Where There's Smoke. . .
USA Today bestselling author Donna Kauffman
When flames from a recipe gone disastrously wrong send hunky firefighter Will Mason to pretty Clara Parker's rescue, the sparks really begin to fly! And once Will gets a taste of Clara, he aches for more than just a little sugar from the famously single food columnist. . ..
"Donna Kauffman writes smart and sexy, with sizzle to spare!" --Janet Evanovich
The Gingerbread Man
National bestselling author Kate Angell
Folks have always told fun-loving Abby Denton that her anatomically correct Gingerbread cookies are. . .impressive. But those erotic cookies have nothing on the sexy stranger Abby saves from a snowy country road. Could Lander Reynolds be the Christmas treat she's truly been longing for?
"No fan of the genre should miss Angell's surefire romances." –Booklist
Sugar And Spice
When caterer Lily Callahan goes up against hotshot pastry chef Pete Mancuso in the bake-off of the season, the stakes are high--and scandalously passionate. Will the gorgeous gourmand steal Lily's heart--and the top prize in the Christmas cookie competition?
"A mouth-watering, heart-warming, toe-curling holiday romance!" --Amanda Usen, author of Luscious
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About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Kate Angell lives in Naples, Florida. She's an animal lover, avid reader, and sports fan. Bookstores are her second home. She takes coffee breaks at Starbucks. Her philosophy: Out of chaos comes calmness. Enjoy the peace. Please visit her on Facebook or at www.kateangell.com.
Kimberly Kincaid writes contemporary romance that splits the difference between sexy and sweet. When she's not sitting crosslegged in an ancient desk chair known as "The Pleather Bomber," she can be found practicing obscene amounts of yoga, whipping up anything from enchiladas to éclairs in her kitchen, or curled up with her nose in a book. Kimberly is a 2011 RWA Golden Heart® finalist who lives (and writes!) by the mantra that food is love. She resides in northern Virginia with her wildly patient husband and their three daughters.
Read an Excerpt
The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap
By DONNA KAUFFMAN, KATE ANGELL, KIMBERLY KINCAID
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2013 Donna Kauffman
All rights reserved.
The snow was starting to come down thicker and faster as Clara Parker drove away from the cookie swap ... and away from her warm, cozy little cottage off Main Street as well. She flipped her windshield wipers to high and clicked on the rear defrosters as she headed over the mountain toward Riverside instead.
A little snowstorm — or even a not-so-little one — wasn't going to keep her from her designated mission: Operation Find Cookie Cookbook. It sounded like a rather silly mission to risk life and limb for, but it was precisely her life she was intending to save. Her first Christmas cookie column was due in to her editor in less than forty-eight hours. Her first of twelve consecutive columns, one per day, every day, leading right up to Christmas. Twelve columns. Twelve cookie recipes, complete with handy baking tips. So, she figured it might be a good idea if she, you know, learned how to bake.
Clara prayed the Riverside bookstore had something with "for Dummies" in the title. "Okay, okay, 'Really Big Dummies,'" she murmured, navigating her way carefully through town on the snow-covered roads. She knew Abby and Lily would happily help her muddle her way through this sudden, unexpected career change, but they had their hands more than full with their own career-oriented baking endeavors at the moment. Besides, she'd gotten herself into her current situation and she needed to prove to her herself, not to mention her boss, that she could get herself back out of it.
It wasn't like being the relationship advice columnist for the Pine Mountain Gazette had been her dream job, anyway. It had simply been a means to an end — a stepping stone, she'd hoped, to the type of local-story journalism she'd always wanted to write. So, losing that job wasn't that big a blow. It was more like a relief, really.
"Yeah, that's what it was. A relief." Clara fished another one of Abby's anatomically correct gingerbread men cookies from the gift box on the passenger seat. "Who needs to earn money? Keeping a roof over my head and putting food on the table? Highly overrated." With the engine idling as she sat at the last traffic light before leaving Pine Mountain, Clara studied the perfectly piped white frosting that trimmed the perfect little gingerbread man's perfect little arms and perfect little legs. Cookies. What on earth had she been thinking, agreeing to write a column on Christmas cookies?
The only thing she knew less about than how to have a functional, long-term relationship, was how to bake. If her chance to springboard herself from advice columnist to a local features writer had been dicey, then making the same jump from a column about baking when she couldn't boil water? "Yeah. Awesome move, Clara. Awesome move."
