5 Stars, Literary Fiction, Reviewed by Lisa, Rick R. Reed, Self-Published, Short Story

Review: Matches by Rick R. Reed

Title: Matches

Author: Rick R. Reed

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 17 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Christmas Eve should be a night filled with magic and love. But for Anderson, down on his luck and homeless in Chicago’s frigid chill, it’s a fight for survival. Whether he’s sleeping on the el, or holed up in an abandoned car, all he really has are his memories to keep him warm: memories of a time when he loved a man named Welk and the world was perfect. When Anderson finds a book of discarded matches on the sidewalk, he pockets them. Later, trying to keep the cold at bay hunkered down in a church entryway, Anderson discovers the matches are the key to bringing his memories of Welk, happiness, and security to life. Within their flames, visions dance and perhaps a reunion with the man he loved most. Continue reading

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JMS Books LLC, Paul Alan Fahey

There Are Mixed Blessings To Be Found In “A Christmas In Kent” by Paul Alan Fahey



“What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.” – Agnes M. Pharo


Paul Alan Fahey has followed up his latest novella in the Lovers and Liars Wartime series with Christmas in Kent, a delightful little holiday coda that’s as cozy as a fire in the hearth and as merry as the holidays could possibly be in World War II England.

Glad tidings of great joy have befallen the little family that will continue to grow through the loving ties that bind them all together, not only by biology but by the unconditional acceptance of Leslie and Edward and the love they must hide from the rest of the world.
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K.A. Merikan

And Now, Here’s A “Special Needs” Christmas Coda From K.A. Merikan


For our spot at The Novel Approach, we decided to write a little Christmas snippet with Liam and Ryan, the main characters of Special Needs. These guys are crazy, kinky and head over heels about each other. :-)

They overcome so many problems in the books to be together that we thought it was only fair for them to get a bit of extra fun.

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Ryan wrapped his arms around Liam’s elbow and kissed his bicep as they sat on the bed. “Just think about it, Liam. Our Christmas Dinner at the hotel would be so unique and different if we had a cool theme for it. Like, a ‘White Christmas’, and there would be only white food, on white plates and stuff. We could have fish with an almond crust, or something…”

Liam gave a nervous laugh, already feeling guilty when those wide blue eyes looked at him with so much excitement and hope. He hated to steal the wave from his little merman. “Yeah… but no. It needs to be appetizing.”

Ryan rolled his eyes. “You always say I should eat more fish. And people want unique things. It’s gonna be exciting.” He traced the nautical tattoos on Liam’s skin with his fingertips. “Like shark. I’d try shark.”

Liam couldn’t stop his gaze from traveling south. “You’re always welcome to try some shark, sweet fish boy,” he eventually said with a grin and buried his fingers in Ryan’s blue hair, gently caressing his scalp.

Ryan groaned and looked up at him with pleading puppy-dog eyes. “That’s not what I meant. I’m saying that during the Holiday season people want all sorts of weird Christmassy things. Like reindeer socks or candy cane condoms.”

“Where did that come from?” Liam blinked. “Were you searching my pockets?”

Ryan frowned. “Why? Do you have candy cane condoms?”

“Duh! Don’t you want to suck on a stripey, mint-flavored dick?” Liam grinned and leaned back on the mattress, letting his gaze glide down Ryan’s back. It was so smooth, slightly toned, with a prominent spine. He wanted to lap all the way down that column and bite the pert ass waiting at the finish line.

Ryan winked at him and pulled his wheelchair to the edge of the bed. “I’ve got something better.”

It was as if his words pulled Liam forward. “Yeah?”

“It’s in my secret Christmas stash.” Ryan wiggled his eyebrows and carefully transferred to the wheelchair. Liam swallowed, watching the flames tattooed all over Ryan’s arms move as his muscles tensed under the skin. The skinny jeans did nothing to hide how thin his legs were, but they looked hot nonetheless. Liam had always loved twinky guys.

“Please, don’t tell me you spent money on novelty stuff again.” Liam was watching him with a frown. Ryan was even more careless with money than him, and that had to mean something.

