Reviewed in the United States on December 24, 2019
COLLYWOBBLES FOR CHRISTMAS by Sue-Ellen Welfonder - The fate of star-crossed lovers falls into the magical paws of a time-traveling kitten determined to right an ancient wrong and claim the greatest Christmas gift of all - love.
Terrific story of a love that spanned the centuries. It opened as a captured knight is aided in his escape by the daughter of the house, who is also the woman he loves. Treachery and tragedy prevent their reunion and the fulfillment of their love. Centuries later, an adorable kitten brings a modern-day couple together for a much happier ending. I loved both Gaby and James. His nickname of "Sir Galahad" is well-earned, as he is known for his protectiveness - which comes out in a terrific scene with Gaby's ex. I loved the connection they experienced from the beginning, and that it didn't surprise them or freak them out. The continuing revelations of secrets and histories brought them even closer. The ending was fantastic as their story came full circle.
CHARLOTTE REDBIRD, GHOST COACH by Sharon Buchbinder - With the help of hunky real estate agent, Dylan Graham, life coach Charly Redbird and her new kitten have found the perfect home next to a cemetery. Charly gets a new client right away, who happens to be her neighbor—and a ghost. What could possibly go wrong?
Fun story. When Charly and her code of ethics runs up against a rich woman who will stop at nothing to get her daughter into Harvard, Charly's dream career goes down in flames. Determined to get her life back on track, she heads for Cat's Paw Cove and her grandmother. Local real estate agent "Big D" helps her find the perfect home, albeit one that has a few more quirks than she expected.
I loved both Charly and Dylan. Charly has a magical talent that she is unaware of until she gets to the Cove - she doesn't just see ghosts, she can also talk to them. This comes as quite a shock to her when she makes the acquaintance of the former residents of her new home. Once she recovered from that shock, I loved the way that she put her talents as a life coach into helping Marjorie and Cecil find their way back to each other. I ached a little bit for Dylan, who believed that his magical contributions were quite minor. Personally, I think a man with the gift of empathy is pretty darn special. Add in his ability to sense magic in other people, and I thought he was pretty talented. I did feel bad for him when Charly overreacted to his empathy, but fortunately, she moved past that pretty quickly. I liked how he supported her through all of the revelations about her life and family. The sparks between them were intense and amplified by Dylan's talents. I liked how they came together at the end.
I thoroughly enjoyed the assorted residents of the retirement home and their interactions. The scene with the loud music and the hearing aids was hilarious, as was the "courtroom" scene with Charly's father. I also loved the cats, from Charly's kittens to the ones that served as enforcers.
GNOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS by Kristal Hollis - When an empath who’s failed at every relationship impulsively kisses an enchanted garden gnome, he magically turns into a real man. Together they must find his one true love and end the curse by Christmas or he’ll be forever alone and trapped within his stone prison.
A misfit in her own magical family, Lily frequently found herself at Coquina Castle, pouring out her troubles to the garden gnome figure there. When she discovered the figure for sale at the local antique shop, she bought it and brought it home. She's shocked when the figure turned into a very human, very attractive man. Several centuries earlier, Nick was cursed by a woman he rejected and turned into a stone figure. Now he needs to find the one true love who can break the curse.
There were so many times I wanted to shake Lily. She was so convinced that she was wrong for him that she wouldn't see the truth. After listening to Lily for so many years, Nick is already mostly in love with her, but Lily truly believes that she is not the woman he needs. However, she cares for him and is determined to help him find the right woman. There are some great scenes as she introduces him to various single women, but none of them appeal to Nick.
Things get complicated when they visit the estate where he worked and the scene of his cursing. Evil forces are determined that Lily won't succeed in her mission, and the effect on her is chilling. Nick is determined to show Lily that she is the one for him, but first, he has to save her. The ending was quite exciting as Nick enlisted help from unexpected sources. I was on the edge of my seat until the evil one was defeated and Nick showed Lily that she was his and always had been.
RING MA BELL by Debra Jess - In 1979, Michael Bell fell in love with high seas radio technician Dvorah Levi's voice as she guided him to safety, but their marriage was cut short by a bullet. Forty years later, Dvorah still mourns him. Can a special holiday and a magical Sherwood cat bring him back?
Good second chance story. Dvorah and Michael met during an exciting adventure. Michael, a PI, was kidnapped by drug dealers. Partially rescued by his magical cat, it was Dvorah's voice on the ship's radio that brought him the rest of the way home. Something about her voice touched him deeply and he proposed marriage on the spot. But they'd only been married a week when he was murdered. Dvorah spent the next forty years mourning him, never willing to move on with her life. Over his many incarnations over the years, Michael's cat watched her grieve and worried about her loneliness. Finally, he made a decision to try to change history, knowing it could have unintended consequences.
I loved Goliath and his love for both Michael and Dvorah. His decision was not an easy one. I was glued to the pages as I followed the events leading up to the situation that had resulted in Michael's death. I liked seeing Michael and Dvorah grow closer, their love deepens. I was on the edge of my seat, knowing what was coming and wondering how Goliath would prevent it. The final confrontation was exciting and not what I expected. I ached for Goliath but cheered for the results of his actions. The move back to the present day was heartwarming and showed the results of Goliath's actions.
