Reading Romances DECEMBER Challenge

December 1, 2012



What is this post about?!

And we have reached the end of the challenge! A big THANK YOU to everyone who participated! It has been a great year, I hope you all have enjoyed it as much as I did! Please fill out the form by the end of the page so we can make it even better for you next year! All feedback is appreciated! You can still add reviews to add the previous months’ challenge until December 15th (to get more entries to the special prize). ; )


You have till December 15th to complete this month’s challenges!


1) A book that you are reading for another challenge, preferably one that you are wrapping up for the year.


2) Christmas Theme: Read a book that has a Christmas related word in its title (mistletoe, christmas, holiday, santa, reindeer etc) or has a Christmas themed cover.


NOVEMBER Giveaway Winners:


The Forsaken Series (1-3)

1 copy of each  PDF or Kindle – INT : goes to TRIX!



Spectral by Shannon Duffy

1 ebook – INT goes to TIN!





DECEMBER Giveaways:

The Color of Snow (YA Suspense Romance)

1 ebook – INT

the color of snow


The Bridegroom Wore Plaid by Grace Burrowes

3 SIGNED Print Copies – INT


The Bridegroom Wore Plaid


Another Night Falls by Jerri Hines

4 SIGNED Print Copies – US Only


Another Night Falls by Jerri Hines



Plus, I’m giving away a $15 Amazon Giftcard! Each review you added during the year counts as one entry to this special prize!

15 gc


Add your reviews bellow!  


A big thanks to all the sponsors who made the giveaways possible!



romance reading challenge 2013




  • Tin @ Love Saves the World December 1, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    Hi, Nat!

    Wow! Can’t believe it’s already the end of the year! Really enjoyed the challenges that you created each month.

    Thank you for being such a creative and excellent host!

    This month, I’ll do:
    1) A book that you are reading for another challenge, preferably one that you are wrapping up for the year.
    — In the Barrister’s Bed by Tina Gabrielle (I’m reading this one for the My Overstuffed Bookshelf 150+ reading challenge.)

    2) Christmas Theme:
    — Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight by Grace Burrowes

  • Juana Duran December 2, 2012 at 2:34 AM

    I’ll go with option 2.

    2. Christmas Themes: I’ll post my book tomorrow.

  • miki December 2, 2012 at 8:09 AM

    first option 2 Christmas in Dogtown by Suzanne Johnson
    then i will make option 1 and 2 but not sure yet which title ( i need to remember it’s only until the 15 th this time^^;;)

    • miki December 6, 2012 at 8:32 AM

      oki seco,d for option 2 Le rendez-vous de Noel par Elaine barbieri ( hum print book for international as a prize there is nothing better to motivate me^^ )

      i will try to add more so i go back reading

      • miki December 7, 2012 at 1:51 PM

        topic 1 and 2: home in time for Christmas by Heather graham

        to come for topic 2 rendez-vous sous la neige
        two ghosts for sister rachel
        and un parfait gentleman

        • miki December 11, 2012 at 8:25 PM

          topic 2: enchanted by blood by laurie london

          • miki December 15, 2012 at 8:14 AM

            topic 2: l’inconnu du chateau par ann gracie

  • Andrea Carpenter December 2, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    I’m doing option 2

    Ice Gods Christmas by Helen Scott Taylor

  • Juana Duran December 2, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    My book is: Mistletoe in Maine by Ginny Baird

  • Tribute Books December 3, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    Nat, thanks for featuring Brenda’s book this month as the giveaway!

  • Trix December 4, 2012 at 1:49 AM

    Option 2, Christmas theme

    MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME by Ava March

    Carina Press e-book, December 2011

    Blurb: “Alexander Norton loathes the festive season. The revelry of the ton is a reminder of Christmas four years ago, when his first love, Thomas Bennett, broke his heart and fled to New York without a word. So when he encounters Thomas at a holiday ball, Alexander is determined not to let on how much he still hurts.