“Noo!” Ryan moaned his denial as he wheeled to his wardrobe “I got this a few years back. I had this idea that if I bought all those things, it would be like a charm. I would find a hot boyfriend over Christmas, one who’d be willing to try out all those items with me.” He sighed. “That obviously didn’t happen.” Ryan bowed down and pulled out a red box out of the wardrobe.

Liam frowned, crawling across the bed for a chance to look him over the shoulder. “So… is that a Rudolph bondage set? Because I would be all over that.”

Ryan put the box in his lap and grinned at him. “Oh, my God! How did you know?” He wheeled over to the bed and opened the box. Inside was a tangle of red leather straps, bells and plushie antlers on a hairband. “I even have these briefs with a tail.” Ryan held them up with pride. They had ‘Ride with Rudolf’ written on the back, over the plush tail.

Heat spread all over Liam’s body. He grunted in disbelief. “No…”

“‘No’?” Ryan made a sad face and hugged the briefs to his chest. “Whatever, you don’t have to be my Santa then.”

“I so want to be a Rudolph-riding Santa.” Liam gave him a slow nod and exhaled, unable to look away. “I can’t believe I guessed what you have in there.”

Ryan’s lips instantly widened into a grin, and he pulled out a whole mess of leather straps, jingling like a herd of reindeer. “Oh, oh! So cool. I actually forgot all about this box. They’re gonna chime when you ride Rudolf.”

Liam stared at him, unable to say a thing. Ryan was perfect in every way. “Let them all know how much Christmas spirit we have in our hearts.”

Ryan clapped with glee. “Jingle bells, jingle bells! Jingle all the way.” He leaned over to give Liam a kiss.

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Merry Christmas!

Kat&Agnes Merikan AKA K.A. Merikan

P.S. This is an accurate representation of the novel (and a teaser for our upcoming contest)

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Caretaking. You’re doing it wrong. —

Liam slept with his boss. Again. And lost his job because of it. Again. Set on changing his ways and tired of sleeping in his car, he applies for a job as a live-in caretaker, even though he has no experience in it whatsoever. He has a lot of practice in lying his way out of any situation though. Only problem is, his new boss – wheelchair bound owner of a sex hotel – is gay, cute, funny and oh, so fuckable! There is only one logical solution to Liam’s dilemma – pretending he’s straight. Brilliant!

When Ryan inherited his aunt’s B&B, he thought he’d hit the jackpot by changing it into a fetish sex hotel. Things didn’t go as planned though, all of his marketing efforts seem to fail, and the debt is mounting up. Being a wheelchair user doesn’t help in actively promoting his hotel, but his luck starts to change when he hires a new caretaker. Liam is open-minded, helpful and caring. All that Ryan needs from a caretaker to kickstart his business, but things would all be a lot simpler if he didn’t start crushing on his new employee. And even if, in some other dimension, Liam did return his feelings, how long can Ryan keep his fetish a secret?

The web of lies they weave around each other is more bondage than any of them enjoy.

Special Needs is book one of a two part series.

Genre: contemporary erotic m/m romance, dramedy

Length: ~113,000 words

***SPOILERS AHEAD!***

Themes: disability, deception, alternative lifestyles, stalking, fetishism, tattoos, self-image issues, financial trouble, boss/employee

Erotic content: explicit m/m sexual scenes (including fetishism and medical role play)

Author Links:

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER @KA_Merikan | TWITTER @AgnesMerikan

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Bristlecone Pine Press, Hayden Thorne

The Inspiration Behind Hayden Thorne’s “The Glass Minstrel”, And A Giveaway



This only happened to me three times (two for a novel, one for a short story), and I hope to experience it again because compared to the process of writing novels that aren’t inspired and sustained by actual musical compositions, this (accidental? unplanned?) method tends to be a lot richer. That’s with regard to the process of writing, not the finished product. Though I hope that the finished product provides readers with hours of good reading material. :)

Start out with a piece of music that, for some reason or other, fires up the imagination by touching on a certain mood or feeling. For me, it was a very specific version of a traditional holiday carol.

