Book Review: Borne of Sand and Scorn

reviewcover-borne of sand and scornTitle: Borne of Sand and Scorn [Forgotten Lands 0.5]

Author: Lindsey Pogue

Genre: Steampunk, Western, Novella, Romance, Post-Apocalyptic

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Death favors no one.

In the bustling industrial cities of Victorian America, soot clouds darken the skies, plaguing citizens with black lung. Rich or poor, young or old, no matter their station, no one is able to escape the life-threatening disease, and the West family is no exception.

Overcome by death and sickness, the Wests flee to the New Territories for refuge, only to discover more devastation. Wind and drought ravage the land and no one is safe. No place on earth is untouched by the Shift.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I loved Borne of Sand and Scorn by Lindsey Pogue for what it was – a prequel to the Forgotten Lands series. Here’s the thing: I’m not a fan of novellas. I think they’re too short to enjoy, and because they’re so short, authors often try to do too much too quickly. Unfortunately, this book didn’t live outside that realm – the romance between Lizzie and Brandon moved far too quickly to be realistic, and as an avid romance reader, that bothered me. That being said, I can understand why it was done that way, I just don’t like it.

Aside from this, the only other complaint I have is that I caught a few typos, but nothing so bad as to ruin the book for me. I think, for the most part, the story was well written, and it has that same atmosphere and description to it that Dust and Shadow has that I absolutely adore.

I think my favorite part though, as odd as it will sound, was the opening scene. As awful as it was for the character, it was certainly impactful, and it really set the stage for the type of storytelling the author is so good at.

If you enjoy westerns or post-apocalyptic stories, I’d certainly recommend this – but I would throw in the caveat that you should read the first book of the series before you endeavor to read this prequel. You’ll understand what’s going on a lot more, and you’ll get more enjoyment out of meeting the characters.

Book Review: Her Wicked Stepbrother

cover-her wicked stepbrotherTitle: Her Wicked Stepbrother [Nolan Bastards 0.5]

Author: Amy Olle

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Novella

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

My stepbrother hates me.

That’s fine, because I hate him too.

I hate his crooked smile and the way he looks at me, like he’s a sugar addict and I’m the last cupcake on earth. I hate that he makes me feel like I’m more than that lost little girl whose mom didn’t want her, then leaves and doesn’t come home again for days.

And I really, really hate that he flirts with other girls.

A lot of other girls.

But it’s fine. Really, it is. Soon, he’ll be leaving to attend university on the other side of the world, and I’ll only have to see him on holidays and at the rare family get-together. It’ll all be just fine.

As long as I don’t fall in love with him.

WARNING

I don’t usually read novellas, and had I realized this book was so short, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up — but I’m glad that I did. Despite being short, this book didn’t read like the usually rushed novella – it felt like a full-length novel up until it ended.

Despite the title, it wasn’t thinly veiled erotica either. I am intrigued to read on in the series and continue the character’s stories further. The romance and tension between the main characters were well executed and the family dynamics between the teens and the parents was handled realistically. The characters felt real – which is an amazing accomplishment for a novella.

I look forward to more!

– SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Book Review: Silver City Seduction

review-cover-silver city seductionTitle: Silver City Seduction

Author: Laura Fletcher

Genre: Novella, Historical, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Victoria Nolan is on the run. She hightails it out of town on the next stagecoach, changes her name and settles into Lettie’s Boarding House temporarily. Once that task has ended she needs to find a new job or leave; but she has come to appreciate Silver City.

Samuel Flynn needs a new cook for his ranch and the lovely Tori fits the role. She is not only a good cook and hard worker, but she is so appreciative of life. He is drawn to her naive ways and finds himself seeking her out more often than he should.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Silver City Seduction was a sweet, short novella by Laura Fletcher, but it was not without its problems. The book, for the most part, was well written. I only ran into one typo that made me pause. The writing was easy to follow, clean, and reasonably paced. As with most novellas, there were some time skips, but the story didn’t feel too rushed, except maybe the romance, but we’ll get to that.

I liked the story. It was sweet and interesting. What it wasn’t, was a mail order bride romance. There was no mail order bride. None. Victoria was never sent away for. She never received any sort of advertisement or letter imploring that she arrive on Samuel’s ranch. She found the job through a friend—and ladies and gentlemen, that is not what a mail order bride romance is about.

