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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Categories
adult - 18+

Pieces of You audiobook by N.R. Walker, narrated by Glen Lloyd

audiobookreview

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53351569-pieces-of-you?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=xyeXC1Pzm9&rank=1

Blurb
Dallas Muller has everything he never expected he’d have. He owns a successful motorbike mechanic shop in Newcastle, and he’s madly in love with his boyfriend of four years, Justin Keith.

Justin has always struggled to find where he fit in, never realising his true worth or what it means to be loved—until he met Dallas. Living and working together might be too much for some, but Dallas and Justin wouldn’t have it any other way.

When a terrible accident tears their world apart, Justin’s left with no memory of Dallas or their relationship. Trying to put the pieces back together is almost impossible when some pieces are blank and some are missing altogether. Dallas has to let Justin find his own way back to him and just hope that their love will light the way.

Review
The narration was an issue for me, I think the narrator had a weird cadence when the characters were not talking, and it threw me off. When characters were speaking, he had a great range of emotions, distinct voices and I liked the narration a lot. It was still hard for me to ignore all the other parts when he had his normal speaking voice. It was not bad. I just didn’t click with it and it was bothering me all the time.
Listening to the story a second time (after reading the e-book) I still felt like the ending was a bit too cut off. Even though it was a soft cliffhanger type of ending, I felt like I was missing pages and looked to make sure I had read through.
What I loved: The way the amnesia and hospital stay were described. It felt much more realistic them any book I read with a similar plot, and it punches you in the gut that much harder because of it. The plot revolves around a few characters, and it feels small yet significant in its focus on them. The story flowed so well, and I adored how Dallas made sure to keep the boundaries so Justin could feel safe to recover and feel what ever he felt without pressure to remember the years he lost.
I did feel like towards the end it became a bit rushed to have a sort of HFN ending. And to me the Slow Burn, and the wonderful, gentle pace of the story were lost. I look forward to the next piece of the story to see how Dallas and Justin face the new challenges that will surely come their way.

Number of stars out of 3 of 5



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Categories
adult - 18+

The Captain and the Baker (The Captivating Captains #7) by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54451031-the-captain-and-the-baker?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=3fYNEGJETN&rank=1

Blurb
When a hot-tempered TV chef and a mild-mannered baker meet on the rugged Cornish coast, they’ve got the perfect ingredients for a red-hot snack.

Sweary and stressed celebrity chef Jake Brantham is the captain of several floating restaurants. When he’s sent to the idyllic village of Porthavel to turn a pirate ship into the next gastronomic sensation, it’s the last place on earth he wants to be.

Locryn Trevorrow is the bakery king of Cornwall. From the humble pasty to a wedding cake fit for a mermaid queen, there’s nothing he doesn’t know about the art of baking. He lives in a cosy world of gingham and ganache, but at night he goes home to his smugglers’ cottage alone.

When he’s adopted by a lost kitten, Jake soon discovers that there’s more to Portavel than cream teas, lobster pots, and the annoyingly fastidious Locryn. As the village prepares for the wedding of its favourite young couple, Jake and Locryn find themselves as unlikely matchmakers for two locals who’d given up on love.

Torn between the call of Hollywood and the kisses of Locryn, will Jake choose a mansion in Beverly Hills or a cottage on the Cornish coast?

Review
The Captain and the Baker was another delightful read in the Captivating Captains series. I am obsessed with cooking shows and competitions, add in British humour and this book had everything I like.
The main characters, Loc and Jake are complete opposites. I loved all the banter between these two. My only negative about this book was that it was told from only one point of view, I really would have loved to get some scenes from Loc’s view. Otherwise this is a fun, quick read.
I highly recommend this book!!
4 stars



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Categories
adult - 18+

Paint by Number by Andrew Grey

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/paint-by-number-by-andrew-grey-11718-b

Blurb

When New York painter Devon Starr gives up his vices, his muses depart along with them. Devon needs a change, but when his father’s stroke brings him home to Alaska, the small town where he grew up isn’t what he remembers. Enrique Salazar remembers Devon well, and he makes it his personal mission to open Devon’s eyes to the rugged beauty and possibilities all around them. The two men grow closer, and just as Devon begins to see what’s always been there for him, they’re called to stand against a mining company that threatens the very pristine nature that’s helping them fall in love. The fight only strengthens their bond, but as the desire to pick up a paintbrush returns, Devon also feels the pull of the city. A man trapped between two worlds, Devon can only follow where his heart leads him.

