My Week in Holiday Romances! (#4)

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This is going up a little later than I’d have liked it to, I finished the last of these books almost a week ago, but Christmas got busy and my laptop was abandoned for a few days. But here we are! This will be the last of my holiday romance reviews this year, but what a season it’s been. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. These three books were a wonderful way to end it, and if you’re still looking for festive reads to finish off your year, there’s a couple in here I’d definitely recommend.

36445577Published December 2nd 2017
156 pages

Derek is facing yet another Christmas where his life feels out of control. He has a new career that doesn’t feel like his, and parents who would just love to see him settled down. All he needs is a temporary buffer for the parties he has to attend, and for his parents to leave him alone. Enter, Luke.

Luke is twenty-thousand dollars short for the renovations on Halligans; his family’s bar in New York’s Financial District. A favor for a buddy has him agreeing to play the part of boyfriend to a guy with more money than sense.

But when the spirit of Christmas works its magic on the two men, and they begin to fall for each other, Derek runs scared, and Luke needs space.

It doesn’t matter what obstacles you throw in the way of love, or how much you run in the other direction, because, when you’re least expecting it, whether you want it or not, love happens anyway.

When people ask me what my favourite trope is, I always tell myself I have no preferences, I like a little bit of everything. But then I pick up a fake-boyfriends book and I realise I do have a bit of a weakness for them. This was no exception. Throw in a sexy firefighter and I don’t know how I could ever resist it.

All the way back in January, I read R. J. Scott’s Montana series, and I got really invested in it and enjoyed the story and the writing, yet I didn’t pick up another book by her until now. I have absolutely no idea why. I will do my best to rectify that next year, because I find her type of books so easy and satisfying to read. I’ve already got my eye on her Texas series…

But back to ‘Love Happens Anyway’. As I’ve said, the writing style was lovely, and the character were endearing without being too over the top. The was a good balance of quirky, eccentric characters and solid, down-to-earth personalities. The story itself was perhaps a little on the sweet side, but it is Christmas. Everything gets a bit of a sugar-coating at this time of year. The only thing that put me off in the very beginning was the cover, it gave me the impression that I was going to end up gagging over cuteness, but that snowman is actually very relevant to the story, so all is forgiven.

I really liked Luke as a character. For a relatively short book, his background had a good depth to it, and we feel the emotions in his history. He’s had to deal with both personal and family tragedy, but continues to get up and carry on. He’s one of those people who has an incredible inner strength and tenacity without ever really seeing that in himself. Derek doesn’t have quite the same depth, but I still found him very much likeable. For someone who appears to have everything, he’s seriously lacking in self confidence, but Luke helps him to see the good in himself, which was sweet to witness.

I felt the chemistry between Luke and Derek very early on. They may clash initially but that animosity doesn’t last long. In fact, I found that the way they fell for each other happened almost too fast for me. I’d have maybe liked a bit more tension and will-they-won’t-they, regardless of it being inevitable that they’d end up together. But it is a short book, so I can understand not wanting to drag it out too much.

There’s a big ol’ dose of happy families in this book, both Luke’s and Derek’s being charming and supportive in their own ways, and that always adds an extra layer of cosiness to a holiday romance. There was no villain for the sake of a villain here, the only obstacle the MCs faced were themselves, so everything was comfortably angst-free without ever getting too sickly. It left me with a smile on my face, and that’s all I could ever ask for.

4/5 stars

36545852Published December 1st 2017
216 pages

The last thing Micah Trant expects to find in the snow by the side of the road, is a badly beaten man. But when Micah discovers his identity, it feels like more than mere coincidence is at work here. Like modern day Good Samaritans, he and his dad offer the stranger a place to recuperate. After all, it’s almost Thanksgiving, and Greg is in no state to travel home. It’s not an entirely altruistic move: Micah wants answers, and he’s not the only one.

Greg cannot believe the way things turned out. The odds of Micah being the one to find him have to be astronomical, but he accepts the kind offer. As days become weeks, Greg learns more about Micah’s family, and comes to realize that staying with them for a Wyoming Christmas might just provide him with the answers he’s been seeking.

