One Christmas Eve by Shannon Stacey | Book Review

Posted December 24, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review, Bookish Little Christmas / 2 Comments

One Christmas Eve by Shannon Stacey | Book ReviewOne Christmas Eve by Shannon Stacey
Series: Cedar Street #2
Published by Carina Press on November 11, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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5 Stars

They couldn’t be more different. Or more perfect for each other.

New York Times bestselling author Shannon Stacey returns with a warm and cozy opposites-attract Christmas story.

Zoe Randall is busy living her life as she damn well pleases. She’s back in her favorite town, her divorce in her rearview mirror, and living out her childhood dream of running a bookstore with her cousin. She has no interest in the uptight nerd who opened his boring-ass business next to her shop…until he complains about one of her sexy window displays.

Then it’s game on.

Preston Wheeler knows he takes life a little too seriously. But when the saucy bookseller next door starts pushing his buttons, he can feel that changing. Beautiful, vivacious Zoe challenges him in all the best ways, and soon he’s pushing her buttons right back: teasing and flirting all the way through the holiday season.

As Preston loosens up and Zoe is treated to the man behind the suit (particularly his forearms), she realizes she’s more interested than she cares to admit. And Preston comes to see the beauty—the absolute delight—in adding Zoe’s bright splashes of color to his once very black-and-white existence.

What better day of the year than Christmas Eve to review this darling Shannon Stacey novel, One Christmas Eve? This one was described an opposites attract love story, and I love this trope so much in romance novels. We’ve also got a fun, outgoing, bookish heroine named Zoe that I really loved. She has the best job ever. She runs a bookstore with her cousin, and spends her days recommending books and designing elaborate window displays. Sounds perfect to me! Nerdy, uptight Preston Wheeler moves in to the office next door. He’s an estate planner, and gets offended by one of her displays because he thinks it’s tasteless. He doesn’t want his clients having to walk past the, so he pops into the store to complain. What follows is a bit of a cat and mouse game, where Zoe does everything she can to push his buttons. She knows he’s secretly following the store’s Instagram page, so she posts about how they’ve got books on estate planning and even though they’re boring people might want to come check them out. She also gets even more obnoxious with his window displays. The banter back and forth is so much fun, and the tension is top notch! I loved the small town and the cute little streets. The people are all great, and I loved this festive love story so much! Highly recommended.

 

5 Stars
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Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings: 2020 Edition

Posted December 21, 2020 by Jana in Bookish Little Christmas, Top Ten Tuesday / 17 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! Can you believe Christmas is this week?? I keep saying this, but this year has simultaneously flown and dragged. I feel like Christmas 2019 was 45 years ago, but I also wonder where this year even went. Does anyone else feel this way? This week’s topic is books I hope Santa brings on Christmas Eve.

1. The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
2. The Winter King by C.L. Wilson
3. Break and Enter by Lori Matthews
4. Hotshot Doc by R.S. Grey
5. Untraceable by Laura Griffin
6. The Wedding Date Disaster by Avery Flynn
7. The Sapphire Affair by Lauren Blakely
8. Nala’s World: One Man, His Rescue Cat, and a Bike Ride around the Globe by Dean Nicholson
9. A Beastly Kind of Earl by Mia Vincy
10. The Gem Thief by Sian Ann Bessey (finished copy for my bookshelves)

What books do you hope to get for Christmas this year?

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My Favorite Things About Christmas

Posted December 18, 2020 by Jana in About Me, Bookish Little Christmas / 8 Comments

Ok, so if it wasn’t completely obvious by now, I love Christmas more than most things. Today I’m sharing my very favorite things about Christmas!

Memories

Here is my little sister, me, and my mom baking cookies together.

The magic of Christmas always makes me look back on my childhood. I grew up a Navy brat, so I moved every 2-3 years growing up as my dad received orders for new duty stations. As such, I’ve spent many Christmases in many different places. My fondest memory is of when we were living on base in California. Someone had sleigh bells and walked through our neighborhood ringing them on Christmas Eve. I bolted out of bed and squealed with glee because Santa was here! I also have many happy memories of hanging out in the kitchen baking Christmas cookies with my mom and little sister.

Coziness

Don’t you think Christmas is a super cozy time of year? I love curling up by the fire with a fuzzy blanket and hot chocolate, reading while Christmas instrumentals play in the background. I also love sitting by the tree watching it snow outside.

Music

One of my Christmas pageants! These people are some of my very dearest friends.

I LOVE Christmas music, but I’m a major traditionalist. My very favorite Christmas song is It’s the Most Wonderful Time of Year, but only if it’s sung by Andy Williams. Find the Christmas Traditional Radio station on Pandora and you’ll hear all my favorites! I also love singing Christmas music. I was in choir my entire life, and in college I was in three Christmas pageants. I drew arrows pointing at me above!

