Review: NineStar Press 2017 Holiday Series by Various Authors

At nineteen, Nick is alone for the holidays and facing reality: this is how it will be from now on. Refusing to give up completely, Nick buys a Christmas tree, and then realizes he has no ornaments. A bare tree and an empty apartment aren’t a great start, but a visit from his friend Haruto is just the ticket to get him through this first, worst, Christmas. A box of candy canes and a hastily folded paper crane might not be the best ornaments, but it’s a place to start.
A year later, Nick has realized he’s not the only one with nowhere to go, and he hosts his first “Christmas for the Misfit Toys.” Haruto brings Nick an ornament for Nick’s tree, and a tradition—and a new family—is born.
As years go by, Nick, Haruto, and their friends face love, betrayal, life, and death. Every ornament on Nick’s tree is another year, another story, and another chance at the one thing Nick has wanted since the start: someone who’d share more than the holidays with him.
Of course, Nick might have already missed his shot at the one, and it might be too late.
Still, after fifteen Christmases, Nick is ready to risk it all for the best present yet.

5 Hearts
What's not to love about a misfit Christmas? Nothing, that's what! I love the all encompassing nature of this story - friends, new and old, throughout the years making Christmas happy. Making a family with their own traditions. The people who attend any change throughout the years but the spirit, the heart is the same. I love the crazy Christmas decorations - a tradition that started with a crane! At the heart of this story is the friendship between Nick and Haruto. I love it even more when that friendship finally develops into more! A really beautiful story with friendship at it's heart. Perfect.

Kezia’s been harboring feelings for Magdalena for what feels like an eternity. She’s made peace with that. But when her happily committed best friend is suddenly single, that peace is disturbed. Especially when Magdalena comes to Kezia asking for a huge, unreasonable favor. Kezia doesn’t know how to say no, even though she knows she should. Will she be able to maintain her composure while helping the broken-hearted Magdalena? Or will pretending to have the girl of her dreams only lead to a broken heart of her own?

5 Hearts

A winter wedding - √
Snow - √
Fake girlfriend ruse - √
Unrequited love - √
Friends to more - √

A gorgeous Christmas read? - √

Well written and makes-your-tummy-squishy good. Absolutely recommended to anyone who loves love at Christmas.

Colin only meant to take a wrongly delivered package to a house a few streets over. But a sudden snowstorm leaves him with no option but to beg shelter from his unknown neighbour James. During the course of a long night, a cozy fire, a little hot chocolate and the snow outside conspire to draw the two men closer. But will their connection outlast the storm?

4 Hearts

"When the snow lay round about..."
I love snow. Well the idea of it at least! The icy white stuff is so Christmas for me (even though I've never actually had a white Christmas myself!), the freeing outside countered by a warm fire, glowing lights and festivities just sums up the gorgeousness of the season. Yes I do like Hallmark films. No I am not ashamed of the fact. This story was all about the snow, how the freezing weather left stranded Colin seeking shelter with James. Add in a love of books and some dick shaped cookies and this story really was a Christmas treat! Happy sigh.

Colleagues Ford and Vaughan have long admired each other from afar, but Vaughan’s shyness and Ford’s emotional hang-ups have meant that neither has made a move. That all changes when they draw each other’s name in the office Secret Santa.

4 Hearts

The office at Christmas. It's not all about the regret of photocopying body parts, drinking enough that chatting up your boss seems like a good idea and snogging your colleague under the mistletoe seems a better one. Though it is about all those things, it's also about the Secret Santa present exchange. How we love and loathe it in equal measure! In this story Vaughn and Ford are colleagues with a mutual admiration for each other - and a whole lot of angst and shyness between them. The strangeness of Secret Santa is just the right catalyst to help these two see the light. The super shiny, beautifully bright, Christmas lights that is. A super-cute office romance that sets the tone for a wonderful Christmas.

The holidays don’t mean much to Nadia. There are be tons of socialite parties her parents will force her to attend. She’ll be expected to find just the right outfits to pass the inspection of her mother, as well as to hopefully catch the eye of one of the belles at the ball. None of which she cares about in the least. To say she’s a Scrooge is an understatement.
Before the kick-off event takes place, Nadia receives an unexpected call from the daughter of one of her parents’ friends. They’ve met before, but for the life of her, Nadia just can’t place her. They exchange pictures through text—a gorgeous woman to match the sultry voice. As her mood is heightened slightly, enter nerves galore.
How will the holidays turn out? Will this mysterious woman from the past be able to pull the Christmas spirit out of her after all? And when is the right time to tell her she’s asexual?

