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review 2017-11-24 22:05
Let's do this one story at a time...
Stocking Stuffers (2017 Advent Calendar) - Rick R. Reed

THE BLURB:

Sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most….

The holidays are a time when bigger often means better, and meals are huge, decorations are over-the-top, and elaborate gifts and grand gestures are one way to show affection. But beneath all the pomp and ceremony, after the grandiose presents have been unwrapped, the stocking stuffers are still waiting to add that final sparkle to the perfect celebration. Even the tiniest trinkets can be gems when they’re chosen with love, and like a good love story, they are held close to the heart and treasured for years to come. The festivities don’t have to end after the feasts and gift exchanges. Dig a little deeper for romantic stocking stuffers both naughty and nice.

Enjoy a tale of men in love with men every day throughout December.

 

The following are my reviews for some of the stories in Dreamspinners Stocking Stuffer Collection (2017 Advent Calendar) For a full list of stories and their blurbs you can find them on the Dreamspinner Press website.

 

O Hell, All Ye Shoppers

Louisa Masters

~ 3 Christmas Stars~

Ethan’s plans for a lazy day at home away from the madness of last minute shoppers on Dec. 23 are set aside when his sister calls with a crisis that sends Ethan to the Australia’s largest shopping center and a specialty shop aimed at women and his kindness gets the better of him as he comes to the rescue of Ty the only other man in the store and while both men are desperate to escape the retail hell that is the mall at Christmas time, neither man is is in a hurry for their time together to be over. 

 

‘O Hell, All Ye Shoppers’ is a sweet story about two men who find the gift of love at a time of year known for it’s miracles. Ethan and Ty were an adorable pairing and there was a really nice twist to this one that wasn’t totally unpredictable but still added a nice touch to the story that I enjoyed. This ones sweet with some steam and just a hint of sexy times but it definitely left a warm spot in my heart.

 

The Peppermint Schnapps Predicament

Clare London

~3.5 Shining Holiday Stars~

Frankie Faraday’s got a crush on his boss, Bill Mason, but it’s going nowhere because they’re total opposites or, so it seems until Frankie and Bill find themselves trapped in the seasonal stockroom with nothing but candy, peppermint schnapps and time.

 

Frankie and Bill find that they have more in common than either of them ever realized as they get to know each other and discover that the solutions to their problems lies inside of themselves and each other.

 

Frankie and Bill’s time in the stockroom was cute, funny and held some steamy times. My one little niggle was the jump from Frankie and Bill in the stockroom to after they were rescued was a little abrupt for me and I really would have loved a bit more detail to transition them into being a couple. Otherwise this one was a fun, sweet, angst free holiday story. 

 

Pining for Perfect

Ki Brightly

~5 Hopeful Holiday Stars~ 

Stokely is solid and dependable, he’s got a respectable job and leads a quite life…he tries to always do the right thing but he really hates Christmas…well most of it…everything except listening to Asher Banks a the radio. He loves Asher’s optimism.

 

Asher’s the total opposite and he loves Christmas and schedules himself to the max with holiday fundraising and community events. It’s at one of Asher’s events that he and Stokely meet and make a connection.

 

I loved Asher and Stokely and their interactions were so sweet as they got to know each other. ‘Pining for Perfect’ was a warm, sweet story about two men finally being given the best gift of all…the gift of love. The holiday are a really lonely time of year for many and ‘Pining for Perfect’ holds a sense of that loneliness but it’s also tempered with the warmth and hope of the season as well.

 

Poison Marked

TJ Nichols

~4 Joyous Holiday Stars~

Nikko is the court poison master and his loyalties are to his king but it’s the king’s nephew, Lord Rodas who holds his heart. It’s the Solstice Festival a time of celebrations when the king orders Nikko to poison Lord Rodas destroying all he holds dear and placing the fate of a kingdom in the balance.

 

‘Poison Marked’ was a wonderful historical fantasy about faith, love and being true to who you are. Nikko and Rodas both struggled to follow their heart and their conscience in this one even when it felt like one would be the undoing of the other. I loved the author’s writing style with just over 50 pages the author has written a story that is fully fleshed out and totally enchanted me.

 

The Probability of Mistletoe 

J. Russell

~4 Happy Holiday Stars~

It’s been 10 years since Keith Trainor last saw his best friend Parker Mulvaney and now that he’s ready to start his software company there’s only one person that he wants for his partner both in his personal and his professional life…but how to make amends for a failed attempt at kissing Parker under the mistletoe at winter formal senior year.

