Holiday Sparks by Shannon Stacey
Chloe lives in Boston but is back in her hometown house-sitting for her parents while they are out of town on a cruise. Not realizing the state of disrepair her parent’s house and its electrical wiring is in; she inadvertently blows a fuse and has to make an after-hours call to a local electrician. Conveniently, Scott Quinn is available and eager to make a house call. He and Chloe went to high school together and he had a huge crush on her back then. He’s dying to know if she is still as hot as she was back in high school. Scott’s look has change a bit since his less-than-cool high school days so Chloe doesn’t remember him from. When they reconnect though, the sparks fly. After Scott’s inspection of the electrical wiring, Chloe decides an update is in order and hires Scott to do the job creating a perfect opportunity for them to spend a great deal of time together and see what comes of their mutual attraction.
This is the first time I’ve read anything by Shannon Stacey and this is my favorite of the four stories in this anthology. Right from the beginning the chemistry between Chloe and Scott is evident and so fun. I loved Quinn’s internal dialogue as he tries to remain cool on the outside, while on the inside he is high-fiving and chest bumping himself at his good fortune at possibly getting an opportunity to realize all his Chloe-induced teenage fantasies. Chloe is taken with how good looking and genuinely nice Scott is and although she doesn’t remember who he is as first, I think she finds him even more attractive once she finally remembers him. What was supposed to be a fun casual fling quickly turns into something much more as Scott and Chloe get reacquainted. But pursing anything more than a casual fling is complicated by geography since Chloe lives in Boston and Scott is settled firmly in small town living.
Holiday Sparks is a fun, and very romantic story. While there were no complicated, emotional obstacles to overcome, I still felt myself pulling for Chloe and Scott to finally admit their feelings for one another and grab that happily ever after that was right there—just within their grasp—if they would just seize it! Fist bump Scott!
All She Wants for Christmas by Jaci Burton
Riley Jensen left her hometown ten years ago alone and broken hearted after finding her boyfriend Ethan and her best friend Amanda in bed together. She moved to Nashville to pursue a country music singing career and became very successful. Now, she is back in town for the first time in ten years and nervous about coming face to face with her past and the people that betrayed her. Unbeknownst to Riley, Amanda passed away and now Ethan is raising their daughter alone. When Ethan and Riley come face to face the memories, and chemistry come flooding back and they are both forced to face the pain of the past and find a way to reconcile the relationship that ended so abruptly.
This is yet another first read author for me and I very much enjoyed this emotional novella. The characters were solid and although they are dealing with some very heavy topics, they remained firmly grounded as they worked through their issues and came to terms with their past mistakes. In what seems like impossible obstacles to overcome, somehow love finds a way in this second chances romance. I will definitely be reading more from Jaci Burton in the future.
Unwrapped by Megan Hart
Newlyweds, Leah and Brandon are spending their first Christmas as a married couple at a ski resort in Colorado. While they have clearly defined roles in their erotic bedroom play—Leah is dominate and Brandon is very happy to serve her needs—they have a very nicely balanced relationship outside of the bedroom. When Leah is injured on the slopes she insists Brandon continue to enjoy his outdoor activities while she convalesces in the lodge. She begins to reflect on their lives and realizes that change is inevitable and she wonders how this will affect their future.
This story is a follow-up for Taking Care Of Business and No Reservations. Megan Hart writes emotionally powerful erotic stories and in reading this novella it is clear this couple has history. But, having not read the preceding two books I was unaware of their full story and so I think that is perhaps the reason this erotic romance did not appeal to me in the way most of Megan Hart’s books usually do. The sex is plentiful and very erotic but Ms. Hart has set the bar very high for herself in her brand of erotic romance with the multiple layers and emotional depth she weaves into her stories. While this was an enjoyable, very erotic story, I feel like I would have enjoyed this one much more if I had read Leah and Brandon’s full story first since I didn’t fully connect with their characters or understand the depth of their relationship.
Believe by Lauren Dane
Believe is a follow up to Lauren Dane’s emotionally charged, Second Chances. I was excited to read this novella since I enjoyed Jude and Rori’s story and I was eager to find out what happened after “the end”.
Jude and Rori have been through hell and back together and now their lives have finally settled into happiness. They are all about family but they are eager to create some Christmas memories and traditions of their own so Jude plans a Christmas getaway to a secluded cabin where they can be alone and celebrate in their own special way. Jude and Rori have a Dom/sub sexual relationship and this getaway is the perfect opportunity to enjoy their unconventional erotic play. They’ll have plenty of privacy and Jude has a special surprise planned for Rori.
Lauren Dane creates genuinely good solid characters and Rori and Jude are no exception. They are such likable characters and their love for one another comes through so clearly that the erotic scenes seem natural and believable. It was a pleasure to get a peek into their lives after their story and I was happy in the way this follow-up played out for them.
I really enjoyed this anthology featuring two new-to-me authors and two favorites as well. Although it has been billed as a Christmas read, I would recommend Naughty and Nice for any time of the year if you’re looking for sweet love stories and some naughtiness mixed in for good measure.
Naughty And Nice by Jaci Burton, Shannon Stacey, Megan Hart and Lauren Dane
December 6th 2010 by Carina Press
Source: Net Galley