Friday, November 30, 2018

Strays and Lovers by John Inman

Forty-six-year-old Eddie Hightower has a problem. He’s all alone. The only thing that saves him from facing that stark reality is the fact that he isn’t really alone at all. He has a house full of pets and a refuge full of stray unwanted animals he spends every waking hour trying to place in homes. While he loves what he does with all the joy in his heart, that same poor aging heart is still missing something. And Eddie knows exactly what it is. Romance.

But wait. Cue the music. Suddenly, beyond all hope, it happens. In the small desert town of Spangle, California, where Eddie lives, comes a sad young stranger with piercing gray eyes. They are the palest, most stunningly beautiful eyes Eddie has ever seen. Poor Eddie Hightower is swallowed up in their silver depths and disappears without a gurgle. The stranger’s name is Gray Grissom. Gray, like his eyes. Without hesitation Eddie opens his doors—and his heart—to the lost young man. After all, that’s what Eddie does. He finds homes for strays. But this is one stray Eddie intends to keep for himself.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Strays and Lovers starts by introducing us to 46-year-old Eddie, who runs an animal rescue centre from his home in rural Southern California. The story starts off slowly as we learn about Eddie and his animals and the lonely life he lives. At that point, it isn’t particularly interesting. But the story got interesting when Eddie meets 20-something year old Gray at the local hardware store.

Gray is a bit of a mystery and not the nicest or most social guy you’d ever meet. Not at first, at least. I really enjoyed getting to the bottom of Gray’s at time rude behaviour and seeing Eddie and Gray’s story unfold from two men attracted to each other to two men falling in love.

I think my favourite thing about Strays and Lovers is the laid back feel to the story. It is a lovely, easy to read romance. A solid three stars from me.

JOHN INMAN is a Lambda Literary Award finalist and the author of over thirty novels, everything from outrageous comedies to tales of ghosts and monsters and heart stopping romances. John Inman has been writing fiction since he was old enough to hold a pencil. He and his partner live in beautiful San Diego, California. Together, they share a passion for theater, books, hiking and biking along the trails and canyons of San Diego or, if the mood strikes, simply kicking back with a beer and a movie.

John's advice for anyone who wishes to be a writer? "Set time aside to write every day and do it. Don't be afraid to share what you've written. Feedback is important. When a rejection slip comes in, just tear it up and try again. Keep mailing stuff out. Keep writing and rewriting and then rewrite one more time. Every minute of the struggle is worth it in the end, so don't give up. Ever. Remember that publishers are a lot like lovers. Sometimes you have to look a long time to find the one that's right for you.”

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Strays and Lovers by John Inman to read and review.

Christmas Lane by Amy Aislin Release Blitz

It's recent college graduate Zach Greenfeld's favorite time of the year and he's just received a temporary gig planning Lighthouse Bay's Christmas parade. Not only does it speak to his penchant for organization, it also puts him face to face on a daily basis with his unrequited crush—Holland Stone. But his new job starts off in disaster when the most important float—Santa's sleigh—gets damaged.

Holland needs to win the Lighthouse Bay Christmas parade float competition in order to grow his new dollhouse-making business. The prize is an article in a major city newspaper, and nothing beats free advertising. Except, eager to help the adorable parade organizer, he volunteers to help fix Santa's sleigh, leaving no time to work on his own float, and putting his prize at risk.

Damaged floats, snowstorms, and a last-minute parade emergency force Zach and Holland closer than ever. All they need is a little bit of Christmas magic to help them realize they belong together.

Christmas Lane is a sweet, May/December, small-town Christmas romance with an HEA!

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Book 1
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Holland dragged a thumb over Zach’s cheek, causing Zach to break out in chills, and lowered his head again.

Zach met him halfway this time, and it was… perfect. Sweet. Disney-channel worthy tame. Just lips against lips and breathing each other in.

Until Holland tilted Zach’s head, slanting their mouths together, and probed at the seam of Zach’s lips with his tongue.

Zach opened, a combination of excited, anxious, and curious. But, to his surprise, Holland didn’t swoop in and take over. He coaxed. He teased. He seduced.

One hand settled at Zach’s lower back, drawing him in, snuggling their bodies close. The other cupped Zach’s neck. He was hard and firm all over and, cocooned in his embrace, Zach had never felt more cherished. And in this one simple act, where Holland held him so carefully and didn’t push and pressure, Zach had never felt more desired.

