#BookReview The Dark and Other Love Stories by Deborah Willis

Deborah Willis has crafted one lovely group of stories in The Dark and Other Love Stories.

This collection is full of humor and intriguing content. No, seriously. I was thoroughly impressed by not only Deborah’s incredible writing style but the imagination behind these stories. Some of them were just wild! The weirdest yet most interesting was a girl falling in love with a man who wants her to be a bird. Like… what? How does one come up with THAT idea? Impressive.

My favourite was the story about a woman going behind her boyfriend’s back and trying to go to Mars. It was funny and yet really moving. My heart ached for the poor man as we watched the scenario unfold. But my gosh, so good! It’s hard to get emotions like that for a book!

I would highly recommend this book. Not only is it not your typical anthology full of love stories and dark and twisted humor, but it’s also just really well written. Deborah has a real talent and it’d be a waste for this book not to find a bigger audience (also, she’s Canadian. ReprIndigoesent!).

I do think this book may fit into a niche category for some readers, since it’s not purely about love and romance. This book is not a romance book, it is a contemporary novel written with love themes. That being said, if you go into it understanding that this isn’t a romance novel and it’s purely based on theming and creative stories, you’ll love it. I sure did! I thought it was a fun ride and I’d love to pick up more by Deborah in the future.

Overall, I’m thoroughly impressed by this book. I will continue to recommend it until my dying days, because it’s a real, secret, Canadian gem!

Four out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

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Your TBR still need some love and affection? Pack it on with these delightful reads:
#BookReview The Heirs by Fran Hawthorne
#BookReview The Perfect Fit by Mary Jayne Baker
#BookReview Law and Addiction by Mike Papantonio

 

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#BookReview The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give is a powerful and moving novel, that is an essential read (in my humble opinion).

YA is powerful. It used to just be my escape from the world, back when I was in high school. I was lifted away to fantastical realms where the girls were in love triangles and were “special”. Their love interests were vampires, werewolves or sorcerers and the girls were fairies or the chosen ones. Nowadays, we still have those escapism books but YA tackles the tough issues too. I went into this book based on a recommendation from my little sister (it is her favourite book and she wants me to watch the movie), and I knew it would be a smash if she loved it.

So, the actual story: Starr lives in a poor neighbourhood but gets to go to a fancy prep school. One night, she goes to a party where shots start ringing. Her old bestie, Khalil, helps her escape and they get into his car. As they drive off, cops pull them over. This isn’t good, because we all know how some white cops get when they pull over people of colour. And, to no one’s surprise, this cop is just like “those cops”. Khalil, unarmed and just trying to check on his friend, gets murdered cold blood. This ignites a war in the city, one that will leave you breathless and heartbroken.

This book opened my eyes a lot. It has a strong voice and makes you see things you might not have seen before. You see everything on the news and you know not every story is accurate. There are fifty sides to every story and you don’t get to hear all of one side. This book did that for me. As a reader, we get to see all of one side and all of the reactions and consequences of one person’s decision.

My emotions were all over the place with this book. You feel so whimsical at times, seeing Starr and her relationship and feelings. She’s your typical teenage girl experiencing life. And then you hear about the horrors of her life, and you feel empathy and just want to give her a hug. But then there’s the brutality, and your heart aches and you get angry over how things are going down. Why aren’t there consequences for these things? Why does none of it make sense?

Even the side story of the racism among friends hurt my soul. I was so confused on the other girl’s perspective on why she was right, yet I know there are people like that out there. It wasn’t just one out of tune joke, it was many.

This book is 100% worth your time. It is a longer book (almost 500 pages, wow. And I binged that in a day!) and that is the only negative I could see – it’ll take a while to read. That being said, it’s an important story and there isn’t anything I would remove from this book. It’s just the perfect length and gives enough information to make you understand all of this story.

As I said, YA is powerful. Having YA introduce and discuss these topics is a thing of wonder. Literature is powerful and it’s giving people a voice. A voice that may not be able to be shared without these forms of mediums. Thank you Angie Thomas for sharing an important story and making it so well written and so darn good. Now give me more books like this, ASAP!

