Damned If You Do by Marie Sexton

release day review

Samhain Publishing Presents

https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5813/damned-if-you-do

damned-if-you-doBlurb

The path to temptation is paved with a hellish amount of paperwork.

Soul acquisition is a drag, but if Abaddon doesn’t catch up on his quota, he could be demoted to scooping poop for the Hounds of Hell. With a deadline hanging over him, he heads for the Bible Belt, looking for the perfect combination of sweetness and challenge.

Seth is a blind musician, part of a traveling tent revival. He’s cute, mystically talented, and quotes the Bible at every turn. His soul is pure enough to fill Abaddon’s quota for months to come, and Abaddon is determined to claim it.

The problem? There’s the revival foreman who watches Abaddon’s every move. Then there’s the mystery of Seth’s many unusual talents. Lastly, there’s Abaddon himself. He’s beginning to like Seth a bit too much. Maybe Seth deserves something better than damnation.

But Hell’s agenda isn’t negotiable, and time is running out. If Abaddon doesn’t play his cards right, he could condemn both of them to the worst fate of all—an eternity apart.

Warning: Contains a Bible-quoting twink and an irreverent devil who’ll do anything to avoid going “back to the office”. Also, snakes. Lots and lots of snakes.

Review

Abaddon is one of the many devils whose task it is to persuade humans to give up their souls to the devil through any means of temptation. He’s not very good at it. In fact, he’s behind on his quota and about to be demoted.

He has only 2 weeks to “catch up” so he decides to go for quality versus quantity. Certain souls are “worth more” in that they are harder to tempt to the dark side.

When Abaddon goes to the human realm in search of his soul he finds one so bright it’s nearly blinding, Seth. In addition to being blind, Seth also plays every musical instrument like a pro, travels with his brother in a tent revival and happens to perform healings as well.

There’s no soul more pure than Seth.

The problem is, Abaddon begins to like Seth and not only doesn’t he want Seth to be just another soul haunting Hell, he wants to BE with Seth… but that’s impossible…

**

Wow! This was so surprising! It was hysterical – first off. Sure, I’ve seen bits of humor in Marie’s writing in the past –but this was a whole new level of humor. It’s funny left and right and very, very clever.

Marie’s version of Hell is pretty hysterical:

            “…rows of cubicles. They stretched as far as the eye could see. Anybody who lost their soul in a wager or an ill-taken deal with a devil wound up here. There were no computers, but plenty of old-fashioned manual typewriters- always with stuck keys and worn-out ribbons – and a never-ending streams of forms to be filled out in triplicated and filed away.”

Each soul has a relative value and some as some are more easily attained:

            “A politician’s soul isn’t worth the paperwork that comes with it. Besides, we already own them all.”

“All of them?”

“Ninety percent of lobbyists, plus every congressman, senator, and president since the fifties.” Baphomet shrugged. “Except Carter.”

As far as the other side goes, Seth is chock full of Biblical quotes. If I had a complaint at all it’d be the quotes. I had to skim them after awhile there are quite a few. They’re used to make a point and never to really preach so much as to show the opposite side of Abaddon’s arguments, but the language and all grew a bit tedious.

That being said, I still really loved this – so much! But… I’ll warn you right now, I cried reading this. OMG. There are parts of this that just sucker punch you into the ugly cry. It’s a very, very heartwarming story as well.

There is almost no “heat” – it’s almost a fade to black but there are still moments of beautiful passion.

I ADORED the ending – it was a bit predictable (at least the what but not the how).

All in all this is a funny, sweet, witty, surprisingly moving story about finding true love and being true to yourself at the same time.

Highly recommended!

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by NetGalley for Honest Review

 

 

 

High Contrast (Evolution Ink Book 1) by Tess Bowery

release day review

 

28494025Blurb

The deepest scars aren’t the ones that show.

Jacob Shain is your average member of Generation Screwed. He has a boring internship, no cash flow, and a tiny NYC apartment he has to share with Ethan, his much-cooler, tattoo-artist twin brother. Not to mention his love life is DOA. At least, until his brother’s shop hires on a new piercer, and Jacob’s humdrum life takes a turn for the weird.

