Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Review: Deadly Dreams by Kylie Brant

Title: Deadly Dreams
Series: Mindhunters
Author: Kylie Brant
Read copy: eBook
Published: April 5, 2011
Publisher: Berkley
ISBN: 1101481811
ISBN-13: 9781101481813

Risa Chandler's prescient dreams of death and murder haunted her nights. They also proved invaluable for Adam Raiker's brilliant team of forensic criminologists, the Mindhunters—until a tragic end to one case shattered Risa's confidence, and drove her into seclusion. But for Risa, there's no hiding from death—or from her dreams.

Though skeptical, Philadelphia homicide detective Nate McGuire enlists Risa's help in finding a serial killer who has claimed three victims. Reluctantly, she agrees. Because she's been dreaming again—rituals by fire, charred horrors, tortured screams. But Risa's feeling something else: the heat of a stranger who's watching her just as closely, a madman with dreams of his own—to make Risa his ultimate fiery sacrifice.

My rating:

A couple of months ago, her prescient dreams proved not to be infallible, and Marisa Chandler decided to resign from Raiker’s Forensics to lick her wounds and her confidence. Fortunately for her, and for the detectives targeted by a crazy firebug, Adam Raiker refused to accept Risa’s resignation, and instead got her instated into the task force assembled to catch the so-called Cop Killer.

Partnered with tall, dark, and handsome homicide detective Nate McGuire, Risa has no choice but dream again...And heed those dark dreams of fire, screams, and death, since her life just might depend on her dreams...And her intuition.

After the crash and burn of its predecessor, the Mindhunters is back with a bang in this gem of a story and restored my faith in this second “trilogy” ending with Adam Raiker’s book (coming next).

For those of you, unfamiliar with this series, it’s about employees of a private investigative agency, often on loan to the government or police forces around USA offering their special services in difficult, tricky cases. These employees use a set of skills, a strong mix of intuition, instinct, observation, and sometimes slight psychic abilities (in this book the heroine uses her nightmares to guide her in the investigation of a serial killer torching cops) in order to excellently perform on their jobs. They’re usually paired with police officers/government agents, sometimes together...And the romance blossoms.

Speaking of romance...The entire series is more along the line of a suspense/thriller with a romance as a side story. Mostly successful, sometimes not so much, with usually one or two sex scenes, some heated looks, even more heated kisses (usually after a life-and-death situation), and some intense inner doubts about the blossoming relationship (mostly on the heroine side, the heroes are all for HEA and a long life together). Mostly the romance runs in the background, more like an undercurrent, while most of the book is straight suspense.
This one was the lighter in romance of the bunch to date, literally blink and you miss it, all crammed up in the last third of the book, but somehow it worked much better than the prolonged tension and hesitation so much present in the previous one. It was this “understated-ness” of the romance angle that brought it so much more to the surface, adding a certain emphasis on it, making things cleared in hindsight, and provided, if you will, a good respite from the other aspects of the book (not just the suspense and the villain). You might say it was rushed, but, as both Risa and Nate admitted, there is something about those life-and-death situations, that brings a much sharper focus on things. Even things you might not want to admit.

For the rest, in order maybe not to say too much, I’ll keep it simple...The characters were great (as always), multidimensional, layered, flawed, and with problems of their own outside of the investigation, the characterization, the motivation, the reasoning was spot-on, the pacing just right, the plot tight and intriguing, the suspense amazingly intense (especially that last scene when time was running out), and it kept me guessing who the villain was until Ms Brant chose to reveal his identity (didn’t see that one coming).

Loved it from beginning to end, there wasn’t a dull moment in the book, everything flowed together seamlessly, and the appetizers for Raiker’s book made me want to read the next one immediately.


