Friday, December 2, 2022

New Release-Excerpt & Giveaway: THE REAL THING by Elle Keaton (West Coast Forensics #5)

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The Real Thing
By Elle Keaton

The Real Thing Ebook (1)

West Coast Forensics, Book 5

An oblivious prince wishes for his knight in shining armor. His knight has been under his nose all along, will he claim him before it's too late for them both?

As deeply as he craves his own fairy tale happily-ever-after, resort owner Cody Prescott doesn't have time for a relationship. That doesn't stop him from crushing on most men on Piedras. Luckily for him, they're emotionally unavailable or already taken, so he doesn't have to worry about getting attached.

Wade Buckner, the island's handiest handyman, is tired of waiting for Cody to wake up and realize Wade is the man for the job. He's ready and willing to rescue Cody from just about anything, even questionable hotel guests.

The Harvest Feast is the kick-off for the resort's one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary and they have a full house. But something sinister is afoot at the resort, something that even his knight might not be able to rescue Cody from.

Are they trying to kill him, put him out of business, or both?

#grumpy-sunshine #FamilyHistory #OnlyOneBed

The Real Thing, book five in the West Coast Forensics series, is dual POV and follows Cody and Wade all the way to their happy ending. Can be read as a standalone but might be better enjoyed if you start with Real Trouble, first in the WCF series.

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Excerpt

Wade knew one thing though. He was making some changes and it was starting with Cody Prescott. After today.

After today, he wasn’t rushing to Cody whenever he called. That era was over. In the last six months or so, it had become painfully obvious that Cody Prescott had no idea Wade existed except as a walking tool box.

Except the fact that he suggested you move in with him, that irritating voice reminded him.

Cody was always about to fall in love or mooning over a random hot guy he’d seen on the ferry. Once it was the new Food Services of America sales bro with his RayBan sunglasses. And his brown eyes lit up when Chief Flynn stopped by for the biannual safety inspection, in a way Wade knew they never did when Cody looked at him.

Leaving his bulging rucksack locked in the truck, Wade slammed the door, jiggling the handle so it would shut properly, and jammed his hands into the extra-thick semi-weatherproof Carhartt hoodie Cody had given him as “sort of a bonus” after Wade had complained about how f*cking drafty his studio was.

Yeah, and the socks too. So, he does think about you, his inner voice snarked.

Whatever. However Cody thought of him, it wasn’t the way Wade wanted him to. Just one of these days Wade wanted Cody Prescott to look at him with the same hunger in his eyes that he had when a suited-up or otherwise expensively dressed guy with sunglasses on his head and a Rolex on his wrist strode into the resort, brandishing their American Express Black cards and platinum wives or girlfriends.

Bitter much?

Wade was rough. His hair was longer than the guys Cody looked at wore theirs. After separating from the military, he’d sworn he would never keep it short again. His razor hardly ever saw use. Wade’s clothing came from Costco, his work boots from Red Wing, and he didn’t have designer soap or fancy aftershave. He was plain old Wade Buckner, a low-end model for a boyfriend.

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Enter the Giveaway:

To celebrate the release of The Real Thing, we're giving away an e-set of the West Coast Forensics Series so far (5 eBooks)!
 
Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win!
 
 
 
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About the Author:

Elle Keaton writes contemporary gay romance and MM romantic suspense set in the Pacific Northwest. Elle’s books are known for their hot mm romance, complex characters, and unique sense of place. The men start out broken, and maybe they’re still banged up by the end, but they always find the other half of their hearts.

Elle published first in 2017, now she has over seventeen books available for you to read or listen to.

She loves cats and dogs, Star Wars and Star Trek, pineapple on pizza, and is known to start crossword puzzles with ballpoint pen.

Love always wins, thank you for supporting this indie author!

Connect with Elle:

Facebook - Facebook Group - BookBubInstagram - Twitter - MeWe - Website - Amazon - Goodreads


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Thursday, December 1, 2022

New Release-Review & Excerpt: PRETTY POLICEMAN by Fifer Rose - Includes Giveaway!

