“We’ll Be Home for Christmas” by HelenKay Dimon
Lila Payne has been trying to find her way after her marriage fell apart and she thinks that moving to Holloway to take care of the campground “resort” that her uncle gave her is as good a place as any to start over. Only she didn’t expect that when she went to Thomas Nurseries to pick up something her uncle ordered, she’d run into the man she hasn’t been able to get out of her head for three months… not since their hot and heavy 3-night stand. Once Spence spots her, he can’t help but be drawn back to her with memories of that weekend in the swank hotel, and he’s dying to know if it was just a one-time sizzle or if the fireworks are still there.
My trip back to Holloway was even better than the last! Spence was the perfect balance of smart and sexy with shake-your-head-he’s-such-a-man. This short story was so emotionally charged between the devastation of a marriage gone wrong that Lila was dealing with and the lifetime of women leaving (starting with his own mother) to complicate his commitment issues on Spence’s end of things.
All the smexy lovin’ happened behind closed doors but this story was SO good, it didn’t even matter. The emotions were intense, the tortured hero just right, and the “moment of truth” so satisfying that even though it wrapped up a bit quick, it was easily forgivable.
The growth that he showed in just a few chapters was truly a joy to read and made it hard to stay mad once he decided to finally make the dive into the unknown with the woman he found himself willing to risk being with – whether she stayed or left.
“Ask Her at Christmas” by Chrisi Barth
This short was about best friends, Caitlin and Kyle. BFFs since high school, they take care of each other, lean on each other, talk each other to sleep every night… and hold back their true feelings in order to keep the friendship at a safe level. Unfortunately, when Kyle pops the question and reveals that Caitlin is his “practice run”, she might have lost him for good.
Kyle explains that he is proposing to his girlfriend of six months to make his father proud and to solidify a merger between the two families companies. He figures that even thought it’s essentially a business transaction, he’d put a little effort into it to try to at least base the marriage in respect and friendship.
Although the romantic in Caitlin is completely horrified (I’d feel the same way!) she has always supported Kyle and won’t stop now. She does everything she can to plan a romantic proposal, giving him plenty of Christmas-y ideas like the ice rink, a fairy tale ending in front of Macy’s Christmas windows, and a surprise Christmas gift. Nothing seems right to Kyle but as the days to Christmas tick down, the plan gets more real, and he doesn’t know if he can go through with it.
It was absolute torture watching Kyle try to please his dad by ruining not only his life, but Caitlin’s. These two are so perfect for each other that while rooting for them you go from wanting to beat him over the head with a blunt object one moment, to cheering like a crazy person the next!
This story will make you fall in love, get pissed, stand proud, and swoon in 24,000 words – in short, you’ll love it!
“The Best Thing” by Jaci Burton
Tori has worked for Kent Construction for a few years, but the past 10 months have been especially difficult – ever since Brody Kent kissed her at the company Christmas party and she bolted. She’s been in love with Brody for years, but can’t let her heart get involved because of Brody’s playboy reputation. She knows she wouldn’t be able to handle being used and tossed aside by this man. So when Brody’s brothers tell him to “fix it”, he starts a dialogue with her that eventually ends in a magical weekend for the both of them… but can Tori get past her trust issues and can Brody finally man up and settle down?
I really liked Tori and Brody, but I think some background from the previous stories (this is book 3 in the series) would’ve helped frame their struggles a bit better. I also think that Tori had good reasons to be wary of Brody and while he did prove himself, I think she forgave him a little too easily. That’s probably due to the nature of the short story though, because it’s still a great tale of love and family with a Christmas twist!
All three of these stories are the absolute perfect Christmas read, they’re emotional without being overwhelming and will satisfy every hopeless romantic’s need to swoon this holiday season!
*ARC provided by Carina Press via Netgalley
Romancing the Holidayby HelenKay Dimon, Jaci Burton, & Christi BarthRelease Date: December 3, 2012Publisher: Carina Press