Dear Santa, Dear Dad – T. J. Masters

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“I know my last request is the hardest one of all, and I am sorry for asking, but I wish I had a dad who loved me.”

 

In a word: Don’t read the thing. This one wasn’t really all that good. For a story that had the potential to be very emotional, it was pretty damn bland. The main character, and the narrator, is Steven, who is taking a surprise Christmas trip to the north of England to see the gay son he pretty much cut out of his life years before. This could’ve been so much better than it was. There’s just no emotion in the whole thing. Steven’s son Andy is initially angry when Steven first shows up, but that doesn’t last very long. And the reconciliation between the two of them had them in tears at different points, but it was written very matter of fact. Also a lot of the time it felt like I was reading a condensed version of a longer story. We don’t actually get to know much of Andy, or his partner Peter, and what we do find out is filtered through Steven’s distanced narration and then made uninteresting. If you turn your brain off it’s a nice little redemption story, but it really feels like there’s something missing. Like I said, I don’t think it’s emotional enough for the subject matter, and what emotions were there didn’t really ring true. Also I felt like Andy forgave his father too quickly considering Steven’s behaviour. It’s an interesting premise for a story, but the execution is faulty and I can’t really recommend it.

 

[available for purchase from Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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A Present in Swaddling Clothes – Andrew Grey

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“In other areas of their lives, they did most everything together, and the thought of doing anything major without Sammy hurt, and raising a child, even for a short period of time, was definitely major.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing? I can’t really figure out how I feel about this one. On the one hand, it’s a bittersweet story about a man coming to terms with the possibility that he may have to raise his baby niece, which I was expecting when I started reading. On the other hand, it’s a lot darker than I was expecting. For some reason, I found it really hard to get into the story. I couldn’t connect to any of the characters, or any of the emotions. I liked the dynamic between Josh and Nicky (his sister), but Josh’s relationship with his partner Sammy fell a bit flat for me. But I mostly chalked that up to never really warming up to Sammy. I also felt that the story was a bit too short to fully explore all the events that were happening. Though all the plot threads are technically tied up by the end, it still felt a bit incomplete and that we didn’t really get any concrete answers. Also I felt like the author was trying to shove in a more romantic plot into a story that shouldn’t have been focusing on the romance to begin with. It’s a slightly darker read than I was anticipating, though anything not having to do with the darker elements felt like uninteresting filler. It’s not a bad story, by any means, I just mostly found the execution lacking.

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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What Father Christmas Left – Felicitas Ivey

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“’You don’t have to make up your mind right now,’ I told her. ‘Just… I just wanted to give you options. Although you have parents, they don’t seem to have you.’”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This is a fairly short Christmas fluff story about a reunion between a pair of siblings. It’s a story that’s both sweet and sad in parts, along with some parts that will make you angry. Although two of the three main characters are romantically involved, this is not a romance story. It’s strictly a story about two siblings, Jacob and Pru, reuniting after about 10 years and beginning to build an actual relationship with each other. It’s a simple story, though it isn’t really long enough to have everything fleshed out as much as I’d like, and the ending seems to just happen abruptly, it’s still a good read.

 

[available for purchase at Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, All Romance E-Books, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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The Boy Who Belonged (The Boy #2) – Lisa Henry & J. A. Rock

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“He had Derek, and Derek loved him, and Lane believed that.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This book picks up a few months after where The Good Boy left off, continuing Lane and Derek’s relationship and adding in even more drama with Lane’s family situation. Lane seems to be in a much better place now, but that’s not saying too much since he was in such an awful place for most of the last book. Lane has quite a few issues, and those issues aren’t going to go away just because Lane now has someone to love who loves him back. Lane is still on the road to recovery and, even with his mother interfering and throwing in roadblocks, he’s slowly getting to a place where he can feel comfortable with who he is as a person, and that it’s okay to just be Lane. Derek can’t do this for him, but he is a great help. A lot of this book deals with heavy subject matter, as Lane and Derek’s relationship definitely isn’t an easy one. Luckily, all the heavy angst is broken up by humorous scenes featuring a colourful cast of side characters to lighten things a bit. A colourful cast which includes everyone’s (but Derek) favourite foul-mouth macaw Mr. Zimmerman.

 

[available for purchase at Loose Id, Amazon.ca, and Book Depository]

 

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A Christmas Boyfriend – Trina Solet

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“Hey, Mr Kenney. I need to know where to get a man for Daddy for Christmas.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This one is kinda like a Lifetime Christmas movie: fluffy, sappy, and heartwarming (only with sex you wouldn’t find in a Lifetime Christmas movie), though I kinda expected that. What I wasn’t expecting was how funny it was. Seriously, without Maya this story would just be run of the mill Christmas fluff. Maya makes things a lot more entertaining. The romance kinda fell into the insta-love territory, so I wasn’t really a big fan of that, though Ben and Jason’s interactions before they were officially together were pretty good. It’s really Maya’s character that’s the main draw for me, though. If you aren’t a fan of child characters, even when they aren’t being overly precious and annoying, then you probably won’t like most of A Christmas Boyfriend. It’s a feel-good romance story with very, very minimal angst and no conflict and lots of laughs. Our two leads are pretty standard, but they’re cute together and their no-obstacles relationship makes for a relaxing read. Also it’s a short book so it also makes for a quick read.

 

[available for purchase at All Romance E-Books, Amazon.ca, and Chapters]

 

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Will & Patrick Do the Holidays (Wake Up Married #3) – Leta Blake & Alice Griffiths

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“Will swallows and looks at Patrick with such a soft expression that it makes Patrick’s insides ache. ‘You really care about me.'”

 

In a word: Read the thing! Will and Patrick celebrate their first Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years as newlyweds and it’s about as awkward as you’d expect. Also funny, and heartwarming, and then heartbreaking, because pining. Both Will and Patrick can feel their relationship with each other changing, though they aren’t really sure what to do about it. We finally meet Will’s three younger siblings, though they don’t get much screen time they are a lot of fun (and the oldest takes absolutely no shit from their mother, it’s great). Ryan shows up and continues to be infuriating, but it seems like Will is finally ready to get over him. This part definitely marks a turning point in the boys’ relationship and it introduces more seriousness than it does laughs, but I assure you that Patrick is still a delight to read.

[available for purchase at Amazon.ca, also available in bundles]

 

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