Tag: Anthology

Guest Review: Whiteout by Sarah Benson – part of the Snow anthology

Posted May 26, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Whiteout by Sarah Benson – part of the Snow anthologyReviewer: Tracy
Whiteout by Sarah Benson - part of the Snow anthology by Sarah Benson
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: May 9th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
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three-stars

SNOW is an anthology composed of sixteen novellas and novelettes featuring tales of forbidden love from some of your favorite Wattpad authors.

This is the review of just one of the stories...

Alicia wakes up in a deserted cabin, handcuffed to a bed.  She manages to get herself free and makes her way to a gas station. It turns out she’s been missing for 8 months.  She has no idea who she is or what’s happened in the last 8 months.  She’s introduced to her father who she has no recollection of and tries to start living some sort of life.  She has sessions with a doctor who tries to help her with recollection and they end up falling in love.  The truth finally comes out and it’s not what anyone expected.

This was a story of a girl who had been kidnapped.  The reason she was taken and kept was kind of weak in my opinion and when things were explained it left me with more questions than answers.  The romance in the story was also a bit on the anemic side as I never felt the love between Alicia and the doctor.  I was happy that Alicia started getting her life back in the end and came to terms with everything that had happened.

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Guest Review: Block & Tackle by Elise Faber, Stephanie Fournet & Kristin Vayden

Posted May 11, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: Block & Tackle by Elise Faber, Stephanie Fournet & Kristin VaydenReviewer: Tracy
Block & Tackle by Elise Faber, Stephanie Fournet, Kristin Vayden
Published by Blue Tulip Publishing
Publication Date: March 13th 2017
Genres: Anthologies (multiple authors), Contemporary Romance, Sports
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four-stars

Offsides by Elise Faber

Job title:
Executive Assistant for CEO of Prestige Media Group

Job description:
(1) Deal with a massive amount of emails.
(2) Schedule conference calls and meetings with top athletes and other hugely important people.
(3) Pick up dry cleaning and food, consult on tie selection, make dinner reservations, and book flights . . . basically act as a wife-on-steroids.
(4) THE IMPORTANT ONE: Do not, under any circumstances, fall in love with Devon Scott—demanding boss, former NHL player, and all-around gorgeous specimen of the male persuasion.

Job performance:
Failing.
Absolutely failing at number four.

Off Guard by Stephanie Fournet

Life couldn’t be better for Charlie Woodruff.

After a year of holding out, she’s finally landed the job she’s always wanted in the city of her dreams. An apartment she can afford and new friends at work make the transition easy.
When she meets a gorgeous stranger who makes her laugh and steals her breath, it seems like the icing on the cake...

Until Charlie discovers he’s a client.

Hutch Barlow — newly drafted wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders — looks like an avenging angel, hangs on her every word, and is completely off-limits. The trouble is he also refuses to take “no” for an answer.

And if she’s being honest, Charlie doesn’t want him to.

But seeing him means she could lose everything — including her heart.

Off Limits by Kristin Vayden

Everything about Ava screams off limits.
To want her is to invite disaster.
To pursue her is to risk my job.
To kiss her might cost me my best friend.
But all those risks seem small in light of the first problem.
She hates me.

To her I’m a sell out, choosing to advance my career rather than protect my biggest client.
Her brother.
And my best friend.
She hasn’t spoken to me in over a year, but that ends now.
Because I’m done with holding back.
To hell with the consequences.
Wish me luck . . .

Offsides by Elise Faber

Devon is a retired hockey player and now the CEO of Prestige Media Group.  Becca is his temporary assistant while his regular assistant is on maternity leave.  Devon is hot for Becca but knows that he shouldn’t get involved with an employee – even a temporary one.  Becca has got it bad for Devon but as much as she wants him her life is too crazy to get involved with him.  Her mother needs medical care and Becca works two jobs to try and pay the medical bills.  She’s also got an angry ex that is messing with her and is more than dangerous to both Becca and Devon.