Not that she'd had much of a choice. It had been writing a baking column or standing in the unemployment line. She sighed and snapped off a perfectly frosted leg, crunching as she waited for the light to turn green, trying not to panic. But there was no way around it, really. A columnist who wrote about baking would have to actually bake things. Which was really unfortunate, especially when one took into consideration that there should be a law preventing Clara Parker from ever being allowed, much less required, to voluntarily put herself in a position to be handling sharp objects around things that got really, really hot. Just ask the local fire department.
She finished off the cookie leg and was halfway through the other one as she left the twinkling lights of Pine Mountain behind her. If only eating cookies counted as research. She'd be golden, then. What she needed was a boost of optimism and confidence. She'd gotten away with being an advice columnist for almost three years, hadn't she? How hard could it be to get away with offering baking tips and recipes for the next ten days? So what if she couldn't even reheat Chinese take-out without involving the local PMFD? Besides, they'd probably already forgotten about that whole incident with the melted toaster oven.
Groaning, Clara snapped off a gingerbread arm, then munched her way through that, the other arm, and the head as she navigated the swirling snow and rapidly diminishing visibility down the other side of the mountain. Why, oh why didn't you talk Fran into a column about something else? Anything else? She spared a quick glare at the protruding peppermint stick remaining on the front of the little cookie man's torso, right before snapping it off with a decisive crunch. Men. It was all their fault, really, that she was in this predicament in the first place.
If Pete Mancuso hadn't been so charming when he'd rescued her runaway grocery cart that afternoon a week ago, offering to buy her a cup of coffee so she could catch her breath after almost being sideswiped by tiny Mrs. Teasdale in her mammoth Lincoln, she wouldn't have assumed he'd been interested in her. And when he'd bumped into her again later at the local café and invited her to an impromptu lunch where they'd spent the afternoon chatting away about their work and such — surely any woman would have been swept off her feet, right? She could hardly be blamed for thinking his intentions were romantic in nature. How was she supposed to know he was just hoping she'd do a human interest story about his star-on-the-rise career as a local chef made good?
But then, she of all people should have known better. She was astutely perceptive when it came to her friends, always aware of the things going on around her, even able to keep up or at least fake her way through most any conversational topic. All in all a pretty sharp, well ... cookie. She also happened to be a too-tall, gawky woman who was a borderline klutz — and, okay, so maybe that line was invisible — with a shock of red hair, stick thin to the point that her curves ranked in the minus column, who possessed zero skill in knowing how to maximize any of it. And yet, there she'd sat, being all giddy date girl, while Pete had simply been networking. Of course he had. Because why in the world would a guy who looked like Pete Mancuso ever consider romancing klutzy Clara?
And, before Pete? Yeah, there had been Stuart Henry, the accountant at the firm in Riverside that did her taxes. He'd been so serious and goal oriented, so ... focused. Some might have used the term nerd, but to her it had been more of a hot, professorial, bespectacled kind of thing. And he'd always been so intent, concentrating exclusively on her whenever they talked, oblivious to the world around him, making her feel special, as if she were the only woman in the room. So, no one could blame her if it had taken a few dates — all right, maybe a few months' worth of dates — to realize that he was, in fact, oblivious to the world around him, and that she really was the only woman in the room. The only woman in the room willing to listen to his endless soliloquies on tax law, his utter fascination regarding corporate withholdings, and the excitement of debating the relative merits of resort property ownership versus group timeshares.
Even more mortifying? She hadn't been the one to break up with him. Turns out Stuart's mother didn't really approve of him dating a redhead. She claimed they were all no-good homewreckers. Which, since Stuart was single, was somewhat confusing, until he explained that his father had run off with a redheaded actuary. All of which meant Clara really wasn't the only woman in the room after all. Stuart's mother was also in the room. In fact, Stuart's mother owned the room. And she wasn't about to sublet any of it to Clara.
