Book Review: A Heartwarming Thanksgiving

October 2, 2016 Amy Vastine, Cari Lynn Webb, Carol Ross, contemporary, Jennifer Snow, Karen Rock, Kate James, Leigh Riker, Liz Flaherty, Melinda Curtis, Pamela Tracy, romance, Rula Sinara, Sophia Sasson 13

book review RIMSP

about the book

Count down to Thanksgiving with one of our 13 poignant Harlequin Heartwarming short stories. This is a time to get together with family and friends, and reconnect over pumpkin pie and hot apple cider…or read about the stories where heroes and heroines struggle to get their dream holiday!

Snow Day Baby by Amy Vastine
Wedding at Turkey Run by Liz Flaherty
Her Thanksgiving Soldier by Leigh Riker
Mr. Right All Along by Jennifer Snow
Falling for the Cowboy by Sophia Sasson
The Marriage Gift by Tara Taylor Quinn
Heart of a Hero by Pamela Tracy
Thankful for You by Karen Rock
Autumn at Jasper Lake by Carol Ross
The Firefighter’s Promise by Kate James
Wedding of His Dreams by Cari Lynn Webb
The Sweetheart Tree by Rula Sinara
Married by Thanksgiving by Melinda Curtis

goodreads button RIMSP

GENRE: Contemporary Romance, Clean Fiction
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Special Releases (Heartwarming)
RELEASE DATE: November 1, 2016
PAGES: 405

a-heartwarming-thanksgiving-book-reviewI really love the Harlequin Heartwarming line. Honestly, I just love romantic fiction but I don’t love having to dodge a lot of profanity and especially don’t love having to sidestep steamy stuff. (ooo…. alliteration!) The Heartwarming line gives me another option in addition to the Christian fiction I so adore, and this A Heartwarming Thanksgiving collection gives me a taste of several authors that are now on my radar! Oh – and did I mention the yummy recipes?

Amy Vastine is a Heartwarming author I already follow, and her story Snow Day Baby reminded me why I enjoy her books! It’s cute and sweet with a bit of medical drama and a hunky doctor to keep things interesting. The hunky doctor who just happens to be the formerly gawky childhood friend of the heroine, the one she’d never paid much attention to before now. And speaking of interesting… the kiss she plants on him at one point? WHEW! Already fanning and we’re still in the first story.

Wedding at Turkey Run by Liz Flaherty is full of humor and fun characters! While emphasizing the importance of friends and family, it’s also tenderly romantic – with two relationships in the spotlight. One of those couples is a bit more advanced in years than the other but they’re not lacking in the spark department 🙂 The other couple takes love at first sight and turns it into a sweet slow burn romance … well, you’ll see what I mean when you read it!

In Her Thanksgiving Soldier, author Leigh Riker pairs a solider facing his own demons with a woman who refuses to fall again for a man in uniform. This one is heartwrenching in parts and heartwarming in others. Their history together has you rooting for them from the start, and the ending will have you smiling through tears.

Jennifer Snow‘s Mr. Right All Along had me forgetting to breathe half the time! The chemistry between longtime best friends Aiden and Kayla is palpable and electric and … agonizing lol. Agonizing because Aiden is head over heels for her and she doesn’t see it. Aigh! Just about every scene between them is full of sparks (on their part) and breath-holding (on my part) – I love it!

Falling For the Cowboy by Sophia Sasson is a love story between a Greek beauty business-type and a country boy.  Lots of humor at poor Elena’s expense (the roses!) make this a fun one, but there are plenty of sweet moments as well. And also… the most terrifying scene in the entire collection. At least for me. You see, during the turkey hunt, Elena PICKS UP THE LIVE TURKEY AND CARRIES IT AROUND. I can’t even. Nobody warned me this was a horror novel 😉 I kid, I kid (not really. I got the shivers.) – this is a cute love story with some fantastic secondary characters.

In The Marriage Gift, Tara Taylor Quinn brings us a tender story of a young married couple on their last legs. The divorce papers are almost signed, but an unexpected change of plans has them alone together at Thanksgiving perhaps for the last time. For all that several of these stories made me laugh, this one made me cry. Such a poignant look at marriage – its ups and downs and all the in-betweens – and the power of love.

Heart of a Hero by Pamela Tracy throws a bit of mystery and intrigue into the mix with a town full of secrets and a man trying to discover the truth. Despite being a short story, the mystery is really well done and entertaining. Moments of humor and of course romance help this story appeal to a variety of readers, and I just have to say that Pamela’s recipe totally inspired me 😉

Karen Rock‘s Thankful For You perfectly showcases her ability to write romance that steals your ability to breathe. It also has some pretty adorable children, a hunky fireman, and a spunky heroine. Along with all of the above, there’s a little bit of suspense (not mystery, more action) and a really heartwarming subplot.

I’m temporarily skipping over the stories by Carol Ross, Kate James, and Cari Lynn Webb because Zuzu insists on reviewing those herself. Such a diva lol.

