Leo Tops Aries (Signs of Love #1.5) by Anyta Sunday


33554843Blurb:
 Why did Theo ever bet that a Leo could outwait an Aries?

Blue balls have never been so blue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 stars

This book is FREE!

Yes, this book is about what you think its about! A sensual steamy experience from beginning to end! Theo is too cute for words.  His unfamiliarity with his new lifestyle is oddly endearing and not at all clumsy or awkward.  This is a fabulous follow up to Leo Loves Aries.

I found Jamie to be a bit over smug in this novella.  His described facial expressions came off that way to me.  And I loved their competitive interaction with regards to their bet.

But holy hell this book was explicit!  And tastefully so.  My cheeks reddened and I had to fan myself multiple times to cool down.  I would advise you to read the first one so you can experience their full depth of characters.

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Make Lemonade by Cassie Mae

Blurb:
Make Lemonade.jpgBeth’s dream has always been Disneyland, and with the way life has been going, a trip to the magical world was just the ticket she needed. But with a broken transmission halfway there, Beth and her boyfriend Ben get stranded in the town of Hope Falls, and she is not in the best of moods.

As things continue to take a dive, Ben is determined to turn this situation around. With a knack for fixing cars and a ring in his pocket, he prepares to turn the sourest lemon into the sweetest lemonade, all for the woman he loves.

But the problem might just run deeper than a broken down car and a delayed vacation.

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My Review:
5 stars — I beta read this book, which sometimes makes it hard to review, but not in this case.  It was basically a masterpiece as written and I just spent a lot of my time swearing at Cassie for making me cry (for realz, poor girl took some abuse in the comments).

So how does she do it?  I don’t get it folks.  I don’t get how Ms. Mae writes these masterpieces of realism and awesomeness, but she’s done it again.  Honestly I shake my head.  It’s like she has a direct line to my consciousness and thoughts and feelings and decided to put them all in a novella, and rename the heroine Beth.  You know what that shows?  It provides incontrovertible proof that I’m not alone.  That all these feelings I feel, are shared by so many.  That depression is a stupid jerk that should be taken out back and shot.

Seriously though, this little novella took me through the wringer.  And part of that is because it hit so freaking close to home.  I highlighted so many passages and commented with “I’ve felt that!” and “I’ve been here!”  For that reason alone this book was a masterpiece for me.  Because it made me feel validated, and represented, and even loved.  And through Beth’s relationship with Ben (we’ll get to him), it reminded me that the dark times are sprinkled with awesomeness.  That experiencing depression does not preclude you from having these amazing moments.  Heck, Beth and Ben reminded me of my hubby and I.  They really and truly are the epitome of relationship goals.  And not because everything is easy, but because it’s NOT.  Because they struggled.  But they made it through.

And it was so heartbreaking to watch Ben struggle with his side of Beth’s depression.  To see how it could bring out his own insecurities.  I just wanted to hug him to freaking death.  He is pretty much the most amazing guy (though not without his own flaws), and I just can’t even right now.  Seriously.

So enough with the heavy.  Because while there is heavy, there is a heck of a lot of light in this novella too.  And I cannot even tell you how much I laughed and smiled and just lit up inside reading about Beth and Ben’s romance.  I LOVE that Ms. Mae is not afraid to give us an established couple and show us that even they still have a story to tell.  From the bowling to the whole Disney day, my heart was just FULL.

I hate saying this, b/c it feels disloyal, but I do believe I have a new favourite Cassie Mae couple.  Beth and Ben were amazing.  And even though it’s not a full blown book, I’m pretty sure it’s trying to take top place as my favourite Cassie Mae book.  I don’t know if it’s because it hit so close to home, or if it’s because she basically just wrote awesomeness personified, but it was a treat.  It was everything my heart was wanting and needing.  I know I always sound like one of those people who’s being disingenuous with my effusive praise, but I guess Ms. Mae just writes what I want to read.  I’m never afraid to state my whole opinion, but in this case I have nothing but good to say.  *happy fulfilled sigh*

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Big Package by Opal Carew

Blurb:
31450411Baby it’s cold outside…but things are about to heat up.

I missed the last bus to my sister’s for Christmas, and now I’m stranded in a bus station—in the middle of a blizzard—with a giant package covered in naughty wrapping paper.

Then he shows up: Kalen Welles, the football star from my high school fantasies—and offers me a ride.

Just when the car is getting cozy, the roads get shut down due to snow.

Luckily there’s a nearby cabin where we can hole up for the night.

