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Gone to the Dogs
Gone to the Dogs
by Emily Carmichael
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
32 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Cute, December 26, 2007
From the back cover:

This little Piggy should've stayed home...

Once a drop-dead bombshell, now stuck in the body of a corpulent corgi named Piggy, the late, great, gorgeous Lydia Keane is serving her penance for being a very bad girl while on earth. As a reluctant cupid, her mission is to bring lonely hearts together. But when her hopelessly clueless owner comes into some money--and suddenly meets Mr. Right--Piggy smells something funny...

In their spare time, freelance writer Nell Jordan and Piggy--now a certified therapy dog--make the rounds of northern Arizona's medical centers to bring some light into the lives of those in need. Nell has a heart of gold, though she lives in a style to which the formerly pampered Piggy is definitely not accustomed. But all that changes when a nursing home resident dies, leaving Piggy his fortune. Soon they're rolling in dough--and just as soon, a handsome, sexy photographer is sniffing around Nell. Piggy's been around the block--and there's no way this studmuffin is getting his hands on the Piggy Bank. Because why else would he want a plain Jane like Nell? Love is in the air--and it's up to Piggy to keep Nell's head out of the clouds...

And my review:

I'd read and enjoyed Diamond in the Ruff, another of Emily Carmichael's books starring Piggy, the dog who's actually the reincarnation of Lydia Keane, a woman being punished for her bad behaviour during her human life on earth. I thought it was delightful, so I eagerly snapped up GONE TO THE DOGS.

First off, I have to say that Piggy is hilarious! I think my favorite parts of the book were the sections written in Piggy's voice. Her cynical "I hate being a dog" attitude was so funny. However, Piggy was such a strong character that sometimes I felt that she overshadowed Nell, the heroine of the romance.

I also didn't feel like I got to know the hero as much as I would have liked. His character was roughly sketched, but not fully fleshed out. I would have liked to have got to know him better, because I never felt like I knew him enough to cheer for Nell to be with him. Not that he was a bad guy, or anything, he was just kind of there.

One other complaint I had was that I felt that there were too many subplots. The romance was often left on the back burner, and then when the author did get around to the relationship, it was rushed. I felt that she tried to do too much in one book. If some of the extra subplots had been thinned out, I think this would have been a more enjoyable read.

In the end, it was Piggy and her antics that kept me reading. And while she was enjoyable, I bought this book because I wanted to read a romance, not about the adventures of a human trapped in a dog's body. All in all, a cute read, but not a book I'll be keeping to read over and over again.

His Scandalous Duchess (Zebra Historical Romance)
His Scandalous Duchess (Zebra Historical Romance)
by Sara Blayne
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
37 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars A little heavy on the prose, December 21, 2007
From the inside front:

She would be his mistress...but not his wife!

Althea Wintergreen leads a quiet life with her child Effie in the beautiful Lake District--far removed from London society and gossip. Shrouded in scandal, she has no illusions about the amorous intentions of the wholly disreputable and devastatingly handsome Lucius Keene, the Duke of Traherne. Tempted by the sweet promise of passion in Lucius' kiss and her own secret desire to know love, Althea aids him wholeheartedly in her own seduction!

Though Lucius Keene is a confirmed rake and dedicated bachelor, he is above all a gentleman. Determined to set matters right, he proposes marriage to the unconventional, delightful Althea, never anticipating the ton's most eligible Duke would be turned down flat! But when Effie is almost abducted twice, Lucius knows that the little girl and Althea belong with him. Now that his own heart is becoming dangerously involved in the matter, he vows to convince noble Althea that her "scandalous" past is no reason to deny them both a future of bliss in each other's arms...

And my review:

I will admit that I could not finish the book. I couldn't even get through the first chapter. I like my books to have a good balance between prose and dialogue. Unfortunately, HIS SCANDALOUS DUCHESS is very heavy on the prose. There are sometimes more than 10 pages of nothings but prose. No dialogue to break it up. It made for very slow going.

I skimmed for a bit, and could not believe how little dialogue is in this novel. I suppose I could have slogged through it, but I prefer a faster pace to the books I read. Honestly, I felt tired while trying to read this novel; it was a lot of work. And I don't read romance for work, I do it for entertainment. If you're going to make me work hard to keep reading, I'm not going to stick around.

