Holiday Rebound Reading

Holiday Rebound Reading

It’s time for a holiday rebound. Just for those of you who like to extend the Christmas mystery and romance reading through the month of January, here’s a list of some great ones I read and two that are still on my list. Feeling the post-holiday blues? Rebound back to that magical time with one of these reads.

Thank you to NetGalley for the electronic review copies. All opinions are my own.

First, the Cozies…

I love Christmas themed mysteries. This one was fun and I liked the idea of it. The set up was pretty good. I did have trouble keeping up with all the characters because there were so many. This made it hard to get into the book because I was flipping back and forth to see who was whom. 

The mystery was enjoyable and nicely challenging. It wrapped up satisfyingly. I liked the main character too and, of course, the newspaper editor. I also like how the Bruno’s who owned the bar played off each other. 

Good book, just not a favorite for me. I would recommend it. Other readers may have more bandwidth to keep up with the characters. Probably just a case of Christmas brain for me.

Rating: Three stars.

This is a two books in one compilation. It contains Christmas Caramel Murder and Christmas Cake Murder. Christmas Caramel Murder is told as a flashback, while Christmas Cake Murder is set in the past when Hannah was just in the process of starting her bakery. 

Both are satisfying for fans and can be stand alones for people new to the series. These were satisfying rereads for me.

Rating: Four stars

The second book in the Beacon Bakeshop series (and the first I’ve read) is a quirky fun mystery with lots of twists and turns. Darci Hannah does a great job embedding quirks into her characters without being showy or obvious. Her main character Lindsey is likable and has a lot of personality with just the right amount of exasperation to not be annoying.

I read a lot of cozy mysteries and this one was a great Christmas read. It had enough Christmas magic and busy-ness to ring true, but still had a twisty mystery to solve. This one did keep me guessing. I’ll likely go back and read the first in the series soon.

Rating: Four stars

Rosemarie Ross has a great protagonist in this smart, snappy mystery. It’s the third book in her series, and I will definitely be going back to read more. 

The plot centers around a baking competition. where Courtney Archer meets up with five other ambitious bakers vying for the prize. Judge Shannon Collins causes some controversy, but its one of the producers that ends up dead–strangled with an apron from Sharon’s line. Courtney must sort it all out.

The Christmas setting adds some joy and interest to the story, but is not so much the main character as to get in the way. This is a smart mystery with a quick-witted amateur sleuth. It’s twisty and interesting, and it kept me guessing, though I figured it out at the last minute before the reveal.

I do want to go back and read the first two. I liked the dynamic of the lead character and want to know more about her.

Rating: Five stars

And, now…some Christmas romance…

I always enjoy Fern Michaels. She tells great stories of strong women . The four women in the story were high school friends and meet for a reunion at Christmas time for a cruise. Over the course of the cruise, each looks for love in her own way. Definitely a happy-ever-after, but how Michaels gets there is a joy. 

I love the magic of a Christmas romance, and Fern Michaels really knows how to pull at the heartstrings and play to the season without being cloying. I will continue to read her books. This isn’t my absolute favorite, but it was very enjoyable.

Rating: 4 stars

Ah, the marriage pact. It’s a tried and true trope of romance novel, but that’s mostly because it works. Evie and Dan vow to marry each other if they haven’t married anyone else by the time their thirty. Then, they wake up Christmas Eve (and the eve of her 30th birthday) to find themselves married, in Las Vegas, in the honeymoon suite. A quick divorce is their solution, but will it be that easy?

This is my favorite romance trope (the slow burn “silly” marriage pact) and Jo Lovett does a marvelous job with it here. It pushed all the right buttons and included the sparkle of Christmastime. I had not heard of Lovett before (is this a debut? not certain.) but I look forward to reading her work again.

Rating: 4 stars

Ivy Perkins in newly divorced and buys a house on the Internet sight-unseen. While sorting through the stuff left behind, she finds a Santa suit with a letter in it from a little girl that sets off a mystery. She integrates into the small town and learns more about the owner of the suit and the previous owners of her house. Her super helpful and handsome realtor gives a helping hand and sparks fly.

Let me start by saying I love Mary Kay Andrews. She is one of my favorite romance authors and her book Hello, Summer is an all-time fave. That said, this one just didn’t light it up for me. I liked it just fine and it had all the right elements to make a great Christmas romance, and I bet most people loved it. For me, it just seemed a little overly sentimental for my taste. I’m not sure quite why this combination of story elements didn’t sit as well with me as most of her stories. But it just didn’t, and that made me sad, because I love her books.

Rating: 3 stars (my that’s mostly due to personal taste and not writing skill)

Two books still on my list…

Jacket copy:

Maybe this Christmas can thaw his frozen heart–and heal hers.

Hollywood starlet Tia Beckett knows one moment can change your life. Her career had been on the fast track before a near-fatal accident left her with a debilitating facial scar. Certain her A-lister dreams are over, she agrees to house-sit at her producer’s secluded estate in Silver Springs. It’s the escape from the limelight Tia’s been craving, until she discovers she’s not the only houseguest for the holidays. And her handsome new roomie is impossible to ignore.

Artist Seth Turner has good reason to keep his distance. Losing his wife after only a few years of marriage has left a deep scar, even if he is still happy to spend a semester teaching art classes at the New Horizons Boys Ranch for troubled teens. Despite nursing her own wounds, Tia finds her curiosity piqued by enigmatic Seth, whom she recognizes as something of a kindred soul. Maybe spending Christmas together could be another game changer for both of them–this time, for good.

I got to meet Elin Hilderbrand last year at Carmichael’s in Louisville and she was very gracious. She gave each book in the set a personalized signature. I finally have time to read it and figured the best time would be during the dreary January weather.

Jacket copy:

Spend the coldest days of winter on a Caribbean beach with New York Times Bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand. 

Join New York Times Bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand on the stunning beaches of St. John for the beginning of her thrilling new winter series-The Paradise. Welcome to Paradise, the first book in the Paradise series, has everything that readers have come to know and love about an Elin Hilderbrand novel, plus a healthy dose of intrigue. Irene Steele’s idyllic life-house, husband, family-is shattered when she is woken up by a late-night phone call. Her beloved husband has been found dead, but before Irene can process this tragic news, she must confront the perplexing details of her husband’s death. He was found on St. John island, a tropical paradise far removed from their suburban life. Leaving the cold winter behind, Irene flies down to the beautiful Caribbean beaches of St. John only to make another shocking discovery: her husband had a secret second family. As Irene investigates the mysterious circumstances of her husband’s death, she is plunged into a web of intrigue and deceit belied by the pristine white sand beaches of St. John’s. This exciting first book in the Paradise series will transport readers to a new beach locale-another world that Elin knows as well as her beloved Nantucket-and have them longing for winter

Share your favorite kind of book to read during the holidays. Do you read holiday books into January?

Happy Reading!

-A-

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