I love pretty much everything about Advent. The kitschy calendars, the weather, the music, the expectation. Let me be clear about the music, though. I’m not keen on listening to Christmas music before Christmas (Eve). Nope — it’s Advent music that I love.
Well, really, you can’t go wrong with the Choir of Kings College, Cambridge, especially when they’re singing my favorite Advent anthem.
I have read (and am reading) a bunch of holiday-themed novellas so far this season, and I thought it might be fun to do a short series of Advent posts featuring these books and doing mini reviews. I hope it’s fun for you, too.
When I heard that Mary Ann Rivers had a holiday novella coming out, I was all aflutter. Heating up the Holidays is a 3-novella bundle featuring Play with Me by Lisa Renee Jones, Snowfall by Mary Ann Rivers, and After Midnight by Serena Bell. My buddy Kim from Reflections of a Book Addict and I discussed all three novellas on her blog recently. Check out our post. While I wasn’t at all impressed by Play with Me (which I did finally finish after Kim and I wrote our review of it… and… wow. Underwhelming doesn’t even begin to describe it.), Snowfall and After Midnight are fantastic. Snowfall is a Christmas novella about love, loss, fear, change, and stressed out E.coli bacteria. After Midnight is a New Year’s novella about love, fresh starts, change, trust, and amazing first kisses.
Matzoh and Mistletoe, a holiday novella with BDSM elements, grabbed my interest right from the blurb. Every December twenty-fifth, Rebeccah Rickman volunteers through her synagogue so that others can celebrate Christmas. Her usual mitzvah, or good deed, is assisting police officer Jeremy Kohler. But this year is different: this year, Becca is free to act on the attraction that has long simmered between her and the sexy cop. Jeremy couldn’t have asked for a better gift than discovering the woman he’s fantasized about for five long years is single. But when he learns about the violence that broke up Becca’s marriage, he’s hesitant to pursue her. He fears his desires will scare her away—but can’t deny his own need for control in the bedroom. Or his longing to instruct her in the fine art of submission… Becca is shocked to learn that Jeremy is a sexual dominant. And despite her past, she’s also aroused. But before she can explore what that means, she’s going to have to put her trust in Jeremy—and her own fledgling desires. While Matzoh and Mistletoe was by no means perfect — the story line involving Becca’s ex didn’t quite resolve, and it felt a little bit as though Becca’s past abuse existed in the narrative only so the author could explore all the ways in which a D/s relationship is not abuse — it was still a charming read that I found very enjoyable, and it tells an interesting story.
Earlier in the year, I read and enjoyed a book by Sue-Ellen Welfonder, so when I saw Once Upon a Highland Christmas (Scandalous Scots #0.5) come up on NetGalley, I wasted no time in requesting it. I wish I had taken just a bit more time to think about it, because it turns out this story really was not up my alley. Here’s my take on the blurb: This guy named Archie has decided that Christmas celebrations are for suckers, so he decrees that no one in his clan may be even remotely festive. But this other guy named Grim and this lady named Breena are super festive, and they decide to invite all the neighbors to a Yuletide feast and thereby to rekindle the Christmas spirit in Archie. Along the way they fall in love. Fans of Highland romance fiction or of Christmas stories that have a Scrooge-like character who finds redemption will probably enjoy this one, because it’s full of Highland charm and magic and definitely offers a strong theme of redemption and good cheer. I felt that the romance elements were overshadowed by the festive themes and that there was not enough conflict in the romance story line to keep my interest as a reader. That’s not to say that there isn’t any conflict at all, but it’s all external and seems to exist in the story more for the sake of there being some conflict than because there is any element that truly needs to be overcome in order for these characters to make a happy ending of it.
So there you go… three holiday novellas. Stay tuned for more mini-reviews of holiday-themed novellas. (I didn’t realize how many I had read until I started making a list… I read many!) Have any of you been reading holiday-themed books this year?
Heating up the Holidays was released on October 28, 2013 as an e-book anthology by Loveswept. Matzoh and Mistletoe was released on November 21, 2013 as an e-book by Carina Press. Once Upon a Highland Christmas was released as an e-book on December 3, 2013 by Forever. For more information about these books, please click on their cover images above to visit their Goodreads pages.
*FTC disclosure – I received e-galleys of all three books from their publishers via NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.*