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Thursday, January 26, 2012

White Hot Christmas by Serenity Woods

White Hot Christmas by Serenity Woods
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Full Length (244 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: Best Book
Review by Foxglove

When lust turns to love, it’s one fire he can’t extinguish…

Merle Cameron’s not looking for love. Between her job as a university lecturer and caring for a mother recovering from breast cancer, she has no room in her schedule for a demanding relationship.

While visiting her sister in New Zealand, however, she’s happy to indulge in some hot holiday sex with kind, hunky firefighter Neon Carter. After all, they live on opposite sides of the world. There’s no chance things will turn serious.

Neon Carter is a catch. At least, that’s what the ladies apparently think. All they seem to want is a quick trip down the aisle, but Neon’s in no rush to settle down. Light-hearted summer loving with a sexy blonde is something different, though, and Neon’s happy to offer his services until Merle has to return to England.

The weather’s hot, the sex even hotter. But when it’s time for Merle to go home, they both realize they’re in deeper than they thought. And there’s no solution that won’t break someone’s heart.

I am going to be honest here and admit that I got this book by mistake. I had asked for a different book, with a similar title, but since it was sent to me, I promised to review. I have to say, it was the best mistake that’s ever happened to me, as I would otherwise have missed one of the best holiday books I have ever read.

A holiday trip to visit her sister in New Zealand seems like just the thing to Merle Cameron. After a rough year coping with her job, and helping her mom through her battle with breast cancer, all Merle wants is to lie in the sun and forget everything. Maybe find a nice guy and have a quick fling, before heading back to England to take up her responsibilities once again. Holiday sex isn’t permanent, after all, just some quick and harmless fun with someone she will never see again.

When she meets fireman Neon Carter, he seems to fill the bill quite nicely: sex on two very well proportioned legs, and commitment phobic in the extreme. Neither of them is looking for happily ever after, so this should be perfect. Too bad nobody told their hearts not to get in the game. Now, Merle has to return to England, leaving her heart in New Zealand as she faces the reality of her responsibilities back home. And Neon never counted on falling for the woman who was walking out of his life for good, leaving a hole where his heart should be.

I adore the world Ms. Woods has built here, with real and charismatic characters, and a delightful location. I loved how she included a bit of a travelogue along with this romance, and I felt like I could see these places through Merle’s eyes as Neon gave her the tour.

Merle Cameron is strong and smart. She is a lecturer, and has also been shouldering the burden of her mother’s illness. She needs a break. I loved that Merle wanted to try and experience as much as possible to build memories to take home. I enjoyed watching as she fell under Neon’s spell, and cried with her when she realized what he had come to mean to her, knowing as she did that she had to leave him. I also loved how she was willing to push her boundaries to make this a wonderful, once in a lifetime experience.

Neon Carter is a strong and courageous character. As a firefighter, he leads his men and works hard. So when he plays, he plays hard, too. He is not interested in a forever love, and tries to make sure any of his romantic partners know this up front. I love that he refuses to play the ‘I love you’ card to get women to be with him, and tries very hard not to lead them on. He is honest and up front about his intentions. I loved watching as he realized Merle wasn’t just another fling to him, and liked his determination to find a way for them to be together.

This is a sizzling hot romance, played out all over the New Zealand locale. These two find places to be together and each encounter is hotter than the one before. The secondary characters are as well defined as the main ones, and I loved Merle’s sister Bree and her new husband Jake. I hope to read their story someday.

I loved the interplay between Bree and Merle, and I found the relationship between Neon and his cousin Jake hilarious at times. When the women make a bet, they don’t know that the men have made one as well, and it was fun to see who would win first. Merle’s mother was the epitome of the controlling and slightly conniving mother who places her happiness and desires above her daughter’s.

Do Merle and Neon find a compromise for their happy ever after? You need to read White Hot Christmas for yourself, to get the answers to all the questions. But once you start, make sure the fan stays on high, because this is one very hot Christmas story.

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