December 2, 2010

Review: Winter Wishes (Anthology)

Winter Wishes
Authors: Vivi Andrews, Avian Arend, Moira Rogers
Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: December 6, 2010
Purchase Information:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Carina Press

*Anthology generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley 

A Twist on Tradition

A woman has the Christmas Eve from Hell. Two cat shifters play naughty games. And a witch brings out the beast inside the man. The magic of the season takes on a whole new meaning in these three fantastic—and festive—novellas from some of the best voices in paranormal romance.

Anthology includes:
  • Tangled Tinsel by Vivian Arend
  • No Angel by Vivi Andrews
  • Freeze Line by Moira Rogers

Stories also available for purchase separately.

Tangled Tinsel
Author: Vivian Arend
Publisher: Carina Press
ISBN: 1426890915
Purchase Information:

She's the cat's meow, and he's ready to pounce!

Five miles of leather-clad leg is all it takes to lure Kyle Branegan out from his carefully hidden lifestyle as part of the Cougar Corp, a secret branch of the Shifter Enforcer League. He's hoping for a night of fun and frolic, cat-style, no strings attached. With a sultry swing of her hips, Eloise Scott tangles him up in her ball of tricks, and just when he thinks he's about to get lucky, she cuffs him--naked--to her bed.

An undercover cop in the human police force, El's been given a top-secret mission to keep the big cat under her paw until he's needed to testify in court in the New Year. Her decision to take him home for a quiet Christmas in her sleepy hometown turns out to be far more interesting than she expected. Her parents are suddenly rich, her old boyfriend is sniffing around and all six-feet-plus of sexy cougar male is sleeping in her bed.

And that's before they announce their fake engagement...


Tangled Tinsel  was a fun, playful story about a pair of cat shifters who are tethered together through the holiday season. Perfectly capturing the Christmas atmosphere this novella had moments of scorching romance and a nicely paced sense of action and intrigue.

While the novella starts off with a blisteringly sexual allure, the characters and the readers are quickly doused with cold water. Because of this I think I came to like El's character a bit more then I thought I would. At first glance she's a bit of a tart, but quickly we find that she actually a strong if not stubborn character who only grudgingly begins to accept the playful inner cat that lurks just beneath the surface. Kyle on the other hand starts off as a rather an entertaining character who fully accepts the tomcat nature inherent to him. He has a wonderful charisma making him humorous, charming and often times playful and cunning.  He is completely at ease with his inner feline and helps ease El into accepting her true nature. With nearly constant sarcasm between the two, I was constantly chuckling late into the night.

The plot, while interesting, at times can be a little ambiguous. It isn't clear at first exactly what the point of the novella is other then keeping Kyle in a loose sort of witness protection program under El's watchful eye. But, as the story evolves the plot becomes much clearer and I loved the aspect of Kyle being a sort of shifter secret agent. The atmosphere created was on the other hand was much more strongly developed the plot. The sense of Christmas and family is wonderfully captured and offset nicely by the moments of naughty pleasures the characters partake in.

Overall, this was a nice story that captured the season well. It was nicely written with characters that the reader can relate to while keeping a paranormal edge. There was a nice sense of humor that kept me reading and enjoying the characters and the moments of action kept the pace moving. Since this is my first time reading this author, I am uncertain if the universe created is an ongoing one, but I have to say that I would definitely read more about it! I loved the secret agent aspect and would love to see if further explored within the world of shifters.

No Angel
Author: Vivi Andrews
Publisher: Carina Press
Purchase Information:

When Sasha's boyfriend, Jay, is sucked through a fiery vortex to Hell, an angel reveals that Sasha's been chosen as the Champion of Virtue in the battle for his immortal soul. As a perennial offender on Santa's naughty list, Sasha can't believe she's anyone's idea of a girl fighting on the side of the angels. But if she doesn't save Jay, he'll be stuck in Hell forever!

Jay—aka Jevroth—isn't surprised to find himself back in Hell. His visa to visit the mortal plane expired three months ago, but to steal more time with Sasha he's been ignoring his mother's demands that he come home to spend time with his new stepfather: Lucifer.

Sasha has until dawn on the twenty-fifth of December to fight the Legions of Hell and rescue Jay, or be trapped there for eternity herself. But now she must decide if the lying son-of-a-demon is even worth saving...


