A Family for Christmas – Review

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This was sweet from start to finish. Rudy is adorably awkward in a way that I’m sure more than a few people can sympathize with, and Zac is his opposite. While on the surface it appears as if Rudy is doing more for Zac (providing him a family environment), Zac is doing just as much for Rudy whose self-esteem is definitely lacking. The two men compliment each other.

A Family For Christmas is a relatively quick feel-good holiday read that leaves a warm feeling in your stomach.

 A Family for Christmas
Author: Jay Northcote
Publisher: Jaybird Press (self published)
Length: 44,000 words approx
Genre: Contemporary m/m romance, feelgood, heartwarming
Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh
Release Date: Friday 18th of November
Series info: This book is a standalone

Blurb

Zac never had a family of his own, but Rudy has enough to share.

Shy, inexperienced Rudy has a crush on Zac from the moment his new colleague walks through the door. On an office night out before Christmas, Rudy finds the courage to make a move, and they form a tentative bond. When he discovers Zac will be alone at Christmas, he invites Zac to come home with him.

Zac prefers to keep people at arm’s length. Yet when Rudy offers him a family Christmas it’s impossible to resist. With no parents of his own, Zac is pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by Rudy’s. The only drawback is that everyone assumes they’re a couple. Unwilling to disappoint Rudy’s mum and make Christmas awkward, they decide not to deny it.

It’s not a chore for Zac to pose as Rudy’s boyfriend, but the pretence makes him want things that scare him—things like a real relationship with Rudy. Zac’s suffered enough rejection in his life already and is afraid to risk his heart. If he can get over his past rejection and let Rudy inside his armour, he might get more for Christmas than he ever imagined.

Available at:
Universal Amazon link: http://mybook.to/AFFC_JayN

Weds Review: A Kind of Romance – Lane Hayes

a-kind-of-romance.jpgZeke Gulden is a ruthless Wall Street exec. His hard-edged, no-nonsense attitude has served him well in the cutthroat business world, but less so in his personal life. When he finds out his ex-boyfriend cheated on him with a coworker, Zeke can’t let go—not until he finds a way to get even. However, his meddlesome father has other ideas. The new hire at the family-owned bagel store is somewhat colorful, but his dad is sure he’s the perfect man for Zeke.

Benny Ruggieri is a fiercely proud New Yorker who dreams of making it big as a costume designer in the theater. In the meantime, he’s working two part-time jobs in the food biz. When his new boss sets him up with his successful son, Benny has zero expectations. If nothing else, he figures he can entertain himself by making the uptight businessman squirm. Instead, the two become unlikely friends with an inexplicable attraction they can’t ignore. Benny might be the one to help Zeke set aside his quest for revenge, if he’s willing to let go and forgive what he can’t forget… and give in to an unexpected kind of romance.

Published by Dreamspinner Press / Cover art by Aaron Anderson / 234 pages

Review

This was my first time reading anything by Hayes, and I went into it having heard many good things about her writing. I wasn’t disappointed. Zeke is… somewhat unlikable. At the same time, though, he was easy to relate to and it was clear why he had the issues he did. Benny is the opposite, he’s the eternal optimist, and it’s not hard at all to fall for him. So it makes sense Zeke – who is in desperate need of someone to show him the half full glass – would find himself tangled up in feelings for the man.

Benny helps Zeke learn how to move on from his past and shows him that being different isn’t a bad thing. Some of Zeke’s hangups come in the form of his perception of what his ideal partner looks and acts like (not Benny) and the rest come in the form of his family. Which, you might need tissues. As someone who is very close to their mom, this hit me smack dab in the feels. It’s probably what tipped me over into Zeke’s favor.

This was a sweet story about moving on and letting go of old hurts. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

5 Stars

Find it Here:

Dreamspinner Press / Amazon / All Romance 

Wednesday Review: Practice Makes Perfect – Jay Northcote

PracticeMakesPerfect

Blurb

 Getting experience with the guy next door seems like a great idea—until the lines blur.

Dev, a geeky first year physics student, has zero sexual experience and he’s determined to change that ASAP. After a bad time in halls of residence, he’s starting the summer term with different housemates and a new plan of action.

