The Beautiful Things Shoppe by Philip William Stover

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary

Moving to eclectic New Hope, Pennsylvania, and running The Beautiful Things Shoppe is a dream come true for elegant and reserved fine arts dealer Prescott J. Henderson. He never agreed to share the space with Danny Roman, an easygoing extrovert who collects retro toys and colorful knickknacks.

And yet here they are, trapped together in the quaint shop as they scramble to open in time for New Hope’s charming Winter Festival.

Danny has spent years leading with his heart instead of his head. The Beautiful Things Shoppe is his chance to ground himself and build something permanent and joyful. The last thing he needs is an uptight snob who doesn’t appreciate his whimsy occupying half his shop.

It’s only when two of New Hope’s historic landmarks—each as different as Danny and Prescott—are threatened that a tentative alliance forms. And with it, the first blush of romance. Suddenly, running The Beautiful Things Shoppe together doesn’t seem so bad…until Danny’s secret threatens to ruin it all.

Review

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this book. I hated the beginning of this book. I almost DNF’ed it, that’s how much I didn’t like the beginning of this book. The enemy shopkeepers, forced to work together, just was written in a way that made me HATE Danny and Prescott. The way Danny and Prescott spoke to each other, just why? It made me angry. I would never treat anyone the way they treated each other.

But, I was one book away from meeting my reading goal for the year and I had invested a good amount of time trudging through the first 30% of it, I was determined to finish it.

I’m glad I did.

As soon as they got over themselves and started to get to know each other as the collectors they were, I liked them as characters. Prescott had gotten to know the people of New Hope and had fallen in love with the town. Danny found himself listening to Prescott as he sold his antiques and he started to understand Prescott.

They were complete opposites. Danny liked the vintage, toy, oddball collectibles. Prescott searched for historical pieces. They ended up working together, along with the town, to save two historical landmarks of New Hope. Of course, small towns means interfering do-gooders, pushing Danny and Prescott together. Which I loved!

Now, don’t expect a fiery romance scene in this book. But there were some toe-curling kisses exchanged and some very sweet moments between Danny and Prescott. I got a little teary eyed at how sweet they were.

So, like I said, love/hate. I detest the beginning 30% of this book but loved the last 50% of it.

To be released January 26, 2021

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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Hot Potato by Allison Temple

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Three out of Five Stars

The Summary: As Seacroft’s resident weirdo, Avery proudly flies a lot of freak flags. It’s a constant battle to be taken seriously when everything, from his red hair to his sexuality, makes him stand out in this small town.

Small towns are also a terrible place to keep secrets, and Lincoln has a bunch of them. But his demons aren’t going to hold him back from his dream job at the Seacroft Fire Department. His life is finally coming together, until the red-haired twink with the big smile and fast mouth calls in an emergency.

Pining or the hot firefighter is Avery’s newest flag, even if he agrees to be “just friends.” For Linc, every minute with Avery is a temptation. He needs to let go of his fear and admit the truth. Linc doesn’t want to be Avery’s friend; he wants to be his everything. But just as Linc is ready to risk it all, Avery gets an unexpected offer to spread his colorful wings and fly away.

The Review

Avery is an odd duck in the small town of Seacroft. He doesn’t hide who he is, what he’s passionate about or his sexuality, but he’s still shy and a bit awkward. Lincoln, a firefighter, lives a life full of secrets. A sweet potato dinner gone wrong brings Avery and Lincoln together. They can’t seem to stay away from each other, and attraction develops between them.

Avery was my absolute favorite. He’s a genuine ginger. Red hair, pale skin, freckles and to top it all off he is a bit clumsy. He’s a sweetheart and at time I just wanted to wrap him up in a huge hug to make everything better. Lincoln wants to take care of Avery, he wants to take care of his family.

The chemistry between Avery and Lincoln is obvious from their first meeting. It was fun seeing them connect despite the very obvious differences between them. Avery was out, Lincoln was not. I think seeing one of Lincoln’s co-workers be out, that it made things easier for Lincoln to come out.

There were bumps along the way in their relationship. Moments Avery doubted Lincoln’s sincerity, and Lincoln being scared. But they found a way through these moments.

This was a fun read and it makes me want to go read the other books (Yes, I read this series completely out of order!)

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Christmas Lane by Amy Aislin

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Five out of Five Stars

Summary: It’s recent college graduate Zach Greenfeld’s favorite time of the year and he’s just received a temporary gig planning Lighthouse Bay’s Christmas parade. Not only does it speak to his penchant for organization, it also puts him face to face on a daily basis with his unrequited crush–Holland Stone. But his new job starts off in disaster when the most important float–Santa’s sleigh–gets damaged.

