The sun may be cracking the flags here in the UK, but what better way to cool down than the feel of a little snow on your skin and a heart full of Christmas joy. So today we are celebrating Christmas in July, with four fabulous authors, Heidi Cullinan, R.J. Scott, Amy Lane and JL Merrow… Cue Bing Crosby…
Let It Snow (Minnesota Christmas) by Heidi Cullinan
The weather outside is frightful, but this Minnesota northwoods cabin is getting pretty hot.
Stylist Frankie Blackburn never meant to get lost in Logan, Minnesota, but his malfunctioning GPS felt otherwise, and a record-breaking snowfall ensures he won’t be heading back to Minneapolis anytime soon. Being rescued by three sexy lumberjacks is fine as a fantasy, but in reality the biggest of the bears is awfully cranky and seems ready to gobble Frankie right up.
Marcus Gardner wasn’t always a lumberjack—once a high-powered Minneapolis lawyer, he’s come home to Logan to lick his wounds, not play with a sassy city twink who might as well have stepped directly out of his past. But as the northwinds blow and guards come down, Frankie and Marcus find they have a lot more in common than they don’t. Could the man who won’t live in the country and the man who won’t go back to the city truly find a home together? Because the longer it snows, the deeper they fall in love, and all they want for Christmas is each other.
Warning: Contains power outages, excessive snowfall, and incredibly sexy bears.
Heidi Cullinan has given us two characters that yearn for so much more than life has so far given them, this book is the fairy story we all dream of, where what their hearts really desire is realised, and as with all good fairy tales… there is always a happily ever after, one that will warm your heart and curl your toes… I loved this book!!! …and unlike the snow that had them secluded in a cabin in the woods, my heart was melting.
Once upon a time…. there was a golden haired boy, Frankie, who when a snow storm hits, crashes his beat up car and is stuck in freezing temperatures in the back of beyond. Stumbling across a deserted cabin in the woods he curls up on the couch and falls asleep, thankful of the warmth and shelter from the raging storm. But little does he know, the cabin is the home of the three bears, Papa bear… Marcus, Mama Bear… Arthur and Baby bear… Paul.
Frankie is a sexy little twink, totally effeminate and as hard as he had tried over the years, there was no disguising it, or the fact that he was gay… and being a hairdresser… oops, sorry, stylist, only added to the stereotype.
Marcus our growly, grouchy, grumpy papa bear… is attracted to Frankie, but it is his fear of being hurt that makes him distance himself, he finds it hard to be personable, and his attitude to Frankie is his way of protecting his heart, and really, as big and intimidating as he might be Marcus is just a vulnerable, self conscious man, fearful of getting involved again after having been betrayed by his ex.
Both men had struggled with their identities, Marcus trying to be the big hot shot lawyer in a city he hates and Frankie stifling his personality and every aspect of his life to ‘fit in’ because he was different… both men wanting only to be accepted for what they are, but unable to find a place within themselves that made them truly happy. But living their dream for just a little while together in a the cabin in the snow, makes them realise that the Princess, really can meet his Prince Charming and live happily ever after.
This book is the perfect Christmas read as far as I’m concerned, it has everything… that feel good factor that sooOoo gives me the warm and fuzzies, it made me laugh, smile and of course, especially with me, the happy tears that go with it. I love Heidi Cullinan’s writing and her voice is one that sings to me as a reader… I was cheering from the side-lines for these two men and fell hopelessly in love with both of them. This book left me at the end, clutching my Kindle with a warm glow that only comes from a truly satisfying read… I wholeheartedly recommend this book and it will be one I read again and again… much like my beloved Christmas Movies that come out every year.
I love Christmas and Let It Snow is now just another of those things that make it all the more special.
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Christmas With Danny Fit by Amy Lane
In a perfect moment of cold November sunshine, pudgy accountant Kit Allen realizes Jesse, his new office assistant, is everything he's ever dreamed about in a man. Feeling supremely unworthy and desperate to get a life—even an imaginary one—Kit embarks on a self-improvement campaign featuring DVD fitness guru, Danny Fit.
In the meantime, Jesse has begun a subtle campaign of his own, one designed to bring Kit out of his DVD dream world and into Jesse's arms. Jesse isn't perfect—he's no Danny Fit—but he hopes that the kind, funny man who has been looking at him so soulfully since his first day at work has what it takes to be everything Jesse has always wanted.
Okay are we ready to deck the Halls in July? LOL.
Kit Allen lives with his mother, is thirty years old, forty pounds overweight and a virgin. All his life he's been kept down by his older, sour tempered mother to the point where he's just pushed his sexuality deep within himself and let himself go but then he gets a young, beautiful new assistant Jesse, who fusses around him, sits with him at lunch, talks television and movies with him, and like himself is a total sci fi geek! Unfortunately all this attention (which throws him) from his gorgeous young assistant only brings home to Kit all his physical shortcomings and after seeing Jesse playing basketball with some friends, looking fit and toned, decides he has to do something to get himself out of this rut. So...he starts a fitness regime with the help of another beautiful man...Danny Fit. Only this guy isn't there in flesh and blood so to speak, he's this, hot bodied, awe inspiring fitness guru on a DVD who represents everything that Kit aspires to be and he brings out feelings that kit has been repressing for years to the point where he can't get through a session without popping a boner and giving his hand a workout too! Danny becomes Kits ultimate fantasy but always mixed into those fantasy moments are dreams of Jesse too. However it sparks determination in him and a week later he moves out of his controlling mothers home, buys a small brick house, a cat and begins the regime he hopes will transform him into a man who anyone, hopefully Jesse, would want to be with.
