A Baby for Christmas by Joanna Sims

Grade: C-
Hotness Level: Ember
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, holiday
Published: 11/13/12
Reviewed by Kate
219 pages

Luke is a wounded war veteran heading home to his family’s ranch to recover.  But he dreads what is waiting for him-his twin brother’s pregnant widow Sophia.  Luke’s twin Dan died in the war right before Sophia found out she was pregnant.  Luke is determined to be a part of the baby’s life, even if it means battling the ten year attraction he’s had for Sophia.  With Luke’s parents and brother away visiting family for Thanksgiving, Luke and Sophia must deal with each other without the buffer of family to help them deal with their feelings.

There were a few things that called me to this book.  First off, it’s that time of year and I was looking for a Christmas read and my library kindly provided a basket filled with Christmas romances for my perusal. When you throw a baby into the mix, I was pretty much hooked before I had even read the back of the book.  I was a little hesitant about it being a one-brother-then-the-other book thought.  I’ve read that before in historicals where it was written as more of a marriage of convenience and it worked for me, but I wasn’t sure how I would feel about it in a contemporary framework. It turns out it didn’t work as well for me as the historical setting did.

To start with, the angst of both Sophia and Luke really drove this story.  Sophia is 8 months pregnant, which means her husband (and Luke’s twin) has been dead for less than 8 months.  They are both still morning and coping.  Neither one has started to move on yet.  So there’s just a lot of emotions with this story.  Luke’s family (when they get back after Thanksgiving) is extremely accepting of the idea of Luke being with Sophia.  They’ve all know he’s been in love with her for years.  I found that a little hard to swallow.  But my biggest complaint (and I know it won’t be a factor for some of you) is that there is only one sex scene, and it starts on page 203 of 219 and ends on page 204.  It is only 19 lines long-and some of that is dialog.  I just wanted there to be more (and for it to be hotter)!

But all my complaints aside, if you’re looking for an emotional Christmas read this is one for you.

One last note:  The title A Baby for Christmas makes me a bit mad because the baby ends up not arriving until New Years.  Does that kind of thing bother anyone else?

In the Clear by Tamara Morgan

Grade: C
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, novella, holiday.
Series: Winter Rescue #1
Published: 11/11/13
Reviewed by Anne
96  pages

Lexie might come across as a ditz who gets into ridiculous scrapes, but she’s a great at her job and has a close family.  She is a bit jealous of the close relationship that her twin Sean with his best friend Fletcher.  Fletcher is practically family to Lexie and Sean, and he’d never want to ruin that, so he’s hidden his feelings for Lexie for years.  But suddenly Lexie is looking at him differently when an article in paper exposes the secret double life as a search and rescue volunteer.  She’s pushing her way into his life to figure out what else about him she didn’t know, and that’s putting her a bit too close to Fletcher’s hidden feelings.

I love Tamara Morgan, so it’s with much sadness that I admit that this story really didn’t work for me.  It was ok, but I felt like the author pushed things around to set up the circumstances she wanted to the point that it didn’t feel natural.  I know that’s pretty much what every author does, but when it’s done well, you read it and think “That could happen.”  In this case I had to keep telling myself, “Just accept it.”

One thing I did enjoy about the story was the way that Fletcher and Lexie saw each other’s true selves.  Even more clearly than others around them, Fletcher and Lexie saw how the other’s faults were also strengths.  Once they came together it was easy to see how they would lift each other up.  That was nicely done.

Maybe I went in with expectations too high.  I’ve really loved Tamara Morgan in the past, and I generally love holiday novellas.  In the end, this was just an ok read for me.

Merry Christmas, Baby by Jill Shalvis

Grade: A
Hotness Level: Ember
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary , small town
Series: Lucky Harbor #12.5
Published: 12/2/14
Reviewed by Anne
43 ebook pages

The first Jill Shalvis stories I read were some Christmas novellas of hers that were in anthologies I got from my library.  I really liked them, so reading a Shalvis Christmas novella that is an epilogue to one of my favorite books?  It’s a no brainer!

This novella gives us a peak at Sawyer, the sheriff and his wife, Chloe, now expecting their first baby.   It’s got peaks at many of the characters from the series, but especially Chloe’s sisters and their husbands from the first books.

Sawyer and Chloe have a disagreement about Chloe attending the town Christmas party just before Sawyer heads out on an extra assignment.  He doesn’t want her to go, due to the advanced stage of her pregnancy and her medical complications.  She, of course, is plotting to attend.  She feels like he’s wanting to get away from her and her pregnancy based mood swings and she just wants to do what she wants to do.

Of course nothing goes as planned and hilarity ensues.  It’s a must read for fans of the Lucky Harbor Series.  The only thing I didn’t like about the story is that after all that drama and comedy… they don’t tell you what they name the baby!  I’ll forgive it because I love the rest of the story, but it is driving me a bit crazy.  Is there anyone that’s read anything anywhere on the web about it?