Sunday, November 16, 2014

reviews || SOUTHERN BORN BOOKS CHRISTMAS { blog tour! }

Nothing gets me more in the mood for Christmas than (Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Sears, Macys getting their Christmas decorations up and out in July) Christmas novellas. They're cute, they're quick, they're fun. Some are better than others, but hey, that's the nature of books as a whole.
True to form, this little bundle of Christmas books was super cute, and I am pretty excited to share them with you. My favorite was A VERY MARRIED CHRISTMAS, but they're all great reads.

For the HOLIDAY AT MAGNOLIA BAY review, please click { MY REVIEW } -- I had posted the review before signing up for this tour.
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Holiday at Magnolia Bay by Tracy Solheim

Publisher: Tule Publishing Group (10/20/2014)
Series: Southern Born Christmas, book 1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: InkSlinger & NetGalley
Buy it from Amazon || Goodreads
My Rating: 

MY REVIEW - click }

After a mission goes terribly wrong, ending in the death of a teammate, Navy Seal, Drew Lanham, is forced to take a leave from active-duty. Retreating to his godmother’s beach house in coastal Magnolia Bay, Drew plans to spend the three weeks R&R licking his wounds and catching some rays while the nightmares from his failed op fade. The last thing he wants to do is mingle with the locals.
What he doesn’t count on is an early morning encounter with a goddess rising from the sea. His interest is piqued and his body put on alert when he finds out that same woman may or may not be after his godmother’s money.
Marine biologist, Jenna Huntley, has been searching her whole life for a place to call home and Magnolia Bay is that place. Unfortunately, she’s underutilizing her education giving tours at the town’s turtle rescue center. With the help of an octogenarian patroness, she maps out a proposal to develop a turtle hatchery on-site. Everything is going as planned until the older woman’s godson arrives. Suddenly, nothing is as it seems and Jenna’s future is hanging in the balance, with a sexy warrior pulling all the strings. Her natural tendency is to help the damaged hero, but she’s sworn off letting military men in her life ever again.
Will Drew and Jenna be able to put their pasts behind them and learn to trust their hearts long enough to enjoy their Holiday at Magnolia Bay?
About the Author
Tracy Solheim is the international bestselling author of the Out of Bound Series for Penguin.  Her books feature members of the fictitious Baltimore Blaze football team and the women who love them.  In a previous life, Tracy wrote best sellers for Congress and was a freelance journalist for regional and national magazines.  She’s a military brat who now makes her home in Johns Creek, Georgia, with her husband, their two children, a pesky Labrador retriever puppy and a horse named after her first novel. Her fifth book for Berkley, Back To Before, will be released in January.  She also has a digital holiday novella for Tule Publishing's Southern Born Books coming October 20. See what she’s up to at Or on facebook at Tracy Solheim Books and Twitter at TracyKSolheim.
Connect with Tracy || blog | twitter | facebook | goodreads
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Just In Time for Christmas by Kim Boykin

Publisher: Tule Publishing Group (10/27/2014)
Series: Southern Born Christmas, book 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: InkSlinger & NetGalley
Buy it for Kindle || Goodreads
My Rating: 

Nobody does Christmas like Miranda Hamilton, and now that she finally has her chance to chair Magnolia Bay's tree lighting and the cotillion, which benefits her late mother’s breast cancer foundation, this Christmas is shaping up to be the best ever. That is until her childhood nemesis Logan Mauldin buys his way on her committee and starts making plans of his own.

Logan Mauldin loves to get under Miranda's very sexy skin, and it's only fair. She's been getting under his since long before their first kiss at 13. Logan’s the last man interested in co-chairing a Christmas committee or participating in a sexy bachelor auction, but since that night he interrupted Miranda on a date and cornered her under the mistletoe, he can't stop thinking about her. Or vying for her attention and bugging the hell out of her.