They were both breathing unsteadily by the time they separated. Holland’s eyes were at half-mast as he swept that damnable thumb over Zach’s wet lower lip. Zach nipped it playfully, and Holland smiled at him.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This small town Christmas romance is full of festive cheer. Focusing on the build up to Lighthouse Bay’s annual Christmas parade, this is a simple, feel good read.

Like most recent university grads, Zach is underemployed and itching to find a job in events planning. Planning his hometown Christmas parade offers Zach a chance to build his CV while he looks for a long-term job. I really enjoyed Zach’s character. He is sweet and funny and self-deprecating. He reads much older than early twenties – but this is deliberate, and Zach does talk about his struggles to fit in with his peers.

I love Holland. He’s kind, capable, and creative. I love his midlife career change and his calm confidence. Together, Zach and Holland probably shouldn’t work as well as they do. The hot for teacher thing pushed at the boundaries of my comfort with age gap relationships. I never quite got over the fact that Holland taught Zach in primary school. However, by the midpoint of this story I had pretty much forgotten about the age gap. Zach does feel older than his years and Holland’s career change makes him feel younger.

Beyond Zach and Holland are a host of quirky small town characters. I kept thinking of Stars Hollow and Gilmore Girls holiday specials when Zach and Holland interacted with the town and I really loved the characters in Lighthouse Bay.

This is an oddly low heat romance. One of the main characters is possibly grey ace or demisexual and while I like the departure from the typical romance sex tropes, I didn’t feel like this issue was ever properly talked about or fully worked through. Holland and Zach’s sexual connection feels like an afterthought in this story.

This is a sweet and fluffy Christmas read. I enjoyed the small town Christmas good feels and both of the leading men are immensely likeable.

This was a very sweet Christmas romance. Light on steam, a bit of drama, but lots of heart. Zach and Holland are good together. I didn't feel the chemistry between them, but I liked both characters. The secondary characters are good too. Zach was sooo sweet. He just wanted to be loved and was always so giving to everyone. I recommend this book for people who want a nice, sweet, Christmas themed book with little angst and not a lot of steam.

I am so happy that this is the first in a new series, as I have become quite attached to the men of Lighthouse Bay, and there are plenty of them due a happily ever after... plus, I will be happy to read more of Holland and Zach's progress.

This is a lovely Christmas story, which does a great job of brightening up the season with its feel good vibe and romance. I really enjoyed getting to know both Zach and Holland, and how their pasts affected their current behaviour. It was both touching and encouraging, and made their interest in each other much more poignant. Whilst there were moments of drama, overall it was a story which just gave me a warm and happy feelings as I read it.

Can't wait to see who gets their chance at love next.

Amy started writing on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class was forced to stay inside for recess. Tales of adventures with her classmates quickly morphed into tales of adventures with the characters in her head. Based in the suburbs of Toronto, Amy is a marketer/fundraiser at a large environmental non-profit in Toronto by day, and a writer by night. Book enthusiast, animal lover and (very) amateur photographer, her interests are many and varied, including travelling, astronomy, ecology, and baking. She binge watches too much anime, and loves musical theater, Julie Andrews, the Backstreet Boys, and her hometown of Oakville, Ontario.

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The Husband Gambit by L.A. Witt Blog Tour

Marry me for 1 year. Payment: $1.2 million.

Hayden Somerset is convinced the ad is a joke, but he responds anyway because, hello, $1.2 million. He’s broke, living in a tiny apartment with two roommates, and exhausted from praying his ancient car survives just one more week. His skyrocketing rent and crushing student loans aren’t helping either. At this point, there isn’t much Hayden wouldn’t do for that kind of cash.

The ad isn’t a joke. Jesse Ambrose is absolutely serious. His father, the charismatic patriarch of a powerful Hollywood dynasty, has his eye on politics, and he’s counting on California’s liberals and progressives to elect him. But Jesse knows what his father believes when cameras and voters aren’t around. As the election looms, he’ll do anything to force the man’s hand and show the public who Isaac Ambrose really is.

Anything, including marrying a stranger so his father will make good on his promise to disown Jesse if he ever takes a husband.

