Getting snowed in never felt so good as boundaries are crossed, opposites attract, and friends discovering more promise a Christmas no one will ever forget.
White-Hot Holiday by Coleen Kwan
Naomi's sworn off men like Aaron—rich, cocky, and dismissive of holiday traditions. Aaron decided to spend Christmas in sunny Australia to avoid snowy New York, not to fall for the woman his best friend warned him away from. But when a volcano grounds him, Aaron and Naomi's relationship becomes eruptive.
An Officer and a Rebel by Cindi Madsen
The last person police officer Nate Walsh expected to discover in a snowstorm is his brother's ex and former town rebel, Kelsey Cooper. She's his complete opposite and totally off-limits, but as they wait out the storm together, all he can think is how he wishes she'd stay forever.
Saving the Sheriff by Roxanne Snopek
Frankie Sylva was determined to free the reindeer cruelly held for a holiday roadshow, even if it meant risking her own life. Deputy Sheriff Red LeClair set out to save a stranger in a snowstorm, never expecting he'd be the one to be rescued.
About the Author
Karen Erickson lives in central California with her husband, three kids, one dog and too many cats. Being a romance writer and bringing her characters to life is her greatest dream come true.
She's also known as New York Times and USA Today bestselling new adult author Monica Murphy.
Cindi Madsen sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting, revising, and falling in love with her characters. She has way too many shoes but can always find a reason to buy a new pretty pair, especially if they're sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She lives in Colorado with her husband and three children. She is also the author of the YA novel All the Broken Pieces and the bestselling short romance Falling for Her Fiancé.
Coleen Kwan has been a bookworm all her life. At school English was her favorite subject, but for some reason she decided on a career in IT. After many years of programming, she wondered what else there was in life -- and discovered writing. She loves writing contemporary romance and steampunk romance.
Coleen lives in Sydney, Australia with her partner and two children. When she isn't writing she enjoys avoiding housework, eating chocolate, and watching The Office.
Roxanne Snopek is an award-winning Canadian writer and author, focusing on contemporary women's fiction and romance, usually with a dollop of crazy. Plus a dog or two.
Read an Excerpt
Stranded with a Hero
A Bliss Anthology
By Karen Erickson, Cindi Madsen, Coleen Kwan, Roxanne Snopek, Wendy Chen, Kate Fall, Alycia Tornetta
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2013 Karen Erickson
All rights reserved.
"But I thought it was your turn to have the kids this Christmas."
Mindy clutched the phone closer to her ear, fighting the sick, nervous feeling she'd been plagued with since early this morning when she'd received the call. "How could I say no?"
"Hmm, I don't know. Maybe you should've said, 'Hey jackass, we have a custody agreement and this year I get our boys for the holidays,'" Cameron McKenzie suggested, bitterness lacing his tone. He was terribly protective of her, so she guessed she couldn't blame him.
No, more like she appreciated all three of her brothers — and her sister — immensely. They were a close family and she was lucky she had them. Unless they were getting nosy, which was also a problem that came with big families. "He's getting married, Cam. That's a special moment."
She swallowed past the bile that rose in her throat and opened the oven, peeking in on the sugar cookies she was baking. Really, she didn't care that Marty had supposedly found true love. Again. She just hated calling her ex's impending marriage a special moment. Blech. They hadn't even been divorced very long, though the reason they were in the first place was because he'd taken up with his now fiancé. "The boys were so happy to go to Hawaii for Christmas. No way could I ruin that for them."
How long her ex-husband, Marty, had the plan in place to take his girlfriend Bobbi to Maui to get married, she didn't know, but he didn't even spring it on her until her oldest son Kyle called her bright and early this morning, sounding so excited it was a wonder he hadn't exploded.
"He could care less about your feelings and that makes me want to beat him to a bloody pulp," Cam muttered, making her smile. She'd always appreciated his violent streak in her defense. But she needed to change the subject quick before he went off and did something crazy, like really beat Marty to a bloody pulp.
That would make for most interesting wedding photos.
"How's Chloe feeling?" She asked, knowing that the topic of her pregnant sister-in-law would soften Cam considerably.
"Fat and tired, and those are her words exactly." The warmth in Cam's tone was unmistakable. He was madly in love with his wife and Chloe loved him right back just as fiercely.
