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Monday, November 30, 2015

Review: All He Wants for Christmas by Elisabeth Naughton, Alexandra Ivy, Cynthia Eden, Katie Reus, Laura Wright, and Skye Jordan

Good morning! It's the last day of November can you believe it? Anyway, what's better than one great author? How about SIX?

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: The Indie Six, LLC
Release Date: December 1, 2015

Melt for Me by Elisabeth Naughton

Yuletide Spirits pub owner Ella McKinley doesn’t do holidays. Not after everything she lost on a cold, snowy night long ago. In fact, she’d be perfectly happy if the calendar jumped from November to January, bypassing December all together. Then rock’s latest “it” guy, Tate Kendrick, rolls into town, and though Ella tries to resist his wicked charm, the heat they once shared flares hotter than ever. When trouble linked to the rock star strikes at her pub, Ella suddenly starts to wonder if the return of her first love is a holiday miracle or nothing more than her nightmare before Christmas.

Sweet Rapture by Alexandra Ivy
Meg Anderson has returned to her home in Holly, North Carolina after she discovered her relationship with Dylan Cain was nothing more than a lie. The last thing she expects is for Dylan to be her new tenant. Or the realization that he might be the only thing standing between her and a killer…

The Spy Who Came to Christmas by Cynthia Eden
Everyone in town thinks that Jemma White is as sweet as the delicious treats she makes at her chocolate shop—but they’re wrong. Jemma is ready to let her wild side out, and she’s just found the perfect man to make all of her fantasies come true. Grayson Cole is a too-sexy-to-be-true stranger who has escaped to Holly for the holidays. He is her perfect temptation, and Jemma can’t wait to steam up the cold winter nights with him. But when danger from Grayson’s past follows him to town, she realizes that the man she is falling for has been keeping some very dark secrets…secrets that may just get them both killed.

Merry Christmas, Baby by Katie Reus
After unexpectedly inheriting a bookstore, Nora and her younger sister settled in Holly, NC, a place where it’s Christmas year-round. As the legal guardian for her sister the past few years, romance has been the last thing on Nora’s mind. But she broke her rules for the town’s golden boy—former SEAL Jackson O’Connor. When Jackson does something stupid and almost loses Nora for good, he realizes just how far he’s willing to go for the woman who’s stolen his heart. But it might take a Christmas miracle to get Nora to give him a second chance.

Sinful in Snow by Laura Wright
Billionaire Back In Town: Gabriel Fox is a ruthless, heartless, soulless grinch. His only goal in coming to Holly, North Carolina is to ruin Carol Cardini's Christmas. Like she ruined his—and his life—ten years ago. Now that her business is in trouble, he's finally found the way. But the beautiful owner of Christmas Carol's Shop and Crafts won't allow her dream to be destroyed. Not by revenge, and certainly not by the sexiest man she's ever known. She can, however offer an apology, and a chair at her holiday table. But can a grinch’s cold heart be warmed and healed by the love of a good woman—and the magic of Christmas spirit?

Home Advantage by Skye Jordan
NHL super star, Meier Grant, finds himself sidelined for a bum shoulder and sentenced to three weeks recovery—in his hometown of Holly, North Carolina. But an extended family stay isn’t on his holiday wish list, especially when his parents are more interested in capitalizing on his fame than much needed family bonding. So when he learns the high school beauty and so out-of-his-league Faith Nicholas is suddenly single, and even sexier ten years later, home doesn’t seem so bad. Not when it includes spending some quality bonding time with Faith. Meier may have some of the best moves in the league, but will they be enough to win a woman deserving of forever?

Every single author in this anthology is extremely talented on their own and I love them all so an anthology with stories that connect? That’s an epic win in my book. Each novella takes place in the small town of Holly, North Carolina where it’s like Christmas 365 days out of the year but during the actual holidays? It sounds like a scene from a postcard. Mix in six couples with some serious chemistry and yowza it’s my kind of holiday read!

Melt for Me by Elisabeth Naughton
She-Grinch and pub owner Ella McKinley doesn’t do Christmas but for a good reason, she lost everything on a snowy night and still hasn’t recovered. The last thing Ella needs is super star rocker and former flame Tate Kendrick strolling into town with his own agenda. Then things start happening to her pub that make her start to doubt Tate’s good intentions.

A strong start to this holiday collection, Melt for Me introduced two lonely characters for the holiday season and gave them a way to work towards the happiness they both deserved. Ella should have been unlikable to anyone who loves Christmas but instead she was a tragic figure and someone who elicited a great deal of sympathy.