Now he just has to wait for his father to take the bait… and try not to accidentally fall in love with his fake husband.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆
M/M Romance
Triggers: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

Hayden is broke. He is educated, but broke. When he sees an ad for a husband, it's just kind of ho-hum. But when he sees what the potential husband is willing to pay him for a year, that piques his interest. When he answers the ad, he never expects to meet someone handsome, articulate, and the son of a potential threat to the very way of life that Hayden lives.

Jesse is through with living a lie. He wants to make sure that everyone is aware that his family is two-faced and willing to do whatever they can to earn votes and sympathy. With as desperate as he has become, his ad will serve one big purpose... expose his dad and stick it to him in the same breath. Jesse is not expecting to have anyone answer, but when Hayden's email comes through and they agree to meet, Jesse is immediately taken with how attractive and well-spoken Hayden is.

This becomes of story of friendship, love, acceptance, and ultimately, betrayal too. Jesse is able to see how his siblings and himself have been manipulated for years. But he also gains a family too. Hayden is able to see how fortunate he's been in family acceptance, perhaps fix a relationship that was broken. and he loves them even more when they embrace Jesse. I really enjoyed this story and would love to read more about his "good" siblings.

I loved this book. It’s the story of Jesse, the scion of a wealthy family who wants to prevent his father from entering politics, and Hayden, a broke actor with two degrees and a minimum wage job. Two sides of LA collide when Hayden accepts Jesse’s money and becomes his husband for a year.

Old school Hollywood glamour meets #metoo morality when Jesse wages a secret war against his powerful father. Jesse’s father is more than a little bit Harvey Weinstein and I thoroughly enjoyed the insider view of a corrupt and twisted Hollywood dynasty. The Ambrose family drama is highly entertaining, and I love that it is a bit of a departure from L.A. Witt’s usual writing.

Hayden’s millennial money and job struggles are captured beautifully, and I really admire the way the author makes Hayden’s voice convincing. I actually had to double check the author at one point because I felt like I was reading something by Quinn Anderson or Roan Parrish. I love Hayden as a perpetual student – an adult still living on minimum wage and exhausted by his daily struggles.

This story works because of the perfect chemistry between Jesse and Hayden. There’s an odd sort of balance between these two. Jesse offers Hayden his first chance at financial security and Hayden prepares Jesse for the realities of life without a trust fund. I love Jesse and Hayden as a couple – and I love them even when they're only pretending to be a couple. As far as heat, there are a couple of crazy hot scenes, but the focus in this story is the relationship, not the sex.

Mary Jo☆☆☆☆
This book takes all of the elements of a high dysfunctional family and puts them on a grand display.

Jesse's family is toxic, not only for him as the "gay" son but also to his brothers and sisters. The father, Isaac, is as morally corrupt as they come, and his mother is not much better. It’s hard to tell if she believes the rhetoric her husband is spouting or is just conforming to keep herself in his good graces.

Jesse believes that the only way to stop his father from furthering his political agenda is to expose his true self to the voters. Isaac is contemplating a run for public office and the face he shows the world is one of kindness and inclusion when in reality it’s anything but.

Hayden is a hardworking man whose family has its own brand of dysfunction – nothing on the level of Jesse's family, but issues all the same. His twin brother, Brian, was a successful figure skater until a leg injury stopped his career and any endorsement deals that were on the table. As the child in the shadows, Hayden has felt at times to be on the outside looking in. His brother got all the attention and he got the crumbs that were left. He knows his parents didn't intend for him to feel this way, but it happened.

Now, though, Hayden has a chance for a better life and if it means spending a year married to Jesse, so be it. He doesn't want anyone in office that will stomp on the few rights the LGBT community has gained in the past few years.

Living together, Jesse and Hayden, find a genuine friendship, so much so, that it progresses to the next level. Romance, friendship, and love. That's what life is truly about.

I just loved this book. Hayden and Jesse were so good together. You could feel the chemistry between them. Jesse hit the jackpot when Hayden answered his ad. Heck Hayden hit the jackpot and so did his roommates. This book had drama, love, passion, and one big jerk of a father. It sickens me to think parents are still like this, but I know they are and at times worse. Karma came in this book. Jesse and Hayden are so perfect together and once they hit the sheets, it heats up like crazy. Loved the epilogue and will add this to the re-read pile.

This book provides an unusual reason for a fake marriage. I did find an irony in Jesse wanting to live openly married to a man, yet wanting to do it via a fake marriage – but meeting his family did mean that it made sense.

