A Stolen Christmas Kiss – a collection of short stories

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I was asked to review this book as part of Zoe Ann Wood's collection of book bloggers. I decided to give it a read because I do love a Christmas romance, so having 8 short ones sounded pretty cool.

I'm going to review Zoe's short story first, and in more depth because I wouldn't have read it if it wasn't for her. But that doesn't mean I didn't love the others! I'll also add, I had a hard time trying to pick a favourite. So hard in fact, I never ended up picking one!

Give me Snow and Mistletoe

I think the first thing we need to acknowledge with this story is that cyber stalking is very much a thing we’re all guilty of having done at some point. So it’s no surprise that both Eva and Noah participated in some light cyber stalking before a meddling grandmother conspired to get them on a date before Christmas comes.

I found myself laughing at some of the antics that happened while also feeling like the openness of the characters would never happen in real like. But hey, that shouldn’t get in the way of a sweet, short Christmas romance story! You know it’s going to be a bit faster than normal coz it’s a short story. It just wouldn’t work otherwise.

My only disappointment was the epilogue not giving me a description of the final local. That’s probably because I love reading those kinds of descriptions and love it when it can be described vividly. But that’s nothing compared to the rest of the book and purely a personal thing, nothing against the story.

Melting Mr Grinch's Heart

I was a little hesitant about this story, but I ended up quite liked it. I’m with Amelia that Grinch’s should be made to love Christmas, so her battle to get Samuel to love Christmas is something I can totally relate to. This goes into my top 4 short stories for this collection.

Christmas of Second Chances

Sandra and Nick are more mature than most romances but at the same time, so sweet! It’s even a second chance romance! How many of those do you see? This goes into my top 4 short stories for this collection.

Christmas Chicken Ballad

Who falls in love with their best friends’ brother? Well, in this case it’s a big issue and the younger brother is pursuing his older sisters’ best friend. The fact that he’s a hot, bass guitarist for a successful band makes things a bit easier doesn’t it? This goes into my top 4 short stories for this collection.

Cruise Ship Christmas

When you go on a singles cruise you probably think you’re gonna hook up with some other cruiser’s yea? You don’t expect to fall for the staff and see a whole different side to a cruise while avoiding your family. This goes into my top 4 short stories for this collection.

Nipping at your Nose

I think this was my actual favourite story out of all of them. If I could have had this in a novel length story, I would totally read it. The way Austen and Zach immediately connect, but not necessarily on a sexual level is great. The way it develops was so sweet and so on point that I wanted more.

Santa Beastly

As sweet as this story is, I just didn’t buy into it at any point. I was left disconnected and left thinking that it was completely implausible. I find I can’t connect with a story if it’s not plausible. For me, it just didn’t quite make it.

On the Christmas Market

After losing her parents, it’s probably not the best idea to be jetting off to Slovenia. Especially at Christmas time with a group of seniors. The instant attraction and appreciation between Evie and Keller is amazing. But it’s their intellectual conversations that challenge each other that really makes this story. Although there’s some good lessons that can be learned from this short story.

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Give Me a Christmas – Zoe Ann Wood

Welcome back everyone, after Monday’s sad story that didn’t end as I was expecting I’ve gone back to a sweet romance.

I wasn’t expecting was for Iris to be so normal. By that I mean, she has a regular teaching job, she gets by but isn’t making millions and she’s working towards her career dreams. This type of character just didn’t add up to me when the blurb said she had a billionaire ex-boyfriend.

Normally in romances if billionaires are involved, they are dating each other, or the whole point of the story is that they unexpectedly get to know someone regular and end up together. You don’t normally find stories where there’s already history with the ex!

The fact that Finn seems to have grown up since they were together feels like a good thing. Iris is constantly surprised by it and struggles to accept that he’s being genuine. Which is totally understandable.

Zoe does an amazing job of drip feeding us bits and pieces of their past which kept me hooked. I wanted to know what happened between them, why did they break up, how long were they together for, is the dispute with the parents really as bad as it’s made out to be, how will Finn react when he finds out etc etc etc.

I was left hanging to the end to get all my questions answered. Although Zoe kept you on the line by answering one or two questions at a time, while raising more. I wasn’t left feeling like it was a rush to answer all the questions at the end, but I was still kept hooked.

I’d say this is one of her better sweet romances, and I think that comes down to her maturity as a writer developing now that she’s got a few books published in this genre. I feel like (and I’m not a writer so I don’t know for sure) it’s easier to create the right kind of drama in a paranormal romance compared to a sweet romance. So I can understand why it took Zoe a few books to find that groove and settle into it.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing A Deal with her Rebel King by Michelle Styles. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Single All the Way – Elaine Spires

Welcome back everyone, after a busier November than I’d anticipated I’m kicking off the Christmas month with a book set over Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

This one ended up being a bit of a disappointment to me. I went into it expecting a romantic comedy and was left quite underwhelmed. The story itself was mostly fine. It was the delivery that didn’t quite do it for me. However, as an inspiring, life lesson kind of read this is amazing.