If you're looking for a Regency in the style of Sabrina Jeffries or Julia Quinn or Jacquie D'Alessandro, you won't find it here. If you're looking for something more on the lines of Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, then this might be a good fit for you.

Red Sky Warrior
Red Sky Warrior
by Genell Dellin
Edition: Paperback
40 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average historical romance, December 20, 2007
This review is from: Red Sky Warrior (Paperback)
From the back cover:

Brazen bride...

Maggie Harrington isn't about to let her tyrannical father "sell" her into a marriage for business purposes--and she will deal with the Devil himself to preserve her independence. So she makes condemned criminal, Cade Chisk-Ko an offer he'd be foolish to refuse: if the handsome half-breed agrees to accompany her to Texas as a temporary husband, Maggie will gratefully rescue him from the gallows.

Red Sky Warrior...

A drifter, a rogue, but no killer, Cade wants no part of the white world that betrayed him. But even a brief marriage to Maggie Harrington may prove as lethal as the handman's rope. For the raven-haired hellion's passionate fire ignites a wanting that threatens to consume Cade's damaged soul...and kindles a love he would give his life to protect.

And my review:

I honestly didn't expect to like this book, as I'd tried two of this author's other book and wasn't very impressed. But I was pleasantly surprised by RED SKY WARRIOR.

I really liked that both the hero and heroine were strong characters. Both were fairly well developed, and I felt that they were true to their backgrounds (he a Native American badly treated by white people; she the spirited daughter of a well-to-do family) without being stereotypes.

The only complaint I had with this book was that they fought too much. Obviously, some conflict is important (and to be expected, given their vastly different backgrounds), but there were times that it got to be too much.

That being said, this was so far the best thing I've read by this author. It didn't inspire me to run out and buy more of her books, but I'd be willing to give her writing another chance to really wow me. Fans will enjoy this book. If you've never read this author before and really want to, this is probably a good place to start. Otherwise, I'd recommend trying to get a copy at the library before you buy it, as I don't think it's a keeper.

Dusk Before Dawn
Dusk Before Dawn
by Mickee Madden
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
43 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Maybe it's just me..., December 15, 2007
From the back cover:

The man is haunted...

The sudden death of his wife and child sends Roan Ingliss into seclusion at his magnificent Scottish mansion. But he isn't alone at Baird House. He's sharing his solitude with a pair of mischievous ghosts named Lachlan and Beth. Too bad Roan's in no mood for or dead. Or so he thinks...

The woman is haunting...

A snowstorm lands beautiful American tourist Laura Bennett on Roan's doorstep. She calls it a stroke of bad luck. Yet from the moment they meet--sparking a passion that's all too real--Roan calls in a good omen. But two matchmaking ghosts have another name for it: destiny.

And my review:

Okay, maybe it's just me, but I found this book very hard to read. There was no easy flow to the words. Instead, the writing style was extremely choppy. I ended up having to read pages over and over again and still couldn't make sense of what was happening. I have no problem reading difficult novels (I devoured the classics when I was 14), but this book was impossible to follow. Prose kept interrupting dialogue, dialogue interruping prose, prose interrupting was ridiculous. I couldn't get drawn into the story because I kept getting jerked out of it by the awkward writing.

And what I could make sense of I didn't like. The kids (the heroine's nephews) are horrible little brats. And the heroine does absolutely nothing to keep them in line. This is a big pet peeve of mine--I cannot stand adults who let kids walk all over them. One of them screams, "you idiot!" at her, and what does she do? Nothing. Just winces. Uh..excuse me? When I was a kid, I would never have dared to say such a thing, and if I had, I'd have been sitting on a sore bottom for a week. But no, just a wince. Grr. I cannot stand bratty kids who are allowed to get away with being holy terrors, even in fiction.

And then when the heroine meets the hero, she throws up all over him. Gross! I am so sick of this kind of thing in romance. I read romance for a pleasant escape. Reading about vomit does not make for a pleasant escape.