Luckily for him, the person who answered his advert, Hayden, is a good guy, with a close knit family and friendship group, so Jesse doesn't just gain a husband. Inevitably as the story progresses, so does the realisation that this is more than just a mutually beneficial arrangement. It takes a while for them to act on their interest, and there are actions which seem a little out of character, but overall it works.

If you like the fake marriage genre, then this is an interesting take on it.

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn't lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don't tell Lauren. And definitely don't tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut...

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Husband Gambit by L.A. Witt to read and review for this tour.

Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet by Darynda Jones

Welcome to the world of grim reaper extraordinaire, Charley Davidson. Try as she might, there's no avoiding her destiny.

Sometimes being the grim reaper really is, well, grim. And since Charley's last case went so awry, she has taken a couple of months off to wallow in the wonders of self-pity. But when a woman shows up on her doorstep convinced someone is trying to kill her, Charley has to force herself to rise above... or at least get dressed. It becomes clear something is amiss when everyone the woman knows swears she's insane. But the more they refute the woman's story, the more Charley believes it.

In the meantime, the sexy, sultry son of Satan, Reyes Farrow, is out of prison and out of Charley's life, as per her wishes and several perfectly timed death threats. But his absence has put a serious crimp in her sex life. While there are other things to consider, like the fact that the city of Albuquerque has been taken hostage by an arsonist, Charley is having a difficult time staying away. Especially when it looks like Reyes may be involved.

Just when life was returning to normal, Charley is thrust back into the world of crime, punishment, and the devil in blue jeans in this hilarious fourth installment in the New York Times bestselling series from Darynda Jones.

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Book 4
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet is the fourth installment in the Charley Davidson series. While it would be best to read the series in order, I believe you if you'd read the first few, the reader would not be lost to jump around. While there are a few threads that tie each book to the last, it is so subtle, with the cases taking center stage.

Charley is emotionally suffering at the start of the novel, a combination of agoraphobia and PTSD. Charley is terrified, yet she stays in the apartment where she was attacked, even leaving the chair exactly where it sat during her torture. Instead, Charley has barricaded herself into the apartment with unneeded home shopping network purchases, the boxes clear to the ceiling.

Another emotional punch, Charley and her father are on the outs after what he did at the end of the previous novel. Charley and Cookie no longer make use of the offices they utilized on the second floor of Dad's bar across the alleyway. Which is yet another pile of boxes Charley is using to make her feel safe inside the nest she's made in her home.

But Grim Reaper duties come calling.

Many main threads and side threats pop in and out of importance during the novel. The uncle's arsonist. The terrorized woman asking for private investigator services. Bank robbers. Demons. The motorcycle gang. Family issues with Dad. Learning the scope of being the grim reaper. Fight clubs. Nuns at the convent. An apartment being renovated that they wanted but were told no. Ghosts and more ghosts. Reyes.

All of that is a bit much to fit into a novel, so it came off as a bit chaotic, zany, and all over the place at times, losing focus of its own plot.

With that being said, I thoroughly enjoyed Fourth Grave, finding the same humor I've adored in the other three installments. The same confusion and gut-punch with the daddy issues, even if to me none of what's going on makes any sense with dear ol' dad.

Reyes. Reyes. More Reyes.

It's beyond a slow reveal with the paranormal elements featuring the grim reaper and her abilities, the portals out of hell and into heaven, and why Reyes is with Charley. A trickle from book to book. But slightly more information is given this time around. Slightly. Maybe in another eight books we'll get to the meat of the story.

Highly recommend to fans of crime sleuthing stories with a paranormal twist. Cannot wait to see where the story goes next for Charley and company.

After four books, I think I’m properly addicted to this series. Charley is starting to feel like an old friend and I think the writing in this book is the best yet.

This story is a more complicated read than the first three books. Our tough talking Grim Reaper is still traumatised from events at the end of book three and for the first time we actually see her vulnerable and scared. But this is also the most action packed of the books so far. After four books, I think I’m actually starting to understand the whole Grim Reaper/Son of Satan storyline and the demons add a whole new level of suspense and action to the story.

Charley’s PI escapades add much needed comic relief to a book that could easily become too intense. This time we get bikers, nuns, and a few great scenes from Charley’s increasingly dysfunctional family. I love that most of Charley’s PI success is almost accidental and I love how fate constantly throws beautiful men in her path.

