5 Stars, Andrew Grey, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Angel

Review: Love Comes Unheard by Andrew Grey

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Love Comes Unheard (Senses: Book Five)

Author: Andrew Grey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a GlanceA sweet addition to a wonderfully rounded series.

Review By: Angel

Blurb: Garrett Bowman is shocked that fate has brought him to a family who can sign. He’s spent much of his life on the outside looking in, even within his biological family, and to be accepted and employed is more than he could have hoped for. With Connor, who’s included him in his family, Garrett has found a true friend, but with the distant Brit Wilson Haskins, Garrett may have found something more. In no time, Garrett gets under Wilson’s skin and finds his way into Wilson’s heart, and over shared turbulent family histories, Wilson and Garrett form a strong bond.

Wilson’s especially impressed with the way Garrett’s so helpful to Janey, Connor and Dan’s daughter, who is also deaf. When Wilson’s past shows up in the form of his brother Reggie, bringing unscrupulous people to whom Reggie owes money, life begins to unravel. These thugs don’t care how they get their money, what they have to do, or who they might hurt. Without the strength of love and the bonds of family and friends, Garrett and Wilson could pay the ultimate price.

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Review: Any Andrew Grey book is an instant read for me now, as I just love my feel good happy endings with a bit of reality. Love Comes Unheard is the fifth book in the Senses series. The Senses series involves many couples, several characters with disabilities, and how they go about their individual lives. The characters from previous books in the series make an appearance in the follow-ups, so I don’t think this can be read as a standalone. I really recommend that you start from the beginning with Love Comes Silently.

I really enjoyed seeing disabled characters as the stars, so to speak, in this series. Most times the MCs are often hale, whole and practically perfect, so it was a good change of pace. Each disability is treated with respect and understanding, and really made this series for me. Grey doesn’t disappoint with his happy endings either, in spite of the subject matter.

For this particular book, the disability is deafness, and while this has been touched on in a previous book, I liked that Grey went more in depth with these particular characters. Wilson and Garrett were fun to watch as they built their relationship. In addition to the disability aspect of the story, there was also an age disparity issue and one of homophobia, all of which was handled just as delicately as the disability.

I also loved seeing Connor, Dan, and their family again, and how this couple’s relationship had progressed. Garrett meshed so well with the family that it was hard to believe he hadn’t been there from the beginning. Getting Wilson’s background story was just fantastic for me, as I adored his character when he was introduced in the last book. Love Comes Unheard is a sweet and wonderful addition to this already delightful series of hope and love.

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You can buy Love Comes Unheard here:

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A.M. Arthur, Giveaways

Character Interview and Giveaway: The World As He Sees It Blog Tour with A.M. Arthur

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Please join us in welcoming author A.M. Arthur today on the tour for her latest novel The World As He Sees It. Enjoy the character interview with Gabe Henson, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win a Grand Prize Goodie Basket, featuring 1 signed paperback of The Truth As He Knows It, 1 signed paperback of The World As He Sees it, plus a bunch of other goodies (notebooks, cute post-it’s, etc…).

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Hi, A.M., thank you for agreeing to this interview. Before we get to Gabe, tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

AM: Hello! I’m a contemporary m/m romance author (who occasionally dips into paranormal). I hail from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, equal distances from beaches and corn fields, and I currently share my apartment with two rascals of kitties.

My current book, The World As He Sees It, is the second in my Perspectives series with Samhain Publishing. It’s Tristan and Gabe’s book, and anyone who read the first Perspectives knows why Tristan is super special. He has severe short term memory loss, which prevents him from living a fully realized life. Gabe spends all of his time and money taking care of his alcoholic mother, which prevents him, also, from living a fully realized life. I’m so excited for readers to finally get their story.

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Q: What do you find attractive in a man?

Gabe: Certain physical things will always be a turn on, I won’t lie about that. I mean, one of my jobs requires being naked with some of the best looking men on the planet. But other than being fit, I love a guy’s eyes. Eyes can tell you so much about a person. Also confidence. Knowing what you want and going for it, and I’m not just talking about in bed. In life too.

Q: What’s the first thing that went through your head when you saw Tristan?

Gabe: The first thing I thought was “I want to hug him.” It’s weird, I know, but our first meeting was pretty unusual, because he was freaking out and upset, and I didn’t know how to help him. All I knew was that I wanted to hug him and make it better. When I saw him again, a month later, the first thing I thought was “holy shit, he is as beautiful as I remember.”

Q: Do you think you’ll insist the author visits you again?

Gabe: I won’t insist, but I think Tristan will. His recovery is an ongoing, never-ending thing, and he’ll want the future reassurance that things are okay with us.

Q: Before you met Tristan, what was your ideal man?

Gabe: Hot and hung. Before Tristan, I wasn’t looking for anything serious or long-term. I had too much going on at the time, and I’d been hurt pretty badly by the one relationship I tried. So mostly I wanted sex, and I found a way to get good, regular sex with a lot of hot, hung men. I never realized Tristan was my ideal guy until I met him.

Q: You’re going out for dinner. What’s your favorite food?

Gabe: I’m so glad Tristan isn’t here to say sausage and try to make me blush. That’s his favorite thing lately. My own personal favorite food is my Dad’s homemade vegetable lasagna, but I don’t go out for that exactly. If I’m choosing a restaurant, it’s because I know they make a good steak. A medium-rare steak with blue cheese and a baked potato is heaven on a plate.

