A MelanieM Review: Winter Wonderland (Minnesota Christmas #3) by Heidi Cullinan

Standard

Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

Finding Mr. Right can be a snow lot of fun.

Winter Wonderland coverPaul Jansen was the only one of his friends who wanted a relationship. Naturally, he’s the last single man standing. No gay man within a fifty-mile radius wants more than casual sex.
No one, that is, except too-young, too-twinky Kyle Parks, who sends him suggestive texts and leaves X-rated snow sculptures on his front porch.

Kyle is tired of being the town’s resident Peter Pan. He’s twenty-five, not ten, and despite his effeminate appearance, he’s nothing but the boss in bed. He’s loved Paul since forever, and this Christmas, since they’re both working on the Winter Wonderland festival, he might finally get his chance for a holiday romance.

But Paul comes with baggage. His ultra-conservative family wants him paired up with a woman, not a man with Logan’s rainbow connection. When their anti-LGBT crusade spills beyond managing Paul’s love life and threatens the holiday festival, Kyle and Paul must fight for everyone’s happily ever after, including their own.

I have always found the writings of Heidi Cullinan to be something special but in her Minnesota Christmas series with its generous helping of warmhearted bears, human bears that is, and their unique, loving counterparts, she has conjured up stories  not only distinctive but that contain  sparks I like to think of as narrative magic.  In Winter Wonderland, that mojo is working overtime with characters like Paul and Kyle.  What charms this story has in store for the reader!  And snow sculptures shaped like penises too.  Let’s get to the particulars.

Paul is one of those characters  Cullinan  does so well.  Paul is a man whose mean-hearted, conservative family’s constant belittling and derision has lead Paul to a poor self image and inability to imagine a happy future for himself.  But little of that is shown to others in their small town.  Only to Paul’s small circle of friends (see the other stories) is his unhappy family dynamics known as well as his  penchant for Hallmark movies, especially Hallmark’s Christmas movies.  The author brings in such well known movies like Hallmark’s  “The Christmas Card” and uses them to make a point about Paul, the damage done to him by his family, and makes it and the other Christmas movies provide a way to heal Paul’s pain.  Its a beautiful touch, one among many, and it feels believably so as a panacea that others have found.

I love the character of Kyle as well.  He too contains so many truths of his own.  Kyle is the town “man child”, the one people remember so well as a charming adolescent that they can’t see the man he’s become.  Kyle is tired of fighting his past image because he never seems to overcome it.  Especially with the one person he’s  been crushing on for most of his life.  Paul.   Kyle wants to capture Paul’s attention and desperate times calls for desperate measures.  Or in this case, anatomically correct snow sculptures.  I have a vivid imagination and Heidi Cullinan’s descriptions cracked me up.  Even if you don’t, you won’t need them, because her words and the pictures they paint will be more than enough to leave you with the giggles. But Kyle is not all fun and snow.  He has his own depth of character and responsibilities, one of which is his sister.

One of the things I love best about the Minnesota Christmas series is that the town of Logan is populated by characters who are so real, so darn human.  Some have reading disabilities, others face other physical challenges,  some have their own hot, unexpected sexual kinks, and some with family issues so profoundly wounding that it almost costs them a future. Nothing is really “normal”.  Perfection has no role here.  But authentic happiness? Small town joys, long term loves  and relationships? Yes, they most certainly do.  With Logan you get the best as well as the worst of small town mentality, Cullinan is blunt about that.  I liked that as well.

We’ve had 3 stories so far.  The 3 bears of Logan and each has found their own Mr. Right for Christmas.  Paul was the baby bear.  Will there be more Christmas stories for us coming out of Minnesota?  I can only hope so.  What I’ve read so far has had that winter white glitter sparkle that speaks of joy, and hope, and love.  And Christmas is coming.  What a wonderful present it would be to have Minnesota  Christmas story number four!

I highly recommend  Heidi Cullinan and her Minnesota Christmas series, including this very special story, Winter Wonderland.   Pick this and all of them up as a early holiday present for yourself.

Cover art by Angela Waters.  I love this cover.  I think the artist has the men and the landscape exactly right.

Sales Links:  Samhain Publishing | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: November 10th 2015 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
original titleWinter Wonderland
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.heidicullinan.com/WinterWonderland
Series: Minnesota Christmas

Let It Snow (Minnesota Christmas, #1)
Sleigh Ride (Minnesota Christmas, #2)
Winter Wonderland (Minnesota Christmas, #3)

 

A Jeri Review: The World As He Sees It (Perspectives #2) by A.M. Arthur

Standard

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Love knows no limits…but fear could keep them from seeing it.

