Once Upon a Christmas Kiss Collection by Ciara Knight, Brenda Lowder, Susan Carlisle, Terra Weiss, Susan Sands, Christy Hayes

Once Upon a Christmas Kiss Collection by Ciara Knight, Brenda Lowder, Susan Carlisle, Terra Weiss, Susan Sands, Christy Hayes
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Romance
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

You’re cordially invited to the charming town of Cherry Creek, Tennessee, where the legendary book—Once Upon a Christmas Kiss—promises true love to the one who possesses it during the holiday season.

Don’t miss this collection of unique, romantic novellas by six different authors about women who’ve been given the gift of romance. In one story there is a hint of mystery, in another, comedy, and in others, a touch of drama. No matter the story, you are assured a happily ever after.

Who knows, you might be the next to find Once Upon a Christmas Kiss in your stocking.

Included in this

Once Upon a Christmas Reunion by Ciara Knight
Broken hearts reunite for a second chance at love on Christmas night.

Once Upon a Christmas Treasure By Brenda Lowder
When Amelia enlists former best friend Oliver to help her hunt for a legendary book for her sister, she doesn’t know finding the treasure might mean losing her heart.

Once Upon a Christmas Promise By Susan Carlisle
Two emotionally scarred hearts mend through the promise of love.

Once Upon a Christmas Secret By Terra Weiss
To uncover the deepest secret of her late best friend, Dawson must volunteer for the holidays with her nemesis, Sawyer, and do good for the community… and maybe her heart too.

Once Upon a Christmas Wish By Susan Sands
Star-crossed lovers reunite with the help of a little Christmas magic.

Once Upon a Christmas Party By Christy Hayes
Two young millennials find love with the help of a Christmas legend, meddling grandparents, and a well-placed sprig of mistletoe.

A book to guide them all? I love it!

When I saw this collection, I was all in. I wanted happy-ever-afters and I got them. Each story is great on its own, but as a group, they’re fantastic. The writing was wonderful and I was pulled right into each tale from the first. I couldn’t put this collection down.

I particularly liked the idea that whoever possessed the book would find love. How cool is that?

Susan Carlisle’s story was my favorite. I love her writing and how the story simply unfolded perfectly. Brandon and Laurel don’t seem like they should fit together, but the author writes them in ways that I had to root for them. They were great together, even when they weren’t getting along. I liked that.

If you’re looking for a collection to warm the body and soul during the holiday season and prove that love does exist, especially with a little magic, then pick up this collection today. You won’t regret it!

Falling for the Trauma Doc by Susan Carlisle

Falling for the Trauma Doc by Susan Carlisle
Kentucky Derby Medics, Book 1
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

It’s off to the races with Susan Carlisle’s latest Harlequin Medical Romance as a physician’s assistant and trauma doc treat patients at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby…while trying to resist each other!


Callee needs to move on from a huge loss, and the way to do that is to armor plate her heart. So when trauma doc Langston arrives at her clinic to temporarily conduct research, she knows she’s in trouble. Not only is he helpful with patients, but their chemistry is electric! Is Langston the guy to take a leap with, when he isn’t planning to stick around?

She wants to make a difference and he’s not ready to settle down, but when they meet the chemistry is off to the races.

I’ve already mentioned before that I love the work of Susan Carlisle. I’ve read all of her books and couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one. I’m glad I did. The writing sparkles and the characters are great. I couldn’t put it down.

Callee wasn’t interested in human medicine, until circumstances changed. Langston is there to conduct research. These two probably shouldn’t work out, but they balance each other well. I liked the banter between them and the way the story developed. It wasn’t quick, which is great. The story had time to unfold and I ate up every page.

If you’re looking for something sweet and unique, then this is the book for you. Callee and Langston are my favorites. Check it out!

Second Chance for the Heart Doctor by Susan Carlisle

Second Chance for the Heart Doctor by Susan Carlisle
Atlanta Children’s Hospital
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Will the children’s cardiologist put his heart on the line for the new pediatric nurse? Find out in Susan Carlisle’s latest Harlequin Medical Romance story.

Risking his locked-away heart…

After his ex ran off with his best friend, cardiologist Jenson’s sole focus is his small patients. But the fireworks that erupt when he meets dedicated nurse Bayley are too powerful to ignore… Both are determined to put their jobs ahead of romance, but beautiful Bayley continues to captivate him. Is the guarded doctor ready to embrace a second chance?

Tough circumstances, but tender hearts.