Books

I spend all December reading Christmas books, mostly romances, and I love them so much! A few of my very favorites are Starry Night by Debbie Macomber; Christmas At Frozen Falls by Kylie Dunbar; Operation White Christmas by Nikki Edwards; and Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Sarah Morgenthaler.

Movies

I’m one of those Hallmark Christmas movie people… My mom and I record all the new ones and then watch as many as we can before Christmas. Some are way too cheesy and we make fun of them relentlessly, and some of them make us swoon and even get a little misty. Some of my favorites are Finding Father Christmas, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Window Wonderland, and One Starry Christmas. I also love The Holiday, The Santa Clause, and Polar Express.

Lights

I love Christmas lights a lot. Some might say too much. The tree has, like, 12 strings on it every year, and I put thousands up on the house. I also love going to see Christmas light displays with my mom and sister. We go to two drive-through displays that are amazing (one of them is synchronized to Christmas music). We also go see the lights at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, the lights at my city center, and two pretty amazing displays at a couple local shopping centers.

Ornaments

I have way too many favorites, so here are a few of them.
L to R: A stack of books for my blog, the year I started kindergarten, Florence, Italy, and Bellagio, Italy.

I collect Christmas ornaments! I buy one from every pace I travel, for milestones in my life, and ones that relate to my hobbies. My tree is basically a scrapbook. I also collect the lighthouse series from Hallmark because they make the tree twinkle beautifully.  It’s so much fun to put them up every year and remember all the fun things I’ve done and all the good things that have happened to me.

Baking


I love baking Christmas cookies! My sister helps me, and we spend an entire day or two baking all of our favorites. I particularly love spritz cookies and whipped shortbread cookies.

Snow

I’m always dreaming of a white Christmas. I find snow to be so invigorating and beautiful. I love it when the world looks like Narnia outside. Things seem quieter and cleaner and brighter when it’s snowing.

Happiness

We all struggle. Life is hard, and it’s gotten harder for me as I’ve gotten older with health issues and other personal trials. Christmas has the power to make me happy, though, and it’s a combination of everything I’ve listed here that makes me so happy and gives me hope for a better tomorrow.

I hope you have a very happy holiday season, filled with magic, love, and happiness. 

What are some of your favorite things about this time of year?

Header photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

 

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A Moose Springs Secret Santa by Sarah Morgenthaler | Author Guest Post

Posted December 17, 2020 by Jana in Bookish Little Christmas, Guest Post / 7 Comments

I’m so so SO excited to have one of my favorite authors, Sarah Morgenthaler, to the blog today to share what the people in Moose Springs gifted each other for Christmas this year! I have read and loved all three of the Moose Springs novels this year, and they have been the perfect escape. I would LOVE it if this trilogy became a series (you hear that, Sourcebooks?? I don’t want to leave Moose Springs yet!).

Thank you for inviting me to guest post today for A Bookish Little Christmas! My name is Sarah Morgenthaler, and I’m the author of the Moose Springs, Alaska series. Moose Springs is a tiny, picturesque mountain town in Alaska, where the moose and the tourists run amuck while the quirky locals just try to get through the holidays. In true Secret Santa style, I pulled random names for each of the main characters. The rest was entirely up to them. :)

My Alaskan Christmas romcom MISTLETOE AND MR. RIGHT is available now. I hope you check it out!

A MOOSE SPRINGS SECRET SANTA

Graham Barnett

They’ve been best friends their whole lives, so when Graham draws Easton as his Secret Santa, he’s tempted to tease the quiet mountain man with a joke gift. Instead Graham works every night for a month on an intricate chainsaw carving of Easton’s favorite place on the mountain. He wordlessly leaves it on Easton’s truck bed with a six pack of beer. They never talk about it, but the carving is the most prized possession Easton will ever own.

Zoey Caldwell

Rick’s been a little down because his cat Roger has been particularly disdainful of him this holiday. Zoey gives him a self-help book called “My Cat and Me, A Journey to Becoming Your Cat’s Best Friend” for Christmas, even though Zoey thinks Rick’s great just how he is.

Lana Montgomery

Lana has a habit of worrying too much about picking a good Christmas gift for her best friend. Zoey knows this, and while she’s happy with just a hug, it means more than she can say when Lana brings Zoey’s grandmother to visit her for a surprise Christmas present. Time with family and friends is the best gift.

Rick Harding

True to form, nothing goes right in Rick’s quest for the perfect Christmas gift for Lana. He decides to swallow his pride and puts on the too-tight Santa suit. After a few glasses of eggnog, he doesn’t even mind how often she pinches his rear end or how hard his nephew is laughing at him.

Jake Barnett the Border Collie

Somehow Jake always ends up pulling Graham for his Secret Santa, but he’s a good dog and he orders (with a little help) a mug covered with pictures of himself. After all, Graham will only drink his coffee from a “Happy Jake Mug” and they both know better than to steal Zoey’s favorite coffee cup.

