A Stella Advent Release Day Review: Eugene and the Box of Nails by Jaime Samms

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar collection Stocking Stuffers.

Every time it seems like things are looking up for Eugene Kraft, disaster hits. Bankruptcy, a bigoted sibling, and a back-breaking accident have all left him with little money and less faith in the universe.

His last-ditch effort at peace is the small lakeside property where he is building a tiny house from recycled materials. If he can get it livable before the cold sets in, maybe he’ll be okay. Hopefully Cullen, the foreman on the construction site next door, won’t notice Eugene pilfering discarded materials from his dumpster.

When Cullen stops by to talk to Eugene, he’s sure the gig is up—but all Cullen wants is a date. Can two things go right in Eugene’s life? At first it seems possible. Projects on Eugene’s house are getting completed by what he dubs “construction elves” while he’s off site. But like Eugene predicted, his good fortune can’t last, and soon he has a tough choice to make: give up his home… or the man of his dreams.

This short story in the DSP Advent Calendar was a joy to read. I already read something else by Jaime Samms so I jumped at the chance of reviewing this new title. It was a lovely surprise and very sweet, just how I wanted it to be. I found the blurb interesting and I adored how the author deliver the romance. Well done!

I particularly liked how the relationship between Cullen and Eugene developed, how the first strongly tried to show Eugene how good they could be together, how he supported him in his choices. I felt pretty satisfied from what I knew about the MCs and it warmed my heart to see they get their HEA.

I want to recommend it, this well written short will definelly put you in the Christmas spirit and in a good mood.

The cover art by L.C. Chase fits the story, I like it.

SALE LINKS DREAMSPINNER PRESSAMAZON 

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 58 pages

Published December 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN13 9781640803169

Edition Language English

A Lila Release Day Review: The Werewolf before Christmas by Charles Payseur

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Ray seems like the perfect boyfriend—he’s gorgeous, incredibly romantic, and has a mechanical suit he invented to become the dastardly MantaRay. For Alec, who also spends his nights making life difficult for do-gooders everywhere, it’s a match made in supervillain heaven. Except that Ray is a bit too into the hit soap opera All My Werewolves. When tempers flare during what’s supposed to be a quiet night out, Alec nearly ruins everything over a stupid bet with an alien gorilla.

Desperate to prove his feelings to Ray, and with Christmas fast approaching, Alec decides the fastest way to Ray’s heart is to embrace the thing that threatens to divide them—a certain werewolf show with a certain actor who Ray admires. A simple kidnapping promises to do the trick, only fur (and fandom) fly when Alec’s romantic gesture leads to a very hairy situation. Can Alec prove to Ray how much their relationship means to him, or will his plans be ruined by the werewolf before Christmas?

The Werewolf Before Christmas is a very different type of story. Definitely not one that I read often. I had to start it twice because I had no idea what was I reading but I need to accept that it is a well-crafted short. After the reader gets to know the characters, the world, and the main plot, it’s easy to follow the action.

Perhaps a bit too easy. Especially when Alec sets to find his present. I liked the initial chase and all the little quirks and pop references but he gets what he’s looking for too quickly for all the planning and angst that went into it.

The author’s creativity is superb and the reason I’m rating this story four stars. Not one of my favorites but worth reading if you are looking for something completely different this Holiday season.

The cover by Paul Richmond is the same as the rest of the 2017 Advent Collection.

Sale Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | NOOK

ebook, 35 pages
Published: December 1, 2017, by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 9781640803152
Edition Language: English

A Caryn Advent Release Day Review: A Holiday Crush by CJane Elliott

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This story was very much what I’ve come to enjoy about CJane Elliot’s work.  There is angst, but it’s believable, the characters are appealing guys that I’d love to meet myself, they exist in a world complete with good friends who are essential to the story, and they have real jobs and real world concerns.  I like this type of contemporary so much better than billionaires and spies…

Brad is in his early 40s, and has been feeling for some time that his life doesn’t really have much meaning or direction, and he feels a “pervasive sense of weariness”.  He is a successful lawyer, but winning the big cases doesn’t bring him joy anymore, and certainly doesn’t make him feel that he is making a difference in the world.  As Christmas comes around, he is reminded again that he doesn’t have the partner he had hoped and planned for at this time of his life when he was young.

