Review: Old Acquaintance by Annabelle Jacobs

There are two sides to every story, even those buried in the past.

When Sam spots the hot guy moving in next door, he’s all for going round to introduce himself. That soon changes when it turns out his new neighbour is Charles Whitmore, an old school acquaintance. Sam didn’t like him back then, for good reason, and fifteen years haven’t altered that.

Splitting up from his long-term boyfriend means a move across the city for Charlie. As luck would have it, his immediate neighbour is a guy he went to school with, Sam Gellar. While Sam is less than welcoming, his best mate is more than happy to invite Charlie into their social circle. Whatever problem Sam has with him, Charlie resolves to get to the bottom of it because, frosty beginnings aside, Charlie likes him.

With Christmas just around the corner, fate pushes them together, and they get on much better than they ever did at school. Despite his efforts not to, Sam develops feelings for Charlie, and they appear to be reciprocated. If Sam wants to take things further, he needs to either confront Charlie about their past—a past Charlie seems to have forgotten entirely—or let it go and move on. Sam knows deep down that he can’t let it go, but can’t find the right time to bring it up either.

Could it be the season that made me love this? Could it be my hopeless romantic heart that rooted for Sam and Charlie to find their way to each other? Could it be that this was just a simple romance and exactly what I needed? Take your pick because they all worked for me.

I like stories like this; two people who vaguely knew one another when they were young but that somehow they impacted the others life. For Sam, it was what he thought Charlie did to his friend in school and for Charlie, it’s that Sam was a snitch on everything he did back then. The men, now 15 years after that time have become neighbors and while each begins to fancy the other, the both know there is something in the way.

I can’t explain why but while reading this, I had the Beauty and the Beast song stuck in my head. I think it’s the whole “Finding you can change, learning you were wrong” lyric that really hit home. Sam judges Charlie on who he thought we was 15 years ago as the man Charlie is today. But Sam, he doesn’t know the whole story of what happened back then and he will need to put away his grudge and see Charlie for the man he is.

I loved that this was told with both POV’s because I really like to see exactly what each man thinks of the other. Of course, they both think their neighbor is attractive, and when they acknowledge that they knew each other from school it gives the story a layer of angst because we know what Sam thinks. He thinks Charlie was some jerk who beat up his friend so badly he put him in hospital but is that really what happened? As the blurb says, there are two sides to every story.

Watching Sam and Charlie find their way to becoming friends was a pleasure to watch. The coincidence of Sam’s job giving them a chance to hang out was convenient but Charlie making cups and cups of tea for Sam was adorable.

Sam isn’t the only one coming into this story with baggage though as we have Charlie who has just left a long term relationship and is starting over. Charlie isn’t a one night stand/hookup kind of guy, he loves being in a relationship and the way he sees Sam makes me smile so big it hurts. I loved how he found Sam a bit weird when they were in school and now how he sees Sam’s quirks endearing.

The romance in this is a bit of a slow burn that left this reader absolutely satisfied with the payoff. I like that the author didn’t dive head first into the physical and even after the first bit of intimacy had our couple come to terms with the grudge Sam had been holding. It makes sense that they would need to get it all out before they could move forward and thankfully Charlie has a cat that really likes to hang out at Sam’s place.

Everything about this was perfect for me. Sam and Charlie has a realness to them that gave weight to the romance and made me fall in love with them. Dave, Sam’s best friend and Kath Charlie’s sister were lovely characters that gave each man support in their romantic endeavor and I wouldn’t mind more of Dave and his partner Louis as it seems there a story there.

A review copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Release Blitz + Giveaway: Only Love by Garrett Leigh

Celebrate the release of Only Love with author Garrett Leigh and Signal Boost Promotions! Learn more today and enter in the back list eBook giveaway!

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 355 pages

Cover Design: Book Cover By Design


The diagnosis of a chronic stomach condition leaves thirty-two-year-old Sergeant Jed Cooper with little choice but to call time on his Army career. Then on the dusty streets of Kirkuk, an ambush gone tragically wrong decimates his team, and he returns to the US with a shattered leg and the memory of his best friend dying in his arms.

Life in his sleepy hometown proves intolerable until he finds solace in a lakeside cabin with vivacious young carpenter, Max O’Dair. In the shadow of the epilepsy that periodically plagues Max, he and Jed form an unspoken bond. After a late night episode, Jed realizes how much Max means to him, and life has taught him not to waste time.

But the lines between contentment and complacency are blurred. Things left hidden resurface to tear through their world, and before they can repair the damage, death comes to call again. Faces, past and present, rally around them to weather the storm, but before long, they are left with only love.

Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.

Garrett's debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.

Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at, and co-owns the specialist stock site with photographer Dan Burgess.




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Review: Under the Felt Mistletoe by Nell Iris

The most wonderful time of the year is about to get even better. 

On a cold, rainy December morning, Finn’s beloved Grampa, his best friend and rock, makes a friend outside their home who he invites in for coffee. The last thing Finn expects is Nelson, a man with a painful past, who is beautiful and generous and turns Finn’s knees into jelly.

