3.5 Stars, Andi Van, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Jules

Review: A Certain Kind of Holiday by Andi Van

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Title: A Certain Kind of Holiday (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: Andi Van

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 28 Pages

At a Glance: This one was cute, guys!

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: When Elliot Knapp took a business trip over the holidays last year, he didn’t expect to run into the professor his first serious boyfriend cheated on him with. The man was handsome, certainly, but Elliot has better things to do than deal with drama from a decade ago.

Luckily for him, Howard Wise wasn’t going to let him get away without an explanation. A year after meeting again, the couple is making their first holiday trip to celebrate Christmas. Everything is fantastic, but Howard is obviously keeping secrets, and Elliot can’t help but wonder what his silver fox has up his sleeve.

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Review: Elliot and Howard, who haven’t been in contact in ten years, run into each other unexpectedly on a train ride from Seattle. Their reunion is, of course, soured by the fact that Elliot’s last memory of Howard is him kissing Elliot’s college boyfriend. Howard manages to talk Elliot into letting him explain, however, which turns out to be a very good thing, as things are not always what they seem. I really liked Howard – sexy professor, twinkly eyes, playful demeanor – and I loved that he remembered Elliot right away. Obviously their connection all those years ago wasn’t just one-sided.

A Certain Kind of Holiday is short and sweet. Via three consecutive Christmas vignettes, Andi Van takes us on Howard and Elliot’s journey, allowing us to get to know them and showing us how good they are together.  Again, Howard’s character was the main part of the appeal for me, but I definitely liked Elliot as well. It’s hard to cover much ground in just twenty-eight pages, but Van did a good job of engaging me. This one was cute, guys!

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5 Stars, Bey Deckard, Holiday Romance, M/M/M and More, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: Careened: Winter Solstice in Madierus by Bey Deckard

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Title: Careened: Winter Solstice in Madierus (Baal’s Heart 3.5)

Author: Bey Deckard

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 43 Pages

At a Glance: I loved this savory and sweet little morsel.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: A Baal’s Heart short, following the events in Fated: Blood and Redemption

Plagued by terrible dreams, Jon begins to distance himself from Baltsaros and Tom. Perhaps a little holiday cheer is just the thing to help the three of them find common ground again.

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Review: Well, this is a first. I never thought I’d use the words “sweet” and “Bey Deckard” together in a review, but here I am doing that very thing. Never say never…

Careened directly follows the events in this series’ Fated: Blood and Redemption, so if you’ve not read book three yet, this short holiday novella may not pack quite the same punch for you as it would knowing the full scope of events in that novel. Of course, though I say this story has a tinge of the sweet to it, it also offers just that much of the bitter to remind you that the alternate universe Captain Baltsaros, Tom, and Jon inhabit isn’t one without its dangers and grief and pain.

Jon is in a bad way after what happened to him in Sormaheine, the dark shadows of anger and regret following him through his days and nights as he tries to drink away the memories that dog him…though he can’t escape his sub-conscious and the nightmares that manipulate his thoughts and drive his depression. This is where the bitter tempers the sweet in this story, complements the storyline without overwhelming, and, in the end, makes the turnabout that much more satisfying.

Writing a convincing threesome is exactly what Bey Deckard has done. Believing in this threesome and the dynamics of that relationship is exactly what readers of this series are able to do because this author has created three men who just work, plain and simple, in spite of the challenges thrown their way. Crafting this short story to coincide with this verse’s version of a winter holiday is the perfect scenario to offer healing to Jon and begin a mending of the relationship between him and Baltsaros. There was, without a doubt, some truly romantic gestures in Careened, and, as has been the case all along, a Baal’s Heart book wouldn’t be a Baal’s Heart book without a wildly sexy scene or two to watch these three connect and command and show readers the bond they share.

I loved this savory and sweet little morsel. What a great interlude with these characters at a wonderful time of the year.

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3 Stars, Genre Romance, Holiday Romance, J.D. Walker, JMS Books LLC, Reviewed By Carrie

Review: Grateful for You by J.D. Walker

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Title: Grateful for You

Author: J.D. Walker

Publisher: JMS Books LLC

Pages/Word Count: 33 Pages

At a Glance: If you enjoy those feel good kinda short stories, then this one is for you.

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Jared Gillespie left the family farm five years ago because Walt Schneider cheated on him. With a woman. What he didn’t realize was that Walt, the man he still loves, was trying to tell him something, and it takes a trip home to figure it out.

After Jared’s mother convinces him to return for Thanksgiving, Jared discovers Walt is a daddy now, of all things. His daughter’s name is Casey — Jared’s middle name. When Jared and Walt confront each other, the resulting confrontation causes Jared to realize he may have pushed Walt to cheat because of his overbearing ways. But would Walt be interested in trying again, after all this time?

Because a man doesn’t name his daughter after his ex-lover if he’s over him, no matter what he pretends to the contrary. Maybe Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful: for second chances, and for love found, not lost.

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Review: Jared knows it’s time to go home. He’s been away for five years, ever since his childhood love, Walt, cheated on him.  Jared didn’t stick around after it happened, he just left, and he’s never been back. He doesn’t know why Walt did it, or what message he was trying to send, Jared just knew it hurt. But, now it is time to go home and put those ghosts to rest so he can move on and heal—finally.

This is a short story of forgiveness and an example of what love can overcome if we let it.  Being so short, we don’t get a lot of backstory here, but we do get a good sense of who these men are individually, and we get enough to know that the love they feel is real.  It takes forgiveness on both sides to heal, and both men to be willing to put themselves out there again for this HEA happen.

If you enjoy those feel good kinda short stories, then this one is for you.

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4 Stars, Holiday Romance, JMS Books LLC, John Amory, Reviewed by Lisa

Review: It’s a Wonderful Afterlife by John Amory

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Title: It’s a Wonderful Afterlife

Author: John Amory

Publisher: JMS Books LLC

Pages/Word Count: 25 Pages

At a Glance: It’s a Wonderful Afterlife is a short, sweet and to the point story with a magical twist that, brief though it is, packs an emotional punch.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Workaholic Logan rests only one day of the year: Christmas Day, and then only because when he tried to open his coffee shop on that day once and no one showed up. Ever since his parents died on Christmas Eve over ten years ago, Logan keeps busy to keep his feelings at bay and keep people at a distance, even going so far as to ignore his younger brother’s invitation to spend the holiday together.

But a car accident and a Christmas Eve encounter with a mysterious stranger named Michael, which may or may not be a dream, will change the way Logan sees his past, his present, and his future.

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Review: Logan doesn’t have a wonderful life. In fact, he doesn’t have much of a life at all. He works, he goes home, he sleeps, he wakes up, and repeats the cycle on a continual loop. He’d do it 365 days a year were it not for the fact that the one year he tried opening his café on Christmas Day, he had no customers.

Logan is alone by choice, estranged from his younger brother—avoiding him, more to the point, working his life away and existing in a state of perpetual grief. Christmas is not a great time of the year for Logan, to say the least, and when we meet him, he’s driving home from work, yet again, on a dismal Christmas Eve.

John Amory does a splendid job of painting a visual of Logan, the man who brushes up against the same people every day but never bothers to make personal connections. He’s the archetypical loaner—the man you know will one day look back on his life and see the trail of regrets he’s left behind, a man who’s in dire need of a chance to turn his life around before it’s too late. Logan is in the process of rejecting yet another invitation from his brother Dave to come spend the holiday with him and his girlfriend, Tia, when a sudden turn of events sets the course for this touching little story filled with the magic of Christmas.

In the film It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey makes a wish. He wishes he’d never been born, and when that wish is fulfilled, he gets to experience the fallout firsthand, and subsequently is able to understand how beautiful the world with him in it truly is. In this short story, Amory puts his own twist on the second chance trope by showing Logan a significant moment from his childhood through his adult eyes, a past event filled with all the pain and sadness that’s brought him to this point in his life. And eventually, with the help of something a little supernatural, Logan is gifted with the opportunity to see it is indeed a wonderful life—even if life isn’t always wonderful.

It’s a Wonderful Afterlife offers a poignant look at one man’s salvation. It’s a short, sweet and to the point story with a magical twist that, brief though it is, packs an emotional punch.

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4 Stars, B.G. Thomas, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Kim

Review: The Beary Best Holiday Party Ever by B.G. Thomas

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Title: The Beary Best Holiday Party Ever (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: B.G. Thomas

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 76 Pages

At a Glance: I think The Beary Best Holiday Party Ever is a cute and sexy holiday read.

Reviewed By: Kim

Blurb: Before he discovered the Heartland Bear Clan, Ron Corbin figured no one could ever love a “fatass” like him. But the big group of big men accepts him, and likes him just the way he is. Having finally found a place he belongs, he works hard to get elected president of the club—and wins. He’s the happiest he’s ever been.

But Paddy Brennan, a sexy bear cub who blew into town and became Mr. Popular overnight, is elected vice-president. Ron doesn’t think Paddy has earned the honor, and now he’ll have to work shoulder to shoulder (and belly to belly) with the guy for a year.

Ron will do what’s best for the club even if that means setting his personal feeling—that Paddy is a jerk—aside. But then as the two men get to know each other, Ron reluctantly finds he not only likes the guy, but is growing more and more attracted to him.

Deep down, Ron still worries he isn’t good enough, but maybe Paddy can show him there’s a beary happy ending waiting for them after all.

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Review: I don’t care what a person looks like, it’s what inside that shows who you are, and it takes Ron a while to see that he is one sexy man. Oh la la! I really liked Ron. Even with all of his insecurities about his weight, he comes off as someone I’d like to know in real life. I liked how, when he joined Heartland Bear Clan, he grew to be more comfortable with himself. And it was just too bad that Ron let a comment made by Paddy bring back all those insecurities his parents instilled in him as he was growing up. I really dislike people who fat shame! And I more than empathize with Ron about being picked on for being overweight.

As for Paddy, he’s a really nice guy, so when you hear the comment that he made when he first met Ron…well, it’s just hard to believe that he would say something that vindictive. Despite everything, though, Ron is willing to put his negative feelings and conflicting attraction towards Paddy aside as they work together to make the very best holiday party ever for the Heartland Bear Clan.

There is one thing I really enjoy about B.G. Thomas’s writing, and what makes him an auto-buy author for me, and it’s that I know I’m always going to finish his stories with an “aaaaaah” feeling.

I think The Beary Best Holiday Party Ever is a cute and sexy holiday read.

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4.5 Stars, Felice Stevens, Giveaways, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Karen, Self-Published

Review and Giveaway: The Greatest Gift Blog Tour with Felice Stevens

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Title: The Greatest Gift (The Memories Series: Book 3)

Author:  Felice Stevens

Publisher: Self-Published

Page/Word Count: 86 Pages

At a Glance: You’ll smile through the tears as you watch this family grow into everything you hoped they would become.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb: After five years, Alex Stern and Rafe Hazelton have what seems to be the perfect marriage. Alex is entering his last years of residency and Rafe’s veterinary business is busier than ever. For Rafe, all that is missing is a child, but Alex, afraid of ending up to be a man like his father, isn’t as sure. He doesn’t want to make any mistakes.

When a new patient enters the hospital, Alex is drawn to the young, desperately ill single mother, who shares her fears for the future of her young son. Rafe worries about the toll on Alex becoming emotionally invested in a patient, yet he too can’t walk away once he meets the little boy, and together they vow to help in any way possible.

Families are not always born of blood— love is a gift no one can plan for. And sometimes from the darkest of tragedies, the brightest light will shine.

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Review: If you are going into this book hoping for, or thinking, you are going to get a sweet, fluffy romantic holiday story, this isn’t that book. There are many things in The Greatest Gift that are tough to read, and sad, and will completely break your heart.

But in this story, you will also find things throughout that are endearing, selfless, and sexy, as well as countless examples of absolute unconditional love. You’ll find yourself on this journey with Rafe and Alex, and all those around them, and will smile through the tears as you watch this family grow into everything you hoped they would become.

I love Alex and Rafe and love that we got to spend more time with them. The Greatest Gift really is a great gift from Felice Stevens this holiday season.

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Author BioAbout the Author: Felice Stevens has always been a romantic at heart. While life is tough, she believes there is a happy ending for everyone. She started reading traditional historical romances as a teenager, then life and law school got in the way. It wasn’t until she picked up a copy of Bertrice Small and became swept away to Queen Elizabeth’s court that her interest in romance novels was renewed.

But somewhere along the way, her reading shifted to stories of men falling in love. Once she picked up her first gay romance, she became so enamored of the character-driven stories and the overwhelming emotion there was no turning back.

Felice lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Her day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass or two of red wine. Although she practices law, she daydreams of a time when she can sit by a beach and write beautiful stories of men falling in love. Although there is bound to be some angst along the way, a Happily Ever After is always guaranteed.

Social Media LinksTwitter || Pinterest || Goodreads || Instagram || Facebook Author Page || Newsletter

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The Fine Print:

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Joe Cosentino, Reviewed By JJ

Review: A Home for the Holidays by Joe Cosentino

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Title: A Home for the Holidays

Author: Joe Cosentino

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 60 Pages

At a Glance: I recommend A Home for the Holidays to anyone who loves travel adventures, Christmas themes, and m/m romance.

Reviewed By: JJ

Blurb: Bobby McGrath’s Christmas trip to the beautiful Italian island of Capri to meet his eccentric extended family offers stunning views—none more stunning than his third cousin, Paolo Mascobello, a real stocking stuffer. As the two young men embark on a relationship, Bobby, a driven law student, learns to relax and bask under the old Italian moon, and Paolo realizes there’s more to life than a frolic on the beach. For the two to find everlasting amore, Paulo must overcome his fear of commitment and learn to follow his dreams, and Bobby must get his wish for happily ever after.

