Holiday with a Twist by Shannon Stacey

Holiday with a Twist by Shannon Stacey Holiday with a Twist by Shannon Stacey
Published by Carina Press on November 21, 2016
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Christmas
Pages: 110
Format: eARC
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After a messy breakup, Leigh Holloway is ready to start her life over. Until her parents put the family home on the market and call her back for one final, memory-making Christmas. The last thing she wants to do is deprive her mom of the perfect holiday, so she'll lie her way through the visit and worry about her future in the New Year. Too bad the only bar in town is owned by a guy she seriously wronged in high school.

Leigh's best friend broke Croy Dawson's heart, and Croy knows it was Leigh's fault. They've never liked each other, but Croy isn't cruel: he'd never turn away a pretty woman in need of some family-Christmas fortification. He doesn't expect her to drink just enough candy-cane martinis to tell him her secrets—and he definitely doesn't expect to get caught up in her holiday madness.

Despite the surprising love and laughter, Croy and Leigh can't escape the truth: he can't walk away from his family obligations and she has a life and career to reboot. But anything is possible if your holiday comes with a twist…

Holiday with a Twist is just a sweet, feel-good Christmas romance. It’s light and fun and a perfect seasonal read for me. Leigh keeping her breakup and quitting her job a secret from her family is silly, but in all honesty I like when the “issue” between the two main characters in a romance isn’t a big deal that takes a lot to overcome. Croy and Leigh were friends forever, even if they haven’t talked to each other in years, and I like how they settle back in to the friendship. They’re a good couple. They know each other well, good and bad, and still fall in love. This is a novella, so the attraction is almost instant and the relationship evolve quickly, but I bought it.

Holiday with a Twist is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise! Love that! I don’t have to worry if it’ll work out or not, they promise it will. When I need a light romance, I tend to turn toward Carina Press – maybe that’s why. I’ll probably be picking up more of Shannon Stacey’s books. That’s another reason I like novellas, they let you try new authors without a huge commitment.

About Shannon Stacey

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Shannon Stacey lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her two favorite activities are writing stories of happily ever after and riding her four-wheeler. From May to November, the Stacey family spends their weekends on their ATVs, making loads of muddy laundry to keep Shannon busy when she’s not at her computer. She prefers writing to laundry, however, and considers herself lucky she got to be an author when she grew up.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Love in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich & Dorien Kelly

Love in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich & Dorien Kelly Love in a Nutshell by Dorien Kelly, Janet Evanovich
Narrator: Lorelei King
Series: Culhane Family #1
Published by Macmillan Audio on January 3, 2012
Source: Library
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Length: 6 hrs 37 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Kate Appleton needs a job. Her husband has left her, she's been fired from her position as a magazine editor, and the only place she wants to go is to her parents' summer house, The Nutshell, in Keene's Harbor, Michigan. Kate's plan is to turn The Nutshell into a Bed and Breakfast. Problem is, she needs cash, and the only job she can land is less than savory. Matt Culhane wants Kate to spy on his brewery employees. Someone has been sabotaging his company, and Kate is just new enough in town that she can insert herself into Culhane's business and snoop around for him. If Kate finds the culprit, Matt will pay her a $20,000 bonus. Needless to say, Kate is highly motivated. But several problems present themselves. Kate despises beer. No one seems to trust her. And she is falling hard for her boss. Can these two smoke out a saboteur, save Kate's family home, and keep a killer from closing in...all while resisting their undeniable attraction to one another?

I’ve been having some good luck with light romances lately. Love in a Nutshell is just fun – and guess what, Kate and Matt are actually honest with each other, well more or less. They make a good couple – instant attraction but a few issues keeping them apart, like he’s her boss and owns the mortgage on her house, the one he had been planning to foreclose on. Matt is another almost -perfect guy, good business sense, sexy, protective of the people he cares about. Kate is a bit down on herself, but is making a go at starting a new life.

Love in a Nutshell has funny moments, a slow courtship between Matt and Kate as far as romances go, and some danger. It’s not a wonderful book, but it’s enjoyable. It’s definitely PG thanks to an overly possessive poodle, one of two dogs who are great characters in and of themselves.

The narrator does a good job differentiating the voices, although the voice she uses for one of Matt’s sisters just struck me as a little off, not enough to take me out of the story, just a bit jarring. Overall, though, her tone fits the story.

In addition to the romance, which works well, there’s the mystery of who’s sabotaging Matt’s business. That part was really just as good. There were some clues, but nothing the hit you over the head. The whodunit definitely made sense, as did the motive.

Romance, mystery, danger, cute dogs, a great small town. I think I’d like to visit Keene’s Harbor again. Actually I’ve realized I tend to like Evanovich’s books, except her Plum series, which just always annoys me.

About Dorien Kelly

New York Times Bestselling Author, recent empty nester, and general lover of any job that doesn’t require her to wear pantyhose…ever!

About Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, the Lizzy and Diesel series, twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels and Trouble Maker graphic novel, and How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author, as well as the Fox and O’Hare series with co-author Lee Goldberg.

Flat-Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy

Flat-Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy Flat-Out Sexy by Erin McCarthy
Narrator: Emily Durante
Series: Fast Track #1
Published by Tantor Audio on September 10, 2012
Source: Library
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Length: 8 hrs 29 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Independent single mother Tamara Briggs wanted to find a new, sexy, no-strings-attached man--just not one as young as NASCAR driver Elec Monroe. But he sure does get her heart racing. And after she’s tricked into a blind date with him, Tamara gives in to her passion. Things screech to a halt, though, when he asks to meet her children. Whatever happened to wham-bam-thank-you ma’am? Suddenly Tamara has to decide how much risk she’s willing to take to experience the power of true love.

Really, really enjoyed this romance. It was sweet, sexy and just nice. There was a happy ending and not too much stress getting there. Tamara wants to take it slow, which is totally understandable and Elec might just be the perfect man. It didn’t make me cry, it didn’t make me want to yell at the couple to just get their act together. For me, it was what a romance should be.

Elec and Tamara are both honestly good people. Tamara did annoy me a little at times, especially her harping on about her stretch marks. Granted, Elec couldn’t have cared less about it, he thought she was gorgeous, but I felt like her body issues were a little over the top. Other than that, though, they both felt like people I could enjoy hanging out with.

Sometimes audios don’t work well for romances with sex scenes, but this one was good. It was sexy, but didn’t trip over into cheesy and didn’t have me blushing while doing the dishes. The narrator did a good job distinguishing all the characters and I liked how she gave a warmth to Tamara and Elec’s thoughts about each other. She also makes the light-hearted/amusing moments down-right funny. I’m hoping she narrates the next in the series, too.

I’m not a racing fan, but you don’t have to be to enjoy the camaraderie of the drivers and the inherent danger in the sport. The racing world actually makes a great setting. The people seem decent and hard-working, and there’s a feeling of family.

I’m glad I picked this one up. I don’t remember who brought the series to my attention, but I’m glad they did. I’ve already got the next one ready to go on my player.

About Erin McCarthy

USA Today and New York Times Bestselling author Erin McCarthy sold her first book in 2002 and has gone on to pen more than 38 novels and novellas in the paranormal, contemporary romance, and young adult genres. A RITA award finalist and an American Library Association winner of the Reluctant Young Reader award, Erin is a member of Romance Writers of America, Horror Writers Association, and Ohioana.

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