Before Stuart, it had been Willard Blickensderfer, the newly imported Swiss ski instructor at the Pine Mountain resort. Clara smiled briefly as the peppermint candy slowly dissolved on her tongue. Willard had been a good half foot shorter than she, but there were certain perks to that. They'd aligned well in other ways. Especially when they were both horizontal. In fact, he'd been great in bed, very energetic, very ... attentive. Turns out, unlike Stuart's mother, Willard had quite a thing for natural redheads. A very good, very enthusiastic thing. He'd also made her feel like the only woman in the room. Which, she'd learned — in a quite mortifying manner on a late-night surprise visit to his little mountain A-frame — was actually a rare thing for him. To his credit, he'd been equally enthusiastic about having her join the two other redheads he'd already been ... entertaining. So he hadn't, technically, broken up with her. But even Clara had her standards. And though she'd been raised to play well with others, there were some things she simply did not share.
And before Willard ... gah. She really didn't want to think about it. She had thirty all but staring her in the face and the most meaningful relationship she'd ever had was her freshman year in college. And that hadn't even really been a relationship. What it had been was a solid friendship that seemed headed toward something more serious, or maybe that had only been in her mind, but she had definitely been falling, and falling hard. Only he'd had to leave school suddenly right before the end of their first year for a family emergency, and ... that had been that. But of all the guys she'd ever spent any appreciable time with, Will Mason had been the only ... well, the only real one. No artifice, no pretense, no game playing.
Of course, they hadn't really dated. They'd never even kissed. She'd been even more insecure about her height, about her hair, her awkwardness, her ... well, everything, back then. So not sexy.
But Will ... well, maybe he hadn't made her feel beautiful exactly, or even like the only woman in the room, but what he had done was even better. He'd made her feel good, happy. Normal. And desirable, even if just as a friend. There had been no other goal than that, no other agenda. He wasn't angling to get her to do his homework, or give him her cuter best friend's phone number. He'd sincerely seemed to like hanging out with her, just ... for her.
They'd been initially partnered in a study lab for a science class, but had ended up spending hours talking while pretending to do their lab work, much of that time sprinkled liberally with laughter. He'd gotten her dry humor, even thought her always too-loud laugh-snort was cute, or at least not mortifying, and she'd gotten that underneath his laid-back, easy-going style he was a guy with goals, with determination. He was smart, and driven in his own way. He just wasn't obvious about it.
She fished out another cookie, then shoved it back in the box as she slowed down to enter Riverside proper. More sugar wasn't helping her still-thumping pulse, nor was thinking about her first crush. Like her, he'd been away from home for the first time, and they'd bonded over that. He was originally from Bealetown, which was on the other side of Pine Mountain, so they'd had a lot of the local landmarks in common, if not the same hometown, exactly. As far as she was concerned, if men were more like Will, she'd probably still have her old job at the Gazette.
"Actually if there were more men out there like Will Mason, they probably wouldn't need an advice columnist in the first place." So, either way, you lose. Clara snorted as she slowly eased into the bookstore parking lot, careful to keep her tires from slipping or sliding in the snow that was starting to mount up on the pavement. It looked like she'd be using four-wheel drive to get home. Maybe even put on the tire chains she kept in the back.
Honestly, it's just as well you're not dishing out advice any longer, she thought as she jockeyed into the first available space she could find. A woman could only take so much rejection before her naturally rose-colored optimism turned into a tell-it-like-it-is reality check, tinged with barely concealed cynicism. For that matter, Will could have grown up to be a self-absorbed, commitment phobic, womanizing jerk, for all she knew.
Memories of how his thatch of wheat-blond hair had always looked like he'd just climbed out of bed, those puppy dog brown eyes of his, the ridiculously sweet dimples that only popped out when he smiled like he meant it ... yeah, so, okay it was hard to imagine him being a jerk of any kind. But still, she wouldn't be surprised by anything anymore.
"See? You're jaded." She debated on indulging in one more crunchable man cookie, then firmly tucked the flap closed on the box. "No more cookie-shaped men. No more real men, either. And, definitely, no more whining. Be thankful you have a job. Be thankful it's your very favorite time of year. Now, go forth and learn to bake!"
She climbed out and flipped up the hood of her winter coat, then made her way carefully across the parking lot, trying not to pull a face plant, or butt plant for that matter, before making it to the curb. She should have thought to bring weather-appropriate footwear, but she'd come straight from the community center and the forecasters hadn't been really calling for the snowfall to amount to anything. Of course, that had been in Pine Mountain. Riverside was in the valley and often got dumped on in the winter.
