Friday, October 25, 2013

ARC REVIEW ~Heating Up the Holidays by Lisa Renee Jones, Mary Ann Rivers, and Serena Bell~

Title: Heating up the Holidays
Authors: Lisa Renee Jones, Mary Ann Rivers, and Serena Bell
Release Date: October 28, 2013

As leftover turkey and stuffing give way to stockings and little black dresses, this tantalizingly sexy eBook bundle offers up holiday-themed novellas from a trio of beloved romance authors. Lisa Renee Jones gives a dedicated reporter and a powerful businessman a chance to count their Thanksgiving blessings in Play with Me; Mary Ann Rivers presents Snowfall, the story of a woman who confronts a life-changing event—hopefully with a special man by her side—just in time for Christmas; and in Serena Bell’s After Midnight, an explosive New Year’s kiss leaves two strangers wondering whether they’ll ever see each other again.

PLAY WITH ME by Lisa Renee Jones

Kali Miller has spent three years reporting fluff stories, waiting for the article that will launch her career to new heights. When she suddenly finds herself forced to take a job as an executive secretary at a Vegas casino, Kali meets the subject of what will surely be a shocking exposé: her boss, Damion Ward, the arrogant and undeniably sexy CEO. But after Damion invites her to help him plan a Thanksgiving charity event, Kali begins to see another side of the man. And when she surrenders to the exhilarating tension simmering between them, Kali hopes her story will have a happy ending.

SNOWFALL by Mary Ann Rivers

Jenny Wright can’t get enough of her erotic conversations with someone she knows only as “C.” Flirting online helps Jenny temporarily escape confronting the changes to her life as she slowly loses her vision. Jenny’s occupational therapist, Evan Carlisle-Ford, is helping her prepare for the challenges ahead, but the forthright, trustworthy man can no longer ignore his growing attraction to his fiercely intelligent client. Now Jenny must choose between the safe, anonymous “C”—or the flesh-and-blood Evan, whose heated kisses can melt snow faster than it can fall.


The clock is ticking down to midnight on New Year’s Eve, and all Nora Hart and Miles Shephard can think about is kissing each other—even though they met just minutes before. Then, as fast as Miles enters Nora’s life, he’s gone . . . and she never even gets the name of the man she thinks might just be “the one.” One year later, Nora and Miles are reunited. The chemistry between them is just as strong as they remember. But Miles broke her heart once before—and this time around, Nora’s not sure whether she can give love a second chance.
Anthologies are hard for me sometimes. I love that it allows me to try out new authors but, they can be very hit or miss. First off, please please read this review all the way through. Because this is an anthology I will be reviewing each story separately and giving them their own star rating. However, I know that these stories are not avaiable for individual purchase so I will give an overall view and rating at the end. That beign said, let's get started!

Play with Me by Lisa Renee Jones
My Rating: 5 Stars

In my experience I have never read a book of Lisa Renee Jones' that I did not like. She has a superb talent, where she can captivate a reader and make them fall in love with her characters. True to her recent writing style she stayed in the first person POV with Play with Me. The story is told through the eyes of Kali Miller. Kali is in need of a job, and quickly. She has quit her job and moved to Vegas for another one only to run into obstacle after obstacle. She ends up taking the position of faithful assistant to CEO Damion Ward. From the beginning these two butt heads and war with their strong personalities. Neither one will take shit from the other. It was a bit of an up and down, back and forth ride with these two. But it was such an enjoyable ride. I understood their personal reasons for their decisions but I also couldn't wait for the next time they were in the same room together. The minute they were, I could just feel a click with them. I definitely got the feeling that they were two halves of a whole, in the professional and personal sense. Play with Me is such an intense read. I could not put it down. I read from beginning to end in one sitting and, I know it's wishful thinking, but I do hope that Ms. Jones will consider expanding this book into a series. It was marvelous. I want more of Kali and Damion and their unbelievable attraction, and their tendency to burn up the sheets. Play with Me is a bit longer than the average novella, thank you Lisa :), and I got so lost in the story that by the end I didn't feel deprived or wanting more. Well... I want more of Kali and Damion but, as the story stands right now if there were no more books I am completely content with how it ended. 

Snowfall by Mary Ann Rivers
My Rating: 2 Stars

I am so flummoxed by this story. The basis is terrific but, I couldn't connect with the characters or where the author lead the story. It seemed to clinical to me. I couldn't feel the emotions that I expected to feel given the circumstances. The synopsis seemed so intriguing but, the story as a whole just didn't do it for me. We begin with Jenny who is slowly losing her vision. The explanation of Jenny's problems and feelings felt so disconnected to me. If it were me, I would be raging on the inside and being torn apart. I never got those emotions from her. Jenny has started an online relationship with "C" and they share intimate conversations and in depth chats. These conversations are about the only time that I felt something while reading this. I could feel their attraction through their chats and wanted more time reading their relationship progress. On the other hand, Jenny is seeing occupational therapist Evan. he is helping her learn how to live with no sight, before she actually gets there. These two... *shaking head* these two were not my favorite. I saw a glimmer of a "love-hate" relationship, but it didn't quite get there. They seemed more like acquaintances to me, and I didn't buy into their relationship that eventually came about. I really wanted like this one. Like I said before the premise sounded promising but, the overall story didn't deliver in my opinion.

After Midnight by Serena Bell
My Rating: 2.5 Stars

After Midnight is a fun, heartwarming story. However, I've read the exact plot many times before. I think the overall plot has been exhausted, but the minor stories had promise. The writing was good, and I think if the author had developed this into a longer story I would have enjoyed it. Where the story led, it was a little cheesy and too neat and tidy. No one has that good of luck, where everything works out that perfectly. Or maybe it does happen, but I've never experienced it or seen it. Nora and Miles met at a party on New Year's Eve, shared one steamy kiss, and without the chance to exchange names, never saw each other again. Until Miles' friend tracks down Nora through social media a year later and urges her to reconnect with Miles. Now, there is mention of Miles having broken Nora's heart on that New Year's Eve but, I can't buy into it. It was only a kiss yes, I like to believe in love at first kiss but this seemed a little far fetched for me. I didn't think Nora should be so gun-shy about Miles. The two share phone calls, and surprise visits but they both allow outside lingering doubt to bleed into their relationship. Frankly, their relationship moved a bit fast for me. It was definitely whirlwind, but not in a sweep me off my feet manner. The story definitely has promise and I would love to see more from Ms. Bell. However, given the length and development we are given in this anthology, After Midnight was pulling me in too many directions, and I didn't feel there was enough time/space to give closure/full development to the story as a whole.

My Rating: 3.25 Stars (Yes, I rounded up. It's my rating, I can do what I want :))

If you're looking for a fun, heartwarming holiday anthology definitely pick this up! All three books will satisfy that need. I really don't like giving poor reviews but, I just wanted more from the last two novellas. I think if you love anthologies, this is right up your alley. If one of them definitely sounds interesting to you, give the others a try. Just because I didn't love them doesn't mean you won't. I will say this though, all three of the books got me in the holiday spirit! I'm all ready to cuddle up with some more books and some hot chocolate :)

Happy Reading! 
*ARC was provided by publisher/author through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review*

Author Links:
Lisa Renee Jones:

Mary Ann Rivers:
Serena Bell:

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