This year, a modern-day Scrooge learns the true meaning of Christmas with the help of a suddenly sexy old friend. A down-on-his-luck baseball star finds a beautiful new beginning with a hometown girl. And a prim-and-proper teacher is determined to bring out the holiday spirit in a grumpy tree farmer. Settle in for the season with this collection of very merry short fiction.
Edited by Angela James, this anthology includes:
A Christmas for Carrie by Alison Packard Christmas Curveball by Shari Mikels Kissing Her Scrooge by Kinley Cade
Shari Mikels grew up wanting to be an astronaut and went to school for aerospace engineering. That is, until she found out the realities of being an AE. She switched to computer science, much to her mom’s satisfaction. That job led to her next career—as a cosmetics direct sales beauty consultant and director. After the birth of her son, she was ready to be a stay-at-home mom, spending her time reading to him and teaching him to read.
A lifetime love of reading had been pushed to the background, until a writers’ strike in Hollywood had her picking up books to get her fix of happily-ever-afters and vampires. Her voracious appetite for books came back full force, and she found not just paranormals, but romantic suspenses and contemporaries. She began proofreading for some of her favorite authors when her brain wouldn’t let her skip over the typos. What they didn’t know was that they were teaching Shari how to write the stories that lived in her head. Her second submission became her first industry-published book.
Shari lives in NC with her husband and son. She spends her days homeschooling her son, dreaming up scenes for her works-in-progress, writing, revising, editing and proofreading.
I got only about halfway through the first story in this anthology when I gave up. The language was raunchy and the story was boring. There are too many Christmas romances out there to waste time on one I don't like.
These stories were cute and simple and just enough to help put me in a holiday reading mood. I listened to the audiobooks and wasn't thrilled with the narrators. I think I would've liked reading the actual book a little better but overall they were a god read.
I didn’t even remember that I listened to this whole book. Today I listed the the first 1/4 while on a drive and when I got home I purchased the book to read. I was right, the books were much better when I read than as opposed to listen to them. Still cute and simple. Predictable and formulaic but perfect for when I’m in the mood for sweet and easy.
3 stories. #1 is lovely. 4 stars. #2 3.5 stars. #3 2 and I'm being generous. Skip it if you have anything else to read. Ridiculous and the world's most ridiculous immature sisters. They're annoying and not worth your time.
I love the Carina Press holiday anthologies, and this year I couldn’t wait to see what Angela James had in store for us. The contemporary romance lover in me was super excited to see so many contemp stories this year, and getting the chance to read more of a new favorite, Alison Packard, was an extra special treat. Two of the stories in this anthology I absolutely adored, and unfortunately the third was a little lost on me.
A Christmas for Carrie by Alison Packard
Carrie has never enjoyed Christmas, especially since her father died and mother left home. But ever since running into Nick at the coffee shop, Carrie has pledged to give Christmas a chance. With Nick showing her the Holiday spirit, it’s hard not to fall in love with both the season, and the man who was once her study partner.
This is a short story that takes place in Packard’s series on stand alone titles that are all loosely connected. I loved her previous baseball book, so getting a glimpse at another sports-like hero, Nick the agent, was a fun little treat.
I liked the fact that Carrie was the one to look down on Christmas, and how Nick did anything and everything he could think of to bring her around to the joy of the season. I loved their romance and how it was quick to build on the friendship they had in high school. I thought Packard did a wonderful job of building the romance up slowly, and how they really did work on becoming friends again, before worrying and stressing about moving their relationship forward.
All in all this story was by far my favorite in the anthology, and I can’t wait for Packard’s next full length book. I *think* we got a little sneak peak at the hero, and I’m so excited to read more about him, as well as Nick and Carrie. I give A Christmas for Carrie an A
Christmas Curveball by Shari Mikels
Mikels is a debut author, and her story about Rachel falling in love with her brother’s best friend was so cute! I loved the fact that although Rachel knew she had been in love with Kevin most of her life, she was also aware of how difficult his lifestyle was. It wasn’t until she came knocking on his door during the holidays that Kevin realized how much he wanted Rachel in his life.
I, personally, adore the older brother’s best friend trope. I loved the way that Rachel was able to tease Kevin about their past, and use their deep friendship to help him out of the funk that his life without baseball had become. I thought the scene where she revealed that she had spied on him and her brother was too perfect!
Another aspect I loved about this story was how Kevin was so determined to win Rachel, in spite of all the hesitancies she showed. Rachel was so worried about not being enough, about Kevin’s womanizing past, that she was more than a little gun-shy. Watching Kevin woo her in all the ways he could think of was so wonderful, and really endeared the story that much more!
All in all I thought this was a fabulous debut from Mikels, and I am absolutely looking forward to more. I thought the romance was super sweet and I loved both Rachel and Kevin. I give Christmas Curveball a B+
Kissing Her Scrooge by Kinley Cade
Hannah does her very best to make Christmas better than last year, despite how many people she drives batty. But the one man who catches her eye is Griff, the local Scrooge. The two are an unlikely pair, but the tension between them continues to drive them together. Possibly forever.
