A MelanieM Review: We Still Live by Sara Dobie Bauer

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Running from a scandal that ruined his life, Isaac Twain accepts a teaching position at Hambden University where, three months prior, Professor John Conlon stopped a campus nightmare by stepping in front of an active shooter.

When John and Isaac become faculty advisors for the school’s literary magazine, their professional relationship evolves. Despite the strict code of conduct forbidding faculty fraternization, they delve into a secret affair—until Simon arrives.

Isaac’s violent ex threatens not only their careers, but also John’s life. His PTSD triggered, John must come to terms with that bloody day on College Green while Isaac must accept the heartbreak his secrets have wrought.

***WE STILL LIVE is a standalone M/M friends-to-lovers romance featuring detailed adult content, graphic violence, hurt/comfort, and mental illness.

What an incredible story! Full of current, tough topics and damaged characters, elements  guaranteed to make one think, flinch, and often weep, as well as a romance that encapsulates some of the best and yes, worst that love can bring out in us.  In short, We Still Live by Sara Dobie Bauer is an amazing work of contemporary fiction, romance fiction is just a part of that.

Domestic shootings, whether it is at schools, workplaces,malls, or events, has, unthinkingly and horrifically, become part of our lives.  Here in We Still Live, author Sara Dobie Bauer exams what it means to have survived one of those shootings ,not just the main character’s trauma ,but that of an entire campus’. Bauer’s vivid descriptions of a darkness that hangs is so heavy over the town, campus, and people is so real as it creeps over the reader page by page until you feel it just as Isaac must.  We are coming into the situation just as he is, almost an interloper, an outsider who slowly starts to become part of their neverending landscape of pain, loss, and regret.

I can’t begin to find the words as to how beautifully written this story is.  Or how achingly subtle and fragile her characters.   Both in their strengths and their vulnerabilities.

The true measure of the damage done to Professor John Conlon is only slowly revealed here, layers peeled away as core truths come to the surface.  And not just for John.  Because Isaac has his own demons he has brought to the campus.  Ones just as current today, given the rising conservative values and his own religious background.  Bauer has developed these themes and woven them flawlessly into her narrative and romance, bringing me to tears multiple times as well as to laughter.

It’s not just the main characters that are so well developed but all of them, from those with minor parts to those with larger supporting roles like Tommy, John’s best friend professor who lived through the shooting too.   This is a story that will stay with you, lines that will haunt you, from a dedication in a Student literary magazine to the last lines of this novel which I will leave for the reader to read for themselves.

It’s life affirming as well as wrenching.  It’s so damn real.  It will be on my Best of 2019 list this year.

Cover art by Natasha Snow,  Honestly I expect more from this artist than a bunch of trees (while I get the symbolism), especially with this exceptional book as inspiration. Meh.  Feels like a stock photo you can purchase anywhere.

Buy Links

NineStar Press  |   Amazon UK  |  Amazon US  |  Paperback 

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 233 pages
Published December 9th 2019 by NineStar Press (first published December 4th 2019)
Original Title We Still Live
ASINB082BJDX2P
Edition Language English

Join Us for the Blog Tour with Excerpt for We Still Live by Sara Dobie Bauer

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BLOG TOUR

Book Title: We Still Live

Author: Sara Dobie Bauer

Publisher: NineStar Press

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Release Date: December 9, 2019

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance

Tropes: Friends to lovers, hurt/comfort

Themes: Coming out, depression, anxiety, PTSD/post-traumatic stress, mental illness

Heat Rating:  4 flames   

Length: 62 000 words

It is a standalone book.

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links

NineStar Press  |   Amazon UK  |  Amazon US  |  Paperback 

 

To escape the past, accept it.

Blurb 

Running from a scandal that ruined his life, Isaac Twain accepts a teaching position at Hambden University where, three months prior, Professor John Conlon stopped a campus nightmare by stepping in front of an active shooter.

When John and Isaac become faculty advisors for the school’s literary magazine, their professional relationship evolves. Despite the strict code of conduct forbidding faculty fraternization, they delve into a secret affair—until Simon arrives.

