A Stella Review: THE WINTER SPIRIT by Indra Vaughn (a two review novel)


Rating 5 stars out of 5  ★★★★★

Nathaniel O’Donnelly likes his life quiet, his guests happy, and his ghosts well-behaved.

The Winter Spirit coverAlthough a boyfriend wouldn’t go amiss. Someone to share his beautiful B&B with, even if it is in the middle of nowhere and he’s long past the wrong side of thirty. Problem is, Nathaniel’s living with a ghost who thinks he’s cupid, and whose arrows fly a little too straight.

Gabriel Wickfield had the unfortunate luck of dying before his time, and now he’s stuck trying to make romance happen to earn his right to move along. Not that he’s bored in the meantime–Nathaniel is just too easy to tease. And also a little bit scrumptious…

With the curse reaching its expiration date, Gabriel needs to make this final match this Christmas. Without it, nothing but darkness awaits.

Love can conquer all, but can it beat death?

I already read some Christmas stories this year and so far The Winter Spirit is my favorite. It was unexpectedly beautiful and emotional. I simply loved it! It is the perfect Christmas novel for these cold days, light and cuddly.

Nathaniel owns a bed & breakfast left him by his uncle twelve years ago. He is living his quiet, happy and a bit lonely life in the middle of nowhere with a resident ghost called Gabe, dead one century ago, who appears in all the mirrors in his perfect three piece suit. A matchmaking ghost who likes to close Nathaniel and his friend/coworker Elise in the pantry and switch on “Love is in the Air” on the stereo. But it’s on time, he has hundred years to make someone, Nathaniel now, fall in love. And the curse is ending this Christmas. What if he falls in love with Nathaniel?

I don’t have words to say how much this book warmed my heart, it was magical and sweet. I loved the characters, each one except Owen, I laughed and I admit I cried a little at the ending part. The story went exactly where it was supposed to go, where I wanted it to go, it didn’t disappoint me a bit. It’s what I love to read, so perfect, well written and engaging I had to read it in a one standing because I couldn’t put it down. The novella’s idea was not just great, most of all was beautifully developed in a slow burn, friends to lovers story that left me satisfied through all of it.

This was my first book by Indra Vaughn and I need to check out her previous works soon. The Winter Spirit was a well done surprise! Highly recommended.

Cover art is as perfect as the story.

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

Book Details:

Published November 16th 2015 by Indra Ink
Kindle Edition, 93 pages
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: A Guy’s Thanksgiving (The Guy #3.5) by Skylar M. Cates


Rating:  3.5 stars out of 5

A Work in The Guy Series

A Guy's Thanksgiving coverTwo proposals. One giant dog. Reunited lovers.

Welcome to Glamour, Arizona, where the holidays are never dull. Glamour may be a small town, but the surprises keep coming.

Everybody’s looking forward to Thanksgiving. Only Mac Sharma is a reluctant guest. Even as Anthony and Dean make him feel welcome at the Carrino table, Mac feels awkward among the close-knit group of friends. Life gets even more complicated when Conor Harvey shows up in town.

Mac has been in love with Conor since his university days. Too bad Conor broke his heart—right before he fled to his hometown in Ireland without explanation. Conor’s still a wild artist and as sexy as Mac remembers. But they’re no longer kids. This Thanksgiving, Mac must decide if he can give Conor a second chance.

You know that meme “You had one job”?  Here cover artist Maria Fanning had one job and nailed it. I saw the cover and knew I wanted to read this story.  That was it.  From that table above the title that you knew was going to be laid out full of food for Thanksgiving to that soulful pup gazing out at you below the title, I was hooked.  I’m a sucker for stories with dogs in them anyway, add to that a holiday story other than Christmas?  I’m in.

A Guy’s Thanksgiving by Skylar M. Cates turned out to be such a heartwarming and lovely story, perfect for this Thanksgiving season or anytime you are looking for a sweet romantic contemporary romance to read. Its the first in the series for me but I don’t feel that it worked against me here.  The author did a nice job of bringing all the couples of the previous books together in short little sketches, enough to let us know something about each of them and their relationship and their part in the group.  I have to say that the 126 pages flew by and made the town of Glamour warm and inviting, enough so that I’m going to be backtracking and picking up the rest of the stories.

There are several main story lines, not just one.  The first involves Mac Sharma, art dealer and Irish artist Conor Harvey.  Their past history is one of broken hearts and miscommunication. I liked the interracial relationship, especially Mac searching for his mother’s recipes to bring to the table for Thanksgiving.  The dog?  All I can say is that it involves Henry and Locke from The Last Guy Breathing (The Guy #3) in a heartbreaking, very real way.  And yes, it was my favorite part of the story.  But there was also Anthony Carrino (The Guy From Glamour (The Guy #1) trying for the perfect Thanksgiving for Dean and his loved ones even though, dare I say it, he was sick as a  dog.  Who couldn’t relate to that?  All the couples from the previous stories are united here for Thanksgiving in Glamour.

My only issue here was that this story had so much heart, so many great couples and story lines that it should have been much longer to give them all their needed time and length to shine.  I wanted just that bit more of each of them in this book and feel they all got cut a tad short.  Still the author’s writing is lively, concise and the sex scenes are pretty darn hot.

In all, A Guy’s Thanksgiving by Skylar M. Cates is 126 pages of sweet, heart-felt romance and a quick read at this time of year when so many other things are grabbing at your attention and time.  I was so happy that cover stopped me in my tracks and made me read this story.  I mean really how can you pass that face up?

