Holidays: Eugene and the Box of Nails (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by Jaime Samms

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2017-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-stocking-stuffers-9042-b

Blurb
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.

Review

I think we have all been at a time in our lives where we want to accomplish something all by ourselves, with no help from anyone else.
Eugene has let himself depend on others only to have that support suddenly yanked out from under him. Now all he wants to do is build himself a house, by himself, as inexpensively as possible. Of course the good looking foreman from the build site next door is a nice distraction.

Things start appearing on Eugene’s building site, and then things are getting done while he is gone. It’s not like Eugene isn’t grateful, it’s just he wants to do it by himself. Cullen couldn’t have done it because he was with Eugene when it happens.

Eugene and Cullen start off slow and easy, and then hit a brick wall. See what happens when a stubborn man finally lets people help him.

4 of 5 stars

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Holidays: The Werewolf Before Christmas (Advent 2017) by Charles Payseur

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2017-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-stocking-stuffers-9042-b

Blurb

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

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?

Review

Review

This story took me a while to get into. I haven’t read anything by Charles Payseur and had not read the blurb. So it took some time before things started to make sense. Once they did it turned into a man wanting to get the ultimate gift for his boyfriend because he didn’t think he was good enough for him. There was also a bet made in the bar after a few drinks involved.

Throw in a couple of twists and turns and the story slides nicely into a romantic gesture and a super villain fangirling over an actor who is in return fangirling over a fan. We’ve all been there.

3.5 of 5 stars

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Holidays: New Game, Start (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by CS Poe

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2017-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-stocking-stuffers-9042-b

Blurb
Reclusive medieval scholar, Edgar Royal, has a crush. On a guy. Not a big deal, except that said guy, Walter Chase, is a famous online gamer who has no idea Edgar even exists. Edgar has harbored these feelings for nearly a year, and when Walter announces on Twitter that he’ll be visiting New York City as a guest at the GamerOn convention, Edgar decides he’ll be one of the thousands of fans who responds to the message.
He definitely doesn’t expect to be singled out by the humble, gorgeous, out-and-proud heartthrob. And when it comes to dealing with people, Edgar’s skills are pretty nonexistent. Even with Walter giving all the right signals, Edgar lacks the courage do anything about the mutual attraction growing through their online courtship. He’s always been better with the written word, so maybe the perfect Christmas gift will say what he cannot. But if Edgar can’t get the present to Walter before the convention ends, he may miss out on the boyfriend of a lifetime.

Review
I just loved Edgar and Walter. Edgar is so insecure about himself that he can’t believe someone famous and wonderful like Walter would even know he existed. Sometimes you’ve just get to take a chance and go for what you want. And that’s what Edgar did and it won him the man of his dreams. They seem so suited to each other. Both of them paying attention to how the other one liked to be wooed. Part of me wants to know more and part of me is content with this little snapshot into their budding relationship. Lovely feel good story that fits any time of year not just Christmas.

4 of stars out of 5

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Holidays: Ghostwriter of Christmas Past (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by T.A. Moore

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2017-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-stocking-stuffers-9042-b

Blurb
Ever since ghostwriter Jason Burke ended up in loco parentis for his orphaned niece, Mallory, he’s been trying. He goes to parent/teacher events, and he makes packed lunches, so he definitely didn’t mean to forget about Christmas. He just hasn’t celebrated it since he left home under a cloud years ago.
Put on the spot, Jason makes the snap decision to take Mallory to see where he and her father spent their Christmases as kids. The last thing he expects is to run into Tommy, his ex—ex-best friend, ex-boyfriend—who is still living in town… and working as a sheriff’s deputy.
It’s hard to avoid someone in a small town—and maybe Jason doesn’t want to. He got Mallory a Christmas, and maybe now it’s time to get himself a Christmas boyfriend. But first, he owes Tommy some explanations.

Review
When I finished reading this story my immediate thought was that this could make a good novel. Don’t get me wrong it is a solid short story with just enough background to keep me happy but it could easily be a lot more. I’m not certain if I felt any sympathy or empathy for Jason. I certainly did for his Niece Mallory. It’s very clear Jason is out of his depth caring for Mallory when both of them are still grieving. And that might be why he decided to take her back to where he and her dad grew up. I liked Tommy, he’s the strong dependable one, just what Jason and Mallory need to give them some stability. The only thing is that we as the reader get an idea of why Jason had to leave home at eighteen but I don’t think he ever really explained it to Tommy. I loved the ending, gave me a contented sigh. This is a good short story full of homecoming forgiveness and new starts. Personally I would like more.

4 of stars out of 5

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Holidays: A Holiday Crush (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by CJane Elliott

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2017-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-stocking-stuffers-9042-b

Blurb

San Francisco lawyer Brad Halberstam is in a rut. At forty-one, he’s successful but alone. Even his holidays are predictable—he spends every Christmas golfing in Napa with his ex-boyfriend. Then attractive but oh-so-young filmmaker Michael Blair invites him out. Brad joins Michael and his housemates in their holiday celebrations and learns that life can be joyful. He hesitates to saddle Michael with a much-older boyfriend but as their attraction ignites, Brad’s tempted to let Michael sweep him into a bright new future.

