Romance in the land of ice and snow and Gods of War and Thunder

A Viking for YuleA Viking for Yule by Jamie Fessenden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cute not quite follow up to last year’s A Cop for Christmas focusing on Sam, who we last saw staying with Jackie as his grandfather recovered in hospital from his heart attack.

Now he’s on an around the world tour with Jackie and it finishes off in Iceland, where he bumps into a brooding Icelandic man who might just be the answer to Sam’s loneliness.

Arnar isn’t happy at being landed with the tourist but, as their interactions grow, he realises that Sam is much more complicated than he thought and that it might just be worth knowing him a bit better.

The setting is very much a secondary character as the two men go on a driving tour of this interesting and historically rich country and I adored how it was brought to life so vividly.

Little angst, a wee bit of steamy sex and a lovely ending and epilogue, make this a real festive treat.

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

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Lovely young adult first love festive romance from Keira Andrews

Eight Nights in DecemberEight Nights in December by Keira Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved this one from Keira Andrews which focuses on a Jewish festive celebration rather than the traditional Christian Christmas event.

I really enjoyed reading about the different traditions associated with Hanukkah, some of which I’ve come across before, others not so much.

Both Lucas and Nathaniel were sweet characters, each with their own fears and hopes and this first time love story worked totally for me.

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

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Cozy Christmas romance from Keira Andrews

In Case of EmergencyIn Case of Emergency by Keira Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5*

This one’s had mixed reviews from my friends here on Goodreads but I’m happily in the enjoyed it camp.

It’s not my favourite from Keira, but it’s still a well developed romance featuring a not quite second chance relationship but one in which the two MCs were very briefly step brothers.

I do agree with most of my friends who took a while to warm up to Daniel and those who described Julian as an obvious villain. He was a bit of a caricature and all he was missing was the moustache twirling and a cackle.

But Cole was a sweetie and I thought Keira handled the attraction awakening in Daniel very well too and I loved the whole festive getaway in log cabin element.

Fab epilogue too and a nice cover which actually reflects perfectly the ethnicity of the MCs.

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

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Much better plotted than the opening book

No Limits (No Shame, #2)No Limits by Nora Phoenix

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5*

This is far better plotted than book one was but it still doesn’t seem to be able to make its mind up about what sort of story it is.

There’s elements of BDSM, elements of possible poly relationship, elements of crime thriller and elements of military comfort but it’s all jumbled up together.

There’s also the odd grammatical errors, this one’s stand out being Connor admitting he’s gay being a momentum occasion instead of a momentous one. They stand out for me probably more than they would for a casual reader because I was a journalist and sub-editor for almost two decades.

Now, having said all of the above, I found Josh and Connor’s relationship development to be well done, the Dom/sub nature making good sense as a me and for Josh to deal with his PTSD and it didn’t give me any magic dick feelings.
Although, speaking of, the descriptions of Connor’s and his inhibitions about it were both hilarious and beautifully emotional at the same time, proving it’s not just men with small penises who might have hang ups. It was handled well and worked within the narrative.

Plus, for all the seriousness of a lot of the plot, there was also a good amount of humour in this one to temper the serious elements. It’ll be interesting now seeing what happens with Josh’s wayward brother and how Indy’s criminal threats from his past get resolved.

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

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Stuck in the middle with this new cowboy romance from A.M. Arthur

Wild Trail (Clean Slate Ranch, #1)Wild Trail by A.M. Arthur

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5*

There’s lots of bits in this book which are great but there’s also parts which didn’t work as well for me so overall it was a good but not great read.

Things that worked: The setting, loved the ranch and the vibe of the people there and the descriptions and the ghost town and the mystery. I liked the majority of the romance between Mack and Wes too.

Things that didn’t work: The ‘boss/daddy” references. None of their sexual encounters felt even remotely daddy and boy to me, neither was their really any sign of a master/slave element to warrant the boss nickname, the odd way Mack’s ex’s cheating being revealed came up.

Also Colt’s big reveal felt chucked in to create drama rather than a natural element which sat well within the narrative.

But, having said all of the above, there are more positives than not and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series and seeing what all the not very subtle hints turn into for Reyes, Colt, Miles and Aubrey.

#ARC received from Carina Press via NetGalley.

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Good bones of a story in this hockey romance

Country Boy (Hot off the Ice, #2)Country Boy by A.E. Wasp

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5*

There’s a really good story here but it’s suffering under the weight of some editing and proofing lapses, there’s odd tenses, missing words and at one point, one of the MCs’s father’s name changes in the same paragraph.

As this is an ARC, I’m hoping they’ll be ironed out before release as AE Wasp has a real talent for putting some serious messages in the heart’s of her story telling.

This one surrounds the insidious way religion is used by a (thankfully small) minority to persecution and terrify the life out of those who don’t conform to heterosexual norms.

Paul has spent his whole life being told gays will go to Hell and that it’s wrong, a perversion, so he doesn’t react well after spending a night with college rival hockey player Robbie.

The proverbial hits big time though when he’s transferred to the same professional team a couple of years later and all those feelings of attraction are still there.

There’s a lot of complex emotions being dealt with in this book, as well as the sweet romance, and sometimes it gets itself all caught up in trying to do too much.

Robin’s inattentive parents and their disregard for his career, his transgender pseudo aunt Georgie playing college football with Paul’s dad and knowing there’s something off about his extreme religious views, should have been dealt with separately really.

It muddled up the narrative at that point so it felt like the big reveal from his past was there as a specific plot point.

However, the very sharp reminder of the terrifying events of the 1980s with the AIDS crises was very well done.

I don’t think people who weren’t alive at that time can quite understand the horror and the fear which was projected around the world including here in the UK as the “gay plague” saw people dying in their hundreds, then thousands.

I felt for Paul throughout but I also wanted to kick him up the backside but i accept its difficult to change a mindset which has been drip fed to you for so long.

Both characters are quite young but they read as fairly mature, both were able to communicate, albeit at times in sign language, so there was no misunderstanding plot here.

The ending is really lovely and there are more potential pairings set up in this for a third book.

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

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Gray for You hit all the right notes

I might be your your fantasy. But I’m nobody’s forever…

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Spencer Spears’ second installment in the 8 Million Hearts series is a fun romp through the making of a high class porn film – yes there exists such a thing! In fiction at any rate, and centres on Gray, owner of Maggie’s Bar where Ben and Adam played their music in book one.

Now, you’d expect, it having the porn link (Gray is an ex New York porn star voted best in the game for four years running) that this book would be all about the sex.

But, surprisingly not. The other protagonist is former child star Tyler Lang, now in his early 20s and reeling after one two many disasters and a media storm of epic proportions.

He’s looking for something different, a way to take control of the life which had, up until his latest drugs related disaster (and oh how my heart went out to him when he couldn’t remember even buying the coke that had been found in his beat up minivan) been firmly operated by his presently estranged father (more on that ass later).

Their two worlds collide during the filming of a book which has been gaining attention as a high-brow, literary gay porn novel. Tyler is deliciously inexperienced but has a reputation for being a player, all untrue. He’s not even 100% sure he’s gay until he meets Gray and then watches one of his old scenes online.

For Gray, he’s been hanging on to the hope that his dick of a “boyfriend” will finally tell his family about them and admit they’re a couple when he’s dumped, yet again. He’s felt rejected and unworthy his whole life, with the exception of Maggie, who took him in, became his guardian angel and eventually left him her bar and a shedload of properties.

Together they start to navigate their way to a relationship which is both supportive and encouraging of each other, it’s beautiful to read how each opens up to the possibility that there might be someone who sees them for who they are.

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