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Released: December 14 2017
“These are all quick reads you can enjoy wrapped in a cozy blanket this winter.”
~ Under the Covers
When I picked up this massive anthology, I had no clue what I was getting into. This is one thick book filled with sexy holiday goodness. It was a great way to sample a lot of different popular authors I’ve been hearing a lot about lately but I was a little skeptical to try and read. The one good thing is I actually did read all the novellas in this anthology. That’s not the usual for me with anthologies because I tend to hate at least one story so much I have to skip it. In this case, even though there are certainly some I didn’t care for much, they weren’t to the DNF point. So all around, if you’re up for the time commitment it’ll take to read this whole book (it’s over 1000 pages!) then you’ll be in for a treat. These are all quick reads you can enjoy wrapped in a cozy blanket this winter.
Some stories are steamier than others, some are sweeter. Some stand out for good reasons, others for bad reasons. So I’m not going to go into huge detail on each story but here’s a few short thoughts of each of them.
SIN BIN by Mandi Beck – First time reading this author and I thought this was a solid start of the anthology even if it didn’t blow me away. The heroine is still in college and an athlete herself, and the hero is a pro hockey player. There’s an age difference, it’s an interracial story, and one about a secret baby. Who doesn’t love those stories for the holidays? This was also on the steamier side. 😉 While it was an okay read, I don’t think it’s left me dying to read more from this author.
YARD SALE by Charleigh Rose – Here’s the thing with this one. Even though the setting is completely different (definitely more wintery and the hero is a snowboarder) this story felt A LOT like the first one. One night stand, no names exchanged, secret baby and final easy acceptance of new daddy status. It’s also on the steamier side. I think my problem was the fact that it was too similar to the previous story and I feel like either the authors should’ve communicated so it didn’t feel repetitive OR the placement of this story in the overall anthology should’ve been different. In the end, I couldn’t really get into this one much and I have that same feeling of not rushing to get another book by this author.
SWEEPING THE SERIES by Kate Stewart – I’ve been wanting to try this author for a while. This is sort of the classic setup of playboy with bad reputation needs a new publicist to clean up his image. I liked the fact that the publicist was the one girl he fell hard for during his rookie year and then things fell apart for them. While I’m a sucker for second chance romances, the writing in this one didn’t wow and the reasons that kept them apart were making my eyes roll a bit because it all felt a little stupid in the end. But I was glad to see them reunited.
FULL COURT PRESS by Kennedy Ryan – This was the first author here that I’ve read before and I feel she can be a bit hit or miss for me. In this case, I enjoyed this story. This is another second chance but at a romance that never was. Decker is a rookie basketball player and Avery just started out as a sports reporter. The first time they meet is pretty unforgettable and the repercussions of it are part of the reason she’s always stayed away from him. Ten years later he finally gets his chance to get close to her when he’s her temporary co-host for a TV show. This one has fun moments, while also diving into some deeper, more emotional topics. I think it was ambitious to tackle in a novella and all things considered I think the author did it really well.
SLAPPED INTO LOVE by Rochelle Paige – This one was slow and I felt a bit boring. This is another one night stand, second chance type of story. Ryan is a pro hockey player and he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about a woman he hooked up with months ago, who walked out on him, and he has no way of finding her again. Until she ends up as his new speed skating coach. A little too easy, too insta love, too fast getting back together. I wasn’t really feeling it.
OUT OF FORMATION by Ella Fox – This was another one that didn’t wow me. Elena and Colin have been extremely close for years. His grandparents had taken her in as one of their own after her druggie mom had rented a unit from them. After a student/teacher scandal in the athletic department at her college, Colin comes back to take a coaching position. The pacing in this one felt a bit slow, and while I found that the main characters had chemistry there is an age gap that at times I think was a little creepy, especially in the types of situations in their past. Also another one with a very easy conflict resolution in the end.
BACK IN THE GAME by Meghan Quinn – Single daddy hockey player alert! This was adorable from the start. The hero is raising his daughter after the woman he had a one night stand with decided she didn’t want to be a mother and ran off to France. He’s been doing the single dad thing for five years and in that time he hasn’t had much time for women and romance. Until he literally slaps Rachel with his fairy wing. 😉 I thought their personalities matched really well, love their sense of humor and how their relationship grew really naturally. Also, I can’t wait to see one of Calder’s teammates in the upcoming THREE BLIND DATES.
ONE GOOD MAN by Emma Scott – This was the surprise. I haven’t read Emma Scott so I had no idea what to expect. What I got was a really solid story and completely original. This is set in 1970s Paris. Janey wants to be a journalist and talk about real issues. Vietnam is going on and she wants to do something that matters. Her father wants her safe so he decides to send her to finish her studies in Paris where she meets a cocky soccer player. But there’s more to his story than she ever thought would be possible. This novella managed to enrapture me with its beautiful setting, great characters and chemistry, and deeper story. I didn’t even mind the insta love going on. I definitely will be looking for more books by Emma Scott.
SWITCH HITTER by Sara Ney – This was kind of perfect timing because I literally just watched a Christmas movie about twin sister who switch and find love while pretending to be each other. I haven’t read Sara Ney before and while I wasn’t blown away with the writing, it still delivered a solid story that I enjoyed. Lucy asks her twin sister Amelia to take her place on one of her Friday night dates because she’s double booked herself. They are complete opposites in personality but Amelia eventually agrees to do what should be an easy date with a stupid jock. But Dash ends up being the whole package that fits Amelia perfectly. Except he thinks he’s dating her sister. This was a fun read.
THE END ZONE by L.J. Shen – I’m going to be honest, this was the story I was most anticipating to read. And then… it was also one of those that didn’t really grab my attention. While I think the writing is always great, and Ms. Shen managed some steamy scenes in a short novella, I wasn’t buying how easy things fell into place. It has the classic jerk I was expecting to see, so if you’re looking for that it delivers. But it was missing something for me.
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