Monday 31 December 2012

Review: Red Hot Holiday - Anthology

I’ll be home for Christmas…to fulfill all your dreams.

This holiday, a Mountie is determined to get her man. A widow finds a fireman who ignites her passions again. And two men unsure of their commitment discover a happily ever after—and a blindfold—under their tree. No matter your desires, this collection of three shorts is bound to treat you to all the joys of the season.

Edited by Angela James, this anthology includes:

Wish List by K.A. Mitchell
I Need You for Christmas by Leah Braemel
Breath on Embers by Annie Calhoun

Stories also available for purchase separately.

For more information about any of these authors click on their names below to visit their websites:
Anne Calhoun
K.A. Mitchell
Leah Braemel

I have been loving the Christmas themed anthologies again this year and I think that Red Hot Holiday has to be my favourite. The main reason I wanted to read it was for Leah Braemel's story and that one definitely didn't disappoint but I've also found two new (to me) authors who I'm sure I'll be reading more from in the future. If you're looking for a selection of spicy holiday reads then you can't go wrong with this one and I'd highly recommend giving it a try.

Wish List by K.A. Mitchell

Blindfolds. Handcuffs. Submission.

There's so much Jonah Kendrick hasn't tried, and so much he wants to explore. But just before Christmas he finds a ring box in his boyfriend's desk. Jonah panics. He loves Evan and their sex is hot, but how can Jonah be ready for forever, when there are so many items on his Naughty Bucket List? Desires that might drive Evan away.

Evan's noticed Jonah has been distant. His usually talkative and cheerful boyfriend is preoccupied. The seemingly straitlaced Evan stumbles across Jonah's wish list of sexual kinks, and Evan realizes he may not have to hide his true nature from Jonah after all. The Dom in him wants to see Jonah on his knees, begging, submitting, but Evan isn't sure Jonah's ready to accept what being Evan's sub would mean.

The two lovers must figure out how to share their hidden desires with each other before their secrets permanently damage their love.

Jonah and Evan have been together for two years and have a pretty good relationship but when Jonah accidentally stumbles across a pair of wedding rings in Evan's desk he panics. He loves Evan but the thought of getting married just makes him think of all the things that he'll never get to try if they tie the knot. Jonah creates a wish list containing all of his darkest desires but worries that Evan wouldn't be interested in helping him fulfil them. Evan has noticed how distant Jonah has become but has no idea what is worrying him, until he stumbles across the wish list that is. Evan couldn't be more surprised that Jonah has secret dreams of submitting to anther man, he has been hiding his own dominant side for years but it looks like they may both be able to live out their wildest fantasies together - if only they can find a way to share their secret wishes.

I'm still fairly new to M/M romance but it's a genre that I'm really enjoying so I was looking forward to reading Wish List. I liked both Jonah and Evan but I think my main problem was that I struggled to believe that they'd been together for so long and yet didn't really know each other that well. I find it hard to believe that someone who is an experienced Dom has been able to be in a relationship for 2 years without letting his dominant tendencies show through in the bedroom - surely his natural behaviour would have come out at some point? I also felt it was odd that Jonah got in such a panic at the idea of Evan proposing when they seemed to have a pretty strong relationship and had been living together for over a year. I found myself getting very frustrated that they wouldn't talk to each other, Evan at least tried to communicate but Jonah seemed more interested in potentially hooking up with a stranger than talking to the man he was supposed to be in love with. The sex scenes between them were undoubtedly hot though and I loved the way Evan introduced Jonah to BDSM - the New Years Eve scene in Times Square was very sexy. I did feel that they made a cute couple I just think it would have felt more realistic if they'd known each other for a shorter period of time or perhaps I just needed a longer story to help make things feel more plausible. Either way I did enjoy K.A. Mitchell's writing style and would definitely like to read a full length novel by her in the future.

I Need You for Christmas by Leah Braemel

Ryan Porter is a sculptor, and beneath his callused hands, even the most rigid metals bend to his will. So, too, does his girlfriend Megan—a confident, strong woman who delights in submitting to Ryan’s dominance in the bedroom.