Allow the mind to work with the music and the mood that it feeds until images – or in my case, a specific image – takes shape.

The Toymaker by Felix Ehrlich

Nope, there was absolutely no logical reason why I envisioned a toymaker who, unlike the one in the picture above, sat isolated in his workshop, hunched over a little glass ornament. It was the feeling of melancholy and nostalgia – and a lot of regret – that came over me when I first listened to Chanticleer’s rendition of “In Dulci Jubilo”.

The earliest passage that helped lay the foundation for a story, which turned into a novel – The Glass Minstrel – came after the “visualization”, and it was naturally murky at first. With the help of my editor, it became this:

For several weeks after his son’s burial, Abelard Bauer remained isolated. He lost himself in his craft, molding and perfecting little figurines, tossing several away with increasing frustration. Living off meager sustenance, the grieving father nonetheless found strength and determination to carry through with his work. A consistent, gnawing hunger that made his belly ache sharpened his senses and heightened his restlessness and impatience. It would take some time for him to create a figurine which managed to embody his love and his loss, and once shaped, he’d immediately put all his time and energy in sculpting it further till it pleased him, finishing his outpouring of unhappiness through his paintbrush.

It was, as a friend would later describe it, his little masterpiece.

Abelard Bauer had recreated his own son in a little glass ornament. He used a mold he specifically designed for his purpose – and which he destroyed once he felt that he succeeded in his attempts. The figure was that of Stefan at the height of his youth and promise at fifteen years of age, costumed to look like a poor, traveling minstrel from days long gone, a little harp in one hand, a look of hope shining in his eyes. Stefan, after discovering his musical talent, had looked forward to pursuing his passion under the tutelage of any genius of his age who’d follow Schubert’s long-silenced footsteps. He was always ambitious that way.

– from Chapter Three
The Glass Minstrel

The story at first took shape as a holiday fairy tale, in which the glass ornaments came alive when Christmas rolled around. In the original version, the glass minstrel, because its creator poured all his sadness into it, spent its time alone and unhappy and unable to get out of it until a glass king (it shows up in the novel toward the end) comes around and cheers it up.

After a few years, I decided to dust it off and rewrite it into a YA novel, adding the subplots of Schiffer and Jakob and dumping the fantasy elements.

The Glass Minstrel is one of three books I’ve written that I hold closest to my heart (Renfred’s Masquerade and Desmond and Garrick Vol. 1 &2 are the others). It’s the second “pure” historical novel I wrote (i.e., no fantasy elements anywhere), and the subject matter’s also a pretty weighty one. It’s also the most difficult book I’ve written, and truth be told, I don’t know if I’ll be able to match it down the line should I be inspired to write another “pure” historical.

The subject matter is weighty because it deals with the effects of the deaths of two young lovers on their families. It’s also weighty because with the addition of Jakob Diederich, I had to tackle the experiences of a boy who lives in poverty and who discovers he’s gay. He’s alone, confused, and constantly projects his dreams onto people who can’t, for whatever reason, be what he desperately wants them to be. He needs guidance, and he turns to petty thievery as a way of coping with his troubles.

I once complained that The Glass Minstrel was my albatross, and it was on a lot of levels.

1. With the addition of Andreas Schiffer and Jakob Diederich, I had to balance the POVs between three main characters, something I’d never attempted before. I also didn’t follow the more logical alternating sequence of chapters (Chapter 1: Bauer, Chapter 2: Schiffer, Chapter 3: Diederich, Chapter 4: Bauer, etc.). Time was an important factor, and I needed to keep track of it the whole time because the story unfolds about a month (maybe three weeks) before Christmas. So the POV sequence was more jumbled, depending on what was happening to whom at the same time another character was doing something.

