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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Review: Winter Wishes

Winter WishesTitle: Winter Wishes
Author: Vivi Andrews, Vivian Arend, and Moira Rogers
Page Count: 295 pages (epub format)
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review obtained via NetGalley.com in anticipation of an honest review

50 words or less: At this festive time of year, here are three holiday/winter themed novellas to spice things up and get the party started!

As I sit here in my pajamas vegging out in front of the Mythbusters marathon on this Christmas day, I wanted to take the opportunity to make a suggestion for all of you ebook lovers who have gift cards and whatnot you need to unload.  Winter Wishes gives you the opportunity to pick up three fun, spicy, and very different and unique paranormal romance stories in one volume.  If you're new to any of these authors, then this is an excellent place to start, while experienced readers will find more of the stuff they love in this offering.

First up is Tangled Tinsel by Vivian Arend, starring proud cat shifter Kyle Branegan, an agent with the super secret Cougar Corp masquerading as a useless playboy, and Eloise Scott, a cop with the LAPD who'd rather forget that she's a shifter all together.  Circumstances thrust (har!) them together and they end up spending Christmas with El's kind of wacky family so that El can keep Kyle in protective custody.  There's irrefutable chemistry between these two but both of them have trouble imagining a future beyond the expiration date on El's directive to keep Kyle in custody.  When it turns out that the shifter world won't be ignored no matter how hard one may try, they have to decide whether pursuing a relationship is worth it.  This story was very fun, and the antics of El's family are not to be missed.  Grade for this story: A

The middle child of this book is No Angel by Vivi Andrews.  Sasha thinks her family is unusual, what with her mom being half-angel and her parents being super famous, but she doesn't realize that they can't hold a candle to her boyfriend Jay's family.  Apparently, Jay is a half demon- his mother is a demoness and his step-dad is Lucifer himself.  Jay hasn't told Sasha this, though, and instead has gone out of his way to be the nice guy that he thinks Sasha wants him to be.  When Jay is rudely summoned back to Hell and Sasha is charged with a holy quest to get him back, it certainly makes things awkward, since they'd been in the middle of breaking up when all the drama went down.  Once the dust has settled and the holy mandates have been satisfied, will these two even want to be together?  I LOVED Sasha's snarky outlook on life and her "don't-take-shit" attitude.  The scene where she's accosted by a wannabe starlet in line at the grocery store is not to be missed.  The quest element is perfectly proportioned for a novella and there aren't so many details that the story bogs down, nor does the story feel incomplete.  I was satisfied with the resolution to some pretty hefty issues that would bar Jay and Sasha from being together and look forward to reading more by this author. Overall Grade: A

If I had to pick a story that was slightly weaker than the others it would have to be the third and final offering in this book, Freeze Line by Moira Rogers.  Set your phasers to stun, please, and hear me out on this one.

The setting of Freeze Line is very unique; a semi postapocalyptic world in the not too distant future where an ice age has left a frozen wasteland for people- and supernaturals- to inhabit.  Our hero, Shane, is a werewolf, and our heroine, Nadia, is a witch who's escaped from a laboratory where she was slowly being tested to death by scientists who were looking for...something.  They come together out of necessity because Shane is a decent person who can't let Nadia waste away when he comes upon her; he also fights his attraction to her because he's afraid that his wolfiness would result in Nadia getting hurt or killed.  While they do work things out towards the end and figure out a way that both of them can be together, there's significant angst between the onset of the relationship and the ultimate resolution.

I think my issues with the story (and to be fair, they weren't major enough to make me want to stop reading or anything like that so no worries there) stem from the fact that a whole lot of whallop has to be packed into a relatively short story.  I think Freeze Line would have been an AWESOME full length novel, with time and space to explain how the world that serves as the setting came into existence, why the conflicts between the different tribes and groups of people exist, how the magical connection between the earth and the supernatural folks works, and especially to give the relationship between Shane and Nadia more time to blossom.  Like I said, the raw material was all here, I think the story was just too short to do the epicness of the setting and the depth of the conflict justice. Overall Grade: B

I was super excited for this anthology when I first heard about it and overall it didn't disappoint.  There was just enough holiday spirit to give me the warm fuzzies but there was plenty of innovation and novelty to make this more than just the same old same old when it comes to holiday books.  I can definitely recommend this one to fans of paranormal romance across the board.
 
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