Desperately Seeking Santa by Eli Easton

release day review

GoodReads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36582719-desperately-seeking-santa?from_search=true

Blurb
Journalism student Gabe Martin gets his first professional assignment—to write about a Christmas charity dinner that benefits a children’s home. It sounds like a total snooze-fest until Gabe learns that the event’s Santa is a mystery man. He shows up in costume and no one has a clue who he is. Uncovering Santa’s identity sounds like the perfect angle to turn a fluff piece into serious journalism.

Mack “The Mountain” McDonall, at 6’10”, is University of Wisconsin-Madison’s enormous star wrestler. When Gabe first claps eyes on him at a wrestling match, it’s lust at first sight. Gabe’s friend, Jordan, sets up the pair on a date. But when Gabe chatters on about his plans for outing Santa, Mack goes cold, and their first meeting becomes an epic fail.

As Gabe researches the children’s home, he learns that Mack has secrets a guy famous for being a brute wouldn’t want the world to know. Can Gabe find his holiday spirit, write a killer article, win the heart of a surly giant, and give everyone a very merry Christmas

Review
This Christmas story has something for everyone and like the perfect Christmas gift you do want to put it down. First we get to revisit Jordan and Owen from Superman. It’s lovely to find out how they are getting on four years later as seniors. I doesn’t matter if you haven’t read Superman, Desperately Seeking Santa stands on its own but do recommend it. Jordan takes his friend Gabe to see Owen in a wrestling match and there he sees (can’t miss) Mack ‘The Mountain’ McDonall. For someone who has no interest in sports Wrestling has just become very interesting.
Gabe is a journalism major looking for a great exposure story for a final paper and if he can get paid to do it win win. I really liked Gabe, he’s a fun character with a serious side but you’d have fun with him. He is disappointed his first assignment is a fluffy Christmas piece and looks for angles. When he finds out no one knows who the Santa is, well looks like he’s got his story! But what would be the cost of exposing Santa? The story is told from Gabe’s point of view and it’s great to see him realise how his own experiences colors his views.
Mack is reserved, the strong silent type of loveable guy. He knows what he wants and where his future is going. Family is important to him and he cares deeply about the important people in his life. I love both Mack and Gabe so different from each other but complimenting each other at the same time The part I adore the most is the tradition of toasting to wishes for the next year, they were ones of hope and happiness. It’s a lovely idea. All in all this is a perfect Christmas story for me.

As I said there is something for everyone in this wonderful Christmas story, the slow romance and building of trust between Gabe and Mack, the spirit of Christmas caring for others, selfless generosity, family, friends and pulling together to make a difference. All without the fluff. This is going to be one of my go to Christmas reads.

4 of stars out of 5

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Nerdy Deeds: M/M Gay Romance (A Nerd in the Hand) by Tragen Moss

Amazon Link
https://www.amazon.com/Nerdy-Deeds-Romance-Nerd-Hand-ebook/dp/B0778V566M/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1510865333&sr=1-1&keywords=nerdy+deeds

Blurb

Sawdust and evergreen.

That’s what the carpenter my dad hired smells like.

Men are like a whole other alien species to me. I can observe them, make what I think are reasonable deductions about their behavior, but the interacting part never seems to go the way I think it will. The carpenter is certainly no exception to that rule.
But, let’s face it, I’m the nerdiest nerd in Nerdville. And he’s the broest bro in Alphatown. I don’t have anything to offer a guy like that.

Do I?

*Dear Reader,
You know I wouldn’t steer you wrong, right? If your Trope Bucket List includes: opposites attract, older man, first time, m/m, insta-everything, broody alpha, nerdy nerd, and romantic comedy then this book is for you!

Review

If you are a fan of Alpha males, nerds, and lots of sex. This is definitely for you. I loved it for the sappiness but have to admit there’s not much story here. It was pretty cute and heavy on the physical aspect of their relationship but plenty sweet, too.

3.5 of 5 stars

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Audiobook: Moment of Fate (Moments of Time Book 5) by Karen Stivali Narrated by PC

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/moment-of-fate-by-karen-stivali-9039-b

Blurb

Bryan Dane’s been living the dream—photography student by day, up-and-coming rocker by night. His summer goals are to earn his last few credits, graduate from NYU, spend as much time in the recording studio as possible, and survive the next few months without sex so he can complete his yearlong goal of self-imposed celibacy. Everything is on track, until he meets Oliver Newcastle.