Neuschwastein Castle, Bavaria, Germany

2. The setting was very limited and so made research a challenge. I chose the 19th century Bavarian Alps region for the setting because of the music that inspired it (a traditional German carol) as well as the fact that it was the image of a grieving toymaker that prompted me to write the first version of the story. Zirndorf, a small town in Bavaria, was known for its toy-making industry at that time, so it came out the winner. That said, there’s hardly any info out there about the town’s history, and I needed to depend on more generalized articles on mid-19th century German holiday traditions for my guide. Some historical purists frowned on the generic image I created of the setting, but I was interested in the setting only as a means of anchoring the time and the conflict of the story. My primary goal was to explore the fallout from Stefan Bauer and Heinrich Schiffer’s love story.

3. From an emotional standpoint, I had a pretty difficult time writing a number of scenes. There’s nothing worse than placing myself in the shoes of parents who’ve lost their children, and there’s nothing more crippling than imagining how it would be like being a largely unschooled young boy with hopes and dreams like everyone else and yet is constantly shown that those dreams are unacceptable and wrong. But their stories needed to be told, and I wanted the challenge of being in an emotionally vulnerable state until the end. I was drained by the time I finished, but it was well worth the trip.

That’s not to say the novel’s a big downer. It ends in hope, with each character finding what he needs from the others. Bauer and Schiffer will both give up a very precious item for the benefit of the other (think of it as a gift exchange involving the glass minstrel and a boy’s journal, though the time gap between them is a big one). And while Schiffer and Jakob will never cross paths in their lifetimes, Schiffer will, indirectly, help Jakob. As I’m wading in the pool of spoilers, I can’t go any further than that.

Today I wanted to leave our mark somewhere. Leaves weren’t any good when I tried painting our initials on them, and I don’t like carving our initials into trees. Everyone does that, and it’s boring. Stefan and I are different. We should have something different. There’s a pile of large rocks about half a mile west of the school, just outside Fürth. I’ve heard people say that they’re used by witches, but what do they know, really? I went there this afternoon and brought a knife. The rocks turned out to be softer than I expected, which helped. All the same, my knife barely survived the carving process, but I somehow made it work. So now all of Nature can see it and know us. Even those stupid witches, if they really do exist. I chose the rock that faces east because that’s where the sun rises. I won’t tell Stefan about this. This is really between me and God, and I know He’s listening to what I have to say. Heinrich und Stefan: in infinitionem.

– from the journal of Heinrich Schiffer

One of the things that was brought to my attention after the book was published was with regard to Heinrich’s journal entries, which open each chapter. The original manuscript I submitted didn’t contain them. It was my editor who suggested showing Schiffer reading Heinrich’s journal and adding an excerpt into that scene. I thought it was a good idea but decided instead to write passages from Heinrich’s journal at the beginning of each chapter as a way of showing the progression of the romance between Stefan and Heinrich.

19th Century Christmas

I also wanted to provide a contrast of romantic idealism and the joy of falling in love with the right person to the chaotic aftermath of that love story. Stefan and Heinrich were wildly in love with each other and were very happy. Why couldn’t Bauer and Schiffer see what they had? Why should they struggle with so many questions, when nothing in the end matters than their children’s happiness? True, this is a contemporary view of mine that I’m trying to project into the past, but when difficult questions can’t be answered, I strongly feel that, even if full understanding is never reached, the matter of a child’s happiness should take precedent. And it’s that specific point that Bauer and Schiffer would have to come to terms with if they really do love their sons the way they claim.

It was a crazy process from start to finish. Looking back, I’m shaking my head at how unpredictable writing can be. I sure wouldn’t have expected to be affected by a Christmas carol I’ve heard so many times before. I never thought it would move me so much as to associate not only an image, but also emotions behind that image. I never thought I’d be writing a short fairy tale for it, and I sure as heck didn’t expect to take that fairy tale and run away with it, turning it into a novel touching on some pretty heavy stuff I’d never tackled before.

When I mentioned earlier that I don’t think I’d be able to replicate this experience again, it’s not for want of trying. The creative process behind a book is unique, and other writers will attest to that. What might work for one won’t work for another, though musical influence remains a constant, and I look forward to being deeply inspired by another piece of music again.