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Review: This was such a sweet romance. The book begins when Bobby goes to visit his family in Italy for Christmas. He ends up spending a lot of time with his cousin, Paolo, who happens to be gay. While he picks his cousin’s mind about Italy, Bobby realizes that he is falling for him. Though the idea weirds him out at first, it doesn’t bother him too much since they are so far removed. They come together for a brief time, but the road ahead of them is not as clear as Bobby had hoped. When Bobby’s vacation comes to an end, he’s faced with the painful prospect of saying goodbye.

Home for the Holidays is an emotional and sweet holiday book. I loved how the author takes us to Italy, and I felt like I was actually there in Capri. The vivid descriptions ignited my wanderlust, making me want to travel to Italy. As for the characters, they are both very likeable. Paolo is a muscular, attractive young Italian man. He’s confident sexually, but when it comes to relationships, he doesn’t imagine he can have that. He’s grown up in a place where it’s okay to express his sexuality behind closed doors, but he doesn’t expect to have more. However, Bobby knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to reach for the stars when it comes to love.

Since the first book I read from Joe Cosentino ended in a tragedy, I was surprised and overjoyed with the ending of this book. I recommend A Home for the Holidays to anyone who loves travel adventures, Christmas themes, and m/m romance.

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4 Stars, Holiday Romance, Jay Northcote, Reviewed by Jules, Self-Published

Review: What Happens at Christmas by Jay Northcote

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Title: What Happens at Christmas

Author: Jay Northcote

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 113 Pages

At a Glance: Jay Northcote has another holiday winner here.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: When two friends pose as boyfriends, could what happens at Christmas turn into something more?

Justin is recently and unhappily single. Christmas is coming, and he doesn’t want to face his ex alone at their office party. So Sean—Justin’s best mate and long-time secret crush—volunteers to go with him and pretend to be his new flame.

Sean has always lusted after Justin from afar, but there’s never been a good opportunity to ask him for more than friendship. Posing as Justin’s boyfriend isn’t a chore, and if Justin wants to rebound onto him, Sean’s more than willing. At the party pretence and reality blur, and a kiss on the dance floor leads to a night of passion.

In the aftermath, they both assume it was a one-time thing until fate intervenes. Stuck together in London over the holidays, they give in to temptation again. But what happens at Christmas stays at Christmas… right?

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Review: So many delightful little bits in this story! It was easy to fall in love with Justin and Sean. As soon as I read the blurb for What Happens at Christmas I immediately snapped it up. Anyone who knows me, or follows my reviews at all, knows that friends-to-lovers stories are totally my thing. I love the level of comfort the characters have with each other, the level of trust, and that there is so much shared history. Maybe it’s because my husband and I have been together since we were nineteen – friends since we were fifteen – maybe I’m just a product of the formula…but, I know it works.

Justin and Sean were both extremely likeable, and the story was funny, charming, and sweet. It’s not a new idea – pretending to be dating, to piss off an ex at the office party – but it was well-done here. I also really liked that they were both in love with each other rather than it being a GFY situation, for example. To me that made it much more enjoyable; what they each thought was unrequited love was really just bad timing and poor communication.

Jay Northcote has such a light, easygoing style, and the guys are very sexy and fun together. That’s not to say that the book is without substance. Sean has a strained relationship with his father, and they are somewhat estranged. He is pretty troubled over that situation, and what he is going to do with himself now that he’s come back to England. Justin and Sean both have reservations about pursuing a relationship. They are extremely afraid of ruining their friendship, and unwilling to risk it, so they spend some time unhappily plodding along. In some books this can become a big stumbling block for me. You know those books? The “Just talk already!!!!” books? I didn’t feel that here, though. In this book it was more, “Awwww…these poor guys.” Their trepidation is more endearing than annoying.

Northcote has another holiday winner here. The guys had GREAT chemistry. The office party scene was tons of fun to read – it was VERY satisfying to watch the sleazy ex squirm – I imagine it also had to be fun to write! Super low angst, this one is perfect for when you need that feel-good read. I thoroughly enjoyed this easy-breezy Christmas novella.

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5 Stars, Annabelle Jacobs, Dreamspinner Press, Freebie, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Short Story

Release Day Review: A Serious Thing by Annabelle Jacobs

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Title: A Serious Thing (Will & Patrick: Book 1.5)

Author: Annabelle Jacobs

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 36 Pages

At a Glance: Annabelle Jacobs gives readers a sweet and FREE holiday treat.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Patrick has a plan, and he’ll go to great lengths to see it through.
After three weeks apart due to work and school commitments, he and Will are finally getting to spend some time together. Patrick is staying with Will over the Christmas holidays, and he intends to tell him how he feels on Christmas Day. It’s going to be perfect.
But of course, Patrick’s plans don’t always go smoothly….

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Review: For those of us who fell in love with Patrick and Will in Annabelle Jacobs’ A Curious Thing, this sweet little Christmas vignette, A Serious Thing, is the perfect follow up to the story that left us with their happy-for-now-ish ending.

Patrick is so near to completing school, and he and Will have had to make do with weekends together, but life in general and Will’s obligations have kept them apart for three weeks now, and Christmas is just around the corner. Patrick has plans to make this holiday a special one for both Will and himself, but there’s a trick to the timing of it that Will not understanding may make things tricky for Patrick to pull off. The chemistry between these two guys is still white hot, and Jacobs doesn’t bother to keep readers in suspense, waiting for the sparks to fly between them. That’s the beauty of the short story, though—the instant gratification—especially when we already know the characters, and let me tell you, Patrick and Will burn up these pages in such a delicious way.

Ben, the best brother ever to Patrick—not to mention, the best friend ever to Will—also shows up again to be supportive and generally awesome too. Bottom line here is that this short story is wonderful, beginning to end, but I wouldn’t recommend reading it as a standalone. Get to know these guys in A Curious Thing first, and while you’re at it, you can grab this freebie as a sweet bonus holiday treat.

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Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday and a Giveaway: The Happy Holidays! Edition

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Happy Ha-ha-holidays, everyone, and welcome to a special edition of Flashback Friday. We’ve dusted off a few of our favorite reads from Christmases past (some not so very past, really), but they’re holiday romances that have warmed our hearts and cheered us from the tops of our heads to the tips of our toes, and we wanted to share those warm feelings with all of you.

If you’d like the chance to win a couple of the e-books we’ve featured today, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.

Good luck!

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TNA_Signature_AngelI’ll Runaway for the Holidays was written in 2010, and was the first M/M romance holiday story I ever read. Incidentally, it was also my first Stephanie Hecht book. I loved it and the author’s writing style, so I sought out more of her many works. The story is one of the first on my re-read list for the holidays, and I love how all of Stephanie Hecht’s characters get their happy endings.

This story is everything great in a feel good holiday romance. It isn’t real angsty, has sexy times between two fun characters that have a sort of quirky frenemies-to-lovers relationship, as well as some life lessons thrown in for good measure. Add in the crazy antics of Madison and Anson’s family, and this book was laugh out loud funny. There’s also some seriousness in the story dealing with Anson’s grandfather, but it was delicately handled and filled out the story for me from being just cute to complete. The sweet epilogue was adorable, too.

I'll Run Away for the HolidaysScott Cooper has never liked the holidays. So when his best friend, Madison, asks him to travel to her childhood home to celebrate Christmas, he can’t refuse fast enough. Scott doesn’t even get along with his own family, so the last thing he wants is to get saddled with her relatives for a whole week of snow and holiday cheer. Madison is good at getting what she wants, though, and before he knows it, Scott finds himself in for a seventeen-hour drive back to their home state of Michigan.

Just as Scott is getting adjusted to the idea of having to deal with Madison’s crazy family, another one of her relations joins in for the car trip; her very sexy, very younger brother, Anson. Not only is Anson still in college, but he’s the baby of the family, both of which should make him hands-off for Scott. To Scott’s horror and joy, however, Anson doesn’t want Scott to keep his hands to himself. The younger man immediately makes it clear that Scott is the only present he wants to unwrap for Christmas.

Holiday miracles can happen to anyone, or so Scott would like to believe. And it will take true magic for him and Anson to survive the holiday with their sanity intact, let alone for them to find a happily ever after…

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TNA_Signature_SadonnaWhen Lisa asked for favorite Holiday reads, I knew immediately one of the stories I wanted to highlight.  This story was part of the Dreamspinner Christmas Advent Calendar from 2011 – the first year after I had started reading M/M and knew about Dreamspinner.  The name of the story is A Wealth of Unsaid Words and it was written by R. Cooper.  Fair warning that this is a difficult but beautiful story.  It’s in many ways a heartbreaking story of two men who have been apart because one of them has a mental illness that he believes threatens both of their happiness.  They spend the holidays together and try to find their way.

The words that I used to capture my first impressions of this story were as follows:

Stunningly beautiful. The hell and hope of mental illness strikingly described. The fragility of Alex’s “sanity” and life brilliantly expressed. Ultimately about the strength and power of love and hope. Amazing. Touching. Painful. Beautiful. Poetic. I LOVED this.

I raved about this story and a friend who is bipolar saw that and she read it right away – thank god she also loved it since I was worried about recommending it! Little did I realize that a few short years later, I would have a family member who would be diagnosed bipolar and is struggling mightily.  And it will be a lifelong struggle.  There is much pain for him and all of us who love him.  It’s devastating and heartbreaking the impact it’s having on his life.

This story gives me hope and I hope will give anyone else hope who reads it.  It really is ultimately a beautifully written story of love and acceptance and hope.  I urge everyone to give it a try.

WealthofUnsaidWordsAlex has always known his bipolar disorder made him too flawed for his boyhood hero, Everett. So when his feelings for Everett became overwhelming, he forced a separation that saddened them both but gave Alex the clarity he needed. Now a year has passed, and he and Everett are together again when Everett’s noisy, imperfect family reunites for Christmas, pulling Alex into their chaotic warmth the way they always have. Can Everett convince Alex that, in spite of his fears, starting a relationship would make for the perfect holiday?

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TNA_Signature_CarrieIt’s always been a game of cat and mouse.  A dangerous game both men have enjoyed.  Noel is fascinated with the staid FBI agent, and they recognize in each other a worthy adversary. Unable to keep away from the flame, Noel gives in one New Year’s Eve and allows himself the touch of the man he is desperately in love with but knows he can never have. Fast forward 10 years, and there the man stands on Noel’s front porch—all crackling electric and ice cold in more ways than one on Christmas Eve. You can feel the sparks coming off the page – so much attraction – so much mistrust – it’s amazing!

This is a second chance story between two very complicated men. You would think that with two such weighty protagonist that the story would drag, but the author brings in such witty and tension-breaking secondary characters that it keeps this story flowing and downright entertaining. Llamas. Yeah, llamas.  That’s all I’m saying.

Josh Lanyon is the queen of the short story, no one writes them better than her, and this story is no exception. The pacing here is something few authors can achieve in a short. Plus, I enjoy authors who put subtle nuggets into their writing; here it’s an FBI agent named Cuffe and a thief named Noel Snow. Yes, Cuffe finally gets “snow” for Christmas. Love it!

IcecapadeOn the eve of the new millennium, diamond thief Noel Snow seduced FBI special agent Robert Cuffe, then fled into the dawn. Now a successful novelist, Noel uses his capers as fodder for his books, and has modeled his hero’s nemesis (and potential love interest) on Cuffe. Though he leaves Robert a drunken phone message every New Year’s Eve, Noel hasn’t seen or heard from him in a decade.

So he’s thrilled when his former lover shows up at his upstate farm one Christmas Eve. Elation quickly turns to alarm when Robert accuses Noel of being responsible for a recent rash of diamond heists. Robert is all business and as cold as ice: it seems his only interest in Noel is to put him behind bars.

Innocent of the crimes, and still as attracted as ever to the oh-so-serious lawman, Noel plans a second seduction–providing he can stay out of jail long enough!

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TNA_Signature_SammyWill is returning home after several years of near non-communication with his parents.  When confronted with the fact that their son was gay, Will’s parents turned to their overly zealous Pastor and church for guidance in dealing with the shocking revelation. The more they denied who he was and tried to “pray the gay away,” the more fractured their relationship became. A few years pass, and Will realizes his dream of becoming a published author. He also uses his novel as a sort of cathartic experience, detailing under the guise of a fictional story, the pain he went through with his family.  During this time, letters from home go largely unread, and Will keeps his parents at bay in order to cope with the pain of their rejection.

However, what Will doesn’t know is how his parents have changed, how much they have finally come to understand how their blind beliefs pushed their son away. As the years progressed, they moved away from their church to one much more tolerant and take in a young man named Ryan, whose own life actually mirrors in many ways exactly what happened with Will and his parents. When Will finally returns home for Christmas, he is met with what is akin to a substitute son who is not only loved but fully accepted. While he grapples with the various emotions this unleashes within him, he is least prepared for the blooming attraction he has for Ryan.  Now Will must both confront his parents over their painful past behavior and come to terms with how he feels about Ryan.

The Healing Power of Eggnog is artfully simple yet so multi-layered with emotional overtones it seems to capture one’s heart and mind so very thoroughly without the reader realizing.  As is par for the course for this author, the characters are both realistic and intentionally flawed, yet self-aware and never pandering—never shallow or cookie cutter.

When Lisa put out the call for our favorite Christmas stories, I didn’t even have to think twice before grabbing this gem from the past. It was one of the first things I read by author Jamie Fessenden and solidified for me that this author would be an auto-buy for me in the future. This author’s skill at writing emotionally genuine characters makes him one of the best authors on the m/m scene today.  I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did–and still do.

