It’s 23 days until Christmas Day and there are a lot of romances out there with Christmas and the holidays as the theme. Below are some that I have read in the past weeks and reviewed. Please remember these are only my opinions and there are many reviewers with different views. What books do you like to read during the holidays?
A Very Married Christmas” by Erika_Marks
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
This is a story of a baseball pitcher and his estranged wife in the midst of a divorce after 10 years of marriage. They are both invited to a wedding of mutual friends and he shows up with a new younger girl friend with whom he is sleeping. His estranged wife asks a younger bartender to escort her to one of the dinners. Then the two get trapped on an island for the night and are forced to deal with each other and their feelings.
Pros: Good writing. The author makes it easy for the reader to emotionally connect with the characters. Clean copy without grammatical errors and misspelled words.
Cons: Too much like real life. The hero is already sleeping with a younger woman and brings her to the wedding of mutual friends even when he’s not divorced. He and the estranged wife are trapped together on an island and the fact that he’s already slept with someone else isn’t something that was really explored in any depth. It seems the two needed counseling about communication and trust because while they physically connected, emotionally and mentally they were still worlds apart because one conversation and a night of sex wouldn’t take care of the problems.
Would I recommend this book. Yes. It’s a quick read with great pacing and a good ending.
The Trouble with Christmas (Southern Born Christmas) by Kaira Rouda
My rating:3 out of 5 stars
Lilly, a pastry chef, has just been dumped via phone by her fiancé so she heads to an island off the coast of Georgia with her best friend Avery Putnam’s family to celebrate the holidays. She meets Cole and theyare attracted immediately . Cole Stanton is a Wall Street Investment banker and is burned out. He feels his high-paced career decisions caused an investor to commit suicide. So he has moved to Indigo Island, bought a restaurant hoping to start overt and settle into a more simple life. But Christmas is a mess because he knows nothing about being a restaurant owner and is in over his head. A chance encounter with Lily offers a way out for his business and perhaps his life. Lily feels an attraction she thought she’d never feel again, and offers him help to keep her mind focused on something other than her broken heart.
Pros: Good descriptions of setting and food.
Cons: The romance and sexual relationship were too quick. I could not feel the sexual chemistry and there was really no conflict in the story. Just a feel good story of holiday meals, parties, and two people in a relationship.
Santa’s Secret by Serenity Woods
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a really good story about Eva who is almost a recluse. She lost her husband 18 months before the start of the story and wants to bring some joy to Oscar, her 3-year-old son by flying from London to Lapland so he can enjoy the magic of Christmas at a Santa’s Secret Village Resort. Rudi, a workaholic divorced father of a 7-year-old daughter and owner of the resort has long since lost any joy in Christmas. His daughter already knows the truth about Santa and neither have much interest in being at the resort. His primary plan is to evaluate the resort before he puts it on the market. Then Eva and Oscar move into the cabin next door and they begin to spend time with Rudi and Isabel. They all start to have fun. Rudi and Eva are attracted to each other instantly and find themselves spending time together with and without the children. The story morphs into a romance. With their time together limited they wonder if it’s just a sexual attraction or could they make a long distance relationship work?
Pros: The author knows how to weave a tale and the characterization and pacing of the novel is good.
Cons: I felt the transition from attraction to a sexual relationship then love was really too quick.
Would I recommend? Yes, if you like sexy romances by a good writer.
My Rating 3 out of 5 Stars
This is the story of two childhood friends who bicker constantly. The heroine Miranda Hamilton runs a bed and breakfast in Magnolia Bay. She has been put in charge of the town’s christmas cotillion festival to benefit the foundation for her mother. The hero, Logan has bought himself into the committee as co-chairman. He messed up in their younger years when he tried to make Miranda jealous and it backfired. They’ve been in a love hate relationship since. An array of misunderstandings, bachelor auctions, pirate displays, and a villain are all part of the story.
Pros:As someone who spent many years in Mt. Pleasant and Charleston, I found myself visualizing the area through the heroine’s eyes. Christmas in the low country is magical and that was portrayed. The author’s description is very good.
Cons: However, the first chapter was a turnoff. The heroine came across as a fussy old woman and for a moment I thought I was reading a cozy mystery. Apparently, the heroine ran a bed and breakfast and then was able to leave it for long periods of time for town meetings, and dates. That seemed strange. Odd names of things like the “turning bridge” to Sullivan’s Island would probably not be noticed by the ordinary reader. But natives know the name of the bridge as the Ben Sawyer Bridge which turns but is actually a swing bridge. Also the use of cotillion for a Christmas festival seemed odd in a city where a cotillion school is held for young people to learn proper etiquette and dancing. Sorry, in any other novel it probably wouldn’t have even bothered me. It’s just a case of having lived there.
Would I recommend? Yes if you like feed good christmas books with the bonus of recipes.
Unwrapped by Maisey Yates
My rating 3 out of 5 stars
Sarah Larsen, a kindergarten teacher, was left by her mother when she was a baby and raised by her straight-laced and man-hating grandmother who did so out of obligation not love. She wore high-necked, long-sleeved and ankle length dresses and was not allowed to date. Then her grandmother died and she found herself still a virgin at the age of 30. Sarah was tired of living a lonely life and decided to change that by having a one-night stand. She went a local bar to pick up a man. The problem was the bar was full of locals and they all thought she was a bit of an odd duck. When Walker Callahan, a sexy stranger enters the bar she picks him up and essentially offers herself to him for the night. Walker is in town to close on the ranch he just purchased for his and his young daughter’s move to Silver Creek.
Walker accepts Sarah’s offer and after they have a sex, she runs out on him and never expected to see him again.
Sarah is surprised when she learns Walker is the father of her new student Kayla!
Walker’s housekeeper left during the holidays, and Sarah volunteered to take care of Kayla. The relationship took off from there though it was hard for me to believe she would be attractive to a handsome man. She was a little too much of a goody-two shoes. It was so over the top, it was unbelievable. She dressed in unattractive clothes, didn’t drink, smoke, date, and was so proper even her thoughts were pure. It really made me wonder what Walker could have seen in her! However, I knew someone like her once. She wore no makeup, had long hair with no style, wore loose ankle length dresses and had bible verses all over her desk. Then her husband left her. Here’s the difference. The long dresses disappeared and she started wearing stylish clothes. Her hair was styled shorter and she wore makeup. She married again and moved away. However, in this story the only transformation that took place was sexual.
Walker was not developed enough for me to truly connect with him.
This was a decent story to read before the holidays, but just don’t expect much depth. Afterall, it’s a novella.
Pros: This author is a good writer and I usually like her books. I have come to expect good characterization in her books.
Cons: The heroine didn’t really grow and change except sexually. She falls in love almost immediately. She doesn’t change her outward appearance or really gain much confidence.
Would I recommend? Yes, for a light quick read.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.