Also, if you're a reader who can't stand accents being written out phonetically, you will hate that aspect of this book. Sometimes when the hero was talking, I ended up having to whisper the words out loud to understand what he was saying. For example: "Whan yer're through cleanin' oop, gae left in the hall an' doon the stairs." This won't bother all readers, but it's a little too much for me. Some accent is okay, but I don't like it when it's so thick that getting through it is like trying to wade through glue.

The author introduced so much information and so many characters at once that I was left feeling lost--as if I'd turned on a movie that was already half finished. I was left wondering if this is a sequel book, because I constantly felt like I must have missed something.

Not recommended by this reader.

by Anita Mills
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
52 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average, December 13, 2007
This review is from: Dangerous (Mass Market Paperback)
From the back cover:

A lady in danger...

From the moment Philadelphia-born Verena Howard first laid eyes on the smooth-talking gambler, she knew he was trouble. He was everything her mother had ever warned her about--a darkly handsome man with something to hide. But as she embarked on a journey across the untamed Texas frontier, fighting off amorous ruffians and sinister strangers, he came to her rescue by pretending to be her husband and proving himself as handy with his gun as he was with a deck of cards.

A man on the run...

To Matthew Morgan, the pretty Verena looked alone and decidedly vulnerable when he first saw her, making her the perfect cover for his flight from the hangman. But once he persuaded the independent-minded beauty that she needed his company, everything went wildly awry, and he was in the game of his life, risking everything--and discovering the greatest trick of all just might be keeping his own heart.

And my review:

I discovered Anita Mills when I read her novella THE CHRISTMAS STRANGER, found in Harlequin's Christmas Rogues collection. Her story was wonderfully told, so I was eager to try out a full-length novel by such a talented author. First off, I will admit that this author has a wonderfully engaging writing style. Her prose is flowing and easy to read, she refrains from jarring point-of-view switches and head-hopping, her humorous situations are actually funny (not forced) and her descriptions make you feel like you are really there.

Of course, feeling like you're really there turned out to be one of this novel's downfalls. As another reviewer has said, the descriptions of filth, smelly people, and bodily fluids was a bit much. Yes, I know that the old West was untamed and not clean (no such thing as indoor plumbing yet!), but the author kept harping on it. I really got sick of hearing about how gross the privies were, or about the mess of spit and tobacco juice on the train floor--and when the heroine then has to pretend to faint and lands in such a disgusting mess, I nearly gagged. I know that history was not clean, but I really think the author could have toned down the "gross" factor a lot. After all, this is romance, and reading about spit (and worse) getting all over the heroine's dress is not my idea of a romantic escape.

Still, I'd enjoyed this author's work before, so I was determined to push on and finish the book. Unfortunately, rather than being a romance, this was more historical fiction with a relationship tacked on for added spice. I never really felt any chemistry between the two leads. It felt like they were together just because they happened to be thrown together so much, not because they were a good match. Convenience and proximity don't automatically equal love. The sparring between them was well done, but it skated very close to the line of bickering at times. So when they suddenly decide to hop into bed together, I was left scratching my head, wondering where that came from.

I also felt that the character development was a bit lacking. The hero was a card sharp on the run, a man who would be reluctant to settle down and live a law-abiding life. The heroine was distrustful of men, especially handsome ones, after watching her mother live in heartbreak when her father abandoned them. Unfortunately, I never felt that it went beyond that. I couldn't see what would draw these two together. And being great in bed together isn't enough of a reason for me. (Not that this was a lust-soaked book, but there just wasn't much of anything else to the relationship.) I just didn't feel any real tenderness or affection between them.

As I mentioned before, there was a lack of romance in this novel. The relationship was on the back burner for most of it. A lot of "screen time" was given to the subplot of the desperadoes attempting to track down Verena, believing that she can lead them to a cache of gold that her father had stolen. While I like a good intrigue subplot, I don't like when it detracts from the romance. Unfortunately, almost half the book was given to this subplot, and the romance suffered as a result. Every time the author would take us back to the villan's camp, I was annoyed, because I wanted her to get back to the romance. That's what I read romance for: the relationship between hero and heroine. Also, the author spent a lot of time introducing a whole set of new characters in the middle of the novel who didn't really add much to the story, and never showed up again. It kind of felt like "padding" to make the book longer.