For years Oliver planned a marriage of convenience with his high school BFF, but now that she’s fallen in love for real, with someone else, it’s no longer convenient. So Oliver came out to his family, quit his job, and left small-town New England for NYC, an intensive summer study program, and a chance to find his own happiness.

From the moment they meet the sexual tension between Bryan and Oliver sizzles. But Bryan wants no part of a relationship, and Oliver wants to sew his wild oats—he just isn’t sure how. Oliver seeks Bryan’s help navigating the NYC gay scene, which throws them together in increasingly more sexual situations until they can no longer deny they’re hot for each other. Bryan is desperate to keep things simple, but fate might have other plans.

Review
(Book reviewed here previously)

This is definitely a stand alone book, though it is part of the series, you don’t need to read all the books or in order.

Bryan is a musician and photographer whose life got too hectic. He had a scare that forced him to reevaluate his life choices and random sex got the ax. Oliver is a suburban boy who had resigned himself to a sexless marriage. When his intended ends up marrying someone she really loves, he decides a radical break from his old life is called for. When Bryan and Oliver meet the instant attraction simmers a long time before being acted upon and in the mean time a deep relationship based on friendship emerges.

What I loved about this book was the lovely slow burn romance, the wonderful characters, Oliver’s funny and sweet blog posts, the scorching hot smexy times, and the well crafted love story. Karen Stivali is an excellent writer and her writing flows so smoothly that the story just evolves effortlessly. I think her writing just keeps improving with each new story!

I think the way the author showed us the motivation behind Bryan’s decision was excellent – though I would have loved to see more follow up – maybe a future book? Using the blog as an entrée into Oliver’s life was also a fantastic tool and a great way for us to interact with him and his thoughts.

One thing I enjoy about Karen’s writing is the secondary characters – whether they get their own stories or not – they’re always fleshed out and feel integral to the story without overwhelming it. (We get to see Tanner and Collin, too!)

If I have any complaints about this story, it’s the predictable “we’re never going to work out so I’m leaving” before the final reunion that seems to haunt so many romances. I think these two characters were so in tune with one another and so open that it felt a little out of the blue for them to part as they did right near the end.

All in all this was one of my favorite stories from this author and I highly recommend it!

4.5 of 5 stars

Audio

The narrator PC is new to me. I listened to the sample and I thought it was OK, so while I wasn’t overwhelmed by the sample, I thought it was good enough to try.

Well… after listening to the book, I can say that PC does an okay job overall. His non-dialog is rather flat and he doesn’t do much to differentiate the characters. This is a pretty emotional book and it felt a bit uninspired to me. It was a fine way to listen to the book if you can’t read it, but I can’t say it added a lot.

3 of 5 stars

Overall

3.5 of 5 stars

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Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1) by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

release day review

Riptide Presents

http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/off-the-ice

Blurb

Tristan Holt is nothing if not pragmatic. Despite a flourishing career as a defenseman for the Atlanta Venom, Tristan knows he can’t play hockey forever. One day he’ll retire—if an injury doesn’t force him to hang up his skates first. His backup plan? Finishing his business degree. But he doesn’t count on a very inappropriate attraction to his standoffish sociology professor, Sebastian Cruz.

Sebastian is on the bottom rung of the Sociology Department at Georgia State. He has his sights set on tenure, and he can’t afford to be distracted, especially not by a sexy student with a body straight out of Sebastian’s dreams. No matter how much Tristan tempts him, that’s one line Sebastian won’t cross. At least not until summer classes end. After that, everything is fair game.

But Sebastian lives loud and proud, and Tristan is terrified of being the first out player in the NHL. Neither of them can afford to risk their hearts when they can’t imagine a happily ever after. The problem is, unlike hockey, when it comes to love, there are no rules.

Review

This was a pretty sweet, very low angst May/December/OFY story of opposites attract.  It had some of the trademark snark that Avon is known for and a bit of the hot smexy times that she and Piper are so good at. 