That aside, the characters were a bit flimsy. Samuel was, well, a little creepy. he was constantly staring darkly at Victoria, but then hardly ever talked to her. The three troublesome ranch hands, other than being slobs, didn’t really present themselves as troublesome (which supposedly was why they’d run off so many housekeepers before Victoria)—certainly not enough for the exasperating way her predecessor quit. Rae barely made an appearance in the book. Lester was the typical black-hat villain with psychopathic tendencies that are overly done and frankly, uninteresting in their lack of complexity. In fact, the only character with even a little depth was Victoria herself, and she was, for the most part, just a naïve, simpering girl with a penchant for making cookies.

I gave this book three stars because even though it was a fun little afternoon read, it wasn’t well developed. The plot barely existed and upon further investigation, would have fallen apart. The characters were 1-dimensional and weak. The romance sped along with the barest of mentions until suddenly they realized they loved each other out of nowhere. It just felt like there wasn’t enough time or enough effort put into this story. Will it entertain you for an hour while you’re in a waiting room somewhere? Sure. I’d recommend it if you’re just looking for a short, sweet read, but it isn’t going to be something you can truly sink into to while away a few hours.

Book Review: Spirals

review-cover-spiralsTitle: Spirals

Author: Sarah Dalton

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Thriller, Novella

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Before Mary came to terms with her paranormal gifts, she was a normal girl at a normal school. Then she meets Anita Bridgewater, a wild girl teetering on the edge of self-destruction.

Mary is popular for the first time ever. She’s friends with the coolest girl in school, and there’s a relationship blossoming with her first crush, Mike Parkinson.

But there’s just one problem. These zombies keep turning up, and they seem to be warning her about something. Mary soon finds herself out of her depth and spiralling out of control with catastrophe waiting around the corner…

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I didn’t know a lot going into this short foray of fiction. I didn’t know who Mary Hades was. I didn’t know that this was part of a larger series of fiction. I didn’t know that this was a novella. So understandably, my view of this story is a little different than most people picking it up.

On the one hand, I had an unbiased, fresh look at how this book stood on its own two feet. On the other hand, things I normally would have  let slide because this was an origin story, are also what, in the end, didn’t make the story work for me.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. Though perhaps a little predictable, I liked the characters, I enjoyed the plot, and the writing itself was pretty flawless. It flowed nicely and wasn’t encumbered by a multitude of grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. The paranormal aspect of the plot threw me off guard and  drew me into the story as I wondered what the significance of the zombies was and how their appearance would impact or even predict the turns of the plot.

But, just as I was getting engrossed in the story, it ended. I wasn’t expecting a novella, and the abrupt ending left me feeling unsatisfied. Why was Mary seeing zombies? I have no idea. It was never explained, and as an introduction to a character that goes on to star in a much longer series—I kind of get it. This was almost a prolog of sorts to a more detailed story—But, as a stand-alone story? It didn’t cut it. The story ended as a tragedy without any real explanation of some of the major plot points.

I think if you’re going to read this story as part of the larger series, then this short origin story may be a tiny bit of flavor that further expands the world of Mary Hades, and you may really enjoy it—it was well written. But, if you’re like me, and you pick it up as a stand alone? Well, it’s an interesting read, but don’t expect to have your questions answered. You’re going to be left wondering how everything tied in together, and there just aren’t going to be any answers in it for you.

Book Review: A Conall Christmas

cover-review-a conall christmasTitle: A Conall Christmas [Morna’s Legacy 2.5]

Author: Bethany Claire

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Time Travel, Historical, Novella

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Christmas is quickly approaching, and Adelle is determined to make this Christmas the best one Conall Castle has ever seen, but loneliness haunts her. Love for her daughter sent her into the past, but she’d not expected the isolation she would feel. A former socialite and serial dater, she finds that her current age seems much older in the seventeenth century than it did in the twenty-first. She resigns herself to the fact that she will remain single for the rest of her days. At least until an unexpected visitor arrives at the castle.

