2014 Christmas Recommends/Historical, Part 3!

… and here come some more of this years great Christmas Historical reads ;)

‘The Fox and the Angel’ by Danelle Harmon

tfata dhSTORY: Readers who fell in love with Lucien De Montforte, the powerful and manipulative Duke of Blackheath in Danelle Harmon’s internationally bestselling De Montforte Brothers Series, will welcome his reappearance — and interference — in this heartwarming Christmas novella set in England of 1779.

Lucien’s best friend Sir Roger Foxcote has long since lost the spirit of Christmas following a tragic loss. Lucien’s cousin Angela Seaford Holmes is widowed and destitute. Is Lucien’s gift of a painting that Sir Roger adores, a mere Christmas gift to Angela, or is the manipulative, matchmaking duke back to his old tricks? Once again, Lucien sets in motion events that are all but guaranteed to bring together this unlikely pair.

REVIEW: I’m a huge fan of this author and her De Montforte series so when this little gem showed up on Amazon, it was a no brainer I had to read it.

Lucien de Montforte, the Duke of Blackheath is a meddler and a matchmaker so it’s not a great surprise to me that he’s up to his old tricks once more with his best friend and his cousin. He uses an old portrait as a bait for his invited guests, Sir Roger and Angela.

And although I loved visiting with Lucien and Eva, I actually adored the visiting couple. Both have distinctive personalities and traits that the other is weary of, yet both are feeling the attraction for each other and are in a quandary about how to best handle it.

If you’ve never read this author, here is a perfect little gem for you to savor her wonderful writing voice, prose and characterization. This sweet, sensual and utterly fun story is sure to bring you couple of hours of joy and have you grabbing her FREE offer of the first book of her De Montforte Brothers series The Wilde One. And once you read that story, well, you’ll be hooked for life!

‘Her Christmas Earl’ by Anna Campbell

hce acSTORY: No good deed goes unpunished…

To save her hen-witted sister from scandal, Philippa Sanders ventures into a rake’s bedroom—and into his power. Now her reputation hangs by a thread and only a hurried marriage can rescue her. Is the Earl of Erskine the heartless libertine the world believes? Or will Philippa discover unexpected honor in a man notorious for his wild ways?

Blair Hume, the dissolute Earl of Erskine, has had his eye on the intriguing Miss Sanders since he arrived at this deadly dull house party. Now a reckless act delivers this beguiling woman into his hands as a delightful Christmas gift. Is fate offering him a fleeting Yuletide diversion? Or will this Christmas Eve encounter spark a passion that lasts a lifetime?

REVIEW: This is another short story well told within the constraints of being a novella and although

Christmas isn’t a huge part of it I liked it never the less.

Anna Campbell always delivers on her characterization and in this story she had me fall in love with these two very easily. Both characters were very likable and kind to each other as they find themselves in a situation that only a marriage can solve.

This is another little gem that packs a powerful punch when it comes to sweet, tender and sensual story. It is an Anna Campbell so be ready for the sweetest of sensual love scenes, ok?!

Again, if you’ve never read this author, this is a perfect time to sample her work. You’ll enjoy it without a doubt!

‘The Earl’s Christmas Colt’ by Rebecca Thomas

tecc rtSTORY: Lady Arabella Sutton is stunned to learn her brother has betrothed her to a stranger despite his promises for a season in London. Although she is the first to admit no man would suit, since she’s more interested in horses than marriage, the last thing she wants is to become a brood mare to a stuffy old earl. Facing a future she cannot abide, she takes an impetuous ride to clear her head and ends up tending her injured mare instead.

Oliver Westwyck, the Earl of Marsdale, can’t believe his luck when he stops at an inn the night before he’s to meet his fiancée. In the stable, while tending the colt he intends to give to his future wife, he happens upon her—rain-drenched but beautiful. She assumes he’s a stable hand, a fine joke he means to end…until Lady Arabella declares all noblemen are egotistical, conceited, and arrogant. How can he reveal his true identity before he’s managed to change her mind and win her heart?

REVIEW: This was a very sweet and short story, only 51 pages but I really loved it.

The mistaken identity trope is one of my favorites and in this one I just fell in love with Arabella who was such a feisty little thing!

Oliver, Earl of Marsdale finds himself in an arranged marriage of his own making and once he accidentally meets the woman is in a quandary about how to show himself as she mistakes him for a stable groom.

If you’re in between cooking your Christmas dinner or waiting for guests to arrive, this is a perfect, lighthearted, sweet and fun story for you.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copies provided by the publisher or bought from Amazon

2014 Christmas Recommends/Historical, Part 2!

… and here come my 2014 Historical Christmas recommends part two.

‘What a Lady Needs for Christmas’ by Grace Burrowes

walnfc gbSTORY: The Best Gifts are the Unexpected Ones…

To escape a scandal, Lady Joan Flynn flees to her family’s estate in the Scottish Highlands. She needs a husband by Christmas, or the holidays will ring in nothing but ruin.

