A MelanieM Review: A Certain Kind of Holiday (2015 Advent Calendar – Sleigh Ride) by Andi Van


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Sleigh Ride Advent StoryWhen Elliot Knapp took a business trip over the holidays last year, he didn’t expect to run into the professor his first serious boyfriend cheated on him with. The man was handsome, certainly, but Elliot has better things to do than deal with drama from a decade ago.

Luckily for him, Howard Wise wasn’t going to let him get away without an explanation. A year after meeting again, the couple is making their first holiday trip to celebrate Christmas. Everything is fantastic, but Howard is obviously keeping secrets, and Elliot can’t help but wonder what his silver fox has up his sleeve.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2015 Advent Calendar package “Sleigh Ride”.

A Certain Kind of Holiday is an total charmer of a holiday story.  Andi Van uses a serious misunderstanding from the past, a age gap, and two well defined, delightful characters to create a romance that readers will enjoy from start to finish.

At the beginning, we’re traveling on a train carrying our two main characters, a brief flashback reveals the reason Elliot feels so betrayed by his former professor, one he sort of idolized.  But there was far more to the little scene he interrupted and now Howard  finally gets to tell his side.  From there the author smoothly moves the romance forward, the path clear for these intelligent men so clearly drawn to each other.

The story made me smile, happy all the way through the ending.  What a joy to read.  Pick it up and add another wonderful tale to your holiday book list.  Happy Reading.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 29 pages
Published November 30th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
edition languageEnglish
seriesSleigh Ride – 2015 Advent Calendar

A Barb, the Zany Old Lady Advent Story Review: Holiday Hotel Hookup by Jeff Adams


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Sleigh Ride Advent StoryWhen IT consultant, Marty, checks in at the hotel in Dallas where he’ll be spending a working vacation over the holidays, little does he know that one of the benefits actually greets him at the front desk.  Checking his phone before bed that night, he’s intrigued by a few local offers from Manhunt, a hook-up app he’s downloaded to his phone. One turns out to be the gorgeous man who checked him in, the hotel’s assistant manager, Jose, aka JJ.

Though they don’t get to hookup that night, they do get together the next night and discover they have a lot in common.  They end up spending more time together, including a gaming marathon with Marty’s friends on Christmas Day, during which JJ does some distracting and erotic things to Marty while he’s trying to play.

The author has created two very loveable characters who fit well together, and I enjoyed the witty banter and fun-loving escapades in and out of the bedroom.  The story ends with a hope for a bright future as these two career-oriented men face the realities of continuing a relationship and decide it’s worth the try.  I would love to see this story developed into a novel.  The characters were great and the possibilities endless.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 38 pages
Published December 1st 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
edition languageEnglish
seriesSleigh Ride – 2015 Advent Calendar

Holiday Reading and Reviews- Yes, Virginia, Its December 1!


This year Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is reading and reviewing many holiday stories, among them the Advent collection from Dreamspinner; Sleigh Ride.  We will roll out one a day for 31 days, starting December 1st, today.  Here is a little bit more information about the Dreamspinner Advent collection which includes stories about things less than traditional.

Sleigh Ride Advent Story

Sleigh Ride…

The course of true love can be a bumpy, up-and-down, and sideways ride, but the end-of-the-year holidays are perfect for happy endings! Whether they’re finding a new romance or rekindling an old one, the men in these stories get some help from the magic of the season. Some of them might need a miracle to muddle through the conflicts and confusion that arise, but luckily for them, ‘tis the season. From naughty fun, to heartfelt and heart-wrenching reunions, to out-of-this-world adventures, these guys are in for quite a ride.

Holiday reading fun! Sleigh Ride is a package of 31 stories:

An Assassin’s Holiday by Dirk Greyson
The Beary Best Holiday Party Ever by B.G. Thomas
Best Laid Trap by Rob Rosen
Blame It on the Fruitcake by Pat Henshaw
A Certain Kind of Holiday by Andi Van
Christmas Miracles of a Recently Fallen Spruce by Brandon Witt
Elf on the Beach by TJ Nichols
Fireworks and Resolutions by Leandra Dohman
Four Alternative Christmas Presents by Tam MacNeil
Grateful by Kim Fielding
Hapless by Therese Woodson
Hearth and Home by E.T. Malinowski
Holiday Hotel Hookup by Jeff Adams
Home Is Where The Christmas Trees Are by CJane Elliott
Kismet by Cassie Decker
Leap Through Eternity by Sara Stark
Loving and Loathing Vegas by Lex Chase
Menorahs and Mistletoe by Jess Roth
Mission Mistletoe by Jessica Payseur
Northern Lights by Asta Idonea
Not the Best Day by Brynn Stein
Nøtteknekkeren by Felicitas Ivey
Old Acquaintance by Avon Gale
Somewhere to Be by Amy Yip
Son of Santa by Kate Sands
Talk Turkey by Bru Baker
Teddy Bear Christmas by CC Bridges
A Trip to Remember by Meg Harding
Unto Us the Time Has Come by Sean Michael
Whispers of Old Winds by George Seaton
Worth the Wait by Caitlin Ricci & Cari Z.

