Short Story Review: Snowed Inn by Danielle Lee Zwissler

It’s Christmas Eve, and Lacy Johnson has spent the last three days driving home.  However, making an unfamiliar turn, her car skids on the road and her tyre ends up in a ditch.  She has no idea where she is exactly, and can’t get a phone signal.

Luckily, Grayson Snow is driving past and offers her a lift.  Asking where she is going, she sees a sign at the side of the road for the Snowed Inn.  Already feeling terribly stupid, she says she has a booking for the inn, not realising that it is a family-run establishment – run by Grayson’s family and he knows there are no bookings for that night.

When they arrive at the inn, Grayson’s mother thinks that Lacy is in fact Grayson’s girlfriend, there to stay for Christmas.  What follows is a light-hearted Christmas tale full of banter…but will it lead to romance?

The plot of this short story is very fast, perhaps too much so for my personal preference.  Lacy Johnson is a very quirky main character; she is strong, independent, says what she thinks but with a caring side.  Grayson is a gentleman but cannot help but tease Lacy when the opportunity arises.  The banter between Lacy and Grayson is consistent, and the setting as well as the storyline is perfectly festive.

This is a short, sweet, fast-paced Christmas read with an endearing ending.

I downloaded a copy of this short story for free from Smashwords.

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Book Review: Home for Christmas by Melissa McClone

Rachel Murphy is an expert baker who is currently going through a tough time.  Usually, her over-protective brother visits her in Arizona for Christmas, but this year, Rachel just needs to get away.  After a run of bad luck in business where her ideas have been stolen by those who are supposed to be her friends, she instead goes to stay with her brother in Montana.

Whilst in Montana Rachel plans to save her dream of one day owning her own bakery.  To finance this she is going to make and sell gingerbread houses.  When her brother’s boss Nate offers her the use of his kitchen on the ranch, she gets more than she bargained for.  With a head for business, Nate tries to help Rachel, but after all she has been through, she’s not in a particularly trusting mood.

Will Nate be able to convince Rachel to trust him? Is her brother over-protective for a reason?  Can she really finance her dream with the sale of gingerbread houses?  And most importantly, with emotions running high, is Rachel in for a happy Christmas?

This was a really sweet, captivating, romantic read.  I loved this story.  It really brought the season to life and inspired me to feel really Christmassy.  I also wanted to bake gingerbread – a lot! 🙂 I can imagine that this will be a story I read every Christmas.

It was easy to connect with the characters in this story, and as it unfolds I found I was hoping that Rachel was going to get a happy ending.  The setting was evocative and really helped to set the scene and the season, and the romance was charming.  I would definitely read more by this author.

A thoroughly enjoyable festive read that I struggled to put down.

I downloaded a copy of this book for free from Smashwords.

Short Story Review: A Christmas Oath by Vicki Hopkins

It is a few weeks before Christmas and Elizabeth Dutton and her mother have been invited to the annual Christmas Eve party at Darley Hall.  However, Elizabeth is not full of the joys of the season.  Having recently had her heartbroken by Francis Oldham, Elizabeth is in fact quite miserable.  Even suing him for breach of promise of marriage three months before didn’t make her feel any better.  In fact, the truth of the matter is, she is still in love with him.

She agrees to attend the Christmas Eve function only because she believes that her hosts would not have done anything quite as silly as invite Francis.  And yet, the evening turns into a disaster…one mishap follows another, until something quite miraculous happens…

Although I knew this was a historical romance when I began reading this short story, and knew that somehow Elizabeth and Francis would end up back together (it is implied in the book description), I was intrigued how such a thing could come about.  They had both been publicly embarrassed by the other and so the reason behind them reuniting I believed would have to be quite good to make it seem possible.  That being said, it was, and it was something that I didn’t expect which made the story all the more likeable.

I found the historical notes at the end of the story extremely interesting.  It is clear as you read A Christmas Oath that the author had spent a significant amount of time researching the history behind her story.

There were a few tiny things that niggled me which didn’t seem appropriate to the time the story was set or where it was set, but in the great scheme of things, they were easy to overlook.  Overall, I enjoyed reading this short story and would certainly read more by this author in the future.

I downloaded a copy of A Christmas Oath for free from Smashwords

Book Review: The Willow Pool by Elizabeth Elgin

Liverpool, 1941.  Meg Blundell is mourning the loss of her mother to TB.  In the wake of her mother’s death comes answers that Meg has been waiting for all her life.

Meg never knew her father.  She didn’t even know his name.  When pressed, Meg’s mother would not utter a word.  However, on the topic of Candlefold, she would talk ceaselessly for hours.  Candlefold was the house in the country where she had worked as a young woman, and it had been spoken of as if it might be heaven.

Tidying up her mother’s things, she comes across a number of important papers: the deeds to the house she lived in Tippets Yard, which now belonged to Meg; a number of photographs of her mother in service at Candlefold before Meg was born, and finally her own birth certificate, with an interesting entry.  Although ‘Father Unknown’ was no surprise, the fact that she was born at the country house her mother had always spoken so fondly of did.

If she wants answers, the only place she can go for them is Candlefold.  Even though her neighbour, Nell, tells her to leave the past be, Meg needs to understand.   But what she finds at Candlefold is more than she could have ever anticipated…

The Willow Pool tells the tale of a young girl, all alone in the world, as she learns about where she came from, who she is and what she could be.