Hew Moray has spent the last twenty years all alone, only leaving his isolated home once a year to pay homage to the wife he lost long ago. When a winter storm causes him to seek shelter at the castle where his sister lives, he meets the first lass since his beloved Mae to make his heart flutter in his chest once again. Will he be able to release himself from his past grief to allow another love to enter his life? If he does, will his love be returned?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m not the type that usually enjoys novellas. I tend to find them rushed, and too short to really enjoy, so when I do pick one up, it’s usually a miracle in and of itself. In this case, it’s a bigger one because I actually enjoyed the novella. I know, I was shocked too.

A Conall Christmas by Bethany Claire was well written, and even paced. I didn’t run into any typos, misplaced punctuation, improper grammar, or awkward sentence structures. The writing was fluid and clear, and the characters were both familiar from the series and endearing. I don’t often find myself reading romance fiction where the couple involved is of an older age, nor do I seek it out, but other than one small mental image I did not need, I didn’t have a problem with the romance between Adelle and Hew. The two were adorable together, and I was cheering them on throughout the story.

That being said, I can’t say that I wasn’t a little throwna by the author’s use of technology in the historical era. It seems almost too easy for things like stereo’s and batteries to be accepted openly by the cast of the Morna’s Legacy series, but I’ll let it slide, because it really was an endearing little story.

Overall, I enjoyed the novella, and it really would be a wonderful read for the holiday season—if I had actually read it during the holidays. If you’re looking for a quick read to enjoy a little closer to Christmas and you enjoy time travel romances, I suggest you pick this one up and give it a try. It has puppies.

Book Review: Rising Inferno

review-cover-rising infernoTitle: Rising Inferno [Dark Alpha Dragon Series 1]

Author: Lucile Wild

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance, Novella

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Skye Louise left her safe but predictable home in Texas, her overbearing parents, and moved to Manhattan to study at the Art Institute. Even though she doesn’t quite fit in with her hip, sophisticated New York classmates, she is determined to learn everything she can and turn her passion into a real career.

On her first night in the city, she is horrified to see a mugging outside of her window. A masked vigilante rescues the would-be victim and then burns the mugger’s face with his bare hands.

Later, she discovers that the masked vigilante is the grandson of a kind restaurant owner in her neighbourhood, and the last of a long line of dragon shapeshifters. Now, Skye must prove that she can be trusted with his family’s secrets. She must also find a way to fight her growing attraction to him.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I honestly don’t know what I was thinking when I picked this novella up. I was asked to give it a review, and I thought “why not, I’ve never read a dragon romance before!” What ensued, was a very strange 15-30 minutes where my face was continually stuck in “WTF” mode. Even now, I’m still kind of laughing at the absurdity.

Here’s the thing… the description, the tags on GoodReads, and the very title on both GoodReads and amazon (BBW Ménage) are a lie. This is not a ménage. There is no evidence of anything BBW. The cover shows a disproportionate Asian guy with feathery wings—but let’s be clear, the man in the novella actually has bat wings—and in no way does the main character, Skye, ever try to fight her growing attraction for Raiku.

What this book is, is a very short 33 page encounter between a naïve country bumpkin from Texas (who couldn’t be more stereotypical. I live in Texas, and no one talks like her or dresses like her here.) and  a very quiet and somewhat shy ‘shifter’ whose only claim to being remotely dragon-like is his ability to produce fire with his hands and a set of bat wings. He does not actually turn into a dragon. The novella is incredibly short and very sweet, but to be honest, it has its problems.

There were a few typos—too many for something this short, and a lot of stereotypes were used. The characters were pretty one dimensional and sweet as cotton candy in a dumb-blonde sort of way. The “romance” between the two main characters was kind of endearing… but wasn’t very substantial.  The events in the novella span about three days, so the characters barely know each other, and while drawn to one another, I don’t know if I’d call it a true “romance”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really an “erotica” either. The story ends in the shortest dry-hump “sex” scene I’ve ever read. I don’t even really consider what the characters did sex. They were like two virgin teens playing at sex and failing miserably.

