Yearly Archives: 2013
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Novel Reaction is excited to welcome author Lynn Marie Hulsman.
HarperImpulse novelist Lynn Marie Hulsman’s varied employment background includes stints as a copywriter for a direct marketing agency specializing in casino advertising (Free buffets! Loose slots!), ushering at Manhattan Theatre Club where she ran smack into Steve Martins’ chest, irritated Jeremy Irons’s agent, and saw John Slattery naked over 50 times, editing materials for major pharmaceutical companies (Ask her anything about the prostate: She knows.), creatively ideating to re-brand major household products for huge corporations, and passing out cheese cube samples (a decided low point). As a performer she’s been seen onstage at Caroline’s, Stand Up New York, and headlining with her sketch group Hits Like a Girl at The Big Stinkin’ Comedy Festival in Austin,TX. She can’t tell you what she’s ghost written (obv!) but she’s co-written two books on cookery, and is sole author of the forthcoming cookbook The Kentucky Bourbon Dessert Cookbook. She does not believe in white chocolate.
Twitter: @LynnMarieSaysFacebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.
Christmas memories to me are the very opposite of calm and peaceful. Our household’s holiday seasons were not strings of relaxed evenings sipping cocoa in front of the fire, or singing Silent Night as we gathered ‘round the tree to string popcorn. I’m the youngest child of five, and on top of that, the only girl. Our basic horde was comprised of seven people, and usually a dog. Add the grandparents, and all the relatives from my surprisingly long-lived family, plus assorted friends, and our yuletides were a mixture of chaos and din.
With that volume of traffic in and out of our house, it was virtually impossible to be prepared. In a fighting effort, my practical and frugal mother resourcefully kept a stash of “extra” presents for the times of us kids reported on the last day before school holidays that we had a previously undiscussed student teacher or when our family got the last-minute “B-list” call for a neighborhood open house, and a hostess gift was required. These presents were wrapped, and stashed to the side of the piles under the tree in their own area. Still, with the sheer number of wrapped packages, tags fell off and taped-up gifts sometimes went unidentified.
When we were very young, that mountain of gifts was torn into all revelations were made in just this side of fifteen minutes. Later, in an effort at teaching “gratitude” and “appreciation,” our custom morphed into a one-at-a-time, around-the-circle unveiling of our cans of salted mixed nuts, our battery-operated calculators, and our Calvin Klein jeans. If this sounds like fun, I’ve mislead you. The arduous event stretched out over the space of the better part of an afternoon, going deep into the evening. Each offering had to be held aloft and clapped for. Bathroom breaks were needed. Celebrants required hydration. In an attempt to keep blood sugar levels up, people poked into their stockings, nibbling their way through mounds of Hershey’s kisses, Andes mints, and when there was nothing else left, candy canes off the tree.
Near the end of one such marathon, when he’d surely thought we’d have retired to the dinner table given the start time reported by my brother, Tod’s friend Phillip showed up. At the time, they were teenagers, and no doubt itching to get the car keys and bolt from the house. Not wanting Phillip to feel outside the circle, my mother quickly scrambled to re-label some of the emergency gifts, and to grab some belonging to my brothers, opting for the smaller ones to avoid giving away something expensive like the electronic game Simon, or a newly popularized pair of Nike sneakers.
A chair was pulled up, and Phillip was given a pile of gifts, and the grim duty of taking his turn opening each, and holding it up to be applauded. As if this test of stamina during a marathon of present-opening weren’t bad enough, Phillip was given the a present no self-conscious teen wanted to open, much less lord over a waiting circle of people belonging to another family: A three-pack of Hanes tighty-whiteys. From what I remember, he blanched and mumbled, confused by our strange culture. He was a stranger in a strange land, and at that moment, I imagine he was wishing for home. After a beat, someone yelled out, “Underwear!” and we applauded as we would have for a Whitmans’ Sampler or a pair of Dearfoam slippers.
To this day, we’re not really sure why my mother wrapped up a package of underwear from Target in the first place. If I could ask her, I would. But I do know that every year since, SOMEONE has gotten a multi-pack of unmentionables.
Coming from a large family myself with numerous cousins and neighbor kids in and out all the time, my mother always had the stash of presents for those moments when one of her children (not me of course *cough, cough*), would need a last minute gift for a birthday party, teacher gift or unexpected Christmas gift. Thanks Lynn for coming and sharing with us.
Lynn has a Christmas novel that came out this month from HarperImpulse Christmas at Thornton Hall. Check it out!
When Juliet Hill unwittingly discovers a most-definitely-not-hers-
rhinestone-studded lace thong in her high-flying lawyer boyfriend’s apartment, this usually feisty chef is suddenly single and facing a very blue Christmas – with only a ready meal for one to keep her company!
So when she’s personally requested to cater for the family at Thornton Hall three days before Christmas, it’s not long before Juliet’s standing at the (back) door of the impossibly grand ancestral pile.
The halls are decked, the guests are titled, those below the stairs are delightfully catty, and all-American Juliet sets to work cooking up a glorious British Christmas with all the trimmings.
But other flames are burning besides those on the stove… Sparks fly with Edward, the gorgeous ex-soldier turned resident chef, and are those sidelong looks Juliet’s getting from her boss, the American tycoon Jasper Roth?
As the snow starts to fall on the idyllic Cotswolds countryside, so does the veneer of genteel high society and there are more than a few ancient skeletons rattling out of the Hall’s numerous dark cupboards!
CHRISTMAS AT THORNTON HALL is a country house romance for the modern age, a must-read for fans of the scandals and drama of Downton Abbey and the charm and wit of Helen Fielding.
