Christmas Read Round-Up…

Hi there! Today I’m catching up on all the Christmas reads I’ve read this fall. Some made the blog, others haven’t. Still, I’ve enjoyed these books, and hope you might find one (or three) to entertain you.

Hetero Romance

I adored Brenda Novak’s THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS. A great story about an unlikely couple finding love (and more) in Whiskey Creek.

In THE TROUBLE WITH CHRISTMAS a rich man finds a real holiday with a quiet, unassuming chef who pulls his coals from the fire. This is a novella.

Kat and Stone Bastion’s THREE CHRISTMASES is a steamy/sexy read.

A VERY MARRIED CHRISTMAS reunites an estranged couple on the brink of divorce. This one had a bit of steam, and a lot of heart.

Rivals find love in JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS. It’s a fun reconnection story about adults who had a teen attraction and come together to make it happen years later.

For those who want to reminisce over Christmases gone by, I loved 8-BIT CHRISTMAS about a boy growing up in the 1980’s and wishing for a Nintendo. It is not a romance, but it cracked me the heck up.

Super erotica from Lily Harlem–in the form of CHRISTMAS CRACKERS: CANDY CANES AND COAL DUST puts a downhearted woman at the center of a man-sandwich.

Kelly Jamieson’s THREE OF HEARTS features three country singers finding love…with each other. It’s a sexy menage.

HOLIDAY AT MAGNOLIA BAY is a nice military romance with a heart-warming familial reconciliation.

Gay Romance

Heidi Cullinan’s SLEIGH RIDE is a great M/M romance, with a super Christmas theme. I just adored this story, of a shy librarian and a out-and-proud lumberjack. D-Lish.

Charlie Cochet’s three novella North Pole series is sure worth checking out. MENDING NOEL, THE HEART OF FROST and VIXEN’S VALOR are building a well-landscaped world in the hinterland.

Cat Grant’s A YEAR IN THE LIFE begins a new series and a tender romance between a young, interracial couple.

Piper Vaughn’s THE WORKING ELF BLUES features a lonely man and the Christmas elf who loves him.

I just finished reading ONE HOLIDAY EVER AFTER which is a three novella compilation–and it’s fantastic. I haven’t had a chance to write a review for it, but oh! it’s a great read. I’ve attached the DREAMSPINNER LINK because it’s on sale there for 25% off. But you can also find it on Amazon.

Well, folks, that’s a good list to get started. I hope all who read this have a great holiday season and a Happy 2015!

As always, thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Together They Found THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review of best-selling author Brenda Novak’s newly released, THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS. It’s books seven of her Whiskey Creek series, and fans will applaud Eve (finally) getting her happy ending.

The Heart of Christmas (Whiskey Creek, #7)About the book:

Eve Harmon has always enjoyed Christmas, but this year it reminds her of everything she doesn’t have. Almost all her friends are married now, and that’s what Eve wants, too. Love. A husband and kids of her own. But the B and B she manages, and even Whiskey Creek, the small Gold Country town where she was born and raised, suddenly seem…confining.

Eve’s worried that her future will simply be a reflection of her past. There’s no one in the area she could even imagine as a husband, until a handsome stranger comes to town. Eve’s definitely attracted to him, and he seems to have the same reaction to her. But his darkly mysterious past could ruin Eve’s happily ever after–just when it finally seems within reach. And just when she’s counting on the best Christmas of her life!

My Review:

I haven’t read any of the Whiskey Creek books, and I didn’t feel the lack. This story is about Eve, the single gal on the fringes of all the couples in her small California town. She’s thirty-five, and a year ago had a brief relationship with a longtime friend, Ted, who later broke it off–at Christmastime–for another woman. They are amicable, but Eve’s still hurt. And, she feels like she’s sliding into spinsterhood—unwillingly. Seeing her friends’ newly-settled lives is really hard.

So, she goes out on her 35th, alone because her friends can’t get together on a weeknight, and ends up taking home a stranger. Little does she recognize how strange he really is….

Rex has been a class A screw-up in life. He has some serious emotional baggage, and a criminal history. He was in prison, in a gang and is clean from drug addiction for four years. Eight years ago he went on the run, first in WITSEC, and later on his own when his identity had been compromised. His former gang wants blood; his. Meeting Eve is a blessing at the wrong time–he’s hiding in Whiskey Creek after being tipped off that the gang was on his trail…again.

Eve, to her horror, realizes her indiscretion about four drinks too late–waking with a blinding hangover and a skittish bed partner is NOT her style. Oh, and they may not have used protection, in one or more of their encounters the night before. Plus, Mr. Right Now, well, he’s about as forthcoming as a bankster before Congress; he doesn’t even give her his real name.

Okay, the stage is set for some real interesting plot twists. Rex and Eve find a connection. He plans to spend a few weeks in Whiskey Creek and would rather not be alone. The town is so welcoming, and Rex–despite his determination for a no-strings life–is so lonely, so starved for connection, he can’t stay away–and he’s terrified that Eve could be pregnant. How can he be a father and stay on the lamb from his gang?

Eve’s friends rally to her side–with support, and answers when Rex won’t come clean. Eve wants to help Rex, even if it means never seeing him again…and with the tight-knit Whiskey Creek community she’s able to keep Rex safe long enough for him to get another clean slate.

The whole thing is an HEA, with fairly reasonable plot turns and enough suspense to keep readers interested. I liked the elements of danger, and how candid Eve’s friends were, with both her and Rex. Though I didn’t know these characters, I got caught up in their world for a bit, and had the good kind of tingles when this story ended.

Interested? You can find THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Brenda NovakAbout the Author:

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak is the author of more than fifty books. A four-time RITA™ nominee, she has won many awards, including the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Daphne, and the Holt Medallion. She also runs an annual on-line auction for diabetes research every May at (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised nearly $2.5 million.
Catch up with Brenda online on her website, twitter, and Facebook.
Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Blessings abound!

It’s Saturday, and I’m having a super day. Why? Because this week I won 7 books!

1. A signed copy of: THE UNFINISHED WORK OF ELIZABETH D by Nichole Bernier courtesy of the Guide to Literary Agents Blog at Writer’s Digest. Oh! I just love that site!!! (Fourth book I’ve won as a commenter).

And a 6-pack of contemporary romance e-books from OmniFic Publishing for being part of the #Omnilicious Twitter party last night. So much fun!! I was able to interact with so many published ladies–who were great about answering any and all questions. Even Carol Oates out in Ireland who’d stayed up way past 2am local time to participate! Giant thanks to Cherie Colyer (@CherieColyer), a critique partner and OmniFic author, who invited me.

Will add reviews as soon as I finish.

On tap to read next?

TRANSPARENT by Natalie Whipple and THE BLUE BLAZES by a super awesome author Chuck Wendig. If you haven’t seen his blog at go now (just remember to come back here!)

Also making today awesome?  I had the excellent fortune to win FIVE items in the 2013 Brenda Novak Auction for diabetes research including swag but (most importantly!) I snagged a mini-critique from YA author Sara Hantz and a query critique and consultation with super-agent Gordon Warnock of Foreword Literary…I’m beside myself!

All for now!

V 🙂

PS. Still figuring out all the linky-links. And researching how to import covers…starting a blog is scary-fun…