19086803Will Sutherland hasn’t been home to see his parents in four years—not since they reacted badly when he came out. This Christmas, he’s finally worked up the courage to go home, where he’s surprised to find they’ve taken in a boarder. Ryan Bennett is just a couple years younger than Will, cute, sweet… and openly gay.

As Will deals with his jealousy of the man who’s been receiving the love and acceptance he was denied, Ryan finds himself falling for Will’s brooding good looks. But Ryan also suspects the Sutherlands may be using him as a pawn in their long-standing conflict with their son. Will this Christmas finally tear the family apart, or is there a chance they can put their hurt and anger behind them?

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TNA_Signature_JulesWhen asked to choose a favorite story for a special holiday blog post, I didn’t even have to think about it. I’m a Christmas girl. Without a doubt my favorite time of year. So, I look forward to all of the Christmas books every year, and there are MANY that I completely adore. But, hands down, my favorite M/M Christmas story is Blame it on the Mistletoe by Eli Easton.

Fielding Monroe is one of my favorite characters ever. I’m a big fan of quirky – and, Fielding has quirks for days! Here is a bit from my review when I first read it:

I don’t think I can adequately describe how much I adored Fielding. His character is obviously reminiscent of Sheldon Cooper, from the T.V. show Big Bang Theory; but, Fielding is even more endearing. Mick, who is also fabulous, just rolls with all of his new housemate’s quirks, and the two of them quickly become best friends. Mick is a natural caretaker, and takes on the role of teaching Fielding many things.

Things certainly get complicated when Fielding decides that one of the things he wants Mick to teach him is how to kiss…but, what happens is anything but predictable. While I think it can be very difficult to write a really strong, believable GFY storyline, Easton does an excellent job here. The timing and pace of the story are perfect. There is obviously going to be some awkwardness and tension, and that is all there. The genuine fondness, admiration, and eventually love that these two feel for each other really jump off the page. I was hooked from beginning to end.

I have read this book three times, and listened to the audio twice, and, I’ll undoubtedly read it again. If you have yet to read this one, I highly recommend you do! Eli Easton also has Fielding’s Fa-La-La, which is a must read also, available for free on her blog. Go check it out! Or, read it again if you already have. :)

Blame it on the MistletoeWhen physics grad student Fielding Monroe and skirt-chaser and football player Mick Colman become college housemates, they’re both in for a whole new education. Mick looks out for the absent-minded genius, and he helps Fielding clean up his appearance and discover all the silly pleasures his strict upbringing as a child prodigy denied him. They become best friends.

It’s all well and good until they run into a cheerleader who calls Mick the ‘best kisser on campus.’ Fielding has never been kissed, and he decides Mick and only Mick can teach him how it’s done. After all, the physics department’s Christmas party is coming up with its dreaded mistletoe. Fielding wants to impress his peers and look cool for once in his life. The thing about Fielding is, once he locks onto an idea, it’s almost impossible to get him to change his mind. And he just doesn’t understand why his straight best friend would have a problem providing a little demonstration.

Mick knows kissing is a dangerous game. If he gives in, it would take a miracle for the thing not to turn into a disaster. Then again, if the kissing lessons get out of hand they can always blame it on the mistletoe.

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TNA_Signature_LisaAs I was searching through my memories trying to find a Christmas favorite, sooooo many titles came to mind: RJ Scott’s The Christmas Throwaway, Amy Rae Durreson’s Gaudete, Gale Stanley’s Bashert, L.B. Gregg’s Waiting for Winter, the books in Charlie Cochet’s North Pole City Tales series… I love a great holiday romance. The book that finally won the day, though, is a book that had me giddy with Christmas glee.

That book is Josephine Myles’ Merry Gentleman, a book I read and reviewed not all that long ago–back in November of 2013. And can I just say I think I must’ve been on some kind of Christmas crack when I wrote it? ::smh::

The first thing you have to appreciate about Myles’ writing is the thoroughly English charm of her characters. I absolutely adore Christmas stories and their sugarplum sweetness, so leave it to this author to write a holiday treat that takes place around Christmastime but has little to do with the miracles and the fa-la-la-la-la, and everything to do with romantic complications, with much hilarity and bird poop thrown in just for fun. Yes, there’s a point to the poop. It’s pointedly practical poop, relevant to the plot and character development, even, so there. Read and you’ll understand.

Myles breaks a tropey little mold in her story, taking the standard boy-meets-boy, boy-loses-boy, boy-gets-boy back formula and giving it a little twist, in that when the story opens, Riley and Stan had already met and were kaput well before the reader even gets the chance to relish in the angst of their breakup. But wait, it’s okay because when the country mouse comes back to the city, and the city mouse gets a gander at his ex-toppy git country mouse, it doesn’t take long to figure out there will still be plenty of “can I smack some sense into these two guys?” moments to get through, all to scratch and satisfy your angsty-loving itch.

And the end of my original review?

“So, if you’re making a list and checking it twice, let’s recap:
Ri + Stan=Love – Check
Plenty of Naughty Fun – Check
Face Splitting Grins – Check
Poop – Check

Really, what more could you possibly want from a book?”

What more could you possibly want? I have no idea!

Merry Gentlemen’Tis the season of goodwill to all men…even the one who dumped you.

Riley MacDermott’s ambitions are simple. Managing the annual Bath Christmas Market—which involves long hours in the cold and a whole lot of hassle—will secure the promotion he needs to afford to move out of his noisy, top-floor flat. Where not even his balcony is safe from an aggressive herring gull.

The last stallholder he expects to see is his ex. Riley never recovered from their break up, and five years on the old chemistry still sparkles. So does their habitual head butting.

Stan never wanted to leave the love of his life, but the pull of the woods was too strong—and Riley was firmly planted in the city. Reconnecting is painful, but Stan still jumps at the chance to stay with his old flame during the Market. And damn the consequences.

As the weeks pass, the two grow closer than ever. But despite scorching sex and cozy intimacy, they both know they face a cold and lonely future. Unless one of them can compromise.

Warning: Contains sex in a shed, a seagull with a grudge, glamping, awful Secret Santa underwear, misuse of an Abba song, and as many wood-related puns as the author thought she could get away with.

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4 Stars, Comedy, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Lex Chase, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Loving and Loathing Vegas by Lex Chase

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Title: Loving And Loathing Vegas (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: Lex Chase

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 62 Pages

At a Glance: This little snippet is sure to delight and amuse you this holiday season.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Jackson has loved Vegas since God created Man—literally. As a demonic incubi hailing from the Seventh Circle of Hell, Jackson and Vegas have never been anything more than roommates. Now living among humans, they run Eaven, a TripAdvisor-recommended detour-worthy diner famous for its devilishly decadent pies. Business is dead on the holidays, and Jackson will gleefully stab himself with a spatula if he has to clean spotless pots and pans one more time.

For fun—or torture—Vegas makes him a bet that should Jackson win, they take a much-needed vacation. Should he lose, he’s doomed to clean out grease traps for all eternity. When the challenge is to fall in love with other people by Christmas, it proves Vegas isn’t the least bit interested. But when they find an abandoned baby in the trash, she could be the Christmas miracle to warm Jackson’s cynical heart.

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Review:   Author Lex Chase offers up a devilishly sweet story for the Sleigh Ride 2015 Dreamspinner Advent Calendar. Even demons, in this case incubi who feed off sex, deserve a holiday, and are determined to have it when they make a bet with each other to see who can fall in love by Christmas. The only hitch is Jackson is already in love—with his long time roommate and fellow demon, Vegas. The two have settled down and run a diner that is best known for its devilishly decadent pies, but Jackson is tired of cleaning the diner’s grease traps, and more than fed up with trying to hide his feelings for Vegas. To top off the whole crazy wager, a baby is left on their doorstep, and it is up to Jackson to make sure she is taken care of, especially since she can’t seem to stand the sight of poor Vegas.

Only Lex Chase could create such a crazy-hot and adorable Christmas story with a decidedly unique twist. The relationship and interchanges between Jackson and Vegas were sharp and humorous while also bordering on the frustrating—-all they had to do was admit how they felt, and yet the constant dance around those emotions made for a fun romp of a story. With more than a fair share of snark and sarcasm, the story flew along, fraught with sexual tension that you could cut with a knife. The resolution of that tension made for a very hot sex scene that left me breathless!

Loving and Loathing Vegas is an unusual and clever contribution to this year’s Advent calendar. While it would have been great to know a bit more about the baby’s origins and the backstory of the two incubi themselves, this little snippet is sure to delight and amuse you this holiday season.

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Charlie Cochet, Giveaways

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Loving Blitz Blog Tour with Charlie Cochet

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Hello all! Thank you so much for joining me on another stop of the Loving Blitz mini blog tour, celebrating the release of the fourth novella in my North Pole City Tales series. In this series, most of the stories take place in North Pole City where the majority of our elf heroes live. Even Jack Frost has a modest little palace in North Pole City.

This Christmas themed city is vast with all of its quaint little shops decorated with twinkling lights, shimmering tinsel, and glittering baubles. The scents of Christmas are in the air, cinnamon, roasted chestnuts, nutmeg, spiced apple, and more. You’ll find an array of tasty treats, sugar cookies, fudge, cakes, pies, puddings, buns, and a host of other delights.

The snow-filled streets are bustling with busy elves, and you’ll hear the jingling bells of horses pulling sleighs. In the center of town, you’ll find the White Hart, the Rein Dear Squadron’s favorite pub. After a hard day of building gingerbread houses for elves less fortunate, the handsome and dashing elf pilots gather to make merry, drinking their favorite holiday cocktails, or a hot cup of cocoa to the sounds of Christmas carols.

Meanwhile the King’s Toy Soldiers patrol the streets, keeping everyone safe. Their position is one of honor and justice. Many of the citizens they protect can be found working in Mayor Kringle’s prestigious companies, such as the Gift Packaging Plant or the Candy Mills.

Every year just before the Big Flight, the Frost monarchy hosts the Silver Bells Christmas Ball, a truly dazzling sight to behold. You’ll find sweeping waltzes, ball gowns of the finest silk, chandeliers that sparkle like diamonds, and champagne served frosty thanks to a certain prince.

North Pole City is home to thousands of Christmas elves, but you’ll find a few other magical inhabitants as well. I loved putting my own little twist on some festive favorites. Creating this magical world was so much fun, and on top of that, I get to throw these elves into whirlwind adventures as they find their way to love.

About-Baubles-

LovingBlitz200Loving Blitz
North Pole City Tales: Book 4

Genre: Gay Fantasy Romance, Holiday
Length: Novella
Published: Dec, 2015
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781623809492

From North Pole City to Winter Wonderland, preparations are underway after a royal announcement sweeps everyone into a frenzy of festivity. At the heart of the celebration are the city’s most beloved elf pilots, the Rein Dears. Once the Big Flight is behind them, the pilots prepare for the royal event. Assigned a special task of finding an Elska rose, Cupid and Blitzen are unaware of how their friendship is about to change forever.

Yet not all that glitters is gold. The sweet, angelic Cupid hides a dark secret, one that threatens to destroy his Rein Dear status, his friends, and the elf who’s captured his heart. It’s up to Blitzen to help Cupid see the light in the darkness and show him that together they can mend broken hearts.

Loving Blitz can be read on its own, but for maximum enjoyment, it’s recommended the series be read in order as characters from previous books make appearances and previous events are mentioned.

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Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Kobo| International Buy Links

Chapter One | Reviews

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Author-Baubles

Charlie_Cochet_by_madison_parker150Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Website | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram | Charlie’s Newsletter

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4 Stars, Clare London, Holiday Romance, Jocular Press, Reviewed by Lisa

Review: Nice and Snow by Clare London

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Title: Nice and Snow (With a Kick: Book Six)

Author: Clare London

Publisher: Jocular Press

Pages/Word Count: 43 Pages

At a Glance: Nuri and Eddy are still just that lovable.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Nuri’s expecting a quiet Christmas, driving his cab, doing some studying, enjoying good food and drink – and devoting some serious loving to boyfriend Eduardo. Occasionally he misses his homeland of Turkey, but he’s content to share the London celebrations with Eddy.

But what with Eddy’s distress over his new role at the local comedy club, interference in their love life from Nuri’s irrepressible brothers, a disturbing number of costumed Santas on the street, the dangerous slush on the roads, and then the portly, bearded man dressed in red, in need of an urgent cab ride…

It doesn’t look like things will be that quiet after all!

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Review: Nuri and Eduardo first met in With a Kick, a book that oozed an excess of charm and wit, and now Clare London has brought them back in the excessively adorable and heartwarming Christmas short Nice and Snow, reminding me why I’d warmed up to this couple so well in the first place. Some of it, no doubt, has to do with Nuri’s family—in this case, his brothers—but there’s also no arguing that a lot of it has to do with this author’s sense of humor and, of course, then it doesn’t hurt that Nuri and Eddy are still just that lovable.

Eddy feels the same way about all the pseudo-Santas larking about the city as most people feel about clowns. But this time of the year, they’re near impossible to avoid—seems Eddy couldn’t swing a reindeer by the tale without hitting one of those jolly faux elves. As for our dear Nuri, this holiday season has brought on a bout of nostalgia for his childhood in Turkey, and the memories the two men share with each other are what make this story just that little bit extra special. That, and the fact they pick up a rather unusual fare in Nuri’s cab. Their passenger is an interesting man, to say the very least. But then, what would the holidays be without a touch of magic to make the season bright?

And what would a holiday romance be without a completely heartwarming ending? London deftly delivers that too, for this charming couple who maybe, in theory, shouldn’t work because they’re both so different, but do because they’re both so warm and wonderful.

