The Magical Christmas Cat by Lora Leigh, Erin McCarthy, Nalini Singh, Linda Winstead Jones
Series: Breeds #17, Psy/Changeling #3.5, Murphy Sisters #2
Also in this series: Bengal's Heart, Caressed By Ice, Mine to Possess, Hostage to Pleasure, Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Slave to Sensation, Heart of Obsidian, Shield of Winter, Shield of Winter, Visions of Heat, Mine to Possess, Caressed By Ice, Branded by Fire, Blaze of Memory, Mine to Possess, Hostage to Pleasure, Hostage to Pleasure, Shards of Hope, Shards of Hope, Heart of Obsidian, Caressed By Ice, Branded by Fire, Blaze of Memory, Play of Passion, Allegiance of Honor, Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Shield of Winter, Shards of Hope, Allegiance of Honor, Allegiance of Honor, Wild Embrace, Wild Embrace, Wild Embrace, Silver Silence, Silver Silence
Published by Penguin
Publication Date: 2008
Genres: Anthologies (multiple authors)
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Put a little meow in their stocking this year with these tales of Christmas and felines-from beloved bestselling authors!
New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh and top-selling authors Nalini Singh, Erin McCarthy, and Linda Winstead Jones have a special gift for readers this year: heartwarming holiday stories featuring passionate romance, paranormal adventure, and a distinctly alluring feline touch. With four new stories-including one featuring Lora Leigh's genetically altered Feline Breeds-this is a collection packed with more surprises than Christmas morning, and more chills than the snowiest winter night...
I haven’t really been in the mood for paranormals at all lately, but I love Nalini Singh, and after her guest visit recently I decided I really wanted to read her entry in this anthology. As always, I was very impressed with her novella. But much to my surprise, I was equally impressed with the other three. It isn’t often that all the entires in an anthology work for me, but this is one of the few.
STROKE OF ENTICEMENT by Nalini Singh
I love the Psy/Changeling series. Just absolutely adore it! Singh has created an amazing world that’s easy to fall into. Even though this was a short story, it was still an excellent representation of the series.
When Zach is called to school because his nephew has gotten up to some mischief, he isn’t expecting to meet his mate, but that’s exactly what he finds in the young boy’s teacher, Annie. Annie, a human, has been sheltered by her mother after she suffers an injury in an accident as a child. Now that she’s gained some independence, she isn’t anxious to give that up for anyone, especially a man. But both man and leopard are determined to have her, and neither are willing to give up until they get what they want.
Zach is fun, caring and willing to do whatever it takes to make Annie see that he’s the one for her. Annie is a sweet woman who only wants to live her life on her own terms. She has a slight disability – leftover from a train accident she had in her youth – and struggles to be accepted as a whole woman. I liked that she didn’t let her injury stop her from living, and she also didn’t let her insecurities from it rule her life.
With wonderfully drawn characters and the storyline moves right along, I highly recommend it. Honestly? It made me want a Leopard Changeling of my own.
4.5 out of 5
CHRISTMAS BREE by Erin McCarthy
This novella is an entry in McCarthy’s Ohio’s Most Haunted Town series, which includes Heiress for Hire, one of my favorite contemps. For those of you who have read Charlotte’s Web, the novella in An Enchanted Season, an anthology that came out last year, you’re already acquainted with the Murphy sisters, who are witches. If you haven’t read Charlotte’s Web, I don’t think it will hurt you to read this story first.
Bree is surprised, and dismayed, when her sister predicts she’s going to meet a man in a pink shirt. She isn’t interested in having a man at all, but especially not one that wears pink. She’s shocked, however, when her sister’s prediction comes true and the pink shirt guy turns out to be none other than Ian Stone, her friend Amanda’s attorney and the man she’s been dreaming about – literally – for almost a year. They’re polar opposites and Ian is nothing like the men she usually dates.
Ian hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Bree since he met her in his office 9 months ago, and the fact that she’s been starring in his most erotic dreams since then isn’t helping things along. When a client of his shows an interest in Bree’s house, Ian figures it’s the perfect excuse to visit Bree and see if she’s everything he remembers. But neither are prepared for the strength of their attraction for one another, or for the deeper feelings they stir in each other.
This was really cute. I liked that though Ian and Bree weren’t looking for a relationship, they both acknowledged their attraction to each other and didn’t pretend like it was there. Bree was kind of prickly in the beginning, but it wasn’t long before she warmed up. Ian seemed kind of stuffy, but it wasn’t long before we saw the passionate man he tried to bury underneath all that starch.
I think the best part about this story is the intimacy of the characters. Little things Ian would do for Bree, or vice verse, that showed they really cared for each other. I did start to get annoyed with Bree toward the end of the novel for her reaction to something Ian says, but McCarthy was able to turn it around for me.
4 out of 5
SWEET DREAMS by Linda Winstead Jones
I believe this story is connected in some way to an existing series Winstead Jones has written, but her website isn’t very helpful and I’m not positive. This novella had a darker theme than the others. In this case, the magical cat in question was the villain.
Ruby receives a gift from a secret admirer at a neighbor’s holiday party – a beautifully carved jade cat. But once she brings it home, strange things start happening to her. She has vivid nightmares of a large cat stealing her souls, the statue seems to follow her where ever she goes and the walls themselves seem to purr menacingly. Her sexy neighbor Zane also starts spending more time with her, and she finds herself leaning on him more and more the crazier things seem to get. But is Zane everything he appears to be, or is he part of the growing threat against her?
I really liked this story. It was kind of nice to have a break and delve into something a little darker in this novella. Ruby owns a bakery and isn’t interested in having a relationship at all. She’s perfectly content to run her shop and live alone. I liked that. Too often we see heroines who SAY they’re content to be alone, but deep inside they’re really longing for someone.
Zane was an excellent counterpart for Ruby. He has a job to do and his attraction to her is getting in the way of it. He was chivalrous and noble, but his motives were somewhat suspect. It was great how even we as readers weren’t sure which side his loyalties fell on. The story was kind of creepy and dark, but there were moments of levity as well.
4 out of 5
CHRISTMAS HEAT by Lora Leigh
This novella is part of Leigh’s Breeds series. To be honest, I don’t really care fro the series as a whole. I only read about half of the first book before setting it down. The concept behind it never really appealed to me. So I wasn’t expecting much from this novella. I have to say, I really enjoyed it.
Librarian Haley McQuire overhears a plot against the Breeds at a holiday party and notifies Noble Chavin, a sexy feline she’s been attracted to for sometime. While she waits for the offenders to stand trial so she can testify, Noble keeps a close watch on her. But when her truck is blown up and her feline bodyguard is killed, Noble realizes he’s going to have to take the matter of safety into his own hands. He also can no longer deny that she’s his mate.
This is definitely the hottest of the four stories. The sexual chemistry between Noble and Haley fairly singed the pages. Haley wasn’t a limp dishrag heroine. She had guts and she stood up for what she knew was right. Noble was overprotective and certainly an alpha of the first order, but he still respected Haley and didn’t try to take over her life. There was some humor in the story, especially once all the Breeds descend on Haley to protect her, with some really cute results.
I found myself intrigued enough by the concept behind their mating that I might go back and try the series again from the beginning.
4.5 out of 5
Each story in this collection offers something different and unique. All of them were fun, fresh and sexy. I highly recommend this collection, whether you’re existing fans of the authors or completely new to them.
This book is available from Berkley. You can buy it here or here in e-format.