One last complaint: the love scene had some really bad wording. For instance, it makes references to the "nipples on her breasts." opposed to the other various nipples on her body? Instead of being drawn into the love scene, I was snorting with laughter at the ridiculous image that immediately popped into my head. I'm positive that was not the intended result when the author wrote the love scene.

I ended up skimming about the last half of the novel, just to see how it ended. There were no big surprises or plot twists; but I wasn't expecting any. If you've never read a historical western romance before, you might enjoy DANGEROUS. But if you've read a lot of them, this book isn't going to cover any new ground. I don't mind old plots, but the characters have to jump into my heart for me to really enjoy a book. That just didn't happen here. I would be willing to give this author another try, as I know she can write well. I just don't think this novel represents her best work. Not recommended by this reader.

Blow Me Down (Signet Eclipse)
Blow Me Down (Signet Eclipse)
by Katie MacAlister
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.99
119 used & new from $0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not to my taste, December 11, 2007
From the back cover:

This game girl has wreaked havoc on the high seas--but the tide is about to turn...

In the Internet virtual reality game Buckling Swashes, Earless Erika and Black Corbin are two of the most deadly pirates to sail the online seas. And now they've met their matches: each other.

But fearless Earless Erika is really just Amy--a financial analyst with little time in her life for anything but work. And Corbin is none other than the man behind the game--the programmer and owner of the company. He's intrigued by Amy, the only buccaneer to best him in this test of digital testosterone, while she just wants to take his arrogance down a peg. But soon the two find themselves comrades in arms against a merciless rival bent on Corbin's destruction--both on the virtual high seas and in real life. Only by setting aside their differences can they locate the actual people behind the swaggering swashbucklers--and along the way find that love can tame even the most fearsome of pirates.

Shiver me timbers...

And my review:

This was my first try of this author, and I wasn't terribly impressed. This book started with a major strike against it: it's written in the first person. That doesn't bother every reader, but it's definitely not my preferred way of storytelling. Still, I decided to push past this and give the book a fair chance.

First off, the reader has to be able to suspend disbelief. The story mostly takes place in a virtual reality game. Now, if that seems too "out there" for you, then don't even bother reading this book. Personally, I thought it would make for an interesting premise. But it was the characters and writing style that made me quit reading.

Things that were supposed to be funny felt forced. The running joke about the heroine thinking she has to collect a bunch of wooden legs to advance to the next level in the game was just not funny. It was sort of funny the first time it was mentioned, but after the 50th time in 10 pages, it had totally lost its charm. Plus, I was just left scratching my head. Why would anyone think that they have to collect prosthetic limbs as part of a computer game?

I felt that the heroine went off on too many internal (and spoken) rambles all the time. There was the part when a bunch of prostitutes are talking to the heroine, and rather than trying to pay attention and gather information, the heroine is trying to make her boobs look bigger in her low-cut top. Okay... Then the heroine keeps talking about spreadsheets and modern technology to characters in a computer game. Like they're going to understand you, yet she keeps on doing it every time she speaks. She just kept going on and on until I wanted to clamp a hand over her mouth to make her stop talking.

And as others have said, the hero was whiny. Since I found the heroine annoying, I guess they were well matched. But finding both main characters irritating does not make for good romance reading.

I guess it depends on your taste, but this novel just wasn't a good fit for me. If you still want to read it, you might want to try to find it at the library.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 10, 2013 12:01 AM PST

Their Christmas Wish Come True
Their Christmas Wish Come True
by Cara Colter
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
20 used & new from $0.01

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What happened? I normally LOVE Cara Coulter, November 28, 2007
From the back cover:

Forty days till Christmas...can they open their hearts in time?

Kirsten Morrison runs the Secret Santa Society and loves making other happy. Although she knows opening your heart can be painful, her secret wish is to find a special man to share Christmas with...

Volunteering to wrap children's gifts isn't something Michael Brewster would normally do. But, facing his first Christmas alone, he finds himself on Kirsten's doorstep.

As they work together, an undeniable attraction flares between them. Is a kiss under the mistletoe the start of their Christmas wish come true?