If you haven’t read With a Kick, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend reading Nice and Snow as a standalone, but I can most definitely recommend getting to know Nuri and Eddy, so now’s as good a time as any to catch up on their story while you’re cuddled under a blanket on a chilly winter weekend.

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5 Stars, Charlie Cochet, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Jules

Release Day Review: Loving Blitz by Charlie Cochet

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Title: Loving Blitz (North Pole City Tales: Book Four)

Author: Charlie Cochet

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 94 Pages

At a Glance: Go forth and enjoy Loving Blitz!!! It’s a Christmas reading list must.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: From North Pole City to Winter Wonderland, preparations are underway after a royal announcement sweeps everyone into a frenzy of festivity. At the heart of the celebration are the city’s most beloved elf pilots, the Rein Dears. Once the Big Flight is behind them, the pilots prepare for the royal event. Assigned a special task of finding an Elska rose, Cupid and Blitzen are unaware of how their friendship is about to change forever.

Yet not all that glitters is gold. The sweet, angelic Cupid hides a dark secret, one that threatens to destroy his Rein Dear status, his friends, and the elf who’s captured his heart. It’s up to Blitzen to help Cupid see the light in the darkness and show him that together they can mend broken hearts.

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Review: I guess I have to quit pouting about having to wait another whole year for the next book, and get this review written…*grumble* Heh, heh.  I really AM pouting about having to wait for next year’s book – this series is neverending, right? – but, I’m happy to write the review for this charming story!

Loving Blitz, this year’s addition to the North Pole City Tales series by Charlie Cochet, opens at the Silver Bells Christmas Ball – held this time at the King of Frost’s palace – where Jack Frost and Rudy share some exciting news. I was immediately mesmerized, as I always am in this series, by the descriptions and the language in the book. The places, the creatures, the events, the magic and history: Cochet has created a world here that is so vibrant and so delightful, I can’t wait to immerse myself in it every year.

Best friends for centuries, Cupid and Blitzen are perfect for each other. They have always been close, but when they dance together at the ball, they both begin to having stirrings of feelings that are more than friendly. I really did love this pairing; the romance felt effortless, and had the perfect amount of heat. And, speaking of pairings…I have my guesses as to next year’s potential couple, and can’t wait to find out who it will be!

The drama is relatively low in this one as compared to the other books in the series, but the story still has plenty of substance. The angle with Cupid’s secret is very intriguing and well done, and I loved the subplots here also. Dasher provides some tension and comic relief – just what is he up to with the King of Frost??? – which was fantastic, and it looks like one of Cupid’s brothers will be back in the future as well!

Ok. That’s three mentions of next year’s book. I think I’ve established that I loved this installment, and that I can’t wait for MORE. My work here is done. Go forth and enjoy Loving Blitz!!! It’s a Christmas reading list must.

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Giveaways, Kenzie Cade

Exclusive Flash Fic and Giveaway: Magic in the Air by Kenzie Cade

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It’s a jolly holiday and we’re so please to welcome author Kenzie Cade today with an exclusive flash ficlet just for you, in celebration of the release of Reindeer Games.

After you’ve read this special little offering, be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win an e-copy of the book.

Good luck!

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Magic in the Air by Kenzie Cade

The wind in Colorado was different than what I was used to at the North Pole—less magical, in a way, but not less beautiful. I knew the first time I led Fluffy and Flurry to the little town in the mountains that something special waited there.

Little did I know it was my bestie’s bonded.

Nik and I—we go way back. I’m the yin to his yang, at least that’s what I try to tell him. He doesn’t listen well—probably because he doesn’t speak reindeer—but I think he gets it. Why else would he offer himself as a sacrifice every time the Grand Poobah Santa blows a gasket?

I’m pretty sure Mr. Poobah doesn’t get it. I’m keeping Little Nikky on his toes. That’s the reason for my games. Maybe now, he sees the benefits. I mean, look at the awesomeness that is Dashing von Stride. He’s a sweet kid. Plus he brings me cookies. Snickerdoodles are my fave and Dash bakes the best, but don’t tell Mrs. Kringle I said so.

“What are you doing out here, Reign?”

That’s Tinsel. I liked him better in the tiny human form. He was cute and bouncy. Now he’s back to his normal muscley self, which is fine, but not as much fun.

“You’re supposed to be in the stable preparing for the preflight,” Tinsel said and I cocked my head at him. Number one, preflight was a practice run performed on the night before the Big Day Eve. Number two, I had nothing to prepare for. If you didn’t consider the gift I had waiting for my BFF and his bonded. Tinsel obviously got the point because he replied, “Yeah, yeah, I get it, but there’s no sense in wandering around out here. As soon as Niklaus and Dashing return, you’ll be ready to go.”

Pumpkin rushed from the stable doors, her bright curls waving behind her. “Come on, you two.” Now she was gorgeous in this form. If I had a human or elf form, I’d want to look just like her. Not only was she attractive, but she was strong. And she smelled like cookies. Gingersnaps. Those were my second favorite. “Reign, we still need to brush and halter you. Fluffy and Flurry are riding behind you tonight because Admiral keeps nibbling on Fluffy’s tail.”

If I could shake my head, I’d do so. My flight crew would be the death of me. I mean, just this week, I had to ground Admiral and Sir Gallopsalot due to their being spotted atop the City Hall building by Mayor Cransfield. Luckily, Nik was able to convince the human leadership that it was all an elaborate stunt, meant to incite excitement of the holiday season. Not that a town like Wassail needed a reason to be excited for the Big Day.

Instead, I gave a knowing look to Tinsel, who winked back, then followed Pumpkin back to the stables. We were strapped in—chains, leads, and a multitude of straps and braces in place. Pumpkin combed me and Sparkles huffed somewhere behind me when I heard the wheels of Nik’s wheeled carriage crunch over the new snow. I snuffled, shifting excitedly as the muted thud of the carriage doors shut.

“What are you so jittery for?” Pumpkin asked, her suspicious tone did not go amiss, but thankfully, I couldn’t answer her, for obvious reasons. Instead, I shook my head, anticipation flooding my system, while Pumpkin and Tinsel dodged my antlers.

“Where’s the sleigh?” Tinsel said suddenly.

Uh-oh. Tinsel couldn’t go looking for the sleigh yet. Not until Nik and Dash had a chance to see the surprise first.

The pair had barely taken two steps when I backed into Fluffy and Flurry, catching Fluffy’s hoof with mine. She squealed and bucked, sending Sir Gallopsalot and Sparkles into a tizzy. Admiral and Wink crashed, tugging the rest of us back. Thankfully no one else tumbled, or we’d have a catastrophe on our hands.

“What in the world is going on in here?” Niklaus had arrived, stomping regally into the stable, curiosity scrunching his expression.

“Reign,” Tinsel answered, his tone flat. The gumdrop.

I blinked, in all innocence, of course, but Nik’s narrowed eyes told me he wasn’t buying it. I was saved from further scrutiny by Dash’s giggle. Swinging my gaze around, I found him standing at the sleigh’s storage room. I shimmied in excitement and Dash met my eyes, giggling harder.

“Dash?” Forgetting his study of me, Nik made his way to his bonded and I saw him peek into the room. “What in the name of Santa?” His gaze volleyed between the flight crew and the sleigh room. Then his narrowed eyes came to me again. “Reign. What have I told you?”

Not the reaction I expected. My eyes rounded as Nik marched back to me. But for the grace of Dashing von Stride, I would have been reindeer-cicle. Dash snagged Nik’s arm and tugged him back to the doorway.

He snorted when he said, “Stop, Nik. Don’t you see?” Dash gestured into the small room. “It’s a gift. There’s a bow and everything.”

Nik’s head tilted to the side. “But the lights, paper, candy canes, and marshmallows?” He once again sounded confused.

“She wrapped it.”

I preened as Dash giggled again. The von Stride got me.

“But the sleigh?” Nik asked on the verge of whining.

His giggles melting into a sweet smile, Dash lifted onto his tiptoes and pressed a kiss to Nik’s cheek. “I think it’s sweet.”

I watched as Nik’s annoyance turned into adoration as he stared at his bonded. He leaned down and took a kiss, not on the cheek. Briefly, I wondered why human and elf-kind touched mouths so often. I hated for another reindeer to get near my nose, much less my mouth.

When Nik lifted away, he sighed then nodded and whispered something to Dash before disappearing into the sleigh room. I heard the rustle of his unwrapping my gift as Dash made his way to me. He stopped before me, his eyes shining bright.

“It’s sweet. Thank you,” he said then leaned in and wrapped his arms around my neck. “But next time why not move past messing with his sleigh?”

I chuffed and Dash moved away but not before winking at me.

Tomorrow, Dashing and Niklaus would attend the Yule Ball before the Big Day flight. Tonight, though, we would fly for fun, for freedom, and for magic. I might have been wrong about the magic in the Colorado air. It seemed love in the air was another sort of magic.

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Reindeer GamesBlurb – Reindeer Games: Dashing von Stride has one thing on his mind: winning the window display contest for the Miracle on Main Christmas Contest. His plans are set and ready—and then he walks into his toy store, Reindeer Games, to find a sleigh that shouldn’t be there. The mystery sleigh sparks a new plan, however, and now all Dash needs is the perfect Santa to model his display after.

This year, the pranks with his reindeer have gotten out of hand. Instead of preparing for the Big Day, Niklaus Kringle is hunting for his missing sleigh. Locating it should have been easy, but games easily won are seldom worth playing…

Buy Links: Less Than Three Press || Amazon || All Romance eBooks

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Kenzie CadeAbout the Author: Kenzie Cade was born and raised in the South where she spends her days in the field of private medicine observing interesting people and committing them to memory for later use. When she isn’t reading, experimenting with recipes, or being distracted by social media, Kenzie spends time with her family, friends, and fur-babies who likes to keep her company while she writes. Writing to keep the fictional voices at bay, Kenzie enjoys the journeys her characters travel to find their happy endings, and she loves the challenge of writing a great love story.

E-mail || Blog || Facebook || Twitter: @thekenziecade

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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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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A.V. Sanders, Giveaways

Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway: The Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas Blog Tour with A.V. Sanders

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Please join us in welcoming author A.V. Sanders to The Novel Approach today, on the tour for her new holiday novelette Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas. Enjoy A.V.’s guest post, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widgets for the chance to win some great prizes (**details below**).

Good luck!

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I’m thrilled to be here for the release of “Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas”! The Novel Approach has been gracious enough to host this first day in the “7 HOT Days of Christmas Blog Tour”, and is the Partridge in a White Fir Tree! 

To help celebrate, I’d like to share an exclusive excerpt from my new holiday novelette. In this scene, we learn about how our two main characters, Graham and Reid, had first met. The ‘drums’ being mentioned are drums with baited hooks floating in the ocean, designed to catch large sharks off Australia’s west coast. Both Graham and Reid were on a boat together, and a covert mission, to unbait the hooks. I hope you all enjoy the excerpt, and have a wonderful holiday!

xo, A.V.

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Excerpt: Meeting someone had been the thing furthest from his mind. But when Reid had first laid eyes on Graham, the quintessential Australian surfer, it had been hard to get them off again. Reid had been coursing with adrenaline while they’d skated across the water towards the first drum and had found himself squeezed onto a seat next to Graham. Even though there were six other people on the boat, Reid’s focus had been on the warmth from Graham’s body pressed against his. He remembered finding the scent of Graham’s aftershave or cologne particularly enticing, and with each swell in the water, Reid had leaned in, breathing the rich, woodsy scent.

They’d struck up a short conversation, centering on the sharks and the circumstances that found them both on that boat and breaking the law. Graham had seemed enchanted by Reid’s American accent, asking what part of the United States he was from, making Reid laugh. To him, growing-up in a suburb of Chicago, there was nothing special about his accent, or lack thereof. He’d told Graham, however, that he could listen to his manipulations of vowels all night long.

It was after that compliment that Reid had felt the first definitive spark of mutual attraction. Graham, a bit shy, had smiled in response. His eyes had cast down, then met Reid’s when he said thank you. During the drum line operation, Reid’s intrigue had grown. While he’d been focused on their mission, he’d made a point of getting Graham’s last name. In the wee hours later that night, Reid had friended him and sent him a message on Facebook. The conversation Reid had started with Graham that night had never stopped.

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WHAC-fTitle: Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas
Author: A.V. Sanders
Page/Word Count: 39 pages/11,500 words
Release Date: December 16, 2015
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: Holiday Themed Contemporary Gay M/M Romance
Blurb: Reid, an American shark research scientist, is in Perth, Australia working to develop a mobile app that may revolutionize shark safety practices. But even the company of his boyfriend, Graham, isn’t enough to stave off homesickness as Christmas approaches, and a missing shark and Graham’s struggling business seem set to ruin the holiday for good.

Buy Links: *~Less Than Three Press~* // Amazon // All Romance ebooks // Smashwords // BookStrand.com // Kobo 

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WinterAvi2About the Author: A.V. Sanders loves and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She shares her home with her husband, two cats, and tropical aquarium fish. She is an avid hoarder of Halloween decorations and inconsequential information. When writing science fiction, mystery, horror and romance with LGBTQ main characters, she can be found staying up all hours of the night listening to endless sets of EDM music. She is an advocate of love, art, animals and frivolous acts of beauty. She also has a growing suspicion that not causing harm to one another is what matters in the end.

