Guest Review: Texas Christmas by RJ Scott

Today we have a lovely guest review from Barb. *unicorn hooves stomp happily in welcome* :D

Six men with lives linked to the Double D... Danger comes to the Double D from Liam's past and threatens everything Jack and Riley hold dear.

Centering on Jack and Riley, parents, lovers and friends.

Eli and Robbie have their home on Double D land. Their love is rooted in the Texas soil and they weather as many storms as can be thrown at them.

And Liam, a young men with a head full of dreams and sleep full of nightmares, finds that all things are possible when Marcus decides to interrupt his solitary existence.

(Warning: This book is part of a series, and the below review may contain spoilers!)

RJ Scott has taken the Campbell-Hayes saga and wrapped it in a glorious red Christmas ribbon which, when it unfolds, gifts us with a wonderful finale for the many memorable characters whose lives have intertwined with Jack and Riley in this series. 

Three couple’s stories intertwine throughout this book – the story of Jack and Riley and their quest to become a family of six – from adopting Max, to parenting their new twins, hiring a nanny, and finishing the addition on their home.  Eli and Robbie have more of a supporting cast role in this story but we have a chance to watch them move into their new home and reinforce their love and commitment to one another.   The main storyline is about Liam and Marcus and Liam’s personal growth from his previous trauma.  Over time, with slow and patient love and support, Marcus wins Liam’s affections and ultimately the two become fully committed, both physically and emotionally. 

As the story opens, Jack and Riley are putting the finishing touches on their house renovations and still working on Max’s adoption, while the series of delays and setbacks caused by minor issues was maddening for them.  They persist because Max, a sweet little autistic five year old who always carries around his Thomas the Tank Engine, has their hearts completely engaged.    One sentence, while shopping for their perfect Christmas tree, really struck me as so sweet and perfect for the Christmas memory bank:  Riley noticed Max was singing a Christmas tune under his breath and Riley noted that, “Max had a cute little voice to go along with his cute little heart.” 

Liam’s story is the main focus in this book as he is pursued with a single-minded focus by Marcus who continually presses him for a dinner date.  But Liam is still suffering from the trauma he suffered at the Bar Five, where he was raped by the owner’s oldest son when he was only sixteen years old, and he keeps refusing the dinner invitation. When Jack receives a call from the owner telling him that he’s hired a thief, he confronts Liam about why he left that ranch so suddenly. The emotional overload of being a disappointment to a man he respects and of losing the only place he feels safe, has Liam breaking down and telling both Jack and Robbie what really happened.  This emotional dump opens the door to his healing process.  He finally gives in to Marcus’ persistence and decides to go out to dinner with Marcus.  At the end of that date, after allowing a few minutes for kisses that he fears will never be his on a long term basis, he tells Marcus the truth about his past.  He figures that if Marcus doesn’t want him, it’s best to find out now, but Marcus doesn’t react the way Liam fears he will. Instead, Marcus is supportive and loving and committed to starting a relationship with him.   I love Liam’s bravery and the strength of character he shows by struggling through this very difficult confession.  I’m happy that the author later shows us Liam’s decision to seek psychological counseling and to consider contacting the police about the incidents on the Bar Five.

There’s more drama for both Jack and Riley and for Liam himself later in the story but both incidents serve to stress the importance of love and commitment and family support.  Ms. Scott has left me feeling very emotionally fulfilled and very positive about the future for each of these couples and their extended family.  Thank you and Merry Christmas to you too, RJ Scott. 

I highly recommend this book to all who have read the Texas series and if you haven’t started it yet, don’t delay.  Make it your #1 New Year’s Resolution!

~ A Guest Review by Barb ~rede-2-read~ ~

Review: A Prairie Dog's Love Song by Eli Easton

Ben Rivers always was a showman. He won awards in 4-H and rodeo competitions from the time he could walk, and he’s happiest in the spotlight. So when he got the chance to be a star—in porn—he took it. He still loves Montana and everything about being a cowboy, but when news of his alternate identity leaks out, he figures he’s lost the town’s goodwill forever. Clyde’s Corner would never accept an openly gay cowboy, even a hometown boy born and bred.

Joshua Braintree always had the notion that he and his best friend’s kid brother, Ben, would end up together. Ben’s always been a diehard cowboy, just like him: they need the land and its freedom as much as they need air. So when Joshua learns Ben moved away from their small Montana town to be a porn star in Vegas, he can hardly believe it. He’s determined to finally declare himself and bring Ben home.

