Gingerbread Mistletoe by Amy Aislin

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

The last thing Jeff wants is to spend time with the man who totaled his car—the one he spent years restoring with his late father. But if he wants to resurrect his childhood town’s annual outdoor hockey tournament, he’s got no choice.

The last thing Mika wants is to work with the guy who took off right after the accident, without ensuring he was okay. And working together on organizing Jeff’s proposed tournament sounds like a complete nightmare. He’s got enough on his plate after surviving cancer.

Sparks fly as they’re forced to work together, but is that enough for them to set their differences aside and pull off the tournament in only two weeks? Or will they prove to be immune to the magic of Christmas?

Review

Gingerbread Mistletoe is the second installment in Amy Aislin’s Lighthouse Bay Christmas series. Jeff’s is aimless over the holidays and finds himself back in his hometown of Lighthouse Bay. He didn’t think he’d run into the actor who he had gotten into a wreck with in Los Angeles, Mika. Mika is in Lighthouse Bay, recuperating from illness, but is fully immersed in the inner workings of the town. He’s the heartbeat behind the holiday market and Jeff needs his approval to start the hockey tournament he remembered from his childhood back up.  

            I’m a sucker for holiday themed romances. It was fun to revisit Lighthouse Bay and catch up with the characters from book one and to see Mika’s redemption story. I had such a dislike of him in the first book, I was surprised that he quickly became one of my favorites. He was charming, sweet, and kind to everyone he crossed paths with, even when he was beyond busy with making sure the market ran smoothly.

            Jeff, I felt his character in my bones. It’s hard to know what to do with yourself when you go from busy beyond belief to endless time on your hands. I liked seeing him give back to his community and the enjoyment he got out of it. He may have been a businessman, but he was giving. The way he wooed Mika, oh it was adorable. I knew what he was doing with the first inflatable Christmas yard decoration he sat out in Mika’s parents’ yard. He kept at it, even after he got his man.

            I had fun getting lost in Lighthouse Bay and in the joy that the holidays bring.

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The Love Study by Kris Ripper

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary

Declan has commitment issues. He’s been an office temp for literally years now, and his friends delight in telling people that he left his last boyfriend at the altar.

And that’s all true. But he’s starting to think it’s time to start working on his issues. Maybe.

When Declan meets Sidney—a popular nonbinary YouTuber with an advice show—an opportunity presents itself: as part of The Love Study, Declan will go on a series of dates arranged by Sidney and report back on how the date went in the next episode.

The dates are…sort of blah. It’s not Sidney’s fault; the folks participating are (mostly) great people, but there’s no chemistry there. Maybe Declan’s just broken.

Or maybe the problem is that the only person he’s feeling chemistry with is Sidney.

Review

When I saw The Love Study I grabbed this book up to read and review without hesitation. There aren’t enough books out there that feature nonbinary characters as a love interest.

Declan, always introduced to new people as, “This is Declan, he left his boyfriend at the alter” doesn’t have the best dating record. When he meets Sidney, a YouTuber with an advice show, an opportunity jumps him in the face. Sidney will arrange a series of dates and his report of how those dates went would be featured in Sidney’s YouTube show The Love Study.

What I enjoyed about the dates? Each date was so different from the one before it. Then, of course, we figure out why the dates weren’t as successful as they could have been. Declan is attracted to and has chemistry with is Sidney.

When they finally get together, it was the sweetest thing ever. There were moments I had the cheesiest grin when they would spend time together. Sidney was an introvert, through and through, which I related to so much. I’m good with spending moments of quiet with another person and I’d be content with that. You don’t really get to see introverts portrayed the way Sidney was and I was all about it.

The banter between all the characters was so much fun. Like, the Marginalized Motherfuckers? LOVED them in all their messy goodness. I could see why their friendship had survived for so long.

There were a couple of issues I had with The Love Study. I couldn’t picture either Sidney or Declan at all. It made me crazy not being able to picture them in my head as I was reading. Then the conflict towards the end, it left me with a meh feeling.

Overall, this was a good read. Would I recommend it to other readers? Yes! We need more diversity and this was refreshing and easy to get lost in!