Easton Lockett

Having drawn Ulysses the moose, Easton feels like this year they might be taking the Secret Santa thing a little too far. Still, he dutifully buys the moose a bun at Frankie’s and hikes halfway up a mountain in the snow because it’s less work than listening to Graham complain about Ulysses getting forgotten this Christmas.

Ulysses the Moose

No one knows how Ulysses draws Ash when he wasn’t even a part of the official Pre-Secret Santa Planning Committee, but his taste is impeccable. She’s not really sure what to do with the three gift-wrapped pine cones she finds on the porch but the plushy moose sitting with them is pretty cute.

Ash Lockett

Everyone wants to get Jake for their Secret Santa, but there can only be one winner. Ash might have cheated a little, but he’s completely worth it. She’s not sure what’s better: buying Jake untailored clothes that’ll drive Graham nuts or spending Christmas with the blind border collie in her lap, both of them munching on holiday treats and happy to be with the people they love the most.

Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Sarah Morgenthaler
Series:
Moose Springs, Alaska #2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on October 6, 2020
Add to GoodreadsAmazonIndieBound

How the moose (almost) stole Christmas.

Lana Montgomery is everything the quirky small town of Moose Springs, Alaska can’t stand: a rich socialite with dreams of changing things for the better. But Lana’s determined to prove that she belongs…even if it means trading her stilettos for snow boots and tracking one of the town’s hairiest Christmas mysteries: the Santa Moose, an antlered Grinch hell-bent on destroying every bit of holiday cheer (and tinsel) it can sink its teeth into.

And really…how hard could it be?

The last few years have been tough on Rick Harding, and it’s not getting any easier now that his dream girl’s back in town. When Lana accidentally tranquilizes him instead of the Santa Moose, it’s clear she needs help, fast…and this could be his chance to finally catch her eye. It’s an all-out Christmas war, but if they can nab that darn moose before it destroys the town, Rick and Lana might finally find a place where they both belong…together.

About Sarah Morgenthaler

Geologist and lifelong science nerd, Sarah Morgenthaler is a passionate supporter of chocolate chip cookies, geeking out over rocks, and playing with her rescue pit bull, Sammy. When not writing romantic comedy and contemporary romance set in far-off places, Sarah can be found traveling with her husband, hiking national parks, and enjoying her own happily ever after. She is the Indie Romance Bestselling author of THE TOURIST ATTRACTION.

Find out more at: www.sarahmorgenthaler.com

Header photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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Top Ten Books On My Winter 2020-2021 To-Read List

Posted December 15, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 21 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! We’ve made it to another seasonal TBR, which is very exciting. I love sharing what books I’m looking forward to reading over the next few months! Some of these are advance copies I received for review and some are ones I’ve been wanting to get to for a while! I can’t wait to see what you’re excited about.

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington.

Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face.

Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart.

Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

Reena Manji doesn’t love her career, her single status, and most of all, her family inserting themselves into every detail of her life. But when caring for her precious sourdough starters, Reena can drown it all out. At least until her father moves his newest employee across the hall–with hopes that Reena will marry him.

But Nadim’s not like the other Muslim bachelors-du-jour that her parents have dug up. If the Captain America body and the British accent weren’t enough, the man appears to love eating her bread creations as much as she loves making them. She sure as hell would never marry a man who works for her father, but friendship with a neighbor is okay, right? And when Reena’s career takes a nosedive, Nadim happily agrees to fake an engagement so they can enter a couples video cooking contest to win the artisan bread course of her dreams.

As cooking at home together brings them closer, things turn physical, but Reena isn’t worried. She knows Nadim is keeping secrets, but it’s fine— secrets are always on the menu where her family is concerned. And her heart is protected… she’s not marrying the man. But even secrets kept for self preservation have a way of getting out, especially when meddling parents and gossiping families are involved.

The Layover by Lacie Waldon

After ten years as a flight attendant, Ava Greene is poised to hang up her wings and finally put down roots. She’s got one trip left before she bids her old life farewell, and she plans to enjoy every second of it. But then she discovers that former pilot Jack Stone–the absurdly gorgeous, ridiculously cocky man she’s held a secret grudge against for years–is on her flight. And he has the nerve to flirt with her, as if he doesn’t remember the role he played in the most humiliating night of her life. Good thing she never has to see him again after they land….

But when their plane encounters mechanical problems, what should have been a quick stop at the Belize airport suddenly becomes a weekend layover. Getting stuck on a three-hour flight with her nemesis was bad enough. Being stranded with him at a luxury resort in paradise? Even with the sultry breeze and white sand to distract her, it will take all the rum punch in the country to drown out his larger-than-life presence.

Yet the more time Ava spends with him under the hot Caribbean sun, the more she begins to second-guess everything she thought she knew about him…and everything she thought she wanted from her life. And all too soon, she might have to choose between keeping her feet on the ground and her head in the clouds….

