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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Last Mechanic Standing (Wrench Wars #1) – L. A. Witt

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“He cupped Mark’s face and kissed him softly. “But I’ll happily stay in the closet and on this stupid show if it means protecting you.””

 

In a word: Read the thing. I really liked this one, and I can’t wait to get to the rest of the series. The writing was great, as I’ve come to expect from L. A. Witt, and I was instantly sucked into the romance between the two leads. Also there was pining, and I’m always here for that. Chandler and Mark both broke my heart because they were both stuck in this completely shit situation, through no fault of their own, and really only had each other to rely on. Like Mark’s situation with his family was bad enough, but the whole thing with the TV show just made everything even worse. This story was both romantic and angsty, and I loved it. Even better is that it’s told from the point of view of both men, so we get both their takes on the events and their feelings. I really came to feel for Mark and Chandler and I couldn’t help rooting for them and their relationship. The TV people and the other mechanics in the garage made for good villains, especially the ones that got names. Despicable people. I really hope that we get to see more of Mark and Chandler in the future because, as much as I enjoyed the ending, I’d really like to see more of them as a happy couple, finally free to be together.

 

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

 

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Patchwork Paradise – Indra Vaughn

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“My stomach felt tight with confusion. I couldn’t seem to find any peace, torn one minute between missing Thomas and feeling guilty about it the next.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing. So I didn’t like this book as much as I was expecting to, but it was still an okay read. The majority of the first half of the story deals with our narrator and lead, Ollie, dealing with the death of Sam, his fiancé, who he’s been together with since they were 16. That part punched me right in the feels. Ollie’s grief is heartbreaking; he’s mourning the loss of his best friend and first and only love. I quite liked this part. We don’t actually get to know Sam firsthand before his death, but we learn about him through Ollie and we know that the two men were so happy together and it’s awful that Ollie is now forced to be without him. Things started to get a little ‘meh’ for me around the time Ollie’s friends convinced him to start dating again. Then there was a lot of drama with Ollie’s friends about cheating and pining and commitment issues that I didn’t really care about. The part about Thomas, Ollie’s friend who is in love with him (and who Ollie starts falling for in return), discovering that he has a child that needs looking after happened very late in the book and him moving in with Ollie and the two of them finally getting together felt a bit rushed to me, especially with everything else going on at the same time. The pacing was a bit of an issue for me; very little was happening, then a lot of different things were happening and a lot of it was happening off-screen with very little explanation. The baby sub-plot is played up a lot in the summary and the book’s design, but it doesn’t even come up until more than half-way through. All in all, I enjoyed a lot of the story, but most of it wasn’t really my thing.

 

[available for purchase at Riptide Publishing, Amazon.ca, Book Depository, Chapters, All Romance E-Books, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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Falling Away – Lisa Henry

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“Nobody had ever known every inch of Jason’s body the way that Ben did.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. I absolutely hate that this is so short. This is definitely something that could easily be part of a much larger story. It’s a glimpse into the lives of Jason and Ben at a time where they’ve reached a turning point in their relationship. These two men have been fuckbuddies for the past five months and now Jason is struggling with the fact that he wants more. This story is emotionally intense, and quite angsty, as we follow Jason as he struggles with his wants and desires and whether or not he should tell Ben about them. You really come to feel for Jason as you read his internal anguish and about how ashamed he feels that he’s fallen so hard for someone who might not reciprocate those feelings. I was actually pretty worried about how this one was gonna turn out because we don’t see anything from Ben’s point of view, so he’s a bit of a wildcard, we don’t know for sure how he really feels about Jason. The emotions and suspense are high in this one, not really any humour this time, but this is definitely another great read from Lisa Henry.

 

[available for free at M/M Romance Group and Lisa Henry Online]

 

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Love Me Tomorrow – Ethan Day

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“A guy that sped all over the city trying to save people’s lives, couldn’t possibly be a complete monster.”

 

In a word: Don’t read the thing. Just… don’t. I cannot stand this book, and that might just be a ‘me’ thing though, because it got a lot of good reviews on Goodreads. I didn’t like it when I read it the first time, but when I tried to reread it I pretty much had to force myself, and then I gave up after a few pages. I hate the characters, I’m not completely in love with the writing, and the story itself sounds like something I’d probably like if it were written differently than it was here. What makes me dislike it even more is the fact that this book had potential, there were some parts that I enjoyed and there were some parts that I was genuinely invested in. But in the end I just didn’t like it and could not make myself read it again.

[available for purchase at Wilde City Press, Book Depository, Chapters, and Amazon.ca]

 

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