Michael had done some videography of Brad’s depositions, and though he is just Brad’s type, Brad didn’t pursue anything because the case was ongoing, and because Michael seems very young, and Brad doesn’t feel right with that type of age gap.  Fortunately for Brad, Michael is persistent, so when the case is over, he asks Brad out.  Brad surprises himself by accepting, and is introduced to Michael’s world of unconventional, bohemian friends.  Michael is outgoing, impulsive, and wears his heart on his sleeve, and he admires Brad in many ways from their time with the case, but then they also find they both share a love of music and singing.  Music is a part of Brad that he’s put aside to fit in with the other lawyers in the firm, and finding someone to share it with, especially someone like Michael who is so joyful, is a revelation.  Despite his misgivings about the age gap, Brad is utterly charmed, and starts finding ways to spend time with Michael.

The angst comes in when Michael’s friends start questioning what he hopes to get out of this relationship, and whether he is even serious about it.  Michael LOVES the holiday season, and despite his friends’ blasé attitude, he celebrates with gusto.  And that always includes falling in love, because isn’t that a thing to do at Christmas?  His friends think this is just Michael’s usual holiday crush, and they are persuasive enough that he starts to doubt himself as well.

So this is a story of how two very likeable guys learn to step outside their comfort zones, and find not only love, but new meaning in life.  I thoroughly enjoyed this story!  One warning though – this is a very politically slanted book.  And though I might agree with the politics to an extent, I’m not sure that I really wanted to read about them in my spare time.  What started out as introducing a liberal alternative to Brad’s life turned into a full on diatribe against the presidency, the congress, and Republicans in general, and the ranting was really turning me off.  I took off half a star for that, but decided that fortunately, the rest of the story was good enough that I could just skip over those parts…

Cover art by Paul Richmond.  The Cover is the series cover, cute and cheery but not really relating to the individual stories.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 50 pages
Published December 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640803121
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Advent Release Day Review: The Billionaire’s Boxing Day Bargain by Ava Hayden

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Milo is too nice to say no when the desperate call goes out for more staff to work Boxing Day at Eden Consumer Electronics. It’s just until they sell the door-crasher specials, but it means he can’t see his billionaire boyfriend Lance until later that day.

Lance spends December 25 jetting back from a business trip, eager to see Milo. He calls as soon as his flight lands Boxing Day morning, only to find out that seven hundred and thirty televisions are cock-blocking him.

What’s the point of being a billionaire if you can’t spend your way around obstacles? Milo doesn’t want Lance solving his problems with cash, but he’ll never find out because Lance’s efficient personal assistant, William, is on the case. Unfortunately, even billionaires are subject to the law of unintended consequences—and these aren’t the kind Lance can buy his way out of.

Will Lance and Milo have their Boxing Day date? Or have Lance’s pushy billionaire ways finally gone too far?

The Billionaire’s Boxing Day Bargain by Ava Hayden is a very cute holiday romance in the Dreamspinner Press Advent Stocking Stuffer collection.  A very rich man wants his boyfriend home with him instead of at the failing electronic store where he’s filling in for a friend.  Many humorous moments ensue before the couple reunites at the end.

It’s funny, angst free, low flame, holiday fare.  I enjoyed it while I was reading it even if I can’t remember too much about the couple and story right now.  I do remember thinking that the monitor/tv thing was funny or was it the blender?  Thing was…I could almost see a very rich man doing exactly that to get his way…a very realistic and humorous touch.

There’s a happy ending for all and isn’t that what we want in a holiday story?  Only this one comes as a contemporary romance, missing that touch of Christmas magic I love to see in most of mine.