Christmas cheer isn’t the only thing that heats up between the Miranda and Logan, but, thanks to a lie that is as much her fault as it is his, he loses the woman he’s loved since forever. Logan will need a Christmas miracle for Miranda to forgive him. A grand gesture to melt her heart and win her back just in time for Christmas.

About the Author
Kim Boykin is a women's fiction author with a sassy Southern streak. She is the author of The Wisdom of Hair, Steal Me, Cowboy, and Palmetto Moon (Summer 2014.) While her heart is always in South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, 3 dogs, and 126 rose bushes.
Connect with Kim || website | blog | twitter | facebook | goodreads
My Review
This was my favorite in the bunch. They were all equally cute, but this one just... It just did it for me, you know? Maybe it had something to do with the fact that the characters had a history -- they weren't just meeting, but neither were they picking up all the pieces and starting over. They were enemies in school, more or less.
'Logan was playing with fire, he knew that, but oh, how feisty and gorgeous Miranda Hamilton was, right down to the soles of her very high heels. Which explained why he'd ponied up five grand for the privilege of getting under her very sensuous skin and would have paid more, a lot more, if he'd had to.
'Most of the time, he made a concerted efford not to notice her... Besides Miranda was all sweet Southern sugar and hot Lowcountry spice. Why would he want to avoid that? He knew one reason for sure, but it was mainly due to the fact that they'd been verbally sparring since they'd learned to speak.
'One thing he was sure of, she did things to him and had for most of his thirty-three years.'
Now, if I had to pick one thing that I didn't like about the story, it would probably be Miranda's reaction to the big ol' climax of the story. Her reaction was just, no doubt, but the writing could have been a bit fuller... But like I said, that's only if I had to pick one thing I didn't like. 

What I loved most about Kim's writing was her descriptions. Sometimes, descriptions get to be too much, others, not enough. But Kim does it just right. Right from the beginning, you can see Miranda's B&B -- you can feel her love of decorating, you can smell the cookies... it was well written.
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A Very Married Christmas by Erika Marks

Publisher: Tule Publishing Group (11/3/2014)
Series: Southern Born Christmas, book 3
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: InkSlinger & NetGalley
Buy it for Kindle || Goodreads
My Rating: ★1/2

Cookbook author Marley Chambers can’t think of a more festive way to spend Christmas than at a friend’s holiday wedding in her hometown of Magnolia Bay. If only her soon-to-be ex-husband, all-star pitcher, Beckett “Beck” Chambers wasn’t bringing his new girlfriend—and if only he wasn’t still the sexiest man to ever walk out onto the mound…
Beck never wanted the chaotic life of a sport star—especially not at the cost of his marriage to the only woman he’s ever truly loved. But his career is a runaway train—and he’s afraid it’s too late to hit the brakes.
But when a mix-up leaves Beck and Marley stranded together for Christmas Eve on the barrier island where Beck proposed years before, old memories burn bright—and sparks fly hotter than a bonfire on the beach.
Could the magic of the season bring the gift of a second chance, just in time for Christmas?
About the Author
Erika Marks is a women's fiction writer and the author of LITTLE GALE GUMBO, THE MERMAID COLLECTOR, THE GUEST HOUSE and IT COMES IN WAVES (July, 2014). On the long and winding road to becoming published, she worked many different jobs, including carpenter, cake decorator, art director, and illustrator. But if pressed, she might say it was her brief tenure with a match-making service in Los Angeles after college that set her on the path to writing love stories (not that there isn't romance in frosting or power tools!) A native New Englander, she now makes her home in Charlotte, NC, with her husband, a native New Orleanian who has taught her to make a wicked gumbo, and their two little mermaids. For more on Erika’s books, visit her website at
Connect with Erika || website | facebook | twitter | goodreads