The first thing I need to say about this book was that its chapters were “days”, meaning some chapters took me an hour or so to read. I think this could have been done better if the days were “parts” to the book, and the character’s points of view were the chapters.

I think this would give the reader a cleaner point where they could stop reading rather than hoping they remember what was said when they put it down halfway through a conversation because you don’t know when the next natural break is.

The next point I was to talk about is the amount of characters used. Usually, the books I read follow one or two characters and might alternate their points of view between those two characters. Or, you might have a few other characters thrown in, but the point of view sticks to the main two characters.

In this book I couldn’t figure out who the story was meant to be about and (if I can remember correctly) the point of view alternated between 10+ characters. The only other book I’ve come across that uses to many characters is Game of Thrones, and George R.R. Martin has a chapter to each character, titled as the character’s name, making it easier to follow. In this case the character changes happened at mini breaks in the chapters and because of the amount of characters used, I often struggled to figure out who I was reading about.

The final thing I want to mention is the feel of the book. When I finished this book, I left it feeling like “romantic comedy” is the wrong way to market it. Instead, I think it should be marketed as a story that shows the trials and tribulations people face in their everyday life. The key messages I felt resonating with me were that of acceptance and love for all — including yourself, forgiveness, honesty and communication.

Even though it wasn’t quite the fun read I thought it would be, I finished it with more of a life lesson, key take away kind of feel. If you want to read about how different people face a range of issues (sexuality, grief, guilt, family secrets, being single later in life etc) then this is an inspiring read I urge you to read.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Lasairiona E. McMaster’s The Good in Goodbye, the sequel to Intimate Strangers. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Elaine Spires is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter and actress. Extensive travelling and a background in education and tourism perfected Elaine's keen eye for the quirky characteristics of people, captivating the humorous observations she now affectionately shares with the readers of her novels.

Elaine has written two books of short stories, two novellas and seven novels, four of which form the Singles Series - Singles’ Holiday, Singles and Spice, Single All The Way and Singles At Sea.  Her latest book, Singles, Set and Match is the fifth and final book in the series.

Her play Stanley Grimshaw Has Left The Building is being staged at the Bridewell Theatre, London in May 2019.  Her short film Only the Lonely, co-written with Veronique Christie and featuring Anna Calder Marshall is currently being in shown in film festivals worldwide and she is currently working on a full length feature film script. Only the Lonely won the Groucho Club Short Film Festival 2019! 

Elaine recently returned to UK after living in Antigua W.I. She lives in East London.

Naughty or Nice – Rachael Stewart

Welcome back everyone, after a fake dating story last week we’re onto a hidden romance set in the lead up to the Christmas period. With 24 days to go until Christmas is here, how many more Christmas themed books do you think I can squeeze in?

With Rachael being the author, I knew I’d be in for some explicit sex scenes, yet I found it wasn’t as full on as I was expecting. Yes, there was still some graphic sex but nothing that made me too uncomfortable while reading on the bus. Because of course the sex scenes start when you get on the bus and end just before getting off in peak hour.

I mean, why couldn’t they have the decency to happen when I’m at home alone where no one could potentially read over my shoulder? I’m not complaining. Just making a comment that every book I read that has sex scenes seems to be timed to be explicit when I’m on a packed bus in peak hour.

The book itself kept me captivated (I read it in 3 days, and the third day only needed like 30 mins to finish the book) and kept me thinking about how tricky family and business relationships can be. Yet the one message that really stood out (there’s always a message for me in Rachael’s books) was men’s reactions to women.

Specifically, there was a scene where Eva left a part to go to the bathroom assuming Lucas would follow, and he did. When we changed to his perspective after the encounter his thoughts included references to the look she was giving him that was filled with lust and desire and that she wanted him to follow her.

In a world where SJW (social justice warriors) run rampant I can imagine how many women would be jumping up and down shouting “#METOO” and all sorts of other nonsense (I’m not against the movement, but I do believe SOME people take it too far) along the lines of “how dare he assume that’s what she wants?!”. Yet all I could think in response to that thought was “these actions are going to kill the behaviour men exhibit that is so sexy and masculine. Those women are going to push the scale so far to the other end that men are going to be scared to even look us in the eyes in case they get persecuted.