Despite her now half-numb toes, once she made it to the sidewalk in front of the bookstore, she didn't hurry toward the big double wooden doors. Instead, she took her own advice and took a moment to enjoy the thick, fat flakes as they tumbled through the crisp night air, twirling all around her. She truly loved the winter, loved the snow, loved all the traditions of the holidays. She wasn't going to let some minor personal setback — okay, even a not-so-minor one — interfere with enjoying her favorite time of year. Her own private little rebellion against the reality check life was handing her. Again. To that end, she stuck her tongue out and let a few flakes melt on her tongue.
"Take that, life," she said, a resolute smile on her face as she pulled open the big wooden doors with an enthusiastic, rebellion-fueled tug ... and slipped, almost falling flat on the snow-covered pavement as her feet went out from under her. She managed at the last second to grip the oversized door handle, barely preserving her clothes and her butt, if not her pride.
When she finally managed to right herself, she was relieved to find not a single person had noticed her less-than-graceful entrance. Not because the place was empty. Far from it. The shop was jam-packed. Body-to-body packed. But everyone was facing toward the back of the store. Now that she thought about it, the parking lot had been rather full. Of course, it was only two weeks to Christmas, so every parking lot was an endless sea of jockeying cars these days ... but this was a little nuts, even for this time of year.
It took her a moment as she tipped her hood off — which crumpled and promptly sent a sheaf of snow down the back of her neck and under her collar, making her squeal — to realize some kind of event was going on.
"I know, honey," a woman in front of Clara said, when her squeal and wriggling to keep more snow from going inside her coat drew attention. "It is pretty exciting, right?"
"Right," Clara agreed, dancing a little jig to make the snow melt faster, even though she hadn't a clue what the woman was talking about. If there were signs posted outside, she'd missed them while having her defiant snowflake moment, and the place was too jammed full inside to see any signs. Her height did come in handy on occasion, however, and she could look over most of the sea of heads to where some kind of table was set up near the back of the store. Ah, a book signing. There were too many people crowded in front of the table to see who the guest author was, but she was guessing, since the entire line snaking up and down almost every aisle was comprised entirely of women, that it was probably a children's author. Which made perfect sense at Christmastime.
She'd shopped in the bookstore many times over the years, but had to dodge elbows and shopping bags as she tried to figure out where the cookbook aisle was. That part of the store format was foreign to her. She managed to only partially knock over a spinner rack and clear a corner off of a huge display table before mercifully spying Paula Deen smiling benevolently like Clara's own personal savior from an endcap cookbook display. Sighing in relief, Clara dodged around another cluster of excitedly chattering women — whoever this author was, these women sure were excited, bordering on downright giddy — and escaped into the otherwise mercifully abandoned cookbook aisle. Apparently no one in the store was shopping for anything other than whatever the guest author was selling.
Excerpted from The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap by DONNA KAUFFMAN, KATE ANGELL, KIMBERLY KINCAID. Copyright © 2013 Donna Kauffman. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.
Table of Contents
Where There's Smoke ... Donna Kauffman.................... 17
Mama Mason's Megasized Chocolate Chip Cookies.................... 138
The Gingerbread Man Kate Angell.................... 141
Old-Fashioned Gingerbread Man Cookies.................... 271
Sugar and Spice Kimberly Kincaid.................... 273
Pete Mancuso's Blondies.................... 389
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Five cookie stars for the Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap, a HOT holiday romance by Donna Kauffman, Kate Angell, & Kimberly Kincaid I fell in love with Pine Mountain and the three heroines, Clara, Abby, and Lily, of The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap, a fabulous, fun, and sexy holiday romance by three top authors: Donna Kauffman, Kate Angell, and Kimberly Kincaid. Like my other favorite holiday collection, Love on Main Street: A Snow Creek Christmas, The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap is a series of three interconnected stories set in the Blue Ridge Mountain community of Pine Mountain. From the very first page that introduces us to both the community and the three friends - at the annual holiday cookie swap - this book is an engrossing page-turner. I can't say that one story was better than another as I loved each of them. You'll definitely be warmed up by the first story, Where There's Smoke by Donna Kauffman, that features a very hunky firefighter Will and a baking-impaired cookie columnist Clara. Kauffman is one of my favorite authors and I love how she captures the sensitivity of Clara and the stand-up Will. If you've never envisioned an anatomically correct Gingerbread Man before you will after reading Kate Angell's The Gingerbread Man. Abby, who's lost her beloved grandmother, has developed a new online business, selling anatomically correct, erotic cookies. When her box from the cookie swap is won by stranger Lander Reynolds, the story is set in motion. These two characters couldn't be more different on the surface, but Angell's ability to convey their real intentions and personalities make this story sing. Kimberly Kincaid's Sugar and Spice pairs local pastry chef Lily against Philadelphia chef Pete Mancuso, in a contest sponsored by the hotel that could impact both their dreams. From the moment they meet it's apparent that the kitchen will be heating up - and not for the competition! I loved this story and the way that Kincaid showed all the layers of apparent tough guy Pete. You'll be glad to know that you'll be able to visit Pine Mountain again after the holidays as this will be a new series by Kimberly Kincaid. The first book, Turn Up the Heat, will be released in March and promises to be a page turner too. So if you're looking for a holiday offering that equally conveys love and some hot romance - along with characters that you'll adore - join me in savoring The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap. Five cookie stars for this fabulous holiday collection!
