Five Fantastic Festive Romances Recently Reviewed
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Whether you’re a fan of Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or Festivus, there’s no denying that there’s something magical about the holiday season. In addition to all the real-life family fun, it’s the perfect backdrop for countless timeless stories – from It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol and A Christmas Story to the ultimate holiday-themed tale of all time – Die Hard.
In the lead-up to the holidays, Hidden Gems shared a few festive-themed romance reads with our subscribers – and here are five that you might want to check out to keep you cozy and contented on these chill winter nights.
Worst Holiday Ever by Kilby Blades and others
Okay, hold the eggnog for a second and let’s get real. While I’m raving about the glory of the festive season above, let’s not forget how horrible it can be for some people. Family gatherings fueled by decades-old resentment, cheap alcohol and bad decisions can be as much of a holiday tradition as mistletoe and Christmas carols – and Worst Holiday Ever celebrates that side of the season with a collection of tales centered around ‘family drama.’
The benefit, though, is that these tales have a happy ending – and are penned by some of the most popular authors in the romance business.
In her 5-star review, Margaret-Mary Jaeger writes: “This was just what I needed to start the holiday season off right: witty writing, snarky sayings and characters I could call friends! Shout outs to a few standouts (although all the stories were top-notch) go to Kari Lemor, Kilby Blades and Eva Moore! Well worth the read!”
Reviewer Kai writes: “Just in time for the upcoming holiday season comes a collection of short stories that will make you appreciate your family even more! Recriminations, revelations, and dysfunction collide as loved ones come together for what should be happy times. Some of the stories are extensions of different series, however they are so well-written, they convey a feeling of standalone completeness. Crazy Old Money was one of my favorites among this enjoyable read.”
Winter’s Last Chance by Stacey Wilk
There are two people in this world: People who agree that Die Hard is the best Christmas movie, and people who are wrong. Author Stacey Wilk is clearly in the former camp – and you can tell because she pays a faint homage to that classic Crimbo tale in this thrilling romance novel in her Brotherhood Protectors World series.
It’s the tale of tough-but-vulnerable Serra Weston as she returns to the family ranch in Montana for the season – and a deadly killer opens fire at a holiday party. Fortunately the hero-with-a-heart Lincoln Smith is on the scene to protect her – but he has to face his own darkest secrets to have a chance of saving both their lives.
“Readers who enjoy strong female characters mixed with alpha men and a dash of intrigue will enjoy this story,” writes reviewer shrimp8406. “Lincoln is a strong alpha character. Serra is independent and sassy, and perhaps a bit mean to Lincoln, trying to protect herself from more heartbreak. Watching them work toward their happily ever after was a pleasant read.”
“I really liked this book,” agrees Wendy11. “So much pull and push back between Serra and Lincoln. Attraction, desire, sexual tension and longing all coming up against stubbornness from both sides. Both wanting the same thing but not. Both remaining silent on the feelings cost them dearly.
Well written story with scenes and descriptions that put you right in the action.”
Let It Snow by Jennifer Acres and others
Holly Grove is the “best little town in the country” according to these eight authors – who all set their festive-themed novellas in the same fictional community in this Advent anthology.
Each of the tales is fully-fleshed out and satisfying, and it’s great fun to flit back and forth between the residents as they all deal with the ‘Blizzard of the Century’ in their own entertaining, emotionally-intense way.
“What’s not to like?” Asks reviewer Kelley. “A small Vermont town, eight unique stories with a common theme of an impending blizzard and the lighting of the town’s Christmas tree, and a little bit of something for everyone! All the stories are really fun to read and paint a great picture of a fun little town and what goes on behind closed doors.”
Even cynical reviewer heath1005 gave this collection 5-stars, writing: “This anthology was so much fun to read. 8, emotionally sweet, and perfect stories to snuggle up with for the holidays. The fictional town of Holly Grove was like something out of a Hallmark story. As a forever bah humbug human, I have to say this one definitely gets me a little closer to welcoming the season.”
Hot Winter by Cristiane Serruya
Cristiane Serruya demonstrates why she’s a USA Today best-selling author with Hot Winter, which serves up the classic Christmas combination of a brilliant, steel-willed woman and an infuriatingly sexy and stubborn man. Sprinkle with a dash of instant attraction, and you’ve got yourself a real Christmas cracker here.
Top 1000 Reviewer Emily Pennington gave this tale 5-stars, and writes: “This was a beautiful, enjoyable book for the Christmas season, with good pacing, well developed characters, and a heartwarming powerful story line. It pulls in the Christmas spirit and the miracles that surround us if we take a moment to look around.”
Meggiepoo spots parallels with another Christmas classic: “While this book isn’t explicitly described as a modern-twist on Charles Dickens’ Scrooge, it’s clear within very few pages that’s exactly what it is. Sebastian is 100% Scrooge. Once you get the details on his backstory, it’s easy to see why (seriously, how heartbreaking can one backstory be?) He comes off as a real jerk right up front, but give him time and he’ll grow on you. Barbara has a backstory of her own, and she’s also as stubborn as a mule and as tenacious as a tick. But, in typical Scrooge-story fashion, she’s also someone with a lot of love to give, and a love of the Christmas season. The kids in distress were another Dickensian touch.”
The Sheikh’s Christmas Fling by Leslie North
The original Christmas story was set in the middle east, so perhaps it’s fitting that our final festive recommendation also takes us there – to the fictional kingdom of Maatkare; and the palace of a brooding, sexy Sheikh.
Renowned chef Ana is trying to reclaim her reputation after her restaurant failed, and leaps at the opportunity to prepare a festive feast for the royal family. However, infuriatingly sexy royal Noel needs to give her food his stamp of approval; and winning him over will take more than her incredible cooking.
“The characters are interesting, well-developed and have chemistry,” writes skikern, giving this book a 5-star review. “The story is interesting, well-written and has a happily ever after.”
“I found myself captivated by this story line,” writes JJ. “With these amazingly-crafted characters, you’ll be sure to become as addicted as I was from beginning to end. Ana is not only a recent divorcee, but she also a single mother and in need of a change – and what a change she gets when she travels to another country for a job opportunity! Impress with her culinary skills? No pressure there. Unbeknownst to Ana, she’s about to meet the real man of her dreams, only to have it all ripped away from her. When can anything ever go her way? Can Noel fix it in time? It looks like a Christmas miracle just might be in store for them.”