Review: A Heartwarming Thanksgiving anthology

A Heartwarming Thanksgiving by Amy Vastine, Liz Flaherty, Leigh Riker, Jennifer Snow, Sophia Sasson, Tara Tyler Quinn, Pamela Tracy, Karen Rock, Carol Ross, Kate James, Cari Lynn Webb, Rula Sinara and Melinda Curtis
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Heartwarming
Pages: 405
Source: book provided by the author for review
HolidayICON

 

 

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

 

Review:  This is a holiday anthology and each of the thirteen short stories was different from any other except that all the stories had Thanksgiving as its theme and each author included a holiday recipe at the end of their story.  I may be giving some of the recipes a try since they sound so delicious.  There was also a reunion of some type where someone from their past shows up unexpectedly or they get a second chance at love. The stories although short and very quick reads had well defined characters and plots.  I did wish some of the stories were longer and had better closure as I came to the end.  Some of the authors I’ve read before but many were new to me authors.

Snow Day Baby by Amy Vastine drew me in from the beginning.  Dr. Scott Spencer unexpectedly runs into a family he knows from his hometown at the Chicago airport during a major snowstorm.  He’s heading home for an interview and they’re on their way to a family member’s house in Florida to celebrate the holiday.  Rita and her daughters, Daisy and Sheridan, are on edge due to the weather but additionally since Sheridan is very pregnant and going to be a single mom.  Scott and Sheridan have a history from high school that wasn’t too pleasant but she and her sister are looking at him with new eyes since he no longer looks like a nerd but a hunk!  There’s definitely an attraction between he and Sheridan and as they keep getting thrown together at the airport he’s always there when she needs him.  There were a few twists and turns to the story along with trust being earned and some closure but the ending was too abrupt.  Vastine is a fairly new to me author only having read The Girl He Used to Love and I will be giving some of her other books a try since I enjoy her style of writing.

Wedding at Turkey Run by Liz Flaherty has grandparents acting younger than their years and their grandchildren wondering what’s going on with them.  Emma and Travis are a hoot but her granddaughter, Jenny, a teacher and his grandson, Zeke, a fireman, aren’t totally with the program.  As they spend more time together they find they have more in common than first thought and there’s a reason for that.  There is definitely chemistry between them when they let their guard down and they’re quite the team when they put their heads together.  The wedding was a delight. There are a few unexpected twists and several happily ever afters.  The epilogue was unexpected but definitely welcome and tied up some loose ends.  Flaherty is a new to me author and I look forward to reading more of her books.

Her Thanksgiving Soldier by Leigh Riker has childhood friends Daisy and Caleb meeting up at her family home since he expected her brother Jared to be there.  He’s surprised when Daisy insists he stay for Thanksgiving and wait for Jared and his wife to return from their trip.  Caleb is on leave from the military trying to decide if it’s time to get out and do something else with his life or go back.  She had a devastating loss in her life that makes her shy away from anyone in uniform. They have chemistry but will they act on it?  They reminisced and talked about their lives and Daisy tried to help Caleb with his decision and flashbacks.  We learned about some of the others on his team too.  There seemed to be some gaps in the story since there were conclusions reached in a few instances that were barely talked about.  Some closure but not enough for me.  Could there be a happily ever after in the future?  Riker is a new to me author and I hope to give some of her other books a try.  Her recipe for her Thanksgiving Leftovers Casserole has me longing for Thanksgiving and I’ve always enjoyed the leftovers more than the meal itself!

Mr. Right All Along by Jennifer Snow is a continuation of her Brookhollow series which I’ve really enjoyed but this story was way too short at under thirty pages!  Aiden and Kayla have been best friends forever but she’s always dated people that are wrong for her.  Kayla just doesn’t have a clue.  Can’t she see what’s right in front of her as Aiden tries to keep his feelings hidden?  Her boyfriend of only one month is really pushing things but only what benefits him.  There are a few twists but quite a few predictable moments with food and the B&B at its core.  Nice closure with a presumed happily ever after.  Snow is one of my favorite authors.  I can’t wait to read more of her books.

