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 to celebrate the holidays: Neutral Zone: A Christmas Railers Novella (Harrisburg Railers #6.5) by R.J. Scott V.L. Locey

 

Good Reads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40936747-neutral-zone?from_search=true

Blurb

Tennant Rowe has it all, a boyfriend he adores, a loving family, and a career on the rise. He’s sure of his place in the world, and the future can only get brighter. Then one night, in a flash of skates and sticks, life changes forever. Getting back on the ice is Ten’s priority, and experts tell him that it’s just a matter of time.

Jared watches his lover fall in more ways than one, and when tragedy strikes, even the strongest of relationships are tested. Ten is strong, but Jared has to be stronger to help the man who holds his heart. Only, he has to admit that maybe it isn’t just him who can make Ten whole again.

Jared and Ten’s love is forever, but the rocky path to the romantic Christmas Jared had planned may be hard to travel.

 

Review

These guys!  Ugh!  On the one hand I super appreciate that the authors are striving to make these guys go through a lot and really reinforce their relationship.  But… the person in me who loves for our guys to live dreamy lives is super frustrated by this story arc.  I wanted them to just be good already!  Like it isn’t hard enough being out, being in a relationship with your coach, being in a family of perfectionists, being with an older guy… you get my drift – now we have to deal with a potentially career ending injury?  It’s too much!

I love how our MCs comfort each other and deal with Ten’s issues – it felt pretty authentic.

I’m hoping this branch of their story can be put to rest and we can move on to more happiness 🙂

This is not a standalone but I do recommend it – so go to the beginning and start the series!

4 of 5 stars

 


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time to Celebrate the Holidays: Santa Daddy by Keira Andrews

Goodreads link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42904546-santa-daddy?from_search=true

Blurb

Mall Santas aren’t supposed to be hot.

Hunter Adams is hopelessly adrift after college. He’s still a virgin, can’t find a real job, and has no clue what to do with his life. In desperation, he returns to his humiliating old job as an elf at the Santa’s Village in his hometown’s dying mall. The Santa on the job is an unexpectedly sexy lumberjack, twice Hunter’s size and age. He makes Hunter feel very naughty—too bad he’s grumpy and intimidating.

Years after the tragic death of his partner, Nick Spini has his beagle and long, hard days on his Christmas tree farm. That’s plenty. But he can’t refuse a loyal friend’s plea for help and finds himself filling in as Santa at the local mall. Despite Nick’s attempt to stay aloof, the beautiful, anxious young man playing elf brings out his long-dormant daddy instincts.

When a surprise blizzard traps them alone in Nick’s isolated forest home, their attraction burns even brighter. Will they surrender to the sizzling connection between them and find the release and comfort they crave?

Santa Daddy is a holiday gay romance from Keira Andrews featuring an age gap, steamy m/m first times, daddy role-playing and light spanking, Christmas romance feels, and of course a happy ending.

Review

This is just the right kind of book to get snowed in with! Nick is just the right kind of grumpy lumberjack you want to cuddle with and hunter is so awkwardly sweet and insecure- the work perfectly together.
I loved the emotional depth Keira put into Nick’s past, and it really emphasized his reclusiveness and unwillingness to be around people. That made him being roped into playing Santa in the mall so very funny and charming. He and Hunter have instant attraction that is off the charts, you can definitely save up on your heating bills with this books.
I usually do like light kink in books, but I shy away from the more structured BDSM club themes and plotlines. Full time alternative lifestyle is not my preferred reading material. What I liked about this book is the balance, the kink is there but it is much more about the dynamic between the two then the props and rules and contracts like in other BDSM/heavy kink books (not that there is anything wrong about them, just my personal preference). It made the sex between them smoldering hot without being the main focus of the relationship. It is the perfect balance in my opinion and I was kind of sad it didn’t go on longer so I could have more of their hotness (there is plenty there, I’m just greedy).

I also loved Hunter’s relationship with his mother, and his own struggle with fitting into the “adult role” he thinks society expects his to uphold as a collage graduate. It is something I think many people can identify with, and showed that not everyone have to walk the same pre-designed path.

