Published December 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English
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.
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.
ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: December 18th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English
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.
ebook, 242 pages
Expected publication: December 18th 2018 by Dreamspinner Presss
Edition Language English
Book Title: Full O’Festive Spirits
Author: Zakarrie Clarke
Genre/s: Contemporary romance
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 40 000 words
Release Date: December 16, 2018
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?
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.
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.
Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win a choice of ebook from Zakarrie’s backlist.
RELEASE BLITZ SCHEDULE
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Can Connor show River a real family Christmas? H
When Connor finds River on the roof of the campus admin building, he doesn’t know what to do. His friend is drunk, and shouting into a snowstorm, a bottle of vodka in his hand. The easy part is getting River down; the hard part is insisting River comes home with Connor for Christmas.
River doesn’t have a family, or any place outside of college that he calls home. Not that it matters to him; he’s happy being alone for Christmas in his budget motel, watching reruns of Elf. Only, Connor keeps telling wildly improbable stories of the perfect family celebrations at his parents’ ranch in Texas, and it’s wearing River down. He didn’t ask to be kidnapped. He didn’t want to fall in love with the entire Campbell-Hayes family. But he does.
From one Christmas to the next. This is Connor’s year to rescue River, and himself, for them both to mess things up, make things right, fall in lust and finally, for Connor to show the man he loves what being part of a family can mean.
I have been a huge an of the Texas series since I read The Heart of Texas where playboy Riley Hayes meets and blackmails cowboy rancher Jack Campbell into marrying him. That begins the saga of the Campbell-Hayes family, and by association extended family and friends that is now up to book nine. We have gone through marriages, adoptions, all sorts of incredible angst, enough that this group now feels a part of us as well.
With Home for Christmas (Texas #9) by R.J. Scott, the author now gifts her readers with an endearing holiday story that not only brings us up to date on all the family members current status but gives us a look at the twins, all grown up. And in Connor’s case, looking for his future and love.
He finds both in the troubled form of River, a fellow student from college struggling with the holidays, a dismissal from the diving team, and so much more.
I don’t consider any of the Texas stories standalone so perhaps I should have lowered the rating for that but the gift is the series itself. You need to read the series. It’s like buying into a family of the person you want to date. Turns out you not only adore the person but everyone they come with. What a winning combination!!
That’s the way with this series.
You get to see Connor grow up so you understand the young man who is at the heart of the story here. The one fighting for River to come home with him for Christmas, the fixer of the younger generation. The layers to this character have been coming for eight books and are now firmly in place. We know Connor, just as we know all the children now grown here.
As always with RJ Scott, I appreciated the realistic dynamics of the relationship between River and Connor. A struggle at times to understand each other and communicate, to open up and become aware of inground perceptions and raised barriers, it’s an authentic emotional journey between the two young men. And it let’s us connect to them more intimately then if it had been a story of instant love.
Riley and Jack, one of my all time favorite couples, is also front and center, in their own still passionate love and as supportive dads to Connor. How I love these two!
There is so much more to this story, most of which I don’t wish to give away. You should discover it for yourself. It makes for heartwarming reading, perfect for Christmas and the holidays. Plus you get all the Campbell-Hayes holidays traditions and families all together in one story!
My only wish? It was longer than a novella. But I wish that for all Texas stories.
Grab this one up, I highly recommend it for all lovers of the Texas series and the Campbell-Hayes clan. They are home for Christmas and it’s not to be missed!
Cover art: Meredith Russell. I love that cover! That’s Connor in a nutshell. Perfection.
Published November 28th 2018 by Love Lane Books
Edition Language English
Series Texas #9
Book #1 – The Heart of Texas – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Texas Winter – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Texas Heat – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Texas Family – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 – Texas Christmas – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 – Texas Fall – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 – Texas Wedding – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #8 – Texas Gift – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Paul Carpenter has his life all planned out. Or at least his father does. The right school, the right degree, the right job. Paul is on track, until a bus accident has him sitting out a coveted internship, babysitting, or being babysat, by a grandfather he barely remembers during his holiday stay in a Florida RV park. His father’s reasoning? How much temptation can Paul find around a bunch of senior citizens playing bingo? There’ll be nothing to distract him from his studies.
It’s hard to muster his holiday spirit when Paul is used to snow and cold, not sun, surf, and plastic flamingos in Santa hats. But then Paul meets Kevin Lombardo, who offers to show him some new holiday traditions. Suddenly Paul’s fast track hits a curve.
I feel bad because a lot of the holiday stories aren’t really connecting with me this year, while I like them they aren’t blowing me away. This one has done better than the others so far. Paul is trying to make his father proud but it’s so hard when it makes him unhappy while Kevin is supporting Paul he wants him to be happy. I was easily able to connect with Paul and could feel his frustration and unhappiness throughout his ordeal and was glad when Kevin finally knocked some sense into him. I liked that they were able to work everything out and see them happy together in the future.
ebook, 58 pages
Published: December 17, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English
When Jules Evergreen lands in trouble at the North Pole and gets shipped off to Snow Hope Island for ninety days, he never expects to take up the cause of the forgotten toys waiting for new homes. Falling for his new boss is not on the agenda either, but his heart has other ideas.