That isn’t to say the story was all bad, though. Despite its many flaws, I actually kind of liked it. Though the characters had all the depth of a puddle, they were adorable together in a shy “let’s hold hands and smile” sort of way. I liked them. Also, despite the time jumps and location switches (as has to happen in all shorter fiction) I didn’t feel like the story was rushed. It felt like a complete encounter from beginning to end. The writing wasn’t bad… it just wasn’t great.

Overall, I liked the story, but at the same time, it had a lot of flaws. More importantly, it is not what it is advertised to be. I give this one three stars. It was okay. It made 15-20 minutes of my life more interesting, and I’m glad to have gotten a taste of the author’s writing style. Were this a longer, more fleshed out book, I think I probably would have liked it a lot more… there’s just only so much you can do in 33 pages. If you’re looking for a kind of a fun read to pick up while you’re waiting in a doctor’s office somewhere, and you aren’t particularly looking for something steamy, give this a try. If you’re looking for a steamy erotica or in-depth romance, you may want to keep looking.

Book Review: The Unforgettable Billionaire Brothers–Chase

review-cover-chase billionaire brothersTitle: The Unforgettable Billionaire Brothers: Chase

Author: Violet Walker

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Novella

Rating: 2 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

The heirs to the billion dollar empire Silver Enterprises are single playboys who work as hard as they play. But when their father gives them each an ultimatum—settle down or lose your inheritance—they each must decide if the family business is worth giving up the single life, while figuring out who is stalking them.

Reluctant to Love…

Chase is reluctant to settle down, especially at his father’s insistence. But a weekend with his sexy assistant may turn out to be just the thing he needs.

Jackson, the middle brother and peacemaker is too young for a wife and kids. But that doesn’t stop him from lusting after the pretty blond cook working for his father.

Ethan doesn’t trust women and he doesn’t trust love. He might have to give up his role as CEO of Silver Enterprises if he can’t get past his dark past.
This is the story of three handsome billionaire brothers and the women special enough to capture their reluctant hearts.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Anyone who’s read my reviews before knows that I am not a huge fan of novellas, particularly those in the romance genre. They’re often too short to convincingly portray romance competently, and nearly always feel rushed. That statement applies to this book as well. To be honest, I picked  this book up because it was free, the cover was put together well, and I saw an open plea for reviews. I needed a quick book to fill a review spot on my blog, and so I thought, “why not?”

As far as the actual writing goes, it was okay. I did run across a handful of errors (missing words, a lack of commas when they were warranted, etc), but nothing that was too distracting from the text. In a longer book, this would have been great… but at only 32 pages… that’s quite a bit of errors in a short period of time. 

The plot itself was pretty standard: rich father declares that his sons will lose their right to inherit the family company if they don’t get married within a set period of time. Luckily, there’s a hot secretary that is conveniently and inappropriately in love with her boss, so it’s all good. It’s a pretty common trope in formulaic romance. No surprises there.

The problem for me, lie with the believability of the characters and their dialogue/actions. Despite being advertised as a romance, this was really more of an erotica. The sex scenes were a bit crass in their descriptions, and pretty straight forward. It was obvious from the very beginning of the story that the characters were lusting pretty heavily over one another, and despite the heroine’s reassurance that she’d been crushing on Chase for the past five years, I saw the bare minimum of material to back it up. Instead, Brooke came across as a naïve secretary lusting after her boss, and Chase came across as a horn-dog playboy. I didn’t see the romance.

The dialogue, particularly concerning the “romance” was predictable, and dramatically overblown to the point of almost being laughable.

“You taste so good.” (…)

“So damn good.” (…)

“Okay you feel good too baby.”

It was a bit like a badly scripted porno. I did get all the way through the story, which I guess is something, but honestly, I can’t recommend it. It wasn’t terrible… but I didn’t enjoy it. It’s not something I’d read again, and it hasn’t sparked any interest to read the following books in the series. If you’re looking for a quick erotic read about the relationship between a secretary and her playboy boss… you may enjoy this novella. If you’re looking for an actual romance.. keep walking.

Book Review: Beast

cover-beastTitle: Beast [Norseton Wolves 1]

Author: Holley Trent

Genre: Paranormal (Werewolves), Romance, Contemporary, Erotica, Novella

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Christina Stilton has waited all her life to become a wolf’s bride. Becoming mate to a stranger in a faraway pack is the only chance she has to escape her Appalachian life of poverty and abuse. She wants safety, but trusts The Fates to steer her toward love, too.

