Monday, November 21, 2016

Review: Love, Christmas - Holiday stories that will put a song in your heart! By Joan Reeves, Mona Risk, and Denise Devine

Editor's note:  We continue with part six of our multi-part review of this box set. 

Genre: Romance/Christmas/Box set


Put a song in your heart with 20 all-new Christmas Romances from NY Times, USA Today, and national best-selling authors. Each brand-new title is inspired by a Christmas carol and will lift your spirits and bring on the holiday cheer.”

Last Christmas by Joan Reeves - Annabelle gave him her heart, but Rick threw it away. He wants redemption, she wants revenge.

Holly Jolly Christmas by Mona Risk - Pregnant at 18. Adoption would save the baby's future but may cost her the man she loves.

So This is Christmas by Denise Devine - He was her child nemesis, now he's her best friend forever.


JOAN REEVES is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of Contemporary Romance. She began her career with New York traditional publishers. When the Amazon Kindle came along, she happily embraced a new career path as an independent author/publisher.

Joan lives her happily ever after with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State. They have four kids who think they are adults and a ghost dog--all the ingredients for a life full of love and warmed by laughter. She lives the philosophy that is the premise of all of her romance novels: ‘It's never too late to live happily ever after.’"

Mona Risk: “New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Mona Risk, received an Outstanding Achiever Award from Affaire de Coeur Magazine. She's a two time winner of Best Contemporary Romance of the Year from Readers Favorite; a winner of Best Romance Novel of the Year from Preditors & Editors Readers Poll; and an EPIC Award finalist… She writes contemporary romances, medical romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal fantasy. Sprinkled with a good dose of humor, her stories are set in the fascinating places she visited or more simply at home.”

To learn more about Ms. Risk please check out her website or follow heron Facebook.

Denise Devine, a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance, romantic comedy, and inspirational romance. She’s been passionate about books ever since she learned to read. Ms. Devine loves animals of all kinds and always includes them in each story.

To learn more please visit her website or follow her on Facebook.


In this group of novellas from Love, Christmas I am reviewing more new-to-me authors. I chose stories that sounded like they had a common theme: facing personal dilemmas.

Last Christmas by Joan Reeves:

Last year at a friend’s Christmas party in Houston, Annabelle Cooper thought she had met the love of her life, but then he disappeared without a word. Tired of grieving the lost relationship, she’s decides to move on and never let a man hurt her like that again. Now back home in her grandmother’s house, she has the job she has always wanted since she was a child: managing editor of her grandparent’s newspaper in the Texas panhandle.

During the New Estacado Gazette’s annual Christmas open house, in walks in the man who broke her heart. The mayor introduces him as the town’s new police chief: Rick Lassiter. Not the same name he was using in Houston last year. Annabelle tries to keep her composure and pretends to trip, tossing her champagne in his face, and grinding her four-inch heel into his foot. His gasp of pain is gratifying until he wraps his arms around her, crushing her breasts to his rock-hard chest as he crashes against a wall behind him. Big mistake on Annabelle’s part, because all those feelings from last Christmas come flooding back.

Annabelle quickly devises a plan to get Rick to leave his position and get out of town. It all horribly backfires on her and she falls for him again. The passion between Annabelle and Rick is hot and genuine. All she wants now are answers and he won’t or can’t give them to her. I loved the way the plot moved along. As the town’s residents embrace Rick, Annabelle becomes willing to accept the mystery surrounding Rick as well. The alternating points-of-view helps develop both main characters well. However, Ms. Reeves maintains most of Rick’s mysterious air until the end, which keeps the intrigue level high. When Rick’s past catches up with him, tension rises and all bets are off. Last Christmas is a captivating story I enjoyed all the way through.

I just have one nitpick about a character name, Eddie became Eddy once during the story. Honestly, I see no excuse for that to ever happen. However, Eddie is a minor character brought in to fill out Rick’s backstory and despite this error I am only willing to take away half a star, because I loved the story. Since neither BigAl nor Amazon accepts half stars, I guess we all know that leaves me at a five-star rating.

