Friday, December 12, 2014

ARC Review: Ring in the Holidays

Ring in the Holidays (Hunk for the Holidays #2)

by Katie Lane

Blurb:

THE BEST NEW YEAR'S EVE . . . EVER
Psychologist Ellie Simpson is about to get a healthy dose of sex therapy. Leaving her cheating boyfriend behind, she has everything she needs for a quick rebound: Vegas, plenty of champagne, and a proposition from the sexiest man she's ever seen. As her handsome stranger helps her ring in the New Year-over and over again-Ellie finds herself blissfully losing all of her inhibitions.
Attorney Matthew McPherson is good at making women lose things, like their minds and underwear. With his athletic build and soulful eyes, he doesn't need to use his powers of persuasion or famous last name to get a woman into bed. But when morning comes, Matthew finds Ellie is the only woman he can't bear to leave-ever. It's enough to make him wonder if what happens in Vegas really has to stay there.


Themes: contemporary, holiday
Rating: 4.25 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
The Holiday season has officially arrived with the return of the McPherson clan and their holiday and relationship angst fueling this romantic, sweet and surprisingly sad, at times, story.  While I find I prefer seasonal stories to be short and sexy, leaning more towards the erotic side of romance, this full-length novel by Katie Lane is definitely an exception to that, as was the first one in the "series" that I read last season starring Matt's sister Cassie.  This story revolves around two individuals with very definite ideas on the opposite sex and the facts and myths of love, but they soon realize that all the past mistakes and hurts are nothing compared to the rightness you can feel when you meet your true mate.  There were even several small side plots in the story that are a nice reminder that even people that have been together forever can find themselves at loose ends and in need of reminding that love is not just the most important part of a relationship, truly the reason to have a relationship.  Lane shows us that love is the true reason for the season and letting love in is the only way to live life.   Really can't wait for next year to see if Patrick gets his very own holiday love. 
Ellie's relationship was shattered when she discovered her long time fiancée has been cheating on her for years and it calls in to question all her personal and professional beliefs about love and relationships. Which for a therapist whose practice revolves around those two things is a not inconsiderable issue.  When a handsome stranger lures her into a night of passion, her life changes forever, but when faced with the truth in the daylight she runs for it, no matter how much she wishes things were different.  Matt has spent the past year obsessing about the mysterious and passionate woman that rocked his world on New Year’s Eve, but when a series of coincidences puts her directly in his path again, he will force her to admit that the passion between them was more than a fluke.  Ellie is determined to keep Matt away, as much as he turns her inside out and makes her wish that she could believe in the strength and safety he makes her feel.   When she begins spending more time with him, safely in the friends' zone, she begins to think that maybe he's different and is the kind of person she can truly believe in.  When the passion becomes undeniable and explodes with one passionate embrace, these two friends becomes lovers again and soon realize that their friendship with benefits is much deeper than either of them might be prepared for.  In the end the question comes down to whether Ellie can let her past go to allow Matt to love her?
Ring in the Holidays was just the type of story that makes the romance genre great.  These two people are both badly damaged, but the love they find together is one that will last, even with misunderstandings, fears, and insecurities sometimes getting in the way, as evidenced by the minor plot arcs with Matt's loved ones.  Matt has never met a woman like Ellie and though she is obviously passionate, she hides it behind her intellect and tries to fit everyone into a mold, but Matt will not be categorized.  His strength and sweetness run right alongside his fierceness and passion, making him a truly dynamic character and a perfect match for Ellie.  Ellie obviously has some serious issues, ones that will not be repaired overnight, but her wit and intelligence finally kick in and she learns the ultimate lesson, you cannot judge one man by the actions of others.  When Ellie finally allows herself to love Matt and believe that, they have a chance she is quick to repair her mistakes and find a way to show Matt that she is willing to work for their future.  Matt's feelings for Ellie truly seem to slap him across the face in an ah-ha moment that was funny, sweet, and heartwarming.  The passion between Ellie and Matt from the very first moment they meet was palpable and even with a long cooling off period, the minute they are back together the sparks fly again and maybe even more intensely.  Lane is the one author I’ve read that can take a holiday story, which of course usually revolves around the same holiday themes, just updated, and turn the story on its ear; Ring in the Holidays truly is a unique and surprisingly sweet Holiday Romance, that instead revolves around the relationship of two people that are learning the ultimate reason for the season is love. Please, Katie, write Patrick's story ASAP so that we are ready to find out just which woman will grab his heart next year. 