Cover art by Paul Richmond is the series cover for all Stocking Stuffer stories and filled with good cheer and humor although not specific to the individual stories.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 42 pages
Published December 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640803114
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Advent Release Day Review: Homemade from the Heart by Bru Baker

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Craft store owner Grant has always been a sucker for a pretty face, and that goes double for a pretty face with an adorable sidekick. When seven-year-old Aubrey has her heart set on taking Grant’s already-full holiday craft series, he caves and gives up his one day off a week so she (and her hot guardian, Josh) can take private lessons. Their flirting ramps up week after week, and even though Josh isn’t with Aubrey’s mother, Grant can’t be sure the man isn’t straight. Maybe he’s just being friendly. And Josh, who most definitely is not straight, is afraid of being the creepy guy hitting on the teacher.

Frustrated by their stubbornness and cluelessness, Aubrey takes matters into her own hands. She decides the best gift to give Josh is something homemade and from the heart—a boyfriend they’ll both love.

Another absolutely adorable, full out Christmasy short story, Homemade from the Heart by Bru Baker is full of good cheer and romance.  How can it not be when one of the main characters owns and runs a craft store that’s making holiday crafts?  Hello Snowman and glitter by the buckets!  It made my inner kid want to reach for the glue and craft projects myself!

With a deft and loving touch, Baker’s characters come to life as Josh and Aubrey find their way to Grant’s store.  After finding Grant’s popular holiday craft series full, an improvised group of private lessons ensues and the road to romance is on.

I loved how natural, frazzled, and funny it all felt.  Nothing like a child, the oncoming date of Christmas and the need to make a series of presents can bring the pressure home and yet love of family too.  And both men are trying to make it special and find a path to each other as well.  The writing flowed, the storyline was fun and lovely, and the ending just right.

Homemade from the Heart by Bru Baker is one story I can not only recommend but wouldn’t mind checking back in on this couple later on in the year.  Aubrey too.

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht.  That cover is perfect for the story. Loved it.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 55 pages
Published December 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640803107
Edition LanguageEnglish
setting Illinois (United States)

An Alisa Advent Release Day Review: A Gift of Family by Tami Veldura

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5
Scott Burke has always desired a big family, but as a divorced single dad, all he has is his young daughter, Lexi. He pours himself into raising her, half-convinced he’ll never find what he’s looking for. When Brennan Price strolls into Scott’s life, he’d better have enough patience for both Lexi and Scott if he intends to stick around.
Brennan has a huge family and a successful career, but no one to call his own. Wooing Scott and his daughter is right up his alley, though, and he steps up to the challenge to prove he’s enough for both of them. His attraction to Scott is immediate, but he recognizes a family man when he sees one and hatches a plan to win Lexi over. Her handsome father is sure to follow….
This was an okay story.  I liked how Brennan wanted to woo both Scott and Lexi and his patience.  Their connection felt a bit forced and quick for Scott being a man that is supposedly cautious about bringing someone into their life he falls a but fast.  I thought Brennan seemed cute but didn’t feel as if I got the chance to know him.  For all their cautiousness and shyness the D/S feeling in the bedroom didn’t work for me, it was like they flipped a switch and it didn’t seem right for the characters.
Cover art by Paul Richmond.  This is the series cover for all the Stocking Stuffer Advent stories for 2017 and as such has nothing to do with the actual story.
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 32 pages
Published: December 23, 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

A Caryn Advent Release Day Review: The Holly Groweth Green by Amy Rae Durreson

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5 

This is easily my favorite of all the Christmas stories I’ve read so far this year.  I love this author to begin with (she’s on my auto-buy list) and once again she has not disappointed!

This is a fairy tale:  not a retelling, but an original.  Although the setting is post-WWII England, the story still reflects that atmosphere of magic that you expect in a fairy tale.  There is an enchanted wizard, an unlikely hero, a curse to break, and a happy ever after.  Ms. Durreson’s prose very cleverly draws the reader from the mundane world of a cold train through the border between reality and magic to the enchanted cottage and a world that truly does feel set outside of time.  And then thrusts the reader right back into cold harsh reality – I felt like I was not just reading about Laurence, but was right there with him experiencing it!