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The World as He Sees ItBlurbLove knows no limits…but fear could keep them from seeing it.

Gabe lives a double life. As Gabriel Henson, he works multiple jobs to support his remorseless, alcoholic mother. As Tony Ryder, he does internet porn for extra cash and regular safe sex without complications.

Yet when he encounters a scared young man freaking out in a night club, he’s compelled to reach out. Ever since then, the memory of that young man has haunted him.

Tristan Lavelle lives his life thirty minutes at a time. After a traumatic brain injury three years ago, he gets through his day recording his life in spiral notebooks and sticky note reminders.

A month after Tristan’s embarrassingly public meltdown, another chance meeting with Gabe sparks a warm, emotionally fulfilling email relationship. Both men crave more, but fear of the next step stands between them.

Until Tristan gets the opportunity to take part in a clinical trial that could improve his memory—if the side effects don’t kill him. But for Tristan, the possibility of a real life with Gabe is worth any risk…

Buy Links: Samhain Publishing || Amazon || ARe

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Author BioAbout the author: A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland.  She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop.  She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories.

When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder.  She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.

Contact her at am_arthur@yahoo.com with your cooking tips (or book comments).

Social Media Links: Facebook Page || Twitter || Pinerest || Tumblr || Blog

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Tour Dates & Stops:

20-Oct

Love Bytes

Mikky’s World of Books

Hearts on Fire

The Novel Approach

21-Oct

3 Chicks After Dark

Bayou Book Junkie

22-Oct

Prism Book Alliance

Just Love Romance

23-Oct

Bookaholic Confessions

TTC Books and More

26-Oct

MM Good Book Reviews

Divine Magazine

Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words

27-Oct

Velvet Panic

Michael Mandrake

Amanda C. Stone

28-Oct

Happily Ever Chapter

29-Oct

Inked Rainbow Reads

30-Oct

Book Reviews and More by Kathy

2-Nov

Dawn’s Reading Nook

It’s Raining Men

The Fuzzy, Fluffy World of Chris T. Kat

3-Nov

Iyana Jenna

My Fiction Nook

4-Nov

Bike Book Reviews

Foxylutely Book Reviews

5-Nov

Jessie G. Books

6-Nov

BFD Book Blog

9-Nov

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

10-Nov

Cathy Brockman Romances

Two Chicks Obsessed With Books and Eye Candy

11-Nov

Kimi-Chan

12-Nov

Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My

Joyfully Jay

13-Nov

Rainbow Gold Reviews

16-Nov

Molly Lolly

Nephylim

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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5 Stars, Genre Romance, Island Tales Press, K.C. Wells, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: Submitting to the Darkness by K.C. Wells

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: Submitting to the Darkness (Island Tales: Book Three)

Author: K.C. Wells

Publisher: Island Tales Press

Pages/Word Count: 278 Pages

At a Glance: This is an emotional journey of learning to live with blindness, and how love can help you see the way.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Three weeks after being diagnosed with acute glaucoma, Adam Kent lost his vision. Two months down the line, and he’s left behind his life in London as an author of political history books and retreated to the Isle of Wight, to live in the house he inherited in Steephill Cove. But that’s not all Adam’s left behind him: the trappings of his life as a Dom are packed away into three boxes and stored in his attic. After all, he’s never going to need them again, right? Who’d want a blind Dom anyway?

Paul Vaughan is employed to be a live-in companion to Adam, but his new employer makes it very clear he wants to be left alone. Paul can see Adam is hurting and struggles to help him, even though Adam resists him at every turn. Thankfully, Paul’s friends Taylor, Mark and Sam are there to lend an ear when he needs to vent – and also to try setting him up with a guy or two. It’s not that Paul doesn’t appreciate their efforts, but the guys they keep sending his way are way too… vanilla. A chance visit to a club had already shown Paul a side to him he’d never expected: maybe his tastes are a little kinkier.
Two events occur to rock Paul’s life: he discovers his boss isn’t as straight as Paul had thought, and he takes a peek into a box…

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Review: Submitting to the Darkness is book three in the Island Tales Series, and I have to say I liked this one the best.

Adam is a highly successful businessman, entrepreneur and author.  At the age of forty, he is at the top of his game…until he is diagnosed with acute glaucoma and within three weeks, is blind. In his opinion, everything he loved to do: write, sail, be a Dom, things he needs his eyes for, are gone. Retreating to his house on the Isle of Wight, he lives in darkness and cannot find his way out. Adam’s character is beautifully drawn; you feel the depth of his pain. He has relegated himself to one room of the house, being too far into depression to venture further.

Paul is young. He’s twenty-three and a physical therapist but cannot find work in his field, so he applies for the job of caretaker and companion to a gentleman. And gets almost more than he can handle with Adam. But even though he is young, he has a backbone of steel and good heart, and he quickly learns he will need both with his new charge.

It’s not easy, K.C. Wells gives us our HEA—she just puts her characters through hell to get there—but that’s what makes it so good.  This is not a light, fluffy romance; it is a book with substance and a heavy subject matter which the author tackles beautifully.  The situations with Adam’s blindness are neither contrived nor drawn out, which make the book not so much about the situation the men are in but about the men themselves and how the circumstances bring them together to make a whole. There is a BDSM element in this book but it is secondary to the storyline, and it adds a bit of spice without being the focus. When these two men finally get together the sparks fly, and yeah, it gets hot…

I loved this book and would highly recommend it and all the Island Tales series.