Cody Turner is gorgeous, funny and kind—everything Jacob wants in a boyfriend. Except for the way he refuses to talk about his past, or where he lives, or anything about his personal life.

When Ethan is arrested while on a mission of mercy, the reason Cody is so tight lipped comes to light. And while Jacob and Cody fight to understand the depth of their feelings for one another, the police dogs catch their scent. So does the local mob.

Now Jacob has to make the hardest choice of his life: stay safe like a good boy, or dive headfirst into a world he barely understands…and hope Cody is there to break his fall.

Warning: Contains a good boy who wants to be bad, a bad boy who longs to be good, bodies that are canvases for living art and high-speed chases with police dogs.

 

Review

Jacob is the nerdy twin who falls for his cool twin Ethan’s new co-worker. Ethan has every inch inked and the new co-worker, Cody, has every bit pierced. Jacob is untouched.

When Jacob realizes Cody has a comic-loving side and a sad story to tell, he falls instantly in lust with the guy and quietly pants after him. After a very long few months, the couple begins to explore the feelings between them and it’s up to Jacob and his friends to help Cody with his troubles with the ex.

**

So – I admit – the cover sold this book for me – but I was by no means disappointed by the storyline!  (All those piercings – YUM!)

This was a very slow burn romance full of fun dialog and a little bit of OTT drama. (The Russian mob are involved!) Most of the story is Jacob’s insecure inner dialog – which is pretty funny and then some very sweet and heart melty smexy times mixed in with a little rescue mission.

I did wish for Cody’s POV – this was all from Jacob’s – but I do feel like we got to know how he felt through his actions.

I also didn’t love the ending – it was a pretty solid HFN/HEA and I totally trusted that they would end up together – I just wanted to see it!  (Yes, I’m whining here…)

I recommend this as a light-hearted, fun read for when you don’t want too much angst to get in the way of your tattooed romance.  🙂  I’ll definitely be looking for more from this new-to-me author!

4 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by NetGalley for Honest Review

 

Amazon Link

 

http://www.amazon.com/High-Contrast-Evolution-Tess-Bowery-ebook/dp/B01BH48C0W?ie=UTF8&keywords=high%20contrast&qid=1461897552&ref_=sr_1_1&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

Love me like a Rock (Bend or Break # 6) by Amy Jo Cousins

release day review

28138678Blurb

 

In art and in love, it s the rough edges that make things interesting.

Having grown up with artistic implements always in hand, there’s almost nothing Austin can’t make real. Except for one thing—an official relationship with his best friend, rowing teammate and occasional hookup, Vinnie.

The combination of emotional and sexual frustration fuels a spark between Austin and the nude model in his drawing class. Austin isn’t used to having trouble focusing; models are merely challenging subjects to be rendered on paper. But the geology TA’s direct blue gaze is powerful enough to drag Austin’s focus away from his physique.

After a quick and very dirty post-class encounter, all the reasons that Austin has been waiting for his best friend go fuzzy in his mind. Sean is nothing like Vinnie. Sean is persistent, pays attention, and makes it clear he wants to be together.

But if Austin can’t get his head and his heart on the same page, he could lose his friend, or his lover. Or both.

Warning: Contains rock geeks, tent sex, a dictatorial cox whose idea of a good time is drawing naked dudes, plus one naked dude who wants to be more than a good time.

Review

This is the 6th book in the series, but it can absolutely be a standalone!

Austin and Vinny are best-friends-with-benefits. Only Austin really wishes it was more than that. In fact, he’s pining. But Vinny isn’t responsive and Austin figures some day he’s gotta do something about that.

Meanwhile, Austin meets Sean. Sean is a ginger! who models for one of Austin’s classes.   He can’t keep his eyes and then his hands and then his mind off of Sean once he actually sees the guy.

Sean is everything Vinny isn’t – and at first that freaks Austin out – but – over time – he realizes that might just be a good thing.

**

I fell in love with this series in book one and Amy Jo Cousins hasn’t disappointed me yet! I think this is my second favorite in the series – but really – it’s a close second to book one.

