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Secret Santa by Jay Northcote, narrated by Hamish Long

audiobookreview

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56332312-secret-santa

https://www.audible.com/pd/Secret-Santa-Audiobook/B08QM5PVF5?ref=a_library_t_c5_libItem_&pf_rd_p=85df3330-9dc4-4a45-ae69-93cc2fc25ca4&pf_rd_r=JC0N6CW947WKQVNCNC5C

Blurb
Keeping secrets is never a good way to start a relationship.
Theo hardly has time to date. Between work and caring for his four-year-old son, there aren’t many hours left over. He’s lonely though, so he joins a hook-up app and starts chatting to a guy called Luke. Luke seems friendly, and they arrange to meet. Theo doesn’t mention that he has a child. It’s early days, and he’s worried about putting Luke off before they get to know each other.
Luke is currently working as Santa at the local shopping mall. He figures Theo never has to know. Christmas will be over soon, and Luke will move on to a new, less embarrassing job. He’s surprised when Theo and a little boy visit Santa one afternoon. Theo doesn’t recognize Luke, and Luke realizes he’s not the only one with a secret.
Despite misgivings on both sides, they start dating, and the chemistry is amazing. But as Christmas approaches, their secrets pile up like colorful packages under the tree. If they’re not careful, they’ll lose the best gift of all – each other.
Review
What a lovely holiday romance! Sweet and cute, giving you all the feels, but never crossing the line and becoming too mushy or overly sentimental. Perfect for finding some holiday cheer!

What truly made this story stand out for me is that it’s about two real, genuine people searching for and finding love in a realistic way while dealing with the hustle and bustle of everyday life and worries. No over the top drama or angst here!

I especially loved Archie, Theo’s little boy. He is an integral part of the story and incredibly adorable! Theo is a wonderful parent, putting his child first, and I found it really easy to relate to him because of that. I like that he has such a great relationship with Caroline and that there is no evil ex in the story.

I thought the references to Top Gear and The Great British Bake Off were a very nice touch in making the characters seem even more real and relatable. Luke, I’m with you, btw!
Narration: Utter bliss. Hamish Long is such a talented narrator! I always enjoy listening to his warm voice and was awestruck, once again, by his knack for capturing the characters’ personalities and emotions. I loved his performance of Secret Santa! He brought Theo and Luke to life in the best way.

Number of stars out of 5: 4.5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Categories
adult - 18+

A Christmas Break by Annabelle Jacobs

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55845390-a-christmas-break?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=7e0Q0Rl2uD&rank=1

Blurb

Christmas is a time for giving, not lusting after your brother’s best mate.

Finn has never had the Christmas of his dreams, and this year isn’t shaping up to be much better. Then he rents his spare room out to Jasper, and life begins to look up.

Laid-back Jasper is nothing like Finn expects. He’s hot, sweet, and easy to talk to. Finn could easily fall for him. But, he’s his brother’s best friend. He’s off limits, and Finn would never break that sacred rule…right?

Jasper has carried a torch for his best mate’s brother for years. Living with him sparks an old flame to light, and the more time they spend together, the brighter it burns. Finn is gorgeous and kind. He’s everything Jasper has ever wanted.

But he’s also scarred by old wounds and reluctant to let his guard down again. Friendship blooms, and for a short while, it’s enough. But the fire between them is undeniable. Finn can fight it as much as he likes.

He won’t win.

Review

This was a lovely, easy-to-read, feel-good love story with two adorable, well-rounded MCs. A part of the book’s plot focuses on (re-)connecting with family, which I love above all in a holiday romance. It gives this romance that extra heartwarming touch.
Jasper is Finn’s younger brother’s best friend, so they have known each other for a while; still, the author managed to write in a fun “meet-cutey” moment to start them off on the right track to new possibilities. They really shouldn’t go there, or should they? The story builds on some of my favorite tropes like forced proximity and the slightly forbidden brother’s best friend angle, and I liked what the author did with that. It never feels trite or too predictable when Finn and Jasper grow closer, and the emotional depth that sneaks in among the festive cheer is much appreciated. The writing is fluent and engaging, and I especially liked the humor interspersed among the book’s overall sweetness. The secondary characters, both human and animal, are great, the perfect cast to support our MCs. Finn’s mom is sweet but a little devious, and I loved how she “helps” Finn give a home to the most adorable rescue cats ever. I was absolutely charmed by A Christmas Break. Recommend.

