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.

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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.

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CACM JP

‘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.

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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.

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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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AIWFCIAC EC JR KL

‘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.