This was a sweet boss/employee story.  Devon doesn’t hold out for very long before he’s giving in to his desire for Becca but I loved the sexual tension between the two of them.  I liked a lot about this story – the dialogue, the story, the passion between Devon and Becca – it was just a good read.

Story rating: 4 out of 5

 

Off Guard by Stephanie Fournet

Charlie has finally started the job of her dreams.  She’s recently moved to San Francisco and is out running when she runs into a fellow runner.  They hit it off and she thinks that maybe this guy might be someone she can really like until she finds out his name, Hutch Barlow, and realizes who he is, new wide receiver for the Oakland Raider, and that he’s a client of her boss.  Prestige Media Group – her new employer – strictly forbids employees from dating clients.  Charlie tries to get Hutch to understand that she can’t see him but Hutch refuses to take no for an answer – showing up at her apartment with dinner and his irresistible charm. Charlie finds herself falling in love with Hutch but she knows that she can never be with him as she’s not willing to sacrifice the career she’s always wanted.

This was an adorable story.  I loved Hutch’s persistence with Charlie even knowing that she was off-limits to him.  He just liked her so much and was willing to give up a lot to be with her that it warmed my heart.  I think a lot of people would have thought he was ridiculous but I found it romantic and lovely.  Fournet has a way with words and she did a great job writing this story.

Story rating: 4 out of 5

 

Off Limits by Kristin Vayden

Markus and Bryce were college roommates and best friends.  Bryce got drafted into the NFL and Markus got hired by Prestige Media Group and becomes his agent.  Bryce has a twin, Ava, who Markus has been in love with for forever.  He wants nothing more than to make Ava happy but she hates him because she thought at one point in Bryce’s career that Markus was selling out and taking a risk with Bryce’s life.  Bryce has gotten a concussion but recovered and went back onto the field.  Ava believed that Bryce’s life was on the line if he got hit again but he was fine.  Five years later Ava still hates Markus – or at least acts like she does.  She can’t resist the man for long as she’s always had a thing for him. Markus should stay away from his best friend’s sister but he just can’t do it once she finally forgives him.

Unfortunately this was my least favorite of the three stories.  I didn’t feel the chemistry between Markus and Ava as I felt I should.  I also didn’t feel the whole forbidden love thing that the whole anthology was based on.  There were some decent parts of the story but overall I didn’t care for Off Limits.

Story rating: 3 out of 5

 

Overall book rating: 3.75 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Wild Embrace by Nalini Singh

Posted August 23, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Wild Embrace by Nalini SinghReviewer: Tracy
Wild Embrace by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy/Changeling #15.5
Also in this series: Caressed By Ice, Mine to Possess, Hostage to Pleasure, The Magical Christmas Cat, Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Slave to Sensation, Tangle of Need, 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, Silver Silence, Silver Silence
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: August 23rd 2016
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five-stars

The “alpha author of paranormal romance”* presents a stunningly sensual collection of four all-new Psy-Changeling novellas, in which taboos are broken, boundaries are crossed, and instincts prove irresistible...

Echo of Silence
In a deep-sea station, Tazia Nerif has found her life’s work as an engineer, keeping things running smoothly. But she wants nothing more than to break down the barrier of silence between her and her telekinetic Psy station commander...

Dorian
A changeling who can never shift lives a life of quiet frustration—until he learns how to let his leopard come out and play...

Partners in Persuasion
Still raw from being burned by a dominant female, wolf changeling Felix will never again risk being a plaything. But for dominant leopard Dezi, he’s the most fascinating man she’s ever met. She just has to convince this gun-shy wolf that he can trust the dangerous cat who wants to take a slow, sexy bite out of him…

Flirtation of Fate
Seven years ago, Kenji broke Garnet’s heart. Now the wolf packmates have to investigate the shocking murder of one of their own. And the more Kenji sees of the woman Garnet has become, the deeper he begins to fall once more. But even his primal instincts are no match for the dark secret he carries...
*Booklist, starred review

Echo of Silence

Tazia works as an engineer on the deep sea station Alaris.  She left her family and refused an arranged marriage to seek her happiness.  Her happiness means nothing without the love and support of her family.  She has sent money to them and written to them but still she’s received no word from them.  She happily seeks out the mail whenever it is received until her commander, a Psy, tells her she should just stop waiting for something that never comes.  Tazia dislikes her commander, Stefan, for his coldness. When they are both on mandatory leave, however, he invites her to help with a search and rescue mission.  Tazia discovers that Stefan isn’t as cold as she believed, not by a long shot.

