Sunday Funday Christmas: 2016 Advent Calendar - Bah Humbug | Week 4

We unicorns would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas! Hopefully we can provide a respite from wrapping paper towers, box forts, Christmas feasts, frolicking and football with some Jolly Christmas Cheer. Today we have Felicitas Ivey, Cassie Decker, Emma Keene, Jon Keys and Yolande Kleinn!

ICYMI: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5
| Week 6

Kobbi Aackers was excited to have a traditional family Christmas with his younger sister Franzi, a famous rock star. But instead of the peaceful holiday he had planned, she’s turning it into a televised musical extravaganza, in a desperate bid for publicity.

Kobbi can adapt, especially since the show’s host Wytt Kanard is easy on the eyes and easy to work with, even if he doesn’t believe in Christmas at all. Wytt is alternatively amused and horrified at the simplicity that is Kobbi’s life and the enthusiasm he has for the holiday, all while taking care of his houseful of unexpected guests.

Maybe Kobbi can convince the cynical Wytt that Christmas isn’t an event to be managed, but something special to be shared. Maybe he can muster the courage to confess his attraction and offer Wytt a surprise present.

Fantasy Living - 3.5 Hearts

This was lovely. Kobbie was pretty laid back character, which I appreciated. He took the invasion of his house pretty well, and managed to get something out of it (besides eye-candy, Wytt). The story flowed well. I liked the writing style. The characters were all enjoyable. Franzi was a sweetheart underneath all her rockstar selfishness.

Kobbie was definitely the most likeable character in this story. He made this a much less dramatic story than it could have been. Quaint and homey is very appealing in a christmas tale.

A sweet holiday story, focusing on reconnecting with family, even when said family is high maintenance, and self absorbed.

Sara - 2 Hearts

This was super sweet but it needed more. I liked Kobbi and his small town loving home making ways all while being the big brother to his pop star younger sister. The food was amazing as I love to cook and feel holidays should all have traditions including food. But while there were small bits of attraction between Wytt and Kobbi I never felt the pull or chemistry I was looking for in a holiday romance. The lack of chemistry and the oddly abrupt ending didn't do it for me.

Find out more about And to All a Good Night on Goodreads & Dreamspinner Press.

Cowboys Wyatt and Brady are competing in a team roping event in Missoula, Montana’s annual Christmas Eve rodeo. Christmas is Wyatt’s favorite time of year and nothing is going to dampen his holiday spirit, not even his surly, no-nonsense roping partner. They’ve only been riding together for a week, but Wyatt has already secretly fallen head-over-boot-heels for Brady, though it’s painfully obvious Brady only has eyes for the rodeo’s grand prize purse.

When Brady is distracted during a crucial moment in the night’s first roping run and nearly disqualifies them, Wyatt is almost certain he is going to be another of Brady’s many rejected partners. Will Wyatt and Brady be able to sort out their differences and work together to win the grand prize? Maybe if Wyatt can show Brady that Christmas really is a time for miracles.

Fantasy Living - 3 Hearts

This was definitely a quicky. If you enjoy cowboys, and barn trysts, this is the story for you.

It was difficult to get to know these characters because of how short the story was, but I did get the basic feel for them. Wyatt appeared to be quite laid back, and easy going. Brady seemed to be a little high strung, but it was understandable with what he had been dealing with. I think if this was longer, Brady would have evolved into someone likeable.

The outline worked well. These characters definitely had potential. The writing was good, and the plot was tight.

The story ended a little abruptly for me. I think another scene would have rounded it out nicely, but it still held some Christmas feel to it.

Ann - 3 Hearts

I enjoyed this porn with a side of feels. Two cowboys are roping together on the rodeo circuit competing for a purse that means everything to the very intense Brady and Wyatt has fallen in love with him and wants more than anything to get Brady’s attention. The story is Wyatt lusting, the two of them competing and Brady being tortured and deep. It turns out Brady has a really good reason to be so focused on winning and Wyatt is more of a distraction than he can handle. The distraction leads to a seriously hawt rodeo blowie (the kind with lots of eye contact and whatnot), revelations and a Christmas miracle. It may not be realistic, but it fit right in the vein with the Hallmark level of drama and feelings with some hotness thrown in to keep me focused.