What starts out as a chance to get out of the rain, soon becomes more as Nelson helps Finn get ready for the Christmas market. They bond over coffee and fabric and Mariah Carey. Can handmade Christmas ornaments and an understanding heart give Nelson the love he’s been denied?

So much Christmas fluff packed into one little novella.

Nell Iris is a master of the fluff and Under the Felt Mistletoe embodies that skill. The MC’s are delightful and I loved them. I’m usually not one for overly sweet stories but around the holidays, all that gets thrown out the window and I devour it like Nelson’s perfect gingerbread.

Finn lives with his meddling, heart-of-gold grandfather who is his best friend and his rock. It’s a two way street as it’s obvious Grandpa feels the same about Finn. When Grandpa invites a stranger, who was trying to visit a neighbor, in out of the rain for coffee, the meet-cute commences.

The beauty in this story is the shy flirtation between Nelson and Finn. I don’t seem to read that often enough these days and it’s just so pure and warm. They both did their fair share of blushing and stuttering, but not overly so. It stayed charming and I loved reading their banter.

All the obligatory Christmas accoutrements are present, so Under the Felt Mistletoe is literally the complete package for holiday fluff lovers. Christmas markets, family, gingerbread, mistletoe, stars and so much love you could just about drown in it. If it weren’t a Christmas story it would be too much sweet, but embracing all the cuteness this time of year totally worked for me.

**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**

Release Blitz + Giveaway: Love Blooms by Stephanie Hoyt

Celebrate the release of holiday romance, Love Blooms with author Stephanie Hoyt and IndiGo Marketing! Learn more about this unique tale and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title: Love Blooms
Author: Stephanie Hoyt
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: December 10, 2018
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 61800
Genre: Fantasy, Santa, elves, magic, holiday

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Nico Hamurişi is the one and only son of Santa Claus. All his life, Nico has known he’s expected to fall in love and find lifelong commitment by the Christmas of his thirtieth year—like every other heir before him. But knowing and accepting are vastly different things, and as the final countdown begins, Nico has yet to embrace his fate. His once great enthusiasm for eventually becoming Santa has been dimmed by uncertainty over how the Santa Line will be affected when he marries a man.

With only a year left, will Nico have time to find love and commitment all while learning how magic will transform the family line to accommodate who he is and who he loves?


Love Blooms
Stephanie Hoyt © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
The sun hasn’t even begun to brighten the sky when Nico reaches the family estate. He shuts his car’s engine off in front of his childhood home and waits, staring at his watch as the seconds tick by. The hour hand strikes five and snow starts to fall. His father must have made his first delivery right on time. Nico sighs, relief washing over him at having successfully avoided the annual Christmas conversation for the next twenty-something hours. For the moment, no matter how fleeting, he can go inside without bracing himself for confrontation.

The snow falls soft and cold on his face as he walks to the door, and for an instant, Nico thinks it may have been worth coming home earlier to avoid the snowfall. He laughs, short and bitter, as last year’s predelivery family dinner flashes in his mind and he remembers what avoiding the snowfall entails. He’d much rather deal with this cold, wet mess than the disappointment in his father’s eyes at another year passing by without him fulfilling his obligations as heir apparent. If last year was bad, this year will be infinitely worse. His father had been disappointed then, but now with the deadline looming so close, Nico can imagine how his father’s mood will have shifted to something far worse than disappointment.

He wipes his feet on the welcome home mat and opens the door. He takes a deep breath as he steps inside and tries his best not to let this place get the better of him. It stopped being home years ago, but he can do this. He can. Except, the utter lack of even a shred of welcoming quality fills him with dread. This house has been the site of nearly every argument he’s ever had with his father and he knows he’s opened the door to yet another lecture on the expectations and obligations that come along with being the son of Kristoff Hamurişi.

This year won’t be any different, especially since the final year of the countdown begins at midnight. If he’s being realistic, which he hates to do, any discussion of his failings is going to be much more tense than they’ve ever been before. But for now, the lights inside are off, save for the Christmas tree, his father is out for more than a full day’s worth of deliveries, the rest of the house seems to be fast asleep, and Nico can slip upstairs to his childhood bedroom without being noticed.

At least, that’s what he was counting on.

Unfortunately for him, someone had different plans for his arrival. He opens his bedroom door to a lit room and a ball of limbs and hair curled up in the middle of his bed. He sets his suitcase down with a loud thud and the ball moves, revealing the face of Noelle, the youngest of his four older sisters.

“My dear little Santicholas,” she says, words and laughter both swallowed in a yawn. “I can’t believe you thought you could sneak in here unnoticed.”

Nico rolls his eyes. “You know I hate when you call me that.”

She untangles herself and pushes up on the tips of her toes to wrap her arms around Nico in a big, tight hug. “It’s hard to believe you do when you’re smiling so big.”

Nico’s words get muffled by her hair and his own laughter. “Yeah, yeah. I missed you, too.”

She lets him go, shaking her head as he starts to yawn. “You should’ve come home at a decent hour if you wanted to be well rested.”

Nico narrows his eyes. “If it’s such an indecent hour then why are you up?”

