Sunday 6 January 2013

Review: Romancing the Holiday - Anthology

We wish you a merry Christmas…and a happily ever after!

A memorable three-night stand gets rekindled in a cabin in West Virginia. An office romance is sparked by an impulsive holiday kiss. And two best friends scout locations for a marriage proposal and discover that they make a perfect match. 'Tis the season for laughter, love and a lifetime of happiness.

Edited by Angela James this anthology includes:

We'll Be Home for Christmas by HelenKay Dimon
Ask Her at Christmas by Christi Barth
The Best Thing by Jaci Burton

Stories also available for purchase separately.

For more information about any of these authors click on their names below to visit their websites:
Jaci Burton
HelenKay Dimon
Christi Barth

I love small town romances and I love the Carina Press Christmas themed anthologies so I couldn't resist Romancing the Holiday when it was available for review on netgalley. I hadn't read anything by any of these authors before but I will definitely be reading more from all of them in the future, I'm also planning to catch up with the other stories in the Holloway and Kent Brothers series. The stories in this anthology are all sweet and romantic which makes them perfect holiday reads.

We'll be Home for Christmas by HelenKay Dimon

No man likes having his bedroom skills described as forgettable, but that's just what Lila Payne does when she runs into Spencer Thomas again. When she discovers that he'd lied about his name during their brief three-day romp a few months before, she's so angry that she pretends she doesn't remember him.

Spence regrets his deception, but not as much as he regrets that their time together didn't last longer. When she shows up in his town, looking to revitalize her uncle's mountain resort, Spence is determined to help. Maybe rescuing Lila from a hopeless renovation project will get him in her good graces—and back in her bed.

Lila has no interest in being rescued, and Spence is insulted by her stubborn rebuffs and her "faulty" memory. But when rehab work turns into an after-hours meeting, the two of them are in for a night that just might prove unforgettable…

Holloway Series:
It's Not Christmas Without You
Lean on Me
We'll be Home for Christmas

Lila and Spence had a three day fling several months ago when they met at a hotel, their chemistry was scorching but neither of them were looking for anything permanent so they were happy to walk in opposite directions to go back to their normal lives. Lila has just moved across the country to start over again after being badly betrayed by her ex-husband, the only family she has left is her elderly uncle who has recently retired to Florida leaving her in charge of rebuilding his holiday resort but she gets more than she bargained for when she realises just how run down the resort really is. Spence may not be looking for a relationship but he isn't the kind of guy who can let anyone struggle on their own so he jumps at the chance of helping Lila settle into her new town, besides he owes her an apology for the lies he told when they first met and he still hasn't forgotten how hot they were together.

We'll be Home for Christmas is actually the third story in HelenKay Dimon's Holloway series but it was my first book by this author and it worked fine as a stand alone. I enjoyed it so much that I'm fully intending to check out the rest of the series though, it has that perfect small town setting with a bunch of great characters and I laughed at the way they were all happy to meddle in Spence's love life. I loved Spence and Lila but I also liked Spence's brother Austin and I really want to get to know some of the other town members better. Lila is a strong character, she is brave and determined and although she has been through hell she is going to do whatever it takes to make the most of her new start. She has never really had anyone to rely on so she is shocked when Spence and the other members of the town come to her aid and expect nothing in return. Spence might not be the kind of guy who believes in happy ever afters but he is still a caring and protective guy who looks out for the people around him. He was constantly helping people but most of the time he did it in secret and he never expected praise or thanks for his help. I felt that Spence and Lila made a great couple, they have fantastic chemistry but they also had a genuine connection and both really cared for each other. I'd recommend this story to anyone who enjoys contemporary romance with a small town setting and I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.

Ask her at Christmas by Christi Barth

Caitlin McIntyre’s heart stops when her best friend drops to one knee and proposes. Kyle Lockhart never once hinted over the years that he has any idea she’s in love with him. Not wanting to jeopardize their friendship, she’s never let it slip. Good thing, too, since it turns out he’s only practicing—he’s about to propose to someone else.

A business merger might not be the most romantic reason to propose to a woman he barely knows, but Kyle’s determined to win the respect of the dying father who’s never seen him as quite good enough. Kyle’s always depended on Caitlin’s friendship, while trying to ignore the physical response she arouses. So he turns to her when it comes time to craft his proposal, not realizing his decision will affect their relationship, forever.

This Christmas, Kyle and Caitlin get one last chance to admit their feelings for each other, and find a mutual happily ever after, before he commits his life to another woman and Caitlin leaves town and him . . . for good.

