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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Jocelyn Drake knocks the festive romance out of the park again

Ice, Snow, & MistletoeIce, Snow, & Mistletoe by Jocelynn Drake

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just as in last year’s Walking on Thin Ice, this visit to Cincinnati and to Spenser’s best friend John is an absolute joy.

Unlike Spenser though, John hasn’t found his Happy Ever After and his family dramas have made Christmas a painful event for many years.

When he bumps into the guy who pretty much broke his heart five years earlier, he’s ready to walk away, just like Oz did to him, when he realises the probable reason that happened.

Watching these two navigate their way through all the trials of discovering neither had truly moved on was a lesson in how to create tension without ever overwhelming the story.

John and Oz are perfect together, if only Oz can learn that his happiness is just as important as his family life, and if John can persuade him to let him fully into his world.

I also liked that the ex-girlfriend didn’t provide the usual obstacle but that she too learnt to stand o her own two feet. I also liked. That she was encouraging about John and Oz once she found out and she made Oz open his eyes a bit.

It was also fab to bump into Spenser and Evan again and see the continuation of their HEA with a New Year wedding.

I hope Jocelynn comes back to this setting again.

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Release Blitz: Yours for the Holiday from DJ Jamison

 Buy Links: Amazon USAmazon UK

Length: 50,000 words approx.

 Blurb
 

Fresh off a break-up, Remy is in no mood to share a room with his brother’s best friend during a holiday stay at home. Jason Hendricks has always treated him like a little brother to tease and taunt, all the more embarrassing because Remy has secretly crushed on the jerk since puberty. But when Jason confides he’s bisexual, Remy realizes the crush he loves to hate could be the perfect rebound.

Jason has always found Remy appealing. He didn’t handle his attraction well when he was younger, but now Remy’s a grown man and Jason’s no longer afraid of his feelings. Some playful flirtation sounds like a great way to spend Thanksgiving break, but he’s not prepared for Remy’s newfound sex appeal or his decision to make Jason his rebound fling. Jason doesn’t want to risk fallout with a family that’s always been there for him, but he’s not sure he can resist.

When the two part ways, they don’t plan to stay in touch, but soon they’re texting, trading sexy pictures and helping each other cope with family drama. Remy agrees to be his for the holiday, continuing their secret fling over Christmas, but Jason knows that won’t be enough. He’ll have to find the courage to be open and honest with his best friend — and the whole Wells family — if he wants a chance at love in the new year.

This approximately 50,000 word novel is a brother’s best friend, enemies to lovers romance that comes with a satisfying HEA!

Excerpt

“Hey,” Jason said quietly. The bed dipped as he sat down on the edge of the mattress. “You okay?”

“Oh, so you’re done avoiding me?” Remy said, hating the bitter edge to his words. He swallowed hard, trying to gain control over his emotions, so he didn’t make a fool of himself yet again.

“I’m sorry,” Jason said. He sounded sorry. Truly regretful.

Remy pushed up, struggling into a seated position against the headboard. If they were going to have this talk, he wanted to look Jason in the eye.

Swallowing hard, Remy forced out words that had been nagging at him all day. “I’m sorry too. I got carried away. I didn’t mean to pressure you—”

“God no, Remy,” Jason interrupted. “No, no. It wasn’t like that.”

Jason’s hand hovered in the air. Remy watched Jason hesitate before resting his big palm over Remy’s thigh. The blankets formed a barrier between them, but the point of contact burned as if he could feel the warmth spilling from Jason’s hand.

“Then I’m confused,” Remy said.

“I, uh, find you very sexy,” Jason said, voice tinged with embarrassment. It would be charming if it weren’t for the heavy topic of conversation. “But I need the Wells family. I don’t talk about my parents much, but—”

“I know it’s not great,” Remy said. “Dad filled me in on what happened last summer with your mom.”

“Yeah,” Jason said. “So, basically, I’m terrified of fucking everything up. If I go there with you, I might hurt you. And if your parents or Derek find out, I’m not sure what they’d do. It’s just … messy.”

“It doesn’t have to be,” Remy said. “It’s just some fun. No strings needed. And as for going there with me, don’t you think the cat’s already out of the bag? You’ve had your hand on my dick.”

Jason glanced at Remy’s crotch, unable to resist teasing him. “Cat’s out of the bag? And here I thought pussy only referred to—”

Remy slapped his hand over Jason’s mouth. “Don’t say it!”

Jason chuckled, his warm breath gusting over Remy’s palm. Remy shivered as their eyes locked and held. When the wet tip of Jason’s tongue licked a stripe over his hand, he couldn’t hold back a small moan.

“Fuck you, JJ,” he muttered, pulling his hand back. “If you’re going to say no, don’t fucking tease me.”

“I’m not saying no,” Jason said roughly. “I probably should, but I can’t say no to you again. Not one more fucking time.”