If Mindy hadn't sworn off men forever, she'd be horrendously jealous.
"I saw her yesterday. She's not fat; she's radiant and beautiful." The baby was due in two months and they'd decided to keep the sex a surprise, which was driving every member of the McKenzie family crazy, especially her mother. She was dying to buy anything either pink or blue and was stuck with the neutral colors of green and yellow.
Mindy had a feeling Cam and Chloe loved every minute of the torture they were inflicting upon the family.
And if anyone was feeling fat, it was Mindy. The kids were gone and she was still baking sugar cookies in Christmas shapes. Plenty of trees, stars, snowmen, and candy-cane shaped cookies ready for her to frost and eat.
All by herself. She planned on gorging herself on those cookies, too. Drown her newfound Christmas blues in sugar.
Where were the Elvis holiday tunes when she needed them?
"I know. She's gorgeous. I tell her that every day but she's getting uncomfortable. Work is hard on her, being on her feet all day." Cam's protective mode had switched to full-on loving husband and Mindy smiled. Had Marty ever sounded like that when he'd talked about her?
Yeah. She'd married young and popped out two babies in quick succession to a man who'd claimed to be ambitious but had turned out to be rather dull and a complete workaholic. He traveled a lot — code for he'd had affairs all over the place. She'd stayed married to him far too long, thinking she couldn't get any better than Marty.
How pitiful did that make her?
"Chloe can relax now that winter break is upon us," Mindy said.
"Yeah. I want her to quit early but she won't budge. Stubborn woman," Cam said.
Mindy stifled a laugh, glancing out the kitchen window. The sky was a dark, foreboding gray, bringing with it a monster snow storm, of which she'd heard all about this morning on the news. "She'll be fine. And hey, you two better stay indoors and out of the storm. It's coming. The clouds are scary dark."
"When does Marty fly out with the kids?"
"They're already on their way to Sacramento. They left about an hour ago. The boys stopped by to pick up a few things and say good-bye." Marty had waited in the car with his fiancé, honking the horn when he felt Kyle and Chandler were taking too long.
"Unbelievable. He's had this up his sleeve the entire time, don't you think?"
"I think I'm done talking about Marty, Cam. I'm tired of him taking up space in my brain." She needed to focus on the positives of her life. Her future, not her messy, screwed-up past.
"Yeah, no kidding. He's not worth two seconds of our conversation. So ..." She could tell her brother was about to change the subject in a major way. "I heard a rumor Chris and Jane are trying to set you up with Josh."
Mindy closed her eyes and thumped her forehead against the kitchen wall. "The last thing I want is to be set up. I don't know how many times I've told Jane this."
"They are hell-bent on you giving Josh a chance. I mean, come on, you two have known each other forever. You danced around the flirtation table with him before, right? Before you had that big blow up or whatever? I'm sure you're over it by now."
"The flirtation table? Cam, I can't believe I'm even having this conversation with you." Clearly her brother had lost it. Or Chloe had domesticated him so thoroughly he now said crazy stuff that made Mindy roll her eyes.
"You should give him a chance. He's a nice guy. You used to be such good friends. And Chris works with him. Says he's single and alone for the holidays. Jane was just crying to Chloe how she didn't want Josh to be alone for Christmas."
"No way," Mindy said vehemently, wanting the subject to drop big-time, though she felt kind of bad for being so rude. But Cameron was right. She'd had a big blow up with Josh years ago, and their friendship had never recovered from it. She felt bad that he was spending Christmas alone but he was a big boy. He'd survive, just like she would. "I'm not interested in having a relationship. You know this."
She was so not ready for a relationship. She liked to say she'd sworn off men completely but her sister and sisters-in-law tried their best to change her mind, so Mindy kept her mouth shut.
"Aw, come on. Aren't you lonely?" the former king of sullen loner asked.
Yes. Terribly. I still can't believe my ex took my boys away from me on what should be my Christmas. But I won't dare admit it for fear I'll look like the bitch. "My life is pretty fulfilling. I have the boys. I have my job. I have my home."
