Review – Red Hot Holiday Anthology

Publisher: Carina Press
Publish Date: Out Now
How I got this book: NetGalley

As I’ve said before, I absolutely adore the Carina Press holiday anthologies, and the erotica theme this year had me doing a little happy dance! For those of you who missed it, yesterday I reviewed the Anne Calhoun story Breath on Embers here. Today, I’m going to cover the other two stories.

Wish List by KA Mitchell

There’s so much Jonah Kendrick hasn’t tried, and so much he wants to explore. But just before Christmas he finds a ring box in his boyfriend’s desk. Jonah panics. He loves Evan and their sex is hot, but how can Jonah be ready for forever, when there are so many items on his Naughty Bucket List? Desires that might drive Evan away.

Evan’s noticed Jonah has been distant. His usually talkative and cheerful boyfriend is preoccupied. The seemingly straitlaced Evan stumbles across Jonah’s wish list of sexual kinks, and Evan realizes he may not have to hide his true nature from Jonah after all. The Dom in him wants to see Jonah on his knees, begging, submitting, but Evan isn’t sure Jonah’s ready to accept what being Evan’s sub would mean.

The two lovers must figure out how to share their hidden desires with each other before their secrets permanently damage their love.
*Blurb from Goodreads*

I love KA Mitchell. I have a huge girl crush on her, and her stories are always so fun and sexy and fabulous. While Joey and Aaron still have my undying devotion, and are probably my favorite m/m heroes of all time, Evan and Jonah have a great little story to tell as well.

I can admit that one of the things that drives me bonkers in romance books is big misunderstandings. I hate when couples don’t talk things through and just work out whatever it is that is eating at them. Especially when huge drama can be avoided by one little conversation. However, in this case, I can see why Jonah was scared to say something. I just wish that maybe he and Evan would have talked sooner than they actually did…

I was a little surprised by the lack of sexy times in this book. It could be because of the novella length, however I was expecting more from Mitchell. It seemed like the majority of this book was spent on the angst of what if. What if Evan and Jonah broke up, what if Jonah shared his list of sexual explorations he wanted to try, what if Evan revealed some of his sexual dominant past, what if Evan proposed and Jonah never got to complete his list. What if, what if, what if. The sexual tension was at an all time high for Mitchell, but it worked within the story. With the uncertainty on both Evan and Jonah’s parts, they danced a bit around each other, not really sure how to move forward with their somewhat bland sex life, or how to spice it up.

I have to admit, I was a little bummed with the way that Jonah handled everything. Again, I can see why he was hesitant to come outright and talk to Evan, but he also went a little too far for me. Without giving too much away, Jonah looks for answers to all his kinky questions, and I thought he went about it in a way that felt kinda sleazy. For me, he came dangerously close to crossing a line that would have made his character unredeemable in my eyes.

BUT, I was happy with the way it all tied together and ended. The last scene in the book, where they finally connect both physically and emotionally was so intense and so sexy and just so everything. It really tied together the story and solidified the relationship between Jonah and Evan. It put them on not-so-equal footing, but in a place that was perfect for where they both wanted and needed to be.

All in all I really liked this novella. Mitchell kept me on my toes, and kept me guessing as to whether or not I would be able to stick it out with Jonah. However, I should know by now that she would never let me down, and I’m happy to say I loved the end! As always, reading anything by Mitchell has me panting for more!
I give Wish List a B

Kindle | Barnes & Noble

I Need You for Christmas by Leah Braemel

Ryan Porter is a sculptor, and beneath his callused hands, even the most rigid metals bend to his will. So, too, does his girlfriend Megan—a confident, strong woman who delights in submitting to Ryan’s dominance in the bedroom.

Megan is a Mountie, and she’s spent the past few years in the arctic following her career dreams. Family obligations kept Ryan at home, but their love survived the distance thanks to several hot visits. A Mountie always gets her man, and Megan is bound and determined to keep Ryan.

Now Megan’s with Ryan for the holidays…but how long will this visit last? She’s always been willing to do anything Ryan desires, but will he finally tell her that all he needs for Christmas is her?
*Blurb from Goodreads*

I’ve read Braemel in the past and was glad to see she had a story in this anthology. She does a great job of writing really sexy and yet somewhat subdued light-BDSM romance. I was pretty intrigued by how serious Megan and Ryan were with their BDSM relationship, and loved the way it played out in their relationship. Especially since Ryan was not very Dom-like in every other aspect of his life, and Megan was a strong and confident cop. It was a great dichotomy to their relationship and I loved it.

The one thing every story in this anthology had was some kind of secret or misunderstanding between the main characters. In this, both Megan and Ryan are ready to move their relationship from long distance to living together. They’ve both decided to surprise the other with a big change, so the fact that they danced around the subject through the story drove me a little bonkers. I thought it was super cute, but at the same time wasn’t impressed with the way it came across as forced drama.

I have to admit, I loved the sexy times in this book. The BDSM aspects were well done, and I never felt like it was forced or that the characters were unsure. The scenes were hot, hot, hot and Megan and Ryan were so perfect for eachother. They had this wonderful opposites attraction, and I really liked the way it added to their relationship. When it came to outside the bedroom, Megan really seemed to take on the more dominant role, whereas in the bedroom she was a submissive through and through. It was a great change of pace from the standard female submissive characters I’m used to reading.

All in all I thought Braemel was a wonderful edition to the anthology. I loved the BDSM aspect of Megan and Ryan’s relationship. It was probably (IMO) the best novella in the anthology in terms of smoking hot sexy times.  I am going to have to keep my eyes open for more of Braemel’s books in the future!
I give I Need You for Christmas a B

Kindle | Barnes & Noble

The overall anthology was a great mix of stories. From the m/m story by Mitchell, to the emotional angst of the Calhoun novella to the fun and sexy, somewhat light-hearted read by Braemel, there is a little something for everyone. However, the stories are also so different that some people may not like one versus another. But for me, I thought it was a wonderful mixture of erotic holiday stories.
I give the Red Hot Holiday Anthology an overall B

Kindle | Barnes & Noble

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