Love At The Icicle Cafe by Denise Wheatley

Love At the Icicle Cafe by Denise Wheatley

Releases 29 December 2020

Tule Publishing

About: Mina Richards is a California lawyer who grew up loving to bake and helping her Mom out in the family co-owned cafe in small town Gosberg, Germany. Her parents let her know that they, along with the other couple they own the cafe (the Icicle Cafe) back in Germany with, want to sale it so they can fully enjoy their retirement. Mina’s Dad winds up having an accident and physically can’t fly to Germany so they ask Mina to do. Once back in Germany, she meets up with Scott, the co-owner’s son and the chef who has been holding down the cafe. Scott is unenthusiastic about selling. The more the two spend time together, romance ensues.

Love At the Icicle Cafe was my first Denise Wheatley but definitely won’t be my last! This book was an unexpected surprise. I went into it expecting a really sweet holiday read because the cover just screams cozy Christmas vibes; and while it was that, it was so much more. This book isn’t just atmospheric, dreamy winter descriptions and mouthwatering scenes of baking desserts; it’s also heavy and intense from beginning to end.

Mina is in the run for partner at her law firm. Obviously, traveling to Germany physically removes her from her day to day and allows the guy she’s up against to perform his snake in the grass tactics but sometimes I think we have to physically remove ourselves from our day to day to look at our situation and decide if it’s truly what we want. When reading from Mina’s perspective, you understand that she has worked very hard to get where she is but it’s also very obvious that she’s working in an environment that she may find herself continuously in this cycle of maybe next time. Though she is on an entirely different continent, for most of the book, Mina still prioritizes work until things happen and she doesn’t. What I like specifically with Mina’s character is that the author makes nothing easy on her. Even with her romance with Scott; we know it is going to come at a price. Mina finds herself teetering between two worlds; the one she worked very hard to build but wasn’t at her happiest and this new one full of possibilities but is very far away.

Scott and Mina dated briefly in high school so I loved the second chance/childhood sweet hearts aspect to their romance. I loved the close proximity with Mina stepping in for her parents and taking an active role in the cafe. I loved that the cafe symbolizes a place that has come to mean so much to the community and that small town determination to hold onto the small businesses rather than allow structures to be taken over by big corporations.

Overall, this is a quick, really well written holiday romance starring two people of color. I can’t recommend it enough!

#Blogmas A Wedding In December by Sarah Morgan

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“Do you ever read a feature praising a woman whose life is to care for her disabled child or parent with Alzheimer’s? No, you don’t. When someone talks about ‘achievement’ they’re talking about Salary and Status, not the fact that you actually managed to take a shower and change your clothes after being in the hospital with your child for two nights straight even though, believe me, that’s an achievement. You read about Hedge Fun Managers who get up at three in the morning so they can get their workout done, use the gym, clear their emails and make a healthy breakfast for the whole family before putting in a full day of work in the city and returning home in time to read bedtime stories and then do another few hours of work before having perfect sex, three hours undisturbed REM sleep and waking up and starting again. You read about women who were at home with children and suddenly realized that if they started charging for all the cupcakes they made for their children’s friends and school events, they could turn their baking skills into a profitable business. And, by the way, the woman I read about didn’t look as if she’d ever baked a cupcake in her life and she certainly  hadn’t eaten one. What you never read about is the millions of normal women who are struggling to hold it all together and don’t own a planner because we don’t exactly know what we’d write in one.”

A Wedding In December was a five star read from me. I like that the holiday romances we are getting from Sarah Morgan are more women’s fiction yet still have a love story at it’s core. A Wedding In December all centers around Rosie getting married and her parents and sister traveling to America from Europe for her December wedding. The family doesn’t just show up however, they come with secrets tucked away. Sister Katie who is a doctor back in Europe is hiding a work place situation from her family which really has her on the fence as to if she wants to continue with her current career. Rosie’s parents are faking a happy marriage when in reality they have been separated for months. Katie arrives with every intention of digging up skeletons from Rosie’s fiancé’s closet because being the big protective older sister she is..she doesn’t want to see her sister get hurt.

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I think Sarah Morgan did a fantastic job of keeping the central story line in the forefront, while also weaving in the emotional journeys and issues that each woman was dealing with and not leaving any loose ends in the end. Also at times when reading a book following different main characters, I find that certain characters can be overshadowed but I didn’t get that with A Wedding In December. Each character was well fleshed out and very well developed.

This book delves deep into the relationship between sisters. What it’s like to be the oldest and have a younger sibling who is sick a lot. We see Katie have to learn to lean on her younger sister for a change. Now that they’re grown women Katie has to learn that their relationship can change, can be different.

I think for most of the book we put Rosie into this needs protection box because that’s how her family views her and treats her, but she has this moment of defiance towards the end of this book where she sticks up for herself and has to remind her sister that her decisions, are her decisions!

The Mother, Maggie, was kind of my favorite character. I adored the fake marriage, but really married trope. It was interesting to see how long Maggie and her husband could pull it off but in the course of being a fake couple, things are set up for them to do as a couple which I really enjoyed seeing. It puts them in this predicament where you either continue to try and fake the funk or..you know, maybe work things out.

