Review: Red Hot Holiday by Anne Calhoun, K.A. Mitchell and Leah Braemel

Format read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genre: Erotic Romance, Holiday Romance
Length: 262 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: December 3, 2012
Purchasing Info:Anne Calhoun’s Website, K.A. Mitchell’s Website, Leah Braemel’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance

I’ll be home for Christmas…to fulfill all your dreams.

This holiday, a Mountie is determined to get her man. A widow finds a fireman who ignites her passions again. And two men unsure of their commitment discover a happily ever after—and a blindfold—under their tree. No matter your desires, this collection of three shorts is bound to treat you to all the joys of the season.

Edited by Angela James, this anthology includes:

I Need You for Christmas by Leah Braemel
Breath on Embers by Annie Calhoun
Wish List by K.A. Mitchell

All the stories in this holiday collection contain extra-spicy sex, but that wasn’t necessarily the point. Or at least it wasn’t for this reader.

I found it interesting that all three stories were about established relationships. There was no porn-without-plot here. Yes, there was a little kink, but it was really about love, and what worked for these relationships, these people.

Breath on Embers wasn’t merely my favorite story in this collection, it nearly broke my heart. This is a story about someone using noise, any kind of noise; music, work, sex, exercise, to distance herself from terrible, gnawing grief. Tess lost her husband two years ago this Christmas. For the past nine months, she’s been using FDNY Lieutenant Ronan O’Rourke as the sex part of that noise. He knows where she’s been. He lost a beloved uncle in one of the towers on 9/11. He’s lost comrades on the job. Tess makes him feel alive. He’s tired of her using him to help her deaden the pain. He knows they have more. This Christmas he’s going to prove to her that there is life on the other side of grief, if she’ll only take the first step across the yawning chasm.

This story is awesomely painful. And awesomely beautiful.

Escape Rating for Breath on Embers: A+

I Need You for Christmas is an updated version of O. Henry’s classic Christmas story, The Gift of the Magi, with a slightly kinky twist. In today’s society, what’s the biggest thing you can sacrifice for your lover? Your career? Your dreams. Ryan’s dreams were for his art. He’s a sculptor, and he’s finally starting to sell. Art is always a hit or miss proposition at best, and this is finally his “time”. Megan is a Mountie, and that’s her dream. The problem is that her dream meant 5 years being posted in Nunavut, while the death of Ryan’s parents meant that he had to stay in Toronto as guardian to his young step-siblings.  They’re going to college now. So he can leave Toronto, even if being out of civilization may cause difficulties for his career.

But Megan has had about enough of being away from Ryan. She’s been a Mountie, and she loves it, but she misses him. While she needs to serve and protect, outside of her job, she also needs the freedom of submitting to Ryan in the privacy of their bedroom.

And after the sudden death of Ryan’s parents, Ryan knows that no one’s tomorrows are guaranteed. Mounties get shot at in the Territories.

So they each plan a surprise for the other for Christmas, a surprise that should guarantee they can be together all the time. But there’s this little problem with surprises…

This story was sweet, and hot, and drives the reader crazy with wanting them to just TELL EACH OTHER already! But it’s oh so believable, that they want to be together and would do this. Terrific story.

Escape Rating for I Need You for Christmas: B+

Ryan and Megan in I Need You for Christmas were definitely into the D/s part of BDSM, but only to a certain extent, and they didn’t explicitly refer to it that way.

Jonah and Evan in Wish List by K.A. Mitchell don’t start out the story being part of the BDSM scene either, but when Jonah discovers a pair of wedding rings hidden in his boyfriend Evan’s desk drawer, he starts thinking of all the things he might like to try before he finally takes himself permanantly off the market, and in the “wish list” he makes of things he’d really, really like to experiment with, his imagination conjures up a whole LOT of BDSM ideas, with himself starring in the submissive role.

The only problem is that he can’t imagine his relatively buttoned-down, neat-and-tidy lover Evan presiding over those fantasies as the Dom. No matter how much that concept turns him on. And how much he loves Evan and wants him to be the man in his life forever.

Little does Jonah know that Evan is a dominant who has been suppressing that side of his nature, because the sex no longer interests him without an emotional component. When he finds one of Jonah’s “wish lists” after it falls out of Jonah’s pocket, Evan’s need to dominate Jonah comes roaring back to life. Jonah can have everything he wants, and Evan too, if he can just figure out how to ASK for it.

This story drove me just a little crazy, because of the communication misunderstandammits that were required to keep it going. But it was still fun.

Escape Rating for Wish List: B

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