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Sunday, December 8, 2013

ARC Review: Stranded With A Hero Anthology by Karen Erickson, Coleen Kwan, Cindi Madsen & Roxanne Snopek

Stranded with a Hero is an anthology that contains four short novellas from some of the Bliss authors and series. I have really enjoyed reading some of these series, and I was really excited to see some more stories featuring some well known and loved characters and also some new characters. This anthology is all about Christmas novellas, and is just the thing to put you in the spirit of the holidays. I loved the sweet nature of these stories, and this anthology is definitely a fun read to curl up with on a cold winter night.

Loving Mindy - Karen Erickson

When Mindy and her ex-best friend Josh get snowed in together, they both agree that it is best to put their past behind them. They haven't spoken in years, but they decide that this is the best way for them to move forward and rekindle the friendship they once shared. But as they spend time together and get to know each other as the adults they are now, the quickly realize that the feelings they once had for each other never went away.

I really liked Mindy from the previous two books in Karen Erickson's Lone Pine Lake series and was excited to get her story. We have seen her sort of struggle in the past with the demise of her marriage and the fallout because of her husband cheating on her. So I knew that there had to be someone for her, and I was really glad that she ended up with Josh. Mindy is a very strong woman and very committed to her two boys. I loved how much she cares about them and you can see how important they are to her. I liked Josh also. He was a great guy and I loved that he knew Mindy so well despite all the years that had passed since they were close. He seemed to be the perfect balance for Mindy and they were really cute together. Normally with novellas I have a problem with them being too short and feeling as though the reader never gets a chance to really get to know the characters or their story. They often just feel rushed to me, but that wasn't the case with Loving Mindy. I thought that this was a great story despite the short length and I really felt that Mindy and Josh were believable and real. Their story was a cute and sweet quick read that I really enjoyed. This novella is a great addition to the Lone Pine Lake Series, and I recommend that you check this series out if you haven't already.

White-Hot Holiday - Coleen Kwan

Naomi has just moved back home and is throwing herself into getting ready for Christmas. She is still hurting from a bad break-up and has no intention of getting involved with anyone anytime soon. Especially not her Uncle's best friend who just so happens to be very similar to her ex. He is good looking, wealthy and confident to the point of being cocky. But due to a volcano grounding his return flight to the states, he ends up being unable to return home for Christmas. As Naomi and Aaron begin to spend more time together, Naomi quickly realizes that she might have misjudged Aaron. But with them living in different countries and only knowing each other for a short amount of time, can they have anything more than a quick fling? Or will their connection be enough for them to risk their hearts for more?

I really liked Aaron. Despite his downer attitude when it came to Christmas, he was a really great guy! I loved how even though he didn't like Christmas he was always helping Naomi out when it came to stuff she was wanting to do. He was sweet and it was really nice to see him start to open up as the story progressed. I liked that he was a better person because of his time with Naomi, and by the end of the story he had turned into this really thoughtful guy who instead of just showing up out of obligation had started actually getting into the spirit of the holiday. I had some issues with Naomi, but for the most part I liked her. I thought that she was a little hard on Aaron at first and seemed to be pretty harsh with her comparisons to her ex. She seemed to jump to all sorts of conclusions based on his wealth, and that sort of made me have a hard time connecting with her. Then she continued to push Aaron away constantly, but several times she would do this right after flirting with him or acting as though she was interested. Her hot and cold temperament just didn't really work for me, and I started to get pretty frustrated with her mixed signals. I wish that Aaron and Naomi's relationship would have grown over a longer period of time, the week that they spent getting to know each other for the first time until really developing feelings for each other just felt extremely rushed to me. I think that because it was so short of a novella, and actual time period of the story just really didn't allow me to truly buy into their feelings for each other beyond the superficial. I did like that the author gave us the time jump at the end of the story to see how their story ended up, and I also liked how their novella ended. I think that this one was a nice holiday read and a good addition to the Real Men Series, and it was fun to see some of the characters from the previous books.

An Officer and a Rebel - Cindi Madsen

After crashing her car in order to avoid hitting a deer, Kelsey is stuck in the small town she once left behind. Rather than spending Christmas with her mom, she ends up getting rescued by her ex boyfriend's brother Nate. Nate can't believe that Kelsey the town rebel and and his brother's ex has come crashing into town. He might have acted like he was ignoring her all those years ago, but he was just trying to hide his true feelings for her. Now that she is back all these years later though, he can't help but feel as though things could be different this time. The more time that they are trapped together, the more they get to know each other. Besides the attraction between them, they find out that they are also compatible when it comes to almost everything else. But with them living in different cities, can they figure out a way to make a relationship work between them?

I really liked Nate and Kelsey. Nate was a really great guy. He was responsible and thoughtful, and always looking out for others. It was nice to see him sort of loosen up with Kelsey though. I really liked how she brought out this whole other playful and fun side of him. It was nice to see him going after what he wanted after everything he had done for others. Kelsey was fun and quirky. I loved that she wasn't your typical heroine, and she wasn't afraid to be who she was. I liked that she was able to really bring out the other facets of Nate's personality, and even though they were different they worked well together. I also really liked that although she was nervous about what Nate's family would think of her that she didn't let that stop her from being with Nate. It showed just how much she really cared for him. I thought that Nate and Kelsey had a lot of chemistry, and although we didn't get a ton of steam, you could definitely feel the connection they had to each other on every level. This one was a great holiday novella and was a lot of fun to read. I think this was a wonderful addition to Cindi Madsen's Accidentally In Love Series.

Saving the Sheriff - Roxanne Snopek

While on winter break from teaching, Frankie Sylva makes it her mission to rescue some reindeer that are being used in a holiday show. Before the reindeer can be hauled off the the slaughter house, Frankie borrows her bosses truck and trailer and dumps the reindeer off at a local wild mustang sanctuary. But with a huge storm also happening she ends up getting stranded and is discovered by sheriff Red LeClair. He is instantly suspicious of what she is doing and decides to hold onto her keys and boots until he can figure out what is really going on. But as they spend time together while stuck in the storm, they begin to realize that not only are the attracted to one another but they are also developing feelings for one another. Can Frankie help Red get over his broken heart and rescue him from the lonely life he has been living? Or will their differences keep them from pursuing a relationship together?

I liked Red. I thought that his character was great. I could tell that he was a really great guy right off. Roxanne Snopek did a great job of allowing the reader to see how he had been hurt and was vulnerable from the demise of his marriage. I thought that Frankie was fun and definitely committed to her cause of helping out animals. But I just didn't connect with her character at all. I thought that she was a little over the top for my taste and she just came off as immature to me. I know her heart was in the right place, but it was hard for me to get over how irresponsible it was for her to go about stealing the animals without even knowing what exact animal they were or how/where to properly take care of them. I understood that she was trying to save their lives, but I just thought that her actions were pretty ridiculous even for a story. I did however like that she brought a lightness to Red that he had been missing, and I thought that they were a good balance for each other. Although their witty and original takes on some classic carols were at times funny, they were also a bit much at others. I have not read any of the other books in the Three River Ranch series by Roxanne Snopek, but I think that fans of the series will enjoy this short holiday novella.


Overall, I mostly enjoyed these stories and even though they were short in length I thought that they were great additions to each of their series. I have to say my favorites were Loving Mindy and An Officer and A Rebel though. I thought that they both really stood out and they definitely made me want to grab some hot chocolate and start playing Christmas music. If you are a contemporary romance fan or a fan of these Bliss authors, this is definitely one you will want to check out, especially if you are looking for some holiday spirit.

**ARC provided by Publisher**

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