Categories
3 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Anthology Book Christmas class difference College/University Contemporary Dreamspinner Fade to black/No Steam Families/Weddings Friends to lovers Gay Gay Heat Index Holiday Holiday Romance Humor lawyer m/m Mild level angst Morgan New Adult Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Part of a Series Standalone Unrequited Love

Holidays: The Last Gift (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by Chrissy Munder

Dreamspinner Presents

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

Blurb

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?

 

Review

This is hard for me to evaluate. On one hand, I loved the internal monologue and found Nick to be a really fun character. On the other hand, I wasn’t really sure why the story ended like it did as I felt our MCs didn’t get a lot of quality time together to really establish anything.

 

If you accept this as an HFN and maybe just the start of a relationship and a partially completed story – it’s a good start. However, it didn’t have that solid feel of completion to me.

 

3 of 5 stars

 

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Categories
3 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Anthology Book Chef Christmas Contemporary Dee Dreamspinner Enemies to Lovers Families/Weddings Gay Gay Heat Index Holiday Humor Little to no angst m/m Mild/low level heat Monthly Theme Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Opposites attract Part of a Series Standalone

Holidays: Wreck the Halls (Advent Collection) by Jessica Payseur

Dreamspinner Presents

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

Blurb

 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.

Review: I’m torn on this story. On the one hand, I liked the rivalry between Paul and Nick (although Paul’s last prank was a little too mean); on the other, I wasn’t entirely sold on how the two men ‘kissed and made up’. Nick was a nice, likeable character; however I didn’t like Paul very much at the beginning, and liked him even less as the story progressed. It’s a short, fairly humourous story, wrapping up with both men admitting their attraction for each other and planning a future together (1 day after being mortal enemies!).

Overall, it’s a good story, just not for me.

2.75 stars out of 5

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Categories
3.5 stars Actor/Theatre adult - 18+ Angst Level Anthology BDSM Beth Jumper Book Christmas Contemporary Dreamspinner Families/Weddings Gay Geek/nerd/techie/gamer Heat Index Holiday Holiday Romance Length Little to no angst m/m Mid level steam/heat Monthly Theme Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Part of a Series Standalone Unrequited Love

Holidays: Trading Tridents (Advent 2017) by CM Taylor

 

Dreamspinner Presents

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

Blurb

DecemberCon 2017. John Perlan, aka YouTuber “SmileyNibor,” has come to the con for one reason and one reason only: to see his idol, actor Derek Kitow. And since Derek has announced he’ll be dressed as the original Aquaman, Perlan decides to come as the Aquaman reboot. It helps that he already has the beard and the bod to make a convincing Momoaman.

But when Derek Kitow makes his entrance, he recognizes Perlan from his tiny YouTube channel and wants him onstage! Has Kitow been following him online? Could SmileyNibor’s hero also be a fan? And what exactly does Kitow have in mind by inviting Perlan to meet him after the panel?

Review

Cosplay is a way to emulate a character or actor you idolize or fan girl over, so when John learns that his idol Derek Kitow is coming to the Decembercon dressed as the original Aquaman he creates a costume that is the rebooted version. He also put out a YouTube video of him making his Trident.

What is it like to come face to face with your idol? What is it like that your idol knows who you are and wants you. Of course there are a few more surprises in the story that you just don’t see coming. Still you end with a smile as they end their evening.

3.5 of 5 stars

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Categories
3 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Anthology Book Christmas Closeted coming of age Contemporary Dreamspinner Families/Weddings Gay Gay Heat Index High but not hopeless Holiday m/m Mild/low level heat Monthly Theme Morgan Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Older MCs Part of a Series PTSD second chance at love Standalone Unrequited Love

Holidays: Welcome Home Soldier (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by Deanna Wadsworth

Dreamspinner Presents

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

Blurb

Clay and Daniel fell in love as enlisted men during Desert Shield, but Don’t Ask Don’t Tell meant they had to keep it secret. After Clay’s convoy was ambushed, PTSD changed him, and their relationship ended in a horrible fight on Christmas Eve.

Twenty-five years later, they’ve reconnected on Facebook, and Clay finds out Daniel will be alone on Christmas Eve. Impulsively, he sets out for Daniel’s hometown of Gilead, Ohio—where Daniel is now the mayor—to surprise him with a visit. But a blizzard strikes and Clay wrecks his car. All hope of seeing Daniel is lost—until a mysterious old man named Nick offers Clay a ride. The weight of past wounds and the scars of war might make their reunion awkward, but Clay is willing to take the risk to win back his lost love. Despite a lifetime of disappointing holidays, Clay hopes that this soldier is finally coming home for Christmas.

Review

This was a story about older men finding their first loves again many years later. It’s filled with a lot of angst and recriminations and – to me – it was kind of a downer.

Of course they find their HEA but it was after a lot of sadness.

The writing was nice, but it just wasn’t as uplifting as I’d want it to be.