This is an easy series to binge read. I think the writing keeps getting stronger and I love how all the characters continue to develop as the series unfolds.

Book #4 in the Charley Davidson series was necessary, but not my favorite. I would suggest reading these in order, to fully appreciate the building relationship between Reyes and Charley, but I believe you could start anywhere in the series and still enjoy Charley's PI cases.

I'm not going to summarize the story, what I'm going to do is say that I feel the Reyes and Charley angle NEEDS more attention. I really want to see them together and working as a team, I know it would be a dysfunctional team, but it would be awesome for them to work together.

This story was really all over the place. The case was an interesting one, though, and was perfect for Charley to break out of her home. Of course, nothing is cut and dry, and I will say that the resolution did surprise me on this one.

I'm really hoping that the next installment brings some resolution to Charley/Reyes dynamic or brings Ubie and Cookie together. Either way, I need to see what happens next.

Again this book leaves off where the last one finished, so I do suggest you read them in order to understand what is happening.

Charley is still dealing with the aftermath of what happened in the previous book. I love that even though she is dealing with a lot of issues, she is still sassy.

We get to see more of Reyes in this book, which I love because, well, he is yummy.

I feel with this book there is a bit of a slow pace, I really hope it does pick up again in the next book.

Also Available in the Charley Davidson Series

Book 1
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For reviews & more info, check out our First Grave on the Right post.

Book 2
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B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

For reviews & more info, check out our Second Grave on the Left post.

Book 3
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B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

For reviews & more info, check out our Third Grave Dead Ahead post.

Darynda Jones is the winner of the 2009 Golden Heart® for Best Paranormal Novel for her manuscript First Grave on the Right. Darynda can't remember a time when she wasn't putting pen to paper. She lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband of more than twenty-five years and two beautiful sons, aka the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet (Charley Davidson #4) by Darynda Jones to read and review.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

You Had Me at Cowboy by Jennie Marts

This cowboy is falling hard

Mason James is the responsible one who stayed behind to run the ranch while his brother, Rock, took off to play professional hockey. Women have used him before to get to his brother—and Mason intends never to get burned again. But after he meets quirky Tessa Kane at his brother's wedding, Mason discovers he's ready to take a chance on love.

Tessa Kane is a reporter on the verge of losing a job she desperately needs—unless she's clever enough to snag a story on the famous Rockford James. But when she falls for her subject's brother, she's caught between a rock and a hard-muscled cowboy. What will happen when Mason finds out who she really is?

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Book 2
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆
M/F Romance

This is the second book in this series and while it's not necessary to read book one to understand, it will help with character development.

Mason is a rugged, true-to-form cowboy. He loves his ranch. He loves his family. What he doesn't love is feeling like he's being used as a stepping stone for people to reach his famous, NHL star brother. Mason loathes liars. When his brother gets married, Mason has to hear from everyone around that he will be next... that there will be someone out there for him. There's only so much Mason can take before he's ready to leave the festivities.

Tessa is down on her luck. So down on her luck but hoping to catch a break. With her grandma accidentally sending away their entire savings to the Nigerian prince scam, Tessa knows that she needs to figure out how to save their house. Also, Tessa isn't the most confident woman. When she finds herself stood up at a party, she thinks it can't get any worse. Then she loses her job... Just great. As she is pondering how much worse the night could get, she happens to wander into Mason.

The sparks that fly between these two are amazing. I loved how they bantered back and forth. Tessa is nervous because while she is not outright lying, she is lying by omission. She also knows how much Mason hates liars. Mason can't help but be overjoyed that he found Tessa. Could this be his luck turning around?

I loved how this story unfolded. The secondary characters were hilarious and helpful when necessary. I also really enjoyed watching Tessa and Mason get to know each other. They both had some growing to do and in the end, had to figure out if what the felt for each other was worth fighting for.

I really hope there is another book!

Mary Jo☆☆☆
This is Mason's story. Mason has a classic case of what I like to refer to as "middle child syndrome." Not as a good as his older brother and not as a cute as his younger brother.

Granted, Rock is a pro hockey player and has lived a life outside of their small hometown in rural Colorado. Mason is running the ranch, doing everything he can to keep it operational with the help of his mother and younger brother. He's always felt that he has lived his life in Rock's shadow. Especially when it comes to women. More than once, a woman has used him as a way to get closer to his brother.

