Source: a gift from author Laura K. Curtis
Release Date: November 10th, 2016
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Blurb from goodreads:
Modern women can have it all, they say. But "they" don't ever explain how. All too often, love gets sacrificed to careers, to children, to art. In these five brand new stories, women from all walks of life discover love long after having given it up for lost.
This anthology contains:
“The Christmas Pony” by Sarah M. Anderson
What’s Alice supposed to do with a pony? The teacher only knows the animal was left on her porch right before Christmas. Then handsome Animal Control Officer Kirk Douglas shows up, asking questions that Alice prefers not to answer. But even the mystery surrounding the animal’s origins can’t stop the holiday spark that ignites between Alice and Kirk. Can their attraction survive ugly-sweater parties, well-meaning relatives and the Christmas pony?
“Midnight Clear” by Ros Clarke
A year ago, Alison had it all: a husband, a family, and a purpose in life. But now, following a painful divorce, everything’s changed. She doesn’t know where her life is going, and her faith is as wobbly as her lopsided Christmas tree.
When she’s bowled over by an enthusiastic Irish setter in the park, and the rather gorgeous older man on the end of his lead, she’s not expecting more than a quick coffee and the mud brushed off her coat. Certainly not a Christmas like she’s never had before, full of peace, joy, and maybe even love?
“Sparks” by Laura K. Curtis
Kate Bellows has no room for weakness if she’s going to pull JanCo Moving out of the hole its in and create a solid career for herself. Her carefully-laid plans, however, are no match for the fire that burns her house to the ground. With few options, she accepts an offer to spend Christmas with the volunteer firefighter who’d injured himself trying to save her house.
But there are two major problems with staying in Adam Miller’s spare room over the holidays. First, he works and JanCo and there’s a good chance she will have to fire him. Second, he’s entirely too attractive, and Kate Bellows has neither time nor taste for romance.
“The Longest Night” by Yasmine Galenorn
The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year, and the past few years have been dark for Merilee Johansson. After an acerbic divorce, Merilee moved to Starwood, a small mountain town devoted to the arts. Here, she hopes to heal from the wounds life has left on her heart and her self-esteem. What she doesn’t expect is for Chris Hunter to enter her life, bringing the promise of love on the darkest night of the year.
“A Taste of Blessings” by Suleikha Snyder
For Tiya Chatterjee, coming home for one of her community’s most joyous celebrations, Durga Puja, means coming home to her mom’s disapproval, nosy aunties…and a crush on a man who shouldn’t even be on her radar.
For divorced father-of-two Arnav Biswas, the three-day festival is a chance to keep his culture alive for his kids — not an opportunity to flirt with a beautiful woman who isn’t meant for him.
Fortunately, fate has other plans for Arnav and Tiya, who must learn that giving thanks to a powerful goddess means acknowledging the unstoppable power of love.
I received this book as a gift, with no expectation of a review, though I knew I wanted to review it at some point in time. The other night, feeling stressed and overwhelmed, I picked it up to read, ignoring everything I should have been doing and the review books I should have been reading. The book hit the spot, and I decided to squeeze in a review.
What initially caught my interest about this book was that it's about 'older' couples, people 40 or older. Now, in the real world. that's middle age but in romanceland, that's practically ancient. Its rare for women over 30, much less 40, to see themselves as main characters in romances. The anthology offered up a nice range of ages from 40 up to 60, both the men and the women. Some of the leads are childless, some have children, some are divorced (interestingly, no widowers or widows) and a couple never been married.
The other appealing factor for me was that not all of the stories are Christmas stories; there's a Winter Solstice story and, a new to me holiday, a Durga Puja story. I love learning about other holidays so that was a plus for me.
All of the stories tied in with the themes of the book and I enjoyed all but one of the stories. Curtis is the only author here I've read before but I'd heard of the other authors. Also, the sex varies from non-existent to off the page to steamy.
The Longest Night by Yasmine Galenorn - A sweet, low-key, conflict free romance. Nice to see a Winter Solstice celebration instead of the usual Christmas celebration, and to see it treated as normal and not unusual. 3 stars
Sparks by Laura K. Curtis - A lovely romance between two adults, both divorced, who also happen to work at the same company. Also, smexy fireman! Real problems, sweet romance, wonderful characters, and a nice small-town feel. 3.5 stars
The Christmas Pony by Sarah M. Anderson -Sweet, slightly sappy, cute, and funny. I learned something new in this story too as I'd never heard of a Quarter Pony. I had to look it up to see if it was real (it is). 3 stars
Midnight Clear by Ros Clarke - I think this just might be my favorite. Sweet, sweet story that's not sappy and with a delightful older couple. My church is looking for a new minister, I wonder if Peter would convert? Also, this was the only story not set in the US. 4 stars
A Taste of Blessings by Suleikha Snyder - Slow, slow, slooooooow. I dozed off numerous times while reading it. The build up to the romance was much too long with seemingly insurmountable challenges and then POOF! those challenges fall away, just not believable. 2 stars