Sweet Rapture by Alexandra Ivy
This one might be my favorite. Meg thought she knew the man she was falling in love with but it turns out, not only was he using a different name when they were together, he was lying about everything she thought she knew. Hurt and angry, she’s back home in Holly when wouldn’t you know it, that darn guy is her new tenant! Dylan wants a real chance with Meg because what started out as a job turned into something much more.

I don’t know what it is about the whole undercover hero/heroine theme that I love so much, probably the potential for angst and a very passionate second chance. Of course, it’s an Alexandra Ivy story so tension was a given. For such a short story, I really felt like Sweet Rapture did a great job of having Meg work through her sense of betrayal and doubt and took the time to make Dylan so irresistible that readers wouldn’t have any other choice but to be on his side. Sweet Rapture also has a nice little connection to Ivy’s upcoming series Ares Security.

The Spy Who Came for Christmas by Cynthia Eden
Jemma White has earned the reputation as the town’s “good girl” through no doing of her own and she’s ready to let her wild side free. Grayson Cole is in Holly, North Carolina to find some peace and quiet. Grayson and Jemma hit it off immediately until trouble from Grayson’s past comes to Holly as well.

I was surprised at how thorough this one was because the Grayson and Jemma didn’t know each other prior to this so there was still the first meeting and the “get to know you” stage which felt a little rushed due to time constraints BUT the romance still worked for me. Grayson helped Jemma out of her shell and Jemma helped Grayson find peace.

Merry Christmas, Baby by Katie Reus
Holly’s golden boy Jackson O’Connor had it all and he ran away from her. Now he’s certain he knows what he wants: Nora Cassidy. But after letting him close and then being rejected, Nora’s not so sure she wants to give Jackson another chance.

Okay this one had me cheering for the heroine big time. Jackson’s reason for leaving Nora high and dry was just ridiculous and the man needed to grovel! More than that he had to earn Nora’s complete trust and she thankfully wasn’t easy to win. I think because Jackson had to work hard to win Nora over he grew up more than he thought and I liked him better for it. It also gave Nora a chance to think about her hang ups in order to forgive Jackson and get her happy ending. Nora’s teenage sister Sasha was an added bonus. Spunky and fun, she sometimes gave the adults the kick in the pants they needed.

Sinful in Snow by Laura Wright
Gabriel Fox used to live in Holly, North Carolina as a teen but after Carol Cardini interferes it costs him the only home he ever knew. Now he’s a millionaire and back in town to ruin not only Carol’s Christmas but her life.

Out of the six stories, I couldn’t quite connect with this one and I felt it went way too fast for what the plot was. Gabriel went from harboring this dark rage inside to this happy go lucky guy in the blink of an eye. I think this story could have been a longer one due to the time it would have taken Carol to break through Gabriel’s shell and show him that she in fact, didn’t ruin his life. I think I would have found the romance more believable if it hadn’t been such an abrupt about face in Gabriel’s attitude. Still, there were some really heated moments between the two that made Sinful in Snow an okay read.

Home Advantage by Skye Jordan
NHL superstar Meier Grant is back home in Holly to recuperate from an injury and hopefully survive his family’s plans to capitalize on his fame. When he runs into high school “It” girl Faith Nicholas he’s pleasantly surprised (sort of) that she seems to have no idea who he is.

As swamped as she was with her late father’s hardware store, Faith still finds a smile for everyone, even the persistent Meier. I loved how strong Faith was and how she was determined to survive the tough times on her own, it made her romance with Meier more enjoyable because she didn’t see him as a white knight to save her or take her away from her problems. Faith also gave Meier a much needed humility check with her “I don’t know who you are” attitude. It let Meier know that his superstar status was not going to get him anywhere with this woman and he had to become Meier the man, not the hockey player. FYI, I liked Meier the man a whole lot better.

Final Verdict: I loved how each story and its characters were connected through more than just the setting of Holly, North Carolina yet each author’s contribution was uniquely their own. I’m so happy they didn’t skip out on the heat level even though this collection is a Christmas themed collection. Now, one character that appeared in almost all the stories was the town sheriff, Brad Fulton. At first he was kind of portrayed as an ex-boyfriend who couldn’t take no for an answer but later as a really stand up kind of guy. What I wanna know is, which author does he belong to and will we see him again?

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