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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


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Categories
adult - 18+

Demon’s Wish by Xenia Melzer

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56144105-demon-s-wish

Blurb: Finding love is hard—especially when you’re a demon and your potential mate is your sacrifice…

Sammy is content with running his bookshop and leading a book club consisting solely of paranormal creatures. Despite the persistence of his friends, he has resolved himself to a life without romance, since he doesn’t think anybody could find him and his tendency to spill useless knowledge whenever he gets nervous attractive.

Dresalantion is a demon prince and slightly—make that majorly—annoyed when somebody persistently tries to summon him. He finally decides to show up and put the fear of Dresalantion into his summoners but finds himself rescuing their sacrifice instead.

Sammy intrigues him from the get-go, and when Dre realizes that Sammy can get him the manga he’s been hunting for months—not to mention that he refuses a wish he offered him—the sexy demon decides to get to know this fascinating man better. Much better.

Review: I loved this story! Dre, a demon prince has been summoned, (via a potential human sacrifice), to do the bidding of some misguided kids – he soon sets them straight! The sacrifice, Sammy, is quick to realise that he’s in a bit of a predicament, what with facing off with a demon. However, Dre surprises both Sammy and himself by wanting to get to know Sammy better.
Sammy is a nerdy delight – he’s smart, unconsciously funny, full of trivia, which happens to be Dre’s favourite thing. I loved everything about the story – the banter, the friendship/dating thing both men had going on and some of the secondary characters, like the members of Sammy’s book club. I started to highlight some of my favourite lines, but I would have ended up highlighting the entire book!
Definitely one of my new favourite books!

5 stars out of 5

Copy generously provided by author

 

Categories
adult - 18+

Half a Cowboy by Andrew Grey

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/half-a-cowboy-by-andrew-grey-11801-b

Blurb

Ever since his discharge from the military, injured veteran Ashton Covert has been running his family ranch—and running himself into the ground to prove he still can. Ben Malton knows about running too. When he takes refuge in Ashton’s barn after an accident in a Wyoming blizzard, he’s thinking only of survival and escaping his abusive criminal ex, Dallas. Ashton has never met a responsibility he wouldn’t try to shoulder. When he finds Ben half-frozen, he takes it upon himself to help. But deadly trouble follows Ben wherever he goes. He needs to continue on, except it may already be too late. Something about Ben makes Ashton feel whole again. But before they can ride into the sunset together, they need to put an end to Dallas’s threats. Ben can make a stand, with Ashton’s help—only it turns out the real danger could be much closer to home.

Review

The story starts out promising with the strong cowboy with a protective streak who is immediately touched by the misfortune of a mysterious city boy on the run from his dangerous ex. Ashton is there to help Ben and is willing to keep him safe from the first, even when that means bringing danger upon himself and his friends. This felt a bit rushed for me. I’d have liked them to have had more time to form a connection to justify Ashton jumping in so quickly as Ben’s selfless hero. As they prepare to face Dallas, Ben’s crime boss ex, they grow closer and start to fall for each other. Ben’s background story was left too vague, and I never felt truly convinced of his dire situation over the years nor his supposed gullibility. And so I couldn’t really get behind the romantic plot between Ben and Ashton. They both also could have been drawn with a little more nuance and depth. These MC’s that have known pain and disappointment, which affords the author plenty of opportunity for character growth, but Ben and Ashton still seem too much like formulaic stereotypes, and their struggles sometimes veered dangerously close to self-absorbed ‘whiny’ territory. There are several secondary characters in the story to help create a world around our two MC’s, both to give that sense of finding family and to increase the suspense and dangerous vibes through Dallas and his goons. The first worked out well, but the latter fell a little flat, mostly because Dallas is a bit of a letdown as a villain. The author did have some surprises up his sleeve as the criminal aspect of the plot thickened, which was a nice plus.

 

Number of stars out of 5: 3



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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+

Title: Gifts for the Season: Winter and Christmas MM Charity Anthology by RJ Scott

 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55844350-gifts-for-the-season?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=L2hifpndml&rank=1

Gifts for the Season: Winter and Christmas MM Charity Anthology by RJ Scott with Annabeth Albert, Joanna Chambers, Eli Easton, Suki Fleet, Lane Hayes, Annabelle Jacobs, Alex Jane, Amber Kell, Garrett Leigh, V.L. Locey, Clare London, Posy Roberts, Felice Stevens, A.E. Via

Blurb: A charity anthology from your favorite MM romance authors featuring fifteen brand new stories.

