A Lila Advent Calendar Review: Haste Ye Back by R. Quincy Cameron

Standard

Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

The situation seems ideal: a month off work and a sweet deal to extend his stay in an unexpected paradise. Needless to say, Aaron is thrilled to snag an extra few days in Scotland after his work conference to soak up the magic of the country.

However, his plans to tourist his way around Edinburgh before his January 1st flight home are thwarted by a strange influx of people into the capital. Add in trains that don’t run on New Year’s, fireworks, first-footing, and running into the same gorgeous stranger as he exits every other shop, and Aaron really should have googled what “Hogmanay” was before he found himself whisked into the whirlwind of Scottish revelry and the impossible draw of that sexy stranger who tastes like scotch and, impossibly, already feels like the beginnings of home.

Haste Ye Back is not quite a full story. It’s the hopes for something more. A seed for a future what-if. It’s lovely, romantic, and a bit too short. It leaves the reader wanting more. An epilogue many decades later or some time traveling to bring Aaron and Connor full circle.

The story is a set of vignettes taking place during Hogmanay – Scottish New Year’s Celebration. They give us a taste of a winter romance or the possibilities of one. Perhaps, this story is more about finding the right person at the right time and having that special moment to remember for a lifetime.

If you want a buttery sweet happy ending, this story may not be for you. If you want to learn more about other countries traditions and get happy feels, then go ahead and enjoy. Aaron and Connor have great chemistry and compensate for the lack of more… of everything.

The cover by Garrett Leigh follows the 2018 Advent Calendar | Warmest Wishes template but doesn’t add anything else about the story.

Sale Link: Amazon | Nook | Dreamspinner

Book Details:
ebook, 31 pages
ISBN: 9781644050668
Published: December 1, 2018, by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

A Stella Advent Calendar Review: Colina de Lavanda by August Li

Standard

RATING 5 out of 5 stars

A Story from the Warmest Wishes: Dreamspinner Press 2018 Advent Calendar

Lord protector of whores, thieves, sorcerers, and deviants.

Owning a parcel of land the railroad needs to cross means Edward gets to run the border town around the station as he sees fit. What starts as a place to indulge his varied appetites becomes a haven to society’s castoffs, and if Edward encourages legends about its founder to flourish, well, he’s not so much a liar as a man who wants to protect all the cultures living in peace. Being mayor means folks might ignore his vices, but they also expect him to fix what goes wrong.

When a crushing heat wave and drought threaten not only the town’s diverse holiday celebrations but its very existence, Edward must turn to the one man he’d rather french kiss a timber rattler than face—the icily elegant Cantonese mage Edward walked out on but never stopped loving.

I was over the moon when I saw this new release by one of my favorite authors in this year DSP Advent Calendar. I am a huge fan of August Li, I found all the titles I read so far always so well done, each time I fall in love with the characters and the plots. I am sure I already said it, but the reason why I love the author so much is because August always creates amazing settings and new places to discover, with a magical writing that catches my attention from the first words.  Colina de Lavanda has all these qualities and so much more.

It was so easy to follow Edward throughout his town’s roads, solving problems and trying to finally put roots with Shu, the man who owns his heart. The line binding their souls is so frail and strong at the same time, Edward just needs to be brave and open his home to the beautiful mage.

This short is a second chance at love story, set in a magical town, where everything can happen and sometimes the unthinkable can be real. I was intrigued and curious about the plot, I wasn’t expecting what happened and I was so intensely surprised, Colina de Lavanda was of course a huge winner to me. I read it for a second time two days after the first read, cause I was missing the emotions and astonishment the story gave me.

I feel to recommend it if you’re looking for something different, you won’t be disappointed.

The cover art by L.C. Chase is simple and fitting, I like it.

SALE LINKS  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 57 pages

Published November 30th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ASIN B07L1HLXKW

Edition Language English

A Chaos Moondrawn Advent Calendar Review: Hero for the Holidays (Spandex and Superpowers #4) by Charles Payseur

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Cody is house sitting for Dr. Devious during the holidays after a disastrous break-up. Devious is the boyfriend of one of Cody’s dearest friends. When superhero Wayward Sun, aka Sonny Skyes crash lands on the island drunk, turns out he just got dumped too. This is just a lot of fun from start to finish. I loved the bartender. Everyone is hooked on this soap opera, so we get a bonus plot too. It’s actually not possible for a short story to pack more of a wallop than this. There is profanity and a brief sex scene. The blurb told me everything I needed to know so if it appeals to you too, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. There are other short stories in this world, but after reading this I’m going to try the novella, Comic Book Romance.

