4.5⭐️ – These are novellas so get ready for things to go fast. No worries though, Georgia Beers, Maggie Cummings and Fiona Riley are talented writers and the romance feels real but never rushed.
I enjoyed all three stories and I love how they fit together. They’re very different, both in tone and level of heat (Fiona Riley has not been dubbed Queen of Steam by accident) and balance each other really well.
Georgia Beers gets the ball rolling with Triple Dog Dare, and it’s a beauty, probably one of my favourite Christmas novellas ever. And, seriously, who doesn’t like a Christmas fake romance novella?
Sasha (Brooke’s boss in 16 Steps to Forever) has been lying for months to her mother about having a girlfriend but when her older sister dares her to bring her non-existent girlfriend to their mother’s for Christmas, Sasha can’t resist proving her wrong. Even if she’s right. Lucky for her, her very attractive neighbour, Kennedy, is an actress and needs money. Who better than a gorgeous woman who is totally Sasha’s type to play her girlfriend for a couple of days? Really, what could go wrong?
From the first time they talk, the connection between Sasha and the younger woman is there. As usual with Beers, it’s not overstated, it just is. It’s organic. Kennedy is smart and funny and yes, she needs the money but that’s not her main motivation to agree to Sasha’s bound-to-fail plan. She genuinely wants to help. The story is told in first person from Sasha’s point of view, which allows the reader to fall in love with Kennedy in real time, as we only see her through Sasha’s eyes. I absolutely love Kennedy and Sasha together, and I also really enjoyed the whole family dynamics. 5⭐️
Maggie Cummings’ Hustle & Bustle tells a very different story. Hannah and her best friend and business partner Priya are in New York for the winter holiday market, where they’re showcasing their organic beauty products. As they finish setting up their booth, Hannah stumbles into Toby, one of the cops working the market. Hannah never thought she could fall for a cop but life is full of surprises and so is Toby, who doesn’t fit any of Hannah’s preconceived ideas of New York police officers.
The first words that come to mind when I think of Maggie Cummings’ novella are gentle and cute. Hannah and Toby are both shy, each in her own way. They ease into what both think is friendship, both wary of hoping for more as they live in different cities, but it steadily does anyway and of course, they’ll work it out, in their own mellow way. 4⭐️
Fiona Riley brings up the rear with A Christmas Miracle. Why am I not surprised hers is the novella featuring a Grinch? Mira – yes, you’ve met her in Bet Against Me – hates Christmas, all the more so as it’s also her birthday (she’s not happy having to share it “with a fat man in a red suit”). This year especially, everything seems to conspire against her: her best friend and events coordinator is going on maternity leave and for the first time since she was born, her mother won’t be there either. Enters Courtney, a lover of all things Christmas. Courtney is hoping to be promoted to the events department of her company and organizing this year’s holiday party should help prove she’s worthy of the promotion. She has booked Mira’s bar, Mirage, Boston’s hottest bar, but despite sizzling chemistry as soon as they lay eyes on each other, Courtney and Mira disagree on the party plans. Not for long, however, as Mira can’t resist Courtney’s enthusiasm and joyful enjoyment of fake snow and garlands and the way she morphs from innocent to flirty in a blink. Add a snowstorm and let Christmas magic do its thing… A Christmas Miracle is light and sexy and the perfect way to conclude this anthology. 4.5⭐️