When he meets Tess, he's open and honest about the fact that he hates reporters and being lied to. And of course, Tess is lying to him. She has to if she wants to keep her job as a reporter for a magazine. She has to get the scoop on Rock's engagement or she's out of a job – for good this time.

Tess is fighting demons of her own, and trying to save her grandmother's house from foreclosure by doing something that she truly hates: infiltrating a nice family all so she can keep the roof over her head.

I enjoyed the book, but I felt the ending drama with her grandmother was a little far-fetched and rushed.

Also Available in the Cowboys of Creedence Series

Book 1
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For reviews & more info, check out our Caught Up in a Cowboy post.

Jennie Marts is the USA Today Best-selling author of award-winning books filled with love, laughter, and always a happily ever after. Readers call her books “laugh out loud” funny and the “perfect mix of romance, humor, and steam.” Fic Central claimed one of her books was “the most fun I’ve had reading in years.”

She is living her own happily ever after in the mountains of Colorado with her husband, two dogs, and a parakeet that loves to tweet to the oldies. She’s addicted to Diet Coke, adores Cheetos, and believes you can’t have too many books, shoes, or friends.

Her books include the contemporary western romance Hearts of Montana series, the romantic comedy/ cozy mysteries of The Page Turners series, the hunky hockey-playing men in the Bannister family in the Bannister Brothers Books, and the small-town romantic comedies in the Lovestruck series of Cotton Creek Romances.

Connect with Jennie

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of You Had Me at Cowboy (Cowboys of Creedence #2) by Jennie Marts to read and review.

Hockey Holidays Anthology Blog Tour

This holiday season unwrap a brand-new collection of hockey romances that includes humor, drama, love, and – of course – hockey!

Each book is EXCLUSIVE to the anthology and NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED by USA Today, New York Times, and all your favorite bestselling hockey romance authors.

Our reviews are spotlighting the M/M romance novellas in the anthology.

Dallas Christmas
by RJ Scott

Logan knows lusting after his captain's brother can only lead to trouble. But when fate throws them together, it’s hard not to fall in love.

Holding On Tight
by Susan Scott Shelley

For defenseman Vince Forsberg and his boyfriend Joseph Parelli, the pressure to make their first Christmas together perfect leads to a lot of chaos, holiday mishaps, and some unexpected results.

A Star-Crossed Christmas
by V.L. Locey

Two years ago, Mitch shared an explosive kiss with his childhood friend Shaun. Will Christmas be the time for the two men to find a future together that works?

The anthology is only available until 11.30.18. Grab your copy now, and help make a difference.
**100% of the proceeds from sales of this anthology will be donated to charity.**

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆
Dallas Christmas by RJ Scott
4 stars
M/M Romance

Logan and Archie had a fling that could have been something. But with Logan not out to his friends and Archie being the brother of one of Logan's teammates... that is just too much against them having a relationship.

Logan can't help but be scared about what his friends and family will think when they find out that he's attracted to men. He is known as the playboy of his team and while it's not necessarily a true observation, Logan doesn't do anything to deter people from believing it.

I really liked how you could see both sides of this story clearly. Logan wants to be able to love whomever he wants and Archie wants a reason to fight for the man he loves.

When all is said and done, Logan and Archie have some choices to make and whether or not they end up together will be a huge factor in which choices are made.

I think of three stories, this was my favorite. It was very well developed.

Holding on Tight by Susan Scott Shelley
3 stars
M/M Romance

Vince and Joseph are almost at a place where everything falls into place. Vince wants so badly to take care of Joseph. He knows that he's lucky to play hockey for a living and wants to make sure that Joseph never wants for anything.

Joseph doesn't necessarily see Vince's generosity as a good thing. He wants to pull his own weight and despite putting out a lot of applications, he's coming up short on a job. Joseph wants Vince to understand this, but both Vince and Joseph's communication style is severely lacking.

This is mostly a story about missing communication, missed opportunities, and overall, the love between two men who won't give up. I was slightly annoyed with all of the miscommunications – it felt very young adult. But it was an overall sweet story.

A Star-Crossed Christmas by V.L. Locey
3.5 stars
Best friends to lovers
M/M Romance

This was a sweet story about a hockey player and snowboarder who realize that they are more than just best friends.