My Review
This was another favorite of the bunch. 
Beck and Marley had been married for nearly ten years, when they separated. Marley could no longer take the back-seat in their relationship, especially when that back-seat was to his career -- and he couldn't do the same for her.
'When she'd won her contract from Epicurean Publishing three years earlier, she'd been sure it was the validation she needed, the proof that she was more than just Beck Chambers' wife. She had an identity, a sense of selfworth that wasn't measured by whom she'd married. She'd been so sure Beck would value her more for it.
'He hadn't.
'She'd made him her world for so many years, been his biggest fan, her adoration unconditional of batting averages or salaries or AllStar wins. Yet when she'd finally sold her cookbook and she'd turned to him for his support, he'd been apprehensive, practically put-out.
'Marley would never forget the look on Beck's face when she'd told him that she wouldn't be able to attend the annual players' dinner because she was the featured presenter at Miami's Wine and Food Festival. He'd stared at her as if he were trying to recall her face from his past. As if he didn't recovnize her.
'Her heart had broken apart in that moment...
Now... this wasn't a case of not recognizing another's worth. Honestly, this came down to fact that Beck put his life first. Granted, he thought he was doing good by Marley but then she left him.
They both end up in their home town at Christmas time for a wedding, and when he brings his newest girlfriend -- who is a pretty serious girlfriend at that -- Marley does everything she can to avoid him. With a little meddling from a friend, Marley and Beck end up alone with each other and need to figure out if the divorce is something they really want.

Like I said... super cute, and pretty believable at that. Regardless of a major baseball contract, many high school relationships fall apart because the individuals only know themselves as part of a whole, not as a single being, and as Beck's fame rises, Marley feels more left behind. When she finally has her turn, and Beck doesn't either acknowledge it or praise her for it, it's only natural that Marley would realize that her half in this relationship has dwindled to minimal. And while a year apart isn't necessarily enough time to learn who you are as a single individual, it does help you sort your feelings.
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The Trouble with Christmas by Kaira Rouda

Publisher: Tule Publishing Group (10/27/2014)
Series: Southern Born Christmas, book 4
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: InkSlinger & NetGalley
Buy it for Kindle || Goodreads
My Rating: 

At 35-years-old, Cole Stanton is burned out. His high-paced, uber-successful career has left him yearning to start over. He finds Indigo Island, buys a restaurant and settles into an uncomplicated life. But Christmas is a mess. He has over-committed the small restaurant’s resources again, and is over his head. He finds himself longing for everything he has left behind, until a chance encounter with gorgeous Lily offers a spark of salvation to his business and, perhaps his life.
 Beautiful pastry chef Lily Edmonds is thirty years old and heartbroken. It’s just before Christmas and she’s just been dumped by via telephone by her fiancee. Her best friend Avery Putnam invites her to Indigo Island, hoping to add joy back into Lily’s life. A chance encounter with the sexy owner of a local restaurant makes Lily feel an attraction she thought she’d never feel again, and offers her a business challenge to keep her mind focused on something other than her broken heart.
Cole Stanton and Lily Edmonds are both starting over. Will the joy of the holiday season bring them together or will the troubles with Christmas push them apart?
About the Author
Kaira Rouda is an award-winning and bestselling author of both fiction and nonfiction. Her books include: Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs; Here, Home, Hope; All the Difference; In the Mirror; and the short story, A Mother's Day.  She lives in Southern California with her husband and four children and is at work on her next novel. Connect with her on Twitter, @KairaRouda, and on Facebook at Kaira Rouda Books. And of course, on Pinterest! For more about Kaira and her books, please visit her website
Connect with Kaira || website | twitter | facebook | goodreads 

My review

This novella was a classic Christmas novella -- rushed romance. Regardless, it was cute. And no, I wouldn't be accepting any proposals 2 or so weeks after meeting someone, but to each her own.

While I enjoy reading books and finding the title written in a blurb once or twice... it was overdone. I was getting tired for reading, "Well, that's the trouble with Christmas..."

...and Avery's brother being a demanding jerk in his actions and mannerisms toward the now single Lily... I didn't like him so much. Much more than dominating. I read him as borderline abusive... but maybe that's just me.


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