Tag: Vicki Lewis Thompson

Guest Review: Jingle Spells by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Rhonda Nelson, Kira Sinclair, and Andrea Laurence

Posted December 30, 2014 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

jingle spellsJen’s review of Jingle Spells by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Rhonda Nelson, Kira Sinclair, and Andrea Laurence

To protect Christmas, this family of wizards will have to use a whole different kind of magic…

Part of the Winter clan, the Evergreen family is considered magical nobility. While Evergreen Industries in picturesque Gingerbread, Colorado, might look like an ordinary office building, this is where the magic of Christmas unfolds. Above Santa’s workshop, the Evergreens hold court, manage Christmas and, sometimes against their will and better judgment, fall in love. When it comes to love, the Evergreens know that sometimes you have to play a little naughty to get exactly what—or who—you want from Santa. Celebrate the holidays with Evergreen siblings Cole, Ethan, Dash and Belle in this enchanting collection from New York Times bestselling authors Vicki Lewis Thompson and Rhonda Nelson, Kira Sinclair and Andrea Laurence.

The best way I can describe this book is that if the Hallmark Movie channel wrote a Christmas book, it would be Jingle Spells. Whether this is a good or bad thing probably depends on your feelings about Hallmark style holiday movies. Do you like quick little stories with lots of cute but not much substance? If not, this is not the book for you. In the right mood, I like a cutesy holiday movie, which was pretty much how I felt about Jingle Spells.

The book contains four connected novellas, each one about one of the Evergreen siblings: Cole, Ethan, Dash, and Belle. The Evergreens are wizards who live in Gingerbread, Colorado and are in charge of Christmas. They direct the elves who make the toys, manage the human Santa, keep the world believing in holiday magic, and just generally make Christmas happen.

Though the stories are all connected (and should be read in order), each story is complete and traces a couple. What did I like? The premise is kind of ridiculous, of course, but for some reason at Christmas that kind of ridiculous seems more whimsical than idiotic. It was funny to imagine what it would take to organize Christmas. The siblings have to deal with HR issues (with the elves), a Santa Claus going through a midlife crisis, public relations situations, etc. It’s an entertaining premise. The sex scenes were on the whole hot and interesting, which actually kind of amused me in a book with elves and Christmas cheer. Despite the fact that each story is written by a different author, I thought the style remained fairly consistent throughout. Each sibling did have their own “voice,” but I didn’t notice any inconsistencies or jarring changes between each section.

While I enjoyed myself, the stories are very, very light on world building and character development. Things that are seemingly a big deal, like how if people stop believing in Christmas the magic will die, are never explained, just mentioned. There are supposedly other wizard clans, but they don’t seem to interact or have much to do with the winter clan. There’s no real explanation for why the Evergreens are in charge of Christmas or how the current set up came to be. Each story ends VERY abruptly, too. In some of the stories (notably Cole’s and Ethan’s), there are some seemingly huge obstacles preventing the couple from being together, but then they’re just dispensed with in a couple pages of exceptionally weak explanation leading into a rushed, permanent HEA. I was left feeling frustrated that just when the stories were getting good, they were over (which is often the way I feel about Hallmark style movies, incidentally).

I really only wanted one or maybe two stories–more depth, less breadth. I’m not sure whose story I would like to see most. I was very interested in uber-smart, logical Cole and would have liked to hear more about him, but Ethan was a charmer and really adorable. Dash was sexy and intense and brought a much-needed edge to the book (if you can call a guy who makes Christmas ornaments and enchants the magical sleigh “edgy,” which you probably should not). I definitely thought Belle’s story was the weakest. As a character she was kind of melodramatic, her hero was forgettable, and the plot of that book was a bit too cliche and twee, which is saying a lot in a cutesy Christmas book. I would have preferred a longer story about any of the brothers rather than a rush through all of them like we get here.

I’m glad I read Jingle Spells, but like a made -for-TV holiday movie, the Christmas cheer is fun but fleeting.

Grade: 3.25 out of 5

This book is available from Harlequin Nocturne. You can purchase it here or here in e-format.  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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Guest Review: I Cross My Heart by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Posted December 8, 2013 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

17164215Judith’s review of I Cross My Heart (Sons of Chance #10) by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Self-help guru Bethany Grace has returned home to clean up the now-decrepit family ranch after her father’s death. Rather than just set the whole place ablaze (her first choice), she settles for a nice symbolic little blaze outside…until things get out of hand!

Cowboy Nash Bledsoe is working at the Last Chance Ranch next door when he sees the smoke. Bethany is the last person he expects—or wants—to see. How can he explain that she’s indirectly responsible for ruining his life?

Still, there’s an opportunity for Nash to buy the ranch if he can help restore it, and the two strike a deal. But there’s a whole lot of chemistry in the fine print, and Nash is about to discover that where there’s smoke, there’s fire!

