Poppy’s Secret by Andrew Grey: Author Guest Post, Release Day Review, Excerpt and Giveaway

perf4.250x7.000.inddsynopsisA second chance born of love.

Pat Corrigan and Edgerton “Edge” Winters were ready to start a family—or so Pat thought. At the last minute, Edge got cold feet and fled. Pat didn’t bother telling him the conception had already gone through and little Emma was on her way. He didn’t want a relationship based on obligation. He’d rather raise his daughter on his own.

Nine years later, Emma and her Poppy are doing fine. Edge isn’t. He realizes what he threw away by leaving, and he’s back to turn his life around and reclaim his family. It’ll take a lot to prove to Pat that he’s a new man, and even if Edge succeeds, the secret Pat has hidden for years might shatter their dreams all over again.

Title: Poppy’s Secret
Author: Andrew Grey
Release date: February 15, 2017
Category: Contemporary, Dreamspun Desires
Pages: 90

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Guest Post

I am a romance junkie and a member of Romance Writers of America.  So each year I judge one of their contests and last year I judged a secret baby book.  I discovered something new.  To top it off a friend told me that she particularly loves secret baby books, so when she challenged me to come up with one, I rose to the challenge and Poppy’s Secret is the result.  Yes, my demented imagination came up with a scenario for an MM secret baby book.  It was fun to write and I hope it’s as much fun to read!!!!

Heather's Review

Poppy’s Secret by Andrew Grey is one of my first reads from the Dreamspun Desires line from Dreamspinner. Typically, I’m more of a fan of series, especially from authors like Andrew Grey. This is because I love the idea of getting to know a community of characters and see glimpses of previous couples in future books. If I was to say anything against Poppy’s Secret, it would be that I wish I’d get to see them again in the future, because I loved Edge and Pat.

This is a second chance story in every sense of the term. Pat and Edge were in love and planning a future. Then, Edge felt the weight of adult life weighing down on him and ran. Now, he’s back and hoping he can prove to Pat that he knows exactly how badly he screwed up. The problem is, life didn’t stop for Pat when Edge left and Pat moved forward with their plans to start a family even though he was doing it on his own.

As happens often in Andrew Grey’s books, little Miss Emma was as much of a main character as the men. The eight year old is now the center of Pat’s universe, and before he can let Edge in, he needs to know he’s not going to run again, hurting not only Pat, but also Emma. And he’s worried that when his secret is revealed, Edge will run.

I can’t tell you too much more than that, but I will say this story ended with a great case of the happy feels.

Definitely a great book to pick up when you need something with only a touch of angst and a great story.

4 pieces of eye candy

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excerpt

“I saw him yesterday,” Edge told his sister, Terry, when she called while he was waiting for his first coffee of the day. “I was at one of the clubs to have a good time. He was on his way out, and he literally ran into me.”

“Let me guess. He welcomed you back with open arms and said that he forgave you for being the biggest jackass of all time, and that now that you were back, the two of you could pick up right where things left off.” Terry could be the biggest smartass on the planet. “I told you then that you were being a jerk.”

“You were sixteen. Everyone was a jerk then.”

“Maybe,” Terry conceded. “But I was still right, and you know it. That job that started this whole thing was just an excuse because you were scared of all the things Pat wanted, and by the way, he has and you don’t. I still see him every now and then.”

“Does he talk to you?” Edge asked.

“Of course he does. I’m not the douche who left him. That was you. I’m just your sister, and that daughter of his is beautiful and wonderfully smart. I used to see them more than I do now that they moved.” She was taunting him—it was another of her skills.

“How come you know all this and I don’t?”

“Maybe because I still live in Harrisburg and you moved to Boston nine years ago and never looked back until everything went to shit and you decided to come home.”

Edge wanted to growl at her, but he couldn’t because she was right, no matter how much attitude she threw his way. “Can you knock it off for a few seconds at least?”

“Fine, but what fun is that? You still have feelings for the guy you ran out on years ago, probably when he needed you the most. Edge, I gotta tell you that if you did that to me, I’d probably tell you to fuck off too. I mean, it has been nine years, as I said. He has a life that doesn’t include you. What did you expect, that he’d spent the entire time you were gone wishing he had you back? Come on. You’re an interesting guy, but nobody waits around for someone that long.”

“Okay,” Edge sighed. “But it was good seeing him again. He looks good, and—”

“So you’re the one still carrying the torch. That’s priceless and pathetic. You were the guy who left, remember?” A cry rose behind her. “Look, I gotta go. Margie needs to be changed and fed, and I think you need to get over yourself and realize that the past is that past and that it’s probably best if it stays there. I know things fell apart, but you have a good job here, and you’re building a life again. You just need to realize that your life isn’t going to include Pat.”

That was harder than Edge thought it would be. He’d had nine years, and even after all the things he’d done and the places he’d been for his art, none of them had ever measured up to what he’d had with Pat. Edge knew he’d screwed up in a major way, though it had taken him months to realize it, and by then he knew it was way too damn late. “I know, but seeing him brought back all that stuff I thought I’d buried.”

“Nothing is ever buried for long. It always surfaces, and when it does you have to deal with it. Buried emotions are like those coffins that floated up in New Orleans during Katrina.”

“Thanks for that image. Now I’m going to see floating coffins.” He paused and closed his eyes as the images floated through his mind. “I’ll let you go.” His sister would need to get the kids ready for daycare.

andrew-grey-picmeet the author

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Page

Dreamspinner Press

Facebook

Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey

Goodreads

Twitter @andrewgreybooks

Website

 

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Inheritance by Sean Michael: Release Day Review

inheritamcesynopsis

Cash McCord’s life is pretty much perfect. He owns the family ranch, loves his work, and invites the occasional cowboy into his bed. But everything is turned upside down when his brother Jack and Jack’s wife Val are killed in a car crash, leaving behind six kids.