Practical, ambitious mill owner Dante Hartwell offers to marry Joan, because a wellborn wife is his best chance of gaining access to aristocratic investors.

As Christmas—and trouble—draw nearer, Dante and Joan’s marriage of convenience blossoms into unexpected intimacy, for true love often hides beneath the most unassuming holiday wrapping…

REVIEW: I loved this story so much!

This particular story had a hero to die for. I mean, this man was such a good man, an understanding, practical and logical sort. It’s not easy to find that kind in any period, let alone in Victorian England, but our heroine is one lucky woman and she knows it, so I’m not surprised that she fell for him.

When it comes to that familiar trope of marriage of convenience, we’ve probably read thousands of them, but Grace Burrowes turns this tale on its head by pairing two people from vastly different backgrounds and temperaments, yet both brutally honest and acceptable of each other within one train ride.

Dante with his children is catching a train to Ballater as he fails to find a wife among the beau monde society.

Lady Joan Flynn is desperate to flee to Balfour House because she feels that she had disgraced her family and is faced with a dilemma of how to fix this problem.

As Dante comes to her aid more than once during her trip to Scotland, they both come to realize that each is an answer to the other’s dilemma.

Grace Burrowes is my hero. No joke. She writes stories that are so relatable and could apply to any one of us, regardless of the time setting.

I loved everything about this story from the pace, plot and characterization. This was one sweet, tender and heartwarming Christmas read! Highly recommending it to all of you but especially to those that have never read this author. Time for you to start and may as well be this one.

‘A Holiday Gamble’ by Jane Feather

ahg jfSTORY: A viscount stranded on a stormy night. The beautiful heiress who takes him in.

Edward Vasey, otherwise known as Viscount Allenton, is journeying precariously through a snowstorm one night when his coach is overtaken by highwaymen. Robbed and stranded, Edward takes refuge at Selby Hall, where he meets a spirited beauty who may steal something more—his heart.

As passion flares between them, Edward uncovers a shocking secret that threatens to tear them apart…but will this be enough to chill their steamy love on a cold winter’s eve?

REVIEW: This is a short story that was originally published in ‘Snowy Night with a Stranger’ anthology which I never read before so I’m glad that these authors decided to publish their stories separately.

This is such a great short novella for all of you bookworms that have never read this author. I love all of her books and highly recommend you read her stories.

In this story we have an awesome hero that is back in England after a long absence while our heroine is in a predicament of sorts.

Ms. Feather manages to fill this short story with some mystery, quick pace and an entertaining plot, while still giving us a great characterization of our hero and heroine. If you like your hero and heroine sharp and witty, strong in their convictions and both very likable to boot, then this story’s for you.

‘When Sparks Fly’ by Sabrina Jeffries

wsf sjSTORY: Plain, bookish Elinor Bancroft is traveling with her aunt and young cousins to spend the holidays with her father, when a carriage mishap leaves the party stranded at the remote manor of Lord Martin Thorne. Also known as “the Black Baron,” he has no patience for invalids or spoiled heiresses, and children are usually terrified of him. But he gives them refuge during the snowstorm, and to keep the children out of his way Elinor helps them turn the sparse manor into a warm holiday haven for Christmas.

Lord Thorne is none too happy about playing host to four children and two women at his least favorite time of the year. But sparks fly whenever he and Elinor are together, and pretty soon they both realize that Christmas takes on a whole new glow when you share it with the one you love.

REVIEW: This is another short story that was originally published in ‘Snowy Night with a Stranger’ anthology which I never read before so I’m glad that these authors decided to publish their stories separately.

I actually liked the heroine because she was not the stereotypical, blonde, beautiful and skinny. Our heroine wears spectacles and is a bit chubby, while our hero sounded like young and attractive Mr. Scrooge. Spoiler Alert of sorts: Charles Dickens makes a cameo appearance and I loved it!

The story is very entertaining, the plot a bit mysterious and the romance sweet.  But what I enjoyed most about this story were all the secondary characters in it and the wonderful Christmas traditions that Ms. Jeffries describes so well.

If you’re in a mood to watch some sparks fly as these two assume who and what the other is, please pick this romance and have some fun reading it.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher


2014 Christmas Recommends/Historical, Part 1!

Here are some Historical Christmas reads that I think you may like, and this post will be in two or three parts because I just can’t get enough of my regency, victorian or medieval stories.

‘Knight of Christmas’ by Karyn Gerrard

koc kgSTORY: Christmas is the last thing on Brandon Knight’s mind when he returns to his hometown after ten years away. Arriving in time for his foe Viscount Ravenhurst’s funeral, his plans of vengeance are now thwarted. Instead he focuses retribution on the lovely widow Lady Angeline. They share a debauched, painful past though a fiery passion had grown from their brief time together. Broken hearts were left in the wake of their desire.

Angeline feels nothing inside. After suffering a devastating loss and a horrible marriage, she and her son are now destitute. Bran steps forward with an outrageous offer and Angeline has no choice but to accept.

Bran will have to surrender his plans for revenge to help bring Angeline back to life. The attraction still sizzles between them. They once loved each other but doubt they are able to do so again. However, it’s Christmas and anything is possible.