Connect With A.V. Sanders Online Website // Twitter // Facebook // Tumblr // Goodreads

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THE GIVEAWAYS

Giveaway #1: Click on the image below to enter for the chance to win an e-copy of Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas (or, if already owned, any LT3 e-title of equal or lesser value)

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Grand Prize Giveaway: Click on the image below to enter for the chance to win a Handmade, Genuine Shark Tooth Necklace + FREE ebook of Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas (or, if already owned, any LT3 e-title of equal or lesser value)

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

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Tour Stops and Dates:

12. 16Wednesday – THE NOVEL APPROACHA Partridge in a White Fir Tree: Exclusive Excerpt + Giveaways
12. 17 – Thursday CARLY’S BOOK REVIEWSTwo Sea Turtles: ‘Christmas Memories’ with A.V. and Carly + Giveaways
12. 18 Friday PRISM BOOK ALLIANCEThree French Men: ‘Let’s Talk About: Sharks!’ + Giveaways
12. 19 Saturday BAYOU BOOK JUNKIEFour Sea Birds: ‘On Location: Inspiration for the Story’ + Giveaways
20 Sunday, Double Day! AUTHOR RJ JONES’ WEBSITE + BECAUSE TWO MEN ARE BETTER THAN ONE BOOK REVIEWSFive Engagement Rings: ‘Marriage Equality in Australia’ with A.V. + RJ Jones, Review at BTM, Giveaways at both!
21 Monday ON TOP DOWN UNDER BOOK REVIEWS Six Blokes a-Layin’…Out: Review + Story Playlist + Giveaways
12. 22 Tuesday HEARTS ON FIRE REVIEWS – Seven Sharks a-Swimmin’: Character Interview + Giveaways

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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, Comedy, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, John Inman, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Scrudge & Barley, Inc. by John Inman

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Amazon

Amazon

Title: Scrudge & Barley, Inc.

Author: John Inman

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: I found this story to be just brilliant.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: A classic tale takes off in sexy new directions! Poor Mr. Dickens must be twirling in his grave.

When E.B. Scrudge, putz extraordinaire and all-around numbnuts, is visited by his dead ex on Christmas Eve, he can’t imagine how his life could sink any lower. But the three ghostly spirits that come along after are even worse! Good lord, a dyke, a drag queen, and rounding out the trio, a big, hunky bear with nipple rings and a butt plug! What’s next?

What’s next is a good deal of soul-searching and some hard lessons learned with a dash of redemption thrown in for good measure.

And love too, believe it or not. Love that had been simmering all along at the heart of Scrudge’s miserable existence, although he was too selfish to see it—until a trio of holiday beasties pointed his sorry ass in the right direction.

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Review: Such a well-known story—that of Scrooge and his miserly life, which is interrupted by three ghostly apparitions one lonely Christmas eve. It’s a classic tale that is performed and read every holiday season. Imagine my delight when I heard that author John Inman had re-imagined the old tale and given it new life, a clever twist that morphed into an amazing story called Scrudge & Barley, Inc.

E.B. Scrudge is a nasty man. Having learned from his predecessor, Barley, Ebbie has taken to the love of money and the glee of inflicting misery on others with gusto. He has no regard for his fellow man and unashamedly uses his faithful secretary, Willie, for occasional physical release. This Christmas Eve finds Ebbie handing out his special brand of Christmas cheer in the guise of termination notices delivered by poor Willie. Once done, he ignores the small gift his secretary has for him, uses him for sex and then sends him on his way without a backward glance. After attending the ballet, Ebbie returns home to his penthouse apartment, and a night of terror, revelation and soul searching begins. By morning, E.B. Scrudge will be a changed man—but will it be too late to undo all the harm he has done and prove to Willie he does have a heart after all?

If you have never read Dickens’ version of Scrooge, then this brilliant and campy version may not mean quite as much to you, dear reader, but trust me when I tell you this piece of work was so cleverly done. Not only are the three “ghosts” who visit Ebbie simultaneously terrifying and amusing, the build up to the visits, the eerie setup with lights going off and noises rattling the night, are rather scary to read. But it is the transformation in Ebbie himself that is so genuinely played out as the hours race by—this is the real beauty of the story. Far beyond a truly delightful retelling of an old classic, Scrudge & Barley, Inc. explores the place in each of us that allows for that bit of selfishness to grow. How many times have we passed the homeless and thought they could find work if they truly tried? Or perhaps remarked that it is not “our responsibility” to save everyone? Just these few scenes—and the uncanny voice of the narrator reminding us that we too may see a bit of “Scrudge” in the mirror is enough to realize that lurking behind this simple Christmas fare is a deeper message: hold on to your humanity at all costs lest you find yourself a scrooge as well.

I found this story to be just brilliant. I enjoyed the careful way this author reworked a somewhat tired and overused story and made it relevant and entertaining again. Not only that, I loved that Willie was not a carpet for Ebbie to walk over but more a compassionate and loving man who faced his difficult life head on and knew his own mind. Scrudge & Barley, Inc. is a fantasy wrapped in love and a touch of whimsy. If you are looking for a fresh and well-written holiday story, Scrudge & Barley, Inc. will fill that ticket nicely. I highly recommend this one to you!

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You can buy Scrudge & Barley, Inc. here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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N.R. Walker

Book Blitz: Red Dirt Christmas by N.R. Walker

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ReddirtheartChristmas1500Title: Red Dirt Christmas (Red Dirt Heart 3.5)
Author: N.R. Walker
Publisher: BlueHeart Press
Length: 54 Pages
Categories: Holiday Romance, Contemporary Romance
Buy Links: Amazon || All Romance eBooks || Smashwords

Blurb: Travis had been here for just over a year. We were technically engaged, not that we’d told anyone. He was happy just knowin’ I’d said yes, and I had some head-clearin’ stuff to work through. Knowing I was good enough for Trav was one thing, but knowing if I was good enough to be a husband and father was somethin’ else entirely.

Life at Sutton Station had never been better. Business was strong, Trudy and Bacon’s little baby, Gracie, was a few weeks old now and as cute as a button, Ma’s health was good, and my relationship with Laura and Sam was in a pretty good place. And Travis? Well, life with him was still all kinds of perfect.

But, to Travis’s dismay, Christmas at the Station was just another day. Another day of getting up before the sun, feeding animals, fixin’ what needed fixin’, and checking water troughs all while tryin’ to keep out of the blistering heat.

And this year weren’t much different. Only that it was Travis’s first Sutton Station Christmas. The fact we didn’t go all out with decorations and celebrations baffled him, and if I was bein’ truthful, it disappointed him too.

Which was why I had to make it a special kind of Christmas…

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Excerpt: Chapter One

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

I was muckin’ out the stables with Billy when he stopped and leaned on his shovel. He was lookin’ out to the paddock and grinned his half-a-face smile. “Ah, boss. You might wanna take a look.”

I followed his line of sight and let out a long sufferin’ sigh. “Jesus.”

Billy laughed and I shook my head. We could see Trav smilin’ as he rode the dirt bike into the yard. Strapped onto the seat behind him was a six foot pine tree. He pulled the bike to a stop, and his grin got even wider.

I stared at him. “Trav, what’s that?”

“What does it look like?” he asked, his eyebrows knitting together. “It’s a tree.”

“I can see that.”

“Mr Travis,” Billy said, all concerned-like. “You can’t be cuttin’ them trees down. They special to the Aboriginal people’s culture. Mr Travis, you disrespectin’ our people.”

Travis’s face was priceless. He paled, his eyes went wide, and his mouth fell open. He looked at me for some kind of guidance, and I just shook my head and clicked my tongue. Travis turned back to Billy, close to panicking. “Oh. I didn’t know. Oh my God. I just thought it looked like a Christmas tree and there were plenty of them. Billy, I’m so sorry. I can take it back. I mean, I can’t replant it ‘cause you know.” He looked at the tree on the back of the bike and cringed. “Well, I hacked it off at the ground. God, I’m so sorry. Is there something I should do?”

Billy looked at the tree. “Well, there’s a spirit dance from the Dreamtime. The person who takes the tree needs to do it.”

Travis nodded seriously. “A spirit dance?”

Trav stared at Billy, and I stared at Billy. A spirit dance? I had to give it to Billy. He held it together for about five seconds of absolute silence before he lost it. He burst out laughing, which made me laugh too. “I’m just pullin’ your leg, Travis. There’s no spirit dance,” Billy said, holding his sides as he laughed. His smile was so contagious.

Apparently Travis was immune. He glared at us. “Oh, you sons of bitches. You had me going.” He put his hand to his heart. “Jesus Billy, you scared the crap outta me. I thought I’d broken some traditional Aboriginal code or something!”

Billy just laughed some more. “The look on your face was so funny.”

“I hate the both of you,” Trav said, but he was smiling.

“These trees are like a weed,” Billy said. “Introduced by the white fellas two hundred years ago. They grow fast, but they’re not native.”

“I didn’t think they were.” Travis ran his hand along the fronds of the tethered tree. “But it’s the closest thing to a Christmas tree out here.”

“Christmas tree?” Billy asked. “Not too old for that? Still think Santa Claus climbs down chimneys?”

Travis frowned. He looked at his feet and shifted his weight. His voice was quiet. “No. It was just a tradition in my family. My grandfather would cut down a tree and we’d decorate it as a family. We had special ornaments and there would be a huge dinner and it was kind of a big deal. I just thought maybe… You know what? Never mind.”

Billy knew Travis’s grandfather had died not long ago. “Oh Mr Travis, I didn’t mean anything. I was just jokin’ with ya. Here, let me help you get it off the bike.”

Travis sighed and his frowned deepened, and Billy quickly undid the straps and lifted the tree by himself. “Where do you want it, Mr Travis?”

Trav was lookin’ down at the dirt, and Billy stared at me with wide eyes. “Boss? I didn’t mean nothin’ by it,” he whispered.
I saw the corner of Travis’s lip curl up and I rolled my eyes. “Oh, for shit’s sake. He’s joking, Billy.”

Billy’s eyes shot to Travis, and Travis’s frown became a slow spreading grin. “I’m just pullin’ your leg,” he said with a laugh. “You’re not the only one who can spin one, Billy.”

“Your grandfather never cut down a Christmas tree?”

Travis shook his head, still grinning. “My grandfather would tell everyone we were going to pick a perfect tree, but he’d take me fishing instead and we’d just buy some random tree from a lot on the way home.”

Billy dropped the tree into the dirt and pushed Travis’s shoulder, which of course led to them trying to put each other in a headlock, which was only made more difficult because they were both laughin’ so hard. I looked at Texas, Trav’s horse. Even he didn’t look impressed. He just twitched his ears and swished his tail in a yep-they’re-idiots kind of way. “I know,” I told him. “You have no idea what I have to put up with.”

“Who are you talking to, Charlie?” Travis asked. They’d apparently stopped wrestling and were lookin’ at me.

“Your horse,” I answered seriously. “He thinks you’re both dickheads.”

Travis brushed himself down, though why, I’ll never know. Red dust got into everything here; there weren’t no escapin’ it. “I’ll never get used to the Australian display of affection of calling the people you’re supposed to like horrible names.”

I snorted out a laugh. “You’d think after a year you’d be used to it.”

Billy picked up his shovel and offered it to Trav. “Wanna shovel shit?”

“Um, gee, thanks, but no,” Trav replied, with an I-ain’t-stupid look on his face. “I have a Christmas tree to put up. Considering Christmas is three days away and no one seems to give a shit.”

I lifted up the horseshit covered shovel. “Texas does. Bags of it.”

He rolled his eyes at me and wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of his hand. “Tell me, how damn hot is it? You know, Christmas should be cold, not one hundred and thirty freakin’ degrees.” Without waitin’ for an answer, he reached behind his head and pulled his T-shirt off. It was one of my old shirts, kinda threadbare, but I didn’t mind him wearin’ it. It clung to his body when he got all sweaty… Nah, I didn’t mind him wearin’ it at all. I minded even less when he took it off. Wearing just his jeans, boots and hat, he wrapped the shirt around the tree and lifted it easily onto one shoulder. I watched as the muscles in his back and arms flexed, all shiny with sweat, the way the red dirt smeared on his skin, and a lucky drop of sweat as it ran from the back of his hair, right down his spine and disappeared where his jeans slung low on his arse.

Jesus.

Billy snapped his fingers in my face. “You in there, boss?”
Travis turned around and, realising I’d been busted totally checkin’ him out, he grinned. And seeing that Billy wasn’t lookin’ at him, Travis licked his lips all suggestive like, and ran his free hand over his abs as he turned to walk out.

I flung horseshit at him.

He didn’t even turn around. He just laughed. As he walked away, he asked, “I can put this in the living room, right?”

“Would it matter what I said?” I called out after him.

His reply was distant as he reached the house. “Nope.”

Billy laughed, and I grumbled as we went back to shovelling shit. When we’d heard the screen door shut, Billy looked up to make sure Travis was gone. “He got no idea what you plannin’, does he, boss?”

I smiled as I kept on shovelin’. “None.”

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N.R. WalkerAbout the Author: N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance.
She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn’t have it any other way.

She is many things; a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who live in her head, who don’t let her sleep at night unless she gives them life with words.

She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things…but likes it even more when they fall in love.

She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.

She’s been writing ever since…

N.R. Walker’s Internet Linksnrwalker2103@gmail.com || Facebook timeline || Facebook Page || Twitter: @NR_Walker

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RJ Scott

Guest Post and Exclusive Excerpt: The Love’s Design Blog Tour with RJ Scott

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We’re so pleased to welcome author RJ Scott today on the tour for the latest book in her Bodyguards Inc. series, Love’s Design. Enjoy RJ’s guest post and the exclusive excerpt she’s shared.

Enjoy!

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Christmas food

I love Christmas. Not so much the actual day itself, weirdly enough, but the buildup… Buying presents for people, planning what we’re going to eat, organising meeting up with friends for Christmas events, that kind of thing. When I knew I was due to write blogs for the release of ‘Love’s Design’ I knew that I wanted to try and write about things that make me want to write Christmas stories; to capture the excitement of Christmas.

