Source: we received an e-ARC of the book through NetGalley for review purposes.
I requested this book because I’m a huge fan of Jill Shalvis. I have also read great things about Hope Ramsay’s Last Chance series so I was curious to read her novella as well. But I wasn’t familiar with Katie Lane’s work. I’m also a sucker for small town stories, so this anthology was right up my alley.
The first story is Kissing Santa Claus by Jill Shalvis. Five months ago Sandy Jensen had an affair with NASCAR driver Logan Perrish. When he left, she sent him an email confessing her love for him but he never wrote back. So when she sees him again in less-than-stellar circumstances (she’s wearing a Santa Claus costume) she doesn’t know how to react.
Logan has spent the past five months thinking about Sandy. What at first was just a fling, ended up being way more serious, so he is back in town to mend things with Sandy and to win her back.
If you’re familiar with the Lucky Harbor series then you probably recognize Logan from book two, since he was the heroine’s ex-husband. If you haven’t read the books (you should though, they’re great) there’s no need to worry because this story stands alone perfectly well, in fact, I didn’t make the connection until the character mentions it.
I liked that the characters knew each other previously because it makes the romance more believable. Kissing Santa Claus was fun and sweet, both Logan and Sandy were likeable and I had a great time spending time with them. There’s not much character development but that’s not the main focus in this type of stories so I wasn’t bothered by it. And as a fan of the author, and of this series in particular, it was good to see some of the previous characters and getting an update on their lives, especially since I’m anxiously waiting for the release of book three.
Next we have I’ll Be Home For Christmas by Hope Ramsay. This was my favorite story. I want to say that it was sweet, touching and cute, but I’m afraid that I might make it sound too sugary and scare you off. So you need to take my word for it, the novella is all of those things but it isn’t sappy or anything like that.
Staff Sergeant Matt Jasper has come to Last Hope to deliver a gift to the grandmother of one of his teammates who was killed in action a year ago. What he encounters instead, is a stray cat, Annie Roberts and the promise of home.
It’s hard to talk about stories this short because you end up giving away the whole plot. But I think the reason why this tale worked for me, and why I found it so touching, was because the hero was vulnerable and just plain adorable (there I go again with the sugary praises).
Overall this was a great holyday tale and I’m definitely checking out Ramsay’s previous work.
And last we have O Little Town of Bramble by Katie Lane. This was the classic friends-to-lovers and girl-next-door tale. Ethan and Sam were childhood friends, Sam had a crush on Ethan but when she left town in order to go to college they lost touch. Years later Sam is back in town and their relationship is about to change.
As I said before this was my first time reading this author and it was obvious that this novella is also part of a series but I could jump right into it without feeling lost.
Just like in the previous novels the characters were likeable and overall I enjoyed the story. But I had some issues with it as well. First I got tired of the language, the hero is a cowboy and is set in a small town, but all the “y’all” and “I reckon ma’am” got old pretty fast and I would think twice before reading a full-length novel where the characters talk like that all the time. Then the hero goes from resenting the heroine to loving her in the blink of an eye, and I get that it’s impossible to give them time to get over their issues in such a short novella but there was a lot of emphasis in the resentment aspect of the plot and that was left unsolved. And last, there were some angels thrown in there by the end of the book that had no business being there whatsoever and it felt like overkill. I know this is a cute Christmas story, but the angels were just too much for me.
Overall it was an entertaining story that went well with the whole feel of the anthology and I’m curious to see what the author can do with a bit more space for plot and character development.
All the stories in this anthology are short -I think they are shorter than the average novella-. You could easily read this book in one sitting, they are all sweet and fun and the perfect holyday read for someone who doesn’t have that much time and just wants a quick read to spend some time relaxing.
I don’t know why there are only three novellas because it definitely had space for at least one more. I’m not sure how the final edition will be, but the galley I got had 140 pages, of which 100 were reserved for the actual novellas and the rest was just promotional stuff about the authors. Since I had an index and I could see how short the stories were I wasn’t taken by surprise, but if you get the electronic version of the book, please take this into account since I know how annoying it is when you think that the book you’re reading has 25% left and then it suddenly ends and you’re left with 25% of other stuff.
Having said that, I enjoyed the anthology and I was happy to get the opportunity to read the work of two authors that were new to me.
Review by Brie
Overall Grade: 3.5
Three heartwarming holiday stories to prove that love is the greatest gift of all
Kissing Santa Claus
NASCAR driver Logan Perrish returns to Lucky Harbor, Washington, with love in his heart and a ring in his pocket. But can Sandy Jansen forget the past and give him a second chance? Or will Logan be spending another Christmas alone?
I'll Be Home for Christmas
After ignoring the advice of Miz Miriam Randall, local matchmaker, Annie Roberts expects another hum drum holiday in Last Chance, South Carolina. But when a stray cat arrives in the arms of Army sergeant Matt Jasper, a calico named Holly just may be the best matchmaker of all.
O Little Town of Bramble
All Ethan Miller wants for Christmas is to celebrate in Bramble, Texas, with family and friends. But when his childhood neighbor, Samantha Henderson, comes home for the holiday, Ethan realizes that the girl-next-door could be the girl of his dreams.
Forever. November 1, 2011.