Review: ‘Santa Daddy’ by Keira Andrews

42904546Published November 29th 2018
130 pages

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?

This is a sweet, tasty morsel of holiday loveliness. And kinkiness. There’s Santas and elves and Christmas trees and all that festive goodness, along with a big age gap and an awful lot of sexy-times!

There is definitely a plot to go along with the sex, and that was key to my enjoyment of this story. It’s full of things I adore; the MCs being snowed in together, the older grumpier guy falling for the perky younger guy, excellent dog content; it’s got the big things I’m drawn to. The characters are well fleshed-out for such a short book, troubled pasts being healed by new attraction. I genuinely enjoyed the story from start to finish.

I only wish it was a little bit longer! Not necessarily in a I-didn’t-want-it-to-end way, but in a way I wanted them to have more time to build something together. Everything moved very quickly; and although I’m certainly not averse to insta-love stories, given Nick’s long-standing grief and Hunter’s complete inexperience, I’d have felt more of the connection between them if they’d had the chance to ease into things a bit more. Exploring and learning together rather than jumping in at the deep end.

It was still a very fun, sweet and sexy read that I’d recommend to anyone looking for just this kind thing!

3.5/5 stars

Review: ‘Crossroads’ by Garrett Leigh

41822040Published November 20th 2018
109 pages

Angelo Giordano and Dylan Hart are more in love than ever, but their reality is far from ideal. With Dylan working in London, and Angelo recovering from chronic illness in Cornwall, they rarely spend more than few nights under the same sky.

Dylan is struggling. Being apart from Angelo is killing him, and he’s at the end of his rope. Angelo can’t live in London anymore, but can Dylan give up his whole life and move to a place that often feels like the end of the world?

As the end of a tough year approaches, they reach a crossroads. Dylan returns to Cornwall for Christmas and Angelo can’t imagine watching him leave again. Can the love that surrounds them on Whisper Farm show them the way home?

Did somebody say holiday romance? Written by Garrett Leigh?? Sold!

Garrett originally posted the chapters of this story as a serial on her Patreon, but I forced myself to hold off because I wanted to read the whole thing at once. I just don’t have the temperament for waiting a week between chapters, I’m a devour it whole kind of gal. And devour it whole, I did! This is a short and sweet little novella, but don’t go thinking it’s ooey gooey Christmas fluff. It may be set at Christmas, but it holds its own as a continuation of Dylan and Angelo’s story.

All the couples from the Skins series are present so we get a lovely glimpse of all of them, but the focus is very much on Dylan and Angelo. I don’t really think you could read this as a standalone, you’d at least have to read Dream to really understand what’s going on. How they’re dealing with Angelo’s illness and the distance between them, balancing their work lives with their relationship. Real life issues that they work through together. It’s so satisfying to see these two grow together, showing just how perfect they are for each other.

It’s got all my favourite things from Garrett, angst and heat and emotion, but it is definitely on the lighter side (not the heat part, that’s just as hot as ever!). There’s a big ol’ surprise thrown in there too, but thankfully not one of the heart-stopping kinds. It’s the fill-you-with-joy kind, and I won’t spoil it for you.

Even though it’s short in length, it brings everything to a warm and fuzzy close and ties it with a ribbon. Everything I could have wanted from this holiday-themed addition to the series. I could read about these boys forever…

5/5 stars

Review: ‘The Husband Gambit’ by L. A. Witt

42610128Published November 16th 2018
302 pages

Marry me for 1 year. Payment: $1.2 million.

Hayden Somerset is convinced the ad is a joke, but he responds anyway because, hello, $1.2 million. He’s broke, living in a tiny apartment with two roommates, and exhausted from praying his ancient car survives just one more week. His skyrocketing rent and crushing student loans aren’t helping either. At this point, there isn’t much Hayden wouldn’t do for that kind of cash.

The ad isn’t a joke. Jesse Ambrose is absolutely serious. His father, the charismatic patriarch of a powerful Hollywood dynasty, has his eye on politics, and he’s counting on California’s liberals and progressives to elect him. But Jesse knows what his father believes when cameras and voters aren’t around. As the election looms, he’ll do anything to force the man’s hand and show the public who Isaac Ambrose really is.

Anything, including marrying a stranger so his father will make good on his promise to disown Jesse if he ever takes a husband.

Now he just has to wait for his father to take the bait… and try not to accidentally fall in love with his fake husband.

Fake-boyfriends/fake-husbands might just be one of my favourite tropes of all time. I can never resist it, especially when it’s written by an author who I love. This book takes things to a whole new level as the two MCs actually get married. Like, for real, legally married. Big fancy ceremony and everything. Jesse is trying to expose his father as the homophobic bigot he truly is, and the only way to get him to show his hand is by making his marriage as convincing as possible. And Hayden is desperate enough for the money that he barely thinks twice about doing it.

