An Ali Advent Calendar Review: Once in a Lifetime by Cassie Decker

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
All his life, astrophysicist Peter has dreamed of seeing the comet that last appeared on his birthday—and won’t be seen for another thirty-eight years. Since it could be his only chance, he travels to New Zealand. But his dream might be quashed after all when his rental car breaks down on the way to the observatory. He doesn’t even have a place to stay.
Fortunately a New Zealand native with a heart of gold offers assistance. But is kindness the only thing drawing the two men together?
Rangi can’t leave Peter stranded so close to Christmas, and his family has plenty of room—and love—to share. While Rangi is attracted to Peter, he’s seen too many of his friends get their hearts broken by tourists. Will they manage to see the comet on its decades-long journey across the sky… and take advantage of a rare opportunity that might never come again?
This was a sweet story with an interesting premise.  I thought it was pretty creative.  This author always comes up with unique storylines for her Christmas stories.  It was fairly short but you still got a good feel for both of the MC’s.  I liked them together and could feel their chemistry.  It’s a bit insta-love as most holiday stories are but in this case it didn’t bother me.
Overall I found this to be an enjoyable holiday story and would recommend it.
Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas.  Cover is in the style of the Advent calendar series, attractive and eye catching, bright and like the models.
Sales Links:   Dreamspinner PressAmazon
Book Details:
ebook, 34 pages
Published December 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781644050552
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Saving Hannah by JP Barnaby

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

This was a fantastic action drama, with MM romance added.  Get ready for a ride on an emotional rollercoaster as JP Barnaby returns with the story of Thomas Aberthol, computer programmer, father of a little girl with leukemia, and ex-con who can’t get a job to afford the treatment she needs. And it’s the story of Aleks Sanna, Thomas’s former college roomie whose kiss one night sent Thomas running to the arms of a woman. 

Now, Aleks spots a human interest story about Thomas and his little girl, Hannah, and conceives a plot to get Thomas the money he needs and to get Aleks the man he still desires after all these years. 

The plot is complex and is more an action-based adventure than romance—complete with computer security breaches, money laundering, Mafia-type bad guys, kidnapping, FBI, and the threat of prison looming over Thomas’s head.  All this while he fights for his little girl’s life as she struggles to barely exist day-to-day until Aleks swoops in with a proposal that Thomas can’t turn down, even if he wanted to. 

Over a fairly short time, they rekindle a love that began in college, Hannah gets a new medication that promises a long-term remission, and the bad guys—at least some of them—are caught.

Ultimately, after losing 8 of my 10 fingernails as I chewed them to stubs, the men find a way to get through the crux of their problems and end up together as a couple in love.  I’m not calling this an HEA, but it certainly may be. It’s certainly open enough that the author may decide to give these men at least one more adventure together, and I would certainly be in line for that. 

I highly recommend this to readers who love a hair-raising action adventure with a nice MM romance added to the mix. Then add a sweet, but terminally ill little girl, some mainstream thugs with underworld connections, and a clock-ticking deadline, and we have a book that’s very difficult to put down, and very enjoyable to read.

The cover by Tiferet Design features a handsome young man on the cover with a little girl standing, back to us, in the background. Very attention-getting—both the man and the design.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press  | Amazon

 

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: December 18th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781640808058
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: The CEO’s Christmas Manny (Beyond the Boardroom #1) by Angela McCallister

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

From the blurb: Billionaire CEO Nic Price lives for his job. With sales down and grumbling from the board of directors—including Nic’s permanently dissatisfied father—the last thing Nic needs is distraction from the new manny, whose freewheeling approach to childcare is outlandish… and who makes Nic feel things he’s never allowed himself to feel. Ex-teacher Sasha Lindsey is all about fun—that’s the reason people love him, so he has to be. After a bad break-up leaves him jobless and homeless, the live-in manny job with Mr. Price seems like a windfall. But his chemistry with Nic is off the charts, and he can’t afford another workplace romance disaster.

This is a Dreamspun Desires story. As such, it’s based on an old trope: the billionaire falls in love with the nanny, which in this case is the manny. The execution was good overall, but there were segments where it dragged for me and I just wanted it to end.

On the flip side of that, the time it took for the attraction and then the romance to evolve was a plus. I do love a slow-burn romance. There are always pluses and minuses to these trope-based stories. In many cases, it’s nice to see them applied to MM romance, but in some cases, the plot gets bogged down in repetitive detail. In this case, what bugged me most was Nic’s relationship with both parents, primarily his father. He’s the most disgustingly reprehensible businessman I’ve encountered in a while, and of course, a nasty piece of work to his hard-working son who’s dedicated to making their company succeed. Thinking that might even remotely be true in real life hurt down my heart and saddened me so much I found it hard to enjoy the story.

