Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Happy Christmas Reads 2: Holiday Hideout

Holiday Hideout
By Vicki Lewis Thompson, Jill Shalvis, Julie Kenner
Publisher: Harlequin
Release Date: November 1, 2011
3.5 Stars

This holiday anthology from Harlequin centers on a cottage owned by two sociology professors, Ken and Jillian Vickers, who bought it after they fell in love again there. When they began renting it out over holiday weekends, their renters routinely told them that a weekend at the cottage had renewed an old love or introduced them to a new one. So the Vickers determined to collect data in order to discover the secret of the Lake Tahoe cottage.

The Thanksgiving Fix by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Beth Tierney usually spends Thanksgiving with her parents and her siblings, their spouses and children, but she’s spending this Thanksgiving alone because she’s weary of her family’s determination to find the right man for her. Beth is not opposed to marriage, but having reached thirty with only romantic failures behind her, she’s decided to “embrace her singleness.” She has a responsible job as manager of a Reno hotel, she’s proud of her competence, and she’s not sure she has the time or energy for a permanent relationship. Coinneach “Mac” McFarland is the handyman who takes care of the Vickers cabin. He’s planning on heading to his parents for the holiday where his mother has lined up another date for him, certain that this time she’s found one who will make her son the perfect wife and give her grandchildren. When a winter storm interferes and Mac can’t make it home, Beth invites him to share her Thanksgiving, and four days later, after board games and bed games, Beth and Mac are planning a lifetime together.

The Christmas Set-Up by Jill Shalvis

Jason Monroe and Zoe Anders are assistant architects in the same firm. Everyone in the office is aware of the sexual tension between them, but neither of them is willing to act on the attraction. Then Jason’s younger brother Mike, a draftsman in the same firm, sets them up, sending Jason off to spend Christmas in the Vickers’ cabin and stealing Zoe’s memory stick with the specs for the project she and Jason are competing for—with a promotion as the carrot. Zoe, furious at what she thinks is Jason’s cheap trick, heads for the cabin. Instead of a thief, she finds a naked, vulnerable man who touches her heart and raises her temperature. Soon Jason is unwrapping an unexpected Christmas gift, one that promises year-long, life-long happiness.

The New Year's Deal by Julie Kenner

Cleo Daire and Josh Goodson were college sweethearts with big dreams of grad school and beyond, but the death of Josh’s father meant Josh had to take over Goodson Mining, the largest privately held gold mine in Nevada. Cleo couldn’t give up her dream of Harvard law school, and so they broke up but agreed to meet on December 30 five years later. When that time arrives Cleo is on the fast track to success at a D.C. law firm and needs an expert witness for a big case. Josh is growing restless under his family’s determination to oppose his ideas for expanding the company. With a little help from their former undergrad professors, they find themselves spending New Year’s at the Vickers’ cottage where they discover old dreams have a new life, one that’s worth risking everything for.

Holiday Hideout is an entertaining read. None of these stories made me want to corner friends, demanding they had to read this book, but the anthology is a pleasurable way to spend an hour or two. The Thompson story had touches of the humor I appreciate in this author’s books, but I had trouble believing in first meeting to wedding plans in four days. Readers who believe in love at first sight may not be bothered by this. Shalvis’s story has the terrific dialogue and sizzling scenes I expect from her, and I liked the workplace romance. Surprisingly, my favorite was the story by Kenner, an author I had not read previously. I always fall for reunion stories, and I thought this story had great sentimental appeal. The magic cottage seemed contrived, and the characterization of the Vickers inconsistent. I couldn’t buy them as both warm-hearted professors interested in the lives of former students and academics using these people as guinea pigs.

What are your favorite tropes for contemporary love stories? Do you believe in love at first sight? Do you read Christmas anthologies?


Jane said...

I'm not sure if I believe in love at first sight. I do believe in lust at first sight. I think you need to get to know a person in order to love them. I do enjoy Christmas anthologies and I especially love the Brava ones.

quantum said...

I'm not really a fan of anthologies. I prefer the purity of the novel written with one voice.

Not sure about 'Love at first sight' But then I'm not sure that I understand 'Love'. I know that it exists, but the mechanisms are not clear to me.

I was engaged after knowing my wife for only one month. It took me that long to pluck up the courage to ask. So I guess I do believe it! *smile*

I have Debbie Macomber on my 'To try list' so will get around to her in due course. I actually have Robyn Carr lined up for my Christmas read.

I don't really have any favourite trope, I just have favourite authors and the list of those is constantly growing as I try more of your recommendations.

Really enjoying your 'Happy Christmas Reads Week' Janga *smile*

irisheyes said...

Any trope is good in the hands of an expert! I like reunion stories and friends to lovers and I still like when a contemporary author can pull off the marriage of convenience trope.

Anthologies don't usually thrill me cause I usually only buy them for one author. I much prefer when one author releases all of their anthologies (Mary Balogh, MaryJo Putney) in one book.

I'm looking forward to the Christmas offerings this year. Seems like a lot of good ones to choose from. I heard somewhere Carla Kelly is releasing some of her Xmas anthologies. Is that correct?

I also wanted to tell you that I loved that you gave yesterday's book 2 ratings depending on whether you are a Cedar Cove fan or new to the series. That was inspired. I've felt that way several times when putting my 3, 4, or 5 star rating on a book, especially those in a series.

Janga said...

That's what I think too, Jane. I believe in instant attraction, but I think building a marriage on only that attraction puts life together on a shaky foundation.

I love Christmas anthologies! I like reading novellas when I have a few minutes here and there amid the work and joy of Christmas.

Janga said...

Q, you and Mrs. Q. must be one of the exceptions that prove the rule. :)

I'm glad you're enjoyng my Christmas recs. You should pay particular attention to the one I'll be posting Friday.

Janga said...

Irish, I've often thought about giving a book two ratings, but I couldn't resist with 1225. I loved it, but at the same time I found myself thinking how lost I would have felt had I not known all these characters that kept popping up.

CK's Marian's Christmas Wish has already been released as an ebook. Yay! But what I'm most looking forward to is Coming Home for Christmas, three new stories by Kelly--just what you said you liked. It's scheduled for release on November 15, and I'll definitely be downloading it that day. Have you read Diane Farr? She's releasing her Christmas stories as ebooks too, and they are also among my favorites.