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You can buy Submitting to the Darkness here:

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4 Stars, Chris McHart, Drama, Genre Romance, Rawmance Publishing, Reviewed by Lynn

Review: Small Steps by Chris McHart

Title: Small Steps

Author: Chris McHart

Publisher: Rawmance Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 230 Pages

At a Glance: Overall, this was a great read that I would recommend for everyone.

Reviewed By: Lynn

Blurb: Ben Amann currently hates everything: The accident that temporarily put him in a wheelchair, the fact that he has to go for rehab and live in an assisted living home as well. Sebastian Hofers, the good looking but equally bad-tempered new assistant to his rehab therapist changes that.

Sebastian has two choices after causing an accident while driving drunk: community service hours or go to jail. The decision is a no-brainer, and so he meets Ben at the rehab center. The two of them hit it off and slowly, Sebastian sees more than just a patient in Ben.

But their growing relationship faces hard trials, not only because of Sebastian’s heavy drinking, but also because of the truth: The two of them already met on an icy street, eight months ago.

Can love and forgiveness overcome the overwhelming guilt and resentment?

Contains: Two ill-tempered men, a lot of hang-ups, a shared hope, and a destroyed dream.

Trigger Warning: deals with alcohol abuse and alcoholism

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Review: This was my first time reading Chris McHart. The author chose to write about a serious problem in this country, drunk driving. The blurb definitely piqued my interest and for personal reasons, I was intrigued to see where the author was going to go with this story.

We get to meet the characters, Ben and Sebastian, almost a year after the accident—from their chance meeting at the rehab center, to their daily routines. We get to know them as individuals too, through their POVs, and see a budding romance. A romance that maybe isn’t going to work out the way they want.

Now, from the blurb, we know Sebastian caused the accident that put Ben in a wheelchair. As a reader, I have mixed feelings about knowing something the characters don’t. In some cases it’s necessary, but I feel with this story that I wish I hadn’t known. I think because of that knowledge, the beginning of the story was a little repetitive. I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop, and was wanting the author to get on with it and let them know who the other one was already. To be honest, it took me out of the story a bit.

Some may not agree with me on my assessment of Sebastian here, but I kinda felt bad for the guy. He was an absolute train wreck, and no one was reaching out to help him. He was on a downward spiral through most of the story, and at times, it was very difficult to watch. Part of me wanted to shake him and tell him to grow the hell up, stop drinking, haven’t you caused enough damage? But the other part of me was screaming at those around him, can’t you see he needs help? I really just wanted to pluck him from the pages and give him a smack and a hug all at the same time.

Ben, on the other hand, I wasn’t a fan of his at the beginning. I know, he’s the victim here; it wasn’t his fault; I should feel sorry for him. I didn’t. There was something about his whiny, poor me attitude that I just didn’t like. He deserved to have a poor me attitude, I know, but I wasn’t feeling it. He does redeem himself towards the end of the story, though, and I often wondered if the author meant to make his character not so likable, or is it just me? It’s probably just me.

I will say the author did a tremendous job in keeping this story real, in the alcoholism storyline and the havoc which this disease can cause. Seeing the aftermath and how it can truly change the lives of so many people was very realistic. Bottom line: it’s a story of acceptance, forgiveness and learning to love and be loved.

I loved the minor characters who really put their mark on this story. Marco, being an old friend of Ben’s, added a little lightness to a pretty heavy subject. And Niko, I loved him. A new friend of Ben’s and eventual roommate, he was a godsend to both main characters, in so many ways. I don’t know if the author has any plans for Niko, but he definitely has a story to tell, and I for one would love to read it.

As the saying goes, no one reads the same story. Some may see these characters a lot differently than I do, so don’t pass this one by. Overall, this was a great read that I would recommend for everyone.

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You can buy Small Steps here:

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4.5 Stars, Draven St. James, Genre Romance, Loose Id, Reviewed by Kim

Review: Driven by Fire by Draven St. James

Title: Driven by Fire (Firehouse Six: Book Four)

Author: Draven St. James

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 141 Pages

At a Glance: I can’t get enough of these sexy firemen!

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Taber Delane is lucky to be alive, but his career as a firefighter ended the day a beam snapped, resulting in a crushing spinal injury. Most of his friends are willing to give him space, everyone except paramedic, Deacon Hall.

Deacon hasn’t met a challenge he couldn’t tackle and he knows Taber needs someone in his corner who isn’t afraid to stand up to the big bad fireman. The longer he’s around Taber, the more the sexy vulnerability of the man comes through. Deacon finds he doesn’t just want to be Taber’s live-in caregiver, he wants a chance at the passionate man beneath the stubborn shell.

A shell that is cracking, no matter how Taber tries to hold it together. Deacon being in his home starts to open him up–and open his eyes to the man Deacon hides from the rest of the world. Without seeing it coming, Taber soon craves more. A lot more.

Now if only Deacon can get Taber to see that it isn’t so bad having him there to assist. Even if and maybe especially when Taber is naked, dripping wet, and angry as hell.

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Review: Driven by Fire is the story of how Taber is managing his life after his career as a firefighter has ended with a crippling spinal injury, as well as the fact that he’s a closeted gay man. As the story begins, Taber has yet again chased away a caregiver, and Deacon has volunteered for the job. Someone has to help Taber with the cooking, cleaning, and making sure he doesn’t overdo it with the physical therapy, and Deacon seems to be the perfect man for the job since he’s currently between living arrangements. He’s broken up with his cheating boyfriend and doesn’t mind helping the sometimes-frustrated and cranky and very sexy Taber, and I thought it was rather cute how Stephen, Taber’s physical therapist, got him to agree to have Deacon come help out.