Noelle lets out a short huff of air, annoyed. “I wanted you to see a friendly face before…”

Nico closes his eyes. Here it comes. He should have known better than to think he could avoid confrontation, even for a moment, even from his closest friend and sibling. When he opens his eyes again, Noelle’s sitting on the edge of the bed and her face has softened in a way that makes Nico feel worse.

He smiles but it does nothing to wipe the gentle expression off her face; she knows him too well, knows he wears it as a shield.

“You don’t have to pretend with me. I know failing is what worries you.”

“Failure isn’t my concern here, Noelle.” Not entirely true. “I’m worried about what will happen if I don’t fail.” Unbearably true.

Noelle raises her eyebrow, confused, and Nico’s stomach clenches. Am I actually doing this? He plows on before she can interrupt and he loses his nerve. “And I’m angry! I’m so incredibly angry I even need to be concerned by all this shit in the first place. I don’t want to think of heirs and continuing a family legacy and everything else riding on me falling in love when I don’t even know how who I love will affect any of this.”

Noelle blinks, breathing out a barely audible “Oh.”

Nico’s heart skips, his pulse is erratic.

“I’m gay.”

Noelle blinks again, and again, and again, and then, after what feels like an eternity of his stomach turning over in knots, she smiles. “Okay.”


“Yes, okay.”

She motions for Nico to sit next to her, and he does, knocking his shoulder against hers. “I was expecting a little more than an okay, if I’m being honest.”

Noelle laughs, embarrassed. “I didn’t think I should start quizzing you on if you’re seeing anyone, so okay seemed, well…okay.”

Nico smiles, and this time it’s not a shield. He feels lighter and more at peace in this house than he has in years. It’s such a relief to have finally shared such an important part of himself with such an important person in his life.

“Who all knows?”

Nico doesn’t answer immediately, and Noelle asks, “Oh, am I the only one who knows?”

“No, it’s not exactly a secret. I mean, everyone I know who doesn’t know this family knows. So work and friends from college and yeah. I’m basically out to everyone except the family.”

Noelle appears confused and curious. “Not even Joy? She knows how—”

Nico cuts her off. “No, not even our dear lesbian sister knows. Only you.”

Noelle hums an acknowledgment but doesn’t say anything else for a long while—Nico can tell she’s working through what to say next.

He has an idea of what she might be thinking and supplies an answer, “I haven’t told Mom and Dad because, even though it wasn’t a thing when Joy came out, what if… I mean it’s got to be different when you don’t have to produce an heir.”

Nico can’t keep the disdain out of his voice. For as long as he can remember, the heir has been his biggest concern regarding his father and, in turn, his mother finding out his sexuality. “There’s all this added pressure surrounding me finding someone to love. I know they don’t have a problem with queer people, but what if they have a problem with me being gay. There’s a lot riding on my love life.”

“Okay,” Noelle nods. “Well, yeah. I can’t deny there is a lot of pressure put on you falling in love. But I’ve got your back here. No matter what happens, I’ll help you find out how this affects you being the heir apparent to the Crimson Sleigh.”

Nico bursts out in laughter. “God, shut up. Why do you insist on calling it that?”

Noelle smiles, pleased as can be. “Because it makes you laugh.”

Nico purses his lips, trying to stifle his laughter. “You’re ridiculous, you know?”

“Yes, obviously. But I am also wonderful and magical and dearly beloved by you.”

“I guess.” He draws the word out, teasing, and Noelle shoves him, laughing. “Though I wouldn’t consider magical one of your finer qualities since we all are.”

Noelle crinkles her nose. “If you got it, flaunt it.”

Nico sighs. He wishes he was pleased with the extra magic they have, but it’s different—like everything else—when the full extent of his own powers is contingent on falling in love. “I’d much rather have no magic at all, but that’s probably just me.”

“Yeah, it’s got to be just you.” She pauses, furrowing her brow in thought. “Is it even possible to have no magic, though? Everyone’s got some when it comes down to it, even the Immunes. Magic’s everywhere little bro; it’s a fact of life.”

“I’d gladly trade with anyone who doesn’t have a love stipulation placed on their magic.” He doesn’t mean to sound so wishful, but so much of his life since college has been spent wondering how his life would be if he didn’t have all this extra pressure resting on his shoulders. He’d much rather be gifted with any other sort of magic; no need for the frills of Santahood. “Besides, I’m not much more powerful than anyone but Dad as it is. Since love eludes me.”

Noelle’s eyes light up. “So you’re not seeing anyone?”

Nico shakes his head, chuckling. He can always count on Noelle for poor segues and making him laugh. “Have you been waiting this whole time to ask me?”

“No, of course not; that’d be absurd. But since you’ve brought it back up…”

“I didn’t exactly bring it up.”

Noelle waves her hand, dismissing his words. “Yeah, yeah. But you gave me the perfect opportunity to ask, so.”

“So, what?” Nico knows what she means, but he wants to mess with her, make her work for the answer.

“So”—she draws the word out, her warm brown eyes twinkling with familiar mirth—“are you or are you not seeing anyone?”

“No, not at the moment.”