Felix Winterson has grown up on Snow Hope Island and now runs the place. He isn’t thrilled when party boy Jules arrives, and Felix tries hard to ignore the man’s charms. He has other problems, anyway. For years he’s tried to get Santa to look at the growing inventory of damaged toys in the warehouse, to no avail.
When Jules comes up with a plan to save the toys, the men find themselves working closely together. As Christmas Eve looms, there’s a lot at stake. Can they save Snow Hope, convince Santa to rescue the toys, and fall in love all at the same time?
He was surprised that no one else was in the building yet. Unless they were upstairs in the loft, or locked away in an office. He thought he’d seen Eve’s coat hanging from a peg up front.
Jules opened the laptop and logged in, ready to get started. He really wanted to take that trip to the warehouse with Felix and the quicker he finished logging things in, the quicker that could happen. As he carefully opened a rather large box, he heard a door open and turned to see Felix, Eve, and Zuzu hurry out of Felix’s office. All wore a look of panic and his heart jumped.
“What’s wrong?” he asked as Eve grew closer.
“The Big Guy is coming for a visit three days before Christmas! We just found out. He never does this. Never, Jules.” Her voice rose as she spilled the news.
Jules glanced at Felix and caught his eye, holding it for a moment. “Isn’t Santa coming a good thing?” he asked, confused.
“We don’t know. He never does this. Never,” Eve reiterated.
“She’s right. He doesn’t. What if he wants to make major changes? Or move us to the North Pole?” Felix asked.
Jules crinkled his brow. In his mind, moving to the North Pole would be great. Felix would be closer to Jules. “You don’t want to live at the North Pole?”
All three of them looked at him in shock, their mouths gaping open.
“What?” he asked.
“The North Pole is headquarters. It’s chaos,” Zuzu explained.
Okay, I’ll give them that. But there were good things, too.
“But you’d be closer to …” he flicked his gaze to Felix and felt his cheeks heat up. “The main operation,” he finished lamely.
“But we like it here. Our island is beautiful and we’re like a family. What if we’re torn apart?”
“I don’t think Santa –”
“You don’t know, Jules,” Eve broke in. “Maybe he thinks we don’t do enough to help these toys.”
Felix was vigorously nodding his agreement, so Jules shut his mouth and sat down in front of his laptop, considering the possibilities. He finally glanced back up, his lips curving up into a small smile as he eyed all three. “Then I guess there’s only one thing to do, guys. We need to show Santa how important the island is to children all over the globe.”
“How do we do that?” Eve asked quietly, her brow furrowed.
“By developing a kick ass plan to get these ‘inadequate toys’ into the hands of kids,” he explained, using air quotes. It was really just expanding what he and Felix had talked about last night. But calling it a plan made it feel more real. More promising.
Again, they gaped at him. Well, all but Felix. He was grinning. Happiness filled Jules’s chest and his heart raced as he grinned back, warmth spreading through him. Their gazes held and Jules felt like Felix was peering inside of him. Like he was seeing the real Jules. Not the guy that always screwed up. Not the guy that only thought of himself. But the one that finally — finally — wanted to do something worthy. Something that would bring others joy.
“Jules is right. We need to work together to show Santa we can handle the responsibility of taking care of the toys on this island. To prepare them for new homes. To convince him to take them with him on Christmas Eve.” Felix straightened his shoulders as determination flitted across his face and hope flashed in his eyes.
Jules couldn’t look away. The man was beautiful in every way.
Sarah Hadley Brook lives smack-dab in the middle of the Heartland and is the mother of two wonderful young men, as well as two cats. During the day, she works in the nonprofit world, but reserves evenings for her hobby-turned-passion of writing, letting the characters she conjures in her mind take the lead and show her where the story will go. When not working or writing, she can be found reading, working on dollhouses, trying her hand at new recipes, or watching old movies and musicals. In her ideal world, Christmas would come at least twice a year, Rock Hudson and Doris Day would have costarred in more than three movies, and chocolate would be a daily necessity. She dreams of traveling to Scotland some day and visiting the places her ancestors lived. Sarah believes in “Happily Ever After” and strives to ensure her characters find their own happiness in love and life.
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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Oliver surprises Lucas by asking him to come home for the holidays to meet his folks. It’s nice to see an established couple. The author makes it easy to feel Lucas’s nerves at meeting the Han family during an important holiday. Oliver seems just as nervous. Since a lot of them don’t speak English and Lucas doesn’t speak Mandarin, what could possibly go wrong? Apparently, quite a bit. The author is great at capturing the bittersweet torture of a large family gathering. I don’t want to spoil the plot, but not everyone acts respectfully, so it’s quite emotional, but heartwarming too. I really enjoyed this chaste short story.
The cover art is by Brooke Albrecht. I assume it shows Oliver and hints at Chinese culture.
ebook, 1st edition, 33 pages
Published December 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English