Gabbi Reviews: Anyplace Else by Kim Fielding


Title: Anyplace Else
Author: Kim Fielding
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 33
Characters: Grant Beaudoin,
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Holiday, DSP Advent Calendar 2016
Kisses: 3

Blurb:

Grant Beaudoin should be thrilled to escape Minneapolis at Christmastime and grateful to lounge on a Hawaiian beach. Instead he is mired in self-pity and drowning in too much tequila. His twin is marrying the perfect man, while Grant is stuck in middle management with no love life in sight. A walk into the rain forest leads to a meeting with a doomed man who has a story about a holiday that predates Christmas. Grant comes to realize that difficult endings can lead to new beginnings—and perhaps a brighter future.

Review:

Anyplace Else is a quirky story by Kim Fielding. Out of all of the books in the Dreamspinner Press Advent Calendar this short was the most unique and strangely interesting.

I love the author’s works. Ms. Fielding has a real knack at writing thoughtful, well-written characters. She also thinks out of the box when it comes to unique storylines and so on…but having said this, Anyplace but Here is wildly different and more than a little strange.

Grant has gone to Hawaii to be in his twin’s wedding. Grant is down in the dumps and feeling sorry for himself. When he meets several different people who talk about the mysterious god that lives on the island once a year, Grant is confused *I was too* and intrigued by what he thinks is an old wives tale.

I can’t get into this story without giving it away but believe me when I say, this story is more of a Halloween story than a Christmas one. There is a lot of mythology and urban legends to this tale…almost to the point that it left this read confused as to what was going on and what was going to happen next.

Here’s the thing…though the story was a bit odd…I found it oddly endearing. I liked to two heroes and thought this little short story would have been really great if it had been more fleshed out and a full blown story.

Anyplace Else is unique and I liked it. I wish I could have loved it. I wish it had been a stand-alone novel. Instead, I was left a little confused.

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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Gabbi Reviews: Iced by Jon Keys


Title: Iced
Author: Jon Keys
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 47
Characters: Keith Walker, Austin Novak
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Holiday, DSP Advent Calendar 2016
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

Keith Walker, a mall bookstore employee, is struggling to get through another miserable holiday season while trying to preserve a crumbling long-term relationship. One of his few comforts is his morning coffee made by a good-looking, younger barista. Austin Novak felt an attraction when Keith started frequenting the coffee shop, but he doesn’t think the older man has any interest in him or his graphic novel collection.

A Christmas week snowstorm buries the city and locks Keith’s car into its parking spot. Keith decides to show Austin his gratitude for helping free the car from the ice with a dinner invitation. The meal becomes complicated when Austin meets Keith’s boyfriend, Shawn, and things go downhill from there when Shawn announces he’s heading to Cancún with his coworkers. Keith is caught between keeping his boyfriend happy and keeping his job. But Keith might not need a plane ticket to find the happiness that’s been missing from his life.

Review:

Nice guys finish first.

Iced by Jon Keys is a sweet story which carries the spirit and romance of Christmas. To my knowledge, this is the first book I’ve read by this author and after reading this gem of a story, it won’t be my last.

What I liked about this story was the strong chemistry between them. I liked them together. I enjoyed watching these two men develop something special together as they truly begin to develop a friendship and more between them. I loved the fact that they are both truly good men who deserved some love, romance and happiness in their lives.

The story itself is well paced and an enjoyable read. I found myself really becoming invested in their lives and the journey they had to tell. Iced by Jon Keys is a very easy book to recommend and I’m looking forward to reading more by this author in the future.

Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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Gabbi Reviews: Ranger Station Haven by SA Stovall

Title: Ranger Station Haven
Author: SA Stovall
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 42
Characters: Carter, Owen
POV: 1st
Sub-Genre: Holiday, DSP 2016 Advent Calendar
Kisses: 5

Blurb:

Federal park ranger Carter Williams dislikes kids almost as much as he dislikes Christmas. He chose his career to escape human contact, not embrace it. And no matter how much his husband Owen tries to sway his opinion, Carter is a grump who would rather ignore the holiday. Owen’s efforts are put on hold, however, when they get a call about six missing foster kids lost in the park.

Christmas Eve takes a turn for the worse when Owen injures himself rescuing the children. Stranded in a snowstorm until dawn, Carter has to keep Owen awake and healthy while simultaneously watching six runaways. What he thinks is a nightmare come to life is actually a beautiful gift in disguise—the kids transform the ranger station into a Christmas wonderland. And before it’s all said and done, they might transform Carter’s heart as well—if he can keep his bah humbug attitude in check.


Review:

Ranger Station Haven by SA Stovall is a feel-good, warm and heartfelt Christmas story. It will definitely lift your spirit, and I know you’ll enjoy this gem of a tale as much as I did.