This is one of my favorite Christmas stories this season, and you should definitely check it out (Keira’s Christmas story last year, In Case of Emergency, was also fantastic) if you are looking for some holiday cheer with a heaping dose of “Yes daddy”.

Number of stars out of 5
4.5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Time to comfort the hurts: Capital Assets by Cecelia Storm

Good Reads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42282486-capital-assets?from_search=true

Blurb

For years I’d avoided omegas. They were too tempting. In heat, they pulled alphas like me across a hot, dangerous line. I couldn’t risk hurting another one…

Until I caught his scent on a cold Manhattan night. My extravagant world crashed around us as our bodies and hearts collided. His taste brought me to my knees.

All this time I thought I was different. I thought I could change this city, choked by corruption and greed. But one omega, struggling to find his way, showed me the frailty of authority, and the power of acceptance.

Now we fight. We stand up to those who seek to break us; but how much pain can we endure? Is our love and future worth the blood and bruises? How can life possibly spring from the ashes around us?

“It was a kiss I’d never felt before; it was the slow, gentle taste of a person who holds a piece of your heart, and whom you have greatly missed.”

Help us as we try to see the world around us for what it is, and find the love we know is in our broken hearts.

Review

A split-second decision can change so many lives. Archer and Jeremiah learn this lesson the hard way. Both men find their lives falling into chaos because of one night. Archer has always carried the burden of his past and has constantly locked himself away from any kind of temptation but on that one night he comes across Jeremiah in heat. No one knows what the consequences of his actions will be. Jeremiah and Archer are meant to be together, but both of their pasts come in to the picture and the two must find a way to work through it all if they want any kind of future together.
Archer and Jeremiah’s story is an emotional read. The two men might be from different worlds but the pull to each other is strong and hard to resist. Each man has his own demons to slay and they must learn to trust and open their hearts if they want their happy ever after. I enjoyed seeing the way their relationships takes shape, it is truly a rollercoaster ride of emotions. It was nice to see both men grow and find a way to fight for what they want. The author weaves a good story with characters full of angst and emotions. It is full of characters that you will love and those that you will hate. Archer and Jeremiah go through so much to find their happy ever after. Not only do the main characters have something to say but the supporting characters let themselves be known as well. This story moves at a good pace and I was pulled in right from the start and engaged all the way to the end.

Number of stars out of 5: 4


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

Recent Release: Slave Dance (Alien Blood Wars series – book 3) by Samantha Cayto

Pride Publishing

https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/slave-dance

Blurb
What lurks in the dark is not always a monster. Sometimes it’s your deepest desire.
Quiet and steadfast, Emil has remade himself from botanist to chef. Taking care of people is what he does best. He hates having to fight the war with Dracul, but his loyalty to his captain forces him to do no less. Unlike others of his species, he has formed no intimate bonds and has no intention of doing so. That way lies sadness. He takes his pleasure from feeding those he loves, content with his destiny. That is until he runs into an abused boy who needs more than a good meal.
All turning eighteen means to Jase is that now the man who he is forced to call Master can abuse him publicly. A victim of sex trafficking, Jase only knows one way of life-brutal submission to whichever man claims him. When his Master joins Club Lux, it’s more of the same until he finds himself in the hands of its strange chef.
Circumstances force Emil into a new and frightening role and Jase into the arms of a scary and unfathomable Master. Emil is worse than any man—or so Jase thinks, when Emil’s alien nature comes out. Jase wants to be a good slave and Emil frets about saving Jase from himself. While they try to find their way, a vicious crew member begins to terrorize Boston. Now Emil fights on two fronts—the scariest being that he will fail Jase.

Review

I jumped in mid-series with this book, but the author does such a great job at world-building and connecting all the dots, that I was drawn into the story with ease. There are a lot of characters to get to know, but I had a clear idea of what was going on and with whom, so that wasn’t an issue in the slightest.

I was pleasantly surprised by the original take on the vampire/Dracula mythology that we get in this series. I’m a big fan of the paranormal genre, especially vampires and shifters, so I’m pretty stoked about having found a new author!

