Review: Red Hot Holiday by Anne Calhoun, KA Mitchell & Leah Braemel

Wish List by KA Mitchell

Blindfolds. Handcuffs. Submission.

There's so much Jonah Kendrick hasn't tried, and so much he wants to explore. But just before Christmas he finds a ring box in his boyfriend's desk. Jonah panics. He loves Evan and their sex is hot, but how can Jonah be ready for forever, when there are so many items on his Naughty Bucket List? Desires that might drive Evan away.

Evan's noticed Jonah has been distant. His usually talkative and cheerful boyfriend is preoccupied. The seemingly straitlaced Evan stumbles across Jonah's wish list of sexual kinks, and Evan realizes he may not have to hide his true nature from Jonah after all. The Dom in him wants to see Jonah on his knees, begging, submitting, but Evan isn't sure Jonah's ready to accept what being Evan's sub would mean.

The two lovers must figure out how to share their hidden desires with each other before their secrets permanently damage their love.

In this first novella we meet Jonah who is searching for tape to wrap a present when he finds mens wedding rings in his partners desk. He freaks the fuck out and his partner, Evan, notices immediately that something is up, especially when Jonah start turning down sex. Jonah’s not sure he’s ready for marriage and there are things he may want to try sexually that he hasn’t done with his current partner and can’t image Evan ever even considering – like domination.

When Evan and Jonah head to Evan’s family’s home Jonah sits down and makes a list of all the things he wants to try. Evan finds the list and is a bit shocked that Jonah has never told him of his desire to be dominated and Evan’s all over it as he totally used to be in the D/s scene. When Jonah goes so far as to update his profile on a dating site – and Evan gets notification – Evan sees red. Is Jonah ready to break it off and be with someone else or can Evan keep him at home by moving them in to a more D/s relationship?

This story, I must admit from the start, really frustrated me. I had a very hard time liking Jonah. He seemed very immature and flighty and after 2 years with the same guy he just NOW has such strange sexual desires that can’t be met by Evan? All because he thinks Evan is asking him to marry him. I guess I had a problem with Jonah’s lack of trust in Evan after so much time. He should have felt comfortable enough to go to Evan and talk to him. Of course then it wouldn’t have been the same story.

I liked Evan a whole lot more than his partner but was still upset at him for not communicating with Jonah about his past and experiences with D/s. Not that it’s something that comes up in casual conversation but you’d think after 2 years that they would have discussed past experiences.

The way things are handled in the end was satisfying but the road to getting to that point was exasperating to say the least. I liked neither Evan’s nor Jonah’s actions and didn’t feel that in the end it was a very strong nor lasting relationship.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

I Need You For Christmas by Leah Braemel

Ryan Porter is a sculptor, and beneath his callused hands, even the most rigid metals bend to his will. So, too, does his girlfriend Megan—a confident, strong woman who delights in submitting to Ryan’s dominance in the bedroom.

Megan is a Mountie, and she’s spent the past few years in the arctic following her career dreams. Family obligations kept Ryan at home, but their love survived the distance thanks to several hot visits. A Mountie always gets her man, and Megan is bound and determined to keep Ryan.

Now Megan’s with Ryan for the holidays…but how long will this visit last? She’s always been willing to do anything Ryan desires, but will he finally tell her that all he needs for Christmas is her?

Megan is in Canada for Christmas and she’s so very excited to be with her love, Ryan, once again. Little does he know that she’s made plans to be with him forever. Ryan is beside himself with joy having Megan back in his arms but he’s made plans of his own and he’s ready to surprise Megan with his good news.

This was very much a slower paced story. I think we were supposed to be so wrapped up in the sex scenes and the different bondage show that we didn’t mind that there wasn’t much more to the story. I think the sex was supposed to show us their trust and their love, which it did to a point I’ll admit, but I found myself wanting more.

Besides the sex the story focused around Ryan & Megan’s sacrifices – which the other knew nothing about – kind of a gift of the magi type thing. Ryan quit his job and planned to move to the Arctic where Megan was posted as a Mountie and Megan gave up her job as a Mountie to move to Ryan’s town and take a job with the local police. It was all very sweet I felt, however, that those incredibly life-changing plans weren’t something you did without discussing it with your significant other. In the end it all worked out so all’s well that ends well, right?

Rating: 3 out of 5

Breath on Embers by Anne Calhoun

Christmas is the perfect time for Firefighter Ronan O’Rourke to take things to the next level with his sexually adventurous girlfriend. He knows she has feelings for him—and he’s sure of his feelings for her—but when Thea refuses his invitation to sample Christmas in New York City because what they share is nothing more than sheet-burning sex, Ronan sets out to change her mind.

Deep down Thea Moretti knows she cares for Ronan, but she can’t move past her grief over her late husband. Loud music and sex with Ronan are the only things she’s got that her feel alive, so she takes as much of both as she can get. She knows Ronan wants more, but during the darkest time of the year finding her way won’t be easy.

Ronan gambles everything and challenges Thea: one night of passion with him and another man. Can he prove to her that what they share isn’t just great sex but an emotional connection strong enough to last forever?

It’s been two years since Thea’s husband died but she’s still shutting life out. She wears ear buds while moving around New York city to block out the signs of life and she’s been having meaningless sex with Ronan for about 6 months. But is it really meaningless? It’s not for Ronan and he’s determined to bring her back to the present.

This story was a wonderful surprise. I was thinking, after reading the first two stories that this would be more about a bdsm relationship and while there was some incredibly light bondage that really had nothing to do with the story.

Thea and Ronan’s relationship is intense and emotional but Thea’s thinking that it’s just something she does – it doesn’t mean anything. Ronan knows better and wants a deep and lasting relationship with this woman. he goes about trying to bring her back to life in different ways and I loved how he did it – with care and subtlety and love. It was kind of a manipulation in a way but since it was to her benefit I couldn’t fault him for that.

The story had a lot of story packed into such a small amount of pages but I was glued to my ereader as I just couldn’t get enough of it. Breath on Embers was a very well written and thoroughly enjoyable story that I highly recommend reading. Really great book.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 
(Psst - Anne will be visiting the blog on Friday and will be giving away a copy of Breath on Embers so be sure to stop back by for a chance to win.)

I normally give an overall rating for anthologies but this one had such different ratings I think I’ll skip that this time. :0)

KA Mitchell
Anne Calhoun
Leah Braemel

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