Noelle seems surprised, and Nico supplies an answer before she can ask, “It’s not necessarily a coincidence I pursued a career in something that affords me the opportunity to travel so much—I’m not entirely sure I want to settle down or fall in love.”

It’s the unfortunate truth of his life, but Noelle’s face falls. She isn’t pleased with the answer.

“Oh, Nico. You can’t deny yourself love because of the things expected of you. That’s not fair to yourself.”

Nico shrugs. He wishes it were that simple, but his obligations are always at the back of his mind, and it only gets worse when he meets a man who has the potential to be something more. Noelle smiles, soft and sympathetic. She gets up and ruffles his hair like she has since they were children; her fingers catch at the end where it’s starting to curl, and she clucks her tongue. It’s annoying and comforting all at the same time, as it always has been, and more of Nico’s tension slips away. Noelle’s always been such a good friend. “Mom will be up soon enough, and the rest of the house won’t be much longer after that.”

Nico yawns and Noelle continues, hand on the door, ready to leave, “The kids missed you last night so you might want to nap and get a story ready for why you didn’t arrive with everyone else because I’m sure they’ll pester you for one. Especially Timmy. Belle says he’s become quite the inquisitive little boy as of late.”

Nico motions for the door. “Will you stop fretting over me and go already. You said I need a nap. So let me nap.”

“Okay, okay. I’m going,” she says, but before she closes the door, she peeks her head back through and says, “I’m going to help you figure this all out, Nico. I promise.”

She shuts the door and Nico, for the first time in a long time, feels calm and relieved and a tad hopeful since he’s told Noelle. She’s right: he shouldn’t deny himself love. There might be a deadline and a world of responsibilities, obligations, and powers that come with being the heir apparent to the sleigh, but at the very least, he can’t let this change what he wants. He can’t let a part of his life he has never had a say in control his happiness.

He wants to fall in love; he wants to settle down; he wants to open his heart and build a life with someone else. And honestly, Nico thinks, as he starts to doze off, Santa be damned if being gay will change any of that.


NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Thematically, Stephanie likes magic and spies and magical spies. Aesthetically, she likes glitter and gold and pineapples. She wants to put more soft, sweet bi representation into the world so that people like her teen-self can see themselves in their favorite genres and know that who they are is nothing to be ashamed of.

She currently lives in the Great White North (Wisconsin) with her husband, daughter, and three dogs. The only thing getting her through these Midwest winters is the soothing sound of Tim Riggins saying “Texas forever” and the prospect of one day moving back there.

She loves a good astrology twitter but ultimately only believes in it when her husband calls her stubborn and then her response is: “Well, I am a Taurus.”

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Audiobook Review: Love Happens Anyway by R.J. Scott

Hiring a boyfriend for Christmas; what can go wrong?

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.

Narrator: Sean Crisden
Listening Length:3 hrs 42 min

Very much so like the snowman on the cover, this book is cute and full of Christmas fluff.

I’ve listened to Sean Crisden’s audiobook narrations before, so I knew I’d have no reason to worry. He always manages to keep me engaged and entertained. The audiobook for ‘Love Happens Anyway’ is very well done.

I had no trouble just relaxing and listening to this sweet holiday novella.

High-powered yet lonely marketing exec Derek offers to pay Luke twenty thousand dollars to pretend to be his fireman boyfriend for the holiday season.

Luke, who needs some cash to finish renovations on his family bar, agrees to go along with the ruse despite his misgivings.

What starts off as a business transactions quickly turns into something more.

I’m a fan of the fake boyfriend trope. The set-up in this book was pretty funny - Derek had already spun a background story for his parents well before he’d met Luke. And poor Luke had to keep track of the story while playing Derek’s lover.

But Luke was more than up to the challenge. He was definitely a sweetheart, so willing to put up with Derek’s demands.

Derek’s likeable too, but his uptight personality did get to be a bit much at times. I also wasn’t entirely sure why he was so tense about his parents. Their meddling in his life didn’t seem to be that excessive at all.

But regardless, the transition from fake boyfriends to real boyfriends was adorable. Between holiday engagements and parties, Derek developed a respect for Luke, and Luke’s protective side started to come out.

And neither man could deny that he found the other very attractive. This isn’t a particularly steamy book, but the sexy times didn’t leave any doubt about the MCs’ physical chemistry.

The story progressed in a fairly predictable manner, ending with a cute happy ever after (with a mistletoe on top) for Derek and Luke.


Overall, I enjoyed ‘Love Happens Anyway’. If you’re looking for an easy-to-listen-to holiday MM audiobook, give this a try.

Release Blitz + Giveaway: Trusting Jack (MC Securities #1) by Ruby Moone

Author Ruby Moone and Signal Boost Promotions celebrate the holiday romance release, Trusting Jack (MC Securities #1)! Learn more about the boos/employee tale and enter in the back list eBook giveaway!

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 45,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Meredith Russell


With only a few days to go until Christmas, Michael Cross has to admit there is something amiss about his latest employee, Jack Whelan. Quiet, jumpy, thin… he never seems to eat. He is also incredibly gorgeous with dark spiky hair that Michael aches to touch. But as his boss, Jack is off limits. And when it comes to relationships, he…well, he sucks.