This was an unexpected gemstone of a read.  I can’t even remember what had prompted me to pick it up at the book sale, but I am so glad that I did.  I don’t think that I have ever read a book that brought to life so vividly what was going on at home during WWII.

The story was full of interesting, unforgettable characters, each with their own wonderfully detailed, distinct personality.  Plain-speaking Nell Shaw, quiet Tommy Todd, the persistent, upright Kip Lewis…But perhaps it is the character of Meg herself that truly makes this story so captivating.  A simple girl, who has never been in love…

The journey of discovery that the author takes us on is a tumultuous one, one that breaks the heart and completely captures the imagination.  I could not put this book down once I got into the story, as I needed to know just how things were going to end for Meg.

I loved this book, so much more than I thought possible.  And so, I will definitely be seeking out other offerings from this wonderful author.  Highly Recommended!

Book Review: Just Another Day at the Office by Amber Lynn

Just Another Day at the Office is the second book in the Avery Clavens series by Amber Lynn.

After the success of her first mission in Not In My Job Description, Avery is back and this time working as an FBI agent.  Nate has sort of moved into her apartment, and he is her new partner.

Their first assignment as FBI partners sees them sent to a small government think-tank town in the middle of Montana.  It seems that someone has been stealing and selling secret advances in technology that the scientists have spent a lot of time, money and effort on.  So Nate and Avery are going in undercover to find out who is behind it and stop them.

It sounds easy…

I really enjoyed the first book in the series but was pleasantly surprised to see a paranormal twist in this one, which only made the story more interesting and entertaining.  I have found these books very readable, and I have been completely pulled into the series.

Over the course of the story, we meet an eclectic group of people, and a very intelligent robot named Vinnie, and the strange town in which the story is set adds another layer of interest.  Avery’s quirky personality is unusual for a main character and yet she can be quite amusing, and Nate’s patience with her is endearing.

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Working Through the Weekend.  I downloaded a copy of Just Another Day at the Office by Amber Lynn for free from Smashwords.

Book Review: Not In My Job Description by Amber Lynn

Not In My Job Description is the first of the Avery Clavens novels by Amber Lynn.

Avery Clavens lives in New York City and works as a computer specialist for a government agency, only no one she knows outside of work knows it.  Her family and friends all think she works in a library.

Avery’s life is pretty uneventful, which is just the way she likes it.  She goes to work, she comes home.  She goes to the gym, she comes home.  She watches hockey and periodically meets up with her best friend, Frannie.  That is Avery’s life: ordered and simple.

But things are about to change.  A blind date and a surprising twist in a case she has been working on will turn Avery’s life upside down.  Her quiet, boring existence is about to become far more complicated than she is used to.

I enjoyed reading Not In My Job Description.  Avery’s story was captivating and I couldn’t help but wonder how things were going to turn out for her.  The plot and subplots worked well and came together in spectacular fashion.  The pace of the story was good, but I found it a little word-heavy in places, but that didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of it.  The characters were interesting, and on the whole believable, making it an interesting first book in a series, one that makes you want to continue reading to see what happens next.

I downloaded a copy of Not In My Job Description by Amber Lynn for free from Smashwords.  I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Just Another Day At the Office.

Book Review: The Wild One by Danelle Harmon

The Wild One is the first book in The de Monteforte Brothers series written by Danelle Harmon, a set of historical romances set during the Regency.

Juliet Paige has travelled from Boston to England to meet the family of Charles, the man to whom she was engaged, and the father of their daughter.  However, he died before they could marry, and now, all alone in the world, that is apart from her young daughter, Juliet decides to cross the ocean and put her faith and trust in the family of the man she so desperately loved.  However, Charles was a de Monteforte, second in line to the dukedom of Blackheath and Juliet was the daughter of a colonial shopkeeper.  She is certainly unsure of the welcome she’ll receive.

Lord Gareth, now second in line to the dukedom of Blackheath after his older brother Charles died in the colonies, continues to do what he does best…drink and joke around as the leader of the Den of Debauchery.  However, that all changes the night that he stops a stagecoach from being robbed, a stagecoach on which Juliet Paige and her daughter are travelling, taking a bullet in the process and becoming a hero overnight.

Through the calculating manipulations of Lucien, the Duke of Blackheath, not to mention the fact that Juliet and Gareth have fallen in love with each other but have yet to acknowledge it, the pair’s fate becomes entwined.

How will they survive?  Will Juliet be rewarded for her courage for travelling such a vast distance alone?  Will Gareth prove himself the responsible and reliable man Juliet needs him to be?

The author brings Georgian England to life with ease; her characters are believable and the storyline engaging from the very first page.  The Wild One is full of action and romance, and I would certainly recommend it to those who enjoy Regency romance stories.

Short Story Review: The West Wind Blows by Linsey Lanier

I stumbled across this free short story on Smashwords and thoroughly enjoyed it.

It is set at Halloween and centres around Danica Marshall, a single mum whose boy is bullied because he has no dad; Lance left the state without knowing he had fathered a child.  However, on hearing rumours that he has a son, he returns to find out for certain.  Danica and Lance had a stormy relationship before he left but how do they feel about each now, after six years have passed?

A thoroughly enjoyable and well-written short story, one I would definitely read again.