‘Last Chance Christmas’ by Hope Ramsey

STORY:

Dear Reader,
I’ve been wishing for a miracle for my oldest boy, Stone, and this Christmas my prayers might just be answered!

Her name is Lark, and she’s here in Last Chance, looking into her father’s past-and stirring up a whole mess of trouble without meaning to. As the chief of police, Stone sure has his hands full trying to keep up with her. Ever since his wife died, Stone’s put everything into raising his daughters and dodging the Christ Church Ladies’ Auxiliary matchmakers. And it’s clear Lark has been through some trouble and could use a place to finally call home. I only hope Stone can let go of the past soon enough to keep her . . .

Goodness, I need to stop talking and finish up Jane’s highlights so we can make the town tree-lighting. You come back by because the Cut ‘n’ Curl’s got hot rollers, free coffee, fresh-baked Christmas cookies-and the best gossip in town.

See you real soon,
Ruby Rhodes

REVIEW: Lark Chaikin’s career as a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist had her witness many horrors from war to natural disasters. She grieves deeply the loss of her father and is determined to fulfill his last wish of deposing his ashes on a mini-golf course in the town of Last Chance, South Carolina.

The simple task turns into a major headache as the town’s Chief of Police, Stonewall Rhodes, tells her that she can’t do that without getting the permission from the people who are in charge of the place.

Stone Rhodes has more in common with Lark than even he’ll admit to. He’s still grieving the loss of his wife in a car accident and it looks like he’s given up on moving on with his life. One of his girls, Haley who has survived the accident, has had a hard time forgetting the incident as well.

There are many issues that come to the surface as these two slowly fall in love and solve the mystery of their connection.

If you’ve read this series from the start, you’ll no doubt welcome Stone’s happily ever after, but if you’re like me, and this is your first time wandering around this town, you might feel a bit lost…

Ms. Ramsey maintains an even pace and takes us, along with Lark, on a journey of discovery that at times will make you laugh and cry, but in the end, I think I would have liked it even better if I read the earlier books in this series. Because this was a part of the series, it left me lost from time to time but I did enjoy the suspense and characterization of many people I’ve met through this story, especially the heroine.

For never reading Hope Ramsey’s ‘Last Chance’ series I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. It had a bit something for everyone. If you like mystery, well you had it. If you’re into inspirational stories, you’re in luck too. If you’re into contemporary romance, guess what? You’re in luck as well.

Book provided by NetGalley

*Will give the print copy away to one US commenter.

‘Hunk for the Holidays’ by Katie Lane

STORY: Always putting business before pleasure, Cassie McPherson works hard for her family’s construction business. That might explain why she doesn’t have a date for the company Christmas party. But it doesn’t quite explain why she’s crazy enough to hire an escort for the event or – crazier still – why she’s dying to unwrap him like a present . . .

With whiskey-colored eyes and a killer smile, James is one gorgeous hunk who really knows how to fill out a tuxedo. He charms everyone, including Cassie. And when the night ends, the party doesn’t stop. As Cassie falls, literally, into his bed, James falls head over heels in love. Now he has to figure out a way to tell her the truth: he’s not an escort. He’s her family’s fiercest business rival. But all he wants for Christmas is her . . .

REVIEW: Well, ‘tis the season for sampling some more ‘new’ to me authors, and today Ms. Katie Lane is giving me a taste of ‘Hunk for the Holidays’.

Have you ever read a book where you had a permanent [get your minds out of the gutter, my bookworms!] grin? If you’ve never experienced the sensation, then you need to read this book. There wasn’t a page I read that it didn’t make me grin, smile or straight out laugh out loud. That’s how funny the writing is.

Cassie McPherson is smart, gorgeous and very funny yet she doesn’t come across as such to the people closest to her. To her brothers she’s the sister they are protective of, even though she’s as tough as they are. To her father, she’s the ‘glorified accountant’ in his company; to her mother she’s someone to be fussed over; and to the rest of her family she’s someone that they’re determined to ‘fix up’ with any and all available bachelors.

But to her own self, she’s become someone even she isn’t happy with lately. As much as she adores her family and working for her father’s construction company, she feels that she would be better suited and much happier outside the office and on the designing end of the projects. That dream however is yet again postponed as she’s in charge of the company and working along her brothers, as her dad’s recovering from a heart attack. Her work schedule has tripled and not just her love life is suffering, but it seems that the new man in town with his own construction company is poised to take over most of their clients.

Oh yeah, and there’s a company Christmas Party she dreads getting ready for.

Since she doesn’t have that ‘significant other’ and she doesn’t want her family to know as they would jump to find her one, she does what she’s been doing lately for those occasions: she gets an escort for the evening. In walks the ‘escort’ and our Cassie can feel it in her bones that [and other places too] that this ‘escort’ is nothing she had expected …Yeah, you guessed it…

James Sutton.

Let me stop here and get your attention to the cover of this book. Whoever chose it needs to be thanked and congratulated. This is One. Damn. Good. Locking. Man. He IS who will be in your head, no doubt about it! With that said, let me tell you a bit more about our hero.

In order to succeed, he sacrificed a lot, primarily his relationship with his father. After his mother’s passing, he builds a wall of protection around him and dedicates himself to school and then to achieving his goals never really wanting to dig deeper into why he neglects his relationships with not just family but friends as well. He doesn’t do commitments well and would rather stay out of the way of his neighbors  just so he wouldn’t get attached or obligated to them in some way.