Despite his longtime crush on Joshua, Ben won’t be as easy to tame as Joshua’s “lost cause” horses. It will take a lot of heart and holiday spirit for Joshua to convince Ben that even old prairie dogs can learn new tricks in the name of love. 

This little story sure does pack a punch!  I wanted to read a heartwarming story to clear out all the angst from prior reads so, after hearing about how sweet this one was supposed to be I decided to give it a try.  I’ve never read a book by Eli Easton before.  I have no idea why I waited so long.

Joshua and Ben grew up together in Clyde’s Corner, a small town in Montana.  Well, more accurately, Joshua grew up with Ben’s big brother Chet and watched Ben grow up behind him.  Both have carried a secret love for each other around for many, many years.  Ben thought his love was unrequited and Joshua was waiting for Ben to grow up.  They almost missed their chance at love.  Almost.

Ben, in a bid to “find himself”, decides to try out gay porn.  He has been in the industry for two years now and no one was the wiser.  Until now.  After an altercation at the diner wherein he was outed to the entire town he flees to the safety of his porn persona in Vegas. 

Joshua finally realizes that Ben is all grown up now and decides to hunt Ben down and make him come home.  He reveals his attraction for Ben to him which culminates into one afternoon of joyous lovemaking.  But is it enough?  Will Ben come home?  Will Joshua have the love he’s always wanted at last?

This book was one I enjoyed very much.  I loved the MC’s as well as the secondary characters.  I especially loved the “hick” talk.  There were quite a few one liners and descriptive sentences that were laugh-out-loud funny.  And the story kept me entertained throughout. 

And even though parts of this story broke my heart it did end up being quite heartwarming.  I would recommend this book and I will certainly be reading more of Eli Easton in the near future. 

Review: Christmas In The Sun - Sapphire Cay #4 by R.J. Scott & Meredith Russell

Return to Sapphire Cay for Christmas. Lucas and Dylan invite their friends to share in their Christmas celebrations on the island along with Lucas’s sister, Tasha, and her husband. Christmas is a time for family, forgiveness, and to look to the future, and this year Dylan has to face up to all three. Unearthing the memories of two men in love, frozen in time and buried among the history of the island, Lucas and Dylan realize that sometimes loving someone is not always enough. It’s about being brave and taking the next step. To learn from the past to move forward. Family has always been important to Lucas since his own was struck by tragedy. Though Dylan disapproves of his methods, Lucas has nothing but good intentions about wanting Dylan to reconcile with his father. The two Grey men haven’t spoken properly in years, their relationship strained by heartache and mistakes reaching back into Dylan’s childhood. Forgiveness is a hard thing to give and sometimes even harder to receive.

Merry Day After Christmas All
Time for A Tropical Vacation!

I’m a big fan of this series. Reading the Sapphire Cay stories are like going on a sexy vacation.  I would recommend reading the first three stories to get the characters, but you want to read them anyway, trust me. There are three established couples working and/or living on Sapphire Cay. A private resort in the Bahamas, Sapphire Cay is a popular spot for destination weddings which is how our two main MC’s, Lucas and Dylan met in book 1.

The bulk of this Christmas story revolves around Lucas and Dylan and I loved revisiting them and getting a glimpse into their lives as an established couple. Lucas is still tightly wound and keeps the Cay running with the ultimate efficiency. Dylan is his perfect balance and does as much as he can to keep Lucas happy. Christmas is coming to the Cay and the boys are looking forward to some downtime to reconnect and spend time with Lucas’ sister and her husband who are on their way to the resort. Family is a very important theme to all the characters in this series and especially so in this book.

It’s always made Lucas sad that Dylan doesn’t have a connection to the father who gave him so much monetarily but nothing of himself as a father. So, Lucas creates some drama by contacting Dylan’s father and man is Dylan pissed. I was with Dylan on this one, I wouldn’t have been happy either, even though Lucas has the best of intentions. It is nice to see an established couple moving forward and working though issues to make a stronger bond and take the next step in their relationship. Those steps can sometimes be painful and we get to watch Lucas and Dylan argue, make up and then really make up.

We also get to spend time with Edward and Jamie who may well be my favorite couple. They are so unexpected, yet perfect together. Edward is such an OCD riddled control freak and Jamie is his dreamy ex Marine and son of the former owners. It’s fun being in Edward’s head and seeing him trying to keep his controlling ways in check for Jamie.

Book 3’s couple is there as well. They don’t make as much of an appearance, but it’s great to see Adam settling in to his new job as head chef at Sapphire Cay and building his confidence. Scott is as charming and sweet as always.