Also: Tupac being the one to inspire this title blew my mind. I never connected the dots until the book pointed it out! I’m impressed x5.

Five out of five stars.

If you haven’t already checked this book out, you can find it on:
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Here are some other books on my blog that you might enjoy if you liked The Hate U Give:
#BookReview #BookTour Baller Boys by Venessa Taylor
#BookReview I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan
#BookReview Down in the Belly of the Whale by Kelley Kay Bowles

 

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#BookReview Love Comes for the Rock Star by Savannah Adams

Love Comes for the Rock Star is another fabulous addition to the Magnolia Grove romance series by Savannah Adams!

This series is absolutely my guilty pleasure series. I sink into these books and am whisked away into a beautiful, romantic world. I couldn’t put the book down and totally binged the whole thing, all the while making notes of the cutesy things that happened along the way!

This time around we have Rick Miller, rock star extraordinaire who just wants some time away from the spotlight, and Macy Cooper, a music teacher and conductor who just wants her students to succeed. These guys met back in vacation bible school when Rick pulled the cute little Macy’s hair and ran away – over and over and over. Flash forward twenty years, and these two soulmates bump into each other… and as it is said, the rest is history.

There are so many amazing things about this book, but let’s just settle on a few of my personal faves:

1. Star Wars themes for ringtones? YES PLEASE! My inner nerd got so thrilled! The Imperial March from Empire Strikes Back and The Darth Vader theme? Heck yes!

2. I thoroughly enjoyed thinking that Rick was strutting around like Mick Jagger on stage. That had me giggling.

3. “Smart aleckey” – I thought I was the only one to use this kind of lingo? Apparently I am not!

4. Music teacher + Rock Star = Love? It’s just too darn adorable.

5. The connections to the other stories was super sweet. Thankfully, these books can be read as a standalone. It’s more of an easter egg than a necessary evil to read the other books. You can understand these easily without any prior information.

Overall, this book was just amazing! I’m so glad I picked up another book in this series. I hope it continues so I can binge more, and I hope that many other readers come to read and love this series just as much as I do!

Five out of five stars!

Thank you to Savannah Adams for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

You can find this book on:
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Find out more about Savannah Adams:
https://www.savannahadams.com/
Twitter @HEA_Romance
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Here’s a review I did for the other books in this lovely, little series!!
#BookReview Love Comes for the Bodyguard by Savannah Adams
#BookReview Love Comes for the Army Ranger by Savannah Adams

 

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#BookReview A Spoke in the Wheel by Kathleen Jowitt

A Spoke in the Wheel by Kathleen Jowitt is a lovely contemporary novel following the lives of a former cyclist.

Ben, our former cyclist who had to quit the sport due to a doping scandal, moves in with Vicky and Polly. All three love cycling to various degrees, and that’s what brings them together. We watch these characters grow and move through life as Ben finds his solace outside of the cycling world. Polly has been ill for a while and is in a wheelchair, and is working hard to try to find her place in the world now that her dreams have changed. Vicky also loves cycling and is in a club but is also a workaholic.

The biggest thing about this book was the diversity. I liked seeing members of the LGBT community and a woman in a wheelchair. These two topics weren’t shown as something mind blowing, it was just normal. This whole book felt like a coming of age and finding yourself story. It was quite lovely and simple to read. We just followed their lives.

If you like slice of life books, then this book is for you. It’s a wonderfully written story just following the lives of our main characters. We watch them grow, change and react to the world around them. It was the kind of “simple” read I needed – it didn’t have a complicated plot, it was easy to read and it wasn’t dramatic. It’s just lovely.

Overall, I’m impressed. Kathleen Jowitt has a great writing style and made Ben’s voice very readable.

Four out of five stars.

Thank you to Kathleen Jowitt who provided me a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

A Spoke in the Wheel

The first thing I saw was the wheelchair.

The first thing she saw was the doper.

Ben Goddard is an embarrassment – as a cyclist, as an athlete, as a human being. And he knows it.

