3.5 Stars, Anthology, Ava Penn, Beaten Track Publishing, Holiday Romance, Kathleen Hayes, Raine O'Tierney, Reviewed by Lana

Review: Boughs of Evergreen Roundup – Xmas Cake, Coming in from the Cold, and The Bard and His Boyfriend

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Titles: Xmas Cake: A Modern Fairy Tale, Coming in from the Cold, and The Bard and His Boyfriend

Authors: Raine O’Tierney, Ava Penn, Kathleen Hayes

Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing – Boughs of Evergreen Anthology benefitting The Trevor Project

Pages/Word Count: 43 Pages/52 Pages/35 Pages

Rating: 3.5 Stars Overall

Blurbs:

Xmas Cake: Once upon a snowy Christmas season, in the glowing metropolis of Midday…

If this were a fairy tale Kyle would be the handsome prince and Riley would be the poor baker in distress. Oh wait, but that’s exactly what it is!

When Kyle Prince sees Riley collapse in the snow-covered parking lot, he swoops in to the rescue, whisking the feverish young man off to his high-rise apartment without a second thought.

As Riley mends under Kyle’s care, a feeling of closeness grows between the two men. But every fairy tale has its complications. Will the two find their happily ever after this Christmas?

Coming in from the Cold: What’s a poor, East coast boy fending for himself in Colorado to do when winter sets in on the Rockies?

Declan Stoeber finds himself freezing every minute of the day once autumn ends and the snow begins to fall in the Centennial State. With no family to go home to for the holiday season, he plans to put extra time into his studies and maybe look for a part-time job. What he gets is a part-time job with benefits and a few new friends.

Xander Duchesne is a savvy businessman in the harsh world of deals and projects. Estranged from his mother due to her matchmaking tendencies, he is resolved to spending Yule (or Winter Solstice) by himself for the first time in his life. He wasn’t expecting his mother’s impossible-to-ignore demands, and he certainly wasn’t prepared for a college freshman who was just coming in from the cold.

The Bard and His Boyfriend: Seth is a member of an ancient clan of druids that have existed for over 5,000 years. The rituals they perform at the changing of the seasons keep the very fabric of reality from unraveling. But as he goes home for the Winter Solstice, all Seth can think about is the huge fight he had with his boyfriend before he left school for the holiday break.

Dividers

Review: There is nothing better than getting into the holiday spirit with romantic Christmas stories. A holiday story that is heartfelt, cute and most importantly sweet, always leaves me warm and fuzzy. My selection from this holiday collection wereXmas Cake by Raine O’Tierney, Coming in from the Cold by Ava Penn, and The Bard and His Boyfriend by Kathleen Hayes. They were all cute if not a bit formulaic.

In Xmas Cake, a waif finds his true love after a case of mistaken identity. I though the story could have been better if it were written in a different way. I think the author was trying to go with the whole fairy tale vibe, which didn’t work for me, and I felt the story was a little boring.

In Coming in from the Cold, two men meet each other just before Christmas and find true love. These themes usually have me salivating, but this story was just ordinary for me. It was also pretty mild on the heat level and is perfect for anyone looking for an introduction to m/m fiction.

The story that really caught my attention was The Bard and His Boyfriend, a cute take on the fantasy genre. Seth is part of a Celtic Clan in America, and the caretaker of a mystical ritual. Honestly, I was a little bit confused by the explanation, but I think if this were a longer novella and more background was given, it could have the potential to be a really good story. During the winter solstice celebration, Seth’s boyfriend Ale shows up. The only problem is that the location of the Clan is a secret, and no one outside the Clan knows the location. But it turns out that Ale is Seth’s chosen and knows the location in his heart. The story is cute and sweet, but is just too short to leave any sort of lasting impression.

My selections from Boughs of Evergreen were okay for a quick read, and in the end, not too filling.








You can buy Xmas Cake, Coming in from the Cold, and The Bard and His Boyfriend here:

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