What I really enjoyed about Driven by Fire was that Taber didn’t let his injury destroy the person he was before his accident. In other words, there’s no major pity party going on in this story. But, Taber does have a problem with having too much time on his hands, and his thoughts about his future are not helping. I had a laugh out loud moment when Deacon was out doing something, and Taber decided to snoop through his bags. What he pulled out…well…let’s just say he deserved to be embarrassed.

Even though Taber hates the thought of needing a caregiver, he likes Deacon, and he was a positive distraction when Taber was in the hospital—something he came to appreciate while he was recuperating. I also liked Deacon and loved his brand of humor and how, when it looked like Taber might consider throwing himself into a pity party, he just wouldn’t let him. It’s kind of sweet how these two finally get together, when Taber reveals that he’s not into women.

Thank you, Draven St. James, for writing Taber’s story. I’m looking forward to reading more about Firehouse Six. I can’t get enough of these sexy firemen!

TNA_Signature_Kim







 

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Chris T. Kat, Dreamspinner Press

Guest Post and Excerpt: Despite the Odds by Chris T. Kat

Despite the Odds

What is cerebral palsy?

Hello, I’m Chris T. Kat, visiting The Novel Approach again. :) I’m here to talk about my new release, Despite the Odds (Odds Are: Book One). Despite the Odds is the first book in the Odds Are series, and was published by Dreamspinner Press on June 3rd.

One of the main characters in Despite the Odds, Joshua Stone, has cerebral palsy. It’s a disability that’s caused by abnormal development or damage to the parts of the brain that control movement, balance, and posture. The problems occur mostly during pregnancy, but sometimes also during childbirth or shortly after. The cause for cerebral palsy is often unknown, and the effects it has on people vary greatly.

Symptoms can include poor coordination, stiff or weak muscles, and trouble speaking. Problems can also arise in the areas of sensation, vision, hearing, and learning. In about a third of people with cerebral palsy, seizures occur. In no way does it mean someone suffering from cerebral palsy can’t lead a joyful life with as much independence as possible.

For me, it was important that Joshua show some symptoms of cerebral palsy and how he deals with them. Since he has trouble with coordination, he uses a walker and a tricycle to get around. His self-esteem is affected by his disability, and he doesn’t see himself ever having a loving relationship. That is, until Michael Campbell breezes in his life.

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DespitetheOddsFSBlurb: Never judge a book by its cover.

Michael Campbell can’t hold a job for more than a few days. He’s lucky his foreman is giving him another chance with the solar panel project at a primary school in Atlantic City. When he spies a man walking strangely in front of the school, Michael laughs, assuming he’s drunk or high. Little does he realize that Joshua Stone, a teaching assistant, has cerebral palsy, and he’s having a bad muscle control day. Taking a tumble right in front of the handsome construction worker is just his luck.

When Michael learns the truth, he feels badly for his cruel behavior. He offers to give Joshua—and his tricycle, the Racing Rhonda—a lift. Joshua accepts the help, and suddenly there’s a gorgeous man breezing into his life, turning his world upside down. But Michael has more issues than his inability to hold down a job, and neither man is sure if they’ll be able to overcome their fears in order to be together.

Buy link: Dreamspinner Press

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Excerpt from Chapter Four: No, no, no. Why did this have to happen now? Joshua didn’t have a speech problem per se, just sometimes when he was stressed the words slurred together. From the uncomprehending look on Michael’s face, his slur was bad. After biting back another groan, Joshua drew in a deep breath and tried again.

Michael blinked at him. Wow, the guy had the most beautiful hazel eyes he’d ever seen. In combination with the thick blond hair and the tanned skin, he was a stunning sight. Like a surfer maybe.

Joshua gasped when Michael cut the engine. “I’m sorry,” he said, “but I couldn’t understand you.”

Joshua’s right hand contracted, and for a moment panic blinded him. He wouldn’t have a seizure now, he refused to have one. Not that his body seemed to be inclined to listen to him today, but he couldn’t have this happen. He’d be a crying mess if he seized in front of this handsome stranger.

“Joshua? Are you okay? Should I call a doctor? You’re slurring, and even though I’m not a doctor, I don’t think that’s a good sign.”

Joshua shook his head frantically. No doctor and no hospital! His right hand stopped spasming, and he pulled at his backpack. Thank God he’d chosen one with Velcro clasps. He opened the backpack to grab his phone. He held it up for Michael to see. It took him a while, but he croaked, “Address is in my phone.”

He wasn’t sure whether Michael understood his words or put the pieces together, but Joshua sighed in relief when Michael said, “Oh, the address is in your phone, right?”

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Chris T. KatAbout the Author: Chris T. Kat lives in the middle of Europe, where she shares a house with her husband of many years and their two children. She stumbled upon the M/M genre by luck and was swiftly drawn into it. She divides her time between work, her family—which includes chasing after escaping horses and lugging around huge instruments such as a harp—and writing. She enjoys a variety of genres, such as mystery/suspense, paranormal, and romance. If there’s any spare time, she happily reads for hours, listens to audiobooks or does cross stitch.

Links: Blog | Twitter | GoodReads | Facebook | Amazon author page:

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5 Stars, Genre Romance, Heidi Cullinan, Reviewed by Sammy, Samhain Publishing

Review: Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan

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Title: Carry the Ocean (The Roosevelt: Book One)

Author: Heidi Cullinan

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 268 Pages

At a Glance: Carry The Ocean is a novel that reminds us that each and every one of us deserves love. I highly recommend it to you.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Normal is just a setting on the dryer.