Loved all the stories and will be checking out more stories by all three of these authors.
Im an idiot for saying your warrior was on our territory ~ sandclan
The slim lithe bright ginger tom pads in and asks politely may i join
Name Finchflight Age 18 moons Pelt orange tabby with green eyes She cat
Dont post ads on our clan
These are the cutest stories. Lets be clear Lucy Ricardo was one of the most beautiful elegant woman on film and she was oh so FUNNY. There was nothing awkard about her. She even looked good as Superman. Today you see her comady immated. Think Tina Fey...
3 wonderful and romantic stories about Christmas and cookies. How great! I loved each individual story written by each author but I exceptionally loved how the stories were tied together. The stories just flowed together. Where there’s Smoke by Donna Kauffman Really enjoyed the humor in the story. And also the chemistry between Clara and Will The Gingerbread Man – Kate Angell Hot and sizzling and funny as well. Sugar and Spice – Kimberly Kincaid Loved this story by Kimberly Kincaid. A great introduction to the Pine Mountain series.
This book really wasn’t for me. First, there was a bit of a snafu with the digital ARC file I received and Donna Kauffman’s book wasn’t included. Then, well, I couldn’t finish The Gingerbread Man because it was so, well, graphic. Sorry, but this one was a Christmas Bomb for me! More… Source: Kensington via Netgalley Overall Grade: DNF Steam: Schorching!
The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap by Donna Kauffman, Kate Angell and Kimberly Kincaid Wanted to read this book because it's 3 books in one and it's all on the same theme-Christmas sugar cookies. I love to bake and experiment. Recipes included. . Where There's Smoke by Donna Kauffman Clara Parker has a job to do for the paper, cookie recipes and a column up til Christmas. Her friends Lily and Abby would help but they are busy with their jobs as well. She buys a new cookbook and runs into her old college friend, fireman now, Will. Next day he checks in on her to discover her house on fire. He saves her from trying out a recipe from her new book. She is now a guest at his cabin and together they learn about one another again and treasure what they've found. She agrees to have Christmas with him and she does trust him. Hot steamy sex scenes. . The Gingerbread Man by Kate Angell This portion of the saga is about Abby Denton and she is a baker and sells her atomically correct gingerbread men online. Lauder is on her coach - she had saved him after the car accident where earlier he came to the town's center for their annual cookie swap and purchased the gingerbread men. All he can recall is a peppermint stick penis! The blizzard will keep them snowed in for days and she knows how to use the cabin fireplace for cooking. He's concerned because of all the handicap equipment in the bathroom... He's got bruised muscles in his chest from her dragging him up the hill and she's hurt her big toe. As they decorate the tree they find out a lot more about one another and remember their holidays of the past. Bubble and glass blown ornaments are my favorites. never knew of the Austrian tinsel. Games of naked scramble and hot steamy sex... She gave him a box of candy out of the dozen that was meant for her grandmother as a Christmas gift when he left. He remembered her wish and we wait to see if it will come true this year. Such imaginations when it comes to decorating the cookies! . Sugar and Spice by Kimberly Kincaid This part of the book is about Lily Callahan and she's a professional baker with a very small apartment to bake in. Clara is there to help her and she learns of the $10k cookie contest. That would be enough for her to have a real business. Peter Mancuso is the one who had dumped Clara but he didn't see it as such, just a different business side to their lifes. They are both competing in the cookie contest and there is a twist to the rules. They are paired and will be working through the first phase of eliminations. They pretty much wing the recipe...the resort has the numbers in from the viewing audience and their segment was a lot higher than others and make a deal to keep them in the competition, maybe a kiss here and there on camera to boost the charity donations... . Especially liked how the very beginning is-the three woman and the book has each of their stories and the ending is them all together again and especially loved the recipes! I received this book from The Kennsington Books in exchange for my honest review