3 of 5 stars

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Categories
3 stars adult - 18+ Alternate World Angst Level Anthology Beth Jumper Book Christmas Dreamspinner Families/Weddings Finding Family Friends to lovers Gay Gay Heat Index Holiday m/m Mild level angst Mild/low level heat Monthly Theme Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Opposites attract Part of a Series Standalone

Holidays: An Unexpexted Sanctuary by Cassie Decker

Dreamspinner Presents

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

Blurb

An aggressive super-flu pandemic wipes out a majority of the population over the course of one Christmas holiday—and brings Tobin and Kyle together. For almost a year, they’ve been trekking across the country from Colorado toward a sanctuary in upstate New York. Kyle’s survival skills have kept them alive, and Tobin wants to repay the man he loves with a very special gift of his own making. He sneaks off in search of the last few pieces… only to get himself and Kyle kidnapped by a desperate stranger. With their journey to New York on hold—possibly indefinitely—they’ll need to accept that home isn’t always defined by a place as much as the person you’re with.

 

Review

When the world as you know it has ended, you make due with what you’ve got. Kyle and Tobin find each other at the beginning of their journey and have traveled halfway across the country looking for the sanctuary they heard about before the world went dark. Kyle has the survival skills and Tobin has the engineering skills and between them they have been traveling for a year.

The author has given us a week in the MC’s lives and shows us how they work together to survive. The conflict they encounter is not dire but it does have you wondering what’s going to happen. In the end you have a sweet and sexy story that has 2 men learning to rely on each other.

3 of 5 stars

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Categories
3 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Anthology Book Christmas Contemporary Dreamspinner Established Couple Fade to black/No Steam Families/Weddings Gay Heat Index Holiday Hurt/comfort m/m Mid level angst Monthly Theme Morgan Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Part of a Series Single Parent Standalone

Holidays: Christmas Grace (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by C.L. Miles

Dreamspinner Presents

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

Blurb

Christmas has been a lonely time of year for Aaron since losing his family fifteen years ago. But now he’s seeing Craig, and though Aaron is sure they belong together, both have been hurt in the past, so they’re taking things slowly. So far, Craig has been supportive of Aaron’s struggles with anxiety—struggles that cost Aaron relationships in the past.

On Christmas Eve, Aaron is closing his bookshop when Craig surprises him with a specially planned evening. Will this be the night they take that final step and deepen their physical relationship? Aaron hopes so, but things aren’t that simple. Craig has been keeping a secret…. Can Aaron take his place as part of a family again and accept the love he’s missed for so long—or will he find that some deceptions are too big to be forgiven, even with the help of some Christmas grace?

Review

This was a bit melodramatic and angsty. While I appreciated that we are jumping into the story at the climax of their romance, I missed the part where the spark gets lit. That’s my favorite part of a romance – maybe even more than the HEA.

I didn’t care for Aaron and Craig seemed to make a big deal of something that shouldn’t have been.

Not my favorite.

2.75 rounded to 3 of 5 stars

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3.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Beth Jumper Book Boss/employee Christmas Contemporary Families/Weddings Gay Gay Holiday Holiday Romance m/m Mild level angst Monthly Theme Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Purchased Sports Standalone

Holidays: Alone for Christmas By Ashley John

GoodReads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32732677-alone-for-christmas?from_search=true

Blurb

With his third divorce looming and his bank accounts frozen, Chip Harington was surprisingly okay with spending Christmas alone, even if he was living out of a suitcase in his office. He had already decided to skip the office Christmas party, until some surprising words from one of his employees makes him change his mind.

Noah always expected the crush for his boss to fade, but after two years working under Chip, his feelings are stronger than ever. With Chip’s personal life in tatters once more, Noah never expected his boss to show his face at the office Christmas party, so he was even more surprised when his drunken attempt to kiss Chip turned into so much more.

Chip assumed his encounter with Noah was nothing more than a one-night stand, but when his employee emerges from a snowstorm on Christmas Eve, they are forced to spend Christmas together in a London office block. With the lines between employer and employee blurred, will either man emerge from the snow the same, or will their Christmas encounter change the course of their lives forever, making them wish they had spent Christmas alone after all?

Review

This is nice story of an office worker having a crush on his boss, going to the office Christmas party and ending up in bed together. Except that said boss is in his 3rd divorce from a beautiful woman. Okay so maybe he is gay after all.

When Noah realizes that his boss Chip is spending the holiday alone at the office he just cannot let him spend it alone. The 3 days snowed in are just so funny to see. It’s like college freshmen the first time they are away from home. The things they get up to will have you giggling throughout. There is some conflict, to make you think all won’t work out and then a HEA.