Of course they both just so happen to be beautiful men who find each other interesting and charming. Being married isn’t exactly a hardship for either of them. And of course they start falling for each other. Rather predictably there was plenty of self-doubt; both men thinking that their feelings are one-sided and that jazz. The emotional development wasn’t exactly ground-breaking, but the circumstances that set up the whole situation were so completely different to anything I’ve read before that I was hooked from start to finish.

This book managed to touch on a number of important subjects; homophobia, abusive parents, class divides, racism and sexism in Hollywood; but nothing ever got too heavy. There was drama and intensity, but everything flowed so well and Jesse and Hayden had truly excellent chemistry, in every department. The romantic aspect did sometimes have to take a backseat to allow the plot to keep moving forwards, but at its core the story is one of family and falling in love. I loved it.

4.5/5 stars

Review: ‘Mr Frosty Pants’ by Leta Blake

42734237Published November 7th 2018
273 pages

When Casey Stevens went away to college four years ago, he ghosted on his straight best friend, Joel Vreeland. He hoped time and distance would lessen the unrequited affection he felt, but all it did was make him miss Joel more. Home for the holidays, Casey hopes they might find a way to be friends again. But Joel’s frosty reception reminds Casey of just how hard he had to fight to be Joel’s friend in the first place. It’s going to take a Christmas miracle to get past that cool façade again.

Joel isn’t as straight as Casey believes, and his years of pining for Casey have left him hurting and alone, caring for his abusive father and struggling to get by. Unable to trust anyone except his rescue dog—and with no reason to believe Casey is interested in him for more than a holiday fling—Joel’s icy heart might shatter before it can thaw.

Can Casey and Joel’s love overcome mistrust, parental rejection, class differences, and four long years apart?

The release date of this one got brought forward, so I’m a few days behind in posting this, but I’ve finally gobbled up this fabulous Christmas romance from Leta Blake. Don’t let the cheesy name and pretty cover deceive you, this isn’t all sweetness and light. This is a holiday romance with depth and angst and heavier moments that have this book holding its own as an excellent novel regardless of the seasonal setting.

This is a friends-to-lovers story where the two MCs when they first reunite at the beginning of the book aren’t actually friends. There’s a lot of unrequited love, resentment and desperate pining. Throw in some internalised homophobia, feelings of worthlessness and abusive parents and it’s not necessarily the cheeriest holiday romance you could pick up at this time of year.

That’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom. At all. I had a smile on my face for a lot of this book. It’s got genuine moments of levity and humour. The character development and relationship growth is truly wonderful, the way Joel and Casey rekindle their friendship and let it blossom into romance brought me those hopeful and joyous feelings I associate with the festive setting. They may have been childhood friends, but they still came from different worlds and that had put up so many obstacles. But no obstacle was ever going to be big enough to keep these two apart in the end.

My favourite character had to be Joel’s dog, Bruno. I’m a sucker for any kind of canine companion, and Bruno was such a teddybear. He epitomised the way this story made me feel by the end, fantastically warm and fuzzy. I would highly recommend adding this book to your TBR list this Christmas.

4/5 stars

Review: ‘Better Not Pout’ by Annabeth Albert

40242604Published November 12th 2018
288 pages

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.

The time is here! Christmas romances are upon us and I am so bloody excited. And I wouldn’t have wanted to start the season with anything other than a holiday romance from Annabeth Albert. Annabeth is one of my favourite authors of all time, I swear the woman doesn’t know how to write a bad or even mediocre book. She blows me away every time.

And she’s done just the same thing with Better Not Pout. The way she brings characters and communities to life captures me with every story, she’s one of the best at cocooning me in the world she’s created and making it so I never want to leave. Throw in a festive setting with a couple of my favourite tropes and you’ve got yourself a winner. This book brings you age-gap, a bit of military, a grumpy MC with a perky one, and last but not least (one of my absolute favourites) stuck in together during a snowstorm!

Teddy and Nick are one of those polar opposite couples who are convinced they aren’t what the other needs, when the exact opposite is true. They fit each other perfectly, balancing each other out. Nick is reaching the very end of his service time in the military, the only real home he’s ever known, and he feels like he doesn’t have a purpose anymore. He’s lost, feeling completely unnecessary, when this bright star in the form of Teddy comes along and becomes his anchor without him even noticing. Giving him direction and a place to put down roots.

This story ticks all of my boxes. It’s so wonderfully heart-warming and reassuring. Truly romantic. I genuinely didn’t want the book to end. The most superb beginning to what I hope will be splendid season of holiday romance.

