‘Tis the season for finding passion and rediscovering love…
Mistletoe Mantra by Nana Malone
Returning to her Virginia hometown where her fiancé dumped her—years earlier on Christmas Eve—is making Nomi Adams croon the holiday blues. She needs to find the reclusive photographer who can advance her magazine career. However, Lincoln Porter’s on his own rescue mission this yuletide. Because during this season of love and renewal, Faith, Virginia, looks to be a place for second chances…
Dear Ms. Malone,
Long time Friends-to-Lovers, return to small hometown, what she needs is what he can’t deliver, hero fills out and gets hot over the intervening years and Xmas theme tropes. This novella is packed with romance standards.
Thankfully the mental lusting is kept to a minimum. Each thinks about the other but no one needs a drool cloth. The obligatory “somehow I find myself lying on top of you” scene isn’t too contrived. Sexy times are sexy. But Nomi and Linc do more. They talk as well. And he’s so thoughtful! Ahhhhhh. And playful. Ooooh. I really liked this.
There are lots of conflicts here. Nomi has issues with her parents and choices in boy friends – past and present. Can Linc trust Nomi with truth? Then can he believe that she wouldn’t heartlessly double cross his faith? In fact there are lots and lots of issues here. Too many for the length? Unfortunately for me this was a “yes” answer.
It seemed like a push job at the end to clean up all the issues. Swings in blame and trust with each not seeming to remember what the other one had done or said to cause the initial distrust. But in the end, all is good, I guess, until the next trust issue or have they totally worked that out? I did like the little “thought bubbles” each character had while they were working out the relationship and they did talk, even if at times they were ready to fling blame around. Maybe a little more time spent on the relationship and less on the other issues in Nomi’s life might have not made the end seem a touch rushed. B-
White Hot Holiday by Sherelle Green
A solo Caribbean vacation is college professor Sage Langley’s perfect escape from Christmas and all its merriment. But she has unexpected and thrilling company at Grayson Ellington’s luxurious vacation home: the sexy attorney himself! And her brother’s best friend—who has desired and longed for Sage for years—has fantasies and plans for a red-hot romance to chase away her winter doldrums.
Dear Ms. Green,
I know someone who loathes the Christmas holidays as well. Come October when all the store displays get hauled out and the nonstop carols begin on the radio, he’s got a pissy look on his face until New Years. Now he might actually enjoy Grayson’s friend’s beer bottle Christmas tree, though. Ah, the “how cute and yet movingly memorable” moment when Sage begins to learn and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas as Grayson’s help for the local kids is revealed. Her privilege gets a kick in the backside but then Grayson loves the people of the DR but lives in a gated community?
This story has the brother’s best friend trope, long simmering attraction trope, and now I dare you to act on it trope. Sage is sexually confident and ready to use her charms. Grayson is more than ready to have charms used on him. So why is so much time spent on flashbacks to years ago when their attraction first really kicked in then was acted on? I dunno as I had already got the idea of the whole attraction thing x with it didn’t work out leading to we haven’t spoken in years.
Grayson definitely has the player “smiley, smirky” thing going and is very aware of Sage’s body and confident he’s going to get what he wants. His 2 page run down on her favorite foods and drinks is actually sort of scary though. Even he has a momentary doubt about having revealed his exact memory of her dietary likes. Now remembering she likes dune buggy riding is okay and not nearly as freaky.
But the lingering Past Issue between them must be addressed – whether or not Sage is immediately on board with it despite how much Grayson pushes – and eventually he decides it’s time for her to talk with him and to begin to deal with it. Go Sage for sarcastically telling him off despite her emotional pain. At least Grayson realizes how much of a shit he’s being. Okay, when the truth emerges, Sage really did and does have some major crap from her childhood. No punches were pulled there.
I will say that when Grayson decides to get his romance and seduction on – he goes all out and getting Sage to face her past does seem to help her. Points for the fact that the first diamond he buys her is not a ring and for him not rushing into an engagement. I love Sage’s mother too. C+