This 10th novel in the Sons of Chance series from Ms Thompson continues the saga of the Chance Family as well as the on-going story of their ranching enterprise and the men and women who are connected in one way or the other.  Bethany Grace is  a published author and a well-known TV personality in the national talk-show venue but she wants her presence in her home town to remain a quiet secret.  Her dad had sunk to the depths of a bottle in his depression over the death of Bethany’s mom, had left their ranch in shambles, and now she didn’t want this family embarrassment to be a blot on her career.  Public media, she knew, was merciless.  Yet when she decided to set her father’s old, broken-down recliner ablaze in her front yard, little did she realize that the smoke would attract the folks at the neighboring Chance ranch.  Sending one of their hands over to check it out may have been one of those life-changing occurrences.  At least, it became the incident that brought Bethany and Nash Bledsoe together.

This is a story about a man who had been screwed, blued, and tatooed by his rich ex-wife, a woman he loved but who had soured and killed their marriage with her attitude of superiority over his humble roots, whose fascination with and hunger for material wealth had superceded her desire to nurture her marriage to a kind and caring man.  Now Nash is starting over.  Because of the pre-nuptial agreement, he came away from the marriage with nothing and sometimes he wasn’t even sure his pride was intact.  But he was working hard and hoping to buy a small ranch for himself.   This is also the story of a woman who wants to help people, whose self-help books found a home in the hearts of millions of readers and viewers, but she was a woman who hadn’t really lived out all she taught.  Her dad and her home town were an embarrassment, she was overwhelmed with getting it all put behind her after his death, and she was fearful that a new career opportunity would be yanked out from under her if she didn’t get shed of all that was her past.

As always, Ms Thompson has delighted her readers with a warm and winsome romance, full of sexual tension and bedroom antics, revisiting old friends and reminding her readers of others in the Chance Family whose stories were featured in previous books in this series.  Nash and Bethany lit up the skies with their passion, but both agreed it was “no strings” and just for the duration of the weeks she was in Parable.  But even here Bethany received another much-needed lesson in the value of friendships, the authenticity of the communal bonds that held a town like Parable together, and the generosity of her neighbors when she was really in need.    It was also a reminder that the road to True Love is never smooth and in the case of Bethany and Nash, it was fraught with boulder-sized potholes.

I hope those who have been following this series will make every effort to read this novel.  I think it’s a really fun story and I enjoyed it a lot.

I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

 

This book is available from Harlequin Blaze.  You can buy it here or here in e-format.


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Guest Review: Tempted By A Cowboy by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Posted July 19, 2013 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Genres: Anthologies (multiple authors)

Judith’s review of Tempted By A Cowboy by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Billionaire Astrid Lindberg may have grown up with a silver spoon in her mouth, but she’s determined to have a career as a vet and she feels most at home in a barn surrounded by her beloved horses. Though her parents expect her to settle down with someone refined and rich, Astrid can’t keep her thoughts off of the handsome and hardworking rancher Fletcher Grayson. Too bad he’s one of her clients and thus strictly off limits.

Then, Astrid is involved in an accident after helping one of Fletcher’s horses in the early morning hours, and Fletch comes to her rescue. In the aftermath, the two find their sizzling attraction outweighing common sense and overriding their professional relationship. But Astrid is keeping a secret that is a ticking time bomb with the power to destroy their newfound passion.

This new novella is a part of a series featuring the romantic experiences of sorority sisters, all of whom come from vastly different walks of life and yet whose bond of friendship is stronger than many biological siblings.  This short novel features a woman whose delight is in being a small town vet, one who can simply live as herself and not as a billionaire heiress.  She loves being liked for who she is, appreciated for the expertise she displays in caring for animals, and for her genuine spirit of wanting to be a part of this really nice community.  She is also very aware of the ethics of being involved romantically with one of her clients and it is a tribute to the stalwart nature of her character that no  matter how tempted she may be by the gorgeous body and upstanding character of Fletcher Grayson, she is still determined to be a professional of the highest standing in her field of expertise.

But the human heart has a way of undercutting even the highest of ideals and the heat between these two characters is evident right from the first.  It only gets hotter.  But inbetween Astrid and Fletcher sits those billions, money she doesn’t mind having, but bank accounts she absolutely doesn’t want to determine the way people judge her or look at her.  Her greatest fear is losing the high regard Fletch has for her, possibly losing the love of the one man who has become almost emotionally indispensible to her.  It’s a crisis of rather grand proportion and thus this is not a novella that is comfortable or sickeningly sweet.  It is a story that, in spite of the money involved, is one where two people may well lose out, big time.  So throughout the story there is this tension between what Astrid really wants to see happen in her life and what she fears may happen when Fletch finds out about all that money.

As always, Ms Thompson has given readers a delightful story that is filled with emotion and the energy that comes when real-life people engage in what we call relationship.  It is also about the pressures of real life, although I doubt that many of us know vets who are billionaires.  Nevertheless, it is about the desires and hopes of a young woman who may have been born with a platinum spoon in her mouth but carries within her the same hopes and dreams for being accepted for herself and not for anything external.  I was sorry that the story wasn’t longer–I think these two people are really fine people and I would have liked to see their story teased out a bit more.  But suffice it to say, it is always a pleasure to read one of Ms Thompson’s stories and I have every expectation that all her fans will be pleased.  It’s a fun series.  I think it deserves to be read and enjoyed.