"Cam, leave her alone," Mindy heard Chloe say in the background just before Chloe grabbed the phone from him and was talking to her instead. "I heard what happened, Min. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." Mindy blew out a harsh breath. "Really. I'll survive."
"Marty's a selfish idiot," Chloe said.
Mindy laughed. "That he is, my friend. That he is."
"You should come over here and hang out with us. No one should be alone right before the holidays." Chloe paused. "I'll make up the guest room for you and everything."
Mindy felt a pang in her heart. She loved having Chloe as her sister-in-law. She was a terrific addition to the McKenzie family. "I appreciate the offer, but I think I'm going to stay right here. The wind is blowing pretty bad, and I'm making cookies." A particularly loud howl sounded outside, the walls of her modest home vibrating with the force of it. "In fact, I gotta go, Chloe. My cookies are probably burning, and I need to get my cat in before he gets caught in the snow."
Mindy winced. Well. That sounded like the lamest excuse ever. But it was true. No way did she want burned cookies. And yeah, Spike the cat was outside at this very moment probably freezing his tail off.
"Call us, Min, okay? Stay safe."
She hung up a few seconds later, her mind filled with thoughts of Josh. She didn't understand why Jane and Chris were so insistent she go on a date with him. Been there, done that, ruined a friendship over it forever. Considering they lived in the same town and she hardly ever saw him, she figured he did his best to avoid her.
Which was fine. Really. She preferred avoiding him too. It was easier that way.
Hitting the off button on the oven, Mindy grabbed two pot holders and opened the oven door, pulling the cookie sheet out and setting it on top of the stove. The cookies were shaped perfectly, the frosting already made and divided into three colors. The boys would've been beside themselves if they saw them. This was one of their favorite activities to do during the holidays.
And now she was going to frost cookies alone. All alone during Christmas just like poor Josh ...
Pushing thoughts of Josh firmly from her mind, Mindy went to her hall closet and grabbed her winter coat, pulling it on. She wrapped a scarf around her neck and shoved a hat over her head before slipping on her snow boots. Just past three in the afternoon and already the sky was growing dark. She needed to find that dumb cat before it got too dark and too cold.
As she headed outside, she squinted against the waning sunlight, the dreary gray settling its moody hands on her shoulders, weighing her down. The snow swirled, the cold air nipped at what little skin that was exposed, and she tugged the scarf away from her mouth so she could call her cat. But the little booger was nowhere to be found.
Could her Christmas get any worse? Her kids were gone, her ex-husband was about to remarry in freaking Hawaii, and the snowstorm of the season was descending.
Life sucked big-time.
* * *
Joshua Powers followed the curvy road around the lake, keeping his speed low since the asphalt was slushy with snow. The wind knocked against his normally sturdy truck and he gripped the steering wheel tight, regretting yet again that he'd gone to check on his parent's house.
His mom and dad were on a cruise in the Caribbean. Right about now he envied the hell out of them, sitting in the warm sun, surrounded by a bright blue sea.
And here he was, driving in hellish weather, being the dutiful son and checking on their house, making sure everything was ready for the storm. He should be at home, sitting by his woodstove and drinking a beer. His older sister had been harassing him to come to her place for Christmas day but forget that noise. He'd have to leave that night to make it back for his 8:00 a.m. shift the next morning.
He'd sit out Christmas alone and had no problem with it. Growing up, he'd been a bit of a loner. Not that he was ostracized in school or anything, but he had no problem doing his own thing and not worrying what others thought.
Unlike some people he'd known, who always worried about what others thought about her, always fearful of her image. Such as a particular girl who was still around, whose house he was about to drive past, though he'd never ever admit she still haunted his thoughts on random occasions.
Especially now that he knew she was single ...
Tightening his hold even more on the steering wheel, he forced all thoughts of Mindy McKenzie Fenton out of his head and focused his attention on the road. They'd been friends once upon a time, he and Mindy. Since grade school, when their families had lived in the same neighborhood and they were in the same class. He'd hung out with her older brother Patrick somewhat but more often than not, he was with Mindy.
Junior high decimated their friendship, being that it was junior high and full of early teen angst. By high school they'd struck a tentative relationship once more, one built on asking each other for advice or information on the dating scene and studying for chemistry. Josh had started to believe there was some real chemistry between them, so he'd taken a chance and asked Mindy out. When she'd hesitated, he'd blurted out how much he liked her. How he'd always liked her and wanted to take it further. Hell, he'd even gone in to hug her and possibly kiss her, too.
