Monday, December 2, 2013

Xmas Reads: RaeAnne Thayne, Kelly Hunter, Shirlee McCoy, L.B. Gregg

Christmas in Snowflake Canyon (Hope's Crossing #6) by RaeAnne Thayne
No one has ever felt sorry for Genevieve Beaumont. After all, she has everything money can buy. That is, until she discovers her fiancé has been two-timing her and she's left with two choices: marry the philanderer to please her controlling father or be disinherited and find a means to support herself.

Genevieve's salvation appears in the most unlikely of prospects: Dylan Caine, a sexy, wounded war vet whose life is as messy as hers. Dylan's struggling to adjust after his time in Afghanistan, and the last thing he needs is a spoiled socialite learning about the real world for the first time. True, she may have unexpected depths and beauty to match. But he knows he could never be the man she needs…and she knows he could never be the man she thinks she wants. So why are they each hoping that a Christmas miracle will prove them both wrong?
Christmas in Snowflake Canyon is the sixth installment in the Hope's Crossing series by RaeAnne Thayne, however in my opinion, as a holiday piece it can pretty much be read as a stand alone and it works beautifully as a Christmas story. I only read the first book of this series and had no problem enjoying the story.

Genevieve is Mayor Beaumont's spoiled daughter and her reputation around town is that of a 'cold bitch' with more beauty than brains whose ex-groom cheated on her right before their big wedding two years prior to this story. She and Dylan Caine, a physically and psychologically scarred war vet, meet during a bar fight where Genevieve ends up punching the local District Attorney as Dylan comes to her rescue -- it's a great beginning to the story. They are both arrested and agree to one hundred hours of community service at the local center for war veterans, A Warrior's Hope, and the romance begins.

This is truly a heartwarming Christmas story. It's most definitely a romance, but it's also about Genevieve slow growth as a person, her redemption, and Dylan's slow progression towards healing. I found the building friendship between these two different people both entertaining and sweet, and Thayne struck the right tone and pacing as she developed the romance and yearning between Dylan and Gen. This is definitely an enjoyable holiday read. Grade: B

The Night Before Christmas by Kelly Hunter
In this Christmas prequel novella by USA TODAY Bestselling author Kelly Hunter, meet estranged sweethearts Jess and Boyd…

Hardworking and independent Jess Turner has come home from the bustle of Sydney to enjoy a quiet Christmas. But after running into an old school friend, she finds herself talked into attending a lavish Christmas Eve party—and running straight into the only man to ever break her heart.

Rebel with a heart Boyd Webber thrives on the adrenaline rush of riding motorbikes for a living, but giving into love has never been a risk worth taking. Until he sees Jess again. Their chemistry is still electric and Boyd can't give up the chance to rekindle what they once had. But if they're going to have a future together, they'll have to find a way to get past old hurts in time for Christmas Day…
As it says in the summary above, this Christmas novella is a prequel to Kelly Hunter's "What the Bride Didn't Know." Jess and Boyd were best friends from childhood until high school, and fell in love when they were teenagers. Boyd, however, broke up with Jess during their senior year in high school. Now, as adults, they are both back home and attending a fancy Christmas party at the West home with old friends Jared, Trig, and Lena. Is the love still there? Can Jess forgive him for walking away from their friendship?

I loved the sections of this novella that had to do with the romance between Jess and Boyd. Their reunion, love, and real friendship jumped out of the pages and satisfying enough, but too short. Why? Well, this short novella was divided between their romance and sections dedicated to young versions of Jared, Trig, and Lena, and although it was cute to read about them 'then,' their section wasn't meaty enough to keep my interest and it took the much needed focus away from Jess and Boyd. Regardless, a cute Christmas novella. Grade: C

The House on Main Street (Apple Valley #1) by Shirlee McCoy
Interior designer Tessa McKenzie has built a good life far from her Washington hometown. She intends to get back to it—as soon as she sells the cluttered Victorian house and antiques shop she inherited from her sister, Emily. But leaving Apple Valley a second time won't be so easy. There's her grieving nephew, Alex, to consider. And there's Sheriff Cade Cunningham, the adolescent crush who could easily break her heart again if she let him.

To Cade, Tessa was simply his high school sweetheart's kid sister. But now there's no denying she's a beautiful and caring grown woman, one he'd like to get to know. Except that Tessa is determined to leave again. If Cade wants to change her mind, he'll have to show her that small-town life has its lovable side—and that he does too. Most of all, he'll have to convince Tess they're good together, and that every step has led her right where she was always meant to be…
The House on Main Street is one of those Christmas romances that takes place in a small town that's almost too good to be true -- picture post card perfect. Tessa returns to town after her sister and brother-in-law are killed and name her guardian to her nephew Alex, a 10 year-old with autism, and she also inherits the old Victorian home on Main Street where they started an antique shop that turns out to be more of a dump. The conflicts in this story come from Tessa's old feelings for her childhood friend Cade, who is now totally taken with her, and from childhood baggage.

Bickering between Tessa and her aunt is the word of the day in this story -- sometimes it's funny, but after a while the lack of communication gets tiring. And talking about communication, I know that Tessa doesn't know anything about 10 year olds or kids with autism, but a little initial effort on her part would have gone a long way -- maybe calling the school? Talking and/or listening to Alex? The romance is better in a heartwarming sort of way. I did like Tess, though, and also liked Cade a lot, and the story about the missing "angel" and introduction of the townspeople was nice enough with that Christmas(y) flavor. McCoy writes inspirational romances, but don't expect anything overtly inspirational in this Christmas story, in that respect it strikes the right tone. Grade: C

How I Met Your Father by L.B. Gregg
Former boy band member Justin Hayes isn’t looking for a man. He just wants a quiet, scandal-free Christmas at home in Chicago, out of the public eye. But his best friend and bandmate is subjecting everyone to his destination wedding, and Justin can’t dodge the “best man” bullet. All he has to do is get to the island on time, survive the reunion, and get Chuck to the altar with as little drama as possible. What could possibly go wrong?

Jack Bassinger’s own plans for a quiet Christmas have been dashed by the summons to his daughter’s hasty wedding with a man Jack has hardly met. On the bumpy flight to the island, he finds himself comforting a nervous—and extremely attractive—young man. One hasty sexual encounter in an airport bathroom later, they both feel much better. No one ever has to know, after all.

Now Justin and Jack must find a way to explore their attraction, despite the distractions of disapproving family members, unexpected announcements, an impromptu concert, and an island paradise that proves there’s no place like home.
Okay, I loved the premise for this novella -- it is the reason I wanted to read it in the first place. Justin and Jack meet on the airplane on their way to the Caribbean and when they arrive at the airport have hot, anonymous bathroom sex. To Justin's dismay, they meet again at his best friend's bachelor party where he finds out that Jack is the bride's father. Ooops! Life gets complicated! The old "boy band" performs, panties and pink condoms fly, a steamy hike gets out of control, family gets involved, and smitten Justin and super-hot Jack get it from all sides!

This was such a fun Christmas novella. The characters are great, the Caribbean atmosphere is wonderful, the situation is controlled chaos, and the story is amusing, hot, and definitely lived up to my expectations. Did I want more time with Justin and Jack? You bet! They are one hot May/December couple. Grade: B  

Additionally, 20% of all proceeds from How I Met Your Father are donated to the Ali Forney Center in New York, whose mission “is to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) youth from the harm of homelessness, and to support them in becoming safe and independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood.” To learn more about this charity or to donate directly, please visit http://www.aliforneycenter.org/

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous Users disallowed due to large influx of spam.