In the meantime Jesse, who is also just as insecure in his own ways and carrying his own baggage, is trying hard to get Kit to see that he really likes his shy boss but of course that passes over the top of Kits head. Still, they do gradually start a really sweet and at times very funny friendship that over the course of the story begins to change and of course, with a few little bumps along the way and the help—and for Jesse, sometimes hindrance —of "Danny Fit," they travel the road to love and acceptance together.
Amy Lane, normally the queen of angst, delivers a clever little story with a mix of cuteness, dry humour and some poignant, tender moments to balance it all out very nicely, and I have to say I loved every page of this endearing holiday story. Not a long one but very satisfying because it never feels rushed or predictable. All in all a lovely Christmas story with heart and just as much fun to read in July as it would be in December! Recommend this to everyone. HO HO HO!
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The Christmas Throwaway by R.J. Scott
Christmas is a time for giving - what do you do when no one gives a damn?
For Zachary Weston Christmas means sleeping on a churchyard bench in the freezing snow with nothing better in his future. Thrown out of his home for being gay, he is left without money or, it seems, anywhere to go.
Until a stranger shows him that some people do give a lot more than a damn.
Ben Hamilton is a rookie cop in his small home town. He finds a young throwaway, fresh from the city, sleeping on a bench in the churchyard on a snowy Christmas Eve. Can he be the one to give Zachary his own Christmas miracle?
Reading a Christmas story in July? What a crazy idea was my first thought when we decided to put together a Christmas-in-July event on the blog but after I started reading The Christmas Throwaway I just plunged into the book and couldn’t stop reading.
Oh boy, this story tugged at my heartstrings like no other before. It’s about Zach, a young gay boy who was tossed out of his home, simply for being himself, and Ben who finds him sleeping on a church graveyard bench on Christmas Eve. Just thinking about a poor 17years old homeless boy made my heart bleed and wonder what the fuck had happened to him.
Zach has grown up in an abusive home with a homophobic father and a mother who just closes her eyes and allows it to happen. Beaten and kicked out with nothing he ends up on said icy-cold bench. Ben is a young police officer who rescues Zach and takes him home to his mother's house where he and his family show Zach more kindness and love than he ever had before. I adored Ben and his entire family, and Zach was just so beautiful, inside and out.
I loved that the story took place over a couple of years. That was a nice touch because it really showed the depth of Zach and Ben’s feelings for each other. I also liked how Ben was a responsible adult and waited until Zach was old enough. Zach had his doubts and his insecurities but he wasn't naive, they both took their time and I really loved their slow relationship development.
The Christmas Throwaway is one of the best Christmas story I've read so far, I was truly touched by it. It shows the hidden evil of humanity and the power of a single act of kindness and love. The writing is excellent, the story well paced and enjoyable, and the characters are loving and caring. I liked that they didn't hesitate to open their home and their hearts when it was needed most. It was exactly the way a Christmas story should be. Worth every one of those four stars to me. Wonderfully done.
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Poacher's Fall (Midwinter manor #1) by JL Merrow
One snowy night just before Christmas, 1922, poacher Danny Costessey rounds off a night trapping rabbits by climbing a tree to fetch some mistletoe for his mother—only to fall and break his leg. Taken to the manor house to recover from his injuries, Danny meets the reclusive owner, Philip Luccombe. Village gossip has it Luccombe went mad during the war, but Danny soon realizes he’s simply still mourning his late lover. As friendship grows between them, Danny starts to fall for handsome, shy Philip.
Danny’s lively nature, roguish good looks, and ready laughter enchant Philip, and he finds himself being drawn out of his shell whether he will it or not. But when Danny tries to move beyond friendship, Philip panics—and his rejection threatens not only their happiness, but Danny’s health.
This is a revised and expanded version of the story previously published under the title of Pleasures with Rough Strife. Everyone who has purchased a stand-alone copy of Pleasures with Rough Strife from the Dreamspinner website (ie not as part of the Mistletoe Madness set) will be able to download Poacher's Fall free!
So the girls had this idea and what did I do? Yep, resistance is futile! So here I am reading a cosy Christmas story in my garden with 35c, shorts on, a glass of iced-tea and blue skies - lol! However, I must say that I loved this little novella from beginning to end and even if it's the middle of summer this little treat got me in a Christmas mood despite the time of year.
Daniel Costessy, a land labourer, falls out of a tree while trying to get some mistletoe for his mum and siblings. He was poaching for rabbits and is found unconscious by the gamekeeper and taken to the Lord of the estate. Thank goodness, Philip Luccombe is a charitable man and takes him in until he recovers from his injuries. An impossible friendship starts, as Phillip is extremely lonely, due to losing his previous lover to the Spanish Flu. Daniel senses this loss and loneliness and also, like himself, Phillip is obviously of the other persuasion. What starts out as a friendship develops into something that is heartfelt as well as it is loving and caring.
I know this is probably a unlikely scenario for this time, but if you just let yourself go with the idea then you have a wonderful little Christmas story, full of charitable Christmas thoughts and atmosphere. The message being for me that none should be alone for Christmas. I loved the period it was set in, giving it an even more Christmassy feeling, one of nostalgia and of days gone by, snowy scenes and the simple pleasures in life. Warm beds, good food, books and friendship. SO one to definitely put on your Christmas TBR list.
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Enter the Rafflecopter below to win one of five prizes.
1 x Signed Copy of Let It Snow by Heidi Cullinan
1 x E-copy of Christmas With Danny Fit by Amy Lane
1 x E-copy of Going Up or If I Must or Turkey in the Snow or Winter Courtship of Fur Bearing Critters, or Puppy Car and Snow.
1 x The Christmas Throwaway by R.J. Scott
1 x Poacher's Fall (Midwinter manor #1) by JL Merrow