December Holiday Reviews 2012 – One A Day – #3

To get everyone into the mood for celebrating winter, the final month of the year, or any of the many religious and non-religious festivals that will occur in the next 31 days, we will showcase reviews for a range of holiday-themed books right here. One a day, and since the books on the web site are all from this year, we’ll give books from previous years some extra attention here on the blog. I hope you will join us in having a look at the “Golden Oldies”!

This is a wonderful collection of stories, reviewed by Lena, who read them last year, and thought it was one of the best Christmas anthologies she ever came across. You can also find it on the Rainbow Book Reviews site by clicking here.

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Book Blurb

Baby it’s Cold Outside

A man receives the gift of pleasure at the hands of two expert lovers. Boyhood sweethearts get a second chance at romance. Two very proper gentlemen indulge their forbidden desires. And a Christmas tree farmer has an epiphany. It may be cold outside but these four holiday novellas will warm you up.

Anthology includes:

My True Love Gave to Me by Ava March

Winter Knights by Harper Fox

Lone Star by Josh Lanyon

The Christmas Proposition by K.A. Mitchell

Stories also available for purchase separately.

Book Review

‘Men Under the Mistletoe’ is one of the best holiday anthologies I’ve ever read. A Christmas story, by any of these authors, would be great, but a book with their talents combined creates real holiday magic. Although it’s an eclectic collection, I found each story quite moving as I followed the characters through their trials and tribulations, all hoping for a second chance at love.

‘My True Love Gave to Me’ by Ava March

Love and hate form two sides of one intense passion and it’s easier than one might think to slip back and forth over the fine line between them. In ‘My True Love Gave to Me’ by Ava March, two young men, Alexander and Thomas, struggle with this concept. They feel love’s passion, but without the necessary maturity and experience to manage it, they reach a rift which seems insurmountable; all the loving feelings turn into intense, almost unbearable pain. The thing about lost love is that once felt, there’s always hope that it can be rekindled, if both parties are willing to forgive themselves and each other.

Alexander is bright, charming, self assured, and comfortable knowing that he favors men. He adores Thomas, showers him with love, and awakens him to his true nature. Although Alexander is able to embrace this, Thomas is not. He’s plagued by doubts and fears which he can’t overcome, no matter how hard he tries. When Thomas finally runs from his feelings, Alexander is thrown into a pit of despair which he’s only able to survive by denying the validity of his love and trust for Thomas. His pain is so intense that he tries to run away from it. He shuts himself off from his emotions, which causes more harm than good. Sasha, Thomas’s endearment for Alexander, makes it easier to differentiate between Alexander’s positive and negative feelings. Alexander’s calling Thomas by his first and last name serves the same purpose. Alexander needs to listen to the Sasha in him and believe what his heart tells him is true, but it’s more easily said than done.

Thomas, after all, is only nineteen when the story begins. How many young men that age know who they are and what they want? He loves Sasha, but has trouble handling his overwhelming, taboo feelings. When he leaves, it’s himself, not Alexander, from whom he is running. Being the shyer of the two, Alexander inadvertently pushes him farther than he is willing or able to go. This causes such cognitive dissonance that Thomas can’t think and feels trapped. Avoiding the issue seems to be the only reasonable answer, but, after four years of running, he realizes that he’s no further than when he started and is never going to be able to leave his love for Sasha behind. So, with hat in hand, so to speak, he comes back to try and make things right again. Giving the word persistence a new meaning, he fights his way through the walls Alexander has erected, right back into Sasha’s heart.

This outstanding story has everything one would want in a historical romance: love, angst, despair, heart break, passion, forgiveness and reconciliation. If these ingredients appeal to you, then you will not want to pass up ‘My True Love Gave to Me’.

‘Winter Knights’ by Harper Fox

How many of us wouldn’t want to meet King Arthur and Sir Lancelot, the famous legends of Camelot? Gavin Lowden, in ‘Winter Knights’ by Harper Fox, is a historian who is fascinated with them. Never in his wildest dreams would he have ever imagined meeting Art and Lance and certainly not under such unusual circumstances. This clever story rides the fence between reality and fiction, all things are possible depending upon how you’re inclined to interpret it.