*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review: Night Unbound

Night Unbound (Immortal Guardians #5)

by Dianne Duvall

Blurb:

For centuries, Lisette d'Alencon has been a warrior against the dark. She fights alongside her brothers and comrades. But when the dreams start coming, she can't bear to confess them to the Immortal Guardians' command. Dreams of a dark-haired man with soft eyes and brutal wounds, a man her heart aches for--and a man she knows has been declared a traitor.
Zach is an exile, a loner. He won't defend himself against false accusations or grovel to those who should have faith in him. But he'll damn sure defend the woman who kept him sane against a plague of super-vamps that seems to have appeared from nowhere. The Guardians will blame him, and that will make Lisette suspect, too. With life, death and eternity on the line, who can they really trust?
Themes: Paranormal, Vampires, Immortals
Rating: 4.75 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
Wow almost a perfect 5 stars. Even I didn’t think that this one would find a happy ending.  But thankfully Dianne remains my hero.  Through all the betrayals, torture, battles, and discoveries the single thread that carries the story is the chance for love and the hope of two people finally finding their true heart mate. Duvall’s world is one that has so many interesting takes on the classic vampire myth, and yet still there are many mysteries still to uncover.  With each new story in this series I find myself more and more fascinated with the characters, the stories and the relationships that interweave these heroes and the battle they are fighting to protect humanity. Zach and Lisette have their work cut out for them from the very beginning of their relationship, but the obvious pull between them keeps the story from becoming boring and reminds us that sometimes circumstances are not what dictates who we love, but just the simple fact of destiny, and so few are lucky enough to find their destined mates like Zach and Lisette did, much less overcome the odds and keep them. As long as Dianne keeps pulling out all the stops and fascinating me with each book, I will not be missing a single book in the series.
Zach and Lisette’s story begins when Seth attacks Zach and accuses Zach of betraying him and the Immortals, and in doing so he curses Zach to a torture unlike any he has ever experienced. For months his torture is unbearable, but his one escape is his thoughts of and mental connections to Lisette, and as he stretches his powers, that connection is his saving grace.  When he manages to get free, even in the intense pain he’s under, he finds his way to Lisette’s home, where she is able to keep him safe and allow him time to heal.   Lisette never imagined that a bleeding and near death Zach would pop right out of the ether and fall –well not at her feet, but off her roof.  Once she nurses him back to health, the attraction and desire they have each been fighting becomes irresistible, but she feels she is betraying Seth by being with Zach and that strain is keeping a certain distance between them.  When their relationship, and the truth about Zach’s “betrayal” comes out, Lisette’s relationship with her leader and her entire world will never be the same.  But can they uncover the true dangers around them while keeping all their friends and family safe and whole through the dangers?
Lisette is a bad ass woman, one that I would certainly be terrified to cross, but her soft heart for her friends and family is evident in all her choices.  Lisette carries the world on her shoulders and finds giving up control in any circumstances, much less in her personal life, almost impossible.  Her love for her brothers and their new wives is her driving force, until she finally gets to embrace a relationship with Zach.  She handles the changes in her life with great dignity.  I loved seeing her fall in love with Zach and bring him into the fold as she shows him that he can fit into her life and family, if he just allows himself the chance to adapt.  Zach on the other hand has no real idea how to interact with his new love or the people that are in her life; he has always kept himself separate, living as a watcher instead of a participator.  From the minute he sees Lisette, he will do just about anything to have a chance to be with her, even facing his enemy and turning him into a friend again. As his amazing power grows, his connection to Lisette if what really makes him a great character.  He is strong, sexy, and willing to give up just about anything so that he can be with Lisette, even his past grudges and safety.  As he grows closer with the other Immortals, truly becoming one of the family, he becomes more human and finds that his past life was nowhere near as wonderful as his chance at a future with Lisette and her large family.  I must also mention that his sharp wit, sexy intensity, and extremely dry humor gives him many and unending layers of greatness.
Night Unbound is one of those stories that grabs your attention from the first word and refuses to let you free until you reach the end.  With intensity, sensuality, drama, and emotional depth, Lisette and Zach’s story of overcoming adversity to find love, is enough to keep any reader on the edge of their seat and fighting tears as they express their love.  Lisette’s skill and intensity in a fight is almost as important as her determination to keep all her family safe and still she finds a way to have the love of her life and build a new relationship amidst all the drama.  Zach is the type of guy that you just can’t see being able to let go of the long years of his life that have kept him distant from everyone else in the world.  But he makes himself into the man he was always meant to be, the man Lisette can love and make a life with.   When they come together the heat is more than off the charts, it actually blows the charts to smithereens.  I couldn’t have found a better match for Lisette, Zach’s true strength is his willingness to do whatever it takes to keep her safe and make her happy and really there’s nothing more important in a relationship.  The overall ARC of the story has continued to progress as well and we are learning more and more about Seth, which is awesome, because I can already tell that when his secrets are revealed and he finds the walls around his heart knocked down, the woman that becomes his will be awesome.  Looking forward to what’s next in the series and meeting more Immortals as well. 
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 