Megan is a Mountie, and she’s spent the past few years in the arctic following her career dreams. Family obligations kept Ryan at home, but their love survived the distance thanks to several hot visits. A Mountie always gets her man, and Megan is bound and determined to keep Ryan.

Now Megan’s with Ryan for the holidays…but how long will this visit last? She’s always been willing to do anything Ryan desires, but will he finally tell her that all he needs for Christmas is her?

Ryan and Megan have been a couple for years and are crazy about each other but they are both sick of having a long distance relationship. When Megan left to follow her dream of becoming a Mountie Ryan had to stay home and look after his younger siblings after his parents died but they have kept their relationship alive with visits as often as they can. Now Megan has had enough of being so far from Ryan, she chased her dream and has spent time working as a Mountie but now she has a more important dream to follow - to spend her life by Ryan's side. Ryan also has plans to surprise Megan this Christmas, now that his siblings are away at college he has the freedom to follow Megan so that they can finally be together. They're both going to be in for quite a shock come Christmas morning!

I absolutely loved I Need You for Christmas and it was my favourite novella in the Red Hot Holidays anthology. Leah Braemel was able to create characters that I connected with immediately and even though Ryan and Megan don't get to spend much time together you could tell how much they loved each other and what a perfect couple they were. I loved the fact that they were both so willing to give up their own dreams to put their partner first and I couldn't help smiling at the way they were both making plans behind the others back. As a Mountie Megan has to be in control of every situation at all times but she loves nothing more than letting her hair down with Ryan and letting him take control. Ryan was pretty much the perfect guy, he was sweet, caring and protective of both Megan and his family, he takes his responsibilities seriously and was someone that you could rely on. At the same time he was artistic, creative, funny and incredibly sexy - the things that man can do with a couple of ropes is guaranteed to make you swoon! The ultimate feel good Christmas story I Need You for Christmas is a novella that I will be reading again every year because it left me with the biggest smile on my face.

Breath on Embers by Anne Calhoun

Christmas is the perfect time for Firefighter Ronan O’Rourke to take things to the next level with his sexually adventurous girlfriend. He knows she has feelings for him—and he’s sure of his feelings for her—but when Thea refuses his invitation to sample Christmas in New York City because what they share is nothing more than sheet-burning sex, Ronan sets out to change her mind.

Deep down Thea Moretti knows she cares for Ronan, but she can’t move past her grief over her late husband. Loud music and sex with Ronan are the only things she’s got that her feel alive, so she takes as much of both as she can get. She knows Ronan wants more, but during the darkest time of the year finding her way won’t be easy.

Ronan gambles everything and challenges Thea: one night of passion with him and another man. Can he prove to her that what they share isn’t just great sex but an emotional connection strong enough to last forever?

Since the death of her husband Thea has been locked in her grief and she uses every means possible to block her feelings and remain numb to the world around her. As the second anniversary of his death approaches Thea just wants to hide away from the world and be left alone to lick her wounds. But Ronan knows what she is going through, they have been seeing each other for nearly a year now and although Thea insists that it is just sex between them Ronan knows it is so much more. He is determined to find a way to break through Thea's tough outer shell and make her rejoin the world of the living, he will do whatever it takes to show her that she isn't as numb as she thinks she is - she's just scared to allow herself to feel again.

Breath on Embers is the first story that I've read by Anne Calhoun but I know for sure it won't be the last. This may not be your typical feel good Christmas romance but she has a way of writing that pulled me in and made me feel instantly connected to the characters. It is impossible not to feel Thea's heartbreak right alongside her but at the same time I knew that with Ronan she had the chance to move forward and be happy again. Ronan is one sexy firefighter and although he never says it outright it is obvious how much he loves her. While she seems determined to keep their relationship on a sex only basis he wants so much more and he knows deep down that she wants that too. The sex between them is incredibly hot but it is about so much more than a physical connection and I loved watching Ronan prove that to Thea. Breath on Embers is erotica with soul, sexy and intense it will bring tears to your eyes one minute and have you fanning yourself the next but in the end you are left with a feeling of hope and the reminder that life always goes on and no matter how bad things get they do eventually get better.

Source: Received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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