Review: A really good collection of Christmas-themed stories from a great group of authors. Let me start by saying I enjoyed most of the stories, they’re short in length, (all under 40 pages). Some stories are new romances, but many have established couples, so the stories were more of a glimpse into their lives.
I didn’t add individual ratings because I wouldn’t have been able to fairly rate the non-standalones.

The standalones
An Unworthy Gift (AE Via): 2 men who don’t have a reason to celebrate the season find each other and create a reason to. For a short story, it really felt like a novella. And more importantly, as an AE Via story it had a lot of steam 

Dressed in Holiday Style (V.L. Locey)
Fun story  Jakob, a diva-esque window dresser is a bit stressed due to being behind at work. He spots another window dresser at a rival shop, Chet and thinks that Chet is copying/stealing his ideas. This is a humourous story with a snowball fight and other incidents. Jakob and Chet are quite different but suit each other well.

Single Dad Christmas (RJ Scott): Short, sweet pining age gap story. Austin is the Dad pining for Paul. Paul, the manny looking after Austin’s triplets, plans to leave the household. Austin has to find the courage to ask him to stay. Really good story.

The First Snow of Winter (Joanna Chambers): A really good story. It’s a historical take on the trapped together trope. Sam and Jasper revisit their past, set the misconceptions straight and make a path for their future. Including Jasper accepting Sam as he is, disability be damned.

Driving Home for Christmas (Annabelle Jacobs)
Jared is stranded on the motorway and unable to get home for Christmas. He’s saved by his estranged friend, Tom. They end up stranded with one bed and time on their hands to resolve their issues. Enjoyable second chance story.

Homestead for the Holidays (Alex Jane)
CJ and Jace are college buddies who are at CJ’s family for the holidays. Jace is in love with CJ, while the latter is clueless. This is a sweet best friends to lovers story.

Twelve Days of UPS (Eli Easton)
Really good! A variation of secret santa – Dan is a UPS delivery guy who delivers packages to Paul, however, Paul doesn’t know who’s ending the gifts and he’s starting to fall for Dan. The feeling is mutual and things progress. It was nice to see the slow build between both men 

Five Gold Blings (Clare London)
A meeting between Gray (a delivery guy) and Alec, a vlogger in a bind results in a whirlwind of a relationship, from becoming business partners to moving in together in short space of time. Cute story.

Sojourn for Christmas (Posy Roberts)
Sawyer has been kicked out from home for being gay. Gregg, an older guy whose dog he walks, offers to let him stay at his place. Sawyer is attracted to the older man, but despite that, their relationship is that of friendship. Not sure if this is a prequel to another book, but seemed like there could be more. Wasn’t one of my favourites.

The non-standalones
Out for the Holidays (Lane Hayes)
Derek and Gabe are from Out in the Deep (which I have not read). Derek is planning to establish a bistro. Apparently his mum has not always been supportive so Gabe helps bridge the gap between them. A really lovely story of support, love and family.

Must Be Santa (Annabeth Albert)
Another established couple – Better Not Pout (which I loved) – but is great as a standalone. Nick and Teddy want to try fostering kids. This is their story of balancing being parents and partners. Sweet and heartwarming.

A Santa for Trin by Amber Kell
Apparently, this is about the Moon pack members, but it works well as a lovely holiday story. Incorporates the celebration of Christmas from both sides and kids 

Non standalones better if the previous story has been read.
Sometimes, Always (Suki Fleet)
This did not work as a standalone (for me), and since I haven’t read Sometimes There’s Stars, it didn’t resonate with me. For fans of the book (and Peri and Echo), you’ll be in for a treat.

No Place Like Home (Garrett Leigh)
Another story that’s better if one has read the prior story (in this case Circle; Roads series). Great for fans of Ash and Pete.

The Gift of Forever (Felice Stevens)
MCs Torre and Frisco (from Never Say Never) are spending their first Christmas together. A bit hard to follow unless you’ve read the book.

Overall 4 stars out of 5


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Categories
adult - 18+

How to Make the Perfect Man by Catherine Curzon, Eleanor Harkstead

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55290261-how-to-make-the-perfect-man

Blurb

PART OF THE SOME LIKE IT HAUNTED COLLECTION

Love isn’t science. It’s alchemy.

Needing a date for the hottest Hallowe’en party in town, scientist Aubrey Waldegrave sets to work creating his perfect man. Unfortunately, the Adonis who emerges from his laboratory is a free spirit who has no time for Aubrey’s brogues and tweeds.