Pretty Policeman

Author and Publisher: Fifer Rose

Cover Artist:  Pretty Indie: Book Cover Designs

Release Date: December 1, 2022

Genre: M/M Mafia/Billionaire Romance

Tropes: Mistaken identity, forbidden love, sugar daddy kink 

Themes: Dark themes, but taken fairly lightly and sprinkled with rom-com elements, professional/personal integrity vs. love

Heat Rating:  4 flames

Length: 128 000 words

It is the beginning of a series, but can be read as a standalone. It does not end on a cliffhanger.

Buy Links - Available in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

Blurb

Detective Micah Hart wasn’t sure when his fairly safe, predictable life became something more closely resembling a dumpster fire.

But if he had to pinpoint an exact moment, he would say it was the first time he went undercover as a prostitute in an attempt to bait the notorious serial killer that was stalking New York City’s streets – the media-dubbed Hooker Hunter.

It’s when Damon Romano plows into his life, with his fierce protective energy, and those thick thighs, and the bluest pair of eyes Micah has ever seen. 

If only he wasn’t also a temperamental mafioso in charge of running one of the city’s largest criminal empires.

Damon fixates on Micah, obsessing over feeding him and making sure he always has a coat.  He spoils him rotten with gifts and insists on taking Micah on as his personal escort – a “boyfriend” to get his nagging sisters off his back. 

It’s weirdly sweet, and Micah doesn’t know how he’s become a soft spot in the ruthless man’s otherwise hardened exterior, but it would be a lie to say he didn’t want even more: a real relationship with Damon.   

There was just one teensy, tiny problem with that.

Despite what Damon thinks, Micah isn’t actually a prostitute.  He’s a cop for the NYPD. 

Pretty Policeman is an M/M billionaire mafia romance, sprinkled liberally with rom-com elements, served with a side helping of sugar daddy kink and mistaken identity trope.  

Excerpt

“Quit staring.” 

“I’m not.”

“Oh, you are, honey, and I don’t blame you. Those shoulders go on for dayzzz.”

“I feel like you said that with a ‘z’. Possibly multiple of them.”

“Oh, I did, sweet pea. And that ass. I have one word for it: yum.”

“You literally sound like you’re drooling. Are you sure you’re not the one who’s been staring, Tessa?”

“Of course, I have been!” She didn’t sound the least bit ashamed about it either. “Look at that gorgeous specimen of a man. If he’s not the offspring of some Greek god’s bastard, I will chop off my right tit.”

He wrinkled his nose. “Gross.”

Even as he pretended to gag over his partner’s declaration, however, Micah found his gaze – and attention – drifting back to the man they were discussing: the supposed descendent of a Greek god. 

He was tall, at least a couple of inches past six feet, and the suit jacket he was wearing clung to the expanse of his impressively broad shoulders. Said shoulders tapered off to form a trim waist, under which matching pinstripe pants gripped onto thick thighs – which Micah hadn’t known he had a thing for until now. 

Seriously, even from a distance, Micah knew those things had to be ripped. The man’s entire body looked rock-solid. Micah couldn’t quite make out any facial features, but if there was any justice in the world, the man must have had the epitome of a butter-face. 

Still, Micah could probably look past it, considering, as Tessa had so eloquently put it: “that ass”.

“Micah,” Tessa hissed into his earpiece. (Speak of the devil.) “I said to quit. You’re not even trying to hide your ogling now.” 

“You also said to look,” he couldn’t help but point out, but he obediently dropped his gaze to the ground, anyway. He was wearing a pair of shabby red Converse. There were holes on the top of the right one where his toes threatened to peek out, and the left had a loose outsole that liked to flap when he walked. 

Not exactly his usual style, but it wasn’t like Micah had picked them out himself. In fact, he hadn’t picked out any part of his current ensemble. 

“I meant metaphorically. You’re in the middle of an undercover operation. You can’t let yourself be distracted by every hottie that walks by; you need to keep your wits about you.”

Okay, first of all, that wasn’t just any hottie. Secondly-

“You’re my handler,” he pointed out. “You need to keep your wits about you.”

“Oh, you don’t worry about my wits, honey. I’m not the one that’s thirsting after some babelicious stranger, completely ignoring the potential john coming in at three o’clock.”