Cash is made guardian of the children, along with Val’s brother, Brad Rafferty—a man who couldn’t be more different from Cash if he tried. A Yankee, Brad is a video-game developer who works twelve-to-fourteen-hour days at his desk. They lock horns as soon as they set eyes on each other. Neither man is happy to have the other around, but neither is willing to give up custody of his nieces and nephews.

It’s up to these two polar opposites to keep the kids together and give them a family again. But first they’ll have to keep from killing each other.

First Edition published as Inheritance in Family Matters by Torquere Press, 2008.
Second Edition published by Torquere Press, 2013.

Title: Inheritance
Author: Sean Michael
Release Date: February 1, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 80

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jennifer

Ok, so I’m pretty sure Cash is the one who lost his brother Jack and Brad lost his sister Val. I kept getting who was related to whom mixed up, but by the end, I think that was it…So, both passed away in a car accident and left six children behind. I couldn’t imagine, how sad. Fortunately, they both had brothers who they wanted to care for them. They were as opposite as night and day, but it was what their siblings wanted and they didn’t want to be without the kids, so they saddled up and dealt with it as best they could. Sure… it went to blows once or twice and they fought about it quite a bit. Cash wanting to go back to his land, his farm and continue his life and Brad wanted to stay in the home the kids’ parents left to them.

Then, in the midst of arguing and fighting about where to live and when to go, they start hookin up…. Literally every few pages is hot steamy time and I’ll admit, I did start to skim after a bit….which is rare to me, because the steamy part is the best, right? I couldn’t get over the dialogue though… All the “buddies” and the “man”. I’d never call someone buddy in the middle of sex lol, maybe cuz I’m a Midwestern?? I’m not sure… It just never clicked with me though…

Once the guys finally got a routine going, Brad’s mom shows up and makes trouble. Then she makes a lot of trouble and she’s just a nasty, terrible person. Prejudice because she doesn’t feel like 2 men should raise a family and off pouting because she didn’t get asked to be the one to raise the kids, in the will….She’s just a bitter ol’ nasty woman and I was glad that in the end they took the kids away to the farm and got her out of their life. At least, that’s what I hope happened because kids being around someone like that, learning that terrible behavior…. I’da hated that for them, because they all loved their uncle’s Cash and Brad. They were good for them.

I would have liked to have seen the Granny get a little karmatic justice, but meh…. I was content with the way the things ended and of course, I love me a HEA… and everyone ended up happy and healthy and together. Can’t ask for more than that, can we?

Overall, a pretty good read…the only problems I had were my own personal preferences…they in no way took away from this story at all in any other way…Sean Michael has a knack for writing mannies and stories with kids. Can’t wait to read more!

4 pieces of eye candy for me.

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deanna review

Great story, it pulled me in from the beginning and I read it in one sitting.

Cash and Brad inherit custody of their 6 young nieces and nephews when their parents are killed in a car accident. The only stipulation to the will is that Cash and Brad raise the kids together. Cash is a rancher from Texas and Brad is a video game developer, they really don’t have a lot in common except for the kids.

Brad and Cash fumble along trying to keep the kid’s lives as normal as possible while trying to get to know each other and figure out what the future holds. Cash wants to move everyone to his ranch in Texas. Brad balks at the idea at first not wanting to uproot the kids from the only place they’ve ever know. As Cash and Brad get to know each other better they begin to build the foundation for what they hope will be a relationship that far outlasts the raising of children.

Brad’s mother tries to interfere with how he and Cash are raising the kids and Brad starts to rethink Texas. Just maybe a new start on a sprawling ranch is just what everyone needs.

This was a great read, the story was just deep enough to feel for all the characters without getting lost in the grief that might have overshadowed the story. At some points the scenes were chaotic but raising six kids will be like that and made it seem authentic.

The one strange point for me was that Brad’s sister had me been married to Cash’s brother for well over 13 years yet neither Brad nor Cash knew the other was gay. How is that possible?

The unexpected villain was grandmommy dearest. I was expecting a more climactic conclusion to the storyline. I didn’t think she would have given up where her character did in the story. I kept waiting for her to pop back up in Texas.

Overall, a very entertaining read but then again Sean Michael’s books usually are.

3.5 pieces of eye candy

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Perfect Catch by N.R. Walker: Quick Review

perfect catchsynopsis

Calvin Lynch and Troy Hoffman have been best mates since they were fourteen years old. They’re both hard-working tradesmen, both love weekends away fishing, both gay, but have never been single at the same time. Until now.
What is supposed to be a weekend away fishing with a group of mates, changes at the last minute when friends bail out in an attempt to give Cal and Troy some alone time.
With more than just hooks on the line, can these two see what’s been right in front of them the whole time?
The Perfect Catch is a short story about falling for your best friend hook, line, and sinker.

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jennifer

Sigh…. I just love every single thing I’ve ever read by this author…

Cal and Troy have been best friends since they were teenagers. Having feelings for one another but to worried about ruining their friendship, neither of them wanted to say anything. Sure, there were times when both of them wanted to say something, but it never seemed like the right time. Now, Cal and Troy and a couple of their other friends a camping trip to just get away for a while.

 
Both of them are finally single at the same time and their friends use that as an excuse to get them alone together for the weekend. Seems like everyone realizes how they feel about each other, except each other…. So, at the scheming of the friends, they set off on their fishing weekend alone together.

