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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Feel the Fire by Annabeth Albert

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary

When their career paths bring two high school sweethearts together again, the forest isn’t the only thing ablaze…

Fire behavior specialist Luis Riviera goes where his job takes him. But when he’s assigned to an arson investigation in Central Oregon—the place he left his broken heart twenty years ago—he’s afraid of being burned all over again.

Tucker Ryland had planned to join his first love, Luis, in LA after high school graduation, but life got in the way. Now a fire management expert and a divorced father of teen twins, Tucker’s thrown for a loop when he finds himself working side by side with his Luis, now all grown up and more intriguing than ever.

Though consumed by a grueling fire season and family responsibilities, the two men discover their bond has never truly broken. Tentative kisses turn to passionate nights. But smoking sheets aside, old hurts and new truths stand in the way of this time being the start of forever.

Danger lurks everywhere for Central Oregon’s fire crews, but the biggest risk of all might be losing their hearts. Don’t miss the Hotshots series from Annabeth Albert: High Heat, Burn Zone and Feel the Fire.

The Review

Luis Riviera goes wherever he is needed as a behavior specialist. Going back home to Central Oregon was not what he expected. Going to Central Oregon means he will come face to face with his childhood love, Tucker Ryland.

Tucker, divorced and father of twins, didn’t expect to meet Luis Riviera, but when he does his heart beats faster and his breath catches in his throat. The attraction they had in their youth banked until it ignited again.

What I absolutely loved is Tucker Ryland is a demisexual character. Do you know how many books I’ve read in the past five years with representation of a demisexual character? One. This book. As a demisexual I connected so much to Tucker. He needed a connection with a person before they would become lovers. He had that with Luis and it was a connection that didn’t dissipate after all those years. It was honest, real, and intense.

The chemistry between Luis and Tucker, oh boy, as soon as they saw each other there were sparks. Luis listened to Tucker, made sure he was comfortable and enjoying himself. It felt as though Luis cherished Tucker, and that was everything. I’m a sucker for friends to lovers storylines, but through in a second chance romance? It just hits the spot for me.

Tucker’s boys were great! There were times that had me cackling at times with their matchmaking shenanigans. It was nice seeing how they took to their dad’s new relationship and accepted Luis as he was.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this installment. This book can also be read as a stand-alone, but you do see characters from the previous two books in this one.

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Quarterback Sneak by Baylin Crow

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary:

The boundaries of our friendship are tested and lines are crossed.

RUSH: I’m in love with my best friend.

There wasn’t an exact moment when I fell for him. It was something that grew and evolved over time. He loves me back, but it’ll never be more than platonic. It can’t be because he’s straight.

Then one night he kissed me and left me with more questions than answers. The very next morning my trust was shattered by a family secret. I’d been lied to my whole life. He was by my side through it all, offering support when I needed it most.

How can I risk losing a friendship that held me together when I was falling apart?

TORIN: He friend-zoned me.

Four years ago, I gathered enough courage to kiss my best friend. What I’d hoped would be a pivotal moment that would start a new kind of relationship between us was over before it began. His world was upended, so I put my feelings aside and stepped back into my role as a friend he could count on.

He wasn’t ready then, but now it’s time to find out if he’s willing to take a chance on us being something more.

We’ve been friends, roommates and teammates, but I want him, body and heart.

Review

This was a fun, super-quick, novella-length read. I needed more sports-romances in my life, and this was recommended by another sports-romance junkie. Normally I’m not a fan of this POV (1st Person) but this one I didn’t mind it in.

Rush and Torin Hopkins are childhood best friends, who play football and have more than friend feelings for each other. Rush learns a family secret that derails their blossoming relationship. Fast forward into the end of their college football careers, they finally get their act together.

It had one of my absolute favorite moments a couple can have, the first public kiss. It just gave me all the warm and fuzzy feelings.  