Dr. Laurence Payne survived WWII, but he was not whole.  A head injury left him without certain critical thinking pathways which made him unsafe to continue practicing medicine, and he was at a complete loose end.  No family, no plans, so he decided to spend Christmas in the country, for lack of anything better to do.  On the way to Portsmouth on Christmas Eve, the train was stopped by snow, and Laurence, as one of the last passengers to get off, found there were no more rooms at the inn.  So he set off on foot to the village in hopes of finding a place to stay.

The winter afternoon was deceiving though, and Laurence felt that no matter which way he went, he kept getting farther away from his destination, and the night was coming on quickly.  When he came to a cottage surrounded in holly hedges, he was thankful, and though the beautiful man who answered his knock seemed a little strange and a little over-eager to welcome a stranger into his house, Laurence accepted his offer of hospitality.  Avery told him that he was born in 1579, that he could do magic, and Laurence immediately chalked him up as “a little mad” but found himself enjoying Avery’s company nonetheless.  The hours turned into days, and Laurence started falling in love and experienced a contentment and joy he’d never felt before.  On Twelfth Night, Avery asked him to stay, but Laurence was already thinking he had to get back to the real world, employment and all of the other prosaic realities of life, and it was only when he awoke alone the next morning, to find the cottage in ruins and Avery gone, that he finally believed that Avery had been right about magic all along.

I have to say here that one of the things I loved most about this story was how beautifully it was written, and how the author switched between more modern, factual descriptions of action and setting when Laurence was alone, and the softer, entrancing, and otherworldly notes of his time with Avery.  The difference was marked enough that when Laurence woke up after Twelfth Night, I also felt like I was waking from a dream, but it was subtle enough that I didn’t realize it was like a dream until that moment.  It is rare to find that level of writing skill in this genre, so I appreciate it all the more (those readers who are also fans of Harper Fox know exactly what I’m talking about!)

The writing was amazing, but I also enjoyed following Laurence from his start as a man who had lost his purpose and direction in life to the war and its aftermath, to a man with a purpose – not only to find and reclaim Avery, but also to make a life for himself and to become part of a community.  Breaking a curse in a modern world meant confronting his own demons and his own brokenness.  In doing so, he saved Avery, but he also saved himself.

Very, very highly recommended!

Cover art by L.C. Chase is pretty, and I felt the image of a man trudging through snow appropriate for the theme of the book.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 55 pages
Published December 1st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640803077
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Kai Advent Release Day Review: The Last Gift by Chrissy Munder

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

College student Nick Reed works late shift at a convenience store and dreams of graduation, a job he can be proud of, and finding the man of his dreams.

But the man of his dreams is about to find him.

A change in his lab hours forces Nick to swap shifts with a coworker. But no one prepared Nick for Mr. 5:25—Aaron Hampton—a beefy blond who’s Nick’s perfect guy, but professionally and socially out of Nick’s reach. Soon Aaron becomes the highlight of Nick’s workday, and when the overly focused lawyer needs Nick’s help with holiday gifts, Nick is eager to spend time with Aaron.

They become friends, share book recommendations, and are surprised to find themselves at the same charity run. But is that all? When Aaron learns Nick is heading back to his old shift, will he find the courage to ask for one last, very special gift?

Loved this short story guys! Just loved it!

This was a new author for me, so I wasn’t sure what expect of it, but was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked this short story. It was fluid, sweet and well written.

I loved the characters and was evolved in the plot as soon as I started reading it. You know those short stories where you really want a sequel so you can see your characters again? This novella was that for me. I was so in love with the characters that I really would love more about them.

Nick and Aaron were great! They felt real and adorable.  I connected with both and enjoyed myself cheering for them to change their friendship for something more (and theattraction was so clear between them). But I also liked they started it as friends and that the connection they developed after they met each other was gradual. It was adorable to read.

This was one of my favorite Christmas story in the Dreamspinner Advent Anthology this year. And if you are looking for an adorable, interesting, sweet and short Christmas reading, I really recommend this one.