There is one new addition to the family. A homeless mutt, named Mutt that Dylan can’t help but bring back to the island, much to Edward’s dismay. He quickly becomes part of the extended family though and settles in easily. I lied, there is another addition, but that needs to be read about and all I can say is, that is going to be one lucky new family member.

Along with visiting the couples of Sapphire Cay, there was a mystery that put things in perspective for Lucas and Dylan. They find some buried letters outside their shack and as they try to solve the mystery of the men in the photos and the letters, they learn to take the opportunity for life and love while they can and because they can. It was a really sweet and poignant addition to the story.

Review: A Brush of Wings Anthology by Various Authors

Guardian spirits walk among us. They are heavenly beings who grant courage, unknown benefactors who offer help, best friends who lend their strength, and celestial beings who embody inspiration. You might not recognize these everyday angels or messengers of mercy, but the men in this anthology are touched by their purity and light and sometimes blessed by love.

Individual story blurbs can be found on Dreamspinner Press's website here.

4 hearts overall

Happy holidays and merry Christmas to all! In the spirit of the holiday, I reviewed this angel-themed anthology, A Brush of Wings, edited by Anne Regan.

Overall, this was a very strong anthology with quite a number of winning stories. There were a few that I didn't like quite as much, but otherwise, the variety in this collection really appealed to me. While I normally don't read "inspirational" romances, the spiritual elements in these stories are well done and provide enough diversity so as not to be repetitive. All in all, there were more winners than not in this collection.


Morning Glow by Taylor Lochland: 4.5 s. Sweet and heartwarming story about Benjamin, who is coming out of a bad relationship, and Alan, the high school friend who has always been there for him when he's gone through tough times. I liked how this story unfolded and the feelings that the guys weren't afraid to show each other. Despite the fantastical subject of angels, this story felt pretty believable, and I really liked the emotions in this one.

A Trail of Feathers by Sarah Ann Watts: 3.5 s. Poignant, touching short story about a man who is still grieving his dead partner and the angel - a seeming wanderer of sorts - who helps him take the first step on the path to healing. This story's ending was left open-ended, but I thought that was perfect for the short and healing nature of it. The angel's appearance wasn't necessarily a solution; rather, it was a guiding step in the right direction.

Heart's Salvation by Réve Garrison: 2 s. Well written (if rather purple prose-y), but I just didn't jive with this story of an angel falling for a man who just lost his wife and child in a car accident. The time jumps, shifting POVs, heavy religious influence, and GFY type approach (with a throwaway line about having had previous experiences with men prior to marriage) just didn't work for me.

In the Hands of the Gods by Jana Denarde: 4 s. This one was a little different, but it was different in a good way. Set in ancient times, it's rich in details and vocabulary that really set the mood for the concept of ancient Roman gods - or, in this case, a guardian of the family - watching over those who pay tribute to them. I enjoyed being taken away to this much different setting, and I liked the unique vibe of the writing.

A Voice in the Darkness by Patric Michael: 4.5 s. Emotionally fulfilling story about an established couple caught in a terrible accident and the voice that guides the MC through the ordeal. Loved how the story gave us their background through effective uses of flashbacks. Dramatic and ultimately sweet, the ending left me a little teary eyed.

Some Comfort by S. Blaise: 2 s. Not much to say on this one. A slice of life vignette for Mal and Dale. Not a lot happens action-wise, and the tone is a little melancholy, ending on a bittersweet note. Just wasn't feeling this one.

Ascension by RJ Scott: 4 s. Sabrael the angel meets his destiny on a visit to the mortal realm, where he watches over Adam, the last member of the family he was tasked with overseeing. I loved the honesty and emotions in this story. There was extreme head hopping - sometimes in the same paragraph - that was quite distracting, though. Nevertheless, a passionate and enjoyable tale overall.

Sariel by Mary Calmes:  I'm torn on this one. At times a 5 star read, at others a 3, and at others an eye roll, this story was imaginative and well-told, but also insanely melodramatic, too. In a twist, the narrator Jake saves his angel. I really liked that development and how the action of the story unfolded. However, the way their "romance" proceeded was really whirlwind and ridiculous. One big criticism of the story is that Jake's narration sounded like a Harlequin heroine. 3.5 s overall for being a good and uniquely conceived tale that in an odd way fell short in the romance department.

The Platypus Learns Astrophysics by Matthew Vandrew: 4.5 s. Almost like a reimagining of A Christmas Carol with Ebeneezer Scrooge, in this story Micah was sent into Jonas's world to touch the cantankerous and loveless CEO's life.  The story was both ridiculous and sweet, and I kinda loved it. The interactions between Micah and Jonas were injected with a great dose of humor, too.