4.5/5 stars

Review: ‘Pisces Hooks Taurus’ by Anyta Sunday

40784310

Published October 16th 2018
288 pages

Zane has it all planned out: land the perfect Meet Cute, fall in love, and live happily ever after.
Should be simple enough if he put his mind to it. A little creativity and some thinking outside of the box, and voila, he’d be married to the woman of his dreams.
It would be perfect.
And it would be before his visa ran out.

But why are his feelings running wild now that the pressure’s on? Why is his picture-perfect plan turning into a muddled mess of morphed metaphors he can’t make sense of anymore?

Just as well he’s met an English professor to help. And even though their first meet is anything but cute, this down-to-earth teacher may just be the realist Zane needs to ground him and give him a shot at love after all.

Anyta Sunday has outdone herself yet again. This book is solid gold. It’s a little bit cheesy, very sweet and the most feel-good book I’ve read this year. I smiled from start to finish.

The characters are everything. Zane is the sole narrator of this story, and he is simply stunning. Charming, unintentionally hilarious, and a completely hopeless romantic; working against the clock to find, fall for and marry the love of his life. He’s certainly not as unintelligent as he thinks he is, he’s more naive than anything else, but he’s so incredibly oblivious to the way his new friend Beckett feels about him. He’s even more oblivious to his own feelings towards Beckett, believing with such certainty for so long that their “bromance” is just a glorious friendship, until the truth of it smacks him in the face.

Beckett really is the “broken bull” that his neighbour, Darla (forever a scene-stealer), says he is. Divorced and jaded, he doesn’t believe in love anymore. Or more accurately, he wants to shut himself away from the possibility of being hurt by love again. So when this beautiful, brash, straight man lands on the doorstep of his neatly structured life, it turns his world upside down. Zane may be his polar opposite, but he’s the ray of light Beckett needed to see the fun and adventure the world still has to offer.

Beckett can see what Zane’s feelings are long before Zane himself does, but thankfully Beckett has the patience to wait for Zane to come to his own realisations. Yes, it takes time, but Anyta Sunday is the Queen of Slow-burn for a reason. Zane and Beckett’s journey is paced to perfection.

This is a book, and a series, that I will gladly read over and over again. Something to reach for whenever I need something warm and cozy to sink into, with characters that capture me every single time.

5/5 stars

Review: ‘Craft Brew’ by Layla Reyne

40242605Published October 8th 2018
304 pages

Assistant US attorney Dominic Price is staring down the barrel of his father’s debts. The bull’s-eye on his back makes him a threat to everyone he cares about, so when his lover wants to go public with their relationship, he bolts. Not because he isn’t in love—he can’t stomach the thought of putting Cam in danger.

Kidnap and rescue expert Cameron Byrne is determined to figure out what trouble Nic is running from, but devastating news from home brings him back to Boston and to the cold case that has haunted his family for two decades. Shoving aside his pride, he calls Nic for help.

Together they search for answers, navigating the minefield of Cam’s past. But when they get too close to the truth, Cam must use every skill in his arsenal to save the man he loves…before it’s too late.

In my review of Imperial Stout, I was struggling to decide if I loved Cam and Nic more than Aidan and Jamie from the Agents Irish and Whiskey series…well, it’s official. Cam and Nic have taken top spot!

I adored this book from start to finish. The two MCs are so much part of each other’s lives now, their chemistry is undeniable, and they feel like they’ve been together for years. Even though Nic is resistant to any kind of formal commitment for fear of dragging Nic into the danger of his family drama. But the universe just keeps on pushing them closer and closer together and it’s impossible not to will it to succeed.

It’s another case of the romance taking a little bit of a back seat to the suspense, but the action we’re following in this instalment is so much more personal and therefore it all holds a lot more meaning. Cam is going through some emotional trauma within his family, and then he goes on the hunt for his little sister who went missing so long ago. Something he’s carried around with him for so long, the guilt that has always tortured him and pulled him away from his family, and a case he’s bound by responsibility to solve.

It’s heart-wrenching, it’s gripping, it’s a difficult journey to follow Cam on, but we get to learn so much about him and his family along the way. A beautiful family hurt so deeply by such a tragedy. And the way that Nic is Cam’s anchor through it all is stunning. Nic is far away from the drama in his own life, although we gets glimpses of the progress on that side of things, and he just wants to be there to hold his man up. Even when that man is struggling to let him.

This book has the same thrilling feel as Layla’s other romantic suspense novels, but it has so much more depth. So much emotion and passion, I couldn’t get enough of it. Add in the explosive electricity between Cam and Nic and you’ve got yourself a masterpiece. I cannot recommend this book and this series enough.

5/5 stars