I love the works of Susan Carlisle and will auto-buy her books. This one was no exception. I loved the storytelling, the characters and the developments.

Bayley and Jenson are great together. They’ve been through a lot of tough situations, since both work in the children’s hospital setting. They’ve seen some beautiful things, but also some horrors. How they handle them and navigate love are the true balancing act.

The author writes these characters, who could be jaded and negative, in a very positive way. I rooted for them and wanted to see them get together. I got emotionally involved from page one.

If you’re looking for something tender and sweet, then this might be the book for you. Recommended.

The Duke’s Proposal for the Governess by Eleanor Webster

The Duke’s Proposal for the Governess by Eleanor Webster
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Historical, Romance
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

A wedding to save her from scandal

A bride to save his heart?

After the death of his beloved brother and mother, Randolph, the Duke of Elmsend, feels his life is empty. So, he’s in no mood to entertain the rambunctious Harrington family while they’re in London. Then he meets Abigail, their governess. When her reputation is in jeopardy, he does the unimaginable—propose! But whilst Randolph can offer her a ring, can he ever offer her a real marriage?

Two people who never would’ve found each other realize they’re meant to be.

I loved this story because it showed that love isn’t conventional. Randolph wasn’t looking for Abigail when he met her. Wasn’t expecting to fall in love. But anything is possible.

I loved that this book was well-written and fast-paced. I wanted to know what would happen to the characters and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Abigail and Randolph are sweet and perfect for each other. They’re great characters and it was fun following their story.

If you want a happy ever after that’s not run-of-the-mill, then pick this one up. I loved it.

Gratitude: A Way of Life by Louise Hay

Gratitude: A Way of Life by Louise Hay
Publisher: Hay House
Genre: Non-Fiction, Self-Help, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

New York Times bestseller, Louise Hay, has gathered the insights and collected wisdom of some of the most wonderful teachers and writers she knows…people who have demonstrated the power of gratitude in their own lives.

Gratitude is an inspirational book meant to highlight all the wonderful things in your life to be grateful for.

Renowned contributors share their understanding of the practice of gratitude with Louise… and with you. Including:

• Dr Wayne W. Dyer: “Gratitude: One of Life’s Miracles”
• Dan Millman: “Transcendental Gratitude”
• Bernie S. Siegel, M.D.: “Gratitude: A State of Mind”
• Amy E. Dean: “Gratitude Is Awareness”
• Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.: “Noticing the Abundance”…and many more!

If you need a pick-me-up, then this might be the book for you.

Gratitude is the thing you need when you’re down. It sounds odd, but it’s true. Be grateful for all the things you have and even the things you don’t have. Maybe there are terrible things happening in your life. This book helped to open my eyes that sometimes the terrible things are gateways to better things. It’s true. Be grateful for what you have and you’ll see you have a lot.

There are little essays and this ventures into the inspirational at times. It’s good. It works. Give it a try. The dose of positive will help.

If you’re looking for something positive to give you a lift, then give this book a try. You’ll be glad you did.

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Publisher: Ember
Genre: LGBTQ, Contemporary, YA (Ages 14+)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Based on true events—and narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS—Two Boys Kissing follows Harry and Craig, two seventeen-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record. While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teens dealing with universal questions of love, identity, and belonging.

Two boys kissing and so much more.

This book has been singled out as something to be banned, but I disagree. This book was fantastic. Yes, there are two boys kissing in this book, but it’s so much more. I liked the variety in the book, the characters and the tone. This isn’t an easy book to read. The author tackles hard topics–boys kissing, transgender issues, depression and thoughts of suicide. It’s not easy. But it’s worth the read.

I liked the various characters and seeing how they handled different situations. My favorite characters are the ones who came before, the ones telling the story. Their wisdom and wistfulness, along with their frankness, was the best part. They don’t mince words and I loved it. I liked the commentary.

This is a book everyone should read at some point. It’s sweet at times, endearing, sad and heartbreaking, but it’s realness is what really shines through. Recommended.

The Lady Behind the Masquerade by Diane Gaston

The Lady Behind the Masquerade by Diane Gaston
Publisher: HQN
Genre: Historical, Romance
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

The ton’s newest member

Is not all she seems…

Diplomat Marcus Wolfdon can’t forget the alluring woman he met in Paris, the passionate night they shared or that she stole his money and disappeared! A year later, Wolf meets Juliana again in Brighton, seemingly a member of the ton. She begs him to keep their former liaison secret, and the emotion in her eyes compels him to agree. Desire still flares between them, but first Wolf must uncover the lady behind the masquerade…

Two hearts who are meant to be together will find each other…eventually?

