Winter of the Owl by Iris Foxglove

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Three out of Five Stars

Summary: 

Sava has the best house in all of Lukos. He built it himself, dreaming of the day when he and Milan, the man he loved, could live there and brave the harsh winters of Lukos together—only to be devastated when Milan was found dead in the spring. Fraught with grief, Sava resigns himself to spending his winters alone.

Then a stranger appears on his doorstep, and everything changes.

Victor is a scholar from Gerakia, a land known for its long summers and vibrant history, and he has never been more unprepared in his life. Abandoned on the inhospitable island of Lukos after a disastrous relationship, Victor has to adapt quickly to survive. It helps, of course, that he’s taken in by Sava, who has the biggest heart of any man Victor has ever known. Victor and Sava start to make a home together, growing close as snow falls outside, but the true danger of a Lukos winter is closer than they suspect…
 

Review

So many tropes in this one! Forced proximity, opposites attract, share one bed, snowed in, strangers to lovers, chosen family.

My heart broke for Victor in the beginning. I had a legitimate what the actually fuck? kind of moment. He’s such a bright character and to see someone so willingly just throw that away? Oh it hurt my heart. I was so glad to see he landed somewhere like Lukos.

In an island of exiles, Victor found something beautiful, a home.

Sava had been living his winters alone since the loss of Milan. He has steadily been building a home that would be fit for a mate. Sava has got to be the kindest soul out there. He’s definitely something you would look for in a partner, no matter what world you live in.

There were light BDSM tones. In this world there are dominates and submissives, but it’s not on the extreme end of the spectrum. While there are the traditional roles, Sava and Victor didn’t hold stead fast to them. Victor was very much the scholar, not the best at the home tasks. I found that adorable, seeing Sava step in and explain and teach things to Victor. He did it in a way that was not at all condescending towards Victor. You could tell they cared about each other.

The romance scenes between the two of them weren’t so steamy. You can definitely feel the chemistry between the pair. There were some great kisses between the pair. If you’re looking for something extremely graphic, you definitely won’t get that here.

The suspense or conflict in this was an easy one for me to figure out. I had that figured out pretty early on, but I kept reading because I loved Victor and Sava’s interactions. I knew there was a lot of their relationship I wanted to read about.

Overall, did I enjoy this? Oh yes. Will I read future books in the series? Yes. I needed the fantasy fix and there were so many tropes in this that had mee excited.

Get your copy here

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