Sara - 3 Hearts

Hot cowboys learning the ropes to a new possibilities & having both a successful career and each others. Brady was stoic with reason and Wyatt believes in Christmas miracles and riding stallions. The story was short but not lacking in the sexy at all, it was pretty much PWP with a small side of plot.

Find out more about Driven to Distraction on Goodreads & Dreamspinner Press.

As an advertising executive, it’s Logan’s job to sell people holiday cheer, and he’s good at what he does. But deep down, Logan hates everything about Christmas, so he worries that his crush on the hot baker who loves the holidays is a recipe for disaster.

Last year, Logan saw Ryan at a holiday party Ryan was catering, and the attraction was instant. In a drunken moment, Logan made it his New Year’s Resolution to ask the pastry chef out. But another year has slipped away, time is running out, and Logan’s assistant demands he collect on his resolution. Can Logan find the confidence that usually comes so easily to him? And if he does, will Ryan have any interest in spending the holidays with a man who doesn’t share his enthusiasm for the season?

Lori - 4 Perfectly Iced Hearts

It can be difficult to show a long, slow burn in a short story, but Emma Keene managed it in Resolutions. When Logan makes a vow one Christmas eve, his work colleague is not going to let him get away with not following through. Even if it does take him pretty much a year to get his arse in gear!

I love how we see the relationship between Logan and, baker, Ryan develop into friendship and beyond, as I said this can be a difficult feat in a short story, but I feel it works really well here.
This story gave me the warm and fuzzies and quite frankly that's all I want out of a short seasonal story! Delicious!

Ann - 3.5 Hearts

Resolutions had one of my favorite kinds of characters; a confident businessman, he’s a little grumpy on the surface, but underneath when someone catches his eye and his heart, he turns all shy and sappy. That’s Logan to a “T”. He’s got a major crush on the sweet baker Ryan who he sees all the time and ends up catering his office’s holiday party. The story is told over the course of two holidays worth of parties because poor Logan missed his chance the first time as Ryan just leaves him feeling all kinds of jelly brained. He makes a drunken resolution out loud to his very awesome assistant and she doesn’t let him wuss out on the potential for an HEA because his confidence has left the building again.

A disaster of circumstance gives Logan a second chance at getting close to Ryan and there was just enough light misunderstanding to keep the story from being too easy. The author did a good job of tying the whole holiday season together by including New Years and fresh starts in with the Christmas and gingerbread. I really liked the balance of these guys together, they were sweet and how Ryan gave Logan the confidence to get in touch with all his feels and just be more for Ryan was just right. I’m always a sucker for a story with a baker, because food, and Ryan was a deliciously adorable character, so between the two of them I was a happy reader.

Chelsea - 4 Hearts

Awww that was so sweet!

This ended up being a very simple story about a grumpy, scowling man crushing after a sweet, happy baker. It was kind of perfect for what it was.

I really enjoyed Logan’s grumpiness, it wasn’t overdone and it seemed to fit in with his personality, just as Ryan wasn’t an elf incarnate, he was just a sweet guy who liked Christmas. They complimented each other really well.

I liked the connection between Ryan and Logan and their awkward dance around each other. Yes, Logan is a complete idiot for not seeing that Ryan was interested, but it wasn’t annoying enough to hinder the story.

This was short enough not to be to sappy or boring and it was long enough to actually develop some chemistry between the characters. It was fun and sweet enough to leave me with some fuzzies.

Sara - 3.5 Hearts

This was short and sticky sweet!

Logan hates Christmas but when he meets Ryan at his company party, he makes resolution in front of his assistant Ann to Ask Ryan out. Logan is one hell of a procrastination master and it takes him almost a year to grow some holly balls and do the deed. Through a few misunderstandings he wastes more time but it all comes out pretty and perfect in the end. Ryan and his gingerbread building was fun and the little flirting between Ryan and Logan was adorable and made the end all sorts of swoony.