Love at First by Kate Clayborn

Sixteen years ago, a teenaged Will Sterling saw–or rather, heard–the girl of his dreams. Standing beneath an apartment building balcony, he shared a perfect moment with a lovely, warm-voiced stranger. It’s a memory that’s never faded, though he’s put so much of his past behind him. Now an unexpected inheritance has brought Will back to that same address, where he plans to offload his new property and get back to his regular life as an overworked doctor. Instead, he encounters a woman, two balconies above, who’s uncannily familiar…

No matter how surprised Nora Clarke is by her reaction to handsome, curious Will, or the whispered pre-dawn conversations they share, she won’t let his plans ruin her quirky, close-knit building. Bound by her loyalty to her adored grandmother, she sets out to foil his efforts with a little light sabotage. But beneath the surface of their feud is an undeniable connection. A balcony, a star-crossed couple, a fateful meeting–maybe it’s the kind of story that can’t work out in the end. Or maybe, it’s the perfect second chance.

Piece of My Heart by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke

In the latest thrilling collaboration from #1 New York Times bestselling author and “Queen of Suspense” Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke, television producer Laurie Moran must solve the kidnapping of her fiancée’s nephew—just days before her wedding.

Television producer Laurie Moran and her fiancée, Alex Buckley, the former host of her investigative television show, are just days away from their mid-summer wedding, when things take a dark turn. Alex’s seven-year-old nephew, Johnny, vanishes from the beach. A search party begins and witnesses recall Johnny playing in the water and collecting shells behind the beach shack, but no one remembers seeing him after the morning. As the sun sets, Johnny’s skim board washes up to shore, and everyone realizes that he could be anywhere, even under water.

A ticking clock, a sinister stalker, and fresh romance combine in this exhilarating follow up to the bestselling You Don’t Own Me—another riveting page-turner from the “Queen of Suspense” Mary Higgins Clark and her dazzling partner-in-crime Alafair Burke.

Cupids Anonymous by Lila Monroe

Poppy Hathaway is a professional Cyrano – minus the honking great nose. Need a love note, raunchy sext, or apology letter so epic that your other half will forget you hesitated a beat too long when you asked, ‘does this make me look fat?’? She’s got you covered. But when her most frequent client, the annoyingly charming (or is that charmingly annoying?) Dylan Griffin comes to her with an unconventional new job, Poppy discovers that three little words can add up to one big complication.

Because Dylan doesn’t want help seducing another swimsuit model (for once in his life). He wants Poppy’s help winning over her his high-school crush (aka, his one true love) – and he’s prepared to make it worth her while. Throw in a summer Catskills trip that’s equal parts ‘Dirty Dancing’ and dirty-talking, and this Cupid is soon out of her depth – and head over heels with the last man she expected. But can she find the right words when it comes to her own heart? Or will this happily ever end in disaster?

The Trouble with Tabbies by A.G. Henley

The cats are here to stay. But is he?

Beatrix Fuller’s income as a romance writer keeps her dozens of rescue cats in food and kitty litter, but she dreams of using a promised family inheritance to help build a state of the art cat adoption facility. To get the money, she has to present her fiancé to her father for approval at the family estate in Aspen, Colorado.

The kink in this cat tale? The fiancé Bea’s told her family about for years is as fictional as the oh-so-perfect leading men in her books. She needs a fake fiancé fast, and she has two requirements: 1) must love cats and 2) no getting involved. Bea’s written romance long enough to know that false engagements lead to real relationships and she’s not interested.

Although photographer Sebastian Ross spends every morning shooting in the gorgeous Colorado mountains, buyers aren’t exactly lined up to purchase his work. After Seb responds to Bea’s posting for a fake fiancé, they make a deal: pretend to be madly in love for the sake of her cats and his ridiculously high rent. But if they so much as kiss, Bea will give up her favorite fur baby and Seb will sell his beloved Canon.

A foolproof plan . . . until something grows between these fools that looks a lot like love.

Friends Without Benefits by Penny Reid

There are three things you need to know about Elizabeth Finney: 1) She suffers from severe sarcastic syndrome, especially when she’s unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her like Nico Manganiello, and 3) She knows how to knit.

Elizabeth Finney is almost always right about everything: the musical merits of boy bands are undervalued by society, “benefits” with human Ken dolls are better without friendship, and the sun has set on her once-in-a-lifetime chance for true love. But when Elizabeth’s plans for benefits without friendship are disarmed by the irritatingly charismatic and chauvinistic Nico Manganiello—her former nemesis—she finds herself struggling to maintain the electric fence around her heart while avoiding a Nico charisma-electrocution or, worse, falling in love.

 

You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

Leading Ladies do not end up on tabloid covers. 

After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez.

Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy.

After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had.

Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars.

With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.

Remedial Rocket Science by Susannah Nix

Opposites attract when a computer geek meets billionaire bad boy.

The last thing Melody expects when she accepts a dream job offer is to run into her college one-night stand again. Not only does the hunky blast from her past work at the same aerospace company where she’s just started in the IT department, he’s the CEO’s son.

