Round-up Review: Heaven, Texas, I'll Be Home for Christmas & other anthologies

Since I’ve still got quite a few backlogged reviews to post, I’m bundling the following contemporary romance novels into a round-up review, just to save some time. The books

Title: Heaven, Texas
Book Stash for SeptemberAuthor: Susan Elizabeth Philips
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Piatkus Books
Year Published : 2007

Stand alone or series: Book #2 in the Chicago Starrs series

Why I read it: The author is new to me, and the back cover description of the story sounded interesting.

On the Back cover:

Former sports star Bobby Denton has agreed to lend his fame and his name to a movie. But when he doesn’t show up the film company sends straight-laced Gracie Snow to bring him to the set with surprising results.

Despite his dazzling good looks and killer charm, Bobby has reservations about being a movie star- and no plans to cooperate with anyone from the studio, let alone shy little Gracie. But though she comes across as a wallflower, Bobby soon discovers Gracie is really a steel magnolia and the more time he spends in her company the more he finds himself drawn to this plain Jane with a heart of gold…

In my books …
If you enjoy humour in your romance, then this book is definitely up your alley. From page one, when the hero Bobby Tom (or BT, as he’s referred to in the book) mistook Gracie for a stripper, a birthday treat he presumed was arranged by his friends, and tried to ‘teach’ her how to do her job, the author makes you laugh out loud with the hilarious situations both lead characters get into, the bantering between the two and of course, the undeniable chemistry between them.

BT is such a modern cowboy with his antiquated sense of propriety, courtesy and gentlemanly behaviour, and yet high-handed way of managing and sometimes meddling in the lives of the people around him that you can’t help liking him.  For this NFL stud does have a heart of gold even if he tries to disguise his charitable/ compassionate acts as something else.

I wasn’t too blown away by Gracie, to be honest.  In fact, I thought she was such a doormat at first, letting her boss, BT and some of the other colleagues in the production company bully her around.  But as the book progresses, I came to admire her integrity and her stoic way of upholding her independence, and overlooked the gagging saccharine sweetness of her character.

That said, I wasn’t too hot for the secondary plot angle of a budding romance between BT’s mom and his so-called rival, a tycoon returned home, Way.  I admit to skipping some of those parts. Overall though, this book is pretty entertaining read, and I finished it within the same evening.

IMB Rating: 3.0, liked it

Another Book StopTitle:
Stroke of Midnight
Author: Carly Phillips, Janelle Denison and Jacqui D’Álessandro
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Anthology
Publisher: Pocket
Year Published : 2006

Stand alone or series: Stand-alone anthology

Why I read it: I’d originally picked out this series to review for the December theme of Keishon’s 2009 TBR Challenge.   However, after reading it, I didn’t manage to meet the deadline for the challenge, so this review has been a “work in progress” for months.

On the Back cover:

New York Times bestselling author Carly Phillips reunites two long-ago lovers for a bittersweet holiday reunion. But what will it take for them to forget the past, and warm up to the scintillating promises of the future?

USA Today bestselling author Janelle Denison sets the stage for seduction when a young woman throws caution to the wind and responds to an intriguing New Year’s invitation from a mysterious secret admirer.

USA Today bestselling author Jacquie D’Alessandro turns a professional relationship into a pleasurable pastime when two business partners finally decide to melt the ice on the night before Christmas…and discover the true meaning of giving.

In my books …
Midnight Angel by Carly Phillips:
Movie star Dylan North decided to return to his hometown and reunite with the sweetheart, Holly Evans, whom he abandoned a decade earlier as he wasn’t ready then to settle down. At first distrusting and still hurting from the broken heart Dylan dealt her, Holly eventually came around and became reconciled to his sincerity in giving up life in the fast lane, and possibly share a future with her. A sweet reunion romance with some really steamy action, including the famous one involving Marshmallow Fluff.

Meet Me At Midnight by Janelle Dennison:
I wasn’t too enarmoured of this story between childhood friends Shane and Alyssa, who denied their mutual attraction and romantic/sexual interest for the for fear that it isn’t reciprocated and would jeopardize their friendship.

Mine At Midnight by Jacquie D’Alessandro:
Party-planner Merrie Langston is as spontaneous as her accountant, Tom Farrell, is conservative and careful. When the man she’s booked to play Santa skips town, Merrie presses Tom into service and the two find a bond deeper than their disparate styles. This story was OK as the characters did not share as deep a history as the previous two couples.  There was some racy actions in the kitchen, and some sharing of childhood experiences in this opposites attract story arc which lend some substance to this fluffy romance.