Isaac’s violent ex threatens not only their careers, but also John’s life. His PTSD triggered, John must come to terms with that bloody day on College Green while Isaac must accept the heartbreak his secrets have wrought.

***WE STILL LIVE is a standalone M/M friends-to-lovers romance featuring detailed adult content, graphic violence, hurt/comfort, and mental illness.***

 

 

Excerpt

Close as they were to the foyer, Isaac was the first to notice the front door opening. A student walked inside. The kid dragged a heavy-looking suitcase behind him. Dressed as he was in a slim-fitting button-down, Isaac immediately assumed preppy, although that assumption altered and changed when taking into account the tight black jeans, Converse sneakers, and shaggy hair the color of caramel and chocolate—a mass of waves and curls that fell down the back of his neck but not quite to his shoulders. 

The kid pushed his hair out of the way and looked up, eyes finding Isaac and flashing a moment of panicked nonrecognition before seeing Tommy.

“Um.” Isaac pointed toward the new arrival.

Tommy turned and shouted, “John! My man!”

Not a student, then.

Tommy wrapped John in a hug that actually lifted his feet off the ground. Isaac imagined it wouldn’t be difficult. The new guy might have been average height, but he was gangly, skin and bones. 

Tommy ruffled his hair. “Have you lost weight?”

John grumbled and scratched his face with his middle finger. “What are you freeloaders doing in my house?” His voice was surprisingly resonant for someone Isaac considered “pretty.” At John’s pronouncement, crows of approval rang from every direction.

“Come meet Isaac,” Tommy said.

John wiped his palms on his jeans before reaching out to shake, and Isaac’s large hand dwarfed his. 

“Isaac Twain is the newest addition to our special corner of Hambden hell. Isaac, this is John Conlon.”

John brushed more hair out of his face. “Nice to—”

“John Conlon?”

John and Tommy froze.

Isaac jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “The books on the shelf. Those are yours?”

John’s face, immobile in what looked like dread a moment before, melted into relief, tinged with a bit of blush. “Oh, yeah. You’ve read?”

“No, but I should. You’ve published a lot of books. You must be good.”

John’s nose wrinkled, and he looked away. 

Tommy shook him by the shoulders. “John is an amazing writer. He had a story published in The New Yorker when he was, like, five. Are you working on anything right now?”

John glanced at the bookshelf. “Not lately.”

“You need a drink,” Tommy said.

John’s eyes widened on a big breath. “God, yes, I do.”

“Nice to meet you,” Isaac said, but John just nodded quickly, smile thin, before allowing himself to be herded farther into the house toward the sound of quiet laughter and clinking bottles.

Isaac felt it then—an outsider’s emptiness. He became a nervous-looking coat rack in the corner, a terrified tree waiting for the ax. As the party doubled in auditory volume, he bemoaned his spilled wine. Was it okay for him to leave? It wasn’t like he was supposed to make a speech. He was only there because he figured it was the easiest way to meet everyone before the first official faculty meeting, but he’d been standing around too long. He wanted to run.

Out of curiosity, he reopened John’s book from earlier and read the front flap. It was a coming-of-age story about a gay kid in the Midwest. He flipped to the back, and a picture of John stared back at him. He’d assumed the guy was tired when they first met, but no; apparently, John had perpetual bedroom eyes, and his hair was always an artful mess. He skimmed…creative writing professor at Hambden University…gay rights activist…Converse-wearer and “old-people music” enthusiast.

All arrows pointed to John’s probable sexual preference for men. A spark of interest flickered but quickly went out. True, John Conlon was what most people would consider beautiful, but he wasn’t Isaac’s type. John was the kind of man butch guys fought over in gay clubs, but he was too small for Isaac, too fragile-looking, girly. After all he’d been through, the last thing Isaac wanted was someone feminine.

A thin figure ducked into the library and literally hid against the doorframe. He took a long drink of something brown and leaned his head back. “It’s not good when you want to hide in your own house.”

