Review of: Sweet Anticipation by Andrew Grey

TITLE: Sweet Anticipation
AUTHOR: Andrew Grey
SERIES: 2019 Advent Calendar
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
RELEASE DATE: Dec 1, 2019

BLURB:

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2019 Advent Calendar collection Homemade for the Holidays.
Greg Hansen’s pregnant sister is on bed rest, so it falls to Greg to finalize the arrangements for her best friend’s bachelorette party. Little does he know he’s in for a sweet surprise. When he arrives at the bakery recommended to him, he comes face to face with the man he never should’ve let get away—Rhys Denning.
Rhys’s business is booming with the holidays approaching, so he can’t agree to cater the party without help—and that means Greg getting his hands dirty in the kitchen, where the two reconnect over sugar, spice, holiday goodies of all kinds, and even some penis-shaped baguettes! But the most satisfying treat might be the second chance they never thought they’d get.


I loved Sweet Anticipation by Andrew Grey. It’s one of the short stories in the 2019 Advent Calendar: Homemade for the Holidays Anthology. It was a super fun short story. The characters were nicely fleshed out and had to deal with everyday problems. I thought the blurb was interesting, and it was a lot of fun seeing Greg try to fulfill the list that he’d gotten from his sister for her best friend’s bachelorette party.

One of my favorite parts of the story was his sister’s reaction when she attended the bachelorette party and saw all of the naughty-shaped Christmas tree decorations and naughty-shaped baguettes as party favors. She was properly horrified, but the bride absolutely loved it.

Greg definitely had his work cut out for him since he’s one of those people that can burn water. I can sympathize with that because I am gifted that way also. He really lucked out when the person that his sister wanted him to use to make the cake had a death in the family that made it impossible for them to take any new commissions for cakes. He gets a referral from a friend for another baker and stops by the address to see if he has time to make the cake. He’s surprised when he realizes the baker is one of his exes. Rhys was a lifesaver for Greg. Not only can he make the cake but he’s also willing to help Greg with the other items on the list including the naughty-shaped baguettes. And as they make decorations and fulfill the items on the list, they rekindle the feelings that they had for each other when they were dating. Will they give dating another chance, or will they finish up the preparations for the bachelorette party and part ways? You’ll have to read the short story to find out.

This story is perfect for a lunchtime read.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review of: A Swants Soiree by E.J. Russell

TITLE: A Swants Soiree
AUTHOR: E.J. Russell
SERIES: 2019 Advent Calendar – Homemade for the Holidays
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
RELEASE DATE: Dec 1, 2019

BLURB:

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2019 Advent Calendar collection Homemade for the Holidays.
Introverted software engineer Brent Levine struggles with the life part of work-life balance, but to hold on to his new job, he’ll have to embrace his employer’s dreaded “staff enrichment” events. This year’s annual ugly holiday sweater party will strain his ambition to remain inconspicuous: everyone has to wear sweaters converted into pants—aka “swants.”
Brent’s an ace at coding, but when it comes to handcrafts, he’s definitely at the far left end of the bell curve. Luckily he encounters seriously cute theater costumer Jonathan at the Goodwill Outlet. Jonathan offers Brent both an acceptably ugly sweater and his expertise in swants conversion. Attraction sparks on Brent’s side, but can Jonathan be interested in a guy like him?


I loved A Swants Soiree by E.J. Russell. It’s part of the 2019 Advent Calendar: Homemade for the Holidays. I could totally empathize with Brent as he struggles with the life part of his work-balance.

He’s great at his new job but doesn’t interact with the other employees at the company he works for. And he definitely doesn’t want to join in the staff enrichment events, but he may have to in order to keep his new job. He goes to the company meeting where it’s announced that, this year, they’re supposed to take a spin on the ugly sweater contest and turn the ugly sweater into a pair of pants, aka swants. But he doesn’t have a lot of time before the year-end party, and as he finds out as he goes to shop after shop trying to find an ugly sweater that will fit his six-foot-eight frame, it isn’t going to be as easy as he thought.

All of the shops are out of any ugly sweaters that could possibly fit his size. His last resort is a Goodwill shop where he bumps into Jonathan, who’s a theater costumer. He was actually the costumer for the theater group who made the swants popular and inspired his boss to go with swants instead of ugly sweaters for the year-end party. Jonathan has lots of practice making them for his theater group, and he helps Brent find a sweater that will work for his size and sends him on his way after giving him his card in case he needs help making them. After massacring his sweater, he calls Jonathan for help. And he ends up with a very naughty pair of swants.

I loved the flirting and chemistry between Brent and Jonathan, although there aren’t any sex scenes in the book.

I won’t lie, I would have loved for the book to have gone on for the week that Brent had off so we could have gotten some sexy scenes in there, but the book is still super cute without them.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review of: For Joy by Crystel Greene

TITLE: For Joy
AUTHOR: Crystel Greene
SERIES: 2019 Advent Calendar – Homemade for the Holidays
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
RELEASE DATE: Dec 1, 2019

BLURB:

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2019 Advent Calendar collection Homemade for the Holidays.
When college athlete Chad comes out to his parents and gets a nasty reaction, sparkly twink Joaquin “Joy” Acosta offers him shelter in his tiny apartment. Joy’s the sweetest, most beautiful roommate on the planet, and every day, Chad falls in love a little bit more. The problem is, Joy will never know since his banter-loving hipster friends make bear-sized Chad feel all hulking and tongue-tied.
Joy is a sucker for anything handmade, though, and eventually Chad decides to tell him he loves him with a self-knitted pair of gloves. But it turns out knitting is way harder than Chad expected. Fortunately, Joy knows just how to save the day….
Cute twink and self-conscious baseball jock, flatmates to lovers, opposites attract, banter, insecurity, fluff, feels, first time, Christmas.
As always, 18 plus!