The magic of the holidays will also conjure up something neither Micah nor Greg expected…

I’d not read any K.C. Wells before, but this popped up in my Amazon recommendations during my binge-buying session of holiday romances, and the blurb definitely got me curious. Within a few chapters I was totally hooked. The mystery is revealed fairly early on, and I can’t say it was a huge surprise, but it was still quite emotional. I definitely found the beginning of this book the most interesting and entertaining, there isn’t a whole lot of action after that, and there were a few things that started to creep in that bugged me.

When you’re reading a Christmas romance, it is pretty much inevitable what direction the story is going to go in, but I really liked both Micah and Greg from the start so I was looking forward to seeing their romance blossom. And the supporting cast of Micah’s family are also really great, especially Micah’s dad who’s so supportive and understanding whilst dealing with a huge amount of grief. But once the romance becomes the main focus rather than the mystery, the story started to fall flat. I found the pacing a little weird, like I couldn’t quite work out how much time had passed between scenes.

And whilst being confused, I also started getting irritated because even though this story is told in first person in alternating POVs from the two MCs, we don’t really get to see how they feel about each other. We’re inside their heads, but they don’t think about their feelings for the other person. Everyone around them is telling them that they’re falling for each other, but I never got to feel like I was seeing that for myself. Then all of a sudden Micah is telling his sister he thinks he’s in love with Greg and yet we’ve never heard him think anything like that. I just didn’t quite get it.

I still found the romance sweet, I was rooting for them and really wanting to push them together because I wanted them to be a couple, they are a great match for each other, but I felt like every time I was settling into the book and starting to enjoy it again, something would pop up and frustrate me. Just little niggling things like Micah finding it “disconcerting” to get turned on when he’s naked in a room with Greg, who he’s admitted to being attracted to and in love with. Surely that’s something to be completely expected? And there was the usual lack of communication creating misunderstanding about their future where you’re shaking the book and willing them to just talk about it goddammit.

Essentially, this book had a ton of potential. It could have been powerful and emotional, it could have blown me away, but it just didn’t live up to that, which is such a shame. It was very festive, family-orientated, cosy and sweet with an assured HEA, but not quite what I’d hoped it would be.

3.5/5 stars

36694202Published December 2017
100 pages

Orphaned Lucas figures spending the holidays with his obnoxious roommate’s family in New York City is better than staying alone on campus upstate. He ends up sharing a room again, this time with his roommate’s brother, Nate. Geeky photographer Nate isn’t at all what Lucas expects. In fact, he’s incredibly sexy—especially when he invites Lucas into his darkroom…

They hide their attraction during Hanukkah celebrations, but behind closed doors, Lucas and Nate can’t keep their hands (or mouths) off each other. Nate’s only looking for a bit of holiday fun, and amazing sex with a hot virgin definitely fits the bill. Yet as the candles burn, Nate and Lucas begin to realize eight nights will never be enough.

This is the third Hanukkah-themed holiday romance I’ve read this year, and another one I’ve really enjoyed. Not sure anything could match the amazing heights of Roan Parrish’s ‘The Remaking of Corbin Wale’, but it was truly wonderful.

Lucas is taken in by his college roommate’s family over the Christmas break so he doesn’t have to spend it alone, so he gets to be a part of their Jewish holiday traditions, and he has to share a room with said roommate’s brother. And Lucas is instantly crushing hard on Nate. There’s lots of hidden depths in this story despite its short length. Lucas is dealing with his grief after losing his father, and Nate is dealing with his perception of his family’s expectations, so both MCs are carrying around weights on their shoulders.

Nate is initially stand-offish, because that’s his default setting. He doesn’t want his family to know the real him because he doesn’t believe they’ll approve of him, his sexuality and what he wants from his future, so he keeps everyone at arms length. But Lucas sees through that. They click from the start, which Nate is a little afraid of because having someone really see him makes it harder to hide. But he just can’t keep himself away.

Nate has more experience than you’d think, and he and Lucas had really great sexual chemistry, emphasised by their growing friendship. Lucas doesn’t really have any experience at all and Nate makes sure to give him some memorable first times. They just work together, in and out of bed, and they both help each other see what they really want from life.

Nate’s coming out was really lovely. I’m loving this theme of holiday romances with gorgeous families involved, Nate’s brother and his whole family were fabulous. It was a real heart-warming moment that left me with a big grin on my face. The epilogue was a whole load of wonderful, festive fluffiness and you finish the book with real faith in Nate and Lucas’ relationship and their future together. The perfect book to end my holiday romance review series on for the year!

4/5 stars

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