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

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

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

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

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

I have been waiting, not so patiently, for this book. We met Tristan in the previous book,The Truth as He Knows It (Perspectives #1) , as he was the main character’s best friend. We also meet Gabe at the end of that book, setting the scene for this book. That being said, this book absolutely can be read as a stand alone.

Tristan and his best friend Noel were gay bashed several years ago. While Noel was left with extensive scarring on his chest, Tristan was left with severe short term memory problems. He remembers everything from before the “accident”, but can only retain about 30 minutes of time after the accident. He lives in a care facility, disowned by his parents, logging everything in his notebook and on post it notes to remember everything. From who his friends are to what time to eat his meals.

Gabe is a part time waiter, part time porn star trying to take care of his alcoholic mother. He turned to porn not only for the money, but for uncomplicated, safe, no strings attached sex. But he can’t stop thinking about the guy who came into his fathers’ bar and freaked out because he lost his notebook and couldn’t remember where he was or why he was there.

A chance meeting at the same bar- and a mutual friend- brings Gabe and Tristan together again.

One of the things I really love about AM Arthur’s books is that they all take place in the same fictional area of Pennsylvania. So while different stories may not cross over, places and people do.

I really liked how these characters became friends first. Through many emails- so Tristan can read them over again- they really get to know each other. And while both have some seriously obvious issues in life, they both go into the relationship wide open. There’s no “breaking down walls” or anything like that. They are both so open to the intimacy and love that it just feels so much more real, more romantic.

If you read this book (please do!), go back and read her other books.  They really are a treat.

The cover art by Lyn Taylor really conveys not only how each of the main characters look (save for the beard that Gabe doesn’t have but the model does), you can really see Tristan’s pain and Gabe’s shyness.

Sales Links:  Samhain Publishing | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon (not yet available) | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: October 20th 2015 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
original title The World As He Sees It
ISBN13 9781619230132
edition language English

Love To Binge Read? Check Out 5 in 1 from Aria Grace, Best Gay Romance Collection (excerpt and giveaway)

Standard

Two men about to kiss

Best Gay Romance Collection
Five books from Aria Grace
Release Date: September 12, 2015

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Surrendered Press
Cover Artist: Kris Kendall

Banner300x250

Buy the book:  Amazon | iTunes | Nook

Blurb

This collection of best-selling m/m romance novels is discount priced for a limited time.

If you love sweet and sexy stories about young men in love, whether they are discovering their true sexuality in college or actively seeking out the loves of their lives, these books will make you laugh, cry and tingle in all the right places.

Not for the weak of heart, the moments of love are intense but no extreme violence, non-con or BDSM.

Included in this collection are:

‘When It’s Right’, ‘Winter Chill’, ‘Escaping in Oz’ (newly released), ‘His Undoing’ and ‘More Than Friends’ with a bonus book of ‘Drunk in Love’.

Pages or Words: 135,000 words
Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, New Adult, M/M Romance

Excerpt

The warm air on my face invited me closer. I wanted to share his warmth. Isn’t that how it all started? Wanting him to chase away the winter chill. Begging him to. I looked up and immediately felt his mouth on mine. Soft but eager. He pulled back just long enough to yank his shirt over his head and then he was back on me. His hands on my chest while mine tore at the belt that was keeping his body away from me.

A moist sheen covered my overheated skin. I don’t know how much of it was due to the steam and how much was the result of my own desire for Daniel, but I didn’t care. My hands trembled as I tugged his zipper down. I splayed my palm against his hard abs and slowly followed his happy trail to my happy place. Knowing that I was more than just a girl replacement was liberating. He wants to be with me. And god knows I want to be with him. A guy. Two guys. It was surreal.

Digging my fingers through the coarse curls beneath the fabric, I pushed down even further. The outside of my hand grazed the evidence of his arousal. It was different for him too. His mouth locked onto mine, I couldn’t stand the wait. With a sudden urgency, I yanked down the last fabric on his body and pulled him into the shower.

The water was already starting to cool but it was still warm enough to feel good. The heat that we were generating was enough to keep us comfortable for a while. Daniel’s arms unfurled from around my back and I could feel him reaching behind me.

When I felt his soapy hands dig into the taut muscles of my back, I couldn’t stifle the moan. Letting my forehead fall to his shoulder, I relaxed against his body while he lathered up my back and shoulders. When his hands slid over the curves of my ass, I put my hands on his hips, ready to push back if things went too far. I wanted him but I wasn’t ready for him. Not yet.

