Genre: Holiday - Christmas

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

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

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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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.


The Christmas Pact by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward | Mini Book Review

Posted December 9, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

The Christmas Pact by Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward | Mini Book ReviewThe Christmas Pact by Penelope Ward, Vi Keeland
Narrator: Andi Arndt, Sebastian York
Published by Audible Original on December 5, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Length: 2 hours 54 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
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4 Stars

Heat up the holidays with this sizzling new novella from New York Times best-selling authors Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward!

Riley Kennedy’s emails keep getting crossed with her colleague, Kennedy Riley.

The infuriating man forwards them along with his annoying commentary and unsolicited advice. At least she never has to see him in person since they work in different locations…until they come face to face at the office holiday party. As luck would have it, Kennedy turns out to be gorgeous…though still a jerk. Yet somehow he’s able to charm her out on the dance floor—and convince her to participate in his crazy scheme: He’ll go home with Riley for a Christmas party and pretend to be her boyfriend if Riley agrees to be his date to a wedding.

It sounds easy enough. But little by little, the act they’re putting on starts to feel like so much more than a Christmas pact—and Riley’s about to learn there’s more to Kennedy than she ever imagined.

This was such a fun listen! I love a good fauxmance (as you know), and this one was delightful. The two main characters share a name, but in reverse. He’s Kennedy Riley, and she’s Riley Kennedy. They also work for the same company, and keep getting each other’s emails. She politely forwards his along, but he gets nosey and reads them all… and then forwards them along with his comments/thoughts/musings. He annoys the crap out of her, but it’s not until they meet at the company Christmas party for the first time ever that they realize there’s this attraction there. And he’s a lot less annoying than Riley thought. He talks her into coming to a wedding with him and, in turn, he says he’ll go home with her for Christmas and pose as her boyfriend. Sneaky, huh? Everything unfolds in a pretty predictable manner, and I loved it a lot. The narrators were fun to listen to! And yay for my blushing self, there were no sex scenes! I cannot listen to sex scenes being read to me. It’s just too embarrassing. Things are mentioned… and sex happens, but it’s not described. The story is told from two different points of view. Kennedy’s thoughts had a little more swearing than I would have liked, but that faded away as the story moved on. All in all, a very fun listen!

4 Stars

A McMillan Christmas by Bethany Claire | Book Review

Posted December 7, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

A McMillan Christmas by Bethany Claire | Book ReviewA McMillan Christmas by Bethany Claire
Series: Morna's Legacy #7.5
Narrator: Lily Collingwood
Published by Self on December 14, 2016
Genres: Holiday - Christmas, Romance, Time Travel
Length: 3 hours 10 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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5 Stars

Morna’s magic returns in this new Holiday story sure to warm your heart and make you believe in the miracle of love.

A Time For Second Chances

When the worst snowstorm of the century hits the Scottish Highlands just in time for the Christmas holiday, Harper knows she must seek shelter from the storm. With her grandparents’ home still hours away and the roads growing more hazardous by the minute, she is left with no choice but to take refuge in the one place she swore to never return— McMillan Castle—the home of the only man to ever break her heart.

Christmas only serves to remind Kamden McMillan of all that he’s lost. As he settles in for yet another holiday spent alone, he is stunned when his ex-girlfriend breaks into his home to escape the snow. With the storm projected to last for days, Kamden sees this time alone with her as a chance to make things right.

Just as they begin to get reacquainted, Morna’s meddling magic sends them back in time, and both are forced to reconsider what they thought they knew about the other. Will returning to the year their relationship ended allow Kamden and Harper to mend the hurt between them? Or has history already sealed their fate?

I saw this little story on Hoopla while I was looking for a short Christmas read, and thought it would be a great way to check out Bethany Claire’s writing. I’ve been interested in the Morna’s Legacy time travel series for quite some time now, and this was a very magical and festive introduction that I really enjoyed. I love it when a snowstorm plays matchmaker, and that’s what happens here. Harper is on her way to spend Christmas with her grandparents, when this snowstorm forces her to quit her drive early and seek shelter at the McMillan Castle, which is supposed to be empty right now. Harper used to work there and knows where the secret key is stashed. So she lets herself in and comes face to face with Kamden, the man who broke her heart. Forced proximity makes hearts soften, apparently. Morna’s magic (which I’m thinking pops up a lot to make people fall in love) sends Kamden and Harper back in time to the year they broke up to see if a little clarity can help mend those hearts and bring these two lovebirds back together.