Austin is a GREAT character and what I love about the writing is how well Amy Jo shows us the progression in his head from “Sean’s a fuck buddy” to “Sean is something important”. It’s very well done and oh so sexy!

I was very glad to see the communication in this book was open and honest and never the central theme. Yes, Vinny and Austin could have talked to one another more, but I totally understood that Vinny and Austin’s history sort of precluded that from be a viable option. Sean only knew the “more adult” version of Austin so he could be a different guy. Someone Vinny never really knew.

Vinny’s absence from the story was important because as a reader I didn’t want to be attached to him through Austin (especially since the next book is about Vinny and a new guy!) so I was grateful that his part in this story was small.

The smexy times were plentiful but not overwhelming and though I wish we got to see them later in life – post graduation – I know that the HFN is solid and will lead to a HEA eventually.

(My favorite scene is when Austin and Sean go camping and Sean makes Austin “art supplies” – Swoooon!)

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by NetGalley for Honest Review

Hard Candy (Bend or Break #7) by Amy Jo Cousins

release day reviewSamhain Presents

https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5749/hard-candy

28437199Blurb

How to get over someone? Get under someone else—as soon as possible. 

Vincent Lim always assumed his best friend (and occasional hookup) Austin would be waiting for him—that eventually they’d end up together. But now that Austin’s in love with another man, Vinnie is at a loss.

After the world’s most awkward one-night stand with a dance major, Vinnie knows the drill. Minimize the embarrassment by pretending they’ve never met. Yet Bryan’s vibrant spirit and calm center lure Vinnie like a shelter from an emotional storm.

But Vinnie’s thrown off his game by the rest of Bryan’s total package. Vinnie’s a rowing jock with a single-minded focus on living up to his parents’ academic and social expectations. Bryan might as well be outfitted with glittery butterfly wings—with plenty of pride to match. Vinnie’s haphazard attention to a lover won’t cut it this time.

Physically, they can match each other stroke for booty pop. But for the lovers to meet on common ground, they’ll have to find a way to get moving in the same direction.

Warning: Contains one uptight rower, a dancer who can rock a skirt like nobody’s business, yoga lessons, and the benefits of being very bendy.

Review

This is book 7 in the series, but really you only need to read book 6. (The rest of the series is awesome, though, so … ya know…)

We met Vinnie in Book 6 – he was the boy Austen was pining and pining after. Well – after being summarily dumped by Austen, Vinnie goes on a bender and meets Bryan.

Though their first meeting was less than great, both men realize they want to see more of the other – although Vinnie is clearly on probation as he nearly says and does all the wrong things.

Over time – not unlike Austen and Sean – Vinnie is spending more and more time with Bryan, until it’s clear that Bryan means a lot to Vinnie. The problem is Vinnie lacks the ability to say his feelings in a way that doesn’t offend.

**

I loved Bryan and Vincent together. I would really have loved to spend more time in Bryan’s head as he was clearly a very complex and fascinating person and we didn’t get to see nearly enough of him to satisfy.

The fact that these 21 year olds were so great at communicating with one another was a breath of fresh air – especially after all the nonsense between Austen and Vinnie previously.

I was also glad to see that the parents weren’t going to be a big deal.

All in all this was a very sweet and sometimes funny story and a great way for us to see Vinnie all set up and happy.

4.25 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by NetGalley For Honest Review

Off Campus (Book 1) by Amy Jo Cousins

off campusBlurb

Everyone’s got secrets. Some are just harder to hide.

With his father’s ponzi scheme assets frozen, Tom Worthington believes finishing college is impossible unless he can pay his own way. After months sleeping in his car and gypsy-cabbing for cash, he’s ready to do just that.

But his new, older-student housing comes with an unapologetically gay roommate. Tom doesn’t ask why Reese Anders has been separated from the rest of the student population. He’s just happy to be sleeping in a bed.

Reese isn’t about to share his brutal story with his gruff new roommate. You’ve seen one homophobic jock, you’ve seen ’em all. He plans to drag every twink on campus into his bed until Tom moves out. But soon it becomes clear Tom isn’t budging.

