‘Tis the Season for Holiday anthologies. And well, I like anthologies. They can give you a taste of several different authors as well as full and complete stories that are perfect for bedtime.
Seasonal Shenanigans – curated by @caitlynlynch - is the kind of holiday romance anthology that hits all the right buttons. We’ve been a part of these before both together and separately. Last time, Lark was writing on her own. This time Rose is. So fair disclaimer, this review is being written by Lark.
I’m going to be rating these also based on if they would work for a Hallmark Channel Movie. Because dude! That’s what the season’s about!
Time to go through the stories!
Let It Snow - Nikola Christain - Jovie is a driven woman with a demanding job and who isn’t really close to her family. While at the ski resort, she shares a hot tub and an even hotter encounter with a hot ski instructor, Chris (The first of several in this anthology). This is a fun little story that ends on a happy for now. I liked this story. It was a good start, but some people may find the main character polarizing but I liked that the author acknowledged that not everyone wants to be home for Christmas. (Four Stars – Hallmark Rating… Oh yeah) Eight Secret Nights - Shoshana David - Someone’s been leaving Hanukah presents on Mara’s doorstep. The question is who? Mara hopes it’s the hottie Evan down the hall and not the creep from 7A. I really liked this story. The pacing was spot on and I adored Mara. It was nice seeing an independent woman who embraced her sexuality. This was definitely one of my favorites. (Five Stars – Hallmark Rating… All the yep!) A Tradition Worth Continuing - Tricia Ramey - This is more of a slice of life than a full story. But it’s a sweet look into a married couple spending Christmas together and the traditions they have with it. This is sweet and leaves you smiling from beginning to end. (Five stars – Hallmark Rating… needs more plot) Kittens For Christmas - Caitlyn Lynch - When Regina finds a box of abandoned kittens, she enlists the help of her hot next door neighbor Ric. Lots of cuteness and sexiness ensues. (Four Stars – Hallmark Rating… So much cute!!!) Missing You For Christmas - Moxie Rivers - Being separated from your loved ones at Christmas is hard, there’s even songs about it. It’s even doubly hard when your loved one is in the Military. Which of course means that you need to do something special to make up for it. Get your hankies out for this one, it is super good and cute. (Five stars – Hallmark Rating… Yes! Yes! Yes!) A Grease Monkey Christmas - Cailin Briste - Sci-fi and Christmas don’t always mix but in this story it does. Being alone on Christmas can be hard, and it’s always better to share it with someone. This one was sweet and I liked Jasline. (Four Stars – Hallmark Rating… maybe if they take over Syfy LOL) Santa Claus is Coming - Jennie Kew - What is better than an age-gap romance with a hot firefighter? Not much. The characters were fun and sexy, I liked Holly and Chris… but I wasn’t fond of their names… kind of trite if you ask me. But in all this was fun. (Four Stars – Hallmark Rating… Sure) The Promise Of Love - Maya Bailey - Years ago, Edward and Elizabeth fell in love in secret love affair. Now almost thirty years later, Edward returns to confront the woman who he can’t forget and who’s been keeping a secret for years. So… where to begin… I didn’t like this story. At all. I like second chance romance. I like secret child. I didn’t like this. Part of it was that it felt that the holiday (Christmas) was shoehorned in. It wasn’t plot relevant and barely even came up. If they’d had the flashback scenes take place during Christmas I would have liked it better. Secondly, I really didn’t like Edward… which is weird. Because in most Secret Child romances, you have to make people like the woman. The man automatically has sympathy because of the circumstances, but Edward lost his really fast. Third, I’m not a huge fan of the writing style. This is personal taste. There are some problematic tropes in here, some historically accurate, but still problematic. I just really didn’t like this one and I’m ranting about it days later. (One star – Hallmark Rating – No.) Underneath The Mistletoe - Ava Bari - Cute kids and Christmas goes together like Hot Chocolate and Marshmallows. When her daughter goes missing, Amelia calls the cops (as you do). Enter Nic who finds the munchkin and brings her home and then stays for the holiday. This would be great if it were longer. As it is, it’s solid. (Four stars – Hallmark Rating – Um Yes.)
Blizzard - Suzi Frewin - This is the second sci-fi offering. When Fallon and Simon are forced to go into hiding together amidst a snow storm, sparks fly. I wanted to like this story more than I did. I wasn’t a fan of the ending, and I felt there needed to be better adherence to the theme. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. (Three stars – Hallmark Rating – not even on Syfy) All I Want for Christmas … is You - Annika Steele - Tori and Devon have been fuck-buddies for a long time. But when a string of jewel heists throws Tori under suspicion, Devon has to wrestle between duty and the woman he’s grown to love. This story needed to be longer and have a better editor. Technically, it was good. But plot-wise, it needed help. I couldn’t suspend my disbelief when it came to the police aspects of this. No woman would take being accused of a crime she didn’t commit by the dud she’s in love with as sanguinely as Tori did. She didn’t get mad, upset, hurt or anything. The problem is that there was too much going on and not enough time for character development. The sex was great which is the only thing saving this from a lower rating. (Two stars – Hallmark rating – If the plot got fixed) Christmas is Coming - Liv Honeywell - So heads up… this is hardcore BDSM. This is not your 50 shades BDSM, it is serious and real BDSM. That being said, if you like that kind of thing. you’ll like this story. Featuring a Sub being a brat and a Dom being forced to administer punishment it’s very well written and sexy. Ultimately this isn’t my thing… I have some issues with BDSM because of my past. But it is good. (4 stars – Hallmark Rating… No… Playboy Channel Maybe.) New Beginnings - Dana Kenzi – This is the other non-Christmas offering and as a Pagan I was glad to see Yule in the mix. This is a cute neighbors to lovers story. It could use a bit more expansion and character development. The sex is good and it’s nice to see an average sized woman in these stories. (Four Stars - Hallmark rating – if it had more plot) I Fell Through Starlight For You - Keira Fox - When his sleigh breaks down, Kris (Third Chris/Kris) encounters Luci and forms an instant connection. This is absolutely the perfect end story for the anthology. I loved that we had Santa Clause’s son falling for a mortal. The lone supernatural story is also a great one. (Five stars - Hallmark Rating – Why isn’t there a movie of this already!!!) For 99 cents, this is definitely worth the price of admission.
*** I received an ARC from one of the authors (Gee I wonder which one).
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