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Christmas

REVIEW:  Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham

REVIEW: Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham

mine-under-the-mistletoe

Thanks to a transatlantic house swap, California girl Ashley Turner is finally going to fulfill her lifelong dream of a proper English Christmas. Her holiday plans did not include a sexy stranger climbing into her borrowed bed in the middle of the night. But in the light of day, Ashley can’t help but wonder if Santa has delivered early…

Game designer Oliver Stansfeld can’t wait to leave dreary London—and all its difficult holiday memories—for sunny San Diego. But a freak ice storm and a grounded plane have forced him back to his already-occupied flat. To make up for the mix-up, the least he can do is show his pretty houseguest where to get the perfect Christmas tree before he leaves.

The more time they spend together, the more their attraction grows, and soon Ashley is tempting Oliver to give in to the spirit of the season and snuggle up for the rest of the winter. As the ice melts and flights start taking off again, he must choose between giving in to the past or risking his heart on a chance at love.

Dear Ms. Latham,

While drumming my fingers as I (impatiently) wait for the follow-up to “Knowing the Score” (hint, hint), I decided to see if you had any other offerings at Carina. Yay, you did and I caught it just in time to add to our holiday novella reviews. Christmas in London – what could be better? Well, as it turns out, falling in love during Christmas in London.

The opening set up is reminiscent of the film “The Holiday” wherein international house swapping goes awry. Oh, if only a super gorgeous, single, nice English guy ended up naked in bed with all visiting super cute, single American women – I think the British Tourism agencies need to look into this pronto. It’s not exactly a meet cute since there is a bollocks kicking as Ashley isn’t a helpless female and poor Ollie was so knackered from a fruitless wait on the tarmac at Heathrow before they called it a day that he didn’t realize there was a Goldilocks in his bed. Things just had to improve from there.

Ashley’s efforts to achieve a picture perfect Dicken’s Christmas seemed a tad schmaltzy at first, though hints are provided for the reason, until the grand reveal at the end but Ollie goes along with it and decides to help show around the pretty American whose knickers he’d like to get into. His reasons for trying to avoid the holiday cheer also make sense and they’re are a bit more fleshed out earlier in the story. I liked that the fact that both characters actually open themselves up and tell these dark, past issues to each other is used as a step forward in the relationship.

What seemed trotted out from angst plotting central is Ollie’s almost split second relationship panic leading to his decision to bolt just when the plot required it as was his change of heart and reversal a short time later. If Ashley and Ollie had more time together before this happened, I wouldn’t be quite so nitpicky but it felt more rote than real.

I did enjoy the virtual experience of Christmas in London which managed to avoid all the tacky tourist traps. The flower market would be wonderful to wander through as would the stalls of arty knickknacks. And Panto – well, who knew? Are there any youtube entries of this because it sounds like something I just have to see. Also thank you for letting Ollie be a commoner. Sometimes I get the impression that every other Brit is a Sir or Lord Something.

The wait for the next entry of your rugby series might seem endless but this helped it go by a little faster. The trip to London and English holiday traditions was fun even if the romance didn’t quite hit the spot. C+

~Jayne

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REVIEW:  Let It Snow by Erica Ridley

REVIEW: Let It Snow by Erica Ridley

Let-it-snow

Adventurer Lance Desmond needs to produce a fortune before his arch-rival collects the bounty on his head. He risks an ancient curse to retrieve treasure hidden within icebound Castle Cavanaugh, only to become trapped inside. Not with the gold he so desperately needs, but with medieval Princess Marigold who’s been cooling her heels since . . . well, medieval times.

The lonely princess refuses to acknowledge the blossoming attraction between them. Not just because she deserves a better future than a penniless rogue. But because at midnight, he’ll vanish like all her other would-be heroes. And the evergreen in the parlor will have one more figurine hanging from its boughs . .

Dear Ms. Ridley,

After attempting to read and failing to finish another of your novellas, I doubted I’d be trying another. I’m sure you probably didn’t want me to either. Nevertheless, something about the blurb for “Let It Snow” brought to mind another paranormal novella I’d read years ago that featured a cursed heroine and a hero who set her free. I liked that one and hoped that similar blurb = similar outcome. And what the heck, as far as time commitment we weren’t talking about one of those epic fantasy tomes that gives you back strain just lifting it. So … onward and off we go.

I was delighted from the first chapter. What a weird, wonderful mix of fantasy and smart phones. Swashbuckling and Candy Crush. And there are apps to handle all those dusty old magic spell books – beats having to get those cranky, huge metal hasps open whenever you want to spell someone! Lance and his best guy buddy Sancho are hilarious as they discuss how Lance can earn quick cash and buy off the bounty hunter who’s set a price on Lance’s head. No way will Lance forgo his beloved dream of owning a pirate ship and sell it off, plus he’s in an installment plan with it and can’t get his money back before paying it all off.

With no better plan and despite Sancho’s misgivings, Lance decides to go on an adventure – he lives for that stuff anyway so why not make some quick dough – to the enchanted, iced over Castle which is said to hold a golden treasure. A grappling hook, some wall blasting, pseudo light sabers and lots of chutzpah, that’s all he needs. How hard can this be?

Very hard, as Lance discovers. Oh, it’s easy to get into the castle but like Hotel California, you can never leave. Actually a worse fate awaits him only Princess Marigold hasn’t the heart to tell him exactly what. Once she’s broken the news to him that “no the walls aren’t made of ice and they can’t be melted and if he keeps hurling himself at the now solid wall where the door was, he’ll hurt himself even more than he already has” she thinks she’s dumped enough bad news on him for one day. And if he knows how little time he has left, he might go mad or spend the last hours in a useless, panic filled frenzy.

Since Lance is the first person to take the news of his imprisonment with a laugh, and the first person to ask her about who she’s become after 600 years of living there and not concentrate on what she can do for him but on who she is, and he’s optimistic, and funny and he introduces her to the wonder of a Snickers bar, she knows it will break her heart when he disappears at the stroke of midnight – just like everybody else.

I loved this section of Lance and Marigold getting to know each other. Lance is an alright guy. He takes everything in stride, looks on the bright side and is determined to make Marigold’s birthday something special. He wants to give her the gift of happiness and once he’s made her laugh and lit her face up with a smile, he decides he could get used to doing that every day. Meanwhile Marigold is a woman after my own heart, an ereader with the promise of endless books to read makes her practically giddy. Through her revelations to Lance about life in the Castle for the past 600 years, he sees just how strong a person she is and marvels at her endurance.

But is there a hope in hell for them? The curse has lasted for centuries and although Lance is proving resilient, they’re still on the wrong side of the walls. Which is where that magic spells book that Sancho pushed on Lance might come in handy but only if between the two of them, they can discover what it really is that has kept Marigold a prisoner for all these years. Will she trust Lance enough to let go and thus earn her freedom and that of so many others?

Okay, this part had me sniffling. Anyone who’s ever lost someone and faced the rest of their life without them will know what Marigold faces, accepts and rises above. Lance is right about her being strong and having learned a thing or two over the years. And just when I’d worked through the hanky I had been using to dab my eyes, along comes a funny scene to wind everything up and send our two lovebirds on their beginning lifelong adventures. B

~Jayne

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