Tom isn’t going to let some late-night sex noise scare him off, especially when it’s turning him on. But he doesn’t want any drama either. He’ll keep his hands, if not his eyes, to himself. Boundaries have a way of blurring when you start sharing truths, though. And if Tom and Reese cross too many lines, they may need to find out just how far they can bend…before they break.

Warning: This book contains cranky roommates who vacillate between lashing out and licking, some male/male voyeurism, emotional baggage that neither guy wants to unpack, and the definitive proof that sound carries in college housing.

Review

I started reading this book – intending to maybe only skim it – so that I could read books 6 and 7 which I’ve been asked to review. I thought I’d get some background and leave it at that. (Don’t ask why I hadn’t read it before now – I don’t know either!)

I couldn’t put it down!

I loved all of it from start to finish!

Tom’s father disgraced the family and Tom has been hiding from the paparazzi and broke and is struggling to make his own – legit – money to finish school so he can hold his head up high and make his way in the world on his own merits. He finally scrapes together enough cash to make the payments and finds his roommate in off campus housing is a gay kid with a huge chip on his shoulder.

Reese had been told that he’d be getting a single dorm room after his last dorm-mates were involved in doing something terrible to Reese. So he’s understandably wary of a roommate, especially another jock. Little does he know that he has nothing to fear from Tom.

Tom had previous experience in being “bi-curious” but still identifies as straight, until… he overhears his roomie having sex and can’t help but be turned on.

What starts out as a love/hate relationship between these guys slowly develops into a slow burn romance. Then… just as things are warming up between the two of them sexually – their friendship ends up straining the limits as both of them are in denial of their need to seek help for their hang-ups and the other is in no position to offer mental help advice.

Luckily they have friends like Cash and Steph who help them see the light and to keep them from disintegrating as a couple.

**

This book is full of pain, real people, funny lines, lots of angst and some seriously steamy smexy times.

I just fell in love with Tom – even though sometimes I wanted to strangle him for his near-sightedness. He’s such a big hearted guy and the perfect anchor for the more high-strung and emotional Reese.

Reese – however – is the braver of the two – and though he hides his pain in ways that are unhealthy – he doesn’t let tragedy take him away from life.

I really appreciated that though this is a solidly HEA story – the couple faces real struggles and they don’t just magically disappear because one guy said I love you to the other.

Highly recommended.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Purchased for Review

Give Yourself Away By Barbara Elsborg

Samhain Publishing Presents
https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5716/give-yourself-away

give-yourself-awayBlurb

One guy intent on caution. One an adrenaline junkie. Love could be one risk too many.
March is determined to lose the numbness that accompanies a history of loss and blame. Desperate to feel something—anything—the adrenaline junkie base jumps off cliffs, soars on hang gliders, and embarks on dangerous sea-borne rescue missions. But any release he feels is fleeting, and when you play Russian roulette with fate, eventually you come crashing down.
No matter how hard Caleb tries to forget his past, a dark shadow is always behind him. When a bizarre turn of events results in him being trapped in a sea cave, Caleb wonders how his mantra—safety at all costs—could have failed him. On the point of drowning, he’s stunned when March surfaces in the cave.
March’s disregard for the rules saves Caleb’s life but gets March into a heap of trouble. Not least of which is the guy shivering in the boat next to him. March tries to ignore Caleb but it’s already too late. Together, they take small, awkward steps toward love. But Caleb’s past is waiting to sink in its claws…and this time, it could drag him to his death.
Warning: This book contains difficult flashbacks of child abduction and sexual violence, but also the incredible perseverance of two men who never give up on love—or each other. Bring your tissues and a heart that believes in the resilience of the human spirit.
Review

I can’t say much more than the blurb – there are other reviews out there that give away a bit more of the story if you want spoilers – but I can say this: Caleb and March are tied to each other in ways you can’t imagine and their love is abiding.

Barbara Elsborg has given us a heart-breaking story about childhood devastation, loss and it’s repercussions. She holds nothing back and tells the readers all they need to know and some they wish they didn’t.

I don’t think it’s possible to guess how someone will react to trauma of this proportion – so it’s anyone’s best guess how “realistic” this is… but if FEELS real to me.