It starts out just the same as I suspect every other trip goes; they hang out, fish, camp and all that… but then one notices the way the other looks at him and thinks, hmmm.. maybe our friends are right… They joke back and forth about hookin’ up, like guys do, but suddenly there’s a seriousness along with it… THEN, a night in the tent together proves to tempting to not try…

Of course, when they come back, some doubt and worries have things awkward for a time, but everything works out in the end; they’re too cute together not to.

 
I’m such a sucker for a HEA and these guys got a good one. Best friends to lovers is the best. I could have read pages and pages more about these two, and when they finally get together… shew! Hot!

 
4 pieces of eye candy for me 🙂

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A Coal Miner’s Son by T.A. Chase: Release Day Review

coalsynopsisJames Callahan is the only son of Nicholas Callahan, owner of the Willow Hollow mine in West Virginia—but he’s never considered himself any better than the miners. He’s best friends with Owain Rees, one of the miners’ kids, and he’s been attracted to Cai, Owain’s older brother, for years. James gets the feeling he might not be the only one sensing the tension between them, but Cai avoids him religiously.

Cai has been working the mine since he was sixteen. He acknowledges James is cute, but he’s grown up privileged while Cai’s family has always been working class, and Cai fears that chasm is too wide to cross. When family drama pushes them together, will Cai and James see they’re more alike than they realized?

Take a leap of faith as two men from different worlds, employer and employee, rich and poor, discover that love transcends social barriers.

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

Title: A Coal Miner’s Son
Author: T.A. Chase
Release Date: January 4, 2017
Category: Contemporary, States of Love
Pages: 107

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jennifer
Owain and James have been friends for as long as they can remember.
James’s Dad ownes the Willow Hollow mines that the little town in West Virgina sit in.
James has always had a crush on Owians brother Cai but, Cai never gave him the time of day because just like a lot of other people in the town; they thought James was like his father….

Let’s talk about James’ father. He was pompous and self-important, I didn’t care for him at all and I was glad James stood up to him about the things that we’re important.

We have other stories going on within the story; like Cai and Owain’s sister leaving her husband who was a drunk and physically violent, so they were dealing with that. That’s actually what helped Cai get over his aversion to dating the boss’s son. Then, we have their sister, who honestly, is another weird spelled name and I don’t remember it; but she’s going to school to be a doctor and the town pitches in to keep her in school, because they know she’ll come back and the town will finally have a doctor. Not many know that James is a big contributor to her though; and the rest of the town, even though they’d probably not like knowing that he buys groceries for the small town and helps them out with things they need.

He’s a genuinely nice guy and he has the means to help. I wish the town would have been more appreciative. I did like the small town feel of this story though, living in a ridiculously small town, I really enjoy the concept of the town being more like a family and everyone helping everyone. I like that Cai and James didn’t hide their relationship once they got together and for the most part people seemed accepting. I liked how James thought about the miners and their families and was good to everyone. He was truly a really nice guy.

This book is a different read than what I’m used to, but I’m glad I gave it a chance. If you’re looking for a low angst book with a “FINALLY” type of relationship lol, you’ll enjoy this book.

 
4 pieces of eye candy for me

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Love and Snowball Fights by J.R. Loveless: Quick Review

love

synopsis

Lane Freeman supposed there were worse places to be dumped than a place named Christmas Valley. After being ejected from the foster care system, he spent the past five years hitchhiking and moving around. But six months of a steady job at Tal’s Bar and Grill, an apartment, and even a three-legged cat have him almost ready to risk putting down a few roots when Tal’s brother comes home for the holidays.

Dallas firefighter Trey Jenkins reluctantly accepts that Lane isn’t like the other drifters who’ve come through his brother’s place. A fragile attraction begins to bloom between them in spite of the many reasons they each have to fight it. Trey wants to give Lane a family, but experience has taught Lane to depend on no one but himself. Will winter love burn hot in the town called Christmas Valley or will Lane return to his wandering ways?

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deanna review

I really enjoyed this one, J R Loveless is a new author to me and I wasn’t disappointed.

Lane is extremely shy, almost painfully so. His parents died when he was 15 and he bounced around from foster home to foster home until he was 18. Then he roamed from place to place never allowing anyone close, until he lands in Christmas Valley.

Lane starts working at a restaurant as a bus boy and slowly the owner, Tal earns his trust. Then Lane finds a cat and before you know it, he’s put down some roots. He’s still extremely quiet and uncomfortable around strangers, but he’s taking care of himself.

Then Lane meets Trey, Tal’s brother who can only be described as rude. Trey is so used to Tal being taken in by a sad story and then being hurt when someone steals from him that he assumes Lane is doing the same thing. Without giving Lane a chance, Trey warns him about hurting Tal. Lane is so upset by the confrontation that he begins planning his escape from Christmas Valley and Trey.

Tal finally corners Trey and explains just how bad a life Lane had before coming to Christmas Valley. The story has Trey looking at Lane in a new light and he knows he has to do everything he can to repair the tenuous relationship he has with the skittish man.

As the two work together in the restaurant, Lane becomes more comfortable in Trey’s presence. A huge snowstorm leaves Lane and Trey snowed in together and Lane realizes that he’s fighting a losing battle trying to keep him feelings for Trey at bay. Trey only has until the snow melts to prove to Lane that he’s worth the gamble.

Great holiday read. I love stories with strong characters that don’t realize how strong they are. Lane is as strong as they come, but he didn’t realize it about himself. Trey may be physically stronger, but Lane is an emotional fortress.

If ever there was someone that deserved a happily ever after its Lane. I. So glad he got it.

J R Loveless is a new author to me, but I am definitely going to read a few more. Very enjoyable story, great scenery and characters.