With three stories written by Donna Kauffman, Kate Angell, and Kimberly Kincaid, THE SUGAR COOKIE SWEETHEART SWAP has something for every romance reader. With WHERE THERE’S SMOKE... written by Donna Kauffman you get a second chance at love and romance with a former firefighter and not so good cook, who has the fire department on speed dial. In Kate Angell’s THE GINGERBREAD MAN, my FAVORITE of all the stories, you have strangers meeting and falling in love after one saves the other's life and then are trapped by a blizzard. Okay, so he wouldn't have needed to be saved if it wasn't for her anatomically correct gingerbread men. But still... And finally, Kimberly Kincaid gives you an almost enemies to lovers/forbidden romance with SUGAR AND SPICE. Maybe my category for this novella is a little off. I mean, are you actually supposed to fall head over chef clogs for the man who unknowingly dumped one of your best friends over the phone in a grocery store, with the whole town hearing about it? I loved how each author took a friend to write about, giving you a peek into their writing style. All in all, THE SUGAR COOKIE SWEETHEART SWAP is good start to the Pine Mountain series that will be written by Kimberly Kincaid. While reading this book, be prepared to laugh, almost cry, and fall in love with the characters. Oh, and of course, with all the mention of cookies, be prepared to get hungry.
I loved this book! Three great authors = three great stories. This book gives us our first glimpse at Pine Mountain the setting for Kimberly Kincaid's upcoming new series. In this book we have 3 friends - Clara, Abby & Lily - and one very magical snowstorm. You definitely need to read this. It puts a smile on your face and hope in your heart.
**Note: I only read Sugar and Spice, the short story by Kimberly Kincaid in this anthology, as part of a virtual book tour. Although my review primarily reflects my opinions on Kincaid's story, it broadly covers the other stories based off their summaries and the prologue and epilogue as well.** Lily sticks to the rules. That's just her thing; whether it be a recipe or a "type," she adheres to her own restrictions, and seldom strays very far. Pete, rebellious and charming, is the exact opposite. The fun-loving chef takes tremendous risks both in and out of the kitchen, which is why when he and Lily come face to face in a cutthroat Christmas cookie competition, something's going to simmer... if not explode. Sugar and Spice is the last of the three stories in The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap. It's short and sweet, exactly the kind of Christmas romance quickie you want to read when you're in between holiday festivities and can't sit down and concentrate on something heavy. Kimberly Kincaid's voice is frank, but she manages to make her characters sentimental. I love the honesty and realness she breathes into Lily as a character. Even though there isn't much character development and obviously with such short length, there isn't much complexity or texture either, Lily is easy to sympathize with and love, which is why readers will relate to her frustration upon meeting Pete, who's trouble from the moment she sets eye on him. Not only does he happen to have the most bone-melting smile she's ever seen, but he'll also be her competition... but then again, who said there's anything wrong with sleeping with the enemy? Pete's daredevil personality is matched with an equally troubled past, and as Lily is the first and only girl to ever coax him to comfort, both realize there's something there. The concept is cute, but it's inevitable that a Christmas romance would be tacky. The entire story is unrealistic (they just happen to run into each other, they just happen to be partners, the media just happens to love them on TV, resulting in even more duo time... blech) and extremely predictable but I'm not too disappointed by that. After all, this is a cute, cheerful holiday read, one meant to lift your spirits and indulge you in a sugary, spicy, contemporary Christmas fantasy. While I didn't read the other two stories in the anthology, I did peruse the prologue and epilogue; love how the three best friends' stories all come together! Sugar and Spice was a decent read, but I didn't like it enough to go back and read the other stories; the epilogue, as hurried as it was, was more than enough of an indicator of each of the women's fate: a far-fetched, optimistic happily-ever-after. Pros: Very quick read // Light tone // Fun, festive, and spirited // Warm and cozy—a feel-good story for a feel-good season! // Likable characters // Each romance story is integrated into the others, and the characters all involve each other Cons: Way too predictable // "Happily ever after" is really cheesy // Ending is rushed and unrealistic // Not much chemistry because short stories leave little room for relationship development Verdict: The warm, heartfelt romance that blossoms in the midst of a tense, frenetic Christmas baking contest in Sugar and Spice makes for both a merry, diverting holiday quickie that'll make you smile, and a sizzling, intense affair that will make you blush. I liked how the preceding stories in the anthology are all incorporated into Kincaid's contribution to the collection because it draws three otherwise disengaged women together, but the story itself isn't anything noteworthy. As light contemporary romances go, it's quick, unmemorable, and has both its hot moments, as well as its dull—I enjoyed myself keeping the holiday spirit in mind, but otherwise, I wasn't that impressed. Rating: 6 out of 10 hearts (3 stars): Satisfying for a first read, but I'm not going back. Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher, via tour publicist, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Kensington and Tasty Book Tours!).
