Naughty and Nice

Naughty and NiceBy Jaci Burton, Lauren Dane, Megan Hart, Shannon Sparks

Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: December 6, 2010
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Netgalley

‘Tis the Season for Romance

A famous singer reunites with an old flame. A couple explores their desire to be truly bound together. Newlyweds heat things up when they’re trapped indoors. And sparks fly when the lights go out. Whether you are naughty or nice, you can still get what you really want for Christmas in this collection of four seasonal shorts.

Anthology includes nice novellas:

Holiday Sparks by Shannon Stacey
All She Wants for Christmas by Jaci Burton

And naughty novellas:

Unwrapped by Megan Hart
Believe by Lauren Dane

Goodreads Summary

Holiday Sparks is Shannon Stacey’s contribution: Chloe Burke is home house-watching for the holidays as her parents are off on a cruise somewhere a lot warmer than where she is.  A minor electrical problem turns into a sexy interlude between Chloe and former classmate turned hunky electrician Scott Quinn.

This is the most traditional love story of the four and it hits all the right holiday notes as well.  Stacey writes terrific dialogue (she really is one of the best of the contemporary writers at it right now, I think), funny and crisp, and the chemistry between Chloe and Scott was yummy.  Scott was the right balance of knowing he had become “that guy” and still having that little bit of insecurity where Chloe was concerned and she was a great blend of the woman who had it all but still wondered where her real place was.

My Rating: A

All She Wants For Christmas is by Jaci Burton: Riley Jensen and Ethan Kent had a good thing going in high school, but it was torn apart one awful morning when she caught him in bed naked with her best friend Amanda.  She ran out of town and pursued her dream of singing in Nashville, becoming wildly successful and never looked back.  Now she’s reluctantly back in town to film a piece for a television autobiography when she’s rushed by a gorgeous little fan, Zoey…whose dad just happens to be Ethan.  She finds out Amanda died a while ago and she and Ethan still have an attraction, but can they get past old wounds and can she fit him into her career?

This just didn’t hit the right notes (no puns intended) for me.  While I could get past the reasons Riley left in the first place (she was young and she probably would have gone to Nashville anyway), I didn’t understand Ethan at all.  He didn’t have to marry Amanda and his claim that he never stopped loving Riley rang false; either he loved his wife or he loved Riley enough to look for her before he married Amanda or after she died.  He just seemed wishy washy.  I thought the appearance of his brothers seemed to muddy the waters; I was never sure if they liked Riley or not or if I was missing something.  Did they appear in an earlier book?  There were just too many Easy Plot Explanations.

My Rating: C

Unwrapped is from Megan Hart: I understand this is an epilogue to No Reservations and Taking Care of Business and I missed both (at least I think I did, because the characters seem a little familiar, so I may have missed only one), so I’m going on the strength of this story alone.  Leah and Brandon Long are taking a much-deserved belated honeymoon at Christmastime.  It’s an opportunity for the couple to reconnect and have some mad monkey sex, which is where the story picks up.  All starts out well, but after Leah injures herself out on the slopes, Brandon notices Leah becoming more introspective and wonders if there’s trouble.

I wondered for a while into the story if I was going to feel much towards this couple beyond pretty hot about their sex life, and it’s pretty hot.  As I got into it though, I did pick up on Leah’s fears about where things were going and whether or not she could have both sides of their lives; I loved Brandon, he was wonderful with Leah and I think I’m going to go back and pick up the earlier books and then reread this, because I do think the characters were people that I could have liked better if I’d known more.  I don’t always like where Hart’s books go and maybe it was the shorter length that did it for me, but I liked this.

My Rating: B-

The final story is Believeby Lauren Dane and I should probably get it out of the way right off the bat that this is the epilogue to Second Chances, a story that I’ve already read and absolutely adored.  So I know and am gooily (my word and I’m keeping it) in love with them.  A super short summary of their backstory: Jude and Rori dated briefly but she dumped him when he treated her badly.  She eventually went on to marry Zach, who introduced her to the D/s lifestyle but their blissful marriage was cut short when he was murdered.  Knowing what a treasure he’d thrown away, Jude took care of her afterwards, and after a long, long grieving process, Rori found love again with Jude (who was also majorly into the D/s scene).

I was so happy when I hear there was going to be a little epilogue for these two, so much of their story in Second Chances was spent apart from each other. Rori’s committed all the way to Jude now and has a new little tattoo to prove it (which he goes bonzo over), he just has a lingering issue that he doesn’t know how to handle without hurting her; I don’t use the word very often in these types of reviews, but yep, he’s swoon-worthy.

While the limited space of the story doesn’t allow a lot of time for it, there’s some really touching discussion between Rori and Jude about their D/s dynamic and some funny references back to people in Second Chances. There aren’t that many that I think it would be off-putting to people who hadn’t read the first book, though obviously I recommend reading it – and reading it first. There are plenty of laughs and tears to go along with the sex; as usual, a Kleenex warning.

There’s some sizzling, explicit D/s sex, and true to Second Chances, Rori is no sub outside of the bedroom. Fans of the couple will be very, very happy with this.

My Rating: A-

Overall, this completely lived up to the Naughty and Nice name (albeit backwards), and depending on whether or not you’ve read the two stories at the end that rely on prior stories, your final rating may vary.

My Overall Rating: A

Barbara

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