Carter isn’t crazy about being around people but most of all, he hates kids and Christmas. As a ranger, he is able to keep most people at a polite distance while still enjoying his job. After all, Carter gets to work with Owen, who is his husband is the love of his life.

Though Carter is grumpy, he is still a very likeable man. Through his rough demeanor lies a man who has a big heart and a sarcastic sense of humor that I really enjoyed. The main reason I loved Carter is that I enjoyed witnessing the many layers of his personality…there is definitely more to him than meets the eye and I truly adored him.

Owen is almost the exact opposite of Carter. He friendly, humorous, sweet and an all around loveable man. Honestly, Owen is the perfect man for Carter. They truly balance each other out. I loved them and I adored how they communicated with each other.

Watching Carter’s heart warm up to the children was truly a heartfelt moment for me. Within Carter’s heart lies the love these children crave. Each child had their own personality and I too, understood why they so easily captured Carter and Owen’s affections.

Ranger Station Haven is a beautifully told Christmas story that is so easy to recommend. Between the love Carter and Owen share with one another and the affection and hope they give to the children, it is sweet story not to be missed.

Highly Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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Gabbi Reviews: Resolutions by Emma Keene


Title: Resolutions
Author: Emma Keene
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 33
Characters: Logan Whitehouse, Ryan Fisher
POV: 3rd Limited
Sub-Genre: Holiday, DSP Advent Calendar 2016
Kisses: 4.5

Blurb:

As an advertising executive, it’s Logan’s job to sell people holiday cheer, and he’s good at what he does. But deep down, Logan hates everything about Christmas, so he worries that his crush on the hot baker who loves the holidays is a recipe for disaster.

Last year, Logan saw Ryan at a holiday party Ryan was catering, and the attraction was instant. In a drunken moment, Logan made it his New Year’s resolution to ask the pastry chef out. But another year has slipped away, time is running out, and Logan’s assistant demands he collect on his resolution. Can Logan find the confidence that usually comes so easily to him? And if he does, will Ryan have any interest in spending the holidays with a man who doesn’t share his enthusiasm for the season?

Review:

Sometimes I’m in the mood for a sweet and easy story. Christmas stories are usually full of sugar and sweetness and Emma Keene’s short story, Resolutions definitely fit the hope and love of the holiday season.

Logan is a little bit of a Scrooge. He hates the holiday season and just about everything it stands for. Though he is a successful executive, Logan often suffers from plenty of self doubts…especially when it comes to a asking out a handsome baker. You see, a year ago Logan made the Resolution to ask Ryan out but because he is afraid of risking being hurt, Logan has yet to do it.

Ryan is a lovely man whose smile and brown eyes captivates Logan. Ryan’s inner joy and warmth melts the frozen walls that surround Logan’s heart. As the men become friends and Logan steps up and helps Ryan with what could have been a devastating matter, Logan must muster up the courage to take a chance on love again.

I really enjoyed the chemistry between Logan and Ryan. I liked how Ryan seemed to bring out a softer side to Logan. Also, I liked the way they worked well as a team and they seemed to really care about each other…even though Logan needed to learn to see past his own insecurities and trust in his heart.

Resolutions is a lovely story that left me with a light heart and a smile on my face. Between the Epilogue and the sweet relationship these two men share, Resolutions is a Christmas story not to be missed.

Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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Gabbi Reviews: #ChristmasHatesYouToo by E.F. Mulder

Title: #ChristmasHatesYouToo
Author: EF Mulder
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 66
Characters: Noel Beebe, Hung Liu
POV: 1st
Sub-Genre: Holiday, DSP Advent Calendar 2016
Kisses: 4.25

Blurb:

Born December 25, Noel Beebe is tired of having his birthday overshadowed by all things Christmas. While looking for love on social media, he comes across a prospective new beau just in time to celebrate the Big 3-0, someone who encourages him to take back his day and say thumbs down to Christmas! On a trip to the Big Apple, Noel does just that, flipping off the Rockefeller Center tree and demanding his coffee in a nondecorative paper cup as a fun birthday prank. His act of defiance is caught on video and soon goes viral, leading to a backlash all over the Twitterverse, Internet, and TV. Suddenly what Noel thought would be his best birthday—and even Christmas—yet is shaping up to be his worst. Can his family and his potential boyfriend prove to the world that Noel isn’t the Scrooge he’s been labeled?

Review:

When I saw the cover of this book, I knew I had to read it. I also was intrigued by the premise of the story and I found myself really anxious to read it.

My sister was born in mid December. Because of this, I’ve watched her have to celebrate a sometimes mediocre birthday because Christmas *and the expense of it* was just around the corner. Heck, my birthday falls usually the day or two before the school-year starts, so guess what I got…school clothes. *I always thought I was ripped off too…lol* It’s because of this, I felt like I could relate to the main character Noel.