REVIEW: I need to start this review with letting you all know that this is being sold as an erotica novella and I usually don’t read erotica, unless it’s written by Monica Burns or Karyn Gerrard. The reason behind reading it from these two authors only is because while they do write explicit romance scenes, they somehow manage to wrap them up so well as sweet and sensual to a degree that the ‘eroticism’ is over my head because everything else in their stories is so well written that I do not mind the explicitness.

This story is a wonderful telling of second chance in love for our hero and heroine and I loved their determination to overcome the past and their misconceptions of that past, to accept each other and take a second chance at love not many people get.

I’m not going to go too much into the plot because the story is short but my heart was breaking as I read about the past of our two protagonists and the pain they were put through by some very evil people.

Ms. Gerrard is one of the few authors out there today that doesn’t shy away or waters down the writing when it comes to telling a tale of a tortured hero/heroine. Yet reading her prose, you can’t help but be in the moment or a setting she writes about.

I couldn’t help and see, smell and feel this place …

In the corner of the room stood the huge Christmas tree he and Peter selected. The tree was so large its tip brushed the eight-foot ceiling. He could see the love and care taken in decorating it. Gold-painted pinecones dangled from the branches and garlands of popcorn circled the tree. Cherries and holly barriers were clustered together in the boughs. Tiny frosted cakes were also used as hanging decorations as well as silver foil and red ribbon.

At the top of the tree perched an angelic fairy decked out in lace and gold. Lit beeswax candles were on nearly every branch and Reilly the footman stood nearby to ensure the candles did not set the tree alight. Colorful wrapped presents sat on the floor in front of the tree. Snow gently fell over the town. Gas lights cast a magical glow on the cobblestone street.

It was quiet now, and he could no longer hear the lusty singing of the carolers. A carriage went by, the horse’s hooves clopping on the stones. In the distance the peal of church bells rang out in the still, frosty air.

Regardless of the genre, I highly recommend this story to all of you that believe in second chances and miracles of Christmas season.

‘I’ve Got My Duke to Keep Me Warm’ by Kelly Bowen

igmdtkmw kbSTORY: Where Secrets Smolder…

Calm. Cool. Collected. Gisele Whitby has perfected the art of illusion—her survival, after all, has depended upon it. Years ago, to escape an abusive husband, Gisele “disappeared.” Now she must risk revealing her new identity to save another innocent girl from the same fate. But she needs a daring man for her scheme, and the rogue in question shows a remarkable talent . . . for shattering Gisele’s carefully constructed façade and igniting her deepest desires.

…Passion Ignites.

This isn’t the first time Jamie Montcrief has awakened naked and confused from a night of drinking. It is, however, the first time a stunningly beautiful woman offers him payment afterward. Gisele has a business proposition for him, a mission involving cunning thievery and a brazen rescue. How can he say no to a plot this dangerous . . . and a woman this delectable?

REVIEW: I chose this book because of the title [I’m a huge Dean Martin fan and love his “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” song] but it’s the wonderful writing that kept me glued to this story.

This is apparently a debut novel, although I couldn’t tell by reading it. Just a quick aside that if you’re a fan of Julia Quinn, no doubt in my mind you’ll become a fan of Kelly Bowen. There’s a lot happening in this tale that will keep you on your toes and have you biting your nails.

If you like strong willed, smart and witty heroines, than this book is for you. If you’re into heroes that are hiding their Alpha under their Beta, then you’ve only to read about this man. If you’re like me and appreciate a fast moving plot filled with suspense throughout the story, than you just gotta read this story!

‘The Viscount’s Christmas Temptation’ by Erica Ridley

tvct erSTORY: Certain individuals might consider Lady Amelia Pembroke a managing sort of female, but truly, most people would be lost without her help. Why, the latest on-dit is that rakish Viscount Sheffield is canceling the fête of the year because he hasn’t time for silly soirees. He doesn’t need time—he needs her!

When a flash of lightning destroys the venue for his family’s annual Christmas ball, Lord Benedict Sheffield intends to enjoy a relaxing holiday for once. But after twelve days of beguiling Lady Amelia’s guerrilla tactics, he’s up to his cravat with tinsel . . . and tumbling head over heels in love.

REVIEW: I love it when authors gift their fans with free prequels to a brand new series and this one is laugh out loud entertaining and a perfect set up for Erica Ridley’s new Dukes of War regency romance series!

For a short [only 148 pages] novella, this packs a powerful punch with its clever plot and even cleverer duo, Lady Amelia and Lord Benedict [why do I picture Benedict Cumberbatch every time I picture the hero?].

The story is fast-moving and the dialogue and situations where our couple finds themselves are well written and the romance that quickly develops between the two, sweet and believable.

Highly recommending it to all that love strong characterization, witty dialogue and fast paced well written story. This FREE novella makes for a great introduction to this author, so please get it while it’s still FREE!

Here is The Dukes of War series order:

The Viscount’s Christmas Temptation (#0.5) FREE!

