A MelanieM Advent Calendar Review Day 18: Driven to Distraction (2016 Advent Calendar – Bah Humbug) by Cassie Decker

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

 

driven-to-distractionCowboys Wyatt and Brady are competing in a team roping event in Missoula, Montana’s annual Christmas Eve rodeo. Christmas is Wyatt’s favorite time of year and nothing is going to dampen his holiday spirit, not even his surly, no-nonsense roping partner. They’ve only been riding together for a week, but Wyatt has already secretly fallen head-over-boot-heels for Brady, though it’s painfully obvious Brady only has eyes for the rodeo’s grand prize purse.

When Brady is distracted during a crucial moment in the night’s first roping run and nearly disqualifies them, Wyatt is almost certain he is going to be another of Brady’s many rejected partners. Will Wyatt and Brady be able to sort out their differences and work together to win the grand prize? Maybe if Wyatt can show Brady that Christmas really is a time for miracles.

Drive to Distraction is more PWP than a holiday story.  There’s little depth to the storyline and less to the characterizations.  Both  seem more like an afterthought to the sex scenes which are plentiful but make little sense given their location (in the middle of a high stakes rodeo) or the reality of their situation with no thought to all the people that constantly are milling around a true rodeo or the homophobia that still is very much in existence on the scene.

Nothing in the story either makes me want to connect to the characters or their relationship.  One of the few stories I’ve read so far that I would give a pass to.

Cover by Paul Richmond.  Best thing about this.

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Book Details:

ebook, 23 pages
Published December 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635331806
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series2016 Advent Calendar – Bah Humbug

A MelanieM Advent Calendar Review : The Orpheum Miracle (2016 Advent Calendar – Bah Humbug) by Pat Henshaw

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

the-orpheum-miracleChristmas joy is a matter of perspective. For some, it’s the happiest time of the year. For others, not so much.

Twenty-nine-year-old Mick, the son of crack addicts, isn’t exactly a dyed-in-the-wool Scrooge. Mick’s been on his own from childhood. As a teen, he lived in a shelter where for a short time he had a boyfriend. After the boyfriend left, Mick moved to the Orpheum Theater. While squatting there and taking care of the grand old building, Mick watched others celebrate the holidays from a distance, never able to share in their joy.

Only his Technicolor dreams liven his dull, mechanical life until one day the world around him begins to change. Mick is surprised when a man named Jim buys the vintage Orpheum and plans to restore it. Something about Jim makes Mick think they’ve met before. In fact, Jim rekindles Mick’s longing for a better life and a little holiday magic for himself.

Pat Henshaw has written a delightful story of a magical theatre who manages a holiday miracle for a lonely man who’s never been able to leave his past behind.  Mick’s story of loss and shelters becomes real in The Orpheum Miracle.  Now grown, Mick lives in the old theatre, hidden at night, and during the day, one of her maintenance men keeping her  going.   Then she’s sold and her new owner wants to refurbish her and return her to her old glorious self.  When Mick realizes the new owner reminds him of his boyhood friend and love lost, the story moves into magic.

As with all of Pat Henshaw’s stories, they could all be easily expanded in full novels.  The plots, the characters and the world building often  cries out for the full-blown treatment.  So does The Orpheum Miracle.  But if that never comes to pass, I’m so happy that I got to read Mick and Jim’s story.  It perfect for the holidays or any time of the year.

Cover by Paul Richmond works for the series and its delightful.

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Book Details:

ebook, 25 pages
Published December 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781635331660
Edition Language English

A Stella Advent Calendar Review Day 16: Crashing the Party (2016 Advent Calendar – Bah Humbug) by Ginger Streusel

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

crashing-the-partyRetail workers and evil never get a day off, and traveling printer salesman Kale Green is no exception. He might look like a Jolly Green Giant, but he can be a real Grinch. Working on the holidays can dampen anyone’s spirits, and on top of that, a sleepy Georgia town has it out for Kale and his car. From fender-benders to flat tires, Kale and his trusty company car Bessie suffer through it all.

While everyone else enjoys holiday parties, Kale drives down south to demo printers. Business is good, but on Christmas Eve, the weather turns bad. A few patches of ice put an end to Kale’s Christmas plans—a night alone with his video games. While Kale waits for the police, his only consolation is the company of fellow driver Wes Armstrong. As festive as a Christmas tree and as jolly as Kris Kringle, Wes proves unexpectedly charming. Kale never thought he’d crash right into a crush.