In The Sweetheart Tree by Rula Sinara, we are treated to a second chance romance with another heartwarming subplot. A couple of them actually – as well as some heartwrenchingly tough and important topics. Topping it off like the whipped cream on pumpkin pie is a thread that had the history geek in me grinning like a fool.

Melinda CurtisMarried By Thanksgiving is a story ideal for a fun Hallmark movie. An impossible situation turns impossibly romantic, albeit not without a few bumps along the way. The romance is delicious, and I loved how Clinton stands up for Brenda and gives her the confidence she needs.

book reviews with zuzu

And now it’s time for “Book Reviews with Zuzu”, the part of our post where Zuzu comes out and reviews the dog-related stories.

<Zuzu swishes floofer-tail in acknowledgment of Mom’s introduction and takes the helm before Mom changes her mind>

Mom might have found some new authors to add to her watch list through this collection, but so did I the Zooze.

First up, Carol Ross and her story Autumn at Jasper Lake. Mom (you know her as Carrie) already likes Carol’s books, and now I’m solidly in her corner as well! The hero and heroine in this story – Ryder and Jessie – are the best kind of humans. Why? Well, because they love dogs, of course. But more than that, they rescue and rehabilitate dogs that are having a rough go of it.  Ryder’s kinda having a rough go of it himself, and Mom mentioned that she liked how Carol Ross addressed the emotional topics in this story. But let’s get back to the dogs – Colfax and Pia are a lot like me… “Both were friendly dogs with sweet dispositions and no bad habits.” I’m not sure why Mom just snorted at me. Anyway… Fife is one of those dogs that you instantly want to loan your favorite blanket to. She’s been through a lot, and I was happy to see her be loved and love in return.

I can always count on Harley and Logan’s mom (you know her as Kate James) to give me a good dog story, and true to form she does it again with The Firefighter’s Promise.  In this story, we meet Bongo, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, whose human is a hunky fireman with a heart of peanut butter. (Mom says the correct phrase is ‘gold’ but Jif IS my gold.) Bongo isn’t the star of the story, but I think he’s pretty much the entire reason Jax falls for Ryan. I mean, if it wasn’t for that stuffed animal Ryan bought Jax – the one that looked just like Bongo – the whole relationship might have fallen apart before it even began! Mom wants me to also mention that this story is super tender with an extraordinary group of characters who get the meaning of family and love and Thanksgiving – lots of perfect, sweet moments here that she thoroughly enjoyed. This one “lingers with you”, she says.

side note: Mom is getting super bossy as she gets older.

<swishes tail innocently>

Wedding of His Dreams by Cari Lynn Webb is a new author for both me and Mom – and we both laughed lots! Mom swooned a lot too. At least I think that’s what she was doing when she pulled out her fan and started waving it front of her face.  The dogs in Webb’s story are a hoot! And boy do they know how to get into trouble and under Ruthie’s skin. My tail wagged overtime in delight at their antics – Duke, the 145 lb Great Dane who “failed his dog training on boundaries” and Lady, the 8 month old Great Dane rescue puppy with a penchant for eating notebooks. Ruthie took a bit for me to warm up to her. I mean, she didn’t have to ask “You invited dogs to your wedding?” quite so incredulously. Of course her sister invited dogs. Who wouldn’t?  But once Matt helped her loosen up a little (I think that had something to do with Mom’s fanning) Ruthie became one of my faves!

Everyone should include dogs in their stories. It’s what the people want.

<reluctantly relinquishes computer back to Mom>

Bottom Line: Great stories by an all-star cast of authors will put you instantly in the mood for Thanksgiving. The recipes included after each one will make sure you’re ready for the big day! Love, romance, family, friendship, even a little mystery and a lot of tenderness – you are in for all this and so much more. An excellent collection without a weak story in the bunch!

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)

My Rating: 5 stars / Loved it!

KissingBook Level: 3-4 / Most stories range from “forgetting to breathe” to “need a fan”

amazon button RIMSP B&N button RIMSP

Other Books by These Authors

What about you? What’s a Thanksgiving recipe you can’t have the holiday without?

Carrie

13 Responses to “Book Review: A Heartwarming Thanksgiving”

  1. Kate James

    Thank you very much Carrie and Zuzu for the wonderful review! We are thrilled that you both enjoyed the anthology. (I really should have included a recipe for dog biscuits.)

    • Carrie

      Zuzu is swishing her tail in greeting to Noah too 🙂

  2. Melinda Curtis

    Oh, my goodness. You might like my romances that feature Snowflake the matchmaking St. Bernard! (His latest adventure is part of A Heartwarming Holiday) Thanks for the review!

  3. Sophia Sasson

    Carrie–thank you so much for the review. I couldn’t resist having Elena pick up the turkey, my husband made me do that once and as a city girl myself, let’s just say I’ll never forget the experience. All of the stories in this anthology touch your heart in one way or another. Thank you again.