A warm fireplace, cozy blankets, pent-up longing we both spent years ignoring… maybe I’ll be able to unwrap Kalen’s big package before Christmas morning.

But when the snow clears and the ice melts, will the former football star and the shy nerd finally get a happy ending?

Unwrap this sexy holiday story from Opal Carew!

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My Review:
3 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

OK, I will admit that I picked this book to read as my first HoHoHo Read-A-Thon book b/c the reviews were kind of lukewarm, and having finished a book hangover type book, I knew the next book wasn’t going to live up to expectations.  Honestly, this is probably more of a 2.5 star read, but I bumped it up a half star b/c it partially takes place in Ottawa, and it brought back some good memories from when I lived there a decade and a half ago…  Especially when they mentioned Bayshore Mall!  I lived across from that mall!  So high fives for the great reminiscing.

Otherwise this was a pretty shallow book…it was a bit corny, a bit cheesy, the characters were pretty surface, and there were a lot of cliches.  It was pretty standard Harlequin type fare.  I would classify it as erotica, since there was an awful lot of sex.  And the plot had the usual stupid, AVOIDABLE misunderstandings that were resolved by just talking.  Not a huge fan of those, so hence why without the Ottawa stuff, it would have been a 2.5 star or lower.

I was amused that Ms. Carew dealt with some interesting sexual…insecurities?  Like a guy having to deal with a “big package”, and how that’s not always a blessing.  And female ejaculation.  Props to Ms. Carew, she did not a bad job with that either.

All in all very meh.  Didn’t keep my attention super well, but in some ways was less annoying than I had been expecting.  On to my next Christmas read!

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Things Liars Fake by Sara Ney

Blurb:
28800783.jpgWhat if…

Someone you barely knew asked you for a favor.

What if…

They needed you to be something you weren’t, in exchange for nothing. Unless you count a mouth full of lies and a half-broken heart. Faker. Pretender. Liar. There are worse things to be called.

So would you do it? Would you?

Daphne Winthrop did.

And you’re about to find out what happens in the end.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — This book suffered from my own misconceptions and my mood (and broken up reading times, which sucks for a novella).  I don’t know if it was the cover, or the blurb, but honest to goodness I thought this was a YA.  My fault, definitely, but I chose to read this book at this moment b/c I wanted a geeky little YA novella, you know?  So when I got an adult book right away, I had to sort of rearrange my expectations.  Like when you’re expecting Coke, but you get root beer, and initially it tastes funny because it wasn’t what you were expecting, even though you normally love root beer.

Oh, and while I’m getting misconceptions out of the way, I’m not sure exactly why (their names, some words used like pisser), but I started thinking this was based in the UK, and so I was surprised when it was set somewhere in the US.  But that’s a me thing.

Both characters were pretty endearing.  There were some great adorable moments in their little romance.  They had some pretty good chemistry…I didn’t always feel it, sometimes it felt a bit more like I was told, but  all in all it was ok.  I adored the geekiness of Dexter.  Loved that Daphne was attracted to his glasses and suspenders and bowties.  I initially totally vibed with Dexter’s insecurity, and it made me sad that his disbelief in her attraction for him made her feel like he wasn’t into her.  But at a certain point it got dragged out too much and I lost interest and it just made me cranky at Dexter.

The twin sisters were pretty fun, but for me I found their ages to be a bit unbelievable.  They felt a bit more like 11 year olds than 16 year olds.  But maybe I’m being cynical.

The highlight for me was definitely the geeky flirting.  So awesome.

Alas, in the end it just wasn’t the right book at the right time for me.

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On the Brink by Kate Willoughby

Blurb:
29909088Due to popular demand, Kate Willoughby brings you Hart Griffin and Jeremy Fenton’s origin story. Find out how these two met and fell in love…

Holtzer University junior Hart Griffin won’t let anything interfere with his future as a professional hockey player. No way, no how. He’s the star forward of his college team and a first round NHL draft pick.

One hot night with a male super fan calls into question everything Hart thought he knew about his sexuality and launches him on a soul-searching journey in which nothing is as it seems and his entire world is turned upside down.

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My Review:
3 stars — I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

Not a bad M/M romance novella…probably would have enjoyed it more if I’d actually read the 2nd book in this series so I could see them interact in the future.  In the end it suffered from the trap many novellas fall under — too short to really get enough story out of them.  And in this case, probably b/c they’re cameo’d in the 2nd book, we didn’t really get a satisfying ending.  It was ok, but for readers who are coming in with this being the first book for them, it would have been nice to have a peek (epilogue?).  I guess the thought is that I could then buy and read the other books in the series, but in the end I wasn’t sucked in enough for that.