FAMILIAR BLESSINGS by Candace Colt - A gifted medium, Theo Blessing renounced her magic, tired of being hounded by the greedy dead. Former Army Ranger Ethan Cooper promised to repay a debt to a man whose wise counsel brought him out of war's dark shadow. Ethan appears on Theo's doorstep with a puzzling letter. If what it says is true, the reluctant medium and skeptical Ranger must travel back to 1720 to save a young boy from the gallows.
Good story where the past meets the present. Ethan is a former soldier on a mission to deliver a letter. An elderly neighbor back home helped Ethan deal with the traumas he experienced during the war. In return, Ethan will deliver this letter to the man's granddaughter. Theo has run away from her gift as a medium, tired of being hounded day and night by those who want more than she can give. Ethan's arrival forces her to make some decisions about her future.
Ethan was pretty closed off when he arrived, determined to drop the letter and leave. Once Theo read the letter, she knew she had to keep Ethan with her. The challenge was getting Ethan to believe the truth, and then to agree to help. It was especially interesting when Theo's cat, Wishes, got involved. I enjoyed seeing the resolution of the problem and the steps they had to take to accomplish it. The ending was adorable.
PURRFECTLY CHRISTMAS by Mia Ellas - Faerie Sormey Johnson moved to Cat's Paw Cove to live a quiet life as a human until a sexy werewolf deputy needs her help tracking down a murderous monster. When Sormey offers herself as bait, the cost may be more than she bargained for.
A faerie and a werewolf make an unusual team. Sormey has been hiding out in Cat's Paw Cove for five years, desperate to remain out of the hands of her uncle Oberon. To do that, she has disguised herself as an old woman. That disguise starts to fall apart when she is adopted by one of the town's magical cats. Then her best friend's grandson comes to town, looking for a monster that killed his sister.
There was a connection between Sormey and Max right away, with Max stirring up feelings that she hasn't had for quite a while. It's obvious that Max feels the same about her. With the need to stop the monster becoming more urgent. Sormey offers to act as bait and draw him out. Things get intense when events move faster than expected, and Sormey is in more danger than they had planned for. Help came from an unexpected source, arriving just in time. When it was all over, it was time for Sormey to make some decisions about her future. Would Max be part of that future or would he move on to the next case?
One of the secondary characters was Sormey's brother. I didn't like him at all, especially the way he talked to his sister.
CHRISTMAS AT MOON MIST MANOR by Kerry Evelyn - Lanie and Matt Saunders return to Cat's Paw Cove two years after their first disastrous Christmas there. When a mysterious kitten leads Matt back in time, can he right the wrongs of the past and give his expectant wife the perfect Christmas?
Matt and Lainie have spent more time apart than together during their marriage, thanks to his job as a rescue worker. They have big plans for this Christmas - a few days in Cat's Paw Cove, then up to Maine to spend the holidays with his family. Lainie is very pregnant, and her emotions are all over the place - mostly feelings of guilt over the way she acted during their last trip to the Cove. She is also suffering from some hormone-driven insecurity.
Matt is happy to be home with Lainie. He's nervous about becoming a father and senses that something is bothering Lainie. Matt irritated me a bit because he seemed totally wrapped up in his need to be active in the rescues and oblivious to the idea that Lainie needed him, too.
I liked their arrival at the Cove this time. Lainie is less judgmental about the unique Southern traditions and lack of cold and snow. Though the baby isn't due for a while yet, she is more and more uncomfortable. The help she received did more than relieve her discomfort; it opened her eyes to the uniqueness of the island. There were some interesting situations that brought out new revelations to both Matt and Lainie, and I liked seeing how they dealt with them. The kitten, Pippi was the catalyst to several of them. I liked how both Matt and Lainie learned something new about themselves and each other, things that made their relationship stronger. There was some excitement at the end that had me on the edge of my seat until it was over.
NEW YEAR’S KISS by Darcy Devlon - In order to overcome a family curse, Griffin Brooks, the town's hotshot assistant fire chief, must earn his true love's trust. Trina Lancaster knows she can release Griffin's curse, but will her magical family baggage be a deal-breaker?
True love rescued by a trip through time. Griffin and Trina have a history. They'd been a couple for a short time, but then Griffin broke it off for no apparent reason. He hasn't moved on to another relationship, and Trina is still in love with him. Even the Cove's cats know that they belong together, but until Griffin wishes for something to change, they can't help him.
I ached for Griffin, who still loves Trina but is convinced that the family curse will only cause him to hurt her. Five years after their breakup, Trina has asked for advice from her mother and has a plan. She's nervous about it because it means she'll have to face her biggest fear, but she'll do anything to win her man.
I liked the guidance that Trina and Griffin received before they left - learn what you can but don't do anything that will change history. Neither realized how hard that would be. Finding out the origin of the family curse gave Griffin the courage to fight it. Trina, too, realized that she had a tendency to psych herself out of actions by overthinking them. I loved the surprise message that Griffin found in an old photo album and the effect it had on him. The ending was sweet and showed that love can conquer all.