No Angel was a great adventure into the realm of angels and demons. Tautly written with wit and action I couldn't put this novella down!

The writing style of this story was concise and read quickly. The introduction into the lives of the characters was well done building a substantial back story without weighing down the tale with unnecessary information. And yet despite the character building the main premise of the story starts quickly and we are drawn into the uncertain relationship between Sasha and Jay as we follow them into the depths of Hell.

The characters are likable, the sarcasm of their natures endearing me to them instantly. Sasha is a bit of a wild child and once she falls in love with supposedly good-boy Jay she becomes a bit self conscience, feeling that she isn't good enough for him. Quickly we discover that Jay has a whopper of a secret of his own, he's the stepson of Lucifer and half-demon. While the status of their relationship is often in question, you can't help but become enamored of the two. They fit together so well despite the omitted truths the relationship was built upon. But, most of all I loved Andrews's depiction of Lucifer. He came off as being extremely human and I loved the fact that he could never tell his wife, Jay's mother, that he cared for her due to the fact that in Hell even truths can be used against you.

The action of the story was wonderfully written and the atmosphere was unique. The pace was quick making this is a fast read. The theme of redemption to the story was a nice one for a holiday tale and it gave a wonderful reminder as to the spirit of Christmas. The world building was wonderful with the knowledge that Angels do walk amongst us and hold celebrity status hob-knobbing with the Hollywood elite. This is definitely one world that I would enjoy returning to!

Freeze Line
Author: Moira Rogers
Publisher: Carina Press
Purchase Information:

She can't survive in his world; he can't stay sane in hers.

A twenty-first century ice age dulls the magic that emanates from the earth. Shane Sullivan is a lone wolf above the freeze line. He has no desire to join the packs that range closer to the border, where feral instincts can turn a man into a monster. Not until the winter solstice, when he stumbles across a dying witch who needs his help to get back to her people—and her magic—in the south.

Nadia is a powerful woman in her own world, but she's been drained by her escape from captivity in a northern lab. She knows it's foolhardy to trust a werewolf, but he's her only chance to survive the vast white wilderness. The farther south they travel, the harder it is for Shane to keep the beast within under control, and as their mutual attraction intensifies, Nadia's no longer sure she wants him to.


Freeze Line held all the appeal of an indie movie playing out within my head. The bitter cold survivalist novella was wonderfully written with highly developed characters and a chilling atmosphere that reminds readers that snow isn't just the pretty white stuff drifting lazily in the breeze around Christmas time.

The world Roger's created was a post apocalyptic ice age reminiscent of the movie 'The Day After Tomorrow' with the northern part of the globe covered in ice. While how the world became broken as such,  we are left with the impression that most people feel this was caused by witches. The chilling atmosphere created had me huddled under a nice warm blanket because it was described so wonderfully. The basic survival elements of the story were nicely detailed giving a sense of being trapped with the characters waiting for the next snow storm to strike. While I am once again unfamiliar with this (or rather these) authors I was left feeling a little at a loss when it came to the scientists that were holding Nadia captive. I would have liked to know more about how she was captured, or why. I would have liked to have been given more history about the state of the planet as well. The world was just so vast and interesting I wanted to know more and when the information never came I was a bit disheartened.

Like the world and atmospheres created, the characters were wonderfully written and extremely three dimensional. I loved Nadia's fierce warrior qualities and her embrace of the wilder aspects within her nature. She is at peace with the magic that flows within her veins and the connection between her and the Earth was interesting. Shane was a nicely complicated character, his past heartaches and grief making him weary of the beast the lives within him. His need to protect is endearing and his care of Nadia made me fall in love with him. The connection between these two starts off a little awkward but the warmth that slowly develop is organic and believable. There is a very tender feeling that grows between the two that turns fiercely protective which left me engrossed and wanting to follow the characters further.

While this didn't have a Christmas theme to it, I enjoyed it none the less. The bitter cold of the frozen lands reflected the winter season perfectly and the themes of survival and acceptance were wonderfully translated. This is definitely my favorite novella from the 'Winter Wishes' anthology and I will definitely be looking into this author more!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Some sexual content

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