This story was so very sweet. I loved almost every part of it as it showed us the relationship building between Tazia and Stefan.  I loved how he showed his real self to her slowly and over the course of the time they were on leave.  He was a compassionate and caring man who wasn’t as deep into silence as everyone believed.  It was such a touching story in many ways and made me smile.

 

Dorian

Dorian was shorter than the other stories in the anthology but still packed a powerful punch.  I loved Dorian to death when he was first mentioned in the Psy-Changeling series and that hasn’t changed over time.  This story showed us how Dorian learned to adjust in his Changeling pack despite the fact that he couldn’t change into his animal.  It made him better at what he did and I loved seeing these slices of his life that we’d not been privy to before.

 

Partners in Persuasion

Felix is submissive wolf changeling in the SnowDancer pack.  He’s very attracted to Dezi, a cat changeling from DarkRiver but she’s a dominant which is something he can’t handle.  He’d been burned in the past by a dominant female wolf and he’s afraid he wouldn’t survive rejection again.  He agrees to be friends with her but finds he just wants more.

I loved reading Dezi and Felix’s story.  The dynamic between the dominant female and submissive male was intriguing and I loved reading about how the pair worked out their differences.  Felix was a strong male and I loved how Dezi understood that just because he was submissive didn’t make him weak.  The romance was sweet and I loved how both Dezi and Felix’s alphas supported the match.

 

Flirtation of Fate

Kenji broke Garnet’s heart seven years ago.  They were great friends and Garnet thought that they were becoming more than that when Kenji broke her heart.  They’ve stayed friends over the years, flirting with each other, but they both want more – they’re just too afraid to go for it.  When Kenji is in Garnet’s sector to discuss security protocols he tries everything he can think of to keep his mind off of how much he loves her but it proves difficult.  The pair end up investigating a murder and while doing so find out that they can’t live without each other any longer.

I loved this murder mystery/romance story.  The investigation itself was interesting and I loved watching Garnet and Kenji work through their differences and what brought on the distance between them in the first place.  Though I figured out who the murderer was pretty quickly I loved reading about each step taken as the pair investigated.  Kenji and Garnet were perfect for each other and I adored them together.  I was quite happy when they worked it all out and got their HEA.

Overall a fantastic anthology that I highly recommend.  (Although I love this series and think everyone should read it from book one, you don’t have to have read any of the books in order to read this one as the stories stand alone.)

Rating: 5 out of 5

five-stars


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Guest Review: Once Upon a True Love’s Kiss by Julie Johnstone, Katherine Bone, Collette Cameron, Jillian Chantal, Samantha Grace, Alanna Lucas, Lauren Smith, Victoria Vane

Posted January 11, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Once Upon a True Love’s Kiss by Julie Johnstone, Katherine Bone, Collette Cameron, Jillian Chantal, Samantha Grace, Alanna Lucas, Lauren Smith, Victoria VaneReviewer: Tracy
Once Upon a True Love's Kiss by Julie Johnstone, Katherine Bone, Collette Cameron, Jillian Chantal, Samantha Grace, Alanna Lucas, Lauren Smith, Victoria Vane
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: January 4th 2016
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four-stars

USA Today Best-selling author, Julie Johnstone, joins best-selling, award-winning authors, Katherine Bone, Collette Cameron, Jillian Chantal, Samantha Grace, Alanna Lucas, Lauren Smith, and Victoria Vane in this delightful limited edition, containing eight tantalizing kiss-and-tell stories. Meet dashing, wildly charming rogues, spies, pirates, rakes and their extraordinary, intrepid heroines as they whisk you along on sweet to sizzling romantic romps in these wickedly entertaining historical romances.

