If Santa Were a Cowboy by Melissa Cutler

Blurb:
32721624This Christmas, Santa wears a Stetson.
Paul Savage loves Christmas at Briscoe Ranch Resort, when he gets to take a break from being a back country guide to play Santa in the resort’s lobby and talk to kids about toys. The last thing he expects is his high school crush to come waltzing in as his new assistant photographer, wheeling a suitcase that’s more naughty than nice.

Kelly Walker is a disaster. All she’d wanted was to spice up her life by saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity, which is when the universe started pelting her with no’s. So when she comes across a job listing for a holiday photographer working with the sweet, scrawny boy whose advances she’d laughed off in high school, she jumps on the chance to turn her bad Karma around by giving Paul a second chance.

Trouble is, Paul’s anything but scrawny anymore, and his cowboy swagger throws her grand plans for a loop–especially when he tempts her with a red hot proposition of his own. Kelly’s in way over her head, but as she gets swept up in the magic of Briscoe Ranch’s holiday charms–and Paul’s–could Kelly’s year of no’s be leading up to the ‘yes’ of a lifetime?

images     scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

hohohorat2016button

My Review:
3.5 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

I love a good nerdy boy, and Paul totally fits the bill.  I get that he’s all hot now, but he has a nerdy soul, and that worked for me.  Kelly was a bit harder to love.  I normally shy away from popular girls, but I kind of liked how we saw how she struggled with the image she was supposed to maintain, and missed out on so much being someone she wasn’t inside.  It was an interesting perspective actually.  So I warmed up to her more than I normally would, but still not entirely.  I wanted a bit more flashback of what she loved about Paul back in the day so that I could feel better about her coming and pursuing him, rather than just because he was a nice guy.

Paul had his hiccups too…I mean, again, wish we had more flashbacks so we could see what parts he loved about Kelly, especially for so long…what attracted them to each other.  What parts of their personalities meshed, kwim?  But he was still pretty sweet, and I loved the relationship he had with his dog Sadie….she was a total winner for me.

I was a bit confused about the sex scenes.  I mean, she has this suitcase full of seduction that included a riding crop and handcuffs, but when we finally got to the sex scene, it kind of faded to black…only it didn’t really fade to black, but like the author just sort of skimmed over it.  Which is ok, but I don’t understand why.  She still used explicit language occasionally, but it was like a recap instead of details.  It just seemed odd to me.  If I wanted a sweet fade to black read, this wouldn’t have fit that either, you know?  So either go sweet or go all in…it was kind of like a steamy tease, and so I was left disappointed.  The closet scene was pretty hot though.

The part that will probably have me rounding up instead of down is that it totally knocked the heartwarming Christmas feel out of the park.  Some of those moments when Paul was Santa and talking to the kids or parents of the kids — particularly one Mom of a special needs boy — really got me in the ticker.  It’s exactly what I look for in a Christmas read, so it got me into the magical spirit.  So thanks Ms. Cutler!

Lenoreo_small

Christmas at the Rekindle Inn by Lori Waters


28121177Blurb:
 Mary Walker has a habit of giving in when it comes to her mother, but this time her mom went too far. At first glance, the gift seems innocent. Seven days at a lovely Vermont inn in mid-December is Mary’s idea of the perfect Christmas present—that is until she discovers her traveling companion’s identity.

The Rekindle Inn is the last place J.T. Walker wants to spend his Christmas vacation, much less in the company with the woman who’d recently ripped his heart to shreds. A challenge of wills, and the need to show Mary he no longer cares, has him on the plane to Santaville faster than the time it takes to unwrap a candy cane.

The Rekindle Inn specializes in mending relationships, but when the Walkers check in, it will take more than a little Christmas magic to bring these two broken hearts back together. More like a Christmas miracle.

scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

hohohorat2016button

images

4 stars

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest/unbiased opinion.

This one was an appetizer.  Short and sweet like. I found the town a bit over the top but I think it was meant to be this way.  The story was predictable and transparent. Again, I suspect it was meant to be this way.

It was cute how they were both too stubborn and proud to tell their parents they didn’t want to go on the vacation.  Which really masked the fact they were clearly still in love with each other.  The beginning was a bit slow but it picked up towards the middle.

I felt the sex scenes fell a bit flat and the chemistry wasn’t as strong as I’m used to.  The fact that they weren’t ‘allowed’ to talk about their past may have rubbed me the wrong way. How can you deal with it if you don’t confront it?  But I was able to suspend my belief and ended up enjoying the book as a whole.

I have never been very good at the whole wintery/christmas themes books but they are starting to grow on me.

Curly Carla_small

Big Package by Opal Carew

Blurb:
31450411Baby it’s cold outside…but things are about to heat up.

I missed the last bus to my sister’s for Christmas, and now I’m stranded in a bus station—in the middle of a blizzard—with a giant package covered in naughty wrapping paper.

Then he shows up: Kalen Welles, the football star from my high school fantasies—and offers me a ride.

Just when the car is getting cozy, the roads get shut down due to snow.

Luckily there’s a nearby cabin where we can hole up for the night.

A warm fireplace, cozy blankets, pent-up longing we both spent years ignoring… maybe I’ll be able to unwrap Kalen’s big package before Christmas morning.

But when the snow clears and the ice melts, will the former football star and the shy nerd finally get a happy ending?

Unwrap this sexy holiday story from Opal Carew!

images     scr2557-proj697-a-kindle-logo-w-rgb-lg

hohohorat2016button

My Review:
3 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

OK, I will admit that I picked this book to read as my first HoHoHo Read-A-Thon book b/c the reviews were kind of lukewarm, and having finished a book hangover type book, I knew the next book wasn’t going to live up to expectations.  Honestly, this is probably more of a 2.5 star read, but I bumped it up a half star b/c it partially takes place in Ottawa, and it brought back some good memories from when I lived there a decade and a half ago…  Especially when they mentioned Bayshore Mall!  I lived across from that mall!  So high fives for the great reminiscing.

Otherwise this was a pretty shallow book…it was a bit corny, a bit cheesy, the characters were pretty surface, and there were a lot of cliches.  It was pretty standard Harlequin type fare.  I would classify it as erotica, since there was an awful lot of sex.  And the plot had the usual stupid, AVOIDABLE misunderstandings that were resolved by just talking.  Not a huge fan of those, so hence why without the Ottawa stuff, it would have been a 2.5 star or lower.

I was amused that Ms. Carew dealt with some interesting sexual…insecurities?  Like a guy having to deal with a “big package”, and how that’s not always a blessing.  And female ejaculation.  Props to Ms. Carew, she did not a bad job with that either.

All in all very meh.  Didn’t keep my attention super well, but in some ways was less annoying than I had been expecting.  On to my next Christmas read!

Lenoreo_small