Micah tensed, subtly peeking in the direction she’d indicated. 

Tessa was right. 

A man dressed in a cheap suit was quickly approaching, the graying hair near his temples and the deep-set wrinkles of his brow indicating he was probably in his late forties or early fifties. His uneven gait and the stumble in his step meant he was probably drunk. 

Micah tried not to grimace as the man got closer and he spotted the wedding band on his finger. The guy didn’t really fit the profile they’d come up with for their perp – he was too old and looked to be married to boot. 

Most likely, he was just another asshole going through a midlife crisis – not the serial killer going around killing male prostitutes they were searching for. 

Micah voiced his thoughts aloud, muttering lowly into the mic hidden in his shirt – if the obscene, canary yellow crop top he was wearing could even be considered a shirt. “I doubt he’s our guy, Tess. Too sloppy.” 

“Probably not,” the woman agreed, “but you never know. You of all people should know that looks can be deceiving. Let him pick you up. If nothing else, you’ll be able to arrest him for solicitation.” 

Resigning himself to do as she suggested, Micah let himself sink into the brick wall he was lounging against near the mouth of an alley. He winced as the brick scratched against his exposed lower back where his shirt didn’t quite cover the skin, but he forced himself to school his expression as the man moved closer. 

Honestly, he hadn’t expected to be picked up within the first fifteen minutes of his shift.

“How much?”

Apparently, Mr. Midlife Crisis wasn’t one for small talk. Which was unfortunate because Micah needed him to actually say the words. “How much for what?” he asked.

“Don’t be coy, you little tart.” Micah fought the urge to wrinkle his nose when the man took another step forward and the stench of alcohol hit him straight in the face. 

He wasn’t intimidated – or, at least, that was what he told himself when arms braced themselves on either side of his head, effectively trapping Micah against the brick wall. Sure, he didn’t have his Glock, but Tessa was watching out for him. Not to mention the fact that he was well-versed in hand-to-hand if worse came to worst. 

“$100,” Micah said, knowing he was highballing the man even before his bloodshot eyes widened in disbelief. 

“$100?” he repeated, scoffing. “For a loose hole like yours? I’ll give you $50 if you can even make me bust my nut.” 

This. douchebag.

Micah had planned on just wrangling the man’s hands behind his back and arresting him as soon as he’d said enough to incriminate himself, but now he was pissed. 

“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were asking after my mouth,” he retorted. “If you want a piece of the filet mignon, the going rate’s 300 bucks.” 

He heard Tessa sigh into his earpiece, and judging by the dull thud that followed, could perfectly picture her banging her head against the steering wheel of the undercover van she was parked in across the street.

“300 bucks?” Mr. Midlife Crisis sneered. “Who do you think you are? Sluts like you are hardly worth the time it takes for you to get me off.” 

“You’re the one who approached me, buddy,” Micah reminded him. “Must be worth something.” 

Admittedly, he wasn’t expecting for the guy to take him by the hair, backpedal him into the alley, and smash his head against the wall. The hit wasn’t hard enough to make his ears ring, but Micah’s eyes watered involuntarily when the man’s grip on his hair tightened, and he leaned his face into his personal space. “How about this, you little bitch? Since your ass is apparently off limits, why don’t you get on your knees so I can show you how you ought to be treating your customers with that smart mouth? Consider it a free lesson. If you manage to bring me to finish, I’ll even think about leaving a tip.”

Alright, play time was over. 

This guy was more than just your typical drunkard looking to pick up a hooker – he clearly didn’t give a rat’s ass whether Micah was willing to blow him or not, he was going to make him. The fact that there were real people out there working the streets and being treated this way – probably pretty regularly – made anger burn hot in Micah’s gut. He was about to elbow the asshole in the throat and force him to his knees so he could slap the zip ties he had hidden on his person for just this reason around his wrists when Mr. Midlife Crisis was abruptly pulled off of him- 

“Get your f*cking hands off him!”

-and punched in the face by the man he and Tessa had been ogling but five minutes earlier. 

