Genre: Romance/Christmas/Box set
“Put a song in your heart with 20 all-new Christmas Romances from NY Times, USA Today, and national best-selling authors. Each brand-new title is inspired by a Christmas carol and will lift your spirits and bring on the holiday cheer.”
Santa Baby by Taylor Lee - Lily's only hope was that this time, he wouldn't be able to find her.
Merry, Did You Know? by Jennifer St. Giles - Can a Christmas Miracle change the future of a woman who doesn't believe in love and a man who can't love again?
I'll Be Home For Christmas by Nancy Radke - When former a former Navy SEAL plucks a woman from the Mediterranean Sea, he discovers a fighter tougher than he.
Taylor Lee: “My stories are the stories of my heritage. From the residue in my blender of mixed races, cultures and world views, my characters emerge. It comforts me to know that while evil slinks in the shadows, the ‘good guys’ of the world sniff it out – and snuff it out.
My stories are not your mama's soft edged romances with swashbuckling heroes and blushing heroines. Heck no! These guys are arrogant alpha males and the feisty women who bring them to their knees -and vice versa... They fight hard, love hard and don't mince words. They are dangerous men and women in dangerous times. Love, passion, and ridding the world of evil? What's not to love?”
“Jennifer St. Giles writes in multiple genres, including: romance, paranormal, contemporary, historical and military and time travel. She is a passionate patriot, event planner and the Vice-President of a charitable foundation which helps women and children’s causes… I grew up in Miami. Went to nursing school in Georgia, where I now reside. I raised and home schooled three great kids. I wrote for nine years before I sold a book, which made me a firm believer that a person should NEVER NEVER NEVER GIVE UP ON THEIR DREAMS.”
“Nancy Radke grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch in SE Washington State. She attended a one-room country school through the eighth grade. She spent most of her childhood exploring the Blue Mountain trails that bordered the ranchlands… Ms. Radke has also been a school teacher and gone through survival and outward bound training, including long-distance ocean swimming.”
In this third group of novellas from Love, Christmas I am reviewing more new-to-me authors. I chose stories that sounded like they had a common theme: this time of someone who happened to be in need of a Christmas miracle.
Santa Baby by Taylor Lee:
Lily Peterson is on the run with her four-year-old daughter, Gabriel, from a crooked police detective who is trying to frame her for the murder of her husband. In a town where she knows no one, and dealing with financial hardships, an unreasonable daytime employer, and a degrading night job as a stripper, Lily is at her wits end.
This provocative plot unwinds slowly as we learn more about Lily and the Vice Squad Captain, Lieutenant Zach Meloy. Zach is visually captivated by Lily’s beauty but can tell she is hiding something and suspects she is running from the law. He intends on finding out why one way or another.
Luckily for Lily, Zach is a good cop she has no need to fear. The dialogue and storyline are realistic as Zach tries desperately to earn Lily’s trust. With Christmas coming up quickly, Gabriel plays heavily into the storyline in a unique way. Lily definitely needs a miracle for everything to work out, so this story fits well in this group.
Merry, Did You Know? by Jennifer St. Giles:
MC Love is in a bit of a predicament; she’s eight months pregnant and hiding from her controlling, wealthy, dysfunctional family, and the paparazzi. MC, which stands for Merry Christmas since she was born on Christmas day, is a twenty-six year-old artist and heir to Love International Resorts. Although a little misguided, she is probably the most level-headed in her crazy family. Her mother, True Love, is owner and CEO of Love International Resorts and gave all of her children punnish love names. Besides MC there is Summer, Never Ending, Sweet, Timeless, Pure, Forever, and Madly Inn. Her step-sisters Pure and Sweet have a hit reality show, Love’s Truth, which amplifies the Loves’ insanity to the world. Get the picture? Merry, Did You Know is unique and heart-felt, but not all fun and games. Because MC had grown up in the dysfunction of the Love’s family dynasty, she decides that in order for her child to have a normal life, she must give the baby up for adoption.
Living in a beachfront condo on the Georgia coast, MC is mesmerized listening to her mysterious neighbor playing his guitar and singing his sad songs in the early morning hours every day. At a chance meeting one morning, after his beach run, Doug Warren introduces himself to MC and inadvertently catches a glimpse of adoption papers.
Doug has lost all hope in life since losing his wife and daughter three years earlier. He survives one day at a time since this tragedy. Although not wanting to impose his thoughts on MC, he is determined to make sure she doesn’t make the mistake she is determined to make. The dialogue throughout is excellent. Here is an example of MC talking about her art and Doug’s reply to her statement:
“Art, like music, needs to reach and move the soul. If it doesn’t do that perfectly, then it has failed.”
“Ouch, that’s a sharp sword of judgment you swing. In my book, failure is only found in not doing something and perfection doesn’t exist. Ever. Maybe you’re being too harsh a critic on yourself?”
Merry, Did You Know? is a poignant, heartfelt story that follows these two souls as they establish their relationship and unwittingly become an integral part in each other’s lives. This tale will pull at your heartstrings and should have earned five stars, but there were too many minor proofing issues towards the end of the journey to earn that for a novella. However, I did love this one and it is one of my favorites so far in this boxed set.
I'll Be Home For Christmas by Nancy Radke:
As war breaks out along the Mediterranean Sea, Lee Trahern, retired Navy SEAL, packs a small rowboat with supplies and escapes into the vast sea alone.
Sofia Morgan had been visiting a college friend when the war broke out, but manages passage on an old steamer ship loaded with too many refugees trying to make their own escape. Unexpectedly she is pushed overboard into the sea. With no way to get back on board the old steamer, she traps air in her wet cloak to improvise a flotation device. When she spots a small rowboat, she makes her way in that direction hoping the man rowing will take her aboard.
Ms. Radke did a wonderful job developing these two characters with realistic dialogue and alternating points-of-view. Since Lee and Sofia are basically the only characters in this tale, we get an up-close view as they battle the elements and predators while they try to survive this grueling journey on their own. I found myself captivated as I sent up a wish for a Christmas miracle to sustain them both until help arrived. Lee was certainly a strong, capable man but Sofia brought a balance sensibility to their predicament without which Lee could not have survived. I’ll Be Home For Christmas is not your typical Christmas story.
I learned while writing this review that Ms. Radke has several stories about the Trahern clan. I would love to see this story continue and I would hope Lee gets to meet Sofia’s three-legged dog. :)
The stories in Love, Christmas are new and never before published. They are also classified as Clean and Wholesome stories. However, Santa Baby does have some unfavorable language and a few F-bombs.
Santa Baby by Taylor Lee: No significant proofing issues.
Merry, Did You Know? by Jennifer St. Giles: I found a small number of proofing issues.
I'll Be Home For Christmas by Nancy Radke: No significant proofing issues.
Rating: Santa Baby by Taylor Lee: **** Four Stars
Rating: Merry, Did You Know? by Jennifer St. Giles: **** Four Stars
Rating: I'll Be Home For Christmas by Nancy Radke: ***** Five Stars
Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin
Approximate word count: 375-400,000 words for the full set. Each story is novella size, 20,000 words or slightly less.