I believe there is a time and a place for those movements and thoughts. One of the times where it’s not appropriate is in a romantic setting. So long as the guy listens when a girl says no then I’m all for the kind of behaviour Lucas displayed when seducing Eva. It was hot, masculine and sexy as hell. A guy who knows what he wants and goes after it while respecting her boundaries is awesome and should be celebrated!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing the sequel to Single All the Way by Elaine Spires. Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Rachael Stewart adores conjuring up stories for the readers of Harlequin Mills & Boon and Deep Desires Press, with tales varying from the heart-warmingly romantic to the wildly erotic.

Despite a degree in Business Studies and spending many years in the corporate world, the desire to become an author never waned and it's now her full-time pleasure, a dream come true.

A Welsh lass at heart, she now lives in Yorkshire with her husband and three children, and if she's not glued to her laptop, she's wrapped up in them or enjoying the great outdoors seeking out inspiration.

Giveaway - Win an e-copy of Naughty or Nice by Rachael Stewart (open internationally)


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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Christmas Kisses on Hollywell Hill – Jackie Ladbury

Welcome back everyone, even though the last week’s read wasn’t solely based around Christmas, it had some Christmas moments. To make up for that we’re back to a Christmas book! Yay!

Kirsty and Jake are one of those cute couples that meet by running into each other in the supermarket. I mean, how does that even happen?!

I don’t even know how to talk about this book because one of the issues in the books, the cheating of Jake’s ex-wife, hit home to me while I was reading this. Until reading this book I’d never met anyone who’d been cheated on so the “I can’t believe someone would do that to someone else” was all hypothetical.

The emotional impact of discovering that the person you love with all your heart, who you thought loved you back, is cheating on you is incomprehensible. The lasting impact of this is what Jake is going through — the mistrust, the need to drown your sorrows and the feeling that you’re not good enough for the one you love — and we see this in how he interacts with Kirsty.

I didn’t have much left of the book when I found out about cheating and it put a whole new spin on how I perceived Jake’s actions. I went from thinking he was overreacting and being a bit of a dick, to wondering how he’d stayed so calm and could handle starting a new business and starting a new business.

Writing this review has me thinking about what I found out and I can’t help but feel horrible about that situation. I can truly say I loved this book. Yet at the same time it’s going to be tainted with that memory forever because of the emotional impact it’s had on me.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing It’s Not PMS, It’s You by Rich Amooi. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Jackie Ladbury writes heart-warming contemporary and historical women's fiction that is always guaranteed a happy ever after. From spending many years as an air-stewardess and seeing that it really is love that makes the world go around, she determined to put the same sparkle and emotion into her stories. Her life is no longer as exotic (or chaotic) as it was in those heady days of flying as she now lives a quiet life in Hertfordshire with her family and two cats, spending her days making up stories and finding excuses not to go to the gym.

To find out more about Jackie Ladbury, check out her socials:

Magic Under the Mistletoe – Lucy Coleman

Welcome back everyone, after the sad story that surrounded the Christmas period we had last week, we’re moving on to a much (mostly) lighter hearted Christmas story.

Although the characters were briefly in my homeland, Australia, leading into Christmas we didn’t get to see any of the country. We join Leesa and Cary on their flight back to England. Given how Leesa was describing Cary at this point I was pretty sure it was going to be an enemy’s to lover’s trope, and I was right. But it didn’t happen in the normal way this trope plays out.

For those of you who aren’t regular book blogger readers or otherwise haven’t come across the term “trope” before, that basically just means a classic story style, and there are lots of different ones!

I loved how practical these two are, in a way the way their relationship developed is quite like how my relationship with my partner started out. I loved how they didn’t need to be constantly talking to each other or being with each other for their relationship to develop. In the snippets of time we read about over a 12-month period it does feel like the key defining moments in their relationship.

We’re not weighed down by the everyday interactions. Instead, we can focus on those subtle shifts and changes that happen at significant times. Like when something happens in someone’s life. Seeing this from Leesa’s point of view only helped me feel more in the moment. I do like seeing how the other person is feeling, but I don’t get quite as emotionally invested when they’re written that way.

The only real downside to this story was that the dialogue felt a little bit stilted. Like when you over think the exact wording you want to say. Or when you’re trying to keep your thoughts so PC it reverts to like an 1800’s style of speech. It just didn’t feel as natural as it could have to me.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing It’s not PMS, it’s You by Rich Amooi. Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton - who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman - says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and is excited to be writing for both Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus) and Harper Impulse (Harper Collins); she’s represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.

When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.

Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK's Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.

Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors. She writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

Giveaway - Win a signed paperback copy of Snowflakes over Holly Cove and Christmas pamper pack (UK only)


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A Christmas Kiss – Eliza Scott

Welcome back everyone, getting into the Christmas spirit for me involves a lot of Christmas lights, heat, bars and enjoying our porch or pergola with my partner. Yet for most of the Western world it involves snow, roaring fireplaces and cold.