Alchemist Trismegistus Nimlet can turn anything into gold, but when his apocathery’s alligator starts talking back and his werewolf allergy leaves him sneezing, it looks like Halloween might be a washout. Worse still, is Tris really about to lose the chap he secretly loves to a manmade surfer dude who’s more flash than Frankenstein?

With werewolves leaving fur in the ornamental fountains and a banshee making enough noise to wake the dead, Aubrey’s Halloween is going from bad to worse. All he wanted was to make his perfect man, but what if he was right there all along?

Review
This was a delightful story. It starts out a bit like Frankenstein, Aubrey creates “Adam”, a perfect man to be his date for the annual Halloween party. Things don’t go the way he plans. His perfect man ends up being a surfer boy who had an aversion to clothes and who wants to be called Kai. They are joined by Tris, Aubrey’s long-term friend, and the man Aubrey really pines for. The great mixture of characters and creatures really make this story. There are werewolves, banshee’s, sequin wearing frogs and a reanimated talking stuffed alligator. This is a very short story but so worth the read!

4 stars


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Categories
adult - 18+

Heart by Garrett Leigh; narrated by Dan Calley

audiobookreview
Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23288462-heart?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=wQNrPwx1xl&rank=4

Blurb:
Cornish pastry chef Seb Wright dreads the summer tourist season. The cash injection to his artisan fudge pantry is more than welcome, the extra work, less so. Then one summer, a shadowy Good Samaritan catches his eye. Irish Traveller Dex is bewitching, a beautiful sullen enigma who turns Seb’s world upside down until he disappears in the night, vanishing like a mystical summer rain.

Twelve months later Dex is in the midst of a dark storm. A slave to his master, ‘Uncle’ Braden, he spends his days cleaning caravans and his nights working in Braden’s other businesses. His short summer with Seb seems a lifetime ago. Lost in the savage violence of the murky underworld, he doesn’t dare dream he’ll ever find his way back, until one night, a brutal crime opens the door for a chance escape. A new life beckons, old faces emerge, and immersed in the heady vibe of London’s East End, new love begins to heal his fractured heart.

Story: Seb and Dex, the journey to their HEA is mix of hurt/comfort, love, acceptance and hot intimate scenes. There is a fair bit of angst – Dex’s home life is a very unhappy , sometimes horrific life – but ultimately these men get to fall in love and be together. Garrett Leigh writes beautiful stories that pull at your heartstrings, make you tear up, and ultimately give you a warm, fuzzy feeling at the end. Lovely story!

Narration: Dan Calley made this an awesome listen! He got Seb’s slightly gruff demeanour and Cornish burr. Dex’s Irish lilt was not overdone – just enough that you know it’s there, but not overwhelmed by it. I loved how he captured the slow burn romance, the love and patience that Seb had for Dex, and Dex’s vulnerable, but not completely broken, spirit.
Highly recommend listening to this, it’s really a great way to enjoy the book!



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Uncategorized

Clarity of Lines by N.R. Walker; narrated by Nick J. Russo

audiobookreview

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26081236-clarity-of-lines?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=P1MpNcHpUF&rank=1

Blurb:
When some lines blur, others become crystal clear.

Absolutely smitten, Thomas Elkin and Cooper Jones have decided they’re prepared to give a relationship a try.
What they’re not prepared for is the reaction from their families, who try to force them apart. Both men are about to learn that there are lines that define us. Sometimes the lines blur, sometimes the lines become crystal clear.

Review:
Story: The May-Dec romance between Tom and Cooper continues to strengthen; good thing to because now they have to deal with family trying to pull them apart.
I loved how they weathered the family maelstrom – disapproving ex-wife, shocked and disappointed parents – without having any drama between them. They dealt with the family issues using humour, love hot/steamy times (with each other ) and patience. Lovely story!

Narration: Nick J. Russo is a really good narrator and he really shines with this series! His voice for Cooper is spot on, especially capturing his youth and almost perpetual horniness, lol! His voices for the other characters, especially Tom are just as good. This is really a great way to enjoy the series!