Ewan lives in the house next door to Dev. He’s young, free and single, and isn’t looking to change that anytime soon. When awkward circumstances throw them together, Ewan offers to help Dev out in the bedroom in return for maths tutoring, and Dev jumps at the chance.

They work their way through Dev’s sex-to-do list, but what starts as a perfect no-strings arrangement gets more complicated as their feelings for each other begin to grow. If they’re going to turn their lessons in lovemaking into something more permanent, they need to work out how they feel about each other—before they get to the end of Dev’s list.

Publisher: Jaybird Press

Length: 54,000 words

Genre: Contemporary gay romance

Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh

Release Date: Wednesday 22nd June 2016

Series info: #3 in the Housemates Series but may be read as a standalone

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Review

I’m a fan of Northcote. I went into this with high expectations, and I came out of it with them having been met. I really enjoyed this book and the dynamics between Dev and Ewan. I found it to be a refreshing and different read from a lot of what’s out there right now. The drama is minimal, the problem is small and easily solved once the two get their act together, and the focus is on the two of them learning and figuring out what they want both as individuals and together. It’s very sweet.

This was an easy read for me, but one that had me skipping work and errands so that I could keep turning pages and finish it. I thought about it when I wasn’t reading it. I wanted to know when Dev and Ewan would finally have an honest conversation with each other, and I felt for them when they kept putting it off. Because those conversations are hard. Northcote did a great job of portraying college students falling in love and trying to figure things out.

On a side note, as someone with OCD, I really liked Dev. He’s a very honest portrayal of someone who thrives on order and who over thinks to the max.

5 Stars

Find it at: 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H7V027A
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01H7V027A
Universal Amazon link (will open in your region) http://mybook.to/PMP_JayN

Excerpt

Sitting on his bed, Dev yawned, his full stomach making him sleepy. He stared at his phone as he contemplated calling home but decided he couldn’t face it tonight. He loved his mum, but she did tend to bang on. Once she got him on the line, she’d end up talking for ages and asking him a million questions he was too tired to answer. Instead, he sent his mum a quick text.

All moved in, everything’s good. I’m shattered now so I’m going to have an early night. I’ll call you tomorrow.

She replied within seconds as though she’d been waiting for him to call.

Okay sweetie, glad you’re settled. Sleep well xxx

He picked up his notepad and crossed off phone home. Texting counted. He also crossed off everything else on his list for today. That was Saturday done.

Dev set his notepad aside, opened his laptop, and pulled up his lists app. He liked his notepad for day-to-day organisation; it gave him a certain satisfaction to cross out the things he’d done and to get to the end of the day with all the tasks completed. But for longer-term planning, he kept his lists on his Mac, synced to his phone.

For the first time in six months, Dev could breathe again. Finally he had a safe place where he could get back on track and look to the future. He began to type.

Things To Do This Term

Make some friends

Learn to cook

Research sex stuff

Join Grindr

Get some experience

Find a boyfriend

He stared at the words on the screen and sighed. That seemed like a lot of things to aim for. But it was good to have goals, right? Jez and Mac seemed really nice, so hopefully Dev was already on his way to achieving the first objective. And that bloke Ewan… Dev’s mind conjured up the image of the flame-haired hunk who lived next door. Ewan had been friendly.

Maybe there was potential there too.

Author Bio:

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with her husband, two children, and two cats.

She comes from a family of writers, but she always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. She spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content. One day, she decided to try and write a short story–just to see if she could–and found it rather addictive. She hasn’t stopped writing since.

www.jaynorthcote.com

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Wednesday Review: Loaded for Bear – Cheyenne Meadows

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Shifter Hardball: Book Two

Polar bear shifter Graham Tundra can’t believe his bad luck. Not only is he traded to another baseball team midseason, but he’s also teamed up with Trigger Mallow: widely considered the best player in the game—but with the worst attitude.

Trigger is on the fence about Graham. As a grizzly bear shifter, he’s relieved to have another ursine on the team, even if they are different species. The problem is Trigger is in the middle of his natural mating season, and Graham looks too damn good to pass up.

What begins as friends with benefits shows potential to grow into a deeper connection. If only they can put aside their differences, learn to trust, listen to their feelings, and realize it’s more than just a bear thing.

