An Ashlez Review : Walking In A Winter Wonderland by Claire Castle

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Colton Dawson is miserable this holiday season. Those he’d loved the most are no longer in his life. With one disappointment after another, how can he possibly get into the Christmas spirit? Maybe a change of scenery—a new place to put down roots—is just what he needs for a second chance to find some happiness.

Winterbourne Vale is only too happy to help his much-loved aunt and uncle run their café in Canada while on his short December break—even if it means leaving his home in the United Kingdom. After a defeated-looking Colton walks into the café, Winter is determined to lift his spirits.

Can Colton and Winter’s Christmas happiness continue long after the gifts are unwrapped and the decorations are stowed away?

Walking in a Winter Wonderland is holiday treat filled with special ornaments and glistening snow, hot tea and cold-weather kisses, along with some sexy shenanigans and plenty of holiday cheer.

Overall the book was cute, it started off promising, but I found that the intimate moments were extremely lackluster, I can’t hold it fully against the book even though that’s a part of it, because I did like Colton & Winter.
There were a few other annoying moments in the book, I’m all for a sensitive man but this went above and beyond what I would consider “sensitive”.  Given the circumstances anyway.  and there was no real “climax”, normally there’s a moment in a book where you think, oh, it’s not going to end well, this one didn’t really give me that moment.
Winter’s hobby was amazing though, and I wish I could put into words how I picture what he does for a living, because it’s magical, and I need that in my life.
Overall, though, it was a cute Christmas story.
Cover by Claire Castle:  Fitting photo, I can see either of the men in the book fitting on the cover and it works.
Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 136 pages
Published November 15th 2018
ASINB07JC7FXSH

A Lucy Review: Boyfriend Or Bust by Claire Castle

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Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

Fake boyfriend?  A favorite trope of mine and I devour those stories like candy.  There is nothing I like more than having two guys realize the pretense has led to something real.  That is the basis behind Boyfriend or Bust.  Told in alternating first person point of view, we have Carson, a nice guy with a nasty ex, who gets an invite to said ex’s wedding. A wedding to the boss who was banging Hugo while he was with Carson. Rude, right? Carson thinks so too and when he calls Hugo the Horrible to tell him off for the invite he instead makes up a boyfriend, conveniently seeing a bottle of Samuel & Sons hand soap and inventing Samuel who will accompany him as a plus-one.  Hugo doesn’t believe it, but whatever.

When Nate’s best friend, Sloan, finds out about it she is all for shoving it in Hugo’s face.  “Sloan hated him from the beginning, I knew that much.”  So she brings up using her brother, auspiciously named Sam, a man that Nate has crushed on.  Nate has “…admired her brother from afar for years” but was also caught referring to Sam as “…an airhead gym rat…”, as Sam is a personal trainer.  Nate claims it was only a joke, but I didn’t understand how that would be funny at all.  Sam has also crushed on Nate over the years as well.  Sam agrees. 

This is where I started to question the story.  First off, the wedding is in Greece.  Nate is paying for the two weeks there.  That is a lot of money to spend just to show up an ex-boyfriend that you realize is a complete jerk.  Second, while Sam claims to have agreed to this crazy idea because he loves his sister, “How could I say no to my little sister? I would do anything for her.”  Yet later in the book he talks about how he and Sloan aren’t close.  There was some family trauma and it tore everyone apart. “I love her as a sister, but it’ll never be the same, you know?”  So it was surprising then that he would take two weeks from work to accompany Carson, someone he barely knows and heard smack-talking him, to be a fake boyfriend at an ex’s wedding.  Especially when they are supposed to be getting to know each other in the two months before the wedding, yet when Sam tries, Nate blows him off.  It was odd. It makes Sam really think, “We can hang out.  I know you don’t like me much, but if you want me in this with you, I will help you show this jerkwad what he missed out on.”

They do, however, start to get to know each other better and realize that they might just be good for each other.  It actually turns to insta-love fairly quickly, considering it’s two months from the time they first talk to the wedding trip itself.  Here was another thing that got me.  I was already thinking that the two-week trip to Greece was a going pretty far to tick off an ex, but once they are there Hugo is so over the top rude, condescending and nasty that I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why they would attend the wedding.  Carson already got to let Hugo know he’s put the cheating man behind him, so why not just enjoy the vacation.  Hugo’s reaction, “The fake tone of his voice was hard to miss.  “what’s he paying you then? Do you work for 1-900-MEN-4HIRE?  Even Sam asks, “On second thought, do we really have to attend the wedding?”  Honestly, I felt like it was a manipulation to get some bad behavior (well, more bad behavior) on the part of Hugo into the story.  Bad behavior that honestly didn’t make sense in the context it was placed.  Holding up your wedding for that reason?  “…he’s the type to use it against you, if you don’t show.”  Does Hugo work with Carson? Otherwise, they don’t speak so who cares.

Carson and Sam do have a lot of sex over the course of the months.  There is dialogue that was very off-putting during some of this. Sometimes too sappy, sometimes it was like they were mechanical.  “When you are about to come inside me, pump once, and we’ll come together.”  The writing overall was a little simplistic and sometimes awkward.  Finally, Carson at one point says, “I want you to know, I never judged you for being a personal trainer.”  Why on earth would you even think to judge someone for that?  Sam’s response, “I know, Carson. That’s one of the things I love about you. You’ve always taken me as I am.  You’re genuine and nonjudgmental.”  What? Personal training is a stable, healthy career. 

It is unfortunate that this book didn’t really work for me.  There were too many things that made me question or roll my eyes. It had a lot of potential but I don’t think it lived up to it all.  I would try this author again and see if maybe next time I’d like the story more.

The cover art, a handsome man set against a background of the sea, is pretty and fits in well with the theme of the book.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 231 pages
Published August 11th 2018
ASINB07GCVQQH5
Edition Language English

Release Blitz for Boyfriend Or Bust by Claire Castle

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Buy LInks:

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2KNzMMw

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2B6ISUZ

 
Length: 73,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Cate Ashwood Designs
 
Blurb
 

When Carson Turner’s ex-boyfriend unexpectedly invites him to his destination wedding and presumes he’ll be there alone, Carson panics and invents a fake boyfriend to accompany him. That’s what happens when your greatest flaw seems to be to talk first and think later.


How can Sam Bixton say no to his little sister’s request for him to go to Greece with her best friend, who he’s only admired from afar? Who would turn down fun in the sun with the one guy that’s always been off-limits?

Carson and Sam have a lot to learn about each other, and very little time to do it. Will they succeed in convincing Carson’s ex that they’re devoted boyfriends, or is it all about to go bust…

Claire Castle grew up surrounded by books. She has loved reading for her whole life. Her true love is romance and HEAs. When she’s not reading or writing, she can be found wearing comfortable leggings, drinking mocha and petting her west highland terrier. She loves collecting awesome mugs and paperbacks of her favorite stories.

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