Crashing the Party was a surprise, I didn’t know the author and was a little skeptical when I understood the story was told using flashbacks. I admit I’m not a fan of this kind of writing choice, nonetheless in this case it was a winner.

I deeply liked the writing style, the book is so well written it made the reading easy to follow and quick. It made me actually like those flashbacks, because the author let me know how they met, how they flirted and how Bessie, the car, was hurt more than once. Crashing the Party left me in a good mood, I love stories about established couples so reading about Kale and Wes knowing they got their HEA and are celebrating another year together, was really beautiful.

I feel free to recommend this holiday short by Ginger Streusel.

The cover art by Paul Richmond is awesome like everything he works on.

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BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 24 pages

Published December 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN 1635331781 (ISBN13: 9781635331783)

Edition Language English

An Alisa Advent Calendar Review Day 15: All I Want for Christmas… Is No Christmas by Colton Aalto

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

all-i-want-for-christmas-is-no-christmas-by-colton-aaltoAlec Ryder’s arrest in Aspen, early on the morning of December twenty-fifth, is the latest disaster in his series of unhappy Christmases. He’s dreaded the holiday since being subjected to endless church services as a child. Being kicked out on Christmas Day after he came out to his parents, followed by an improbable series of yearly yuletide trips to the emergency room, haven’t made his Christmases any merrier. But getting busted for prostitution is the worst catastrophe; it means Alec’s dream of a college degree is gone, replaced by the specter of jail time.

 

Just when Alec thinks things can’t get worse, Hayden Adler shows up to interrogate him. Hayden is a glamorous attorney who also happens to be Alec’s college roommate’s cousin. Alec’s had a crush on Hayden for years, but whatever miniscule chance Alec might’ve had is now history—just like the life he’s been trying to build for himself.

 

But things aren’t quite what they seem. In a long line of miserable Christmases, Alec will never forget this one, although not for the reasons he suspects.

 

This was a nice short story.  Alec has been supporting himself since he was kicked out of his house for being gay in his teens.  After he is arrested he is even more humiliated when Hayden is the one to question him, they have both been dancing around each other for years.

 

Alec is so defeated from his arrest you couldn’t help but hope everything would work out for him.  Hayden opens his eyes to what they could have and makes it clear he isn’t afraid of them being together.  It takes a not so wonderful experience, but it ends in the best Christmas Alec has ever had.

Cover art by Paul Richmond is the Bah Humbug brand cover.

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Book Details:

ebook, 35 pages

Published: December 15, 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

Edition Language: English

A Melanie Advent Calendar Review Day 13: Guardian Angels (2016 Advent Calendar – Bah Humbug) by Geneva Vand

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

guardian-angelOne snowy evening, a car wreck in front of his toy store triggers terrible memories for Jake. Suddenly, he is in the midst of another winter storm—and another accident, one that not everyone walked away from. When he returns to the present, Jake is on the ground, being watched over by a guardian angel in the form of a kind man named Eli. Eli is no stranger to panic attacks and PTSD, and he’s happy to help Jake get home—where the weather forces him to remain for the night. For Jake, it could be the first step toward a life free from fear and loneliness.

Geneva Vand has written a heartwarming story of pain and loss turned into recovery and love at holidays.  Its a story that by all accounts should be much larger than its 36 pages because it feels like a novel.  Its characters have dimension, their pasts and its angst is believable as is its accompanying pain.

Jake’s PTSD is triggered by a car crash in front of his toy store.  Vand makes us feel every terrifying moment for Jake and we hurt for him.  Our connection to this character is immediate.

The stranger who realizes what is happening to Jake and takes care of him is Eli, someone who Jake soon starts to regard as his “guardian angel”.  As these two men form a relationship, letting barriers fall, and revealing their pasts full of loss and pain, we can see hope for them both and a possible future unfold.  What a joy!

Looking for a heartwarming story to read for the holidays?  Look no further than Guardian Angels by Geneva Vand.  Beautifully written, and full of hope and romance, the wonderful emotions that carry you through to the end that will leave you smiling for hours.

Cover by Paul Richmond is the brand cover for the series.  Still wonderful.

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Book Details:

ebook, 36 pages
Published December 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635331757 (ISBN13: 9781635331752)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series2016 Advent Calendar – Bah Humbug

An Alisa Advent Calendar Review Day 8: Of Mooning Santas and Penis Lights by Thianna Durston

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

 

of-mooning-santas-and-penis-lightsFormer US Marine John Ving hates everything about holiday displays: they’re tacky, they waste energy, and they’re an eyesore. So what does his new neighbor do? He sets up the holiday spectacle from hell, and he doesn’t seem to care which holiday—he has a menorah, a baby Jesus, a Santa, and everything in between. Not to mention it’s swathed in enough lights his house is probably visible from space.