Okay, so I like food. A lot. All kinds of food, but particularly Christmas food. I think it goes back to my childhood where Christmas meant food that was special. We certainly didn’t eat as many sweets during the year as we did at Christmas. Not as much turkey, sausages, bacon, etc. You see what I mean!

But what I have fondest memories of is grapes. And yes, that ends weird I know. On Christmas Day, huddled around the TV watching the Morecambe and Wise Christmas special, we would have a bowl of grapes. Now grapes were a luxury, something special that was ‘just for Christmas’. I would sit next to my gran, who was really old (60 – which is only 12 years older that I am now, lol) and who spoiled my sister and me rotten… We would eat so many grapes I that I would burst. Only I didn’t, and there was always room for more crackers and cheese with home bottled pickled onions for supper.

Are there any foods for you that sum up Christmas?

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Bodyguards 5Blurb: Can Christmas be the time when Kirby finally stops running and allows himself to fall in love with the man who saves his life?

CIA Agent Stefan Mortimer is cooling his heels in the UK until he can go home. Taking on easy assignments with Bodyguards Inc. seems like a good solution to keep him sane. He’s used to life throwing him curveballs, and it’s just another day at the office when he rescues Kirby Devlin and his niece and nephew. Now he has to keep Kirby and the kids alive and stay professional.

Kirby Devlin has one priority; keeping his small family safe. On the run, and facing danger at every turn, Kirby finally runs out of places to hide on a snowy December day at Edinburgh airport. Stefan comes to the rescue, saves him and the children. Is it possible that Kirby finally has someone to trust?

Buy Links: RJ’s Blog

Bodyguard Inc. Series

Book 1 – Bodyguard to a Sex God

Book 2 – The Ex Factor

Book 3 – Max and the Prince

Book 4 – Undercover Lovers

Book 5 – Love’s Design

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Excerpt: Stefan checked him all over, encouraging him to lean forward and to stretch. The pain was manageable, and there was no blood or deep cuts on his skin.

“They went for your face and ribs, right?”

Kirby wasn’t going to share with anyone what Tommy had said when he pulled a knife. Carve you up good, pretty boy. Instead, he just nodded.

Stefan scooted back and tossed him some antiseptic cream and ibuprofen. “Get a shower, take some painkillers, and put that on the cuts.”

Stefan reached for a bandage wrapped in plastic and pulled it out, and with deft movements, he managed to get it wrapped around his own wrist.

“Do you need some help?” Kirby asked.

“Get a shower, Kirby.”

Evidently, that was a no. Kirby made his way to the bathroom; he stripped and left the door open so he could watch Andy and Louise in the mirror. He ran the shower warm but not hot, liking the press of it against his skin and at the tension of pain that banded his head. Pain meant he was alive, meant that somehow he’d managed to get Andy and Louise out of harm’s way. He took two tablets and hoped they worked magic on the aches he had everywhere. Being beaten up was a different kind of a pain to anything he’d felt before.

He didn’t know what the fuck he was going to do next. He wrapped a towel around his waist, toweled himself as dry as he could, and pulled his underwear and jeans back on. All the time he watched Andy and Louise in the bed, and Stefan, who hadn’t moved from his spot on that stool. His back was to Kirby.

When Kirby had left home, he hadn’t taken a scrap of clothing. Not the shit stuff or the tops he wore for work, not the leather wristbands, or a coat, or anything. He wrapped another towel around his shoulder, for warmth and to stop Stefan looking too closely at other marks that would soon become obvious as way older than the ones he’d gotten tonight.

As soon as he walked out, with his shoulders back, he discovered Stefan had been holding back.

Stefan had moved to stand at the window, looking down at the parking lot. “Now let’s talk about that bullshit that Andy fell. You know he didn’t fall, I know that, and fuck it all, Andy knows he has to lie. Those were grip marks on his wrist, and he said his dad did it.”

“It’s not what you think.”

“It’s part of the story you’ll be telling me, Kirby, along with who McLeod is and what happened to the kid’s dad?”

And, just like that, Kirby knew he was fucked.

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RJ ScottAbout the Author: RJ Scott has been writing since age six, when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies. She was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.

As an avid reader herself, she can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, her first real true love will always be the world of romance where she takes cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and writes dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men.

With over seventy titles to her name and counting, she is the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway. She is also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.

Her goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

Email || Website || Twitter || Facebook || Library Thing || Tumblr (some NSFW) || Pinterest

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4 Stars, Comedy, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Sammy, Rob Rosen, Short Story

Review: Best Laid Trap by Rob Rosen

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Best Laid Trap (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: Rob Rosen

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 24 Pages

At a Glance: Fans of Rob Rosen will immediately latch on to his wickedly humorous writing style and slightly crazed characters.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Roy has a crush on Steve, so when a work-related ski weekend is offered, Roy jumps at the chance to finally lay a trap for his hunky coworker. An abandoned cabin nearby is perfect for his scheme, and Roy stocks it with champagne, rubbers, and lube. But fate intervenes, and it’s not Steve, but Ranger Josh, who ends up trapped in the cabin with Roy during an avalanche. Roy’s plan might be ruined, but there’s still a chance for a very happy New Year indeed.

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Review: It’s holiday time and Rob Rosen offers up Best Laid Trap, another offering form the Dreamspinner Advent Calendar: Sleigh Ride. I must admit I am a huge fan of Rosen’s acerbic wit and snarky repartee, and this little short starts out in typical Rosen style, replete with a near stream of consciousness from the narrator and star of the story, Roy.

The plot is a simple one: Roy has been crushing on a coworker and accidentally finds an abandoned cabin right off the bunny trail at the ski resort they are both staying. With seduction on his mind, Roy sets the trap for his amour and sits back to wait. Little did he know that Mother Nature, a randy forest ranger, and some karma would change his whole night–and perhaps his future as well.

Be forewarned, this short story is about as insta-lust as you can get, but with lots of humor and a fairly hot, lengthy sex scene to boot. This is a mere snippet, so if you are looking for a great deal of character development, or much past a short rendezvous with a hint of a happy-ever-after, then this might not be the selection for you. However, fans of Rob Rosen will immediately latch on to his wickedly humorous writing style and slightly crazed characters.

Roy is sweet and funny as he lays out his night of seduction for a coworker. When he finds that he is going to be left high and dry, he barely has time to be disappointed before the ranger of his dreams appears and he grabs opportunity with both hands! Barely a short story, Rosen still manages to pack this gem with soppy moments filled with inner dialogue from Roy’s head that will have you laughing. All in all, this was a fun romp that will leave you wanting just a little more!

TNA_Signature_Sammy

 

 

 

 

You can buy Best Laid Trap here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Joe Cosentino

Guest Post: A Home for the Holidays by Joe Cosentino

A Home for the Holidays Banner

Hello, the Novel Approach Readers! I’m visiting here today to tell you a bit about how I came to write my brand new holiday short novella, A Home for the Holidays from Dreamspinner Press, which takes place in gorgeous, romantic, and magical Capri, Italy!

After writing two Bittersweet Dreams novellas, An Infatuation and A Shooting Star (In My Heart Series) published by Dreamspinner Press, and a comedy mystery, Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery published by Lethe Press, I needed a vacation. So like Kunta Kinte charting his roots, my spouse and I dipped into our savings—and dipped into the Dramamine, and booked a flight and bus tour from the US to Rome, Naples, Venice, Assisi, Lake Como, Milan, Florence, the Amalphi Coast, Pompeii, Tuscany, and Lake Maggiore. We were exhausted, but we had the vacation of a lifetime seeing the most gorgeous architecture, natural resources, and views of any of our trip. We also ate delicious food and reveled in the art, history, and beauty (noticing all the statues were of very muscular, naked men). The people were warm and friendly as was the weather. However, there was no site more gorgeous, magical, and romantic than the Island of Capri.

While on the boat ride to the Marina Grande, the sight of the enormous cliffs sitting majestically on the water literally took our breath away. From the funiculare (cable car) we marveled at the stunning views of the island below and Mt. Vesuvius in the distance. At the Piazetta (main plaza) we boarded an island bus that zoomed around harrowing, tight corners like a car in a Fun House. We travelled to Via Krupp in the southern part of the island, and we walked through what Italians call “the villas of the rich and famous,” underscored by the sparkling turquoise sea below. We swam in gorgeous white sand beaches surrounded by artistic white stone formations like Marina Piccola. When we arrived at Mt. Solaro, our guide told us it was highest point on the Isle of Capri, five hundred and eighty-nine meters above sea level. As we looked out at the fog, the sun came up and the wind blew the vapors of fog upwards, crowning the clouds, and revealing stunning views of the Bay of Naples, the Amalfi Coast, and the mountains of Calabria in the distance. As we looked out over the turquoise water, white mountains, and azure sky, I felt like I was in heaven. However, the most magical of all was the Grotta Azzurra (the Blue Grotto). As our boat went through the tiny portal of the expansive cave, my breath was taken away by the water’s brilliant shades of iridescent sapphire and emerald from the sun’s reflection on the water in the cove. Capri also had the most amazing restaurants and shops on the water’s edge. And the people somehow all seemed beautiful and sensuous.

Upon arriving back in the US, I realized I had to write a romantic story taking place in Capri.

In my story, Bobby, a young, Italian American law student, travels to Capri to meet his quaint Italian relatives. Though they get off to a rocky start, he falls in love with his handsome, muscular, sexy Italian third cousin, Paolo. Their relationship with highs and lows and some captivating surprises is the core of the short novella. Since I come from a long line of funny Italian Americans, I included a good deal of humor in the story as well with Bobby’s mother, who is loosely based on my mother, and Paolo’s eccentric family. Paolo’s grandmother is really a riot. She is loosely based on my grandmother who said, “A boy leaves home with a wife or in a coffin.”

Like Harold in An Infatuation and Jonathan in A Shooting Star, Bobby is sweet, sensitive, and smart. As a law student, he has buried his head in his books. As the novella begins, he is ready for an adventure—and ready for first love. Like Mario in An Infatuation and David in A Shooting Star, Paolo is handsome, muscular, charismatic, and like many people in Italy, much more interested in love than in work. He is also a gifted artist. Unlike Bobby, Paolo is very experienced in matters of the heart. Paolo loves the finer things in life, but doesn’t want to work for them. He is quite concerned about his body, clothing, and social life. That is a foreign (no pun intended) concept to me. He is loosely based on my cousin’s cousin who lives in Italy.

After reading A Home for the Holidays, people have said they’ve taken a little trip to Capri and had the romance of a lifetime. I hope readers will pick up this short novella. It’s a lot cheaper than a trip to Italy, and is bursting with the sights, scents, sounds, tastes, and romance of the magnificent island of Capri!

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HomeFortheHolidayscoverBlurb: Bobby McGrath’s Christmas trip to the beautiful Italian Island of Capri to meet his eccentric, extended family offers stunning views—none more stunning than his third cousin, Paolo Mascobello, a real stocking stuffer. As the two young men embark on a relationship, Bobby, a driven law student, learns to relax and bask under the old Italian moon, and Paolo realizes there’s more to life than a frolic on the beach. For the two to find everlasting amore, Paulo must overcome his fear of commitment and learn to follow his dreams, and Bobby must get his wish for happily ever after.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press || Amazon || All Romance eBooks || Barnes & Noble

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Excerpt: “Bobby, every Christmas your father and I buy you a nice gift and you return it. So this year before we go shopping, I’m asking you. What do you want for Christmas, exactly?”

I was tempted to answer, “How about the new Zeb Atlas DVD, Mom?” No longer reading my law textbook, I pressed the cell phone against my ear and responded, “My red sweater is getting frayed. I guess I could use a new one, Mom.”

“I don’t like red on you. I’ll get you a green sweater. It will go nicely with your eyes. You’ll be twenty-four in June. Nobody ever caught a husband wearing red clothes, except for Mrs. Klaus, and then look how overweight he was.”

I adjusted the heavy book on my knees and leaned back against the headboard of my narrow dorm room bed. Since fall semester of my third year of law school was over, my roommate had already gone back to Utah to be with his father and three mothers. Normally I would go home for the holidays.

As far back as I can remember, every December twenty-third through the twenty-fifth my mother works herself to exhaustion while forbidding anyone to help her. Since I am not married, I am seated at the kiddy table, where I dodge meatball and manicotti grenades courtesy of my little nieces and nephews. Then the gifts are bestowed with price tags on them so we all know “How many hours your father and I had to work to be able to buy our children such beautiful things.” This is followed by “oohs” and “ahhs” for every gift except the presents from me, which garner comments from my parents and two sisters like, “Oh well, I can wear that for dress-down day at work… if I keep on my coat.” After the extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins arrive for dessert (cannoli grenades at the kiddy table), my mother’s side (the Mascobellos) eat the pastries, and my father’s side (the McGraths) drink the liqueurs, while I sit upstairs in my old bedroom reading law case decisions on the Internet.

This Christmas is going to be different. Throughout my childhood I heard stories about my mother’s now deceased father who had a first cousin in Capri, Italy. Mom, “too exhausted from taking care of all of you to survive such a journey,” had recently spoken on the phone to her deceased father’s cousin’s daughter-in-law (got that?), and the two women had arranged for me to spend this Christmas with my Italian relatives. This led to my Christmas in Italy with my Italian cousin, Paolo Mascobello.

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Author BioAbout the Author: Amazon Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote An Infatuation, A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays (Dreamspinner Press), Drama Queen the first Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), Paper Doll the first Jana Lane mystery (Whiskey Creek Press), and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, Charles Keating, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming releases in 2016 are The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press short stories novella), Porcelain Doll the second Jana Lane mystery (Wild Rose Press), and Drama Muscle the second Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press).

