Through The Smoke by Brenda Novak

Through the Smoke
Hotness Level-Blaze
Kink Level-No Kink
Reviewed by Kay
303 pages

This one surprised me quite a bit. This is way more than a romance.

The Earl in this story is trying to clear his name over his wife’s death. They were estranged and he headed home to confront her about her pregnancy that wasn’t his. There was a fire at his estate and he was the only survivor. He was pulled out of the fire by his cousin, With. He follows up on leads that send him in the direction of a book seller. Her father worked at the earl’s coal mine and is a suspect in the fire.

Rachel is the coal miner’s daughter. The earl is sure she has information that can help him in clearing up the mystery and his name. They share an almost instant attraction and to make a long story long, they end up lovers. This decision ruins Rachel and makes her neighbors mistrust her. She truly loses almost everything she has.

There was a great mystery in this book. The plot was very well done. Good character development and scene description. My problem was there was little to no heat. Also, I like my historical to take place in Scotland or England. I want the Ton and ball gowns. I got none of that here. It was a good story but I was left wanting more.

Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas by Sugar Jamison

Grade: B
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, Secret Baby(ish), Holiday, Novella
Series: Perfect Fit, 1.5

Published: 10/1/13
Reviewed by Anne
111 pages
After reading Dangerous Curves Ahead, the first book in this Perfect Fit Series, I looked to see if Sugar Jamison had other books.  It turned out she’d already written this holiday novella.  I immediately requested it from NetGalley and was delighted to receive a copy of it.  When I realized it was about Dina, the toxic older sister featured in the first book, I was thrown off.  She was a total villain – someone I had no interest in seeing redeemed.  So I put off reading it.  My mistake!  It was good!
So, I read these two stories in order, but this novella really stands on it’s own quite well.  
Dina is off to find her baby daddy.  She had a fling with him and when she told him she was pregnant he disappeared.  She’s travelled across the country, on a bus, with her 10 month old son, to his home town.  To his family estate and mansion to track him down.  She’s done a lot of maturing and changing of her ways since her baby, Dash, was born.  She wants his father to provide some security for him.
She’s shocked to be shown in to see her ex-lover’s brother and find out that her party boy baby daddy was killed in a drunken skiing accident.  Not only is the man she was looking for dead, but she’s left with his brother, Ben, who she really didn’t get along with the one time they met.  So it’s a huge shock when Ben immediately offers to help her and Dash out.
“You are not taking my nephew to a cheap motel.  You will not be traveling with him on a bus.  Your destitution ends here.”
“You’re shitting me?”
“I shit you not.”  (Kindle Loc 199)
This is the start of a wonderful holiday season.  (Did I mention this all happens in December?)  Dina agrees that she and Dash will stay with Ben until after Christmas, in order to give Ben and Dash time to get to know each other, and for her and Ben to work out an agreement for raising Dash.
I really enjoyed the humor in this story.  The relationship felt rushed, and not just because of the novella format.  It takes place over a couple of weeks, which is not a lot of time for them to get to know each other and fall in love.  Some things were a little too perfect – like their built in housekeeper/babysitter, but I really enjoyed the story.