Saturday, January 3, 2015

Book Review: Snowy Days, Steamy Nights: Come in from the Cold (Short Story Anthology)

Welcome to my review for this excellent anthology! You'll definitely find some great reading here, and maybe find a new favorite author ;-)
Genre: Contemporary Romance   
Date of Publication: January 2, 2015  
Number of pages: 325
Word Count: 120,000  

Steam up your snowy nights with this new anthology  of six deliciously sexy romances by the following bestselling and award-winning romance authors: 
FROSTED, by Katy Regnery 
GROUNDED, by Kate Forest 
MELTED, by Jennie Marts 
REKINDLED, by Susan Scott Shelley 
SMITTENED, by Jamie Farrell 
SNOWED, by Veronica Forand 

*All stories included in Snowy Days, Steamy Nights are either short-story or novella length, giving readers the perfect opportunity to “meet” a new author or enjoy a sweet treat from a present favorite.* 

FROSTED (Katy Regnery) – When Grace Luff's children send her to a Silver Wings weekend at a luxury resort, they are hoping that the 56-years-young widow will meet a man to lift the loneliness she's endured since the passing of her husband over three years before. Grace, who barely remembers how to date, doesn't expect to meet anyone special, so she’s surprised that the owner of a local ski rental shop, Tray Bradshaw, makes her heart leap with interest and attraction. When a rogue snowstorm traps the pair in an abandoned cabin, they'll get to know each other, and discover that it's never too late to change...or fall in love. 

My Review of Frosted: It was a little hard for me to identify and connect with Grace simply due to the fact that I’m a dozen years younger, and haven’t had to face the same life situations she has.  But Katy Regnery does a fantastic job of exposition so that I could easily understand Grace’s feelings and the circumstances she finds herself in.

I really liked Tray’s character, he was so down to earth and very easy to like.  He was rough where Grace was refined-they are definitely a case of opposites attracting…if Grace can figure out what SHE wants for herself.

I would definitely consider this the “sweet” story of this collection, and thought it was a well-done romance focusing on an age group not usually seen in today’s contemporary romance stories. 4.0 stars.

GROUNDED (Kate Forest) – Biologist Julia won’t tolerate another frigid Chicago winter studying the frozen Great Lakes. But with every hour of her flight delay, her chance on a research voyage in Florida slips further away. Jeremy must get to Florida to sever the noose-like obligations of his family's boating business so he can become curator of a Chicago museum. Stuck in an airport, waiting out the snowstorm of the century, can two travelers headed for opposite paths find love while trapped in Concourse B? 

My review of Grounded: I think this is my overall favorite story from this collection.  Sweet with a bit of clean sexiness, the romance that kindles between Julia and Jeremy under their frustrating circumstances seems to be like two ships passing in the night at first.  But things don’t always work out like you might expect, and for me I found this to be the most satisfying and complete short story I’ve read in a really long time.

I loved both Julia and Jeremy’s characters, and actually would love to see a full-length book expanding on their story and characters. 4.5 stars.

MELTED (Jennie Marts) – Painful memories from long ago resurface when Emily Wells travels to Colorado to clean out her family’s vacation cabin for its new owner. Strongest among them? Her recollections of Logan Chase, Emily’s first love, to whom she gave her heart one magical summer, only to have it broken when she never heard from him again. Logan had never forgotten that summer romance and can’t believe it when he finds Emily packing up the little cabin that he has recently purchased for renovation. Despite the passage of years and their stormy history, Emily and Logan can’t deny the fierce attraction that still sizzles between them…Will one snowy night together be enough to melt her frozen heart and give them both a second chance at love? 

My review of Melted: I love second chance romances, and Melted is a wonderful quick look at just such a story between Emily and Logan.  Sweet, then turning to hot and spicy, this story was a great second chance short.  The only thing that bugged me was how rushed the resolution was.  I know it’s a short story, but how quickly everything came together in the end just felt way too fast even for a short story…regardless of how close Emily and Logan were the first time around. 3.75 stars

REKINDLED (Susan Scott Shelley) – Actress Gemma Norwood and carpenter Adam Hudson are thrown together four years after a gut-wrenching break-up. Both are looking to make major changes in their lives, but after one kiss, rekindling their relationship is all that matters. When family obligations and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities threaten to tear them apart again, the warm glow of a happily-ever-after seems as impossible as starting a fire in a snowstorm. 

My review of Rekindled: This is another great second chance romance story (I really really really love these!), and the characters of Gemma and Adam felt very genuine.  Even for a short story, the two characters seemed very well developed, and when that twist comes threatening to tear the two of them apart again, I really felt for Adam (I loved his character!), and hoped that they could work everything out.  

This is another of those shorts that I wouldn’t mind seeing fleshed out as a full-length book. 4.5 stars.

SMITTENED (Jamie Farrell) – Dahlia Mallard is determined save her ice cream shop by getting country music superstar Billy Brenton to attend her risqué flavor-tasting event. But the closest she can get to Billy is his drummer, the womanizing Mikey Diamond. The more she gets to know Mikey, the more she wants to save him from his bad boy ways. When he discovers she’s using him to get to Billy, will she still be able to have her ice cream and eat it too? 

My review of Smittened I really liked Mikey right from the start.  Dahlia I was on the fence about until about halfway through, by then I had warmed up to her character.  The storyline was cute and played out well-it really felt like I was getting a full book’s story instead of just a short story, and I never felt short-changed like I sometimes do with short stories (so many really should be turned into full-length books to do the characters and story justice).

And the country accent Mikey had…between that and his overall sexiness, you can’t help but swoon.  For me, his character really made the entire story. 4.0 stars.

SNOWED (Veronica Forand) – Lorena Rubio’s life is turned upside down when she’s kidnapped by Andrés “Con” Conesa, right hand man for the drug lord who murdered her sister. Con, who is deep undercover for the FBI, must keep her at a cabin in the snowy Sierra Nevada Mountains until the rumor that she’s provided specifics about his drug cartel to the police is confirmed or denied. Their attraction ignites in the middle of this frozen hideaway, but Lorena is unwilling to offer her heart to a criminal. When the cartel boss arrives and wants Lorena put on ice for snitching, Con must decide whether or not to blow his cover for the woman he craves beyond reason. 

My review of Snowed: This was the one story from this collection that I had the hardest time getting into.  I don’t read many books with criminal settings, so that might be part of the difficulty I had warming up to this story.  I also didn’t really feel a connection between Lorena and Con-everything between them felt too rushed and not “real” enough.  This is one of those short stories that would be better as a full-length book-not because I am wanting more, but because it really needs more to properly tell the tale and get me invested in these characters, and really develop their connection and relationship. 3.5 stars.

Overall: This was a great collection and I’ve now discovered a few new (to me) authors to add to my TBR list.  I would definitely recommend it to contemporary romance fans, and give it an overall 4-star rating.

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