Book Blurb: A Twist on Tradition
A woman has the Christmas Eve from Hell. Two cat shifters play naughty games. And a witch brings out the beast inside the man. The magic of the season takes on a whole new meaning in these three fantastic—and festive—novellas from some of the best voices in paranormal romance.
Anthology includes: Tangled Tinsel by Vivian Arend
No Angel by Vivi Andrews
Freeze Line by Moira Rogers
Stories also available for purchase separately.
My Thoughts: The anthology has a very fluid theme of wishes made at the holidays. The fluidity allows for some flexibility in how the stories are handled. Two of the authors chose Christmas and one chose Solstice. Interestingly, in each story the male needs saving of some kind - emotional, physical, etc. In all of the stories, the characters undergo revelations and grow and change. That's a pretty neat trick for a novella.
Five miles of leather-clad leg is all it takes to lure Kyle Branegan out from his carefully hidden lifestyle as part of the Cougar Corp, a secret branch of the Shifter Enforcer League. He's hoping for a night of fun and frolic, cat-style, no strings attached. With a sultry swing of her hips, Eloise Scott tangles him up in her ball of tricks, and just when he thinks he's about to get lucky, she cuffs him--naked--to her bed.
An undercover cop in the human police force, El's been given a top-secret mission to keep the big cat under her paw until he's needed to testify in court in the New Year. Her decision to take him home for a quiet Christmas in her sleepy hometown turns out to be far more interesting than she expected. Her parents are suddenly rich, her old boyfriend is sniffing around and all six-feet-plus of sexy cougar male is sleeping in her bed.
And that's before they announce their fake engagement...
This author was new to me. I had never heard of her before. The story felt to me like it was part of a series, set in an established world. I was sometimes lost trying to understand the world. According to her website it's a stand alone, with nothign to indicate that it fits into an existing world. So on the one hand, Arend did a good job of building the world to make it feel so real, but on the other hand, it left me, the reader, confused.
The story starts very quickly with Kyle following El to a lingerie store after seeing her walk by him. There's a humorous bit involving him imitating a store clerk followed by a steamy make out scene in the store fitting room. They head back to some place a little more private, her place, where Kyle is completely surprised by what happens next.
At times I found Kyle to be overbearing and condescending, traits that I don't care for in real life or fiction. At other times, he was kind and thoughtful. El is emotionally strong except when it comes to her family. She loves them at teh same time she doesn't understand them and avoids visiting.
Together, Kyle and El help each other out and discover new things about each other and their families. Despite that, I had a hard time connecting to the characters. Add that to my confusion about the world and it was my least favorite of the stories.
This novella had the most explicit, and frequent, sexual scenes. (Not a bad thing, just FYI)
When Sasha's boyfriend Jay is sucked through a fiery vortex to Hell, an angel reveals that she's been chosen as the Champion of Virtue in the battle for his immortal soul. As a perennial offender on Santa's naughty list, Sasha can't believe she's anyone's idea of a girl fighting on the side of the angels. But if she doesn't save Jay, he'll be stuck in Hell forever!
Jay aka Jevroth isn't surprised to find himself back in Hell. His visa to visit the mortal plane expired three months ago, but to steal more time with Sasha he's been ignoring his mother's demands to come home to meet his new stepfather: Lucifer.
Sasha has until dawn on the 25th of December to fight the Legions of Hell and rescue Jay, or be trapped there for eternity herself. But now she must decide if the lying, son-of-a-demon is even worth saving...
I was hesitant about this story; angels and demons aren't my favorite supernatural beings and the premise seemed fake. To my surprise, I liked the story a lot. It has humor, tension, romance, a glimpse into Hollywood, and two very likable leads. The story flowed right along, never moving too fast or too slow and both Jay and Sasha feel like people you might know in your every day life. Now how many demons can you say that about? :D
I really liked how both Jay and Sasha tried to be their "best" selves with each other, instead of their real selves. As a result, neither knows the other very well and when they go to Hell, the truth comes out. To the surprise of both of them, they like each other's real selves much better than who they pretended to be with each other. Andrews doesn't hit us over the head with the message but works it skillfully into the story.
A surprise for me was how likable, and pleasant even, Satan was. Yes, he is The Prince of Lies, but he's also a guy dealing with a conniving wife and a reluctant stepson. Even demons have family problems. Andrews was a new-to-me author and after reading this story, I'll be looking for more by her.
One fairly graphic sex scene towards the end.
A twenty-first century ice age dulls the magic that emanates from the earth. Shane Sullivan is a lone wolf above the freeze line; He has no desire to join the packs that range closer to the border, where feral instincts can turn a man into a monster. Not until the winter solstice, when he stumbles across a dying witch who needs his help to get back to her people--and her magic--in the south.
Nadia is a powerful woman in her own world, but drained by her escape from captivity in a northern lab. She knows it's foolhardy to trust a werewolf, but he's her only chance to survive the vast white wilderness. The farther south they travel, the harder it is for Shane to keep the beast within under control, and as their mutual attraction intensifies, Nadia's no longer sure she wants him to.
I had the pleasure, thanks to a friend and Twitter, of discovering the wonderful writing team who make up Moira Rogers just a few months ago. I'm also very fond of werewolves and witches, they are my favorite supernaturals, so I was pretty sure I'd enjoy this story. I did.:)
Shane is a decent man dealing, the best way he can think of, with the changes in his life since becoming a werewolf. Nadia is a woman, a witch, just trying to survive. Together, they help each out, saving each other's lives and healing their emotional wounds. I liked how Rogers didn't rush matters between them but let it build. Despite the fact that I am not a werewolf, nor, rumors to the contrary, a witch, I was able to connect with both Shane and Nadia. I cared about them and wanted to see what would happen.
The world building in this one also felt like a pre-existing world but not so much so that I was lost. As far as I can tell, it's the only story in this world but I'd like to see more.
Contains several sex scenes of varying graphicness. (I have to say, the Rogers team does an awesome job of writing sex scenes; they have become one of my favorites.)
Overall, this is a solid anthology, with each story worth reading.
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: November 6, 2010
More info: goodreads
This book was received from NetGalley as an eARC.