There is something about the holidays that always makes me eagerly read Christmas anthologies (I think it has something to do with all the Zebra Regency Christmas Kittens anthologies I devoured as a teenager). Not only are they fun quick reads, they are a great way to find new authors without feeling like you are wasting too much time on a novel you may not like. I looked forward to A Christmas to Remember because it contained A Lucky Harbor story by Jill Shalvis and a Last Chance story by Hope Ramsay, both authors I have reviewed and enjoyed in the past.
Dream a Little Dream by Jill Shalvis, Melissa has always kept everyone at a distance excerpt her friend with benefits Ian. Ian has decided he wants something more, and it is the season of miracles…
Every Year by Kristen Ashley, the Cage brothers have never really celebrated Christmas, but this year they are about to get to experience a true Christmas celebration with Tabby and her family.
Silent Night by Hope Ramsay, single mother Maryanne hopes to start over in a town called Last Chance. But nothing goes as planned, can Maryanne find the Christmas miracle she is searching for?
Have Yourself A Messy Little Christmas by Molly Cannon, Lincoln is a messy confirmed bachelor whose mother hires him a professional organizer who shows up dressed as Mrs. Clause, changing his life forever.
A Family for Christmas by Marilyn Pappano, War widow and single mother doesn’t mind spending Christmas alone but when a new doctor shows up in town, will she need to rethink her plans, for the better?!
A contemporary anthology, A Christmas to Remember is a fun quick read that is perfect to get anyone in the mood for Christmas. I particularly liked Silent Night by Hope Ramsay. Maryanne has only one good memory and it is of a Christmas spent when she was six at her grandfather’s farm. Maryanne hopes that she can bring that same joy into the life of her son by starting over in Last Chance but things don’t go as planned when her car breaks down several miles outside of Last Chance. Hope Ramsay’s characters are always charmingly flawed and her writing has a warmth that is a perfect fit for a Christmas story.
Be aware that there is some use of the “F” word in one of the stories.
Title: A Christmas To Remember
Page Nos.: 224
Publisher: Forever Yours
Release Date: December 3, 2013
Available for purchase: Amazon
**I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley but was not required to provide a review and it did not impact my review in any way.
Please be aware that Christmas in Lucky Harbor is a reissue of the previously published Simply Irresistible and The Sweetest Thing with two short novellas included.
After her life falls apart in Hollywood, Maddie has traveled to Lucky Harbor eager to begin a new life with her sisters at the Inn they have inherited from their mother. In Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis, Maddie is desperately seeking a relationship with the two half-sisters she has only met a handful of times, Tara and Chloe. But when the Inn doesn’t live up to her expectations and all her sisters want are to sell it and move on, Maddie starts to wonder if the name “Lucky Harbor” isn’t a misnomer. To add confusion to an already complex situation, Maddie finds herself attracted to Jax, the contractor hired to update the Inn.
Jax is drawn to the insecure yet charming Maddie but can tell that her past relationships hurt her. Can Jax convince Maddie that his intentions are serious and that she should give them a chance?!
I struggled with Simply Irristible, while I found the three sisters hilarious and the residents of Lucky Harbor entertaining, I felt like Maddie and Jax jumped into bed together too quickly. Given Maddie’s past relationship and everything she went through in it (I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to give anything away) I felt like she would have been a bit more hesitant to jump into bed with a new guy that quickly. Despite struggling with Maddie’s story in the beginning, the relationship between the three sisters was entertaining and I had to keep reading to find out how they all ended up.
Tara left Lucky Harbor when she was a teen intending to never return but she can’t ignore the legacy her mother left her and her two half-sisters, nor can she ignore her three sisters. In The Sweetest Thing, Tara returns to Lucky Harbor only intending to stay a short period of time, but when Maddie convinces them to give the Inn a shot, Tara finds herself staying in the one town she vowed never to return to. As if returning wasn’t hard enough, Tara’s ex-husband Logan has followed her to Lucky Harbor, vowing to win her back and local Olympic medal winner Ford is pursuing her as well.
With the locals commenting regularly on the town facebook page as to who is the current male favorite and Tara’s concerns about Chloe’s behavior, Tara is feeling in over her head. When her past comes back to visit, Tara must deal with things she thought long behind her and decide who is going to win her heart.
I loved The Sweetest Thing! Tara’s situation (again, I’m not going to go into too much detail because of spoilers) is heartbreaking, going from a wealthy fast-paced life to having to work at a greasy spoon to help get the Inn up and running, Tara’s journey, both to forgive herself and the others in her life was touching and made The Sweetest Thing a page turner that I didn’t want to put down. This was my first time reading anything by Jill Shalvis and I loved Lucky Harbor, the residents were hilarious (I mean really, polls on facebook?!) and I immediately purchased Chloe’s story because I had to know what happened to her in Head Over Heels.
Shalvis does a fabulous job of drawing the reader into the world of Lucky Harbor and getting you to care about all the residents of the town. Her ability to create warm, charming and eccentric secondary characters makes the Lucky Harbor series a delight to read and has me adding the rest of the series to my to-be-read pile.
Christmas in Lucky Harbor includes two bonus short stories, Kissing Santa Clause and Under the Mistletoe. Both short stories are connected The Sweetest Thing but I won’t go into detail because it would give away too much of the story and I want you to be able enjoy the journey without knowing the end. They are both fun quick reads and great additions to the series.
You can read an excerpt here.
Lucky Harbor Reading Order:
Under the Mistletoe Novella
It’s In His Kiss (August 2014)
He’s So Fine (September 2014)
One in a Million (October 2014)
Title: Christmas in Lucky Harbor
Author: Jill Shalvis
Format: Paperback, eBook
Page Nos.: 800
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: September 2013
Available for purchase: Amazon
**I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to provide a review and it did not impact my review in any way.