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Huntsman by Morgan Brice

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Three out of Five Stars

 

Summary

A grieving wolf. A hunted fox. Fated mates, thrown together by chance, and the looming threat of a fabled Huntsman who might tear them apart forever.

Fox shifter Liam Reynard is running from a killer. He uproots his life to find sanctuary in Fox Hollow, deep in the Adirondack Forest in New York.

When his car breaks down, sexy wolf shifter Russ Lowe comes to the rescue, and one touch makes it clear they’re fated mates. Neither man was looking for love, and both are still mending from past heartbreak. When mysterious fires and disappearances threaten Fox Hollow, Liam fears the killer is hot on his trail. Can he protect the town and his fated mate from the evil hunting him, or will an ex-lover’s betrayal cost Liam everything he loves?

Huntsman is full of sexy shifters, hurt/comfort, second chance love, sincere psychics, hot first responders, found family, and fated mates.

Review

I want to preface this by saying that I am normally a huge fan of Morgan Brice. I absolutely love all her work.  Huntsman was not it for me. It was an okay read, but I expected more than what I read. If you enjoy the fated-mates trope, this is definitely a book you’ll want to check out. It has a sweet romance between a fox-shifter and a wolf-shifter that is weaved throughout, action takes a backseat in this one.

Liam Reynard, fox shifter librarian, is on the run from a Huntsman. With little warning, he packs his bags and heads to the one place he can think of, Fox Hollow. A former professor offered him a job and now it’s his only hope for safety.

His car breaks down just outside of town and Russ Lowe, wolf-shifter, firefighter, and tow truck driver, comes to his rescue. From the moment they meet, sparks ignite between the two of them. Neither man put much thought into fated mates, but it seems like they are it for each other.

One aspect of Huntsman that I did enjoy was the fact that it was a shifter story, where the characters were able to live their lives out loud in Fox Hollow. I’ve had a difficult time finding shifter stories that aren’t mpreg and I was excited to see this wasn’t a mpreg story. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great mpreg stories, but sometimes you don’t want that.

Also, the secondary characters (I’m sure will also get their own books), teased Russ mercilessly because of the preternatural sniffers. It always makes me laugh and feel a little bit of second hand embarrassment for the characters.

Fox Hollow felt like a small town that I would want to be a part of, but I felt like there was something missing throughout the entire novel. Everything wrapped up too cleanly and quickly. I wanted more than what I got. 

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Out on the Ice by Kelly Farmer

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary:

Caro Cassidy used to be a legend.

During her career, Caro was one of the best defense players in women’s hockey. These days, she keeps to herself. Her all-girls hockey camp is her life, and she hopes it’ll be her legacy. Sure, her new summer hire is charming and magnetic, but Caro keeps her work and personal life strictly separate.

Amy Schwarzbach lives life out loud.

Amy’s as bright and cheerful as her lavender hair, and she uses her high-profile position in women’s hockey to advocate for the things she believes in. Ten weeks in Chicago coaching a girls’ training camp is the perfect opportunity to mentor the next generation before she goes back to Boston.

Letting love in means putting yourself out there.

When the reticent head coach offers to help Amy get in shape for next season, her starstruck crush on Caro quickly blossoms into real chemistry. As summer comes to an end, neither of them can quite let go of this fling—but Amy can’t afford a distraction, and Caro can’t risk her relationship becoming public and jeopardizing the one thing that’s really hers.

The Review

This was a low-angst, quick-to-read, romance.

Caro Cassidy runs a hockey school for girls. She keeps her personal life close to the vest and doesn’t advertise her sexuality. She adheres to a strict professional policy. In comes Amy Schwarzbach, lives her life out loud and doesn’t let anyone tell her how she should live her life. She does her best to encourage girls to be true to themselves while playing hockey in a safe space provided by Girls and Goals.

What I liked about Out on the Ice was the fact Caro and Amy were polar opposites, but they still fit together. Caro had gotten stuck in a repetitive cycle, but Amy makes her consider what how she could change for the better.

Amy was a bisexual character and If eel like there aren’t enough books with bisexual characters, and they talk about their previous partners. It was a genuine representation.