 

Number of stars out of 5: 4


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Categories
adult - 18+

Holiday Review: A Stitch in Time by Asta Idonea

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/a-stitch-in-time-by-asta-idonea-11546-b

Blurb

When Connor’s friend signs him up for a crochet course, the last thing he expects is to find love. However, at the community center, he meets hunky Finn. There’s only one problem: Finn assumes Connor’s there for the boxing class, and Connor lets him believe it, worried Finn will ditch him if he knows Connor prefers crafting to upper cuts. Can they salvage the situation when the truth comes out?

Review

Very cute holiday romance with enough angst not to make it too cloyingly sweet. I really liked that both MC’s had such atypical hobby’s and the way they struggled to with (perceived) prejudices, even their own. The misunderstanding about why they’re both at the community center is resolved with some drama, but I really enjoyed how the author wrote that in. The writing flowed easily and was well-paced, never dragging nor rushing to cramp the necessary events into this novella-length story.

 

Number of stars out of 5: 4


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Categories
adult - 18+

Holiday Review: Crochet My Heart by Carol Pedroso

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2019-advent-calendar-homemade-for-the-holidays-full-set-11522-b

Blurb
Accountant Tristan plans to make a ton of crochet items for his local LGBT charity to sell at their holiday fair. His only problem? He can’t crochet.

Fortunately, the community center offers a class, and it’s taught by Charlie, who is gorgeous and sexy and seems interested. At first. Can grandmotherly fellow classmate Ivy guide the clueless men to each other, or will it take something more serious to help them see the possibilities?

Review

Crochet My Heart was a fun, sweet, little holiday romance. For being a novella, this story has everything I look for in a book. There is a great meet-cute, awkward conversation, plenty of pinning and longing looks and even a little drama. The main characters, Charlie and Tristan were well thought out and the cast of secondary were all enjoyable as well.
I recommend this story for all crochet and holiday story addicts !
4 stars


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Categories
adult - 18+

Holiday review: Rainbows in Sea Glass by Kim Katil

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/rainbows-in-sea-glass-by-kim-katil-11591-b

Blurb

Kyle has loved James, his best friend’s older brother, for as long as he can remember. Unfortunately James is a player, and Kyle has no desire to be his latest conquest. When James suddenly turns the full weight of his charm on him, Kyle flees to Cape May Point to collect sea glass and Cape May diamonds to make a St. Nicholas Day present for his aunt.

James has always taken Kyle’s presence for granted and he’s shocked to find how integral Kyle is to his life and future happiness. Braving his family’s well-meaning attempts to help and a sudden winter storm, James heads to the shore to convince Kyle that the most precious thing they’ll find on the beach is each other.

Review

Nice enough story based on a promising trope with the MC finally getting a shot at his best friend’s brother, whom he’s been pining after for years.
However, it remained too formulaic and predictably corny, and even taking into account that it’s a novella, the story seemed a bit too rushed, with one particularly brusque jump between chapters that really bugged me. Both emotionally and physically the connection between the MC’s could have been developed better, now it all felt like a little too much too fast.

 

Number of stars out of 5: 2.5



Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Categories
adult - 18+

Holiday Review: Love in 24 Frames by C.S. Poe

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/love-in-24-frames-by-cs-poe-11593-b

Blurb

Declan Groves is a CPA in New York City. His adult life is dictated by routine and borderline monotony. The need to express himself, in ways his career and crippling shyness have never allowed, leads Declan to becoming an amateur stop-motion filmmaker.

The one problem is that Declan is also in love with the Wandering Artist Studios receptionist Shota Watanabe. Shota has always had a smile and engaging comment ready for Declan, but even if it is more than casual politeness, Declan hasn’t been able to get out more than a tongue-tied sentence at a time. And a man like Shota surely has no intention of waiting forever.

