Wednesday, December 11, 2019

ARC Review: 2019 Advent Calendar: Homemade for the Holidays by Dreamspinner Press

From The Blurb:
Choosing the right gift for that special someone can be the most daunting part of the holidays. In a sea of mass-produced items, why buy when you can DIY? The end-of-the-year festivities are the best time for crafts, whether they’re made from yarn, paper, flour, or even code. And with some love and luck, these special presents might inspire a romance that lasts an evening… or a lifetime. Nothing makes the season merry and bright like a gift handmade from the heart, and to bring smiles to the faces of the ones they care about, these guys are willing to get creative.

Karen's ratings and reviews:

It's that time of year again...

and I'm not talking about tax time. I'm talking about the most wonderful time of the year...Christmas and once again Dreamspinner Press has brought out their  holiday anthology.

This year I got to read and review 5 of these stories for 'My Fiction Nook' and I've reviewed and rated each story individually below...

Christmas Ghost by Jenn Moffatt

Karen's Rating:  

‘Christmas Ghost’ is a sweet story about second chances at what many like to think of as ‘the most wonderful and magical time of the year’ but for carpenter Steve Browning this year doesn’t hold a lot of magic. He’s faced with losing his mother unexpectedly and in the hopes of making the season better for other he donates her costume jewellery to the local community theater.

When he’s met by his friend Camille and her twin brother, Troy. Steve doesn’t hesitate to take the chance to renew his friendship with both of the Baxter twins but it’s Troy who not only captures his attention but his heart.

While I liked the premise of this story and the character interactions were good. I really just felt like it needed a bit more to flesh it out and really bring home the connection between the main characters and lock down that holiday feeling. I can honestly say if the author decides to add to this story or provide a follow up…I’m in. So, while this one wasn’t a 5 star read for me it was 3 solid stars with a whole lot of feel good holiday potential.

Sweet Anticipation by Andrew Grey


‘Sweet Anticipation’ is a second chance story that offers Greg Hansen a chance at love with baker Rhys Denning. Rhys and Greg first met when they dated in college. When things ended abruptly between the two men, neither ever anticipated that they would get a second chance at love until the day Greg knocked on Rhys’s door after his bedridden pregnant sister has charged him with completing the arrangements of her best friend’s bachelorette party.

Greg’s at a loss and really has no idea what to do. Thankfully for Greg this is Rhy’s field of expertise and he’s more than willing to step in and help. Especially if it gives him a chance to see if the spark that was ignited between him and Greg in college is still there.

I saw Rhys helping Greg as a win for all. Greg gets help with the bachelorette party so his sister would be happy, and Rhys gets to spend time with Greg and the reader gets watch these two incredibly sweet men reconnect and truly fall in love…not mention penis-shaped baguettes! Seriously who wants to miss out on that baking experience, I know I didn’t.

‘Sweet Anticipation’ is a story with a bit of everything to offer family, food, humor, sexy men and set during the holiday season…I just needed a bit more time with these men and this one could have easily been 5 shining stars.

Flour, Eggs, Sugar and Magic Daniel de Lorne


Will has the best of intentions when he starts making cookies for the kids at the local shelter after all if anyone deserves an extra dose of luck, love and good health it’s this group of young kids. Sadly, even the best of intentions can go astray and that’s exactly what happens when a phone call from Will’s ex-boyfriends disrupts his baking and when Will’s roommate, the extremely sexy Lucas gobbles up 3 of those cookies Will discovers just how bad things can go.

I liked the premise of this one and truthfully if Will’s cookies had brought the intended luck, love and good health that was intended they would have been some hella’ good cookies because the misfortune, bad health and ill will that was visited upon Lucas and Will, at times by virtue of proximity, as they tried to break the spells was pretty epic.

While this story didn’t work as well as the authors story that I was fortunate enough to review last year, it was mainly just a matter of the story just needing to be a bit longer. Things were happening a bit to quickly for me to really become engaged in the story. So it really just came down to a case of what was good in concept didn’t quite work when it came down to execution.

Rainbows in Sea Glass by Kim Katil

Karen's Rating:  

Kyle’s had a crush on his best friends older brother who also happens to be a big ole player and Kyle doesn’t want to be just another on of many especially where James is concerned so he keeps his feeling very tightly locked down but when James suddenly turns all of his attention on Kyle. Kyle’s goes to Cape May Point seeking to find seaglass and Cape May diamonds for his aunt’s St. Nicholas Day present and if escaping James’s attention is an added bonus all the better…right? Well it would have been if James hadn’t followed him to Cape May Point.

I’m a bit of a sucker for stories like this and over all I enjoyed this one. I really loved that a good portion of the story was about Kyle and James spending time alone together at Cape May Point, even though these two men have known each other for years it was good that the reader got to share that time when their relationship went to a different level and I loved that part of the focus of their time together was spent creating a gift for Kyle’s aunt.

It’s the gifts that are given from the heart that often have the most meaning and stay with us the longest and whether it’s a gift that’s made or the gift of love ‘Rainbows in Sea Glass’ is about the different ways that the gift of love can be given.

Love in 24 Frames by C.S. Poe


This story right here…for me this was it…this was the one. I’m admittedly a C.S. Poe fan but please don’t make the mistake of thinking that means any thing is a given when it comes to a story this short because it’s not. I still want to be read a story that’s going to draw me in make me happy, sad, angry, joyous, furious…I don’t want to just read the story I want to feel it and admittedly what a story makes me feel may not be the same as what it makes someone else feel and that’s as it should be.

Declan’s an incredibly shy CPA by day and an amateur stop motion filmmaker by evening and when he rents studio space to allow his creative expression more freedom what he doesn’t expect is to meet Shota Watanabe a beautiful man with a kind and gentle spirit that leaves Declan both hopelessly in love and totally tongue-tied.

I so love it when a story works for me and this one really worked. For me the feelings between these two men were totally palpable…they were sweet and gently with an intensity that left me breathless and yet, for want of a better word, there was also an underlying innocence that worked so well.

If your looking for a story that’s filled with hot, steamy sex than this probably isn’t the story for you but if you want a sweet, gentle story about to lovely mature men falling in love pull up a chair and start reading. I think you may have found it, I know I did.


Copies of stories from ‘Homemade for the Holidays’ were graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Buy the stories (Collectively and/or Individually):


Reading gives us someplace to go, when we have to stay where we are.  (Mason Cooley)

Buylinks are provided as a courtesy and do not constitute an endorsement of or affiliation with these books, authors or booksellers listed.

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