I loved this, and I think I would have loved it even more if I’d read the other books in the series leading up to this one. The time travel aspects and Morna and some of the characters might have been less of a mystery to me. Still, though, I really enjoyed what I got and am eager to jump into this series now. The writing was really well done, and I enjoyed listening to this narrator. I also liked the strong message of forgiveness. Highly recommended to anyone looking for a magical Christmas story set in the snowy Scottish Highlands.

5 Stars

An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow | Book Review

Posted December 3, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review, Bookish Little Christmas / 1 Comment

An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow | Book ReviewAn Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow
Series: Wild River #1
Published by Harlequin on September 24, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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3 Stars

In Alaska, it’s always a white Christmas—but the sparks flying between two reunited friends could turn it red-hot…

If there’s one gift Erika Sheraton does not want for Christmas, it’s a vacation. Ordered to take time off, the workaholic surgeon reluctantly trades in her scrubs for a ski suit and heads to Wild River, Alaska. Her friend Cassie owns a tour company that offers adventures to fit every visitor. But nothing compares to the adrenaline rush Erika feels on being reunited with Cassie’s brother, Reed Reynolds.

Gone is the buttoned-up girl Reed remembers. His sister’s best friend has blossomed into a strong, skilled, confident woman. She’s exactly what his search-and-rescue team needs—and everything he didn’t know he craved. The gulf between his life in Wild River and her big-city career is wide. But it’s no match for a desire powerful enough to melt two stubborn hearts…

I really, really love Alaska, so I was excited when I found this Christmas romance set in Wild River! This was very fun book, but I would have been happier if it had been more festive and Christmassy.

The synopsis has done a really good job explaining what the book is about. You’ve got workaholic Erika, who has to take a forced vacation by the order of her boss (aka her dad). She heads to Alaska to stay with her old best friend, Cassie, who owns a tour company. And then you’ve got Cassie’s brother, Reed, who Erika has always had the hots for. He works for a search and rescue crew. Cassie and Erika haven’t been close in years, so things are a bit awkward at first as they figure each other out again. Obviously, they have both changed. And Reed definitely notices the changes in Erika.

I always enjoy friends to lovers and dating the best friend’s sibling tropes, and this book gives us a bit of both. Cassie goes off on a tour with a group for a few days, leaving Erika at home to go stir crazy. She gets out and starts hanging with Reed… goes on a few rescues… gets to know the locals. It’s fun. I like the town of Wild River and the people that live there. This book was a strong set-up for the series, and I know I would have liked it more if I hadn’t gone into it expecting an explosion of Christmas decorations and festive merriment. You could really read this at any time during the year, which isn’t a bad thing by any means, but was a bit of a disappointment for me. An Alaskan Christmas was actually a lot deeper and more heavy than I was expecting when I looked and the beautiful cover. I was picturing steamy Hallmark, but this was more of a drama than a romance for me. Everyone is working through a lot of stuff, and Erika is reanalyzing her life. I honestly can’t remember much Christmas or even many swoons. I really liked Erika and Reed together, but I didn’t have any strong feelings for them as individuals. They were not very memorable, personality-wise. I enjoyed the search and rescue tidbits, which were exciting and interesting.

All in all, this was fun! I was expecting something different, but it doesn’t mean that what I got was bad. I’m interested in continuing on with the series to see who gets their own romance next. Maybe Cassie? Or one of the search and rescue team? Both would be fun. :)

3 Stars

Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham | Mini Book Review

Posted December 13, 2019 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 5 Comments

Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham | Mini Book ReviewMine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham
Published by Carina Press on December 5, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 77
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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3 Stars

Thanks to a transatlantic house swap, California girl Ashley Turner is finally going to fulfill her lifelong dream of a proper English Christmas. Her holiday plans did not include a sexy stranger climbing into her borrowed bed in the middle of the night. But in the light of day, Ashley can't help but wonder if Santa has delivered early...

Game designer Oliver Stansfeld can't wait to leave dreary London—and all its difficult holiday memories—for sunny San Diego. But a freak ice storm and a grounded plane have forced him back to his already-occupied flat. To make up for the mix-up, the least he can do is show his pretty houseguest where to get the perfect Christmas tree before he leaves.