The Earl’s Defiant Wallflower (#1) [Connie’s review here]

The Captain’s Bluestocking Mistress (#2)

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copies provided by the publisher

2014 Christmas Contemporary Recommends!

Can you believe it?! It’s Christmas time already and once more I have a few reads that I think are responsible for getting me in a celebratory mood. I’ll start with a genre that I don’t often read, which is contemporary. I only read four this time around and I loved them all.

In my next couple of posts I’ll bring you a few more of my Christmas reads but as usual, they’ll be historical.

By the way, have you read any Christmas stories this year? What are they? Please feel free to chime in!

Okay, ready for my 2014 contemporary Christmas recommends? Here they are …

‘Ring in the Holidays’ by Katie Lane

rith klSTORY: The Best New Year’s Eve . . . Ever

Psychologist Ellie Simpson is about to get a healthy dose of sex therapy. Leaving her cheating boyfriend behind, she has everything she needs for a quick rebound: Vegas, plenty of champagne, and a proposition from the sexiest man she’s ever seen. As her handsome stranger helps her ring in the New Year-over and over again-Ellie finds herself blissfully losing all of her inhibitions.

Attorney Matthew McPherson is good at making women lose things, like their minds and underwear. With his athletic build and soulful eyes, he doesn’t need to use his powers of persuasion or famous last name to get a woman into bed. But when morning comes, Matthew finds Ellie is the only woman he can’t bear to leave-ever. It’s enough to make him wonder if what happens in Vegas really has to stay there.

REVIEW: I first read Kati Lane book last Christmas when I picked up her ‘Hunk for the Holidays’ and I was hooked on her writing voice [my review here], so when I saw that this was the second book in the series I grabbed it right away. This is the story of Cassie McPherson’s brother, Matt and I loved it as much if not more, as her story in the earlier book.

Matthew McPherson is bored to tears with his job, his condo, his car and the women he’s been dating. Life was one big HUGE bore to him and he needed something or someone to kick-start his life or he’d die of boredom.

Enter Dr. Ellie Simpson, a sex therapist who is virgin and woman who’ll finally break the cycle of boredom of our hero!

Both characters are in Vegas and both are in a need of a one-night stand that neither really wants or needs yet they are in it for their own reasons and the rest is as they say serendipity!

Once more Katie Lane brings in the slew of secondary characters that are fun and entertaining and just a delight to visit with.

Big Al and Mary Kay, Matt’s mom and dad; Patrick, his brother whose story I’m looking forward to next Christmas [yeah, Patrick, you may run but you can’t hide from Wheeze!]; Cassandra and James, his sis and brother in law and Great Aunt Louise, Wheezie to all her family and the greatest matchmaker that ever lived.

I enjoyed the pace and the dialogue almost as much as the sensual part of the book. Reading this well written story was such a pleasure and everyone in it is relatable, real and just simply fun. Highly recommending it to all of you!

‘Sleigh Bells in Valentine Valley’ by Emma Cane

sbivv ecSTORY: Return to Valentine Valley, where Christmas lights are twinkling and first love burns brighter the second time around…

When Tony De Luca’s ex, Kate Fenelli, waltzes through the door of his tavern and pulls up a bar stool, she turns his balanced world on end. Once they’d been each other’s first love, first everything. But then life happened, and they walked away with broken hearts. Now Kate is back in Valentine, and they can’t seem to stay out of each other’s way. When Tony begins wondering what would happen if they rekindled the sparks, he knows he’s in big trouble.

Kate can’t believe she’s sitting at Tony’s bar spilling her life-changing problems to him. He’s as gorgeous as ever, and she can’t seem to forget how incredible he always made her feel. Still, the door on that chapter of their lives closed long ago. Yet with Christmas buzzing in the air, Kate can’t help wondering if anything is possible—even a second chance with the only man she’s ever loved.

REVIEW: The only story I ever read from this author was last year’s Christmas read, ‘The Christmas Cabin’ [my review here] and I loved it so I’m not surprised to love this one too.

I’m a sucker for second chance stories so when I find one, I just have to go for it. What attracted me most about this story was the twist on the second chance these two were given.

Both characters were solid and very realistic which made the story relatable and likable.
This is a great holiday story and I hope you’ll pick it up.

‘Christmas at Twilight’ by Lori Wilde

cat lwSTORY: It’s Christmas in Twilight, Texas. The Cookie Club is baking, the town is decorated, and Delta Force Operator “Hutch” Hutchinson has finally, reluctantly, returned home . . .

. . . only to get pepper sprayed by the delicious- looking stranger who’s taken over his house. She says her name is Jane, and she immediately sets down ground rules. Top priority: no touching. For Hutch that isn’t easy—he was wounded in action, but one part is still working very well.

Then Hutch learns the truth. Jane harbors a frightening secret—she’s really Meredith Sommers, on the run from a dangerous ex-husband and desperately in need of the safety Hutch can provide. In that moment, he vows he’d do anything in his power to protect her. And as Christmas approaches, they discover that their love can conquer the past and overcome any obstacle—but what price will they pay?