Caitlin and Kyle have been best friends forever, in a lot of ways they are complete opposites but their personalities compliment each other and neither of them knows what they would do without the other in their lives. Caitlin has been in love with Kyle for as long as she can remember but she is too afraid of losing her best friend to ever tell him how she feels. Her heart starts to break when he asks for her help proposing to another woman though, she knows that Kyle doesn't love Monica and that Monica doesn't deserve him but how can she refuse to help him when he has his heart set on granting his father's dying wish?

I always love a friends to lovers romance and Ask her at Christmas is a great example of that. Caitlin and Kyle have been friends for so long that they know each other inside out but in a way that made it a little unbelievable that neither of them had ever admitted how they felt. I struggled to accept the way Kyle was so willing to go along with his father's plans to marry him off to Monica just to help their companies broker a business merger. It might have been a little easier to believe if Monica had at least been a nice person, or even slightly nice, but she was such a bitch and not once did I think that Kyle would get anything out of the marriage. Considering it was just going to be a business deal I didn't see why he wanted Caitlin's help to plan the perfect romantic proposal. In spite of the problems I had believing that part of the story line I did like both Kyle and Caitlin. Kyle was a sexy geek (and we all know how much I love those!) who was good with numbers and an expert computer programmer. Caitlin on the other hand was creative and artistic and she had a romantic soul, even though it broke her heart watching Kyle prepare to marry someone else she wanted the best for him and felt that he deserved to have the memories of a wonderful proposal. I did wish that Kyle would have stood up for what he wanted a bit sooner and I was incredibly annoyed with him at one point when he let Caitlin down in a way she would never have done to him but in the end he did man up and prove himself worthy of her. Overall this was a sweet story and one I would recommend.

The Best Thing by Jaci Burton

A year ago, Tori let her guard down and Brody Kent slipped right in, planting one hot, unforgettable kiss on her in a dark corner at the company Christmas party. Though the kiss surpassed her wildest dreams, she can't let it happen again. She loves Brody, but he's got a reputation for loving and leaving. She'll have to keep her heart—and her libido—in check.

Brody can't get the time of day from Tori—ever since that impulsive kiss, she's avoided him with the same brutal efficiency she uses to manage his family's construction company office. The company can't afford to lose her, and Brody's come to realize that he can't live without her. But how can he convince Tori that he's a changed man?

It just might take a Christmas miracle.

Kent Brothers Series:
All She Wants for Christmas
A Rare Gift
The Best Thing

Tori has had feelings for Brody since she first started working for the construction company he runs with his brothers but with no family of her own the Kent's quickly became important to her and she would never do anything to risk her relationship with Brody and his family. Brody has never been the type of guy to settle down though so as much as she loves him Tori knows that if anything happened between them she would end up broken hearted and alone again and that isn't something she is prepared to chance. But Brody hasn't been able to get Tori out of his head since they kissed at last year's Christmas party, he doesn't understand why she is going to such lengths to avoid him and he is desperate for the chance to prove to her how much she really means to him.

I can't believe that this is the first story I've ever read by Jaci Burton, I've heard so many good things about her writing in the past and at least now I can see what the fuss is about because I really enjoyed The Best Thing. This is the third story in the Kent Brothers series and I am definitely going to have to go back and read the previous books because I want more of the banter between Brody, Wyatt and Ethan - I just love this kind of family series. Tori is such a vulnerable young woman, she had a difficult upbringing and before meeting the Kent's she didn't know what it was like to have a family who cared about her. It isn't just Brody that she is in love with - she cares about his entire family and his parents and brothers mean everything to her. It was easy to see why she was so sceptical about starting a relationship with Brody, he has never done the relationship thing before tending to stick to one night stands or short affairs and she doesn't want to become the latest in a long line of women. I found it quite amusing that Brody had no idea of his reputation, he genuinely didn't have a clue that people considered him a bit of a man whore and was shocked when he found out. In spite of his reputation he hasn't left a string of broken hearts behind him, he never made promises to the women he dated and he isn't against the idea of a relationship - he just hadn't found the right woman, until Tori that is. He will do whatever it takes to prove how much Tori means to him and get her to take a chance on him. The Best Thing was a really great romance and one I thoroughly enjoyed, I'm looking forward to spending more time with the Kent brothers and am quite sad to know that this is the final book in the series because I would love to catch up with Brody and Tori in the future and see how they (and the other members of the Kent family) are getting along.

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

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