The cover art is by Garrett Leigh and I think it’s perfect for this story with a touch of humor.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 49 pages
Published December 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English
Series Spandex and Superpowers #4

A Lila Advent Calendar Review: The Legend of Gentleman John by TJ Nichols

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Banyn, a fae, escorts the souls of children to Magh Meall, but one Christmas, he comes for a lad who isn’t quite dead, and he breaks a rule rather than wait while John fights a battle he’ll ultimately lose. So begins a long-running affair that crosses the border between life and death, the human and fae realms, and even oceans to strange countries with different gods and rules.

John Rourke renounced a religion that had no place for him and returned to the old ways. Convicted of theft, he is sentenced to transportation and suffers brutal punishment—until he escapes to live on his own terms as a bushranger. When vengeance against his tormentor consumes him and threatens his life, John finds he has only one holiday wish—to see his fae lover one last time.

The Legend of Gentleman John is not a traditional Holiday story. It does take place at the end of December and the dates are important to the story, making it relevant to the season.

I did enjoy both main characters, John and Banyn. They were unique and complemented each other paths.  Following the timeline takes a couple of pages, but it’s easy to spot the changes in time and the need for them. 

There’s a lot of world-built for such a short story. It’s interesting to see how John grows and how Banyn tries not to interfere with his life. I wanted a chance to see more of the times they were together, happy, before the end of the story. 

Which brings me to a heart-melting ending. I wish everyone that lived before us had a chance to redeem themselves and be loved & remember as John did. 

The cover by Brooke Albrecht follows the 2018 Advent Calendar | Warmest Wishes template. The picture within could be John’s.

Sale Link: Amazon | Nook | Dreamspinner

Book Details:
ebook, 40 pages
ISBN: 9781644050644
Published: December 1, 2018, by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language: English

A MelanieM Review: Deja Vu by Addison Albright

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Gavin and Matthew just want to get home to enjoy Christmas Eve in their safe, warm apartment. Should they walk or take a cab? But will either option do the trick when Victor, suffering from his holiday blahs, is determined to undermine this happy twosome at every turn?

Years ago, Victor made the unfortunate mistake of coming out to his family on Christmas. Why couldn’t he have picked a random summer day?

Can Victor’s husband Bryan pull him out of his gloomy mood in order to give the popular Gavin and Matthew the merry Christmas they deserve

Deja Vu by Addison Albright is a short holiday tale that employs the format of a story within a story.  Victor is a well-known author and his long term and very happy couple of Gavin and Matthew, characters in his series,  his focus this Christmas Eve.  And not in a good way.  Victor is taking his angst and    pain over losing his family years ago when he came out to them at Christmas for his lover.

The short story alternates between short woeful chapters of what’s happening to Gavin and Matthew vs Victor and his husband in RL.

Albright’s writing is skillfully done.  You actually emphasize with the poor characters meeting their demise over and over due to their author’s, Victor’s, angst. And you adore Victor’s husband, Bryan’s gentle anxiety over their well being and the novel’s ending too.  Within 22 pages Albright creates a loving relationship twice over, both of which you come to care about.

Each couple gets a heartwarming ending, just as you would hope.  Perfect for their holidays and ours.  Short, sweet, and with just that hint of the holiday melancholy that works so well.

If you are looking for a quick holiday read just a bit outside of the normal romances,  definitely recommend this one to all of you.

Cover art is simple but pulls you into an important part of the story.  Well done.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC  |    Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 22 pages
Published December 1st 2018 by JMS Books, LLC
ISBN139781634868167
Edition Language English

Characters Matthew, Gavin, Victor, Bryan

A Stella Review : The Christmas Lights Battle by Skylar M. Cates

Standard

RATING 4,5 out of 5 stars

A Shelby Beach Romance.

For a single dad and his neighbor, the Christmas competition is on!

Julian Moss wants to give his children a happy Christmas. Since his divorce, Julian has no time for a social life; he’s been doing the tiring work of two parents while his cheating ex-husband dodges his responsibilities. If that isn’t stressful enough, he has to deal with his new—and ridiculously good-looking—neighbor and his noisy dogs. Christmas used to be Julian’s favorite holiday, but lately all he sees is the cost. Then Julian’s young son tells him about a Christmas lights competition with a much-needed prize.

