A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas

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Synopsis: The Wallflowers are four young ladies in London who banded together in their wild and wickedly wonderful searches for true love. Now happily married, they join together once again to help one of the world’s most notorious rogues realize that happiness might be right under the mistletoe.…

It’s Christmastime in London and Rafe Bowman has arrived from America for his arranged meeting with Natalie Blandford, the very proper and beautiful daughter of Lady and Lord Blandford. His chiseled good looks and imposing physique are sure to impress the lady in waiting and, if it weren’t for his shocking American ways and wild reputation, her hand would already be guaranteed. Before the courtship can begin, Rafe realizes he must learn the rules of London society. But when four former Wallflowers try their hand at matchmaking, no one knows what will happen. And winning a bride turns out to be more complicated than Rafe Bowman anticipated, especially for a man accustomed to getting anything he wants. However, Christmas works in the most unexpected ways, changing a cynic to a romantic and inspiring passion in the most timid of hearts.

A Wallflower Christmas takes a trip to Victorian London, under the mistletoe, and on a journey of the heart. With her trademark charm, sensuality, and unforgettable characters, there’s no one like Lisa Kleypas to make you believe in the magic of Christmas.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed spending some time with the Wallflowers again. It was great to catch up on their lives and what they’ve been up to since Daisy’s story concluded the series.

Rafe and Hannah. Loved them! I really enjoyed their chemistry, from their first meeting until the end of the story. I thought it was really well done and I was rooting for them the whole time. Lots of awww moments between the two of them which made this book one I could not put down.

Hannah’s cousin Natalie? Didn’t care for her so much. She came off as a spoiled pampered princess and I didn’t find anything likeable about her whatsoever. Maybe this wasn’t intention, but she was condescending and mean to Hannah, which made me seriously dislike her character. Thankfully, her story is summed up by the end of this book also, so I don’t need to worry about a follow-up book about her.

Verdict: This was Very Good. I highly recommend it!

The Gift by Nora Roberts

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Synopsis: From the incomparable master of romance Nora Roberts comes two tales of holiday love, available for the first time in over a decade.

Home for Christmas
After years of world travel, prizewinning reporter Jason Law returned home to New Hampshire. He had carried the memories of Faith Kirkpatrick, the girl he left behind, for ten years — now he was determined to win back her love. But she was a woman with responsibilities, and he was nothing but a wandering nomad. All they could have was this one Christmas together. Could Faith summon the courage to give Jason a once-in-a-lifetime holiday gift?

All I Want for Christmas
Identical twin boys Zeke and Zach wanted only one gift from Santa: a new mom! And when they first meet their music teacher at school, they could hardly believe their luck — Miss Davis was a mom made-to-order. But convincing their dad was a lot harder than they thought. Mac Taylor wasn’t willing to risk his heart, but when Nell brought love and laughter into all their lives, his heart began to thaw like a spring snow. Will the boys get their Christmas present after all?

My Thoughts:
Home for Christmas
This short story was about 107 pages and centered on Jason Law and his ex-girlfriend, Faith Kirkpatrick. Jason’s been gone 10 years has decided it’s time to return home and try to win back the girl he left behind. Jason seemed to have been accepted back too easily and he really didn’t have to work hard to win back the girl or the rest of the town’s people. I wasn’t really that invested in the characters, or the story, for that matter. It was still Okay and had some cute moments.

All I Want for Christmas
This story was cute and had me smiling almost all the way through it. Zeke and Zach are adorable and I really enjoyed their friendship with Nell Davis, the music teacher. The reluctant friendship between Nell and Mac was also great, and I loved that she goaded him on purpose every time he was in one of his grumpy moods. For a short story, this one was Very Good.

Verdict: Overall, the book was good. It had one okay story and one story that was very good. Both short stories were quick and easy reads. I’d recommend it for an afternoon when a fluffy holiday romance is what you are in the mood for.

Holly and Mistletoe

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Why I Read It: Because I’m still on my Christmas kick.

From the Back Cover: Holly Garrett was in trouble. The handsome stranger who’d saved her from a storm was now asking her for help. And he was inviting her to live with him. Sure, she could prepare evening meals and give him sponge baths, but nothing had prepared her for those sexy glances he threw her way…Jordan Haynes couldn’t let Holly be alone for Christmas. Not when visions of her were dancing in his head night after night. No, he could play the needy patient as well as anyone…and convince her to keep him company through the holidays– if not longer.