I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place

This book is available from InterMix. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.


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Guest Review: Werewolf in Alaska by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Posted July 17, 2013 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Genres: Paranormal Romance

Judith’s review of Werewolf in Alaska (Wild About You #5) by Vicki Lewis Thompson

In Polecat, Alaska, Rachel Miller and Jake Hunter have a mutual admiration for each other—from across a lake. There’s nothing Rachel likes more than spying on the very fit wilderness guide when he skinny-dips each night. And Jake has always been curious about his reclusive artist neighbor. He even bought Rachel’s first wood carving: a wolf who looks suspiciously like him…

Jake is a werewolf, but not just any werewolf. He’s the founder of WARM (Werewolves Against Random Mating). And that means a human like Rachel is off-limits, no matter how attractive he finds her.  But when Rachel is threatened by a bear, and Jake shifts to save her, their lives collide with an intense passion, one that could change everything they’ve ever felt about themselves—and each other.

I have lots of favorite authors and the list keeps growing.  But those I like the best are writers who have the capacity to move outside a particular aspect of romance fiction, don’t get stuck writing versions of the same thing all the time, and who are not afraid to challenge themselves to write something different.  Ms Thompson has demonstrated that ability in this new novel that is quite different from her cowboy tales and her American life contemporaries.  Here she has constructed a story that is filled with emotional push/pull involving a gawk-worthy wolf whose nightly skinny-dipping mesmerizes his neighbor across the lake, and a young woman sculptor whose renditions of wolves look amazingly life-like.  In fact, Jake is convinced that she has patterned several to look just like him when he was spotted in the woods when he had shifted.  Yet there is also a political component here that brings the reader face to face with the prejudice that can cripple co communities and destroy relationships.  And even though it is all paranormal fantasy, the principles are here to be considered.  Jake doesn’t believe in anything but “pure” matings.  Sound familiar?

Ms Thompson has given her readers a compelling look into the shifter communities who are struggling with this whole idea of species purity while having to face the fact that they live in a wider world and have many paranormals who have formed lasting and wholesome relationships with humans and other shifters.  There are some surprises in this story, many of which are late in the story and which give a unexpected twist to what readers are expecting to be the outcome of Jake and Rachel’s love affair.  This is a very intense story and not always easy to read.  But I think it will be one that will stimulate the mind as well as entertain.  That’s really the absolutely best kind of book, as I see it.

I give this novel a rating of 4 out of 5.

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

This book is available from Signet. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.


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Guest Review: Wild At Heart by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Posted June 19, 2013 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of Wild At Heart (Sons of Chance #11) by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Some men can’t be tamed.  …Domesticity can starve a man’s soul, and drifter cowboy Luke Griffin believes in absolute freedom. His gig at the Last Chance Ranch will end soon, and he’ll move on. But then Luke gets splashed by a green energy drink from a platform in a tree, and suddenly things get complicated.

Naomi Perkins was studying the nesting of a rare pair of bald eagles when she accidentally “baptizes” the delish cowboy. And when his shirt comes off…good morning, libido! But this attraction isn’t just mutual—it’s fierce enough to send them both tumbling into a no-strings fling.

It’s a temporary arrangement, even if it is way more intense than anything Naomi could have imagined. But when the time comes, will she be able to let this wild cowboy go?

In the past several weeks I have read several Vicki Lewis Thompson pieces and I think it safe to say that she has been a very busy writer.  And because I have been reading not only several of her cowboy stories but some of her contemporary romances as well, it is easy to see why she is such a favorite with romance fiction fans, no matter the setting or subject of her stories.  Her “Last Chance Ranch” stories go in lots of directions but this one is a bit different.  It involves people who are as different as it is possible to be.  On the one hand you have Naomi who is connected to the land, loves her friends and family, and who wants to make a long term difference with her science and her ecology studies.  Luke, on the other hand, is a man who moves about so much that he truly leaves no residual of his presence behind.  He’s a no-strings kind of guy in almost every area of his life, not just in his love life.  Yet when he and Naomi begin their fling, neither is aware that there are connections already that may sneak up on them and ultimately sandbag them both.

This is a very sexy and emotional tale, one that will please those who love a sexy cowboy and lots of hot loving.  It will also highlight the efforts modern ranchers are putting forth to be environmentally responsible, and also is a setting for this story wherein an entire community is more concerned with protecting the earth than they are with the bottom line.  This story is very intense, with a sexual tension that weaves itself throughout the text.  Yet hearts are in danger, just as much as those baby eagles Naomi is protecting.  I think readers will also be aware of the strong ties that all the folks at the Last Chance Ranch share, another way in which Luke is really on the outside looking in.

So if you like hot cowboys and hot cowboy stories, this is you book.  It’s fun and engaging and I think will be a very entertaining read, especially for Thompson fans.

I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

This book is available from Harlequin. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.


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