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Search tags: christmas-holiday-theme
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review 2017-01-26 02:11
The Winter Spirit by Indra Vaughn
The Winter Spirit - Indra Vaughn
I absolutely love the story, love the fairy-tale setting of "I love you" conquers death and evil evil relatives. Love the snowed-in isolated dwellings, love googly-eyed couples. Love characters damaged and hurt by former lovers/spouses.

The problem for me here is the length of the book. Not enough Owen. Not enough of the lovey-dovey couple (there were adorbs!), not enough Nate's history, not enough Nate/Gabriel interaction prior to the events. I hope some day the author will expand and build upon this story. But right now I have to take a star (maybe even a star and then some) for missed opportunities.

In the end it still mounts up to 4 stars.
Thank you for a cozy winter/holiday miracle read, Indra! :)

PS Oh, and I love the cover, too! :D

===========

Found Gabriel and Heath :D

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review 2017-01-11 03:18
Old Loyalty, New Love (L'Ange #1) by Mary Calmes
Old Loyalty, New Love - Mary Calmes

I am not sure why Roman had to be set on fire. Mary Calmes already set him up with such a tragic family history, you think "WTF? Give the kid a break." Right? NO - Off With His Face!
But what is the purpose of this ...exercise? Kids in college couldn't care less about his scars. Everyone in the state of Maine (and beyond) still wants Roman. His injured face does not pose any difficulties to him, once he stopped the surgeries. He himself sometimes uses it for 'shocking' purposes or excuses when he doesn't want to talk to people.
i dunno, i dunno.... will keep reading. maybe it will make sense somewhere down the road.

UPDATE
I get it now. The pack accepts you. YOU. Not what you look like. The appearances don't matter. You're not damaged unless you can't hunt or contribute in any other way.
So, what if we have an ex-marine (for example), big and strong in no way physically damaged, except for a severe PTSD? Let's put another character through hell, so we can learn the ways of the pack when someone looks perfect but can't contribute, shall we? We'll have a manual on jackal shifters in no time by dragging people through pain and suffering.

Don't get me wrong, I love most of Mary's books, it's just this one seems to me unusually cruel. She has this meaninglessly mean (a sad 'ha-ha') streak that pops up every once in a while in her fiction. As much as I loved the first two Change of Heart books, #3 & #4 got 2 stars from me for that same reason. Jin, a cute lovable boy, was turned into something hateful, fearful and highly unpleasant. No wonder he didn't want to get mated in book one, he knew. Look where it got him.

That said, I do read books where the characters are damaged physically or emotionally or both, that doesn't bother me. But I am uber cautious now when it comes to reading Mary Calmes. Sad days :(

PS Forgot to mention: it ticks me off that the tragedy (actually many tragedies) that befalls Roman serves a singular purpose - to support one and one character only, Quade, who did not have live through the horror of it personally or even deal with it much. At least not the way Mary Calmes describes it. We only have a couple of tiny little peeks of how boys dealt with it. A brush off, no more :/

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review 2016-02-06 02:45
"A Fighting Chance" by Shannon Stacey
A Fighting Chance - Shannon Stacey

I love Shannon Stacey because her stories are so familiar (because they're set where I live, in northern New England), and so low-drama. Real people working through real conflicts, in a way that is refreshingly, well, real.  

 

However, "A Fighting Chance" is not Stacey's best. I didn't connect with this one at all, probably because it's novella-length and just too short to feel invested in the characters. Del goes to a casino for a bachelorette weekend with her girlfriends, and meets up with The One Who Got Away... or rather, the guy who dumped her and broke her heart for no good reason. Brendan moonlights as an MMA fighter, and he's got a fight at the casino that same weekend. They see each other in the lobby, meet for coffee and cookies, and basically fall into bed together, old flame rekindled. 

 

The story was just too short to have any nuanced character or plot development. Del works, but who knows what she does. She's from an upper middle class background and Brendan's blue collar, and we're told that is the source of the conflict that ruined their first relationship, but the story doesn't really give us any sense of how class issues impacted their relationship in the past, so as to get a sense of whether anything much has changed now. Del and Brendan both have families and friends, but they don't really contribute anything to the storyline except the occasional mention to move the plot along. 

 

If you want to check out Shannon Stacey (and you should), try Exclusively Yours, instead. 

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review 2016-01-31 20:35
"Pairing Off" by Elizabeth Harmon
Pairing Off - Elizabeth Harmon

I picked this up on sale at Amazon this week, and I really enjoyed it. It's kind of like that 90s skating movie, "The Cutting Edge," except the plot's a little more complex. Yet it certainly targets the same audience, and it hits the same sweet spots. 

 

I was skeptical when the hero and heroine hook up in a coat room at a party in Amsterdam during the prologue, because while I'm no prude, I think a drunken one night stand is generally not a good way to start a relationship. I kept an open mind and kept going, and the story improved. Years later, Anton (Russian) and Carrie (American) are reunited after each is betrayed by their long-time skating partner. In order to salvage their careers, they partner with each other, even though it means Carrie has to move from balmy Georgia (US) to frigid Moscow and become a Russian citizen. After a rough start, they find their skating styles compliment one another far more than the styles of their prior partners, and they begin enjoying their sport and excelling at it more than ever before. 

 

"Pairing Off" employs a TON of romance tropes: kiss-kiss/slap-slap love-to-hate-em initial tension, ruined reputation (Carrie's), mistaken identity (it takes Anton forEVER to realize Carrie is "Amsterdam Girl"), fish out of water (Carrie is an outsider in Moscow), damsel in distress, infidelity (Anton's), sabotage by ex-lovers (both), tragic past (Carrie's), marriage of convenience, sports rivalry, secondary romance between supporting characters, and probably several others I'm forgetting. Still, they're all woven together in a way that feels fresh and keeps the plot moving along, though the romance itself is fairly slow-burning. 

 

This was certainly well worth the $1.99 I paid for it, and I will seek out Elizabeth Harmon's work again. 

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review 2016-01-02 16:27
Last Holiday Read of the Season?
Angel: an erotic short story - Victoria Dahl

I'd never read any of Victoria Dahl's historical work before, but this novella was free, so I gave it a whirl. This story, about an octoroon prostitute in New Orleans whose Irish client/lover offers her a fresh start out west, is short and tamer than the marketing might suggest, but it serves it's purpose in that I'll probably read on in the series.

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