I like stories of characters who have false starts. It’s interesting to see them find their way to each other and how it can be so complicated. This book features that and more. The writing is great and carried me along in the story well. I couldn’t get enough. I loved it.

Wolf and Juliana have a future together, but it’s up to them to make it work. There are fits and starts, but that night of passion was never forgotten. I liked that they had such complicated stories. I liked the plot twists for them, too. This one had me guessing all the way up to the end. I closed the book not forgetting the characters and wanting more. I’m glad this is part of a series.

If you’re looking for a solid historical romance, then you can’t go wrong with this one. It’s a winner. Check it out.

Bad Dog by Mike Boldt

Bad Dog by Mike Boldt
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Childrens (Ages 5-10), Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

The differences between cats and dogs have never been funnier! In this hilarious new story from the illustrator of I Don’t Want to Be a Frog, a little girl really, really wants a dog . . . but gets a cat instead!

“Look what I got for my birthday! A pet dog!” says a little girl holding a . . . cat? Rocky doesn’t listen or obey like all the other dogs. (Because Rocky is a cat.) And Rocky hates her leash and doesn’t seem to like other dogs. (Probably because Rocky is a cat.) And rather than play fetch, Rocky prefers to . . . lick between her toes? Ew. Rocky is a bad “dog”! BUT Rocky doesn’t bark, and is so cute when she sleeps in sunny spots. Maybe Rocky IS a good dog? (Or, you know, maybe Rocky is a cat.)

Cat lovers and dog lovers alike will howl with laughter at this little girl’s willful insistence that her cat is a dog. The hilarious ways in which cats and dogs are different are brilliantly illuminated with each turn of the page and will leave young readers and their grown-ups giggling.

The baddest dog around…who isn’t really a dog.

I liked this short story about a little girl who gets a great present. I liked the writing in this story. It’s fun and goes along at a great clip. The little girl is a great narrator. It’s fun how she deduces that her dog isn’t really a dog. Kids would love the way she figures that out and how sometimes we think we know what we know, and we really don’t.

If you want a book to make you laugh and will be one to read over and over, this one is for you. Give it a try.

Fly Guy Meets Fly Girl by Tedd Arnold

Fly Guy Meets Fly Girl by Tedd Arnold
Publisher: Cartwheel Books
Genre: Childrens, (ages 6-10), Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Fly Guy has met his match, and her name is Fly Girl. Fly Guy can do fancy flying. Fly Girl can do fancier flying. Fly Guy can eat gross stuff. Fly Girl can eat grosser stuff. Fly Guy can say his boy’s name–Buzzzzzz! And Fly Girl can say her girl’s name–Lizzzzzzz! Fly Guy is totally impressed, and totally smitten. Will Fly Guy and Fly Girl get married and leave Buzz without his dear pet?

Fly Guy and Fly Girl??? How cool!!

I liked this series from the start and this addition is fantastic. The writing is crisp and fun. It easily kept my attention, and the drawings are great, too. I liked the message of this story—find friends everywhere. Don’t be afraid to make friends. You might have a lot in common!

If you’re looking for a fun book to read with your child, then this might be the one for you. Check it out.

Hound for the Holidays by Kim Levin and John O’Neill

Hound for the Holidays by Kim Levin and John O’Neill
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genre: Photography, Non-Fiction, Holiday
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

“This holiday season, let’s remember the things that really matter.” So begins Kim Levin and John O’Neill’s Hound for the Holidays a warm reminder from man (and woman’s) best friend to hold loved ones dear at this special time of the year.

The holidays (like dogs) are all about sharing, unconditional love, and enjoying the moment, but sometimes, with the hubbub of shopping, open houses, family gatherings, and parties, it’s easy to lose that holiday spirit.

So who better to put the “happy” back in holidays than a cast of dogs celebrating the season? Whether they are two pooches window-shopping, an urbane Jack Russell on a trip to the big city, or a German Shepherd catching snowflakes on his tongue, the dogs in these charming photos all deliver the message “Enjoy!”

Pet portrait artist Kim Levin’s striking and expressive photos pair perfectly with John O’Neill’s warm and upbeat words to make a great holiday treat.

A cute book for the holiday season.

I picked up this book because it was cute and had dogs. I mean, how can you go wrong? The photos are great and make the season bright. The little captions fit the photos perfectly, too. This is a short book, but worth the read. This is a great book as a gift or to share with family over the holidays.

If you want something warm and fuzzy this holiday season, then this is a must read for you!