Judith’s review of Holiday Hideout by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Jill Shalvis, & Julie Kenner
Three couples experience sexy holiday romance at the same Lake Tahoe cabin during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s getaways in this anthology by Thompson, Jill Shalvis, and Julie Kenner.
Here I am again, reviewing an anthology–a confirmed don’t-want-to-read-anymore-anthologies reader, but being drawn to one that features at least two of my favorite authors. What can I say? I thought it looked really good and so I got it, and when all is said and done, I’m glad I did.
A quiet, out-of-the-way mountain cabin in the Lake Tahoe region was the scene of a marriage reclaimed by Ken and Jillian Vickers. They rented it, of course, and their renewed marriage meant so much to them and was so identified with this particular place, that they ended up buying it and using it as a holiday retreat for years. As both of them were sociology professors at the University of Nevada, Reno, they began to realize that every couple that had rented the cabin over the years has either found a new love or had seen their relationship renewed. Unlike some who would have tried to prove that the property was “magic,” these two set out to prove that the property was very ordinary. So our three couples were a part of a larger experiment.
One of the biggest complaints that I have had with anthologies is that the stories are usually so short that the stories seem incomplete or that the story itself my be good but the ending seems tacked on. I must confess that such didn’t seem to be the case here. Certainly there was insufficient space for a long, drawn-out tale of one sort or another, but since the context for all three stories was the mountain cabin, the task of developing a backdrop and the space it usually absorbed was not necessary and more of the character development could take place. Each of the couples were brought to the cabin as a kind of “set-up” by Jillian and one or both of the individuals has known Jillian and her husband through their connection with UN Reno.
The Thanksgiving Fix was probably my favorite and which brought together two individuals who had decided that marriage was probably not for them and were confirming their belief that single living was best, with the understanding that such a choice did not exclude some good sex along the way. And good sex became their reality before too long. Both of these people were mature and had lived for quite some time with the pressures of a family who spent a great deal of time and energy finding potential mates for them. They had enough of that!! This is a delightful and charming tale that will warm the reader’s heart, no matter what time of year it may be.
The Christmas Set-up brings together two architects, both of whom work for a very important architectural firm and both of whom are competing for an important promotion that will not only beef up their professional resume but will also bring in some much needed income. Through the manipulations of Jason’s brother, Jason and Zoe find themselves snowed in on Christmas Eve, finally having to acknowledge their strong attraction and getting honest with each other. These are two high-powered people who are lonely, who really need to let some Christmas love and cheer into their lives, and who need the push and shove of a new relationship to help them re-order their personal priorities. And that is the message at the core of this story: what is really important in life.
The New Year’s Deal involves a bit more back story in that Cleo and Josh are lovers who had been together and planned a life together since about their second week in college. Now it has been five years since they went their separate ways and it is time to see if they have each remembered their promise to meet at New Years in the old motel where they first became lovers. The old motel is burnt down so Josh moves the assignation to Jillian’s cabin and sends an invitation to Cleo. He is CEO of his family’s mining operation and she is an attorney with a firm that practices international law. There are a few more complications between this couple and true love has quite a ways to go before it can make its appearance between these two. But I think at the heart of this story is the need for the survival of one’s dream–what every person needs to consider when making those important life decisions. And for Cleo and Josh, it is indeed the big question they must answer before their mutual destiny can become a reality.
All in all, this is a delightful holiday anthology, but the stories are larger than just their holiday context. Each brings some important life issues into the discussion these couples have, and each story touches on the reality of human loving and relationship that most of us have faced at one time or the other. Even though this anthology was released in November, 2011, it is timely in its own way no matter the time of the year.
I give it a rating of 4 out of 5
This book is available from Harlequin. You can buy it here or here in e-format.