Monday, December 8, 2014

Mini-Review: Out of Control

Out of Control (The Sentinels 0.5)

by 

Blurb:

New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Ivy quenches your thirst for illicit desire with this seductive tale of the Sentinels—outcast humans with the ability to tread the line between life and death—and pleasure and pain…

Ph.D student Angela Locke has a crush on her sexy professor, Dr. Nikolo Bartrev. When she learns he’s actually a Sentinel with extraordinary powers, she joins forces with him to catch a psychopath. But soon, their hottest pursuit is of each other...
Themes: paranormal, novella
Rating: 3.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
 I realized after I began this story that it was a prequel to a new series, set in a whole different world, and based around a group of beings known as Sentinels.  I love Alexandra’s other series and was a bit surprised to find a whole new world developing in this story.  I can’t wait to learn more about this alternate reality and the Sentinels, but on its own Out of Control was a great novella.  Niko and Angela were sexy together and seeing the action and emotion these two deal with in a relatively short amount of time was great.
Niko has been monitoring Angela and protecting her for several months, knowing that she is the target of his prey and determined to keep her safe.  But during that time she becomes more than simply an assignment for him and he has lost all objectivity where she is concerned.  Angela has likewise been lusting after the new Professor that has been hanging around her, never realizing that he will be leading her into a whole new world, where danger lurks around every corner, and she is forced to depend on the Sentinels for her life.
I really loved this novella on its own and as an intro into the new series.  Niko and Angela as sensual and the connection between them, though intense right away, is perfectly believable and very well written. I can’t wait for more and am very much hoping Arel’s is the next book in the series since we got to know him a bit and liked him a lot.  Another hit series is on the rise for Alexandra Ivy and I’m glad to have gotten in on the ground floor.

*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Review: A Highland Wolf Christmas

A Highland Wolf Christmas (Heart of the Wolf #15)

by Terry Spear

Blurb:

It's going to take a lot of mistletoe...
Guthrie MacNeill, financial advisor for his clan and werewolf pack, is at his wit's end when the pack leader's mate hires a gorgeous party planner to bring holiday cheer to the castle. Guthrie's wildly attracted to Calla, except he can't reconcile the fact that his job is to save the clan's money, and hers seems to be to spend it.
To warm this Highlander's heart
Calla Stewart has never had a more difficult client. The laird and lady of the castle are delightful, but the handsome Highlander holding the purse strings is quite impossible. Since she specializes in holiday magic, Calla hopes she can make the scrooge-like wolf lighten up. Then Guthrie takes on the role of Highland warrior to protect her from an unexpected threat, and the holidays take a turn for the passionate.


