There’s Something About Ari by L.B. Gregg

Grade: B
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, novella,  m/m, small town
Series: Bluewater Bay #2
Published: 11/10/14
Reviewed by Anne
101  pages

Buck Ellis was set to leave his small home town with a great college scholarship, but then his mom died and he stepped in to be a parent to his younger brother.  He took another blow when his best friend and secret crush, Ari, left town for Hollywood.  They haven’t had any contact in years, so Buck is shocked when Ari moves in to the house next door to him!  Ari’s in town to work on Wolf’s Landing, the hottest show on TV that just happens to be filmed in Ari’s home town.

This story is told entirely from  Buck’s point of view, which was a little disappointing, but makes sense in a novella.  The pacing felt a little quick, especially with their physical relationship, but again, it was a novella.  Actually, I think that it felt like it needed to be longer.  There was a lot going on between Ari and Buck, though they never really talked about it.

It was a good story.  I liked the relationship between Ari and Buck.  I thought the misunderstandings between the two of them were realistic and understandable. I did read the first story in this series, but I think this one would stand alone well.  I’d recommend it for anyone who enjoys m/m romance.

Merry Christmas, Baby by Jill Shalvis

Grade: A
Hotness Level: Ember
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary , small town
Series: Lucky Harbor #12.5
Published: 12/2/14
Reviewed by Anne
43 ebook pages

The first Jill Shalvis stories I read were some Christmas novellas of hers that were in anthologies I got from my library.  I really liked them, so reading a Shalvis Christmas novella that is an epilogue to one of my favorite books?  It’s a no brainer!

This novella gives us a peak at Sawyer, the sheriff and his wife, Chloe, now expecting their first baby.   It’s got peaks at many of the characters from the series, but especially Chloe’s sisters and their husbands from the first books.

Sawyer and Chloe have a disagreement about Chloe attending the town Christmas party just before Sawyer heads out on an extra assignment.  He doesn’t want her to go, due to the advanced stage of her pregnancy and her medical complications.  She, of course, is plotting to attend.  She feels like he’s wanting to get away from her and her pregnancy based mood swings and she just wants to do what she wants to do.

Of course nothing goes as planned and hilarity ensues.  It’s a must read for fans of the Lucky Harbor Series.  The only thing I didn’t like about the story is that after all that drama and comedy… they don’t tell you what they name the baby!  I’ll forgive it because I love the rest of the story, but it is driving me a bit crazy.  Is there anyone that’s read anything anywhere on the web about it?

Sleigh Ride by Heidi Cullinan

Grade: A
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: Mild
Genre: Contemporary , m/m, BDSM
Series: Minnesota Christmas #2
Published: 11/11/14
Reviewed by Anne
191 pages

Arthur and Gabriel are very different and, despite being single gay men in a small town, they have no interest in each other.  In fact, they each pretty much hate the idea of the other.  That doesn’t stop Arthur’s mom, Corrina from matchmaking, though, and when she gets the idea that Arthur and Gabriel should be together?  Well, she’ll pretty much steamroll over anyone who thinks otherwise, including Arthur and Gabriel.  So, considering Corrina, it’s understandable that even before they’ve met, Arthur has been drafted to play Santa and Gabriel to play Santa’s elf.

Cullinan does such a great job with this book!  The opening scenes where Arthur and Gabriel are meeting each other and mentally categorizing everything they dislike about the other are very believable. Gabriel is a librarian with a passion for small town libraries. Arthur hates libraries.  In fact, he can’t even stand the “nasty book smell” inside the library!  This hit me like a punch to the gut, because I swear that smell brings my blood pressure down and puts a smile on my face every time I walk through my library’s doors! It was easy to see why Gabriel and Arthur had no time for each other, even without meeting.  However, the more time they spend together, the more they realize how much there is to like about each other.  It was such a sweet story to watch unfold!

There is some BDSM in this book and it’s extremely well done and hot!  I’ve got to think that writing Consensual Non-consensual role-playing is challenging, but Cullinan does it very well.  There’s also some really nice emotional development through the sex scenes as the story progresses.  You see their commitment to each other and trust and understanding grow through these scenes.  I enjoy that.

Another aspect of the story that made my heart happy was the storyline addressing Arthur’s nephew (and all little boys’) right to want to play with a doll.  I also soaked up every word devoted to a librarian’s roll in a community and how seriously Gabriel took that responsibility.  The way that Arthur respected Gabriel’s work, despite his personal dislike of libraries made me fall in love with him a little!

Honestly, it’s hard to think of something I didn’t enjoy about the book.

I think this story would stand on its own just fine, but I enjoyed seeing the story of Arthur and Paul’s friendship and how things worked out between them.  So, I probably got more out of this book for having read Let It Snow before this story.

I really enjoyed this well written story!  It’s got a lot of what I love – it’s a Christmas story, it’s characters who initially dislike each other growing to care, and it’s main conflict is internal rather than external.  I’d highly recommend this story to anyone who enjoys m/m romance, but it’s a must read if you like holiday stories, too!  How about you?   Do you have a favorite m/m holiday romance to recommend?