#BookReview: A Prairie Creek Christmas by Elizabeth Bromke

Short Sweet Romance. Yet again Bromke nails another Hallmarkie (and self aware of this ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) romance. This one is one of the more fun/ hilarious ones with a touch of heat (but nothing more than barely kissing shown, for the clean/ sweet romance crowd) with less real drama. And given its brevity (under 150 pages), a great quick read for when you need to escape the Christmas drama in your real life and dive into a better fictional world. And besides, who other than Cruella de Ville doesn’t like puppies? Yes, there are puppies here – the tale largely revolves around a fundraiser for the local animal shelter! So come on in for a quick bite, relax, and have some fun. Heck, about the only remotely negative thing here is that “Christmas” just doesn’t jump off the page the way it does in other books, even other Christmas books from Bromke herself. Very much recommended.

This review of A Prairie Creek Christmas by Elizabeth Bromke was originally written on December 8, 2022.

#BookReview: A Time Travel Christmas by Karen McQuestion

Heart And Magic In A Short, Quick Read. This is a perfect Christmas story for anyone who has ever wanted to spend just “one more day” (as Diamond Rio once sang) with a lost loved one at Christmas. Through some scifi/ magical time travel, our lead here gets to do just that – going back to one pivotal night when her grandmother was just a young girl that would change her grandmother – and her entire family – for generations to come. As someone who has been very vocal about wondering about just such tragedies in his own grandparents’ lives, this was particularly moving. But even more generally, this is a great tale that somehow manages to mashup both The Family Man (one of my all time favorite Christmas movies) and Balto (a movie my youngest brother was *obsessed* with as a kid). While lighthearted overall, there is a very real, very visceral threat of imminent danger – and even death – hanging throughout the middle 80% ish of the tale, and this really drives how quick of a read this is – you won’t want to put it down for fear that on the next page someone might die. And yet, the Christmas magic – complete with family and snow (meaning Yankee Christmas, as it rarely snows at that time in the South ;)) and plenty of warmth and surprise – is also present throughout the tale. Very much recommended.

This review of A Time Travel Christmas by Karen McQuestion was originally written on December 2, 2022.

#BookReview: An Alaskan Christmas Homecoming by Jennifer Snow

Fun And Short Christmas Novella. This is a 50 ish page novella that packs a punch, particularly for anyone who has ever felt like the black sheep in the family. Solid Christmas theming, complete with decorations, a “Scrooge”, and forgiveness. Oh yeah, and even a complete romance tale that checks off all of the “rules” I am aware of, while not going into a *ton* of detail on any given aspect – the difference in a 50 page novella and a 300+ page novel. ๐Ÿ˜‰ For those looking for an introduction to the author and/ or this series, this tale works well as only a minimal time commitment to give them a try. For fans of the series, this is more of a quick bite between longer tales, and for readers – like this one – who are fans of the author and series who are looking for a quick book to meet some arbitrary reading goal quickly… here ya go. ๐Ÿ˜€ Very much recommended.

This review of An Alaskan Christmas Homecoming by Jennifer Snow was originally written on November 2, 2022.

#BookReview: Alaska For Christmas by Jennifer Snow

Cold Weather Rescues, Amnesia, and Christmas Romance In Alaska! This is a solid tale with a few cold-weather rescues on both land and sea for the Port Serenity Coast Guard and our leading male… including one where he has to rescue our leading female… only to later discover she now has amnesia from her ordeal! It is at this point that the actual Christmas Romance portion of the novel sets in, and here too Snow does her usual strong romance work, including featuring some dates that seem possible only in Alaska or similarly northern locales. For those “clean” / “sweet” romance types… umm… this isn’t exactly erotica, but the reader is in the room for certain situations. So if you’re not a fan of such scenes… well, they’re fairly standard in most romance novels and this one is included there. Overall a strong novel that fulfills all the standard RWA rules while telling a fun and at times harrowing tale. Very much recommended.