I really did not connect with this story at all. I thought Hannah was selfish and wishy-washy and the kind of heroine that I wasn’t at all interested in becoming invested in. Add in her meddlesome and immature sisters and I didn’t really have any interest in reading this story after only a few paragraphs, but I stuck with it.
I thought Griff was a good hero, but I really struggled with understanding why he was with Hannah. I never felt their attraction, and I couldn’t understand why he dealt with her obsessive desire to make Christmas perfect.
All in all I really didn’t like this story. I struggled with the heroine, the romance, and the overall plot didn’t hook me as much as other Christmas stories I’ve read in the past. I give Kissing Her Scrooge a D
Overall I thought this was another strong and wonderful Carina Press Holiday anthology. I adored Packard and Mikels’ contributions and thought they were both fabulous Christmas novellas. Another fabulous read for contemporary romance fans looking for additional Christmas stories to read this year! I give For My Own a B
A Christmas for Carrie was a heartwarming read, loved Carrie and Nick :)
Nick hasn't been home in a long time and is looking forward to spending the holidays with his family. After bumping into Carrie on his first day back he is pleasantly surprised to see her, he can't believe how beautiful she is. How did he miss this back in high school? What else Nick missed was that Carrie had a huge crush on him. Seeing Nick again brings back all the feelings Carrie had so when he asks her to go out she doesn't hesitate to say yes :)
Nick is so good for Carrie, after he learns about Carrie's past and how much she dislikes Christmas he makes it his mission to change her mind.
I loved how patient and caring Nick was with Carrie, he was getting her to smile and enjoy the Christmas tasks he sets out for her :) But just as Carrie starts believing in the Christmas spirit someone from her past comes back and with them come all the bad memories that have haunted her all her life.
Carrie doesn't handle things well and Nick ends up getting his feelings hurt :( With a few home truths that Nick gives Carrie she takes the steps to finally put to bed her past and to start living for the now and for the future, no more looking back.
This story will tug at your heart strings, it was a beautiful romance that left me with a full and happy heart.
The second story is Christmas CurveBall by Sheri Mikels
Rachel has a mishap and finds herself all cozied up on Kevin's couch and in his sweats. They decide to play Truth or Truth to pass the time and they end up finding out more than either had ever dared to hope for. What started out as a fun game leads them into opening up about their feelings, both are surprised that what they felt back in their teens is still there only difference is now they can act on these feelings.
Being a professional pitcher Kevin has lead a full life, travelling, partying and lot's of female company. Rachel is recently divorced, her husband cheated on her and this has left her with trust issues. Trusting Kevin does not come easy for Rachel, knowing the life he's lead she finds it hard to believe she would ever be enough for him.
Kevin is a sweetheart and not the man the press has made him out to be. He loves Rachel and would do anything to prove that he loves her and she's always been the girl for him.
Christmas Curveball is a lovely holiday read and I really enjoyed it.
The third book is Kissing Her Scrooge by Kinley Cade
Kissing Her Scrooge was a fun and entertaining read, I really enjoyed it.
Hannah and Griff are total opposites, but like the saying goes opposites attract. They have a this connection that is obvious to all and after trying to keep away from her Griff finally gives into his feelings.
Both Griff and Hannah hold secrets from their past and while they have deep feelings for each other they both hold back from opening up. Trust plays a big role in their relationship, this causes a lot of heartache and misunderstandings. Once they both realize that to truly love someone you have to trust them everything falls into place, they find the peace and happiness they never thought would come their way. Hannah and Griff are perfect for each other, she brings fun and lightness into his life and he brings stability and love.
Hannah and her sisters had me laughing with their interactions, they are a crazy lot, you can't help but love them :)
Kissing Her Scrooge is a heartwarming read, perfect for the upcoming holiday season.
Thank you NetGalley and Carina Press for the ARC in exchange for my honest thoughts.
My favorite story in this anthology was A Christmas for Carrie. I have loved everything I’ve read by Alison Packard. I especially enjoy how the stories, even this novella, are a part of the same world. I wasn’t expecting that in this story, so when the first familiar character was mentioned, I was surprised and excited.
Nick has turned his love of sports into being a part of the sports world. He’s an agent for a couple of the San Francisco Blaze players that I first met in The Winning Season. Carrie is his high school study buddy. Their childhoods were miles apart, Nick’s happy and filled with love, Carrie’s was dark and sad. Because of her childhood Carrie hates Christmas, the music, the decorations, the feelings. Nick on the other hand loves Christmas and after running into Carrie for the first time in years, he decides that he is going to change Carrie’s mind about his beloved holiday.
This story was filled with some really great moments. Some were heartbreaking and made me feel so bad for Carrie. Others made me laugh out loud, like Nick’s uncle and someone from his past. I really would have loved more Nick and Carrie and I’m hoping that I’ll get more of them in future Alison Packard books.
I also really liked the story Christmas Curveball by Shari Mikels. I am a big fan of forbidden friends of sibling romances, especially when the attraction has almost always been there on both sides and not just now that the woman is grown up and has “blossomed”. Kevin and Rachel had always liked each other, but there was a lot keeping them from each other, least of which was Rachel’s older brother. Their insecurities were completely understandable and really great to see they actually talked them out.