A lot of the romance was off screen, so if you’re looking for that you aren’t going to find that here. It was very sweet.

I was left wanting, but this was a good debut for Kelly Farmer .

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Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters

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Four out of Fives Stars

Summary

Megan Harris had hopes of seeing the world, but at twenty-five she’s never even left Florida. Now a wedding invitation lures her to Quebec…in February. When her ex-friend Scarlett offers to be her plus-one (yeah, that’s a whole story) and suggests they turn the journey into an epic road trip, Megan reluctantly agrees to the biggest adventure of her life.

A week together in a car is a surefire way to kill a crush, and Scarlett Andrews has had a big one on Megan for years. The important thing is fixing their friendship.

As the miles roll away, what starts as harmless road-trip games and rest-stop dares escalates into something like intimacy. And when a surprise snowstorm forces Megan and Scarlett to hunker down without the open road as distraction, they’ve got a bigger challenge than making it to the church on time: facing the true nature of their feelings for each other.

Review

Megan and Scarlett used to be great friends, now? Not so much. Megan felt left behind as Scarlett moved from Florida for college and life. When Juliet invites them to her wedding in Quebec, they reluctantly agree to road trip their way from Florida to Quebec.

Megan packs her scrap book and polaroid camera, hesitantly ready to see what she’s been missing out on. Even with ground rules, Scarlett manages to surprise Megan with her thoughtfulness in planning stops that Megan might enjoy.

I liked that we eventually got to find out what split Megan and Scarlett apart and upon learning those reasons, they were able to address it and move forward in their budding relationship. They both complimented, and challenged each other. Their chemistry and attraction to each other grew with each stop they made and I loved it.

Their romance was a slow burn that grew in intensity. There were a few moments that had me fanning myself lol. I was a little surprised by the boldness of Scarlett at first, but then I can’t see Scarlett being any other way but bold, even in the bedroom.

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Better Than People by Roan Parrish

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

It’s not long before their pet-centric arrangement sparks a person-centric desire…

Simon Burke has always preferred animals to people. When the countdown to adopting his own dog is unexpectedly put on hold, Simon turns to the PetShare app to find the fluffy TLC he’s been missing. Meeting a grumpy children’s book illustrator who needs a dog walker isn’t easy for the man whose persistent anxiety has colored his whole life, but Jack Matheson’s menagerie is just what Simon needs.

Four dogs, three cats and counting. Jack’s pack of rescue pets is the only company he needs. But when a bad fall leaves him with a broken leg, Jack is forced to admit he needs help. That the help comes in the form of the most beautiful man he’s ever seen is a complicated, glorious surprise.

Being with Jack—talking, walking, making out—is a game changer for Simon. And Simon’s company certainly…eases the pain of recovery for Jack. But making a real relationship work once Jack’s cast comes off will mean compromise, understanding and lots of love.

The Review

Simon has severe anxiety. Jack has a broken leg. Who would have known that this would turn out to be the perfect combination? It’s hard to pinpoint why I enjoyed their story. Every time I sat down to read, I was left feeling hopeful and happy.

An app, PetShare, is what brings these two men together. Simon can’t have animals at home, his gran has allergies, but animals are the only things that make him feel calm. Jack is the first person Simon wants to be more than a ball of anxiety around. He finds himself feeling easy and comforted when he’s around Jack.

The steadily form a connection with every walk Simon takes Jack’s pets on. Their attraction grows the more they get to know each other. And their chemistry? Off the charts. Simon may live in a world full of anxiety, but with a few touches or well-timed words, Jack was able to Simon away from the overwhelming anxiety. He helped Simon feel free and he didn’t judge him.

Their romance, oh, it was intense. For someone who feels so deeply, it would only make sense that Simon would be as reactive as he was. Jack soaked in all that Simon had to offer, and wasn’t afraid to show him more.

They grew with each other, never leaving the other behind.

I could relate to both Simon and Jack. There is so much of my life that is ruled by anxiety that it’s hard to do what people find as ‘normal’. It made me crave finding someone like Jack who would understand. Maybe that’s why I loved their story as much as I did. Simon got his happy ending and made me feel like I could get mine as well.