Themes: highlanders, wolves, paranormal
Rating: 3.5 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
Honestly, is there anything better than a beautiful Highland Christmas combined with a sexy wolf?  Not in my opinion!  While I am always pulled in by anything written by Terry Spear, as evidenced by my bookshelves, I have been dying to read this particular story for a while now.  Guthrie always seemed a bit like a stick in the mud when we have read about him in the past, but now we get to see the softer, sweeter side of this Highland warrior.  Spear's rich and amazing settings always make you feel like you are right there with her in the Scottish Highlands, in a haunted keep, surrounded by sexy men in kilts wielding broadswords, which for many of us is just about the ultimate fantasy.  While the series has jumped around a lot from different places, different groups of wolves, and even different enemies, this story arc has been in motion a while and I was glad to see the MacNeill's finally find peace with their enemy clan.  If you haven't read the ENTIRE Heart of the Wolf Series, you won't be lost, but I recommend at least going back and reading the other books involved in this storyline (Heart of the Highland WolfHowl for a HighlanderHighland Werewolf Wedding).  For now, I can promise you will enjoy reading this sometimes light hearted, sometimes dramatic, and always sensual, foray into the lives of two wolves determined not to make another mistake in love. 
This story picks up almost the day after the last one ends, with Calla returning to her home to gather everything she needs for an extended stay at the MacNeill keep.  Her main purpose is to help the clan chief and his wife plan the biggest and best Christmas celebration they have ever had, but under that is her desire to remove herself from the sight of her ex-fiancée and to get to know the wolf who pulls her emotionally as well as physically, Guthrie MacNeill. Guthrie has had some bad luck with love in the past and is determined that he not repeat his mistakes and the only way for him to do that is to keep Calla at a distance while she has time to recover from her last failed relationship.  But when the danger around Calla begins to escalate, Guthrie finds his inner wolf needs to protect her more than he needs to protect his heart.  Thrown together again and again, by circumstances as well as by their friends and pack-mates, Calla and Guthrie find it increasingly difficult to resist the passion that stirs between them.  The question becomes, are they both ready for a serious relationship, or will they be making another mistake in love, this time one that might be irreversible?
 Calla Stewart is a she-wolf unlike any I have read about in recent years.  While she can certainly defend herself and her friends, she understands there are limitations to what she can handle and is more than willing to allow her new pack to protect her.  What she won’t deal with is the ridiculous posturing and Neanderthal attitude that some men seem unable to keep in check around each other.  I loved seeing her try to set the male wolves, Guthrie included, in their places and make them understand that defending her against actually enemies is one thing, trying to defend her honor against some imagined slight is quite another, especially when it interferes in her business.  Calla was a truly strong woman, one that was able to make the difficult decision to take back her heart from a man who didn’t really deserve it, and find a way to forge a new path.  Even when she is faced with the uncertainty of a future with a new pack, the drama caused by her parents' bad decisions, and the chance that she might be losing her heart to another undeserving man, she never loses her optimism and embraces the new changes in her life with exuberance and strength.  Witty, sometimes sarcastic, smart, ingenious, determined, sweet, and sensual there was really no way for Guthrie to resist her and she is a character that exemplifies the characteristics that women can relate to.
Guthrie is a man with simple needs, protecting his pack and family, ensuring the pack has enough money to make life enjoyable and secure, time to run in his fur, and a woman to call his own.  The last bit is what has been giving him the most trouble though,  with a couple of failed relationships and now an irresistible she-wolf underfoot, Guthrie finds himself a bit off-kilter and acting out of character.  When Calla is threatened by her ex and his pack, he refuses to let anything happen to her and sets himself in front of danger at every turn, even if Calla doesn’t want him to.  The alluring she-wolf also begins to remind him that keeping the pack solvent doesn’t mean that they have to isolate themselves and horde their money, sometimes you have to open yourself up and allow for change.   Seeing them working together to help the entire pack, whether it’s with the Scottish Faire,  the huge pack Christmas celebration, or just with the everyday math lessons for the youths, it becomes obvious that Guthrie has found his perfect match if he allows himself to let go of the past and embrace a chance for a future with her.  Sexy as all get out, Guthrie is one of the strongest, sweetest, and funniest wolves I’ve had the pleasure of reading about.  And did I mention that he's one of FOUR, seriously, sexy Scottish wolf QUADRUPLETS, what more could a woman want?
As the saying goes, you can never have too much of a good thing, and Spear proves that with her newest addition to the Heart of the Wolf series.  Guthrie and Calla's story made me cry, laugh, groan, and wish that it was just that little bit longer so that I could have enjoyed even more.  Calla was spirited, intelligent, and loving, while being fierce in her protection of others as well as being fiercely determined to find her perfect match and the perfect place for her to make her life.  Guthrie was obviously the perfect match for Calla;  he's just as smart, willing to do just about anything to protect his family and pack, and even more important he is understanding of the emotional trauma a failed relationship can cause and willing to give Calla the time she might needs to get over it before he pursues her.  Calla's stalker's motives, which come to light in the end, were surprisingly human, not something I expected from a wolf, and are truly the failing of all higher species--Greed.  I was thrilled to see the previous couples and many of the secondary characters that have supported this individual story arc.  I am especially looking forward to the day Logan is old enough to have his own mate and meets the woman that will lead him into the danger of the heart.  I can see myself as an old woman still lusting for this series, so hopefully there is no end in sight.  You continue to amaze me Terry; keep up the great writing and I promise to keep dragging even the most reluctant readers to your fan base! 
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.