3.5 of 5 stars

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Categories
4 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Anthology Book Christmas Contemporary Dreamspinner Families/Weddings Gay Gay Heat Index Holiday Little to no angst m/m Magic Mary D Mild/low level heat Monthly Theme Paranormal Part of a Series Reconcilliation second chance at love Short Story 1-20 pages (1-5k words) Standalone The one that got away

Holidays: A Timely Gift (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by Kris T. Bethke

Dreamspinner Press

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

Blurb
Sometimes the right gift can be life-changing….
On the solstice, Rory’s grandfather gives him a pocket watch that he claims will have Rory’s life sorted and his problems solved by Christmas. Rory starts out skeptical, but when he reconnects with an ex he never thought he’d see again, he has to admit there might be some holiday magic working after all.
Deacon’s life is in shambles, and he’s returned to Syracuse for a fresh start. Running into Rory again feels like much more than a coincidence, and neither of them can deny the passion between them is still smoldering. With the watch behaving oddly at just the right moments, Rory and Deacon might receive the gift of a lifetime—if they’re willing to accept it.

Review
This is a lovely story. Fate (or Grandpa’s magic) has given Rory and Deacon a second chance at love. I loved how Rory wants to think the pocket watch is influencing each moment but dismisses it only to finally accept a little solstice magic has helped things along. I love the Christmas films and stories where there is a little touch of magic. Makes you believe anything is possible. Rory and Deacon make a lovely couple and deserve their happy ending.

4 of stars out of 5

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Categories
5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Anthology Book Bullying Christmas Contemporary Dreamspinner Fade to black/No Steam Families/Weddings Friends to lovers Gay Gay Geek/nerd/techie/gamer Heat Index Holiday Holiday Romance Humor Little to no angst m/m Monthly Theme Morgan Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Part of a Series second chance at love Standalone The one that got away Unrequited Love

Holidays: The Probability of Mistletoe (2017 Advent Calendar Daily – Stocking Stuffers) by E.J. Russell

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

Blurb

When software engineer Keith Trainor decides to start his own company, he knows exactly who he wants as his partner: Parker Mulvaney, his best friend from high school. But in the ten years since graduation, their contact has dwindled to nothing, and it’s all Keith’s fault. If he hadn’t tried to kiss Parker under the mistletoe at the winter formal their senior year, Parker wouldn’t have bolted. At their ten-year reunion, Keith intends to do everything in his geeky power to make amends.

Parker should have known that scheduling the reunion the day before Christmas Eve was a recipe for a headache of monster proportions. But when Keith sends a text that he’ll be attending, the evening doesn’t look so bleak. Can an unnecessary makeover, a nostalgic breakfast, an abortive shopping trip, and a whole lot of mistletoe culminate in a long-overdue first kiss?

Review

I didn’t want this to end! It was sooooo cute and sweet and funny and charming and…

It has an adorable geek, a sweet extrovert, a family of nuts and tons of mistletoe!

This was a very slow burn, no heat holiday story with lots of heart. These two boys were just meant to be and Parker’s grand gesture was treated really well (though I kinda wanted him to explain it more to Keith and have Keith appreciate it more…)

I wish we could have seen these guys at least through their “first time together”, but… it was still wonderful!

Highly Recommended and among my favorites of the bunch!

5 of 5 stars

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4 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Anthology Book Christmas class difference Dee Dreamspinner Established Couple/Sequel Families/Weddings Fantasy Gay Heat Index Hidden Lovers Historical Holiday Hurt/comfort m/m Mid level steam/heat Mild level angst Monthly Theme Novella 20-160 pgs (20k-40k words) Paranormal Part of a Series pining Standalone

Holidays: Poison Marked (2017 Advent Calendar) by TJ Nichols

Dreamspinner Presents

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

Blurb

Kill his lover or disobey his king and instigate civil war?

As the feared court poison master, Nikko is sworn to do as his king bids. As the lover of the king’s nephew, Lord Rodas, Nikko must hide his affection or risk being labeled a traitor and punished. A former thief who clawed his way into the palace from the filthy streets, Nikko longs to be deserving of Rodas’s love.

A respected war hero, Rodas is in a delicate political situation. He is not the kingdom’s natural heir, though many support his claim over the wastrel, Prince Fortin. The last thing Rodas wants is war. His highest ambition is for Nikko to openly wear the jewels he’s bestowed on him as a public declaration of their love.

Neither man is prepared for the king to order Nikko to poison Rodas during the solstice feast or for the deadly intrigue they’re plunged into, which exposes their affair and rocks the foundations of the kingdom.

Review

I was a little hesitant to read this story of a man ordered to poison his lover by the king, but I’m so glad I did!
Nikko is the royal poisoner to the king, (if there is such a title). He is also in love with the king’s nephew, Rodas.
Rodas is well liked, but runs afoul of the king because the Prince, (Fortin), is jealous of him. Nikko is torn between his loyalty to the king and his love for Rodas. I was pleasantly surprised at how the events played out, with Nikko playing Russion roulette with poisons and antidotes.
I definitely recommend this story; it’s a nice balance between love, intrigue, a bit of mystery and a (unconventional) HEA.

4 stars out of 5

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