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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Three’s a Crowd – Van Cole

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“No doubt about it, I was the luckiest man in the world; there was nothing else I needed to be happy. Nothing at all.”

 

In a word: Maybe read the thing. It’s not so much that I didn’t enjoy this book, but more that it was pretty underwhelming when compared to the first book. Three’s A Crowd is a sequel to A Second Chance, though it can also be read as a standalone since the basic premise of the first book is often explained. This book was okay. It takes place two years after the events of A Second Chance; Dane and James are very happy together and Sam is no longer any concern of Dane’s. In fact, Dane is waiting for the right moment to propose to James. So, of course, this would be the moment when someone from James’ past shows up to shake things up. It’s not really as big a thing as the book’s summary makes it out to be, but it definitely becomes a thing in Dane and James’ lives. James’ Sam, as Dane refers to him, is named Adam. He and James were a thing in high school and then parted ways before going off to college; though their separation, while hard on James, wasn’t anywhere near as traumatic as Dane’s situation with Sam. James is very much shaken up by Adam’s reappearance (excessively so, I thought), so I really didn’t expect the threesome arrangement to play out like it did. At one point I thought I was mistaken about this book being M/M/M because it really didn’t look like that’s where things were headed (also I was a bit put off by Adam). But then the story took another turn and a threesome arrangement was back on the table. This book is written the same way as the first one, so that contributed to some of the issues I had. This one really feels like the bare bones of a story, more so than the other one because there’s less angst and emotional suffering in this one. It’s not a bad story, and I did enjoy reading it, but I wasn’t totally crazy about it. I probably wouldn’t’ve bothered reading it if it hadn’t come free in a bundle with A Second Chance. My overall impression of this story is ‘meh’, especially when compared to the prequel.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Dane And James Are Back… But Another Old Flame Heats Things Up

It has been two years since Dane Walters’ high school reunion – two years since he finally saw the boy that broke his heart for what he was, and saw the perfection in the man that stood right beside him.

James Doherty is still by his side now, and life is absolutely perfect. Gone are the days of mooning over a man that he couldn’t have; now, Dane commutes home from his big-city marketing job to the perfect partner and dreams about having the courage to put a ring on James’s finger. He knows that nothing could disrupt their happiness.

But Dane isn’t the only one who’s ever been haunted by the ghost of high school love. All this time, James has been holding in a secret – holding back his memories of the one that got away. As such, when Adam DeFranco walks back into his life, it threatens to shake the foundations of the entire adult life he has built.

At first, Dane thinks it’s deja vu. It’ll be difficult, but all he has to do is show James that Adam is an asshole, just like he learned about Sam. Trouble is that he soon learns that Adam DeFranco is not an asshole. He’s genuine competition – and if Dane isn’t careful, the fabric of the perfect life he’s built could be torn out from underneath him.

This Romance Short Story Was Formerly Titled Close Encounters.

This Is Book 2 Of A Second Chance Which Can Also Be Read As A Standalone.

 

[available for purchase from Amazon.ca as part of the Surprise Baby: Gay MPREG Romance Collection]

 

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A Second Chance – Van Cole

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“It was childish to cling to the idea of this boy that had built me up and ruined me, especially ten years later – but there was nothing I could do. I was a slave to the lack of closure. I couldn’t move on.”

 

In a word: Read the thing. Not exactly what it says on the tin, though. The summary gives the impression that what we’re about to read will be a more complete novel than what we actually end up with. It’s not entirely inaccurate, but it’s making promises that it doesn’t really deliver. Having said that, this is still a good read and I did enjoy it, there just wasn’t a whole lot to it. The whole story, which is fairly short and only took me about an hour to read, is told from Dane’s first-person point of view. The way it’s written is less like reading events as they take place and is more like Dane is summarizing the events for us and telling his story from some nebulous future point. Some of the story takes place in the past, when Dane was in high school, but the parts that take place in the present read the same way. Even without much focus on Sam’s thoughts and motivations, and the somewhat stilted delivery, I still felt that this was a solid story. I do wish we could’ve gotten more focus on some aspects, there were a lot of points (mostly having to do with Dane’s family) that could’ve been expanded on, but as it is it’s still pretty decent. The main point of the story is Dane trying to get closure over the disaster that was his first love, and I really liked the read. The emotions in the story were great, though not as explored as I would’ve liked in some places, and I thought the outcome was great. The writing isn’t the best, but the story was really good and I would definitely recommend it for the experience of reading it.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Will A High School Reunion Bring These Lovers Back Together?