Falling for the Cowboy by Sophia Sasson wasn’t my favorite book although it does have a happily ever after in the offing.  Dylan and Elena live in Chicago and have been dating for two years.  They are together all the time and live across the hall from each other.  They have dreams but they all blow up when they return to his small hometown that he couldn’t get away from fast enough when he was younger.  There, Cowboy Dylan surfaces and he seems to have forgotten how he acts as a lawyer but also everything he knows about Elena and what’s important to her.  There were a few twists and turns and some comedic moments too.  The flower incidents were laugh out loud moments for me. Sasson is a new to me author and I would give another book or two of hers a try to see if I like the premise any better.

The Marriage Gift by Tara Taylor Quinn was depressing due to a lack of communication between Corrine and Joe who were set to sign their divorce papers after Thanksgiving.  But even though they were divorcing they wanted to remain friends which meant that they would spend time together as well as share holidays.  Neither one would talk about their real feelings until it’s almost too late.  When their friend Janie and her special needs son have other plans for Thanksgiving it’s almost too much.  Will they be able to spend the day alone together with so many memories of past Thanksgiving celebrations closing in on them?  There was a lot of angst and tears but a few unexpected twists especially when secrets, or maybe lies, were brought to light.  There were several happily ever afters and nice closure that I didn’t expect.  Quinn is an author whose books I have had on my always growing TBR pile but haven’t gotten around to yet.  I hope that will change shortly.

Heart of a Hero by Pamela Tracy was a very different type of story.  There were kidnappings and baby snatchings and it all happened more than forty years ago.  The angst and disbelief were real and Nathan didn’t know who he really was even though the mystery of his parenting was solved. Having been in prison after being a cop really had him at a low point in his life.  Shainey, a doctor, and her Aunt Agatha, the retired librarian, were also front and center along with the mystery to be solved. The dynamics between the three of them were believable and the ending left me wanting more.  I’ve previously read her book, Daddy for Keeps, and found it to be an enjoyable read.

Thankful for You by Karen Rock has Eric, a fire lieutenant, and Maggie, co-owner of a diner in their small town, at odds since they broke up six months before.  Eric had cold feet about ever marrying or having kids due to his job.  When their paths start to cross over and over again after having avoided each other since their breakup sparks still do fly and their chemistry is still there.  When they work together along with the others in the fire department to give foster kids a nice Thanksgiving things are looking up for everyone or is it?  There are rescues, cute kids, reminisces, tears, hurt and anger along with love.  Nice closure and a happily ever after in the offing.  I’ve read a few books by Rock and have always enjoyed them.

Autumn at Jasper Lake by Carol Ross drew me right in.  There’s something about stories that are set in Alaska that call to me.  Ryder moves to Alaska to get away from his demons from the war but does it help?  He meets Jessie who has had losses of her own to deal with.  She rescues dogs and one of the dogs takes an interest in Ryder which surprises her since the dog Fife is very standoffish and hasn’t taken an interest in anything and doesn’t like anyone.  Watching Ryder and Fife drawn to each other was heartwarming as was seeing Jessie be there for Ryder.  There was some closure with a happily ever after in the offing, maybe.  Ross is a new to me author and I will be adding some of her books to my always growing TBR pile especially those set at Christmas or in Alaska.

The Firefighter’s Promise by Kate James is definitely one of my favorite stories in the anthology.  Ryan, a firefighter, is an all around good guy and makes it his mission to help Jax, the owner of a landscaping business, when she’s injured in a motorcycle accident.  There are so many heartwarming moments throughout especially when Jax learns how to take help from others and hears and sees how a real family acts.  Her half-brother, Kyle, who’s only six, seems like a cutie even if his mom is her very evil stepmother.  The tradition Ryan’s family follows at Thanksgiving with gift giving is a wonderful idea and really gives a nice meaning to their Thanksgiving dinner and holiday.  There are some twists and turns along with nice closure and a happily ever after in the offing.  James is a new to me author but I look forward to reading more of her books.

Wedding of His Dreams by Cari Lynn Webb is definitely different.  Outdoor weddings that need to be hiked to, dogs in the wedding party and lots of organic food both for the before party, Thanksgiving and the wedding.  Everything falls to Ruthie, the bride’s sister and slave.  No one cares that she’s hurting because her fiancé had left her at the altar and this wedding that she’s so immersed in is bringing back so many bad memories.  Best man, Matt, and Ruthie haven’t seen each other in years but apparently they’ve had a crush on each other forever.  Seeing how he gets her, cares for her and wants to take care of her was heartwarming.  He also was good for her self-esteem! The happily ever after in the offing was nice to see although the ending was a little too abrupt for me.  Webb is a new to me author.