REVIEW: Am I the only one that has never read this author or this series?! That was an omission I must correct and soon.

It is the cover and the title that attracted me to this book and I haven’t bothered to read the blurb so color me surprised as I delved deeper into it. Talk about complex characters and stories! There are so many things happening all at once here that my adrenaline was pumping from start to finish.

In the end, I was glad not to have read the blurb because that way I was kept in the dark throughout the story. It really was interesting, heartwarming and such a great story.

If you’re Lori Wilde fan, this is no brainer, but if you’ve never tried this author, you may as well start with this one. It matters not that this is book six in the series. It stands all on its own and what a great way to be introduced to a new author.

‘The Heart of Christmas’ by Brenda Novak

thoc bnSTORY: Just call her Christmas Eve… 

Eve Harmon has always enjoyed Christmas, but this year it reminds her of everything she doesn’t have. Almost all her friends are married now, and that’s what Eve wants, too. Love. A husband and kids of her own. But the B and B she manages, and even Whiskey Creek, the small Gold Country town where she was born and raised, suddenly seem…confining.

Eve’s worried that her future will simply be a reflection of her past. There’s no one in the area she could even imagine as a husband—until a handsome stranger comes to town. Eve’s definitely attracted to him, and he seems to have the same reaction to her. But his darkly mysterious past could ruin Eve’s happily ever after—just when it finally seems within reach. And just when she’s counting on the best Christmas of her life!

REVIEW: This is the sixth book in the Whiskey Creek series and I have yet to read the previous books in it. Regardless of this oversight on my part, I was able to enjoy this story because I read ‘Take Me Home for Christmas’ [my review here] in which this books heroine Eve loses her boyfriend Ted Dixon to another woman, so it was cool to find out what happened to her happily ever after.

I liked Eve’s character and her independent streak. She so reminded me of my daughter!

Rex McCready was such a strong Alpha male and a man of real mystery with a mystery to solve. By slowly revealing his story, I got to like him more and more. The chemistry between the two characters was electrifying!

I was always impressed by Brenda Novak’s writing voice and I adore her historical romances to no end, but reading her contemporary stories can make one feel like she’s writing about a member of your own family, that’s how realistic they are. The characters are complex and the plots entertaining so the story feels like you’re watching a “dramady” movie.

This one is for all of you Whiskey Creek lovers and for us that need to get with a program and track the previous books in the series!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copies provided by the publisher

My 2013 Contemporary Christmas recommends [part 2]

ACFC KG‘A Cowboy for Christmas’ by Katherine Garbera

STORY: Annie Prudhomme never expected to be back in Marietta, MT and her family is fond of reminding her that she left them and the town behind in search of better things. A humiliating divorce that cost her everything she’d gained has driven her back home and her family isn’t about to welcome her back into the fold. She’s in town to rebuild the old home that she inherited and to move on once again.

Carson Scott never forgot Annie or the way she left. Now that she’s back in town he’s realizing that the old flame still burns hot but he can’t risk his heart the way he did last time now that he has his son to think about it. Being trapped together during a December snowstorm gives them a chance to rekindle their romance but is Annie back for good or is she just looking for a cowboy for Christmas?

REVIEW: The next two books as well as this one, you’ll notice, are written by three different authors, but are a part of Montana Born series and is a Copper Mountain Christmas story.

This started off as a bittersweet story, but the more I read and got to know Annie and Carson, the more I liked them.

These two had a lot of history between them before Annie up and married someone else leaving her home town. It’s fifteen years later and she is back in town to pick up the pieces of her life and try to rebuild it, and the house that she inherited.

Again, if you’re a sucker for second chance at romance, you’ll love this one, but seriously, the story is well-written and plotted with some great characters and dialogue, so it will appeal to all romance lovers.

There’s not a better time to read it then holiday time. It’s short, sweet and just perfect fare for young and old.

G b2b

HFC MMcC‘Home for Christmas’ by Melissa McClone

STORY: Ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon…the smells of Christmas. The smells of home.

Rachel Murphy longs for home and family. Since childhood, she’s dreamed of owning her own pastry shop, but after being burned by a celebrity chef and losing her new bakery in Arizona, Rachel’s spending the holidays with her brother in Montana. To keep her dream alive, she’s creating custom gingerbread houses and selling them around town. All she needs is a bigger kitchen…and to stay away from her brother’s handsome boss.

Former venture capitalist Nate Vaughn has embraced his inner cowboy and now runs a successful dude ranch where Rachel’s brother works. Nate’s commercial kitchen is perfect for Rachel’s baking needs, and seeing the cute blonde’s business acumen, Nate knows she’d be the perfect partner for a new venture. When he makes her an offer she can’t refuse, he discovers he’s interested in more than her gingerbread.

While Nate could make her dreams come true, Rachel’s heart, as well as her head, tells her mixing business with anything else could be a recipe for disaster. Should she return to Arizona, and leave Nate and her new eager-for-more customers behind? Or can Nate convince her that, here with him in the mountains of Montana, she’s already home? For Christmas…forever.