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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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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

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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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Ruby Run by Sam Burns

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3.5 Stars out of 5

Summary

Augustus Ambrose never planned to return to the United States after graduation. His mother’s final letter, with its dire threats about what would await if he did, had been more than enough to keep him away. But when his Aunt Grace dies unexpectedly and leaves him her ranch in the New Mexico Territory, he can’t ignore it. Grace gave him everything, and he can’t let her legacy suffer for his childish fear of his mother.

Griffith Taylor doesn’t want much. Quiet nights on the range, a big blue sky, and no rattlesnakes in his boots. He definitely doesn’t want to travel to Boston to take care of his late boss’s heir. When he lays eyes on his charge, everything changes. Not just because Augie is the best looking greenhorn he’s ever clapped eyes on, oh no.

Someone wants Griff’s new boss dead, and they’re not afraid to use forbidden magic to get the job done. Griff can handle himself in a fight, but this job might be more than he’s prepared for.

Review

If you are looking for a light-hearted, quick read with a paranormal western edge then this is the perfect book (and series) to dive in to. Ruby Run is part of the Tin Star Witches: The Witches of Ruby Gulch series, each novel written by a different author.

Griff and Augie are complete opposites of each other. Griff is a Range Witch working at the Lost Chance ranch. Augie has just inherited the Lost Chance ranch from his aunt. The journey to Lost Chance bring a lot more trouble then a city boy not being able to cut it in the west.

These two character are so cute together. Augie is unsure of himself, he knows nothing about ranching but this is the first opportunity to find a home. He can’t pass that up. Griff likes Augie just as he is, caring, kind, and perfect for him in every way.

The chemistry between Griff and Augie is instantaneous and burns brightly. There are a few spicy scenes which were great. There were some flirty scenes that just had me grinning. Griff and Augie, I just love them. This was a great read.

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Wolfsong by T.J. Klune

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Five out of Five Stars

Summary:

Ox was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.

Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road, the boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane.

Ox was seventeen when he found out the boy’s secret, and it painted the world around him in colors of red and orange and violet, of Alpha and Beta and Omega.

Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his bloodred eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces.

It’s been three years since that fateful day—and the boy is back. Except now he’s a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.

The Review

As soon as I finished Wolfsong, I immediately purchased the next books in the series. I found a werewolf novel that was just like what I loved growing up. There was pack, found families, danger, discovery, and love. While there is the alpha, beta, omega dynamics explored it isn’t sex here. It was the hierarchy in the pack. This is the werewolf story that I freaking love (and secretly want to write one day)!

Ox was sixteen when he met Joe. He had never met anyone like Joe. Slowly, he was pulled into the Bennett’s family and into a life he didn’t know was possible to exist. Werewolves exist and he’s found himself part of a pack. He and his mother become part of their pack, taking on the danger that comes with being associated with the Bennetts.

I had so much love for Ox. He’s an outcast, but there’s something about him that I was able to connect with and understand entirely. He’s damaged goods, but with the help of Bennetts he’s learning that he’s better than what his father said to him. He’s strong, important, and perhaps the person they need in their lives.

Joe, there were times I wanted to hug him and then times I just wanted to shake him. How could he do this to Ox? Didn’t he see that his pack needed him home? But I understood his need to do what he did. I still hated it.

I think I fell a little bit in love with each character in this novel. They were each vital to pushing the plot forward, they were each important for every dangerous situation that the Bennett pack came across. I loved Gordo and the body shop guys. They cracked me up. You could tell they had worked together for years and considered themselves to be brother.

Ox and Joe’s relationship *wistful sigh* it grew from childhood to adulthood so naturally. You could feel their bond. Once they both (Joe is younger by a few years) reached adulthood, their flirting was so goooood. Then they had to relearn each other and their spot in the pack.

There’s so many good things I could say about Wolfsong, but I feel like I would give the book away. If you haven’t had the chance to read this, go grab a copy and read it.

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