These three short holiday romances stand out from the crowd because of Eagle's knowledgeable, sensitive por...more(reviewed from e-arc provided by NetGalley)
These three short holiday romances stand out from the crowd because of Eagle's knowledgeable, sensitive portrayals of American Indian culture.
"The Sharing Spoon." Searching for meaning in her privileged life, a well meaning but somewhat clueless white woman takes a job as an art teacher at a largely American Indian school. Her education is completed by fellow teacher Kyle Bear Soldier, who teaches her the difference between charity and community. This is a low-conflict, happy-for-now story with some lovely romantic moments: "There was no traffic. There was no reason not to cross the street, except that they were mutually stunned by each other's eyes."
(Incidentally, the blurb for this story is completely off: it has nothing to do with Christmas and ends with a communal Thanksgiving feast.)
"The Wolf and the Lamb." This is the first time I've read Eagle writing a historical story and she does a lovely job, filling it with atmosphere and lesser known Indian lore. In 1879, governess Emily Lambert travels to Montana as a proxy bride, but arrives to find that her new husband has recently died and left two young mixed-race daughters behind. Since the town is hostile to partially Indian children, Emily's similarly mixed-race guide Wolf Morsette offers to take them to his people, who will welcome anyone "Metis." Their journey brings out the best in both of them and becomes a courtship, though Emily fears that a wanderer like Wolf could never give her the kind of family she wants.
I loved the writing here, as Wolf uses stories from his heritage to woo Emily and point out how much more similar they are to each other than different. Like the first story, this is fairly low in conflict, but just melted me with its tenderness and romance.
"The Twelfth Moon." This begins with a somewhat similar set-up to "the Sharing Spoon" -- Hope, a new, white teacher at a South Dakota Indian school, travels with a colleague to spend Christmas with her family on the reservation. But unlike Kyle with his deep seated love for his community, Luke Tracker left the reservation for the army and comes back as little as possible; he hates to see his family stuck in a place that has "Plenty of nothing. Plenty of poverty." Luke doesn't want to get involved with Hope and start thinking about "home fires and family ties." I thought this was an interesting situation, but it kind of fizzled out and ended very conveniently.(less)
This is pretty much exactly what you'd expect from the blurb: a cute, sentimental Christmas novella, though perhaps a tad spicier than you'd normally...moreThis is pretty much exactly what you'd expect from the blurb: a cute, sentimental Christmas novella, though perhaps a tad spicier than you'd normally expect when you have a heroine who's an guardian angel. Angels don't seem to be specifically religious in this world though, but part of a large, painfully bureaucratic organization of all kinds of mythical beings. (Nether-Netherland.)
The world-building seems more for giggles than anything else, and I found it a little icky that Sarah (last name Phimm -- groan!) falls in love with Jack after having watched over him literally since the day he was born. But it was a sweet story, with some down to earth moments that kept it from seeming sappy.
This holiday short story is a bit of a change of pace for Fraser, since the heroine is a contemporary woman. Luckily she's a time traveller, so she st...moreThis holiday short story is a bit of a change of pace for Fraser, since the heroine is a contemporary woman. Luckily she's a time traveller, so she still gets to hook up with one of Fraser's sexily honorable Regency heroes!
Ph.D. candidate Sydney has been studying in 1810 for several weeks when she discovers that her time machine no longer works. Protocol demands she blow up her machine and then kill herself, to protect her timeline. But before she can take the fatal step, Captain Miles Griffin catches her looking at family photos on her iPad and she's forced to tell him the truth. Miles is horrified, and decides it's up to him to watch Sydney and prevent her from killing herself -- at the very least, not on Christmas Eve.
This was a pleasant story that would likely appeal to someone who's fantasized about getting to go back in time to find a hot Regency gentleman. (This being a Fraser story, Miles is not actually titled or gentry, but a brewer's son with a gentleman's education.) The effect a woman of today might have on such a gentleman is also nicely imagined for the surprised but pleased Miles (Sydney is secretly amused when he inadvertently rips her bodice) and the Christmas celebration with a group of German officers is bittersweet for the homesick Sydney.
