A Stella Review : The Christmas Lights Battle by Skylar M. Cates

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RATING 4,5 out of 5 stars

A Shelby Beach Romance.

For a single dad and his neighbor, the Christmas competition is on!

Julian Moss wants to give his children a happy Christmas. Since his divorce, Julian has no time for a social life; he’s been doing the tiring work of two parents while his cheating ex-husband dodges his responsibilities. If that isn’t stressful enough, he has to deal with his new—and ridiculously good-looking—neighbor and his noisy dogs. Christmas used to be Julian’s favorite holiday, but lately all he sees is the cost. Then Julian’s young son tells him about a Christmas lights competition with a much-needed prize.

Leo Adams is going to be alone for Christmas…again. All he’s ever wanted is to be accepted by his family, but he knows that will never happen. Deciding to focus on his career as a personal trainer, Leo develops a boot camp program on the beach, but he needs publicity. The lights competition offers Leo a way to get some free press, and if it annoys his snooty neighbor Julian—all the better.

The battle is on, and both Julian and Leo want to win. The stakes are high, the reward is great, and the neighbors are in it to win it. There’s nothing like a little competition to make Christmas at Shelby Beach extra merry and bright.

I love Christmas stories, I love romance with children, I love dogs. This new release by Skylar M Cates has all these three elements, plus something I wish I could experience one day, that is spending the Christmas holiday in a hot place. The premises were all there and I knew I was going to enjoy this title, especially because I also know how good the author can write. I wasn’t disappointed at all, everything I imagined I could get from this book was delivered, and so much more.

I easily fell into the reading, the plot and the characters were interesting and I followed them till the end with great delight. Not just Leo and Julian caught my heart, but all the other persons too, the children, Julian’s sister and mum, Leo’s friends. What started as enemies to lovers soon developed in allies to win the light contest and more both Julian and Leo wasn’t expecting, to find the love of their lives.

The plot is simple, nothing too angst, and it is exactly what I wanted on my  Kindle during Christmas time, it’s a sweet story, with some very hot scene and so much happiness to share. The first part was also funny, when the two men were still rivals, and then the moments spent with the kids warmed my heart. I loved this novel a lot. I really hope the author will give us more about these guys.

The cover art by Cate Ashwood is amazing, I adore it, the guys on it, the colors, the font, all perfect.

SALE LINKS  Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 212 pages

Published December 5th 2018 by Skylar M. Cates: A Treading Chaos Publication

ASIN B07L5LS5B7

Edition Language English

An Ali Release Day Review: The Boyfriend Cruise (Pride of the Caribbean #1) by Deanna Wadsworth

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Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

The Pride of the Caribbean is a cruise ship unlike any other. Paranormals working on board the enchanted ship hide in plain sight, under the benevolent protection of a demigod captain and his fairy husband.

And this is a shipboard romance unlike any other.

Josh Gilbert’s well-meaning family booked a gay-friendly cruise for Christmas in order to find Josh a boyfriend. Hoping to escape the constant parade of bachelors—and the collapsible fishing rod dangling mistletoe his mom keeps in her purse—Josh takes solace in a growing friendship with the ship’s photographer, Nathan. Though Josh is falling for Nathan, he worries it will never be more than a shipboard fling.

Nathan recently became aware of his incubus heritage and has finally learned how to control his demon side. But Josh has awakened more than just the demon’s need for orgasms—Josh has awakened Nathan’s heart. What’s developing between them is the real thing, but can Josh ever accept Nathan’s promiscuous past… and love a sex demon?

Amid lush tropical settings, family hilarity, holiday costume parties, sexy snorkeling adventures, gingerbread martinis, and mythical creatures, will Josh get his Christmas wish and finally find the true love he’s wanted for so long?

This story sounded like a lot of fun and has a pretty unique premise.  Unfortunately the execution wasn’t really for me.  The humor wasn’t my thing.  I found most if it a bit over the top and I found the side characters annoying.  There were also a lot of stereotypes and I know that kind of stuff doesn’t bother a lot of readers but it does me.  Lot’s of things just didn’t set well with me.
The writing overall was technically fine and the plot had some interesting characters.  This is the type of book I most hate reviewing.  The books that I don’t really care for but ones I think many others might enjoy.  These are super hard for me to writes reviews on.  You should check out some other reviews before making a decision.
I liked this cover done by L.C. Chase.  I think it’s perfect for the story.
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 216 pages
Expected publication: December 25th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781644050064
Edition Language English
Series Pride of the Caribbean #1

A MelanieM Advent Calendar Review: Holidays Are Where Your Heart Is by Bru Baker

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

A Story from the Warmest Wishes: Dreamspinner Press 2018 Advent Calendar

Jared’s been all over the world as a traveling manny with Holiday Helpers, and the itch to put down roots is starting to eclipse his wanderlust—especially since his current family is a handful.

After culinary school, Wes did some wandering of his own, exploring Central America before settling as a resort chef in his mother’s homeland of Costa Rica, a place he loves and where he plans to stay. If he’s learned one thing, it’s to be wary of flings with vacationers. Still, he can’t stand to watch two little Swiss kids lose their belief in Saint Nicholas, so he’ll lend a hand to the manny assisting the family. It won’t be easy to recreate a traditional European Christmas in a tropical paradise.

Between a snowball fight on a sunny beach and sledding down an active volcano, Jared and Wes discover some renewed holiday magic of their own. Can they make it last a lifetime?

Holidays Are Where Your Heart Is by Bru Baker is a layered contemporary romance that left me with very mixed feelings.  On one hand I thought the character of the manny, Jared, Wes, the instructor, and the children, well done and often heartbreaking in many respects.  I loved how Jared paid close attention to his charges, their feelings, and inventively came up with ways to make them feel safe, valued, and loved enough that Santa Claus or their version of it would find them, even at a resort in Costa Rica far away from their home (and the staff there that had the children’s interests at heart).

Bru Baker did a great job with Costa Rica…mostly.  She has the children safely behind large gates at the resort, because there’s a huge disparity in economics there.  Resorts versus the shacks with galvanized tin roofs, which are mentioned (and high crime which is not). I loved the section with the volcano sledding, including the safety measures and the dangers which were included. For the most part the kids stayed safely behind the security gates to be imaginatively entertained by Jared, Wes, and others there with warmth and affection.

Which brings me to the parents, blithely vacationing away on the other side of the island, who left me (and the staff) wanting to smack them upside the head most of the time. This was “reared by manny” at its most emotionally removed and Bru Baker  makes its impact clear on these very realistic children, the staff who care for them, and yes, the readers. That the children will continue to be raised by parents who care little whether they have a wonderful or meaningful Christmas makes this a bittersweet story for me.  It left it tarnished in a way because while the joy and beauty of what Jared and Wes managed to accomplish for these young children is heartwarming, their future remains unchanged in the hands of self centered parents.  A true sour note at the end as I came to love these kids even more than the main characters and my heart broke for them.

Not the happiest of holiday readings to be sure and probably not what the author intended.

I’m sure she wanted us to focus on the romance, which is quite sweet and lovely and undermined by the storythread of what Jared and Wes did for the kids and how it all turned out.  The snow and that entire scene was my favorite by far.  Perfection.

Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas.  Not a fan of this cover.  Could be about any story with two men and a family, not just this one.  Nothing says Costa Rica, or  Christmas or distinguishes it enough to raise it above a simple beach cover.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 42 pages
Published December 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English setting Costa Rica