Time for the Holidays: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Story Holiday Island by A.D. Ellis

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2018-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-warmest-wishes-10067-b

 

Blurb

No peacocks were harmed in the making of this story.

Rafa’s nautical skills are less than stellar. He’d rather be a full-time artist, but he has a duty to the family business and a fear of standing up to his father and brother.

Carpenter Lucas is determined to rebuild his business after a lover’s betrayal nearly destroyed it. But he runs into a snag when he misses the last boat to the job site.

Rafa offers to take him, but Rafa isn’t much of a sailor.

When they end up on the wrong island, fears for survival gradually give way to an appreciation of the beauty around them—and each other. Rafa insists a holiday miracle will save them, and he teases Lucas for being a Scrooge.

In the end, Rafa’s miracle might come from the last place he expects: inside himself.

Review

This advent calendar short story was so adorable to read. Good descriptions of the island. The scenes involving peacocks in the distance was really cute. There are sexy mm scenes without being graphic. The brother made me want to kick him. Only complaint is that it’s just too short. There are multiple potential chapter routes that the author left open for a full novel, but still a great read.

Number of stars out of 5

5

 

 

 

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

 

Time to Celebrate the Holidays: Grumble Monkey and the Department Store Elf audiobook by B.G. Thomas narrated by Donald Tursman

Dreamspinner

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/grumble-monkey-and-the-department-store-elf-by-bg-thomas-1071-

Blurb
Kit Jefferies, a part-time department store Christmas elf, is an artist who loves life and his family. Unfortunately, his car dies at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere as he is heading home for Christmas. Enter Nick St. George.

Nick is a very unhappy man—he’s achieved his professional goals only to find the rest of his life bleak and empty. Deciding there was only one way to make everything right, he is on his way to San Francisco on a dark mission, and even the horrible sleet storm that blocked his path won’t deter him. That’s when he found Kit.

At first, Nick is pretty sure rescuing Kit was a big mistake. Kit’s personality is just too, well, effervescent. But as the miles go by, Kit begins to bring light to his dark heart. It might even be bright enough to illuminate a Christmas miracle

Review
The story was part of the 2013 Dreampinner Press “Heartwarming” Advent Calendar.
Nick is such a grump, love him. He is trying to get to San Francisco before Christmas Day when he meets Kit at a rest stop. He is so dismissive and judgmental of Kit. Nick is so angry at the world and takes it out on Kit. Kit seems to be everything Nick despises about being gay. Kit and his positive attitude gets through to Nick. Although I had my suspicions Where the story was heading to it was still bit of a surprise. On seeing the cover picture I thought the story would be humorous but I don’t think it gets there. Nick and Kit’s story has a happy for now ending and overall left me feeling thoughtful rather than buoyed up in Christmas spirit.
The narrator gives some attempt to voice the characters but it does sound more like Donald Tursman is just reading the story. If you don’t listen closely it’s hared to distinguish which character was speaking. Initially there was a hollow sound to the recording but either that got better or I got used to it.

3 of stars out of 5 for the story
2 of stars out of 5 for the narration

Reviewer Name: MaryD

Purchased by reviewer

 

 

 

 

Release Day Review: Homebird by Amy Lane

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/homebird-by-amy-lane-10049-b

Blurb

Crispin Henry isn’t an adventurer. He learned early on that the world is a frightening place and that home is rare and precious. If his friends didn’t drag him to sports games and ill-advised trips to Vegas, he wouldn’t get out at all—and his trip to Munich for Oktoberfest is no exception. But it’s there that he meets Luka Gabriel, and he learns to take a chance.

Luka is a free-spirited world traveler, working at Oktoberfest to feed his enchantment with new places and new people. His only possessions fit in his backpack, and he depends on the kindness of strangers for a place to sleep. Crispin should know better—but he takes Luka’s hand anyway, and together they turn three nights in Munich into the relationship neither of them has been brave enough to risk—and neither can let go of.

When Luka turns up on Crispin’s doorstep before the holiday season, Crispin takes him in on hope alone. Yes, he knows the odds are good Luka will flutter out of his life again and leave him bereft, but isn’t it worth it to see if Luka is a homebird after all?