Find out more about Resolutions on Goodreads & Dreamspinner Press

Noah Fiore, contracts attorney and dedicated curmudgeon, spends every Christmas with his family on the shore of Lake Superior. It’s practically tradition for his sister to invite a tragic tagalong to the festivities. But this year Kara’s guest is no pity case. Riley Coto is a friend, and his warmth and charm quickly win over the Fiore family.

When Riley overhears Noah complaining about Kara’s habit of bringing home strays for the holidays, he feels more than a little out of place. But Riley finds himself drawn to Noah. Something tells him there’s more to the man than the bad attitude he shows the world. With Christmas coming fast, Riley is falling for Noah, and there’s nothing simple about that.

Breann - 4 Hearts

Noah is a Grumpy-corn. He's home for Christmas, but doesn't have much of the Christmas spirit. He's just a serious kind of dude. His sister brings a friend, Riley, home to share the holidays with their family. They noticed each other right away and couldn't stop noticing.

This was a really sweet story with a great couple that fit nicely together. I loved Riley's acceptance of Noah. Nobody tried to change anyone or force any Christmas spirit. Just acceptance and love. A very heartwarming read.

Ann - 4 Hearts

For what, on paper, should be an unsympathetic character in Noah, I sure did get feels for him. I liked the spin on the Bah Humbug theme with Simple After All. Noah didn’t have any past tragedies or real dislike for the holiday season, he’s just naturally a serious guy who’s not comfortable with large groups of people regardless of who they are. In the beginning he kind of comes across as a bit dickish, but he really isn’t and the author did a good job of showing his true personality to the reader without just telling me what he’s like. It helped that he had an amazing family that pushed him past his comfort zone a bit to make sure he’s home for the holidays, but also respect his more stoic nature.

Noah’s sister brings her friend Riley home for Christmas and Riley is just a really good guy. And wouldn’t you know, he’s got a serious ‘thing’ for quiet and slightly curmudgeonly men. There’s a decent amount of slow burn for a short story and the pace worked really well and didn’t feel at all rushed for two guys who are polar opposites. The story didn’t end with any kind of miraculous personality change for Noah so that he ends up loving the crazy that comes with the holidays and I was glad. He stayed true to his nature with the addition of a quiet contentment that came with meeting and falling in love with Riley.

Sara - 3.5 Hearts

A week shouldn’t have been enough time to fall for someone he’d never met before…

Daww! This was adorable!

Look, I know I am the ginger of Jizzmas love but I can’t help it. The season makes me all sorts of happy but this was truly sweet.

Someone once asked me what I love about reading romance and I told them I loved the moment where the gruff dude realizes he’s mush inside and gives into love. Le Sigh. That is exactly what this story was with grumpy Noah finding sweet Riley at his family's house for the holidays. Riley is like Noah getting a Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle without even asking for it. It was like the universe knew what he wanted and delivered. I adored Noah’s family and the use of the small library and that end was adorbs!

Find out more about Simple After All on Goodreads & Dreamspinner Press.

Keith Walker, a mall bookstore employee, is struggling to get through another miserable holiday season while trying to preserve a crumbling long-term relationship. One of his few comforts is his morning coffee made by a good-looking, younger barista. Austin Novak felt an attraction when Keith started frequenting the coffee shop, but he doesn’t think the older man has any interest in him or his graphic novel collection.

A Christmas week snowstorm buries the city and locks Keith’s car into its parking spot. Keith decides to show Austin his gratitude for helping free the car from the ice with a dinner invitation. The meal becomes complicated when Austin meets Keith’s boyfriend, Shawn, and things go downhill from there when Shawn announces he’s heading to CancĂșn with his coworkers. Keith is caught between keeping his boyfriend happy and keeping his job. But Keith might not need a plane ticket to find the happiness that’s been missing from his life.

Fantasy Living - 4 Hearts

I really enjoyed this story for the most part. There was some questionable content, especially since there was an existing relationship in the beginning. I would like to point out that the MC’s did not cheat, but there is cheating in this story.