Review
Paint by Number was another great story by Andrew Grey. This story, like most of Andrew’s books is sweet and full of feelings. I really enjoyed the two main characters, Devon and Enrique. I like that these two have a long history between them. Friends to Lovers is one of my comfort tropes. I thought that I might have a hard time with this book since Devon is a recovering alcoholic and that subject tends to be a touchy one for me, but Andrew handled the subject well. I also like the fact this this story took places in Alaska. Unlike the last few books I read from Andrew, this one really sucked me in. It’s written very well (not surprising), has compelling characters and beautifully described settings.
If you’ve never read a book from Andrew Grey and even if you have, I highly recommend this one.

5 stars


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Categories
adult - 18+

Where Love Grows by Jay Northcote Narrated by Hamish Long

audiobookreview

https://www.audible.com/pd/Where-Love-Grows-Audiobook/B08FNHCYYJ?qid=1598094909&sr=1-1&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=QJM4STCKDHFSPQ5A34ZW

Blurb
When two broken men look to each other for help, an unexpected romance blooms.
Stephen’s home, deep in the heart of the Welsh valleys, suits his reclusive nature. However, as he recovers from illness, he’s struggling to manage alone. As nature reclaims the land he’s poured his heart into cultivating, he becomes increasingly unhappy. His only outlet is his blog, where he documents the decline of the garden that had been his pride and joy.
He was a high-flyer, living and working in London, until addiction sent him into free fall. Now on the road to recovery, he still wants to make some changes, but he’s unsure where to find the purpose and fulfilment he craves.
A mutual acquaintance suggests Luke visits Stephen to help him out for a while, and a seed of hope is planted. From prickly beginnings, shoots of friendship emerge, blossoming into a deeper connection when they act on their mutual attraction.
This was only ever supposed to be a temporary arrangement, and soon Stephen will be able to manage on his own again. But both men need each other in ways they’re afraid to admit. If their love is going to last for more than one season, they’ll need to find the courage to be honest.
Review
Story: I think this might very well be the best book Jay Northcote has written so far. There’s just so much emotion in this story. And the writing… it’s simply incredible. Such a pleasure to listen to, especially the almost poetic, evocative descriptions of nature and some of the MC’s internal musings. A book to be savored and enjoyed, never rushed.
Luke and Stephen get off to a rough start, but I very much enjoyed the slow but sure way their friendship developed. Stephen is a tough nut to crack. His heart, health, pride and self-esteem have suffered countless blows. He’s lost so much: his parents, his health, a job he loved, … and he finds it nearly impossible to believe he can have happiness again. He’s super prickly and antagonistic as a result, but so vulnerable underneath his hard exterior. Luke, on the other hand, is very open about how he feels and tries his hardest to form a connection with Stephen. He’s such a sweetheart and has his own cross to bear, unfortunately. Luke and Stephen both tugged on my heartstrings something fierce.
This book has an almost magical “Secret Garden” feel to it, with a prominent role going to Nature, with all its beauty and promise of growth and resilience. The garden slowly blossoming under Luke’s care wonderfully mirrors the progress both Luke and Stephen make as well.

Narration: Hamish Long is the perfect choice for this audiobook. His honeyed voice and wonderful ability to capture every emotion, however small or subtle, make this into a mesmerizing listen. I love the voices he does for both Stephen and Luke, though Stephen’s slight accent is especially enjoyable to listen to.

 

Number of stars out of 5: 6


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