Holly Jolly Christmas by Mona Risk:

At eighteen, Heather Ramsay finds herself pregnant. She vows to not let the baby ruin Jeff’s scholarship to MIT this coming fall. Heather decides this pregnancy would best be handled by putting the baby up for adoption. That way the baby wouldn’t disrupt anyone’s life but her own, right? Silly, naïve teenager. I have to confess, I am not the ideal reader for this story having lived through this from a mother’s perspective. Although, our circumstances were vastly different. A box set like this is a great deal for the money, but with a wide variety of authors and sub-genres you may find that some don't work for you. Holly Jolly Christmas is an example of one that wasn’t for me.

Since Heather’s mother is rightly distracted by her dad’s serious diagnoses and cancer treatments, Heather confides in her older sister. Madelyn has graduated from medical school and offers sound advice while trying to support her younger sister. Ms. Risk does a good job representing both Heather’s views and thoughts as well as Jeff’s with alternating points-of-view. Jeff shows his maturity by trying to keep a level head, even though there are times he loses his self-control. The twists in the story keeps emotions at a high level throughout. Holly Jolly Christmas is a sweet, but heart rending, story that explores many aspects of the situations at hand.

Holly Jolly Christmas is a prequel novella to Ms. Risk’s Holiday Babies Series.

So This is Christmas by Denise Devine:

Annabelle Lee is looking forward to some alone time before an annual girl’s weekend at her friend’s family cabin at Breezy Point, Minnesota. She arrives the Monday before the planned weekend to do some soul-searching, but finds the cabin inhabited by Christopher Stone, her best friend’s twin brother, who isn’t planning to leave until Friday.

So This Christmas is told from Annabelle’s first-person point-of-view. She has managed to build a successful photography business, however, she has recently experienced an emptiness from a lack of a relationship she hasn’t had the time or energy to pursue. So she was here early to reassess her priorities alone. How can she manage to do that with her childhood nemesis around?

This is a sweet story about relationships that are not always as they seem. It’s how you choose to look at things that defines them. The lesson is to get over yourself. Annabelle’s journey was a pleasant trip to watch unfold. I would recommend this story if you need to unwind and relax.  

Buy now from:    Amazon US    Amazon UK


The stories in Love, Christmas are new and never before published. They are also classified as Clean and Wholesome stories.
Last Christmas by Joan Reeves, contains adult sexual content and a few F-bombs.

Format/Typo Issues:

Last Christmas by Joan Reeves: Just one significant issue, which I mentioned in the body of my review. My other issue was small, a sentence with extra words.

Holly Jolly Christmas by Mona Risk: No significant issues.

So This is Christmas by Denise Devine: No significant issues

Rating: Last Christmas by Joan Reeves: ***** Five Stars

Rating: Holly Jolly Christmas by Mona Risk: *** Three Stars

Rating: So This is Christmas by Denise Devine: **** Four Stars 

Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin

Approximate word count: 375-400,000 words for the full set. Each story is novella size, 20,000 words or slightly less.


Stephanie said...

Thank you for the great reviews! As always, very thoughtful and thorough.

jbiggar said...

Thank you for all the time you've given to this set, we all appreciate it very much!

?wazithinkin said...

Thanks for dropping in and commenting, Stephanie.

?wazithinkin said...

Thanks, Ms. Biggar, this has been quite an undertaking. I have enjoyed reading this boxed set.

Joan Reeves said...

Thank you for reviewing LAST CHRISTMAS. I'm delighted you liked the story even though I'm embarrassed about the Eddy/Eddie faux pas. I had 3 proofreaders on this project so that shouldn't have happened. I'm happy that didn't take away from your enjoyment of the story.

Reviewing all these stories is quite an undertaking so I really want to thank you for your time and effort.

?wazithinkin said...

Thank you for stopping in and commenting, Ms. Reeves. It's amazing how those buggers slip by at times. I have to say, reviewing this set of novellas has been an experience. :)