By the way, the other two stories that’ve been inspired by music? Renfred’s Masquerade came about when I listened to Offenbach’s “Barcarolle”, and “Cloud’s Illusions” (a gay YA short story) was inspired by Judy Collins’ rendition of “Both Sides Now”. I’d love to see that list grow.

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BLURB: The Christmas season in mid-19th century Bavaria is brought to life in the The Glass Minstrel, an original historical novel from acclaimed author Hayden Thorne.

Two fathers, Abelard Bauer and Andreas Schifffer, are brought together through the tragic deaths of their eldest sons. Bauer, a brilliant toymaker, fashions glass Christmas ornaments and his latest creation is a minstrel with a secret molded into its features. When Schiffer sees Bauer’s minstrel ornament in the toy shop, he realizes that Bauer is struggling to keep his son’s memory alive through his craft. At first he tries to fault him for this, but then recognizes that he, too, is seeking solace and healing by reading his son’s diary, a journal that reveals, in both painful as well as beautiful detail, the true nature of his relationship with the artisan’s son.

In addition to the story of the two fathers, a third character is central to the plot: fifteen-year-old Jakob Diederich. The young man is burdened with his own secret; he develops an obsession with a traveling Englishman who stays at the inn where Jakob works.

The lives of all three men intersect during the holiday as Schiffer tries to focus on his family in the present; Bauer struggles to reconcile his past and Jakob copes with an uncertain future. The lyrical prose and rich period detail will keep the reader engrossed from the very first page in this tale of redemption, hope, and haunting, but timeless, themes.

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THE GIVEAWAY: THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

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Dreamspinner Press, J.L. O'Faolain

“Holly and Oak” Is A Big Story In A Small Package



“If we never experience the chill of a dark winter, it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer’s day.” – Anthon St. Maarten


J.L. O’Faolain serves up a yin-yang holiday fantasy, in which the Oak King and the Holly King, the keepers of the seasons, battle for supremacy each solstice in Holly and Oak, the story of immortal brothers, and the one of them who has fallen in love with a human.

Loving a human isn’t necessarily forbidden for the Holly King but it certainly does present some interesting issues, namely the fact that Sergio isn’t immortal, not to mention that he and Holly are from two vastly different worlds, which causes some concern on the part of the Oak King for his brother. Where love is concerned, however, the old adage “where there’s a will, there’s away,” is often all one needs, especially when one is as powerful as a god of seasons.
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Declan Sands, Electric Prose Publications

Away In A Manger… Oh Look, Someone’s Dead In “Oh! Hoaley Night!”



“I am sorry for those that disagree with me because I know that they are wrong.” – Woodrow Wilson


I hadn’t read any of the three previous Hoale Construction Mysteries, but decided to take this one on because it looked good. I’m glad I did. I will now have to read the first three books, because these are some of the funniest, most colorful and sexy characters around. If this was what Declan Sands could do with them in 75 pages, I can’t imagine how great a whole novel would be.

Adam Hoale is back in Candlelight, IN to celebrate Christmas with his family. His on again/off again partner, the swoon-worthy Dirk Williams, isn’t able to join him. He is accompanied by his huge dog Walter and his colorful friend Mink. Adam’s parents don’t know that he is gay, and Adam is terrified of his father’s reaction.
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Cardeno C., Dreamspinner Press

Cardeno C. Tells A Story That Happens “In Another Life”



“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt


BLURB: At age 18, Shiloh Raben is tired. He no longer has the energy to deal with mean classmates, inner doubt, and fear of familial rejection, so he takes a razor to his wrist. When he wakes up in the hospital, Shiloh meets Travis Kahn, the EMT who saved him and didn’t leave his side.