Dreamspiner Press ~ 192 Pages ~ Cover Designed by Reese Dante 

Purchase it at: Amazon / Dreamspinner Press / All Romance Ebooks 

This was my first time reading a book by Meadows, and I wasn’t disappointed. Graham and Trigger are interesting characters and this feels like a novel about their lives and not just them falling in love. It’s a sweet story, and their being shifters adds another dynamic to it. I will admit, I have a fondness for shifters and especially bear shifters. They’ve got some of the funniest personalities in my opinion. These two bears are no exception.

Do you need to like baseball or know the first thing about it to understand what’s going on? Nope. I don’t follow baseball and in fact have never seen a game, live or on the TV. It’s just not my thing. But I liked it here, and I didn’t have any problem understanding what was going on. So if you’re not a fan, don’t let it steer you away. And if you want to become a fan, this is a good introduction.

There’s plenty to laugh about throughout this story, and there’s times where you’re going to want to bang Graham and Trigger’s heads together to demand they stop being so stubborn, but it’s great. The supporting characters are lovely, the sex scenes are steamy, and both stubborn men come through for each other in unexpected ways. It manages to be a sweet read without being 192 pages of pure fluff at the same time.

4 Stars.

Wednesday Review: Power Play – Avon Gale

Power-Play_FINAL

Written by: Avon Gale

Third in the Scoring Chances Series

Length: Novel

Published by: Dreamspinner Press

Released: May 9th, 2016

Blurb:

A freak accident during the Stanley Cup Playoffs put an end to Max Ashford’s hockey career. Despite everything, Max gets back into the game he loves—only this time behind the bench, as an assistant coach of the Spartanburg Spitfires, the worst team in the entire league. But nothing prepares him for the shock when he learns the new head coach is Misha Samarin, the man who caused Max’s accident.

After spending years guilt-ridden for his part in Max’s accident, Russian native Misha Samarin has no idea what to do when he’s confronted with Max’s presence. Max’s optimism plays havoc with Misha’s equilibrium—as does the fierce attraction that springs up between them.

Not only must they navigate Misha’s remorse and a past he’s spent a lifetime trying to forget, but also a sleazy GM who is determined to use their history as a marketing hook. But when an unwelcome visitor targets a player, Misha revisits his darkest days, and that might cost him and Max the beginning they’ve worked so hard to build.

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I honestly don’t know where to start. I’m a big fan of the first two books in this series (especially the second one, Riley Hunter makes me feel things okay), but this one blew me away. And I honestly didn’t think I could like one more than I liked Hunter’s story. Don’t get me wrong – Hunter’s still my favorite character (closely followed by one in this novel). So the point of this: To me this was like  Harry Potter, except when it was all said and done, I liked it. Weird analogy right? I’ll explain. Gale lured me in with minimal angst, socially and emotionally inept men, and lots of humor and fluff. And then she released Max and Misha’s story, and she went to town on the angst. Holy hell did she ever. It was a complete turn around, something I hadn’t expected out of the series. But it worked. Gale pulls it off fabulously. And she promises nothing but more angst.

I’m excited. Simple as that. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next novel. Tomorrow would be nice, but still not soon enough.

Max and Misha are something else, and they remind me of the ying and yang symbol. Max is all happy and bouncy (and so unbelievably forgiving and rational) while Misha is all doom and gloom and glorious Russianness. I can’t decide which of the two men I like more. I CAN say that one of my favorite things about this series is how the relationship drama is actually minimal. The characters band together to fight outside issues, while steadily working through their own without big fireworks. It’s refreshing. And I’m not going to lie, Misha’s being Russian was a huge plus for me. I LOVED it. Don’t know why. But I did.

But now… the thing that sealed the deal. There’s a certain goalie in this novel, and I’m head over heels for him. This felt like part of a prequel to his story. He’s perfect in a totally not perfect way. He gave me all the feels. So many of them.

This book will do that. So be prepared.