 

Parker should have known that scheduling a high school reunion two days before Christmas was a bad idea but one text from Keith has everything looking better for Parker.

 

Nothing says ‘tis the season like a good friends to lovers, second chance, feel good story with two sexy nerds under the mistletoe at Christmas time.  I loved that the author gave enough background to give a sense of a connection from the past between these two as friends, without sacrificing the events of the story that was happening in the present.

 

The Puzzle Box

CC Bridges

~4.5 'Tis the Season Stars~

Cole Peters and James Carducci are childhood sweethearts they’ve been together for years but Cole’s facing a lonely Christmas this year James is deployed. What he’s not expecting is the puzzle box that James sends him as the beginning of a scavenger hunt that could end with a gift to exceed Cole’s fondest wish.

 

‘The Puzzle Box’ is a story about a gift that is truly from the heart. James takes Cole on a journey down memory lane as he leads him on a scavenger hunt that ends on Christmas eve when Cole receives his final gift.  C.C. Bridges has created a story that’s filled with love in spite of the fact that for most of the story the MCs aren’t even in the same country, not an easy task to accomplish in less than 30 pages but definitely well done.

 

I was really lucky in that I enjoyed all of my holiday reads from Dreamspinners 2017 Advent Calendar. While there’s definitely more steam than sex in these stories, they still all had me sighing with happiness and contentment.

 

*************************

An ARC of the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar stories was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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text 2017-11-02 21:21
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 5 - Advent

Tasks for Advent: Post a pic of your advent calendar.

 

The cat wasn't in a festive mood (he thought it safer to watch my photo antics from under the living room table and wait 'till I was done), so a red background will have to do.

 

Anyway, the Lions' Club branch of a small town north of Cologne named Leichlingen publishes these calendars every year as part of a charity lottery: The featured picture is painted by a kid -- it's a different picture each year.

 

A former colleague of mine is a member of that branch of the Lions' Club and has been sharing these calendars for (at least) the past 10 years.  I got mine today, so it's a perfect fit for my first "16 Festive Tasks" post: square 5 -- Advent.

 

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review 2017-02-08 05:56
Jizzmas approved! ;D
The Fortune Cookie (2016 Advent Calendar - Bah Humbug) - Matt Burlingame
It's the spookiest time of the year...CHRISTMAS JIZZMAS time!!

A lot of readers are going to smother themselves in Christmas Jizz. Whelp at BMBR, we're reviewing Dreamspinner's Bah Humbug anthology - Grumps vs. Jizz Lovers (1 guess what team I'm on)



Here's my 2 cents:

4.25 Hearts--I feel!



Possibly the Jizzmas spirit? *squints*

This Santa jizz Grumpcorn was tickled by this adorably snarky story. I swallowed this load easily.

I think this year's anthology theme of Scrooges reigning supreme is great. (You can't tell me that the Scrooges don't reign) It's the only reason why I even looked at this year's Dreamspinner anthology. I felt one with this story's Scrooge, Laurence. He's 33, single and not a big fan of the Christmas commercialism. And if he shreds unwanted Christmas decorations from his office cubicle, so what? They shouldn't be invading his space. I feel he is misunderstood. He stood up to the Christmas cheery and their Christmas sugar, fought the good fight...maybe he might have been a little stern.

But he got his point across. *shrug*

Maybe too well, since he's been at it for years and this year an office mishap lands him in an office holiday planning committee. Mandatory or else. *gasp* And to make matters worse, the committee is being led by a Christmas loving ginger giant by the name of Nick Kringall. Nick tries to complete the impossible with Laurence on his team--throw a big party in a limited amount of time. The two men are forced to work together. During this short period of time Laurence thaws out, Nick seems a little otherworldly, is it a Jizzmas miracle?

NO!

Where this story wins is not the Jizzmas cheer, it's watching Laurence realize his flaws, grow as a person and open to let someone in. Also, Matt Burlingame, the author of this story has a fine hand at letting the story unfurl without letting it get lost to Christmas fluff and cheer. There was a speck of feels as there are mentions of past abuse - Trigger warning. There were also moments of cheese--hm, like Cheddar cubes--but it worked to make a well rounded story. And the romance was sweet not sticky. The laughs had a snarky tinge. Thoroughly enjoyed and will be looking for more MM romance from this author (it's his first time!)

