Friday, December 16, 2011

Warmest Christmas Memory

Although I've told this story before, I wanted to share it again since I won a pair of tickets to the Mannheim Steamroller concert next Wednesday for sending the story to the radio station.

My warmest Christmas memory required some serious thought.

You'd think the "best" Christmas memory would be the most unforgettable, right?

The first Christmas with my husband really was. And after sifting through countless memories created by 24 years of marriage, four daughters, almost two grandsons, and every life experience in between, I realized why I'd missed the quiet beauty and perfection behind his special gesture.

Like a lot of couples, we married young...practically right out of high school. With college on the horizon and a baby on the way (oh yeah, I'd gotten pregnant right off the bat!), Hamburger Helper was too expensive for our budget. Add to that, the Christmas holiday was fast approaching.

Hubby's boss had given every employee a Christmas tree, and the smell of fresh pine filled our small apartment. I made popcorn garlands for decoration because, well, that's all we could afford.

A week before Christmas, I came home to find our Christmas tree decked out in beautiful Hallmark ornaments. I squealed in delight, and my husband smiled shyly. "I did extra work on a remodeling job, and they gave me this box filled with ornaments. I'm sorry none of the dates are right."

He was correct. Not one ornament had a relevant date. Didn't matter. They were perfect. We started a tradition that first Christmas together, one we've followed every year since: hanging those mismatched ornaments on the Christmas tree next to others we've collected over the years. They all have special meaning, but some of them-a select few-I cherish with all my heart.

Every Christmas since has been wonderful, but when I think about that first Christmas with my husband, the memory always warms my heart.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ice Man by KyAnn Waters


Everything has a label, even love. Take relationships. There are sexual relationships—lust at first sight, friendship—friends with benefits, and romantic love—fated soul mates.

Rowan, a flair bartender in the exclusive fetish club Catacombs, subscribes to the lust-at-first-sight proposition. Being a blood slave to the vampire Theron definitely falls into that category. The pleasurable high from donating blood and the fantastic sex Rowan has with Theron definitely take lust to a new level.

But for Rowan, his relationship with Theron is actually more of the friends with benefits variety. He's not in love with Theron. Rowan doesn't believe in romantic love—and everyone knows it. That's why he's known as the Ice Man.

And then Rowan meets Brett Kirsche. Brett's recently divorced, openly gay, and intriguingly normal. Rowan wants to be with Brett—and he gets his wish. He and Brett have one night of hot, incredible, gotta have more—probably for a lifetime—sex. Rowan starts to believe in a romantic kind of love, which leads to a monogamous relationship between Rowan and Brett.

But Rowan's kept the fact he's a blood slave for Theron a secret from Brett. Can he feed Theron without sex and thereby breaking his pledge to be monogamous to Brett? And how long can he keep his secret from his lover because the truth would surely ruin the love he's finally found?

I liked the complexity of Rowan and Theron's relationship. Genuine caring on both men's part showed how difficult and endearing friendships can be. Brett and Rowan's attraction, sizzling chemistry and ultimate love connection was a satisfying part of the overall story line.

There were, however, a few issues that lessoned the enjoyment of the story for me. The first was Brett's immediate acceptance of vampires, blood slaves, and Rowan's part in that culture. The second was Brett's decision to instantly immerse himself in the same culture Rowan just fought to leave behind.

Though to be fair, both of those issues can be attributed to Brett's love and commitment to Rowan. Maybe they just hit me the same way as the ending—rushed. I definitely believe in love conquering all, but the book's fast resolution left an unresolved feeling.

Do these issues detract from the book? A little. Should they keep you from reading ICE MAN? Absolutely not. Ms. Waters has a way of working the most erotic interplay into genuinely compelling relationships—and that's why I'll read the next book in the series!

Rating:  3 stars

This review originally written for The Romance Reviews.
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