High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he’s autistic.

But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When his untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility nearby.

As Jeremey finds his feet at The Roosevelt, Emmet slowly begins to believe he can be loved for the man he is behind the autism. But before he can trust enough to fall head over heels, he must trust his own conviction that friendship is a healing force, and love can overcome any obstacle.

Product Warnings: Contains characters obsessed with trains and counting, positive representations of autism and mental illness, a very dark moment, and Elwood Blues.

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Review: Where to begin…

If you are looking for standard fare m/m romance, Carry The Ocean will leave you disappointed. However, if you are looking for a remarkably tender and illuminating story that reveals how love can come into every life, not just those viewed as “normal”, then this story is going to resonate deeply. Having taught children on the autism spectrum, I found Heidi Cullinan’s story displayed such a sophisticated portrayal of one such individual, for she could not be more right than when she had Emmet give voice to the truism that when you have met one autistic child, you have met one autistic child. Each is different, coping in their own unique way, and presenting with their own beautiful quirks and gifts.

The story of how Emmet, a high functioning autistic college student, pursues and meets his neighbor across the train tracks is a gorgeous story of love and the fight for independence. Emmett has so many strategies he has developed and learned over the years, from different shirts to convey different moods, to the foam hammer that allows him to vent his anger. His parents are smart, well educated, and loving.

Jeremey, on the other hand is nearly crippled by his anxieties, fears, and clinical depression. However, unlike Emmet’s parents, Jeremey’s are brutal, constantly harping on him to just buck up and be “normal”. That is the crux of what author Heidi Cullinan writes about in Carry The Ocean. Not only does she delineate the pain and horrible sense of unworthiness these two young men carry with them each day but she also speaks about the fact that there is no “normal”. She continually comes back to the idea that each one of us is normal despite our differences, our individual strengths or weaknesses, our emotional and intellectual struggles—that “normal” looks different for each person.

However, lest you are concerned that this is some Pollyanna novel focused on showing the world that “special needs” kids are just like you and me, think again. She celebrates their individuality by sparing no little time on giving us a window into their lives. We walk through Jeremey’s crippling anxieties, we are swept up in Emmet’s frustration over not being able to express himself when it is needed most. We are privy to the fears of two young men who want and need each other and who are discovering sex and lust and love for the first time. This novel is stunning in its scope and realism. We do not fall in love with Emmet and Jeremy because they are pitiable, we fall in love with them because they are fighters in an ocean that alternately threatens to drown them or keep them afloat.

Carry The Ocean is a love story from an author to the young men and women who fight each day to hold onto themselves, find their place in a world that doesn’t value those who don’t fit their norm. This novel is a lush and beautiful story of love and strength, small victories and huge advancements. In a nutshell, Carry The Ocean is a novel that reminds us that each and every one of us deserves love. I highly recommend it to you.

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1.5 Stars, Amber Allure, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Jackie, Shawn Bailey

Review: Silence by Shawn Bailey

Title: Silence

Author: Shawn Bailey

Publisher: Amber Allure

Pages/Word Count: 22000 Words

At a Glance: This book just doesn’t tick any of the boxes of a great read.

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: When Andrew Lansky, a mild-mannered erotic romance writer, receives a phone call from his mother, his life suddenly changes. His old friend Richard Julian has been killed in a car accident in Mississippi, and the news devastates Andrew. He hasn’t seen Richard in more than nine years. He had always planned to call him, but never did, and now he would never see him again.

With Richard gone, deaf twenty-four-year-old Brett Julian has lost the last member of his family, leaving him all alone in his world of silence. As another wicked twist of fate, Richard’s old friend Andrew shows up for the funeral and repast, awakening long-dormant feelings within Brett.

After reconnecting with Andrew and confessing his hidden desires for the man, will Brett finally have a chance at happiness? Or will his life get messed up again because his deafness keeps him from hearing what Andrew’s love has to say?

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Review: After reading the blurb for this book I was intrigued and just had to read it. I liked the idea of Brett crushing on his brother’s friend and then being reunited years later. I also like that there was a pretty good age difference between them.

Andrew and Richard were great friends but had fallen out of touch. When Andrew finds out that Richard died in a car accident, he goes home for the funeral. While he’s there, he’s reunited with Richard’s younger brother Brett, and he is instantly attracted to him.

Brett is deaf and very self-sufficient, but without Richard, he doesn’t need the large house they shared, so Andrew offers for Brett to move in after he sells his house. Their mutual attraction doesn’t take long to catch fire, and before they know it they’re in a relationship…or are they?

Richard’s ex-boyfriend Troy is trying to get close to Andrew, and Brett’s friend James is putting the moves on him. Right about here is where the story lost me. Andrew and Brett have said they are in a relationship, and Andrew is clear that he isn’t interested in anything but friendship from Troy. On the other hand, Brett is giving the green light to James while being “in a relationship” with Andrew.

Silence just all around didn’t do it for me. I never felt like Andrew and Brett were on the same page in what they wanted or expected from one another, and I didn’t feel the romance in any of it. I would be interested in reading more from this author in the future, but this book just doesn’t tick any of the boxes of a great read.

