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review 2017-12-17 20:58
Sometimes, it's the things we don't expect, that turn out to be what we want...
In Case of Emergency: Gay Christmas Romance - Keira Andrews

Daniel and Cole first met 10 years ago as stepbrothers when they're parents had a passing thought to get married...the thought passed and took the marriage with it just as quickly. But Daniel's mother has reconnected with Cole, so when she learns that Cole's going to be in the same city as Daniel working on his thesis, well of course she insist that Cole use Daniel as his emergency contact and having no other friends or family Cole figures why not what's it going to hurt...after all no one every uses their emergency contact anyways, right? Well, until things happen and in Cole's case it's a trip on some stairs that lands him in the emergency room and has the university calling Daniel...his emergency contact...Daniel who's about to head out of town for a romantic holiday vacation with Justin his sorta'...kinda'...almost boyfriend.

 

So what's a man to do when he's left to care for his one time almost stepbrother who's got a broken wrist and a mild concussion and he's scheduled to go frolic in the snow with is almost boyfriend? Why take the almost stepbrother with him of course and this is where the fun begins.

 

It took a bit but I ended up liking Daniel. Initially Daniel was to say the least cold, standoffish and a bit of a jerk about Cole needing his help. While spending the holiday with Daniel is Cole's idea of a holiday in heaven he's also a really decent guy and he tries to convince Daniel to just leave him at home and he'd be fine. But once Daniel sets him mind to something he moves forward and doesn't change his mind. 

 

Once they arrive at the cabin, Daniel discovers in very short order that Justin not only isn't boyfriend material because really how wanted does one feel when the person they're planning on spending a romantic weekend with arrives at their romantic destination with with their own party...nope, Justin showed in real short order that he's someone who's just not even worth knowing. So in true Daniel fashion he makes the decision that things between him and Justin are over  before they really started...me likey this.

 

Finding themselves alone for the holidays the two men start to reconnect and Daniel soon realizes that even though Justin's gone his chance for romance and finding someone to love again is still there in the cabin with him.

 

I liked the epilogue. It was nice to get that peek ahead in time and see that what started when Daniel and Cole are reunited by an accident ended up as something real, solid and very intentional as these two men came together to make a life as a couple.

 

'In Case of Emergency' is a sweet, holiday romance with second chances a touch of hurt/comfort, sexy hot tub times, a bit of Star Wars and one of my favorite parts...no, there are no dragons, but Daniel and Cole are living and loving in CANADA!!!

 

Cole's attending Carlton University...that's my hubby's alma mater. Daniel attended Western (also known as UWO or the University of Western Ontario, it's in London a couple of hours from Toronto). Anyways, my point is that the setting for this one on a personal level just added to how much I enjoyed the story. Yeah, I'm a dork. I get a little bit excited when I read stories that are set in Canada but when it's a story with so many references that are familiar to me...well, it just makes it so easy for me to settle into the story and enjoy, which is exactly what I did.

 

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A copy of 'In Case of Emergency' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-12-17 14:15
ARC Review: Amid the Winter Snow by Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Elizabeth Hunter, Jeffe Kennedy
Amid the Winter Snow: A Holiday Anthology - Grace Draven,Jeffe Kennedy,Thea Harrison,Elizabeth Hunter
Amid the Winter Snow

Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Elizabeth Hunter, Jeffe Kennedy
Paranormal Romance - Science Fiction - Anthologies
Brightlynx Publishing
December 12th 2017
eBook
454
ARC Review Copy

 

As the snows fall and hearths burn, four stories of Midwinter beginnings prove that love can fight its way through the chillest night...

 

THE DARKEST MIDNIGHT, by Grace Draven
The mark Jahna Ulfrida was born with has made her a target of the cruel and idle all her life. During the long, crowded festivities of Deyalda, there’s nowhere to escape. Until a handsome stranger promises to teach her to save herself…

 

THE CHOSEN, by Thea Harrison
In her visions, Lily sees two men fighting for her tiny country’s allegiance: the wolf and the tiger, each deadly, each cunning. One will bring Ys chaos and death, one a gentler path—but she’s destined to love whichever she chooses. The midwinter Masque is upon them, and the wolf is at her door…

 

THE STORM, by Elizabeth Hunter
When her soul mate died in a massacre of the half-angelic Irin people, Renata thought she’d never feel happiness again. She’s retreated to the snowy Dolomites to remember her hurts—until determined, irrepressible Maxim arrives to insist on joy, too. And before she can throw him out, they discover a secret the Irin have to know…

 

THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN, by Jeffe Kennedy
As a blizzard threatens their mountain keep, the new Queen Amelia of the Twelve Kingdoms and her unofficial consort Ash face their own storm. Ash knows a scarred, jumpy ex-convict isn’t the companion his queen needs. But when a surprise attack confines them together in their isolated sanctuary, the feast of midwinter might tempt even Ash into childlike hope…

 

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Overall Rating of Amid the Winter Snow: 4 Stars

 

Amid the Winter Snow features four novellas that where charming, delightful, and engaging to read. Thea Harrison is the only author in this anthology I’m familiar with, so the other three were new to me. I was drawn into the stories and taken for a whirlwind ride of heartache, conflict, healing, and love. Each novella is distinct, special, and focuses around a winter holiday. Out of all the novellas featured the only one I didn’t care for was The Snows of Windroven by Jeffe Kennedy.

 

Below you will find my individual reviews for each novella in this anthology.

 

The Darkest Midnight by Grace Draven – 5 Stars

 

I very much loved The Darkest Midnight. I couldn’t put the story down and devoured from begging to end.

 

When we first meet Jahna she is only fifteen and being tormented by a group of girls. The Delyalda celebration is never a fun time for her; because of this. As the years move on we see her learn swordsman ship along side her brother as well as becoming an accomplished scholar by writing down all the stories she is told. At the begging we also meet Radimar he is seven years older then Jahna and to be her brothers sword master teacher for four years. We see how their relationship develops over the years. How the romance blossoms between them. It’s sad and sweet.

 

I liked how the author made the time move on and how the characters change and grow throughout years. It was also very sweet how Radimar helped coax Jahna to be more confident and have courage.

 

The Darkest Midnight was a remarkable, sweet, and captivating read.

 

*****

 

The Chosen by Thea Harrison – 4 Stars

 

I very much enjoy the Elder Race series and this novella was no exception.

 

Lily can see things and she’s been having dreams about two men battling. Now that Wulf has arrived on her doorstep she must choose sides. One will lead to happiness, while the other will lead to despair.

 

Wolf is a bad and good man wrapped up in one. He’s formidable and honorable too. Lily is the Chosen and leader of her people. I liked Lily and Wolf. Both knew the hardship of being leaders for their people and living with chooses that may not always turn out. Their chemistry together was wonderful, these two complemented each other, and their romance was enchanting.

 

The Chosen is a magical story full of confrontation and desire.

 

*****

 

The Storm by Elizabeth Hunter – 4.5 Stars

 

I was a bit unsure going into The Storm, but the more I read the more interesting the novella became and now I’m curious about reading the series this one takes place in the Iron Chronicles.

 

Renata & Maxim from what I got are side characters in the series or so it seams to me. Since I haven’t read the series I’m not positive. A lot happens; before these two meet and after they meet as well. Their courtship spans over 18-years.

 

The author showcase Renata and Maxim throughout the years. We get some of their backstory as well as little parts of information on what happens in the Iron Chronicles series too. I cried in a few parts throughout this novella. It’s hard to move on when your lose is so big, but Maxim never gives up on Renata and their love is captivating.

 

The Storm gives us loss, heartache, healing, love, and learning to let go and move on. It keeps up with the series it’s part of, but also stands very much on it’s own.

 

*****

 

The Snows of Windroven by Jeffe Kennedy – 2.5 Stars

 

This one was my least favorite. Why? Well we’re coming into the middle of this couples relationship or whatever it is between them. The backstory is lacking and from what I’ve discovered this novella is part of The Twelve Kingdoms series. Ami has her own story, The Tears of the Rose.

 

Ami is Queen and also an Avatar for a Goddess. She’s also got two young children from a previous marriage, not sure on how that relationship was, but we know her husband is dead. Ash is a low born, a half-blooded something, and was thrown in prison as a child for who knows what. Their relationship is push and pull. He knows deep down that he will have to let her go, even though he loves her and she loves him, but he keeps pulling away. It’s so back and forth. Also their is mention of a waking dragon at Castle Windroven, but that storyline/plot isn’t completed.

 

It feels like the reader is missing a lot if they haven’t read at least Ami’s book. The Snows of Windroven doesn’t feel like it can stand on it’s own. It needs the series to put things fully into view.

 

Was this review helpful? If so, please consider liking it on Goodreads (Angela)!