Travis is handsome, smart, and funny – the type of guy Shiloh would never be brave enough to approach. But his near-death experience has an unusual side effect: the life that flashed before his eyes wasn’t the one he had already lived, but rather the one he could live. With visions of a future by Travis’s side, will Shiloh find the strength to confront his fears and build a life worth fighting for?
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Less Than Three Press, Piper Vaughn

Piper Vaughn Wants To Take You Stalkin’ In A “Zombie Wonderland”



“Sometimes you have to do something ugly so that something beautiful can grow.” ― Cedric Nye


Ah, Christmastime, that time of year when we all settle in for our long winter’s naps, with visions of sugarplums dancing in our wee little heads. Unless you have zombies hunting you down and trying to chew through your skull to get to your tasty center. Then all you’re likely to think about at that point is trying to keep your noggin off the brain buffet. Ew. Piper Vaughn is deliciously wicked.
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Deanna Wadsworth, Decadent Publishing

This Is A Trio Of Holiday Sexy By Deanna Wadsworth


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“It doesn’t matter if you’re 20, 40, 60, 80, or 100. Embrace your sexy-ass self and express it!” ― Steve Maraboli




Pip’s Boxing Day Wish

Summary:

Having been sent to the North Pole with the Santa’s Little Helpers outreach programme as a child, Pip has always worried what the other inhabitants of Christmas’s homeland thought of him. But after spending a heated Christmas with two other elves, selected from Ms Claus’s super sexy list, Pip is even more worried. He didn’t mean for everyone to think he was just another guy trying to get his sugar-balls off. Pip wants love and a boyfriend, and that pretty much makes up his Christmas list.

When Santa employs the elf for a super important Christmas mission, Pip is over the moon. But his guide on that mission is to be someone he shared mind-blowing sex with for the randy Ms Claus at that fateful Christmas party. Judging by the looks he’s getting, Pip is sure that this elf thinks of him like all the rest do. Could he be wrong? Could this mission turn things around and grant Pip his Boxing Day Wish?

Review:

I will start this review by saying that this is the second instalment of Ms Wadsworth’s endearing Christmas tale from the Naughty North Pole (the first was a tale of Ms Claus and so I skipped it and went straight for the man-on-man section of the holiday romp). Naturally, coming in at a later stage in a tale is always tricky, as some parts of the fable are missed, but true to her style, Deanna Wadsworth has all bases covered and leads the reader by the hand and straight into the fantasy with all questions answered. Next, I will commend the author for taking a story that has been an institution for hundreds of years and giving it a fresh and original take. What Twilight did for vampire lore, Wadsworth has done for the candy coated tradition of the classic Christmas stories of yore. To summarise, the team at the North Pole are derived from Norse mythology, Santa and Ms Claus being descendants of a God and thus, their power inherited. The elves in this story are not the little people with curly toed booties; instead, they are light and dark elves who have been sworn to the cause from their distant lands. Think Legalos instead of Willow, and you are getting the right idea.

For me, this story was quite a delight to read, despite being an erotica story, which is something I don’t generally get involved with. But lucky enough, I’m a Christmas junkie, so I liked it anyway. Whilst still capturing the essence of the holiday, the author has delivered a great little tale of life at the top of the world, with characters that we can all relate to. The dark and brooding elf, Erik, seemed complex and stoic. Light elf Lars was cocky and arrogant. And then there is Pip. Pip for me was the epitome of the holiday, his playful nature and childlike ponderings slotting perfectly into a holiday tale of finding love where you least expect it. However, his innocence may or may not have made the sexual parts of this story a little hard to swallow (much like the candy-cane flavoured orgasms these little guys seem so fond of exchanging). But ultimately, I couldn’t help but love each of these characters, all so different yet all so familiar at the same time.

The stories progression was executed with precision and delivered gift wrapped in colourful words that truly embraced the reader. Each little event was planned and delivered down the chimney of my imagination and for the short time it took to ingest the tale, I was right there, knee deep in snow, playing games and riding reindeer with the fictional offerings. This story also served to be an introduction to the character of Nick (that’s Santa Claus to you and me) and give us just a little teaser of what’s to come when Old St Nick (who is more like an Abercrombie model) takes the reins.