The “coincidence” factor may bother some – but in life there are some absolutely amazing coincidences and implausible or not – this is the story of “what if?”

Fair warning – this is a dark, dark story, so be prepared for it and embrace it – the end result is a bright, sunshiny day and worth the adventure.

4.5 of 5 stars

4.5-stars-small

Copy Generously Provided by NetGalley for Honest Review

Reviewed by Morgan

Out (Shamwell Tales Book 3) by JL Merrow

27260565Blurb

When the costs are added up, will love land in the black?

Mark Nugent has spent his life in the closet—at least, the small part of it he hasn’t spent in the office. Divorced when he could no longer deny his sexuality, he’s sworn off his workaholic ways and moved to Shamwell with his headstrong teen daughter to give her a stable home environment.

His resolve to put his love life on hold is severely tested when he joins a local organization and meets a lively yet intense young man who tempts him closer to the closet threshold.

Patrick Owen is an out-and-proud charity worker with strong principles—and a newly discovered weakness for an older man. One snag: Mark is adamant he’s not coming out to his daughter, and Patrick will be damned if he’s going to start a relationship with a lie.

Between Mark’s old-fashioned attitudes and a camp, flirtatious ex-colleague who wants Mark for himself, Patrick wonders if they’ll ever be on the same romantic page. And when Mark’s former career as a tax advisor clashes with Patrick’s social conscience, it could be the one stumbling block they can’t get past.

Product Warnings: Contains historically inaccurate Spartan costumes, mangled movie quotes, dubious mathematical logic and a three-legged pub crawl.

Review

Mark is a single father who has recently taken his teen-aged daughter and moved from the busy city of London to live in the country in order to “be there for her” in a more meaningful way. One way he tries to ensure that is to remain in the closet.

He joins a local social club for men 25-45 in order to be part of the community and meets Patrick. Patrick is 25 and out and proud. Though Mark hasn’t ever had a relationship (or sex with) a man, he knows he’s gay and he’s immensely attracted to Patrick.

Patrick knows Mark is attracted to him and though he’s not usually attracted to someone so much older than him, he can’t help but be charmed by the social ineptitude that is Mark.

The two dance around each other for a long, long, long time and then – ironically with the blessing of Mark’s daughter, finally begin a relationship.

**

I love JL Merrow and count many of her books (ie Muscling Through) as my all time favorites. This one is very dry, full of humor, light on steam and very British.

Though I usually love the British slang and usually have no issues with it, I had a hard time keeping up with it this time.

I also had a hard time getting invested in Mark and Patrick as a couple. They don’t really even get involved until most of the way through the book and though it is cute and sweet, I can’t really say they’ll be there together forever. At best it’s a HFN for these guys.

The writing is excellent and Mark’s self-discovery is probably the most important and well-done aspect of this story, but it didn’t set my heart a-flutter.

So… for me… it was … fun. Nice. But not great.

I liked it, but I didn’t love it. If you’re in the mood to laugh and smile and watch a man discover himself – this is your book. If you want firey romance and heat and burning declarations of love – not so much.

3 of 5 stars

Copy Generously Provided by NetGalley for Honest Review

Samhain Presents

https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5697/out

Cherry Bomb (Sequel to Cherry Pie) by Samantha Kane

release day review

 

cherry-bombBlurb

 

Their spark could be too hot to handle…or bring a dying town back to life.

Officially, Turnstiles CEO Brian Curland is in Mercury to set up a new data center. Unofficially, he’s using this trip to re-evaluate his life, because for a man who has everything, he’s feeling pretty empty.

He could buy any car he wants. But no, he had to rent a piece-of-crap Chevy—which is now broken down on the side of the road. When he’s rescued by a sexy local, Brian does what he always does. Go for what he wants, even if it’s just temporary.

Evan Michaels stops to help because that’s what good guys do. He grew up in Mercury, eventually becoming minister of the local Unitarian church. Though everyone knows him, being gay and being in a gay relationship are two different things. He wants Brian, but their affair has to be secret or he can’t play.