 

 

Challenge(s): New To Me (Authors) | Pick Your Genre (PNR) | New Releases (2017)

 

 

 

 

I was born and raised in Northern Indiana. I’m an outdoor sun loving reader living near San Fransisco. I’m a mother, wife, dog owner, animal, and book lover. I’m the owner, reviewer, and mind behind Angel’s Guilty Pleasures. My favorite animals are horses & dogs. As for reading I love all things paranormal & urban fantasy. My favorite shifters are dragons!

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Source: angelsguiltypleasures.com/2017/12/arc-review-amid-the-winter-snow-by-grace-draven-thea-harrison-elizabeth-hunter-jeffe-kennedy
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review 2017-12-17 02:42
It's what's on the inside that really counts...
On the Third Kiss - George Loveland

As Donna Tracey, Drag Queen extraordinaire Sebastian Bennett works hard and he’s looking forward to a well deserved vacation with his boyfriend and the love of his life Elliot Bolton in the Gran Canarian or at least he thought he was until he came home to find Buster his chihuahua alone with nothing but a note telling him that Elliot needed a break and was going on their vacation with someone else…which this is bad enough right? But no Elliot didn’t stop there. Needless to say, Sebastian is devastated…hell, I was devastated with him.

 

Feeling like his world is crumbling Sebastian turns to the one person he can rely on pub manager and friend, Javier Reyes-Martinez. Javier doesn’t hesitate to step-up offering Sebastian support, friendship, a shoulder to lean on…whatever he needs.

 

When Christmas day rolls around and Sebastian decides that if he’s not going to be in the Gran Canarian that he might as well go home to his family he doesn’t hesitate to take Javier with him and it’s in the midst of a broken heart and being with his family who mean the world to him that Sebastian begins to realize that maybe Javier could be more than a friend…maybe, he’s what Sebastian really needs in his life.

 

I loved how things played out between Sebastian and Javier. Now, don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that Seb was slow on the uptake but it did take his mother, his sister, his uncle with dementia…no seriously Seb’s uncle had some surprising moments of lucidness and imparted so pretty good words of wisdom and then there was Buster…that was one seriously smart chihauhau with really good taste in men and there might have been a few other people dropping hints before darling Seb finally got a clue but in his defence…douchebag boyfriend…screwed him over…so he might not have been seeing things as clearly as he should have.

 

On the flip side Javier may have known how he felt about Seb but he also cared about him enough not to push. He knew that Seb was a bit of an emotional wreck and he wanted to give him some time and space.

 

‘On the Third Kiss’ was a sweet holiday, friends to lovers story by a new to me author, whom I’m looking forward to reading more from in the future.

 

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An ARC of ‘On the Third Kiss’ was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-12-16 08:02
Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries
Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries - Various Authors,Martin Edwards

On the whole, it's pretty much a safe bet that just about any anthology collection is bound to be hit or miss: some stories will hit all the marks, while others will be, at best, 'meh'.

 

Silent Nights is one of the rare ones where even the weaker stories are better than average. I reviewed the first 4 here, but here are my thoughts concerning the remaining stories.

 

Stuffing by Edgar Wallace - ★★★  There was a definite The Blue Carbuncle vibe to this story.  It was short, and amusing, and was amongst the stories in this book with the most Christmas spirit.  It was short and told in third person so even though I really enjoyed it, it was hard to rate it higher.

 

The Unknown Murderer by H.C. Bailey - ★★★1/2  This one was just plain weird, but oddly satisfying.  Twisted story / mystery, but the ending was unsatisfactory.  I wanted more information.

 

The Absconding Treasurer by J. Jefferson Farjeon - ★★★  I'm not sure I'm destined to be a Farjeon fan.  This is the second story I've read by him and I'm left feeling short changed.  I liked the writing, but the mystery was really non-existent.  The investigator doesn't share his thoughts with the reader - or the clues - so you're with him for almost the entire story, and then suddenly he goes for a walk, finds a body and voila! knows the solution to the entire mystery.  The writing saves this from a 2 star story though.

 

The Necklace of Pearls by Dorothy L. Sayers - ★★★★  I'm a fan of Whimsey, so even though Sayers pulls something of a Farjeon in this short story, I find I didn't mind quite as much.  Even though I don't think the reader gets enough information to solve the mystery, we do at least get all the elements, making it easy to see where Whimsey is going.  And the crime's concealment was freaking ingenious.

 

The Case is Altered by Marjory Allingham - ★★★  The fact that I had to look this one up again because I remembered nothing about it probably says more than I can for the story.  It's not bad, nor badly written, it just wasn't memorable.