And had been immediately shot down. She'd dodged him, nervous laughter escaping her as she told him she was already seeing Marty Fenton and that Marty didn't like the two of them hanging out together. So she had to stop spending so much time with him.
After everything they'd had, the deep friendship they'd shared, she'd pushed him away because of some punk dude who told her she couldn't be friends with Josh any longer. Josh had been devastated. He'd been so angry at the time, he'd quit talking to her, which she'd never understood. He knew that because she'd asked Cameron about it, who in turn told him. Clueless woman.
It was ridiculous. That had been years ago, but they'd never really reconciled. They rarely spoke to each other beyond polite pleasantries at the very occasional social function where they ran into each other. He hated how tattered their friendship was.
But he didn't know how to fix it.
They'd gone on with their lives, but he'd always secretly cared about her. Had kept tabs on her through her family, though he'd always been casual about his inquiries in regards to her. Mindy was divorced with two kids. And Josh had had his fair share of relationships, though none of them had lasted for too long. He was married to his career.
Being an arson investigator for the state of California was a heavy-duty job that involved him in undercover investigations he couldn't tell anyone about. His mother called it secret squirrel investigations.
His mother was a big dork, but he loved her, so he could forgive her for the dorkiness.
He slowed down as the truck approached Mindy's house. She'd kept it after the divorce, what with Marty moving into the tiny cottage his now fiancé lived in. The two-story structure sat high above the road and the driveway was steep, the front yard virtually nonexistent save for the giant deck that served also as the porch. The view of the lake was amazing.
Despite the contention between him and Mindy, he'd been to the Fenton household for a few social functions over the years. He was an old family friend. And usually he'd gone with a woman in tow. Something about being there alone while watching Mindy with Marty had always set Josh on edge.
Maybe because he'd always suspected what a jackass Marty really was. That leopard had certainly never changed his spots. The last few years of their marriage hadn't been very good, yet that hadn't seemed obvious to anyone Mindy was close to. She always put on a brave face.
But Josh had sensed things weren't right in the Fenton marriage. There had been the one time he'd seen Marty with his little sidepiece, Bobbi, at some restaurant in another town over. He'd tried to brush it off as nothing but ...
It had definitely been something. And Josh had been full of guilt for never telling Mindy about it. Not that they really talked.
A cat darted out in front of his truck, a bright spot of orange among the slushy snow, and Josh swerved left to avoid it, going right into the embankment with a solid thud.
"Jesus," he muttered, throwing the truck into park and killing the engine. The warm engine ticked noisily but otherwise there wasn't any sound. Snow tended to muffle all noise, leaving everything in a peaceful quiet that any other moment, Josh would've enjoyed.
Not at this particular moment though.
He climbed out of his truck and went to the front to check the damage. The orange tabby cat he'd avoided sat in the middle of the driveway, blinking at him as snowflakes fell gently, clinging to his fur.
"Frickin' cat," Josh grumbled as he knelt down to inspect his dented bumper. It didn't look too bad, but if he didn't back out and take off now, the snow would bury him quick. Or the freezing roads would send his truck into a spiral.
He needed to get out of here stat.
"Spike! Oh my gosh, there you are!"
Awareness prickled over Josh's skin despite the layers of clothing he wore, and slowly he stood to his full height, keeping his back to the woman with the sweetly familiar voice. And it wasn't just anyone's voice; it was Mindy Fenton's.
"Joshua Powers, is that you?"
Taking a deep breath for courage, he turned to find Mindy blinking up at him, a black knit cap jammed on top of her head, her wavy, blond hair a curling mess around her face. Her cheeks were pink from the cold, her green eyes bright, and damn if she didn't look beautiful. "Hey, Mindy," he said weakly.
She looked from him to the cat and back at him again. "Don't tell me your truck is in the embankment because of Spike."
Josh frowned. "Spike?"
"My cat." She waved a hand at the orange tabby but he'd already moved on from their conversation, trotting up the driveway toward the house, his tail sticking straight up in the air. "Spike," Mindy called but the cat ignored her.