The worldbuilding wasn't entirely convincing and Sydney's attitude doesn't seem consistent -- sometimes she's very careful about what she reveals to Miles, other times she tells him quite sensitive information, like the name of another time traveller he might encounter. But the reason for her time machine problem turns out to be intriguing, and opens the door for another story set in this universe.(less)
If Snow Crystal Resort was based on a real place, the way Nora Roberts's Inn books are, I would be so there. I've never had much interest in winter sp...moreIf Snow Crystal Resort was based on a real place, the way Nora Roberts's Inn books are, I would be so there. I've never had much interest in winter sports, but everything about the place sounds spectacular. I was captivated from this sentence:
"'The way you've built it -- the way it's designed --' she tilted back her head and looked through glass into the twilight and the forest -- 'it's as if the outside is inside. It's like being part of the forest and the mountains. You can virtually feel the snow, without any of the cold.'"
And did I mention there's a hot tub? Oh yes, there is most certainly a hot tub.
This is sort of a Scrooge story, but our Scrooge, Kayla Green, is a lonely and vulnerable one. Painful memories have made her virtually phobic about Christmas; all she wants is to avoid it as much as humanly possible. When she's offered a public relations job drumming up business for the failing Snow Crystal Resort in Vermont, she leaps at the chance to be in an isolated cabin over the holidays. But the man she's working for, Jackson O'Neil, is disturbingly attractive -- and his many friendly relatives, with their love for all things Christmas, are disturbing, period.
The city-slicker who gets won over by small town goodness cliche really works here, because the allure of the place is so clear and believable. Not just the hunky and romantic Jackson, though he's not to be sneezed at, but the beauty of the setting, the exhilaration of the outdoor activities, the contrast with the coziness of the indoor activities... why on earth did they need the best publicist in New York? This job should be like shooting fish in a barrel.
There's some effective sequel-baiting with a genial cast of characters, and Jackson and Kayla are both very likable. Kayla's Christmas phobia seems overdone at first, but when the crushing details of her story come out, it's easy to understand why she's become so devoted to work and commitment-shy. Although the tone of the book is generally light and sometimes funny, there's some depths to Kayla, and to Jackson's relationship with his family, that give it real heart.
I had one problem with the book, which was that one particular noun was repeated ludicrously often -- okay, I admit I counted: 30 times. I won't mention which word, so as not to make it stand out to other readers if they don't happen to notice it on their own.
This is obviously a great choice for anyone who especially likes the small-town trope, but even if you normally don't, it might be worth a try. A book that can make me enjoy that trope again... we're not talking just another small town.
"The Wilde sisters" is a self-published spin-off from Marton's Harlequin Presents "Wilde Brothers" series,...more(Reviewed from e-arc provided by NetGalley)
"The Wilde sisters" is a self-published spin-off from Marton's Harlequin Presents "Wilde Brothers" series, and though the tone is a bit rougher and it's less polished, this book read pretty much like a Marton HP. Which is great from my perspective, because I love Marton HPs.
Realtor Jaime Wilde is in Zacharias Castelianos's penthouse apartment, trying to convince him to put it on the market, when the lights go out all over the city. Although both instantly fear some form of terrorist attack -- a nice bit of realism for characters who live in Manhattan and Washington D.C. -- the problem is just a massive storm. But that's more than enough of a problem for Jaimie, who stubbornly insists on trying to walk down 50 flights in the dark anyway, to get away from the disturbing presence of Zach. Somehow unable to wash his hands of the whole situation, Zach winds up going after her, taking care of her when she falls, and then having passionate sex with her.
The next morning, Jaimie is gone, leaving only a terse note. Then Zach gets a phone call from a man named Steven Young, who claims to be Jaimie's fiance, and he decides he has to write her off as a bad mistake. But of course he can't forget her. And when his old friend Caleb Wilde tells him that his sister Jaimie needs protection against a stalker -- Steven Young -- Zach doesn't know what to believe, but he knows he has to take the job on.
This was a highly charged, passionate, even over-the-top read. Jaimie and Zach are both closed-off kinds of people, and when they finally let go, they let go. Marton's trademark is characters who fall in love against their will, and the mix of reluctance with devotion is an effective one.