4 pieces of eye candy

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The Virgin Manny by Amy Lane: Release Day Review

virginsynopsisGrowing up and falling in love…

Sometimes family is a blessing and a curse. When Tino Robbins is roped into helping his sister deliver her premade Italian dinners when he should be studying for finals, he’s pretty sure it’s the latter! But one delivery might change everything.

Channing Lowell’s charmed life changes when his sister dies and leaves him her seven-year-old son. He’s committed to doing what’s best for Sammy… but he’s going to need a lot of help. When Tino lands on his porch, Channing is determined to recruit him to Team Sammy.

Tino plans to make his education count—even if that means avoiding a relationship—but as he falls harder and harder for his boss, he starts to wonder: Does he have to leave his newly forged family behind in order to live his promising tomorrow?

Title: The Virgin Manny
Series: The Mannies
Author: Amy Lane
Release Date: January 1, 2016
Category: Contemporary, Dreamspun Desires
Pages: 228

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denise review

One of my favorite romance tropes is the virgin. It totally takes me back to the Harlequin romances I read as a teenager, that were “oh so dirty” at that time, and I had to read under the covers with a flashlight.

Amy Lane‘s version, the Virgin Manny is such a fantastic entry with this trope. Tino is such a family man, really doing everything he can to make his family proud of him, helping whenever he can, and graduating college was so important to him. Finding a way to do it debt free was not in his plans, but when Channing steps in to request help, Tino finds the offer to good to refuse.

Seeing their relationship grow, and seeing Tino realize that “life is what happens” when all your plans are just that, plans, allows him to become an even more solid presence for his family, as well as Channing and his nephew. Even as he sees plans for family members change, he wrestles with change, but still is able to focus on the important things in life.

Tino’s family was great. I loved them all. And the “bad person”…totally gets what is deserved. THAT is a happy ending. 😉

4 pieces of eye candy

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This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

Add Love and Mix by Sean Michael: Quick Review

513ixfwi0jlsynopsisFirefighter Jason “Jase” Weller and EMT Scott Bronson are living the perfect life. They work together in jobs they love, they live together, and in their downtime, they still can’t get enough of each other. It’s been six amazing years. Then on Christmas Eve, Jase’s former lover Elsa shows up with a six-year-old girl in tow. The strung-out junkie claims Kerry is Jase’s daughter and it’s his turn to care for her, and then she walks out.

Shocked at both the fact that Elsa is now a junkie and that he has a daughter he never knew about, Jase nonetheless steps up to the plate as her father and Scott offers his full support. Having an instant family comes with plenty of challenges, and the two men work to deal with sweeping changes in their lives and to make things right for Kerry.

It’s not going to be easy, and their new circumstances test them and their relationship like nothing ever has. They’ll need all the love they have for each other, and the love they discover for their daughter, to keep from breaking apart.

 
Title: Add Love and Mix
Author: Sean Michael
Release Date: December 26, 2016
Category: Contemporary, Holiday
Pages: 206
jennifer

I love Sean Michael’s way he writes about daddies and mannies and cute kids that you can’t help but fall in love with. This one was no different.
Jase and Scott have been partners for the last six years. They work together as emergency responders, Jase a firefighter and Scott an EMT, at the same firehouse; working the same shifts and being content just the two of them, happy, together and in love. Everything was perfect for them.
Then, an ex of Jase’s stops by and drops a huge surprise in his lap, in the form of an abused and mistreated daughter; Kerry. Her mother was awful, treated her so badly, it was heartbreaking. She spoke to her and about her in the worst way and it showed in everything Kerry done. Jase had no idea she even existed or he would have done all he could to save her, and jeeeez, had it been me, it would have weighed heavily on me, all the years that she’d been mistreated. It was incredibly sad.

 
Together though, Scott and Jase tried to give her normal and happy. They worked therselved to the bone to do right by her and to get her to understand that they loved her and that they weren’t going to do anything to hurt her or leave her like her mother did. Half of me expected the whole time for her mother to come back and try to get her back to sell her or something, but thankfully; she doesn’t.
It’s tough though, the guys are doing everything that they can to do what they need to do to ensure that this little girl is taken care of and safe and Scott starts to feel a little cornered, a little but like he’s doing all this stuff because he has to and I hated to see that. I could see where he was coming from especially about the marriage and the proposal at first. That would have hurt my feelings so bad. I could see where he’d feel like, just someone fitted in just because things needed to be done. That wasn’t the way it was, by no means; you can tell how much these two love each other throughout the whole thing, their chemistry and adoration they showed was apparent, but I could see where it might feel like that, due to the circumstance and timing of everything.

 
So, it wasn’t an easy road. Things got pretty hard for a while, luckily, they both had amazing, supportive, helpful parents who were there to help at every turn. Everyone pitched in and helped and loved Kerry the minute they met her and it didn’t take long for Kerry to turn into a happy, healthy little girl with two loving daddies and some amazing grandparents; even if she did take things out on Scott for a time. That was hard to read too, I hated it for him, especially because he had done so much and sacrificed and turned his life upside down to do everything he could for her and Jase and I’m sure it would have felt like a slap in the face.

 
In the end though, it all worked out. Love usually does, in the end, doesn’t it? It was an incredibly sweet, low angst, happily ended story and I wouldn’t mind reading more about this couple and their sweet little girl if another one were to happen to come out lol, but if not, it ended perfectly happy and I was pleased with the way it turned out for them.

 
If you like hot guys with cute kids…. Check this one out, this author does them best!

 
4 pieces of eye candy, from me!

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12 Days of Kissmas: Charlie Cochet

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TCO is so excited to bring you 12 Days of Kissmas. We have 12 of your favorite authors ahead over the coming days, bringing you beautiful pictures of men kissing that the authors have chosen themselves, along with exclusive posts, excerpts, and giveaways. The idea sprang from a conversation with an author that just turned into a “what if…”, and when I started asking a few authors, they immediately said they were in. Make sure you enter the giveaways, as there are lots of them! Thanks for stopping by, and a HUGE thank you to all the authors for their generosity, and loving spirit. Happy Holidays to everyone!