AFTER FOREVER by JULIE JOHNSTONE
Widowed Lady Julianna Barrows never wants to fall in love again. But when the notorious former boxer Nash Overton hires her to transform him into a gentleman, Julianna quickly becomes the student, learning more about passion than she’s ever known, and more importantly, learning how to love again.

Julianna loved her husband and then he died.  She can’t see herself ever falling in love again because she just doesn’t want to be hurt that way again.  She meets Nash and his daughter and despite all of her good intentions she finds herself falling for both of them.

The story was cute if a bit fast-paced in the romance department.  It was all very sweet however and I liked that it was.  Nash and Julianna were perfect for each other and I liked that their kids became fast friends as well.

THE PIRATE’S DUCHESS by KATHERINE BONE –
Duty forces him to take on the pirate code, but honor brings him back.

Prudence, Duchess of Blackmoor, has one desire—to be happy again. After struggling to overcome the horrifying death of her husband, she accepts an earl’s offer of marriage, confident she’s taking a step in the right direction. But demons, refuse to die, and Prudence finds herself caught in an intricate web of deceit that threatens the very foundations of all she holds dear.

Tobias, the Duke of Blackmoor, crosses the line when an assassination attempt on him fails. To restore the reputations of friends under attack by the same villain, and ensure his wife’s safety, he stages his own death, becoming The Black Regent, a notorious pirate bent on brandishing justice, never thinking he’d survive. But to his amazement, he has, and now the darkest-kept secrets are not worth losing the duchess his wife has become.

Prudence was missing her husband terribly but once he showed back up because he had faked his own death she was pissed.  Now I could understand why he did it as the story moved along but she just kept up the anger. Once she let it all go and they could be back together as a couple it was better.  It was a story of revenge and making wrongs right again but I would have preferred it to be more about the romance.   I was confused as well because he just showed up and he was the duke.  What happened to his heir?  The heir isn’t mentioned at all but yet there had to be one, yet?  It’s been TWO years since the Prudence’s husband disappeared yet he comes back and he’s still the duke?  I have NO idea.

There was also this supposed unspoken conversation that went on between Tobias, the duke, and his friend who Prudence was about to marry when Tobias showed up again.  Yes, there are little things that friends know about each other but this was supposedly a whole scheme worked up with only eye contact.  IDK I just didn’t feel it was realistic in any way.  Unfortunately, this made this my least favorite in the book.

HER SCANDALOUS WISH by COLLETTE CAMERON
A marriage offer obligated by duty . . . an acceptance compelled by desperation.

Philomena Pomfrett is resigned to spinsterhood, but to ease her dying brother’s fretting, she reluctantly agrees to attend a London Season with one purpose—to acquire a husband. Stumbling upon her hiding in a secluded garden arbor during a ball, Bradford, Viscount Kingsley doesn’t recognize his first love, yet something about the mysterious woman enthralls him, and he steals a passionate, moonlit kiss.

Caught in the act by Philomena’s brother, Bradford is issued an ultimatum—a duel or marry Philomena. He offers marriage, but even impoverished and with no other decent prospects, she rejects his half-hearted proposal until her brother collapses. Now, Philomena’s faced with marrying a man who deserted her once already.

When Philomena Pomfrett was younger she was in love with Bradford.  At that time her house caught on fire, her parents perished and Phil was scarred across her chest and arms.  While she was recuperating she heard nothing from her love and that silenced continued for years.  Now her brother is dying and he wants her to get married so that her future will be secured.

At a ball near the end of the season Phil sees Bradford, the new Viscount Kingsley, walk in.  She’s angry so takes off into the garden for some time alone.  Bradford heads there too and starts to talk to Phil, not realizing who she is.  He ends up kissing her and they’re caught by Phil’s brother who insists on dueling or marrying. But things are not always that simple.