"I, uh, swerved to avoid hitting him, yeah." He brushed his hand across his face, wiping away the dampness left by melting snowflakes. "Sorry about that. I'm gonna head home."
"Wait a minute." She rushed toward him, fairly fast in the slush, and grabbed his arm. "Are you okay? Is your truck all right?"
Excerpted from Stranded with a Hero by Karen Erickson, Cindi Madsen, Coleen Kwan, Roxanne Snopek, Wendy Chen, Kate Fall, Alycia Tornetta. Copyright © 2013 Karen Erickson. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Excellent story. This is a novella for the Three River Ranch series and fit in as 3.5. As I have been reading the series (recommended but not necessary) I have come to feel more of a vested interest in the protection of the wildlife around us. I love it when I am able to learn something while I enjoy a good story. WTG Ms. Snopek. I highly recommend this sweet love story both set alone and the series as a whole.
Loving Mindy by Karen Erickson Knowing that I love Erickson's work under the name Monica Murphy, I was excited to read Loving Mindy. This is a novella that is part of a on-going series, but I honestly didn't feel that I was lost or missing the details. Erickson did a solid job of giving just enough history, without dragging the current timeframe down. Having both a second-chance-romance and a friends-to-lovers theme, Loving Mindy is a beloved trope double-whammy. Mindy and Josh were both engaging characters, and I did become invested in their story in a very short amount of time. Bonus: this has me interested in reading the rest of Erickson's Lone Pine Lake series! Favorite Quote: "This is the best Christmas present I've ever received," she whispered. I'm so glad you almost hit my cat." He laughed, the warm, rich sound making her smile. "That is the strangest thing you've said yet, Min, but I gotta agree. I'm glad I almost hit your cat, too." White-Hot Holiday by Coleen Kwan This was another really sweet, quick-paced holiday read. Set in Australia, White-Hot Holiday is the story of Aaron, who needs a break in the worst way, and Naomi, a woman who's been recently burned by love. This story had a good bit of angst, with Aaron and Naomi fighting their feelings. The angst is well-placed, though. Naomi is Aaron's best friend's niece, and he's been warned away from her. Naomi is dealing with a recent break-up with a man whom Aaron seems similar to. And there's also the pesky issue of the fact these two not only live on different continents, but almost an entire globe away. Naomi teaches Aaron to embrace the holiday spirit. Aaron convinces Naomi that she doesn't have to give up who she is for love again. The ending of this one was particularly good. Favorite Quote: "I'm very good at customer service. See these dimples here?" He pointed at his cheek. "They're my secret weapon. I've closed major deals with them." A smile tugged at the corners of her lips. "I see. So dimples are worth more than an MBA from Columbia?" "Used judiciously, yes. They don't teach you the proper use of dimples at Columbia. It comes from experience." An Officer and a Rebel by Cindi Madsen Cindi Madsen is a favorite of mine, and I love her Accidentally in Love series. Remember Wes from Falling for her Fiance? Nate is his cousin, so I think that is pretty much all I need to say to convince fans that An Officer and a Rebel is worth the read. As always, Madsen has created a story that made me laugh, and warmed my heart at the same time. Her heroine, Kelsey was a little bit crazy, a whole lot funny, and adorable. She's a little bit of a disaster, the good kind, so of course I loved her and her purple hair and potty mouth. This story has a nice little forbidden(-ish) romance, with Kelsey being the ex-girlfriend of Nate's younger brother. There is also the fact that Nate has always had a bit of a crush on Kelsey, but thought she could never go for him. Of course things work out, but in this story, the getting there was a whole lot of fun. Favorite Quote: His heart pounded in his chest, and he pushed his hand into her hair, desire flooding his veins once more. Addictive--that was the right word for being with Kelsey. Never enough, always wanting more. Saving the Sheriff by Roxanne Snopek Of the four author in the anthology, Snopek is the only one whose work I wasn't familiar with. Saving the Sheriff was fast-paced and fairly humorous story. I enjoyed the premise, with Frankie infiltrating a man who's endangering game, and she's determined to save them from the butcher. Red is the sheriff in need of rescuing, which, I think what needed to be saved was his surly attitude. (just kidding, he was fine) Frankie was fun and lively. Red was coping with his first Christmas since divorce, and was understandably a bit of a sad sack. I never really fell in love with the characters as much as I enjoyed the premise. What made this fun for me was the humor. I loved how these two teased one another. And the ending, it was another sweet and satisfying conclusion. Favorite Quote: "You look good in the morning." Red half-sat up against the couch, his arms crossed behind his head, a lazy grin on his face. "You could dial back the crazy a touch, though."