Micah watched, taken aback, as the Greek god lookalike pulled back his fist and pummeled the man again. And again. His assaulter fell back onto his ass after the third hit. He scrambled backward awkwardly, attempting to shield his bloody face from more attacks while simultaneously doing the crab walk. 

Micah may have laughed if he weren’t so stunned. 


Carra's Review

I usually stay away from stories with mafia characters as I’m not a fan of main characters who willingly engage in unsavory illegal dealings.  Something about how Damon was introduced in the blurb snagged my attention though, and I decided to give this story a chance.  I’m so glad I did, because this was such a good read!


I loved Damon’s protective caretaker personality, and how he considered Micah’s needs first.  Behind his rough mafioso exterior he’s more like a teddy bear when it comes to Micah.  As for Micah, he can take care of himself…though he doesn’t let Damon know that.  They do make a great couple though, I really liked the two of them together, even when I was frustrated that Micah wasn’t telling Damon who he really was.


Along with the mistaken identity and enemies-to-lovers themes, there was the mystery of the serial killer to solve, so there’s drama to go along with the romance.  More drama entered the picture from certain family members as well.  All of it was plenty to keep my attention from page one through the end, and made this an engaging story.


Pretty Policeman was a strong 4-star read for me, and was a great M/M romance debut from this author.  I wound up being okay with the more distasteful aspects of Damon’s life, mostly because of that soft side he exhibited with Micah.  I think both hardcore mafia romance fans as well as those like me who are not really fans of the genre will both find a lot to like about this story.  I do recommend this for readers 18+ for adult language and sexual content.


About the Author 

Fifer Rose is a happily married mother of four human children and two very spoiled cats.

When she is not wiping snotty noses or being bullied into feeding her cats (again?!), she can be found obsessing over M/M romance.  She loves all the tropes, some of her favorite being enemies to lovers, hurt/comfort, sugar daddy, and mistaken identity.  She also has a penchant for A/B/O dynamics.

While Fifer is a sucker for angst, a happily-ever-after is a MUST in all she reads and writes.   

Unrelated hobbies include baking, attempting to golf (for her husband’s sake), and daydreaming about traveling.  (No actual traveling because did you see the part about four kids?)


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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

New Release-Excerpt: THE REAPER by Rae Scott

The Reaper

by Rae Scott

Publisher: Page Publishing

Release Date: November 3, 2022

Genre:  Mystery/Thriller/Crime

Tropes: Vigilante justice/ Victims no one will miss/ The one you least expect

Themes: Good vs Evil, Life or Death

Heat Rating: No heat

Length: 188 pages/ 60 000 words

It is a standalone story and does not end on a cliffhanger.

Goodreads

Buy Links

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  |  B&N

Blurb

Fear not those who are innocent, for I shall cause you no harm. I seek out only those who have yet to pay for their sins. Fear me if you have no remorse, for I am the Reaper, and I will ensure that you reap what you have sewn.

The serial killer known as The Reaper is loose on the streets of Norfolk. Its victims have two things in common: They have each hurt a child but served little to no time in jail for it and none of them regret their actions. 

Detective Mel Tanner is close to retirement when she is assigned to investigate a murder that leads her in a hunt for the serial killer known as The Reaper. As a seasoned homicide detective of fifteen years, she now finds herself jaded and unfeeling to the atrocities that she has had to witness every day. 

When rookie Detective Nat Petrov lands her dream assignment, to work with the best Detective in Norfolk, she is thrown headfirst into The Reaper’s perverse sense of justice. The Detectives race against the clock as body after body turns up with the signature Grim Reaper tarot card, each life ended in a way specifically designed for the individual victim. Will the detectives be able to catch a twisted serial killer before time runs out or will The Reaper exact revenge in a way more personal than anyone could have ever fathomed? 

Excerpt

Michael watched with a sense of foreboding as the masked figure in the black cloak stood looking down at the various items on the table, fear of the unknown beginning to take hold of him. A thousand thoughts and images ran through his mind as he tried to work out the reason for why he was there on that table, but as hard as he tried, he couldn’t come up with a single explanation for his circumstances. He tried to figure out who his captor might be, but the only name he could come up with was the Grim Reaper, because that’s what his captor looked like. The Reaper came back and held a card in front of his face with its left hand. It was a three-by-five-inch tarot card, and on it was a picture of the Grim Reaper. Michael felt the color drain from his face. The Reaper pulled the card away and with its right hand, held up a laminated newspaper clipping for him to read. Michael Fitzpatrick received a six-month sentence for the beating death of his then-girlfriend’s six-year-old son. Questions on the mishandling of evidence dropping the charges from murder to child abuse.