Michael lives in a group house in Berkeley. He loves making life into a celebration, especially during the holidays. Michael longs for a partner, and he hopes serious but sweet Brad Halberstam is the one. Michael’s infatuation grows over caroling and cookies, but his housemate reminds him that Michael always latches on to someone during the holidays, so he won’t be alone. After a misunderstanding, Michael loses heart, no longer sure if his relationship with Brad is real or just another Christmas crush.

Review

This definitely stands out as one of my favorites in this bunch! I loved it!!! It was sweet, sentimental, and really hit all the right notes – even though it was short.

The (very mild) political statement is well-received and I appreciated how little angst was spent on Brad’s career change.

All in all highly recommended – if only it were a full length story!

5 of 5 stars

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Holidays: The Billionaire’s Boxing Day Bargain (Advent 2017) by Ava Hayden

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2017-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-stocking-stuffers-9042-b

Blurb

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

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?

Review

Wanting to spend Boxing Day with his boyfriend, Lance is willing to spend whatever it takes to make it happen. Milo love Lance for who he is , not what he can spend to free up Milo’s time.
A simple story of 2 men who want to be loved for who they are. Not what they can buy someone and not for being a gold digger.  Once they get past that point it’s as if they can both relax around each other and let their relationship progress to the point they see who each other really is.

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Holidays: Homemade from the Heart (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by Bru Baker

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2017-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-stocking-stuffers-9042-b

Blurb

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.

Review

Fun, funny, sweet, low heat, sweet and “crafty” kid – what’s not to love?!

Ok, I would have liked a little heat but… it was really sweet and I LOVED the crafts – gonna have to do some of those myself! (I maybe thought the kid might not be able to do all those crafts so easily but HEY it’s fiction right?)

I really wanted to see these guys after the big confession of feelings but it’s a short story so … maybe we can see them again in some future story – with the roommate?

In any case, this was really fun and highly recommended!

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Holidays: Candy Canes and Cappuccinos (Advent 2017) by Elizabeth Coldwell

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2017-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-stocking-stuffers-9042-b

Blurb

Kyle is struggling to run his coffee shop on his own after his partner walked out on him. He has his eye on Steven, who comes into the shop each day, but hasn’t worked up the nerve to express his interest. When Steven asks Kyle to help out with Christmas lunch at the homeless shelter where he works, Kyle is too exhausted to agree. He donates his tips but still feels he’s blown his chances with Steven and made himself look like a selfish jerk.
On Christmas Day, Kyle sees a way to make amends—to both Steven and the needy people depending on his kindness. It’s the right thing to do, and Kyle hopes he can clear up the misunderstanding and show Steven the type of man he really is. Maybe then they can consider some dessert when the lunch at the shelter is over….

Review

Another short, nice holiday story. This one centers around recently dumped Kyle, a coffee shop owner and Steven, who helps run a shelter. I’m a little torn – on one hand I knew it would be a short story, but I was surprised how quickly it wrapped up. When the 2 men get together for dinner, they still didn’t know much about each other. From there it progressed really fast to bed. To be honest, I didn’t feel a strong connection between them. Still, it’s an OK addition to the holiday-themed anthology.

2.75 stars round to 3 out of 5

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Holidays: A Gift of Family (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by Tami Veldura

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2017-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-stocking-stuffers-9042-b

Blurb

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….

Review

This was a nice, sweet, short holiday story about finding love. It didn’t do much to inspire me, but the writing was fine and the overall warm feelings were good.

2.75 of 5 stars

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Holidays: The Holly Groweth Green (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by Amy Rae Durreson

 

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2017-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-stocking-stuffers-9042-b

Blurb

When wounded doctor Laurence Payne is stranded in the snowy English countryside on Christmas Eve, 1946, he is surprised to stumble upon Mistle Cottage and its mysterious inhabitant. Avery claims to be an Elizabethan wizard, and Laurence struggles to explain away the atmosphere of the cottage as mere coincidence and trickery. He spends a magical twelve days of Christmas celebrating with Avery, but then wakes to find his lover has vanished and the cottage has fallen to ruin overnight.

Laurence’s investigations lead him to the story of an ancient fairy curse—Avery is doomed to spend only Christmas Eve to Twelfth Night in human form until he finds true love. Laurence sets out to give Avery the greatest gift of all—his heart and with it the chance to live for more than the fleeting winter weeks he’s been sentenced to.

Review

This is a very well written, well developed, mix between an historical and fantasy romance. Quite unique! It’s very British as well, and the secondary characters are great!

I really felt immersed in the time period as well as the country.

I’d have given this 5 stars if there’d been a bit more chemistry between our MCs – they felt more thrown together out of necessity rather than combustible desire – but it fit the times.

I loved how pragmatic they were about Laurence’s injury and how they problem solved to work around it!

Thoroughly enjoyable!

4 of 5 stars

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