Pretty good chemistry as far as the steam factor went.  The relationship chemistry was glossed over a bit more (like a montage of friendship scenes).  Would have liked to see more of what attracted them to each other besides the physical.  Especially because the words love were thrown around kind of early then.

Wasn’t really taken with either book boy.  Jeremy was not bad, and I felt for him when he was initially targeted, but then it just sort of went on from there and I didn’t know him enough to love him.  And Hart unfortunately behaved pretty badly after the experimentation encounter, which was sort of believable I guess, but it didn’t really endear him to me and I never fell in love.

So all in all it was entertaining, but ultimately not satisfying enough.  *shrugs*

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Point of Origin by Rebecca Yarros

Blurb:
29441529In Legacy, Colorado, our inheritance is simple: Fire and Heartbreak.
Sebastian Vargas…he’s both.
He was my best friend. My first love. My everything.
Until he was my nothing.
It’s been ten years since the wildfire that turned our small town to ashes, taking the lives of our fathers and their elite hotshot crew.
Six years since Bash disappeared with my heart.
No explanation. No goodbye.
But now he’s home, fighting to resurrect the very thing that destroyed us both.
One look, and I’m breathless.
One touch, and he’s relentless.
And I’m not careful, he’ll burn me to the ground again.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — Oooooo!!!  I sincerely hope this is the start of a new series by Ms. Yarros, b/c I want to know ALL THE STORIES!!  This little novella was a great introduction to the town of Legacy and the Hotshots.

And Bash and Emerson were fantastic!  Lots of angst and heartbreak, but also lots of great sexy times and genuine love.  I started this one late last night and actually had a hard time putting it down and not reading until the wee hours.  And normally a novella just leaves me unfulfilled, but their romance just fit perfectly.  I think if the drama had been drawn out more it might have gotten annoying.

I loved how strong Emerson was…the way she stood up for herself and up to the council impressed me.  And the way she handled Bash especially.  Bash was actually the more screwed up one of the two.  But he pulled it out in the end (and wow, that sounded dirty).

And now I just need to wait for more in what I’m hoping is a series.  Knox and Harper???  YES PLEASE!!

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From This Day Forward by Lauren Layne

Blurb:
27778688Up-and-coming wedding photographer Leah McHale’s career is on the rise–thanks in no small part to the Wedding Belles, the elite New York wedding planning agency that always throws top-tier business Leah’s way. So when one of the Belles asks Leah to fill in at the former First Daughter’s wedding, Leah is overjoyed to say yes–until she finds out who she’ll be working with.

Jason Rhodes is the one man who was able to capture Leah’s heart and, once he had it, promptly stepped all over it and left her broken. Now he’s working side-by-side with her at the biggest wedding of the season and Leah is determined to give him the cold shoulder. Despite his persistence, she is not going to fall for his charming, impish ways again. Not even if he still has that killer, irresistible smile…

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My Review:
3.5 stars — I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

This little novella was a great set up for the new series, and I enjoyed the glimpses of the characters we’re soon to meet — particularly Heather, she seems like a hoot!  And I’m a lover of weddings, a romantic at heart, so the setting seems perfect.

Leah and Jason’s story, however, just didn’t quite float my boat.  I know the miscommunication trope is super common, and I’m about 50/50 on whether it will bother me or not.  The problem in this one is that I didn’t feel like the extenuating circumstances were enough to give the characters a pass on their behavior.  And the miscommunication occurred in the past and pervaded the whole story.  I guess I could forgive them for the initial miscommunication, and even get over what made them let it persist (his pride, her fear).  But when they encounter each other again and Jason has a perfect opportunity to clear it up, he chooses not to, even though he wants to pursue Leah again in some form.  *sigh*  It’s not that I can’t see people doing it, it just doesn’t make for very likeable characters.  And it wasn’t one or the other, they both had their faults and behaved kind of childishly.  And I get that they totally acknowledged that in their heads, but it just wasn’t enough for me.  It’s hard to love a romance when you mostly just want to smack both MCs.

Good chemistry and heat between them.  But again, my heart just wasn’t with them both.

So yeah.  Solid romance, but just wasn’t in the mood for the miscommunication trope this time around.  But I am definitely intrigued by the series and looking forward to seeing what comes next.

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The Gentleman and the Lamplighter by Summer Devon

the gentleman and the lamplighterSynopsis: You Can’t Walk Away from Love.