This story really had everything I want in a romance, even if the beginning was a tad awkward. I liked Kevin and Rachel from the start. They had smoking hot chemistry and there was some great humor in the book as well. I liked Rachel’s friends and would like to see a story with one of them as the lead. Or maybe even Rachel’s brother. I really enjoyed Shari Mikels’ writing and look forward to reading more by her.
I found Kissing Her Scrooge to be a very cute story, but there were some moments that rubbed me the wrong way. The characters were extremely awkward, especially Hannah. For a long time, I wasn’t sure if I liked her or not. I didn’t really think I could get past her neurotic nature. And Griff was just overly gruff and not in a very likeable way. Eventually, I started to like them, especially when they were together. I still had some issues with the flow of the story as it made me feel neurotic at times, but by the end I was rooting for Hannah and Griff to find happiness.
From what I can tell this is Kinley Cade’s first published novel and overall I enjoyed it. There were bumps in the road, but those could easily be attributed to this being her first time. I’m actually interested in revisiting this world with one of Hannah’s sisters in the lead. I felt way more of a connection with the other two girls then with Hannah during this story. The triplets were always pretty great together and her sisters were fun and could easily carry a story on their own. There were some pretty great laugh out loud moments, especially one particular small town gossip mill regarding a certain purchase made by Griff.
This was a very good collection and I enjoyed reading it. All three of these authors were new to me and I will be looking at other books by them.
Christmas for Carrie by Alison Packard: This was a very sweet heartwarming story and I enjoyed it very much. Carrie had a very rough childhood and hates Christmas, Nick decides he’s going to change her mind. These two had good chemistry and I thought their story flowed very well. I thought that the characters and storyline were very well developed for a short story. This was a really lovely story about forgiveness and healing.
Christmas Curveball by Sheri Mikels: I love best friend’s forbidden sibling stories! I love how the characters have known each other forever and the background is all there. Rachel and Kevin are too fun. They have great chemistry and they are so much fun together! Kevin is a baseball player who is coming to terms with his career ending injury, Rachel is his best friend’s little sister who ends up staying with him for a time after she hurts herself on his property. Rachel has loved Kevin forever but she is receintly divorced and has some trust issues and Kevin has a history of womanizing. These two were so great together and it was my favorite if the three stories.
Kissing Her Scrooge by Kinley Cade: Opposites attract in this one. Hannah is the do gooder, the town organizer and main Christmas cheerleader. She heads the town Christmas Pagent. Griff, while he owns the tree farm does not celebrate at all. I had a hard time connecting to these characters and that made it hard for me to like this book as much as the other two. I didn’t see the attraction other than the physical and I didn’t really like either character.
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
I loved all three of these short stories, they made me smile, and just really reminded me of why Christmas is so awesome.
A Christmas for Carrie Its so sweet when a guy wants to give a girl the perfect Christmas gift. Nick has come home for the holidays. He is no longer a geek, but now a very successful sports agent in San Francisco. Carrie hates Christmas, because it reminds her that she has never had a good one thanks to her no good parents, and something tragic which happen several years ago. So when her high school crush comes back into town, she is in a bad mood. I think the chemistry between Carrie and Nick was so organic yet apparent, I really couldn't put the book down. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Packard.
Christmas Curveball Rachel has had a crush on pro baseball player Kevin for years, however, she knows he's a player and he's her brother's best friend. Kevin has wanted Rachel for years but stayed away because he knows that there are some boundaries that you don't cross, but now he's home for good after being let go from his team, Rachel might be just the woman to help him transition into his new life. But Rachel has some serious trust issues to work through. I have to say that this was a really sweet story, and I think the fact that these two had loved each other for so long made the entire thing even better.
Kissing her Scrooge Hannah is the town Christmas elf, she does everything, and loves every moment, when she falls for Griff the town's scrooge, no one thinks they have a chance in mistletoe. I have to say I liked Griff waaaaay more than Hannah, she seemed a lil much, but Griff was so sweet and so kind. I still liked the story though.
This is a great holiday read. Lots of sweet, holiday fun.
In Christmas for Carrie by Alison Packard, Nick has returned home for the holidays, he is no longer the geek he was in school but a successful sports agent now. After he arrives into town he runs into Carrie and is pleasantly surprised to see her. She is so beautiful, how could he have missed this back in high school? Carrie hates Christmas since it reminds her of her childhood and all the Christmas that were not happy at all thanks to her parents. So when she runs into Nick she is in a very bad mood. That doesn’t take away the feelings and the old crush she had for Nick back in school though. So when he asks her out she immediately says yes. Read More...
A Christmas for Carrie: 3.5 stars Christmas Curveball: 2.5 stars Kissing Her Scrooge: 1 star
Average: 2.33 which rounds down.
I'm sad, because I did quite enjoy the first story, and moderately enjoyed the second. I just had problems believing the speed with which the relationship between the two protagonists was developed in the third story (and to some degree, the second). I know that novellas have a limited word count, but I wish more of those limited words were spent developing the story and fewer describing sex scenes. Oh well.