Jeremy’s got a girlfriend and a reputation as a bad boy, so Melody resolves to keep her distance and focus on building a new life for herself in Los Angeles. But despite her good intentions, she can’t seem to stay away from the heavenly-smelling paragon of hotness.

As the two begin to forge an unlikely friendship, Melody’s attraction to Jeremy grows deeper than she’s ready to admit. Can the woman who always plays it safe take a risk on the man who’s all wrong for her in all the right ways?

 

What books are you excited to read this winter?

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Christmas at Frozen Falls by Kiley Dunbar| Book Review

Posted December 14, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review, Bookish Little Christmas / 5 Comments

Christmas at Frozen Falls by Kiley Dunbar| Book ReviewChristmas at Frozen Falls by Kiley Dunbar
Published by Hera on September 4, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 273
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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5 Stars

Sylvie Magnusson is going to be lonely this Christmas. Instead of jetting off for her honeymoon, she’s freezing at home in Cheshire. Guess that’s what happens when your fiancé dumps you a week before your wedding…

Sylvie’s best friend, Nari, plans a trip to see the Northern Lights and get Sylvie’s mojo back. But as their Lapland getaway approaches, Sylvie realises that Frozen Falls is the hometown of Stellan Virtanen, her dreamy Finnish ex-boyfriend, the one that got away.

When they meet, Stellan’s still gorgeous – and her heart is warmed when he shows her the romantic delights of Lapland (as well as some adorable Husky puppies). But when she returns to England, can she really leave Stellan behind? Or will she find that her heart belongs in the frozen North?

This is a very hard book to review because I loved it SO MUCH. Everything about Christmas at Frozen Falls was so unbelievably perfectly wonderful that I don’t even know where to begin! Rather than writing a few paragraphs explaining my love, I’m going to make a long list of reasons why you need to read it. Plain and simple.

1. Christmas. This book is sooooo Christmassy, yet not in the way that makes it wrong to read it in July. The festive feelings are there, but the Christmas decorations and typical Christmas story elements/tropes are very understated. You can read this anytime and get all the feelings.
2. Lapland. I’ve never read a book set here, but it’s magical. It’s isolated and empty, but so unbelievably alive. There’s frozen waterfalls and wide open snowy tundra and forests. It sounds beautiful.
3. Snow. There’s so much snow and ice, but it’s so warm and cozy!
4. The Frozen Falls Resort. It’s so dreamy. Can I visit? Sylvie and her friend Nari each have their own cabin! The bedroom has a glass ceiling so you can stay up all night and watch for the Northern Lights. There’s a big fireplace and a fully stocked kitchen. Each cabin also comes with a Christmas tree and a basket of decorations. Sylvie and Nari are right next door to each other, and then down the path is a place to eat and a spa and all that cool stuff. It sounds like a place worthy of being put on my Bucket List. If this place is inspired by a real place, I must know!
5. Reindeer live ON THE PROPERTY. Actual reindeer. And they take you on sleigh rides.
6. But also… the resort has HUSKY PUPPIES. This is not a drill. Sylvie falls in love with one of the puppies and goes to visit him when she needs to think. Puppies.
7. There are also adult Huskies that give sled dog rides. You guys! And Sylvie’s beloved puppy friend gets trained one day, and he’s so excited and I could just cry about how cute this scene in the book is.
8. Nari is a travel blogger, and every once in a while we get a chapter that’s comprised of her latest blog entry. I thought that was fun!
9. We get a double dose of romance, with Sylvie and Stellan getting reacquainted and Nari meets a special someone too.
10. I really loved Nari. What a great best friend!
11. And I loved Nillo, who is such a unique guy and a wonderful friend to Stellan. Nillo is very traditional and devoted to his ancestry, which I loved. He lives a simple, slow kind of life that was so refreshing to read about.
12. There’s a lot of self-discovery that happens in this book. All the characters grow and discover who they are and what they want.
13. The writing is gorgeous. The descriptions of the scenery and the feelings of the characters made the entire book come alive. Can this please be a movie? Although, that’s a scary idea because it’d never be as good as the book.
14. So many swoons. 
15. The ending is sweeping, and so much better than I could have hoped it would be. 

I LOVE this book. I love it so much that I immediately went and ordered myself a paperback for my bookshelves. I think re-reading this at Christmastime might become a tradition of mine. It’s everything I want from a Christmas romance, but with so much more depth and beauty than I’ve found lately. Do yourself a favor and buy this for yourself and everyone you know. A little hot chocolate and a fuzzy blanket would make the perfect accompaniment.

5 Stars
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2021 Resolutions for Readers by Melinda Curtis | Author Guest Post (+Giveaway)

Posted December 13, 2020 by Jana in Bookish Little Christmas, Giveaway, Guest Post / 3 Comments

I’m happy to welcome Melinda Curtis, author of A Very Merry Match, to the blog today to share her 2021 resolutions for readers! Who can relate to these??


