Let Down Your Hair by Fiona Price

Grade: C
Hotness Level: Ember
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, Fairytale Retelling
Published: 12/11/14
Reviewed by Anne
281 ebook pages

Sage is a modern day Rapunzel.  She’s was raised by her grandmother in a very unorthodox and extreme feminist manner.  It’s left her very sheltered and naïve about a lot of things and very suspicious and judgmental about others.  She even got her college degrees through online studies.  It’s not until she’s starting her PhD that she has many interactions with the outside world at all.  So she’s very, very surprised when she looks out her office window and into a classroom window and sees a nude man.  She’s also curious, and scared that her grandmother will get the man in trouble, so she dashes down and into the classroom.  That’s where she meets her prince, Ryan Prince, nude model for drawing classes.

As a contemporary set fairytale retelling, this story does an incredible job.  As a romance it really isn’t very good at all.  I think if I’d gone into it just looking for a fairytale, I’d have enjoyed it more.  However, it was listed as a romance, and that brings certain expectations with it, and unfortunately it didn’t meet those expectations.

For me, reading a romance means reading a story that is centered on a romantic relationship between the main characters.  In this story there is a romantic relationship, but the focus of the story is on Sage’s personal journey, and Ryan is just one of many characters in that journey, and he’s actually not even in the majority of the story.  Additionally, Sage’s journey ended up reminding me of a Danielle Steel novel – the kind where you walk with the main character through the darkest times in their life.  I avoid stories like this if I can.  While this one wasn’t as extreme as some examples I’ve read, I just don’t appreciate watching the heroine struggle and be taken advantage of.  It doesn’t make the resolution and happy ending sweeter for me, it just brings me down.

Another strike against the story is that its main subject is feminism as much as it is the fairytale and much more than it is the romance.   I consider myself a feminist, so I bring that bias in with me when I read the story.  I don’t mind a story that features feminism, and I don’t even mind about reading the costs and benefits of a life with and without feminism.  I did get tired of it being so much of what the story was about.

On the positive side, it was an extremely creative retelling of the Rapunzel story!  The tower that Rapunzel was in wasn’t quite literal, but it was the way her grandmother raised her.  There was even a cool look at two different types of towers Sage was kept in.  I really liked this version of Rapunzel.

For all of these reasons, the story was difficult for me to grade.  As a fairytale, it gets and A+.  As a romance it’s a D or an F.  So I’ll settle for a C+.  I’d recommend it to readers who enjoy a great fairytale retelling, but don’t expect too much romance.  Can you recommend a fairytale retelling that does have a great romance, too?

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.