TNA_Signature_Jackie






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4 Stars, Anna Martin, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, New Adult, Reviewed by Jules

Review: Signs by Anna Martin

Title: Signs

Author: Anna Martin

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: I continue to be a big fan of Anna Martin – an absolutely fantastic storyteller.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: After spending most of his life in special schools, Caleb Stone now faces public high school in his senior year, a prospect that both excites him and threatens to overwhelm his social anxiety. As a deaf teenager, he’s closed himself off to the world. He speaks a shorthand with his parents and even finds it hard to use American Sign Language with people in his local deaf community. But Caleb finds comfort in his love of photography. Everything he can’t express in real life, he posts on his Tumblr.

Struggling to reconcile his resentment for his father’s cruelty with the grief of losing a parent, Luc Le Bautillier scrolls through Tumblr searching for someone who might understand his goth look and effeminate nature. When Luc reblogs a photo by Caleb, sparking a conversation, they both find it easier to make friends online than in person.

Luc and Caleb confront their fears about the opinions of the outside world to meet in New York City. Despite Caleb’s increasing confidence, his parents worry he’s not ready for the trials ahead. But communication comes in many forms—when you learn the signs.

Dividers

Review: There is a lot to love about Anna Martin’s newest release, Signs. At the top of the list are Caleb and Luc. I adored these guys. They were refreshing and real, and just had a really lovely innocence about them. The more I’ve thought about this story in the last few days since finishing it, the more I realize how much I liked it, and how much of that has to do with them.

Caleb is an eighteen-year-old high school senior who is passionate about photography, and starts a Tumblr account to share some of his pics. He also happens to be deaf. I liked that he wasn’t a ‘typical’ deaf kid. He isn’t a superstar at sign language, and only begrudgingly attends meetings of a local Boston chapter of Deaf Youth to appease his parents, who want him to try to interact more. Being deaf isn’t the only issue keeping him from having a more normal teen life; unfortunately, he also suffers from social anxiety, making it even more difficult to make and keep friends. He gains a few followers on Tumblr, though, including catching the eye of a teen boy from New York City named Luc.

Luc is a goth kid who doesn’t really relate to his family, and though he does have a few friends at his new school in the city, he’s also a bit of a loner. Luc lives with his sister, Ilse, and his mother, who is never home. She stays out drinking and hanging out with her socialite friends, leaving Ilse to do most of the parenting for Luc. But, something about Caleb’s work speaks to Luc, and he ends up sharing and commenting on a couple of his posts, sparking conversation between the two.

The story mostly consists of watching Caleb and Luc become closer, and grow and mature together. The only drama coming from a bit of push-back against the parents – typical kids testing boundaries and exerting their independence – and also when Caleb applies to be in a trial for a new type of cochlear implant. But, sweet was the exact right feel for this story. They didn’t need a ton of angst or drama, it was simply enough to enjoy watching them fall in love, and decide what direction they want their lives to go.

Things get a little off track in the middle of the book. It definitely started out strong, but I felt like it wandered a bit through the midsection. There were a couple of awkward scenes, some unanswered questions – one being what happened to Jay? Luc had a best friend who disappeared, seemingly for no reason, which begged the question, why even include him in the story at all? And I think the cochlear implant stuff was maybe a bit drawn out.

That being said, however, there were even more things I loved: Luc helping Caleb work on his speech techniques (swooooon), the letter Luc wrote to the people in charge of the implant trial (amaaaaazing), the fact that even with all the communication barriers, these two were better at communicating than most adults I know. So much good stuff. We never learned what Luc’s aspirations were, but in the post-book story in my head, he studies to become a speech therapist. :)

From Tattoos & Teacups to Cricket and Jurassic Heart, and now a wonderful NA book about two fantastic young men in Signs, I continue to be a big fan of Anna Martin – an absolutely fantastic storyteller. I can’t wait to see what she gives us next!






You can buy Signs here:

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3 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Sammy, Tempeste O'Riley

Review: Caged Sanctuary by Tempeste O’Riley

Title: Caged Sanctuary

Author: Tempeste O’Riley

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 204 Pages

At a Glance: A good story with a refreshing twist, though a bit too glib

Blurb: Kaden Thorn, a dental surgeon who lives a quiet life, has no hope of finding the love he craves. A vicious gay bashing cost him the use of his legs and confined him to a wheelchair. He has given up hope of finding a Dom or even a nonkink partner to love him. When his best friend practically forces him to attend a dinner party, the last thing he expects is a strong Dom who can see beyond his wheels.

Deacon James is an architect and a demanding Dom, but he has spent the past couple of years without a sub or partner. When an employee invites him to a dinner party to meet his girlfriend, Deacon smells a setup but agrees anyway. He prides himself on being an excellent judge of character, and when he meets the younger dentist, he sees past the chair and finds a sweet submissive man who more than piques his interest.

Kade’s fears and demons continue to haunt him, challenging Deacon to use everything he’s learned as a Dom to earn Kade’s trust and submission. Deacon’s determined, though, willing to battle all of it to have Kade by his side and at his feet.

Dividers

Review: First off, let me just extend kudos to author Tempeste O’Riley for creating a hugely likeable character who was both wheelchair bound, and submissive, and desperately wanting to be in the lifestyle that a BDSM partnership affords. Kade was clearly a kind and gentle soul to whom horrible things had been done, which included an extreme and violent gay bashing that left him nearly dead and finally, crippled for life. However, the incident did so much more than that. It really threatened to strip from him his heartfelt desire to be someone’s “boy”, a submissive bound to a Dom, a partner to a man who could love him and whom he could serve just as he was.

