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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Release Day Blitz: Leaning Into A Wish by Lane Hayes

Title:  Leaning Into a Wish

Series: Leaning Into #5

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Release Date: November 22

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 35000

Genre: Romance, Holiday, Bisexual, Humor, Winery, Working Relationship

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Synopsis

Ryan Haskell loves everything about the wine business. He’s fortunate to work at one of the most prestigious wineries in Napa Valley doing something he enjoys with the people who are like family to him. But he could do without the good-natured intern slash former jock with the wicked grin who always seems to be in the way. Ryan isn’t sure why the new guy is under his skin when everyone else loves him. Thankfully he’ll be gone after the holidays.

Danny Meyers can’t believe his luck when he lands an internship at Conrad Winery. It’s the perfect temporary gig to wrap up his graduate studies. He’s left his dreams of tennis stardom on the court to focus on a new career and a new life. However, he didn’t count on the spark of attraction he feels for his prickly co-worker. When their tentative friendship blossoms into something more than either man counted on, they may have to change direction and lean into a holiday wish.

Excerpt

A vacuum-like static rang in my ears. It wasn’t until Danny nudged my arm that the typical raucous bar noises filtered through again. And when he scooted his barstool back a foot or two and raised his hand to flag down a server, everything seemed to return to normal. Sort of.

“Gin and tonic for my friend and I’ll have another martini, please. Thanks.” Danny tipped back the last of his drink then handed it over before twisting to face me. “So other than being out twenty-five bucks and possibly having an awkward conversation at work on Monday, that didn’t go so bad.”

“I—I don’t get it. What just happened?”

“We agreed to let Geordie win the bet, remember?”

“Sure, but how did I get stuck here with you?”

Danny snorted. “We’ve already established that you like me. Stop being an uptight fuddy-duddy.”

“A fuddy—? You’re…” I gritted my teeth and tried to think of a stinging insult to fit the situation. “Annoying.”

Lame. And the “That’s the best you’ve got?” twinkle in Danny’s eye told me he agreed with me. I was about to let him have it when the waiter stopped to deliver our drinks. When we were alone again, I leaned into him and kicked his shin for good measure.

“Ow. Relax, Ry. I still want to kiss you, you know.” He popped the speared olive from his martini into his mouth. “With tongue.”

“You’re reading way too much into a stick of spearmint gum, honey. Don’t flatter yourself. It was a joke,” I huffed derisively.

“It doesn’t have to be.”

“Are you fucking nuts? I’m not kissing you,” I announced primly.

“You want to though. Admit it,” he teased.

I blew out an exaggerated breath, sucked down half my cocktail, and slid off my barstool. “I’m outta here. See you Monday.”

Danny grabbed my belt loop and yanked me to his side. “You didn’t let me finish. I was about to say…”

“Yes?” I prompted with a rolling hand gesture.

“I want it too.”

We stared at each other for a heated moment. I had no clue what he was thinking, but it seemed weird to ask for clarification. When the growing tension went on a beat too long, I wanted out. “See ya, Danny boy.”

I pushed my way through the crowd and gulped for air when I finally reached the sidewalk. I didn’t dare stop to enjoy the refreshing autumn breeze. If I wanted to avoid any further confrontation, I had to boogie. Danny was the type of guy who liked having the last word, and that wasn’t happening on my watch. I fished my keys from my pocket and power-walked toward the parking lot behind the bar.

“Ryan!”

I ignored him and picked up my pace. I spotted my car and clicked my fob to unlock the door. Danny called my name again. I could tell from the sound of his footsteps behind me that he was closing in quickly. I had to hurry or—

Too late. A hand on my elbow yanked me sideways.

“What the fuck is your problem?” I fumed, pushing his chest to no avail.

He moved into my space until his nose was less than an inch from mine. He was too big and imposing, and the look in his eyes was straight-up dangerous.