The premise of the brother dying was a bit different.  It added an extra bit of urgency to the whole deal.  Bradford’s explanation for never contacting Phil after the fire was enlightening and I couldn’t hold anything against him. The reunion between Phil and Bradford, unfortunately, was pretty much done off page and I found that a bit frustrating.  Overall it ended up to be sweet and I like it.

MILADY AND HER SPY by JILLIAN CHANTEL
A lady, a spy, a traitor… a battle of wills.

Raised in the country after her mother’s death with only the company of three unruly brothers, Lady Augusta Covington is more proficient at fencing, riding and playing cards than being prim and proper. Myles Cuthbert, a spy in His Majesty’s service on a mission to find and expose a traitor, crosses paths with Lady Augusta when she rides to the aid of her brother, believing him to be injured. With the assignment at risk, Cuthbert agrees to accept the assistance of the troublesome lady eager for intrigue. As they move forward, his sense of obligation to her and the danger involved stir his soul.

Lady Augusta, Gus, overhears that her brother – who just got out of the army – is injured and waiting at a local inn.  Her two other brothers are having a house party and they decide that they can leave their brother at the inn until the next day.  Gus doesn’t feel the same and rides hell for leather to the inn.  She finds her brother is absolutely fine and finds out he’s a spy.  He’s accompanied by Miles Cuthbert, a fellow spy and they end up telling Gus about their mission, which includes a possible traitor who is attending the house party.  Gus gets involved but it may be too dangerous in the end for an inexperienced civilian spy.

The story offered a bit of intrigue and a shy, burgeoning romance.  I thought Gus was in over her head with the amateur spying but she was pretty fearless and ended up doing a great job.  The relationship between Miles and Gus was fast but I liked it all in the end.

KISSED BY A SCOTTISH ROGUE by SAMANTHA GRACE
His Mother Insists He Needs a Wife.

Fergus McTaggart, Aldmist Fell’s land steward, has no time for wife hunting. Any day his employer’s sisters will be arriving at the Scottish castle for a long overdue reunion. Fergus is determined to make their stay memorable, but all anyone is likely to recall are the loud rows between him and his employer’s cheeky paid companion.

She Insists He Needs a Good Knock to the Head.
Edith Gallagher has been charged with watching over her employer’s youngest sister while the family winters in Scotland, but the stubborn land steward interferes at every turn. Eventually, she and the Scot call a truce for the sisters’ sakes only to discover their passionate battles are masking hidden desires.

This was a very sweet story about a woman who has no confidence in herself and a man who believes her to be utterly beautiful.  He’s a land steward and she’s her friend’s sisters companion who used to work in a brothel as a maid.  They were at odds at first but soon started to become friends and then so much more.  This, I think, was my favorite of the book.  Yes, there was some aspects of the story that had to do with secondary characters that I felt like I should have read previous books to know about, but that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the primary romance.

STOLEN KISSES FROM THE VISCOUNT by ALANNA LUCAS
Desperate times call for drastic measures as Miss Aveline Redgrave enters her third season. Fearful of fortune hunters, she attempts to stay clear of Lord Leybourne, a rogue who is not to be trusted. But his seductive smile and enticing kisses awaken a passion that threatens her common sense. No stranger to scandal, Leybourne is determined to save his family from ruin whatever the cost, even marrying an heiress he doesn’t love. But an unexpected desire and need to protect threatens his plans. Will past heartaches and a devastating wager destroy their future or will true love’s kiss triumph?

Aveline isn’t anxious to get married but if she doesn’t her uncle will find a match for her. She’s not thrilled with that decision but refuses to let him choose for her.  She meets Leybourne and starts to like him but soon finds out that he may be one of the fortune hunters she was trying to avoid.

This was a cute story but pretty predictable in the end.  I liked Leybourne despite the fact that he had originally pursued Aveline for her money.  His family was desperate and he would do anything for them.  I like that about him and it redeemed his fortune hunter status in my head.

TEMPTED BY A ROGUE by LAUREN SMITH
Gemma never planned on falling in love with her childhood sweetheart’s best friend, Jasper, when he returns home, but she can’t resist the naval officer’s brooding charm.

