Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Champagne Kisses by Lynda Aicher

The Christmas Eve wedding Evan Cleary pulled together in four weeks is crashing down around him and taking his fledgling event planning business with it. With an empty altar and over a hundred guests arriving soon, he turns to the resistant, gorgeous brother of the runaway groom for help.

When Richard Patterson’s flamboyant brother storms out hours before he’s scheduled to marry his equally dramatic partner, Richard is left dealing with the fallout. The last thing he wants is more drama, yet he can’t deny his attraction to the effeminate event planner trying to salvage the wedding.

Evan thinks his crush on Richard is a lost cause, but one steaming kiss later, he learns different. What starts as a night of hot sex turns into a connection neither expected. But Evan knows their relationship is hopeless unless the ultra-conservative Richard can embrace every part of him—both in private and in public.

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Riptide  Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

While I’ve read a few of Aicher’s M/F romances before, this is the first M/M romance I’ve read by the author and I found it to be a quick but enjoyable read. Champagne Kisses begins with a rather smashing start as Evan is forced to witness the demise of a relationship and his event planning business as one of his grooms (Nate) discovers that his soon-to-be husband (Bryan) had been cheating on him. To say the brokenhearted groom had a flair for the dramatic would be an understatement of monumental proportions. But even as one groom flounces away and the other is taken to the emergency room, Evan manages to rally for his business and convince Nate’s mother to turn the planned wedding and reception into a Christmas party.

While the party itself was a huge success and spoke volumes about Evan’s ability to function in a crisis, it didn’t ease the one problem he’d been dealing with for the four weeks he’d been organizing the event – his unwanted attraction to Nate’s brother, Richard. Because the book takes place the day of and the morning after the wedding-turned-Christmas party, we don’t get to see just how conservative and stand-offish Richard had been during the process. However, as more than one character refers to Richard as having a stick up his bum, it’s not that hard to imagine just how loudly he was transmitting the “you’re not my type” vibes at Evan. But as the author lets us spend time in both Evan’s and Richard’s head and we learn before Evan does that part of Richard’s back-off vibe is because he doesn’t know how to handle his attraction to Evan, who represents everything he’s not looking for in a man. Or at least what he doesn’t think he’s supposed to want in a man. Despite his better judgment, Evan agrees to one night with Richard, figuring that’s all he’ll ever get from the man whose actions toward his “colorful” little brother represent the kind of safety and acceptance Evan’s always wanted. All he has to do is guard his heart for the night and that should be simple enough, shouldn’t it?

As most of Champagne Kisses takes place over the course of a 24-hour period (and possibly less than that), the reader isn’t treated to much relationship development. What we have is basically a front-row seat to two men who are attracted to one another and believe that one night is all they can allow themselves to have. Evan sees it as his chance to grab hold a dream, if only for a night. Richard is hoping that their night together will let him work Evan out of his system because he doesn’t have room in his life for more drama than his little brother Nate already brings into it. Despite the lack of relationship development, we do get to see more character development than I would have expected from a novella, especially on Richard’s part. During their hot as heck night together, Richard comes to realize that his off-handed remarks about Femmes were too reminiscent of his own father’s judgmental nature, a trait it was clear he didn’t want to emulate. He also realized that one night with Evan was not enough and would never be enough. I’d be lying if I said that Richard’s actions in the lobby didn’t surprise me. Even knowing where the book was headed, I never would have expected him to take things that far or be capable of such a grand gesture. This is probably why I enjoyed it so much. So what happened the morning after? All I will tell you is that I enjoyed it and that you’ll have to read Champagne Kisses for yourself to find out.

I love to read. It's a simple fact about me that has been true since I discovered the worlds of Judy Blume at the age of ten. This love of reading transferred to young romance (the early version of Young Adult when the stories weren't plagued by vampires, werewolves, and death) which hooked me on the romance genre and the fulfillment that comes with a happy-ever-after ending.

Twenty-five years later, I'm still an avid reader of all types of romance. The diversity of writing in the market ensures that there is always something new to read. I'm still a sucker for the happy-ever-after because there are more than enough not-so-happy endings in the real world that I don't need to read about them. I read a book for enjoyment and I want to feel good when the story ends.

I have the luxury of being a full-time writer, that is, a full-time writer around my duties as mom, wife, cleaner, cook, chauffeur, master scheduler, banker, cheerleader, volunteer, and tutor. Writing has to be a priority, or it would never happen.

I live in the Pacific Northwest which provides many months of rain-filled incentive to stay indoors and write. However, I'm a Midwesterner at heart. A perfect day has the snow falling outside, a fire warming the room, a football game on the television, a roast cooking in the oven, my family hanging out around me and a good book to read.

I'm thrilled to be nominated for a 2015 Romance Writers of America RITA® award (that's the Oscars of the romance world) for my Male/Male book Bonds of Denial. This is the first time any M/M books have been nominated and I'm humbled to be a part of such a great event.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Champagne Kisses by Lynda Aicher to read and review.

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