Thanksgiving is one of the greatest traditions and a perfect excuse to get your family together and indulge yourself in an awesome meal.  I have my turkey thawing and all my sides planned out and I really can’t wait.  Food is definitely a very close second to my favorite hobbies.  With my mom still recovering from surgery and my family recovering from some seriously busy months, thanksgiving will be a nice break from all the cravenness of life.  Enjoy your time off and the family I hope you are able to surround yourself with. 

So I wish you all a wonderful and family filled Thanksgiving.  Whatever the holiday means to you—family, football, food, or rest--- I hope you get all you want and offer your thanks for it. 
In Honor of my first time doing thanksgiving, I want to share with you all, once again, my recipe for my favorite Thanksgiving Day dessert.  After all that rich, juice, and carbs filled thanksgiving dinner I go for something even richer and CHOCOLATY!

Chocolate Pecan Pie 

(the twist on a southern classic)

Ingredients
·   4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
·   4 large eggs, lightly beaten
·   1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
·   1/2 cup sugar
·   1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
·   1/2 teaspoon salt
·   1 deep dish pic crust (homemade or store bought)
·   2 cup pecans (1 cup chopped)

Directions

1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lowest position. In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water, melt chocolate, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes (or melt chocolate in microwave). Set aside. Chop 1 cup of the pecans.
2.       In a medium bowl, stir together (do not whisk) eggs, corn syrup, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stirring constantly, gradually add melted chocolate. Pour filling into prepared crust; place pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange pecans in one even layer over filling.

3.        Bake just until set (filling should jiggle slightly when pie plate is tapped), 50 to 60 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool completely on a wire rack, at least 4 hours (or up to overnight) before serving.


Many Blessing,
Michelle the Romance Witch


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mini-Review: Merry Christmas, Baby

Merry Christmas, Baby (Lucky Harbor #12.5)

by Jill Shalvis

Blurb:

Wild child Chloe Thompson can't believe how much things have changed. She still can't get enough of her sexy husband Sawyer, but he seems to prefer working to thinking about impending fatherhood. So tonight, a very pregnant Chloe is escaping her troubles at the town Christmas party.
Sheriff Sawyer Thompson hopes surprising Chloe at the party will give him a chance to set things right. But as the snow begins to fall and the wind rages, he wonders whether he can make it back in time. While mother nature conspires to keep Sawyer and Chloe apart, an unexpected arrival will require them to kiss and make up . . . and ring in the happiest holiday Lucky Harbor has ever seen.
Themes: Holiday, suspense, finales
Rating: 3 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
What a way to end a series that has kept us all entertained and brought us to a small town full of characters and intrigues.  I was sad to learn the series was ending, but when this unexpected novella popped up on my radar, acting as a sort of epilogue for the series, I knew I just had to read and review it.  While it was pretty short, there were lots of laughs, sweet reminders of love, and the forever knowledge that love can get us through it all as long as the relationship grows with the lovers. 
The story revolves around the holiday party for the town and Chloe’s determination to attend, even if she has to go alone, hauling her pregnant ass out into the world without her husband.  There has been a bit of distance between Chloe and her husband Sawyer, since the new of two becoming three was shared.  But while she has her own fears about becoming a mother, her greatest fear is of losing Sawyer with this new development in her life.  Sawyer has been dealing with the changes in his own ways, but he reminds her quickly that they are meant to be and he will stand by her no matter what.

I loved seeing the rediscovery of the love between Sawyer and Chloe, getting to see all the other characters that have come together throughout the entire series, and knowing that this town has found its stride and will always come together for one another. There is love, laughter, and fun as we learn all about Chloe’s fear and the challenges of a free spirit settling down and starting her own family.  I was not surprised that I loved this short story, being that I have always loved anything by Shalvis, but I was surprised just how invested I became in Chloe and Sawyer finding their way again.  Ending the series with this story was a stroke of genius and though I wish it wouldn’t end, it ended on a high note for sure.  Farewell Lucky Harbor!
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided. 