Gemma plans to marry James, her childhood sweetheart. With every letter written between them while he’s been off at sea, their love has grown. Now they will be reunited with his return to England. But the man whose words she’d fallen in love with isn’t James…

Jasper, a gentleman rogue of the first order, is trapped. Talked into a scheme by his friend, he pretended to be James for eleven years while writing to Gemma. He’s promised James he’d break it off. But when he returns home, his secret will come out – and he’ll lose the one woman he can’t live without.

When Gemma was just 15 her love, James, went to sea with his friend Jasper.  After a bit James decided the life of a rogue and lady’s man was the life for him.  He was a complete douche and actually asked Jasper to write a letter to Gemma to break things off.  Jerk.  Jasper, who had always had feelings for Gemma decides to continue write her and then ends up writing her for the next ten years. Of course he only signed his letters as J. so Gemma believed the letters to be from James.  When the two men finally come home she expects James to meet her in the garden but it’s actually Jasper.  Gemma has to work out her feelings once she finds out about the deception and decide whether she’s really in love with Jasper or James.

Let’s start with James.  What an ass. I was so happy he decided to dump Gemma because he was obviously a complete douche and didn’t deserve a woman as nice as Gemma.  I was happy she finally saw him for who he was.

Jasper was completely enthralled with Gemma before he and James left to set sea but he never even gave her a clue about his feelings – they were quite young.  Once he started writing her his feelings grew and the last thing he wanted to do was break her heart once they got home 10 years later and let her know that it wasn’t James writing her all that time.  Gemma was a smart girl and figured it out pretty quickly.  Jasper did deceive her during a garden scene at the beginning of the story that I wasn’t thrilled about but after reading the story I understood why he felt he had to do it.

The story was a good one and I ended up liking Jasper and Gemma together a lot.
THE REDEMPTION OF JULIAN PRICE by VICTORIA VANE
She gave him a chance to bury his past… but the price would be his heart…

Burdened by the past…Orphaned at a young age and left to run wild, at eighteen Julian Price joins the fight against Napoleon in the hope of attaining honor. Devastated when his best friend, Thomas, is killed in battle, Julian returns home burdened with guilt, only to find his wastrel uncle has squandered his inheritance.

Desperate to live her own life… Facing a future of drudgery caring for her aging mother and raising her brother’s children, Henrietta Houghton believes her chance at a real life died with Thomas, the only man who ever wanted her. But Henrietta is still full of dreams. When her wealthy aunt, offers her a gift of ten thousand pounds, Henrietta finally has the chance to choose her own destiny.

Everything has a price…With a fortune at her command, Henrietta offers Julian a marriage of convenience, unaware that she really offers Julian a means of salvation—not just his fortune, but his very soul.

This was a cute friends to lovers story. I liked both Julian and Henrietta and thought they were a good match.  I did feel that things fell into Henrietta’s lap hella easy and that wasn’t really realistic but it was a cute story none-the-less.

Rating 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: What Happens Under the Mistletoe by Sabrina Jeffries, Candace Camp, Karen Hawkins, Meredith Duran

Posted January 5, 2016 by Whitley B in Reviews | 4 Comments

Guest Review: What Happens Under the Mistletoe by Sabrina Jeffries, Candace Camp, Karen Hawkins, Meredith DuranReviewer: Whitley
What Happens Under the Mistletoe by Sabrina Jeffries, Karen Hawkins, Candace Camp, Meredith Duran
Series: Sinful Suitors #1.5
Also in this series: The Study of Seduction
Published by Pocket Books
Publication Date: October 27, 2015
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

New York Times bestselling authors Sabrina Jeffries, Karen Hawkins, and Candace Camp, and USA TODAY bestselling author Meredith Duran come together for a sizzling historical romance holiday anthology.

Stunned by the heat of an unexpected kiss on a cold winter’s eve, two strangers from vastly different worlds turn hotheaded principles into burning passion in Sabrina Jeffries’s delightful yuletide story, "The Heiress and the Hothead".

