Christmas in Sweetheart Springs is a prequel anthology featuring the talents of Monique Brasher, Brooke Burton, and Kimberly Hanson. I was lucky enough to be a part of the ARC team for this anthology, and I am so very honored and grateful for the opportunity. This anthology was published on September 1st, 2022—my review is a smidge late because I spent the better part of September egregiously ill! But! I have been daydreaming about writing this review and telling you all about the beautiful stories in these pages.
Our stories are set in (you guessed it) Sweetheart Springs—a quaint little town in the heart of Colorado. It is customary during the Christmas season to partake in one of their more romantic traditions, the “Sweetheart Games”, which involves being paired off with someone in town. Anyone who kisses their sweetheart on the bridge during the games is rumored to be with them forever.
Eggnog in the Evergreens by Monique Brasher
Emma Watkins and Miles Decker grew up in rival families in Sweetheart Springs. Their secret relationship culminated in a trip to Vegas where they exchanged their vows. Upon returning home, Emma is slapped with a dose of reality when she realizes that keeping their marriage a secret might be more complicated than she previously believed. Especially during the Sweetheart Games.
I loved the Romeo and Juliet vibes of this story. I found myself experiencing anxiety pains in sympathy. Their romance was sweet and left me with the bone-deep compulsion to root for the underdog. The author tells us that this is a “happy for now” story, and I am quite curious how long that happiness lasts!
Laughter and Lattes by Brooke Burton
Lena couldn’t believe her luck when she was paired with Braden for the Sweetheart Games. He was her first love and childhood obsession! It seemed like fate that they would be matched together. After a lifetime of Braden looking at everyone but her, now there was nowhere else for his eyes to wander. Or, at least, so she thought until Braden flips the script and she finds herself paired with Pete instead. She remembers Pete as a timid nerd, but he’s grown up since then. He’s patient, he’s kind, and best of all only has eyes for her. Perhaps, swapping partners in the Sweetheart Games wasn’t the worst idea after all.
I think everyone has had feelings for the worst possible person for them. It’s likely part and parcel with hormones and an adolescent inability to make good decisions. At one point in my life, I proclaimed that my taste in romantic partners was limited to “someone who could ruin me.” Needless to say, I related to Lena’s infatuation with playboy Braden. That all being said, it was so very easy to fall in love with Pete. I loved the way that the author introduced their scenario. Despite it being a “make the best with what you have” plot, I found myself aggressively shipping them both. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them. Especially after that saccharine sweet ending! It made my heart pang!
Cocoa in the Candlelight by Kimberly Hanson
Ellie Johnson had always had it bad for Tommy Donovan. It’s just too bad that he was her brother’s best friend and, therefore, never earned a second glance from her. At least, that’s what she thought until they were paired together during the Sweetheart Games. It seems that Tommy Donovan paid more attention to her over the years than she thought.
Our final story in the anthology has many storytelling elements that I love. Banter? Check. Socially maladjusted heroine? Check. Broody, gruff, grumpy bear of a love interest? Check. Lovable side characters that leap off the pages? Check. A wholesome romance that plays at the heartstrings and leaves its reader a swooning mess? Check check check. I went through a whole host of emotions while reading this short story and did not want it to end. I fell madly in love with these two and cannot wait to see where their story leads them next!
I hope these three authors will consider inviting me back to be an ARC reader for the next installment!
Christmas in Sweetheart Springs is a cozy closed-door romance. Each story is wholesome and heartwarming and made me wistful for the holiday season (which is a feat, given that I am not the biggest fan of the cold). I devoured this anthology in the blink of an eye and strongly considered writing each other individually to demand a full-length novel of these stories.
Overall, Christmas in Sweetheart Springs is an adorable prequel anthology. I can’t wait to see what these three come up with next!
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