His stomach dropped. “I did my time for that,” he said, his voice shaking with dread. Out of nowhere, his captor’s fist came swinging down hitting him square on his nose. The sound of his nose breaking resonated loudly in his ears. Instantly his eyes began to water, and blood began flowing down his throat. He tried to turn his head so he could spit the coppery-tasting substance from his mouth, but the Reaper held him still, forcing Michael to swallow the thick fluid. The Reaper slowly shook its head from side to side. Fear of repercussions should he move kept him still and motionless even when his captor went back to the table again.

When the Reaper returned, he was shown another news article. This one detailing all fifty-three injuries the boy had sustained by him during a drunken rage. While he read the article, tears spilled from Michael’s eyes in earnest as he finally realized that he wasn’t going to get out of this room alive. Again, his captor went to the table, returned the news article, and came back to look down at him with its unblinking gaze. It held the Grim Reaper’s card up to him again, only this time it showed him the message that had been written on the back of the card. Swallowing several times to clear the blood from throat, Michael read it out loud, “Fear not those who are innocent, for I shall cause you no harm. I seek out only those who have yet to pay for their sins. Fear me if you have no remorse, for I am the Reaper, and I will ensure that you reap what you have sown.” Michael looked from the card to the Reaper, tears flowing down his cheeks as he begged for his life. “Please, no. I did my time for that. I would never have hurt him if I hadn’t been drunk. It wasn’t my fault. She knows how I am when I get drunk. She should have kept him quiet and away from me.”

The Reaper placed the card on Michael’s chest and shook its head. With its other hand, the Reaper slowly lifted up a ball-peen hammer, holding it in front of Michael’s face so he could see it, the intention clear.

“Please, no. I’m sorry,” Michael sobbed, frantically pulling against his bindings as panic began to take over.

The Reaper slowly turned and walked around the table until it was standing next to Michael’s right knee. As the hammer was steadily raised over its head, the Reaper looked down into Michael’s eyes.

He didn’t feel the wetness pooling around him as his bladder released nor the pain of the restraints as they cut into his already raw and bleeding skin. The only thing he felt was pure unadulterated terror. “No, please! You don’t understand!”

The Reaper tilted its head, the hammer still hovering high in the air over Michael’s knee and placed one black-gloved finger to its mouth. Shhh. It said as the hammer came down hard, shattering his kneecap.  

 About the Author

Born in New England, Rae Scott spent her childhood hiking, fishing, and enjoying the outdoor life inherent to the area. This love of adventure led her to travel the world in a quest to discover new and exciting things, feeding her thirst for knowledge and creativity that she now draws on for her books.  In between her travels, she can be found on her porch in Virginia with her family coming up with new ideas as to where their next adventure will take them.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

New Release-Excerpt & Giveaway: AWAKENED DESIRES by Colette Davison (My Kinky Housemate #5)

Author and Publisher: Colette Davison

Cover Artist: Designs by Jo

Release Date: November 23, 2022

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance

Tropes: friends to lovers, slow burn, first-time dad, bi-sexual awakening, kink

Heat Rating:  3 flames

Length:  78 000 words

It can be read as a standalone, but is better read as part of the My Kinky Housemate series.

It does not end on a cliffhanger.

Goodreads

Buy Links - Available in Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link  |  Amazon US  |  Amazon UK


Blurb

Seventeen years ago, my life fell apart. By attempting to protect me, my best friend, Rory, accidentally tore us apart. After being in a dark place, I’m getting my life back on track.

A surprising summons to London threatens to throw my life into disarray once more. It’s probably the worst time to reach out to Rory, yet rekindling our friendship could lead to something new. Something stronger.