And my review:

I absolutely loved Guess Who's Coming for Christmas? by Cara Coulter, so when I saw that she'd written another holiday romance, I immediately snapped it up. I expected another great read with loveable characters, running jokes that are actually funny, and a touch of magic to warm my heart and get me into a holiday mood.

And at first, I got all that. Cara Coulter is amazing at creating well-rounded characters in very little space (less than 200 pages). She also managed to move my emotions in a way that very few readers can--I was in tears for a lot of this book. And then she'd make me laugh the next second. Her writing has a wonderful flow, and she can paint vivid pictures in your head without overdoing the prose.

I also liked that the characters were more than just cliches. The heroine didn't believe in true, lasting love, ever since the breakup of her parent's and sister's marriages, yet she wasn't a bitter man-hater. And while the hero had endured plenty of personal tragedy, he wasn't mean or hateful either. I loved watching him thaw from his numbness to accept life again.

So why only two stars? When the hero condones cheating, I lost all respect for him. The reason the heroine's sister's marriage broke up was because their son was badly injured. And just when the wife needed her husband the most, he had an affair! And the hero says that he understands! Direct quote, spoken by the hero: '"They [men] might behave badly unless they have a soft place to fall. A place they can lay their head where they don't have to be strong, or fix everything. You want your brother-in-law to be the criminal, but maybe your sister wasn't there for him, either."'

ARGH! Sorry, but nothing justifies cheating. Not hardship, not tragedy, not a fight, not thinking that your spouse is cheating, not being really horny. NOTHING. Especially not when your wife needs you the most. What kind of man does that? I just can't cheer for a hero who tries to justify that kind of behavior--it makes me wonder if he will stay faithful when times get tough, as they will in any marriage. The heroine deserved far better than that. (I wonder, would he have been so forgiving if the wife had been the one cheating?)

I am so sick and tired of romance where the man cheats, and it's the woman's fault. Yes, I know this situation didn't involve the main couple, as the hero himself didn't cheat, but I felt it showed his true colors, and they weren't pretty. It was enough to make me stop reading.

I'm just glad I didn't read this one first, or I would never have found the wonderful read of GUESS WHO'S COMING FOR CHRISTMAS? Try that book instead--it was marvelous, and no one cheats or justifies being unfaithful. This author has so much talent--why did she have to wreck what was another wonderful story?

A Christmas Love
A Christmas Love
by Kathleen Creighton
Edition: Paperback
19 used & new from $1.06

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, November 27, 2007
This review is from: A Christmas Love (Paperback)
From the back cover:

Christmas treasure can be buried in the heart.

A fresh start--that's what Carolyn Robards wanted when she moved to the rural cottage down south. But Clay Traynor, the arrogant guy next door, reminds her all too clearly of what she left behind.

Married before, like Carolyn, Clay's ideas of neighborliness have nothing to do with southern hospitality. Not even the holiday spirit can soften his hard-edged manner. And when an unexpected crisis at Christmastime forces Carolyn to enlist Clay's help, the compassionate single mom and the handsome ex-cop find themselves on opposite sides of the fence. Carolyn doesn't know the unbearable secret from a Christmas past that Clay has been carrying with him. Nor does she care. She only knows she needs him now.

It will take a miracle to make them open their hearts to this most magical of seasons...and to each other.

And my review:

After thoroughly enjoyed THE MYSTERIOUS GIFT, Kathleen Creighton's novella, found in the Silhouette Christmas Stories 1990 collection, I eagerly sought out her other books. But I was disappointed in A CHRISTMAS LOVE.

For one thing, the writing style was very choppy. Phrases were constantly getting interupted by stuff in brackets or dashes. The point-of-view jumped all over the place. There was no focus to the book, as it kept going off on tangents that didn't seem to have much to do with the main story. There seemed to be a backstory between hero and heroine, but it wasn't well introduced. I kept having to wonder if they really had met before or not. The heroine's flashes of insight (visions? premonitions? memories?) just made things more confusing, rather than intriguing. I kept wondering if this was going to be a book with a paranormal twist, or whether the heroine was just off her rocker. I wanted the question answered properly: did they once know one another or not? Or did the heroine only feel like she knew him through visions and a sense of familiarity that wasn't easy to explain? I like the whole concept of destiny, or of somehow knowing someone before you meet them--but it needs to be made clear for me to enjoy it.