2021 Resolutions for Readers by Melinda Curtis

I will do other things than read on weekends. Like watch movies and TV shows made from books, such as:

  • Bridgerton (Netflix) based on the Julia Quinn Bridgerton series
  • Virgin River (Netflix) based on the Robyn Carr Virgin River series
  • Love in Harmony Valley (Up TV) based on the book Dandelion Wishes

I will show up extra early for appointments in January. And finish reading all the holiday books I didn’t get to or may have missed, like…

  • Season of Joy by Annie Rains
  • A Very Merry Match by Melinda Curtis
  • A Christmas to Remember by Jenny Hale

I will trim off excess books weighing down my bookshelf. Of course, I’ll do a book exchange with a friend, sharing books I enjoyed and putting books she enjoyed on my TBR. (TBR piles don’t weigh down bookshelves if they aren’t mine.)

Suggested trades:

  • Can’t Hurry Love by Melinda Curtis for Starting Over at Blueberry Creek by Annie Rains
  • Second Chance on Cypress Lane by Reese Ryan for A Very Merry Match by Melinda Curtis
  • The Happily Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez for Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

I will be adventurous and expand on the types of books I love to read. One of the things I enjoy about small town romance is the sense of community, which you can also get in other romances, such as medical romances, sports romances, or a “community” of sisters/girl friends.

  • The Single Dad’s Holiday Wish by Susan Carlisle (medical)
  • Just a Boyfriend by Sariah Wilson (football)
  • The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon (girl friends)

A Very Merry Match by Melinda Curtis
Series: Sunshine Valley #2
Published by Forever on September 29, 2020
Add to Goodreads | Amazon

This holiday season, kindergarten teacher Mary Margaret Sneed never imagined she’d be unwrapping…herself. But a burlesque side gig is the young widow’s only hope of paying off her late husband’s substantial debt. With her reputation and career on the line, she performs in disguise, under the stage name Foxy Roxy. But her secret identity is threatened when Roxy’s biggest fan turns out to be Mary Margaret’s biggest crush — the handsome-as-sin mayor of Preston!

Newly divorced single dad Kevin Hadley is prepping to make the jump from mayor to state assemblyman. He knows he should be settling down with someone quiet and practical, someone like Mary Margaret Sneed. The last thing Kevin needs right now is a steamy scandal. But he just can’t stop thinking about Foxy Roxy…and if Preston’s matchmaking Widows Club has their way this Christmas, Kevin won’t have to…

About Melinda Curtis

Prior to writing romance, award-winning, USA Today Bestseller Melinda Curtis was a junior manager for a Fortune 500 company, which meant when she flew on the private jet she was relegated to the jump seat—otherwise known as the potty. After grabbing her pen (and a parachute) she made the jump to full-time writer. Between writing sweet romance and sweet romantic comedy, Melinda finds time to bond with her husband over home remodeling projects. She recently came to grips with the fact that she’s an empty nester and a grandma, concepts easier to grasp than jet-setting on a potty.

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How to Make a Tomato Cage Christmas Tree by Annie Rains | Author Guest Post (+Giveaway)

Posted December 12, 2020 by Jana in Bookish Little Christmas, Giveaway, Guest Post / 5 Comments

I’m so excited to have Annie Rains, author of the Sweetwater Springs novels, on the blog today to share with us how to make Christmas trees out of tomato cages!


‘Tis the season for Christmas trees of all shapes and sizes, colors and décor! In my new novel SEASON OF JOY, the hero Granger Fields is a down-on-his-luck Christmas tree farmer. Half his farm burned down in the spring and now he’s struggling to make ends meet while raising his two little girls. Enter my heroine Joy Benson, who agrees to help Granger care for his girls during the farm’s busiest season. She also comes up with an idea for a Christmas Tree Workshop to allow the folks of Sweetwater Springs to make their own special tree this year.

The tomato cage Christmas tree is so easy to make and the results are beautiful! Here’s how to make your own tree without having to head to Merry Mountain Farms in Sweetwater Springs to do so (although if you want to take a trip, you can find SEASON OF JOY on a shelf near you).

How to Make a Tomato Cage Christmas Tree:

Needed:

– Wire tomato cage

– Garland

– Decorations, accessories, lights

– Hot glue gun/glue sticks

– Wire or zip tie

– Optional: festive holiday music to get you in the Christmas mood.

Step one: Find a tomato cage. They’re easy to locate in the spring when gardeners are growing tomatoes. You can locate them on Amazon year-round as well. Tomato cages are just the wire contraptions that are placed around a growing plant.

Step two: Flip the tomato cage over and gather the loose wires at the top with a zip tie or another piece of pliable wire. This should give you the Christmas tree’s conical shape.

Step three: Use a hot glue gun to apply glue to the garland and adhere to the wire every few inches as you wrap, starting at the top and working your way toward the bottom.

Step four: Now for the fun part! Get creative and add ornaments, poinsettias, holly branches, strings of beads, velvet bows, or whatever festive items you have lying around in your boxes of decorations. Don’t forget the lights!