Monday, December 26, 2016

Review: Deadly Intent by Kylie Brant

Title: Deadly Intent
Series: Mindhunters
Author: Kylie Brant
Read copy: eBook
Published: November 2, 2010
Publisher: Berkley
ISBN: 1101444878
ISBN-13: 9781101444870

No one knows the patterns and nuances of communication like forensic linguist Macy Reid. She is also an expert on kidnapping, having experienced firsthand the stark terror of being abducted when she was a child. So she is the perfect investigator to be called in when a Denver tycoon's eleven-year-old daughter is abducted—for the second time.

The biggest stumbling block for Macy may be a member of her own team: Kellan Burke, the wisecracking, rule-breaking investigator who relishes getting under Macy's skin. Their styles couldn't be more different; the attraction between them, more explosive. And when it becomes apparent that Macy can't solve this case without confronting the demons from her past, Kell is just the man to take her there—and back...

My rating:

Ellie Mulder has been kidnapped. Again. But this time her parents have no intention of waiting two years to get their daughter back, so the first person they call is the person who brought Ellie home the first time—Adam Raiker. In turn, he brings two of his best people; forensic linguist Macy Reid and her nemesis, Kellan Burke, who brings with him memories of a night she would rather forget.

The team soon discovers the second kidnapping has nothing to do with the reason for the first one, it also was an inside job...The two Mindhunters sure have their job cut out for them, with the stonewalling from the feds, the very real threat that Ellie might not come home this time, and the pesky attraction that still burns hot between them.

This series sure doesn't benefit from re-reads. Sure, this was the worst of the bunch on the first read as well, but this second time around got one star knocked off.

The first big problem was the pacing in the first half of the book where nothing, except for the kidnapping, major happens. Only loads and loads of talk, going round in circles, and guessing. Sheesh, the big red herring about the kidnapper and how that would end was obvious from the moment they searched the guy's house and found "the clue" in the bathroom.

The second problem were the two leads. Bland, boring, dull, uninteresting...Should I go on? She was a bitch to him with no apparent reason (What did the guy do?), an anal control freak with OCD tendencies, and the glimpse into the "traumatic" past (which was a teaser at best and unnecessary at worst) didn't mesh with her present character and its traits and especially didn't explain those traits and trust issues toward the hero. A hero who brought nothing to the table beside his wisecracks. Two blank slates who happened to work together on a case who happened to be attracted to each other—it sure didn't seem there was anything more between them and the ending merely corroborated that feeling. There was no spark, no real depth, no "life", just two cardboard cutouts going through the motions.

And from what I figure, they weren't that good at their job either, since the girl pretty much saved herself, and would've done so if it weren't for the villain. Who also ended up being in the meh-category, since he was just sort of there, doing nothing but being quasi-ominous, playing with his knife. No intensity there, no chills...Nothing.

The only saving grace (minor, mind you) were the premise (it was nicely developed yet severely lacking in execution) and Adam Raiker, whom we saw a lot more than in the previous three books. I'm daring a guess this sub-arc in the series is all about him (at least that's what the last paragraph in the book makes the reader believe...not to mention all the little tidbits strewn here and there throughout the story).
Without the Raiker sub-plot, this would've been a redundant, unnecessary, bland and dull story.

A disappointment, in short.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Review: Waking the Dead by Kylie Brant

Title: Waking the Dead
Series: Mindhunters
Author: Kylie Brant
Read copy: eBook
Published: November 3, 2009
Publisher: Berkley
ISBN: 1101151218
ISBN-13: 9781101151211


Forensic anthropologist Caitlin Fleming knows bones. So she is the first one called when seven sets of skeletal remains are found dumped in a makeshift graveyard in the Oregon wilderness. The skeletons bear the same distinctive marks—and each is minus a skull.

Cait needs outdoor guide Zach Sharper for one reason only—to help her find her way through the Willamette Forest as she pieces together clues. Despite the attraction that burns between them, Cait will let nothing shake her focus. Until the killer closes in to terminate the search - and the investigators on the verge of unmasking him...

