Friday, December 26, 2014

ARC Review: One Holiday Ever After by Tere Michaels, Elle Brownlee, and Elizah J. Davis

One Holiday Ever AfterFrom the blurb:

The holidays are a time for celebration, discovery, coming home, and maybe even miracles for those who are lucky. From the streets of New York City, to the wintery wonderland of the Maine woods, to the quaint, small town charm of Idaho, the men in these stories have different holiday desires. They’re looking for familiarity or fresh starts, but they have one thing in common—their happily ever afters might be waiting in the last places they think to look. Come see what they unwrap in these stories by three acclaimed authors of male/male romance.

Holiday Roommates by Tere Michaels

As an actor without prospects, Nate Brandywine needs an emergency roommate for the month of December. During a humiliating gig as a Christmas elf at a NYC department store, he meets Sean Callahan, his producer and a man struggling under the weight of a past-due loan. Sean’s desperate for a place to stay in the city for a few weeks. A month of sharing a workplace and an apartment with someone you can't stop flirting with? Maybe the holidays won’t be so terrible after all.

Holiday Sanctuary by Elle Brownlee

Chris Declan is trekking through the wintry wonderland of rural Maine, searching for inspiration and himself, when he's literally and figuratively taken by storm. First by the surprise blizzard that finds him seeking refuge in Paul Bak's secluded cabin, and second by Paul. Making the best of being snowed in together soon becomes a comfortable friendship with fireside chats, a quaint holiday celebration, and more. But despite their growing closeness, there's one thing they avoid—what will happen when the snow clears and the holidays end.

Holiday Homecoming by Elizah J. Davis

Gavin Anderson never thought making it as a writer in LA would be easy, but when his latest project falls through, he gives up on Hollywood and heads to Bonabri, Idaho in hopes that the peace and quiet of his childhood home will help him figure out his next move. Instead he finds Eric Nichols, his parents' cute and charming housesitter who is there to experience the small town Christmas festivities. Gavin's plans for quiet reflection are no match for Eric's holiday cheer, and he soon finds himself swept up in the spirit of the season. Gavin thought his life had hit a dead end, but in coming home he finds what might be a new beginning.

Heather's rating:

Loved this anthology! Some of the best holiday stories that I've read this year.

Holiday Roommates by Tere Michaels- 4 stars

My favorite Tere Michaels story to date! Light, sweet, and romantic, this will be a win with almost every reader.

I adored this little story about two cute guys trying to make it on their own in their chosen professions. It took place in my neck of the woods (New York City) during Christmas season (snuggly and cheerful, check!), so I was pretty much guaranteed to love it. However, Tere Michaels really went above and beyond with this one. Though the plot was a little... sparse, the guys were so adorable that I didn't mind any other flaws.

The best part of this story was the banter. These guys flirted mercilessly with each other, and I loved every second of it! Tere's sense of humor came right through: This was a super funny, lighthearted read.

An easy win.

Holiday Sanctuary by Elle Brownlee- 2.5 stars

I'm going to be honest here... this story really bored me.

I'm not exactly sure why I struggled so much with this one. I think part of it was that the set up seemed really implausible. It is very insta-y, where the guys are sort of all in at first sight. I also thought it was strange that Christ flirted with Paul right off the bat. If I was a stranded guy being rescued by a man in the wilderness, I would be a whole hell of a lot more cautious, let me tell you. In general, I would have liked these guys to have slow played it. I like more gradual buildup, especially in a forced type setting.

I also found something about the writing to be stilted. It felt a bit unnatural, maybe too overworked. I thought that the language was sort of beautiful and very deliberate, but, at the same time, I had a lot of trouble getting immersed in the story.

Finally, the plot was a bit dull for me. Not much happened to these guys. It was hard to keep my attention going and I found myself eager for the next one in the collection.

While this story was sweet and I don't want to turn readers away from it, I think it just wasn't to my tastes.

Holiday Homecoming by Elizah J. Davis- 4.5 stars

I sort of adored this, even with no sex on page!

Woah, I can't believe I've never read Elizah Davis before! Her story rocked the house! It was short but felt complete, and it had a nice, slow-burn buildup. It was sort of about finding oneself but it never felt pushy or preachy. I loved the way the author made the story light and funny, while still giving it some emotional umph.

My favorite quote in the whole anthology?

"You're bi?" Gavin asked. As though it might be some sort of trick.
"I am."
"You've slept with other men?"
"Yes. I am a certified, practicing bisexual."
"Wow." Gavin ran his hands through his hair. "I just keep making it worse, don't I?"
"Don't worry about it. I renewed my license again this summer. You don't want to let that puppy expire, because your sexuality defaults based on the last person you were with. Then you have to go through the application process again, and you have to wait six to eight weeks for approval."

Loved it! Can't wait to read more from this author in the future.

**Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

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