Monday, October 24, 2016

Review: Love, Christmas - Holiday stories that will put a song in your heart! by Leanne Banks, Stephanie Queen, and Rachelle Ayala

Editor's note:  As I explained in part 1 of this review, we're going to stretch it out. Reviewing a box set takes a lot of words, you know? Here's part two.

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.”

We Need a Little Christmas by Leanne Banks - Can a handsome cynic become a Christmas believer?

Let It Snow by Stephanie Queen - A stranger and a snow storm on Christmas Eve create the ultimate test for Dane & Shana.

Deck the Hearts by Rachelle Ayala - Can Holly's jolly Christmas spirit help Grinch Gordon Gills save the town of Christmas Creek?


Leanne Banks is a national #1 best-selling author with over fifty romance novels to her credit. Leanne was born and raised in the wonderful town of Roanoke, Virginia. Growing up in "the star city of the south" had a huge impact on her outlook and her writing.”

To learn more about Ms. Banks visit her Amazon author page.

Stephanie Queen “A romantic at heart and a writer by nature, Stephanie Queen has the enthusiastic soul of a cheerleader. So of course she loves creating stories where the good guys always win. Although she's lost count of all the jobs she had before she settled on being a Novelist, her favorite was selling cookies as a Keebler Elf. She is a graduate of UConn (go Huskies!) and Harvard U and lives in New Hampshire with her family, her cat, Kitty, and her (real or imagined?) chauffeur, Myren.”

Learn more about Ms. Queen at her website or follow her on Facebook.

Rachelle Ayala is a bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Her foremost goal is to take readers on a shared emotional journey with her characters as they grow and become more true to themselves. Rachelle believes in the power of love to overcome obstacles and feels that everyone should find love as often as possible, especially if it's within the pages of a book.”

Learn more about Ms. Ayala at her website or follow her on Facebook.


In this second group of Love, Christmas novellas I am reviewing three new-to-me authors. I chose stories that sounded like they had a common theme, this time of someone who needed saving. Perhaps even from themselves.

We Need a Little Christmas by Leanne Banks:
Justin Dane Burgess, CEO of Frank Fashions and Home Goods, feels like everyone always wants something from him. He has built a profitable retail business that takes good care of its employees. While he makes healthy charitable donations, he has cut himself off from society as a whole. He doesn’t do relationships and because of Decembers past, he doesn’t do Christmas.

Lilly Johansen, orphaned at a young age, has learned to adopt family members from friends and neighbors. She spends her time helping others; her pet project is gathering winter coats for the needy. When she slips and falls on the ice one cold winter night, Justin swoops in as her reluctant rescuer.

Justin is fascinated by Lilly’s optimistic attitude and slowly learns he is the one who needs rescuing. The plot is slow but emotional as these two vastly different souls get to know each other and discover what is truly important. If you are feeling frazzled this holiday season We Need a Little Christmas is a heartwarming tale that may soothe your soul.

Let It Snow by Stephanie Queen

Dane Blaze is fighting a soul-wracking depression he can’t pull himself out of. It’s to the point where he thinks he deserves this misery. Shana, his business partner with benefits, can’t seem to pull him through this funk either. Alternating perspectives through point-of-view shifts gave credence to emotions and rounded out the characters well.

On Christmas Eve, Captain Colin Lynch, a friend and co-worker, shows up with a mysterious stranger in tow. Father Pedro is a friend of a friend, from South America, who says he has come to help Dane. Shana suddenly decides perhaps she and Dane need a break from each other and packs her bags to leave. As she is walking out the door, Father Pedro decides he should go with Shana.

Things get worrisome when a huge snowstorm moves into Martha’s Vineyard and the ferry crossing becomes hazardous because of a sudden squall. Dane abruptly senses ‘his girl’ is in danger and is spurred to find a way to reach her.

This precipitous turn of dangerous events is tension filled as communications become sketchy and neither the sea nor the storm are behaving normally. I was a freaking nervous wreck reading what I thought was going to be a sweet romance, but I couldn’t put the book down until I knew things were going to be okay. And I am here to tell you the author still tried to leave a question at the end. However, I want to think I know the answer to that question. I suggest saving Let It Snow for when you are in the mood for a romantic suspense story.

Deck the Hearts by Rachelle Ayala:

Holly Jolly is president and CEO of Holly’s Jolly Elves. She lives and breathes Christmas all year long. During the Christmas season, she is commissioned by the town council to guarantee Christmas Creek’s festive holiday atmosphere, which generates a good portion of the town’s income. Christmas Creek was built on the Redwood Coast of California by lumber barons in the late nineteenth century and used to be known as Gills Gulch. When Marney Gills, the doyenne of Christmas lore and local history, passes away, she left her entire estate to her great-nephew Gordon Gills, from Los Angeles. Gordon is a personal trainer to the stars; he never knew he had a Great Aunt Marney, and has no desire to move to Christmas Creek or have anything to do with Christmas. Gordon is a true Grinch who grew up with no family and loathes everything Christmas has become.

This is a charming story to read as Holly teaches Gordon about the heart of Christmas despite the glitter and glitz of all her decorations. Gordon is not pleased with himself when he finds he is attracted to that red-headed sprite of an elf. However, Holly’s joyfulness begins to win him over until a stress that weighs on them both becomes too big to ignore. They need a little Christmas magic and they need it now…Cue Donner, a mysterious old postman who drives a bright red Cadillac with fins and doesn’t seem to be able to find his way out of town. This novella is enjoyable, heartwarming, and a little steamy.

Deck the Hearts is book one of a new series, A Christmas Creek Romance, by Rachelle Ayala.

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.

Format/Typo Issues:
We Need a Little Christmas by Leanne Banks: I found a small number of proofing issues.

Let It Snow by Stephanie Queen: No significant proofing issues.

Deck the Hearts by Rachelle Ayala: No significant proofing issues.

Rating: We Need a Little Christmas by Leanne Banks: **** Four Stars

Rating: Let It Snow by Stephanie Queen: ***** Five Stars

Rating: Deck the Hearts by Rachelle Ayala: **** 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.


jbiggar said...

Thanks for sharing our holiday set with your readers!

Stephanie said...

Thank you for the well-written thoughtful reviews!
Always appreciated.
Stephanie Queen

?wazithinkin said...

Thank you for dropping in and commenting, Ms. Biggar.

?wazithinkin said...

Thank you for your comment, Ms. Queen. It's been fun. :)