Love is the last thing on Anton Denis’s mind. He doesn’t want to saddle some hopeful woman to him. A brutal fight left him scarred and half blind. He’s a mercenary who can’t drive, can’t shoot straight, and on most days, can’t even crack a smile. He fully intends to send his mate away—to give her a chance at being matched to some stronger wolf—but stubborn Christina is intent on staying.

She might have been treated as a useless female back in Virginia, but her role in Anton’s small pack is clear. He needs to be loved and loved hard, and she’s just the woman for the job. She just needs to convince him to get out of her way and let her do it.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m going to give Beast by Holley Trent the benefit of the doubt. I’m not generally a fan of novellas; I prefer to sink deeply into my novels and not come up for air for several hours, and that just isn’t something I can do with shorter books. They tend to feel rushed and incomplete. That wasn’t so with Beast, however.

Despite being a novella, the pacing was spot on. I never felt like I was missing part of the story, that the details were being skimmed over, or that I was being rushed. The writing too was clear and easy to follow, and with the exception of one typo, well-written. The world building was a fresh take on the werewolf lore, and a welcome change in a theme that’s been recycled over and over in the past few years.

I liked Christina and Anton as a couple. They contrasted and complimented each other in a way that I found endearing and fun to follow along. My only major point of contention was that neither were very strong characters. Anton was plagued with self-doubt that lead him to verbally put himself down on a regular basis—and it wasn’t a very attractive feature of his. I almost would have preferred that he be standoffish or outright mean. Christina, on the other hand, despite purportedly being regularly abused throughout her life, ended up being the stronger, more domineering of the couple. She was a bit of a spitfire (which I love in my female protagonists)—but it didn’t seem to fit with her backstory, which lead to her earlier abuse seeming to be more of a needless plot device to drum up sympathy for the diminutive girl.

Overall, I liked the novella. It wasn’t typical of what I normally read, but the chemistry was steamy, the character were interesting, and despite a few weak points where the characters were involved, I can genuinely say that I liked it. If you’re looking for a short, fun erotic/romance read that isn’t too vulgar, this would be a good pick for you.

Book Review: Swallows and Ice Cream

review-cover-swallows and ice cream

Title: Swallows and Ice Cream

Author: Robert Fowler

Genre: Short Story, Contemporary, Mystery, Romance

Rating: 1 Star

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Description/Synopsis:

Steve, a nineteen-year-old English boy, lives and works in one of the small Tuscan villages that surround Florence. He is a lost soul, haunted by the memory of his beloved Katherine, whom he has left behind in England. He lives in a cluttered single room high up in Fausto Pacelli’s three-story house; the exorbitant rent as always in arrears.

Steve works for Tino Fabiano, owner of an ice cream shop. His handsome good looks are good for business, women of all ages seem attracted to the boy. Steve is befriended by Luca, who runs his uncle’s café, and is responsible for most of the food Steve eats, and Maria; a stunning beauty who has attached herself to the English boy.

Steve is a boy lost in confusion, riddled with guilt that he cannot undo. Katherine comes to him more and more in nightmares; unable to escape her, she now haunts his days as well as his nights. Everything is catching up with Steve; sooner or later, he will have to confront his bitter past.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I put off this review for a long time. Swallows and Ice Cream was one of those stories that I occasionally get handed directly from the author or publisher, where on paper, it sounds good. As I started reading, however,  I quickly lost interest. I tried. I really did. I read, I set it aside, I’d go back and read some more, I’d set it aside again… but eventually I had to admit after months of waffling over a review that sometimes you just have to set a book down. It’s not an egregiously long book either, only 81 pages… a short story, but I couldn’t finish it.

Now, I didn’t get far into the story—not even half way—so attempting to discuss the plot or the characters is nearly impossible. I didn’t get far enough in to dissect those aspects of the book. What I can tell you is that I got the impression that the story itself wasn’t bad, just a bit depressing. The book opens with Steve, a teen who spends the first few pages of the book lamenting over a lost love and trying to avoid a bottle of brandy. He hasn’t paid his rent in awhile, and my general impression of him was that he was a pretty sad sop. The opening of the story was slow and depressing, and to be honest, didn’t drag me in. Had that been the only problem, I probably would have kept reading.