Now that he’s been exposed by a positive drugs test, his race wins and his work with disabled children mean nothing. He quits professional cycling in a hurry, sticks a pin in a map, and sets out to build a new life in a town where nobody knows who he is or what he’s done.

But when the first person he meets turns out to be a cycling fan, he finds out that it’s not going to be quite as easy as that.

Besides, Polly’s not just a cycling fan, she’s a former medical student with a chronic illness and strong opinions. Particularly when it comes to Ben Goddard…

Find out more about this book by visiting:
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Author Biography
KJpic

 

Kathleen Jowitt was born in Winchester, UK, and grew up deep in the Welsh Marches and, subsequently, on the Isle of Wight. After completing her undergraduate degree in English Literature at the University of Exeter she moved to Guildford and found herself working for a major trade union. She now lives in Cambridge, works in London, and writes on the train.

Her first novel, Speak Its Name, was the first self-published book ever to be shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize.

Click the links below to visit Kathleen Jowitt:

Website www.kathleenjowitt.com\
Twitter www.twitter.com/kathleenjowitt
Facebook www.facebook.com/kathleenjowitt
Instagram www.instagram.com/kathleenjowitt
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kathleen-Jowitt/e/B01CDJN1HE/

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**Pictures provided by the author. I do not own these pictures.

#BookReview Between Sisters by Cathy Kelly

Between Sisters by Cathy Kelly was a beautiful contemporary drama.

This novel follows a family through their treasures and troubles. Cassie and Coco are sisters whose Mother left them when Coco was only one and Cassie was eight. That memory hurts and shapes them as adults, leading to a lot of the conflict in this novel. Pearl is their grandmother, who took care of the girls with the help of their Father, when their Mother left.

As adults, Cassie is married and is a strong, working woman. She has two beautiful daughters, Beth and Lily, and seems to have it all: a nice house, a loving husband, two beautiful girls, a lovely sister and a helpful grandmother. Alas, that is not true. Cassie enjoys the drink when life gets tough, and life has been very tough lately. Shay, her husband, seems to be more interested in his Mother than Cassie. Even when Cassie brings it up, Shay doesn’t seem to realize that he doesn’t spend anytime with his wife or kids anymore.

Coco is thirty, flirty and thriving… or so we think. She owns her own vintage clothing store (life goals, much?) and has an awesome bestie named Jo, and is close to Jo’s daughter. A few years back, Coco broke up with her fiancee Red when she thought he was cheating on her. Ever since, she’s had some dates but hasn’t settled won. But, Red has been seen around town… is she over him? And what will she do when tragedy strikes close in her life?

I absolutely LOVED Cassie and Coco. Their story lines kept my hooked to this book like there was no tomorrow. I couldn’t help but binge their stories because I needed to know how they turned out. I felt these girls were very relatable (either hurt or thriving in the loss of a parent) and dealt with realistic scenarios in realistic ways. I did find their intertwined stories very sad (and I kind of want to know how a couple of them played out) but in the end I think it had a good message and moral. We can either grow, do nothing, or let the hurt define us.

The ending itself is very beautiful and I’m glad a certain plot line was able to close. There are some open ended questions left with us, but the ending itself felt… good. It felt nice and made my heart sing and soar! It’s the happy ending I won’t get, so it makes me feel very good inside.

I didn’t enjoy every plot line as much, but not because they were bad. Pearl and Pheobe’s stories didn’t intrigue me as much, but it’s because I just didn’t relate as much to them. They were still beautifully written and a marvelous addition to the book though! Don’t be scared off because I don’t relate to an older grandmother! I also really did not like Shay. Man, was he dumb… He loves that his wife is blunt and to the point, but doesn’t like it when he’s called out on his bullcrap.

If I had a negative for this book, it would be that some chapters moved at a really fast pace while others were slow. Since there was enough fast to out-weight the slow, it didn’t bother me as much. I can see some people not enjoying it though.

My biggest positive is that all storylines eventually intertwine. I love books like that! When you start the book, some of the people seem like they don’t belong… until they do. Cathy does this seamlessly and makes it super impressive! That’s one of the reasons I can rate this book so high. Not only does Cathy have excellent style in her writing, but she can also make it work!