Rory and his kinky housemates welcome me and open my eyes to things I never thought I’d be interested in. When my life gets more complicated, Rory is there to help. The closer we get, the more I realise I want more than friendship. Will past trauma stop me from having what—or who—I want now?

Awakened Desires is a friends-to-lovers, slow-burn romance with a first-time dad, a bi-sexual awakening, several first experiences, some hurt/comfort, and sensory play. It’s the fifth book in the My Kinky Housemate series. While it can be read as a standalone, it’s better to read it as part of the series.

Trigger warning: One of the main characters is an alcoholic who has been sober for some time and was a victim of abuse in their youth.

Excerpt

“Rory.”

He freezes.

“Would you sit?”

He nods slowly and then sits. I can see the tension in his shoulders and jaws.

“I think we need to talk, don’t you?”

Rory stares past me, his expression unreadable.

“Clear the air,” I say. “Get everything we couldn’t say as kids off our chests.”

He finally makes eye contact with me. “I’m sorry.”

“Sorry? What for?”

“Betraying your trust. Telling your secret to the Garda. I just“—he clenches his teeth, squeezes his eyes shut, and shakes his head—“I couldn’t let him keep hurting you.”

“I know. I’m not angry about that, Rory. I’ve never been angry about what you did.”

“You left without a word. You never called or wrote. I thought—”

“Mam and Dad convinced me I needed to put everything behind me. They thought it was the only way I’d heal.” I let out a bitter laugh. “If only. But that’s in the past now. It’s all in the past. Things are better. I’m okay.” I reach across the table and squeeze his hand. “You shouldn’t feel guilty for what you did.” I manage to smile. “I hope you left some deep gouges in that bastard’s car when you keyed it.”

“Three.” Rory’s smile is watery. “They were deep and long.”

“Good.” I take my hand away from his. “This is weird.”

He nods. “Are you really okay, Cal?”

God. It’s been so long since anyone has called me that. It was always Rory’s nickname for me. It was what he called me before he could say my name properly, and then it stuck. I’ve never asked or wanted anyone else to call me Cal. A knot of emotion makes it hard to breathe. I clear my throat to dislodge it so I can answer his question.

“I am now. It took a long time.”

About the Author

Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairytale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.

Blog/Website  |   Facebook Page   |  Facebook Group: Colette’s Cosy Corner

BookBub   |   Twitter  |   Goodreads  |  Instagram: @colettedavison

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Tuesday, November 22, 2022

New Release-Review & Excerpt: A GIFT-WRAPPED HOLIDAY by Amy Aislin

A Gift-Wrapped Holiday

Author and Publisher: Amy Aislin

Cover Artist: LC Chase

Release Date: November 22, 2022

Genre: Contemporary M/M romance

Tropes: single dad, age gap (10 years), small town, found family

Heat Rating:  3 flames

Length: 69 000 words / 272 pages

It is a standalone story and does not end on a cliffhanger.

Goodreads

Buy Links

Amazon  |  Apple  |   B&N  |  Kobo

Blurb

Mal's first priority is giving his six-year-old son the best Christmas ever, a goal made trickier by a recent move to New England after losing his job. As a single dad, he's not looking for romance—especially not with a blond California boy ten years his junior.

After being ridiculed at the family business, Luca sets out to prove himself by opening an eco-friendly gift-wrapping store in a small town with a hard-on for Christmas that’s about as far from LA as he can get. Out of his comfort zone in snowy Maine, love is the last thing on his mind.

But the magic of the season has other ideas. As Mal and Luca collide on wintery streets, will they let their first Christmas in Lighthouse Bay lead to happily ever after?

Content warning: stillbirth. Although it took place off-page and in the past, it is discussed on-page.

Excerpt

Mal slowed at the bottom of a driveway and nodded at the house. “This is me.” 

“I was wondering who lived here,” Luca said, taking in the house’s boxy structure. 

“Why? Because it’s hideous?” 

That startled a laugh out of Luca. “Well . . . yes. It doesn’t match the rest of the houses.” The area just west of Christmas Lane housed Lighthouse Bay’s historic homes, but this modern construction was decidedly not historic. Luca had passed it a couple of times on his evening gift deliveries and wondered what the owner had been thinking. “Why’d you buy it if you don’t like it?” 