 

Guest Post

ccochetjackrudyHello, all! Hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season! I’m so happy to be here joining in on the 12 Days of Kissmas event! For my picture, I decided to doodle a little something myself. Back for the release of The Heart of Frost, I drew a holiday kiss between Jack and Rudy. I had so much fun with it that I decided this would be a great opportunity to draw another one. This year we have Calder and Donner’s story: Disarming Donner, so I decided to draw their kiss.

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Kisses in the North Pole City Tales series range from innocent and sweet, to explosive and passionate. Hey, even Christmas elves need a little lovin’. There’s nothing I love more than writing that first kiss between characters who’ve been trying so darn hard to stay away from each other, whether they’re enemies to lovers, second chances, or friends to lovers, there’s always some hesitancy, some reason why they shouldn’t, and when they do, ready the fire extinguishers!

In Disarming Donner, Calder is a Dockalfar—dark elf. He’s dangerous, wields dark magic, and is feared. The Dockalfar are not romantic by nature. The males don’t couple with other males, and the majority have no interest in being loved. Calder is not like most Dockalfar. He has no desire to be feared. Ever since he was a tiny elfling, he’s wanted nothing more than to be loved, but who outside his own kind could possibly love a Dockalfar? He’s resigned to living his life without love. And then he meets Donner, a prim and proper Christmas elf with lavender eyes who plays beautiful music and finds Calder absolutely scandalous. What could possibly go right?

 

disarmingdonner300synopsis

As a beloved Rein Dear and Christmas elf for Mayor Kringle, Donner prides himself on his flawless reputation, good sense, and wise decisions. Donner never does anything until he’s thought it through properly. He’s certainly not one to get flustered, infuriated, or fall prey to romantic nonsense. At least not until the most unlikely of elves begins chipping away at Donner’s defenses.

Calder is a Dockalfar—a dark elf. He’s wicked, untrustworthy, and armed with lethal magic. At least that’s what everyone thinks. It’s easy for them to believe the worst and mistrust him before they’ve even spoken to him, but Calder is out to prove that he’s more than his Dockalfar blood, especially to a certain Rein Dear who has caught his eye. But it will take more than sweet words for Donner to admit what’s in his heart.

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denise review

So, I have read most of Charlie Cochet’s work (in some cases, MULTIPLE times) and yet, I realized I haven’t read even one of her holiday novellas, so Disarming Donner was the first. And, as I expected, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Donner tried so hard to be stand-offish and proper, looking down on Calder, because he was a Dockalfar, and Calder’s brother hurt his good friend. However, as he saw the softer side, the romantic and loving side of Calder, his heart melted (which may or may not be a good thing in North Pole City! J). And when Calder needed help, Donner stepped right up to help him, and found a little more reason to appreciate Calder.

Calder meanwhile, a sweet, romantic Dockalfar immediately found a connection with Donner, and pressed his romantic attention gently and sweetly. He was gentle and loving to Donner, as well as all the reactions he received from the townspeople, showing how much he merely wanted to be accepted and loved.

Another winner by Charlie, and now I can’t wait to go back and read all the others in this series.

4 pieces of eye candy

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meet the author

charlie_cochet_by_madison_parkerCharlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Website | THIRDS HQ | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram | Newsletter | DSP |Amazon |Goodreads

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The Next Competitor by Keira Andrews: Quick Review and Excerpt

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synopsis

If he risks his heart, can he keep his head in the game?

To win gold, figure skater Alex Grady must train harder than the competition morning, noon, and night. He’s obsessed with mastering another quadruple jump, and due to the lack of filter between his mouth and brain, doesn’t have a lot of friends. As for a boyfriend, forget it. So what if he’s still a virgin at twenty? The Olympics are only every four years—everything else can wait. Relationships are messy and complicated anyway, and he has zero room in his life for romance.

So it’s ridiculous when Alex finds himself checking out his boring new training mate Matt Savelli. Calm, collected “Captain Cardboard” is a nice guy, but even if Alex had time to date, Matt’s so not his type. Yet beneath Matt’s wholesome surface, there’s a dirty, sexy man who awakens a desire Alex has never experienced and can’t deny…

Note: This gay romance from Keira Andrews features opposites attracting, new adult angst, sexual discovery, and of course a happy ending.

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Heather's Review

When I saw Keira Andrews had a new book coming out, and it was a pair of figure skaters, I might’ve gotten just a little excited! And for the most part, my expectations were met or exceeded.

What worked:
Two very different personalities. While Alex is laser-focused on winning Olympic gold, Matt has a much more laid-back approach, even before a horrible accident forces him to change his track. In the end, the two of them balanced each other well.

The journey. As I was reading, I found myself turning the pages, not only to see the men fall in love, but also to see if their dreams would come true.

The chemistry. These men didn’t instantly fall into bed together. They had to work for it. It was especially intriguing to see Alex go from a socially inept, self-centered elite athlete to giving a damn about other people.

The sex. What was there was awesome. It was hot enough you can feel the connection between these men. Matt managed to get Alex to relax, he proved to be as domineering in the bedroom as he was demure outside of it. The only problem was…

What didn’t work:

The sex. Of course, this is only my opinion, but there was a huge missed opportunity in the sex. Alex is strung as tight as he could be, so focused on the sport that he doesn’t know how to let go and live. When he gave into his own desires and Matt started in with the dirty talk, he was putty. It would’ve been great to see more of Matt being a centering force in Alex’s life, starting with forcing him to relax and live out his wildest dreams.