Cover art by Maria Fanning did the job.  It made me read the book without the blurb, without the title, just the cover.  You had one job and you did it perfectly! Grade A.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

Published November 4th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1627985034 (ISBN13: 9781627985031)
seriesThe Guy #3.5

The Guy Series:


Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Easy Evenings (Mangrove Stories #4) by Mary Calmes


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

easy evenings coverContinuing in the Mangrove series, Mary Calmes brings us the story of Lazlo Maguire, part time rent boy, part time Mangrove Florida business owner, and his lost love, Attorney Britton Lassiter.

Readers of the series may recall that Laz’s best friend, Mia, had decided to expand her law practice by bringing on a new attorney—an attorney whose name happens to be the same as the man Laz once loved but refused to give up his escort career for. Well, Laz’s worst fears are realized when it turns out that Britton is one and the same, and he no longer wants Laz. In fact, he’s put out a restraining order against him.

Lazlo Maguire works as an escort in NYC for six months of every year then heads to Mangrove, Florida for the rest of the year where he hones his metalworking craft and sells his unique sculptures to townsfolk, and collectors. He’d love to do this work full time, but he’s supporting his mother and sister, ungrateful though they may be, and he can’t afford to do that without the money he makes as a rent boy.

The only time he’d ever let his guard down was with Britton Lassiter, a gorgeous work-driven attorney who found that Laz was the only person who could meet his needs and get him to relax. Laz never acted as his escort; they met on an even playing field and fell in love. Unfortunately, Laz felt he couldn’t put himself first due to his need to support his family, and he broke Britton’s heart when he left town. No wonder Britton is hurt when he sees Laz again—he thinks Laz followed him to Florida but is going to run off again.

Enter one sweet three-year-old girl and the attorney escorting her who informs Laz that he is not only a father, but he now has custody of his child since her mother passed away. After the initial chaotic feelings run rampant through his system, he wholeheartedly embraces being a father. First stop is to his friend Mia’s law office so that he can get an ironclad agreement that once Kitty is his, she can’t be taken away. And who happens to be working that day instead of Mia? Britton, of course. Despite his antipathy toward Laz, Britton helps him with Kitty, and that action proves to be the first step toward getting back together with his lover.

The two men find themselves revealing their hurts, their past misunderstandings, and their innermost feelings, and they very quickly realize that the only way forward for either of them is together.

This is a fairly short story, no more than a novella length, but it’s typical Mary Calmes in that there’s hot, hot sex scenes, heartwarming love declarations, and a touch of alpha action in the bedroom—this time from the physically smaller man. There were some instances and experiences in the story that I felt required a stretch of my imagination, and I would have loved to have had the time to explore more about their past and to have allowed more time for Britton and Laz to get back together, but that wouldn’t have been possible with the length of this book.

Overall, I found this MM romance very satisfying and sweet. It would be an excellent beach read or the book you’d want to curl up with on a cold winter day.

Cover Art by Resse Dante is very bright and colorful, depicting a young man smoking a cigarette while leaning on his deck which overlooks dense Florida greenery. Though attractive, I don’t feel the cover represents the character as portrayed in the story. It looks more like what Laz may have been before the story started, but nothing like the Laz depicted as a young father in this book.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press  | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 77 pages
Expected publication: November 18th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634765915 (ISBN13: 9781634765916)
edition languageEnglish

Series Mangrove Stories with links to our reviews:

A Ali Review: The Werewolf of Grey Lake Inn (Paranormal Days) by Megan Derr


Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Vector illustration of wolf howling at moon in night forest in green tone.

Astor is tired—tired of his family and the way they never listen to his advice, and tired of being in love with his agent, Tennyson, who after a one night stand made it clear he preferred to keep things professional. The only thing Astor’s not tired of is his job researching haunted inns and hotels to prove just how haunted they’re not.

His latest book is about a notorious inn in the middle of nowhere, and a haunting he suspects has more to do with real werewolves than fake ghosts. It will provide fodder for an excellent non-fiction book, the novel he’s secretly writing, and be so distracting he’ll finally be able to get over Tennyson.

Except when he arrives it’s to find that Tennyson is already there, with every intention of keeping Astor company through the holidays.

This was an enjoyable story that follows Astor as he tries to debunk the myth of the ghost at Grey Lake Inn. Unfortunately what he finds are werewolves. He also finds that his agent Tennyson has followed him to the inn and this is a problem because Astor has strong feelings for the man. Feelings he doesn’t think are reciprocated. As it turns out they are and the two men end up having not only a dangerous encounter with a werewolf, but a sexy and romantic weekend.

The writing style in consistent with this author’s other works so if you’re a fan you should definitely check this out. It is also a good starting point for people who have not read this author before. The story is pretty short and just shows us a snapshot of the two men’s time together over the course of a few days. I would have liked for it to have been a bit longer so I could have gotten to know them better but that aside I did enjoy the book.

Cover art is perfect for the story.

Sales links:  Pre-order Link at Less Than Three (save 15%)| All Romance (ARe) | Amazon| coming soon

Book Details:

Expected publication: December 23rd 2015 by Less Than Three Press
original titleThe Werewolf of Grey Lake Inn
edition languageEnglish
seriesParanormal Days

Note: This was originally published in the Bad Moon Rising anthology. It hasn’t changed significantly for the solo release