Voila! Now you have a tree that you can pull out every year to add to the merriment of your home. These make great gifts as well!

Wishing you all a merry holiday full of family, friends, & good books!

Annie Rains


Season of Joy by Annie Rains
Series: Sweetwater Springs #6
Published by Forever on October 13, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance — Christmas
Add to Goodreads | Amazon

Tis the season for love

For single father Granger Fields, Christmas is his busiest and most profitable time of the year. But when a fire devastates the Merry Mountain Tree Farm, he fears the season won’t be holly or jolly unless he can convince free spirit Joy Benson to care for his two rambunctious daughters. Yet while Granger wants to focus on saving his business, Joy seems determined to shake up his family’s Christmas with her festive ideas and merry making.

Joy is counting down the days until she can open her own art gallery. Babysitting Abby and Willow will help her reach her goal, and when inspiration strikes, Joy convinces Granger that her craft classes can bring even more holiday cheer to the farm. As crowds return and Joy’s creative side flourishes, life with Granger and his girls begins to feel like home. But with Christmas coming nearer, can Joy convince Granger to open his heart again? Or will their newfound happiness be as fleeting as the newly fallen snow?


About Annie Rains

Annie Rains is a contemporary romance author who writes small town love stories set in fictional towns on the coast of North Carolina. Raised in one of America’s largest military communities, Annie often features heroes who fight for their countries, while also fighting for a place to call home and a good woman to love. When Annie isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and 3 children, or reading a book by one of her favorite authors.

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Header Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

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How the Dukes Stole Christmas by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, & Joanna Shupe | Book Review

Posted December 11, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

How the Dukes Stole Christmas by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, & Joanna Shupe | Book ReviewHow the Dukes Stole Christmas by Joanna Shupe, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, Tessa Dare
Published by Avon on October 15, 2018
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 392
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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Buy on Amazon

Christmas magic is in the air... From the ballrooms of London, to abandoned Scottish castles, to the snowy streets of Gilded Age New York, four bestselling authors whip up some unforgettable romance...with a little help from some enchanted shortbread.

"Meet Me in Mayfair" by Tessa Dare
Louisa Ward needs a Christmas miracle. Unless she catches a wealthy husband at the ball tonight, the horrid, heartless Duke of Thorndale will evict her family from their beloved Mayfair home. But when her friend begs to switch dance cards, Louisa finds herself waltzing with the enemy: the horrid, heartless--and unexpectedly handsome--Thorndale himself. Now the duke's holding her future in his hands...and he's not letting go.

"The Duke of Christmas Present" by Sarah MacLean
Rich and ruthless, Eben, Duke of Allryd, has no time for holidays. Holidays are for whimsy and charm--the only two things his money cannot buy. Lady Jacqueline Mosby is full of both, even now, twelve years after she left to see the world. When Jacqueline returns for a single Christmas, Eben can't resist the woman he never stopped loving...or the future that had once been in reach. It will take a miracle to convince her to stay...but if ever there were a time for miracles, it's Christmas...

"Heiress Alone" by Sophie Jordan
When Annis Bannister's family leaves her behind in the rush to escape an impending snowstorm, she finds herself stranded in the Highlands, left to fend off brigands terrorizing the countryside, robbing homes locked up for winter. Her only hope falls on her neighbor, a surly hermit duke who unravels her with a look, then a kiss ... until she fears the danger to her heart outweighs the danger of brigands and snowstorms.

"Christmas in Central Park" by Joanna Shupe
Women all over America devour Mrs. Walker's weekly column for recipes and advice. No one knows Rose, the column's author, can't even boil water. When the paper's owner, Duke Havemeyer, insists she host a Christmas party, Rose must scramble to find a husband, an empty mansion, and a cook. But Duke is not a man easily fooled and she fears her perfect plan is failing--especially when Duke's attentions make her feel anything but professional. To save her career will she give up her chance at love?

I actually picked this up because I love Tessa Dare so much and make sure I read everything she writes. I’ve also been interested in Sarah MacLean, though, and have enjoyed Sophie Jordan’s YA books so I had a feeling this was going to be good! I really love historical romance, and when Christmas is thrown into the mix it’s even better. This was a wonderful set of novellas that I really loved for the most part!

My thoughts on “Meet Me In Mayfair” by Tessa Dare:
This was a very fun story about a girl trying to save her beloved home from the duke who is planning to take it away from her. I liked the chemistry between Louisa and the Duke of Thorndale. There was also a TON of Christmas in this. They spend an entire night exploring the town of Mayfair in the snow getting to know one another and falling in love. It’s very sweet and the snow made it so magical. The writing was great, and I loved the banter between the characters that I’ve come to expect from Tessa Dare.

