A Touch of Mistletoe

23597696
Grade: B+
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: Mild Kink
Genre: Contemporary , paranormal, m/m
Published: 12/17/14
Reviewed by Anne
141 ebook pages

Overall this was a great anthology!  The standout stories for me were those by Talya Andor and Megan Derr.  Andor’s The Christmas Spirit is set in Japan and makes the most of the setting in a way that is fascinating to read about without begin overwhelming.  The romance between Ash and Yuki was sweet, too!  Two Parts Mistletoe by Megan Derr also had a great world with potions and and generic old-fashioned setting.  It was interesting to read a story set in a world where a m/m relationship is a normal thing.  The chemistry (ha!) between the main characters was great, too.

Also very good were the stories by Pendragon and Ottoman.  Pendragon’s was the only contemporary and I thought Warren’s blindness was well handled.  Ottoman’s sex scene was super-hot and it dealt with some things I hadn’t read before.  One of the characters, M.C. is transgender and in the process of adjusting her social identity to match her internal identity.  I thought it was well done and had good world building, too.

Here for You by J.K Pendragon(m/m, contemporary)
Warren is blind and recovering from his wife’s death.  At a holiday party he finds himself under the mistletoe with a mutual and male friend.  He’s always considered himself heterosexual, but now his new friend has him wondering.

The relationship between Warren and Kyung moved pretty quickly, I thought.  They each have their own issues to deal with besides, Warren’s surprise bisexuality, which turns out not to be a big deal.  It was just the right amount to put in a short story, though.  Once in a while I felt like the story was a bit jumpy, but overall it worked well.
Grade: B

The Christmas Spirit by Talya Andor (m/m, sci-fi/fantasy)
Ash is a black Southern American man living and working in Japan.  He specializes in paranormal investigations.  When he’s asked to look into a disturbance involving a figure skating star he’s immediately attracted, but thinks it could never work out.

There was so much I enjoyed about this story!  I wasn’t very familiar with Japanese culture, but I felt like I learned some by reading this story, and I never felt like I was wading through a travel guide to get that understanding.  The world building was good, too.  The reality of what it was like to be a friend of a psychic was interesting!  One of those “I’ve never thought about this before, but I bet that’s exactly what it’s like” moments.  I also appreciated how their relationship progressed slowly.  I’ll definitely be looking for more by Talya Andor!
Grade: A

A Beautiful Thing by A.F. Henley (m/m, sci-fi/fantasy)
This one had a promising start, but then a little fairy guy showed up and I was just done.  I have a thing again romance where there’s a guardian angel type character.  I know better than to read them.  I may have missed out on something good, but the odds of it working for me are very low, so I moved on to the next story.
Grade: DNF

Ad Meliora by E.E. Ottoman (f/trans, sci-fi/fantasy)
An-An and M.C. are out on a job Christmas eve.  M.C. needs to investigate and possibly exorcize something that’s murdered multiple people.  At they same time they’re dealing with some relationship issues, including how M.C. is transitioning away from a female identity.

The storyline about a transitioning person was about as foreign to me as the fantasy world building in this story.  It was very well done, but very new to me.  M.C. wants to be referred to as “they and their” instead of “she and hers” or “he and his.”  This was so new for me to read, and it really kept pulling me out of the story.  I think that’s just because I wasn’t used to it.  It was an interesting story, though, both for the paranormal side of things and the sexual side of things.
Grade: B+

Two Parts Mistletoe by Megan Derr (m/m, sci-fi/fantasy)
Kingston is a potionmaker.  He’s surprised to see Hux, his routine and anonymous hookup come into his shop.  The timing is right – he’d been working up the nerve to ask Hux if he wanted a relationship, but first they need to deal with the problem that brought Hux to his shop.