Jack Whelan is at the end of his tether. He’s living rough in the middle of winter, and paying off a massive debt, so getting a job with MC Securities is a lifeline. His new boss is also the hottest guy ever. Geeky, broody, and scarily clever.

When Michael stumbles upon the reality of Jack’s life, he offers to help. But as Michael’s feelings deepen, and Jack’s terrible past catches up with him, Michael has to decide between believing in the awful truth that is staring him in the face, or trusting Jack.

My name is Ruby Moone and I love books. All kinds of books. My weakness is for romance, and that can be any kind, but I am particularly fond of historical and paranormal. I decided to write gay romance after reading some fantastic books and falling in love with the genre, so am really thrilled to have my work published here. The day job takes up a lot of my time, but every other spare moment finds me writing or reading. I live in the north west of England with my husband who thinks that I live in two worlds. The real world and in the world in my head...he probably has a point!

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Twitter - @RubyMooneWriter


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Audiobook Review: Set Ablaze by KC Burn

California firefighter Hayden Hurst is starting to realize there’s more to life than fighting fires and drinking with his buddies. He has room in his home and his life for someone special, but no one has stood out among his hookups. And while he’s out at work, admitting he’s gay is very different from showing up at social functions with a man. He’s afraid that’ll be too much for his less-than-accepting “friends.”

Broadway dancer Jez Bouchet hasn’t been mistaken for straight since he was gay-bashed at seventeen. After getting a lucrative job offer in Hollywood, he uproots his life in New York and drives to Los Angeles. His brother, who is Hayden’s best friend, arranges for him to crash at Hayden’s place.

The attraction between Hayden and Jez is unexpected but fiery, and they succumb before they’re even sure they like each other. But Jez hates Hayden’s homophobic friends, and Hayden knows Jez is too flamboyant for him to fly under the radar. Then there’s the complication of Jez’s brother.

Despite those hurdles, they fling themselves into a relationship. But Jez has secrets: a tiny spoiled dog and a determined stalker. If he doesn’t come clean, he might torch their burgeoning relationship before it has a chance to bloom.

Listening Length: 6 hours and 48 minutes
Narrator: Darcy Stark

Reviewer: Shee Reader

Hayden is the big loveable lug who doesn’t realise he’s tolerating a lot of ‘low-grade’ homophobic behaviour from his so called friends until his new roommate (and best friend’s brother) the altogether fabulous Jez gives him a short sharp wake up call. By the time this takes place, Hayden is already more than halfway in love with the beautiful dancer, and it’s not a one-way affection either!

This story is a lovely coming-to-terms-with-himself love story where the two guys Hayden and Jez are exactly what the other needs, but the crazy stalker, awful ‘friends’ and learning to communicate with each other leads to plenty of interest. Plus there is a secret puppy. I mean, who doesn’t love a secret puppy!

One of my favourite bits of the story is Jez coming home to find Fang has escaped from his room and got who knows where. Before he can completely hyperventilate, Hayden comes home with Fang and half the contents of the pet store! The idea that Jez could be jealous of the love and affection Hayden showered on the puppy is adorable.

There is plenty of working through stuff to make this a thoroughly engaging tale, but it is relatively low angst with good communication on the whole. I do really love a book where the is good development of relationships and the characters, but I’m not sobbing myself to sleep!

I’d recommend this to anyone who likes a buff and sweet firefighter hero, and gorgeous and sassy talented partner.

I was given a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

Giveaway + Blog Tour: Chasing Forever (This Time Forever #3) by Kelly Jensen

Celebrate the release of Chasing Forever (This Time Forever #3) with author Kelly Jensen and Riptide Publishing! Find out more about this contemporary romance and leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a swag bag AND a $25 Riptide gift card. Good luck!

Chasing Forever is the final book in the series This Time Forever. Brian and Mal's story is special in all sorts of ways. Even though these books all standalone, Brian has been there since the beginning--as the character everyone loved to hate in the first book, and the character who seemed to have more to him in book two. In this final story, I share who Brian really is, and hope you'll all come to love him as much as I do. Then there's Mal, his other half, my serious soldier who has been waiting all his life for a challenge like Brian. Sometimes we have to be knocked lower than ever before in order to reach that high, and Mal's journey is one I treasure. I hope you enjoy reading this story of redemption and learning to live out loud.

About Chasing Forever
Old wounds, new directions, and a forever worth chasing.
Malcolm Montgomery was a history teacher and track coach until an accident left him with two broken legs. He’ll recover, but life has knocked his feet out twice now. He’s not sure if he’s ready to try again, especially when it comes to love—and slick guys like Brian Kenway. Still, he needs help mentoring the school’s LGBTQ society, so he asks Brian to take some responsibility.
Brian has been hiding behind his reputation as a liar and a cheat for so long that he actually believes he’s that guy—until his nephew, Josh, turns up on his couch, tossed out for being gay. Brian has never considered being a father, but he knows all about being rejected by loved ones. Now Brian wants to be more: a partner for Mal and a role model for Josh.
But when Mal’s recovery is set back and the sad truth of Brian’s past is revealed, the forever they’ve been chasing seems even further from their grasps. It’ll take a rescue effort to revive their sense of worth and make Brian, Mal, and Josh into a family of their own.
About the This Time Forever Series

