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Release Blitz: A Gift-Wrapped Holiday by Amy Aislin

A Gift-Wrapped Holiday | Amy Aislin

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Release Date: November 22nd, 2022

Cover Artist: LC Chase

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length: 69,000 words / 272 pages

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Blurb

Mal’s first priority is giving his six-year-old son the best Christmas ever, a goal made trickier by a recent move to New England after losing his job. As a single dad, he’s not looking for romance—especially not with a blond California boy ten years his junior.

After being ridiculed at the family business, Luca sets out to prove himself by opening an eco-friendly gift-wrapping store in a small town with a hard-on for Christmas that’s about as far from LA as he can get. Out of his comfort zone in snowy Maine, love is the last thing on his mind.

But the magic of the season has other ideas. As Mal and Luca collide on wintery streets, will they let their first Christmas in Lighthouse Bay lead to happily ever after?

Content warning: stillbirth. Although it took place off-page and in the past, it is discussed on-page.

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Excerpt

Mal slowed at the bottom of a driveway and nodded at the house. “This is me.”

“I was wondering who lived here,” Luca said, taking in the house’s boxy structure.

“Why? Because it’s hideous?”

That startled a laugh out of Luca. “Well . . . yes. It doesn’t match the rest of the houses.” The area just west of Christmas Lane housed Lighthouse Bay’s historic homes, but this modern construction was decidedly not historic. Luca had passed it a couple of times on his evening gift deliveries and wondered what the owner had been thinking. “Why’d you buy it if you don’t like it?”

“I’m not. I’m leasing.”

Even so, Mal had gone all out with the decorations. Icicle lights hanging from the roof, flashing multicolored lights framed around each window, static white lights around a nine-foot-tall pine tree, and a lit-up reindeer family. He even had some sort of spotlights buried somewhere in the yard that swirled red and green snowflakes on the house in an unidentifiable pattern.

“Which is probably another reason I haven’t unpacked,” Mal continued. “I hate this place.”

“Why lease it, then?”

Mal blew out a breath that ghosted the air in front of him. “The short version is that I was in a rush.”

“And the long version?”

“The long version is something I’ll have to give you another time.”

Luca glanced at Otis. “I think he’s asleep.”

“Bet he gets a second wind as soon as I walk in the door.” Mal’s voice was a disgruntled grumble that Luca shouldn’t have found as charming as he did. “Thanks for walking us home.”

“Thanks for letting me. I like talking to you.”

Mal’s smile went lopsided. “I like talking to you too. Still want to do it again sometime? I promise not to feed you ice cream while it’s below freezing outside. Real food only. Scout’s honor.”

Luca’s armpits went damp despite the winter weather, and butterflies took flight in his belly. He dug his toe into the sidewalk. “You must really want to date me if you’ve asked me out twice in one week.”

“Or I just want an adult to talk to for once,” Mal said, a teasing tilt to his smile.

Luca stuck his tongue in his cheek and backed down the driveway, keeping his gaze on Mal’s. “Or maybe you like me.”

“Damn. And here I thought I wasn’t being obvious at all.”

The butterflies floated into Luca’s throat. “Text me?”

“I will.” The darkness enveloped Mal as he moved away from the sidewalk and into the shadow of the house, but Luca could still see the quirk to his lips. “Good night, Luca.”

“Night, Mal.”

Luca watched Mal and Otis head inside, waved at Mal through the glass-fronted door, then turned toward his own home only a couple blocks away, an extra bounce to his steps.

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About the Author

Amy’s lived with her head in the clouds since she first picked up a book as a child, and being fluent in two languages means she’s read a lot of books! She first picked up a pen on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class had to stay inside for recess.

Tales of treasure hunts with her classmates eventually morphed into love stories between men, and she’s been writing ever since. She writes evenings and weekends—or whenever she isn’t at her full-time day job saving the planet at Canada’s largest environmental non-profit.