My dick twitched in my jeans. Of course it did. I had a bad habit of coveting what I couldn’t have and getting turned on by the chase. My past was littered with embarrassing short-term affairs or crushes on guys like Wes and Finn. Men I admired but never had a real shot with. I didn’t want to add Danny to that list because against my better judgment…I liked him. Really liked him.

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Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

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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: Merry & Bright by Joanna Chambers

 Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | KOBO | Barnes & Noble

Length: 59,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Natasha Snow

 Blurb

 

Humbug

Quin Flint is unimpressed when his gorgeous colleague, Rob Paget, asks for extra time off at Christmas. As far as Quin is concerned, Christmas is a giant waste of time. Quin’s on the fast track to partnership, and the season of goodwill is just getting in the way of his next big project. But when Quin’s boss, Marley, confiscates his phone and makes him take an unscheduled day off, Quin finds himself being forced to confront his regrets, past and present, and think about the sort of future he really wants…and who he wants it with.

Mr Perfect’s Christmas

Sam Warren’s new job hasn’t been going so well so the last thing he’s in the mood for is the obligatory office Christmas party, particularly since Nick Foster’s going to be there. Nick–the guy whose shoes Sam has been trying to fill–seems to take very opportunity to point out where Sam’s going wrong. But when Sam receives an unexpected Secret Santa gift at the party, he’s forced to question his assumptions about his rival. Could it be that he’s been misinterpreting Nick’s actions all along? And is it possible that his reluctant attraction to Nick is reciprocated?

Rest and Be Thankful

Things haven’t been going well for Cam McMorrow since he moved to Inverbechie. His business is failing, his cottage is falling apart and following his very public argument with café owner Rob Armstrong, he’s become a social outcast. Cam needs to get away from his troubles and when his sister buys him a ticket to the biggest Hogmanay party in Glasgow, he can’t leave Inverbechie quick enough. But when events conspire to strand him in the middle of nowhere in a snowstorm, not only is he liable to miss the party, he’ll also have to ask his nemesis, Rob, for help.

Author Bio
 

Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. She spent over 20 years staring at blank sheets of paper and despairing of ever writing a single word. In between staring at blank sheets of paper, she studied law, met her husband and had two children. Whilst nursing her first child, she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna lives in Scotland with her family and finds time to write by eschewing sleep and popular culture.

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Review Tour: Texas Gift by R.J. Scott

Length: 50,000 words approx
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
Texas Series
Book #1 – The Heart of Texas – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Texas Winter – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Texas Heat – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Texas Family – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 – Texas Christmas – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 – Texas Fall – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 – Texas Wedding – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Blurb

 

A gift for every single reader needed to know what happened next for to Jack and Riley…

When Hayley arrived on the steps of the D, Riley and Jack knew life would never be the same.

Told through Riley and Jack’s eyes, this is ten years in the life of their family and watching Hayley grow up, fall in love, and start her own life. Hurricanes, illness, babies, happiness, sadness, work, play, the barn, the office, horses, friends, enemies, and above all love.


November 15 – Sexy Erotic Xciting, Gay Media Reviews

November 21 – Making It Happen, Mirrigold: Mutterings & Musings

November 23 – Padme’s Library

November 25 – Dog-Eared Dadydreams

November 27 – Valerie Ullmer, The Geekery Book Review

November 29 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Bayou Book Junkie, Jim’s Reading Room, Wicked Reads

Author Bio

RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

mailto:rj@rjscott.co.uk
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Release Blitz: Undercover Star by Jackie Keswick

 Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

 Length: 41,000 words
Cover Design: Emma Griffin
 Blurb
 

It sounds like the stupidest idea in the history of stupid ideas. Detective Inspector Josh Ingram wants to find a deadly medieval locket and through it, a murderer. So why does his boss decide to team him up with Matisse Vervein, a pop idol many consider just a pretty face… and expect the two of them to hunt down an art thief?

Marissa Godwin, Matisse’s no-nonsense manager, isn’t stupid. Neither is her brother-in-law, Detective Superintendent Tim Montgomery. Each is looking out for a lonely man on the verge of quitting what he does best, and both believe that their charges would make a great team.

