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Monday, 14 January 2013

Book Review: Rescuing Christmas by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Catherine Mann, Kathie DeNosky

Title: Rescuing Christmas
Authors: Vicki Lewis Thompson, Catherine Mann, Kathie DeNosky
Release Date: 30 October 2012
Publisher: Harlequin
Number of pages: 320 pages
Source: ebook copy provided by publisher through NetGalley
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, , , Barnes and Noble, Book Depository US, Book Depository UK

Grade: 4.5 stars

Novellus superbus!
Goodreads appetizer:

Holiday Haven by Vicki Lewis Thompson

All Ben Rhodes wants for Christmas is to be left alone. And yet, in a fit of Christmas-cheer-induced insanity, he agrees to help beautiful shelter director Tansy Dexter find homes for all her rambunctious animals. Little does he know that the one truly in need of a loving home this season…is him.

Home for Christmas by Catherine Mann

Information from Ms Mann's newsletter: For those of you who enjoyed my Wingmen Warrior series, this story features Zach Dawson's daughter Shelby, all grown up and ready for her own happily ever after with a flyboy!

Shelby Conrad has had more than her fair share of silent nights. But even though her husband, Tech Sergeant Alex Conrad, is coming home in time for Christmas, Shelby isn't sure he's in time to save their marriage. Can a road trip to deliver three shelter dogs to their new homes teach the couple that the most precious gift of all is hope?

A Puppy for Will by Kathie DeNosky

Will Parker hasn't exactly had all his hopes and dreams met, but work has filled the gaps in his life. Or so he thinks…until an energetic and large Saint Bernard foster puppy and Will's cute neighbor Macie Fairbanks introduce him to the best thing about Christmas and life—unconditional love.

My Thoughts: Christmas and the holidays may be over, but this anthology was SO cute I absolutely had to tell you about it! Rescuing Christmas is a holiday anthology featuring three contemporary romance novellas all centred around The Haven a no-kill animal shelter and how its workers and volunteers try to make the holiday season a better place for their furry friends. But before you start yawning and just say this story isn't for you, listen to me and trust me, Rescuing Christmas was a wonderfully heart-warming, however not cheesy holiday romance anthology that I loved, so when you are debating what to read to get in the holiday spirit I urge you to put this book at the top of your list, trust me you won't regret it.

All 3 authors were new to me authors, their novella included in this anthology served as my introduction to their writing. And now let me tell you in detail what I thought about the individual stories:

Holiday Haven by Vicki Lewis Thompson

This was the first story and I was floored. Vicki Lewis Thompson writing style was captivating and beautiful. It was both poetic
[...] refusing to help because he was conflicted about their relationship seemed petty, especially when he was fascinated by the kaleidoscope of cats arranging and rearranging themselves. He’d had fun capturing the changing expressions on the faces of the dogs. But his photographer’s soul belonged to the cats. They were art in motion, a feline version of Cirque du Soleil.
yet at times witty:
Tansy stood beside him, her expression animated, her eyes bright with pleasure. She’d left her parka on, but it was unzipped. He was resigned to having her as a friend and nothing more, so he shouldn’t notice how her red turtleneck sweater hugged her breasts. But he did. He shouldn’t have watched her during the mopping session, either, but he had. The fit of her jeans had affected the fit of his.

Both Tansy and Ben were characters the reader starts rooting from the start as we feel very much involved and invested in their lives and romance. Tansy was a wonderfully sunny heroine, she truly oozed light and optimism, while Ben's vulnerability and emotional scars made him a hero we just wanted to hug. Besides them the story featured a whole array of very likeable and entertaining secondary characters, not in the least the many furry pets who truly got their time to shine :-D

Verdict: Holiday Haven was a beautifully heart-warming, touching, funny and sexy story. I loved it! I enjoyed every second of this novella and have added Vicki Lewis Thompson to my list of authors to watch, trust me, you should too!

The video began. It was a love letter, and he hoped she’d see that

I give Holiday Haven 4.5 stars!

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Writing: 9/10
Ending: 9/10
Cover: 9/10

Home for Christmas by Catherine Mann

This was the second story in the anthology and the most emotional one. Shelby and Alex are a long married couple on the brink of a divorce. It was heart-breaking reading about how much both of them were hurting while still very much loving the other. A lot of insecurities and miscommunication or no communication at all during the 8 years of their marriage brought them to where they are now, where every silent moment is loaded with doubts and guilt-ridden thoughts, and every discussion ends in new or resurrecting old wounds.