But while Kade’s physical limitations definitely could hamper serving a Dom, it was Kade’s own internal thoughts of unworthiness and recurring attitude of despair that really kept him from seeing what was right in front of him—in this case, a dominant who was willing to undertake the challenges Kade’s handicap presented. Deacon James sensed that Kade would be an incredible submissive from the first time he set eyes on him. From that moment on, he was determined to remove any stumbling blocks between he and Kade—particularly those that existed only in Kade’s mind. So, Deacon sets out to woo his submissive, to rebuild his confidence and to help him realize he is still worth so much to the right man, namely Deacon himself.

While I loved the premise of this novel—that a submissive can come in any form—and the idea that despite what we might see as our own limitations, love can truly push away self-doubt, the delivery of those messages almost got lost in the fairy tale scenarios this novel espoused. Deacon was just a bit too perfect—wealthy, handsome, and a bit old-fashioned in his approach to dominating. The moments between him and Kade were very loving and often hot and fraught with sexual tension, but I kept waiting for the action to start in this story. For instance, early on Kade alluded to an abusive former partner, and even had a run in with him in an liquor store at one point in the story, but while it was intimated that this former lover really did some nasty damage to Kade’s confidence and ego, there was no real resolution to his past with the guy. This element of the novel was just left hanging without Kade every fully coping with it. Without that emotional closure, I felt it highly unbelievable that Kade could so willingly be mastered by Deacon or trust him fully.

Also, there was a scene of group play that occurred in the novel that seemed a bit forced. Kade had such reservations that he could serve Deacon fully and yet seemed to easily accept the idea that a foursome would work well and would be something that would not trigger all his feelings of inadequacy. The intimacy that is required for a Dom to share his submissive is huge, and I felt that there were still so many finer points that Kade and Deacon needed to sort through together before Kade or Deacon would even think about group play.

All in all, Caged Sanctuary was a good story with a refreshing twist on a BDSM relationship that pushed boundaries successfully. However, I felt that the story became a bit too glib in relation to Kade’s heavy emotional and mental baggage.






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4 Stars, Jim Provenzano, Literary Fiction, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: Every Time I Think of You & Message of Love by Jim Provenzano

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Title: Every Time I Think of You & Message of Love

Author: Jim Provenzano

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 264 Pages/374 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars Overall

Blurbs: 2012 Lambda Literary Award Winner for Best Gay Romance

After an abrupt encounter in a small woods of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Reid Conniff, a shy and studious high school distance runner, becomes swept up in the adventurous world of Everett Forrester, a privileged and capricious charmer. Overcoming the distance of their separate schools, parental interference, and a nearly fatal accident, the two young men find a way to be together in spite of their own doubts and fears.

Set in 1979-1980, Every Time I Think of You recalls a halcyon era in America’s past with a personal voice. Continue reading

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4 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Renae Kaye, Reviewed by Tina

Review: The Blinding Light by Renae Kaye

Title: The Blinding Light

Author: Renae Kaye

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 210 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Jake Manning’s smart mouth frequently gets him into trouble. Because of it, he can’t hold a job. Combined with some bad luck, it’s prevented him from keeping steady employment. A huge debt looms over him, and alone he shoulders the care of his alcoholic mother and three younger sisters. When a housekeeping position opens, Jake’s so desperate he leaps at the opportunity. On landing, he finds his new boss, Patrick Stanford, a fussy, arrogant, rude… and blind man. Continue reading

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4 Stars, Drama, Historical Romance, Lisa Henry, Reviewed by Lynn, Riptide Publishing

Review: Sweetwater by Lisa Henry

Title: Sweetwater

Author: Lisa Henry

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 240 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: Wyoming Territory, 1870.

Elijah Carter is afflicted. Most of the townsfolk of South Pass City treat him as a simpleton because he’s deaf, but that’s not his only problem. Something in Elijah runs contrary to nature and to God. Something that Elijah desperately tries to keep hidden. Continue reading

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Less Than Three Press, T.T. Kove

Guest Post and Giveaway: More Than Anything by T.T. Kove

T.T. Kove

Writing About Illnesses

Jørgen has always suffered from panic attacks, but back when his first character came to me (like, ten years ago, would you believe it?) I was young and didn’t know much about mental illnesses. But last year, when he came back, I knew exactly what was wrong with him: Jørgen suffers from PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. He has issues with touching, with crowds, with dark and enclosed spaces. He has issues with intimacy and a difficult time dealing with his family. He’s had a hard life and it’s not sugar-coated. Jørgen is damaged and it’s not going to be magically repaired. Continue reading

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2.5 Stars, AKM Miles, Genre Romance, MLR Press, Reviewed by Lisa

Two Men Have Obstacles To Overcome In AKM Miles’ “Put Me in a Book”

Title: Put Me in a Book

Author: AKM Miles

Publisher: MLR Press

Pages/Word Count: 191 Pages

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Blurb: Brandon Reese thinks there are too many big reasons why he and Rhine Walken can’t have anything other than a friendship, but Rhine thinks differently.