2 people come togather....loved it
Reviewed by Kim for Read Your Writes Book Reviews A quote from Roxanne Snopek’s book, Saving the Sheriff sums up this anthology very well. “Life’s too short to say no when love shows up at your door.” Stranded with a Hero will give you four heroes and heroines you will root for and fall in love with. You will smile, laugh, and probably cry a little bit. Without a doubt, this book will put you in the Christmas spirit. If you haven’t read any of these authors before, this is a really great place to start. I simply love them all. Rating: 4.5 Stars Source: Publisher More detailed review on the individual stories can be found at Read Your Writes Book Reviews in December.
In Stranded with a Hero, we have four authors that are showcasing a Christmas novella that coordinate with there Bliss series books. So, let get started. Loving Mindy Karen Erickson This novella is part of the A Lone Pine Lake stories. In the previous books you actually meet Mindy, and she's stuck in a pretty crappy marriage. By the time we get to Loving Mindy, Mindy is divorce from the douche bag Marty. Now she's spending Christmas alone, because Marty is too selfish to give Mindy the kids for Christmas. I really liked the story, because I felt bad for Mindy in the previous stories and I just wanted her happy. Now she gets her happy-ever-after in this story. I like Josh Powers, because he's always had a soft spot for Mindy and he was willing to take a chance even if he might get shot down again. So, getting stranded in a home can be a good thing. At least it worked for Josh and Mindy. I personally would like a part two to their story. White-Hot Holiday Coleen Kwan This story is part of Coleen's Real Men stories. Aaron Cade has a really crappy attitude towards Christmas, I would even say it borderlines Scrooge like qualities. Basically, he goes down to Australia for a few days before heading to his folks house. He ends delayed a little longer. In my opinion doesn't sound bad at all. While he's there he meets his friend's niece Naomi Spencer who has sworn off men. We all know how well this works in the end. Anyway, I really liked this story, because we watch Aaron rediscover that Christmas isn't all that bad and with the right girl you would do anything for her. I love how these two have chemistry, but try to stay away from each other. Honestly, I loved this novella, it had a conclusion. It was complete mini story. Yes, it was a quick read, but I believe Coleen tied it up real nicely and I don't have to wish for another story to see what happens next. So, this made me very happy. An Officer and a Rebel Cindi Madsen All right, I really enjoyed the story and thought this was super cute. Here's why: You have Nate Walsh a local sheriff who finds Kelsey Cooper and basically offers her a place to stay. Back in the day Kelsey dated Nate's younger brother, which marks her off limits. Of course, he kind of had feelings for her and he might still have feelings. Not that would be awkward or anything. However, they end up snowbound for a couple of days. Yes, an enjoyable read and pretty sweet story. Saving the Sheriff Roxanne Snopek This happens to be my favorite story out all of them. I have read all of Three River Ranch stories and I couldn't remember a Sheriff Red LeClair. I even went back to see if he was in the other stories, by the way he's not, so if you haven't read any of the other stories you would be fine just reading this story as a stand alone novella. So, Roxanne introduces a couple of new characters that develop a budding romance while stuck in a blizzard. First off, Red and Frankie's story had me cracking up. You have Red who is basically picking up the pieces from his divorce and he meets Frankie who is like the eternal optimist. She is bubbling over with happy vibes and she's not going to let any get her down even the grumpy sheriff. Plus, there are quite of bit one liners in the story that had me in a stitch. This story will leave with that warm fuzzy feeling. Overall, these ladies did a fantastic job with these novellas and they fit in well with their current series that coordinate. This would be a great way to sample each of their Bliss stories. As always, these stories will leave you with that happy endings and warm fuzzy feelings. So, if you are looking for that heart warming holiday read, you might want to checkout Stranded with a Hero. Copy provided by publisher