He couldn’t ignore their problems, her anger over his deployments, his fear that he wasn’t good enough for her. She’d accused him of dodging conflict by disappearing. And he had, to a degree. But in spite of what she said, they had needed the extra money. The fertility treatments had put them thousands of dollars in debt, and when the treatments hadn’t worked, he figured if he couldn’t give her a baby, he could give her other things—the house, maybe even vet school. She was an awesome high school teacher, but he knew that wasn’t her dream. She’d given up a lot to allow him to follow his dream. To an extent, she’d even given up her family, since things remained strained between him and her father. Now all he could give her was a divorce.
Could she just shut down those concerns with the signing of the divorce papers? Or would she spend every Christmas wondering if he’d put up a tree or if he’d retreated even further from any kind of traditional celebration? Who would try to make him smile when he came home from work with the weight of the world on his shoulders? And most gut wrenching of all, she would be giving up her rights to hear if anything happened to him in the line of duty…

My heart went out for these two so much and reading about their emotional struggles made me tear up more than a few times.

The scent of raspberry, the taste of cocoa on her tongue—both would indelibly imprint this memory on his brain. Hell, Shelby was imprinted on him, she was a part of him, and she always would be. No divorce would end what he felt for her. The power of that tore through him, catapulting him over the edge. Her legs clamped harder around him, drawing him closer, taking him deeper as his orgasm racked through him. He pulsed inside her, claimed her. Loved her. Nothing had changed for him. He was still head over ass in love with his wife. And he didn’t have a damn clue how to keep her.

Catherine Mann definitely knows how to grab your heart and squeeze it. She conveyed such raw suffering in her story that it made my heart pulse with sadness for these two characters who felt so real.

Verdict: Home for Christmas was a wonderful story capturing the spirit and magic of Christmas: it was emotional, even heart-wrenching at times. A powerful and raw story that will affect you and make you appreciate love and your loved ones even more.

I give Home for Christmas 4 stars!

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Writing: 9/10
Ending: 8/10
Cover: 9/10

A Puppy for Will by Kathie DeNosky

This was the third and last story and what a way to end this wonderful anthology! This novella captured everything Christmas is/should be about: fun, love, caring, laughter and romance!

For the holidays Will promised to foster a puppy his grandma signed him up for from the Haven and what an adorable puppy it was! Huge and funny, I fell in love with his antics even through the pages :-D

I had so much fun reading what a crucial part the puppy became of both Will and Macie's life :-D

And speaking of Will, our hero *Le sigh* He was dreamy. Besides being described by Macie as a model gorgeous male specimen, he was wonderful. Considerate, warm-hearted and gentleman-ly. See for yourself:

(after a heated kiss they shared)

“It’s all right, honey,” he said, meeting her intense gaze. “I know you don’t want this to lead to anything more and I give you my word that it won’t.” But to his surprise, she shook her head.

“That wasn’t what I was going to say.” His heart came to a screeching halt a moment before it started thumping a fast rhythm in his rib cage like a sultry jungle drum.

“What were you about to tell me, Macie?” he asked slowly.

“You make me want you, too.” Her throaty admission sent another wave of heat surging through his body.

“Before we take this any further, I need you to know that I didn’t kiss you with seduction in mind. I’m not trying to take advantage of you or the situation. I’m not that guy.”

“I know, Will,” she said, touching his jaw with her soft hand.

“Nothing would make me happier right now than carrying you into your bedroom and making love to you for the rest of the night. But I have to be absolutely certain that’s what you want, too.” He needed her to understand how important lovemaking was to him. “I’d rather stand in a cold shower until I spit ice cubes than have you waking up tomorrow morning regretting what we shared.” She stared at him for what seemed like an eternity, then rose from his lap to take him by the hand.

“My only regret will be if we don’t make love.”

The romance was tender with some kissing scenes thrown in which truly escalated the steam factor: seriously with just one kiss Kathie DeNosky managed to make her characters (and her readers) all hot and bothered, bravo!

Verdict: A Puppy for Will was a wonderfully sweet, romantic yet passionate holiday novella. I loved how Will and Macie always shared just one kiss before being interrupted but that kiss made even my toes curl, as Kathie DeNosky described these scenes so wonderfully, I felt the shivers of excitement and passion myself.

I give A Puppy for Will 5 stars and have discovered a new favourite author!

Plot: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Writing 9/10
Ending 8/10
Cover: 9/10

Verdict: Rescuing Christmas was one of the best holiday anthologies I have read. All three stories were heart-warming and I loved how the pets really did play some major roles and were not just there for the set-up and cute cover. No, in these 3 novellas the dogs and cats became as important characters as their human counterparts and they most certainly added to the ambiance of the scenes.  Rescuing Christmas was everything you could ask for in holiday stories: its novellas were fun, yet moving, so full of love and light, and all of them left you with a happy sigh at the end. A terrific holiday anthology I wholeheartedly recommend!!

I give Rescuing Christmas 4.5 stars!

Buy it:

Review originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.