While it had some funny points, for me, it lacked that strong comedic thread that I adore from Avon.  It had a fair amount of hockey –  although I don’t think you can have too much hockey!  I think the relationship developed in a way that felt natural and the sexual tension was sizzling!  (I loved the first confrontation in the professor’s office – yowza!)  I’m not a big fan of the whole power dynamic, vaguely D/s thing – it was mild – but I think the age difference and Tristan’s low self esteem would have been enough without it.  However that wasn’t a huge aspect. 

I really enjoyed this and, as far as this writing team goes, I think I enjoyed this one the most and I’m looking forward to more from the series.

 

This is highly recommended to fans of the author, fans of May/December relationships, fans  of hockey romance and fans of opposites attract.  

4 of 5 stars

 

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Spooky Review: The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks Audiobook by Josh Lanyon Narrated by Max Miller

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/The-Ghost-Wore-Yellow-Socks-Audiobook/B00AM2JACU/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1506561964&sr=1-1

Blurb

His romantic weekend in ruins, shy 20-something artist Perry Foster learns that things can always get worse when he returns home from San Francisco to find a dead body in his bathtub. A dead body in a very ugly sportscoat – and matching socks. The dead man is a stranger to Perry, but that’s not much of a comfort; how did a strange dead man get in a locked flat at the isolated Alton Estate in the wilds of the ‘Northeast Kingdom’ of Vermont? Perry turns to help from ‘tall, dark and hostile’ former navy SEAL Nick Reno – but is Reno all that he seems?
**This title contains gay erotic content**

Review

The title of this story intrigued me. This is a murder mystery rather than a ghost story. The whodunnit is from the very beginning right to the end of the story. An excellent tale that kept me guessing. There are a lot of quirky suspicious characters all of whom are played very well by Max Miller. The most outstanding one for me was Nick Reno. He gave him such a rough gravelly voice so well suited to the dour former Navy Seal. The story has such a lovely gothic feel about it with the rambling house and unusual tenants. I liked the slow building relationship between Perry and Reno. I really wasn’t sure where it was going, kept me guessing just like the murder mystery aspect. Reno is a softy under all the hard Navy Seal exterior. Whereas Perry comes across as a softy but we come to understand how strong he is. There are a few misdirections in this story just like the classic old school murder mysteries.

Overall I enjoyed this audiobook. Max Miller’s narration enhances the excellent dialogue bringing that extra vitality to the story.

 

4 of stars out of 5

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(Don’t forget – commenters on this month’s “spooky reviews” will be entered to win some Jordan L Hawk swag or $15 from Dreamspinner!)

 

   

 

 

 

 

Back To School Month: Rim Shot by Skylar M Cates

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/rim-shot-by-skylar-m-cates-8880-b

Blurb

Can college roommates go from friends to lovers?

Kyle: I’m confident that with hard work, my position as point guard can carry me from rural Indiana to the NBA. I also know I’m attracted to guys, but admitting it might disappoint my father, who is all I have in this world. I have big dreams, so I’ll stay in the closet. As long as my life remains scandal-free, I have a shot.

Micah: My large family can’t spare the money to help with my education, but that won’t stop me from studying medicine. I needed to get out of the house I was sharing with my ex before I went insane. Luckily, I heard about a guy looking for a roommate. Living with a straight jock won’t be easy, but it’s a chance I’m willing to take.

Review

I thought this was really sweet. There is a lot of “learning sex” in this book but it’s done well and with the feels that should accompany it. I thought it felt pretty organic and authentic and wasn’t too much of a stretch to believe.

I really bonded with these guys and enjoyed watching their story emerge.

All in all this was sweet and enjoyable and I highly recommend it to fans of college/GFY/OFY stories.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Back to School Month: The Quarterback by Mackenzie Blair


Riptide Presents

http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/the-quarterback

Blurb

Matt Lancaster is the star quarterback at Bodine College, a small Southern Division II school with an ultra-conservative Dean of Athletics. Matt is also very much in the closet, and he thinks he’s kept his secret well hidden. Until his best friends take him to a happy endings massage parlor and request a male masseuse for him.

In walks Trevor Kim, a gorgeous, pierced, tattooed fellow Bodine student who does massages—without happy endings—to pay for school after his family kicked him out for being gay. Trevor takes one look at Matt and breaks all his own rules about mixing business with pleasure.