Review

So, part of me thinks that during the holiday season I have no business communicating with anyone about anything because the whole thing makes me grumpy and crazy – but… on the other hand it does make me more honest and maybe that’s helpful? IDK. I’m going to be the voice of dissent here – and for that I’m sorry – but…
In any case – I love Amy Lane – she is literally my favorite author ever and I listen to and re-read her books over and over and over.

Of course, when I got this, I sat down and devoured it. As expected, there are parts of it that I absolutely adored. I love Amy’s sense of humor, her style of writing, her characters… she picks common people and shows us their uncommon lives and loves – this is an amazing skill.

I loved her inspiration for this story and found myself picturing the men – both her husband’s work mates and the bartender from Germany. It’s an incredible skill to spin an entire fantasy from one set of circumstantial meetings.

But … the other shoe. Ugh. A lot of this felt too familiar to be fresh and original. We get a flighty guy (so many Amy characters fit this bill – Crick, Patrick, Tate, Scoggins, Mackey, Jefferson, Sonny …) meeting a solid guy who everyone loves but is still somehow alone (the frequent other MC in Amy stories- Deacon, Whiskey, Brian, Skip, Ford, Mason, Ace…) and a fast fall into love (this took place over a weekend) with a fair amount of time and space keeping them apart (like Crick in Germany) until he comes back and we hold our breath til he figures out he’s meant to stay (this felt very much like Richie and Skip or Mason and Jefferson especially). There just wasn’t much in this story that felt new to me.
I appreciated the guys and their support in finding Crispin love and my heart broke for some of the revelations we are witness to – but the story itself underwhelmed me. ☹
I hate even writing bad stuff about Amy’s work because I love it so much.
Maybe, if I hadn’t read so much of her other stuff I would like this one more? I’m not sure.
In any case. I liked this fine, but I didn’t love it and I really wanted to ☹

3.5 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time for the Holidays: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Story Season to Shimmer by Kim Katil

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2018-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-warmest-wishes-10067-b

 

Blurb

One morning close to the holidays, Nolan wakes up to two surprises: a distress call from his younger brother and a beautiful man in his bed. Nolan, an art gallery owner, has always been discreet about his sexuality, but when his baby brother plans to come out at the annual family gala, Nolan wants to have his back—and that means showing up with a man of his own on his arm. Nolan knows just the man for the job.

Skylar, who owns a karate studio in St. Augustine, can’t get his one-night stand out of his mind. When he runs into Nolan at his gallery he is more than happy to volunteer his services as arm candy. Out-and-proud himself with his striking blue/green hair, Skylar is all in. Their adventure means a fancy salon, family drama, lots of sex, a ninja hippo, and palm trees lit up in a very suggestive way. By the end of it, what started as a hookup might become much more.

Review

What started out as a hook up ended up turning into a whole lot more. Nolan and Skylar end up meeting again after their hookup and both men can’t take their eyes off each other. When Nolan decides to show up at a party with another man to try and take the heat off of his little brothers coming out, Skylar agrees to be Nolan’s date. Nolan is very protective of his brothers and immediately jumps in to take the wrath from his step father. While this is a very short story I feel that the ending and admission of love was rushed. Otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

4 stars

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Time for the Holidays: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Story Guess Who’s Coming to Karamu by Cy Blanca

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2018-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-warmest-wishes-10067-b

 

Blurb

Grant Cary, a twenty-eight-year-old grad student, has let his Kwanzaa shopping go to the very last minute. In his rush to get home, he quite literally bumps into Will Sheritan, a fortysomething software developer, in the elevator. But luck favors (or curses) the adventurous, because their elevator shuts down due to a blackout. Grant and Will learn about each other’s pasts and find more than just a casual interest.
Will has never celebrated Kwanzaa, and he’s reluctant to enter into a relationship, but exploring a new tradition—with a new friend—might brighten his lonely holiday. And if Will accepts Grant’s invitation to join his family for the Karamu feast, Grant might get his Imani gift early.
Review

Waiting until the last minute to buy his gifts has always gotten Grant in trouble, this time it gets him stuck in an elevator with a stranger during a store blackout. Could this be a blessing in disguise? Grant finds a new friend in Will but will with this friendship last past the elevator?