“Library is the best place for it,” Isaac said.

John kicked away from the wall. “Tommy mentioned you just moved here? I’ve been in Lothos forever, so if you need anything…” He examined Isaac from his brown boat shoes to the top of his blond head. John’s large eyes, dark green, seemed bottomless—drowning pools of intellect and soul—only slightly overshadowed by his thick eyebrows.

 

About the Author  

Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, model, and mental health / LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is author of the paranormal rom-com Bite Somebody series and Escape Trilogy.

 

Photo credit: Bill Thornhill

 

Author Links

Blog/Website  |  Facebook  |  Private Facebook Group

Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Newsletter Sign-up  |  BookBub

 

 

Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

 

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Check Out the Audio Blitz and Giveaway for His Hart’s Command (Nothing Special VI) by A.E. Via and Aiden Snow (Narrator)

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Length: 8hrs 51mins
 
Narrated By: Aiden Snow
 
Nothing Special Series


Book #1 – Nothing Special – Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Embracing His Syn – Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Here Comes Trouble – Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Don’t Judge – Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 – Nothing Special V – Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK

 
Blurb
 

Lennox Freeman (Free) is one of the best hackers in the world which has caused him to spend most of his life on the run. Never able to put down roots, he couldn’t trust anyone not to take advantage of him, even his own family.


Ivan Hart has lived and bled one creed all of his life: To Serve and Protect. His intense focus and determination in law enforcement has led him to finally commanding his own team. He’d worked hard to put together a squad of badasses capable of backing up a very dangerous team of detectives. Being God and Day’s last line of defense came with a lot of responsibility that he took very seriously.


After his divorce was final Hart turned right around and remarried his job. He had his good friends there in the office with him every day, so it was easier to ignore the few quiet hours he spent at home alone each night. He’d settled well into his new routine and was comfortable with it. Then God decided to disrupt everything by hiring another tech specialist for his department. A man whose brains, trendy looks, and voice would leave Hart tongue-tied and captivated at their first introduction.

A.E. Via has been a best-selling author in the beautiful gay romance genre for five years now, but she’s no stranger to MM. She’s been an avid reader of gay lit for over fifteen years before she picked up her laptop to place her own kiss on this genre. She’s also the founder and owner of Via Star Wings Books, having published a couple great new up and coming MM authors.


A.E. has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Virginia Wesleyan College that she used to start her own paralegal firm after she graduated in 2008. She spent five years preparing and filing bankruptcy petitions for struggling blue collar workers who couldn’t afford to file with a lawyer. It was a rewarding and satisfying career… but another path called to her. Writing.


A.E.’s writing embodies everything from hopelessly romantic to adventure, to scandalous. Her stories often include intriguing edges and twists that take readers to new, thought-provoking depths.


Now that she’s gotten over her 10 books published hump, she’s kind of known now for her hardcore, play rough and love hard, bad boy, alphas. However, she does like to push herself to step out of her comfort zone, exploring different tropes, but she won’t push herself into a whole other genre. She’s head over heels for gay romance and she has tons of more hot stories to tell.


Be sure to visit Adrienne on her social media pages and subscribe to her newsletter to never miss another release date! Go to A.E. Via’s official website http://authoraevia.com for more detailed information on how to contact her, follow her, or a sneak peak at upcoming work, free reads, VSWB submissions, and where she’ll appear next.

 

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A Stella Review: Christmas Riches by H.L. Day

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

Opposites might attract. But does that include age?

Christmas comes early for Aiden Malone in the form of a seductive blue-eyed stranger down on his knees. But a shock revelation about his new ‘friend’ has him running for the hills and cursing his stupidity before the night is out.

Tom’s not prepared to give up that easily. He may be rich, where Aiden’s poor. Innocent in a way that Aiden isn’t. And on the wrong side of twenty. But he’s old enough to know what he wants. And that’s Aiden. He just needs to persuade the older man to look past his hang-ups about age and wealth.

