Very quick reviews: December 2015, part 3 (romances)

Happy New Year, everyone! Today’s set of reviews features lots of m/m holiday romances!

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In the Raw – Nikka Michaels ★★
Two culinary students meet and, two years later, get together despite issues of class and wealth and homophobic, super-controlling parents. Featuring a lovely sister who gets shelved halfway through the book, despite her being the best character in the book! I have more dislikes about this book than I wanted, tbh. Mostly it was issues with the writing: unconvincing dialogue, repetition of certain phrases (slanting mouths!), couple of plot points dropping out of sight for no reason, etc. Liked the setting, but for a book taking place mostly in the kitchen it didn’t feel legit. Possibly have been spoiled by Anthony Bourdain’s food descriptions, which never fails to make me hungry.

Cronin’s Key – N.R. Walker ★★½
Vampires! Ancient evil vampires set to rise from the dead and destroy the world! And two dudes who are soulmates and accidentally find each other. And one dude is a Very Important MacGuffin, which causes complications. I remain unconvinced about the soulmates angle, but I did like the yearning. However, all the yearning in the world can’t make up for the fact that one of the heroes has become isolated from friends, family, job, his entire way of life AND lots of people are trying to kill him, but apparently the newfound love of his life makes up for all that. I’d still read the next book, though?

The Dangers of Fairy Compacts – Katey Hawthorne ★★½
This is actually a short story! HA, I am so sneaky. It’s about a wizard who accidentally summons a fairy, and then somehow they fall in love despite not having any conversations for, like, weeks. Still, it was pretty cute! Suffers a bit from shortness, to be honest. It would’ve worked better if there’s been space to actually go into the romantic details/world building/plot points a bit more, I think.

One Step Further – Felice Stevens ★
A veterinarian and a pseudo-playboy overcome their misconceptions about each other and fall in love, awkwardly. It is super angsty, which at first I was into! But angst only really works for me if it doesn’t turn into melodrama, and I feel like the writing wasn’t quite up to par with what it wanted to portray. Instead of heart-rending, it felt like a pantomime. I liked the premise, but I despised the dialogue and the characterizations.

The Christmas Proposition – K.A. Mitchell ★★½
A Christmas tree farmer and his old flame (who is now a millionaire!) meet again! And also there is family and a wedding and several people who really need to take vacations. Yay, second chance lovers and Christmas! Boo, kinda confusing plot. Am I missing part of the story? Is this building off another book? Where’s the rest of the worldbuilding? Nevertheless, did enjoy most of it.

From Out in the Cold – L.A. Witt ★★★
If you like your Christmas books angsty, From Out in the Cold is for you! One hero’s suffering from PTSD and repression, another just came back from war and is having trouble coping. But they’re best friends! And they find comfort in one another! Woohoo! I ended up reading way past my bedtime so I could get to the happy ending. It was happy! But I’m still a little depressed. Maybe because so much time was spent on the sad things and the happy was just one chapter’s worth?

Mistletoe at Midnight – L.B. Gregg ★★★
Second chance love! Second chance love! Christmas is the perfect time for second chance lovers, tbh, and this one is particularly sweet because the whole family gets in on the matchmaking. Previous high school sweethearts meet up “accidentally” and reconnect, despite issues of abandonment and 15 years separation. For such a short book/story (77 pages!), it certainly packs a punch.

Nine Lights Over Edinburgh – Harper Fox ★★★
More Christmas angst! And, tbh, I wouldn’t actually categorize this as a “holiday” book. Sure, it takes place in December. But neither Christmas nor Hanukkah play any part in the story, and it is NOT sweet or happy. It’s a romantic suspense book with two cops as the heroes; there’s a kidnapped kid and drug lords and nearly assassinated politicians and a weird subplot where somebody tries to honeypot one of the cops. I liked it, though! (Except not for the kidnapped kid plotline being the thing that brought them finally together. That’s gross.)

I Heard Him Exclaim – Z.A. Maxfield ★★★
A dude who, after getting a stent put in his heart and losing a massive amount of weight, no longer feels like the Santa he’s pretended to be for 20 years, meets up with a dude who’s newly become guardian to an adorable little girl after his brother and sister-in-law were killed in a car crash. They connect! Adorable uncle has car troubles! Used-to-be-Santa invites him to his house for Christmas, rediscovers the spirit of Christmas, they fall in love, and it’s all very sweet!

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