This story is a cute read. We have all wondered what we would do if stuck in an elevator and Grant gets to find out first hand. Grant is an interesting character with a painful background who finds something with Will. It was nice to watch the two men begin to connect as they wait for the elevator to begin working again. Grant has some interesting inner dialogue and keeps readers engaged to the story. Their adventure is open-ended and makes you wonder just what will happen next. It is a light and fun read with a touch of angst to it. Grant and Will begin to learn that life is what you make of it and for life to get better you have to try again.

Number of stars out of 5: 3

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Time for the Holidays: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Story That Turtle Story by CS Poe

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2018-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-warmest-wishes-10067-b

 

Blurb

Nor O’Brien spends his days in sunny Key West caring for and rehabilitating sea turtles. He doesn’t need anything else in life, expect maybe a significant other to cuddle with after a long day. But recent heartbreak has left Nor salty, and he’s not in the mood for anything, Christmas included. Then Eugene Montgomery walks into Turtle R&R, claiming to have found a clutch of eggs in distress. Nor is smitten with the tourist at first sight, and at the suggestion of his screwball colleagues, indulges in some no-strings-attached fun. Nor and Eugene are quick to get along, happily enjoy each other’s company, and take in the island’s unique holiday pleasures together. But Nor would never leave his turtles, not for any man. So when his rebound fling turns into strong romantic feelings for Eugene, it’ll take a Christmas miracle to keep the two together forever in Key West.

Review

This is an adorably cute story! It’s short, sweet and fits just right.
The blurb describes the story, so I won’t restate it; just know that it has everything – humour, attraction, some learning (turtles☺ ), colorful characters (Gus), a mini angst/misunderstanding and the promise of an HEA. I loved it!

4 stars out of 5

Copy generously provided by publisher

Time for the Holidays: Dreamspinner Advent Calendar Story The Night Sky Festival by S.A. Stovall

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/2018-advent-calendar-daily-delivery-package-warmest-wishes-10067-b

 

 

Blurb

Photographer Zach is happy to pack up his gear and head to the Mojave Desert over the holidays. Ever since his ex-husband filed for divorce a day before Christmas, it’s safe to say this isn’t Zach’s favorite time of year.

Fortunately, he stumbles upon a town where the residents seem to agree. The good people of Baker would much rather celebrate the possibility of extraterrestrials as they dance under the stars in their unique “Night Sky Festival.” The locals are interesting, to say the least, and they want Zach to join them.

But is Zach ready to let go of his holiday bitterness? And if so, whose invitation should he accept: the cute cashier, the burly single dad, or the sexy fun-loving cop?

Review

I really could not get into this story, it felt unfinished and ended abruptly. The writing was fine and there were a few funny moments, I liked the characters but the story just progressed oddly. Zach is a very grumpy man but as soon as he meets the first man in the little town of Baker he starts feeling different. After a painful divorce two years prior he could not think about men as attractive, but the men of Baker seem to have other ideas. That in itself was a fun concept, but then he meets two more men and is oddly attracted to all of them and they all hit on him strangely too. I thought it had something to do with the theme of aliens in the town and maybe have a bit of a paranormal theme going on, but it never really got clear. I was just confused because in the end I never understood why he chose one men out of the three, as he shows the same kind of attraction to all of them. It was too unfinished and confusing to me.

Number of stars out of 5
2

 

 

 

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Time to Celebrate the Holidays: Stuck with You by Jay Northcote

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42930903-stuck-with-you?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb: Patrick has been single since he broke up with his cheating ex almost a year ago. With Christmas looming, he’s resigned to spending it alone with only memories of happier times for company. When a business trip with a co-worker leaves them stranded in the Lake District due to heavy snow, it seems Patrick will have company for Christmas after all. It’s a shame his companion is Kyle, who’s undeniably attractive, but annoying as hell.
Aware of Patrick’s reluctant admiration, Kyle basks in the attention even though Patrick isn’t the type of man he normally goes for. Averse to relationships after being hurt in the past, Kyle enjoys the occasional hook up, but has given up on seeking anything more meaningful.

Stuck together, their antagonism escalates along with a heavy dose of sexual tension until it finally ignites. What starts as a Christmas fling soon feels like something special; but will their tentative connection melt away as the snow thaws? If they’re going to take a chance on finding happiness together, they’ll have to put their differences aside and learn to trust one another.