Leo Adams is going to be alone for Christmas…again. All he’s ever wanted is to be accepted by his family, but he knows that will never happen. Deciding to focus on his career as a personal trainer, Leo develops a boot camp program on the beach, but he needs publicity. The lights competition offers Leo a way to get some free press, and if it annoys his snooty neighbor Julian—all the better.

The battle is on, and both Julian and Leo want to win. The stakes are high, the reward is great, and the neighbors are in it to win it. There’s nothing like a little competition to make Christmas at Shelby Beach extra merry and bright.

I love Christmas stories, I love romance with children, I love dogs. This new release by Skylar M Cates has all these three elements, plus something I wish I could experience one day, that is spending the Christmas holiday in a hot place. The premises were all there and I knew I was going to enjoy this title, especially because I also know how good the author can write. I wasn’t disappointed at all, everything I imagined I could get from this book was delivered, and so much more.

I easily fell into the reading, the plot and the characters were interesting and I followed them till the end with great delight. Not just Leo and Julian caught my heart, but all the other persons too, the children, Julian’s sister and mum, Leo’s friends. What started as enemies to lovers soon developed in allies to win the light contest and more both Julian and Leo wasn’t expecting, to find the love of their lives.

The plot is simple, nothing too angst, and it is exactly what I wanted on my  Kindle during Christmas time, it’s a sweet story, with some very hot scene and so much happiness to share. The first part was also funny, when the two men were still rivals, and then the moments spent with the kids warmed my heart. I loved this novel a lot. I really hope the author will give us more about these guys.

The cover art by Cate Ashwood is amazing, I adore it, the guys on it, the colors, the font, all perfect.

SALE LINKS  Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 212 pages

Published December 5th 2018 by Skylar M. Cates: A Treading Chaos Publication

ASIN B07L5LS5B7

Edition Language English

An Ali Release Day Review: The Boyfriend Cruise (Pride of the Caribbean #1) by Deanna Wadsworth

Standard
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

The Pride of the Caribbean is a cruise ship unlike any other. Paranormals working on board the enchanted ship hide in plain sight, under the benevolent protection of a demigod captain and his fairy husband.

And this is a shipboard romance unlike any other.

Josh Gilbert’s well-meaning family booked a gay-friendly cruise for Christmas in order to find Josh a boyfriend. Hoping to escape the constant parade of bachelors—and the collapsible fishing rod dangling mistletoe his mom keeps in her purse—Josh takes solace in a growing friendship with the ship’s photographer, Nathan. Though Josh is falling for Nathan, he worries it will never be more than a shipboard fling.

Nathan recently became aware of his incubus heritage and has finally learned how to control his demon side. But Josh has awakened more than just the demon’s need for orgasms—Josh has awakened Nathan’s heart. What’s developing between them is the real thing, but can Josh ever accept Nathan’s promiscuous past… and love a sex demon?

Amid lush tropical settings, family hilarity, holiday costume parties, sexy snorkeling adventures, gingerbread martinis, and mythical creatures, will Josh get his Christmas wish and finally find the true love he’s wanted for so long?

This story sounded like a lot of fun and has a pretty unique premise.  Unfortunately the execution wasn’t really for me.  The humor wasn’t my thing.  I found most if it a bit over the top and I found the side characters annoying.  There were also a lot of stereotypes and I know that kind of stuff doesn’t bother a lot of readers but it does me.  Lot’s of things just didn’t set well with me.
The writing overall was technically fine and the plot had some interesting characters.  This is the type of book I most hate reviewing.  The books that I don’t really care for but ones I think many others might enjoy.  These are super hard for me to writes reviews on.  You should check out some other reviews before making a decision.
I liked this cover done by L.C. Chase.  I think it’s perfect for the story.
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 216 pages
Expected publication: December 25th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781644050064
Edition Language English
Series Pride of the Caribbean #1

A MelanieM Review: Designer Holiday by Ari McKay

Standard

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

It’s never too late for a second chance at love… or is it?

Rayne Sadler left the tiny town of Holiday Pines and his childhood sweetheart, Emilio Rives, to make a name for himself in the world of interior design. For twelve years, he never looked back. Now he has the successful career he wanted, but no one to share his life.

Emilio isn’t happy when Rayne returns to Holiday Pines to renovate the local playhouse. The town wants to stimulate the failing tourist industry, but Emilio has no interest in reviving the ashes of his relationship with Rayne.