REVIEW: If there ever was a book to make you want to build your own gingerbread house, this is it! No joke.  I really built one, the only one ever, and it was just too much fun. If you don’t believe me, just go check my pictures of it on my Facebook page. It came out really good.

This story is a part of Copper Mountain Christmas stories and Montana Born series, but I embraced Rachel and Nate’s story as a stand alone.

If you like stories of family reunions, new friendships turning into deeper connection, than look no further. This is a well-written, very realistic and compelling little story that will have you dreaming of home and hearth, crackling fireplace and white Christmas.

I’m really looking forward to reading more of Melissa McClone’s Montana Born stories and I hope you give this one a go.

G b2b


‘Christmas At Copper Mountain’ by Jane Porter 

STORY: Since the loss of her family in a plane crash, Harley Diekerhoff has led a quiet life and keeps to herself. Taking the temporary job at the Copper Mountain Ranch as widower Brock Sheenan’s housekeeper seems perfect for her. But her calm cocoon is invaded with the arrival of Brock’s pre-teen twins, Mack and Molly who’ve never experienced a proper Christmas and before she knows it, Harley’s determined to make their holiday perfect.

Annoyed at first by Harley’s interference, Brock is secretly pleased she’s changed Mack and Molly’s world. It doesn’t hurt that he finds Harley incredibly attractive, fierce, smart and passionate. It’s also an added bonus that she’s not afraid to challenge him and get his blood heated! But when sparks fly and the attractions sizzles between them, Harley’s not so sure she can handle something permanent with this dark, taciturn cowboy who doesn’t know how to let her in. But Brock is determined to hold on to her and praying for a Christmas miracle…

REVIEW: Here is another Montana Born Book and one more Copper Mountain Christmas story, and out of all three that I read, this one almost broke my heart.

The main characters were different in their personalities, but had so much in common when it came to their pasts.

As stories of broken hearts that need mending go, this one will give you much hope as Brock, a quiet rancher and a single father gets to know his new housekeeper Harley, a woman running away from memories steeped in much pain.

If this was a movie, and I’m so hopping someone at Hallmark reads it, it would be a tear-jerker with an uplifting message of second chances and miracles realized.

If you like your stories with strong, complex and interesting characters who fight their inner demons and insecurities to in the end triumph over them, then you have to read this story.

G b2b

CILH JS‘Christmas in Lucky Harbor’ by Jill Shalvis 

[Simply Irresistible/The Sweetest Thing/Two Bonus Short Stories]

STORY: Simply Irresistible (Lucky Harbor #1) 
After losing her boyfriend and her job, Maddie leaves L.A. to claim her inheritance-a ramshackle inn nestled in the little town of Lucky Harbor, Washington. She sees the potential for a new home and a new career-if she can give the inn the makeover it needs. Enter Jax, a tall, handsome contractor who knows exactly what Maddie needs…

The Sweetest Thing (Lucky Harbor #2) 
Helping her sister set up the family inn is just the thing to make Tara forget her ex-husband and focus on her new life. Until she meets a sexy, green-eyed sailor determined to keep her hot, bothered, and in his bed. When her ex reappears, Tara must confront her past and decide what she really wants.

Kissing Santa Claus (Lucky Harbor #2.5)
NASCAR driver Logan Perrish returns to Lucky Harbor, Washington, with love in his heart and a ring in his pocket. But can Sandy Jansen forget the past and give him a second chance? Or will Logan be spending another Christmas alone?

Under the Mistletoe (Lucky Harbor #6.5) 
There’s no place like home for the holidays. And the Lucky Harbor Bed & Breakfast is bursting with festive lights and good cheer. But for Mia, Christmas is turning out to be anything other than merry and bright. Her recent break-up with her boyfriend Nick has made her return bittersweet. But then a surprise arrives, when Nick follows her to town bearing gifts – and asking for forgiveness.

REVIEW: In ‘Christmas in Lucky Harbor’ you have a compilation of the first two full books in Jill Shalvis’s `Lucky Harbor’ series. `Simply Irresistible’ is the first book and is Maddie’s story, and `The Sweetest Thing’ tells Tara’s story. You also have two short novellas, ‘Kissing Santa Claus’ which is Logan and Sandy’s story and ‘Under the Mistletoe’, Mia and Nick’s story which I reviewed last year.

In book one we’re introduced to Maddie, Tara and Chloe who are three daughters of Phoebe Treager. To make this just a bit different, the girls all have different fathers, you know, sort of like that old ‘Bonanza’ show in which the three boys shared the same father, but all three had different mothers who passed away and were left in care of their father.

In the case of these girls, they all had vastly different upbringing and it shows in their personalities as their mother affectionately dubbed them The Mouse [Maddie], The Wild-Child [Chloe] and The Steel Magnolia [Tara].

As the series opens up, we follow Maddie as she’s on her way to Lucky Harbor meeting up with her other two half-sisters at their mothers resort.