Small towns and second chances.
Simon, Frank, and Brian think love has passed them by. Each is facing down his fiftieth birthday—Simon in a few years, Frank next year, and Brian soon enough. Each has loved and lost. But for these men, everything old really is new again, and it’s only when they return to their roots that they’ll find their second chances and the happily ever after they’ve been waiting their whole lives for.
This time it’s forever.
This series includes:
  1. Building Forever — released October 15
  2. Renewing Forever — released November 12
  3. Chasing Forever — released December 10
About Kelly Jensen

If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories about the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas, and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, cowritten with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
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To celebrate the release of Chasing Forever one lucky person will win a $25 Riptide Publishing gift card and a swag pack of stickers, art cards, and bookmarks! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 15, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Warmest Wishes Advent 2018: Week 2

It's Week 2 of the Warmest Wishes Advent Stories! This week we're featuring stories from Emjay Haze, Blue Jones, Daniel de Lorne, A.D. Ellis and Scudder James Jr.!

ICYMI: Week 1

Warren's Peace by Emjay Haze

The holidays are a time for second chances.

Warren Blessing lost his wife (two years ago), and his kids decide he’s been alone too long. They send him on a holiday singles cruise so he can meet someone new.

On the flight from Chicago to Miami, he sits next to an attractive man, but when the flight’s over, he doesn’t think he’ll see him again.

Fletcher Hammond is a professional mystery shopper for vacation destinations and travel. After a split from his unfaithful fiancé, he’s embarking on a singles cruise. He meets a lovely gentleman on the flight, whose conversation and cocktails help Fletcher through his fear of takeoffs, but he doesn’t expect to see him again.

As if by fate, a meeting in the ship’s dining room renews their mutual attraction. But can they build a relationship with distance and baggage working against them? Or will they part ways when they return to port?

R *A Reader Obsessed - 3 Hearts

Who can resist a second chance at love especially on a luxurious singles cruise no less?

Despite understandable doubts and fears on both Warren and Fletcher's parts, this was easy and simple, if not just a tad too fast in progression and a bit awkward in execution.

Still enjoyable because of course, Warren and Fletcher find their well deserved happiness with each other, having at their disposal excellent food and entertainment, room service and spa treatments, along with endless fun time in the hot tub that further spurs their growing feelings!

If only everyone could fall in love under such ministrations! Lucky bastards!!

Fantasy Living - 3 Hearts

Set on a cruise ship from Boxing Day to New Years Day, the flow of this story started off rocky for me, but eventually the writing smoothed out and the story flowed well. I enjoyed the plot line, and the relationship development. Warren and Fletcher had great chemistry and the vacation fling was beautiful. This was sweet and sexy, and I enjoyed most of the story.


I’m disappointed to have to lower my rating due to bi-erasure. It’s not cool, and I get frustrated with this being added to a perfectly good storyline. It was completely unnecessary to even mention Warren’s sexuality. It added nothing to the story, and left a sour taste in my mouth. It doesn’t make a same-sex relationship more valid . So yeah….it upset me and took me out of a very lovely story.

I know this will be a memorable story, for both the good and the bad parts. *sigh*. Some readers don’t care, but I absolutely do.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a review copy. This has not influenced my opinion

Ann - 3 Hearts

This was a very cute and fluffy story with more mature characters, which frankly, is a nice change. The lack of any kind of conflict will keep the story from being too memorable for me, but reading it was still a Hallmark type holiday hug. Everyone was incredibly pleasant and Warren’s kids (adult level kids) were pretty invested in his love life (especially his daughter) which seemed a smidge weird, but whatever, everyone was happy and good for them. There was some opportunity for a little drama when Warren told his children that he’d met a man on the single’s cruise.. The revelation was glossed over, which is ideal obviously, but probably not super realistic. But I don’t come to a Christmas story for realism necessarily and Warren and Fletcher know how to take advantage of a high end cruise and a hot tub.

Sara - 2.5 Hearts

Boo. This one didn’t give me the warm fuzzy feeling of a holiday romance. I did like that Warren decided to explore the side of his bisexuality that he’d been missing being married to a woman for 20 years. He adored and loved his late wife and mother of his children but he admittedly missed the physical company of a man never feeling “sexually satisfied” by his wife. The meet cute with Fletcher was just that and the second meet cute was much more flirty. Things moved fast but I never got a good grasp on either man. I think all the details of the lavish cruise outweighed everything else and I got bored trying to find the romance. I did like what Fletcher did for a living and how understanding and accepting Warren’s kids were of him being with a man.

Trapped in the Valley of the Kings by Blue Jones

Rival archaeologists Will and Jude slept together a year ago, on the night of the Summer Solstice at a dig in Stonehenge. But they were both wearing masks, so Jude has no idea it was Will he slept with, and Will’s been harboring a powerful, one-sided crush ever since.