The Angel Blues by Cornelia Grey: 4 s. Morgan's guardian angel Spencer has his hands full keeping the city cop safe. I really enjoyed this interracial story and its premise. Morgan doesn't know if he's going crazy when he begins to see the same man time and time again in the strangest places. For a short story, the emotional connection Morgan and Spencer built was believable and heartwarming.

Redemption by Clare London: 5 s. Gorgeous story about redemption. I can't say more without giving away the tale, but suffice to say that I loved it. Wonderful world building within this fantasy world and plenty of fulfilling emotions. The beginning was rather dark, but it all came together beautifully.

Herbal Tea by H.J. Brues: 3 s. Interesting premise with good characterization.  I loved Justin and Jamie, and I warmed up to Douglas easily enough. I wasn't too keen on the way the insta-love and the sexytimes unfolded in this one, though, so 3 hearts overall.

The Tenth Avatar by Roland Graeme: 3.5 ♥s. Unusual story about an Indian emigrant and his unlikely love match. The spiritual elements in this story were very interesting and well done. They veered towards a little didactic at times, but overall contributed to a pleasing and uplifting story.

Santangelo by Zahra Owens: 4 ♥s. Heartwarming story about how a stroke of bad luck turns out to be the best thing that happened to the MC Michael. This story felt full and complete with the MCs creating a lasting relationship that was built in these short story pages. Well done, and featuring older (40+) MCs.

The Archangel of Castro by Diana Copland: 5 ♥s. Lovely and sweet tale of a hardworking everyman who doesn't think he's good enough for the (much younger) object of his affections.  I adored this story and its saucy angel, sympathetic MCs, and honest emotions. A fantastic read, it brought tears to my eyes. Wonderful way to end this anthology.

Happy unipornian holidays to you and yours from the Unicorn Mafia!

Review: New York Christmas by RJ Scott & Happy Holidays.

Christmas, and the man of his fantasies is back in Chris's life.

It's been far too long since Christian Matthews has seen Daniel Bailey. In fact the last time they met Chris was a senior in college and he was the TA tasked with helping Daniel who was a way too confident freshman.

Some years down the road, Chris is licking his wounds after being asked to leave the private school where he was teaching. He has no job, no money, and has to rely on his friend Amelia for the job and a room to live in. He needs a freaking Christmas miracle to make this Season anything other than a total loss.

Then Daniel comes back into his life and suddenly everything seems possible. Not only is Daniel still the man Christian wants more than anything, but this time Chris may well actually tell Daniel how he feels.

Another cute novella from RJ Scott. In the run up to Christmas I thoroughly enjoy some seasonal romance and RJ Scott totally delivers this. The couple is sweet, the story-line lite and the romance is cute. Some 'melts me' moments, a fab best friend and a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. A sprinkling of snow and there you have it -  the perfect holiday romance recipe! At this time of year I devour Christmas love stories and I know that RJ Scott is going to be one of my top authors next year once December the first rolls round.

Wherever you are and however you celebrate the holidays, from myself and the other unicorns thank you for your support and have a fantastic, porn-tastic, uni-tastic time.

Audiobook Review: His for the Holidays Anthology by Various Authors

Spicing Up the Season

Hope brightens a bleak Edinburgh December. A man gets a second chance with his high-school crush. A decade-long game of cat and mouse comes to a passionate conclusion. And Santa Claus drives a red muscle car. Heat up your holidays with this collection of four festive tales from some of the top talent in the male/male genre.

The anthology includes: "Mistletoe at Midnight" by L. B. Gregg, "Nine Lights over Edinburgh" by Harper Fox, "I Heard Him Exclaim" by Z. A. Maxfield, and "Icecapade" by Josh Lanyon.

Narrators: Alec McKellen, Max Tatch, Jack LeFleur, Max Bellmore
Listening Length: 13 hours and 17 minutes

Mistletoe at Midnight by LB Gregg  4♥s

This was cute, sexy and just fun. All of the things that LB Gregg does best made this quite an entertaining little holiday read. 

Owen and Caleb get a second chance after being apart since high school. They end up reuniting when Owen is spending the holiday with his family. Because of the whole fam being there, crazy shenanigans ensue. 

The side-characters were memorable and fun, the dialogue was funny and the romance was sweet. It really was just a nice, feel-good, holiday read.

Nine Lights Over Edinburgh by Harper Fox  3♥s

Sometimes I just don't get Harper Fox. This is one of those times. 