Matt needs to keep his scholarship, win the National Championship, and survive his asshole father. Instead, he falls in love. Trevor needs to accept that the football god is meant to end up with him rather than a perky cheerleader. It’s time for a happy ever after for both of them.

Review

Well, ‘tis the season for sports minded romance! This is one of three or four GFY or supposedly straight guys finding their gay side that I’ve read in the last month. Honestly, they’ve all been really good, so I haven’t minded one bit!

What I liked about this was that Trevor speaks up for himself and isn’t willing to be shut up in a closet. Trevor is also pretty unique and funny and as a character, was a lot of fun.

Matt is pretty typical, as far as jock characters go – though I found his willingness to try things at the happy ending massage place pretty funny.

There is quite a bit of exploratory/virgin sex , some pretty unrealistic team mates and some super awesome family members. The dialog was witty and fun and there wasn’t a lot of football to get in the way of the romance – which I appreciated!

I really enjoyed this and recommend it to fans of GFY/OFY jock/nerd romances.

4.5 of 5 stars

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Back to School Month: My Roommate’s a Jock Well Crap Audiobook by Wade Kelly Narrated by Jason Lovett

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/my-roommates-a-jock-well-crap-by-wade-kelly-5407-b

 

Blurb

 
It’s easy to become cynical when life never goes your way.

Cole Reid has been a social recluse since he was fifteen, when he was outed by his high school baseball team. Since then, his obsessive-compulsive behavior and sarcastic nature have driven away most of the population, and everyone else hates him because he’s gay. As he sees it, he’s bound to repulse any prospective friends, let alone boyfriends, so why bother?

By the time Cole enters college, he’s become an anal-retentive loner—but it’s not a problem until his roommate graduates and the housing department assigns Ellis Montgomery to move in with Cole. Ellis is messy, gorgeous, straight, and worst of all, a jock!

During a school year filled with frat buddies, camping expeditions, and meddling parents, Cole and Ellis develop a friendship that turns Cole’s glass-half-empty outlook on its head. There must be more to Ellis than a fun-loving jock—and maybe Cole’s reawakening libido has rekindled his hope for more than camaraderie.

Review

From the title I went into this story thinking it was going to be a comedy and whilst there are a few amusing parts it is mainly a romance. Cole was equally endearing and frustrating. I understand the reasoning behind his neuroses he seems like a hard person to live with. Not that a Ellis is a saint but he seems to understand how comfort and reassure Cole, drawing him back out into college life. Ellis’s friends Rob and Russell are great characters. They provide the foil for jokes and a 3rd person view speculating on whether there is anything going on between Cole and Ellis. I liked the way they were manoeuvred in to being roommates by Stan, very devious. In regards to Cole and Ellis’s relationship I liked how all the doubts and insecurities were portrayed. Both of them had their own issues to come to terms with including Cole realising he had built up a prejudice against jocks. Ellis had the harder time though, he had to come to terms with being gay and loosing his virginity. It was good that Cole wasn’t stereotypical timid Nerd and Ellis the big confident jock. I liked seeing their frailties, made feel a more realistic situation. The only part I didn’t like was when the story switched to Cole’s mother’s view point. I didn’t really see the reasoning behind it.

Jason Lovett is a good narrator, perfect sound for young adults. He reads the story rather than perform it and that suited me fine. I didn’t have any trouble distinguishing between the characters because their personalities were so distinct and he puts a lot of expression into the narration.

4 of 5 stars

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The Druid Next Door (Fae Out of Water #2) by E.J. Russell

release day review

Riptide Presents

https://riptidepublishing.com/titles/the-druid-next-door

Blurb

Professor Bryce MacLeod has devoted his entire life to environmentalism. But how effective can he be in saving the planet when he can’t even get his surly neighbor to separate his recycling?

Former Queen’s Enforcer Mal Kendrick doesn’t think his life could get any worse: he’s been exiled from Faerie with a cursed and useless right hand. When he’s not dodging random fae assassins in the Outer World, he’s going toe-to-toe with his tree-hugging neighbor. And when he discovers that the tree-hugger is really a druid, he’s certain the gods have it in for him—after all, there’s always a catch with druids. Then he’s magically shackled to the man and expected to instruct him in Supernatural 101.