Noel was born on Christmas day. Yep. That’s right. He’s never had a birthday without the theme of Christmas hanging over his head. In effort to reach out to other people who might suffer the same or similar thing going on in their lives he reaches out and joins a chat room and becomes friends with people who can relate to his problem.

Because of this, Noel finds friends who sympathize with him. When a picture is posted on social media of him not appreciating the Christmas spirit, soon it becomes viral and Noel becomes a hated man.

What I liked about this story was the realism of how social media has control of our lives more than we think. Also, I really enjoyed the chemistry between Hung and Noel. I was surprised by the few twists in the story-line and pleased the way everything turned out.

I do wish this story had been longer. I thought the story was a bit rushed at times, but for a short story it’s a highly satisfying one. #ChristmasHatesYouToo is a delightful, sexy romp that will leave you with a smile on your face.

Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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Gabbi Reviews: The Vampire’s Dinner by TJ Nichols

Title: The Vampire’s Dinner
Author: TJ Nichols
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 39
Characters: Charles Redfort, Blake Wells
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Holiday, DSP Advent Calendar 2016
Kisses: 4.25

Blurb:

For vampire Charles Redfort, Christmas is a bitter reminder of the day he was killed by a werewolf. After fleeing the vampire army he was created to serve in, he has lived in exile in England. Once a year he allows himself to tell the truth about his life over dinner. Then he eats the man he’s hired for the night.

Blake Wells is an engineering student by day and escort by night. He works Christmas because he doesn’t want to see his father, and his mother doesn’t want to see him. When he meets Charles, he thinks he’s gotten a bonus present that he can’t wait to unwrap. But as the truth is revealed, Blake will have to think fast to live until morning and convince Charles to give up his lonely life.

Review:

The Vampire’s Dinner
by TJ Nichols is a sexy romp of a story. I’ve never read anything by this author before, but after reading this short, I’m definitely going to keep my eye out for more books by TJ Nichols in the future.

What I liked about this short was the intrigue of what was going to happen next. The vampire, Charles, lives a pretty lonely existence. He is bitter from being torn away from his human life and into a vampire who has to lie about his very existence. Tired of living a lie, he indulges in being honest about his life and more one time a year.

Charles could definitely be seen as a monster. There is a coldness about him that really resonated with me. Though he only satisfies his blood-sucking needs once a year, there is a darkness about him that is not only intriguing but scary too.

Blake has been hired to be his dinner companion on Christmas night. Little does Blake know that his life is in grave danger. The one thing I really liked about Blake was his ability to think and talk fast all the while keeping his cool was very entertaining.

Both men have a very strong sensual chemistry between them that really sizzles up the pages of this book. Between the nail biting twists and turns this story has and the hot physical chemistry between the two heroes make this a book not to be missed.

I wish this short story had been longer. It screams for a sequel but is still a very satisfying read. The Vampire’s Dinner is a mysterious, sexy page turner and I enjoyed every minute I spent reading it.

Recommended!

Reviewed By: Gabbi

Gabbi Reviews: Traditions by Ann Anderson

Title: Traditions
Author: Ann Anderson
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages: 35
Characters: Marcus, James
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Holiday, DSP Advent Calendar 2016
Kisses: 3.5

Blurb:

When Marcus and James started dating a few years ago, James invited Marcus home to spend the holidays with his close, Christmas-loving family. Marcus quickly realized once was enough, and since then, he’s stayed behind.

But this year will be different. Though the festivity and chaos make Marcus uncomfortable, he loves James, and he’s decided to put aside his unease so they can spend Christmas together—even if it means losing his hotel room to one of James’s siblings, braving the cold to go caroling, and battling the crowds so the children can visit Santa. It’ll all be worth it if Marcus can take his place in the family’s traditions—and maybe begin a new tradition for the two of them.

Review:

Traditions by Ann Anderson tells the story of spending the holidays with family and the hectic craziness and enjoyment it can be by being together.

I admit to being more like Marcus. I’m not crazy about being around a bunch of people, even at Christmas time. James’ family is a good one, but like many families their ‘traditions’ and house rules are sometimes enough to drive you crazy.

I liked both James and Marcus. Both men are honorable men. I enjoyed the relationship they had built together and really loved the surprise Marcus had for James. I also liked James’ family and how in the end they all worked together to make that Christmas a very special one for both Marcus and James. It was a sweet story and the happy ending brought a big smile to my face.

Traditions is holiday story full of love between families and the hope of brighter and happy days to come. It’s a sweet holiday story and an easy one to recommend.

Recommended

Reviewed By: Gabbi

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