A Baby for Christmas by Joanna Sims

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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?

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Kisses Sweeter than Wine by Jess Dee

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Grade: A
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, menage
Series: Tastes of Seduction #3
Published: 11/18/14
Reviewed by Kate
194 pages

Noah drags his business partner and former lover Declan on a working weekend, along with Violet their PR rep.  Noah’s hoping to finally bring things to a head (*snickering*).  Declan has been trying to live up to his parents’ expectations and in the process has ignored his relationship with Noah and his growing attraction to Violet.  Noah’s had enough.  It’s time for Declan to realize what Noah and Violet mean to him.  Violet has felt the mutual attraction from the men, but would never dream of acting on it because of her best friend’s prior relationship with Declan.  But she never guessed what Noah actually had planned for the trio on their working weekend.

This was the best menage I’ve read so far this year!  I love having a m/m side to my menages and Declan and Noah’s interactions were enough to cause my Kindle to overheat, or maybe that was me.  When Violet is added into the mix, what was a steamy hot romance became even hotter.

I’m not sure why I don’t read more of Jess Dee because I’ve never been disappointed by one of hers.  I’m going to have to invest in her backlist soon.  This is the third book in the series and I haven’t read the first two (yet) but had no trouble reading this one.  It’s easily a stand alone.  If you only read one m/m/f menage this year, it has to be this one!

One in a Million by Jill Shalvis

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Grade: A-
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary
Series: Lucky Harbor #12
Published: 10/14/14
Reviewed by Kate
368 pages

Tanner is the last of the Lucky Harbor Charters trio to pair up.  He’s happy being a loner, taking care of everyone in his life but not risking his heart.  Callie has been sent to Lucky Harbor, where she grew up, to determine if her grandma, Lucille, is crazy or not.  She’s was left at the alter years ago and is not willing to put her heart on the line again.  A very casual relationship between Tanner and Callie seems to be just what they both need.  Until they both start to want more.

Tanner is my new favorite Shalvis hero, although Anne would tell you that I say that about every Shalvis hero I read.  But seriously, when you read about the sucker valentine from high school you’ll completely understand why I melted for a fictional hero.  I think Tanner’s going to be my new book boyfriend (shh…don’t tell my husband).  Callie is such a wonderful, quirky character.  Her grandmother is Lucille, so can we expect anything else?  But behind her funny and klutzy exterior there’s such a genuine fragileness that you can’t help but root for her as she struggles to get over the pains and disappointments of her past.

We’ve reached the final Lucky Harbor book and I have to admit to being a little sad at seeing it come to an end.  However, Shalvis did such a marvelous job of finishing the series strong and I’m looking forward to seeing what she writes for us next.  If you haven’t read a Lucky Harbor book yet, you’re missing out on a funny and heartwarming small-town series.  Pick up any book in this series and you’ll find yourself going back to read the rest.  But I think this one’s my favorite of the bunch.