The jargon. Sadly, if The Next Competitor had been written by a new-to-me author, I’d have likely given up on it in the first two chapters. Yes, I was eager to read about two figure skaters falling in love, but at least for a while, that took a back seat to a primer in figure skating. It almost felt like she was trying to put in as much as she could about skating to show that she’d done her research.

Too many moving pieces. If I’d tried keeping up with all the different side characters, I’d have gotten a headache. Don’t get me wrong, it’s understandable that there are more than just the two main characters in the book, but there was too much back story about a lot of the side characters and I gave up on trying to remember who went where.

Overall, The Next Competitor was a fun little read. Part of me hopes we might get to see more of Alex and Matt’s story, because when the book ended, their journey was just beginning.

4 pieces of eye candy

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excerpt

After the group finishes dinner, Matt says goodbye as we leave the restaurant. “Where are you going?” I ask before I can stop myself.

“It’s my first time in Philly, and there’s one thing I’ve got to see.”

My mouth opens and out plops, “I want to go with you.”

Matt’s eyebrows shoot up. “You do?”

“Just don’t feel like going back to my room yet.” I shrug, my cheeks hot as all eyes land on me again. “But if you want to go by yourself, it’s totally fine.” Why did I say anything at all?

“No, it’s cool.” Matt smiles, his eyes crinkling. “Come on.”

We turn in the other direction from the hotel after Mylene, who is giggling delightedly for some reason, waves goodbye. Night has fallen and the air has a frosty bite to it that reminds me winter isn’t far away, which means the Olympics aren’t far away either. We walk along in silence for a bit until I have to say something to break it.

“So, which sight is it?”

Matt zips up his jacket and puts his hands in his pockets. “You can’t guess?”

I think about what Philly is famous for. “The Liberty Bell?”

“Nope.”

“Some memorial to Ben Franklin?”

“Guess again.”

“The cheesesteak museum?”

Matt laughs. “Seriously? They have a cheesesteak museum?”

I laugh too, warmth flowing through me. “I have no idea. If they don’t, they should.”

We pass a big fountain, walking through a park in the center of a wide, looping street, an imposing building in the distance. As we get closer, it hits me. “Wait, wait. Is this the Rocky thing?”

Grinning, Matt nods and points to the building. “Philadelphia Museum of Art, featuring the famous seventy-two steps Rocky Balboa ran up in the movie.”

“You a big Stallone fan?” I’m a bit surprised.

“Not really, but who doesn’t love that moment? Come on, it’s classic.”

“I’ll give you that.”

We keep walking toward the museum, which is lit dramatically. I hardly ever visit any sights when I’m traveling for competitions, so it’s a nice change seeing some of Philadelphia. A little voice still nags, saying that I should be resting and getting ready for my long program tomorrow.

Matt says, “My dad loves that movie. We used to watch it together when I was a kid, and it was like… I don’t know. Like it helped us relate to each other. He’s a plumber from a big conservative Italian family in Richmond Hill—you know, a bit north of the rink? Anyway, we don’t really have that much in common. It’s tough these days.”

He sounds forlorn, and I have to shove my hands in my pockets to keep from reaching out to touch his arm. Maybe things aren’t as perfect in Matt’s life as I thought.

I clear my throat. “I got lucky with my father. He’s always been pretty liberal. He was a hippie or whatever back in the day. We can talk about anything.”

“How does he feel about you skating?”

“Aside from not loving how expensive it is, he’s all for it.”

“My dad didn’t like me skating when I was younger. At all. I actually only started to improve my hockey skills, but soon hockey fell by the wayside. I don’t know if he’s ever forgiven me.” Matt’s laugh is strained.

“I’m sorry he’s not more supportive. That must be so hard.”

Looking both ways, we jog across the street to the museum, and Matt shakes his head. “Now that I’m doing so well, I think he’s happy. I’m sure he is. Well, I hope so. Besides, he’s worked his ass off for years to pay for it, so it’s not that he wasn’t supportive in that way. He totally was.”

“Totally,” I agree. Clearly Matt’s got a few conflicting feelings about his dear old dad.

“Still, I think deep down he’d much rather have some stereotypically macho, hockey-playing son rather than a figure skater.”

I’m not sure what to say, so I make an “mmm” noise to show I’m listening. I didn’t know Matt could talk this much in a row.

“I just wish he could love me for who I am. I’ve always tried so hard to make him proud, but I don’t know if he’ll ever accept a gay son.” Matt shakes his head and laughs. “God, sorry. I don’t know how this became a therapy session.”

“No, it’s okay. I don’t mind.” Wow, Matt Savelli has angst. He always seems so together and unruffled, but perhaps he’s not made of cardboard after all. And I knew my trusty gaydar was on the money. It shouldn’t send a thrill down my spine to hear Matt confirm it, but…

“You’re a surprisingly good listener.”

“Thank you? I think?”

His eyes crinkle in the glow of the street lamps. “No, no, I didn’t mean it like that. What I meant was… It’s been nice getting to know you better.”

“Yeah, you too.” My stomach somersaults again, my fingers tingling.

At the middle of the wide, empty stairway we stand at the bottom of the steps, peering up. I whistle. “Wow. That’s a lot of stairs.”

“Bet I can beat you up there.”

I do love a challenge. “No way, no day.”

Suddenly, Matt’s off and running, and I curse under my breath as I launch after him. He’s faster than I thought, and although I close most of the distance, he remains a stride above me as we power our way up the steps. My breath comes in bursts that fog up the chilly air, and I strain to catch up with him. We pass a few people who are coming down, and they applaud as we race by.