So when an unexpected change to Declan’s daily schedule throws the two together outside of the studio, it might be the catalyst needed to explore what’s unspoken between them. But if they’re to have a future, Declan needs to find a way to tell Shota how he truly feels.

Review

Sweet holiday romance with two older MC’s. Declan is super shy and awkward and seeing him fumble his way through his (attempts at) conversations with Shota was quite cute. I liked how the relationship between the two men developed, unhurried, based on mutual liking and respect. Though still with quite a lot of nerves and worrying on Declan’s part. Near the end, things take an unexpected turn for the worse for Shota, but Declan comes to the rescue brilliantly and his 24 frames take care of the rest.

 

Number of stars out of 5: 3.5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Categories
adult - 18+

Holiday Review: A Boyfriend For Christmas by Jay Northcote


Good Reads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48915871-a-boyfriend-for-christmas

Blurb

Archie’s posh parents want him to meet a nice girl–how can he tell them he’s fallen for a bad boy instead?

Closeted, innocent and lonely, Archie Arandale longs for someone special in his life. A Christmas party organised by his wealth management company is the last place he expects to meet the man of his dreams.

With his leather jacket, tattoos, and piercings, Cal Turner turns heads the moment he walks through the door. He definitely isn’t looking for a boyfriend, but Archie’s hesitant charm captures his attention, and sneaking off during the party to have a little fun can only make a dull evening more interesting.

After their reckless and thrilling encounter, Archie is keen for more experience and Cal is happy to oblige. The need for secrecy means this can only be a casual fling, yet as they spend time together in the run up to Christmas, their feelings become more intense than either of them had bargained for. How can Archie find the courage to tell his family about Cal, when Cal’s the exact opposite of the ‘nice girl’ they’ve been hoping for?

Contains: A closeted virgin, a tattooed biker, class differences, a dramatic coming out, a very inappropriate Christmas gift, and a happy ending (of course).

Review

This book left me feeling giddy and optimistic. It’s a hopeful and fun read, very heartwarming, and surprisingly naughty…

The author brilliantly captures those first nervous moments of falling for someone, wondering if they’ll like you back, the excitement as well as the awkwardness that can come with firsts of any kind, and most especially the passion and delicious rush you get when falling in love.

Archie and Cal are, at first glance, an unlikely, but utterly adorable pair. The posh rich kid and the tattooed, slightly older, biker… how can anyone resist reading this story 😉 I loved that despite the small age gap, Cal and Archie are always on an equal footing and feel incredibly at ease around each other, almost from their first meeting.

Jay Northcote has a knack for writing real-life characters who seem completely genuine and authentic, and he pulls it off here too. He always makes me feel as if I could meet his MC’s just by setting foot in a pub in England, or maybe during a hike in Wales. A Boyfriend For Christmas is a light-hearted holiday romance with a great set of secondary characters, even those that make a rather awful first impression, and a great epilogue. Loved the humor and the inspirational gag gifts!

 

Number of stars out of 5: 5


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Categories
adult - 18+

Holiday Review: Christmas Ghosts by Jenn Moffatt

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/christmas-ghosts-by-jenn-moffatt-11562-b

Blurb

Dealing with the unexpected loss of his mother isn’t how carpenter Steve Browning planned to spend his Christmas. Hoping her costume jewelry can bring some happiness to others, he takes it to the local community theater, where he runs into his first love, Troy Baxter.

Troy’s trying to help his sister put on a gender-fluid version of A Christmas Carol, but no one on the cast or crew knows which end of a hammer to hold let alone use a power tool. Then a face from the past brings a present-day miracle… one that could lead to the happy future they both thought they gave up back in high school.

Review

This is a mellow second chance at love story, and I wasn’t blown away by it or the MC’s. The story builds up very slowly and the actual relationship-part of it felt sudden and rushed to me. I didn’t quite feel the magic between Troy and Steve.
I also didn’t much care for the fact that Troy had been back home so long, yet he didn’t reach out to Steve, not even when he was dealing with a devastating loss. It doesn’t really help sell the strength of their friendship or the love that supposedly still exists after all these years apart.