The Sweetheart Tree by Rula Sinara was hard for me to get into.  Serena is an environmentalist tied to a tree to save it from being cut down.  It belongs to her neighbor, Austin, who she and her deceased brother Gale grew up with and the tree holds special meaning and memories for them.  Austin, now a police officer, makes her life miserable but she doesn’t help herself either.  She’s never come to grips with her loss but this Thanksgiving she’s forced to face facts by her parents and Austin.  A few unexpected moments and a heartwarming one with her dad was truly satisfying.  A nice resolution to the story that was unexpected and the epilogue was a very nice touch.  Sinara is a new to me author.

Married by Thanksgiving by Melinda Curtis had definite comedic moments whether in the courthouse, at the county clerk’s office or at the jail.  Brenda, a lawyer, and Clinton, a football player and her client, didn’t hit it off from the beginning.  She was a by the book attorney coming from a long line of lawyers and he just wanted to be able to play in his game on Sunday.  Watching their interactions had me smiling throughout but it was hard to watch how her uncle, the judge, played them both.  There are unexpected twists to the story but love may yet triumph with a happily ever after in the offing that seems too soon to come about.  There was some closure but an epilogue would have been great.  Curtis is a new to me author and I look forward to reading more of her books.

Favorite Quotes:  

Snow Day Baby by Amy Vastine
Sheridan knew there was more to it. “He’s always been like that.  It’s who he is, not what he is.”

Wedding at Turkey Run by Liz Flaherty
She counted to ten.  Twice.  Then again. “No, I walk the railroad corridor trails.  I’m going to hike a couple of the park trails this morning.  They’re pretty and they’re not too difficult even for a hall-walker like me.”  She smirked at him.  Nana wasn’t down to breakfast yet to see her, so she wouldn’t get in trouble for being snarky.

Her Thanksgiving Soldier by Leigh Riker

He raised his eyebrows.  “Not me.  I’m a mincemeat kind of guy.”

Mr. Right All Along by Jennifer Snow

“You’re going to faint?  I’m the one with a knife in my foot,” he said, slowly lowering to his knee.  He reached for the handle.

Falling for the Cowboy by Sophia Sasson

Elena widened her eyes at Dylan.  Why was he interfering in Jolene’s private life.  He himself had told her he hated the way the townspeople inserted themselves into everybody’s business.  Maybe she really didn’t know Cowboy Dylan.

The Marriage Gift by Tara Taylor Quinn

“Do you not remember me at all?” she asked, looking him in the eye.  “Didn’t you ever listen to me?  Really listen?”

Heart of a Hero by Pamela Tracy

“Maybe it’s important now.  Over the years, I wondered where the baby went.  Adoption was so secretive in those days.  Then there were the two that were simply taken.”

Thankful for You by Karen Rock

Life always looked better after a touch-up.

Autumn at Jasper Lake by Carol Ross

He chuckled and said to Fife, “A little moose poop never hurt anyone, did it?”

The Firefighter’s Promise by Kate James

“Let’s say I have a greener thumb than my mother gave me credit for.”

Wedding of His Dreams by Cari Lynn Webb

Matt pressed his thumb against her mouth.  “You matter.”

The Sweetheart Tree by Rula Sinara

“We all cope differently, Serena.  Austin doesn’t have anyone left.  Whatever you’ve convinced yourself of, he’s a good man.”

Married by Thanksgiving by Melinda Curtis

Brenda sat next to her client, feeling like a dwarf next to his tall, muscular frame.  But at least, she was a freshly showered dwarf.

 

joanne






One thought on “Review: A Heartwarming Thanksgiving anthology

  1. Thank you very much for the wonderful review of A HEARTWARMING THANKSGIVING JoAnne. We are glad you enjoyed the anthology, and I am specifically happy that you enjoyed my contribution, THE FIREFIGHTER’S PROMISE.

    Best wishes and happy reading!

    Kate

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