Note: This ARC was provided by the authors in via InkSlinger PR in exchange for an honest review.
Holiday Heat: The Men of Starlight Bend is a multi-authored collection of five brand-new stories, each one set in the Montana town of Starlight Bend. While each story stands on its own, I loved how they were all tied together, not just by the location, but by the connecting thread of the Christmas Wish Tree, also called the Gift Tree in one the first story, and how this tree located by Big Sky Living, held the wishes of children around Starlight Bend and how each couple in the story did whatever they could in order to make grant those wishes, changing the lives of the children whose wishes they chose just as their own lives changed once they discovered love, family, and home.
Snowbound in Starlight Bend is Jennifer Ashley's story and is also a novella in her Riding Hard series. Haley McKee is a wealthy city girl from Seattle who is stranded in Starlight Bend and rescued by cowboy Maddox Campbell. They find themselves at odds on quite a few things, and while Haley may seem out of place in the small town, she falls in love with it overnight. This was a classic city girl falls for country guy and vice-versa story, but I liked that she wasn't a snooty girl who flaunted how much money she had. The recipient of the wish here was Danny Vining, and while his wish may have seemed impossible, I loved how Maddox and Haley made it work out. This story gets four stars.
The Long Gone Girl was written by Erin Quinn and is the story of Kari Dale, a co-owner of a chain of men's clothing stores, and Tyler TImberlake, a high school teacher. Kari is in Starlight Bend to find a location for her store while Ty has returned in order to mend fences with his father who didn't take kindly to Ty's decision to leave town. There's an instant connection between Kari and Ty, but Kari doesn't stay in one place for long, needing to move on to find a new place to open a new store. Their wish recipient is Sara Carson, who reminds Kari of her own wish for normalcy. This was about finding home even if you may not be actively looking for it, and with the right person. Four stars.
The Angel of Starlight Bend is a second chance love story written by Calista Fox and has veterinarian Anna Voss rekindling her romance with her former best friend and first love, neurosurgeon Nicholas Hoffman III, fifteen years after he left Starlight Bend. Anna finds a boy named Jake sitting outside her clinic and he turns out to be her ex's son. Nick is still the only guy she's ever loved and while they easily fall into a relationship, Nick's life is in New York while Anna's has always been Montana. Their time after they broke up was a definite eye-opener and the wish they grant for Zander Thomas brought a smile to my face. This was my second favorite story in the bunch. 4.5 stars.
Ropin' the Lone Cowboy of Starlight Bend is another city girl falling for the country guy story and it's by Mary Leo. Jolie Shepard is spending her Christmas with her best friend in Starlight Bend rather than at home in Las Vegas and a tussle over who gets a much needed coat allows her to cross paths with Red Wiseman. She's aimless while his life is all about the family ranch, but together, they work hard to make sure the wish of one special girl named Holly Lowe comes true. This was, I think, the shortest story in the collection, but it certainly never felt lacking and it fit in along with the four other stories, bringing with it consistency and a heartwarming holiday tale. This gets four stars.
The Grinch of Starlight Bend is my favorite story. Written by Jennifer Probst, this was clearly inspired by the classic Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, but given such a touching and inspiring twist to it. Forty-year-old billionaire Noah Elliott has locked himself away in his mansion after the town he loves shunned him, but all it takes is thirty-year-old social worker Josephine Whitman to open his eyes--and his heart--to love and forgiveness. Not only was Noah and Joey's love story heartwarming, but what they did for each other and for little Owen Salt brought a tear to my eye. This was the perfect end to the anthology and gets five stars, resulting in a rounded off overall rating of 4.5 stars. ♥
Date Read: 18 November 2016
Learn more about Jennifer Ashley, Calista Fox, Mary Leo, Jennifer Probst, and Erin Quinn.
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