Review: His for the Holidays by LB Gregg, Harper Fox, ZA Maxfield and Josh Lanyon

Mistletoe at Midnight By LB Gregg 

Owen McKenzie has traveled to Vermont to spend an old-fashioned Christmas with his family when he finds himself staying at the same inn as his first love. Owen is disconcerted to realize he's still attracted to Caleb Black but refuses to pursue him. Caleb left him once, and Owen's not going down that road again. 

Caleb is ready for a second chance with Owen and gets it when fate and the matchmaking McKenzies conspire to strand the two men in a rustic cabin during a snowstorm on Christmas Eve. Can Caleb convince Owen to rekindle their romance so they can stop spending their holidays apart? 

This is the story of two men who loved each other as teens and frankly never fell out of love.  They'd moved on and had become the men they are now but never stopped thinking about the one that got away.  It's no secret that I love Ms. Gregg's writing style.  She has a way with words that just speaks to my inner romantic and quite truthfully, my outer romantic as well. lol  Her stories always have a wonderful humorous thread woven through them that I adore and this one was no different.
Nine Lights Over Edinburgh By Harper Fox 

Detective Inspector James McBride is riding high on the belief that he's about to bust a human-trafficking ring. But just five days before Christmas, his unorthodox methods catch up with him and his world comes crashing down. 

McBride tries to concentrate on his new day job as security for the visiting Israeli ambassador. He even starts to feel a renewed sense of self-worth when the leader of the Israeli team, the aristocratic Tobias Leitner, takes a bullet for him in the line of duty. But he can't forget the trafficking case, especially when his investigations result in the kidnapping of his own daughter! McBride has no one to turn to for help-no one, except Toby. 

Can these two very different men work together to bring about a holiday miracle-and heal one another's heart in the process? 

This was definitely the most serious story in the bunch but it was oh so good. This was also my first read by Ms. Fox but it won't be my last.  Her characters came alive on the pages of the story and my heart hurt for what James was going through - admitting to the world that he's gay, facing his alcoholism and dealing with the kidnapping of his daughter.  It was serious, as I said, but not depressing.  It was the story of hope and love and to me that makes for a wonderful holiday read.

I Heard Him Exclaim By Z.A. Maxfield 

Who Likes a Skinny Santa? 

Steve Adams's heart hasn't been in the Christmas spirit ever since doctors put a stent in it and ordered him to clean up his act. No longer filling out his Santa suit or allowed to make merry, he's forgoing the holidays this year and heading to Vegas to indulge in the few vices left to him: gambling and anonymous sex. 

His road trip takes a detour when he encounters Chandler Tracey, who's just inherited guardianship of his five-year-old niece. Overwhelmed, Chandler's on his way to deliver Poppy to his parents. But fate has other plans and, after car trouble, Chandler and Poppy accept a ride home with Steve. Though the heat between the two men is obvious, they put it on simmer while they band together to make Poppy's Christmas as perfect as possible. 

Steve soon comes to believe that while Chandler is the right person to look after Poppy, someone needs to look after Chandler. Fortunately, Steve knows just the man for the job. 

Such a simple, but frustrating thing: breaking down on a road trip.  It happens to people all the time but in this case it made for the meeting of a lifetime.  I think what I loved about this one was that both men really needed something in their lives and the other provided that for them.  Chandler needed the safety and security that Steve offered and Steve needed to know that his life wasn't over because of a heart problem and some weight loss.  Ms. Maxfield brought humor as well as the joy of the season to this love story.  (Her descriptions of the drive to Vegas (which I've made many times) and the town of Baker had me laughing cracking up.)

Icecapade By Josh Lanyon 

On the eve of the new millennium, diamond thief Noel Snow seduced FBI special agent Robert Cuffe, then fled into the dawn. Now a successful novelist, Noel uses his capers as fodder for his books, and has modeled his hero's nemesis (and potential love interest) on Cuffe. Though he leaves Robert a drunken phone message every New Year's Eve, Noel hasn't seen or heard from him in a decade. 

So he's thrilled when his former lover shows up at his upstate farm one Christmas Eve. Elation quickly turns to alarm when Robert accuses Noel of being responsible for a recent rash of diamond heists. Robert is all business and as cold as ice: it seems his only interest in Noel is to put him behind bars. 

Innocent of the crimes, and still as attracted as ever to the oh-so-serious lawman, Noel plans a second seduction-providing he can stay out of jail long enough!

I think what drew me into this story was the fact that Mr. Lanyon took a jewel thief and then made him a regular guy.  Sure, he had become a best-selling author but really in his every day life he ran a farm, helped out friends and just lived his life.  And that's what Robert saw when he finally decided to make the move and seek Noel out.  Neither man was sure of the other but they had wanted each other for so long that the coming together was perfect. The story was sweet in the men's awkwardness but it was a step toward what could be and it was very heart-warming.

If you couldn't tell I loved every story in this anthology.  Usually when reading an anthology there are 1 maybe 2 stories that are ok, but not really to my liking in one fashion or another.  Not true with these novellas.  There was something about each one of them that drew me in, made me want to keep reading and in the end made me heave a big ole romantic sigh. 

Rating: 5 out of 5

This book releases from Carina Press on 12/6/10


Tam said...

I must get this one. Sounds like a great read all around. Nice review.

Tracy said...

I love holiday stories and this one hit all the right buttons. Hope you enjoy it, Tam. :)

Cecile Smutty Hussy said...

Oh wow, great review to all of them! And with authors like that all in one, how could one not want that book! Great job at reviewing and tempting us!! Hope all is well honey!! Hugs to you!

Chris said...

This was such a winner, wasn't it?!

~ames~ said...

I enjoy all these authors. I'm glad you liked all their contributions and now I can't wait to read it!!

Tracy said...

Cecile - I know! With a host of great authors I knew it would be good! :)

Chris - Definitely!

Ames - I think you'll really like it!

orannia said...

Am hoping this will be on Fictionwise and/or AllRomance by Christmas - I like the idea of reading m/m Christmas stories on Christmas Day :)

Tracy said...

Orannia - Hopefully they'll be available there - it would be a great one to read on Christmas day! :)

Hilcia said...

Tracy, I loved this anthology too. I'm definitely going to be reading more by Harper Fox. :)

Tracy said...

Hilcia - Definitely! I really liked that one - a little darker but good!