On second thought, I don't think it's Jizzmas spirit I feel. I think it was a little indigestion. *burp* ;P

A copy provided for an honest review.
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review 2016-12-27 17:15
Review: Scrooged Over
Scrooged Over (2016 Advent Calendar - Bah Humbug) - David O'Connor

* 1,5 hairy stars *
 
Wow, this was quite awful. I didn't like this at all.

 

Deke was the Grinch personified. He was such a jerk, bordering on obnoxious. He hates Christmas, and was a loudmouth about it. I get that he was a radio host, and Deke and Dudley's supposedly friendly banter was part of the show. Dudley could hold his own, but some of the things Deke said to him were just plain rude, and offputting. Their on-air banter was supposed to be funny, but it fell short. It was like a joke that no one laughs at, and it just made me wince in discomfort, and in sympathy of Dudley.

 

I did like Dudley to an extent. He was just a happy, positive, Christmas loving guy, with an unrequited crush on his co-host. I didn't understand what he saw in Deke, though, since he was such an ass. But that might be his attraction to Deke?

 

"Then he [Deke] stood and pulled his pants partway down in the back. There was the ass--part of it-- all pale and perfect, covered in dark hair Dudley wanted stuck in his teeth."

 

Uhm.... ew. To each his own, I guess?

 

Not only was Deke a (hairy) ass in regards to what he said to Dudley, but also what he did. I'm not spoiling the things he did, but let me just say, I wanted to strangle Deke with those Christmas lights! Dudley seemed unfazed by Deke's digs, though.

 

"Deke's sarcasm was as thick as his chest hair."

 

And he continues to moon, and daydream about Deke.

 

"He wanted to take him into the john after the show and whip out Frosty's proboscis. He wanted to lick Deke's freeform candy cane and toy with each other's dangling Christmas balls. Dudley dreamed of working Deke's knot with tongue and his finger until he opened the gift of his hot, sexy ass."

 

Uhm... EW.

 

All in all, the writing was bad, the descriptions were bad, Deke was bad, the romance was bad, and the brief (thank god) sex scene was one the most unsexy I have ever read. I would have welcomed a fade to black.

 

I'm sorry to say I didn't like this at all. It put me in an un-Christmas-y mood. Such a bummer, since the cover held a promise of a sweet story. 

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review 2016-12-26 13:59
Bah-Humbug to the Joys-of-Christmas
Teddy Bears (2016 Advent Calendar - Bah Humbug) - Brandon Witt

‘Teddy Bears’ is the most adorable bah-humbug to the-joys-of-Christmas holiday story. It is quite impossible not to feel for Brian McKay. He’s such a nerdy dork he both made me smile and broke my heart. To say this man has body issues would be a gross understatement. He doesn’t like the way he looks and can’t believe anybody could possibly find him attractive. In fact, he is so certain he’s destined to be alone he’s even given up on dreaming about a happy ending. His dislike of Christmas runs very deep and is rooted in bad childhood memories, and as the day comes closer, Brian gets ever more grumpy.

 

Enter James Olsen who is everything Brian desires and admires in a man and therefore completely out of Brian’s reach—right? Wrong! When James looks at Brian he doesn’t see an overweight and unattractive nobody, he sees a man he wants to spend time with. All he needs to do is convince Brian that he is really interested and not just feeling sorry for him.

 

The story of Brian’s slow realisation that not only is James really attracted to him but he also deserves that interest is wonderful and very well written. Rather than through a blinding moment of insight it is James’s wooing of Brian through an interest in his hobbies, an obvious attraction, and a genuine date, that Brian comes to accept his own worth.

 

I loved how this book was both very sexy and almost innocent at the same time. The contrast between the free-for-all nature of the bathhouse and Brian’s almost prudish self-consciousness was both poignant and very clever.

 

Brian being willing to settle for the memory of one good night with James all but broke my heart. His subsequent journey put it back together again in the best possible way. Brian’s belief in Christmas miracles came through James, for me it came through Brian’s courage and Brandon Witt’s wonderful writing.

 

Between Brian finding his happy ending and Spike and Angel (read the book if you want to know who they are) this story was nothing short of adorable. As Christmas stories go, this one is a keeper!

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