An Ali Review: An Amy Lane Christmas by Amy Lane (bundle)

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Celebrate the season with Amy Lane’s own brand of holiday cheer. 

Enjoy five classic Amy Lane Christmas stories, imbued with her signature blend of humor, romance, and heart-warming satisfaction as businessmen, lawyers, accountants, and teachers all find love this December. 

Includes: 
If I Must 
Christmas with Danny Fit 
Puppy, Car, and Snow 
Turkey in the Snow 
Going Up!
This was a great collection of some of this author’s older stories.  There are five stories here or varying lengths, and it’s a nice selection.  This is a good read for people who are already fans of this author but it’s also a nice place to start for people who have not read her before.
If I Must was the first book in the bundle and actually ended up being my least favorite.  It’s a friends to lovers story about two roommates who finally admit to their feelings about each other.  I had a hard time seeing the attraction between the two MC’s. 
Christmas with Danny Fit was a lovely story that tackles the issue of body imagine.  Kit is slightly chubby and shy and awkward and he’s got a crush on his younger, hotter, office assistant Jesse.  Kit takes to watching Danny Fit exercise videos to try and change himself.  The story looks at how you can miss what’s right in front of you while looking for that “perfect” person.
Puppy, Car, and Snow was a very sweet story.  It’s actually the third book in a series of short stories but you would be fine reading this as a standalone.  This story is about them spending Christmas with Ryan’s family. 
Turkey in the Snow is another sweet story.  Hank has his four year old niece living with him due to her mother abandoning her.  He’s not much into flamboyant guys but when Justin, the daycare worker at his gym does a good deed for him, Hank changes his mind.  This was a bit insta-love but it was just right for a holiday story.
Going Up is told by Zach who is a lawyer who lives in the building’s penthouse.  He comes from a very well off and conservative family.  He is getting by but is overall not very happy with his life.  One day when the elevator breaks he meets Sean, who is his total opposite.  Sean makes Zach see life differently and then men falling for each other is another charming tale.
This bundle is Amy Lane at her sweetest.  If you’re looking for some holiday stories filled with sweetness and no angst these are a good choice.
This cover was done by Alexandria Corza and I think it is nicely done.  It’s visually attractive and catches the vibe of the stories. Cover Artist: Bundle Cover Art by Alexandria Corza. If I Must, Christmas with Danny Fit, Turkey in the Snow by Catt Ford. Puppy, Car, and Snow by Anne Cain. Going Up! by Aaron Anderson.
Sales Link:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon
Book Details:Kindle Edition, 323 pages
Published December 25th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB0781B8MJQ
Edition LanguageEnglish

 

An Ali Review: Painting with Fire (Survivors Find Love #1) by Lissa Kasey

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
painting-with-fire-by-lissa-kaseyCharlie “Wood Chuck” Fox knows his best friend and fellow wildfire firefighter Jessie Row had a major family break up in her past. Charlie has adopted her into his heart and into his huge family and when Jessie gets word her mother has passed away, Charlie fears returning home is going to tear her up.
Bastian Hart’s choice of career as a doll painter has put him at odds with his family. He’s made a sanctuary for himself on the San Juan Island of Friday Harbor, an hour away from his family. He welcomes his aunt Jessie and her friend Charlie into his house as they all prepare for the upcoming funeral. Charlie and Bastian discover a spark of smoldering fire igniting between them, but Charlie is unwilling to push and Bastian hesitant to trust. 

