Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

REVIEW: Heating Up the Holidays by Marcia James

Dear Ms. James,

I enjoy a good ‘second chance at romance’ story and the blurb, which mentioned the heroine standing in as an elf and later corralling kittens, sounded cute so I gave “Heating Up the Holidays” a shot. Mrs. Giggles 83 grade review didn’t hurt either.

Heating up the Holidays by Marcia JamesNicky Paxton and Chris Spencer have 13 years of history. They were hot and heavy in high school but when, after a heated argument about their futures, Chris left Virginia for sunny SoCal while Nicky stayed to attend UVA, they parted company. There Chris got married and had a daughter but after his divorce and his wife’s death, he decided to move back home and set up his own law practice.

When Nicky first sees Chris, it’s not the way she would have planned it – with her looking all sexy and with a wedding ring. Instead she’s filling in for a sick elf at her family’s department store while the kiddies meet Santa. And while she’d just as soon avoid seeing Chris until he – she mistakenly believes – heads back to California, he’s determined to see if the zing of attraction he immediately feels for her is something left over from their teenage romance or if it might just be the real adult thing.

This is more a novella but it’s a perfect size for fitting in between wrapping presents and making eggnog. Since Nicky and Chris already have a history, you can get right down to exploring their continuing attraction for each other. I like that Nicky hasn’t spent the last 13 years of her life pining for a man with whom she only shared one passionate kiss. I hate stories like that as they make the characters involved seem rather pathetic. Instead, these two shared some hot sexing back in the day and in the meantime, Nicky has been open to dating and finding someone else.

I also like that it’s Chris who engineers a lot of their encounters and is the driving force for them getting back together. His mother, who gooses Chris a bit in the “go after her, you fool” department, is delightful as well. She knows who she wants as a second daughter-in-law and she’s going to make sure her son delivers.

Holly, Chris’s daughter, is important in some scenes though you avoid making her too cutesy or cloying. Having two built-in baby-sitters in the persons of her grandparents gives you the opportunity to allow Chris and Nicky to reopen their sexual relationship in steamy ways so I’d say she does, more or less, ultimately fall into the category of a plot moppet.

You manage to suck me into Chris and Nicky’s budding reromance despite the relatively short length of the story. The writing is good, it’s got humorous moments, Chris and Nicky don’t stay locked in a misunderstanding and once that is cleared up, their relationship moves forward – albeit at light speed. Like I said, it’s a great little holiday truffle. B


Book Link | Liquid Silver

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. Christine M.
    Dec 20, 2010 @ 12:54:36

    And do I love me some truffles! *winks*

    Sold. :)

  2. Marcia James
    Dec 20, 2010 @ 14:27:39

    Hi, Jayne! Thanks for reading and reviewing my Christmas novella, Heating Up the Holidays. I had a great time writing it. ;-)

    Hope you have a Happy Holiday filled with lots of good times and presents.
    — Marcia ;-)

  3. ka
    Dec 20, 2010 @ 15:22:06

    I’ve heard great things about Marcia – thanks for the review!

  4. Jayne
    Dec 20, 2010 @ 15:29:35

    @Christine M.: Truffles are the best. No, wait…peppermint bark…hold on, english toffee…oh, no it’s something with caramel. Sigh…

    It formatted to a little over 90 pages on my Sony reader so it’s a quick bite of fun whatever your favorite candy sin.

  5. Jayne
    Dec 20, 2010 @ 15:30:28

    @Marcia James: Oh, look at your avatar! I wondered why the choice of Chinese Crested for the story.

  6. Jamie Michele
    Dec 20, 2010 @ 16:47:15

    What about the kittens?

  7. Christine M.
    Dec 20, 2010 @ 20:38:16

    @Jayne: I love me just about any sweets but caramel’s best. Truffles however, are treats I tend to enjoy once a year whereas caramel is my year-round go to sweet comfort food. *g*

    And 90 pages sounds like a perfect evening read before hitting the bed. Gotta love it. =)

  8. Jayne
    Dec 20, 2010 @ 20:46:27

    @Jamie Michele: The kittens were a one time deal when her store was having a “get your pet’s picture taken with Santa” deal. One determined Siamese kitten decided to check out the rest of the holiday display.

%d bloggers like this: