Desert Isle Keeper
Jingle Balls: A Holiday Romantic Comedy Anthology
I know – it feels a little bit early to be talking about Christmas, especially after the year we’ve all suffered through. A charity collection of romantic comedy novellas sold to benefit The Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation, Jingle Balls combines a number of fun novellas from a bunch of talented authors into one hefty (800 page plus!) anthology. Some are long, some are short, and all of them are sexy or funny in their own way, providing a recommendable and excellently crafted package.
The volume features a number of different scenarios, from old lovers colliding, attempted holiday make-ups, bachelor auctions gone sexy to seven minutes in heaven-like situations between co-workers trapped at Christmas parties.
The two best offerings in the book are by Serena Bell and Dylann Crush. Crush’s Sleigh My Name is a sprightly tale involving a woman being match-made up with her pregnant sister’s chiropractor. Sparks fly, teeth are grit and babies are born, and in the meantime there’s much fun to be had. Crush’s flare for comedy and relaxed style really work well with the subject matter, which is adorable. Bell’s I Told You So is a smidge more dramatic and wistful in tone, featuring two exes meeting while serving as part of the bridal party of their friends. They fall back in love – and lust – with one another and Bell’s talent for human characters having real emotions makes this one top-notch. Coldcocked by Saint Nick by Melonie Johnson – about a talkshow host who gets whacked on the noggin by an occupational therapist with a giant candy cane during a performance and ends up falling in love with him as he helps her recuperate – is hilarious, and also manages to be quite spicy.
The rest of the stories, at the very least, pass muster when it comes to being amusing, and there’s nothing egregiously awful to be found between the book’s covers. Unfortunately, some authors (such as Sophia Henry) have chosen to add stories from continuing universes of theirs to the pot, making it difficult for newbies to understand what’s going on and making at least four of the stories incomprehensible to new readers. Oh, well. Readers of those series will be delighted and encouraged to buy this volume and contribute to a very worthy cause, and fortunately only three of the stories fall into this category.
Even with that one minor blemish on its record, so much variety is provided by the collection that it’s well worth exploring. Jingle Balls has the… er… fortitude… to please any holiday-minded reader looking for an early and seasonal good time. It comes with a strong recommendation.