IMB Rating: 3.0, liked it

Round-up Review: Heaven, Texas, I'll Be Home for Christmas & other anthologiesTitle:I’ll Be Home for Christmas
Author: Linda Lael Miller, Catherine Mulvany, Julie Leto, Roxanne St. Claire
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Anthology
Publisher: Onyx
Year Published : 2004

Stand alone or series: Stand-alone anthology

Why I read it: same reason as above.

On the Back cover:

A collection of heartwarming holiday stories from today’s stars of passionate romance!

delivers a holiday miracle in the bittersweet tale of a young woman who can’t hide her broken heart — or her past — when she returns to her hometown. But a sexy widower may just help her discover the true meaning of home in “Christmas of the Red Chiefs.”


spins a fairy tale come true in “Once Upon a Christmas.” They flirted as teenagers, but it takes time — and some divine intervention — to bring two star-crossed lovers together at last.

pairs fire and ice in “Meltdown,” the sensual tale of a Cuban-American PR whiz whose job description includes thawing out her CEO boss’s frosty image. Will their sparks torch into flames of passion?

unwraps the thrills of Christmas in New York, where a female bodyguard toys with a dangerous desire for a mysterious hunk while protecting his young daughter. It’s a risky game with passion as the prize in “You Can Count on Me.”

In my books …
Christmas of the Red Chiefs by Linda Lael Miller is a terrific opening story for this delightful anthology! A heart-warming small town romance with a satisfying ending that makes you go “Äwwww…” and puts you in the holiday mood.

Once Upon a Christmas by Catherine Mulvany, gives the good old classic plot of second chances at love a magical make-over and delivers a believable romance that makes you feel fuzzy and warm inside.

Meltdown by Julie Leto is Hot, particularly the sizzling chemistry between Simon and Isabel.
You Can Count On Me by Roxanne St. Claire gives followers of the Bullet Catcher series another side of Lucy’s former personal assistant Raquel Durant.  This time, she’s the bodyguard to the daughter of Grigori Nyekovic, a sexy, smart art collector who’s equally attracted to the very resourceful and intelligent PI. Definitely a thrill for her fans.

Overall, I’ll Be Home for Christmas is a much more well-balanced collection of holiday romance stories than Stroke of Midnight. So of course, it rates slightly higher than the former book.

IMB Rating: 3.5, liked it

Title: Mistletoe and Mayhem
Round-up Review: Heaven, Texas, I'll Be Home for Christmas & other anthologies

Author: Christie Ridgway, Katherine Hall Page, Judi McCoy, Rebecca Mayfield
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Anthology
Publisher: Avon
Year Published : 2004

Stand alone or series: Stand-alone anthology

Why I read it: same reason as above.

On the Back cover:

An unexpected visitor is about to arrive with an unexpected gift … Will it be something wonderful or woeful, rueful or romantic… or a little bit of everything?

In the expert hands of four unsurpassed storytellers, “the season of giving” takes on an air of mystery. Get ready for a stockingful of shocking — a potent holiday punch spiked with surprises, a hearty dash of romance and a twist of murder!

The incomparable Christie Ridgway sends a shy, lonely teacher on a mundane pre-Yuletide errand that becomes the most daring, dangerous, and titillating adventure of her life.

Award-winning mystery master Katherine Hall Page’s plucky sleuth Faith Fairchild discovers a Christmas miracle that comes wrapped in deception.

Judi McCoy’s spirited career girl Claire St. Germaine receives a truly magical gift with very mysterious origins.

And Rebecca Mayfield, the delightful creation of Joanne Pence, discovers the hard way that Santa isn’t always a saint.

In my books …
Out on a Limb by Christie Ridgway got readers off to a thrilling adventure that involves breaking up a smuggling ring, bad guys, and loads of spunky chemistry between the two leads.

The Two Marys, by Katherine Hall Page leaves you felling fuzzily warm and heartily glad that love is the reason for the season.

The Twelve Frogs of Christmas by Judi McCoy drew out the laughs with the funny, convoluted way that a certain meddling aunt approaches match-making.

The Thirteenth Santa, by Joanne Pence is Mafia-action meets Murphy’s Law in all things that can go funnily wrong on silent night. Although there’s no overt romance angle in this story, there’s the general ambience of hope and a hint of a budding one to come.

This anthology is a much more thoughtful and balanced set than Stroke, again. There is a good amount of warm sensuality with smart, interesting plots that make it a more rewarding read.

IMB Rating: 3.5, liked it


3 thoughts on “Round-up Review: Heaven, Texas, I'll Be Home for Christmas & other anthologies

  1. I wish I could write like you as Margaret Laurence once said “When I say “work” I only mean writing. Everything else is just odd jobs.”

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