Genre: Holiday - Christmas

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

Posted December 24, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 0 Comments

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
Amazon Add to Goodreads
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.


The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer | Book Review

Posted December 22, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 2 Comments

The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer | Book ReviewThe Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer
Published by Laurel Leaf on October 11, 2005
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
I’m Kate Bjorkman. I don’t like romance novels. They’re full of three-paragraph kisses describing people’s tongues and spittle. But what do you do if you’ve lived a real romance with a great-looking guy (Richard) and he loves you as much as you love him? I know what I did. I wrote this romance novel about myself, using the Romance Writer’s Phrase Book. I also used stuff my English teacher taught me about writing. He said a story must have conflict. No problem there. My life was one big conflict last Christmas. I didn’t make anything up. This is the honest truth and I want truth even in romance. I’m betting you’ll want the same.

This book review was originally posted here on 12/3/12, but the book is absolutely adorable and so underrated that I had to share my review again! It’s everything I look for in a cozy Christmas read. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Kate Bjorkman, aka Boo, is the author and narrator of this book, and she is hilarious. We’ve got a story within a story, as we read both about Kate’s experiences as well as her writing process. Kate’s a bit of an ugly duckling, with coke bottle glasses and boots with fruit on them and stubbly legs. Plus, she’s 6 feet tall and not the smoothest talker out there. It’s Christmastime, and her brother, sister-in-law, her brother’s best friend, and a girl named Fleur all come home from college to celebrate with the positively perfect Bjorkman family. Of course, she has had a crush on her brother’s best friend, Richard, and spends the bulk of the book hopelessly pining after him. Her inner dialogue and her antics had me giggling with delight. 

2. Every so often, we get to a point in the book where we can read Kate’s revision notes. In these notes, she either talks about how she hates what she just wrote, how she needs to add or take away experiences she talked about, or her frustrations as an author trying to come up with the right words and presentation. I really loved this portion of the book, because we get to learn a lot about Kate here.

3. I loved every character in this book, and that rarely happens. Richard is adorable. Fleur is the kind of person you want to hate because she’s absolutely perfect, but can’t hate because she’s absolutely perfect. You know what I mean? I love her bother and sister-in-law and their cute newlywed spats and romance. Her parents are awesome.

4. This book is so witty! I loved the funny things the characters said to each other, plus reading Kate make fun of romance novels was great. The Romance Writer’s Phrase Book, which she quotes a lot is just amazingly hilarious. I wish this book really existed! Rather than having real chapter headings (Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc.), Kate wrote things like, “I really love those awesome 3-paragraph kisses in romance novels, and Chapter 4 is where mine happens.” That’s not a direct quote, but you get the idea.

5. I loved the wonderful word choices and love of language that the author exhibited in this book. It’s young adult, of course, but I had to pull out a dictionary to define some of the words! I loved that!

6. This book is dated. 90’s references are everywhere. Embrace them, because they are stupendous.

7. CHRISTMAS! This book is so sparkly and Christmasy, and perfect. Kate’s family has this huge traditional Swedish Christmas with lots of yummy food, decorations, great music playing all the time, a TON of snow, Christmas tree shopping and trimming, etc. I am so in the mood for Christmas right now.

Rather than continuing with my review, I thought I could explain my love of this book best just by giving you a taste of it for yourself. It’s wonderful, a new favorite, and I will be recommending this to everyone. I don’t re-read books, but this one deserves it. Anyway, read the quotes!

Richard Bradshaw filled the doorway.

Okay, a flourish of trumpets here. The hero has arrived. And because he was my hero long before I began writing this novel, ever since I can remember, in fact, my face grew hot.  He was four years older now, of course, and shorter than I remembered, but I wasn’t six feet tall four years ago either.  His eyes – I need the help of The Romance Writers Phrasebook Guide to describe those eyes:

–unfathomable in their murky depths? 
No!
–shades of amber and green?
 Maybe.
–dark gray-green-flecked eyes?
 I don’t know. Maybe.
–hooded like those of a hawk? Absolutely not! The hell with it. They were warm eyes. They were Richard’s eyes. I wouldn’t care if they were cone-shaped.

 

That was me, Kate Bjorkman, a potential Ph. D. candidate, and fairly rational young woman–that’s what my dad always said, even-tempered: “If I could only have one daughter, then Kate was the perfect one to have,” he’d say. And my mother agreed. The only bad thing about me was my eyes: blind as Milton without those glasses. But that morning, January 2, I was deranged. I knew it, I guess, but I couldn’t stop it. Didn’t want to. It wasn’t until I sat in a booth at Bridgeman’s that I realized I was wearing flannel pajamas and had no money.