 

High-school teacher Kaden Melling loves the holidays, and huge light displays on his lawn make his heart glow. He’d love to share some cheer—and maybe some kinky fun—with his smoking hot neighbor John. Odd things start to happen to his displays, but just as he begins to think life is going his way, with the holidays and with John, a Grinch destroys everything.

 

It’s gonna take the display-hating John to set things right—and what he has planned might blow Kaden’s mind.

 

John hates the holidays, but gets forced into decorating his own house when he loses a game to his nephew.  For the first time in years he actually puts a tree up when his nephews end up staying with him for a few days.  It takes a visit from his ex to realize what it is he really didn’t like about the holidays.

 

Kaden is absolutely adorable and trying to keep his mother’s spirit alive with decorating and baking for the holidays.  His brightness melts John a bit and I love how John is able to let his walls down for Kaden.  I hurt for Kaden when someone steals his decorations and stomps on his Christmas spirit, but John won’t let that stop Kaden from having the Christmas he deserves.

Cover art by Paul Richmond.  Advent series cover. Hilarious

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Book Details:

ebook, 39 pages

Published: December 8, 2016 by Dreamspinner Press

Edition Language: English

An Alisa Advent Calendar Day 6 Review: Matthew’s Present (2016 Advent Calendar – Bah Humbug) by Sarah Hadley Brook

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

matthews-presentMatthew Blick is almost thirty years old, and he hates the thought of another holiday alone. He has become a bit of a wet blanket when Christmas rolls around every year. So much so that even his five-year-old niece, Hannah, knows something needs to change. She asks the department store Santa to bring her uncle a man to love, and when Santa sees her uncle, he formulates a plan to set that possibility in motion.

 

Santa shows up at Matthew’s house and at first Matthew can’t place him, but then the memories of his first kiss flood his mind and he is shocked to find that Santa is the man he has carried a torch for since high school. Will this twist of fate help Matthew change his view on the holidays? Only a kiss can tell.

 

This was such a sweet story.  Matthew was hurt badly by his college boyfriend and since he hasn’t felt the Christmas spirit since.  He can’t help but keep thinking of Santa from the store and how much his eyes called to him.

 

These characters are so sweet, both having thought about the other for years without being able to find out who the other was.  Them unexpectedly meeting like this is really one of those meant to be things and gives them both a chance for the love they have always wanted.  This is one of those stories that has a nice HFN ending, but it would have been great to see a glimpse of their future.

Cover art by Paul Richmond is the collection cover, still wonderful.

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Book Details:

ebook, 23 pages
Published December 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635331684 (ISBN13: 9781635331684)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series2016 Advent Calendar – Bah Humbug

A Free Dreamer Bah Humbug Advent Calendar Day 1: Bite Night by Clare London

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

2016-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-bah-humbugCreatures of the Night and Santa’s Christmas duties don’t mix. Every myth and bedtime story tells you so.

But on Christmas Eve, when the Elves walked off the job over pension rights, it was time for me—Irwin, the only vampire on Santa’s payroll, despite recent diversity initiatives—and my trusty team to help out. Just deliver a few parcels, Santa asked me. Just help out on your local patch. Just for one night.

Armed with my reluctance to face all that human sentimentality, and accompanied by a wise-cracking werewolf and an unruly fairy with a taste for vodka, I did my best. Honest.
But we were heading for disaster until I came face-to-face with cute babysitter Benny. It’s Santa’s Number One Rule—no interaction with the clients. But Benny somehow managed to upset my appetite, inflame my libido, and restore my faith in the Christmas spirit, with one cheeky smile and a tasty body piercing.

It’s Christmas, and the show must go on!

I’m usually a bit on the fence about holiday stories, since I neither like winter nor fluff. But the blurb of “Bite Night” proved impossible to resist.

And it paid off. “Bite Night” is a hot, fun read – just the thing to keep you warm during a cold winter night.

I liked the idea that Santa employed not only Elves but also other species like vampires, fairies and shape shifters. The three of them made for a very unique team.

The sex was hot, the dialogue witty and the MCs were likeable. The length was perfect – one very unusual night in the lives of both MCs.

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Book details: ebook

ebook
Expected publication: December 1st 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series2016 Advent Calendar – Bah Humbug