 They will have to wade through pain, hate, and fear to find their future together.
This was a lovely story about two unlikely men falling in love.  When Charlie and Jessie go back to her home town they end up stating with Bastian.  Bastian is younger and is a doll maker for a living.  He has had an abusive past with his family and he’s very lonely and fragile.  The two men are immediately attracted to each other and their relationship is a slow bloom kind of thing.  Bastian has some emotional issues he needs to work through and Charlie has the patience to take the time to work through them with him.  I enjoyed watching these two fall in love and I liked them as a couple.
I found Bastian’s job really interesting and something I’ve never read in a romance story before.  I felt the author did a good job showing us what this profession entails and also uses it to show us facets of Bastien’s personality.  I also felt the atmosphere was set well.  It was easy to image the town and Bastian’s home.  
Overall I really enjoyed this.  The main plot was a classic hurt/comfort trope but the author added in enough different things (such as Bastian’s job) to make it feel like a unique story.  This is a story I would recommend and I will be looking forward to more books in this series.
 The cover art is nice enough but does not really stand out to me.  
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Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 173 pages
Published December 2nd 2016
ASIN B01MDPH0X0
Edition Language
English Series Survivors Find Love #1

An Ali Release Day Review: Summer Lessons (Winter Ball #2) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
summer-lessons-by-amy-laneMason Hayes’s love life has a long history of losers who don’t see that Mason’s heart is as deep and tender as his mouth is awkward. He wants kindness, he wants love—and he wants someone who thinks sex is as fantastic as he does. When Terry Jefferson first asks him out, Mason thinks it’s a fluke: Mason is too old, too boring, and too blurty to interest someone as young and hot as his friend’s soccer teammate.

The truth is much more painful: Mason and Terry are perfectly compatible, and they totally get each other, but Terry is still living with his toxic, suffocating parent and Mason doesn’t want to be a sugar daddy. Watching Terry struggle to find himself is a long lesson in patience, but Mason needs to trust that the end result will be worth it, because finally, he’s found a man worth sharing his heart with.
Mason wasn’t the most likable character in book one of this series so I wasn’t sure about him going in to this.  I have to say though that he completely won me over.  If you read Winter Ball, you’ll remember Mason as the guy who was pushy & said inappropriate things to Skip on his IT calls.  Once he realizes Skip & Ritchie are together he backs off and they become friends of a sort.  This book starts by showing us glimpses of Mason’s past and then fast forwards to his current life.  He’s a successful businessman but his personal life isn’t going like he’d like.  He’s a bit sad and lonely and he’s a nice guy who just wants to be loved.
Mason meets Terry through Skip and soccer and he’s immediately attracted.  The feeling is mutual but Terry is much younger and still living at home with his mother in a negative situation.  As the two men begin a tentative relationship, Mason realizes that no matter how much he cares, Terry still has to do some growing up to do.  Unfortunately love does not always go how you want it and both Mason and Terry have struggles as the story unfolds.  While parts of this were a bit painful to read, I felt the issues were treated very realistically.
The thing I really loved about this book (& the previous one in the series) is how well the author does every day people.  So many romance novels are filled with alphas and heroes or people with tragic backstories they are overcoming (& those have their place) but it is rare that you find a book with people just like you and me.  People with every day jobs and every day hobbies and every day concerns.  I loved that both Mason and Terry were flawed and had some problems but are really nice guys who care about each other and care about their friends.  I really liked them both, especially Mason, and I also really enjoyed the side characters.  Mason’s brother, Dane, and his story were particularly interesting to me and I’d love to see him have his own book at some point.  Skip and Ritchie from book one are in this quite a bit as well as some of the other team mates.
Overall I enjoyed this a lot.  It is both mildly angsty but sweet and romantic.  It has some humor and some smexy times.  And most importantly it had great character development and a lovely happily ever after.  While it is the second book in the series and there is a lot of overlap of the characters from book one, this could be read as a stand alone.  I ended up enjoying this more than the first book, Winter Ball, but that was good too and I would recommend reading it also.
Cover art by Anne Cain:  I love the cover.  I think it fits the story perfectly and it is a great compliment to the cover of the first book in the series.
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Book Details:
ebook, 260 pages
Expected publication: November 25th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634778944 (ISBN13: 9781634778947)
Edition LanguageEnglishSeries Winter Ball #2

An Ali Review: Looking for Group by Alexis Hall

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

looking-for-group-by-alexis-hallSo, yeah, I play Heroes of Legend, y’know, the MMO. I’m not like obsessed or addicted or anything. It’s just a game. Anyway, there was this girl in my guild who I really liked because she was funny and nerdy and a great healer. Of course, my mates thought it was hilarious I was into someone I’d met online. And they thought it was even more hilarious when she turned out to be a boy IRL. But the joke’s on them because I still really like him.