 

To be released August 2020

 

Just Like That by Cole McCade

2-TourBanner-JustLikeThat_McCadeThree out of Five Stars

Summary

Summer Hemlock never meant to come back to Omen, Massachusetts.

But with his mother in need of help, Summer has no choice but to return to his hometown, take up a teaching residency at the Albin Academy boarding school—and work directly under the man who made his teenage years miserable.

Professor Fox Iseya.

Forbidding, aloof, commanding: psychology instructor Iseya is a cipher who’s always fascinated and intimidated shy, anxious Summer. But that fascination turns into something more when the older man challenges Summer to be brave. What starts as a daily game to reward Summer with a kiss for every obstacle overcome turns passionate, and a professional relationship turns quickly personal.

Yet Iseya’s walls of grief may be too high for someone like Summer to climb…until Summer’s infectious warmth shows Fox everything he’s been missing in life.

Now both men must be brave enough to trust each other, to take that leap.

To find the love they’ve always needed…

Just like that.

Review

Just Like That is a story of one man finding himself years after a profound loss and another that is learning who he wants to be.

Summer Hemlock is fresh out of university trying to find his career, he didn’t expect to land back home in Omen, Massachusetts. He secures a position teaching at Albin Academy boarding school, directly under the man who he fosters a crush on while he was a teenager, Professor Fox Iseya.

At their first meeting, Professor Iseya has little faith in Summer’s abilities. I hurt for Summer in these moments, because it felt like Professor Iseya was tearing him to pieces and didn’t even care about the damage he was doing. Summer acted out, in a moment of bravery, and kissed his childhood crush. From that action, the entire course of the school year changes.

A daily act of bravery, Summer gets a kiss from Professor Iseya. The kisses turn into something more and hold a different meaning to them both. Summer whittles away at the walls Fox had put up since the passing of his wife. Fox allows himself to feel something other than nothing and they get lost in each other in the process.

The steam factor on this one I’d give a four out of five. Each scene was intense, full of passion that had been so tightly bound for so long, it was explosive once they were together. A May/December romance, featuring workplace, desk top sex? Woo, I was not expecting that.

Why did this get a three out of five stars? For me, I was expecting so much more. There was so much focus on Fox, with only a brief moment when Summer figured out what he wanted in life. I wish there would have been more to their relationship. I was left wanting, but still satisfied with the resolution of the story.

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Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

Wanted:
One (fake) boyfriend
Practically perfect in every way

Luc O’Donnell is tangentially–and reluctantly–famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he’s never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad’s making a comeback, Luc’s back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.

To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.

But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that’s when you get used to someone. Start falling for them. Don’t ever want to let them go.

Review

I have so much love for this book! I don’t have much time to read when I’m in class, but I stayed up late two nights in a row to finish Boyfriend Material.

Having a rock star for a father isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Luc O’Donell will end a relationship before it starts. It’s better to end it before he winds up in the tabloids with the world wondering how much further he could fall. When his job is at risk, he’ll do whatever he can to keep it. Oliver is the perfect person to help him clean up his image and save his job. Scandal doesn’t happen to Oliver, the barrister and vegetarian. They couldn’t be more different from each other, but they both need someone to take as a plus one.

Luc, bless it, I just wanted to tell him, “It’s okay to be who you are and to live your life.” He doesn’t trust anyone and it’s entirely understandable. He’s had some of his worst moments plastered across the tabloids. Oliver, goodness, he needed all the hugs. He strives to be the best and nothing but the best.

I think why I enjoyed their story so much was because I relate so much to both Luc and Oliver. I don’t trust easily, and I’m awkward and odd. I have my own way of doing things and I don’t appreciate people trying to change that.

The arrangement becomes beneficial and is the worst kept secret. It cracked me up with how many people knew they were fake boyfriends. Despite all the fakery, Luc and Oliver had a legitimate connection with each other. They challenged each other to be better and to learn how to trust again.