Lust and prejudice pull Aiden in opposite directions, severely testing his willpower. As Tom’s layers begin to peel away, Aiden discovers the younger man’s life of privilege may not be all it seems. If Aiden gives in, they could have the sweetest Christmas that either of them has ever tasted.

But Tom’s about to shatter their joy with a surprise announcement. Decisions need to be made on both sides. It’s down to Aiden, though, to stay strong and decide whose happiness is more important. His? Or Tom’s? Because they can’t have it both ways.

It’s possible their relationship won’t even last as long as it takes for the snow to melt.

I honestly wasn’t liking this new release at first, I wasn’t quite sure why at the time, I just wasn’t enjoying the story. Maybe I didn’t like the first encounter between the characters, maybe I didn’t like them at all. Still I went on with the reading and I have to say my stubbornness was well rewarded, as Tom was in trying to convince Aiden they were made for each other. Later I learnt to like both of them, I saw how lonely Tom’s life was, how unbelievable his parents were. He was only eighteen and he had gone through so much. I felt his desire to be part of something, to be loved and to love. There were so many differences between the two men, so many years, so many money. And then things changed, I realized how mature Tom actually was, I fell for him deeply when I saw him make hard choices, cause he was so sure of his love and his future with Aiden.

I ended up loving Christmas Riches a lot, the ending part was beautiful, the author couldn’t have written a better epilogue, it was perfect, so sweet. I liked the writing style too, the book was easy to read and the characters well done, I think I will look for more stories from H.L. Day, I’m curious to know what else the author delivered.

The cover art by is cute, I like the colors.

SALE LINKS  Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 157 pages

Published November 15th 2019

Edition Language English

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Unfettered by Kate Hawthorne

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Heath is a 39 year old Sub who has suffered past trauma with his Dom. When he meets 24 year old Beau on a dating app, they have more in common than he could have imagined. With their first date, the dynamics slot into place nicely. Having Heath’s point of view creates a nerve-wracking tension, while having Beau’s point of view cements his confidence and maturity. The author creates a nice push and pull. This gets intense on the second date with Heath telling Beau about his ex. Beau handles Health’s abuse well throughout the relationship. Once Heath finds out Beau is a student, and in a class he is subbing for, things get complicated. On the one hand it’s taboo sexy, on the other hand it’s wrong of Beau to put Heath in this position as his Dom. I think that is why the author makes it Heath’s decision to out them to a colleague Michael. But then it’s just dropped with no mention of the ethics of Heath grading Beau’s work at the end of the semester.

One focus is on Beau’s five half brothers and that family dynamic, yet I can’t figure out if this is only to try and give Beau more depth, or if they are added so the author can make this a series and give them their own books. Of all the brothers, Cameron keeps pushing for a relationship with Beau and I’m not really sure why. Heath’s sister and her wife are also included, but considering he speaks to her daily, she is still not not given a lot of life. Michael is given the least to do even though he unintentionally plays a pivotal part. There is a plot twist with a big reveal, but that too seems glossed over: there is more emotional resonance coming from the postscript by the author, than the story she fictionalized about it. For me, I enjoyed Beau’s top drop and his crisis of faith in himself, yet his real emotions weren’t explored. At this point I successfully felt Heath’s frustration with Beau not trusting his own judgment. The reader is not really privy to how Heath worked out how to trust his judgment after what happened with Mac.

This is an erotic romance that basically goes from one hot, graphic, explicit and messy sex scene to another. They do build a relationship, but the dialogue gets stuck on awkward talk of family or Health’s job. I enjoyed the sex and there were moments I really liked the characters: it’s just that after being privy to so much of their intimacy, I still don’t feel like I know them very well from their own points of view. For instance, what does Beau want to do after he graduates? I have no idea. Their collaring and planning their lives together is romantic, it just would have been even more so if I would have been more emotionally invested. Think of this as high on kinky sex, and low on plot and character development with suprisingly low angst for the subject matter.

The cover design by AmaiDesigns shows a scene from one of their dates.

