Thursday, January 4, 2018

Once Upon a Christmas Moon by Christine Young, Genie Gabriel, C. L. Kraemer

Once Upon a Christmas Moon
by Christine Young, Genie Gabriel, C. L. Kraemer

GENRE: Fantasy/Romance/Antology  


When Archer Steele showed up at Calanthe Durand's failing plantation with an alligator over his shoulder, Cali thought she'd never seen a more handsome man. During the war she'd had to defend herself and her servants from both union and confederate soldiers. Independent and self-sufficient, she'd vowed to never marry.

But Archer Steele has different ideas. The first time Archer had seen Cali in town, he felt an instant attraction. He decided he'd do everything and anything to convince the beautiful Miss Durand he was worthy of her love. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, he gave her twelve gifts to in hopes she'd fall in love with him.

An ancient evil from the old country has arrived in the high desert of
Oregon. Gnome children are vanishing then re-appearing, showing various
stages of traumatization. Tiamoon, warrior gnome, will put her skills to
use alongside Killian, a handsome warrior, also in need of a cause.

With their world destroyed and their space ship malfunctioning, the
dogizens of Planet Canid have little choice but to crash land on Earth.
They face tortuous experiments at the hands of the Geeks in Green...or
they can trust an eccentric inventor and his zany family to deliver the
Canine Queen's puppies and help them celebrate new lives.


Twelve Days to Love
Christine Young

“Enough love talk.” His grin spoke of the devil is disguise. “Let’s go for a walk. Call it a feeble attempt to court the woman of my dreams, the woman I want to convince she can’t live without me.”

Laughing softly, she cocked her head to one side, studying Archer Steel. “I’d like that. Let me grab a shawl. You’re not afraid of Mr. Lawson popping up.”

“No, not while I’m with you. He’s a sly and manipulative person, a man of no courage. He won’t battle me, but he will wait until you’re vulnerable.”

They walked down the stairs and along a path skirting the bayou. A soft breeze sifted through the cypress trees, stirring the hanging moss. The quiet time spent without conversation left a peaceful feeling within. This moment could last forever, if she had her way and if she admitted the truth, she could get used to having Archer by her side.

A gator slipped into the water as a crane flew by. Cali leaned her head against Archer’s arm, wishing for the past, for easier times. Her father would have made sure the chaperone was a few feet behind. Now there was no one guarding her or her virtue. She didn’t know if she cared. Maybe she wanted Archer to make love to her.

But she didn’t want to ever marry.

He turned her. Their gazes met and she licked her lips, wanting the kiss that now seemed inevitable. Slowly bending toward her, his lips met hers. They were warm and soft, so gentle she almost swooned. Swooning was in the past when women wore corsets. A corset had not molded her shape since the war began and her father left the plantation. Leaving the garment in the wardrobe not only freed her body but also her mind.

With her eyes closed she felt heat sweep within, knew the longing for a man. Fire enveloped her body and the small groan emanating was coupled with the same sound from Archer.

Did he feel the same way? They were doomed. No coherent thoughts made their way inside her head.

His hand touched her neck, one thumb on her jaw. She felt his tongue against her lips. Without thought she opened for him, acknowledged the touch inside her mouth. He deepened the kiss, exploring her, his hand running the length of her arm. She pushed into him, enjoying the hard muscles protecting her, enfolding her in his strength. She realized while she didn’t need protection, she loved the closeness. This was an intimacy she’d never understood or known, deeper than the bond between parents and daughter.

One hand on the small of her back pulled her closer, his kiss deepened. She slipped her tongue inside his mouth, teeth, tongue, a primal dual.

He pulled away, a grim expression on his face. “We need to stop.”

Licking her lips, “I’m not sure I want this to end.”

She heard his groan. “This kiss has to end or Sam will be out here defending your honor. I don’t want him to have to do that.”

“No one but me needs to defend my honor.” She bristled, wishing for one more kiss.



This anthology contains three Christmas-themed stories.  The first and longest story, "Twelve Days to Love" by Christine Young, is set in Louisiana just after the Civil War.  It was my favorite in this book; exciting and romantic with an independent, likable heroine and a studly, honorable hero. This story did a fantastic job encapsulating the emotions, tensions, and uncertainty of the times.

The other two tales were fantasies.

In "Boots and Blades", Children mysteriously disappear from a small community in Oregon.  Some later return, but are different. No one believes their recollections of their terrifying experiences until help arrives in a most unexpected way.  I loved the chemistry and bantering between Kiamoon and Killian.  Their strong bond and their determination to help the youngsters trapped in the high Oregon dessert made this story heart-touching.

"Christmas Pawsibilities" was an up-lifting and joyful ending to this holiday anthology.  Not as dark as "Boots and Blades" this story dealt with an alien ship crash-landing on Earth which led to the capture of the Queen's consort.  This story deals with ingrained attitudes and cultural differences with a deft touch.  Handled in a compassionate and sometimes amusing way, this was a fun-to-read story that none-the-less delivers an important message.

I enjoyed reading Once Upon a Christmas Moon but thought the story combination would have been improved by making the individual stories a bit more homogenous.  For example, I love stories set in the 19th century American South, but it was quite a shock to my mind to finish "Twelve Days to Love", and then jump into the somewhat dark fantasy about missing gnomes and warrior goddesses.  Still, all three stories were original and entertaining.  They make for a cozy holiday read - just tuck up under your favorite warm afghan while sipping hot chocolate.  All the stories are clean and wholesome, sure to appeal to most readers regardless of age.

Reviewed by Laurie-J 

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Christine Young Bio

Born in Medford, Oregon, novelist Christine Young has lived in Oregon all of her life. After graduating from Oregon State University with a BS in science, she spent another year at Southern Oregon State University working on her teaching certificate, and a few years later received her Master's degree in secondary education and counseling. Now the long, hot days of summer provide the perfect setting for creating romance. She sold her first book, Dakota's Bride, the summer of 1998 and her second book, My Angel to Kensington. Her teaching and writing careers have intertwined with raising three children.  Christine's newest venture is the creation of Rogue Phoenix Press. Christine is the founder, editor and co-owner with her husband. They live in Salem, Oregon.


Christie L. Kraemer Bio

A traveler for most of her life, C. L. Kraemer has settled in the Northwest with her husband and two cats. When not creating a new world or entity, she likes riding next to her husband on their Harleys.

Genie Gabriel Bio

I'm an optimist whose rose-colored glasses have bent frames and cracked lenses. When life kicks me in the teeth, I find miracles and lessons I refused to learn an easier way. In fact, I live with a small herd of miracles in the furry forms of dogs, who are constantly trying to teach me to forgive, to play more, and to love without limits.

I write about people who find courage and integrity in the darkest times of their lives, who rescue stray dogs and kittens, who find a person they would willingly give their lives for, and who make their little corners of the world a better place.
People have remarked my stories "aren't what they expected." With rose-colored glasses firmly in place, I take that as a compliment.



Christine Young, Genie Gabriel, C. L. Kraemer will be awarding one digital copy of Once Upon a Christmas Moon to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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