I think one of my favorite parts was at Oliver’s parents Ruby Anniversary. Luc makes this amazing gesture and I was sitting in my bed sitting up straight and cheering him on. Someone needed to do this for Oliver. He was worth having someone on his side like Luc was.

There were misunderstandings, through the course of things, but the chemistry and attraction between them, even as fake boyfriends? It burned intense and brightly. It was so damn good when they were together.

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Home for a Cowboy by Amy Aislin

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Five out of Five Stars

Summary

Las doesn’t date seasonal workers. Marco’s on a three-month contract.

Lassiter Windsor-March has been planning for his future for as long as he can remember and he knows exactly where that future lies: at his family’s ranch in Wyoming. What doesn’t lie in his future is a summer fling with one of the seasonal workers—they never stick around.

Even if one of those workers is the college crush he’s invited to work a summer job at the ranch.

Marco Terlizzese is as laissez-faire as Las isn’t. He might not know where he’ll be once his contract with Windsor Ranch is up, but he knows three months is plenty of time to get his long-time crush to agree to go out with him.

Amid a starry summer sky, their chemistry ignites as feelings deepen, forcing Las and Marco to decide where they truly belong.

Review

Marco Terlizzese and Lassiter Windsor-March are goals. Recently graduated from college, they’re still trying to figure what they want to do with their lives. Marco isn’t sure he wants to pursue hockey professionally, but Las knows his life is going to be at the Windsor Ranch in some way or another, but he’s got grad school to consider and the project he wants to take on for his thesis. One thing they do know for certain, is their attraction to each other is hard to resist.

Las invites Marco to work on his family ranch for the summer as Marco tries to figure out what he wants to do with his life. Sparks fly between the two of them, and finally Las lets himself have what he always said he wouldn’t ever have. A relationship with a seasonal worker.

Their feelings for each other were so tender and pure. There were so many moments that I just sat in my bed grinning or breathing out a happy sigh. They stole my heart with how they acted towards each other.

There were times I felt like I was out there on the Windsor Ranch in Wyoming. I could smell the air, imagine the food and dances, and see the starry night sky on the nights Las and Marco went to Las’s tent. This was a fun, light-hearted, dreamy sigh inducing read!

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Before the Call by Emma Alcott

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary:

Rule #1 Don’t fall for the ridiculously hot straight guy
Rule #2 Especially not if he’s your best friend
Rule #3 Extra-especially not when you’re supposed to be his private tutor
Rule #4 Oh, god, but those eyes
Rule #5 Okay, maybe eyes are fine if you don’t look south
Rule #6 Don’t look south
Rule #7 You looked south, didn’t you?
Rule #8 Are you even listening?

Gabe Mitchell isn’t listening. What’s worse, ever since he moved back to the small town he thought he’d left for good, he’s turned into a habitual rule breaker.

Falling for his straight best friend, Clark Summers? Check.
Falling for his straight best friend, Clark Summers, who also happens to be his newest mature student? Check.
And don’t you dare get him started about what’s going on down south, because Gabe doesn’t need to check that to know he’s in deep.

It’s a good thing Clark’s missed him these last four years, and a better thing that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to have Gabe back in his life, because rules are about to be broken. All of them. And Clark’s only rule? The one about being straight? It might just end up broken, too.

 

The Review

I’m an absolute sucker for the friends to lovers trope, but add gay for you to it? That’s my jam. There was something about this story that made my day a little bit brighter and made me want to go back and read the first book in the series.

Gabe and Clark *sigh* have been friends since high school. Gabe is a kind, nerdy and moved back to town because he couldn’t find a job anywhere else. Clark has never left. He worked in the mines, takes care of his brothers and sisters while his mother works and never finished high school. Reuniting ignites an attraction between the two of them.

The heat factor in this one is up there. Once Gabe and Clark get it together, they can’t keep their hands off each other. Clark is willing to learn and try whatever Gabe throws his way. I have a thing for couch scenes, and it was done well in this book.

Family was a central force in this book. Gabe accepted how much Clark’s family relied on him, but he also worked around it and he helped when he could. He treated Clark’s family as his own, because that’s how it was while they were in high school.

They were such a cute couple. This was a low angst, longer read, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

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