Brandon Reese isn’t ugly, but he thinks he is. He knows he looks better now that he’s lost over 200 pounds, but he can’t get over feeling, well, less like the handsome men he writes about in his gay romances. Then he meets Rhine Walken. He’s intrigued. But the next time he sees Rhine there’s something really wrong with the young man. Like really. Brandon finds out that Rhine suffers from a traumatic brain injury that manifests in a strange manner, one that makes a relationship pretty much off the table. Damn that sucks. Because he could love this man.
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5 Stars, JCP Books, Jordan Castillo Price, Reviewed by Lisa

A Damaged Antihero Leads The Way Through Jordan Castillo Price’s “Meatworks”

Title: Meatworks

Author: Jordan Castillo Price

Publisher: JCP Books

Pages/Word Count: 300 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Desmond Poole is damaged in more ways than one. If he was an underachiever before, he’s entirely useless now that he’s lost his right hand. He spends his time drowning his sorrows in vodka while he deliberately blows off the training that would help him master his new prosthetic. Social Services seems determined to try and stop him from wallowing in his own filth, so he’s forced to attend an amputee support group. He expects nothing more than stale cookies, tepid decaf and a bunch of self-pitying sob stories, so he’s blindsided when a fellow amputee catches his eye.
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5 Stars, All Romance Ebooks, Leta Blake, Reviewed by Jules, Self-Published

Love For Leta Blake’s “The River Leith” Runs Deep – Reviewed by Jules


“I don’t know you. I don’t even know why we’re friends, and I still like you. I like you…” Leith swallowed hard and exhaled a shaky breath, searching for the right word. “Desperately.” – Leta Blake


Title: The River Leith

Author: Leta Blake

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 173 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Memory is everything.
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3 Stars, Reviewed by Kim, Samhain Publishing, Scarlet Blackwell

Two Men Fall In Love “Against Reason” – Reviewed by Kim


“The heart has its reasons which reason knows not.” ― Blaise Pascal


Title: Against Reason

Author: Scarlet Blackwell

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 109 Pages

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb: He lost his heart once. Is it too damaged for love to find it again?

In the five years since the love of his life abandoned him at the altar, Jake Morgan hasn’t left his house. The locals in this small, English town have dubbed him “Mr. Havisham”, but he’s too preoccupied wrestling his demons to care about Dickensian comparisons.
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4 Stars, Andrew Grey, Dreamspinner Press, Reviewed by Jackie

Good Things Happen When “Love Comes Home” – Reviewed by Jackie


“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” ― John Holmes


Title: Love Comes Home (Senses: Book Three)

Author: Andrew Grey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb: When architect Gregory Hampton’s son, Davey, starts having trouble in Little League, Greg takes him to an eye doctor. The diagnosis hits them hard. Davey’s sight is degenerating rapidly, and eventually he’ll go blind.
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JCP Books, Jordan Castillo Price, Reviewed by Lisa

Jordan Castillo Price’s “Forget Me Not (Mnevermind: Book Two)” – It’s A Fantastic Sequel In A Great Series


“I like it that order exists somewhere even if it shatters near me.” ― Elizabeth Moon


Title: Mnevermind 2: Forget Me Not

Author: Jordan Castillo Price

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 158 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: No two people are exactly alike, but Elijah Crowe is very, very different.

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Loose Id, Reviewed by Lisa, Z.A. Maxfield

“Grime Doesn’t Pay” But Reading The Second Book In ZAM’s The Brothers Grime Series Does


“Shame is always easier to handle if you have someone to share it with.” ― Craig Thompson



Title: Grime Doesn’t Pay (The Brothers Grime #2)

Author: Z.A. Maxfield

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 241 Pages

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Blurb: Grime Doesn’t Pay

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Alicia Nordwell, Self-Published

Alicia Nordwell Offers A Story That’s Been “Picked at the Peak”



“And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time.” ― Libba Bray


Blurb: Aislin was surrounded by his extensive, but close-knit, family his whole life. He was the younger brother or the cousin they needed to protect and the kid’s favorite uncle, but he was never just Aislin. His overbearing family rarely listened to him, so sure they knew best. His adult years had all been about proving that the accident that damaged his leg as a teenager didn’t limit him.

He started a microbrewery business, bought a winery and decided to have… a baby.

The news shocked his family and friends, but he was determined to be a single parent. Not that Aislin wouldn’t love to have a partner, but dating never really worked out for him. It didn’t matter if he was gay, or single, or had a handicap. He was more than prepared.

He was not expecting the drastic change the next nine months would wreak on his life.
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All Romance Ebooks, K.A. Merikan

“Special Needs 2” Let’s The Cat Out Of The Bag



“I guess sometimes you have to lie to find the truth.” ― Scott Westerfeld


Wow, this book is all that I expected, and more. Having read the first book, Special Needs, I was left hanging by a cleverly done cliffhanger. To say I was excited to finally get to finish Liam and Ryan’s story is an understatement. I was curious to see where their relationship was going, especially after Ryan’s little secret was out of the bag.

If you haven’t read the first half of this story, this review will most definitely contain spoilers, it can’t be helped. So, do yourself a favor and go read the first book. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

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Dreamspinner Press, LE Franks

LE Franks Shakes Things Up A Bit In “Snow Globe”



“The words of others are mistakes of our hearing, shipwrecks of our understanding.” – Fernando Pessoa


BLURB: Kris Hamilton escaped the rat race in LA to live his dream of owning an art studio and making snow globes in a Christmas-themed town in northern Minnesota. But life in a tiny town isn’t as peaceful as advertised, and being treated like an outsider is making Kris’s Tourette’s flare up. When he inadvertently offends Tyr Tollefson—a beautiful blond giant of a man—Kris is ready to chuck it all. But he strikes up an unlikely friendship with Tyr’s cousin Bun, who shows them the magic of Christmas and gives them both a lesson in love and acceptance.

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