Monday, December 5, 2011

Holiday Kisses Anthology

Title: Holiday Kisses
Author: Anthology
My Rating: A+

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: -
Release Date: December 2011
ISBN: e-book
Publisher: Carina Press
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Story Overview:
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...Love!
A man gives the gift of trust and receives a second chance at love in return. A woman helps to heal the wounded heart of a soldier. A couple finds that true love knows no distance. And a young widow learns that there can be two great loves in a lifetime. Love, romance and passion come together in this collection of four seasonal shorts.

Anthology includes:
This Time Next Year by Alison Kent
A Rare Gift by Jaci Burton
It's Not Christmas Without You by HelenKay Dimon
Mistletoe and Margaritas by Shannon Stacey

Stories also available for purchase separately.
103,000 words

Story Overview:
Brenna Keating is on her way to spend Christmas with her grandmother when treacherous roads and a skittish deer put her car in a ditch. Riding to the rescue—literally—is Dillon Craig, a reclusive doctor who insists she weather the storm in his cabin.

Since returning from Afghanistan where he treated wounded soldiers on the front lines, Dillon's made it a point to avoid any emotional involvement. But his unexpected guest has him dangerously close to breaking his own rules.

Brenna has a plan for her life—until she's stranded for three days with Dillon. Soon, the chemistry sizzling between them forces her to reexamine her priorities. The man is gorgeous, if taciturn, and a true hero in every sense of the word. No woman in her right mind could resist him, and so Brenna doesn't—even though she can't stay...
27,000 words 

My Review:
Rating: A+ 
I really loved this book. This is honestly my ideal in a holiday story...a snowstorm, a damsel in distress, a heroic taciturn sexy hero. Brenna is on the cusp of a new life and is coming to spend one final Christmas with her grandmother in the mountains of NC before she goes to live and work in Malawi as a nurse.

Things go awry when the snowstorm moves in 10 hours earlier than predicted and a deer gets in her way on the road. Dillon is a doctor who lives on the same mountain as Brenna's grandmother. Since returning from Afghanistan, he is living the life of a country doctor, treating the locals on the mountain and maintaining a fairly reclusive life. He has demons that remain from his military time and the choices that he had to make as a trauma doctor in a war zone. When Dillon finds Brenna in her wrecked car, after finishing up his mountain house calls, he takes her home with him where they become stranded for three days.

I loved both Dillon and Brenna's characters. Dillon is definitely scarred emotionally and Brenna recognizes that and respects that. There could have been a super-easy conclusion to this book, but I like that Alison Kent didn't go that route. She wrote a beautiful love story which became even more believable because of the way that she took this wonderful story! Just a perfect holiday, snuggle up in front of the fireplace and read, kind of story! LOVED IT!

Story Overview:
With a disastrous marriage behind him, Wyatt Kent has no interest in getting involved with any woman, let alone his ex-wife's younger sister. But when Calliope Andrews hires him to build an addition onto her day care center, Wyatt can't help but notice she's a desirable woman, as warm and funny as his ex was cold and aloof.

Calliope fell hard for Wyatt the first time he walked through the door of her family's home, and can't believe her sister let him get away. He's still the star of all her fantasies, and she's determined to prove to him she's nothing like his manipulative ex. Wyatt may be all business, but Calliope sees the way he looks at her when he's supposed to be working...

It's not long before Wyatt and Calliope are keeping each other warm on cold December nights. But it's going to take a Christmas miracle for Wyatt to put his trust in love a second time.
28,000 words

My Review:
Rating: B
Overall, this was a fun little read. I had some personal issues with Wyatt just because I felt like he hung onto his bitterness over his failed marriage for entirely too long...(PS. Calliope agreed with me.) I absolutely adored Calliope's character and how ballsy she is! She is awesome!! Here is just the perfect taste of what I am talking about:
"I can't believe a big tough guy like you is afraid of a little think like me, Wyatt." Then she stepped back, her gaze traveling halfway down and staring at the part of him she had no business staring at. When she lifted her gaze again, she grinned.

"I know you have balls in there. Why don't you try to find them? When you do, it's your turn to come ask me out."

I love her character. It takes a pretty self-confident girl to go after her sister's ex-husband and Calliope owns that she is that girl...never apologizing for it especially in light of the fact that she knows that Wyatt needs to get past her sister Cassie. This was just a really enjoyable book.

Story Overview:
Carrie Anders officially broke up with Austin Thomas when she accepted a dream job in the city. Unofficially, she misses him and is tempted to sneak back to her West Virginia hometown to see him. That's why this year, she's not going home for the holidays. Her heart can't take any more mornings-after where nothing has changed—and Austin has made it clear he's not interested in relocating.

Austin's been waiting for Carrie to realize she can't live without him. But when he hears she's not coming home for Christmas, he decides to take action. If Carrie won't come to the country, he's going to bring a piece of the country to Carrie—in the form of a Christmas tree lot just minutes from her apartment. He's certain daily meetings will entice her to come home with him, this time for good.

Their attraction is as hot as ever, but with such contrary Christmas wishes, can either of them get what they really want this year?
28,000 words

My Review:
Rating: A
This is a really powerful story for a novella. There is no doubt in this book that Austin and Carrie love each other, but Carrie also has big dreams for her career and she doesn't want to sacrifice that for her love for Austin. She watched her mom become embittered and angry because she gave up her career for her family. She loves Austin enough that she doesn't want that for either of them. The problem...she does still love him and denying him is killing her.

See, it's powerful. So much emotion in this book. Both for Carrie and Austin who are dealing with huge amounts of heartache. It all takes place on a Christmas tree lot which adds a certain air of Christmas magic to the book which I loved. I really liked the way that this novella was laid out. Both of these people have scars because of what happened with their mothers and that definitely affects their response to each other. It's a beautiful love story.

Story Overview:
Claire Rutledge still believes in love, despite losing her husband. So, after two years, she's not surprised by the steamy dreams telling her it might be time to start moving on. But she didn't expect her friend Justin to have the starring role.

Justin McCormick has loved Claire since the moment he first saw her, but his best friend got there first. Now that Claire is ready to move on with her life, Justin is finding it harder than ever to hide his true feelings. And when they both get caught up in the holiday spirits at a party, their simmering mutual attraction boils over into a night neither of them can forget...
20,000 words

My Review:
Rating: A+
Oh wow! Friends to lovers is my favorite trope and although there wasn't anything new with the story line in this book, it was written amazingly well. Shannon captured the tortured emotions of both of these characters so well as they deal with the guilt of falling in love with each other when Brendan is dead. I really truly loved both of these characters, Claire and Justin. I love that, for him, he has loved her the entire time that he's known her which adds a different kind of guilt to his emotions.

This is short even for a novella, only 20,000 words, but it didn't lack in anything. I loved the addition of Brendan's mom to the mix and how she sets both Claire and Justin straight. I love the fact that they have been absolute best friends for the 2 years since Brendan's death, so they have all these little traditions that they have as friends. I loved the addition of all that snow....the plowing, the snowmobiling, the outdoors during Christmas...such a magical ambiance.

This was an amazing novella. In fact, all of them in this anthology were fantastic. I plan to re-read them over and over for holiday seasons to come!


Felicia the Geeky Blogger said...

I will be reading this tonight! YOU ROCK!

Julie said...

I'm not reading this review because I am reading this soon. But I did have to look at your rating. And Woot! Can't wait. :)