Friday, November 21, 2014

Review: On the Naughty List

On the Naughty List

by Lori Foster, Carly Phillips, Sugar Jamison, Beth Ciotta

Blurb:

The most wonderful time of the year is back with On The Naughty List, bringing perennial favorite holiday stories from Lori Foster and Carly Phillips, along with two Christmas stories that delighted readers a year ago. This sexy anthology will make you want to give your heart to Christmas again and again…
Lori Foster has two co-workers plan a Christmas party side-by-side-and discover a love worth celebrating in Christmas Bonus.
Carly Phillips explores a "mistletoe moment" when a no-nonsense lawyer intent on seducing her boss meets his twin instead--and gives him a scintillating kiss that leaves him begging for more in Naughty Under the Mistletoe.
In Sugar Jamison’s Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas, former wild child Dina Gregory returns home to New York to find the father of her young son. Instead, she finds his stuffy older brother, Ben. Ben can’t help but admire her tenacity—and her bold beauty. Could it be that Dina has reignited his Christmas spirit?
Beth Ciotta brings two friends who, after years apart, together at home for the holidays. They don’t seem to have much in common anymore, but when the two get stranded together during a blizzard, they are forced to reexamine if they are better off as "just friends"? Or could it be that true love was there all along? in Some Kind of Wonderful.
Themes: Holidays, Anthology, Contemporary
Rating: 3 stars
Heat Rating: 
Review:
Overall this was a very good anthology of short holiday romances.  Though it turns out I’d already read two of them, it was great to get to reread them and relive the holiday loves that developed in the most unlikely of places.
Christmas Bonus was a story I’ve read in the past, but it doesn’t take away from its greatness.  The story revolves around two coworkers that have each been hiding their attraction to one another for many years, but the time has come for them to embrace the desire and find out if there is a chance for a relationship.  This story was fun and sexy, with a sweet undertone of long awaited love and the chance for two people to find their places individually and as a team.  I loved Eric and Maggie, the two of them making a perfect match and seeing them finally share their love made the holiday theme all the sweeter. 
Naughty Under the Mistletoe was also a reread for me.  Toni was a sexy elf that makes the ultimate snafu, sharing a passionate kiss with her crush’s twin, Max.  The intense connection she feels during their embrace is unexpected and slightly frightening, but she is not going to scare off that quickly and will find a way to seduce him.  Max has never felt this kind of connection with a woman and refuses to let her slip away, but he knows that he will have to tread carefully to have his chance at a relationship with the sexy elf who has grabbed his heart.  But when a shocking discovery pushes Toni to run far and fast, Max has to track her down and overcome her fears so they can have a chance together.
In Some Kind of Wonderful, we get to see a long standing friendship morph into a sensual and loving relationship.  Maya left her small town a long time ago hoping the make a difference and find her way in the business world.  But the time has come for her to return home and when she does she finds herself faced with her childhood best friend and the man that has sparked new life into her heart.  Zach has returned from war a wounded man, emotionally and physically, and he is not ready to face the attraction that has sparked for his best friend.  Trapped together in a cabin during a blizzard, Zach and Maya have to come to terms with their new feelings and when they decide to explore their passion, a new love is discovered.  I loved, loved, loved Zach and Maya’s story and wish it could have had a full length version of this story to keep me warm on a long winter night.  Zach was a perfectly wounded character and Maya was the bright and optimistic force that was sent to him to pull him out of the darkness of his past.  There was a surprising Scroogesque moment of two in the story, but overall I must say it was a great holiday read.
And last but certainly not least, Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas, takes us on a woman’s journey to the family of her ex in hopes of making a better life for her infant son, never imagining just how much her life would change.  Though I am not usually a woman that is baby crazy, I will have to say that this was my favorite story of all four in this anthology.  Dina was full of heart and her compassionate nature shines again and again as she pulls Ben out of his shell and reminds him of the importance of love and laughter in life.  Ben was a bit like scrooge in several ways, but for the most part he was just a man whose life has left him jaded and alone, his family pulled away from him and his friendships few and far between.  When these two forces collide the explosion is no less than nuclear.  The romance and magic of the holiday season brings them together in unexpected ways and as the passion heats up, the subtle waves of love and longing bring them into a true and lasting relationship.  I would have loved a full length novel even more of this story than the others, and will definitely keep my eyes open for more from this author. 
All-in-all, On the Naughty List was a great group of holiday romances revolving around family, happiness and the spirit of the season.  Even being someone that doesn’t celebrate “Christmas”  the magic of the season and the love that shines this time of year is found in spades in these stories.  I love a good holiday tale, and this anthology was one that was worth every second of the time it took to read it. 

*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review.  No compensation was provided.