Overall, I am so happy I read this book! It gave me a few too many tears for my own personal liking, but it’s still a gem hidden among my shelves.

Four out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

 

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If you enjoyed this book (or review!) here’s some others you might enjoy:
#BookReview A Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon
#BookReview Driving on the Left by Gail Ward Olmsted
#BookReview Literature® by Guillermo Stitch

 

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#BookReview The Heirs by Fran Hawthorne

The Heirs by Fran Hawthorne is a delightful, contemporary novel that lit up my bookshelf.

Eleanor’s Mother, Rose, has a terrible fall and is suddenly speaking Polish. For many years, Rose has kept her history of the war a secret and not shared a word to a single soul. This sudden change sparks interest in Eleanor and the hunt for a secret past begins. Family secrets are unlocked, drama ensues and life lessons are learned. Will her marriage survive? Will her Mother and her’s bond survive? Will her son ever enjoy soccer?

I found this book truly intriguing an addicting. It’s hard to tell which way this book is going to go right off the bat, which is why I truly enjoyed it. There’s so many secrets hidden and discussed, slowly being revealed as each chapter rolls on. Eleanor’s entire life seems to be falling at the seams, and yet she keeps her cool and manages herself through all of it. Not only was this book about discovering the past, it was also about taking control of your present and future! Eleanor has to manage taking care of her Mother while trying to be a wife and a Mother. Not all of her life is sunshine and roses: her relationship with her Mother is strained, her cousin seems to have a better relationship with Rose, her marriage isn’t in tip top shape, her son isn’t interested in sports, and there may be a man flirting with her! There’s so much going on for Eleanor and yet she handles it all like a pro (with some stumbles, but we all stumble once and a while).

Fran crafted this story wonderfully. I think enough information is released piece by piece, but it also moves at a fast enough pace to keep the reader interested. It’s full of contemporary drama and insights into the past (specifically World War ll).

I can truly respect this book. I found it super engaging and I definitely want more. I could analyze this book while also drifting off into another world that reflects my own.

I can’t find any real negatives about this book, if I’m being honest. I never studied much history or took a giant interest in it, so I felt like I didn’t connect with the history as much as my history buff friends could have. People who enjoy history might like the little splash of Poland that is thrown in.

Overall, I’d highly suggest this book. I think Fran has crafted one of the best books of 2020 and I will be singing it’s praises for years.

Five out of five stars.

I received this book for free from the author, Fran Hawthorne, in exchange for an honest review.

 

Check out this book on:
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You can find out more about the author, Fran Hawthorne, on:
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http://www.hawthornewriter.com/
Twitter – @hawthornewriter

 

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#BookReview Barefoot Beach by Debbie Mason

Barefoot Beach by Debbie Mason is a lovely romance novel filled with suspense, a sexy firefighter and one headstrong female lead.

I honestly wish I had read the full series before I got to this book. Even though it works as a stand alone, I felt like I wanted to know more of the background story. For one, there’s a ghost in this story that made me really want to know how the supernatural made it into this book. There’s also so many other romances that are hinted at that I would have love to see come together. Either way, the book is still good but I highly suggest reading the full series to make it to this book.

Theia and Marco are the two leads – a headstrong pilot who finds out more about herself in this journey and a sexy firefighter who does not want to have his family play matchmaker for him. Well, turns out that whole matchmaking idea is thrown out of the window when he meets Theia. We learn a fair bit about Marco’s ex in this story too, which had me wondering if there was a previous book about her.

The duo definitely have a sexy, slow burn romance story. When we do get to the romance, it’s pretty darn hot and suggestive. It honestly felt like the best of both worlds for me – I like slow burn where their relationship builds over time but I also love the sexy and steamy romances. Also, they weren’t the “typical” couple (let’s be honest though, this type of couple is becoming more common…) where he doesn’t want a relationship and she is headstrong, secure with her life and doesn’t need no man. Well, until they meet each other and spend a lot of time with each other. But who doesn’t want a sexy firefighter/paramedic with rock hard abs, amazing cooking skills and a sweet heart?