Gavin is in his own little world. He takes a great deal for granted, especially his lover, Piers. Things are done according to Gavin’s time table, in his way and he may or may not include Piers in the planning process. When Piers rebels and refuses to go along with Gavin’s plans, Gavin is heartbroken, but has no idea how to fix his relationship with Piers. Gavin has to be shown rather than told how to make things right again, and Art and Lance are happy to oblige.

Piers loves Gavin, but is tired of everything having to be his way all the time. He hates conflict, so for far too long he says nothing. When he can take it no longer, he tells Gavin that it’s over. Piers is a forgiving soul, willing to give Gavin another chance. Even thought it seems incredible, Piers believes Gavin’s account of Art and Lance which makes Gavin realize just how much faith Piers has in him all along.

‘Winter Knights’ is a fascinating tale weaving legend and fact together in a unique way. Efficiently and poetically, Harper takes us through a number of unexpected twists and turns which are shrouded in duality, leaving us to consider what is real and what is not. This amazing story sheds new light on the knight in shining armor concept, because Harper’s knights shine with a very passionate, mind blowing light. It’s romantic, sensual, mysterious, full of angst and important life lessons. I believe that anyone with a romantic sense of adventure and a good imagination will enjoy it as thoroughly as I did.

‘Lone Star’ by Josh Lanyon

In ‘Lone Star’ by Josh Lanyon, Mitch had to get away from the life that was smothering him, the small town, his desire to dance, his distant father, and most of all, his lover Web. When it seemed like there was no way to balance his dreams with reality, he had a decision to make and the only way he could do that was by abruptly leaving. Now, twelve years later in the midst of an emotional crisis, it’s telling that he escapes to the place he’d sworn never to go again and finds that his perspective has changed drastically.

Mitch is very intense, high strung, talented, short tempered, and lonelier than he’d ever admit to being. When he left town, he thought everyone would forget him; he certainly never considered that they would be interested in his success. He misjudged them. It slowly dawns on him that the people who he thought didn’t care, actually cared a great deal, particularly his father who was unable to show his love for Mitch, but actually loved him deeply.
Web’s personality sets the tone for the entire story. He’s wise, even tempered, strong, loving, and considerate. Some of his descriptions of Mitch were hilarious such as: “You’re worse-tempered than a stripper in a cactus patch.” He does his best to accommodate Mitch as he wrestles with his conflicts and to show him just how much he cares.

This story swept me away with its easy going pace, genuine characters, close, small town sense of community, and its emphasis on family. It was both endearing and comforting. I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying this story. I highly recommend it to everyone who wants to read a good love story, which is sentimental, sensual, insightful and ends happily.

‘The Christmas Proposition’ by K.A. Mitchell

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they have to set priorities, examine their motives and decide if their loyalty to an ideal is necessary or if they are just clinging to it out of habit. In ‘The Christmas Proposition’ by K.A. Mitchell, Mel is at this crossroads in his life. Mel loves his family and takes his responsibility of maintaining their Christmas Tree farm very seriously, so seriously, in fact, that he’s sacrificing his own happiness. When a former lover blows in from the past, Mel has a decision to make; he can either hold on to the past or reach for a second chance at love.

Mel is a nice guy with a great sense of humor, but has a problem seeing things as they actually are. He lets his sense of responsibility cloud his vision when it comes to those around him, particularly his sister who is a lot more capable than he gives her credit for. He thinks he has to do it all. He needs to be more assertive instead of just letting life happen. Fortunately, his love for Bryce wins out in the end and he goes on to claim the happiness he needs.

Introducing Bryce by having him give Mel a blow job after a three year absence, without even saying a word, is just plain down and dirty, but Mel and Bryce have that kind of relationship. When they come together, it isn’t with a whimper, but a bang on all levels. Bryce has everything but realizes it doesn’t mean much without Mel. I loved his assertiveness; yet he’s willing to understand Mel’s predicament while he subtly and not so subtly tries to convince Mel that his future lies with him.

This story was inspiring, and sexy, and surprising. I loved the interaction between Mel and Bryce which was intense in every way. I loved that Mel valued family and wasn’t going to leave without a viable solution, but who in spite of it all, was able to overcome this overbearing sense of responsibility and go with his heart. I really liked the characters, the style, and the twist at the end. I recommend this story to anyone who likes their romance on the earthy side, yet still full of love and passion.

DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by one of the authors for the purpose of a review.

Buy the book here.

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