"Stroke of Enticement" by Nalini Singh
Having watched her mother's heart being broken continuously by her emotionally distant father, Annie Kildaire has convinced herself that long-term romantic relationships are not for her. All that changes when Zach Quinn walks into her classroom and promptly turns her world upside down. The sexy leopard changeling seems determined to wreak havoc on her senses, and Annie isn't so sure that's a bad thing.
The minute he sees his nephew's human teacher, Zach knows Annie is destined to be his mate. Both leopard and man are drawn to her beauty, strength, and intelligence. All he wants to do is claim Annie as his own. But Zach knows that to win over his cautious mate he'll have to entice her to trust him, and he'll use every sensual trick up his sleeve to do so.
Just when you think the Nalini Singh can't get any better, she serves up another amazing tale. "Stroke of Enticement" is a captivating story that grabbed me from the very first page and didn't let go.
Zach is the kind of hero I love to read and dream about - devastatingly handsome, charming, intelligent, protective, and slightly mischievous. He's possessive of Annie, not in a controlling way, but in such a way that made me sigh and wonder where I could find a hero like him. As for Annie, I utterly adored her. A childhood accident has left her with a slight physical handicap, but she never lets it stop her. She's strong in both body and mind. As she falls in love with Zach, I found she was strong of heart as well. Separately, they were endearing, but as a couple they wholly complimented one another. Their romance was the perfect combination of passion, tenderness, excitement, and fun.
"Stroke of Enticement" is part of Ms. Singh's Psy-Changeling series, but can be read as a stand-alone. Fans of the series will delight in this sensational addition to an already incredible series, and newcomers to the Psy-Changeling world will surely be racing to the nearest bookstore to gather up the rest of the series.
"Christmas Bree" by Erin McCarthy
The second of three magical sisters, Bree Murphy believes in many things paranormal. But when her younger sister predicts that a businessman in a pink shirt will ring her doorbell Bree declares it impossible - she does not go for the corporate type. Yet sure enough, lawyer Ian Carrington shows up on her doorstep almost immediately.
Ian met Bree about a year ago, and for nearly as long, both of them have been having the same erotic dream over and over. Neither wants to be attracted to the other. But when Bree's cat turns up with a piece of mistletoe the Murphy sisters enchanted a year ago, fate seems determined to see these two unlikely lovers get together. Can a Chicago lawyer and a small-town witch make it last? Or will uncertainty and a lack of trust ruin their relationship before it has a chance to truly start?
"Christmas Bree" is the classic case of opposites attracting, only to find out they're not so different after all. While this element may be tried and true, Erin McCarthy's story is fresh, fun, and sexy.
Ian is both charming and seductive - a hero I could readily fall for. Bree, in turn, is the kind of character you'd want to be friends with in real life. She's open with her family, but slightly wary when it comes to falling in love with Ian. She makes mistakes because of that guardedness, but those serve to humanize her even further. No discussion of "Christmas Bree" would be complete without mentioning Bree's cat, Akasha. Though few in number so as to not be overwhelming, Akasha's antics had me laughing and grinning throughout the tale.
"Christmas Bree" is part of Ms. McCarthy's Ohio's Most Haunted Town series. Having not read the other books in the series, I can definitely say that while characters from previous stories appear, "Christmas Bree" stands on its own. However, after reading this delightful tale, I will definitely be rushing to read the rest of the books in this series.
"Sweet Dreams" by Linda Winstead Jones
At a neighborhood Christmas party, Ruby receives a jade cat figurine as a present from a "secret admirer." That night, strange dreams begin to haunt Ruby. Dreams of terror and betrayal, those are just the beginning of the frightening events beginning to torment her. Unsure of whom to trust, Ruby isn't sure what to make of her sexy neighbor Zane who is showing interest in both her and the figurine. Is Zane's attraction for her genuine? Or is he in league with the menacing figure of her dreams, which threatens to destroy her?
"Sweet Dreams" certainly has the recipe for a good story. Ruby is a fun and likeable heroine who I was rooting for to find happiness. Zane had the qualities that are the hallmark of a good hero - intelligence, strength, looks, with a bit of bluntness, which makes him human rather than the cardboard perfect hero.
The plot centering on the threat to Ruby was well developed and entertaining. The only thing I wish for in this story is more focus on the romance aspect. However, it felt as if the love story was rushed, and the wrap-up at the end of the novella did not feel genuine because of that. Yet overall, I enjoyed "Sweet Dreams" and look forward to reading more of Linda Winstead Jones's work.
"Christmas Heat" by Lora Leigh
After librarian Haley McQuire overhears some vital information regarding a plot that endangers the Breed Community, she soon finds her life is on the line. With danger surrounding her, the last thing Haley wants is for anyone she cares about to be in jeopardy because of her. And that includes sexy Jaguar Breed Noble Chavin.
From the first moment he saw her, Noble knew that Haley was his mate, the one woman on this earth destined to be his alone. But he also knows that with finding his mate comes the mating heat - an emotional and sexual connection that neither will be able to overcome. For over a year Noble has been waiting, letting Haley get to know him before he makes his move. But when Haley's life is threatened, all bets are off. She's his and despite her fears for his safety, he'll do anything, everything, to protect and love his mate.
Christmastime just got a whole lot hotter with Lora Leigh's newest addition to her fantastic Breed series. In "Christmas Heat" we get to meet Haley, a smart, capable, likeable heroine with a big heart and a compassionate nature. It's easy to see why Noble is drawn to her; she has a kindness about her that comes off the page that endeared her to me. Fans of the Breed series will likely remember Noble from Dawn's Awakening. In "Christmas Heat" we see more than just the gorgeous enforcer. Noble is not only a sexy, protective, alpha male. He's intelligent, patient, understanding, and there's a dash of vulnerability in his non-comprehension of what the Christmas season is all about. The beauty of the tale is not only watching Noble and Haley fall in love, but getting to see a Breed experience, for the first time, the joy life has to offer in the love and traditions of the holidays.
For newcomers to Ms. Leigh's Breed series, "Christmas Heat" can stand on its own. However, the story does contain several major plot spoilers for the previous book in the series, Mercury's War. As a fan of the series, I must say one of the pleasures of "Christmas Heat" was getting to "visit" with some of my favorite characters. The road from harsh creation to happily ever after is never smooth for any of the Breed, but "Christmas Heat" exemplifies exactly why this series is so addictive. It's the journey that grips the heart in unimaginable ways and leaves you with a smile on your face.
The Magical Christmas Cat is the perfect anthology to heat up the holiday season. It is rare to find an anthology where you genuinely enjoy all of the novellas. Yet Nalini Singh, Erin McCarthy, Linda Winstead Jones, and Lora Leigh have all contributed sexy, and entertaining reads. Perfect to curl up with on a cold winter afternoon. With four luscious tales that are sure to please, The Magical Christmas Cat will both fire the blood and warm the heart.
reviewed for Joyfully Reviewed