There’s also this fun “side story” with Theia being related to one of the major families of this series. I’m sure there’s a lot more to this story line throughout the series, especially with the whole ghost thing, but I found it interesting. It’s something I would have loved to know the back story for. The book does give you enough information to get along though.

Overall, this book is full of fun banter and witty comments. I really enjoyed this novel and hope to read more in this series. Debbie knows how to make an entertaining romance book that moves fast enough to keep you interested but slow (burn) enough to leave you grasping onto the novel.

Four out of five stars!

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

You can find this book on:
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Here’s some other books you might enjoy if you love Barefoot Beach:
Book Review: Happy Ever After in Christmas by Debbie Mason
#BookReview More Than a Feeling by Sara Richardson
#BookReview For Her Own Good by Tamsen Parker

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#BookReview Before the Rains by Dinah Jefferies

Before the Rains by Dinah Jefferies is a lovely romance set in the 1930s.

I love historical romance novels, but I just have a hard time finding ones I enjoy. Lucky for me, Dinah Jefferie’s book swept me off my feet after prancing into my life.

Eliza, a newly minted widow, is sent to India by the British government to take many lovely pictures of the Indian royal family. She’s a photographer, so it is only fitting that she be one of the few to see inside the royal family’s lives. She meets Jay, an Indian prince who takes her eye, and they begin a dramatic love affair. Along the way, there’s an old (creepy) friend named Clifford who also sees Eliza as the apple of his eyes. Chaos then ensues. And to top it all off, somehow, because fate is cruel and interesting, she seems to know more people than she realizes.

This little book holds so much emotion in it. My heart went on a roller coaster as I tried to figure out how this book was going to end. I was connected to this book by the hip – I needed to know how it ended and I was totally obsessed with it. It’s a medium-paced book but it’s packed full of tears, heart ache, romance, and drama.

The plot does get predictable half way through the novel, but it’s not a major con for me.

If I had a negative for this book, it would be the historical accuracy. I’m not a historian, but I feel like this love affair would have been a much bigger deal in the grand scheme of things. It was definitely a cause of strife in the book, but it seemed to go over pretty well at other times. It was… strange? Either way, the book was still a great romance/dramatic read. I would highly recommend it if you love historical romances, romances set in other geographic locations (not just the good ol’ US of A), or soap opera-esque books. This book felt VERY soap opera-y (in a good way, of course).

On top of the amazing-ness of this book, the cover is absolutely stunning. If you were going to judge a book by it’s cover, pick this one! All of Dinah’s books have truly marvelous covers.

Four out of five stars.

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

 

Check out this book on:
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Amazon.ca
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You can find out more about Dinah Jefferies on:
https://www.dinahjefferies.com/
Twitter – @DinahJefferies

 

If you enjoyed this review (or book!) here’s some other novels you might enjoy:
#BookReview Sex and Death Edited by Sarah Hall and Peter Hobbs
#BookReview The Age of the Child by Kristen J. Tsetsi
#BookReview I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan

 

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#BookReview A Bicycle Made for Two by Mary Jayne Baker

Oh, Mary Jayne Baker. It’s like you wrote this book just for me! It’s 100% British and took me back to my youth when my Dad used every British slang word and saying he could all day, everyday. Meanwhile, it’s a cute, comedic romance that reminds me I’m an adult. It’s safe to say, this book was a nostalgia trip for me and a half!

If I had to pick one word to describe this book, it would be quirky! It doesn’t totally fit into one category for me, and that’s totally okay. It has a lot of comedy, a pinch of romance, some epic drama and lots of fictional heists to follow. Just labelling it one of those words (or genres) would be a tragedy! This book is just too good to be put into one little corner.

So, down to the meat of it: Lana Donati is our lead, but her brother Tom, friends Yolanda, Gerry, and Sue, a sexy television star named Hunter, and the love interest/former pro cyclist Stewart all take part in this story too. This book starts out seeming like it’ll be your typical romance: Lana and Stewart have a date but then… oh yes… the date goes sour. Stewart doesn’t call Lana and life goes to the pits. Her Father passes away and leaves the siblings his restaurant and the Tour de France is coming to town! Big things are coming Lana’s way…

For reference, I’m Canadian (half British, but good ol’ Canada is my home) so I don’t have many British references to give you. If I had to pick one that the masses from North America and the U.K. would understand, I’d relate this book to Coronation Street. It has the fun and quirky characters, the dramatic plot and British-ness I love about the show. But, sometimes that show can get depressing so imagine the funny and romantic storylines.