See? Don’t you want to buy this one now? :)  

 


A Kiss In the Snow by Susan Mallery | Book Review

Posted December 15, 2018 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

A Kiss In the Snow by Susan Mallery | Book ReviewA Kiss In the Snow by Susan Mallery
Series: Fool's Gold #20.5
Published by HQN Books on October 1, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 57
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
A Christmas gift straight from the heart of Susan Mallery, one of today's most beloved writers—a brand new Fool's Gold romance!

Cupcake baker Nancee Smith is stunned when search-and-rescue pilot Jesse “Shep” Sheppard strides into her kitchen. The last time she saw the Ghost of Heartbreaks Past was the night before he left her at the altar. He said he loved her, then didn't even say goodbye.

Now Shep claims he's done dashing away at the first sign of forever. The romance of Fool's Gold at Christmas tempts her to have faith—snow glistening on rooftops like great swirls of frosting, twinkle lights in every window—but this time around,she's the one with cold feet. If promises alone aren't enough to sway her, Shep will have to show her the love in his heart.

I enjoy reading novellas when I’m considering a new-to-me author because it’s not much of a commitment, and I have time to judge the author’s style and character development to see if the full-length novels are worth my time. I see promise in Susan Mallery, even though this book was too short for me to really get a good idea about her style.

A Kiss In the Snow is not a second chance romance. It’s not a third chance romance. It’s actually a fourth chance romance. Yeah… pretty sure I’d never have the patience or trust to give a guy a fourth chance (especially after leaving me at the altar), but to each her own! Chances are I would have appreciated these characters more if I had read the 20 previous Fool’s Gold books, but I did like them! Shep has dealt with the demons of his past and is ready to commit to the only woman he’s ever truly loved. He didn’t take no for an answer, which I thought was sweet. He definitely owed it to Nancee to pursue her relentlessly! I love Christmas romances, and I loved how festive this one was. It was a nice little story without much substance but, at just under 60 pages, you can’t expect too much from it! It did whet my appetite, though, and I’m excited to read more of the Fool’s Gold series so I can get to know the town and the characters better.


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 / 10 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: Publisher (Edelweiss)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
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: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
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!


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: Publisher (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: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
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: Publisher (Netgalley)
Amazon Add to Goodreads
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!

The Christmas Cabin by J.L. Jarvis | Book Review

Posted December 10, 2017 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 3 Comments

The Christmas Cabin by J.L. Jarvis | Book ReviewThe Christmas Cabin by J.L. Jarvis
Published by Bookbinder Press on November 1, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas
Pages: 206
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Lawyer Abbie Harper rents a cabin for her own perfect Christmas. On Christmas Eve, she leaves the stress of her New York job and drives to the mountains, settling in for seven glorious days of peace on earth and good will toward men—so long as they steer clear of her.

Forest Ranger Jack Whelan is no good at relationships. He manages just fine by holding fast to one rule: Don’t let anyone get close. Then Abbie Harper rents his cabin. As a light snow falls, the furnace breaks down, and Jack is called in for repairs. When the storm picks up, they’re stranded together, turning their ordered lives upside down like a snow globe.

Two snowbound strangers who think they know what they want will find out what they need—at The Christmas Cabin.

I don’t know why, but I LOVE stories that include two people being snowbound together in some remote location. I love it even more if it takes place during Christmas. Abbie’s job is taking over her life, so she decides to rent a cabin in the mountains to get away from it all. She brings enough food, Christmas movies, and an ereader full of good books (my kind of girl) with the plan of relaxing and enjoying the snow and scenic views. When she arrives she finds that the heat is not working and has to contact the owner of the cabin (multiple times) to come fix it. What starts out as a strictly business-type relationship quickly gets friendly as the snow falls and Jack is unable to leave the cabin. He takes the couch, she the bed, and the magic begins.

I liked both characters a lot, but Jack was definitely my favorite. He’s sweet, gentlemanly, giving (he saves people for a living), and romantic. Abbie is quirky enough to grab a tree branch from outside, stick it in a jar of water, and use it as her Christmas tree. She’s got this terribly irrational fear of dogs (the coyote howls in the distance render her practically immovable), but Jack is understanding and accommodating. He brings her earplugs, the cutie, and then freaks out when he knocks on the door and she doesn’t answer. Surely she must be dead. They form this really sweet, caring relationship that I just loved. And YAY all sexytimes happen behind doors, which I really appreciate in a Christmas romance.

I loved the writing. The author wrote some amazingly festive and beautiful Christmas scenes, and really got me into the Christmas spirit. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a quick, happy holiday romance!

This review was originally posted on December 21, 2016
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