Website || Facebook || Twitter || Goodreads || Amazon

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4.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Pat Henshaw, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Blame It on the Fruitcake by Pat Henshaw

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Amazon

Amazon

Title: Blame It On The Fruitcake (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015

Author: Pat Henshaw

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 36 Pages

At a Glance: Blame It on the Fruitcake is a sweet and funny love story. A perfect morsel of yummy goodness for this holiday season!

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Fruitcake is the laughingstock of the holiday season. But can it be an aphrodisiac instead? Motorcycle mechanic Sam McGuire is surprised to find a gaily wrapped box on his doorstep with a piece of fruitcake accompanying an invitation to a holiday party.

Wondering if he’ll fit in, Sam attends the party—mostly to get more of the fruitcake he falls in love with—and meets Jay Merriweather, his new neighbor. The lure of Jay’s big family and its holiday tradition of enjoying Grandma’s fruitcake hook Sam, as does the sexy man himself.

But Sam can’t imagine why handsome, college-educated Jay would want someone like him, who was raised in a children’s home and barely graduated high school. Maybe the magic of the holiday season can help two men who seem so different come together like the ingredients in a well-made fruitcake.

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Review: Blame It on the Fruitcake by Pat Henshaw is another delightful story from the Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Package entitled Sleigh Ride, a swiftly moving short story that brings together what seems like polar opposites and solidifies the idea that the heart knows what it wants despite what seems like insurmountable differences.

Sam McGuire has lived most of his life knowing that he is not the kind of guy anyone would choose to love. For years, as an orphan, he watched others be snatched up into middle class happiness by beautiful people who barely gave him a second glance. Now, as a successful mechanic and shop owner, he still believes that he is hardly a catch for some well-educated college boy who cleans up way better than he ever would.

Very much a loner, he is shocked when a small package appears on his doorstep containing an amazing piece of fruitcake and an invite to his neighbor’s party. After suspiciously and grudgingly tasting the cake–after all, everyone knows fruitcake is literally scraping the bottom of the holiday treat barrel–Sam decides to attend the party…in order to get more cake! Little does he know he is about to meet a guy who will challenge all his tightly held low opinions of himself, and of his certainty that he will never be worthy of being loved.

Author Pat Henshaw is a new author for me and I can honestly say, based on this little gem of a story, I will be looking up her backlist ASAP. Sam is such a sweet guy under his gruff exterior. Everything about him, from the way in which he dresses to his rough dialogue, was just so right and realistic. I honestly felt both these main characters were the perfect example of guys I’d be likely to meet in real life. There was such a genuine air about this author’s writing that made this instant attraction between Sam and Jay so understandable and believable.

Sam’s past created such a deep well of loneliness within him that it lent credibility to his automatic decisions that he would never be good enough for Jay. Jay’s admissions of feeling like he was pretending to be something he’s not allowed Sam to understand that appearance really is not all it’s cracked up to be, and it’s what lies beneath the exterior that really counts.

Blame It on the Fruitcake is a sweet and funny love story. A perfect morsel of yummy goodness for this holiday season!

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You can buy Blame It on the Fruitcake here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Giveaways

Excerpt Tour and Giveaway: Home for the Holidays Anthology

Blog Banner

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Home for the Holidays – Featuring authors SJ Himes || Jenna Kendrick || Heather C. Leigh || Liv Rancourt || Felice Stevens

BLURB: Home can be a person as well as a place. Everyone deserves a home for the holidays, as the stories in this collection affirm.

Proceeds from Home for the Holidays are being donated to the Ali Forney Center in New York City to help homeless LGBTQ youth.

Release Date: November 29, 2015

Buy LinksAmazon US || Amazon UK || Amazon CA || Amazon AU

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BLURB The Eighth Night by Jenna Kendrick: Going home for the holiday only to find his parents have made other plans, Kai Meyers is thrilled to reunite with an old friend. Disowned by his religious family, Ari Fisher is used to being treated like a boy toy rather than a boyfriend, and now he only has eight days to reveal his secrets to Kai.

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EXCERPT: The last thing Ari saw as the lights went out and the elevator jolted to a stop was Kai stumbling forward. Ari started to move closer to help him up, but his foot bumped into a piece of fruit or something, so he pulled back. Kelev barked, clearly upset by the chaos, while Kai called to the dog to make sure he was okay.

Ari, felt something sniffing at his pants leg. “Kelev, c’mere boy. Good boy.” He bent over to scratch his head. He was happy to see the dog was still alive; he had to be going on twelve or thirteen by now.

“You know Kelev? Well, obviously. I suppose you know my parents, then.”

Ari chuckled. “You could say that. But I know you even better. Well, I used to.” Apparently the dog remembered Ari better than his owner. He wished he could get a look at Kai’s face as he connected the dots. When he’d first spotted Kai in the corner, he’d been relieved to see the guy was too weighed down with Kelev and a metric crap-ton of grocery bags to notice him. He’d known there was always the chance of running into Kai. Ari might have even hoped for it subconsciously. Otherwise, he could have avoided the possibility by insisting Prescott and Thomas meet him at a hotel, as he did with some of his other clients.

“Wait a minute… Ari?”

“Long time, no see, Kai.”

“I can’t see you now, either.” Kai’s voice had matured over the past eight years, familiar and new at the same time. “Sorry, I was in my own world and didn’t notice you before the lights went out.”

“Hope you’re not still afraid of the dark.” Ari remembered them leaving a lamp on when they had sleepovers, but only until they’d hit middle school.

“Probably a hard sell after screaming like a teenage girl, but no, not generally.” Kai must’ve set the rest of the groceries down because Ari heard bags rustling and felt a can roll into the side of his shoe. “I don’t suppose you want to join me here on the floor. I’d try to get up, but I have a feeling I’d wind up tripping over an avocado and inadvertently turning it into guacamole.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenna Kendrick writes male/male new adult and contemporary romance, her favorite genre to read. She lives in Upstate New York, where she spends the better part of the year trying to stay warm and dry. When she’s not writing, she reads, watches The Princess Bride and The Avengers far too often, spends time with her husband and friends, and drinks more coffee and tea than she’d care to admit. She shares her home office with her dog, Tally, and her cats, Loki and Tamiris.

Jenna spent most of her class time in high school writing bad poetry and short stories in which her teachers were the villains. She began writing in earnest in college, putting it aside for a few years to work as a teacher and product manager for several online services. In addition to writing fiction, Jenna also writes nonfiction technical books under another name.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKSFacebook || Twitter || Instagram || Tumblr

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BLURB 24-Hour Hold by Heather C. Leigh: Detectives Damon Porter and Anderson Malloy are now partners at Denver’s Major Case Unit. The problem is, they used to be boyfriends, and now they’re feeling anything but friendly towards each other.

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EXCERPT: “Still drinking enough coffee each day to keep Seattle’s coffee houses running for a year?” I ask, leaning back on the counter while Damon turns on the tap, rinsing his hands and attempting to wipe off the spill on his shirt with a wet paper towel.

He scowls, his dark brown eyes locking on mine. “Fuck you, Anderson.” Thoroughly annoyed with me, I watch, fascinated, as my ex-lover’s hands clench into tight fists. Damon tosses the used paper towel into the garbage can before whirling back around in my direction. His mouth opens, no doubt to tell me off, then snaps back shut.

My eyes drop to that full, red mouth—a mouth I’ve tasted hundreds, maybe thousands of times before—and molten heat spreads out from my groin.

I’m in the middle of imagining a detailed scenario that involves kneeling down on the hideous linoleum of the kitchenette and yanking down his perfectly pressed dress pants to suck on his cock when I realize he’s gone.

Shit.

It takes me a few minutes, but I finally find Damon in the conference room, quietly stewing while he sets up his laptop. He has the files open on the table.

“So,” I close the door behind me and his head of brown hair twitches as he ignores me. “Show me what you’ve got.” I drop into the swivel chair closest to him and snap my gum while spinning back and forth.

“Do you mind not doing that?” Porter scowls and turns away, fiddling with his computer. Fascinated, I watch the muscles of his back tense up under his starched button-down.

“Doing what?” I ask innocently, popping the gum again. Nothing turns me on more than riling up Damon Porter. Watching him go from cool and collected to hot and bothered makes my dick hard.

“Listen, D. I—”

The beautiful man beside me jerks around, practically snarling in my face. “Don’t. Call. Me. That.”

“Whoa!” I hold my hands up defensively, noting the way his hands are fisted at his sides. “Calm down, Porter.”

“Fuck you.”

“Jesus, Porter. Hold a grudge much?”

His eyes close and I recognize the way his entire body shudders. Damon Porter is close to losing his carefully crafted control.

“Sorry,” I mumble. “I didn’t expect this,” I motion between the two of us, “to be so uncomfortable.”

Those big brown eyes of his pop open, dark lashes fluttering wide as my words sink in. “Wait,” he says. “You knew I worked here?” Oops. I can practically see his sharp mind working to quickly put the pieces together. “Did you… Did you come to Denver, to this department specifically, knowing you would be working with me?”

My skin heats up from his dead-on conclusion. Damon leans close, the familiar scent of his aftershave hitting me hard. “What’s your game, Anderson?”

I can feel the heat coming off of him, even through the multiple layers of both his perfect white dress shirt and my rumpled old blue one. My throat is tight and I have to work to swallow in order to speak. “I don’t have a game. I moved back to Denver, applied for a job, they assigned me to your department. It’s temporary, so don’t get your starched boxers in a bunch.”

It’s the truth. Stretched, but the truth nonetheless.

Damon’s molten brown eyes narrow, his nostrils flare in anger. When he speaks, the formal, uptight man I know does the unthinkable. He cracks a joke.

“Still chewing that shitty gum, huh?”

I swallow again when his gaze drops to my mouth. Desire rushes through me, sending blood pulsing to my groin. “Yeah.”

He nods, as if confirming some thought in his own head, before turning to face his laptop. His professional façade slams into place like a thick steel door. With one long, elegant finger, Damon points at the files in front of me. “I guess you’ll have to start at the beginning. You read the reports and familiarize yourself with the cases, I’ll continue trying to find a link between the robberies.”

“Sure, D. Whatever you say.”

Porter’s mouth twitches, but he doesn’t correct me for calling him D. That little victory gives me enough confidence to grin, snapping my gum as I pull open the first file.

If I can just get past the four hundred fifty-three other layers of protection my ex has put up to keep me out, I’m golden.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Heather C. Leigh is the author of the Amazon bestselling Famous series. She likes to write about the ‘dark’ side of fame. The part that the public doesn’t get to see, how difficult it is to live in a fishbowl and how that affects relationships.

Heather was born and raised in New England and currently lives outside Atlanta, GA with her husband, 2 kids, and French Bulldog, Shelby.

She loves the Red Sox, the Patriots, and anything chocolate (but not white chocolate, everyone knows it’s not real chocolate so it doesn’t count) and has left explicit instructions in her will to have her ashes snuck into Fenway Park and sneakily sprinkled all over while her family enjoys beer, hot dogs, and a wicked good time.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKSWebsite || Facebook || Goodreads || Twitter || Instagram

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BLURB Learning to Love by Felice Stevens: Returning home for the holiday, caterer Gideon Marks tried hard to push away his high school crush. But Rabbi Jonah Fine wouldn’t let him run again, or keep the secret Gideon’s tried so desperately to hide.

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EXCERPT: The bells above the shop tinkled and Sean glanced over my shoulder.

“I’m sorry, sir but we’re closed.”

“I’m not here to buy anything, I came to talk to Gideon.”

I spun around to face Jonah. “I’ve got nothing to say to you.” I walked behind the register, putting the expanse of the counter between us. Jonah had changed from this morning and now wore a heavy sweater, corduroy pants and a black leather motorcycle jacket. He looked tired, windblown and utterly desirable. Despite my words, I couldn’t tear my gaze away from his face.

Ten years away hadn’t changed the irrevocable fact that I still wanted Jonah, now more than ever. There were some people who got under your skin and no matter what you did to erase them from your mind and heart, they remained, clinging to your soul.

“Gideon, please.” He darted a quick look at Sean who’d apparently forgotten about his hot date and was intent on having a ringside seat to my sex life. “Can we please go somewhere and talk?”

“Go ahead, boss. I’ll close up.”

Rico leaned against the doorway, his dark eyes fixated on Jonah. I knew my obvious attraction wouldn’t bother Rico; we hadn’t been together in years. The deep friendship and mutual respect between us was rock solid.

Jonah hadn’t taken his eyes off of me, his face an unreadable mask. If I said nothing, I could let him think Rico and I were lovers and he would no doubt leave me alone.

“Gid, go on, man. Give the guy a break.”

Rico’s urging broke me out of my deep thoughts. “Okay,” I said begrudgingly. “Let me get my jacket and I’ll be right back.”

I hurried to my office, pulled on my jacket and shoved the contracts Rico had worked on earlier into my backpack. By the time I’d returned, Sean had finally left and Rico and Jonah were discussing the demise of the kosher deli in New York City.

“Have a good one, guys.” Rico shook Jonah’s hand and gave me a swift hug. “Don’t fuck it up man.” His breath tickled my ear. “I got a feeling this one’s for real.”

I pushed him away, giving him a funny smile and a shake of my head. “See you tomorrow. We need to plan the wait-staff for the party and then go through the other orders. Plus I need to contact some of the people I met last night, who said they wanted to maybe hire us for their small dinner parties.”

“Will you get out of here already and stop talking business?” Rico shoved me toward Jonah. “Take him and feed him so he’ll shut up.”