My rating:

Seven skeletal remains (sans the skulls) have been found in a cave in Oregon and former teen model turned forensic anthropologist Cait Fleming, one of the Mindhunters, is called to lend a helping hand in identifying the remains, determine whether there are signs of foul play, and find the bad guy.

Roped in by the sheriff, former Army Ranger turned wilderness tour guide and quasi-hermit, Zach Sharper is tasked with the duty of chauffeur for the big-city consultant, but soon finds his initial grudge morph into swift attraction and respect.

But the twisted killer with a strange skull-fetish is already choosing his next victim...And he's set his eyes on Cait.

Yet another winner in this excellent and edgy series. Ms Brant is very adept at writing romantic suspense (with equal amounts of suspense and romance).

Great plot, wonderful pacing, one heck of a sick UNSUB, two perfectly human leads with an almost equal amount of emotional scars under their steely masks, great tension, even greater chemistry, a few suspicious secondary characters, gripping suspense, steamy romance...All combined into a perfect little story.

Loved the suspense, but loved the budding romance and explosive and steamy love scenes between Cait and Zach. And I loved it how the romance didn't slow the pacing down, never intruding into the main story, but adding an extra edge to it with those little slivers of fear whether the two might actually have a future beyond the current case. Such stories are my absolute favorite and this one fits the bill just right.

The suspense was yet again top-notch, edge-of-the-seat, nail-biter until the very end with the twist-y and turn-y plot, false leads, new clues, red herrings, and that special guessing-game quality Ms. Brant does so well. I knew what kind of relationship the killer and his Sweetie had, so the big reveal didn't come as a surprise, but their identity sure packed a punch...And the gun-blazing finale shot my heart up into the stratosphere only to be slammed back down in dread in that suspenseful swan song in the last chapter.

Wonderfully written and chillingly gripping as always.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Review: Waking Evil by Kylie Brant

Title: Waking Evil
Series: Mindhunters
Author: Kylie Brant
Read copy: eBook
Published: October 6, 2009
Publisher: Berkley
ISBN: 1101145250
ISBN-13: 9781101145258


Buffalo Springs, Tennessee, is a neighborly kind of place where folks leave their doors unlocked and crime is unheard of. But once every generation, a strange red mist settles over the town, and with it comes omens of death...

When the body of a young woman is found, forensic investigator Ramsey Clark is called in. She knows about the legend of the mist and about the curse that has the entire town afraid of the dark. But Ramsey believes in evidence, not superstition, despite what she's told by the parapsychologist who's been dogging her every step. Then another murder rocks Buffalo Springs, and Ramsey begins to wonder if a killer is playing on everyone's fears or if a prophecy is indeed being fulfilled—one victim at a time.

My rating:

A woman’s body is found floating in a pond in Buffalo Springs, Tennessee and Ramsey Clark, a member of the famous Mindhunters, a team captained by ex-FBI profiler Adam Raiker, is called in to investigate.

Soon, the legends and fables of the rural town take over the case, the murder coincided with the strange phenomena of "red mist" that appears in town every thirty years and claims its three victims. Investigating that is paranormal investigator (that doesn’t believe in paranormal per-se) Devlin Stryker, that poses yet another threat to Ramsey and her tough-chick shell.

But the red mist doesn’t care if the lead profiler is getting deeper and deeper in her quasi-romance with Devlin and soon, there’s another body to be found. Was it really a suicide or is there the stench of foul play?

Ramsey better find out quick, because the fanatical killer is already gunning for her.

Re-reads certainly grant a new perspective. Because while, on first read, this one received five stars and favorite status, this second time around, the rating got knocked off. Because while the suspense was great, quickly catching me in its clutches, the intensity quickly dropped since we only got a few brief glimpses in the villain’s mindset.