When Evan unleashes his long-suppressed sexuality, Brian is more than up to handling the heat. Yet even though they fall hard for each other, it might take the whole town to convince them it’s a forever kind of love.

Product Warnings
Contains an inexperienced minister, gay comic-book role play, dirty dancing in antebellum mansions, and some very naughty fireworks. Protective gear recommended.

Review

Brian is a mega-billionaire who goes to a small town in North Carolina to check on the new project for his business because one of his good friends lives in the rural town and because he’s feeling a bit at loose ends in life.

Along the road to the small town he breaks down and meets Evan, the town’s minister who helps him with his car. They have an INSTANT connection, but Evan is in the closet and Brian lives in LA so it can never work. Right?

**

I liked the self-discovery these guys had and appreciated their chemistry. I didn’t read book one, but for those who have the MCs from that book play a good-sized role in this book, as well.

What didn’t work for me were the so-called “obstacles” between these guys. First, Evan is known to be gay, his town totally thinks he’s amazing, nobody seems to give the other gay guys any trouble and he’s worried about having a boyfriend? If he just left it at being worried about splitting his time with ANYONE outside his job it’d been better because the guy is a total workaholic, but I didn’t buy that anyone would be anything but pleased to see him with someone he loves.

Two, Brian’s obstacle of living in LA … well, he’s a billionaire… there are things like jets and skype and … it didn’t resonate with me as a true hurdle.

So… I liked this very much, but it didn’t wow me nor did it really disappoint. It was good, well written, nice MCs, good chemistry… just maybe a bit unrealistic.

3.5 of 5 stars

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Samhain Presents

https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5704/cherry-bomb

Cold Fusion by Harper Fox

release day review

26262453Blurb

Their love is the catalyst that could save the planet…or cost their lives.
As an environmental activist for Peace Warrior, Kier Mallory never hesitated to throw himself into dangerous situations. Until his hotheadedness costs the lives of two fellow crewmembers on an anti-whaling mission.
He finds no refuge in his hometown on Scotland’s north coast, where everyone knows what this son of a broken fisherman has done. Effectively homeless, Mal returns to one of his favorite places—Spindrift, a rustic colony of artist and crafter huts.
Spindrift is dilapidated and empty, save for a lone resident. Vivian Calder, a brilliant but emotionally detached scientist who appears to have done the impossible—mastered cold fusion. A clean, free, limitless source of power.
Despite Viv’s aversion to contact, a fragile bond forms between them, seemingly one atom at a time. Until Mal, determined to redeem himself by revealing Viv’s accomplishment to the world, brings down the wrath of an oil-dependent establishment, risking not only their love, but Viv’s life.
Warning: Contains a disgraced environmentalist and an autistic genius who go from strangers to lovers-for-life in thirteen days. Don’t believe in miracles? We’ll make you.
Review

Kier is a mis-understood environmentalist/poet who hides from his shame in the wilds of Scotland. He drunkenly stumbles onto Laird Vivian (a man) who has Asperger’s and is brilliant and working on cold fusion.

Kier is the opposite of Viv. He’s wild, untamed, loose, crazy, colorful and explosive. Viv is calculating, organized, proper, straight forward and calm. When they meet it’s opposites attracting x 1000.

There are lots of things going on in this story: Kier’s story from the ocean, Viv’s family, the oil company, Kier’s ex, Viv’s studies, Viv’s “legacy”, Kier’s family… lots and lots. Much of it ends up tied together but still and all this is a complex story with many threads.

Without telling too much of the story – let’s just say that Kier helps Viv, they solve some mysteries and end up with the world’s best HEA ever!

**

Kier tells this story and it fits his character to a T. It rambles and rolls and boils and bubbles – it goes all over the place in splashes and spouts of color and action and emotion.

There are times when this really works for the story and is beautiful, at other times it’s disjointed, bulky and confusing.

More times than not, however, it’s a beautiful and funny and touching story about two flawed individuals finding each other in a true fairy tale – worthy of Hans Christian Andersen at times – where dark things go bump in the night but the hero saves the day!

