Review: NineStar Press 2017 Holiday Series by Various Authors - Pt. 2

Joshua just wants to be alone. Happy holidays be damned; the last place he wants to be is at a New Year’s Eve party surrounded by overly jolly friends. After a breakup with his boyfriend, Clay, he’s having a hard time watching other people be merry when all he wants is to drown himself in booze.
If it wasn’t for a promise to two dear friends, he’d have been home on his couch watching the least festive thing possible. Instead, he’s got to deal with flamboyant Desi flirting up a storm with him. Only Desi has a past too, and his own pain, as well as a bit of unsolicited advice for Joshua that could turn his bleak night into a bright future.
5 Hearts
Sometimes it's impossible to see what is in front of our noses. This short story is a reminder to not take our loved ones for granted, even if our intentions are good. 

Joshua is a hard worker, too hard really, but it isn't until Clay leaves him that he realises his priorities may be a little skewed. A celebration, a party is the last place he wants to be, but a promise is a promise and he's not a complete arsehole!

Desi seems like an unlikely ally, but he has the benefit of hindsight to share with Joshua. He may get right on Joshua's wick, but under the mask is a whole lot of pain and an unlikely unlikely source of wisdom.

This was a story that makes the reader question their priorities and reconsider their actions. Told through the hope of a new year and new start, I found this a delightful read.

Agent Azzerare and the black market criminal known as Vulpe meet once a year every holiday season to collaborate on certain secret missions. Azzerare is less than enthusiastic when Management first suggests it; Vulpe is amoral, self-serving, and criminally inclined—everything Azzerare stands against. But as the years pass and the missions continue, Azzerare sees a new side of Vulpe: someone loyal, clever, and willing to risk his life to save Azzerare’s. Azzerare must decide how he feels about his partner—and if it’s love, he has to ask himself whether he’s willing to risk his career to pursue it, because an emotionally compromised agent is a dead one in Management’s eyes.
5 Hearts
"If you're dead when I get back, I'll kill you myself."
A secret agent/sniper story may not seem the most Christmassy theme around but this is one of my favourite seasonal short stories.

I liked, no I loved, the chemistry between Azzerare and Vulpe. The dynamic between them was second to none. It sparked and was witty and I adored it.

This story was just the right amount of different. Set over a series of Christmas and New Years days, it slowly built up the extraordinary relationship between the two protags. 

This managed to be different and it really has been a favourite read of mine.

Ty Hallahan was on a mission: make it home in time for Christmas—or suffer his Irish Catholic mother’s wrath. But thanks to a series of misadventures, his simple four-hour flight has turned into a two-day ordeal. And just as he has almost reached his destination, Ty is stuck once again—and on Christmas Eve, no less.
But maybe Santa has something up his sleeve for Ty? Wandering through the airport terminal, Ty runs into the man he has secretly loved for years. Once Ty’s professor, Dr. Ernesto Goncalves—Dr. G for short—is also stuck for the holidays, and Ty determines to make the most of their time together.
4 Hearts
Sometimes Christmas wishes do come true - maybe just not in the when and where one expected!
The chance encounter in this story is as ephemeral as a snowflake but after a run of bad luck that leads to a night neither Ty or Dr G could have foretold, this story sure did make me smile. It doesn't always have to be the big all; the big everything. Sometimes it can be just for right now, for this moment in time. The connection between the two characters was strong and bright, I liked the slight awkwardness their past relationship to each other (student/teacher) dictated as they moved into newer territory. A lovely story that approached Christmas romance in a slightly different way. Recommended.

Attending his daughter’s holiday dance recital should be easy for pro hockey player Patrick Barnes. Showing up in a tutu, however, wasn’t exactly part of the plan. And yet the holidays get even more interesting when he bumps into Lee, the man he let get away years ago.
Ballet instructor Lee can’t believe who just walked into his studio. He also can’t believe how quickly the flare of attraction between he and Patrick resurfaces, despite the years that have gone by since they last spoke.
Once upon a time, they let opportunities get away. Is it possible they’ll now have the chance to pursue the spark that has come back to life after just one conversation?
Holidays are a time for giving, and neither Patrick nor Lee are about to take this particular gift for granted.
4 Hearts
A lovely tale of love refound. 

Years have passed since Patrick and Lee missed their opportunity for love. You know the story, wrong time, wrong place. The chance of love slips by, missed due to circumstance and decision. Now though the time is right, and thanks to Patrick's darling daughter a second chance is available.

This story really epitomises the 'things happen for a reason' train of thought. Left to fate, Patrick and Lee certainly gained more than they missed - even though the journey was longer.

I loved this story, I really did. The dynamics between the characters really spark it to life. Jordan was fabulous, she didn't care that her dad was bi and (as is often the case) she could set a good example for many adults out there.

A definite bonus to my Christmas reading.

Working on Christmas Eve—no fun. Working a double shift on Christmas Eve? Even less fun. But working a double shift on Christmas Eve in a hotel with two guests? For Jason Martin, it was a recipe for a long, dull holiday. But then a power outage at the local airport sends a bus filled with people to Jason’s hotel. Alone, Jason not only has to attend to his guests, he has to save Christmas for a group of weary and grouchy travelers. Happily, one of the guests, a Mr. Marino, steps in to lend Jason a hand. Mr. Marino is helpful, handsome, and running right to the top of Jason’s Christmas wish list. But Jason has sworn off hotel hook-ups. And Mr. Marino will be heading out of town the next day, Christmas day. Is it worth getting involved with someone who is only staying for one night?
5 Hearts
Room at the Inn portrays the spirit of family at Christmas time and how important it is, even when stuck far away from home. Jason is a fabulous employee who really puts his guests' needs first. Dedicated to his job he deals ably with an unexpected coachload of people descending on the hotel. 

It is Jason who is the heart of this story, who creates the spirit of family I mentioned before. It becomes a home for 24 hours, not a hotel. Mr Marino though, well there is more to him than meets the eye. Whilst at first he seemed like just another guest, albeit one who knows the system and can pitch in to help Jason, there is definitely more to him than meets the eye.

Sure, it was whimsical at times - but I liked that about it. The Hallmark feel of everyone pitching in. This was a gorgeous story with a wonderful feeling of Christmas giving and loving about it. Totally recommended by me.

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