According to the preface of the book, the “nice” stories are
- Holiday Sparks by Shannon Stacey
- All She Wants for Christmas by Jaci Burton
and the naughty ones are
- Unwrapped by Megan Hart
- Believe by Lauren Dane
Holiday Sparks by Shannon Stacey. This was one of my December recommended reads. Web designer Chloe Burke is house sitting while her parents take a much needed vacation. Her use of too many electronics at one time leads to circuits being blown and she calls for the local electrician who just happens to be former high school classmate Scott Quinn. Scott had a thing for Chloe when they were in high school but they traveled in different social spheres. His was the geek sphere and hers was the popular sphere.
Chloe decides to give her parents the Christmas present of rewiring the seriously outdated and out of code electrical work in the house. An added benefit is Chloe gets to watch the now very hot Scott Quinn working around her house. Scott and Chloe end up not being able to keep their hands off each other, but both know that the holiday romance will be short lived. Chloe hates small town living and Scott has roots deep in the community. The resolution to the romance conflict is fairly clear from the outset but in the short story setting, the lack of tension driving the story forward doesn’t impair the readability particularly because as a reader I wanted these two nice, normal people to end up together. The flavor of the small town, the good on screen chemistry, and the likeability of the main protagonists all contribute to a very satisfying holiday read. B
All She Wants for Christmas by Jaci Burton. Country singer Riley Jensen returns to her hometown in Missouri to shoot scenes for an upcoming film biography about her life. Riley’s conflicted about her return mostly because her hometown doesn’t represent a good period in her life. She lived in a foster home there; fell in love with Ethan Kent; found him in bed with her best friend; and fled. A return home dredges up painful memories that are exacerbated when she is confronted by the daughter of her best friend and former boyfriend/love of her life. Note: Best friend is now dead clearing way for a reunited lovers story with former boyfriend. What I didn’t like was how guilty Riley felt about leaving her hometown behind her and how Ethan was a jerk to her for most of the book. True, Riley did write out her feelings of betrayal and loss in her music thus subjecting Ethan to evil looks throughout the town but I don’t think Ethan’s feelings of ostracism were well articulated. In other words, I never felt sorry for Ethan and thus never felt like he should be the one with the attitude. I wanted better for Riley. C
Unwrapped by Megan Hart. I may be the only non Megan Hart fan around. I often find her work to be too cold and sometimes too affected but I found this short story to be very sweet which might be at odds with its naughty designation. Maybe I’ve read too many erotic romances, but I didn’t find Unwrapped to be particularly naughty either. The story doesn’t have much romantic conflict. It is more of a few scenes between a married couple as they explore a sexual fantasy together. There is a lot of internal narration by Leah about their fantasies and their sex life and I kept thinking that there was a point to it all but I wasn’t sure what the point was. It seemed conflicting at times. It’s a femdom story, but written in a way that only alludes to the dominance aspect. In fact, some of the story seemed to address the idea of why femdom might make someone uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure what to think about the differentiation between Leah and Brandon finding pleasure in the submission/domination aspects but not enjoying the “lifestyle.” I.e., was it a condemnation of those who refer to it as a lifestyle? Or an admonition against those who try to categorize people’s sexual proclivities? Leah, in her internal narration, pointed out that they enjoyed a veritable cornucopia of sexual fantasies and yet, they primarily were into Leah giving the orders to Brandon. One fantasy Brandon had was to be the one to take the lead because of the pleasure of not being in charge was one he wanted Leah to experience. In all, the scenes are hot and Brandon and Leah are very loving together. I just wasn’t sure I got everything the author intended for me to get from the story. B-
I did not read Believe by Lauren Dane as it is a continuation of a couple who star in Second Chances. It is a BDSM story, I believe (I glanced through it) but as I had read Second Chances and really didn’t love the characters in there, I decided to skip Believe.
All four can be purchased separately or you can buy them in one package at a reduced price. I am only putting up the links for the book package as a whole because it is easier for me.