Genre: Contemporary Romance
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'Tis the season to fall in love in these four small towns.
In “Christmas in Shelter Bay,” New York Times bestselling author JoAnn Ross returns to Shelter Bay, where Kelli has long tried to keep her feelings for her friend Cole a secret. But when the local matchmakers conspire to send them to a secluded lakeside cabin, the two friends soon discover that a little love will keep them warm.
TV producer Nathaniel Ravelle knows the Bayberry Island mermaid legend is a joke— how could a statue grant a wish for true love? But when a Christmas Nor’easter lands him in close quarters with local Annie Parker, they see magic at work in matters of the heart in New York Times bestselling author Susan Donovan’s “A Seaside Christmas.”
In LuAnn McLane’s “Mistletoe on Main Street,” Clint isn’t sure how to rekindle his romance with high school sweetheart Ava—until his father bows out of playing Santa at the annual Cricket Creek holiday parade and Clint gets the chance to make this Christmas one to remember.
And in Alexis Morgan’s “The Christmas Gift,” business is booming at Bridey Roke’s pastry shop. Everyone in town stops in to sample her holiday treats. But in her spare moments, she’s perfecting a special recipe to charm the handsome new neighbor—who has his own surprise gift for her come Christmas Eve!
“Christmas in Shelter Bay” by JoAnn Ross
Shelter Bay, Book 0.5
I admit, I picked up this anthology for “Christmas in Shelter Bay.” I’ve been waiting for Kelli and Cole’s story ever since I read the first Shelter Bay book, The Homecoming. Kelli’s been in love with Cole for practically forever, but he’s been too blind to see it. Of course, both of their families can tell the two of them are perfect for one another, so with a bit of joint scheming and a snowstorm to aid them, Kelli and Cole will find themselves in a cozy cabin for the holidays. What “meant to be” couple wouldn’t fall in love in such a setting?
I love these kinds of stories, so I was immediately sucked into “Christmas in Shelter Bay.” Kelli and Cole made a great couple, but their switch from friends to lovers seemed a bit too fast to feel organic. If the story had been a bit longer, perhaps the progression of their relationship would have felt more natural. Still, fans of the Shelter Bay series should enjoy “Christmas in Shelter Bay.” Kelli, Cole, and their families are all as charming as ever and the story has holiday spirit to spare.
“A Seaside Christmas” by Susan Donovan
Bayberry Island, Book 0.5
Mermaids, magic, and a touch of mayhem make “A Seaside Christmas” a bright and bubbly story. Fate – and a bit of interference by some well-meaning Bayberry Island “mermaids” – lands an injured Nat on local author Annie’s doorstep during a storm. Close quarters and mutual desire leads to them burning up the sheets pretty fast. What’s unexpected (for both of them) is how swiftly they also fall in love.
I enjoyed Nat and Annie, but I felt their story could have used a bit more development. In addition, the supporting characters in “A Seaside Christmas” were a bit too much for my personal taste and overall the story had a bit of an erotic, yet cartoony feel. Susan Donovan’s stories tend to be wonderfully wacky, but usually there’s a touch of realism at their heart to make them feel grounded. “A Seaside Christmas” isn’t my favorite story of Ms. Donovan’s, but I do still plan on picking up her first full-length Bayberry Island novel, Sea of Love.
“Mistletoe on Main Street” by LuAnn McLane
Cricket Creek, Book 5.5
I love a good reunion romance and “Mistletoe on Main Street” hits all the right notes. Clint and Ava were high school sweethearts whose paths took them in different directions. It’s been fifteen years since they broke up, but now that Clint is back in Cricket Creek, the feelings he has for Ava and she for him are impossible for either to deny.
“Mistletoe on Main Street” is one of those stories that simply gives off the warm and fuzzy vibe. I adored Clint, Ava, and their friends and was pretty much charmed by “Mistletoe on Main Street” from beginning to end. LuAnn McLane has written a story that’s the perfect mix of Christmas and romance. Clint and Ava’s story will definitely get you in a festive mood while providing a love story that can be enjoyed all year ’round.
“The Christmas Gift” by Alexis Morgan
Snowberry Creek, Book 1.5
“The Christmas Gift” might just be my favorite story in the entire anthology! Bridey is a sweetheart of a pastry chef who has been burned by her ex and has since devoted herself to her bakery. Seth is an artist who feels like he’s lost his gift and needs to get away from the business persona he’s been forced to wear for far too long. The two of them have been circling one another for a while, but with a little nudge, their romance begins to blossom.
I hesitate to use the word, but I found “The Christmas Gift” to be adorable. There was something so sweet about Seth and Bridey that I found myself smiling time and again while reading their story. There’s a warmth to “The Christmas Gift” that I simply cannot convey in my review. I fell in love with Snowberry Creek and enjoyed watching the town’s Christmas festivities every bit as much as I loved reading about Bridey and Seth. Alexis Morgan is the only author in this anthology whose work I hadn’t read before, but after reading “The Christmas Gift” I can guarantee I’m going to be picking up the rest of the Snowberry Creek series.
Christmas on Main Street is a wonderful collection of small town romances. As with any anthology, readers are sure to like some stories better than others. Personally, I think “Mistletoe on Main Street” and “The Christmas Gift” are not to be missed, but all four stories are enjoyable. Whether you’re looking for romances to get you in the Christmas spirit or simply want to curl up with four well-written love stories, Christmas on Main Street is the book for you.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.