I also felt that there wasn't much character development. The hero's character was especially vague. Whether he was actually someone from the heroine's past wasn't made very clear, and that just added to my sense of not knowing him. Who was he, below his surface? What made him tick? Was he more than just a "down-home" country boy? I just didn't feel like there was much depth to him. Also, the back cover blurb says that he's arrogant--yet I never saw any evidence of it. He acted more like the nice boy next door than a man with an attitude problem.

One other thing that really bothered me was how the heroine let her daughter act like such a brat. Granted, the heroine had just gotten divorced, and having one's parents split up is difficult for a child to deal with, but that doesn't excuse being rude to people you just met, nor treating your mother like dirt. Especially when you're thirteen, not three. She should have known better. I especially didn't like that the hero had to be the one to tell her off, when that was the heroine's job.

Maybe I just expected too much, since I'd liked this author's work before. Some authors seem to do better when they are under a page restriction, but have trouble performing when they need to write an expanded story. Maybe that's the case here. But the bottom line is, I don't recommend A CHRISTMAS LOVE. There are better Christmas romances out there, including this author's novella THE MYSTERIOUS GIFT that I mentioned earlier.

One Christmas Knight
One Christmas Knight
by Kathleen Creighton
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
36 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Maybe it's just me..., November 26, 2007
From the back cover:

Fa la la la...labor!

Okay, maybe driving solo cross-country in her eighth month wasn't the most brilliant idea Mirabella Waskowitz had ever had. And maybe she should have turned back when she heard the blizzard warnings. But the feisty mom-to-be certainly didn't need advice from that strapping Southern trucker who kept crossing her path...until her water broke.

Here is was Christmas Eve, and single dad Jimmy Joe Starr wanted only to be home with his young son. Instead, he was snowbound with a beautiful "virgin" who was about to give birth. Jimmy Joe had long ago stopped believing in miracles. But Mirabella and her baby were about to change all that...

And my review:

I bought this book because I loved Kathleen Creighton's Christmas novella, THE MYSTERIOUS GIFT found in Silhouette Christmas Stories 1990 collection. Since I love Christmas romance, I figured a full-length novel by the same author would be a sure thing.

But I was a bit disappointed in ONE CHRISTMAS KNIGHT. While I have no problem with an older woman/younger man premise, the author harped on their age difference so much that it started to bug me. The heroine is nearly a decade older than the hero, and the author kept mentioning how young the hero looked, and how he was still in diapers when she was in junior high school, etc, etc. I started picturing a graying woman with a baby-faced teen not yet shaving. It made it a bit icky. And when the heroine started putting herself down, it felt like she was using a plot to get the hero to compliment her.

One thing that also got on my nerves was the heroine. She was very stuck-up. She thinks the world entitles her anything she wants, which made her seem spoiled. The way she was always walking around with her nose in the air (and I never understood what she was so high-and-mighty about) made me want to take her down a peg or two. And her flipping the bird to another driver because he honked at her (when she was blocking traffic) made her seem crass. Frankly, I thought the hero needed someone sweeter and more ladylike.

One other big stumbling block for me: the heroine was about to become a single choice. She wasn't a woman who'd been widowed, or the victim of a man who refused to take responsibility for his child. No, she had decided that she wanted a child, so she went to a sperm bank to buy herself one. This just didn't sit well with me. I don't believe in anyone actively choosing to deny a child of a father. (If it is out of the mother's control, like the father refuses to be a part of the child's life, that's a different story, and I would never look down on a woman in that situation.) But to choose to deny your child of a dad? That just doesn't seem right to me. Of course, not everyone feels this way, so you might enjoy this story if that plot point isn't a problem for you.

But even if you put that whole issue aside, I still didn't feel like the hero and heroine were a good match. I thought that he was too nice for her, and that if they did end up together, she would walk all over him. I thought that she needed someone who'd be firmer with her, and he needed someone who was nicer.