I loved that you were able to see the history behind their friendship and absolutely LOVED the grandma. I also thought that Locey adding in bits and pieces about the moms’ relationship helped seal the relationship history with its present.

It's a quick story and it left me wanting more. I really wanted to see if they were able to truly have the relationship that they both envisioned.

This is a new favourite Christmas read. Anthologies can be a bit hit and miss but I loved all three of the m/m stories I read for review. The length of these short stories is perfect for reading over the busy Christmas holidays when readers only have a few minutes at a time to relax with a book.

RJ Scott’s Dallas Christmas is vaguely tied to her Harrisburg Railers books, but the characters are new and the story easily stands alone. This story features a couple with a history together and a hockey player who might finally be ready to risk his heart. It’s a sweet and angsty read and the couple’s prior history makes the love story believable.

Holding on Tight by Susan Scott Kelley is a story about an established couple struggling to communicate and connect with each other over Christmas. It’s a sweet and sometimes sad story. Joseph’s personal struggles make this more realistic than the average hockey fantasy and I enjoyed the connection between Joseph and Vince.

My favourite story in this collection is VL Locey’s A Star-Crossed Christmas. It tells the story of a hockey player and an Olympic snowboarder. Mitch and Shaun are childhood best friends who start to explore something more than friendship during a Christmas at home with their families. This is the book I’d most love to see as a full-length novel. I loved Mitch and Shaun and I loved their families. I loved the sense of hope and possibility in this new adult romance. The gorgeous New England setting is magical and I didn’t want the story to end.

My 5 star rating is based on the three stories I have read and reviewed below, and the fact that the anthology is at a very low price and its sales contribute to a charity. I bought a copy as well as receiving one to review. I am looking forward to reading more of the stories in the future.

Dallas Christmas (RJ Scott)

This short story avoids the need for insta-love by introducing us to two guys who split due to hockey-playing Logan not wanting the drama that comes with being gay and out in the sport. The fact that the guy is his captain's brother may also be a factor. Luckily, Archie is persistent and confident of his feelings but even so, Logan may just ruin the best thing through his fears. I loved Archie's resilience in the face of Logan's denials.

A Star-Crossed Christmas (V.L. Locey)

This is a Cayuga team story, a series which I have enjoyed a great deal, and would recommend to you. Even though most of the team are open about their sexuality, Mitch identifies as straight, even though his memory of Shaun's kiss haunts his dreams. This is a really fun story bringing together these two childhood friends for a chance at working out what they really mean to each other. Both professional athletes, who went their separate ways after one kissed the other... but both home for Christmas, they may just succumb to the magic of the season.

Holding on Tight (Susan Scott Shelley)

This is a Buffalo Bedlam book, and I have to admit that it is new to me, but I will be visiting earlier stories in the series when I have a minute – which is, after all, one of the joys of reading short stories in anthologies, new discoveries!

I found this short story to pack a lot of punch as it dealt with the realities of the non-hockey player boyfriend having to shape his life around the other. Trying to compromise on career, and deal with issues at his old house whilst also being somewhat beholden to his much richer boyfriend. Yet at the same time, not wanting to be anywhere else, and certainly not with someone else. It is a problem which becomes particularly troublesome at Christmas and almost derails a perfect ending... but luckily the author ensures that we all get the happy ending we desired.

RJ’s goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

RJ is the author of the over one hundred novels and discovered romance in books at a very young age. She realized that if there wasn’t romance on the page, she could create it in her head, and is a lifelong writer.

She lives and works out of her home in the beautiful English countryside, spends her spare time reading, watching films, and enjoying time with her family.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit and has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

She’s always thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers.

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USA Today bestselling author Susan Scott Shelley writes stories with heat and heart, where love always wins. Her romances give readers lighthearted and emotionally satisfying escapes into happily ever after. In addition to crafting stories, she is also a professional voiceover artist and enjoys lending her voice to a wide range of projects. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and is an avid fan of her hometown sports teams. Her favorite things include running (honestly, it's more like jogging), sports (especially hockey), hard rock (but will listen to anything from heavy metal to show tunes), and writing about people from all walks of life finding their special someone.

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V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, Doctor Who, Torchwood, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, two Jersey steers and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.

When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Hockey Holiday Anthology to read and review for this tour.