Author: K.A. Mitchell, Leah Braemel, Anne Calhoun
Publisher: Carina Press
Category: M/M, M/F, M/M/F
Main Characters: Evan/Jonah, Ryan/Megan, Ronan/Thea
K.A. Mitchell: http://www.kamitchell.com/
Leah Braemel: http://www.leahbraemel.com/
Anne Calhoun: http://www.annecalhoun.com
Source: Review copy ebook from NetGalley. No remuneration was given for this review — it is my honest opinion about the piece.
OVERALL: – THREE FULL MOONS, as figured by the average of the stories.
I’ll be home for Christmas…to fulfill all your dreams.
This holiday, a Mountie is determined to get her man. A widow finds a fireman who ignites her passions again. And two men unsure of their commitment discover a happily ever after—and a blindfold—under their tree. No matter your desires, this collection of three shorts is bound to treat you to all the joys of the season.
Edited by Angela James, this anthology includes:
“Wish List” by K.A. Mitchell
“I Need You for Christmas” by Leah Braemel
“Breath on Embers” by Anne Calhoun
Stories also available for purchase separately.
Anthologies are always tough to review, because you’re looking at more than once piece. I’ll take a quick look at each story so they get an examination in their own right.
1. “Wish List” by K.A. Mitchell (M/M Romance, light kink) – When Jonah finds a set of wedding rings in his boyfriend Evan’s desk drawer, he panics. While their sex life is hot, Jonah has a LOT of things on his sexual bucket list that he still wants to experience before he settles down, and he doesn’t think his buttoned-up lover is the kind of guy to be into the kinky stuff Jonah want to try. A lot of back and forth over the holidays, miscommunication and misunderstands threaten their relationship — will Jonah step outside their monogamous pairing so he can get what he thinks he needs?
I have mixed feelings about this story. It was hot in parts, but in other parts, the sex was kind of disturbing. One scene even struck me as walking over the line between kink and possible injury — a big no-no between consensual adults in a kinky relationship. Unless there’s some way out, a safeword, agreements ahead of time, it just reads like abuse, and that’s a big turn off. Growly dominance is one thing; almost drowning your partner in the shower is another.
The major flaw with this story is that all of it could have been solved with simple communication. I’m sorry, but if you don’t feel like you can talk to your partner about the things you like in bed and trust that they will at least understand you and try to accommodate your needs? You are in the wrong relationship, and no way should it become long-term, let alone one where your safety could be on the line. I don’t know, the whole thing just threw me off, and I wasn’t able to really appreciate the hot as a result. People in kink relationships that don’t communicate are people who get hurt, physical and psychologically.
Rating: 2.5 full moons – Has some flaws that bugged me, but not badly written. (I think I was extra hard on this story Because I wanted so much to like it!)
2. “I Need You for Christmas” by Leah Braemel (M/F Romance, light BDSM) – This is a modern take on the “Gift of the Magi” that I found cute and hot. Mountie Megan has been separated from her boyfriend (and dominant) boyfriend , artist Ryan, while she has been stationed in the far north of Canada. Home for the holidays, she plans to surprise Ryan with the news that she is leaving the Mounties and becoming a local cop so they can be together. Meanwhile, Ryan has quit his job as an art teacher and sold off some of his most valuable pieces so he can move to Megan’s old station up north, unconcerned about what it will do to his burgeoning career.
This was another story that gets grating because the conflict could easily be solved by a single conversation. Misunderstandings are not conflict — they’re a lazy way to avoid real conflict, unless they LEAD to some kind of danger or other kind of issue. That being said, this was a really hot story with a previously established D/s relationship, so the concerns about lack of communication in that department didn’t bug me here. In fact, there’s a scene up in a loft above Ryan’s workshop… well, I’ll let you discover that yourself.
Rating: 3 Full Moons: Good, definitely worth a read. Extra twinkle for steam!
3. “Breath On Embers” by Anne Calhoun – This was by far my favorite in the anthology. Sexy fireman Ronan is ready to take his hot relationship with his lover Thea to the next level. All they’ve shared so far is sex. Really, really hot sex, but he’s starting to want more, especially during the holidays. Unfortunately, Thea is still suffering all-encompassing grief from the death of her husband several years before, and she thinks of Ronan as just a way to hide from her pain, like the loud music she likes to listen to constantly in her iPod. But Ryan isn’t willing to let her stay in the darkness alone any longer. He knows there’s more to her than what she insists is left, and between their hot, intimate sex life, and the light of the holiday season, he’s determined to bring her closer.
I liked both characters a lot — and that’s even without the steamy sex scenes. I felt a lot of compassion for both of them, and I was really rooting for them to get together at the end. There’s some light kink here, too, which I always appreciate when it’s done well. There were a couple of scenes that made me cry in “Breath on Embers” and in a holiday story, that always adds a little extra, as does the them of hope. (It also doesn’t hurt that I was picturing my hunk-honey Joe Manganiello with blue eyes playing Ryan. MEOW!)
Rating: – 4 FULL MOONS! Loved it, would definitely read next year for the holidays.
Again, overall, if you want something really steamy to add to your holiday reading list, this isn’t a bad choice by any stretch of the imagination. The kink is very tasty!
Heather’s Rating System:
OOOOO – Five Full Moons: OMG I LOVE THIS BOOK GO GET IT RIGHT NOW!
OOOO – Four Full Moons: I REALLY liked this. Well worth reading, and possibly re-reading!
OOO – Three Full Moons: Good! Worth a read.
OO – Two Full Moons: Not really to my taste, but not terrible.
O – One Full Moon: Has serious flaws that make it difficult to read and review fairly.
I’ll also be using half-moons as necessary. I should make it clear that I do review books on a number of levels, emotional and structural being the major ones. I might read a book with serious grammar and spelling flaws, but it might still win my heart due to characterization or story. Or a perfectly structured novel might leave me feeling nothing, and won’t get a great review. I DO always try to find something positive to say about a book, or I won’t say anything much at all. I DO NOT engage in mean-spirited snark, although I do give constructive criticism. As a writer, I can’t stand the former, and always appreciate the latter, even if it’s “negative.”
Hope this makes sense. Any questions, comments, or vague misgivings are welcome in the comments!