The characters, although slightly better developed than in the first book, a lot more layered and with a whole lot more of issues, were also slightly grating on my nerves. Especially the heroine with all her baggage from the past, that in the end proved to be just a teaser, while the hero remained pretty much a blank slate throughout the story. His affability bothered me, since it looked like there was nothing deeper underneath—I guess he just became so well versed in masking everything, nothing more came through.
The romance, although it looked more pronounced and more “in the foreground” than in the first book, came through as flat, since I wasn’t that invested in the two leads. It felt rushed, its progress didn’t seem that organic, and in the end I felt like they were nothing more than friends-with-benefits that actual lovers thinking of maybe building a future together.

I have no complaints about the writing style. Ms. Brant mixed suspense, thriller, blood, chills, romance, and pretty steamy scenes together perfectly, intertwining little details to make this quite a well-rounded story, even though, as said before, some elements stuck out at the edges.
The suspense, even though not that prominent, failing to deliver the requisite ominous feels was the best part of the story. There were plenty of twists and turns, false leads, and red-herrings to make your head spin, and although I’ve read it before, I’ve obviously forgotten who the real baddie was, because the reaction of “oh, my effing God what just happened?!” was back. I guess I fell for the false leads like I did the first time reading it.
Yes, the surprise reveal was a real kicker.
And, unlike the first book, the ending wasn’t abrupt. Ms. Grant took her time (after that initial big twist), and let things run their course without rushing anything.

Actually, there was an aspect of the style of this book that bothered me initially. The story is placed in Tennessee, where everybody (the heroine from Mississippi included) were fluent in y’all. Well, that y’all aspect of the writing was tiresome at first with apostrophes thrown in there almost willy-nilly, but once I got used to the "pattern" I completely forgot it was there.
So that’s not really an objection but merely an observation.

A good story, with a great mix of every single element I love in my novels (even a slight paranormal angle, but you'll have to read it to know what I mean), intriguing and surprising suspense, amazing portrayal of the small-town and its mentality without falling into the hillbilly trap, and a nicely twisted villain.

Pity the romance and h/H failed to impress (this second time around).

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Review: Waking Nightmare by Kylie Brant

Title: Waking Nightmare
Series: Mindhunters
Author: Kylie Brant
Read copy: eBook
Published: September 1, 2009
Publisher: Berkley
ISBN: 1101140011
ISBN-13: 9781101140017


With a serial rapist loose on the streets of Savannah, hotshot detective Ryne Robel needs all the help he can get for his task force. And he needs it now, before another woman falls victim. But Abbie Phillips isn't what he bargained for. Sent from an exclusive group of the best criminologists in the country, she's smart, fierce...and distracting. She may be a brilliant forensic profiler, but Ryne needs answers, not psychobabble and head games.

However, Abbie convinces him that head games are exactly what this elusive suspect is all about. The seemingly random acts of torture are actually calculated to match each victim's darkest fears. And the stakes are rising. While they study the devious psychopath, he's watching them—the next objects of his horrifying obsession.

My rating:

Savannah is plagued by a sadistic serial rapist, later dubbed Nightmare Rapist, and the police task force assigned to the case is chasing ghosts around town. The guy is methodical, doesn’t leave any clues, and there appears not to be any link connecting his victims. Ryne Robel, ex-Boston homicide detective and head of the task force has finally gotten his wish – another investigator assigned to the case, but his hope quickly dwindles when Abbie Phillips enters the conference room. She doesn’t look like an investigator, she’s tiny and dainty. She actually isn’t an investigator, but an "outside consultant", a profiler Ryne’s boss hopes will be able to figure what makes the rapist tick and help put him away for good.

Despite his initial resistance at working with her, Ryne quickly develops a deep respect for Abbie and her "psychobabble BS" regarding the rapist and his methods. And something more. Their attraction is surprising and explosive in its intensity, even more so with their mutual painful pasts and dark secrets. And that same attraction could also prove a fatal distraction as the rapist is getting a little too close for comfort.

This intense, gripping, chilling, and fast-paced page-turner had (almost) all.