The attraction sizzling between Josh and Matisse is hard to miss, but there’s plenty of resentment, too. Focussed on pushing Josh and Matisse towards each other, Marissa and Tim haven’t imagined the kind of trouble a music star and a detective can find when they ditch their prejudices and accept that the attraction between them is mutual. Or how far each is prepared to go to prove it to the other.

A feel-good, action adventure romance set in England and Scotland, featuring a reluctant pop star who’s not out, a detective trying his hand at being a bodyguard, plenty of adventure, and a happy ending.

Author Bio

Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurring dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.

Jackie loves stories about unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who don’t follow the rules when those rules are stupid. She has a thing for green eyes, blogs about English history and food, and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.

And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.

For questions and comments, not restricted to green eyes, bus stops or recipes for traditional English food, you can find Jackie Keswick in all the usual places:

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Release Blitz: NineStar Press – Holiday Stories Week One

Title:  Holiday Collection, Week One

Author: Multiple

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: November 20, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male, Female/Female

Length: Multiple

Genre: Contemporary, romance, gay, holiday, seasonal, businessman, office workers, gift exchange, geeks-nerds, sweet, lesbian, bisexual, timeline, friends to lovers, slow burn/UST

Synopsis

Room at the Inn

Working on Christmas Eve—no fun. Working a double shift on Christmas Eve? Even less fun. But working a double shift on Christmas Eve in a hotel with two guests? For Jason Martin, it was a recipe for a long, dull holiday. But then a power outage at the local airport sends a bus filled with people to Jason’s hotel. Alone, Jason not only has to attend to his guests, he has to save Christmas for a group of weary and grouchy travelers. Happily, one of the guests, a Mr. Marino, steps in to lend Jason a hand. Mr. Marino is helpful, handsome, and running right to the top of Jason’s Christmas wish list. But Jason has sworn off hotel hook-ups. And Mr. Marino will be heading out of town the next day, Christmas day. Is it worth getting involved with someone who is only staying for one night?

Of Printers and Presents

Colleagues Ford and Vaughan have long admired each other from afar, but Vaughan’s shyness and Ford’s emotional hang-ups have meant that neither has made a move. That all changes when they draw each other’s name in the office Secret Santa.

A Special Delivery

Colin only meant to take a wrongly delivered package to a house a few streets over. But a sudden snowstorm leaves him with no option but to beg shelter from his unknown neighbour James. During the course of a long night, a cozy fire, a little hot chocolate and the snow outside conspire to draw the two men closer. But will their connection outlast the storm?

A Holiday Ruse

Kezia’s been harboring feelings for Magdalena for what feels like an eternity. She’s made peace with that. But when her happily committed best friend is suddenly single, that peace is disturbed. Especially when Magdalena comes to Kezia asking for a huge, unreasonable favor. Kezia doesn’t know how to say no, even though she knows she should. Will she be able to maintain her composure while helping the broken-hearted Magdalena? Or will pretending to have the girl of her dreams only lead to a broken heart of her own?

Handmade Holidays

At nineteen, Nick is alone for the holidays and facing reality: this is how it will be from now on. Refusing to give up completely, Nick buys a Christmas tree, and then realizes he has no ornaments. A bare tree and an empty apartment aren’t a great start, but a visit from his friend Haruto is just the ticket to get him through this first, worst, Christmas. A box of candy canes and a hastily folded paper crane might not be the best ornaments, but it’s a place to start.

A year later, Nick has realized he’s not the only one with nowhere to go, and he hosts his first “Christmas for the Misfit Toys.” Haruto brings Nick an ornament for Nick’s tree, and a tradition—and a new family—is born.

As years go by, Nick, Haruto, and their friends face love, betrayal, life, and death. Every ornament on Nick’s tree is another year, another story, and another chance at the one thing Nick has wanted since the start: someone who’d share more than the holidays with him.

Of course, Nick might have already missed his shot at the one, and it might be too late.

Still, after fifteen Christmases, Nick is ready to risk it all for the best present yet.

Purchase then all at NineStar Press

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