Three Evergreen 2012 Dreamspinner Holiday Short Stories by SA Garcia, Laylah Hunter and Charlie Cochet


The Colors of Pastor Saul by SA Garcia

Rating: 4 stars

Pastor Saul Thompson operates a food kitchen for the lost souls and people fleeing from the wars his country is engaged in.  But thee is more to Saul then meets the eye as Saul can see Death or the Black Mantle coming for the people he serves.  Sometimes, Saul can make the Black Mantle retreat by his actions and sometimes even his intervention is not enough to save those who congregate under his roof from despair and death.  And each time, his “sight” or actions bring down a blackness upon himself that is becoming ever more frequent.  Then a man called Pink Cap comes into his sanctuary and everything changes for Pastor Saul, including the belief that miracles can still happen.

This is an unusual little story for the Holiday season and Advent calendar.  It takes place in an alternative universe in a wartorn country whose citizens are diseased, dying or just healthy enough to be conscripted into the army.  Pastor Saul is the last line of survival for people living on the edges, so very close to death and despair, something his government for whatever reason does not appreciate.  Pastor Saul would include himself among those classified as marginal but a true oddity, he sees colors around all the individuals, and as death and sickness close in, those colors turn dark just before the Black Mantle arrives to feed off the person before they die. This gift or curse is something he has kept to himself. The author’s vivid descriptions of Saul’s universe and chilling portraits of its inhabitants paint a picture of a dismal world populated by defeated and dying citizens with Saul acting like the boy with his finger in the dyke holding back the waters of destruction.  Then an amazing thing happens when a man called Pink Cap enters Saul’s life and their relationship allows both men to start to thrive once more.   True to Garcia’s world building, there is no HEA but even the slight glow of hope for these men are like the embers of a fire sparking back to life.   I would recommend this story, just not as a holiday read.

Safe Harbor by Laylah Hunter

Rating: 3.5 stars

When Blake’s father died  seven years ago, Blake was reeling in grief compounded by confusion over his sexuality.  His solution was to run away to the sea.  Now his ship has returned to port, and waiting on the dock for him is his best friend,  Tom.  Tom is the person who caused Blake to question his sexuality and make him realize that he was gay.  Now  Tom makes it clear that Tom forgives Blake for running away as long as Blake agrees to stay with Tom and his grandmother for Christmas.  And from all indications, Tom has realized other things about Blake as well. Can it be that Blake has finally found a safe harbor for good and get the happy ending he has wanted with Tom?  At Christmas time everything is possible.

At 30 pages, this is a short, sweet story of young love and coming out of the closet.  Hunter has a nice feel for her characters and settings although more of a back story would have been nice.  We just have three people here,  Blake, Tom and his grandmother, a most tolerant and exceptional woman.  it seems that during those seven years of missing Blake, Tom realized that he is gay and that Blake was gay too. This is a gentle tale of young love with appealing characters.  A very nice, quick holiday read.

Mending Noel by Charlie Cochet

Rating: 2.75 stars

Elf Tim works for the Abominable Administrative Department at North Pole City and is majorly unhappy.  His Elf Boss, Noel, is harassing him and making his life miserable.  Other elves have transferred out of the department, but Tim seems stuck.  Stuck in a bad  job,  and with a bad boss out to get him.  Other elves, those hardbitten and mean work as the Frost King’s toy soldiers, those brave and smart end up as Rein Dears, flying the planes to deliver the toys.  But  Tim was’t even considered good enough to cut it as a Ribbon Curler in the Gift Packaging Plant, even after graduating from Claus College.

But when Tim stumbles into a plot by the Rat King  to destroy the Christmas spirit, he will have to work with Noel and Jack Frost with his helper Rudy to safe the day and even find some Christmas spirit of his own.

As you can tell, Charlie Cochet has turned a collection of traditional Christmas legends upside down and inside out, creating a North Pole City where Rein Dears are the glamourous flyboys with slutty sugarplum fairies to attend to their every need instead of reindeer pulling a sleigh. The North Pole is no longer a charming snowcovered gingerbread town but a Christmas City full of bureaucrats, homophobes, and thugs to go with the elves who have positions that range from Kringle’s Construction Firm worker to an elf who delivers coal for the furnaces (and dumps it on top of Tim).  I think this story contains some very clever tweaks on Santa Claus and the North Pole, and it is equally clear that Cochet enjoyed herself writing this story.  I just wish I had had as much fun reading it as she did developing her concept.

I didn’t.  Perhaps I love my traditional Christmas too much to enjoy such hard hearted concepts as Christmas sugar plum  fairies as whores, or a place where the work is such drudgery that the workers are as bogged down in Bah Humbug and  despair as anyone found in the blighted areas of any big city.   Yes, there is a happy ending but it is the stuff I had to wade through to get there that almost made me put this down before I finished.  Really?  There has to be homophobia even at the North Pole?  There are certainly enough sluts, and thugs and jerks of all types everywhere else in the world.  For me, they don’t need to be at the North Pole at Christmas, and I don’t want them in my holiday reading.  Sorry, but I would skip this one.

Mending Noel cover

Safe Harbor