Monday, November 28, 2016

Review: Love, Christmas - Holiday stories that will put a song in your heart! by Katy Walters, Dani Haviland, and Cynthia Cooke

Editor's note:  We conclude our multi-part review of this box set with part 7.

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.”

Sleigh Ride by Katy Walters - Miss Sophia Vale faces poverty. Enter the Earl of Breconbridge, renowned as a rake hell with a conscience.

Little Drummer Boy by Dani Haviland - How could a mere drummer boy help those stranded in the worst winter storm of the 18th century?

Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Cynthia Cooke - A big city girl reunites with a small town boy--magic. A Santa in need of an elf--Christmas magic.


Katy Walters, “lives in the midst of Regency towns on the South Coast of England. Being of Welsh and Irish parentage, her novels tend towards Celtic themes. Her main interests are historical and regency romance with an underlying theme of time travel. She is equally drawn to the paranormal myths of the Dark Ages, the pre-medieval era, where the ancient Britons were known as the People of the Trees…

Katy’s enjoyed an eclectic career, delighting in every one of her occupations. On leaving school, the office beckoned and became her prison, one she managed to escape taking up operatic singing… Later on returning to university, Katy went on to enjoy a long and rich career as a research psychologist, psychotherapist and hypnotherapist… But then her first love, writing, beckoned, and she was in a position to write to her heart’s content. It was a dream come true when Amazon opened up the doors to publishing.”

To learn more please visit Ms. Walters website.

Dani Haviland, a Mayflower and Mormon pioneer descendant, recently semi-retired from selling tractor parts, tools, and roses in Alaska, relocating to a more temperate climate in western Oregon to pursue her passions: writing, gardening, and photography.

Life has changed from jumping into a skid-steer loader to plow snow to pull-starting the walk behind weed whacker, but there are still enough hours in the day for the feisty old lady to propagate people for her novels and plants for her yard. Sharing is part of her personality, so creating books and photos to share all over the world makes her happy.”

To learn more please visit Ms. Haviland’s website.

Cynthia Cooke, “First published in 2003, Cynthia Cooke is an award-winning author who has published 17 novels in 12 different countries with Harlequin, Entangled, and Amazon Kindle Worlds. She has a deep affection for romance stories and playing in the ocean. On her best days you can find her on the beach with her notebook, a novel in hand, and her dog, Angel, by her side.”

To learn more please visit Ms. Cooke’s website or follow her onFacebook.


IIn this seventh and final group of novellas from Love, Christmas I am reviewing more new-to-me authors.

Sleigh Ride by Katy Walters:

Tragedy hit the Vale family several years ago when the Reverend Stuart Vale succumbed to yellow fever, along with two of his three sons. This left Lady Vale to raise six daughters and a son on her own. Baron Jude Hawsley, a lecher with a penchant for young maidens, has allowed the Vales to continue living in a cottage on his property. The Baron has now set his sights on Sophia, the oldest Vale daughter. Sophia is strong-willed, able-bodied, and realistic. However she is totally taken with the Earl of Breconbridge - Lord Jacob Wells - despite the debauchery involved during their first meeting. Sleigh Ride is a sweet romance in which Lord Jacob has to go to great lengths to prove to Sophia’s mother that he is not a rakehell.

I identified too many proofing issues in this novella. First and foremost is the Reverend’s first name was Stuart and he was only referred to as Thomas once. However, it is confusing to the reader when the author can’t keep their character’s name straight. Another large concern was the use or misuse of quotation marks; they were either half missing or on the wrong passages. I have to call it sloppy editing and deducted a star.

Not only is Ms. Walters a new-to-me-author, but I now have to wonder if I have ever read any Regency romance other than Pride and Prejudice. I would have found the restrictions placed on women and the language used almost comical, if they hadn’t been so restrictive. Sleigh Ride is an enjoyable story, with comical moments, if you are willing to tolerate the proofing issues.

Little Drummer Boy by Dani Haviland:

At only thirteen years of age, Scout is on his own. Son of a Cherokee mother and an absentee white, wannabe-Indian father, Ian Kincaid, he is searching for employment as a scout in the North Carolina backwoods. When he comes across a small group of soldiers trying to build a bridge across the river, he offers to guide them to an easier place to cross in exchange for employment pay as a scout. The year is 1784, it’s the month of December, and black clouds are moving in as they set up camp on the far side of the river.

I discovered reading this novella that Scout and others in this story are from a series titled The Fairies Saga; the first book is Naked in the Winter Wind. Being such, there are many characters mentioned who don’t get much screen play. I am sure they were there for readers who were already familiar with the series. However, it got a bit confusing trying to keep them all straight for me.
Scout is a smart, interesting character and I enjoyed learning about him and his many talents. The book is told through different points-of-view, so we got to know Scout and about his wayward father. Family relationships and bonds are explored as extended family is introduced. This novella doesn’t tell us how fairies are involved, unless Jenny turns out to be one. She and Scout have a special relationship. Jenny is the adopted daughter of Ian’s first, handfast wife Evie, who he also abandoned when he learned she was pregnant.

Since this seems to be Scout’s first Christmas, stories are shared to educate him in Christmas traditions of this time in early America. Little Drummer Boy is an enjoyable read.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Cynthia Cooke:

Nicole Flattery hasn’t been home in four years since she graduated college. She moved to Boston to build her career as an architect and she’s moving up the ladder to success. When her father, Frank, falls from a ladder putting up Christmas lights and breaks his leg and sprains his arm, Nicole packs up her files and heads home to assist her father.

Frank has been the town’s Santa since before Nicole was born and when he is unable to fulfill that obligation this year he talks his neighbor’s divorced son, Landry Parsons, into filling in for him. Landry’s six-year-old daughter, Kimmie, is beside herself with glee because she gets to be Santa’s elf. Nicole has lost her Christmas spirit over the years she has been away and worries about her dad’s sanity with his obsession about Christmas. Landry’s mother, Mary Margaret, has been taking the pictures since Nicole left for school and then work. However, this year her whole family is coming into town and she just can’t manage it. Against Nicole’s wishes but at her father insistence, she takes over the photo gig again. I call parents’ manipulation here, and I think you will too.

In the meantime, Kimmie vows to help Nicole find the Christmas magic she lost years ago. That’s a tall order for a six-year old but she is up to the challenge and of course the chemistry between her father and Nicole helps quite a bit. The twists in this novella aren’t surprising but things get tense and a bit unnerving. This is an endearing story about priorities, being truthful with oneself, and surrendering to passion. Santa Claus is Coming to Town will leave you with a smile on your face and a song in your heart. 

Buy now from:    Amazon US    Amazon UK


The stories in Love, Christmas are new and never before published. Two of these novellas can be classified as Clean and Wholesome stories. Santa Claus is Coming to Town has a couple of sexual scenes not behind closed doors. 

Format/Typo Issues:

Sleigh Ride by Katy Walters: I found way too many proofing errors and had to deduct a star.

Little Drummer Boy by Dani Haviland: No proofing issues.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Cynthia Cooke: No significant proofing issues.

Rating: Sleigh Ride by Katy Walters: *** Three Stars

Rating: Little Drummer Boy by Dani Haviland: **** Four Stars

Rating: Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Cynthia Cooke: ***** Five 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...

Thank you for taking the time to read all of our stories in the Love, Christmas Collection. We are very grateful!
Happy holidays to you :)

?wazithinkin said...

Thank you for stopping in and commenting, Ms. Biggar. It's been nice having your support. :)