Author Bio

DJ Jamison is a contemporary M/M romance author with more than a dozen titles to her name. She writes a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual, with a focus on telling love stories that are more about common ground than lust at first sight. She grew up the literal embodiment of a red-headed stepchild in a working-class family in Kansas. Determined to build a successful career, she earned a degree in journalism and worked in newsrooms for more than ten years before pursuing her dream to write fiction. DJ is married with two sons, two glow-in-the-dark fish, and regrettably, one snake.

DJ’s Newsletter: www.tinyurl.com/djandcompany

DJ’s FB group: www.facebook.com/groups/djandcompany

DJ’s FB page: www.facebook.com/djjamison

Book Bub: /www.bookbub.com/authors/dj-jamison

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/DJ_Jamison

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Blissville gets a festive visit and it’s a delight

A Dye Hard Holiday (Curl Up and Dye Mysteries, #4.5)A Dye Hard Holiday by Aimee Nicole Walker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fabulous festive visit with Josh and Gabe and all the rest of the Blissville crew. There’s a lot of humour, a little bit of mystery, some douche-baggery from Josh’s ex Trent, and a whole load of cute kids and family adventures.

I thoroughly enjoyed this peek into the lives of the Roman-Wyatt’s as they look forward to the twins first Thanksgiving, Christmas and their first birthday.

All the usual gang is present and there’s still a few surprises on the way as Gabe has to deal with a series of acts of vandalism that threaten to take all the fun out of Christmas.

There’s also time for the usual hot and sexy loving readers have e come to expect from Josh and Gabe, including a rather memorable encounter with Josh’s pole in the dance studio.

I’ve loved the Blissville series and this festive treat just adds to the all round fun.

#ARC received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Smashing Christmas series of short romances

Merry & BrightMerry & Bright by Joanna Chambers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Three delightful festive treats make up this short story anthology from Joanna Chambers.

I’d read one of them before in the fund raising Wish Come True Mr Perfect’s Christmas, and I enjoyed it as much now as I did then. It’s a sweet twist on what you think is going to happen between Sam and Nick.

Speaking of twists, I’d have loved to read more of book one, Humbug, with its take on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Quin was an utter arse, fairly unsympathetic for a fair chunk of this narrative.

But in true festive spirit, Rob managed to pierce the driven and less than pleasant surface and discover Quin’s inner nice guy. There were some painful truths to be had as Quinn took his unexpected second chance.

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More festive treats from Eli Easton

 

CoverDesperately Seeking Santa by Eli Easton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5*

There’s some things which you can rely on and one of those is that if Eli Easton releases a Christmas novella it will be an utter delight.

This one is wonderful as it heads back into Easton’s Superhero territory with a romance for Jordy and Owen’s two friends Gabe and Mack. Mack is the mountain of a wrestler on the Badgers team with Owen, Gabe is a journalism student.

Their initial meetings are a contrast in humorous dialogue and sparks of distrust as Gabe tries to find an angle to work over his festive story of a local charity dinner.

The big secret of just who is under the Santa suit is telegraphed but it doesn’t actually matter. Far more important is watching Gabe realise that a good journalist knows when to dial back and find another angle, if the one they’re following isn’t going anywhere, just as much as they need to ferret out painful truths. (A lesson I also painstakingly learnt over my 20 year journalism career!)

Mack’s background being revealed serves no one’s public interest and would only be hurtful to his family rather than benefiting the charity Gabe’s supposed to be helping, but the alternative ending to his report is a lovely solution.

The setting is great and there’s a lot packed into this novella. The epilogue is super sweet and if you’ve never read either Superhero or any of Eli’s other holiday reads, you should go rectify that immediately.

#ARC received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Robert Winter hits the festive heights with a vampire twist

Vampire ClausVampire Claus by Robert Winter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Twas the night before Christmas, but what’s stirring is a little more dangerous than a mouse.

This was ace! Robert Winter’s festive fare really hit the heights for me, I loved Taviano the jaded vampire wondering what it was all about and sweet Paul, who he saves from a mugging.

The Boston setting felt like another character as well although it just gently anchored the story in the background but I got a real feel for Little Italy and the foggy and potentially dangerous streets.

Paul was seriously funny, a fully developed character who came into his own when suddenly confronted by someone (or something) his eyes were telling him couldn’t be real. His outbursts had me actually laughing out loud as I read this book.

The humour also creeps up on you as Taviano realises he’s been slowly coerced into being a festive elf for a bunch of LBGT kids who otherwise wouldn’t know the joys of Christmas morning gifts from Santa. The scene as he sneaks through the centre to drop off the presents Paul has bought is delightful.

Without spoiling the story, there’s a bit of drama before their romance gets nicely wrapped up in a beautiful big Christmas bow (and a Happy Ever After that might last just a wee bit longer than most)

#ARC received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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