The Boy Next Door – Kate McMurray

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“Jase looked at Lowell then, straight in the eye, and Lowell felt something crackle between them. That surprised him.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing. I really wanted to like this one. I did like the premise of two childhood friends reconnecting as adults and falling in love, but I feel like this particular story had a bit too much conflict for my liking. A lot of conflict that didn’t have much in the way of resolutions, which didn’t help any. I’m always a fan of some angst with a happy ending, and I did like that aspect of the story, but I did find myself getting annoyed at the two leads. Well, I shouldn’t say both leads, I was more annoyed with Jase than I ever was with Lowell. My main problem with Lowell was that I thought that he tortured himself too much over Jase. Jase is a very scared man. The community he lives in seems to be fairly homophobic, and his ex-wife is both homophobic and bitter so she’s an extra stressor for him. All Jase seems to want to do is to do his job, raise his daughter, and make as few waves as possible. He’s only really starting to come to terms with the fact that he’s gay, but he’s spent so long hiding it because of fear and self-loathing that he’s having a hard time with it. Pretty much all the relationship conflict between him and Lowell comes from this, and it gets really annoying when Jase runs hot and cold with Lowell and Lowell seems to just take it. Outside of all that drama there were also a few subplots going on, and none of them really got any concrete resolutions. That was a real disappointment because time was devoted to those but they ultimately didn’t go very far. I don’t know if there’s a sequel that continues the story, but if there isn’t the ending to this book is just a bit disappointing. Really, I spent a lot of the story annoyed with Jase and feeling bad for Lowell, which didn’t really make for an enjoyable read. It was fine to start with, with the angst and whatnot, but I think it all just dragged out for too long and I was tired of it all by the end.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Life is full of surprises and, with luck, second chances.

After his father’s death, Lowell leaves the big city to help his sick mother in the conservative small town where he grew up. He’s shocked to find himself living next to none other than his childhood friend Jase. Lowell always had a crush on Jase, and the man has only gotten more attractive with age. Unfortunately Jase is straight, now divorced, and raising his six-year-old daughter. It’s nice to reconnect, but Lowell doesn’t see a chance for anything beyond friendship.

Until a night out together changes everything.

Jase can’t fight his growing feelings for Lowell, and he doesn’t want to give up the happy future they could have. But his ex-wife issues an ultimatum: he must keep his homosexuality secret or she’ll revoke his custody of their daughter, Layla. Now Jase faces an impossible choice: Lowell and the love he’s always wanted, or his daughter.

 

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

 

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Two Man Station (Emergency Services #1) – Lisa Henry

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“This is a two-man station. If things turn to shit, it’s just us.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. This is the first book in a brand-new series by Lisa Henry, and I am very excited about the whole thing. The setting is the small, remote town of Richmond in the Australian outback. The main characters are the town’s two police officers: Sergeant Jason Quinn, and newcomer Gio Valeri (who is new to the town, not to policing). The plot is somewhat non-existent. This is very much more of a slice-of-life story, focusing more on the characters and setting than any sort of plot. Though there is a clear direction in the story, things move along and develop, it just doesn’t do it with a defined chain of events. This might not be some people’s thing, but I enjoyed it. I really liked Gio and Jason, and I enjoyed reading about what they had to deal with while policing their town. Jason’s son Taylor was a lot of fun, and Sandra from the police station was also pretty entertaining. Gio and Jason’s romance gets off to a slow start, since Gio’s background – the reason he wound up in Richmond in the first place – doesn’t make it easy for Jason to trust him; not to mention the fact that he’s still not completely over the death of his wife and his struggles with being a single parent. Gio’s background, the real one that no one else really knows about, makes it hard for him to trust Jason, or anyone else really. Despite everything, they still do manage to get close, though there really is a lot for them to work through before they can be functional together. This book is mostly character development and random happenings – although domestic violence is a consistent theme, so there is a specific chain of events for that happening in the background – and the story of two men trying to find a second chance at happiness while dealing with their own problems. I had a hard time putting this one down and ended up reading it in less than a day. The descriptions of life in the Australian outback (which is completely alien to me), and wanting to find out just what made Gio and Jason tick really grabbed my attention and made me interested. I’m not sure if either Jason or Gio will be appearing in future series installments, but I’m really excited to see what’s coming next.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Gio Valeri is a big city police officer who’s been transferred to the small outback town of Richmond with his professional reputation in tatters. His transfer is a punishment, and Gio just wants to keep his head down and survive the next two years. No more mistakes. No more complications.

Except Gio isn’t counting on Jason Quinn.

Jason Quinn, officer in charge of Richmond Station, is a single dad struggling with balancing the demands of shift work with the challenges of raising his son. The last thing he needs is a new senior constable with a history of destroying other people’s careers. But like it or not, Jason has to work with Gio.

In a remote two-man station hours away from the next town, Gio and Jason have to learn to trust and rely on each another. Close quarters and a growing attraction mean that the lines between professional and personal are blurring. And even in Richmond, being a copper can be dangerous enough without risking their hearts as well.