Story: 4.5 stars
Narration: 4.5 stars



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Categories
adult - 18+

There Goes Sunday School By: Alexander C. Eberhart Narrated by: Joel Leslie

audiobookreview
https://www.audible.com/pd/There-Goes-Sunday-School-Audiobook/1705249442?qid=1601593441&sr=1-1&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=TM9R2TGEP01XNQPQFSS3

Blurb
In 16-year-old Mike Hernandez’s life, only one thing is clear: Gay is not okay. His family’s life revolves around the church, a church run by the vocally intolerant Pastor Myers, so Mike has resolved to spend his life in the closet. His only escape – besides the occasional, anonymous gay make-out session – is his art. He pours his complicated emotions into risque drawings he keeps in a secret sketchbook. A sketchbook he carries everywhere.
When his sketchbook goes missing in the middle of Sunday school, Mike is sure his life is over. He’s going to be outed, ostracized by their community, condemned by the pastor, maybe even homeless. What’s worse, the pastor’s son, Chris, suddenly seems hell-bent on adopting Mike and his friends, and he has no idea why.
When an awkward confrontation with Chris leads to an unexpected kiss instead of a much-expected punch, Mike’s world is turned upside down. As their friendship grows and faith is questioned, Mike may be forced to choose between the comfortable life he’s always lived and a chance at the love he never thought he deserved.
Review
There Goes Sunday School was a funny, yet heartbreaking coming out story.

We have Mike, who seem like the all-American teenage kid. He has his two best friends, Tanner and Jackie. They hang out, smoke a little pot and just act like normal teenagers. Although Mike is hiding a secret. He’s gay. He is afraid of coming out. His family are heavily involved in Church, Mike even goes to a Christian high school. He crosses paths with his pastor’s son Chris and the two have a tenuous friendship. Eventually, Chris reveals that he is gay as well and their friendship becomes quite rocky as Mike’s fears take hold.

My heart really broke for Mike and Chris. These were just two young guys who wanted to be loved and to belong. They had to grow up in a toxic church environment. There is a line in the story were Mike says that there are no happy endings for him, because he is an abomination, and abominations don’t get happy endings. This broke me. It reminded of my own issues with the Christian church.
This is actually a pretty funny book; despite the heavy issues it deals with. Mike’s friends, Tanner and Jackie are hilarious. I love the bickering between these too. I also like the interaction between Mike and his sister Rosie, even though there are too many scenes between the two of them. I was a tad bit disappointed with the ending. Even though this is a book dealing with high schoolers, I wanted a big happily ever after, which I know is unrealistic but that’s me and my big mushy heart.

Narration by Joel Leslie was fantastic, as always. He did a great job, bringing these characters to life. I was really impressed with his ability to have these kids sound like kids.

I strongly recommend this audiobook!!!

5 of 5 stars


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Categories
adult - 18+

Mr. Perfect by Aimee Nicole Walker

Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55346405-mr-perfect?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=HvzH1qMDGS&rank=1

Blurb:
By day, Felix Franklin is an investigative journalist. By night, he produces Sinister in Savannah, an investigative podcast, with his two best friends. Felix’s life revolves around three principles: fortune favors the bold, honesty is everything, and love is for schmucks.

The podcast is back to investigate allegations that a local businessman is dabbling in money laundering. On the surface, everything about Cameron Spencer, aka The Auto King, appears to be perfect. The trio of trouble quickly learns all that glitters is not gold. Seeking the truth will challenge Felix’s convictions and put his life in grave danger. The biggest threat to his well-being isn’t an unknown villain; it’s the reappearance of his first and only love.

Jude Arrow had it all: great looks, charming personality, and a lucrative career as Atlanta’s hottest news anchor. So, why had he recently relocated to Savannah? When the two reporters are forced to work together, Felix will get a chance to ask him. The answer will stun Felix until he remembers not to believe anything that comes out of the heartbreaker’s pretty mouth.

Love and hate are two sides of the same coin and just as conflicting as the battle of wills that ensues. Will the chip on Felix’s shoulder save him from trusting Mr. Wrong or ruin his chances with Mr. Perfect?

Review: Book 2 of the Sinister in Savannah series and is best read in order – book 1 is a great start to the series.
From the first book, we already know that Felix, one of the podcast crew, has a history with Jude. We also know the story that the pocast crew is going to chase down. What we don’t know is how involved both the past (Felix and Jude’s) and the investigation is going to be. Boy, was this an exciting story!
The ‘former-lovers-to-enemies’ feelings Felix had for Jude was sort of deserved and he kept them up for a good amount of time – it was well done, didn’t go overboard – and when both men sort things out, it’s not all plain sailing, but they get their HEA.
The investigative story goes from being a local warranty scam to a much bigger crime issue, including murder. It kept me invested in wanting to see how it would end. Of course, towards the end we find out Rocky’s love interest – that is going to be hella interesting!
I highly recommend this series and the one before that introduces the podcast members.

5 stars out of 5


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