The more time they spend together, the more their attraction grows, and soon Ashley is tempting Oliver to give in to the spirit of the season and snuggle up for the rest of the winter. As the ice melts and flights start taking off again, he must choose between giving in to the past or risking his heart on a chance at love.

Doesn’t this book sound a little like The Holiday? That is one glorious movie and my favorite movie ever, so I was super excited when I found out that this book is about a transatlantic house swap! Even better, a man and a woman are swapping. And even BETTER, the airport gets shut down and she makes it to his London home… but he does not make it to her California home. SO… they have to both stay at his house. I mean, come on. How could you not want to read about this? It sounds super romantic, not to mention an accident waiting to happen! House swapping sounds like one of the coolest adventures ever, but I think I’d be a nervous wreck having a stranger living in my house. Anyways…

Ashley and Oliver are both looking for something. Growing up in poverty, Ashley has never had a real Christmas. And Oliver is looking for a way to survive the pain Christmas brings him. Neither of them were entirely happy to discover they would be sharing a home until Oliver could fly out to California, but they decide to make the best of it after an awkward encounter when Oliver enters his dark room and falls into bed… right on top of Ashley. Oops! She smacks him in his happy place, and he falls to the ground, naked and in pain. And that’s how their love story begins.

Oliver feels for Ashley and her strong desire for a beautiful Christmas, so he takes her shopping for a tree, takes care of her when she slips and falls on the ice, watches her decorate her tree, and enjoys her peppermint hot chocolate. I love the tension and the romance that grows from the bud of friendship. They confide in one another and share their stories, bonding over their sad memories and hope for a better future. I don’t like sad books at all, so I was happy to discover that the book did not feel sad for me. I just felt hope for them and excitement over the possibilities of their love story.

I really enjoyed this sweet, quick Christmas read and would recommend it to people who love The Holiday! While I think that movie is better, this book will make you smile and remind you that the most important part of Christmas is having someone special to share it with.

 

3 Stars

The Dance Before Christmas by Victoria Alexander | Book Review

Posted December 8, 2019 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 1 Comment

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
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3 Stars

A fake fiancé and a Christmas engagement are a recipe for trouble in this delightful holiday romp featuring New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander’s Lady Travelers Society

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

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

3 Stars

Jingle Bell Harbor by Tracy Brogan | Mini Book Review

Posted December 7, 2019 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

Jingle Bell Harbor by Tracy Brogan | Mini Book ReviewJingle Bell Harbor by Tracy Brogan
Series: Bell Harbor #3.5
Published by Montlake Romance on October 20, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 111
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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4 Stars

As assistant buyer for the world’s second-largest Christmas store, Kelsey Parker feels like a holiday harlot. She’s contractually obligated to promote the yuletide season. All. Year. Long. And it’s taking a toll on her spirit. But when her clueless, self-absorbed boyfriend goes on their long-anticipated romantic vacation—without her!—Kelsey is beyond disappointed to find herself tromping through the Bell Harbor snow instead of lounging on a tropical beach.

Drew Hampton is considered quite a catch among the Bell Harbor bachelorettes, but when his high school dream girl, Kelsey Parker, shows up at his grandfather’s Christmas tree lot complaining about her love life, he decides it’s long past time to get her under the mistletoe himself.

As things heat up between the two, a surprise visitor arrives, making Kelsey an offer she can’t quite believe. Now she must decide what matters most, and she just may discover the key to her happiness.

This is a sweet, funny Christmas novella that’s perfect for getting you into the holiday spirit! I’ve not read any of the other Bell Harbor books, and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. There’s not a lot to say about it because it’s such a short book, at just over 100 pages. I read it in one sitting and had so much fun with the characters (Drew gives me heart eyes), the holiday festivities, the swoons, and the setting. The story did not feel rushed or compressed in order to fit into a novella. I loved Tracy’s writing and bought the rest of the Bell Harbor series because this one was so much fun. I can’t wait to read them! Consider this my seal of approval. If you’re looking for a magical dose of Christmas cheer, pick up this little gem and prepare to smile!

 

4 Stars

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

Posted December 22, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 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 Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Pages: 192
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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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? :)  

 

5 Stars