 

Waxworks by Ethel Lina White - ★★★★★  I was sure I was going to dislike this one when I read the author intro, where Edwards highlights the author's focus on writing suspense stories.  But oh man this one was so good!  Even though I knew how it was going to turn out - really, everything about the first part of the story made the ending inevitable - I had no idea how that ending was going to happen.  I was expecting something far less subtle than I got, and that subtlety, and the twisty bit, was what made the story so good.

 

Cambric Tea by Marjorie Bowen - ★★★  This story started out promising to be another 5 star, but in a gothic vain, but lost steam at the very end, with a disappointingly weak ending that felt the result of the author writing herself into a corner and then copping out.

 

The Chinese Apple by Joseph Shearing - ★★★  Oddly enough, as this is written by the same author as Cambric Tea under a pseudonym, this story's problem was the exact opposite of Cambric Tea's:  weak build up and a solid ending.   What is supposed to be the plot twist was obvious to me from the start; but the ending was so satisfying it scored extra points from me.

 

A Problem in White by Nicholas Blake - ★★★★1/2  An Encyclopaedia Brown type of mystery!  I had a very hard time at the start figuring out the characters - the author gave them all nicknames, then two pages in gave them their proper names, confusing me to no end.  But Blake gives the reader all the clues and then doesn't give the solution - it's at the back of the book, allowing readers to try to guess whodunnit without being influenced.  (I haven't had a guess yet, because I need to re-read it again now that I have a better idea of who is who.)

 

The Name on the Window by Edmund Crispin - ★★★★  I really enjoyed the writing in this one an awful lot, which made the abrupt ending to the 'locked room' mystery easier to put up with.  I'll definitely be reading more Crispin.

 

Beef for Christmas by Leo Bruce - ★★★★1/2  I've read Bruce's other series involving the Professor and I like him as a main character better, but Beef's a very clever man and the writing was top notch.  The reader doesn't get all the facts, but the story compensates; this one felt far more complete than a lot of short stories often do.

 

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review 2017-12-14 16:22
The cover totally matches the story on this one both were adorably cute and just so much fun...
Love Happens Anyway - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Derek feels like his life is spinning out of control. He’s feeling like the job he has is neither the job he was supposed to get or the one he wanted, he’s at odds with his parents and feels like they’re constantly trying to marry him off. If he could just catch a break, put a little distance between him and the rest of the world.

 

Derek finds his buffer in the form of Luke…a former fireman who’s in need of twenty thousand dollars to finish paying or the renovations to on Halligans, his family’s bar in NY’s Financial District. So, when Luke’s friend asks him for a favor…a favor that will bring in Luke’s much needed money. Luke finds himself reluctantly agreeing to be Derek’s pretend boyfriend for the holidays…4 dates that’s all he needs to get through and then he’ll have the money he needs…what could possibly go wrong with just 4 dates?

 

What neither Derek or Luke is prepared for is that things would go right…so much righter than either man is prepared for as they find that not only is there a definite attraction between them but as they get to know each other they’re also finding that they like each other.

 

I admit I was fairly certain that I was going to enjoy this one before I even opened the book…the author’s R.J. Scott and for me that pretty well makes it a done deal. For me Luke was the perfect person for Derek. He saw past Derek’s exterior with his pretense of confidence in an effort to cover his insecurities. Luke saw a talented man that he knew he could both like and respect. For Derek, Luke was his dream man come to life.

 

One of the things about this story that really capture my attention was the relationship dynamics between Derek and his parents. So often in stories the relationship between adult children and their parents are portrayed as either being good or not good but for Derek and his parents that’s not the case. Derek loves his parents and they love him and are supportive of him, but Derek doesn’t see it this way and that’s largely due to a communication issue or more accurately a case of miscommunication. Which for Derek is a more common event in his life than it needs to be because of the defensive barrier he’s built around himself.

 

Luke’s efforts to get past Derek and his façade of confidence has a trickle-down effect on Derek’s life allowing him to re-evaluate his interactions not just with Luke but a lot of the other people in his life…colleagues, friends and his parents.

For me the fake-boyfriend to boyfriend premise of this story was well done. It was sweet, and not only did we get to see the relationship develop between these two, but we got to find out a bit more about each of them, their past, their present and what they wanted for their future.

 

‘Love Happens Anyway’ is an enchanting holiday story and while a lot of the issues stem from miscommunication it’s not intentional or surrounded by any over the top angst or drama and the icing on the Christmas cake for me in all of this was the ending…I loved the ending. It was sweet and filled with the joy of the holidays…definitely recommended for anyone wanting a sweet holiday story filled with fun, cheer and two sexy men who make the holiday just that much brighter.

 

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An ARC of ‘Love Happens Anyway’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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