Now they’re in Egypt, competing to find the lost tomb of Queen Nefertiti. Jude falls through a crack in the cave floor, and when Will reluctantly climbs down to help him, they find themselves in Nefertiti’s tomb, surrounded by archaeological treasures—where they must spend Christmas stranded by a sandstorm.

Will a few sultry hours stripped almost bare from the heat and sharing a bottle of whiskey sort out who should get credit for the discovery—and the real reason for the tension between them?

R *A Reader Obsessed* - 4 Hearts

The things I'm most upset about this story is 1) it’s too short, 2) where’s my damn epilogue, and 3) why hasn’t this author written more?

This has an enemies to lovers vibe, a touch of hurt comfort, and plausible twisty feels to go with some smexy smex. Throw in a grumpy bear (no, not the animal), a bit of an age gap, and two men literally trapped by circumstance that forces them to confront their feelings and make some confessions all against the backdrop of a hot night in Egypt on Christmas Eve.

Highly enjoyable. I will be on the lookout for more form this author!

Ann - 3.5 Hearts

This was a fun and unique frenemies to lovers story. The mystery identity, that wasn’t so mysterious, added a twist I appreciated. I loved Will’s appreciation of Jude even though the unrequited love portion of his feelings led to fussiness. His fussiness wasn’t mean spirited though and it led to some amusing banter between he and Jude. Will was pretty clueless when Jude was flirting with him and while it was obvious to me how Jude felt, Will was a dumb bunny. Not that I could blame him, but it did make him all the more adorable and their coming together all the more sweet.It ends rather abruptly, but the HFN is pretty solid. I would love to read where they end up for Easter.

Fantasy Living - 3.5 Hearts

This was quick and dirty, literally. Lots of sand… and sweat.

Will and Jude had great chemistry and even though Will didn’t quite get the byplay, Jude was adorable and witty.

Something fun and different, I enjoyed the setting to this story. It left me feeling warm and fuzzy and hopeful for the next adventure between these two competitors in archeology.

I could read an entire novel based on these two and their healthy competition for world changing digs.

a review copy was provided or an honest opinion

Sara - 3.5 Hearts

This was super sweet and sexy. I liked both Will and Jude though Will could be a bit clueless when adorable Jude is flirting with him. The twist on unrequited love from a masked one night stand has these two at an advantage though Will thinks it’s only one sided. I smiled non-stop while reading this and really enjoyed how they spend their holidays and hope that everyone spent together from here on out, is as sexy and breathtaking as Christmas was. Oh and… whose tomb where they really in??

The Faller by Daniel de Lorne

Being caught with another man sends Charlie Young fleeing his family to the forests of southwestern Australia to scrape together steamer-passage to the big smoke of London. But life as a timber faller isn't easy and it’s made worse when the men he works with are brash, bigoted, and often brutal. All except Jack Tapper, who’s the kind of gentle giant that sets Charlie’s heart racing.

While the other men head into town for Christmas, it’s just Charlie and Jack and acres of forest. But trees tell no tales and a few days alone is the perfect opportunity to indulge a burgeoning passion. When the men return and find things not as they once were, Charlie and Jack have to make the hard decisions about whether to stay where they are or run for their lives.

R *A Reader Obsessed* - 4.5 Hearts

This short holiday historical packs a punch!

Charlie is scared, exhausted, and losing hope he’ll ever make enough money to escape his past.

It doesn't help that his coworkers put him on edge with neither a kind word or a helping hand. When left alone with the intimidating Jack over the holidays, Charlie just tries to keep his head down and off the guy’s radar. Thing is, Jack’s already noticed him.

Simply, a full of feels, angsty story with a large dose of hurt comfort going both ways and a gentle giant whom I absolutely adored. These two sweetly connect, and their newfound happiness is a hard fought, harrowing journey but a joy to witness! Read.

Ann - 3.5 Hearts

I was really anxious to read The Faller and appreciated the MC’s equally just a few pages in. While the story is from Charlie’s POV, Jack is the type of strong, silent character that always intrigues me. There’s understandable conflict and stress in this short story and I felt a little strung out while I was reading it. There’s just as much action and danger as there is love and romance and the author did a good job of balancing the two, but I did want a little bit more fuzzy love being that this was a Christmas story. I think the rather abrupt ending and HFN left me feeling that way. It’s probably way more realistic how it did end though, but I wanted, at the least, a plan for them so that I could picture it in my head. Which shows me that I was invested in their happiness which says a lot for Charlie and Jack.

Sara - 5 Hearts

Not sure if I can review this without rambling but I will try.

I loved this. I adore historicals and this is set in forests of 1912 Australia. I don’t know much about being a timber faller but my hopeless romantic heart knows a fantastic love story and this is it.

Charlie is doing what he can after being disowned by his family when they catch him kissing another boy. All he wants to do is earn enough money for a passage to London but timber falling is hard on Charlie and he struggles with the work. He also struggles with trying not to ogle the quiet giant and expert faller that is Jack Tapper. Jack, whose presence in the small camp occupies space and all of Charlie's fantasies but 1912 isn’t a time to be open about one's sexuality and with Charlie's history, he stays quiet. That is until the rest of the camp leave for the Christmas holiday and Charlie decides to stay behind to earn a bit more money, but Charlie isn’t as alone as he thought he would be.

