Eight Kisses: Eight All-New Tales of Holiday Romance

This was a fun anthology that truly has a story for every romance fan. In the foreword, the editor states that when looking for holiday romances, you can always find plenty of Christmas themed stories, but you have to search really hard to find stories that take place around Hanukkah.  This book was released in 2019 and while there has been an increase in Hanukkah romances, there is still a shocking lack of non-Christmas romance novels being published each year. If you are looking to change up your holiday reading, this book is a good place to begin.

To start, I think it was extremely clever to make this anthology eight stories in honor of the eight days of Hanukkah and to call this anthology Eight Kisses. Some of the authors take the eight theme even further and use the eight days of Hanukkah as a way to structure their story. The beauty of an anthology is that if you find yourself not liking a story, you can just skip it and not feel like you’re missing anything. Because each story is unique and there is a trope here for everyone, this is a great book for finding out which romance trope you really love and the ones that don’t do it for you. For the most part, I liked all the stories in this book and my issues with the ones I didn’t like had nothing to do with the author’s writing and more to do with my dislike of the plot and the short story structure. My favorite stories were A Highlander for Hanukkah, Can’t Help Falling, Frisky Connections, and Rededication. In my opinion, these had the most developed plots and involved Hanukkah the best. The other stories had undeveloped plots or too much going on, or there was not enough chemistry between the hero and heroine for me to get into the romance. I think this is where the short story format was a detriment. Given more pages, I think some of the stories I didn’t care for may have had a chance to get better.

I have a few minor complaints that I hope/wish will be addressed should these authors choose to release another anthology. The first is to have a better mix of historical and modern stories instead of only one historical. This didn’t take anything away from my enjoyment of the book but having more sub-genres represented is always good. I would also love to see stories that don’t feature only hetero couples and instead include some stories that show different sexual identities. These are very minor issues but things that would be great in the next anthology. On the flip side, I must give credit to this book for including not one but TWO stories featuring older protagonists. If you think finding Hanukkah romances is hard, try finding a romance with people older than 40! I also loved that a few of the stories had couples of different religions and different races. Some of the stories showed the challenges that people of two different faiths have when beginning to date or falling in love and I liked that this wasn’t glossed over. Romances that aren’t afraid to show some realities are always nice to read as long as you can still escape the real world for a time.

This was a fun and sweet anthology with a little bit of heat that is a welcome addition to the many holiday romances out there. There is a great mix of different tropes here including second chance romance, instalove, romantic suspense, and enemies to lovers so there really is something here for everyone. I hope these authors (or different ones!) decide to publish another anthology because we need more diverse romances.

Authors: Lori Ann Bailey, Mindy Klaksy, Rose Grey, Michelle Mars, JT Silver, Erin Eisenberg, Lavinia Klein, and Lynne Silver

Published: November 5, 2019

Rating: 4 Stars

The Soldier’s Scoundrel

This was my first Cat Sebastian book after having heard about her for a while.  A good friend of mine likes her a lot so when the quarantine hit, I grabbed a bunch of hers to read because I thought they would be quick fun reads that would help me escape from the real world for a bit.  I am glad to say that I was right; I really enjoyed this book and will be reading more of her work soon.

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The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper

I am in several book clubs and as such find myself reading books from all different genres and subjects, something I appreciate as it forces me out of my reading comfort zone.  I actually picked this book as my book club’s next read, knowing that it sounded good and that non-fiction is usually not my genre…and that I am participating in a non-fiction genre study for the next two years and could use this for one of the reading prompts.  I ended up thoroughly enjoying this book (as much as you can enjoy a book about murder victims) and would recommend this, especially to those who don’t like non-fiction and are looking for a more narrative telling of a true story.

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Where The Crawdads Sing

This book has been EVERYWHERE recently and its popularity seems to have come out of nowhere.  It has appeared on a bunch of best of lists and has been the pick for numerous book clubs.  My library currently has 30 people waiting to get their hands on this book so the hype isn’t going anywhere.  I usually steer clear of books that are popular just because they are but I had heard good things about this one.  I am so glad I read this book because it was a beautiful, haunting read and I can’t recommend it enough.

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Oh Evelyn Hugo, I adore you.  For a while now, I have had friends whose book tastes I trust tell me that I needed to read “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.”   So when my book club chose it for their monthly read, I was excited to finally have a reason to pick it up.   I expected a quick, light read about a Hollywood starlet and her various relationships and scandals.  What I didn’t expect was a heart-breaking, humorous, intriguing story that left me thinking about it for days after I had finished.  I cannot recommend this book enough.

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My Fair Gentleman

For my ARRT meeting this month, we had to read a gentle romance—a genre that I really had no desire to read.  One of the suggestions was a series of “proper romance” books that at least sounded somewhat interesting to me.  Most in the series seem to be retellings of classic stories, including this one.  I enjoyed this book and would read others in the series.

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The Duchess War

This was a book I read to fulfill a reading challenge I am attempting to complete this year—this book falls under the self-published category.  A lot of romances are self-published and Courtney Milan is a pretty popular author so I thought this would be a good choice.  This book wasn’t horrible but I found it slow and unengaging with so-so characters and a plot that never really grabbed me.

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The Prince and the Dressmaker

This graphic novel was beautifully drawn and had an amazing story to match. I am SO here for teen and young adult books that feature characters from different backgrounds and different lifestyles.  What I liked about this book was the level of acceptance that was shown to the Prince and the message that everyone is unique and that’s ok.  The author, Jen Wang, does a great job of sending a message without being preachy.

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