Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holiday Treasures

It’s that time of year again. Carols are sung, lights are strung and a colorful new assortment of holiday romances hits the shelves. It’s my happy time, my heart filling with joy and anticipation as I turn the first page and begin a heartfelt journey with new friends. Yet, as much as I enjoy the new journeys, I also look forward to quiet moments in front of the tree; with a cozy blanket, some hot chocolate and a few favorites from years gone by – stories that return each year to wrap themselves around me like a warm hug from a treasured friend. Here are a few of this year's offerings.  Tomorrow, I'll tell you about three of my favorites from years gone by. 


"A Babe in Toyland"
By Tawny Weber
It Must Have Been the Mistletoe... (Anthology)
Publisher:  Harlequin Blaze
Release Date: December 1, 2010

Of all the bars in the city, bad boy Tyler Ramsey, her secret high school crush, had to walk into hers.  For the first time in six years, Rita Mae Cole is going home for Christmas and this time she's determined to not be the black-sheep disappointment of the Cole family.  She's found the perfect gift for her parents and only has to fend off drunks for two more days to earn enough money to make the final payment.  Then Tyler shows up, one impulsive kiss turns into a barroom brawl and Rita finds herself with no job, no money and no ride home.

Rita Mae Cole has fueled Tyler Ramsey's fantasies for the past ten years and he's had enough.  He had a secret crush on Rita in high school but she was way too young for him so he asked her oldest sister out instead but that didn't turn out so well.  In fact, it was a disaster of epic proportions that left him mistrustful of any and all Cole females.  So when he encounters Rita several years later, wearing a skimpy outfit, exuding sex appeal and about to embark on a fourteen hour ride home with his naive friend, Tyler figures she's taking advantage of the poor guy and decides to teach her a lesson...but it looks like Tyler's the one who's going to be going to school.  His friend bails and now Tyler has to give Rita a ride home for the holidays - fourteen long hours in the close confines of his truck with a simmering attraction between them threatening to burst into flames with a single touch.  Will they give in to the scorching heat of their passion?  And more importantly, will they finally take the time to look beneath the surface of the package each presents to the world to the real person under the wrapping? 

Tawny Weber once again gifts us with a sexy, sizzling romance filled with heat, humor and heart.   I thoroughly enjoyed "A Babe in Toyland!"

Rita isn't the only Cole sister to get her happy-ever-after for Christmas.  Don't miss Alison and Layla Cole's journeys to love in the other two stories in It Must Have Been the Mistletoe:  "When She Was Naughty" by Kate Hoffman and "Cole for Christmas" by Rhonda Nelson.


"Not Quite a Courtesan"
By Maggie Robinson
Lords of Passion (Anthology)
Publisher: Kensington Brava
Release Date: November 30, 2010

World traveler and treasure hunter, Darius Shaw returns home to England with one last collection of sensual artifacts that, hopefully, will garner enough money to forever close the doors of Shaw Antiquities, the company he inherited from his father, allowing Darius to leave the family business behind and settle down in the country, as his heart desires.  But, upon his arrival, he's met with the news that his scapegrace younger brother, Cyrus has eloped with an eighteen-year-old heiress, his uncle Algernon has died, leaving the two brothers his love nest on Courtesan Court, complete with aging mistress, and neither his new sister-in-law nor her guardian "dragon" of a cousin are thrilled with the news.  Long used to rescuing his brother from his many escapades, Darius heads to Courtesan Court to pay off his uncle's mistress and save his brother's new marriage.

Prudence Thorne has been responsible for her younger cousin since she was born and she's not about to turn her back on that responsibility just because some handsome man managed to sweet-talk Sophy into marriage while Pru was tending her dying mother.  Pru knows all about men who stray.  After all, her late husband was killed trying to escape his lover's bed just weeks after marrying Pru.  After paying off the woman she thinks is her new brother-in-law's mistress, Pru waits at the Courtesan Court home for Cyrus, to give him a piece of her mind and send him back to his young wife.  But the man who arrives is not young Cyrus and this man is more handsome, more appealing and more dangerous to Pru's well-ordered life than she could ever have imagined. 

Like the unique artifacts for which Darius searches the world, Robinson's "Not Quite a Courtesan" is a  treasure.  Well written, this story flows smoothly, with humor and a satisfying depth of emotion.  Intelligent, practical, take-charge Pru is the perfect foil for Darius's sensual, teasing nature and the banter between them is an absolute delight.  From beginning to end, their journey is romantic, sensual, and thoroughly enjoyable.  I admit, I hated to say goodbye.

Lords of Passion also includes two other historical novellas:  "Beauty and the Brute" by Virginia Henley and "How to Seduce a Wife" by Kate Pearce.  


Holiday Affair
By Lisa Plumley
Publisher: Zebra
Release Date: October 1, 2010

Life has not treated Karina Barrett well lately.  Her (now ex) husband dumped her for a college-age beach bunny, her children are unhappy and confused and, with Christmas looming around the corner, things aren't looking very merry for the California mom.  All she wants is the chance to give her kids a "nice, old-fashioned Christmas - one that was free of turmoil and blissfully free of unreliable men."  So when her sister asks Karina to take her place as an undercover guest to evaluate a B&B in Michigan that specializes in Christmas getaways, Karina jumps at the opportunity to give her kids a magical holiday...never expecting to find a little magic of her own.