This tale is not meant to be taken seriously; it was written in good humour with an erotic twist that had me finishing reading it in no time at all. Whilst it sated the dirtier side of my mind, it also made me excited for the impending holiday festivities. If you want some light-hearted Christmas cheer, then this series is right for you. Though the thought of peanut butter flavoured spunk repulses me, this addition to the prolific works of Ms Wadsworth left me hungry for more. Luckily, Santa hears all our wishes and is delivering me another story, his own story, from the Naughty North Pole.

While this wasn’t my favourite instalment from the series, it still did the trick for me. 3.5 glistening snowflakes for Pip and his sexy Boxing Day wish.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

A Gift for Santa

Summary:

As a young man, Nick watched as the party boomed, his eyes fixed on the handsome weather sprite as he painted images on the window in ice. The two men bonded, their attraction building into the perfect kiss. And then Jack walked away. Decades later and Nick is still smarting from the rejection, his heart still longing for Jack Frost the way it had when he was younger. So when Jack approaches him on the street, Nick cannot deny the attraction is still roaring between them. Almost on a dare, they retreat to a nearby hotel and indulge in the pent up sex they missed out on as young men. But Jack’s frosty outer layer has always been their biggest obstacle, and Nick is left out in the cold once again. How could Nick feel so strongly for a man who hates everything he stands for? What kind of man hates Christmas?

Review:

After reading the light-hearted prequel to this Christmas jaunt, I was not expecting what I read in this short novella. I was expecting scenes of sex and blazing lust with a twist of good humour. But as with most great writers, Deanna Wadsworth set to shading outside the lines in this beautifully romantic erotic tale that left me pining right there with Nick. Nick, for those of you who don’t realise, is actually Santa Claus, only much younger looking, with an athletic body and sans beard. Both Nick and Jack being God-like characters of mythology make a perfect match for each other, and their tale has so many levels that I was taken in and cosied up with the men within the first page. Wadsworth transcended the genre when she put this story together, and the best part about this was the romance that, I must admit, had me shed a tear or two throughout.

It might seem a little tacky to make jolly old Santa a hot and sexy guy, but with the twisting etymology of his roots, based in ancient mythology in this case, the character stood as a beacon for the old ways, whilst still embracing the traditional values of the holiday. It was like reading that same jolly giant but with much more sex appeal. And what made it better? Santa was holding out for the man he loved and had not made love to another in decades. Jack seemed to be the opposite of Nick; dark where Nick is light, smooth where Nick is hairy, bitter where Nick is optimistic. He literally had his frost sewn into the fabric of his character and together, the two men made a duo of unexpected yet completely natural antithesis. From very early on, it was clear that Jack’s dislike of the holiday was more than just his razor tongue and his ingrained cold veneer. There was more bubbling beneath the surface.

This book also saw the return of some of our previous beloved cast; Nick’s half sister, the optimistic elf Pip, the jaded elf Lars. This is what I love from a series. It takes great skill to interweave characters like this, but Wadsworth seemed to do it effortlessly and it flowed perfectly like a fresh glass of eggnog, right down my gullet and warming me all the way.

Now let’s talk sex. For an author known for her raunchy plot twists and tangles of heated flesh splaying out across the page, this addition actually saw a tenderness I was not expecting. The sex was slower, more calculated and appreciated as something more than just body contact. That’s not to say it wasn’t hot as hell (or cold as ice). Here’s a hint…Jack can make anything out of frost, including things shaped like a cock. I‘m still reeling from that little treat. I also found the fight for sexual dominance very intriguing, as both characters were rooted in typical views of masculinity, and having them fight for the upper hand was both increasingly erotic and so typically alpha male. A lot of time and thought clearly went into the creation of this power struggle, and it backed the story up magnificently.