Review: This is one of the few times I didn’t fully like or connect with a character, in this case, Kyle.
The two men, Patrick, (older, somewhat staid) and Kyle, (younger, bratty) do not get along at work. Their boss sends them on a business trip, telling them to work out their differences. They get stranded near a small village and have to cohabit while waiting out a snowstorm. During this time, all the two MCs do is snark and bicker back and forth, until they admit their attraction to each other. They go from enemies to intimate in 5 seconds flat, with a little spanking thrown in. I have to admit that I didn’t feel that there was much chemistry between the Patrick and Kyle, at least not until near the end. There were some nice moments when they weren’t being defensive – both men have been hiding past hurts – especially when they celebrated Xmas.
This is not my favourite by Jay Northcote, but the author is a master at his craft, making it an overall good story.

3.5 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Time to Celebrate the Holidays: Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert book and audiobook narrated by Sean Crisden

Audible Link:

https://www.audible.com/pd/Better-Not-Pout-Audiobook/1488206163?qid=1544021897&sr=sr_1_2&ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_2&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=PRD1FWTW48ZYY2KE8E7Z&

Good Reads Link:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40242604-better-not-pout?from_search=true

Blurb
One hard-nosed military police officer.

One overly enthusiastic elf.

One poorly timed snowstorm.

Is it a recipe for disaster? Or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for holiday romance?

Teddy MacNally loves Christmas and everything that goes along with it. When he plays an elf for his charity’s events, he never expects to be paired with a Scrooge masquerading as Santa Claus. His new mission: make the holiday-hating soldier believe he was born to say ho-ho-ho.

Sergeant Major Nicholas Nowicki doesn’t do Santa, but he’s army to his blood. When his CO asks an unusual favor, Nick of course obliges. The elf to his Kris Kringle? Tempting. Too tempting—Nick’s only in town for another month, and Teddy’s too young, too cheerful and too nice for a one-night stand.

The slow, sexy make-out sessions while Teddy and Nick are alone and snowbound, though, feel like anything but a quick hookup. As a stress-free holiday fling turns into Christmas all year round, Teddy can’t imagine his life without Nick. And Nick’s days on the base may be coming to a close, but he doesn’t plan on leaving anything, or anyone, behind.

Review
This holiday romance is cute and uplifting, befitting the holiday spirit, but it also has that typical emotional intensity that I’ve come to look for in any book by Annabeth Albert. I was expecting something light and maybe a bit mushy, an easy read to get into the right frame of mind for the holidays. This was so much more than that, though.

I adored Teddy from the beginning and his good cheer and positive attitude to life make him a perfect match for Nick, who very much needs what Teddy has to offer. Even if he doesn’t realize it.

Nick is also a great character, very steady and competent, though somewhat emotionally closed-off and grumpy at first. He’s not really feeling the holiday spirit, santa claus suit notwithstanding.
Nick’s at a point in his life where he needs to find a new direction, and is feeling a bit lost.
Enter Teddy… who makes Nick feel again and pushes him to reassess how he wants to live his life. Go Teddy!

Nick and Teddy are very different in age and outlook, but they have both known loss and as a result are similarly playing it safe in some way or other. Nick more obviously so than Teddy. These two characters are just so right together, they complement and inspire each other in the very best of ways and have a great connection, both emotionally and chemistry-wise.
I felt like knocking some sense into Nick though, because he seems hell-bent on throwing away his chance at love and happiness. Stubborn man.

I love May/December stories and this was an exceptional take on that trope.

Number of stars out of 5: 5


Copy Provided for Review

Review by Morgan – audiobook

I totally agree with Karen about the story and Sean Crisden’s narration was perfection! A totally enjoyable holiday experience! Highly Recommeded!

 

Time for the Holidays: Christmas Kitsch by Amy Lane (re-release)

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/christmas-kitsch-by-amy-lane-10019-b

Blurb: Sometimes the best thing you can get for Christmas is knowing what you really want.