In ‘Simply Irresistible’  Jax and Maddie first meet as she almost runs him over, and you just know these two characters will have some major chemistry.

While Maddie hopes to get rid of her ‘bad luck’ curse and possibly rebuild her life with this chance her mother’s offering all three girls, the only thing the other two are hoping to rebuild is this run down resort and hopefully sell it at a good profit.

Jax is instantly attracted to Maddie so he’s willing to do anything to keep her around.

You’ll like this story of small town life in which cupid is alive and well, just waiting to strike. The sisters will not know what hit them when that happens.

In ‘The Sweetest Thing’ which is Tara and Ford’s story, you have two adults that carry some mutual baggage from many years before, when they were teenagers. After seventeen years and a failed  marriage to a NASCAR driver Logan, Tara is skittish about rekindling her relationship with Ford. Logan showing up in Lucky Harbor helped these two come to terms with their past and decide if they should have future together.

This story I liked a lot because it had the power to make me laugh and cry, almost at the same time!

I loved the tension and attraction of these two, and I think it’s because of their shared past that their story touched me the most.

There are also two extra short novella’s here and in ‘Kissing Santa Claus’ I was glad to see that the handsome ex Logan finds his HEA.

If I could go back and rewrite my review of ‘Under the Mistletoe’ here I would. After reading these stories, I really got better understanding of Mia and Nick, as well as everyone else in these stories.

I know that the fans of this author and this series will love these stories, but I’d like to recommend them to all those that have never read her.

If you like your contemporary romance populated with complex, funny, clever and sexy characters, you’ve got them all in here. This is a book brimming with sexual chemistry and steamy love scenes yet it’s also heartwarming and unpredictable.

I’m glad I read it.

JILL SHALVIS book is up for grabs: 1 commenter/1 print copy 

Tell us about your Christmas reads this year.

*US only, sorry.

*Melanie for b2b.

*Books provided by authors and publishers through NetGalley.

My 2013 Contemporary Christmas recommends [part 1]

TMHFC BN‘Take Me Home for Christmas’ by Brenda Novak

STORY: Christmas is a time for remembering….

Too bad all memories aren’t pleasant. Everyone in Whiskey Creek remembers Sophia DeBussi as the town’s Mean Girl. Especially Ted Dixon, whose love she once scorned.

But Sophia has paid the price for her youthful transgressions. The man she did marry was rich and powerful but abusive. So when he goes missing, she secretly hopes he’ll never come back—until she learns that he died running from an FBI probe of his investment firm. Not only has he left Sophia penniless, he’s left her to face all the townspeople he cheated….

Sophia is reduced to looking for any kind of work to pay the bills and support her daughter. With no other options, she becomes housekeeper for none other than Ted, now a successful suspense writer. He can’t bring himself to turn his back on her, not at Christmas, but he refuses to get emotionally involved. He learned his lesson the last time.

Or will the season of love and forgiveness give them both another chance at happiness?

REVIEW: This Christmas I ventured to read some more contemporary novels, and here are some of my recommendations…

I don’t remember reading any of Ms. Novak’s Whiskey Creek novels but I just might track them down now.

First, it wasn’t easy liking Sophia DeBussi and at the start of this novel I even had issues with the hero of this piece Ted Dixon, but you know what? I warmed up to them as their story developed and in the end I ended up rooting for them to finally get all that ‘baggage’ they carried resolve and let the ‘cupid’ win the day.

There’s a lot happening in this novel and I hope you give it a try as a second chance in love is offered these high school sweethearts.

Brenda Novak can write a very realistic, passionate love stories with some complex characters and great plots and this book is no exception to that rule.

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TG CJC‘The Gift’ by C.J. Carmichael

STORY: A heartwarming Christmas novella set in Bandit Creek Montana.

When is the wrong thing, the right thing to do?

What would you do if a little girl in need showed up on your doorstep on Christmas Eve?

Amy Gold, Bandit Creek’s kindergarten teacher, is not the sort of person to flout the law. Especially since she’s dating the local deputy, Gray Cassidy. But an unexpected Christmas gift is about to change everything – not just Amy’s plans for a traditional Christmas, but her entire future, and Gray’s as well.

REVIEW: I never read this author before, but after reading this heartwarming story, I’m going to try to stock up on her other titles.

Who doesn’t want to believe in Christmas miracles? I know I can’t help but believe…

The heroine, Amy wants so badly to have kids, but the reality is cruel and she knows that wish would never come true so she decides to spare her boyfriend this pain by setting him free so he can have a family he deserves.

On Christmas Eve everything changes as a bedraggled little girl shows up at her house and Amy has no choice but to help this little girl and by choosing that path, everyone’s destiny will change.

There’s no way you’re going to not love this story. It has everything in it for this season of God’s miracles. Go for it!

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ASCFC NS‘A Second Chance for Christmas’ by Nashin Sadeer

STORY: When Nathan Wyler’s adored wife Emily dies tragically in a car accident in December his entire world collapses around him. He immerses himself in work, doing everything he can to escape the grief and ends up neglecting his young son, Stefan, in the process – alienating himself from everybody he loves. Things are made worse still by Emily’s father, Xavier, who blames his son-in-law for the death of his brilliant young daughter.