Ultimately, what we have here is a Christmas tale that transcends the norm. It is a tale of want and desire and the complexities of a love that won’t diminish through time. It was effortlessly easy to get drawn in and impossible to escape the feelings between these two men. And to top it all off, it was a very original take on all our Christmas traditions. I strongly recommend this book. Read it by the fire with a cup of peppermint hot chocolate and the Christmas tree lights illuminating the room. A 4.5 snowflake addition to a cracking Christmas series. Deanna Wadsworth has truly outdone herself. And she isn’t stopping there. Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Fun and Games with Rudolph

Summary:

Ever since that fateful night where Lars was picked from Ms. Claus’s list, the light elf has had the niggling feeling that something big is missing from his life. After countless one-nighters and the ease of sex from the newly developed Elf4Elf app, Lars could have any ass he wanted. But his correspondence with an elf over the app has led him to break his cardinal rule; no repeats.

Something about Mike has him hooked. So when Mike abandons his daily messaging, Lars is back in his slump.

At Santa’s request, Lars sets out across the snow to Sugar Plum Ridge on a mission to deliver a Christmas gift to the shamed elf Rudolph, who has put himself into isolation after the embarrassing events of his failure to breed flying reindeer with glowing noses. A storm traps the two men together on the ridge, and what should have been a night of magical Christmas cheer, might just turn into something neither elf had ever dreamed.

Review:

Book four in the Naughty North Pole series, Fun and Games with Rudolph, is the story of Lars, a light elf who has popped into all the previous books. Lars has a reputation for being quite the cad, using and abusing his conquests before kicking them to the dirt. I liked the way this characters ambiguous thoughts on relationships were hinted at in the earlier stories, and when we meet Lars, the reader already feels they know a thing or two about the detached Lothario. Whilst we have been trained to dislike this character, being inside this elf’s mind gives the reader a view of the softer side of Lars and uses the exposure to Ms Claus’s powerful pheromones as the stimulus that opened his eyes to a new way of thinking.

I was quite fond of the introduction of Elf4Elf, a newly developed dating app created by Pip, one of our former protagonists who found love in book two. This not only modernized the story, but truly gave Lars the means to have all the loveless flings he wanted, which were what started him to questioning his motives for his detachment. On the app, Lars meets Mike, and the two strike up an inexplicable bond that suddenly breaks one night after Lars asks to see Mike’s face (after performing a particularly raunchy sex act on video).

It was just good fun. This whole book was a silly, sexy jaunt through the snow and I liked it a lot. It didn’t take a genius to figure out who Mike was and it didn’t take long for Lars to find him, but it was sweet and endearing and I liked it all the same. Rudolph was a very complex character, made almost stubbornly to accommodate Lars’s sexual thirst. I choose to think of it as a match made in heaven, when in actual fact it was just a way that Lars could stay true to himself and have all the sex he wanted since Rudolph didn’t think monogamy was such a big deal. I’m not a huge fan of open relationship stories in my romance. I mean, I don’t see the point. But for the sake of these characters, one insatiable sex fiend and one hermit with a kinky side, this arrangement was the best they were going to get.

I think this book stuttered after being released following the epic love story of Nick and Jack. It was never going to compare when its predecessor was a romantic tale of the fathers of winter, but it was good fun nonetheless. Wadsworth used Nick and Jack’s tale as a way to manipulate Lars and Rudolph into their version of an HEA and did so with good humor, excellent adventure and a whole lot of sex. These two characters seemed made for each other, two outcasts finding love against the odds. Not my favorite book in the series, but definitely a good, fun read. 3 stars for this unconventional holiday romance.








You can buy the Naughty North Pole series here:

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Michael Rupured, MLR Press

“After Christmas Eve” Is A Most Dangerous Time Of The Year



“You, poor child, who had no friends or toys, you toyed with dreams of murder, because that is a game to play alone.” ― Jean-Paul Sartre


Blurb: As Philip Potter wraps up his last minute shopping on Christmas Eve, 1966, James Walker, his lover of six years, takes his life. Unaware of what waits for him at home, Philip drops off gifts to the homeless shelter, an act of generosity that later makes him a suspect in the murder of a male prostitute.

Two men drive yellow Continentals. One is a killer, with the blood of at least six hustlers on his hands. Both men have secrets. And as Philip is about to discover, James had kept secrets, too. But James wasn’t trying to frame him for murder…
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