With the holidays just around the corner I find myself wanting a sentimental story full of heart and got just that with Sugar and Spice, the third story in The Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap. With each story dealing with friends finding love amidst the warmth of the holidays and the baking of cookies readers are treated to a trio of heartwarming stories with a bit of steamy interludes. Ms. Kincaid's story revolves around a cookie baking competition that brings together two apparent opposites who bring out the best in each other and ultimately give us a HEA. Along the way we get great sexual tension that allows the protagonist's burgeoning friendship to explode in steamy encounters that allow for heartfelt emotions and past hurts to be healed through love. Lily has wanted to be a baker since she was a child and has worked hard every step of the way to rise above her family's poverty to make something of herself. She's hardworking with a heart of gold and an admirable heroine and worthy of success. While her baking business out of her home is good she wants better and enters a competition where the prize money will allow her to open her own bakery. Her meticulous and well-planned nature serves her well in the kitchen but when it comes to fellow chef Pete she's left frustrated...and turned on. She always thought of him as the bad boy but close quarters have them getting closer to where she sees a hurt boy behind the sardonic man and wants nothing more than to heal him. Pete's successful because of his spontaneity and brash creativity, but he's also considered a liability because of his tendency to break the rules. He has plans for his future after moving beyond his parent's alcoholic and abusive past and needs all the publicity he can get and thinks the cookie competition would be a great opportunity. From the moment he sees Lily he's drawn to her seriousness, her talent, and her openheartedness. He challenges her at every turn to let go while she tries to get him to show more of himself in his baking which leads to great success for both. I found Pete super sexy and loved seeing his flashy persona as well as his true self. For so long he was told he was a loser, and still believes it at times now, that he deserved to prove it differently to his past and himself and I rooted for him every minute. While Pete and Lily are heating up the kitchen they're also heating up between the sheets in scenes that are both hot and heartwarming as they both open up about their pasts. I enjoyed the time taken to bind these two together in a substantial way beyond sex to make their relationship more believable and meaningful. I liked their playful banter and that they brought out the best in each other. Ms. Kincaid showed the actual competition in vivid detail, almost too much at times, which immersed me even more in the story. The main characters were immensely likable as were the brief glimpses of secondary characters that added color to the story. The flow was pleasant with a nice twist ending. Though the overall story felt somewhat familiar, I still found it endearing and the perfect thing to warm my heart.
This book I made me crave winter. I wanted to curl up on the couch in front of a nice fire while it’s snowing with a wonderful man of my own and maybe a few anatomically correct gingerbread men. Each story was perfect they didn’t leave you wanting. With being short stories I usually feel as though something is missing. Not here. Just three fantastic make your toes curl romances all rolled into one great book.
Sometimes anthologies are uneven - one book surpassing the rest or a couple of them not hitting my buttons. Not this one! All three stories were sweet, hit the right holiday note and added just the right amount of spice to keep me warm. I think the authors did a superb job of not only writing individual stories that rock around the Christmas tree but they also tied then all together with a big holiday bow. Snappy dialogue, luscious detail and sinfully sexy heroes put this one on my keeper shelf!
This is an anthology of three stories of three friends, loosely tied together with cookie baking. The stories flowed together so good, felt like one story. I will never be able to eat gingerbread cookies without giggles. If you don't have a sweet tooth prior to reading, you will have one by the end. Recipes included in the book.