Title: Burning Bright – Four Chanukah Love Stories
Authors: Megan Hart, KK Hendin, Stacey Agdern, Jennifer Gracen
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ½
This December, take a break from dreidel spinning, gelt winning, and latke eating to experience the joy of Chanukah. When you fall in love during the Festival of Lights, the world burns a whole lot brighter.
It’s definitely not love at first sight for Amanda and her cute but mysterious new neighbor, Ben. Can a Chanukah miracle show them that getting off on the wrong foot doesn’t mean they can’t walk the same road?
Lawyers in love, Shari Cohen and Evan Sonntag are happy together. But in a moment of doubt, he pushes her away—then soon realizes he made a huge mistake. To win her back, it might take something like a Chanukah miracle.
When impulsive interior designer Molly Baker-Stein barges into Jon Adelman’s apartment and his life intent on planning the best Chanukah party their building has ever seen, neither expects that together they just might discover a Home for Chanukah.
All Tamar expected from her Israel vacation was time to hang out with one of her besties and to act like a tourist, cheesy t-shirt and all, in her two favorite cities. She definitely was not expecting to fall for Avi, a handsome soldier who’s more than she ever dreamed.
Sometimes I love when random books pop up in my feed as recommendations. This year, Burning Bright was one of them that I came across and since it focused on Chanukah, and since I can’t remember ever reading any books with that as a basis, I’m glad i decided to take the plunge. And as always with anthologies, I love discovering new authors – in the case of Burning Bright, the only author I had previously read was Megan Hart.
Burning Bright consisted of 4 stories, all with a different take on Chanukah – although for me, my two favorites were the first one, written by Megan Hart and the last one written by KK Hendin. The other day (at least to me) were only so-so and I didn’t really enjoy them – so i’m going to quickly review my two least favorite ones first, before I talk about my favorite ones. I think i’m going to refer to the Megan Hart and KK Hendin contributions as bookends – i seem to always end up using favorite authors as bookends on my shelves, and it is the case with this anthology ;)
Fundamentally, there was nothing really wrong with the stories by Stacey Agdern, Jennifer Gracen – they were well-written, they just personally didn’t appeal to my reading asthetic. In a Dose of Gelt (Jennifer Gracen), we meet Shari and Evan, both lawyers who work at the same firm and in love. my problem was that I typically struggle with stories where the main couple is already in a relationship with each other – although there are often interesting dynamics, they just leave me feeling empty – I like the newness of figuring out a relationship (even though second chance romances where they couple is NOT together is a favorite trope of mine). That being said, Evan did do some serious grovelling – I just didn’t like the whole premise and how it was executed. The same could be said for A Home for Chanukah (Stacey Agdern) – the premise itself was interesting, but I struggled with the continual head-hopping throughout. It wasn’t just a simple back and forth POV each chapter, but rather multiple times in each chapter – one saving grace was that each POV was labelled, so at least there was that consistency.
My two favorites in the anthology were Miracle (Megan Hart) and All I Got (KK Hardin) – there was something brutally raw about both of these that just drew me to them. in Miracle, we got to experience Ben’s separation from his family and not being in the safety zone that his religion had previously provided – finding himself in a world that is less strict that where he came from. I really enjoyed this one because it was raw and emotional, but at the same time, I learnt some new stuff. And then there was KK Hardin’s contribution, All I Got which probably fell more into the new adult realm, since the main character was engaged in education. But when she falls in love on a trip to Israel (which is also on my bucket list of places i would love to visit one day), she discovered just how small the world truly is.
As always with an anthology, I was left with wanting to potentially read more books by the authors and look forward to good reads in the future. Overall, I gave the anthology 3.5 stars with 2 books getting 4 stars and 2 getting 3.