I manage to pull up, and we’re neck and neck as we take the last steps. We reach the top in stride, and Matt lets out a whoop of joy, raising his arms in the air and dancing in a circle. I join in, because that’s what you do when you run up the Rocky steps. I’ve never seen him so animated. Well, except for when he’s irritated with me.

We take in the amazing view of the city. Skyscrapers rise in the distance, and before us is the huge oval area we walked across surrounded by the road, with trees and grass and a statue of a guy on a horse I barely noticed passing because Matt was talking.

We jump around like idiots, working up more of a sweat than we did on the stairs, which weren’t actually that hard. Matt leans his hands on his knees, and I reach out to give his shoulder a friendly punch, but my palm just rests there instead.

A shock bolts through me, like I’ve just touched a metal doorknob in winter. We’re both breathing a little hard, and Matt gives me this long look that makes me want to throw him down right here and now and do things that would get us arrested and kicked off our national teams.

He stands up straight and my hand falls away as he steps closer. His voice is low. “Thanks for coming up here with me. It was way more fun than doing it by myself.”

All I can think of is something else that is way more fun to do with someone else—not that I’d know from personal experience—and I swallow hard, my throat suddenly dry. I manage to get out, “Sure.” My pulse thrums in my ears, and it’s not because of the running and jumping.

We lean toward each other. I’m staring at his thick lips as he licks them, and I am so turned on right now, imagining what those lips will feel like on mine, and how Matt’s hands and body—

“Hurry up!”

Matt and I leap apart as a little boy hurtles over the top of the steps. His parents and a few siblings follow, huffing and puffing from their climb. The parents say hello to us and we reply, and I’m glad it’s dark, because I know I’m blushing like crazy.

The father asks us to take their photo, and Matt does, telling them to smile. He gives the phone back, and we stand there awkwardly for a few moments. I clear my throat. “Actually, want to take a pic of me so I can Instagram it?”

“Sure.” He takes my phone, and I raise my hands over my head triumphantly with a big competition smile. It’s dark, but hopefully there’s enough ambient light since a flash will just make it look like shit.

I reach for my phone back, but he says, “Wait a sec.” Coming close, he puts a big hand on my shoulder, spinning me to face away from the museum as my heart thumps. He says, “I’ll get you from behind.”

Of course I practically choke on my tongue, my balls tightening at the thought as I gaze out at the city and try desperately to clear my dirty mind. Matt laughs awkwardly. “Um, you know what I mean.”

“Uh-huh.” I raise my arms. “Is this good?”

“Yep!” He sounds too cheerful now.

Once he’s got the picture, I take a few for him. “I guess we should…” I motion to the steps.
Matt nods. “Yeah, it’s getting late.”

It’s barely eight, but I murmur in agreement and start down. We descend side by side, not talking. It would seem weird to try and kiss him now. Or maybe I should stop overanalyzing and kiss him anyway. But wait, do I really want to kiss Matt? I’m not supposed to kiss anyone right now with the Olympics coming up, especially not Captain Cardboard.

But now that I’m actually talking to him, Matt’s different than I thought he was. He’s cool, actually. We haven’t even argued the whole night, and he wanted me to come out with him.

Well, he didn’t argue, and it’s not like I gave him a choice. He would have had to be totally rude to stop me from coming, and he’s too Canadian for that.

My palms sweat. Maybe he doesn’t like me at all. I think he’s cool now that I’ve given him a chance, but what if he thinks I’m a bigger jerk than he did before? And why should I even care?

“Is your family coming this weekend?” Matt’s voice sounds completely calm and normal. Maybe he didn’t really want to kiss me, but was swept up in the whole moment, or something. Or it was all in my imagination and there wasn’t a “moment” at all. I need to get a grip.

“Alex?”

I realize he’s waiting for an answer. “Yeah. They’re driving here tomorrow.”

“What does your mom do?”

I tell him about my mom’s work as an HR consultant, which I’m sure is fascinating for him. His mom’s a teacher, and we talk about that for a while, and before I know it, we’re back in the hotel.

In the elevator, Matt presses the eleventh floor. His hand hovers by the bank of buttons, and he looks at me expectantly. “Fifteen,” I answer.

Matt smiles as he steps off on his floor. “See you around tomorrow. Good luck.”

“See ya. You too.” I’m going for a casual tone and am moderately successful.

The doors close, and that’s it, like nothing happened. Which I guess is true.

Copyright © Keira Andrews

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Wrapped Together by Annabeth Albert: Release Day Review and Blitz, Excerpt and Giveaway

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Title: Wrapped Together

Series: Portland Heat #5

Author: Annabeth Albert

Publisher: Kensington Books

Release Date: December 6

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 35,000 words

Genre: Romance, contemporary, friends-to-lovers

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Wrapped-Together

synopsis

In the bustling restaurants, shops, and cafés of Portland, Oregon, things really heat up for the hard-working men behind the scenes when the holidays come into town . . .

For a stationery store owner, the holidays are great for business. But for Hollis Alcott, Christmas reminds him of the tragic events of three years past, and the last thing he wants to do is take part in Portland’s over-abundance of festive cheer. But Sawyer Murphy, a hunky gift shop owner whose brother is married to Hollis’s sister, has made it his mission to pluck Hollis out of his holiday blues. And his plan is beginning to work. Wrapped in the warm glow of newfound passion, the former business rivals hit up Portland’s finest holiday traditions—and Hollis’s icy attitude begins to melt like snowflakes on his tongue. But he isn’t sure he can trust anyone with the only gift he has—his heart—without breaking it like an antique ornament. Unless he can find the courage to take a leap with the one lover he never expected . . .

excerpt

This excerpt comes from chapter one of WRAPPED TOGETHER, when Hollis and his long-time frenemy Sawyer engage in a friendly bet sure to put their holiday cheer to the test!