Adventure guide, Reid Sullivan and his two daughters lead a carefree life traveling around the world, exploring new countries and continents with each new job he accepts.  But that life comes to a screeching halt with a distress call from Reid's grandparents in Michigan.  Racing home expecting to find them at death's door, he's shocked to discover his hale and hearty grandparents, bags packed and ready to leave for retirement fun in sunny Arizona, with just one request.  They're selling the B&B that they've owned forever but are afraid they'll get sentimental and back out of the sale (they do this every year) so this time they're leaving their scrooge grandson in charge.  They know he won't get sucked into the seasonal sentimentality of the sing-a-longs around the tree or the sleigh rides through the snow.  He's the perfect person to make sure the sale goes through...except things don't go exactly according to plan...and a certain sexy mom bubbling over with holiday spirit just may have Reid second-guessing his life plan!

I fell in love with this charming, delightful story.  From the setting in my home state of Michigan (which really is a magical winter wonderland) to Reid, a sexy hero and loving dad, to Karina, a woman I'd enjoy having as a friend, to the mischievous kids and all the secondary characters, Holiday Affair is a book that made me smile and reminded me of the simple joys and heartfelt magic of Christmas.

What new Christmas romances have you discovered this year?


  1. PJ

    They all sound excellent I have bought a few Christmas books already but I think I will be adding these ones as well I always get Tawny's she is an autobuy author for me I love her stories.

    It has been hot over here and I have had the air con on while reading the last few days although it has rained most of today still warm and muggy though. One day I am going to have a cool Christmas LOL.

    Have Fun

  2. Helen, I really enjoyed Tawny's novella but then, I enjoy everything she writes! :) All of the Cole sisters get their happy Christmas endings at the hands of three talented writers. Hope you like the book!

    I grew up in a cold, snowy climate but lived in south Florida for many years during my twenties and thirties. I never did adapt to palm trees and hot weather on Christmas.

  3. Those all sound great, I have a large selection of Christmas stories most of them anthologies. Guess I will have to add another to the list. At this rate I will have to start reading in October to get them all done by Christmas.

  4. At this rate I will have to start reading in October to get them all done by Christmas.

    I know what you mean, Dianna! I have several favorites that I like to re-read every year along with the new offerings. I try to not start them until November but sometimes a few sneak into the October pile. ;-)

  5. I love Christmas stories, and I have already read a few new ones this season. Like you, there are some old favorites that I reread every year.

  6. Thanks so much for the great review! I had the best time writing NQAC and I'm so glad people are having fun reading it. Pru and Darius are two of my favorite imaginary friends, LOL. And now that I think of it, they get married at Christmas, so this is the perfect way to end the year.:)

  7. Cheryl, I'll be writing about a few of my old favorites tomorrow. I hope you'll come back and share some of yours!

  8. I had the best time writing NQAC and I'm so glad people are having fun reading it.

    Maggie, that enjoyment comes through loud and clear in the story. I've already read it twice and will be returning for many more future visits!

  9. I now HAVE to read Lisa Plumley's, I'm always nostalgic for my home state Michigan, especially at Christmas! Thanks for sharing these!

  10. JWZ, I hope you enjoy Holiday Affair. It's a wonderful story and brought back lots of great memories of my growing up years in Michigan.

  11. Great post PJ!
    I haven't read the Christmas books you've blogged about here, but they sound great.

    I have a lot of oldies and goodies I like to re-read. I like NR's MacGregor Brides, which is basically three Christmas novellas involving three MacGregor cousins. (Though of course, Grandpa and family patriarch Daniel steals the show in all three books ;) ). I also like Johanna Lindsey's The Present (loved Jason and Molly finally getting their happy ending), and Lisa Kleypas' A Wallflower Christmas.

    However, I also have holiday movies/shows that I like. I love watching A Charlie Brown Christmas every year, and I love watching all the holiday movies that come on all the various channels this time of year. One recent favorite is 12 Men of Christmas, but of course there are always the classics too-Miracle on 34th Street, It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, etc.
    Of course, the one Christmas romances I've discovered this year is Lisa Kleypas's Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor.

  12. YAY! I'm so thrilled that you enjoyed Rita Mae and Tyler's story, PJ :-) It was so awesome to work with Kate and Rhonda, they are amazingly talented authors and just fabulously sweet ladies.

    I was jazzed, too, when Harlequin invited me to do an online read and I tied it in to BABE by writing about Rita's cousin, Declan. He's at her parents' house decorating when he discovers his own true love *g* Its called NAUGHTY IS NICE and is up on eHarlequin.

    The whole process put me into such a major holiday mood!! I love this time of year, and holiday books. The MacGregors are always my fave auto-holiday read (and are so dog eared from many a'holiday).

  13. Great reviews, PJ! I love reading Christmas romances. Just another touch of love during a season of love.

  14. I'm with Lisa for this year's fun new title. Lisa Kleypas, even though I'm not as fond of her modern romances, had a wonderful new book out last month. With so many details about the west coast, it made me miss home! Wonderful holiday book.

  15. Great reviews, PJ! They all sound sooooo good! The only one I've read this year is Lisa Kleypas's latest and I enjoyed it. :)

  16. I'll have to add these to my Christmas romance list, PJ. I love new books, and I have many cherished favorites that I re-read. This year I really enjoyed Lori Wildes' THE FIRST LOVE COOKIE CLUB.

  17. Lisa, I adore the MacGregors! They're one of my all-time favorite romance families.

    I haven't read the Kleypas book yet but I'm looking forward to it. She's never disappointed me!

  18. Hi Tawny! Thanks for letting us know about Declan's story. I'll be sure to check that out! :)

  19. Thanks for stopping by, Lindsay! Another vote for Lisa Kleypas's book. Sounds like I need to move it up the tbr pile!

  20. I love reading Christmas romances. Just another touch of love during a season of love

    Well said, Buffie!

  21. Thanks, Andrea! One more vote for Lisa's book! :)

  22. Gannon, I have The First Love Cookie Club in my tbr. Looking forward to reading it!