An unapologetic introvert, Amy reads too much and socializes too little, with no regrets. She loves connecting with readers. Join her Facebook Group to stay up-to-date on upcoming releases and for access to early teasers, find her on Instagram, or sign up for her infrequent newsletter.

Social Media

Blog/Website | Facebook | InstagramNewsletter Sign-up | Facebook Group

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Annabelle brings a ghostly twist to her magical Christmas romance

christmas spirit coverChristmas Spirit by Annabelle Jacobs

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As the seasons turn and we enter the Winter quarter of the year, I always feel there’s magic in the air.

The veil between the here and the otherworld that our ancestors believed in gets thinner and you really can believe that anything can happen.

This is the feel which Annabelle Jacobs brings to this wonderful Christmas set romance between an unlikely pairing but two men who just get each other.

Dylan first bumps into Gareth when he’s in a cafe collecting coffees and his Achilles tendon pops. As he’s struggling, the older man comes to his rescue and offers to drive him to the hospital. There’s an instant attraction but the moment passes.

So it comes as a massive surprise to both when they meet again as Dylan heads down to Cornwall to rehabilitate from his injury with his best mate who’s heading to work at his uncle’s cottage.

From the off there’s something just a little bit magical about this part of the world, the small village on the coast has happily embraced Gareth, who is a veterinarian, and his next door neighbour Kitty has provided him with gossip, baked goods, and a bit of mothering since his arrival.

The sparks between them are just as strong when they meet again, there’s a brief moment of oh god you’re my best mate’s uncle/nephew’s best mate dithering before they settle into a friendship that isn’t looking like it’s going to go anywhere.

Until we get to that element of otherworldly I mentioned earlier in the form of Agatha, the sweet old lady who used to live in the cottage and who is still sticking around as an unseen ghostly presence to keep giving them the nudges they need!

It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but the ghostly interventions are some of the funniest parts of the book and also ones which bring a huge smile.

***SPOILER-ISH***

Dylan and Gareth are locked in the bathroom together, Agatha helps Dylan find an abandoned kitten, she repeatedly expresses her discontent that they’re not snogging by banging doors, moving things and rattling drawers.

***ENDS***

As Gareth’s house renovations continue and the time that Dylan has to spend recovering from his injury grows shorter, they grow closer and it becomes increasingly clear they have the potential for something truly special.

I won’t give away any more of the moments which give this festive romance its wonderfully magical and somewhat spooky atmosphere except to say the scene on Christmas Eve is just utterly gorgeous and I can’t wait for everyone else to fall in love with the two men, the setting and their happy ever after.

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

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What a joyous and uncomplicated romance this is!

UnmanageableMcAdam_ebookUnmanageable by Leslie McAdam

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book so hard! It’s a joyous read, very little angsting, no manufactured drama, just two men falling in love and making a family.

It stars Scott, who was one of Murphy’s possible dates back in Undone and who we last saw getting drunk with Jeremy in Counterpoint, and older single dad Luke and it’s swoony and steamy and made my heart happy.

The setting takes us mostly out of V&V for this one as Scott takes the job as live in manny for Luke.

Luke’s daughter Addie is beautifully portrayed too, not too smart for her age, not too babyish, I fell for her just as much as I did her gruff but secretly marshmallowy dad.

With a deft hand, Leslie takes the reader through Scott’s embarrassing “break-up” with the guy he’s seeing at the start of the book, through a strong friendship with Luke, as his love for life and pure innocence reminds the older man of what he used to be like before his marriage failed, and into a lifetime of happiness.

There wasn’t a bit of this narrative I didn’t like, even the “Third Act” tension point, which comes pretty late in the book, makes perfect sense.

Luke is running scared, so he inadvertently causes Scott to doubt himself and worry if he’s really in love or just imagining things with his romantic wishful thinking.

Fortunately, this isn’t left to stew and there’s an incredibly satisfying set up to the reunion and happy ending which had me smiling big time.

Throw in a lovely Epilogue and this book pops under Garrett’s as my second favourite so far!

#ARC kindly received from the author via Sarina Bowen’s Heart Eyes Press in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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