    Thomas has returned for one reason only: Alexander. Having finally come to terms with his forbidden desires, he will do whatever he must to convince Alexander to give their love another chance. But instead of the happy, carefree man Thomas once knew, Alexander is now hard and cynical. Saddened to know he’s to blame for the man’s bitterness, Thomas resolves to reignite the passion he knows lies hidden behind the wall of disdain…”

    Review: Since I didn’t see a blurb for this book until after the fact (I won it a long time ago and didn’t start it until now), I was expecting a far more cheery tale from the title. March conveys the English Regency setting beautifully, with the carriage rides and house rooms playing up the compartmentalized feel of the men’s relationship. Alexander and Thomas’s inability to communicate their feelings feels almost tragic at times, but effectively serves to distance the reader from the characters for most of the book. (The fairly formal language, even when describing very explicit m/m encounters, seems appropriate but also chilly.) Christmas itself seems rather tangential to the story, but the resolution is heartwarming enough. In the “historical holiday m/m romance involving emotionally distanced Englishmen” category, I would still choose KA Mitchell’s AN IMPROPER HOLIDAY first, but MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME has piqued my interest in March’s other work (if not necessarily this particular couple).

  • Trix December 4, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    Option 2, version 2.0!

    HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS by Lori Toland
    Dreamspinner Press ebook, December 2010

    Blurb: “Sequel to The Replacement Guitarist Jason Stockton and Blaze Shinozuka are looking forward to escaping their hectic rock and roll lifestyle for a relaxing holiday. Their plans seem promising, and the passion between them burns hotter than ever as they keep each other warm despite the icy temperatures. Then a surprise Stockton family get-together threatens to reveal what Jason would rather keep hidden, and an impromptu trip to Blaze’s home in Hawaii makes the cultural, financial, and social differences between them more obvious than ever. Thanks to two chaotic family holidays and a lot of painful secrets, Christmas could end up being more than their budding relationship can endure.”

    Review: I fell *madly* in love with Blaze in THE REPLACEMENT GUITARIST, and so I was eager to read this story. His romance with Jason (who still seems a little bit of a cipher to me, at least in comparison) is as hot as ever, though I was surprised to find that the steamy love scenes kind of stalled the story development for me in the early chapters. After a while, though, it became clear that they were using the physical side of their relationship as a way to avoid the deeper issues that plagued it. About two-thirds of the way through I was worried that we wouldn’t get to Blaze’s Hawaiian family, so I was pleased when the action shifted there. (More Hawaii scenes would have been appreciated, since you can tell that Toland knows the area well.) An enjoyable read, but I’d definitely suggest THE REPLACEMENT GUITARIST first.

  • Trix December 9, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    I’m participating in the Book Lovers, Inc. Holiday Reading Challenge, tentatively going for the Serial Mistletoe-er category. So, there should be at least two or three more reviews to follow (CHRISTMAS WAGER by Jamie Fessenden next, and then it depends on what I finish first)…

  • Trix December 9, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    THE CHRISTMAS WAGER by Jamie Fessenden

    Dreamspinner Press ebook, December 2010

    Blurb: Won One Perfect Note (Overall Honorable Mention) in the 2011 Rainbow Awards.
    To discharge a debt to his friend, Andrew Nash, Lord Thomas Barrington returns to the family estate he fled six years earlier after refusing to marry the woman his father had chosen. To Thomas’s dismay, Barrington Hall is no longer the joyful home he remembers from his childhood, and his young niece has no idea what Christmas is. Determined to bring Christmas back to the gloomy estate, Thomas must confront his tyrannical father, salvage a brother lost in his own misery, and attempt to fight off his father’s machinations. As the holidays near, Thomas and Andrew begin to realize they are more than merely close friends… and those feelings are not only a threat to their social positions but, in Victorian England, to their lives as well.”

    Review: This beautifully crafted story nimbly balances several different plot elements. It may be a good entry point for those curious about m/m but new to the genre, since the friends-to-lovers relationship develops slowly and subtly for the first half of the book. Fessenden does a particularly good job with the plotline relating to Susan, Thomas’s young niece, who has never known Christmas thanks to Barrington Hall’s insistence on continuously mourning her mother’s death. She is neither a “poor little rich girl” nor a spoiled brat, and her interactions with the servants, her uncle, and Andrew (not to mention her awakening to the joys of a Victorian Christmas) are a pleasure to read. The Christmas scenes are lusciously Dickensian, and really give a feel for the era. Thomas and Andrew’s hesitance continues even after the consummation of their feelings, thanks to their own confusion as well as social and familial mores. It’s refreshing to see Victorian Englishmen communicate, however, and they’re an easy pair to root for. While Thomas’s brother and father do seem a bit cartoonish at times, the resolution of their stories is satisfying in the end. THE CHRISTMAS WAGER is a delightful surprise, and highly recommended.

