Tuesday, 17 November 2015

A Very Alpha Christmas (Anthology)

Title: A Very Alpha Christmas
Author: V M Black, Terah Edun, Cathyrn Fox, Carina Wilder, Chloe Cole, Mandy M Roth, Michelle M Pillow, T S Joyce, R E Butler, Jaycee Clark, JC Andrijeski, Tasha Black, Christina Rayne, Jaide Fox, Michele Bardsley, Renee George, T J Michaels, Elsa Jade, Allisoon Gatta, Arial Burnz, Mandy Rosko, Candice Gilmer, Dawn Michelle, Sylvia Frost, Lissa Matthews, Lexy Cole
From: Review Copy
Genre: Anthology, Romance, Paranormal, Christmas
Release Date: 17th November 2015
Challenges: 2015 New Release Challenge, 2015 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (1 point = Stirring Up Trouble)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

Vampire Games by V M Black 

At Sea with her vampire fiancé, Cora finds herself playing a different kind of game...One in which winning could mean losing and losing could mean winning.

This story was all about the foreplay. The whole thing was Cora and Dorian playing a sex game that had the intention of improving their relationship  (which I do think it managed). As the first story on the anthology I am curious as to if it also serves as some kind of foreplay for the rest of the anthology and am excited to find out.

As a teaser to the author's other books, Vampire Games works well, there was clearly a back story to the two characters and there were hints towards what sounded like an intriguing and different set of rules about vampires. I'm definitely intrigued.

When Darkness Falls by Terah Edun

Rhiannon is a witch and a demon hunter, one who is always late. When she hears on the news that a plane crashed into a skyscraper in New York she dismisses it, until she sees visions of chaos that are just three days away.

I've read a lot of Terah Edun's work and loved it so I wasn't surprised at all that this short story dragged me in...only thing is that I want more!

I liked what Edun did with the attack on the World Trade Centre, merging the events with a world that knew about heaven, hell and demons. I didn't feel that it was done in a disrespectful way but Rhiannon's shock captured the true mood and horror of that day (I was 9 at the time and still remember the news that day).

Wrapped Up by Cathryn Fox

Lawyer Carter knows that to get anywhere in the world he's going to have to be ruthless. On top of that his past in the foster system has led to him hating Christmas, especially because he never got given the puppy he desperately wanted. Now stranded in a town that is obsessed with Christmas, he meets the sweet and sexy Josie, and soon he discovers parts of himself that he thought were gone forever.

Wrapped Up was such a sweet read. I didn't feel like Carter was a bad guy at the start so there wasn't really any reforming going on, instead Josie seemed to bring out in him things that he'd tried to forget about on his way to the top (but kind of failed at doing). It made the romance between them sweet and enjoyable to read.

There were some moments in the book that boarded on the supernatural with the White Wolf, but I do think that it could also just be read as folklore and coincidence, so if you're not into the supernatural then this story is still good to go!

Christmas Past, Christmas Presents by Carina Wilder

Kiara is a young journalist who gets her big break when she is asked to go to Micah Drake's home and write an article on his art collection. But when she gets there she encounters the man himself and instantly becomes enamored and intrigued by him. As Kiara learns Drake's secrets she finds herself in situations that she hadn't thought possible.

I had fun trying to guess what Drake's secret was before the big reveal. I did go through several different ideas before settling on the right one though I did cut it fine for figuring it out before the reveal! I like it when stories keep me guessing, and even when it was revealed I found myself slightly surprised about the how.

There was a bit of insta-love going on in this story, though probably more insta-lust that developed quite quickly. Because it was only a short story I didn't find that I minded too much and still enjoyed the story between Kiara and Drake.

Hunted by Chloe Cole

When Gabriel is asked to get close to a woman who could be a threat to the Nightwalkers, he tries to refuse. But there is something about squeaky clean librarian Zara that draws him to her and when they meet there is an irresistible pull between them.

Well I am now very intrigued by what could happen next for Zara and Gabriel, especially because this is one of those stories that had me hoping the male MC would tell the female MC the truth. I mean she'd pretty much figured it out but then dismissed it, but still.

The chemistry between Zara and Gabriel was intense, and in the case of this story took a slight BDSM twist. It wasn't massively intense but did play a large role in the sex scene between characters.

Heated Holiday by Mandy M Roth

Cassie has been forced to supress her supernatural side for years due to her purist stepfather. Cambridge has been leading negotiations for a peace between humans and supernaturals, despite high protest levels. The moment that Cassie first sees Cambridge something sparks between them, but the impending bomb threat distracts them both.

This novella just reminds me of why I love Roth's writing! She manages so effortlessly to straddle the line between standalone and series (though I am yet to read the previous story) making reading enjoyable and fun. There is plenty of heat between the two leads, and being supernatural there is some insta-emotions going on, but the strength of the story means they are easy to deal with.

I also love the humour in this story, in this case it was mainly brought out by quasi-couple Finn and Mimi.  The banter between them was on point and had me laughing aloud several times!

Stirring Up Trouble by Michelle M Pillow 

Since the death of his wife Elsbeth, Fergus has been looking for her soul in every woman that he meets. When Donna feels the sudden urge to bake and deliver goods to the MacGregor clan she doesn't know what has happened to her. Not remembering baking, nor any good at it, she still persists. When she meets Fergus for the first time there is an instant connection causing Fergus' guilt to flair up.

It was good to be back with the MacGregor clan! Pillow really creates a family dynamic between her characters, with a lot of teasing and messing with each other across the generations (as they are immortal it doesn't make such a difference what their various ages are!) I love reading the family dynamic, and how potential love interests work into that!

I also found the reincarnation ideas in the book interesting. I did wonder how the story was going to work considering that Fergus' wife died on the first page, but it actually worked well and Pillow kept me on my toes with what was really going on!

Baby It's Cold Out Bear by T S Joyce

When Emry gets stuck in a snow drift, her landlady Helena, sends out the new lodging bear shifter, Graylan, to save her. Emry and Graylan are instantly attracted to each other, though Graylan admits that he is very nomadic and doesn't like to settle in one place for too long. Slowly Emry finds that he is warming up, and getting more and more into the spirit of the season.

I think Baby It's Cold Out Bear is one of my favourites from this anthology. There was plenty of chemistry between the two lead characters as well as some sweet moments, particularly from Graylan. They both had a past which was surprisingly well fleshed out considering the length of the story, and it worked well in developing them both.

I found it interesting that the author chose to have bear shifters "out" in the world, and then explore the idea of that being the case. There was no easy route of acceptance, and some of the bears didn't find that at all, but I liked the realism that this brought. It also meant that Graylan's bear type was kept underwraps for a while (though I did guess!).