Lots of good choices! I was really excited to read the Stranded with a Hero anthology. A handful of romantic, snow filled stories? Sounds perfect to this Minnesota gal! I will say that anthologies are a tricky thing. Most often I find that I’ll love one story, like one or two, and not be a fan of at least one and once again, I found that to be true. The first story of the anthology, Loving Mindy, was cute and sweet. Mindy in unexpectedly spending Christmas alone after her ex-husband sweeps their kids away for a surprise trip to Hawaii to celebrate with him and witness his marriage, even though it was technically Mindy’s year to have Christmas with the boys. Josh is driving past Mindy’s house when he swerves to avoid hitting her cat and ends up stuck in the ditch. Josh and Mindy have known each other since childhood and once upon a time were best friends. That all came to an end when Josh confessed his feelings for her in high school only for Mindy to reject him in favor of her now-ex-husband. Getting stranded together in a snowstorm for a few days gives them plenty of time to hash out the past and work toward rebuilding their friendship and building on those feelings that never quite went away. Josh and Mindy were sweet and once they made it out of the house, the supporting cast was fun and made me excited to read more about them in the authors other full length stories in the series. Next up was White-Hot Holiday, which pairs up workaholic, Scrooge-in-training Aaron with full-of-Christmas-Cheer, Naomi. When his boss orders him to take some vacation time, Aaron travels to Australia to visit old school chum, Luke for a couple weeks leading up to Christmas. While there, he meets Luke’s niece, Naomi, who’s bunking down with Luke and his family after a bad breakup. Aaron’s cynical about Christmas after some past bad experiences and feeling forced into family revelry every year with his family. Naomi loves Christmas and is determined not to let Aaron’s bad attitude get her down. This one started a little slow for me but by the end I was in love. I thought these two were really cute together and I absolutely loved how Aaron’s walls kept getting chipped away little by little as he started feeling the Christmas spirit. The last few chapters and the epilogue are so adorable and really make the whole story shine. The third story, An Officer and a Rebel, was by far my favorite. I’ve read a few things by Cindi Madsen at this point and really like her style and characterizations. I was a little apprehensive after reading the summary – wild girl with tattoos and purple streaks in her hair? Not necessarily a heroine I relate to. On a nostalgic impulse, Kelsey decides to drive through her teenage hometown of Marion, NC on her way to visit her mom for Christmas. Unfortunately her impulse gets her stuck in a snowbank in the middle of a snowstorm, only to be rescued by Nate, her teenage boyfriend’s older brother. Kelsey had never been one to fit in, and Nate had always been one to follow the rules. Kelsey always thought he disapproved of her, when in reality, Nate had always had a secret crush on her. Being the eternal “good guy”, he’d never act on it out of respect for his brother. But a few after a few days alone, Kelsey proves to be a temptation he can’t resist. Nate is just about the sweetest guy ever and I loved how his serious nature gave way to a fun sense of humor. While Kelsey is impulsive and rebellious, she’s also kind hearted, sweet and is clearly yearning to settle down, just in her own way. I love how these two balance each other and bring out the best in each other. As short as the story was, it was so jam packed that I didn’t feel like it was a novella. A bag of chocolate chips might just be the most romantic gesture I’ve read in a while! I had a tough time with the final story, Saving the Sheriff. Red is housesitting his friend’s ranch over Christmas. While out feeding livestock before a major winter storm hits, he comes across a trespasser in Elves clothing. Frankie made it her mission to free the reindeer/elk/caribou from her seasonal Santa’s Helper job. After hijacking the trailer, she drove it out to Three River Ranch, after reading online that it was a reserve for wildlife. From very early on I just didn’t like Frankie. I know she was supposed to come across as a passionate crusader, but I found her flaky and annoying. I actually liked Red, but couldn’t appreciate him once Frankie entered the picture and overshadowed him. The way Frankie teased him came across less as flirtatious and more as condescending. Even when we learned that it was probably justified for Frankie to try and save the reindeer/elk/caribou, the way she went about it was so flawed that I couldn’t find anything good about her actions. The writing itself was fine and it’s very possible another reader will enjoy this one but I just couldn’t get past my distaste for the leading lady. The anthology as a whole was cute and got me in the mood for sitting by the fireplace with some cocoa while the snow falls outside…which is a good thing because I think I saw some flurries this morning! Happy (and warm) reading!