The love Viv and Kier share is absolutely breath taking and wonderful and easily overshadows some of the “mystery” and the family “legacy” that ends up being wrapped up so neatly at the end. (Maybe a little too neatly? But – it’s a fairy tale so – miracles do happen and coincidences do occur…)

I highly recommend this to fans of the author, to fans of MCs who are socially awkward, to fans of Scotland and the UK in general, and to fans of fairy tales with a dark side.

4.25 of 5 stars

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Copy Generously Provided by NetGalley for an Honest Review

Samhain Publishing Presents

https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5680/cold-fusion

Winter Wonderland (Minnesota Christmas Book 3) by Heidi Cullinan

Winter WonderlandBlurb

Finding Mr. Right can be a snow lot of fun.

Paul Jansen was the only one of his friends who wanted a relationship. Naturally, he’s the last single man standing. No gay man within a fifty-mile radius wants more than casual sex.
No one, that is, except too-young, too-twinky Kyle Parks, who sends him suggestive texts and leaves X-rated snow sculptures on his front porch.

Kyle is tired of being the town’s resident Peter Pan. He’s twenty-five, not ten, and despite his effeminate appearance, he’s nothing but the boss in bed. He’s loved Paul since forever, and this Christmas, since they’re both working on the Winter Wonderland festival, he might finally get his chance for a holiday romance.

But Paul comes with baggage. His ultra-conservative family wants him paired up with a woman, not a man with Logan’s rainbow connection. When their anti-LGBT crusade spills beyond managing Paul’s love life and threatens the holiday festival, Kyle and Paul must fight foreveryone’s happily ever after, including their own.

Warning: Contains erotic snow art, toppy twinks, and super-sweet holiday moments. Best savored with a mug of hot chocolate with a dash of spice.

Review

This is the third in the series, and Paul is our last of the “Three Bears” to find love. Ever since he first decided to leave Arthur and commit to finding his own, true love, he’s been dating a bunch of mis-fits. Just guys who, for whatever reason, don’t fit with Paul.

Kyle has grown up worshiping/crushing on Paul. He’s 25 to Paul’s 36, and everyone but him believes he’s too young for Paul. The town sees him as sort of this sexless but gay Peter Pan, full of light, goodness and gaiety, but he’s tired of that. He wants to be seen for more than his family, his good works, or his looks. And he wants Paul. Full stop.

When Paul realizes that his secret admirer is Kyle, his initial reaction is the same as the town’s. No. Way. Too young. Not his type. Forget it. But after one brief and intense moment where Paul is forced to see the real Kyle he realizes that Kyle just might be the perfect man for him. And he is.

There are, of course, obstacles in the way beyond the age thing. Fundamentally, Paul is still fighting who he is. In a way, both men are. They are both “out” but without serious boyfriends it’s like that’s just a “thing” not who they are. When they begin to really date it changes things, especially for Paul’s (evil) family.

Secondarily there is another library fundraiser to be managed, this year a “Winter Wonderland” that has a scope far beyond one simple event.

Kyle has to decide if Paul is “the one” or just “convenient” and Paul has to decide who gets to choose his life partner, him or everyone else.

**

This is my second favorite in the series and though second, it’s a close second. It’s wonderful! Kyle, Paul and Kyle’s family are truly special characters and it was so much fun to see them interact. “Valley High!”

My heart bled for Paul at the hands of his family. I wanted to punch them in the face, as Kyle says, for how callously they disregarded him. My only complaint was that we never did get an actual confrontation between Paul and his family.

The smexy times in this book, similar to the others, were numerically few on page, but very intense and special. It was so great to have a slight character be all toppy for once and to break that stereotype.

It was wonderful seeing Gabriel, Frankie and the other two bears again. Corinna is hysterical again and so amazing to help settle her “other son” Paul.

Though I’m never a fan of Christmas ooey gooey-ness, I am a total fan of this Christmas series. Though the holiday is central, it’s absolute truest message – LOVE – is honored and therefore didn’t bother me in the slightest.

I highly recommend this book, series and author.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Copy Provided by NetGalley for an honest review

Available November 10th

Samhain Publishing Presents

http://www.heidicullinan.com/WinterWonderland