Buy Link; AMAZON 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 261 pages
Published November 21st 2019
ASINB081FZPXX1

Blog Tour with Excerpt for Captivating (Elite Protection Services #2) by Onley James

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captivating tour banner

Captivating

Elite Protection Services Series Book 2

Onley James

M/M Romance

Release Date: 12.04.19

ebook (1)

Cover Designer: Molly Phipps with We Got You Covered Book Design

Blurb

Jayne Shepherd has spent his life blending in. He smiles. He laughs. He’s likable. He’s also a sociopath. His emotions are limited. Love, fear, desire don’t exist in his world. Until he meets Elijah.

Elijah Dunne had everything. Third generation Hollywood royalty. Child star. Untouchable. Until one man ruined it all. Elijah fled LA to try to forget, but now, he’s back on top and back on a monster’s radar. Elijah doesn’t think he’ll ever feel safe. Until he meets Shepherd.

Elijah and Shep only have one thing in common. They both wear masks. Shep makes Elijah feel protected. Seen. Elijah makes Shep just feel. Now that he’s had a taste, he’s not about to let him go.

Everybody warns that what they have isn’t real. Shep is obsessed with Elijah, not in love. But Elijah craves Shep’s obsession. He can’t imagine life without him. In Hollywood, being a sociopath is more a life skill than a diagnosis. Could Shep be the monster Elijah needs to finally slay his demons?

Captivating is the second book in the Elite Protection Services Series and contains age-gap, cum-play, voyeurism and one very sexy interrogation scene complete at 72,000 words with an HEA and no cliffhangers.

Trigger Warnings: This book contains talk of past child sexual abuse

https://amzn.to/2Lni2uE

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Excerpt

“What’s wrong?” Shep asked.

Elijah took a shuddery breath and then dragged his shirt over his head, dropping it onto the floor.

The blood rushed from Shep’s brain to his dick so fast it made him dizzy. Elijah locked eyes with him as he hooked his thumbs in the waistband of his pajama pants and slid them off, leaving him naked and hard. The look on the boy’s face was so vulnerable, it kicked up an instinct in Shep that was too primal to name.

Elijah seemed to make some kind of internal decision, closing the distance between them to straddle Shep’s thighs. “Tell me this is okay,” he whispered, gaze pleading.

Shep nodded, his hands already skimming across Elijah’s bare thighs, itching to touch as much of the boy as possible. “Yes. Just tell me what you need.”

“Kiss me.”

Shep complied, capturing his mouth in a kiss that turned dirty. Kissing Elijah ignited something in him. Everything about Elijah turned him on. The way he sucked in a startled breath when Shep’s tongue slipped into his mouth, the way he moaned when Shep bit his bottom lip. His scent, the heat of his skin, all of it. Everything.

“Put your arms around me,” Elijah demanded. Shep did as he was told, his palms finding Elijah’s ass and squeezing. “Fuck. Yeah. Like that,” he gasped against Shep’s lips. “You feel so fucking good. I just need to come.”

Elijah’s words had Shep’s cock aching. “Take what you want.”

onlylogo (1)Onley James is the pen name of YA author, Martina McAtee, who lives in Florida with her daughter, her daughter-in-law, and a menagerie of animals, both good and evil. When she’s not writing m/m romance or supernatural LGBT young adult books, she’s running 7 Sisters Publishing and attempting to maintain both her sanity and her full-time job as an RN.

When not at work you can find her mainlining Starbucks refreshers, whining about how much she has to do and avoiding the things she has to do by binge-watching unhealthy amounts of television in one sitting. She loves ghost stories, true crime documentaries, obsessively scrolling social media and writing kinky, snarky books about men who fall in love with other men.

Social Media Links

Facebook: www.facebook.com/OnleyJamesWrites

Facebook Reader Group: www.facebook.com/groups/OnleysOubliette

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/onleyjames/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/OnleyJames10

Instagram: www.instagram.com/OnleyJames10

Website: www.onleyjames.com

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A MelanieM Audio Review: Mr. Frosty Pants (Home for the Holidays #1) by Leta Blake and John Solo (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Frosty former friends get a steamy second chance in this Christmas gay romance!