****

I took a sip of my now tepid, almost-gone tea. Ugh. The good barista was on duty, the one who went with Ev from the knitting store and who always happily made my tea with the same care he did the fancy coffee drinks. I left the group, happy to have the excuse of needing a refill, but as I stood in line, Mary Anne joined me.

“Hollis Alcott, we almost never see you at these things!” Her voice seemed to ring out above the din. “Will you be participating in the contest this year?”

“I doubt it. My fall display is already set.” I tried not to sound too dour—she always had the best houseplants and had custom-ordered the rare fern I’d wanted.

“Ah, well, that’s too bad. You let me know if you change your mind. I’d be happy to lend you some poinsettias or other decor. I know you could do a splendid, tasteful window.”

It was my turn to order, so I gave her a smile as a reply before handing Brady my stainless-steel tumbler for tea and ordering a scone to go. I had to wait down at the other end of the bar for my order, and as I was waiting, Sawyer came loping over, a smile on his boyish face. His wide shoulders stretched the hoodie in distracting ways.

“Hollis! Did I hear you say you’re not decorating?”

“You did.”

He frowned. “I know how much you hate the holidays, but I bet you’d get an uptick in sales if you decorated. I heard Mary Anne offer to help. I could, too. I’ve got gobs of lights.”

“Thank you but no.” Truth be told, I could use the increase in sales, but it wasn’t enough of a motivator to get me ready for the onslaught of red and green.

Sawyer’s head tilted, considering. Oh no. I knew that look too well. A Sawyer who was scheming was downright dangerous. “We should bet, you and I.”

“No,” I said firmly. I stepped away from the coffee bar to let Mary Anne and others wait for their orders, but Sawyer kept step with me, effectively pinning me in between two tables on my path to the door. I sighed and repeated my objection. “No. The last time we bet, I believe you cracked a wrist.”

Sawyer waved a hand, dismissing my concern. “We were fifteen. We’ve had other bets since then.”

We had, but there was one in particular I was determined not to remember right at that moment. This was the peril of having known someone for almost two decades. “How precisely would one even bet on this?”

I let my inner musings escape before I could rein them in, and Sawyer smiled. He knew he had me. Whatever nervousness and shyness captured my tongue around large groups did not, unfortunately, extend to Sawyer. “Well, I was thinking whichever of us makes it into the top three is the winner of our bet, and then the loser has to do whatever the winner wants for an evening.”

Oh, I did not like this. “Anything?”

“That wasn’t a no.” Sawyer’s grin showed the sort of charm that made him so darn popular. “And I wasn’t thinking of something kinky. Trust me here, Hols.”

“Don’t call me that.” And I most certainly did not trust him. I was pretty sure the always-affable Sawyer didn’t have a kinky bone in his body, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t up to something. “But I could get you to do any task of my choosing?”

See, the thing about me that Sawyer knew was that I have a very hard time resisting a bet. Always have, hence the aforementioned bet freshman year of high school about jumping over auditorium seats during drama class. I’m also notoriously cheap. And as it turned out, I did have a job for him.

He nodded. “Anything.”

“I have a bathroom I want painted at my store. Including the trim.”

Sawyer, to his credit, didn’t look remotely pained. “That’s fine. I’m good at painting.”

“And you? What would you want?” I had no idea why I was asking. I certainly wasn’t planning on agreeing to this ridiculous plan.

“A surprise.” He winked at me.

“I don’t like those.”

“I know. Which is why you need one. But if it makes you feel better, I’ll specify no sex or nudity involved.” Sawyer had mercifully dropped his deep, clear voice to softer tones. I still bristled at the thought of anyone overhearing this.

“Or humiliation, public or otherwise.”

“Oh, Hollis, you know me better than that.” He held up his hands. They were big, capable hands, and I had to blink to get my eyes to look away. “Now, come on. I dare you. Bet me.”

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jennifer
Sawyer and Hollis…. Let’s chat about them, shall we?

 
Okay, Hollis, I wasn’t so sure about in the beginning. He’s a real “glass-half-empty” kind of guy. It was kind of annoying in the beginning because I just wanted to be like… NOT EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE! Knock it off! Lol but, he great on me, once he started opening up a bit more and not taking everything so seriously.

 
Sawyer was his exact opposite, he’s more of a glass-half-full, kind of guy and he just wanted to break Hollis out of that tough nut that was so hard to crack. However, to get Hollis out of his “Bah-Humbug” type tude for the holiday’s, Sawyer drums up a bet that ends up getting pretty steamy when it comes to collecting on it. The kicker? Even though Hollis never recovered from losing important people in his life, he seems to keep his feelings all wrapped up tight, he’s been in love with Sawyer.

 
Doesn’t that just suck? Unrequited love or not so unrequited in this case, but secret love? Sigh…. I found myself rootin for them the whole time. Especially once we get to see a more vulnerable side to Hollis. I will say that, this is the first book of this series that I’ve read and I can’t believe I started out with the 5th one; it didn’t take anything away from anything though, I wasn’t lost or confused, so I’m assuming it’s okay to be a standalone.
And even more happy to report that there is no cliffhanger and it has a cute little HEA.

 
I really enjoyed this one and it’s right on time for the holidays.

 
I was given a copy of this book by the publisher for the promise of an honest and unbiased review. Anyone who knows me or reads my reviews, knows that all my reviews/rant are honest and unbiased, so take my word for it; if you want a little feel good, Christmassy read; don’t pass this one up.
If you’ve read anything by this author, you know you won’t be disappointed.

 
4 pieces of eye candy for me

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meet the author

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open— no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.
Represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency

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