Holland needs to win the Lighthouse Bay Christmas parade float competition in order to grow his new dollhouse-making business. The prize is an article in a major city newspaper, and nothing beats free advertising. Except, eager to help the adorable parade organizer, he volunteers to help fix Santa’s sleigh, leaving no time to work on his own float, and putting his prize at risk.

Damaged floats, snowstorms, and a last-minute parade emergency force Zach and Holland closer than ever. All they need is a little bit of Christmas magic to help them realize they belong together.

The Review

I would like to start this review by giving it heart eyes and happy snuggles. It’s exactly what I needed to get me into the holiday spirit.

Zach is a recent college graduate and he’s ready to find a job that doesn’t include working at his family’s restaurant with his sister as his boss. Holland is fifteen years older, has bounced from job to job trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life and is attracted to man who he once taught in primary school. They are thrust together when Zach gets put in charge of the town Christmas parade and Holland is building a float and eventually more.

Holland was kind. In a way you wouldn’t expect people to be any more. As their relationship progressed, Holland talked to Zach about what he wanted and needed. Zach is portrayed as a possibly Ace, but more like demisexual (In my opinion). And Holland respects that. Eventually they progress to more. Their kisses were pretty swoon worthy. There isn’t any on-screen sex scenes, but it worked for their story. They didn’t need explicit scenes.

Zach was a cautious when it came to Holland. How could he, of all people, be what Holland is looking for in a partner? Especially, when Holland dated men like Mika and Clark in the past. Zach has his quirks and Holland lets him do his thing. I loved that. He didn’t tease Zach for having multiple calendars or having certain ways he did things. They supported each other. I found it adorable that Holland took care of Zach in the little ways he could.

Through all the issues that crop up like ex-boyfriends, roofs caving in, endless car trouble, and figuring Christmas out, Zach and Holland make it through it all.

Another plus, the secondary characters were just as engaging as Zach and Holland were. I have secret hopes that Dev and Clark might get their story told next. This is definitely a holiday read that I will be revisiting yearly.

 

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Breaking In by Ashton Cade

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Five out of Five Stars

The Summary:

Ryan:  After my divorce to Barb, my life has been just me, my little boy and my job. Some people might call me overprotective, but as the Sheriff of Umberland, I know a lot more than they do about what can happen when you let down your guard. When my high school best friend Christian comes to visit, sure, I remember experimenting with him as teenagers, but what I can’t ignore is the fierce attraction that still burns between us.
What’s even more, Christian makes me feel safe and protected—something I do for everyone else.
I’ve never been attracted to a man since Christian… but as soon as I lay my eyes on him, I don’t think I’ll be attracted to anyone else ever again.

Christian:

I knew I was gay forever, it seems. But my first love was the one that stuck with me all these years: Ryan Rainier. He’s a big deal in the police department now, and as a man in uniform, he’s every bit as gorgeous as he was in those young years.
But Ryan’s straight, right? So why does he keep looking at me that way, with hunger in his eyes?
Am I just seeing what I want to see? And can I risk losing a lifelong friend for a shot at love?

 

 

The Review

Ryan is a small town cop how wants the best for his son, Troy. He isn’t actively searching for romance. His ex-wife burned him pretty badly when she cheated and left him for a terrible excuse for a man (he’s a jerk in the politest terms possible).When his former best friend, Christian, is back in town and the attraction they shared as teenagers reignites. They hadn’t gotten past teenage fumbling but it’s clear that they both want much more this go around.

I enjoyed book two in this series a lot more than book one. That’s a rarity for me but there was something about Ryan, his son Troy, and Christian that compelled me to keep reading and rooting for them. I loved how sure Ryan was about Christian. The chemistry between the two of them, oh boy, it was juicy.

Their relationship started to rebuild while Christian slept on the couch and progressed from there. Christian also gave Troy time and attention. Ryan and Troy were a package deal and Christian fell in love with them both. He was so sweet to Troy. He was kind, understanding and willing to step back if it meant Ryan would be happy.

I swear I got heart eyes way too many times while reading this but Ryan going to look for Christian? Oh I melted into a puddle of happiness. I absolutely loved Ryan and Christian and that epilogue? *wistful sigh*

This is a definite must read and one I’ll probably revisit when I need a feel-good, pick me up.

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