There’s an ongoing battle between Emil’s “band of brothers”, led by Alex, and a group of rogue deserters, led by the evil Dracul. The action-part part of the story is also a very important element, the focus is not solely on the romance. In between trying to save humanity from Dracul and his minions, Emil meets Jase when Jase’s Master (read abuser) brings him along to the bdsm club where Emil works as a chef. Supposedly, Jase is in a consensual slave/master relationship and it takes Emil and the others a little while to figure out that something else entirely is going on. But then it’s Emil to the rescue! Go Emil!

I have to admit that the scenes where Jase is abused where hard for me to read, and I was very happy when that part of the story was finally out of the way. I can see how it was necessary to have that be part of the book, because experiencing it alongside Jase, instead of having it be a kind of “behind closed doors”-event really heightens the emotional connection we feel as a reader to Jase. Still, not the easiest part of the book to get through. And of course, as a result, I very much rooted for Emil, the contrast between the alien and the actual monster couldn’t be starker.

Jase and Emil are both amazing MC’s, especially Jase who shows great resilience and courage. I do feel as if he might have recovered a bit too quickly though from everything he went through. Emil is a steady, kindhearted man, very much a caretaker, so he’s perfect for Jase. I loved the respect he showed for Jase’s independence and free will.

There are multiple pov’s used throughout the book, setting the stage for other storylines to come, and to help us get different, useful perspectives. We know how both MC’s feel, but we also get important insights from several, for the moment, secondary characters. One of whom is enslaved by Dracul, so reading his take on things is a great way to show readers why exactly Dracul is so loathsome and very much to be feared.

I can’t wait to see what will happen next, but I think I had best start with reading what happened at the beginning first. I dearly wish I had a Time-Turner like Hermione, so I could find the time to read all the books I want!

Number of stars out of 5: 4


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

Audiobook review: Alpha Heat by Leta Blake, narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo

audiobookreview

Audible Link

https://www.audible.com/pd/Alpha-Heat-Audiobook/B07JFPNMPT?ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_2&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=8YC23T2BAR602CEFTRZK&

 

Blurb
A desperate young alpha. An older alpha with a hero complex. A forbidden love that can’t be denied.

Young Xan Heelies knows he can never have what he truly wants: a passionate romance and happy-ever-after with another alpha. It’s not only forbidden by the prevailing faith of the land, but such acts are illegal.

Urho Chase is a middle-aged alpha with a heartbreaking past. Careful, controlled, and steadfast, his friends dub him old-fashioned and staid. When Urho discovers a dangerous side to Xan’s life that he never imagined, his world is rocked and he’s consumed by desire. The carefully sewn seams that held him together after the loss of his omega and son come apart—and so does he.

But to love each other and make a life together, Xan and Urho risk utter ruin. With the acceptance and support of Caleb, Xan’s asexual and aromantic omega and dear friend, they must find the strength to embrace danger and build the family they deserve.

Review

Story:
I fell completely in love with Xan and Urho, who are both amazing, complex characters.
Xan is so filled with self-loathing and he has completely given up hope on ever being happy or deserving of happiness even. It was heartrending to read. I wasn’t prepared to feel such depth of emotion for a fictional character, but only a rock would fail to be moved by Xan’s troubles.

Urho was a perfect match for Xan.
I loved their connection and Urho’s acceptance and understanding of who Xan truly is. The first moments where Urho gets a glimpse of Xan’s true self, and his struggle to accept his own reaction to that truth were so intense! Loved that.

At first glance, Urho appears to be quite conservative and rigid in his thinking, but he bends and even breaks the rules when he needs to in order to be able to help others. He’s modest and brave and oh…be still, my beating heart! Just such a lovable, strong & silent type hero.
Xan throws Urho for a loop, because he doesn’t fit their society’s established gender roles and so Urho is required to rethink some of his long-held beliefs.

I was a bit apprehensive about how Caleb would fit in. But I needn’t have worried. He’s such an extraordinary individual. The bond between Xan, Urho and Caleb is not a romantic one, but it is a deeply loving one, just the same. They’re a family unit. The author totally makes it work.

This book also stands out to me because of the astonishing amount of detail that went into the world-building. The author raises some fascinating points about gender identity, sexual orientation and the danger of entwining politics and religion. There’s also a great set of secondary characters that surround the MC’s, friends we know already from Slow Heat as well as new characters that I hope to see again in future books.