Rusty Baker is a blond, rich, entitled football player in a high school full of them—just the type of oblivious jock all the bullied kids hate. And he might have stayed that way, except he develops a friendship with out-and-proud Oliver Campbell from the wrong side of the tracks. Rusty thinks the friendship is just pity—Oliver is very bright, and Rusty is very not—but then Oliver kisses him goodbye when Rusty leaves for college, and Rusty is forced to rethink everything he knows about himself.

But even Rusty’s newfound awareness can’t help him survive a semester at Berkeley. He returns home for Thanksgiving break clinging to the one thing he knows to be true: Oliver Campbell is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.

Rusty’s parents disagree, and Rusty finds himself homeless for the holidays. Oliver may not have much money, but he’s got something Rusty has never known: true family. With their help and Oliver’s love, Rusty comes to realize that he may have failed college, but he’ll pass real life with flying rainbow colors.

Review: Rusty is a “nice boy”. Tries hard, plays football, dates girls… but he’s not the “quickest”. He can eventually figure things out – given enough time- but he takes awhile to get there.
Good manners and a fascination for the new kid – chocolate to Rusty’s vanilla – prompts Rusty to befriend snarky, openly gay, Hispanic and funny Oliver. Oliver can hold his own with Rusty’s “friends” but it’s Rusty who becomes Oliver’s best friend in the last year of high school.
When it comes time for Rusty to go to Berkley, where he just knows he’s going to fail, Oliver does all he can to assure him that he’ll be there for him and that he knows Rusty won’t get lost in the shuffle. And… he kisses Rusty – telling him to just “think about it”.
Rusty is left at Berkley- lost, scared, trapped with a crazy but warm-hearted-hyper-sexual-roommate (Rex), and the memory of Oliver’s kiss to make him question…everything.
When it becomes apparent that Rusty is in fact not ready for Berkley – though he tries damn hard – he is ready for Oliver and knows that Oliver is more than just his best friend. Rusty goes home for Thanksgiving and is greeted by Oliver and kisses. His family witnesses this and kicks Rusty out of the house.
Luckily, Oliver’s family is there to help Rusty pick up the pieces and get him set up. What follows, is Rusty’s jump into the deep end of adulthood and his navigation of his first real relationship that also happens to be his first gay relationship.
Oliver’s impatience and love both help and hinder him in this process, but the underlying support he and his dad offer Rusty give him the strength to grow into the man he needs to become.
**
After Gambling Men, this is my favorite Amy Lane book. It is sweet, funny, tender, lightly sexy and really wonderful.
Rusty’s character is so open and honest as is Oliver. I love that the two have constant communication about their feelings, but even so, still manage to run into trouble because relationships are hard! Oliver just can’t understand Rusty’s reluctance to have him move in and Rusty just can’t be pressured in to giving Oliver anything but a wonderful home.
Oliver is just smart and snarky enough to ease the saccharine sweetness of Rusty’s goodness and make them a real, fun, and sexy couple.
I loved the interactions with the secondary characters. The role model of Oliver’s dad. The hilarity of the cousins. The hero-worship of Rusty’s sister. And the eventual grace of Rusty’s parents.
I read this book when I need a warm hug on a rainy afternoon and it always makes me feel better.
I can’t recommend it enough.


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Review
There is a special place in my heart for Amy Lane and her books. It was through Amy’s Little Goddess series, I followed her carefully laid out book crumbs which led me to the world of MM romance. She was also the first ‘real live author’ I wrote to after reading her work and I was so excited when she wrote back.

Knowing how Amy writes, I was expecting to shed a few tears over this book, and I wasn’t wrong.
Rusty is an absolute sweetheart. With his upbringing, he could have been a really arrogant bully, but he isn’t. He knows he isn’t that smart, but he still tries his hardest. He doesn’t want to go to college as he knows it will be too hard for him, but he goes anyway to please his parents.
His one rebellion is to fall in love with Oliver Campbell. And he gets kicked out of home for it.

I adored Rusty right from the beginning. Reading the book from his point of view, he may not quite have rose tinted glasses, but there is an innocence to the way he sees the world that can’t help but charm the reader. Oliver may be the smaller of the two boys, but he is smarter and does everything he can to fiercely protect Rusty.

This book is what Amy Lane does best. Great characters and a story that will rip out your heart and stomp on it before carefully putting it back inside you to beat another day.

4.5 stars out of 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review