Her way of writing can be confusing for me, so I didn't really grasp what was happening until at least 25%. And then once I was in, I didn't really buy the romance. I'm sorry, but the rescue mission to save your abducted daughter is not the time to fall in love. It just isn't. I don't care if he realizes that it's weird, I don't care if love happens at unexpected times, it was weird to me.

I did enjoy the characters and the plot, but just not with a love story at the same time.

I Heard Him Exclaim by ZA Maxfield  3.5♥s

Well, this was just darn cute. I admit, the beginning was weird. C'mon, they meet at a gas station, then when Chandler's car breaks down he just goes with Steve. Just gets in the car. WITH HIS NIECE! So he's a nice guy and has Santa eyes... who the fuck cares? STRANGER DANGER! 

Anyway, once I was past the weirdness of their meeting I really enjoyed Steve and Chandler's romance. I love the way Steve took care of Chandler and gave him confidence. They were loving and sweet and had off-the-charts chemistry.  

Icecapade by Josh Lanyon   4♥s

This is my favorite story of the bunch. I love the premise, with a diamond thief and FBI agent there's bound to be some fun banter. And there was.

I'm pretty sure I say this after every Lanyon book, but I wish there was a little bit more post-HEA bliss time. Just a little bit would have sufficed, I would have felt like they really were going to be together. They way it ended felt more HFN-ish to me and, of course, I would prefer something a little more solid.

This was a great anthology, filled with great stories and read by great narrators. Definitely recommended for holiday reading, and if you're an audiobook listener, grab the audio version.

Find on Goodreads!

Sunday Funday!

Collaboration Nation!

I'm always amazed when I see books that are co-authored by two (or more) authors. Writing is such a personal thing that I have a hard time imagining how authors collaborate to create wonderful story-babies together. When they have the story come out coherently, let alone beautifully, I just sit there in awe. How do co-authors do it? Do they jump into each other's brains and swim around a little before heading back to their own pools?

One of my favorites is One Small Thing by Piper Vaughn and M.J. O'Shea. It's just so sweet, lovely, and emotional.

The collaboration I came across recently for a college-level English class assignment isn't anything like that, but boy was it entertaining. =)


Source: Quickmeme

I'm so glad the m/m authors out there collaborate in a much more effective way. =D

And while I have your attention, please consider popping by Ann and Lorix's Eric Arvin post from earlier this week, in which you'll learn how Eric Arvin brought two unicorns together.

Happy Sunday, and may the holiday season bring everything you wish for!

Review: Mending Noel by Charlie Cochet

North Pole City Tales: Book One

All is not sparkly snowflakes and sweet candy canes in North Pole City. Office workers Tim and Noel do nothing all day but antagonize each other—petty fighting that might be based on hatred… or a heated mutual attraction. It’s up to Jack Frost and his elf-friend Rudy to broach the hostilities and introduce some Christmas kisses, but is the Frost Prince up to the challenge of launching a new romance when someone’s trying to break his holiday spirit?

I adored this book.

Grumpy elves. The North Pole. Rudy the Rein Dear. This story basically exploded in Santa jizz all over my Kindle, and I adored every moment of it.

The worldbuilding in this story is so fun with cute turns of phrases and clever little plays on words for the various persons and magical beings who inhabit the North Pole and make the magic of Christmas possible. I just loved stepping into the fantasy world of the North Pole that Mending Noel creates so effortlessly.

The MC elves were initially a little hard to warm up to for me. We're first introduced to Tim, the beleaguered and down-on-himself office elf who doesn't do anything remotely cool like the cookie bakers or the toy makers. No, he's an office elf, and to make things worse, his boss Noel treats Tim like Noel has received a coal in his stocking every damn year. Poor Tim.

The beauty of this story is that, even though I wasn't warming up too much to Tim OR Noel, the way they resolve their differences -- and the reasons for said differences -- was totally believable in a magical fairy tale kind of way. I even got a little choked up and teary eyed when I found out why poor Noel was behaving the way he was. It was so sweet, and the way Tim handled everything was even sweeter. Hey, it's a Christmas story, and I can like 'em sticky-sweet if I want to!

Mending Noel is a clean romance. That is to say, there are kisses and some light petting, but nothing happens below the belt. I was a little bummed because (call me a perv!) I wanted to see some hot elf-on-elf action. Alas, I had to make do with my imagination.  Even so, this story was perfect for the holidays and a wonderful addition to my Santa jizz arsenal. Highly recommended for those who like their stories sweet and fantastical!