 

Number of stars out of 5: 2.5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: Yuletide Treasure (Goddess-Blessed #3) by Eliot Grayson

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48470441-yuletide-treasure

Blurb
There’s not enough Yuletide spirit in the world to fix this holiday disaster…

Eben Sypeman’s world is falling apart. It’s two days before Yule and his business partner is dead, leaving behind empty accounts and looming bankruptcy. And if that isn’t bad enough, his patron goddess is irritated with him. It seems she’s tired of his tendency to mince words and avoid conflict. She’s insisting—quite forcefully—that he start being totally honest with everyone, including himself. Divinely enforced honesty couldn’t have come at a less opportune time, especially when his clerk’s tall, dark and distractingly handsome son enters the picture.

The last thing on Tim Pratchett’s mind is romance. All the former soldier wants is to fill in for his sick father at work and recover from his war wounds in peace. But there’s something about the grumpy Eben that confounds and entices him in equal measure. Their timing couldn’t be worse. They’re complete opposites. And yet…none of that matters when he’s with Eben.

But if Eben and Tim have any hope of finding their very own happily ever after, they’ll have to survive a dickens of a truth curse and the machinations of a trickster goddess—all while searching for enough yuletide treasure to save them all.

A joyous, relaxing Yule indeed. Bah, humbug.

This is an M/M romance with explicit scenes, a voyeuristic pagan goddess, and an odious nephew. Despite any other possible similarities to A Christmas Carol, there are neither ghosts nor geese, but readers can expect a happy ending and at least one use of the word “dickens.”

Review
Yuletide Treasure is very, very loosely based on Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. Meaning that there are some similar phrases and an appearance of a “ghost” who is a god or patron of some sort.

Eben is a man barely holding it together. His business partner recently died and with his death Eben found out that their import business is all but bankrupt. His clerk is ill and when Eben sends him home to rest his son Timothy shows up to work in his place. Insert some awkward conversations, a meddling ghost-god, an anti-lying curse and search for missing money.

This was a charming, quirky little story that I enjoyed very much.
4 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Categories
adult - 18+

Recent Release: Rules for Santa by Susan Hawke

Good Reads
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48392412-rules-for-santa?from_search=true&qid=0FmIi4bD8n&rank=1

Blurb:
Rule #18: Daddy’s boy will always believe in his Santa Daddy.

Homeless, alone, and now jobless, Cameron Evans is lost… until he’s found after a prominent local attorney literally trips over him when the boy is passed out from dehydration.

Scott Hendrickson has two things in life: his job as an assistant district attorney, and his son Davey. Other than that, he lives alone in a house that’s too big, too empty, too… lonely.

It’s not just Cameron’s life that might change for the better when Scott takes him in. Scott can provide material things and security, but Cameron returns the favor by breathing fresh air into Scott’s stale life.

Two men who need each other… one magical holiday season. Could a little Christmas magic be all that’s needed to bring the biggest gift of all? Maybe Cameron doesn’t need a Sugar Daddy… because he already has a Santa Daddy.

This is the third book in a series about not-so-perfect Daddies, adorable “boys,” and one sassy brat with an insane list of rules. Get ready for all the squishy holiday feels you’d want from a Susan Hawke book.
Review:
When Scott finds Cameron in need of help, he doesn’t hesitate to jump in and soon the two find an attraction beginning to take shape. Both men are surprised at the depth of their feelings and must work through many obstacles before finding a happy ever after. Will the two give in to their desires and follow their hearts?
I enjoyed this installment of the Davey’s Rules series. In this book we get to see Davey’s father find a boy of his own. Scott is a good man and father; I enjoyed the relationship that he has with Davey. Their interactions add nicely to this story and Davey’s easy acceptance of Cameron is sweet. Cameron is a young man in a dire situation and even as he accepts the help Scott offers, he wants to carry his share showing what a good man he is. The two are cute together and the love that they have for one another shows in all that they do. I enjoyed seeing their relationship take shape. Scott and Cameron’s story is a wonderful story about finding love when you last expect it. As we watch their relationship take place we also get to see more from Davey and some of the others at the club and I cannot wait to see Davey finally find love. The author does a wonderful job of bringing this world and its endearing characters to life. I was quickly immersed in Scott and Cameron’s story and am excited to see what will come next in this world.

Number of stars out of 5: 4



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