And now that we’re together, it’s going pretty well. Except sometimes I think Kit—that’s his name, sorry I didn’t mention that—spends way too much time in HoL. I know he has friends in the guild, but he has me now, and my friends, and everyone knows people you meet online aren’t real. I mean. Not Kit. Kit’s real. Obviously.

Oh, I’m Drew, by the way. This is sort of my story. About how I messed up some stuff and figured out some stuff. And fell in love and stuff.

This was a lovely story about two young men finding friendship and then love after meeting on line.  The gist of the story is that in the course of playing online games, Drew and Kit become friends and then fall for each other.  At the core though this book is about the importance that online friends can have in our lives.  I love looking at that subject because I know I have personally made a few friends online and they have been wonderful additions to my life.
The writing was really well done and the author painted such a well developed world that I felt like I knew what it was like to be caught up in these online games.  And I don’t.  I’ve never actually played any of these type games.  As a result of my real life experience there were a few scenes that were hard for me to get through.  I didn’t really understand what was going on.  There is a great glossary in the back that you can use to look up things.  Sometimes I took advantage of that and other, more extensive gaming scenes, I just skimmed.  I don’t think I missed anything by skimming them.  If there were inside comments or jokes I wasn’t going to get them anyways.  Overall it didn’t matter because the friendship and love story still came shining through.  I still got all of that and I enjoyed it immensely.  I think this book will be a special read for those who do have gaming experience and/or those who have made real life connections from their online lives.
Cover by Simone’:  I like the cover a lot.  I think it fits the story really well.
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Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 273 pages
Published August 27th 2016 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleLooking for Group
ASINB01L54O60O

An Ali Review: Inner Sanctum (The Stonebridge Mysteries #2) by Maggie Kavanagh

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 
Inner SanctumSix months into a relationship, things have heated up between political blogger Sam Flynn and FBI Special Agent Nathan Walker. Though Sam is happy with Nathan and proud of his own sobriety, he’s anxious about what their future holds. Things are heating up in Stonebridge, Connecticut, as a series of deadly fires puts the community on edge and eventually threatens Sam’s comatose brother. As Halloween approaches, fears rise that the arsonist will strike again.

When Sam encounters the main suspect, seventeen-year-old orphan Damon Blake, he’s not sure what to do. Obstruction might land him in jail, but he is increasingly skeptical of Damon’s guilt. He takes matters into his own hands and investigates, but doing so means keeping Damon’s whereabouts a secret from Nathan and the police. Meanwhile, Nathan wonders what Sam is hiding and grapples with insecurities of his own. Sam wants to confide in Nathan, and Nathan wants to trust Sam, but they discover that negotiating new love can be as dangerous as solving crime.
 
 
I really enjoyed this second book in the Stonebridge Mystery trilogy.  This story was equal parts romance and equal parts mystery.  Sam gets himself involved in another case and this time he puts Nathan in to a tough spot with his job.  I think these two are a great couple and I like how they communicate and work with each other.  They’re not perfect but they’re also not full of angst and made up drama.  The characters come across as everyday guys who love each other and are doing the best they can.  I thought the mystery in this one was good.  I also really liked the side characters and their roles in the story.  I can’t wait to read the last book and see how things end up for Sam and Nathan.
 
Cover by Maria Fanning.  I liked this cover and feel it is a good representation of the story.
 
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 204 pages
Published September 14th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press LLC
Original Title Inner Sanctum (The Stonebridge Mysteries, #2)
ISBN 1634764056 (ISBN13: 9781634764056)
Edition Language English