As the years pass, Stefan is denied contact with his grandparents and starved of his father’s affections. As a result he becomes increasingly close to Kate, a substitute teacher at his school. An understanding and gentle woman, Kate is quick to identify the impact of Nathan’s selfish actions on his young son. As her bond with the Stefan flourishes, she visits Nathan at work in an attempt to make him aware of the emotional strain he’s been inflicting on the innocent boy. Preparing herself for a tempestuous encounter with Nathan, Kate is shocked to instead find a vulnerable, grief-stricken figure desperate to be saved, and a potent mutual attraction becomes clear to them both.

Nathan finds solace in the calming influence of this mysterious young woman, and, with her help, begins to reconcile his relationship with Stefan. Unbeknownst to him, Kate even brokers a successful meeting with Emily’s father and the two settle their differences over Christmas dinner. All may not be as it seems with Kate though, as Nathan slowly begins to piece together the feeling of familiarity he had experienced when they first met. As her good deeds continue and Christmas draws closer, the Wyler family begin to realise that she may not be who she claims to be. But who else could this ethereal samaritan be, and why does she seem so familiar to Nathan?

REVIEW: My, but this story almost broke my heart!

I dare you to read it and NOT shed a few tears!

The above blurb is very good in giving you the gist of the story, so I’m skipping on all that, but I do ask you to get this one if you like your Christmas story to be about forgiveness, and second chances at that elusive thing called love.

I’m very impressed with this author’s portrayal of such deep emotions such as loss and grief of and for a loved one; denial and acceptance of love that was a blessing to find second time in one’s lifetime.

This is another story with a miracle just waiting in the wings and I hope you give it a try.

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‘All I Want for Christmas is a Cowboy’ by Jennifer Ryan, Katie Lane, Emma Cane

STORY: From Emma Cane, Jennifer Ryan, and Katie Lane come three wildly romantic holiday stories featuring snowstorms, proposals, a sleigh ride … and, yes, cowboys.

‘The Christmas Cabin’ by Emma Cane

Sandy and her young son, Nate, are Christmas tree–hunting when a snowstorm strikes and an old ranch hand points them to an abandoned cabin. Little does Sandy know he sent cowboy Doug Thalberg to the same place. It’s a Christmas all of Valentine Valley will remember.

‘Can’t Wait’ by Jennifer Ryan

 Before The Hunted Series began …

Though she is the woman of his dreams, Caleb Bowden knows his best friend’s sister, Summer Turner, is off limits. He won’t cross that line, which means Summer will just have to take the reins if she wants her cowboy for Christmas.

‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ by Katie Lane

Alana Hale hits the internet dating jackpot when she finds Clint McCormick. He’s sensitive and responsible—not to mention wealthy. When he invites her to spend the holidays on his family’s ranch, she readily accepts. But on the way there, a blizzard strands her with a womanizing rodeo cowboy who could change everything …

REVIEW: I must say all three stories were very entertaining to read and I liked them all equally. They were well written, plotted and had a fast pace so I didn’t have a chance to be bored.

All were different in plot so that helped, but one thing they all had in common besides romance, was hot dudes in chaps. Now how can you pass up on that?!

The Christmas Cabin by Emma Cane

This story is all about making lemonade when life dumps you a lot of lemons.

Everything in this story worked for me, from the plot to the wonderful characters such as Sandy and her little boy, to Doug who needed them s much as they needed him.

This story will make you stop and appreciate the simple things in your own life that you may have taken for granted.

Can’t Wait by Jennifer Ryan

This was a fun and frustrating story. Many times I wanted to pull a Cher [from Moonstruck] and slap Caleb, telling him ‘SNAP OUT OF IT’!

You see, Summer loves him to pieces, but for some reason this Dude is not allowing himself to love her because she’s his best friend’s sister.

Once she breaks down his defenses, we’re in for a treat and a love story that is sweet, poignant and entertaining.

Baby It’s Cold Outside by Katie Lane

I like this author and I think she can write comedy very well. Honestly, I think some of her stories are better written than those Hallmark movies!

If you want to find out what happens when Alana finds that ‘perfect’ man online, you need to read this story.

She acts impulsively by wanting to surprise him for Christmas, and instead gets stuck with a hot cowboy and can’t keep her hands to herself.

All three stories are different in plot and feel, but all of them have one thing in common-a cowboy who’ll make their dreams come true! Now, how can I not like that?!

*Melanie for b2b.

*Books provided by the authors and publishers through Edelweiss & NetGalley.

Holiday TV movies to see this Season…

‘A Princess for Christmas’

starring Sam Heughan & Katie McGrath

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‘On The 2nd Day Of Christmas’

staring Mary Stuart Masterson & Mark Ruffalo

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‘One Night With a King: Story of Esther’ 

starring Tiffany Dupont & Luke Goss

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‘Christmas Cupid’

starring Christina Milian & Burgess Jenkins