  • Trix December 9, 2012 at 10:07 PM

    CHRISTMAS WITH MESA by Cheyenne Meadows

    Silver Publishing, December 2012

    Blurb: “Fed up with being the pawn in her parent’s continual bickering match, Kendall decides to avoid all the fuss and take a well-deserved vacation over Christmas with her rescued German shepherd dog, Mesa. Finding a pet friendly resort, she heads off for some much needed rest and relaxation only to bump into an old college boyfriend.

    Jason and Kendall parted ways four years earlier when he graduated a semester early and left for graduate school, eventually losing touch with one another. Long ago buried feelings re-emerge as they get to know one another once more. Can they re-kindle lost love and find a way to stay together or will history repeat itself?”

    Review: While outside my usual genre, this is a nicely crafted romantic comedy, which is sometimes just the ticket at Christmastime. Kendall and Jason are sympathetic characters, and the occasional hints of dark themes (Kendall’s dysfunctional family, the rescue dogs’ traumatic past) help to keep the story from becoming too treacly. There aren’t any unpredictable plot twists, but I enjoyed spending time with these characters.

  • Trix December 9, 2012 at 10:35 PM

    PUNISHING SANTA by Elyzabeth M VaLey

    Silver Publishing ebook, December 2012

    Blurb: “Christmas is all about that jolly old man from the North Pole, Santa Claus. He has a list of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice and every year he flies on his reindeer to deliver his goods. However, haven’t you ever wondered who decides whether Santa has been naughty or nice?
    That job falls to Helena Claus, his wife. This year she is most unhappy about her husband and has placed him on her naughty list. Not only will Santa not be getting any gifts but he will be receiving a well deserved punishment for neglecting his wife.”

    Review: I was pretty apprehensive about this one, I won’t lie. Luckily, VaLey devises some clever solutions for the squickier aspects of Santa lovin’. (Santa is actually a blond Adonis when he’s out of costume, and the elves are more conventionally attractive than one would suspect.) So, your enjoyment of the story will depend on what you’re, um, into. I was hoping for more of the femdom that the title promises, and cuckoldry plotlines generally aren’t for me. On the other hand, VaLey’s enthusiasm kind of sweeps you along, and I’d be willing to check out her other stories.

  • Trix December 10, 2012 at 9:10 PM


    JMS Books e-book, October 2010

    Blurb: “Blind since birth, Martin Kellam is facing the prospect of yet another Christmas alone save for his guide dog, Toby. Finding it easier to shop online, Martin orders groceries to be delivered from the local supermarket. It doesn’t hurt that the delivery driver is strong, hot, and has a sexy London accent.

    Colin Rodgers usually leaves Martin’s deliveries until last so he can spend a little extra time with the man he admires and has a secret longing to protect. One day close to Christmas, Martin is making soup and asks Colin to join him. Colin agrees. As they eat, Colin reveals he’s not looking forward to Christmas as he’ll be spending it with a friend and the friend’s fiancée.

    Not expecting him to accept, Martin offers to cook Christmas dinner for Colin. But Colin surprises him. Will turkey and stuffing be all they’ll share?”

    Review: This shorter work is not laden with fireworks, but effectively establishes two sympathetic characters. The British feel is played up through the touches of dark humor (turns out that blindness can complicate daily life in ways the reader likely hasn’t considered). The story did leave me with a bit of a lump in my throat, and I’m curious to read the sequel and find out what happens to this couple.

  • Trix December 10, 2012 at 9:23 PM

    Moved up into BLI’s Candy Cane-aholic category with this one:

    THE FESTIVE HANDBAG by Victoria Blisse

    Total-E-Bound ebook, December 2008

    Blurb: “A designer handbag is all she wants but he desires domination this Christmas. When Patrick breaks up from his girlfriend on Christmas Eve he is faced with another Christmas spent all alone. But then he meets Kelly. She is curvy, confident and happily plays Mistress making Patrick’s Christmas dreams come true.

    But will he be able to fulfil her kinky fantasy in return?”

    Review: Even though I usually read and prefer m/m, I thought that Blisse’s het story would appeal to both male and female readers. Men would vicariously enjoy average-Joe Patrick’s ability to snare beautiful women, while women would appreciate the model-dissing and praise of curvy, realistic female bodies. While your enjoyment of their insta-lust may vary, Patrick and Kelly’s chemistry and repartee are undeniably fun.