5 Stars

Find it at:

Amazon

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Dreamspinner Press

Wednesday Review: First and First – Santino Hassell

FirstandFirstLGA Five Boroughs Story

Caleb Stone was raised on the Upper East Side, where wealth and lineage reign and “alternative lifestyles” are hidden. It took him years to come out to his family, but he’s still stuck in the stranglehold of their expectations. Caleb knows he has to build his confidence and shake things up, but he doesn’t know how… until Oliver Buckley enters the picture.

Oli is everything Caleb isn’t–risk-taking, provocative, and fiercely independent. Disowned by his family, Oli has made his own way in the world and is beholden to no one. After a chance encounter on New Year’s Eve, Caleb is smitten.

As Caleb sheds the insecurities that have held him back for years, he makes bold steps toward changing his career and escaping years of sexual repression. But for Caleb to take full control of his life, he has to be brave enough to confront his feelings and trust Oli with his heart.

This story can be read as a standalone and ends with a HEA
~~
I came into this having never read anything by Hassell, and I left it wanting to read everything by him. There were a few things about Caleb and Oli’s story that would normally have had me saying, “It’s great, but not really my thing.” All of them purely personal preference on my part (I tend to avoid first person novels for example). But instead Hassell had me saying, “Please, can this book never end?” And it was down to how real he made the characters.
Caleb and Oli compliment each other, in that they’re complete opposites and balance each other out. And holy hell does Oli fight it. At times I wanted to shake him and tell him to get a grip – especially as he’s being seen through Caleb’s eyes, so some of his actions come off harsher and more random. But Oli is a good example of a person who thinks he has what he wants, but is faking it just as much as the person pretending he has what he wants to fool everyone else, while he doesn’t fool himself at all. It’s convoluted, and it takes the guys a while to figure it out.
From beginning to end this is Caleb’s story, though. And there’s nothing smooth about it. He tries so hard at everything, and he’s so conflicted. I LOVED him. One of the biggest problems he has to work through in this novel is extremely important and helped seal the deal for me. It’s not something I’ve seen in other novels, and it’s a point I think should be made more. Nothing about this is easy or quick, and it involves characters who are flawed and know it.
And if none of that does it for you, the sex scenes definitely will. Hot damn.
5 Stars
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Wednesday Review: The Timpanist and The Stagehand – Ava Hayden

The Timpanist and The Stagehand 

 

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Author: Ava Hayden
Published by: Dreamspinner Press
Released: April 13th, 2016
Genre: Contemporary                                 Length: Novella

Blurb: 

Ren Murphy is a stagehand. He’s also a loyal friend, a gifted musician, and an inspiring teacher—but most people don’t see past his job. Ren knows that crushing on the Oilton Philharmonic Orchestra’s principal timpanist, Christoph Theoharis, is a waste of time. Christoph brushes off highly eligible would-be suitors regularly. What chance would a stagehand have? Christoph doesn’t even notice Ren’s existence—until one fateful night when chance or luck or maybe fate gets Ren Christoph’s undivided attention.

Old betrayals overshadow both men’s lives, yet each sees something compelling in the other, something that won’t let either walk away. Ren and Christoph may be each other’s best hope of finding a happy-ever-after, but to do that they’ll have to forgive old wrongs. They’ll have to let go of the pain in their past before it destroys their hope for a better future. Most of all, they’ll have to find a way to believe—in possibilities and each other.

~~

Review

For a short novella, Hayden did a good job of providing a story that isn’t left hanging and isn’t skimpy at the same time. I wanted a quick read, that would engage me and make me fall in love with the characters quickly, and this book fit that need perfectly. Could there have been more? Sure. Would I have picked it to read at the time if there was? Probably not. Hayden reminds me why I love short novella’s with The Timpanist and the Stagehand.

Ren and Christoph have their issues, but they’re not insurmountable and they’re easily taken care of within the narrative. The two of them are adorable together, and while there is some minor drama thrown in for excitement and depth, mostly it’s about the two of them becoming comfortable with each other and finding their stride. It’s believable, paced wonderfully, and personally I loved the quirky socks.

If you’re looking for a cute, quirky little read with a dash of the feels and a focus on the relationship rather than the sex going on in the relationship, than this is a perfect read for you. It’s a good way to spend an hour, and a lovely pick me up.  I’ll be on the lookout for new books by Hayden.

5/5

Find it at:

Dreamspinner

Amazon