Sam and Dane were two young men on the brink of their futures. Sharing high school adventures together, these two young men were both figuring out how to deal with their homosexuality when they found solace in the sexual expression of each other. Confused and concerned, Sam and Dane live in a world of mixed emotions, fighting their desires while finding each other undeniably linked.

When Dane shares with his family the fact that he is gay, his world is turned upside down and he turns to Sam for comfort. But, family pressures and a societal fear push the lovers to the breaking point, life and prejudice seeming to separate them forever. Life goes on and two worlds are built…two very different worlds. Then, an invitation threatens to turn their worlds upside down.

Ten years after a graduation, will the reunion of their two souls bring them back together for good?

Or, will time and fate tear them apart forever?

This Romance Short Story Was Formerly Title The Reunion

 

[available for purchase at Amazon.ca as part of the Surprise Baby: Gay MPREG Romance Collection]

 

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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: Welcome Home, Soldier – Deanna Wadsworth

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“Like they were connecting on more than a mere carnal level. Two men, one soul. Two sides to one coin.”

 

In a word: Read the thing!

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Clay and Daniel fell in love as enlisted men during Desert Shield, but Don’t Ask Don’t Tell meant they had to keep it secret. After Clay’s convoy was ambushed, PTSD changed him, and their relationship ended in a horrible fight on Christmas Eve.

Twenty-five years later, they’ve reconnected on Facebook, and Clay finds out Daniel will be alone on Christmas Eve. Impulsively, he sets out for Daniel’s hometown of Gilead, Ohio—where Daniel is now the mayor—to surprise him with a visit. But a blizzard strikes and Clay wrecks his car. All hope of seeing Daniel is lost—until a mysterious old man named Nick offers Clay a ride. The weight of past wounds and the scars of war might make their reunion awkward, but Clay is willing to take the risk to win back his lost love. Despite a lifetime of disappointing holidays, Clay hopes that this soldier is finally coming home for Christmas.

 

[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: A Timely Gift – Kris T. Bethke

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“I didn’t think an old pocket watch was going to help me “sort my life,” but I knew better than to argue.”

 

In a word: Read the thing.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) Sometimes the right gift can be life-changing….

On the solstice, Rory’s grandfather gives him a pocket watch that he claims will have Rory’s life sorted and his problems solved by Christmas. Rory starts out skeptical, but when he reconnects with an ex he never thought he’d see again, he has to admit there might be some holiday magic working after all.

Deacon’s life is in shambles, and he’s returned to Syracuse for a fresh start. Running into Rory again feels like much more than a coincidence, and neither of them can deny the passion between them is still smoldering. With the watch behaving oddly at just the right moments, Rory and Deacon might receive the gift of a lifetime—if they’re willing to accept it.

 

[available for purchase at 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 Probability of Mistletoe – E.J. Russell

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“Well, no matter. Tonight he’d see Keith again and, dang it, he wouldn’t waste the opportunity.”

 

In a word: Read the thing.

 

The Summary: (from Goodreads) When software engineer Keith Trainor decides to start his own company, he knows exactly who he wants as his partner: Parker Mulvaney, his best friend from high school. But in the ten years since graduation, their contact has dwindled to nothing, and it’s all Keith’s fault. If he hadn’t tried to kiss Parker under the mistletoe at the winter formal their senior year, Parker wouldn’t have bolted. At their ten-year reunion, Keith intends to do everything in his geeky power to make amends.

Parker should have known that scheduling the reunion the day before Christmas Eve was a recipe for a headache of monster proportions. But when Keith sends a text that he’ll be attending, the evening doesn’t look so bleak. Can an unnecessary makeover, a nostalgic breakfast, an abortive shopping trip, and a whole lot of mistletoe culminate in a long-overdue first kiss?

 

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

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