Narration:
Michael Ferraiuolo is a brilliant performer. Simple as that. How he manages to do so many different voices and match them so perfectly to the characters, I’ll never understand. I’m so glad that he did this sequel to Slow Heat as well, because it was absolutely wonderful to hear Jason and Vale’s voices again too. I must confess that I’m something of a Xan and Urho fangirl and I was so excited and curious to hear their story in audio! It was everything I hoped for and more.
I loved hearing Michael Ferraiuolo’s interpretation of their voices and interactions. The nuance and emotion which he brought to these fictional characters took the entire book to a whole new level.
And it was already pretty amazing. I’m awestruck.

Number of stars out of 5: 5


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

 

 

 

Recent Review : Honeymoon for One by Keira Andrews

Good Reads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41823691-honeymoon-for-one?from_search=true

Blurb

The wedding is off, but the love story is just beginning.

Betrayed the night before his wedding by the supposed boy of his dreams, Ethan Robinson escapes the devastating fallout by going on his honeymoon alone to the other side of the world. Hard of hearing and still struggling with the repercussions of being late-deafened, traveling by himself leaves him feeling painfully isolated with his raw, broken heart.

Clay Kelly never expected to be starting life over in his forties. He got hitched young, but now his wife has divorced him and remarried, his kids are grown, and he’s left his rural Outback town. In a new career driving a tour bus on Australia’s East Coast, Clay reckons he’s happy enough. He enjoys his cricket, a few beers, and a quiet life. If he’s a bit lonely, it’s not the end of the world.

Clay befriends Ethan, hoping he can cheer up the sad-eyed young man, and a crush on an unattainable straight guy is exactly the safe distraction Ethan needs. Yet as the days pass and their connection grows, long-repressed desires surface in Clay, and they are shocked to discover romance sparking. Clay is the sexy, rugged man of Ethan’s dreams, and as the clock counts down on their time together, neither wants this honeymoon to end.

Honeymoon for One is a gay romance by Keira Andrews featuring a May-December age difference, a slow burn of newfound friends to lovers, first-time m/m sex, and of course a happy ending.

Review

When I read the blurb I thought – ugh – I really don’t like jilted stories or rebound stories or holiday romances… but I love Keira Andrews and so I had to give it a go. Well, as always, she does not disappoint!

The emphasis on this is not the rebound but the realization of feelings that Clay has been hiding from himself for years. Sure, he’s a little older, they’re from different CONTINENTS and he’s on the rebound – but of course – it’s all gonna work out in the end! (LOL)

These guys do find a way to make it work that seems plausible – but really – in the end – it’s their journey that is so ooey gooey delectable. They talk, they aren’t afraid to emote and they have some pretty steamy smexy times!

Luckily the family thing isn’t an issue and beyond all the major hurdles we already know about, the author didn’t throw in more to be OTT.

This was a really lovely story that I recommend to fans of the author, fans of Australia, fans of May/December romance and fans of OFY/GFY romance.

5 of 5 stars

Copy Purchased for Review

Release Day: Trex or Treat by Tara Lain

release day review

Dreamspinner Press
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/trex-or-treat-by-tara-lain-9979-b

Blurb

Josh Harris is all dad all the time. A busy college professor and devoted single father, Josh tries to be happy with only his son for company. But then Bradley “Trex” Trexler moves in across the street with his stepbrother, Bogo, and takes advantage of their empty home, making it into a haunted house for Halloween.

 

 

Review
This is a short, cute Halloween story and it’s really entertaining.
Tara Lain is great giving us interesting characters that you can get involved with really quickly, which is obviously a bonus in a short story.
Josh reads as a great parent in need of some companionship and Ernie is the most adorable and energised boy. The attraction between Josh and Trex shines through and it’s an enjoyable read. I love how involved both men are with their boys but also take the time to be with each other. I found this to be an enjoyable little story that was quick to consume but also touched the heart.
I definitely recommend this quick, Halloween romance. Always a winner with a Tara Lain story!

