Jingle Bell Rock, an anthology

>> Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Jingle Bell Rock anthology is one of the books Alison Kent was kind enough to send me in her giveaway for international readers. Thank you again, Alison!

For once, it's an anthology in which none of the authors were new to me, and I've actually liked most of them before!

The first story started the anthology with a bang. While I've disliked the full-length Lori Foster books that I've tried (see my review for Unexpected, for instance), I did like the one short story I read, the one in the Hot Chocolate anthology. Her He Sees You When You're Sleeping, in this book, continues that trend.

What Booker Dean wants for Christmas isn't under the tree, it's right next door. Frances Kennedy is everything Booker desires...and the gift he has planned for her involves a lot of delicious unwrapping...
This was a truly lovely story of two best friends who've been wanting each other for months finally giving in to that attraction. For such a short length, I was surprised by how involved I got in Booker (that name was the only negative) and Frances' relationship, and by the fact that there were plenty of stomach-clenching moments. I especially loved how they each really, really liked the other, in addition to the heavy lusting. Oh, and speaking of lusting, it's HOT! ;-) A sweet, intense, happy story. My grade: B+.

Janelle Denison continues the anthology with All She Wants for Christmas. IIRC, all I've read by Denison is an early book in the Blaze line, and it was pretty ok, though not spectacular.

When sexy pediatrician Matthew Carlton plays Santa, pulling Faith Roberts onto his lap, he has no idea what's on her Christmas wish list...or how much he'll enjoy fulfilling every bit of it...
This one was eh. It's not bad, but I think the best I can do is call it "pleasant". It had this whole "Pretty Woman" vibe going on that just isn't my cup of tea. And the "all women are interested in is my money" thing bores me. Plus, I just couldn't buy that the woman Faith seems to be would be so straighforward in propositioning Matthew! A C+.

Turning Up the Heat , by Susan Donovan is next. I've really liked the last couple of Susan Donovan books I've read. She's got this really bawdy sense of humour, which I appreciate.

Being stood up on Christmas Eve is bad enough, but now Valerie's furnace is broken, too. Good thing that sexy repairman is available to raise the temperature dramatically...
This is a fun, fun story with a twist which, though not completely surprising, was really sweet. And I really don't think I should say anything else about it, other than give it a try, it's great! A B+.

Baby, It's Cold Outside, by Donna Kauffman comes next, and it's the first of two stories about reunited lovers.

It's been ten years since Susanna York left Jace Morgan. Now, as fate reunites them during a holiday snowstorm, they'll have plenty of time to discover that distance only sharperns certain hungers...
I liked this one. Kauffman made me believe Zanna and Jace were in love, even though they really didn't have time to get acquainted again after a 10 year absence, so it was more a matter of their being in love still than of their falling in love again. I liked how they were able to accept that they each had some responsibility in their parting all those years ago, and that it was basically the product of immaturity. That gave me hope they'd be fine from then on. Oh, and I liked the serious, calm-except-with-Zanna Jace very much. A B.

Alison Kent continues with A Blue Christmas.

Thomas "Blue" Miller never expected to see Jessie Buchanan on his Christmas tree farm again. But now that she's here, he's ready to show her exactly what she's been missing...
Now, this was HOT! And I loved how Kent develops their relationship in bed (er, in the kitchen, on the porch, in the sauna...), and shows them going from their original positions, with Blue completely pissed off at Jessie and Jessie only wanting to make an experiment (or each telling themselves that), to their recognizing that they had something going for them and being willing to work at it. A B.

The anthology closes with Nancy Warren's The Nutcracker Sweet. I've enjoyed her Blazes, so I was looking forward to this story.

Co-workers Daniel and Tara couldn't hate each other more. So when they end up as Secret Santa partners, it's a perfect chance for revenge and a dare that just may ignite the steamiest night of their lives...
I was a bit disappointed with this one. I didn't really feel the love or the lust here, surprisingly enough, for a story with so much sex in it. And I didn't feel Daniel "Tara Ellison is a ball-buster and needs is to get laid" Jarvis particularly attractive. A C+.

With not one bad story in the bunch and two thirds of them being very good, this was one of the most even, enjoyable anthologies I've read lately. A B.


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