The downside here is that both are kind of idiotic. Jaimie is insanely stubborn, and pathetically ineffectual in regards to the stalker. Zach immediately buys Steven's story, and then lies to Jaimie for no good reason at all, except to cause a narrative conflict. (Why doesn't he at least admit he knows her brother? That lie is certain to come back and bite him on the ass.)
There's some backstory about Zach's special ops work and some grossness involving Steven, but on the whole the focus of the book is on the relationship, and also on Jaimie's relationships with her siblings. So the tone is mainly romantic -- with breaks for family lightheartness -- rather than suspenseful. Aside from my sometimes wanting to knock Zach and Jaimie's heads together, I enjoyed it.
3 1/2 stars. Three years after he and Delaney broke up because of her decision to become a firefighter, Wes gets the call he'd always known would come...more3 1/2 stars. Three years after he and Delaney broke up because of her decision to become a firefighter, Wes gets the call he'd always known would come: Delaney has been seriously injured. When she comes to with no memory of the past three years, Wes is easily persuaded by her neurologist to pretend that they're still together, since he's never gotten over her. But of course their reunion is on borrowed time.
This novella isn't quite what you'd expect from the blurb. It is a second-chance romance with an amnesia plot, but unlike typical amnesia stories, Delaney figures out fairly quickly that things aren't as she remembers them, and she doesn't blame Wes for his deception. (I was amused by what tipped her off -- the disorganized state of the closet when Wes rehung all her clothes in it. This would be my husband's undoing as well.) The emotion of the story doesn't come from a feeling of betrayal, but from both Delaney and Wes's knowledge that when she recovers her memory, they'll face the same conflict that drove them apart before.
Although the premise isn't entirely plausible, the story overall has a mature, down-to-earth quality that I appreciated. It's told in alternating viewpoints: third person past tense for Wes's point-of-view and first person present for Delaney's. I particularly liked Delaney's voice, which had a quiet emotionalism that suited her confusion and grief. Her job's importance to her is well established, so the conflict feels real, though it's wrapped up quickly. There's also a fair bit of time spent on set-up for future stories in the series, which made me wish this one had been longer -- Wes and Delaney move kind of quickly into some raunchy sex and I could have used a slower build-up to it.
I'd recommend this for readers who enjoy more realistic contemporary that avoids fluffy romance cliches.
I was feeling quite puzzled by this story until it hit me about midway through -- it reads exactly like Twilight fan-fiction. With that in mind, the d...moreI was feeling quite puzzled by this story until it hit me about midway through -- it reads exactly like Twilight fan-fiction. With that in mind, the disparate plot elements suddenly made sense.
That isn't the reason I gave it one star, however; I don't have strong personal feelings about fan-fiction. Whether original or not, this just isn't very good.
The plot is interesting, and fairly well thought out. Leah wakes up in the hospital after a bad run-in with a truck, surprised to find an injured man sharing her room. As they both recover from the accident, they fall in love, and Leah is warmly welcomed into Brennan's family. (Except for his inexplicably hostile sister-in-law Joanne. And I do mean inexplicably.) But Leah is haunted by flashes of feeling like it's all too good to be true, almost like a dream. And of course she's right.
I thought this section of the book went on for too long. At the very beginning of the story, there was a nice sense of mystery and oddness, but this dissipated as the story continued along mostly normal lines. It was all too ordinary, though not very plausible -- Brennan is the absolutely perfect man and guess what? Also a millionaire! The second section of the book switches from first into third person for no useful reason, and it's a bad switch: the prose becomes very stilted and unbelievable. Leah is supposed to be utterly heartbroken, but she sounds completely analytical as she describes her bizarre experience and concludes it was "all very peculiar."
The writing isn't terrible, though there are a few editing errors. Mainly it's just shallow and amateurish in tone. I was shocked when I realized Leah is supposed to be 30; she never sounds like an adult woman, and Brennan never sounds like a real man rather than a fantasy. (view spoiler)[You'd think this was part of the plot, but it isn't. (hide spoiler)] There's very little character development, or actual basis for Leah and Brennan's love. If this is indeed fan-fiction, I really think it should have stayed there.
(reviewed from e-arc provided by NetGalley.)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)