Leigh, Lora, et. al. Hot for the Holidays. (New York: Berkley, 2009). ISBN – 9780515147001. Anthology including Vampire’s Ball by Angela Knight, A Little Night Magic by Allyson James, Sweet Enchantment by Anya Bast and A Christmas Kiss by Lora Leigh.
Main Characters: Jessica Raines and Hawke Esteban
Related Works: This is one of Lora Leigh’s the Breeds Series. See Lora Leigh’s Breed Chronology. This series includes the following:
- Tempting the Beast – (Feline Breeds #1 – Lion Breeds) – story of Callan Lyons and Merinus Tyler
- The Man Within – (Feline Breeds #2 – Panther Breeds) – story of Taber and Roni
- Elizabeth’s Wolf – (Wolf Breeds) – story of Elizabeth and Dash Sinclair
- Kiss of Heat – (Feline Breeds #3 – Snow Leopard Breeds) – story of Kane Tyler and Sherra Callahan
- Soul Deep – (Coyote Breeds) – story of Kiowa Bear and Amanda Marion
- The Breed Next Door – (Feline Breeds – Lion Breeds) – (part of Hotspell anthology with Emma Holly, Shiloh Walker, and Meljean Brook) – story of Tarek Jordan and Lyra
- Megan’s Mark – (Feline Breeds – Lion Breeds) – story of Megan Fields and Braden Arness
- Harmony’s Way – (Feline Breeds – Lion Breeds) – story of Harmony Lancaster and Sheriff Lance Jacobs
- Tanner’s Scheme – (Feline Breeds – Bengal Breeds) – story of Tanner and Scheme Tallant
- Wolfe’s Hope – (Wolf Breeds) – (part of Primal Heat anthology with Sherri L. King, Lori O’Clare, and Jaci Burton) – story of Hope Bainesmith and Wolfe
- Jacob’s Faith – (Wolf Breeds) – story of Jacob and Faith
- Aiden’s Charity – (Wolf Breeds) – story of Aidan and Charity
- In a Wolf’s Embrace – (Wolf Breeds) – (part of Beyond the Dark anthology) – story of Matthias Slaughter and Grace Anderson
- Dawn’s Awakening – (Cougar Breeds) – story of Dawn Daniels & Seth Lawrence
- Jaguar’s Kiss – (Feline Breeds – Jaguar Breeds) – (part of Shifter anthology) – story of Noble Chavin & Haley McQuire
- Mercury’s War – (Feline Breeds – Lion Breeds) – story of Mercury Warrant & Ria Rodriguez
- Christmas Heat – (Feline Breeds – Jaguar Breeds) –(part of The Magical Christmas Cat anthology with Nalini Singh, Erin McCarthy, and Linda Winstead Jones) – the story of Noble Chavin and Haley
- Coyote’s Mate – (Coyote Breeds) – story of Anya Kobrin & Del-Rey Delgado
- Bengal’s Heart – (Feline Breeds – Bengal Breeds) – story of Cabal St. Laurents and Cassa Hawkins
- A Christmas Kiss – (Wolf Breeds) – story of Jessica Raines and Hawke Esteban – part of Hot for the Holidays anthology
- Lion’s Heat – (Feline Breeds – Lion Breeds) – story of Jonas Wyatt & Rachel – (to be published in April 2010)
When I first read that Jessica and Hawke’s story was going to be part of an anthology, I was seriously bummed out. We first met Jessica several books ago, when she was revealed as a traitor who had sold out the location of the Wolf Breed Compound. However, she had also saved a couple of Breed mates. We also knew that she was the mate of another Breed (I forget when we found out she was Hawke’s mate. Either the way, the two have known they were each other’s mates since they met). In a later book, we find out that Jessica had betrayed the Breeds because she had been drugged and coerced. There certainly seemed to be much more to the story of Jessica. So, I was bummed because I was rather surprised that this story would be a novella. Surely, Jessica and Hawke deserved a full length novel of their own???
So, I was totally surprised by the fact that A Christmas Kiss worked really well as a shorter-length story. We find out rather quickly that Jessica was held in a type of solitary confinement for a year and questioned repeatedly. After a year, she was released from her incarceration, but confined to the Wolf Breed Compound. She was monitored by the medical staff to make sure that the drug in her system was continuing to dissipate. Hawke, meanwhile, kept his physical distance from Jessica believing that she need to be proved innocent in order for her to be accepted into the Breed community. He also needed to maintain his distance so that he would not kiss Jessica and start the mating heat with his hormones. It all made sense to me. Jessica’s pain at Hawke’s distance was real, but the situation wasn’t easy for him either.
At the start of A Christmas Kiss, someone attempts to kill Jessica. With her life in danger, Hawke can no longer keep his distance from his mate. In what I believe is a Breed first, Hawke and Jessica have their first sexual encounter without the influence of the mating heat. Hawke deliberately restrains himself from kissing Jessica and thus releasing his mating hormone into her system. Of course, this doesn’t last long and soon thereafter the mating bond is cemented for real. The resolution to the threat to Jessica’s life did seem a bit rushed, but I did expect that given the brevity of the story. The threat is someone who she has known and trusted – although I don’t remember even meeting him.
A Christmas Kiss is probably my second favorite of the Breed novellas (The Breed Next Door, Wolfe’s Hope, In a Wolf’s Embrace, Jaguar’s Kiss, Christmas Heat and A Christmas Kiss) behind Wolfe’s Hope. Despite the brevity of the story, I was able to connect with Jessica and Hawke in a way that I haven’t really been able to do with the characters in the previous ones (except for Wolfe and Hope).
Read first on September 30, 2009