Sunday, December 20, 2015

ARC Review: Sleigh Ride - Dreamspinner Press 2015 Advent Calendar Part 2

Sleigh Ride (Sleigh Ride - 2015 Advent Calendar)

The course of true love can be a bumpy, up-and-down, and sideways ride, but the end-of-the-year holidays are perfect for happy endings! Whether they’re finding a new romance or rekindling an old one, the men in these stories get some help from the magic of the season. Some of them might need a miracle to muddle through the conflicts and confusion that arise, but luckily for them, ‘tis the season. From naughty fun, to heartfelt and heart-wrenching reunions, to out-of-this-world adventures, these guys are in for quite a ride.


Dani's reviews:

What I like about this collection is that it's not Christmas-centric. One of my stories was set during a New Year's eve celebration, and another featured Hanukkah.

No steam, angst, or drama, just feel-good holiday fluff.

Talk Turkey by Bru Baker


I cannot even with the cuteness. Seriously, I CANNOT. So damn sweet, this one, and FUNNY, with myriad adorable, laugh-out-loud moments.

Carson does not know his way around a turkey. Enter Tom, he of the Turkey Hotline. The turkey conversations are ridiculous but speak volumes.

Both men are lonely; neither is willing to admit it.

What do you do when you get your hand stuck in a turkey cavity? Call the Turkey Hotline after hours, of course! Snow storm (and Tom) to the rescue!

This story is seriously charming with a promising HFN.

I can so see Carson and Tom together next Christmas. Who needs the Turkey Hotline when you have your own turkey expert at home?

Grateful by Kim Fielding


Nate Roth, clumsy and impulsive, is my kind of Jew: the kind who likes his latkes with a side of ham. Nate's Hanukkah is not off to a great start. He's bruised and in a cast thanks to a cycling *ahem* accident. He gets a speeding ticket on the way home AND forgets the gifts he bought for his family.

Epic. Disaster.

Until Nate meets Gio at the gas station. Gio is, well, pretty much perfect. He has a great dog, an interesting career, and plenty of money. Nate doesn't think he's in Gio's league, but Gio disagrees.

I love Fielding's holiday stories. They are low-key and charming, brimming with family and sweetness.

Nate and Gio are dang cute together. The story gives us a peek into their future, and it's BRIGHT! Piles and piles of kisses & smiles, and a tentative HEA to boot.

Worth the Wait by Caitlin Ricci & Cari Z.


Tate sacrifices an afternoon to get a book signed for his little niece. He just doesn't anticipate the crowd or the line snaking three blocks past the entrance ... or the rain.

Thankfully, cute Brandon lends Tate his umbrella and brings him coffee. Things are looking up.

Happily cruising along, I turned the page and it was ... OVER? How could it be over? It had barely began!

This story is well written and sweet but very truncated, like half a story. My rating would have been higher if it weren't for the non-ending.

Fireworks and Resolutions by Leandra Dohman


Short (@250 locations), a bit bland, too much telling, no steam.

An IT hottie is reduced to stammering around the new hot guy at the office. In an alcohol-induced haze, said hottie proclaims his true feelings at a Christmas party. He just doesn't remember the KISS.

Fast forward a few weeks to New Year's eve. What will IT hottie do when he's trapped in a bathroom with his Big Bearded Crush?

So. No one actually gets trapped in a bathroom. Like ever.

Cue *eye roll*. Moving on ...

This is a cute enough story. I liked the joint New Year's resolutions list. It was adorkable.

This is a VERY short read, so everything feels rushed, but the ending is a sweet HFN (cue mostly fade-to-black blow job in the office).

Arielle's reviews:

Northern Lights by Asta Idonea

4 stars

Color me surprised! I did not go into the M/M universe expecting to find such delicious fluffy goodness, but delicious fluffy goodness is exactly what I found! I should say, this story wasn’t super steamy, but it was still incredibly sweet. As you read, you truly do feel for James who has been left by a partner that could never prioritize him. You feel upset that the switch from love to resentment was so easily flipped. And James’s new love interest, which I won’t spoil for you, was a true meeting of the old and the new…ancient ideologies and modern ones. It was effortless, and now all I want to go is go to Iceland and meet the strong, blonde, woman of my dreams.

Blame it on the Fruitcake by Pat Henshaw

1 star

This story really confused me. Not because it was an M/M story (which, it turns out I’m not allergic to!) but because the characters were underdeveloped, the plot holes were…well there were more holes than plot itself. And the fruitcake-as-meetcute was a little drab. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with factors about the story that I really like, but the best thing about this story was its length which was, thankfully, short.

Notteknekkeren by Felicitas Ivey

3.5 stars

Notteknekkeren, which I've learned means The Nutcracker in Norwegian, was a delightful holiday tale. Though short, it had all of the elements of a great Christmas story. A downtrodden soul (Thijs), a hurtful brother who doesn't understand him (Rik), a quirky 'Uncle' who changes (Yvo), and a world that seems normal at first but transforms into something totally magical.

I actually don't want to give too much away, because I think this is worth a read. What I will say is that Thijs's love interest appears in the most unlikely place and the universe of the story changes into the most fantastical realm. The writing was incredibly enjoyable, grammatically correct (yay!) and inspiring. I, for one, will never look at a Nutcracker the same way.

Four Alternative Christmas Presents by Tam McNeil

3 stars

I was pleasantly surprised when I read through this short book because I love superhero anything. I especially love superheros who can't figure their shit out - both in hilarious mishaps in villain catching, but also in their own personal lives. It was actually amusing to watch as Matt - a man with super strength - fumbling around his personal hero (and love interest), Jake. Dr. Destructo also had some amusing dialogue with the group that had me giggling. For those looking for a steamy read, this wasn't it. For those looking for something...adorkable? This should be your go-to.

Our copies of these stories were provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.

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