Unfortunately, the narrative style wasn’t to my taste, and the editing was sadly lacking. In the first five pages of the story alone I spotted numerous punctuation errors and awkwardly worded sentences. The sentence structure was repetitive and clipped—stiff. It was by far not the worst editing I’ve seen in an independently published book, but it should have been cleaned up by an editor before publishing. Between the poor editing, the sloppy sentence structure, and the depressing, slow beginning… I just couldn’t bring myself to read any more.

Do I think others would like it? Probably. I’m not huge on the short story genre as a whole, and I’m not a fan of mopey depressing stories. Understand that I’m at heart, a romance reader (which is what I was told this story was). I work to help copyedit stories like this for authors… so getting past technical errors can sometimes be hard. I think someone with a mind less trained to pick up errors, and someone who enjoys more literary work may appreciate this story more than I did. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t the right audience for it.

Book Review: A Sweet Montana Christmas

review-cover-a sweet montana christmas

Title: A Sweet Montana Christmas [This Old House 2]

Author: Roxanne Snopek

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Novella

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Melinda Sweet loved her husband before she learned of his wealth and she loves him still, despite the fact that it’s gone. Unfortunately, while she knows the collapse of his Chicago financial services business had nothing to do with him, he believes otherwise. His upbeat adjustment to their new – and temporary – life on his grandfather’s rundown honey farm is a foil to cover the burden of failure. She wasn’t expecting to throw – in five weeks – the traditional Sweet Christmas Open House, but it’s a good earning opportunity and how hard could it be?

Austin Sweet is determined to make his wife proud of him again. But he also wants to erase the sting of shame he feels from his parents, to whom he owes a debt of gratitude for arranging for this caretaking job. Getting paid to fix up this disaster is better than living in their basement, sure. But what does he know about bees? Or fixing broken plumbing? Or cleaning a chimney?

But when Austin’s grandfather gives him the farm as a Christmas gift, there’s only one response. Accepting the gift will secure a future that will make his wife even more unhappy than he already is. Refusing the gift will finalize the rift between him and his family, but he’d rather lose them than Melinda. Then he discovers she’s spared him the choice. Austin’s not-so-Sweet side rears up as he determines that he’s done trying to make everyone happy. He’ll get his wife back, no matter what. And they’ll decide their future together.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Ah, another wonderfully written book by Ms. Snopek. A Sweet Montana Christmas is the heart-warming, tension-filled story of Melinda and Austin Sweet—a recently separated couple who’ve had their share of hardships and are willing to give it one last go before they give up entirely on one another. It is a story of love, friendship, and family, and I ate up nearly every minute of it.

As with all of the author’s books, the writing was impeccable. The story moved along at a good pace, it was easy to read and follow along with, and the colorful narrative and dialogue seemed to melt effortlessly into the background. I was absolutely absorbed in the storytelling.

The only problem I had with the book, and trust me, it was very much –my problem-, is that I’m not a big fan of romance stories that start after-the-fact of the couple’s relationship. Melinda and Austin were already married, already in love at once point, and I didn’t know them as a couple. I wish I’d gotten to know them when they were first in love… I think it would have helped cement their relationship for me. That’s not the author’s fault though. That’s every bit my own problem, and I recognize it—and so I’m not marking points off the overall score.

That aside, the story was beautifully written and full of both heartwarming and steamy moments between Melinda and Austin. The cast of characters, though brief, seemed authentic. I wanted it to work out for the couple, and though there were a few niggling details that bothered me (like the fact that Austin had magically become more muscle-bound in the time between he and his wife had last seen each other) overall, the story was a short, but engaging delve into the small-town Montana life, and I enjoyed it. I’d be happy to recommend this short little story to anyone looking for a sweet holiday-themed read, and I encourage you to take a look at the rest of the author’s work. I have had the privilege of reading quite a few of her works over the last two years, and everyone of them has been remarkably well written. If you like cozy romance stories, you’ll enjoy this.