Monday, December 20, 2010

Naughty and Nice Holiday Anthology

Holiday Sparks -  Shannon Stacey  3.5/4 Stars

Chloe Burke has come home to house sit for her parents who have taken a holiday cruise. It’s been a long time since Chloe has been here, and much to her surprise the house is an accident waiting to happen. She learns this the hard way when she tries use the microwave and loses electricity to half the house. Had she found the note her mother left explaining that she shouldn’t use the microwave while the light over the sink was on, she wouldn’t have had the problem. This note listed several other things she shouldn’t do - such as blow dry her hair in the bathroom with the light on.  Concerned for her parent’s safety, she decides that for Christmas she’ll have her parent’s house rewired and puts in a call to the town’s electrician who, unbeknownst to her, is very happy to hear from Chloe.

Scott Quinn has had a crazy secret crush on Chloe Burke ever since high school, but when she moved away to Boston, he moved on with his own life, too – not that she’d ever noticed him anyway. Now she’s back and in need of his electrical skills, and he can’t help but imagine his other “skills” he’d like to impress her with.

Holiday Sparks is my first read by this author and I enjoyed it. This was a sweet, romantic story with enough sizzle to heat things up and make this a sexy holiday read.

All She Wants for Christmas –  Jaci Burton 4 Stars

A deep hurt and betrayal sent Riley Jenson running from her home in Deer Lake, from Amanda, who she thought was her best friend, and from Ethan, who she thought was her boyfriend. But catching them in bed together told her she’d been wrong about all that. She wasn’t about to stick around and ask questions – she didn’t need to – the answers were right there in front of her eyes. Now, 10 years later Riley is a huge Nashville star and she’s come back to her hometown, strictly for business. She doesn’t want to see Ethan or Amanda, who married after she left, and plans to do anything she can to avoid them. But what she doesn’t know is that Amanda has passed away, and fate—and her agent—bring Ethan and Riley face to face again. Can they work things out and let go of all the hurt they’ve known these past 10 years? Well, it’s Christmas time in Deer Lake and anything is possible.

I enjoyed this story a lot more than I thought I would. When I learned that Ethan had slept with his girlfriend’s best friend, I was tempted to skip the story, but since I’m reading/reviewing this for Netgalley, I thought it only fair that I stick it out. I’m glad I did. It turned out to be an awesome story of understanding and forgiveness, and a steamy holiday read.

Unwrapped – Megan Hart 3 Stars

Leah and Brandon Long are spending their first Christmas together as newlyweds skiing in Vail, but a twisted ankle has Leah off the slopes with nothing but time on her hands. So what are the newlyweds to do? Well, skiing is out of the question, but they manage to fill their days with some easy going sightseeing and lots of sex.  I liked the message of the story, about letting go of the past and learning to trust, learning to give and take, but I wish it had been a more obvious part of the story and not just there at the end. 

Unwrapped is an epilogue type short connected to Taking Care of Business and No Reservations, and while I wasn’t confused at all by having not read those two books, I didn’t have much of an emotional investment in the couple. The sex was plentiful and would have probably been very erotic had I cared more about Leah and Brandon. I was also disappointed that this story didn’t have that same holiday magic that the previous two did.

Believe – Lauren Dane – 5 stars.

I loved this story! Believe is another epilogue type short in this anthology, this time connected to the novel Second Chances, which I haven’t read yet. I wasn’t at all lost while reading Believe and was actually surprised to learn this wasn’t a standalone because it was so well written and I felt completely invested in and connected to Rori Helm and Jude Callahan, not only as a couple, but as people trying to heal from a rocky past and the death of Rori’s husband, Zach.

Years after Zach’s death, Rori and Jude are a couple, trying to make their own history together, a life without Zach’s memory influencing them. They both love and miss him, but now is their time together and they want to move forward instead of living in the shadow of the past.  Jude decides that a Christmas getaway together is just what they need and arranges a secluded cabin where they can devote themselves to one another and not have to worry about friends and relatives dropping by while he’s got his beautiful woman naked, tied up, and screaming for…well…you get the idea

This is a very hot, sexy story, with some light BDSM and I will definitely be getting my hands on Second Chances.

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