Jonah held the door for me and side by side we walked down the block. Christmas lights had already gone up on the lampposts and in store windows and happy people walked with bright red and green shopping bags stuffed with their purchases. The entire city was seized with holiday cheer, yet all I felt was depressed.

“Have you eaten dinner?”

We stopped at a corner waiting for the traffic light to change. “No, but it’s Saturday night. Why aren’t you out on a date or something?”

Jonah’s sweet smile disarmed me. “Um, I thought I was.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Felice Stevens has always been a romantic at heart. While life is tough, she believes there is a happy ending for everyone. She started reading traditional historical romances as a teenager, then life and law school got in the way. It wasn’t until she picked up a copy of Bertrice Small and became swept away to Queen Elizabeth’s court that her interest in romance novels was renewed.

But somewhere along the way, her reading shifted to stories of men falling in love. Once she picked up her first gay romance, she became so enamored of the character-driven stories and the overwhelming emotion there was no turning back.

Felice lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Her day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass or two of red wine. Although she practices law, she daydreams of a time when she can sit by a beach and write beautiful stories of men falling in love. Although there is bound to be some angst along the way, a Happily Ever After is always guaranteed.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS: Twitter || Pinterest || Goodreads || Instagram || Facebook Author Page

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Blurb Saving Silas by SJ Himes: Paramedic Gael Dominic wasn’t expecting much from the holidays. Blood, death, and loneliness were constants. So when tragedy puts a wounded Silas in his path, Gael takes a chance on his alleyway angel and love.

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EXCERPT: “Find my son! He was shot, for Christ’s sake, he can’t make it too far. Does this place even have security? Morris, call the local department, I want my son found.” Warner sounded mad, but there wasn’t a frantic component to his tone that most worried parents had when their kids got hurt. He sounded…aggravated.

Gael looked up, eyes searching. This was a split in the Recovery level, the hall to the right swinging around to more patient rooms, the hall to the left leading to the surgery suites, exam rooms, and x-ray….and the elevator to the staff exit. It emptied out in the sequestered lot the doctors and staff used.

He headed in that direction, eyes peeled, making swift work of his search. He kept his actions subtle, not wanting to clue anyone in to the fact he was looking for someone. He smiled at the people he knew but kept going, and passed a cart full of clean scrubs, the plastic lid ajar. The pressed piles made it apparent that a pair of pants and a shirt were missing. Someone took them before the cart made it back down the hall to the doctor’s lounge.

Gael stopped at the elevator, and was about to hit the button, but the staircase several feet away was the better option. No one used the stairs in a hospital.

He entered the stairwell, letting the door swing shut soundlessly behind him. Gael listened, eyes shut, head tilted to the side. A scuffle, the faintest hint of a quivering breath, just below him.

Gael opened his eyes and took the stairs down fast, keeping his footfalls as quiet as he could. He found his quarry the next level down, huddled against the wall, tears running down his bone-white cheeks, hands shaking as he tried to push the door open. He was wearing the purloined scrubs, and the dark blue color merely accentuated the pallor of the young man’s skin. Gael moved just as Silas started to fall over, and he caught him about his waist, holding his angel to his side, keeping him upright.

Silas’ head fell back on his shoulder, and Gael found himself forgetting what he was about to say when a pair of the truest green eyes locked on to his. Every muscle in his body thrummed with electricity, and Gael held him tighter, taking his whole weight.

“Hi, handsome,” Silas breathed out, giving him a tiny twist of a smile, eyes watering. “I’d love to make out in the staircase with you, but I kinda need to escape right now.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I’m a thirty something bisexual cisgendered woman with way too big an imagination, but that comes in handy when I’m writing. I have been writing since I was a child, when I took a four page assignment on what I was going to do on summer vacation and turned it into a 100 page fantasy epic all written by hand…in crayons. No joke.

I work a day job, but I can’t share for who, since the Old Man isn’t as liberated as the people who read my books. I’m married, I have furbabies, and I live with loved ones. I adore a certain show about a British consulting detective and his grumpy army doctor, and that spawned an addiction to Johnlock fanfiction, which then evolved into me writing it. Gawd, that’s embarrassing. Put this down in the TMI section of my Bio, okay? I enjoy martial arts, movies where things blow up, and I wish I lived in a Marvel movie.

I live in the beautiful and lonely Berkshire County in Massachusetts, and I see way more wildlife than I care to on a daily basis (bears!). My perfect day is reading surrounded by friends and family who don’t think it’s odd I want to hang out but not talk, and my favorite scent of all time is a cool fall evening with leaves burning….less a scent, and more of an experience.

My writing is focused on gay and lesbian people, who are more than interesting side characters that hang out with the heterosexual MCs. My wish for the future is that when people ask me what I do for a living, I can say, “I write gay romance,” and NOT get weird looks. Also write under pen name Revella Hawthorne.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKSAmazon/SJ Himes || Amazon/Revella Hawthorne || Blog as SJ Himes || Twitter : @WriterSJHimes || Facebook/SJ Himes || Facebook/Revella Hawthorne

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Blurb Christmas in LaLa Land by Liv Rancourt: For a Danaan sidhe like Aron, touching a human has consequences, while Damian’s hiding some serious scars behind his smile. A holiday trip to LA forces them to choose between acting on their attraction or giving up on love because of the past.

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EXCERPT: “I’m sorry. The hotel is closed for a private party.” Blondie stalked over, making the most of her Heels from Hell. The huge lobby had a high arched ceiling and fabric drapes covering the walls. And every possible surface was hung or draped or covered with something red, green, or glittering.

“Um, Ophelia?”

The ploofy redhead almost dropped the string of stars she’d been draping over an enormous pearl chandelier. “I’m Ophelia.”

Her eyes were the same gray as the murk rolling in off San Francisco Bay before the sun rose. Soft, but cold. Spooky. I took a couple steps further in, trying not to let my hopes get ahead of me. “I’m Aron, Connealagh’s younger brother.”

“No shit!? Are you as big a bitch as she is?” The blonde’s shriek immediately turned into laughter.

Ophelia scrambled down off the ladder, freezing me with her ice-vision. “Connie has a brother?” She came at me fast. No time to duck. Only my face offered bare skin, so that’s what she reached for, cupping my cheek with her palm. “Aron.” Her whisper held confirmation, as if she’d been able to verify my story with a touch.

“Oh.” I started to giggle. Her fingertips held so much joy she fizzed. I turned into her, inhaling a hippie-princess mix of roses and patchouli and sweat. Love ran under the fizz, heavy and deep, the emotion tempered by danger and fear. Thoughtlessly I reached out, finding a firm, pregnant belly under her swirling, embroidered caftan. “She’s beautiful.” I smiled into my cousin’s frightening eyes. “Your Leah is a lovely little girl.”

“Um…” She raised an eyebrow. ““Not born yet.”

“Crap. I’m sorry.” I eased out of her grasp. “I can feel emotions and stuff. Sometimes. I didn’t know…”

She exhaled, puffing out her cheeks and shaking her head. “How ’bout you let me tell Gabriel we’re having a girl before sharing, okay?” Without breaking our connection, she pointed at Blondie. “Shut up, you. My cheeks will not freeze that way.”

Behind us, Damian made a choked sound. The jewel-tone fabric on the walls seemed to dim, though that had to be my imagination.

“Who’s your friend?” Ophelia took hold of my gloved hand.

Grateful for even that little display of support, I suddenly didn’t think I could deal with the say-goodbye-to-Damian thing.

“Damian Jones.” He crossed the tile floor, coming closer. I didn’t turn around. Ophelia didn’t leave my side.

His hand, extended to shake, crossed the corner of my vision.

“Sorry Damian,” Ophelia said, wrapping a protective arm around me. “It’s nice to meet you, but I don’t shake hands, okay?”

“Must be a family thing.” His footsteps retreated, and I wanted to whip myself for driving all the sunlight out of his voice.

Gathering as much courage as I could muster, I pivoted, staying within Ophelia’s circle of safety. “Thank you, Damian, for giving me a ride down here, and I’m sorry…” For knowing my limits? For caring too much to entrap you? For being afraid? If I didn’t like him so much, I’d treat him like that poor sucker in the night club bathroom. If I didn’t respect him so much, I’d try to explain. “Just, sorry.”

“Yeah? Well, all your stuff’s out on the steps. You have a happy holiday, okay?”

Ophelia’s gaze was positively balmy compared with the deep freeze in his tone.

He disappeared, leaving me with my cousin and her freakishly blond friend.

“Well, fuck if I don’t suddenly have a taste for chocolate.” Blondie squealed. She had tiny star tattoos and glitter sprinkles down one cheek and a skirt so short it should be illegal. Something triggered my memory of Ophelia’s only visit to Mari-Elle’s. Her friend, a serpent deity named Suzie or Sandy or something, had been shot on our doorstep. Nothing really kills a deity, though, so maybe this was the same girl.

“Shut up, Sally,” Ophelia said.

Yep, serpent deity.

“No way, sister-mine.” A man appeared on the other side of the ladder. Just, like, appeared. “That cocoa crisp plays for my team.” He disappeared before his voice trailed away.

My face must have asked what the fuck without words because Ophelia started to laugh.

“You have the ghost of Jason Patrick living in your lobby?” I asked.

“Jason Patrick is not dead.” The man appeared on the near side of the ladder. “But thank you, sweetie.”

“No living with him,” Sally muttered.

Ophelia left off laughing long enough to introduce me to Jimmy. “You had the ghost part right, anyway.”

“Aren’t you a pretty little fruit.” Jimmy appeared right next to me. He draped his arm around my shoulders, cool and surprisingly peaceful. “Did you invite him specially for me to play with, Ophie?”

“I didn’t invite him at all.” Keeping hold of my hand, Ophelia drew me over to an antique love seat that could have belonged to Marie Antoinette. She and I sat, and Jimmy perched on the arm next to me. Sally scooted her butt onto a large mahogany desk right across from us.

None of them looked particularly threatening. In fact, staying here could be fun. I grappled my twittering nerves and dove in. “It started because Mari-Elle and I—”

“Oh yeah, how is Mother?” For the first time since I’d met her, Ophelia’s effervescence dampened.

“Gorgeous, frightening, and kind of mean.” Wow! Did I just say that? Because slandering someone’s mother is such a great lead-in to a favor.

Ophelia snickered. “You’re giving her too much credit.”

Well at least my cousin didn’t act insulted. I relaxed against the couch. “I decided I wanted a break from the life for … reasons, and I’ve always wanted to visit L.A.” The next part was the scariest, so I spit it out fast. “I’m hoping I can crash here for a while.” I clasped my hands so tightly the leather on my palms squeaked. “I mean, I know it’s rude to just show up, but I kinda hoped I could rent a room here in the hotel.”

Sally hissed a laugh. “It’s not that kind of hotel.”

“He can totally stay,” Jimmy said. Between his square chin, curly mullet, and micro-skinny tie, he really did look like ‘80s-era Jason Patrick. “How ’bout 312? It’s right at the top of the stairs.”

A broad staircase curled up from one corner of the room, opposite a double set of very black doors.

Ophelia finger-combed red ringlets away from her face. “You know, I think that’ll work.” She fixed me in her cold-slate gaze. “You know what this place is, right? I’m not kidding when I say it’s a gateway to Hell. Couple times an hour Hell’s escorts bring in the souls of the damned, and I send them down. You can’t freak out when that happens, and you absolutely cannot go through those doors.” She pointed at the black doors, and while I generally love a good dare, this seemed like a stupid time to take up a challenge.

“You got it. I’ll even help”—I glanced around at the Christmas insanity “—decorate.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I write romance: m/f, m/m, and v/h, where the h is for human and the v is for vampire … or sometimes demon … I lean more towards funny than angst. When I’m not writing I take care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether I’m at home or at work. My husband is a soul of patience, my dog’s cuteness is legendary, and we share the homestead with three ferrets. Who steal things. Because they’re brats.

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Angel, Sean Michael

Review: Unto Us the Time Has Come by Sean Michael

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Title: Unto Us the Time Has Come (Sleigh Ride: Advent Calendar 2015)

Author: Sean Michael

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 59 Pages

At a GlanceA wonderfully rounded, second chances story.

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Last Christmas, Kenn Greyson gave husband Chris Martenson an ultimatum—spend more time with the family or we’re leaving. He never expected Chris’s reply would be “then leave,” but that’s exactly what happened, and Boxing Day took on a whole new meaning.

Separated for nearly a year now, both men are miserable apart and coping the best they can for the kids’ sake. With Christmas just around the corner, a new conflict arises: neither man is willing to forego Christmas morning with their children. Chris finally suggests they spend the holiday together at the house and, to his shock, Kenn agrees.

Armed with the knowledge that he’s been a stubborn idiot, but that perhaps he can change and begin to repair their relationship, Chris takes steps to win his husband back. He just hopes he can get Kenn on the same page before Santa comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve.

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Review:  I enjoy Sean Michael’s work, and this book was no exception. Michael didn’t skimp here on this story—despite the shortness, it packs a big punch. Both men are at fault as to the cause of their break-up, and both are doing what they can to remain friendly in spite of it, for their kids. It comes down to them both realizing that what they had could be saved if they would only communicate. Michael also shows the impact of adult decisions on children in a relationship, and once again, he doesn’t shy away from the hard emotions. I cried several times over the course of this short story, but I loved it all the more for the realness.

The ending was sweet and heartwarming. While the make-up was quickly resolved, it felt real to me and not tacked on to get a happy ending. Kenn and Chris had to work hard and learned their lessons, and I think both grew up a bit while they were apart. I would love to read about this couple again, in, say, a year later, just to see how they and the children are doing.

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