Usually I’m not really that impressed by cheating as a plot device but this story seemed to work around it well. The focus stayed on the main characters, Keith and Austin, and built their friendship first, so it didn’t feel grimy or forced.

I really liked Austin. He was a sweetheart who deserved all the happiness he could get. Keith was in that stagnant stage of a relationship where neither was trying, and everything just floated along through resentment and self-doubt. It’s difficult to support someone who is in that stage of a relationship because of the introspective nature of the couple. Austin handled being supportive really well.

As a christmas story, this was a bit different. The focus wasn’t about christmas spirit, or cheer, it just happened to be set over the holiday season. That didn’t take anything away from my enjoyment (as a Christmas Grinch, how could it?!), and I’m glad these two managed to make the most of a crappy holiday.

For something a little less focused on Christmas, and more on relationship building, this is a welcome relief from the sunny, shiny, holiday glitter.

Lori - 3.5 Frozen Hearts

Two's company, three's a crowd in this short story. Three's a crowd because Keith's boyfriend, Shawn, is a wanker of the highest order. Where Keith could be seen as a bit of a doormat, I actually like the fact that he is trying his best to be the good guy, the nice guy. He doesn't deserve Shawn and totally deserves Austin - our other MC, who is a genuinely nice bloke.

This is just a sweet story of the nice guy winning in the end, and call me a sap but, I kinda like nice guy wins stories. Don't get me wrong, there is some nice steamy moments in this story too, but it is the kindness wins message that I really loved. What? It's that time of year, all right?

Chelsea - 2 Hearts

I think it's worse when you start off liking a book and then it turns into a massive disappointment, compared to when it's not enjoyable for the whole story. Exhibit A.

I had such high hopes for this story and for Keith and Austin's chemistry. Unfortunately it was not to be and this may become slightly ranty. Sorry in advance.

We start off when Austin is helping Keith when Keith's car has a flat and has been iced in. Austin and Keith work in the same mall and seen each other around but hardly know each other. Keith even had to try and remember his name at the beginning. I liked both of them immediately and their apparent ease around each other.

Then we meet Shawn, Keith's boyfriend for the past 10ish years (since college and Keith is now 30) and Shawn is such an asshole I thought we’d discover some abuse towards Keith, but no, Keith is trying to fix the relationship and doesn’t even see that Shawn is a total wank.

The next day Keith discovers Shawn is a total asshole and is surprised by the revelation, then he gets into some trouble and Austin comes to the rescue. And this is where the story totally lost me. After knowing each other on a first name basis and some very mild flirting for three days, they decide it's totally normal to sleep naked next to each other and then proceed to ‘subtly’ feel each other up in the morning. Then at the end of that day (still only three to four days after remembering Austin's name and one whole day after a 10 year relationship, that Keith initially thought was ok, ending), Keith and Austin are talking about commitments to each other and the probability of Keith moving in with Austin.

Argh this had such hope and the slow burn and chemistry building between Austin and Keith was great to begin with and then it was totally ruined buy rushed relationships and shallow character development.

Sorry, but this wasn’t for me. I’m sure that won’t be the case for everyone.

Sara - 3.5 Hearts

I liked this and for one simple reason, attraction. We often get the perfect men with perfect abs and the perfect thing to say in romance so it was a nice change to get not one but two men who see themselves on the non-attractive side for different reasons and yet each, think the other is hot and sexy.

I felt sorry for Keith and yeah, his asshole boyfriend was a totally douchenugget of rotten coal and yeah Keith should have left sooner before it all went telenovela but life doesn’t come with instructions and sometimes, things happen.

I adored Austin and his crush on the bookstore working, coffee loving Keith. It was lovely to get his POV as well to see how he felt about Keith and I loved him sticking up for him at dinner. Keith deserves more and the two times ice brings he and Austin together really were sweet.
Sure, the story moves fast but the men had enough chemistry that I liked it and I hope they give the newlywed neighbors a lot more to “payback” in the future.

Find out more about Iced on Goodreads & Dreamspinner Press.

***Review copies were provided by the publisher.***

Merry Christmas Everyone, if you celebrate otherwise have a spectacular Sunday!

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