The cast of characters was great. I loved the leading pair in all their contrasting glory. Where she was small and dainty, he was tough and gruff, but both had quite a similar core of steel underneath...And secrets that shaped their lives, past and present. I liked their individual characters, how they worked together, and how they complimented each other. I also liked how their relationship progressed from initial animosity (on both parts) through respect for each other’s abilities and professionalism, explosive attraction to something steadier and stronger. I wouldn’t categorize it as love, since the pace the story (and the two of them) went through was quite grueling, but I guess they were on a good way there once it all ended. But most of all, I liked how they were equal to each other throughout the story; they might not have had the same skill set, but they acknowledged each other’s strengths, and worked very well together once that initial dislike passed. They were able to have actual conversation about serious topics (beside the investigation) without one of them treating the other as inferior or simpleminded. How refreshing.

If this story didn’t have the strong romantic (or whatever you want to call it) subplot smack in the middle of it, it could’ve easily be classified as a straightforward thriller with its hefty dose of police procedural, lab talk, different investigative angles and trajectories, and the chilling insights into the villain.
Romance or not, it would’ve worked either way, but with its romantic angle I can say, it was a more “rounded” story, covering every angle.

The pacing was spot-on, the speed slowly building as the story progressed and the villain started to unravel. I loved the voice and narrative style, giving the story a slight “edge”, keeping things gripping and intense throughout, the characterization was great (even with the supporting cast who didn’t appear there only to serve as backdrop to the main story). The suspense was gripping and nail-bite worthy with so many twists and turns to make your head spin.

The only thing that bothered me was the heroine’s sister driven subplot, that worked mostly to create additional conflict between h/H and to provide the big climax scene, and the slightly unsatisfying ending. After more than 300 pages everything was resolved and explained in a matter of paragraphs. After page upon page of plot twists and red herrings, the measly few pages and a rather deus ex machina resolution left a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Review: How to Become a Lady by Hannah West

Title: How to Become a Lady
Series: London Ladies
Author: Hannah West
Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published: December 19, 2016
Publisher: Hannah West

Emmaline Clarke, the daughter of a penniless baron with no influence, had been left behind once again. With her father's passing everything was taken to pay off the debt and she had been left without a place to live. Her only hope is her sister that she had not seen in eight years, her sister that her father had disowned when she was only fourteen. Desperate just to have a home is was willing to do anything, even beg for her sister to take her in.

Derek Ashford, the eighteenth Duke of Montrose, was a distinguished lord of the realm and was well known for being a paragon of society. He was as strait-laced and austere as a duke should be and held his duties above all else. And that 'else' included his impending duty of marriage. Derek would need to find a lady who came from good breeding, a sizeable dowry and the manner suited to a duchess this Season. The last thing he needed was a scandal like the one his parents had created.

The first time Emma walked into a ball she experienced something she never would have expected and could not imagine this would be the new world in which she lived.

The first lady to capture Derek's eye brushed him off and his interest was sparked. She seemed nothing like any other lady he had encountered in his years roaming the London Seasons and she sparked something in him he didn't even know he could feel.

Could Emma be his future Duchess or would she be the one to get away?

My rating:

DNF @ 32%

I simply cannot finish. With the typos and strange editing it's rather difficult to read, and the pace and narrative style make it even more painful.

The heroine reminds me of a Barbara Cartland story (all of them, as the matter of fact), but the pacing is dreadfully slow, the heroine sounds like an idiot, the hero is a cardboard cutout of a character, and I just don't care what happens to and between them.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Review: Hanover House by Brenda Novak

Title: Hanover House
Series: Evelyn Talbot Chronicles
Author: Brenda Novak
Read copy: eBook (Kindle)
Published: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Brenda Novak

Welcome to Hanover House...