4 Hearts
Though I'm not usually a fan of 'rich girl/guy' stories, I did love this one. I loved the fact that our protagonist is asexual - the rainbow is beautifully coloured for many reasons, and those it symbolises in the queer community are just as wide and diverse and it's great that stories encompassing a wide range of the queer community is published by NineStar Press.
Daughter of the mayor she may come from wealth but Nadia doesn't always love the lifestyle the money brings. It's Christmas though and she has family obligations, like it or not. The first party of the season is just about to kick off when things take an unexpected turn for Nadia. 
Kalli is gorgeous and everything Nadia could wish for... there's just one snag. Nadia is worried about telling Kalli about her asexuality - it's been too big a deal for many before. Kalli isn't just any girl though, she's considerate and knows what she wants  - and that is Nadia. A gorgeous story of romance at Christmas time.

Nerdy, struggling graphic novelist Josh Reben expected to work at his comic book store job all through the holidays. The only thing he had to look forward to was a possible hookup with a guy who—let’s be honest—didn’t seem that into him. So when his brother Ben calls to tell him he’ll be flying home for Hanukkah, along with his wife and new baby, Josh pleads for the day off for a family visit.
With the best of intentions, Ben also invites their former neighbor Marc Birnbaum to dinner. Only, he didn’t know that Marc bullied Josh for years when they were children. Josh approaches the evening with the idea of getting some closure, but when he finds Marc to be completely changed from his childhood self, things get a little confusing.
Family drama and personal baggage make for holiday tensions, but during the Festival of Lights, the Rebens and their guest just might find their way to some new understandings.

4 Hearts
In this story Josh is able to face the bullying from his past. He is expecting a quiet family Hannuka with his brother and sister-in-law but finds Marc, a bully from his childhood is also invited. I liked how Josh and Marc interact, how they start to resolve their issues. It's a heart warming story of how the past is faced and the realisation that even bullies can change is written well. It's not twee, all is right with the world. It's about facing the past and owning it. A surprisingly sweet story considering the subject matter. 

After losing his husband, David, to a tragic accident the previous year, Russ doesn’t feel much like celebrating the upcoming holidays. When his daughter unexpectedly asks for one of David’s cookie recipes, Russ makes a decision that lands him in a baking class. After a few mishaps with an inept partner, Russ is ready to give up, but then the teacher, Amos, offers private lessons to help him recreate David’s smorgasbord of holiday treats. Somewhere along the way, Russ develops an attraction to the younger man, but is he ready to move on and let Amos in? 

5 Hearts
This story was a mix of sad and happy. Russ is struggling with facing Christmas without his husband. It's a hard time for him but he has children too, so he needs to not ignore it completely. I hurt for Russ, this time of year is harder for people suffering grief when family and relationships are on every advert, every film going. I loved how he faced his pain for his daughter and I loved even more how the people of the baking class interacted with him. Especially Amos. It was a lovely story of their developing relationship with just a couple of misunderstandings along the way. 

Six months after she inherits the Dala Horse Inn, Tilde’s family has arrived to celebrate Christmas and critique Tilde’s every move. When her grandma walks in on Tilde while with Emma, her friend with benefits, Tilde suddenly has a fake girlfriend for the holidays. Fueled by stress, glögg, and Emma’s help, Tilde is determined to make Christmas a success. As the big day approaches, she isn’t sure if being interrupted by Grandma was another hurdle to surpass or the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

5 Hearts
This story, set in Sweden, was a fabulous little Christmas read. Tilde is one of the most hardworking, nicest people ever - and frankly, she has the family from hell. I'm not sure I've ever read about such a rude bunch of people. They expected Hilde to wait on them hand and foot, sure she runs an inn, but it's Christmas and the family should all muck in together to make it happy for everyone.
Luckily she had Emma on her side! I loved Emma, she fit right in, was strong but didn't try and bully Tilde herself, even if she did hate the way the family treated her. Friends to more is my favourite story line, I know they were already friends with benefits, but when that started to become more, first as a ruse and then for real, it was so sweet.
One of my favourite reads this Christmas.

Daniel Wu is an elementary school teacher with a big heart and a collection of snow globes to match his travels. The small town he has settled in, however, feels like it could be home. All that’s missing is someone special and a family to call his own.
Resigned to spending the holidays alone, Daniel finishes work on the last day of school, only to stumble upon one his students, Abby Weber, who needs a ride home. Jeffrey Weber, single father and recent owner of a cast on his broken leg, needs quite a bit of help around the house when Daniel drops Abby off. Christmas Eve is around the corner, so Daniel can’t let the two fend for themselves. What he doesn’t expect, however, is the snowstorm that strands him in their remote home in the forest. But is this misfortune, or could it be a wish come true?

4 Hearts
Sweet, sweet, sweet! things may have moved a bit fast, but I don't care, this is a heartwarming story of an unexpected (make your own) family Christmas. Daniel is the ideal primary school teacher, he really cares about his students. Abby is lovely and the dynamics with Jeff and Daniel is great.
This story hit all the right notes in the cute stakes, and left me with a real feeling of holiday happiness. A definite bonus to your Christmas reading.

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