Mixed bag in NineStar Press’ Holiday Stories Week One

A Special DeliveryA Special Delivery by Laura Bailo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a short short story but it still manages to lay down a cute MM ‘accidental’ meeting romance between two guys at Christmas.

When Colin gets an incorrectly delivered parcel he sets out to return it to its rightful owner and meets James. Then the snows come down and force them to spend a pleasant night together (no sexy times though).

It’s very sweet, no steam at all, which actually works for the fairly gentle nature of the narrative. I felt their connection was genuine and the epilogue believable. Also cute dog involved.

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Handmade HolidaysHandmade Holidays by Nathan Burgoine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely loved this one. It’s just a perfect package wrapped in a gorgeous bow, a little bit scuffed and faded at the edges because someone has carefully folded it year on year.

This is everything I love about Christmas, it’s about family being who you choose to spend time with because of love, whether they be bound by blood or not. It’s about recognising the best gifts aren’t those with the vast price tag, but the ones carefully picked out to bring joy and happiness (and okay sometimes they do come with a big shiny price tag too).

Fifteen years is a long time to run a short story over but it absolutely works and I loved all the five friends and their associated other halves (but not one particular person, who was an arse).

I’d love to read more and more Christmases with this bunch.

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A Holiday RuseA Holiday Ruse by Stephanie Hoyt

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This one just didn’t work for me at all and it’s possibly a case of it’s me rather than the book itself.

The writing style felt stilted and I just didn’t get a sense of the connection between the two friends at all. I found it hard to believe, if they’d been friends for so long, that Kezia had never met Mags’ family, and it also felt like the turnaround in feelings came from nowhere.

There’s also very little steam, just one fake kiss, which again didn’t help with me getting any sort of bonding or relationship vibes other than friendship.

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Room at the InnRoom at the Inn by Drew Marvin Frayne

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have mixed feelings for this one. I loved the whole ‘making Christmas special’ for stranded people element of it.

I liked Jason, who was a genuinely kind guy who wanted to do his best for all the people whose Christmas journeys had been spoiled. I liked the Brown family, who jumped in to the spirit of Christmas when they saw how much Jason was trying to do.

I liked the mysterious Mr Merino, who also lends a hand, and then a little bit more. But then I think the plot just went a bit haywire. I’d have been really happy with just the big secret reveal and the connection which had been made between the two men.

But then it went a bit soapy and very Mills & Boon-y with almost declarations of the l word which made me roll my eyes a bit. Still, on balance, I enjoyed more than I didn’t doubts a middle score for me.

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Of Printers and PresentsOf Printers and Presents by Asta Idonea

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5*

This is a short (very) Christmas office romance which is super sweet but in which not much actually happens.

I liked the build up of two guys each crushing on the other but being too shy or scared to do anything about it and we get to see the inner thoughts of both men.

When they get the other in a work Secret Santa it provides an opportunity to test the waters. Unfortunately, after the reveal everything happens off page and the book ends, leaving things a bit flat.

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#ARCs received from the publishers for all books as part of their 2017 Holiday reads series in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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