For me the words Holiday Temptations conjures up an image of gooey, warm treats and hot, sweet drinks. For the ladies in this anthology, however, the temptations are of a far different, more intimate variety. It made for some fun reading and the talk of sweets, twinkling lights and decorating trees had me longing for the coming holiday.
A Gift of Love
– by Donna Hill
Grade : C Sensuality : Warm
Traci Long has big dreams and little confidence. A betrayal in her past has made her wary of reaching for the stars, so she finds herself secretly crushing – but never flirting – with her favorite barista at the Coffemate Café, Noah Jefferson. That changes when the two have a chance encounter at a movie and share a friendly dinner afterwards. Soon, Traci finds herself spending spectacular evenings with this sexy man and realizes she has never enjoyed chai lattés quite so much. But something about Noah doesn’t quite add up and if she learned anything from previous romantic experiences it’s that trust needs to be earned, not given.
This is a sweet story but I found myself struggling with it a bit. What didn’t work for me is that Noah is a bit too much of a Prince Charming. Not only is he handsome, wealthy, understanding and protective but in a relatively short period of time he had Traci moved in with him and was taking care of her every need and desire. That’s a nice fantasy but in this particular case it infantilized the heroine and showed me that she hadn’t learned the value of independence during her past mistakes. Traci’s emotional response to some news ruined Thanksgiving dinner for the friends they had invited over and this was another moment that made me feel the heroine had some issues with maturity. I could understand her feelings but I also thought her handling of the matter put a damper on the holiday spirit the tale was trying to evoke.
– by Farrah Rochon
Grade : A- Sensuality : Warm
Photographer Miranda Lawson hasn’t celebrated Christmas for fifteen years but it looks like this year, Fate is determined to intervene. When she spots Kyle Daniels through the lens of her camera while capturing the beauty of an Istanbul spice market, she realizes she hasn’t seen anything quite that good in a long time. She quickly finds herself in the midst of an absolutely delightful twenty-four hour holiday fling. The two share some terrific sightseeing, a romantic dinner and one thoroughly steamy evening. Miranda plans for this to be a one night stand but Fate clearly has other plans. When her flight back to the U.S. strands Miranda in Kyle’s hometown, with no hotel room to be had, she reluctantly agrees to stay at his place. The Christmas-loving Kyle is determined to make this a holiday to remember, and in his arms Miranda once more finds a reason to celebrate the season.
This is a great road trip/cabin romance story. The author does an excellent job of using her small page-count to give us two fully developed characters and a promising start to a wonderful relationship. Miranda and Kyle fit nicely together from the first, both of them kind, intelligent, hardworking people who would naturally have a lot in common. Their shared days highlight what each will bring to their partnership and how much they have started to care for each other. I have to add I love how the author leaves the story as well, with hopes for the future and the budding start of love in both hearts but no proposals or promises to marry.
From Here to Serenity
– by K.M. Jackson
Grade : C+ Sensuality : Warm
When a panic attack sends real-estate developer Ross Montgomery to the E.R. he is reluctantly convinced that he needs to make some changes to his lifestyle. He has a business trip arranged that he simply can’t get out of but he agrees to bring personal chef, Essie Bradford, along to make sure he eats healthy and gets some rest. Right away he realizes that the most delectable thing about Essie isn’t her cooking but her person. Sweet, sassy and sexy she just might be the perfect girl for him. But is he right for her?
This is another road trip story which included exotic locations and lots and lots of scrumptious food descriptions. In fact for me, what Essie did for a living was almost a distraction. I found myself more interested in the next treat than in the next kiss. The fact that this is another Cinderella story, in which a hero with tremendous power appears in the life of a young woman without a lot of her own is undoubtedly part of what allowed me to be distracted by the luscious descriptions of the dishes Essie cooked. Another reason I preferred the heat in the kitchen to that of the bedroom is that Ross and Essie had different morals, different life styles and different goals. While the characters were charming and the romance sweet, that dynamic left me feeling a bit nervous about their future HEA. I felt that when the new rubbed off their relationship it would be easy for Ross to seek the next shiny, distracting toy. While the writing was good and the story interesting, the author simply didn’t have enough page length to convince me these two would be a forever couple.
Like most anthologies, Holiday Temptations is an uneven mix of stories. However I found that all three did a nice job of capturing the Christmas spirit. Readers ready to get their holiday glow on will probably enjoy these stories of yuletide romance.