Can true love warm his frozen heart?

When Casey Stevens went away to college four years ago, he ghosted on his straight best friend, Joel Vreeland. He hoped time and distance would lessen the unrequited affection he felt, but all it did was make him miss Joel more. Home for the holidays, Casey hopes they might find a way to be friends again. But Joel’s frosty reception reminds Casey of just how hard he had to fight to be Joel’s friend in the first place. It’s going to take a Christmas miracle to get past that cool façade again.

Joel isn’t as straight as Casey believes, and his years of pining for Casey have left him hurting and alone, caring for his abusive father and struggling to get by. Unable to trust anyone except his rescue dog—and with no reason to believe Casey is interested in him for more than a holiday fling—Joel’s icy heart might shatter before it can thaw.

Can Casey and Joel’s love overcome mistrust, parental rejection, class differences, and four long years apart?

Mr. Frosty Pants is a stand-alone, Christmas gay romance by Leta Blake featuring a virgin hero, childhood friends-to-lovers, second chance romance, and romantically steamy scenes.

Mr. Frosty Pants (Home for the Holidays #1) by Leta Blake is one of those stories that got better for me in the audio format.  I have to admit that I like my holiday stories to either be unusual in content (i.e., Nordic mythology, twists on Christmas fantasy, etc), or heartwarming contemporary stories.  For me, the  holidays aren’t really the time for angst, angst, and yes, more angst which is how this read for me for one character when I dived into it in eBook form.  I liked it but didn’t enjoy it if you know what i mean.

Then came the opportunity to revisit the story in its new audio format and as I have found in the past, this can sometimes present the book in a new light for me.  And it did for Mr. Frosty Pants because John Solo did such an excellent job of bringing Leta Blake’s layered characters to life.  He gave them a voice that made Joel Vreeland’s angst filled struggles realistic and connectable, I “saw” Joel more this time around, I felt for him more this time around, and somehow, maybe my frame of mind has changed, what had felt unrelenting, now became believable and heartbreaking.

Same goes for Casey Stevens and his nouveau riche family with their high expectations and overbearing ways.  I understood Casey and his battles better this time around.  John Solo’s choice of voices for all the family members highlighting the strained family dynamics so well that it elevates Leta Blake’s narrative and characters, just as it should.  A great partnership in every way.

Mr. Frosty Pants has it share of interesting side characters that I wanted to get to know better and a location that felt real as well.  This author’s touches are everywhere that I have come to expect from her writing!  That includes a heartwarming ending, perfect for the holidays.  Oh, and there is a sweetheart of a dog too.

If you love audiobooks and Christmas stories, put Mr. Frosty Pants (Home for the Holidays #1) by Leta Blake and John Solo (Narrator) on your list of books to listen to.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and think you will too.

Cover art is adorable and perfect for the characters for the story.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Audible

Audio Book Details:

Audible Audio, 11 pages
Published November 11th 2019 by Leta Blake Books (first published November 7th 2018)
ASINB08176KCZM
Edition Language English
Series Home for the Holidays #1
setting Tennessee (United States)

A MelanieM Review : The Christmas Oaks (Laurel Holidays #1) by V.L. Locey

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Can the magic of Christmas, and the soft voice of a man who has seen too much, show Bryan a future where anything is possible?

Bryan Graham is shocked to find he’s inherited a hunting cabin in north-central Pennsylvania. From his grandfather of all people; a stubborn man who went out of his way to make Bryan’s childhood miserable. He’d vowed never to go back to the small, rural community of Kutter’s Summit, not that he didn’t have fond memories of the place. It’s just that he’d rather be celebrating a quiet Christmas back in Nashville with his cat and his contracts.

A couple of weeks of hunting, cleaning, and handyman work, and he can hopefully put the place up for sale and move on with his life. He never expected to find his childhood friend Parson Greer living in the cabin. Parson is no longer a boy, but a handsome, wary man consumed by the demons of a faraway desert war. When a rekindled friendship shifts into something deeper, Bryan finds himself lost in emotions that a workaholic like him has never made time to experience before.

