Kiss Me Under the Mistletoe
by Fiona Harper
Published by Mills & Boon
This Christmas, ex-WAG Louise Thornton is starting her new life, away from the paparazzi - and her cheating husband. Un-manicured, back on carbs and holding herself together courtesy of some seriously good foundation, Louise will make things perfect for her son, right up until he leaves for his dad's on the big day. Then she'll be free to curl up and cancel Christmas. But it turns out escaping the fame goldfish bowl comes with some perks: peace and quiet, no baying press, plus regular battles with her Mr Darcy-esque new neighbour to keep her edge. And the best thing about a real, country Christmas is that there's always lots of mistletoe to be found...
More 'women's fiction' than romance, this tells the twin stories of Louise, the ex-model, and soon to be ex-wife of a major star, and of Laura, the recently deceased actress who Louise admired enough to buy her former home and then to read the diary she finds there in carefully rationed installments. Meanwhile Ben, who looked after the gardens for Laura doesn't know what to make of Louise and worries she'll want to make too many changes to the house and to the gardens he loves. A lovely story of two single parents finding themselves as much as each other.
Every Time A Bell Rings
by Missy Welsh
Published by MLR Press
Brian dropped everything last year when his mother became ill so he could take care of her until the day she died. People he thought were friends didn't stick with him and he's somehow become kind of a recluse without meaning to be. Only Mike, his best friend since they were kids, has stuck by him and is now saving him from homelessness after a fire destroys Brian's apartment building days before Christmas. Though Mike has to go down South for the holiday, Brian stays in Mike's apartment with his slightly singed kitten Oreo.
Brian's only goal is to set his affairs back in order before everything shuts down for the holidays and then make it through those holidays in one piece. He's lost so much -- his only real possession is a photo album of his mom that he risked death to save from the fire -- and he's feeling lost and very alone...until Mike, his hot neighbor Trent, and even little Oreo conspire to give Brian the best Christmas possible and a future that looks a lot brighter.
A sweet little Christmas story about someone who has given up or lost almost everything being brought out of his shell by good friends and a kitten. There's a companion book too, which I need to get hold of.
by Devyn Quinn
Published by Signet
Never embracing her mermaid heritage, Gwen Lonike lives in the human world as the owner of a Maine B&B. But when the gateway to a lost mermaid kingdom is opened, freeing its dangerous queen, Gwen can no longer hide, nor keep her secret from covert agent Blake Whittaker, who's assigned to trail a strange thread of paranormal activity. How long can Gwen and her sisters remain safe from a destructive queen, and from Blake's superiors, whose ultimate mission could prove the greatest threat of all?
One of the books I won the Christmas before last, and while I'm not a huge fan of shapeshifters in general, I do have a lot of affection for mermaid stories. Sadly this managed to incorporate a lot of the tropes of shifter stories that I don't get on with. People who like that sort of thing may well love this series.
The Tennis Partners
by Alison Bailey
Published by Less Than Three Press LLC
George enjoys life at his retirement community, especially the part of every day where he sits with his friend Leo to cheerfully perv on the young, Italian tennis instructor who coaches other members of the community.
Then Leo decides to move away, and George is left to watch alone. What's a man to do?
A short and sweet story that does exactly what the blurb promises in the best possible way. Recommended for anyone that wants a quick and quirky romance read.
Code Name Verity
by Elizabeth Wein
Published by Electric Monkey
Two young women become unlikely best friends during WWII, until one is captured by the Gestapo. Only in wartime could a stalwart lass from Manchester rub shoulders with a Scottish aristocrat, one a pilot, the other a special operations executive. Yet whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly and before long become devoted to each other. But then a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France. She is captured by the Gestapo and becomes a prisoner of war. The story begins in "Verity's" own words, as she writes her account for her captors. Truth or lies? Honour or betrayal? Everything they've ever believed in is put to the test...
'Verity' and Maddie are stranded in occupied France following the same accident but find themselves in very different circumstances. Told initially in flashbacks as Verity tells how they got there, and then following Maddie's attempts to reunite the friends, this was wonderfully dense and well researched but somehow didn't thrill me as much as I'd hoped.