, but I don’t even care. Sometimes I get tired of the suave, handsome, not-a-hair-out-of-place, Mr. Perfect lead. Finn is your average attractive-ish man who becomes more attractive as you get to know his personality. He has this dry wit that leaves you feeling insecure and intrigued. He is so real to me. I loved watching his life change as he falls for Carrie.

5. There is a huge underlying message of the importance of family in Starry Night, which warmed my heart. Family and making sacrifices for the people you loved. And mending hearts. Really, every Christmas message was woven into a wonderful story that I read in one sitting.

6. This book is completely clean. Sure, there are some warm moments, but I appreciated that there were no sex scenes. It’s all about love and family, and I felt like the lack of sex allowed the characters to connect more on a deep emotional level, rather than a physical one.

All in all, Starry Night is my favorite Christmas romance of the year. I smiled, I laughed, and I really felt for these characters. I loved the setting and the relationships that were formed. There’s a very small emphasis places on Thanksgiving and Christmas, which makes it a perfect anytime read. You should definitely fine a copy and read it. Have some warm tea in hand and cozy up in a blanket. Alaska is COLD!

This review was originally posted on December 12, 2013, but since it has held up for 4 years as my favorite Christmas book ever I felt it deserved some extra love!
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