Such a heartwarming story! The Christmas Oaks (Laurel Holidays #1) by V.L. Locey has all the elements you look for in a holiday story.  Family reconnecting, a  and a homecoming. A rediscovery and re evaluation that takes place, both of self, of a place, and even of his past.  It has two damaged men, each traumatized by their pasts who come together to heal and recover at Christmas and find love.

Locey, who lives in Pennsylvania, gives us a wonderful feel for the small town and local landscape, including wildlife.  It’s all done with a loving eye and vivid descriptions.  Nashville suffers by comparison which was probably purposeful. I thought both characters of Bryan Graham and Parson Greer well crafted and believable, from the dark circles under Bryan’s eyes and sallow skin from too little sleep and too much work to the PTSD that Parson’s suffered from.  Another fine portrait emerged in that of Bryan’s  overwhelmed sister, in her double wide and single parenthood.  Man, those scenes felt so true to life that your heart bleeds for her.

The romance comes about a little too easily given what each man is currently dealing with but Locey still makes a strong argument for their love and relationship.   This is Christmas after all, even with dealing with complexities and strong minded men with difficult pasts.  It’s a HFN but I can’t wait to see what’s next in store for this series.  This is such a wonderful start!  And a great addition to any Christmas or Holiday reading list.  I absolutely recommend it.

Cover Design: Designs By Sloan is lovely and works for both characters.

Book Details:

ebook
Published December 4th 2019
Edition Language English
Series Laurel Holidays #1

An Alisa Review: A Timely Gift by Kris T. Bethke

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Sometimes the right gift can be life-changing …

On the solstice, Rory’s grandfather gives him a pocket watch he claims will have Rory’s life sorted and his problems solved by Christmas. Rory starts out skeptical, but when he reconnects with an ex he never thought he’d see again, he has to admit there might be some holiday magic at work after all.

Deacon’s life is in shambles, and he’s returned to Syracuse for a fresh start. Running into Rory again feels like much more than a coincidence, and neither of them can deny the passion between them is still smoldering. With the watch behaving oddly at just the right moments, Rory and Deacon might receive the gift of a lifetime … if they’re willing to accept it.

This was a cute second chance at love for Rory and Deacon.  I liked that they held no hard feelings about their previous separation but were open to at least having friendship with each other even if it became more and was nice and open-ended.  Now, I do have to say the blurb makes it sound like if Rory doesn’t find love by Christmas he never will and at no point in the story was that even brought up or thought and that just feels like false advertising of the story.

The cover art by Written Ink Designs is nice and works well for the story.

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 12,999 words

Published: November 2, 2019 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781646561896

Edition Language: English

Review Tour and Giveaway for The Christmas Oaks (Laurel Holidays #1) by V.L. Locey

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Cover Design: Designs By Sloan

 
Blurb 
 

Can the magic of Christmas, and the soft voice of a man who has seen too much, show Bryan a future where anything is possible?


Bryan Graham is shocked to find he’s inherited a hunting cabin in north-central Pennsylvania. From his grandfather of all people; a stubborn man who went out of his way to make Bryan’s childhood miserable. He’d vowed never to go back to the small, rural community of Kutter’s Summit, not that he didn’t have fond memories of the place. It’s just that he’d rather be celebrating a quiet Christmas back in Nashville with his cat and his contracts. 



A couple of weeks of hunting, cleaning, and handyman work, and he can hopefully put the place up for sale and move on with his life. He never expected to find his childhood friend Parson Greer living in the cabin. Parson is no longer a boy, but a handsome, wary man consumed by the demons of a faraway desert war. When a rekindled friendship shifts into something deeper, Bryan finds himself lost in emotions that a workaholic like him has never made time to experience before.

USA Today Bestselling Author V.L. Locey – Penning LGBT hockey romance that skates into sinful pleasures.


V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, Torchwood and Dr. Who, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a pair of geese, far too many chickens, and two steers.


When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in one hand and a steamy romance novel in the other.

 

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