Review: Romancing the Holiday by Jaci Burton, HelenKay Dimon and Christi Barth

Format read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Holiday Romance
Length: 257 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: December 3, 2012
Purchasing Info:Jaci Burton’s Website, HelenKay Dimon’s Website, Christi Barth’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance

We wish you a merry Christmas…and a happily ever after!

A memorable three-night stand gets rekindled in a cabin in West Virginia. An office romance is sparked by an impulsive holiday kiss. And two best friends scout locations for a marriage proposal and discover that they make a perfect match. ‘Tis the season for laughter, love and a lifetime of happiness.

Edited by Angela James this anthology includes:

We’ll Be Home for Christmas by HelenKay Dimon
The Best Thing by Jaci Burton
Ask Her at Christmas by Christi Barth

When I picked up Carina’s contemporary Christmas anthology last year, I didn’t know that two of the stories in Holiday Kisses were part of ongoing series. It didn’t matter at the time. In my review, I really enjoyed Jaci Burton’s A Rare Gift, and didn’t care much for HelenKay Dimon’s It’s Not Christmas Without You.

But both those families are back! Those were the middle stories. Part one must be in the first Carina Christmas collection, Naughty and Nice. Clearly I must complete the set.

First, there’s this year’s contemporary collection to review. (Future reviews will deal with the erotic collection Red Hot Holiday and the sci-fi romance collection A Galactic Holiday. I can’t resist collecting the set)

This collection was a lot stronger than the Holiday Kisses collection last year, which for me had one home run, two strong base hits, and one pretty big miss. This year, the stories were all very good.

So what does that mean, you might ask?

My favorite story in the collection is Jaci Burton’s The Best Thing. There are multiple layers to this story, because Tori and Brody have so much going on in their relationship. Brody Kent is the last single brother standing of the Kent brothers. They own Kent Construction. They also happen to all be Tori’s bosses. But Brody, well, she’s had a crush on him forever, since she first moved into town when she was 16. The thing is, she didn’t have much of a family, and Brody’s parents adopted her. So if she and Brody mix pleasure with business, and it goes pear-shaped, Tori will lose her heart, her job, and the only family she’s ever known.

No man is worth that, no matter what kind of skills he might have in the bedroom. And rumor has it that Brody has plenty of skills. But since Brody took their mad flirting to a searing kiss at last year’s Christmas party, neither of them has been able to recover. Is it worth losing the safety of a sure thing to find out if they can reach wonderful?

Escape Rating for The Best Thing: A-

I was surprised at how good HelenKay Dimon’s We’ll Be Home for Christmas turned out to be. It’s the same family as It’s Not Christmas Without You, a story where I did not care for the characters at all. But in We’ll Be Home for Christmas, the Thomas brother involved is big brother Spencer, and although he’s also being idiotic, he gets his head handed to him much quicker. Lila Payne gets good and mad and stands up for herself in a way I could respect and empathize with.

Spence goes out of town for a one-night stand to let off some steam, and meets Lila. She’s just gotten divorced, and also wants to forget about her troubles. This is all fine, except Spence tells Lila his name is Austin Thomas. When Lila comes to town to take over her Uncle’s broken-down resort, no one is happy about the name switch, especially embarrassed (and happily married) Austin. The fireworks never stop after that.

Both The Best Thing and We’ll Be Home for Christmas are terrific in the way that their respective groups of brothers tease and joke and kid around with each other. In spite of some tragedies in both backgrounds, these are great families to read about.

Escape Rating for We’ll Be Home for Christmas: B+

My least favorite story in this year’s bunch was Ask Her at Christmas by Christi Barth. It’s a story about a geek hero who has always felt like a disappointment to his hard-charging corporate father. Kyle is planning to finally please dear old dad by marrying a woman he doesn’t love, in order to further the merger between his father’s company, and her father’s company. The only problem is that the woman is a bitch.

And he’s been trying to ignore his feelings for best friend Caitlin for too many years. Feelings that go way beyond friendship. Feelings that poor Kyle has no idea that Caitlin reciprocates.

The story is really cute, but I did wonder how oblivious these too could possibly be, considering how much time they spend together.

Escape Rating for Ask Her at Christmas: B-

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