[...] he was happy. The world outside could have ended, and he wouldn’t care.

This was so freaking good. It’s among my favorites from this years Advent stories and I fell hard and fast for Charlie and Jack. Jack, he slayed me with his yearning for Charlie and how much he will do to protect them. The gentle giant has a bit of roughness in him when it comes to getting physical with Charlie and I just adored the hell out of everything Jack Tapper is. Charlie is amazing himself, feeling like coward for being where he is when in fact Charlie is beyond brave he makes decisions that give the story enough angst and a beautiful pay off.

Some may think this ends on an HFN and not an HEA but for me, I know these two are enjoying their happily ever after living in a cabin they built with their own two hands, running their own camp that turns into a profitable business they later hand down to men such as themselves as they share cups of tea and read poetry that bruises to one another until death parts them. Yeah, Charlie and Jack totally have an HEA.

Holiday Island by A.D. Ellis

No peacocks were harmed in the making of this story.

Rafa’s nautical skills are less than stellar. He’d rather be a full-time artist, but he has a duty to the family business and a fear of standing up to his father and brother.

Carpenter Lucas is determined to rebuild his business after a lover’s betrayal nearly destroyed it. But he runs into a snag when he misses the last boat to the job site.

Rafa offers to take him, but Rafa isn’t much of a sailor.

When they end up on the wrong island, fears for survival gradually give way to an appreciation of the beauty around them—and each other. Rafa insists a holiday miracle will save them, and he teases Lucas for being a Scrooge.

In the end, Rafa’s miracle might come from the last place he expects: inside himself.

Ann - 2 Hearts

The idea of Holiday Island was a blurby dream but the execution was a little lacking for me overall. Rafa and Lucas had a serious case of insta love and that was the least problematic thing. I get the lust and the hope for a future, especially in a holiday short story. Both these guys needed an injection of romance in their lives and they were sappy as hell once they got together. It was really quite sweet and I liked them together very much even though that level of sweet isn’t really my thing.. But. But. When they started talking about starting businesses together and including the island they were on as part of it, my business brain couldn’t help but stomp the brakes hard. Boys, you know nothing about one another. Lucas, did you not learn from your last business venture?? Not to say that it’s going to happen again, but damn son, tread lightly. Also, you do not own this island, you can not do what you are planning, that’s just reality so I’m sorry, but I have zero confidence in either of your business acumens. Which doesn’t bode well for your futures and it made me not buy into any longevity here. Rant, complete. As for Rafa’s father and brother, that was some extreme BS and added a level of conflict that was OTT and unnecessary. It left me with a sour taste at the end and that was unfortunate.

Sara - 1.5 Hearts

Ugh. I hate to do this to a Christmas story but...ugh. There was zero connection for me to either Lucas or Rafa let alone the two men together. The writing was abrupt and the dialogue was so choppy that it was really hard to get into the story. I am a sucker for insta-love but this was even faster than that. Don’t get me started on Rafa’s family drama and then the possibilities of these two going into business on an island they don’t own with Lucas' past and just... nope. Sadly this didn’t work for me.

Boca Dreams by Scudder James Jr.

You can’t correct the past.

Or can you?

Stephen’s not proud of who he was back in boarding school—spoiled and a player. Now, at the holiday reunion ten years later, he has a chance to show his former classmates who he really is: out and proud, devoted to helping others, and partnered with Victor.

Stephen understands why Victor, who grew up in a poor and abusive household, hates the rich kids at the reunion, but his attitude is ruining everything. Luckily Stephen bumps into Aaron, a former grunge rocker who has also changed. Stephen never forgot their one steamy night together.

With the help of three very unusual personifications of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, can Stephen revisit his mistakes and find the happiness that’s eluded him?

Ann - 3 Hearts

Victor, you are a dick and I hate you. There, got that out of the way. I would have given this story another heart easily if it weren’t for Victor’s existence and if the time spent on him could have gone to the relationship development between Stephen and Aaron. Stephen could have gone to the fete after a breakup with Victor, leaving Victor to be an unfortunate footnote. In order for Stephen and Aaron to work (and I really wanted them to work) Victor had to be a caricature-type villain which really only made me question Stephen’s life choices. Basically I liked Aaron a lot and would have loved more page time with his character, and then he and Stephen together. I loved how they thought of one another after their one night “together”, even after all the years apart and I loved wallowing in their reconnection. Removing the bitter BS of Victor would have given me more wallowing time, and I would have appreciated that muchly.

Sara - Broken Heart

There isn’t anything I can find good about this book. Honestly. I don’t know what the author was going for but a fluffy Christmas read this was not. This was a messed up story with one rude and arrogant messed up Victor who should have been left off the page entirely or just briefly mentioned as Stephen’s ex-boyfriend or even the dude he was taking a break from. OMG! Why was Victor even included?

Had this been a reunion story of second chances and “what if’s” between Stephen and Aaron some 10 years later I could have bought it, even dealt with creepy assed Tony. But this? It was all sorts of nope for me.

Review copies were provided by the publisher in exchange for honest opinions.