And Sasha was a sweetheart, but another character caught up in the “nobody loves me” trope. For a guy who has so much going for him, his self-worth was sure in the dumps, and he easily thought the worst of Nic. Granted what Nic does is reprehensible (like father like son?) but honestly, I would have loved to see Sasha pop Nic in the nose. In any case, the two fumble their way back together, and we do get a HEA. And we get a nice secondary character in Percy as well, a man who I hope we’ll see in the future. 

If you love these Dreamspun Desires stories, you will likely enjoy this rich man/poor man theme.

Cover by Alexandria Corza is done in the style of other Dreamspun Desires books and shows a ferry on Puget Sound in the background and a man in a business suit in the foreground. It definitely represents the story and the bright color attracts attention.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 222 pages
Expected publication: December 18th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781644051207
Edition Language English

Blog Tour for From These Ashes (Haven Hart #4) by Davidson King (excerpt and giveaway)

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From These Ashes Tour Banner

FROM THESE ASHES

Haven Hart Series, Book 4

DAVIDSON KING

RELEASE DATE: 11.28.18

From-These-Ashes---EBook-Cover--CMYK - Copy

 

Cover Design: Covers by Designs by Morningstar https://www.facebook.com/groups/CoversbyDesignsbyMorningstar/about/

BLURB

A product of his past, Black spends half his time saving lives and the other half taking them. Every day, a hard choice must be made and he’s the man to make it. Long ago, he vowed to never love again; one-night stands with a willing body was all he ever needed. But along came Quill, and Black’s life is irrevocably changed. He never expects something as simple as Quill’s persistence to alter the way he not only sees the world, but how he lives it.

Quill has bad taste in men and equally horrible luck. Growing up wasn’t easy, surviving is even harder. When his past and present collide, he’s convinced he’ll finally witness his own destruction. But when an unlikely antihero steps in to protect him, his life is turned on its head. He’s spent months flirting with the man of his dreams and hoping he’d take notice. But it turns out, being on Black’s radar isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and his idea of protection varies greatly from Quill’s.

Unknowingly sharing the same goal—burying their own pasts deeper than the fires of hell can reach—they’re both unaware that jumping into that fire will do more than ignite their feelings, it could lead to their own demise. Will Black and Quill be consumed by the flames, or from these ashes, will they find their own happily ever after?

Universal Link: mybook.to/FromTheseAshes

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From-These-Ashes---Promo-Image-#3---Quill

EXCERPT

Black

I parked my car as close to Joker’s Sin as I could. I took my leather jacket off the seat and quickly put it on, hit the alarm, and made my way toward the club. There was still a line after midnight. The place closed in two hours, why would people wait that long? Well, I wasn’t.

“Can I help you?” the large bouncer asked.

“No.” I barreled through him and made my way into the club. It was like dubstep nation in there and so much fucking leather.

“Hey.” I felt someone tap my shoulder. I whipped around and grabbed whomever it was by the neck. It was the bouncer from the door.

“Not today, Junior. You tell Atlas, Black is here. Now fuck off.” I pushed him away and made my way to the bar. I hadn’t been inside Joker’s Sin before, I only knew how it looked based on Mace and Bill’s description.

I liked the concept and would’ve taken more time to appreciate it if I wasn’t hell-bent on finding Quill.

“Can I help you, handsome?” I turned and looked down. A small guy with pink hair and barely-there black leather shorts had spoken.

“No. Where’s Quill?”

The small man slid his fingers down my arm. “Mmm. Quill didn’t tell me he had a God for a boyfriend. You’re better than most I see him with.” He jerked his head to the right. I followed the direction and there before me, was Quill.

He was dressed in red leather. I couldn’t see below the waist, but the vest he wore was tight against his pale skin. I knew he loved his bracelets, and he had them all on tonight. His arms were covered in red and silver glitter, making him stick out like a gorgeous disco ball. It looked like he had put all of his piercings back in, and I could see when the light shown on his face, he also had glitter on his cheeks.

“I’ll just leave you to it,” the small man said with a chuckle, and I took the few steps to where Quill stood mixing drinks.

He hadn’t noticed me yet, and I got a chance to see he had red eyes and black liner on his lids. He looked like pure sin. I was surprised when I felt my cock stiffen. Until now, I was never sexually interested in Quill. Okay, to be fair, I admired him. He was stunning, but there was a line cut somewhere between admiration and want.  Why was I feeling something now?

“Are you following me?” Quill’s voice snapped me back to attention.

“I thought you wanted me to follow you.”

Quill narrowed his eyes, but I saw how he swallowed as he took me in. He was a flirt by nature and no matter how peeved he was at me, he could never sustain that anger.

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Davidson King, always had a hope that someday her daydreams would become real-life stories. As a child, you would often find her in her own world, thinking up the most insane situations. It may have taken her awhile, but she made her dream come true with her first published work, Snow Falling.