My thoughts on “The Duke of Christmas Present” by Sarah MacLean:
This was my first story written by Sarah McLean! Jacqueline and Eben have quite the history, and she’s back home for Christmas after twelve years of being gone. I really loved the flashback scenes interspersed throughout the present day scenes, and I thought the author did a wonderful job of really developing the story despite its short length. I felt like I got a fully fleshed out novel with the backstory, the baggage that each of the characters carry, and all the feelings and emotions as they figure out their past and their future. Eben is very tender, and Jacqueline is very weary. The story was filled with Christmas spirit, and quite a bit of steam as well! It was very fun to read.

My thoughts on “Heiress Alone” by Sophie Jordan:
This one was a bit rocky for me because I didn’t love the Scottish-style dialogue of some of the characters. I love books that are set in the Highlands, but I honestly could not figure out what was being said at times without actually reading parts out loud. It took some getting used to. And what family accidentally leaves a member behind!? And then there’s this plot line that deals with magical/bewitched shortbread… it was kinda weird. I didn’t really like the love story or the main characters. I liked the service staff, but the main couple was meh. I did love the castle setting and the added mystery with the scary brigands!

My thoughts on “Christmas in Central Park” by Joanna Shupe:
This was my least favorite of the novellas in the book, and I found it hard to get through. I liked the less commonly seen setting (New York City) and the idea of the story, but something was missing for me and I’m not sure what it was. I did have a problem with the dialogue. A character will slip from perfectly proper word choices and not using any contractions to sounding like a character from modern time partway through a paragraph. Characters would go from sounding like an overly proper robot to a silly teen outside the movie theater in the blink of an eye. It just didn’t work for me, and kept undermining my efforts to try and convince myself this was a historical romance. I also didn’t feel that this story particularly complimented the other stories, which felt more traditional and historical than this one. Oh well. You can’t win them all! I did like the Christmas party!

All in all, I really loved Tessa Dare’s novella, am excited to read more from Sarah MacLean, think it’s worth looking into more of Sophie Jordan’s adult books, and might possibly try another Joanna Shupe because she deserves a second chance. I love the Christmassy feels from all of them, some were just better than others.

This review was originally posted on December 24, 2018 and was re-posted for some extra love.

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Traditions & Christmas Trees by Estelle Hallick | Publicist Guest Post

Posted December 10, 2020 by Jana in Bookish Little Christmas, Guest Post / 3 Comments

I’m excited to have my friend, Estelle (of Forever), here on the blog today to talk about some of her Christmas traditions and her love of Christmas trees! The tree is my favorite part of Christmas, for sure, so this post makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.


Christmas trees have always been my thing — specifically real Christmas trees.

When I was a kid, I would go with my dad to pick up a tree near where we went to church. I designed a hat that looked like a tree for a hat contest in grade school. Every Black Friday, my family and I would take the train into New York City and stare at the still unlit tree at Rockefeller Center. When I got married, I was happy that my husband shared my affinity for real trees so while there were a lot of compromises to be made when it came to holidays, the tree was never one of them. My parents brought me up to be a person who really believed in the importance of tradition – the trip to NYC once a year after Thanksgiving, when we hosted holidays and went to other people’s homes, our annual summer vacations to the same beach and then later, Disney World. All of these moments – big and small – were cornerstones of my childhood and also shaped so many of the ways I do things as an adult. But I’ve realized that while we don’t adhere to some of our traditions anymore, it’s not because my parents decided to do something different – it’s because our places or circumstances have changed. I truly think if my parents had it their way they would keep things the same forever. I don’t blame them; change is hard for me too.

This leads me back to the Christmas tree. After seven years of living in apartments where we couldn’t control our heat, my husband and I were a little tired of our tree dying before the 25th of the month. IT WAS SO DEPRESSING, especially for two people who like to keep up their tree until February. (It’s true.) This holiday season, the most surprising question popped into my head and wouldn’t let go: “Should we maybe sorta consider buying a fake tree?”

Needless to say, coal did not drop from the ceiling when I voiced this thought. My husband was on board. Everyone on InstaStory was thrilled to tell me why they loved their fake tree when I still had my doubts. Suddenly I found myself purchasing a tall, fake Douglas Fir for the same price of a rather tiny, who-knows-what-kind-of-tree-it-was in our neighborhood.

The tree arrived. We spaced out his branches. (Harder than it looks.) We hung up all of our ornaments. This tree might not have a name yet (we’ve named each of our real trees but it’s harder when the name is permanent) and he might not have that fresh scent, but our scaredy-cat cat who hates strong scents snoozes under it every day. There are no pine needles to clean up, and on Christmas Day, it looked exactly the same as it did on its very first day in this apartment. When I saw my parent’s tree this week, decked out for Santa’s arrival, I did feel a little ping of sadness. But then I remembered that I get to see the Rockefeller Center tree every day on my way to work and then go home to my cozy apartment where I’m in control of how long the holiday continues. (Even if I can’t control the heat in my apartment.)

Estelle is the publicity and marketing manager at Forever, a Muppet enthusiast, and best friend to Santa. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter @thatsostelle.

Header Photo by Aurelio Arantes on Unsplash

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