The banter itself is golden. I started highlighting all of the hilarious comments on my ecopy and I almost highlighted half the book (whoops!).

Since I don’t want to deal with too much copyright, here’s two excellent comments that made me laugh hysterically and giggle and chuckle and all of the fun laugh terms:

“Scott Spen, 26. Looks like a sheep, sounds like a sheep, may actually be part sheep.” Like, dude, who doesn’t look at dating profiles and think stuff like that?! Just me? Cool.

“A honking good pair.” Without context, sounds brutal. Read the book and you’ll be giggling along with me.

Comedy like THIS is what gets me laughing. Witty sarcasm is the best kind of humour, so I absolutely loved this novel.

Did I have negative? Of course I did! No book is perfect.

In some places online, this book was marketed more like a romance, and it’s not a pure romance. It’s more comedic romance, not Hallmark or Harlequin style romance at all. If a reader comes specifically for that romance, they will be let down. But… does that ruin the book? Heck no! That’s just my point of view.

Overall, this book is an absolute delight and totally fits into my wheelhouse! I love Mary Jayne Baker’s writing and will definitely be sticking around for the long haul. This book was marvelous!

Five out of five stars!

I received a book for free from the publisher in exchange of an honest review.

 

Check out this book on:
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Amazon.ca
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Indigo

 

Find out more about the amazing Mary Jayne Baker on:
http://www.maryjaynebaker.co.uk/
Twitter – @maryjaynebaker
Goodreads – Author Page

 

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#BookReview Hot for the Holidays by Marie Force, Tamsen Parker et. al

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy Christmas! Merry Holidays!
To continue this amazing season of holiday books and cheer, check out a super sexy collection packed full of romance and sexy Santas!!

 

To begin with, I was not able to read all of the stories in this super sexy collection. I do plan on finishing it, but I figured this book deserved a review during it’s peak.

I originally picked up this book for free during a wondrous sale so I could read Tamsen Parker’s story. I’m a big fan, so of course I wanted to read about some sexy Santa/Elf play with a bit of a May/December romance. Gosh darnit, it was sexy and seriously silly. The amount of Christmas puns killed me. I’m not quite sure how she can mix ridiculously hot sex scenes with Christmas puns and make it work, but goshdarnit she did it!

Holly is home for the holidays and is working at her kinky sex play/dungeon where people hook up and play for fun. Her boyfriend is supposed to pick her up, but like most boyfriends who you go out with when you bounce off to post-secondary school, he turns out to be an absolute dick. He sends his Dad Cal instead and it’s slightly awkward. That is, until, Holly and Cal decide to have some dirty, sexy Santa-Elf play. It’s hot, it’s full of fa-la-la-la-la-la-ing puns and it’s a story I’d love to see expanded. I want to see the fall-out of Holly and her former boyfriend’s relationship SO BAD. Holly and Cal seem like a better couple anyways.

It took me a few days to read it, but not because it wasn’t good. I decided to drag it out to enjoy the fabulous-ness of Tamsen’s writing. Then, I stayed for the other stories because this anthology is so good!

In full, this collection has 13 sexy holiday stories to fill up your TBR. Some of my recent faves are apart of this collection (Skye Warren, Marie Force, & Noelle Adams) and they’re all short and sweet (or super naughty, whichever you prefer). If you are going to get anything out of this series, come for an author you’ve loved in the past and meet some new authors to binge in the future.

Five out of five stars!

Check out this marvelous book on:
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If you love sexy books, these books might make it on your TBR (take a peek!):
#BookReview For Her Own Good by Tamsen Parker
#BookReview Naked by Kay Brandt
#TopBooksList Briar’s Top Romance Novels

 

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