Loved it! My favorite was definitely White-Hot Holiday by Coleen Kwan.
I received an eARC in exchange for an honest review. What would you do if you were stranded with a hero? With the holidays literally right around the corner, this Bliss anthology featuring short stories from four fabulous authors is sure to get you in the holiday spirit! This is just the kind of book to curl up by a warm fire with a nice cup of hot chocolate. Each of the four stories involves a couple stranded during the holidays and having to make the most of the situation they are in. The best part is, is that each author puts a different spin on their individual stories making the reader engaged in each and every one. I just loved these short stores and can’t pick just one as my favorite! Nothings worse than having to spend Christmas without your kids, like in Karen Erikson’s story, but her main character, Mindy makes the most of it when she finds herself stuck in a blizzard with Josh. At least she has someone to keep her warm. ;) Take a journey down under for the holidays in Coleen Kwan’s story! Who wouldn’t want to spend the holidays somewhere warm, especially if you live somewhere cold. Cindi Madsen introduces us to Kelsey who accidentally returns to Marion and finds herself in need of a rescue by none other than Nate who just so happens to be her ex-boyfriends older brother. Hmmmm….makes for an interesting story now does it? :) For me, this one definitely put a spin to a holiday story! Finally, Roxanne Snopek takes us back to one of my favorite places – Three Rivers Ranch! This quirky holiday story that involves the town Sheriff and an Elf (?!?) Tables turn for the Sheriff when he ends up being the one needing a rescue. This is just the book to get you in the holiday spirit and it sets the mood for a romantic holiday season.
For Christmas romances in one book. Grab a cup of hot chocolate, a blanket and a roaring fire in the fireplace and you will have a perfect afternoon. This is four novellas with a person being stranded close to the Christmas holidays, with HEA. Each story will not disappoint you, each tied up with an epilogue. I now want to go back and read other stories by these authors. I received this book from the publisher for a honest review.
Stranded with a Hero, a wonderful book of four Chistmas Short stories all by different authors that I've never read before but will surely add to my future list. Can I pick out a favorite story out of the group, I couldn't they all where wonderful with their own stranded storyline, likable characters, great dialogue. I would recommend this book of holiday stories to anyone who enjoys a good holiday romance.
This is a well written christmas anthology. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the stories. Each story has a heroine who is trapped her hero, and each setting is different. All the storys were well written and have happy endings. My favorite was the story set in Australia, it built slowly and the hero Aaron goes from grinch to christmas enthusiast. I also loved reading about exotic setting and meeting Naomi's family. Josh's romance with Naomi was sweet, as was Nate and Kelsey's story. I reccomend this book to anyone who has followed these authors or is just looking a fun, romance filled break from the holiday rush.
I received an ARC of this in exchange for an honest review. I know it is early in the season and I will read a ton more holiday books but I think this will definitely make my top 5 of the season!!F Four great authors, four wonderful stories, and a whole lot of snow. Karen Erickson takes us back to Lone Pine Lake where Mindy is having to face another Christmas without her kids but the holiday cheer flows when she is stuck with Josh through a blizzard. Hmmm..... Colleen Kwan gives us some holiday joy Australian style...no snow here. Just a hot guy, a volcano and lots of sparks between Aaron & Naomi. Cindi Madsen shows us sometimes we can go back. Teenage rebel Kelsey returned - well accidentally -to Marion. And who comes to her rescue? Well Nate of course. Older brother of Kelsey's ex boyfriend who has always secretly crushed on Kelsey. Roxanne Snopek has us returning to Three River Ranch were and Elf named Frankie is setting 5 rescued reindeer free. HUH?? Sheriff Red Le Clair is handling the holidays just fine all alone thank you very much then he finds himself stuck in a blizzard with Frankie the elf. HUH?? Who is cute, fun and just a little too tempting...oh and a felon. While all these stories have ties to other books in varies series they are completely stand alone. No need to have read the prior books to enjoy the fun these stories contain. Go now and get it!! Recommend it to everyone.