Psychiatrist Evelyn Talbot has dedicated her life to solving the mysteries of the antisocial mind. Why do psychopaths act as they do? How do they come to be? Why don’t they feel any remorse for the suffering they cause? And are there better ways of spotting and stopping them?

After having been kidnapped, tortured and left for dead when she was just a teenager—by her high school boyfriend—she’s determined to understand how someone she trusted so much could turn on her. So she’s established a revolutionary new medical health center in the remote town of Hilltop, Alaska, where she studies the worst of the worst.

But not everyone in Hilltop is excited to have Hanover House and its many serial killers in the area. Alaskan State Trooper, Sergeant Amarok, is one of them. And yet he can’t help feeling bad about what Evelyn has been through. He’s even attracted to her. Which is partly why he worries.

He knows what could happen if only one little thing goes wrong...

My rating:

***eBook was available for free in a WriterSpace newsletter***

It failed to catch my attention. I didn't care about the characters, the heroine left me cold, the hero was barely there, and the whole venture about a psychiatric hospital to study those truly sick psychopaths didn't really spark anything remotely similar to interest.

The only saving grace was the villain and even he got the shortest end of the stick since the whole buildup didn't amount to anything more than a splutter.

I certainly won't read the rest of the series.

Review: Midnight Lies & Midnight Shadows by Ella Grace

Title: Midnight Lies
Series: Wildefire
Author: Christy Reece
Read copy: eBook
Published: September 24, 2012
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 0345538404
ISBN-13: 9780345538406


The winds of fate have blown cruelly on a family that once had it all: money, power, prestige. The lives of three beautiful daughters were forever changed when, on a sultry night in Midnight, Alabama, a murder-suicide shattered the Wilde family. The girls grew up to live separate lives but now have returned home, each to face a danger no one can see coming.

Former homecoming queen Samantha surprised everyone by going into law enforcement, but beneath her tough façade lies a wary heart. The tragedy that struck her family is an ever-present reminder that nothing is ever as it seems. When the man she loves, Quinn Braddock, a doctor and Iraq war veteran, is accused of murder, Samantha assumes the worst. Brokenhearted, her confidence shattered, she returns to Midnight. Though exonerated, Quinn still feels the sting of Samantha’s doubt, but he can’t forget his feelings for her and follows her. Soon after his arrival, a shocking murder terrifies the town, and once again, Quinn is under suspicion. This time, Samantha will not turn her back on the man she loves—even if it means walking into a killer’s trap.

Title: Midnight Shadows
Series: Wildefire
Author: Christy Reece
Read copy: eBook
Published: March 5, 2015
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 0991658442
ISBN-13: 9780991658442

Known as the wild child of Midnight, Alabama, Sabrina Wilde has worked hard to earn that reputation. But beneath the tough girl façade lies a hurting, vulnerable heart. Fiercely loyal and protective of those she loves, Sabrina will do whatever it takes to keep her loved ones safe.

Private Investigator Ian Mackenzie has loved Sabrina for years. Understanding her pain and wariness of commitment doesn’t stop him from hoping that someday she will trust him with her heart. When Sabrina puts herself in jeopardy, willing to sacrifice her life to save others, Ian has no choice but to foil her plans. He never knew what it would cost him.

As evil descends upon Midnight and Sabrina’s worst nightmares are realized, she is forced into an impossible position—trust her loved ones with her shameful secret or forever live in the shadows of the past.

One man is determined that she doesn't survive to do either.

My rating (for both books!):

I can't be bothered with writing a separate review for each story, because...Well, it's a pretty much same review.

Slower than a sloth's pace, predictable, boring, and dull, with bland, one-dimensional characters, weak suspense, and...Did I mention predictable?
The heroines (all three of them) acted like they were fresh out of high-school and nothing close to thirty, the heroes were rather mature in comparison, making the difference in behavior and actions even more glaring. The girls' issues are glaringly disproportionate to what happened eighteen years ago (I'm sorry, but I just don't understand why you have to act like a brat/idiot/bitch toward the man you love just because everybody says your father killed your mother and then committed suicide), and the chemistry/romance between the leading pairs flimsy at best and non-existent at worst.
And why do they all have to be magnets for crazies? Predictable, glaringly obvious crazies?