In the snowy Scottish countryside, Karen Hawkins’s rakish duke has an unforgettable holiday encounter in "Twelve Kisses" when the alluring lady he surprises under the mistletoe is not who he expected, but a long-lost love with a score to settle.

In "By Any Other Name", Edinburgh is aglitter for Christmastime as Candace Camp sends a curious gentleman in hot pursuit of an intriguing lady in disguise—one who refuses to reveal her true identity, though she fears he has already stolen her heart with his kiss.

In "Sweet Ruin", will the festive spirit of the season sweep Meredith Duran’s feisty heroine beneath the mistletoe—and back into the arms of the dashing rogue whose carelessness soiled her reputation and sent her into exile in London?

In this all-new story collection sparkling with sexy charm and heartwarming wit, four beloved bestselling authors reveal the mix-ups and make-ups, the missed chances and golden opportunities that come but once a year.

Whitley’s review of What Happens Under the Mistletoe by Sabrina Jeffries et al.

The Heiress and the Hothead

A sweet enough story, about a reporter who’s tackling inhumane working conditions in mills and a woman who owns a mill.  They get off to a bad start when the reporter (quite understandably) is wary of anyone who runs a mill, and our American heiress’s delicate sensibilities are upset by this. (Okay, so, clearly I’m biased in their argument.  The whole thing had shades of #NotAllMillOwners to it.  And FFS, the guy wasn’t even all that offensive; it felt like the woman was just upset that the reporter guy didn’t immediately assume she was an angel.)  Once they got over their Required First Meeting Misunderstanding and down to the business of shutting down the local, heinous mill (and making out a lot in the process), things got a lot better.

Twelve Kisses

A noble at a masquerade plans to kiss his mistress under the mistletoe, but his old lover is dressed in the same costume and Murphy’s Law applies.  After being caught in such a scandalous embrace, the two try to go get the woman’s father and convince him to help ease the gossip, but they’re stuck in a snowstorm instead.  They find a secret cabin in the woods (it makes sense in the end, really) to hide out, and that’s when things actually get interesting.  I could have done without the party set-up, as it doesn’t seem to have added anything and all the good stuff was during the storm.  I very much enjoyed these two characters fighting and slowly discovering what broke them up as a couple before the story’s opening.  It was a very believable, human sort of misunderstanding, and they were sweet while working it out.

By Any Other Name

I straight-up DNFed this crap.  The guy is an unrelenting jackass and the whole setup is creepy as all get out.  The girl is cross-dressing to try and find her wayward brother, who likes to hang out in gambling halls.  The guy saves her from a mugging attempt and discovers her true gender.  All is well and good, except then the girl repeatedly, emphatically says “Don’t try to find me, leave me alone, stop, no, don’t” while the guy just gleefully runs around tracking her down and stalking her to various events anyway.  I stopped after the guy realized she’d told him a lie and he mournfully thought “well, that must mean she wasn’t interested in me.”  NO, SHITHEAD, ALL OF HER REPEATED CRIES OF “STOP FOLLOWING ME” MEAN SHE’S NOT INTERESTED, WTF IS WITH GUYS WHO IGNORE BOLD-ASS STATEMENTS AND THEN READ 8000 MEANINGS INTO RANDOM ACTIONS YOU ARE AN IDIOT AND I HATE YOUR FACE.

ahem  Yes, anyway.

Sweet Ruin

Without a doubt my favorite short story of the bunch.  The lady is the daughter of a diplomat who has to play hostess after her father is called away from a house party.  One of the guests has stolen an important document, so her father sends in one of his (ish) employees to help covertly search for it.  Only Daughter and Employee had a bit of a fling a few years ago which ended badly, so they are none too pleased to see each other.  I loved the interactions between these two.  So cutthroat while staying (technically) civil.  And while they find out that their breakup was a misunderstanding, said misunderstanding isn’t dragged out to the point of frustration.  It’s handled perfectly, with just enough double-talk to make you cry “no, mush faces already!” but before that gets old they do.  And the ending when they confront the conniver that broke them apart was beautiful.  A+, perfect short story.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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