“I’m not. I’m leasing.” 

Even so, Mal had gone all out with the decorations. Icicle lights hanging from the roof, flashing multicolored lights framed around each window, static white lights around a nine-foot-tall pine tree, and a lit-up reindeer family. He even had some sort of spotlights buried somewhere in the yard that swirled red and green snowflakes on the house in an unidentifiable pattern. 

“Which is probably another reason I haven’t unpacked,” Mal continued. “I hate this place.” 

“Why lease it, then?” 

Mal blew out a breath that ghosted the air in front of him. “The short version is that I was in a rush.” 

“And the long version?” 

“The long version is something I’ll have to give you another time.” 

Luca glanced at Otis. “I think he’s asleep.” 

“Bet he gets a second wind as soon as I walk in the door.” Mal’s voice was a disgruntled grumble that Luca shouldn’t have found as charming as he did. “Thanks for walking us home.” 

“Thanks for letting me. I like talking to you.” 

Mal’s smile went lopsided. “I like talking to you too. Still want to do it again sometime? I promise not to feed you ice cream while it’s below freezing outside. Real food only. Scout’s honor.” 

Luca’s armpits went damp despite the winter weather, and butterflies took flight in his belly. He dug his toe into the sidewalk. “You must really want to date me if you’ve asked me out twice in one week.” 

“Or I just want an adult to talk to for once,” Mal said, a teasing tilt to his smile. 

Luca stuck his tongue in his cheek and backed down the driveway, keeping his gaze on Mal’s. “Or maybe you like me.” 

“Damn. And here I thought I wasn’t being obvious at all.” 

The butterflies floated into Luca’s throat. “Text me?” 

“I will.” The darkness enveloped Mal as he moved away from the sidewalk and into the shadow of the house, but Luca could still see the quirk to his lips. “Good night, Luca.” 

“Night, Mal.” 

Luca watched Mal and Otis head inside, waved at Mal through the glass-fronted door, then turned toward his own home only a couple blocks away, an extra bounce to his steps. 


Carra's Review

This was such a sweet and mostly light-hearted read, with just a dash of heat thrown in.  I loved this small town setting, and the story had a full set of well-rounded characters - both main and supporting.  It was one of those holiday reads that puts a smile on your face while you’re reading it :-)


There is a theme of starting over, and it applies to both Mal and Luca.  Both have started fresh in Lighthouse Bay after moving there from the west coast, and while there is about a ten year age gap between them, that never really gets in the way of their developing relationship.  Their family situations are opposites - Mal has his son, plus his ex-wife (with whom he is still friends) and her family as well as his own very large family, all living in the same area.  Luca though has left all of his family behind to start again on his own.


I liked the way that most chapters were set up as a Christmas countdown, it was sort of like an advent calendar built into the story.  I was thankful that there wasn’t any angst between the characters, and that their relationship built at a slow and natural pace.  Mal and Luca were wonderful together, and while I’m not usually a fan of kids in books I thought Mal’s son Otis was present in the story enough without taking over from the main characters.


A Gift-Wrapped Holiday was what I consider a perfect holiday romance, and was a 4.5-star read for me.  I also liked that some of the supporting characters - most prominently Luca’s best friend and his brother (and not necessarily together) - left a door open for some possible stories down the road.  I’m looking forward to reading more about the Lighthouse Bay couples and hopefully more stories set there in the future.  If you love M/M holiday romances, be sure to check this one out, it’s meant for readers 18+ for some adult language a sexual content.

About the Author 

Amy’s lived with her head in the clouds since she first picked up a book as a child, and being fluent in two languages means she’s read a lot of books! She first picked up a pen on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class had to stay inside for recess. Tales of treasure hunts with her classmates eventually morphed into love stories between men, and she’s been writing ever since. She writes evenings and weekends—or whenever she isn’t at her full-time day job saving the planet at Canada’s largest environmental non-profit.

An unapologetic introvert, Amy reads too much and socializes too little, with no regrets. She loves connecting with readers. Join her Facebook Group to stay up-to-date on upcoming releases and for access to early teasers, find her on Instagram, or sign up for her infrequent newsletter.

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