This review of Alaska For Christmas by Jennifer Snow was originally written on October 16, 2022.

#BlogTour: Home Sweet Christmas by Susan Mallery

For this blog tour, we’re looking at the second book in a series of Hallmark Christmas Romance-type tales that feels like it was only tangentially related to its first book, The Christmas Wedding Guest. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Home Sweet Christmas by Susan Mallery.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Hallmarkie Christmas Tale. This was a solid Christmas tale with a pair of romances in small town Washington State that features a *lot* of meddling by a mother/ “adoptive” mother who wants grandkids. You’ve got the expected small town charm, the native-who-left-and-came-back part of the couple (for one of the two romances), the out-of-towner (for the other), the successful businessman, the “normal” guy with a major (yet amazing) secret… basically, everything any Hallmark Christmas Romance movie enthusiast expects to see in their stories. And Mallery, as usual, does a solid job of using her 400 ish pages to fully flesh out this story without ever feeling overly long in the process. Truly a solid story well told, and a worthy addition to this series and Mallery’s overall catalog. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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#BlogTour: The Road To Christmas by Sheila Roberts

For this blog tour we’re looking at a somewhat innovative “shotgun road trip” approach to a somewhat standard-type Hallmark Christmas tale. For this blog tour we’re looking at The Road To Christmas by Sheila Roberts.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Hallmarkie If Hallmark Did Road Trips. This is one of those almost 80s-cartoon feeling… “interesting”… blends of road trip tale and Hallmark Christmas tale. There are three separate road trips going on here – grandparents, parents, and siblings – all going their own routes and having their own adventures along the way to joining up with youngest sister and her husband and newborn for Christmas. There’s some hilarity, some heart strings being pulled, some solid road trip fun, some solid Christmas fun, a lot of small town charm – in multiple small towns, also in departure from pure Hallmark format – and a healthy dose of moralizing/ preaching about the joys of family and the sacrifices we sometimes make for them. (Which is where the “almost 80s-cartoon feeling” comes in.) Ultimately a solid blend of a few different popular formats, and the “shotgun” approach also works quite well and is fairly innovative. Ultimately this is a solid tale well told, and is very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Road To Christmas by Sheila Roberts”

#BlogTour: Snowed In For Christmas by Sarah Morgan

For this blog tour we’re looking at Sarah Morgan’s seeming annual Christmas story, this time a Hallmarkie type tale set primarily in Scotland. For this blog tour we’re looking at Snowed In For Christmas by Sarah Morgan.

Here’s what I had to say about it on Goodreads:

Hallmark Scottish Christmas. Let’s be real here, this book is essentially a Hallmark Christmas movie set in Scotland. How you feel about the entire tale will likely be pretty close to how you feel about the sentence prior to this one in this review. There are three different romance tales at play here, between each of three siblings – Ross being the sacrificial lamb with a made up girlfriend to distract his parents from his sisters’ issues but who becomes all too real, Alice with an all too real fiancee, and Clemmie with plans of her own… who then has her own story from there. Along the way we also get to see the conflict between Ross and his dad, both of them successful businessmen who love to talk about anything *other* than business with each other. Ultimately, Morgan weaves her magic and makes all of this work quite well – if pretty much exactly within the Hallmarkie mold. Still, this is yet another solid hit for Morgan, and exactly how good of a hit really depends on exactly what the reader themselves feel about this type of story – Morgan’s bread and butter. I happened to think it worked quite well, and it is very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: Snowed In For Christmas by Sarah Morgan”

#FallIntoChristmasRomance #BlogTour: Christmas In Rose Bend by Naima Simone

For this blog tour, we’re looking at a warm gingerbread cookie of a Christmas romance tale that someone thought needed some cilantro on it. For this blog tale, we’re looking at Christmas In Rose Bend by Naima Simone.