One last little complaint: this story felt very dated, even though it was published in 1997, so only ten years ago. Mentions of Soupy Sales, Princess Di, and a "newfangled" technology called email. Not really annoying, just kind of funny, in a "I'm only 26 and this makes me feel old" way.

Maybe I just expected too much, since I'd enjoyed this author's work so much before. I don't know. Still, the bottom line is that I don't recommend this book. There are better Christmas romances out there.

Jingle Bells, Wedding Bells: "All I Want for Christmas", "Very Merry Step-Christmas", "Jack's Ornament", "Forever Gift"
Jingle Bells, Wedding Bells: "All I Want for Christmas", "Very Merry Step-Christmas", "Jack's Ornament", "Forever Gift"
by Nora Roberts
Edition: Paperback
24 used & new from $0.48

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed Nora Robert's story, November 23, 2007
From the inside front:

They were precocious, identical six-year-old twins, and they knew what they wanted for Christmas: a mom. Fortunately, their new music teacher fit all the requirements...but unfortunately, their dad didn't agree. Clearly it was up to the twins to make Christmas magic--and they were definitely up to the challenge.

Christmas? Bah, humbug! Claudia Nolan had no time for the holidays. Her kids were in rebellion, her job was driving her crazy, and all she wanted was to get through New Year's Eve--dateless. Then Zack Ritter came along. He was the wrong man in every way, but suddenly Claudia had thoughts of getting stuck under the mistletoe...

JACK'S ORNAMENT by Myrna Temte
For lonely rancher Jack Zorn, work always came first--until he met wealthy Elizabeth Davies-Smythe. Although the lady was lovely, Jack believed cowboys and socialites didn't mix. Would Christmas in cowboy country help lasso lasting joy?

THE FOREVER GIFT by Elizabeth August
The holidays were hard for Abigail Jones. She could never have a real home or a man to call her own--not when her past kept her on the run. But when she met Kane Courtland, leaving was all the more difficult. And loving him made it all the more necessary...

And my review:

As usual, the standout of this collection is Nora Robert's story, ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS. The twins were absolutely adorable, and I'd dare any romance reader not to love them. The author does a good job with rounding out her characters, and with creating conflict that doesn't feel manufactured. And the twin's steadfast belief in Christmas magic will put any reader into a holiday mood. Four stars.

A VERY MERRY STEP-CHRISTMAS did not impress me. This was a "falling in lust" story, and I hate that theme. Seriously, the hero and heroine meet at a party (after each has been led to believe that the other is dying for an introduction), and the next thing you know, the hero is wondering why she isn't heading out with him to go have sex. Seriously! They just met one minute before, and he's wondering why she isn't on her back throwing her skirt up yet! Argh. I like romance heros to think about more than just getting laid--like that they might actually like to know a woman before climbing on to of her. A guy who meets a woman and expects her to immediately fall into bed with him does nothing but disgust me. One star.

JACK'S ORNAMENT really suffered from the page restriction. This read like a plot outline, rather than a finished story. Days will go by in just a few paragraphs, and interaction between characters merely alluded to rather than seen by the reader. I felt no heat or spark between the hero and heroine, mainly because after the initial meeting between them (which showed promise), we don't get to see them interact. Then next thing you know, they're making out. And by the next page or so, the heroine decides that she's in love. was all just too rushed for me. Also, if I felt I'd known the hero better (he was pretty much "off-screen" for much of the book), I might have understood why the heroine fell in love so fast. I think that if this author had had more room to work, this would have been a much more enjoyable read. Two stars.

THE FOREVER GIFT was another story that suffered from the page restriction. The character development was a little lacking, and it's great characters that make a great story. The hero felt especially distant. I never felt like I got a handle on who he was, apart from a enigmatic, tortured soul. Also, the reader has to wait a long time before finding out just why the heroine is on the run. And that subplot felt a little unnecessary to me. I thought that the conflict of a tortured hero and a heroine, wounded because she grew up without the love of parents was enough to fuel a story. It just felt like too much packed into less than 80 pages. Two stars.

I would only recommend this if you are a hard-core fan of Nora Roberts and want everything she's ever written. Otherwise, I'd skip this one, as there are better Christmas romance anthologies out there.

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