  • Trix December 12, 2012 at 1:54 AM


    Total-E-Bound ebook, December 2009

    Blurb: “Jodi is a toll booth operator and she meets Mike when one night he forgets change for the toll. There is an instant connection and they decide to meet up on Christmas Eve for a date. However plans are almost ruined when Mike’s car refuses to start but then Santa swoops down and gives them a lift on his sleigh.

    Our couple get to know each other intimately during their stay at Santa’s grotto and are surprised to find out that Father Christmas has a job for them both but will our virgin lovers take on the task?”

    Review: This story benefits from two very sympathetic characters: Jodi and Mike are clearly kindred spirits, and it’s heartwarming to see these lonely souls warm to each other. I hadn’t read the blurb beforehand and thus wasn’t aware that the story would take a magical turn, but the transition was surprisingly effective. (Santa is foreshadowed subtly enough that he doesn’t completely derail the plot.) Jodi and Mike’s sensual awakening converges with the magic of Christmas, and somehow it works. Blisse’s carnal descriptions aren’t exactly underwritten, but the author cleverly factors in avid reader Jodi’s skepticism toward romance novels to add self-awareness to the florid descriptions. Good for those who like sweetness with their heat, this holiday fable is a pleasant surprise.

  • Trix December 13, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    7 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS by Nicole Dennis

    Silver Publishing ebook, December 2012

    BLURB: “Homeless after phasing out of a foundling home and losing his job, Noel Hudson finds his way to Hamilton River during his least favorite holiday, Christmas. For two weeks, Justin Llewellyn watches Noel read in his bookstore all day. Seven red envelopes hold the key to Christmas magic Noel has never experienced.”

    REVIEW: A contemporary, sweet m/m Christmas story isn’t the most common thing, and this one had me smiling and “aww”ing all the way. (Bonus points for the indie bookstore setting–a good bookseller romance is always appealing.) Noel and Justin are adorably matched, clearly attracted to each other but unwilling to rush. (All signs point to fireworks in their future, and I’d be willing to read how those play out!) Justin’s loving care of Noel is truly touching, and it’s good to see the former foundling find stability and happiness. Aside from a few typos and a fair amount of Basil Exposition Syndrome here and there (understandable, given all the plot points), this is a true joy to read. Highly recommended.

  • Trix December 14, 2012 at 1:10 AM

    WHAT I SEE IN YOU by Diana DeRicci

    MLR Press ebook, December 2012

    Blurb: “Can the Grinch of Arbor Heights be won over by a man who believes in Cupid?

    Kennedy has no use for holidays, and suffers through the pageantry. When Angel moves to town to be closer to his brother, Cupid strikes in a big way. Before he knows it, Kennedy is being courted, chased, and wooed. Angel is determined to open Kennedy’s heart and isn’t above using the spirit of the holidays to crack the wall surrounding it. But no one said Kennedy had to make it easy for his angel…”

    Review: I hadn’t seen an m/m Christmas story that tackles the curmudgeon-conversion trope, so I enjoyed that aspect of this book. Kennedy seems to soften rather quickly (and his misunderstanding with Angel dissolves easily as well), so the plot switches to a conventional love story early on. The writing style is enjoyable, although DeRicci’s repeated use of the word “broach” to describe a piece of jewelry had me cursing SpellCheck throughout. Even so, these are kindly souls, and Arbor Heights is a pleasant place to spend a holiday afternoon.

  • Trix December 15, 2012 at 1:54 AM


    self-published ebook, November 2012

    Blurb: “When Jonathan transfers from the U.S to the Manchester branch of Computers Inc., Jenny is the first person to make him feel at home. Finding out about his bleak Christmases as a boy, she makes up her mind to involve him in all her English Christmas traditions.

    Passion sparks between the two as they decorate the Christmas tree. Who would have thought such an innocent activity could become so sexually charged? Can Jenny succeed in seducing the hot American and also prove to him that Santa really does exist?”

    Review: More chaste than THE FESTIVE HANDBAG yet naughtier than CHRISTMAS SPIRIT WARMS THE HEART, PROVING SANTA EXISTS is an intriguing mix of sweet and smutty. Sometimes the mixture can be a little unorthodox, but it’s fun to inhabit Blisse’s world. It’s a place where co-workers trade innuendos and goose each other without fear of sexual harrassment lawsuits, and have uninhibited romps before and after midnight Mass. They’re kindhearted characters who genuinely love Christmas and sex equally, and this unselfconscious playfulness is refreshing. The Christmas recipes at the end, while a little jarring to see, are a generous bonus.

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