This book for me gave me everything I’ve ever wished for at Christmas. A small rural town, a cosy cottage, enough snow to toboggan and make snow men and of course a gorgeous dog. At some point in my future I want to spend a Christmas in a town and cottage just like Livvie and Zander do.

With both our characters running away from their pasts and coincidentally running into each other before being snowed in it gives us the perfect backdrop for a nice, cosy, romantic Christmas love story. The drama that’s in this story were quite predictable, as with many romances, yet still enjoyable.

I’m sure many romance readers out there would agree with me, when we read a romance you anticipate that there’s going to be some predictability in the story since they all tend to follow the same formula. Yet, the great part isn’t in not knowing what’s coming, it’s in how the author build the suspense, draws you into the story emotionally and then reveals it bit by bit. Eliza did this well by setting the scene, revealing bit by bit what we kinda knew was going to happen.

OK. I’ll admit. When the first twist happened, I actually thought it was going to be the other person. Yet when Eliza stopped, swapped to the other character and revealed one tiny little clue I realised my mistake in assuming which twist it was going to be. Which gave me that little bit of surprise I wanted. What more can you ask for with a romance?

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing You, Me and the Movies by Fiona Collins. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Eliza lives in a 17th-century cottage on the edge of a village in the North Yorkshire Moors with her husband, their two daughters and two mischievous black Labradors. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found with her nose in a book/glued to her Kindle or working in her garden. Eliza also enjoys bracing walks in the countryside, rounded off by a visit to a teashop where she can indulge in another two of her favourite things: tea and cake.

Eliza is inspired by her beautiful surroundings and loves to write heart-warming stories with happy endings.

Check out Eliza's socials, including BookBub:

US Author Page

UK Author Page

A Cosy Christmas in Cornwall – Jane Linfoot

Welcome back everyone, after a weirdly confusing book on Monday we’re back into the Christmas romance genre! Who can say no to Christmas in a magical castle?

In a way I felt like rather than following two character’s as they discover their love and find their way to each other, we learn several life lessons about recognising our needs, loving ourselves, not judging our lives based on what we see of others and letting love in all its forms into our lives. The whole family is involved in the development of this story and the realisation, acceptance and love of each other.

Ivy and Will/Bill are the focus of the story. However, I don’t think their story would be as great, dramatic or real without the rest of the family involved. With Bill coming to terms with a loss he thought he couldn’t control, Ivy trying to come to terms with her guilt and learn to love and accept herself again, Fliss hoping her marriage isn’t ending while trying to stay sane with two young kids, Libby running the show and leading the “perfect” life and Miranda looking like she’s about to get married again there’s a lot going on. What’s Christmas without all that drama though?

The way they come together to support, guide and give a stern talking to each other as and when needed is great. For a Christmas romance I was truly surprised at how many life lessons were packed into one book. I honestly think all teenage girls and young women need to read this to learn these lessons. I’m sure guys could get benefit from it as well.

However, I also feel that there are some uniquely female issues that are displayed and worked through that guys can only empathise with. Although, that might be a good thing to give guys a perspective of what the women in their lives are going through and how they can support them during these difficult times.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, on Monday I’ll be reviewing Zapata by Harper McDavid. Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Jane Linfoot is a best-selling author, who lives in a cottage on a Derbyshire hillside with her family and their pets. Although she loves seeing cow noses over the garden wall, she’s happy she can walk to a supermarket.

Jane grew up in North Yorkshire where she spent a lot of her childhood avoiding horizontal gales blowing off the sea and wrote her first book by accident. While she loves to write feel good books that let readers escape, she’s always surprised to hear her stories make people laugh, admits to (occasionally) crying as she writes, and credits her characters for creating their own story lines.

Jane’s garden would be less brambly if she wasn’t on Facebook and Twitter so often. On days when she wants to be really scared, she rides a tandem.

Her recent stand alone novels are all set in and around the (imaginary) seaside village of St Aidan in Cornwall. They are: Ivy’s Cornish Christmas, Edie’s Browne’s Cottage by the Sea, The Little Cornish Kitchen. Her four book Little Wedding Shop series are standalone stories, also set in St Aidan. They are: The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea, Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop, Summer at the Little Wedding Shop and Christmas Promises at the Little Wedding Shop. They are all published by the Harper Impulse and One More Chapter imprints of Harper Collins.

Check out her socials below including her Pinterest.

Giveaway - Win a signed Jane Linfoot book and some chocolates (open int)


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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide
entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The
winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and
will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7
days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative
winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as
part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be
shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This
will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the
prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the
data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.