Yet shared memories and experiences are powerful things. As the playhouse is restored to its former glory, the friendship between Rayne and Emilio slowly returns as well, and their chemistry is as powerful as ever. Rayne has designs on Emilio’s heart, and he sets out to prove it. Will the magic of Christmas thaw Emilio’s heart, or will it remain as cold as mountain snow?

What a perfect time for a lovers reunited and second chance at love story than at Christmas?  Designer Holiday by Ari McKay is a sweet, contemporary romance that brings two high school sweethearts back together after a long separation.  While one has seemingly moved on, the  other clearly hasn’t emotionally, the pain of the breakup deep even after all these years.

It’s hard since the breakup was as teenagers to imagine why Emilio carries such an enormous burden after all these years but McKay (and a lovely character, Emilio’s mother) go a long way to reasonably explaining such a deeply held grudge towards Rayne.  And Rayne’s take on it all, which honestly seems to normal for a teenage boy.

The way in which the town comes together for the playhouse, the various members of the community, and the place itself has it’s own magic.  I would definitely love to visit there myself would it appear on a map.  The authors have a way of making a walk down the street turn into an intimate stroll that pulls the readers into the scene, glancing here and there about the location while eavesdropping onto the conversation taking place.  It’s real, lovely, and in the moment.

The same goes for the romance.  At first hard and a bit tortured, it becomes a slow path back to trust and love and the way home at Christmas time.  Sweet, heartwarming, and believable.  I loved it.

Want to add a holiday story to your Christmas reading?  Pick up Designer Holiday by Ari McKay.  I recommend it to add sweetness and joy to your holiday reading.

Cover art is suitably Christmassy and bright, I like the models but wish for a little more of the playhouse that drew them both back together.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 132 pages
Published December 8th 2018
ASIN B07L7K5CKM

A Chaos Moondrawn Advent Review: Twenty-Nine Hours to Eternity by Elizabeth Noble

Standard

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

A Story from the Warmest Wishes: Dreamspinner Press 2018 Advent Calendar

Being gay and pagan can make for a lonely holiday season, as Ian knows well. He’s used to celebrating alone. The last place he expects to meet a like-minded guy is at LAX during a twenty-nine-hour layover.

Ian’s never felt so comfortable or compatible with another man, even if there is an air of mystery to Race.

Race is no stranger to holiday isolation, and he decides they should seize the opportunity they’ve been given and observe the Saturnalia the way it was meant to be. A grand celebration ensues, where every moment is special and every meal a feast. The ancient traditions take on new meaning as the men find meaning in each other. But each of them has a destiny and for their paths to continue together, it’ll take a kind of magic that hasn’t been seen in centuries.

This short story is about Ian and Race who meet at LAX and decided to celebrate the last day of Saturnalia together. Ian has to work Christmas eve and is about to fly out to Hawaii when disaster strikes. This story is not told in linear time, but through flashbacks. The authors shows them spending the day and evening getting to know one another. This story is explicit. There is a real connection between them, but Race is not who he seems to be. I don’t want to spoil it so you’ll have to read it, but the title should give you a clue.

The cover art is by L.C. Chase. While appropriate to Ian, it’s not very exciting.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 30 pages
Published December 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07L1S2QV5

An Alisa Advent Calendar Review: Santa on the Beach by Crystel Greene

Standard

Rating:  3 stars out of 5

The sexy Santa and the virgin dad….

 

Single dad Mario, twenty-one, has finally won shared custody of his five-year-old son, Sammy. They’re spending Christmas at a Tenerife resort to celebrate. The children’s swimming instructor, Josie, is sexy and fun, and Mario can’t stop dreaming about him. But Mario has no clue how to talk to a hot guy.

With his suntan, Speedos, and rippling abs, Josie seems to be the typical jock. He’s super sweet too, and everyone loves him. But he only has eyes for the fire-eyed little dad who looks like his son’s older brother and won’t stop policing the swimming class.

Sammy would like to be a king in the hotel’s nativity play. But he’s too afraid to go anywhere without his dad. Mario would like a holiday romance with Josie, or even a little more, but between building his tech company and trying to do his part as Sammy’s father he has missed out on a lot and is too inexperienced to know where to begin.

Luckily Santa might have just the thing for everyone on his list….

This was a cute story.  I felt bad for Mario and the criticism he seems to have dealt with ever since he became a teenage father but was happy that he now was making headway to being independent of those who criticized him the most.  Josie admired his dedication to his son and ends up being able to give Mario just what he wanted to Christmas.  I like the Mario finds someone who will support him and be with him when he gets home from vacation.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 53 pages

Published: December 12, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

Edition Language: English