“It’s okay, just relax,” he whispered into my neck while gently kneading the tight muscles that he’d never touched before. His large hands squeezed each cheek, letting his fingertips tease the opening without actually touching it. His mouth was on my shoulder, sucking on my sensitive skin. Grinding into his hips, my body begged to be closer. Both of our equally impressive dicks smashed between our bodies. I reached a hand between us to bring our rods together. I rubbed up and down his for a moment, reveling in how it felt against me. Knowing that I could do whatever I wanted with it. The question was what would I do now that I could? I wasn’t sure of the answer.

“God, that feels good.”

About The Author

Meet Aria Grace:
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Aria enjoys the year round sunshine and laid back environment of the west coast. She lives with her husband and two children on a quiet hill that gives her lots of time to read and write. Once she ventured into the exciting world of gay romance, she never looked back. She loves to hear from readers so please feel free to drop her a note or visit her at http://www.ariagracebooks.com.
Where to find Aria Grace:

Facebook: http://bit.ly/FollowAriaGrace
Amazon Author Page
Twitter: @ariagracebooks
Pinterest

GRC

Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, The Jena Wade, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Havan Fellows, Inked Rainbow Reads, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, Carly’s Book Reviews, Ogitchida Book Blog, MM Good Book Reviews, BFD Book Blog, Happily Ever Chapter, Bayou Book Junkie, Divine Magazine, Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My, Full Moon Dreaming, Because Two Men Are Better Than One, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Book Reviews and More by Kathy, Up All Night, Read All Day, Iyana Jenna, Velvet Panic, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Molly Lolly

Final

Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: $25 Amazon Gift card and paperback of any Aria Grace book in print.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.   Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.
Rafflecopter Code:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
//widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

 

WillPride

A Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review : Running With Scissors by L.A. Witt

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5    ★★★★

RunningWithScissors_600x900When Jude Colburn receives a call from his former band’s manager, asking him to come back to the band, this time as their bassist, he doesn’t hesitate to agree. He’d left the band, Running With Scissors, after a breakup with his lover and longtime friend, Connor, a year and a half-ago. He was their drummer, but Jude is one of those gifted musicians who can play anything, so he’s okay with switching.

But, as he finds out when he gets there, most of the band members are not okay with him coming back. The turmoil they’d lived with as Jude and Connor fought was unnerving, but the fact that he’d walked out on them just as they were going to sign a recording contract, makes him #1 on their shitlist. Since his actions nearly broke them up, he’s persona non grata for quite a while when he gets back. One of the only people who is open and friendly with him is AJ, the man who replaced him as the band’s drummer. It doesn’t help that AJ is sweet, quiet, friendly and hot. Jude knows he can’t screw around with any bandmates ever again. After all, the reason he was invited back is due to the fact that Wyatt, another band member and friend, also stormed out after he and Connor broke up. Two disastrous flings with band members is two too many, and no one will tolerate another.

All is well during rehearsals, but when the band takes the stage for a live show, Jude is blown away by AJ’s outstanding performance. He’s not only dynamite on the drums, he’s become a completely different, absolutely hot and sexy wild man, and Jude virtually melts when, after the show, he stumbles upon AJ, and AJ, still hot and high on adrenaline from the show, grabs him and tongue-fucks him as if his life depended on it. Needless to say, Jude is hooked after that, and though they manage to refrain from acting on their attraction, they are attracted and are also fast becoming friends.

So what happens when one irresistible force meets another once the tour is over, and they are living at home while working on the album? And then what happens when their bandmates and manager find out? Heartache, angst, and an unexpected catalyst to start the process of healing unresolved issues.

This is more than just the usual rock band story. It’s really an introspective look at how one man makes the journey from selfish, immature bad boy to loving, supportive partner and friend. And it both explores and resolves underlying issues and problems which can escalate when a group of people who know each other so well for so many years suddenly find themselves faced with coworkers and friends who have grown up when they weren’t looking.

I really enjoyed this story for all the reasons stated above. It was deliciously hot and it was angsty, but I enjoyed Jude’s journey as he finally changed the way he reacted to emotional issues and became a mature man worthy of lasting love and friendship. I highly recommend this one to lovers of contemporary romance, musicians, hot tattooed men, and to those who want to explore more than just the surface of the romance when two men fall in love.

Cover art by L.C. Chase depicts the faces and upper torsos of two handsome young men, a blond in profile and a brunette, with upper arms covered in tattoos, facing forward. Below the title banner is a concert crowd scene. The cover a beautiful depiction of two rock star MCs.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | All Romance (ARe) |  Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 313 pages
Published August 31st 2015 by Riptide Publishing (first published August 29th 2015)
ISBN13 9781626493315
edition language English