Destroyed by the death of his former schoolmate yet unable to show it publicly, Giles Fullerton has taken to walking the streets of London in the middle of the night, the only time he can safely mourn the only person he’s ever loved—until one chance meeting with a lamplighter changes everything….

But You Can Walk Toward It…

Widower John Banks knows a thing or two about grief, and immediately recognizes a kindred spirit when he finally meets the handsome, haunted gentleman he’s admired from afar. And in fact, the two men discover shared passions and the possibility of a forever love—if they can overcome social taboos, and their own fears….

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1RJ0N4Q

Add it to your TBR list on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23587053-the-gentleman-and-the-lamplighter

4 stars

This is the first historical M/M romance I have ever read. It’s a short story but it didn’t read like one. The author made very good use of the words; there were no wasted words if that makes sense.  It was great, I totally loved it.  I actually got this novella for myself after seeing it on somebodies wish-list at Jingle Bell Book Exchange on FB.  It’s over now or I would give you guys the link.

But it was nice, the two personalities played against each other.  They are from two different socio-economical tiers I guess you could say.  They came across each other like two ships passing in the night honestly. (I know the adage is overused but it’s appropriate) They never would have known each other if not for some traumatic circumstances. I like reading those kinds of books where one single act of walking out a door can literally change your entire life.

The historical aspect of the romance was really neat because it was set in a time where I think things were still in a grey area.  They weren’t really spoken of in a positive or a negative way, they just weren’t spoken of, like a turn your head the other way kind of thing.  It was cool to set it in that time as opposed to a modern time m/m romance. I think I’m gonna read more in this genre. If I can find any, this is the first historical m/m romance I have ever come across.  I didn’t even know they existed but I totally recommend it.

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Holiday Secrets by Kat Nichols

Synopsis:
28160010Sophia Morganthal has been through a lot in the past year. Still reeling from the death of her best friend, she is also dealing with the emotional repercussions from the life she took and the betrayal of her family. When she receives a phone call about the loss of another friend, Sophia is shocked but rallies to help search for the killers.

As everyone around her gets into the holiday spirit, Sophia finds herself unable to do the same. Can Connor, Sydney and their families show Sophia the true meaning of the holidays and help her move on?

This holiday short story is approximately 40 pages long. Enjoy the holidays with Sophia, Connor and the rest. Due to spoilers, books one and two of the Secret Set (Family Secrets and Deadly Secrets) should be read first.

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28160010-holiday-secrets
Order it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1NTZh9d

My Review:
4.5 stars — You know what I really enjoyed about this little holiday novella?  It wasn’t just a fabulous epilogue to the first two books in this series (though there was that), it actually had a bit of action and suspense too!!  And some sorrow…:(  So we not only got to check in with Sophia and get some more Sydney fun and delicious Connor time (mmmm….perfect amount of kissing)….  But we also got a bit of a side plot that hinted at things to come in future books in the series!!  So if you’re looking for some paranormal holiday goodness, definitely check this book out — though you will be lost if you haven’t read the first two books in the series (and there would be spoilers), so if you haven’t checked out those books, I highly recommend you go snag them now!!

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#Holiday by Cambria Hebert

Synopsis:
27391711Givers gonna give…
Twas the night of game day,
And all through the town,
Lacey glittering snowflakes fluttered around.
They clung to the roads, concealing everything with white.
It was a beautiful #holiday sight.
The paparazzi were out without any care,
In hopes to catch Romeo and Rimmel, rumored to be there.
When out on the road there arose such a clatter.
The Hellcat spun out, but it shouldn’t matter.
I pulled out my cell to dial in a flash.
But the battery was dead. What useless trash.
The moonlight glistening on the new fallen snow
Made us forget we needed a tow.
For the season was upon us. Our family was alight.
Our #holiday was destined to be merry and bright.

Bonus content features FIVE #holiday recipes to make and share!

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27391711-holiday
Order it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1NMb0N8

My Review:
5 stars — What can I say?  If you’re a fan of the Pound series (as I like to call it), then you’re gonna love this.  It was chock full of everything you love about the series, with both Romeo and Braeden’s POVs….and quite frankly, I love those boys, so more time in their heads is always a bonus.  It was light hearted, but with a sprinkling of serious to tug at your heartstrings.  It had romance and steam (so much delicious steam).  It had all our favourite players (a bit of Drew and Trent too).  Basically it was just the perfect little holiday epilogue.  And I LOVE me a good epilogue, so an extended one in novella format is like my own little Christmas present.  So thank you Ms. Hebert!!!  Merry Christmas to me!!!

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