Sales Links

DreamspinnerAmazon:

Book Details:
Ebook: 51 pages
P

ublication: December 01st, 2017 by Dreamspinner Press.

 

A Lila Advent Release Day Review: Wreck the Halls (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by Jessica Payseur

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Business has been good at Paul’s Café in Madison, Wisconsin—until a few months before Christmas. When Nick opens Nick’s Restaurant next door, Paul watches his customers leave for cheaper food and an owner who smiles more. With his livelihood at stake, Paul lashes out, trying to drive away Nick’s customers, but Nick won’t go easy, and escalating sabotage threatens to ruin the holidays for both of them.

Paul thinks all he wants for Christmas is to see Nick’s Restaurant go under, but the more he tries to drive Nick away, the less he’s sure he wants him to go. Nick is everything Paul secretly craves, but by the time he realizes Nick is all he really wants for the holidays, he might have ruined any chance for them to get together. And there might not be a present in the world that can fix that.

Wreck the Halls is a cute enemies-to-lovers short story with a mix of Grinch and Scrooges. As Paul and Nick clash over the weeks, it’s easy to see why they try to outdo the other.  And to understand why they loved their cafes so much.

Unfortunately, as with any short story, there are too many details left to the reader’s imagination. That’s without counting how fast they moved forward and talked about love. There are also some situations easily solve by simply talking instead of ignoring it.

Overall, it’s a quick read for those looking for a little Holiday cheer.

The cover by Brooke Albrecht is a bit simple but fitting for this story.

Sale Links: Dreamspinners | Amazon | NOOK

ebook, 46 pages
Published: December 1, 2017, by Dreamspinners Press
ISBN: 9781640803053
Edition Language: English

A Kai Advent Release Day Review: All Creatures Great and Small by Kasper Quill

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Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Growing up an orphan meant Charlie never celebrated Christmas. He’s committed to making sure his newly adopted cat, Max, doesn’t miss out like he did. Unfortunately, he discovers that giving Max the perfect Christmas might be easier said than done—and not without risk.

Charlie’s landlord, successful and wealthy real estate developer Aemon Scotfield, is charmed by the gorgeous redhead and his shameless alley cat. He finds himself compelled to help orchestrate a memorable celebration for Max—and Charlie—despite the mishaps that seem to just keep coming. As difficult as it will be to pull off the perfect holiday, the real challenge might be walking away when it’s over.

Guys, think of a super silly, but charming and adorable Christmas story. All Creatures Great and Small is just like that!

This book was my first holiday read in this season and I really enjoyed it! 

I don’t know why, but I do love all the Christmas stories. I’m such a sappy this time of year. Don’t judge! Lol

 The story started with Charlie in a motivational lecture where the speaker was trying to sell the slogan “small risks lead to great rewards”. Charlie couldn’t help but be intrigued by it since he never took any risk in his life. He was that type of person who did always the same thing every day. Then, on his way home, he had a little accident with a street cat and with the motivational slogan in mind he decided to adopt the little creature.

Charlie was such a sappy with the cat, Max, and that was so cute! He would buy presents for Max. Would take hundreds of pictures of the little animal and would proudly show around. It was adorable.

Since Charlie lived in a Condo, he needed to pay an animal deposit now that he was the owner of a little cat. When Charlie’s landlord, Aemon,  arrived to take the deposit, he was immediately charmed with how much Charlie wanted to make Christmas special for his new animal. Aemon decided then to help Charlie to make a really good Christmas for Max.

Of course, there was an attraction between Charlie and Aemon, but I won’t give you any spoiler. Don’t even ask!

What I can say is that I really liked the characters and their interaction, the subtle evolution in Charlie taking risks and the silliness of the novella.

 It’s a super short and adorable Christmas story. If you are looking for something like that, go there and read it. I hope you enjoy!

The cover by Paul Richmond is generic for the Christmas and doesn’t fit this story, but it shows a nice Christmas spirit.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner |  Amazon

Book Details:

Ebook: 34 pages
Publication: December 01st, 2017 by Dreamspinner Press.