All right, now things couldn’t possibly get worse.

Until a mysterious stranger offers a drunken Mal the chance to gain back all he’s lost—for a price. After Mal accepts, he discovers the real catch: an ancient secret that will change his and Bryce’s life forever.

Ah, what the hells. Odds are they won’t survive the week anyway.

Review

This is a great series!
I’m gonna admit that I don’t really love long books. I like to dive in and get my happy and move on. That’s just how I am. (I love short stories for that reason, too!) So… when I see long(ish) books I tend to be leery… but… this totally pays out!

While this can definitely be a standalone, I recommend reading book one first: https://openskyebookreviews.com/cutie-and-the-beast-fae-out-of-water-1-by-e-j-russell/ because it sets up a lot of the very important backstory for the main conflict found here.
However, the author does explain the history, so if you start with this, you’ll be fine.

Being from Oregon I had to laugh at all the “eco consciousness” that Mal fights against. It’s pretty funny! There are several other “inside” jokes about the PNW but really, anyone who understands how liberalism can go to extremes will appreciate them.

Mal is vain and from another generation and it was so gratifying to see him paired with someone like Bryce. Bryce, who seems mild mannered, has a backbone of steel and when it comes to what he cares about he won’t be pushed around. The two get magically linked and from there the two find they also share a powerful sexual connection as well. (This was really interesting – I won’t spoil it- but there’s more here than meets the eye!)

We get to see a lot of David and a bit of Alun in this story, as well – which was fun. There’s the overarching “mystery” of a curse which is tied to David’s story and a somewhat hysterical and daunting list of “tasks” to break the curse – which ties back numerous times to David’s story as well.

This book was even funnier than book one and had lots of magic and was maybe even a bit more steamy than Cutie as well.

I’m giving this 4.5 instead of 5 because there were a few times when the curse/mystery/etc seemed to drag a bit and some of Bryce’s inner waffling got a bit repetitive. However, it was a page turner and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I really hope we get this series on audio because I think it will be even better in the hands of a great narrator!

Highly Recommended!

4.5 of 5 stars

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Boys Don’t Cry by J.K. Hogan

Amazon Link

https://www.amazon.com/Boys-Dont-Cry-J-K-Hogan-ebook/dp/B072BWDD8L/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1498852521&sr=1-1&keywords=boys+don%27t+cry+hogan
Free on KU!

Blurb

Mackenzie Pratt is having the worst luck of his life. His apartment building is being torn down, and since he’s jobless and just weeks away from graduating college, he can’t find anywhere else he can afford to live that isn’t a critter-infested dump. As he’s lamenting the very real possibility of job hunting while couch-surfing, he gets an offer from the coworker of his best friend.

An in-demand mobile app developer and heir to his parents’ fortune, Laurent Beaudry is literally an eccentric billionaire. Even though Mackenzie realizes he’s basically living the plot of a cheesy romance novel, he takes the proffered room in Laurent’s Baltimore mansion. He finds his new housemate to be grumpy, brooding, and, at times, incredibly kind and endearing.

Raised by his brother after their father’s death, Mackenzie spent his formative years plowing headlong through school, focusing on little else beyond earning his teaching certification. He’s never taken the time to explore love and relationships, much less sexuality, so when he finds himself being courted by another man, he has no idea what to do. And when he realizes he might actually return those feelings, his life takes a whole new direction.

Review

This was a very unique story and while I’m not sure that I “loved” it – I was glad I’d read it and I found it fascinating.

From what I’ve read this is like a novelized magna/anime story and I read that it’s got a classical theme from that genre.

It’s a bit odd because our MC declares his permanent declaration of love pretty much right from the start. Laurent is definitely eccentric and has that loveable dorkiness to him that appeals to the geek-lover in me. Mackenzie is also clueless in that he’s never really thought about himself in a sexual manner so Laurent’s advances take him by surprise.

There were some times when I felt like Laurent definitely pushed the limits of acceptable “no means no” when I really mean “yes” and I didn’t always like how the introduction of sex was handled – but in the end I thought the abundance of feels and I love yous balanced this out.

If you’re like me and not super familiar with magna/anime I’d read this and see what you think!

I really enjoyed this!

4 of 5 stars

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