Reviews: A Holiday to Remember Collection by Various Authors

Life hasn't been easy for Amir since he fled Iran after a brutal imprisonment. The trauma experienced at the hands of the guards left a dark spot on his soul. The one constant in his life since relocating to Chicago has been his lover—now husband—Esmail, whose steadfast love and support has soothed his wounded heart.
​But this Shab-e Yalda, Amir wants to be the one giving his husband something special, because even after the darkest nights, the sun will rise again.

5 Hearts
It's easy to get caught up in the spirit of the season and forget about other's suffering. Bright lights and parties, traditions and festivities - in many religions December is about celebrations. When you're far from home, wracked by panic attacks in a strange land that promised freedom it can be hard. 
Amir can't escape the atrocities of what happened to him and his now husband in their homeland of Iran. Used to a place devoid of tolerance it is hard to accept he is now somewhere where he is safer, he is trying though. Each day he faces new challenges and Esmail is there to help him through the dark days.
This story tells us about one night when Amir wants to bring some of the happier memories of his homeland to his new home. Celebrating Shab-e Yalda is important to him and it may be a struggle but with Esmail by his side he knows he can do it.
A lovely story of hope after horror. I loved Amir and Esmail (especially Amir). I loved the dynamics of their relationship, how they worked together to make a new future for themselves. A beautiful story for this holiday season.

Mel finally gets to go home for Christmas. In his absence, his hometown has changed, and Carlos, his best friend’s little brother, is all grown up and interested in a relationship. But Carlos has his work cut out for him since Mel's having trouble seeing past the little brother part and his big brother, Aldo's determined to keep them apart.

4 Hearts
This story has it all; friends to lovers, home for the holidays, family, and a cold Minnesota Christmas! A cute read that left me warm and mushy all over - exactly how I want to feel after reading about Christmastime romance. 
I love friends to lovers, even if the friend needs to open his eyes and see what is standing before him. Oh and big brother keeps getting in the way! The cutest of Christmas reads.

It's Christmastime and the snow is falling. Restoring an old Victorian manor has been keeping contractor Brett Hawkins busy. The project's meant to be complete by Christmas, but there's no way he can get it done in time, especially with the big day right around the corner.

Meanwhile, his beloved Manuel Aguilar is grappling with depression, and he's consumed by guilt that it's kept him from putting up the decorations. But his biggest concern is that he may be ruining the holiday for Brett. As Manny struggles, unable to recognize his own courage in every small gain, Brett has a surprise that may help break depression's hold.

5 Hearts
The soul of Christmas is family and home, and is the heart of all Brett's hardwork. Manuel suffers depression and all it entails.
This story struck a chord with me because I know what it is to be caught in the grip of depression; the exhaustion and guilt. Kassandra Lea wrote a story which I understood from the heart; yet, despite the subject of depression being a key component of it, the story exuded warmth and hope and I loved it. It's great to read about depression as is and not just as a result of a big trauma. A beautiful story that warmed my heart.

The public library's computer geek, aka Travis, is content skirting the edges of social interaction. He's fully committed to being a boring, twenty-something IT guy who likes his office more than people, a guy someone like Connor would never fall for. Connor, who works on the library floor as a page, is outgoing, social, and charming and everything else that stands for "fun."

An interaction between the two at the library on Christmas Eve has Travis accidentally mentioning that he failed to find this year's hottest toy for his nephew. Immediately, Connor goes on a quick hunt online, and finds one. The only problem is that the Craigslist seller is hours away and Travis is sure spending hours in a car with quirky, handsome Connor can only end badly.

4 Hearts
You can get anything on Craigslist, right? But what if it's a killer at the other end of the line? 
This was an amusing little story that had me chuckling into my eggnog! Christmas is for geeks too you know! A geek, a dude, a road-trip, Christmas and a possible killer - what more could you want from a Christmas story, I ask you? This is a delightfully quirky read for the holiday season.

Nick is not looking forward to his second Christmas without Sammi, his gorgeous ex-fiancee. She left him on New Year’s Eve, a week after their engagement, and he still doesn’t know why.

A chance meeting whilst out Christmas shopping reveals that Sammi is now Sam, a transgender man. As the reasons behind their break-up become clearer, Nick cannot make sense of his new feelings. He is shocked by the deep attraction he still has to Sam, and what that says about himself.

It will take Nick's straight-talking family, and Sam’s guiding hand, to help him discover that gender is no barrier to love.

5 Hearts
This story is about love lost and love re-found and it really warmed the cockles of my heart. (No, I don't know what the cockles of my heart are either, but you know what I mean). 
Love is all about the person in this story. Nick loves Sam and it's as simple as that for him. He doesn't care if Sam is now presenting as male, after all he's still the same Sam inside just a truer version of himself. 
A beautiful story of acceptance and love set in the holiday season. A truly enjoyable read.

Balancing holidays between two families can make cheerful celebrations into chores. Carson Benedetti's mom has overscheduled the Christmas holidays and she's more than insistent that boyfriend Tynan Harris come into the family fold. There's so much to do Tynan can't find time to bring Carson over to his own family and he feels like they are being left in the dust.

​After dating for nine months, and with their relationship becoming more serious, Tynan's patience is sorely tested by the multitude of Benedetti family traditions keeping them busy. Tynan needs to figure out how to find some breathing room, split their time more fairly, and make Christmas more than just tradition by rote.

4 Hearts
Mothers, hey! Mother-in-law jokes are a staple of British humour so I understood the heart of this story. As a mum myself, as much as I wanted to dislike Carson's mum, I couldn't. I don't like how she emotionally manipulated Carson, but there's a tiny bit of me that completely gets it! I dread the days my kids are elsewhere for Christmas! 
This story strikes at the heart of an oft familiar struggle at Christmas, how to split the time between families. Well written, with a touch of comedy, this story addresses the issue and resolves it with a happy Christmas for all.

Derrek is dealing with the recent, unexpected death of his mother. He’s been alone for five year since his husband Will died, and he’s ready to find someone new and to start living again. Ryan lost his partner, David, in an auto accident, and is dating Alex, who doesn’t treat him right.

Derrek can’t figure out why Ryan won’t see what’s right in front of his face. Why does Ryan come to him to talk about all his hopes, dreams, and fears, then go home to Alex?

If Derrek can figure that out, they might just have a shot.

5 Hearts
Grief is sometimes hidden under the carpet at this time of year. We don't want to think about those suffering lose and bereavement at a time when family and love is the heart of the the celebrations - but it can't be ignored; many people are suffering. J. Scott Coatsworth tackles this subject head on, letting a friendship finally bloom into the more that it's supposed to be. 
One of my favourite holiday reads, this book was written with understanding and depth - and a friends-to-more storyline! Truly enjoyable.

Review copies were provided.

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