I enjoyed this story from start to finish.  It had a historical London feel to it, if historical London had men looking for husbands and magical potions.  It was probably a bit simplistic when it came to handling the crime that was committed, but I was excited enough about Kingston and Hux that it didn’t bother me.  I’ll definitely be looking for more from Megan Derr, too!
Grade: A

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Light My Fire by G.A. Aiken

17731347

Grade: B
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Paranormal, Shifter, Dragons
Series: Dragon Kin #7
Published: 11/25/14
Reviewed by Anne
483 pages

This is why you need to be reading the dragon books by G.A. Aiken:

“You best go to him, sister, and soothe his hurt feelings.”

“Why should I?”

“You know how men are.  If you treat them nice and buy them gifts, they will suck your pussy like a champion.”

“Well, when you put it like that…”

Seriously, no one does over the top humor like Aiken.  When I need to read a foulmouthed book full of equal parts violence and humor along with some hot sex, the Dragon Kin series is the place to go.  I’ve got kids, and I’m a pretty polite person, but it’s such a wonderful release to read about these dragon shifters and their mates!

Elina is not unforgettable.  In fact, the Daughter of the Steppes is all too forgettable to Celyn the Charming.  He deposits her in the local jail in the name of keeping her safe and promptly forgets her.  Thankfully she’s still safe there months later when the queen requests to see her.  Events force the human (Elina) and the dragon shifter (Celyn) together and Celyn is shocked that Elina isn’t falling for his charm.  He’s pretty amazed by her self confidence, ferocity, and willingness to use him for sex.  For her part, Elina finds Celyn annoying and far to talkative, but quite convenient for sex.

There’s a culture clash between Elina and Celyn that is quite interesting and entertaining.  In Elina’s homeland, women are the warriors and worthy warriors marry and keep multiple husbands who tend to household and raise the children.  She’s only heard rumors about dragons before.  Elina’s life has been hard, and she’s amazed at the life of laziness and luxury she finds in Celyn’s country.  This made for some nice and humorous conflict between the two of them.

Full, disclaimer, this book is more on the sci fi side than it is romance.  There are quite a few pages devoted to politics and a story arc running through the series.  There are a lot of characters – you need to engage your brain to keep track of them all.  I still loved it!

With all of the characters, I think this book would work best read in order in the series.  That said, I skipped two books and read this one and did ok.  I think the book is must read for people who have enjoyed the series so far.  If it sounds interesting, you can start with Dragon, Actually.  I highly recommend the series.

Frozen by Meljean Brook

18045510
Grade: B
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Paranormal , shifter
Published: 8/28/14
Reviewed by Anne
131 pages

Olivia’s boss asks her to make a last minute delivery of papers to his son, Erik, on her way out of town for Christmas holidays.  She’s nervous about seeing Erik, who is not just the boss’ son, but also a co-worker of Olivia’s.  A few month’s ago, before Olivia was working for Erik’s dad, Olivia and Erik shared a kiss, and ever since that day, Erik has been very cold to her.  She doesn’t know what to make of his behavior, so she’s hoping to get in, deliver the papers, and get out.  Unfortunately, she stops by Erik’s place and finds herself in the middle of danger.  The danger comes from both from the shifter beings around Erik’s house, and, apparently, from Erik himself, who is, you got it, also a shifter.

The first half of the story dragged for me.  There was a lot of introspection and it wasn’t clear exactly what was going on.  Once everything was revealed, the story really picked up for me.  I also enjoyed the light paranormal feeling of the story.  There are shifters, but there’s not pages and pages of world building.  The story is pretty focused, and it didn’t need lot of world building, so that worked well.

As I expect with Meljean Brook, Olivia is a strong, intelligent, and self sufficient heroine.  She’s also smart enough to accept help.  It’s one of the things that brings me back to her books again and again.  Erik turns out to be self-sacrificing and considerate, as well as a raving beast. That was a nice combo.  His shifter form was not one I’d read before, so that was nice, too.

This story is written in first person point of view, which is not normally the style Meljean Brook uses.  She does it really well, though.  I sometimes get annoyed when reading first person, but that didn’t happen here.

I’d recommend this story for anyone who enjoys paranormal, and even for readers who generally read contemporary, but could handle a little shape shifting.