Two e-books today, one from NetGalley, one from Amazon via a recommendation, and both a bit diverse, with one LGBTQ-themed and one about the Black inhabitants of three islands off the coast of South Carolina. I’m on my fourth Christmas read proper now, with one paper book read and one to go – so I’m definitely doing quite well this year, better than last!

Lisa Moreau – “The Christmas Proposal”

(1 December 2021, NetGalley)

Grace walked out on her job and the boss, her girlfriend Christina, a year ago. During that time, she’s read self-help books and tried to heal – but she still can’t bring herself to go back to Mistletoe Mountain, the cute Christmas-themed resort where her family live, after a tragedy a decade ago. So when Christina’s new personal assistant, Bridget, a coder at heart who doesn’t really get personal relationships, is tasked with arranging Christina’s proposal of marriage to the woman she was cheating on Grace with, and goes to – who else – Grace, who works at a proposal-arranging company, and reveals Christina wants to do the deed at – where else – Mistletoe Mountain, the stage is set for awkwardness, memories and a horrendous time.

But Mistletoe Mountain and Grace’s lovely family weave their magic, and when Bridget and Grace get trapped there, Bridget’s heart might just begin to melt and they might both just start to share their stories. Is there more of a new start here than just that? A really sweet book, the Christmas town and time setting is really nicely done, the villain of the piece is a vicious gossip who can’t understand why Grace’s sister plans to have a baby on her own and has made a rubbish website, but that’s as bad as that gets, and it’s all wrapped up in kindness and supportiveness. There are funny moments and I’d look for more of this author’s books.

Thank you Bold Strokes Books for accepting me to read this book in return for an honest review. “The Christmas Proposal” was published on 14 December 2021.

Louise Lennox – “Merry Kiss Me”

(07 December 2021 – Kindle sale)

I saw mention of this book on Life of a Female Bibliophile’s blog post with holiday romance recommendations and, while I liked the look of some of the bakery-themed books she mentioned, this was the one I could get hold of in the Kindle sale. She did note it was spicy, and spicy it was, but a mix of a bit rude for me and some lovely social conscience and community engagement!

We meet Symone and Rhue as young people running off to the marshes on a lowland island off South Carolina (I’ve read a couple of novels set in a similar place so the location wasn’t that unfamiliar and I always like reading about island communities), lovers and best friends, saving Symone from the horror of yet another drunken rant from her mother. Ten years on, Symone is living a life in New York she thinks she wants, but everything starts to unravel when she realises the big, manly fiance is a controlling person who will never let her flourish. Meanwhile, Rhue has made it big as a property developer … and he’s about to buy a location that has huge meaning to Symone. However, he’s also a property developer with a heart, making sure the Black communities of the islands get a fair deal and aren’t ripped off by non-island and White developers, and makes sure every development he creates gives something back. When they reconnect, sparks fly in all sorts of ways; meanwhile, we meet Symone’s other friends (there are four books in the Kiawah Kisses series, each covering a different couple) and see their stories starting. There’s also a concentration on making things right and healing family issues.

I did enjoy this short novel but it was a bit raunchy for me (though I did appreciate that women’s pleasure was given as much emphasis as men’s, and the note about the author explains, “In her novels sparks always fly; the sex amazes; and the characters always leave the world better than they found it through their love”.