Number of stars out of 5
4


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Recent Release: Ginger and the Wolf by Kerry McBoyd

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41079400-ginger-and-the-wolf?from_search=true

Blurb

Mark Cross is a junior in college working to pay his way through college while forgetting his troubles by partying and hooking up. He meets Scott and finds himself falling head over heels for a wealthy man who couldn’t be any further from his rural background. The mutual attraction is instant, but Mark, unwilling to put himself in a position where his heart is on the line, finds ways to bring up their upper-crust/working-class differences to torpedo their budding romance.

Scott Nolan feels old, even though he’s just thirty-four. Meeting Mark reinvigorates him and gives him a new sense of purpose. After a series of men who were only interested in his wealth and family background, he finally meets a man who doesn’t care about the family he comes from—in fact, Mark seems ready to blow everything up because he thinks they could never overcome their class differences. Scott must fight to show Mark that he doesn’t care about who has how much money, and what matters above all is that they could build something more together outside the bedroom.

Review

This book was … unsatisfying. There was a lot of sex and maybe this is simply a case where “erotica” is a better title than “romance” and that’s what the target audience should expect. But for me – I was wanting a bit more relationship development than I got.

The title caught my eye – but even in the blurb you can see that this is NOT a paranormal story and really I have no idea why the title is the title. Neither the color of Mark’s hair nor is there any real “wolfiness” in Scott take center stage thus making the title apropos.

I’m not a big fan of erotica for erotica sake – don’t get me wrong – I love me some hot smexy times – but this just didn’t go far enough into romance land to appeal to me. The sex was a bit much and didn’t have the corresponding feelz to balance it out. IMHO.

As others have noted before – the lack of condoms really didn’t fit nor feel appropriate and I think that alone lands this out of the “romance” column and into “porn/erotica”.

This wasn’t my cup of tea – but I could see some glimpses of potential – so I wouldn’t avoid this author in the future.

2.5 of 5 stars


Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review

Recent Release: Honeymoon For One by Keira Andrews

Good Reads Link

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41823691-honeymoon-for-one?from_search=true

Blurb

The wedding is off, but the love story is just beginning.

Betrayed the night before his wedding by the supposed boy of his dreams, Ethan Robinson escapes the devastating fallout by going on his honeymoon alone to the other side of the world. Hard of hearing and still struggling with the repercussions of being late-deafened, traveling by himself leaves him feeling painfully isolated with his raw, broken heart.

Clay Kelly never expected to be starting life over in his forties. He got hitched young, but now his wife has divorced him and remarried, his kids are grown, and he’s left his rural Outback town. In a new career driving a tour bus on Australia’s East Coast, Clay reckons he’s happy enough. He enjoys his cricket, a few beers, and a quiet life. If he’s a bit lonely, it’s not the end of the world.

Clay befriends Ethan, hoping he can cheer up the sad-eyed young man, and a crush on an unattainable straight guy is exactly the safe distraction Ethan needs. Yet as the days pass and their connection grows, long-repressed desires surface in Clay, and they are shocked to discover romance sparking. Clay is the sexy, rugged man of Ethan’s dreams, and as the clock counts down on their time together, neither wants this honeymoon to end.

Review

From the moment we are first introduced to Ethan as he is heading home on a New York train on the eve of his wedding, I was pulled in by his vulnerability. Hard of hearing and trying to cope in the noisy city environment, showed me in the first few pages here was a man that had faced personal heartbreaks and was doing his best to overcome them. But when he arrives home everything blows up in his face, the wedding is cancelled and he decideds to take the honeymoon trip alone.

As someone who grew up in the 80’s, on a screen diet of Neighbours and Crocodile Dundee (its still my husbands all time favourite film) Clay Kelly hit every one of my teenage nostalgia buttons. His Aussie slang made me laugh out loud more than once as did his love of cricket (which personally I find only second to golf in the boring sports stakes) and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the emotional, self-realization journey he took.

This book is a sweet, slow burn romance of two characters who take the time to get to know each other rather than insta-love, insta-sex of some stories. We, the reader also get time to understand how the characters think and how their life experiences have defined them into the men they are now. Both these men are truly likable and had me rooting for them (snigger) right from the start.

This book has in my mind all the elements that a good story should, allowing me to both laugh and cry over the tale as it unfolded.

4.5 stars out of 5

Copy Purchased for Review