When she’s not writing you can find her blogging away on Diverse Reader, her review and promotional site. She managed to wrangle herself a husband who matched her crazy and they hatched three wonderful children.

If you were to ask her what gave her the courage to finally publish, she’d tell you it was her amazing family and friends. Support is vital in all things and when you’re afraid of your dreams, it will be your cheering section that will lift you up.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2rwA9E8

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DavidsonKing11

Personal Page: https://www.facebook.com/DiverseReader

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A MelanieM Release Day Review: Homebird by Amy Lane

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Rating : 5 stars out of 5

 

Crispin Henry isn’t an adventurer. He learned early on that the world is a frightening place and that home is rare and precious. If his friends didn’t drag him to sports games and ill-advised trips to Vegas, he wouldn’t get out at all—and his trip to Munich for Oktoberfest is no exception. But it’s there that he meets Luka Gabriel, and he learns to take a chance.

 

Luka is a free-spirited world traveler, working at Oktoberfest to feed his enchantment with new places and new people. His only possessions fit in his backpack, and he depends on the kindness of strangers for a place to sleep. Crispin should know better—but he takes Luka’s hand anyway, and together they turn three nights in Munich into the relationship neither of them has been brave enough to risk—and neither can let go of.

 

When Luka turns up on Crispin’s doorstep before the holiday season, Crispin takes him in on hope alone. Yes, he knows the odds are good Luka will flutter out of his life again and leave him bereft, but isn’t it worth it to see if Luka is a homebird after all?

Yes, I knew to grab that box of tissues beforehand.  Check!  Because it was going to be one of those Amy Lane stories and at Christmas too!  About two damaged men, both broken in much the  same way, yet convince by life that the way to mend themselves lay in vastly different and opposite directions for their hearts.   Kill me now. The tears already threatened to flow.

But I dived right in, because on this too big for arms outstretched journey, there’s so much laughter, enlightenment, and joy to be found as well as the pain and ache that goes with life and love.

And no one does that as well as Amy Lane.

I mean I had tea out my nose when reading that burrito drive through scene.  Priceless! Getting ahead of myself.

But it’s Crispin and Luka’s tentative path towards love and a home that will make this a comfort read for me over and over again.  And Crispin’s circle of friends who became Luka’s, well, they were mine almost immediately.  How  could you not love this diverse group of men whose layers continues to unfold revealing more and more depth throughout the book, more heart, more pain, more of everything.  I wanted to hold onto them all and never let any of them go.

The imagery the author uses here, from the birds in flight, to empty nests with bits of colored yarn sprinkled throughout a neighborhood are haunting.  They play with your mind and twist into your heart, just as they do in the story, becoming unforgettable.  Just as the men they are associated with.

I loved this story.  I think you will too.  It’s beautifully written.  It contains such feeling of family (whoever that may be), recovery, and finding the path home wherever and whoever that may be.

I highly recommend this.        And don’t forget to read the author’s forward.  I would love to see that photo!

Cover art: Reese Dante.  This cover is everything.  That’s Luka and the bird with a piece of yarn in its mouth is symbolic of an important part of the storyline.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: December 18th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781644050101
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Tit for Tat by J.S. Harker

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Cold has never been so hot.

College sophomore Derek is busy working over his holiday break—but his shifts at the toy store are no hardship if they mean more opportunity to dream about the sexy new guy working as an elf in Santa’s Workshop. When his mother gifts him a bag of cookies, Derek regifts them to Flynn as an excuse to get to know him. Flynn has presents to offer as well, and soon they’re dating, with Derek finding out his comfort zone is bigger than he imagined.

But Flynn is hiding a secret—he’s really a winter fairy whose magic is bound to the season. He can’t stay in the mortal realm, and Derek doesn’t want to lose contact with his family. Can they find a way to hold on to each other when the snow and sugar plums melt away?

Tit for Tat by J.S. Harker is one of those fantasy holiday stories that had a lot of potential but ended but as a sweet Christmas tale that never delivered on the promise of all the elements it held inside it.  There very quite a few things I liked about this story.  You have cute single Derek who is crushing on the elf working at Santa’s Workshop next to his Toy Store where he works at the Mall.  Only the elf isn’t human, he’s a Winter Fae, complete with snarky, ancient companion (who I really enjoyed, think a wicked Tinkerbell with a penchant for  gold spikes and stacks of pennies).

Flynn is an elf out of element…a innocent about the world he is visiting.  So he has questions about everything around him, another adorable aspect of the story.  As I said there is plenty to like.  Harker starts to put everything in place for the romance and cultural smashup.  But for me, something got lost.  I’m not a fan of instantlove which this turned into.  And  with the faery kingdom, different fae tied to the various seasons, there wasn’t the world building I hoped to see as a foundation for the other story threads the author ran here and there amidst the romance.