Christmas Romance With A Touch Of Preachy Politics. This is *mostly* a Hallmarkie Christmas Romance that would *mostly* fit right in with a typical Hallmark Christmas Movie. So for fans of that kind of story, you’re going to love this one. That noted, it does have a moment or two of getting particularly preachy about the author’s politics here – enough that when reading through that section (an extended one early and a few other comments here and there) there was debate within my head about a star deduction. But ultimately even the preachiness was more spice than actual substance here – kind of a cilantro. Some will LOVE it. Others will HATE it. No matter which side you’re on here, know that it truly doesn’t form the actual meat of the tale here, and the rest of the tale really is a solid story of the type described above. This is marketed as Book 2 in a series, and honestly with the various backstories provided it almost seems like it could be even deeper than that – and yet the story here still works as a standalone by itself. Ultimately a solid Christmas Romance, and very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, social media links, and buy links.
Continue reading “#FallIntoChristmasRomance #BlogTour: Christmas In Rose Bend by Naima Simone”

#FallIntoChristmasRomance #BlogTour: A Little Christmas Spirit by Sheila Roberts

For this #FallIntoChristmasRomance blog tour, we’re looking at a strong amalgamation of A Christmas Carol, The Grinch, and Up – with a romance tacked on + an even stronger romance that “romance” purists will claim is just a love story. For this blog tour, we’re looking at A Little Christmas Spirit by Sheila Roberts.

A Christmas Carol / The Grinch / Up Mashup. If you go into this book expecting a romance – how it was marketed to me – … ummmm…. yeah, this isn’t really that. The “romance” here is fully tacked on in the last 20% of the book, with the guy barely mentioned at all before that point (and even in the “romance” here, the rest of the plot of the book is still truly the driver). But if you go into this as more of a women’s fiction / Christmas type book, it works quite a bit better. The focus is largely on Stanley, who is an amalgamation of the memorable parts of Scrooge (from A Christmas Carol, including a Christmas Ghost in the form of his dead wife), The Grinch (and his too-small-due-to-pain heart), and Carl from Pixar’s Up (grump old widower who doesn’t really like kids… at first). Then we’re introduced to Lexie and her son Brock, and from that point on Stanley’s life will never be the same again. But the majority of the book really is spent on Stanley, Lexie, and Brock, with the edge to Stanley and his memories of his wife (and interactions with her ghost). Here, it really does work to be a heartwarming tale (or heartworming, for those adverse to stories that get a bit saccharine at times, and in nod to the word I originally wrote there :D) again in line with A Christmas Carol and The Grinch. A fun tale that could have gotten a lot more depressing than it ever did, this is a solid Christmas tale… just not a Christmas Romance. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#FallIntoChristmasRomance #BlogTour: A Little Christmas Spirit by Sheila Roberts”

#FallIntoChristmasRomance #BlogTour: The Christmas Wedding Guest by Susan Mallery

For this blog tour we’re looking at a very Hallmark Christmas type tale that happens to be a two-for-one romance, with *two* couples’ stories told at once. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Christmas Wedding Guest by Susan Mallery.

Two-For-One Christmas Romance. This is one of those Christmas Romance novels that almost seems destined to be made into a Hallmark Christmas movie – you’ve got the quirky town, the various leads that have no interest in an actual relationship, the innkeeper, the local shop owner, the mysterious stranger, and even the unusual-yet-cool career… and *none* of them are actually looking for romance. And yet… Mallery has a lot to cover in nearly 400 pages, and does a solid job of showing the two relationships – one new, one second chance – building throughout. If you’re looking for a book where the couple is already together a quarter into the book… this isn’t that. This is one of those where they finally actually get together closer to the end (which isn’t a spoiler due to genre ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), and it is indeed a satisfying conclusion. It will be interesting to see where Mallery takes Book 2 of this new series, with a couple of interesting possibilities there. Very much recommended.

After the jump, the “publisher details” including book description, author bio, social media links, and links to buy the book.
Continue reading “#FallIntoChristmasRomance #BlogTour: The Christmas Wedding Guest by Susan Mallery”