 

[available for purchase at Riptide Publishing, Amazon.caBook Depository, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble]

 

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Flight Risk – L. A. Witt

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“I wanted Aaron. I wanted him to be okay, I wanted him to be with me. I wanted my friend back. And, yeah, I wanted him too.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. L. A. Witt is fast becoming one of my favourite authors; I usually really like her stuff. This one is no exception. Though I will say that this felt… not incomplete exactly, but I felt like there could’ve been more to it. But there’s only so much story that can be put into something this short (it’s about 20, 000 words long), I suppose. Even so, I still really liked the story and the characters. The whole thing is a small window into the lives of Bennett and Aaron, two fighter pilots living on a military base in Japan. This details the story of how they became more than friends and is strictly a ‘getting together’ story. We don’t get a lot of background for much of anything; we only really get enough information to set the scene. Bennett and Aaron are friends; Bennett is also attracted to Aaron but has no idea if Aaron feels the same way about him. Then they spend a night together and everything changes. The feelings and emotions in this are amazing (as usual with L. A. Witt), and both men contribute their fair share. One thing I really like about this book is that Aaron’s ‘hot-and-cold’ treatment of Bennett after sleeping with him, while aggravating, came from a place of actual concern/fear instead of some stupid misunderstanding. The fact that it was resolved easily but still not completely, given the circumstances, was also a plus. I definitely recommend this one.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Fight pilot Bennett “Roid-Rage” McKinney has had a crush on one of his squadron mates, Aaron “Tex” Austin, for ages. The snarly RIO is sexy, sarcastic, gay… everything Bennett wants in a man.

When Tex has a rare night off from the chronic pain caused by an ejection a few years ago, he reaches for the nearest warm body… which just so happens to be Bennett’s.

After a hot night, though, Bennett wakes up alone. Tex starts sending him mixed messages—one minute he wants him, the next he’s cold-shouldering him. Bennett isn’t interested in playing games, not even with the man he’s been lusting after. One night stands are fine, but he’s not getting involved with someone who might disappear at the drop of a hat.

But as the men try to resist each other, he realizes he’s not the only one who’s afraid of getting involved with a flight risk…

This 20,000 word novella was previously published as part of the Unconditional Surrender Military Collection.

 

[available for purchase at Amazon.ca; also available in a bundle at Amazon.ca and Barnes & Noble]

 

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QR: Ghostwriter of Christmas Past – TA Moore

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“Still gotta be the good guy, huh, Tommy? That’s how you got stuck with me in the first place, remember?”

 

In a word: Read the thing.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Ever since ghostwriter Jason Burke ended up in loco parentis for his orphaned niece, Mallory, he’s been trying. He goes to parent/teacher events, and he makes packed lunches, so he definitely didn’t mean to forget about Christmas. He just hasn’t celebrated it since he left home under a cloud years ago.

Put on the spot, Jason makes the snap decision to take Mallory to see where he and her father spent their Christmases as kids. The last thing he expects is to run into Tommy, his ex—ex-best friend, ex-boyfriend—who is still living in town… and working as a sheriff’s deputy.

It’s hard to avoid someone in a small town—and maybe Jason doesn’t want to. He got Mallory a Christmas, and maybe now it’s time to get himself a Christmas boyfriend. But first, he owes Tommy some explanations.

 

[available for purchase from Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble; also available as part of the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar set]

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QR: Candy Canes and Cappuccinos – Elizabeth Coldwell

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“Why did I always get like this around Steven? I liked him, and I was pretty sure he liked me too.”

 

In a word: Read the thing.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Kyle is struggling to run his coffee shop on his own after his partner walked out on him. He has his eye on Steven, who comes into the shop each day, but hasn’t worked up the nerve to express his interest. When Steven asks Kyle to help out with Christmas lunch at the homeless shelter where he works, Kyle is too exhausted to agree. He donates his tips but still feels he’s blown his chances with Steven and made himself look like a selfish jerk.

On Christmas Day, Kyle sees a way to make amends—to both Steven and the needy people depending on his kindness. It’s the right thing to do, and Kyle hopes he can clear up the misunderstanding and show Steven the type of man he really is. Maybe then they can consider some dessert when the lunch at the shelter is over….

 

[available for purchase from Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble; also available as part of the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar set]

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QR: The Last Gift – Chrissy Munder

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“Call it his hell, Aaron Hampton couldn’t trigger any more of Nick’s pleasure centers if he was hardwired to Nick’s neural interface.”

 

In a word: In a word:

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) College student Nick Reed works late shift at a convenience store and dreams of graduation, a job he can be proud of, and finding the man of his dreams.

But the man of his dreams is about to find him.

A change in his lab hours forces Nick to swap shifts with a coworker. But no one prepared Nick for Mr. 5:25—Aaron Hampton—a beefy blond who’s Nick’s perfect guy, but professionally and socially out of Nick’s reach. Soon Aaron becomes the highlight of Nick’s workday, and when the overly focused lawyer needs Nick’s help with holiday gifts, Nick is eager to spend time with Aaron.

They become friends, share book recommendations, and are surprised to find themselves at the same charity run. But is that all? When Aaron learns Nick is heading back to his old shift, will he find the courage to ask for one last, very special gift?

 

[available for purchase from Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble; also available as part of the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar set]

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QR: Wreck the Halls – Jessica Payseur

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“He’d thought Paul’s actions were part of some misunderstanding, but no, it sounded like he genuinely wanted to drive Nick out. Well, two could play at that sort of thing.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Business has been good at Paul’s Café in Madison, Wisconsin—until a few months before Christmas. When Nick opens Nick’s Restaurant next door, Paul watches his customers leave for cheaper food and an owner who smiles more. With his livelihood at stake, Paul lashes out, trying to drive away Nick’s customers, but Nick won’t go easy, and escalating sabotage threatens to ruin the holidays for both of them.

Paul thinks all he wants for Christmas is to see Nick’s Restaurant go under, but the more he tries to drive Nick away, the less he’s sure he wants him to go. Nick is everything Paul secretly craves, but by the time he realizes Nick is all he really wants for the holidays, he might have ruined any chance for them to get together. And there might not be a present in the world that can fix that.

 

[available for purchase from Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.ca, Chapters, and Barnes & Noble; also available as part of the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar set]

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