My rating: 5 of 5 stars
True Confession: I have boxes of books in the attic that only come out at Christmas. I broke my foot one fall and my mother sent me a large box of nothing but holiday romances b/c she knew I’d happily gorge on them. I LOVE holiday novellas–they’re usually short, sweet, and perfect for reading during hectic days.
Breath on Embers is nothing like the typical holiday novella and that’s its breathtaking beauty. It’s short at 40k words, but it’s not the typical sweet, conflict-lite, sex-lite, supporting cast heavy holiday romp. It’s sexy, edgy, and has so much angst.
I love second-chance-at-love stories almost as much as I love holiday stories. Thea is a young widow who deeply and completely loved her late husband–and I love that Calhoun didn’t have her change that. I hate second-chance stories where the hero(ine) is forced to realize that their love for their late spouse wasn’t nearly as perfect as what they find with their new love. But Calhoun doesn’t go there–Thea and Jesse absolutely had an enviable marriage and would have been happy together. A true HEA.
But now Jesse’s not here and Ronan is. And Ronan loves Thea too. There’s a moment in the book where he says he’s doing battle with her grief. And he is. And it’s gorgeous. He’s pretty much the perfect hero. With a glorious, imperfect heroine who’s not always worthy of him. Until the moment when she is.
This is a gem of a story. If you buy one holiday book this year, make it this one. I know that I often review author friends’ books and books I beta read–I don’t know this author. She was a new find for me. I bought the book in the Red Hot Holiday anthology b/c KA Mitchell is autobuy for me and the last several Carina Press anthologies have been worth it in terms of a good mix of holiday stories. This book absolutely blew me away. It’s lingered in a way few books of 2012 did for me. This is everything about why I write romance and why I often feel unequal to the task.