My Thoughts: I loved the first half of this book. The chemistry between Holly and Jordan practically leapt off the pages and I loved how they connected as friends. I enjoyed how Jordan’s family immediately embraced them into their clan and treated her like one of their own, since she no longer had a family.

Then, about halfway into the book, the story changed and focused more on their attraction and with that, more on Holly’s virginity. She’s 28, but as innocent as a child. She doesn’t understand the physical relationship between men and women. She didn’t know what an erection was. I found it hard to believe that even though she was a virgin she didn’t understand the basic biology of sex. Human reproduction is taught in high school, for goodness sakes. I found this a bit hard to believe that she didn’t understand/know anything about this.

I also didn’t like that I couldn’t ever really figure out how old Jordan was. Susan Mallery didn’t include this in the book. I don’t have an answer to why, but it just irritated me. Probably because I don’t like books with huge age gaps between the H/H.

I’d rate this one Okay. It started out good, but took a turn south towards the middle of the book. I’ll still read the rest of the books in the series (there are 5 Haynes brothers, plus a friend considered a surrogate brother and then the newly discovered half-sister ~ this makes 6 other books in the series) ~ just because I’m a bit of a series whore and need to read all of them. Of course, I usually read them in order but since this was my first Susan Mallery and it was a Christmas book I didn’t know it was part of one.

The Christmas Basket

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Why I Read It: Because it’s Debbie Macomber and Christmas.

From the Back Cover: That summer — more than ten years ago, while they were still in high school — Noelle McDowell and Thomas Sutton fell secretly in love. Secretly because their mothers had been locked in a bitter feud for decades. But despite the animosity between Sarah McDowell and Mary Sutton, Noelle planned to elope with Thom. Until he jilted her.

This Christmas Noelle McDowell is home to celebrate the holidays with her family. (After all, December 25 is also her birthday.) Unfortunately, Noelle’s feelings about home — or rather, her hometown of Rose, Oregon — were changed forever the day Thomas Sutton broke her heart.

This Christmas the feuding mothers find themselves working together to fill Christmas baskets for charity. What irony! And what an opportunity for reconciliation . . . if only they could see it.

This Christmas Noelle and Thom discover they’re still in love. Regardless of their mothers’ reactions, they want to be together. Is that possible? Can old rivalries be set aside? Will Sarah’s Christmas daughter have a second chance with Mary’s charming son?

Maybe she will . . . this Christmas!

My Thoughts: Well, if you haven’t read a Debbie Macomber Christmas story, don’t start with this one. I was disappointed with this story. There are two conflicts to the story ~ essentially Thom and Noelle were supposed to elope. She thinks he stood her up. He thinks she stood her up. He thought the time they were supposed to meet was 3pm. She thought it was 8pm. Guess what ~ it was a misunderstanding. So, they haven’t spoken in 10 years. They figure out it’s a misunderstanding and the 10 years are erased with a snap of the finger. Suddenly, it’s “I’ve always loved you.” And “I’ve always loved you.” “Marry me.” “I want your babies.”………Um ~ where’s the conflict? Where’s the story? Seemed to be taken care of and wrapped in a pretty red bow way too soon.

Then there’s their mothers. They used to be best friends. Sarah (Noelle’s mother) borrowed a tea set from Mary (Thom’s mother). The tea set was stolen. So, they haven’t spoken in over 10 years. They get thrown together to make Christmas baskets for the Salvation Army. Yes, a few funny things happened when these two got together. But, one night Mary’s car breaks down ~ Sarah goes to help her. Sarah’s car breaks down. Conveniently, there is a flask of scotch in the trunk. They drink, they get drunk, they confess they miss each other and “Let’s be best friends again”. Okay …….. huh? Again, conflict solved way too soon and wrapped up in a pretty red bow.

This story was somewhere between Okay and Disappointing. Debbie Macomber writes much better stories than this one ~ although the idea of the story was cute, the story fell flat. The conclusion was rushed and the conflict solved way too quickly.