It all culminates in a HFN that is a nice touch that raises as many questions as it solves if you examine it too closely.

So for those just wanting a fantasy holiday story with a twist, Tit for Tat might be the thing for you.

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson.  I’m assuming that’s Derek and not Flynn, so it’s a good representation of the character.  Brrrrr.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 242 pages
Expected publication: December 18th 2018 by Dreamspinner Presss
ISBN139781644051078
Edition Language English

Release Blitz – Full O’Festive Spirits by Zakarrie Clarke (excerpt and giveaway)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Full O’Festive Spirits

Author: Zakarrie Clarke

Publisher: Self-published

Genre/s: Contemporary romance

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length:  40 000 words

Release Date: December 16, 2018

Buy Links:

Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07LF2PNRN

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07LF2PNRN

Add on Goodreads 

Author Page

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Blurb

Gabriel is staggered, upon overhearing two old dears declare that only 21 shopping days remain ’til Christmas. He hadn’t even noticed that December had dawned, far too busy being grim ‘n’ grumpy to be bothered. This, after losing his job—again—leaving him too fed-up of enforced thriftiness to differentiate days that did not. Let alone recall the date on the calen— A thought that sends Gabriel scuttling off the bus, in a belated bid to secure his favourite part of the festive season…an advent calendar. If they have any left. Upon clattering into the nearest shop, he finds himself coshed by the most splendid sight he e’er did see. A Christmas Feast for the eyeballs so sublime, it seemed—for a hectic heartbeat—that they’d all come at once. As the latter was a feat so improbable in said company, they definitely had not.

Dylan is much dismayed by the ramshackle litter of limbs and belongings that trips into the off-license, halfway through his shift. It being way too early for the drunk and determinedly irritating to come staggering in. In the wake of arriving too late to audition for a role he’d set his heart on, Dylan is no mood to deal with a human hatstand—doe-eyed and demented—intent upon purchasing a bloody advent calendar. On the third of December. For himself. Strewth. Could fate have possibly dumped a less welcome portent of festivities doomed to disaster on the doorstep?  

Excerpt

Dylan’s trip down misery lane was rudely interrupted by the teeth-gritting jangle of the bell that heralded the entrance of each customer. Reason enough to want to bolt the bloody door to ensure that no one could set the damn thing off.

“Oh, bugger…”

Christ, no. It was way too early for the pissed-up and perennially irritating to start staggering in. Dylan glared at the ramshackle onslaught of limbs and belongings that clattered into the shop. This, with a godawful racket reminiscent of a one-man band, created by what appeared to be: one person, a single guitar, and some plastic bags. The latter were either full of saucepan lids, tambourines and stray cats…or, the customer could cause chaos in a broom cupboard. On his own. Neither of which boded well for the duration. He would no doubt browse for fifteen minutes, knock Dylan’s painstaking display of colour coordinated decorations off the shelf—then insist on arguing about fuck-all—before finally purchasing a cheap lighter, some Rizzla papers and a Snickers bar.  

Dylan had, clearly, been working in an off-license far too long. This had been true about an hour into his first shift, despite the fifteen percent staff reduction that had clinched the deal in the first place. Dylan watched, incredulous, as the litter of limbs and baggage rearranged itself into something that resembled a human figure. Albeit, a far too…extravagant one. Then, he lifted his head.  

How simple that sounded. The customer’s face had formerly been obscured by the brim of his hat; a battered black trilby, barely a shade darker than eyes as bottomless as they were huge. Framed by excessive eyelashes and skin so pale, he could have played Pierrot, sans make-up. A fact not helped by lips so wind-chapped, they looked kiss-bitten. Or, he’d earned enough to buy more than a packet of bloody Rizzla and a Snickers in the very recent past. If he hadn’t already blown it on his next fix. Get a grip. Who the hell would cart a guitar around with them, while out pulling punters? Punters, f’fucksakes?

“Hiya.” His little-boy-lost features lit up in a smile as startling as his voice; coming from a body comprised of far too many corners. Dylan had expected clipped cockney tones or a harsh estuary drawl. The ‘hiya’ had scarce classified as a word, it had been but a wisp of melody. This particular nugget of nonsense was followed by the belated awareness that Dylan was standing like a lemon, dumbstruck. Ensnared in the dark spotlight of a gaze akin to a steel-jaw trap…

About the Author

After moving to London at eighteen and flitting about for far too long, Zakarrie settled, as blissy as can be, by the sea. ’Twas here that her castaway dreams re-surfaced and she began to write; stories that are, in truth, better at being her than she’s ever been. Her one hope now is that someone, somewhere, will enjoy the misadventures of her miscreants as much as she adores writing them.

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