That’s right, I was reading Christmas novellas in October (and reviewing them in November). You Had Me At Christmas: A Holiday Anthology with contemporary romances by Karina Bliss, Stephanie Doyle, Jennifer Lohmann, and Molly O’Keefe also included a Laura Florand novella called Snow-Kissed which I reviewed separately. The anthology let me try four new-to-me authors and while I’m not sure I’ll be racing out to buy more of their books, in a genre with this much choice and so many writers to wade through, this collection appealed to my research impulses.
Romance novellas generally strip the story down to its bare essentials and focus on just the relationship between the main characters which is what I enjoy so much about them. If you like them too, I have a list of Ten Great Romance Novellas you can draw from.
Play by Karina Bliss
From Karina Bliss’s Rock Solid series, this novella focuses on a couple that has been together since high school, but whose lives have taken a sudden turn when his long sought after dream of becoming a successful professional musician/rock star comes true. Having moved their two children to a new city and recently completed a European tour, Jared and Kayla are trying to find their way back to each other.
The prosaic reality of daily family life is quite a change from being a rock god. To compound this, in what I assume was a key element in one of the Rock Solid books, Jared joined the band through a reality show competition which would have created a steep learning curve. Suddenly, he’s a sex symbol and, while he has always been devoted to Kayla, she’s trying to cope with her new life and the ordinary insecurities of getting older feel magnified next to the glamour of their changed life.
Kayla and Jared work things out around failed dates, laundry, and sick children. I quite enjoyed the ride and may follow up with the other books in the series. Rock stars aren’t really my cup of tea, but as contemporary leads go they certainly beat all the billionaires, former elite military members, and billionaire former elite military members so thick on the ground in romance.
One Naughty Christmas Night by Stephanie Doyle
From Amazon: Workaholic Kate never expected to find herself looking for love online on Christmas night. Then John appeared on her screen and her whim to escape loneliness turned into the hottest sex of her life – even if it was via text. John knew Kate was too classy for his ex-con ass, but he was about to learn that Kate knew how to fight for what she wanted. And she wanted more of him.
Two very lonely people who find each other for one night and decide to turn it into more.I didn’t buy it.
Twelve Kisses Until Christmas by Jennifer Lohmann
From Amazon: Escaping her abusive father and small hometown to follow her dreams takes money Selina Lumina doesn’t have. After a millionaire software developer offers her a ride out of town, she has to decide whether to follow her aspirations or take a chance at love. Could a snowbound night on the road turn into a Christmas miracle?
While I deeply sympathised with Selina’s plight and was relieved when the kindness of others was enough to put her on a more hopeful path in life, I was unconvinced by the love story. It was sweet, but I didn’t believe that the two characters were a good match or made sense as a couple.
Christmas Eve: A Love Story by Molly O’Keefe
From Amazon: Growing up in the mountains of Wyoming Trina and Dean had been childhood friends until the bitter feud between their families drove them apart. When the magic of Christmas Eve tips the star-crossed lovers together year after year, will they be able to make sure this holiday is not their last?
Following the pair as they bounce through a series of Christmas time encounters over several years, Trina and Dean eventually get to a place where they are ready to be together and act on the attraction they always felt. O’Keefe did well at setting the scene and tone for each encounter, but the book never really caught my attention.