I loved reading For Joy by Crystel Greene. I loved both of the main characters, Joy and Chad. They were both so lovable and fleshed out for a short story. I would have loved the story to be longer just so that I could have continued to read about them. I know that I’ll be reading this delightful short story again.

I loved Joy and how he encourages and supports Chad when Chad reveals that he’s gay and hasn’t told his family yet but wants to do it before Christmas. I thought that was wonderful of Joy since Chad is just one of his customers at the hair salon. And then to offer him a couch to sleep on when his family doesn’t take the news well. He has such a warm and generous nature.

I also loved Chad. He’s twenty-two and was a jock all through school and easily passes as straight. He promised himself that after college that he would come out to his family, and he did, but it didn’t go good, and he ends up on his hairdresser’s couch, and he has such a crush on Joy. He’s exactly the type of person that he’s attracted to. But Chad doesn’t have much experience, and he feels awkward around Joy and his friends. Especially around Franky, Joy’s best friend, who likes to make fun of his quiet nature and huge size. He also doesn’t like to watch how touchy-feely Franky is with Joy.

I absolutely loved Joy’s Christmas Eve present to Chad, and I loved how Chad tried to make gloves to protect Joy’s hands from the elements.

This short story was just the right combination of sweetness and hot chemistry and holiday cheer. I can’t wait to read more stories by Crystel Greene.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review of: Rainbows in Sea Glass by Kim Katil

TITLE: Rainbows in Sea Glass
AUTHOR: Kim Katil
SERIES: 2019 Advent Calendar: Homemade for the Holidays
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
RELEASE DATE: Dec 1, 2019

BLURB:

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2019 Advent Calendar collection Homemade for the Holidays.
Kyle has loved James, his best friend’s older brother, for as long as he can remember. Unfortunately James is a player, and Kyle has no desire to be his latest conquest. When James suddenly turns the full weight of his charm on him, Kyle flees to Cape May Point to collect sea glass and Cape May diamonds to make a St. Nicholas Day present for his aunt.
James has always taken Kyle’s presence for granted and he’s shocked to find how integral Kyle is to his life and future happiness. Braving his family’s well-meaning attempts to help and a sudden winter storm, James heads to the shore to convince Kyle that the most precious thing they’ll find on the beach is each other


I wanted to like this short story by Kim Katil, but unfortunately, it was only okay.

From the blurb, I was hoping for a story full of longing and angst, and instead, Kyle runs away when James, the guy he’s been in love with since forever, finally starts to show that he’s interested in him as a man and not as his younger sister’s best friend. Sure, his excuse is that he doesn’t want to be another notch on James’ bedpost, so he’s been hiding from all of his friends since James danced with him at the club six months prior. And so he runs away to Cape May Point to the rental house that James is having remodeled. It gives him a chance to get his head back on his shoulders and find some sea glass and Cap May diamonds to make a present for his aunt. He doesn’t expect James to follow him there.

I didn’t like Kyle’s best friend, Maria, or Kyle’s mother. His best friend came off as not caring about his problems in the beginning, just that he hasn’t been around to make her look better when they go clubbing. Maria does grow on you as the story progresses, and she helps her brother, James, get Kyle.

His mother is very self-centered and unlikeable. I did like Aunt Ollie. She was very likable, and I could see why Kyle would want to make something pretty for her room since she was like a second mother to him.

I did like the scenes with Stan, where he’s showing Kyle and James some of his art projects to get an idea of what he should make his aunt. I also liked getting to see inside James’ head and how he felt about Kyle. I liked him better than Kyle, although I thought the dialog between James and his sister was a little forced at times.

Although not a bad story, I think it would have done better as a novel instead of a short story where the author could have started the story maybe six months earlier, and we could have seen the night of the dance at the club between Kyle and James and then what happened after they had been together for a while.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis

Review of: The Carpenter’s Prince by Jayce Ellis

TITLE: The Carpenter’s Prince
AUTHOR: Jayce Ellis
SERIES: 2019 Advent Calendar
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
GENRE: Contemporary Romance
RELEASE DATE: Dec 1, 2019

BLURB:

The Carpenter’s Prince by Jayce Ellis
Sean Edwards would do anything for his nephew, including designing the props for a children’s version of the Nutcracker. He’s ready for the long nights and weekends in the workshop—they’re part of the job, especially given the short notice. The insanely sexy head ballerino is completely unexpected, however.
All principal danseur Keni Jackson wants is to surpass last year’s performance, blow people’s socks off, and cement his place in the studio. The last thing he needs is something to shatter his carefully held control—like a cuddly carpenter who favors jazz over Tchaikovsky.
Sean and Keni are drawn to each other, but not everyone is a fan of their relationship. When Keni’s position is threatened, they have to decide whether to walk away for good, or if what they’ve found is worth fighting for.


I really enjoyed getting to read The Carpenter’s Prince by Jayce Ellis.

It’s one of the short stories from the 2019 Advent Calendar: Homemade for the Holidays.

I thought the author’s writing style was easy to read, and even though it was a short story it felt like a complete story, and I loved the chemistry between Keni and Sean.

I would have loved for the story to be longer only because I didn’t want to stop reading it.

I would love to read another book about these two characters, and I will definitely be checking out the author’s other books to read. This story is perfect for reading at work during a break.

***The ARC was provided by Dreamspinner Press. My review is an honest opinion of the book ***

Review edited by : Laura McNellis