I really don't know what to make of this series. Are we sure Ella Grace and Christy Reece are the same person? Because it doesn't "sound" like they are. I simply couldn't get into either story because of the slow pace and lack of emotion and/or chemistry between the two leads.

Maybe it would've worked better if this was a series of short stories instead of this overblown, overcomplicated, and "over-written" concoction.

A huge disappointment.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Review: Home for Christmas by Nora Roberts

Title: Home For Christmas
Author: Nora Roberts

Read copy: eBook
Published: November 18, 2014
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 069819618X
ISBN-13: 9780698196186

After years of world travel, prizewinning reporter Jason Law was back in Quiet Valley, New Hampshire, with the most difficult assignment he'd ever faced: winning back Faith, the woman he'd loved then left ten years before. Jason had found that home was where the heart is, and Faith held his.

My rating:

After ten years, Jason Law is back in Quiet Valley. But seeing his first (and only) love again after all this time, isn't easy, especially since she broke the promise she gave him before he left. Faith didn't wait for him, but married someone else, bore another man's baby...But Christmas is a time for miracles, and just maybe both Faith and Jason might get what they always wanted.

This was a wonderful story of second chances both in life and love. A little bittersweet, and a whole lot of lovely with two lovers reunited after a decade finding happiness together at last.

The "big secret" wasn't only predictable, it was out in the open, but I didn't mind. It worked perfectly well. The characters were well fleshed-out, their story tugging at the heartstrings at appropriate moments, the small town feel was just right and perfectly complimented the story, although I could've done without the missing-kid scene. It wasn't bad, but the story could've easily done without it.

Still, a wonderful second-chances story.

Review: All I Want For Christmas by Nora Roberts

Title: All I Want For Christmas
Author: Nora Roberts

Read copy: eBook
Published: November 18, 2014
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 0698196171
ISBN-13: 9780698196179

Zeke and Zack Taylor, motherless six-year-old identical twins, are facing "real" school—first grade—and they are worried. Their father, Mac Taylor, is a builder who fixes up old buildings in their small town, and the boys are afraid he'll be too busy to help them out with the new demands of their school. They decide to write to Santa and ask for a mother. When they see the new music teacher, Nell Davis, at school, she meets all their requirements, and they realize this is the mom they've requested. Mac is attracted to Nell, but is reluctant to pursue her, as his wife had walked out on him, and he doesn't want to risk hurting his children. The romance blossoms despite his fears, and the story is filled with the joy and anticipation of Christmas as the magic of the children's wish comes true.

My rating:

Mac Taylor's twins decide to make a wish for Christmas. Only not any regular wish...They wish for the mom. Someone pretty, kind, with yellow hair, who loves dogs, and makes cookies. And once school starts, they know Santa listened and granted the wish, because the mom turns out to be their cousin's music teacher.

Now, it's only a matter of time before she becomes their mom. Unfortunately neither the boys nor Santa have counted with Mac's reluctance to see anyone, not only Nell, in the role of mother to his two boys.

A short and sweet Christmas story, with two cute little munchinks intent on finding the perfect woman both for them and for their father, a cautious dad knowing what it feels like to get cut at the knees by a woman and determined not to subject his two boys to any unnecessary heartache, and the woman who teaches him it's okay to trust and fall in love, while making sure Santa grants the wish of two little boys.

Maybe Mac was a tad too grouchy and "mean" that his back story warranted him to be, and Nell was definitely too upbeat, slightly naive, and too trusting for her own good, but they worked well together (when Mac wasn't being an ass), the twins were super cute, the story flowed nicely, and even though the whole wish and sleigh bells thing was a bit too sugary, I liked the story just fine.