Here’s the excerpt where these two meet… James shows up and Cassie mistakes him for her ‘escort’ and off they go…

“A man stood by the Christmas tree in the foyer. Not a man really, more like a vision. The clear lights that twinkled around his dark head made him look like something straight out of a dream. Man, Elite Escorts had outdone themselves this time. This was no gangly college boy in an ill-fitting rental tux, but a mature man in a tuxedo that looked made-to-order for his tall, muscular frame.

Like James Bond right before he bopped a shapely beauty, his bow tie was undone and lay flat against the front pleats of the crisp white shirt that was unbuttoned at his tanned throat. He stood looking at Cassie with a slight smile on his firm lips and one brown brow arched over an eye that was the exact color of her Aunt Wheezie’s favorite Scotch.

Cassie forgot to breathe.

“Hi.” The smile deepened, along with two dimples. “I didn’t mean to spook you.” When Cassie still didn’t say anything, the smile dropped and both brows lifted. “Are you okay?”

He walked toward her, and she was reminded of the black panther at the Denver Zoo, his movements sleek and predatory. She swallowed and tried to get her mind off his hot body and back in her head. It was difficult, especially when this wonderful eye candy stood so close and when she and Amy had just been discussing how long it had been since she’d had sex. But hot or not, she needed to remember that this man was one of her employees. She dealt with men all day long. Alpha men. She could handle some pretty boy who worked for an escort service.

She plastered on a smile. “Yes, I’m fine. It’s just that you’re early.”

The quizzical look remained, and he tugged up the sleeve of his jacket and glanced at a watch that looked an awful lot like her father’s Rolex. “No, I’m right on time.”

She waved him off. “It doesn’t matter. You’re here.” She grabbed the car keys from the desk and brushed past him. He smelled really good, like hot spiced cider and primitive lust. Or was the primitive lust her?

“My truck’s down in the parking garage.” She kept talking as she headed toward the elevator. “We’ll take it. The party’s at a house about thirty minutes away, so it’s probably good you got here early.” She pressed the button of the elevator, then turned to steal another peek.

He wasn’t there. He still stood at the receptionist’s desk, although his head had turned to follow her. Okay, so he looked great, but he was a little slow on the uptake. No wonder he worked for an escort service at his age. The elevator doors opened, and she pointed at them.

“Are you coming?”

He tipped his head to one side. “Who are you?”

Oh, so that was it. She just hadn’t introduced herself. She laughed and held the door of the elevator. “I’m Cassie McPherson, your employer for the evening.”

He didn’t move. “My employer?”

Back to the mental deficiency theory. She tried talking slowly and clearly. “Yes, I called Elite Escorts and hired you for the evening to take me to my office Christmas party. I paid in advance, so I expect a little service here. Like maybe you getting a move on.”

His whiskey eyes twinkled, but he still didn’t move. “You’re Cassie McPherson, the daughter of Al McPherson, and you called for a male escort?”

“Right. So are you coming or do I need to get a refund?”

“Your father’s not here, I take it?”

“Not that it makes a difference, but no. He’s at home.”

He might be a simpleton, but, man, the flash of those white, even teeth and dimples were flat-out sexy. “Then I guess I’m all yours for the evening.” He walked over and reached above her head to hold the elevator door. “Here”—he held up a foil-covered condom—“you forgot one.”

Cassie jerked the condom out of his hand and then nearly fell flat on her face as she stumbled over her feet on the way into the elevator. He reached out and steadied her.

“Easy there.”

The door closed, and he pushed one of the buttons while she rubbed the warm imprint he had left on her arm. Her heart thumped wildly against the tight band of her push-up bra. And suddenly she worried if all her high-cholesterol lunches and lack of exercise were catching up to her and besides inheriting her father’s bad disposition, she had also inherited his clogged arteries. She couldn’t bring herself to believe that it had anything to do with the man who so casually leaned back against the rail that ran along the wall of the elevator. Cassie McPherson didn’t go all weak-kneed over men. Even re-e-e-e-ally good-looking ones who belonged in magazine ads for expensive men’s cologne.

She turned away from the hot picture he presented and took two deep breaths, willing her heart to resume its normal cadence. It was hard to do with those eyes pinned on her with such intensity. Hard, but not impossible. She wasn’t called Cast-iron Cassie for nothing. She never let emotions get in the way of business. And this was business.

Clearing her throat, she explained the terms of his employment. “So here’s what I expect.” She opened her clutch and dropped in her car keys and the condom. “Keep a low profile. Be attentive, but not clingy. And try not to talk. If you’re asked a question about our relationship, simply say that we’ve just met.”

His eyes narrowed, and one side of his mouth tipped up at the corner. Definitely not a smile, more of a smirk. “How about if I just say that I’m not the kind of man who kisses and tells.”

.

..and go…and go. The ‘going’ is filled with funny moments; sad moments; misunderstanding and accusations; some hot sex scenes…and some more hot sex scenes; secondary love story that’s so sweet; an old great-aunt that can drink any man under the table and a jerk or two. Cassie and James fall in love within TWO days, and to those ‘doubters’  that think that would NEVER happen in real life, I say THINK AGAIN!

I met a man who I just knew was IT, and after a week, I purposed! Guess what? He accepted….

In the end, if you need a few laughs and an entertaining and lighthearted cute little romance that will brighten your Holidays you gotta read this one! I highly recommended it!

Book provided by NetGalley.