I could go on and on but what it boils down to is, treat yourself to Sarah Morgan’s writing. This was a wonderful, wonderful read that I absolutely adored. This is what women’s fiction should read like. This one is part of my Holiday Romance 5 Star Predictions list and I am so thrilled to say it lived up to my expectations.

xx.

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#Blogmas Her Naughty Holiday by Tiffany Reisz

Her Naughty Holiday

by Tiffany Reisz

#2 in the Men At Work series

Goodreads Rating: 4.08 Stars

Plot:

Clover Greene would sooner crawl into her oven than host family for Thanksgiving dinner. Yet another annual ritual of too much food, served with a side of criticism over “Clover’s Bad Life Choices.” This year, she needs to distract them all—with a handsome fake boyfriend. And she has the perfect guy in mind.

Contractor Erick Fields is the poster boy for sexy single dads, and Clover has been secretly crushing on him for ages. She certainly wasn’t expecting Erick to agree to her insane charade…or to add lots of hot, wicked sex to the deal. If they can pull it off, the worst Thanksgiving ever might give them something to be really thankful for!

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Why Read This Book:

Her Naughty Holiday was a funny as hell, super sexy, fake dating holiday romance. This is my first Tiffany Reisz romance and will definitely not be my last. I really enjoyed that the heroine and the hero were a tad bit older. Erick is actually the Dad of Ruthie, who works for Clover, our heroine. Ruthie is a total force herself to be reckoned with. I adored her. She is this total 17 year old feminist and I couldn’t get enough of her scenes.

The entire beginning and middle half of this book is build up for Thanksgiving day where Clover and Erick prepare for Thanksgiving dinner with Clover’s terrible, so terrible, family. Clover and Erick agree to ‘fake date,’ so that there is a possibility that Clover’s family will back off and give her a break about being single. These people are hilariously terrible people. They give Clover a hard time about being a college drop out, despite the fact that she is still a successful business woman. They want her to settle down and have kids, but not with Erick who is the father of a 17 year old daughter because “step kids are second best.”

I was expecting a very passive scene that I see in a lot of books where the heroine is “the bigger person,” and doesn’t say anything but oh boy, was I wrong and a total Stan for it. This book had one of the best stick up for yourself scenes I’ve read in a book and it didn’t stop there. After Clover is done with everyone’s crap, she kicks THEM ALL OUT, even Erick. Her family is stunned and stubborn and doesn’t seem to get the point, so Erick has to help them understand why Clover is so pissed.

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I loved his scene alone with Clover’s family just as much, if not more than I did hers.  It was great, and in true romance fashion, she heard it all while standing in the background on the stairs unnoticed.

You have to add this holiday gem to your tbr. If you can snag a copy of the audiobook, I can’t recommend it enough. Erick is very sarcastic and uses a lot of jokes, and it just translates so well via audio.

I hope you read it and I hope you love it.

xo.

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#Blogmas Christmas With the Marine by Candace Havens

‘You don’t know how Beautiful you are, do you?’

Christmas With the Marine

by Candace Havens

Published October 18, 2016 by Harlequin Blaze

Goodreads Rating: 3.69 Stars

Plot:

Mission: To make one sexy civvie’s Christmas wish come true 

Christmas is almost here, and guys are the last thing on personal shopper Ainsley Garrett’s list. But her icy resolution melts when she sees an incredibly hot Marine shopping for toys. A man in uniform with a hot bod and a heart of gold? Maybe a gal can believe in Santa after all… 

Major Ben Hawthorne has his career to think about, but when it comes to Ainsley, he’s willing to break his own rules, at least for one night—provided they can get this insanely wicked attraction out of their system. Only, once isn’t enough. Now Ainsley’s checking her list twice…before she falls for a Marine who’s naughty and nice.

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‘I’ve just never met a selfless man before. You’re an anomaly.’

Christmas With The Marine was my first ever read from the Harlequin Blaze series.

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It was fun, and sexy as hell. Ben meets Ainsley while being tasked to buy toys on behalf of his unit for Toys For Tots. Their running into each other was totally meant to be, because Ainsley is a Professional Shopper.

This was a fun holiday romance because the meet cute and so much of the story is about these two getting gifts for other people but in the end, their meeting each other is the gift neither one of them expected or thought they needed.

Both have their reasons for trying to convince themselves that they can only be friends; Ainsley is trying to get her business off the ground and Ben wants to progress to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and knows the hard work and sacrifice that will go into that.

The fact that Christmas With the Marine takes place in Texas was a bonus. The city I live in was mentioned a few times, so I loved that. The story has a twist to it too that I actually enjoyed seeing. Marines are so proud of being Marines, but Ben definitely has to humble himself; Ainsley’s father is constantly trying to set her up with these big time business guys who behind the scenes are total jerks, but her dad doesn’t think Ben is good enough for her. It was a different kind of spin on the story. You have the guy who serves his country in probably the proudest branch of the military, but he’s made to not feel good enough.

The writing was easy. The pacing felt right, and I overall really enjoyed this story. I think if you want a holiday romance that is going to easily hook you from the first page and move quickly, I can’t recommend Christmas With The Marine enough.

xo.

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