Monday, 4 January 2010

Monday Mistletoe Madness Minis - Final Week

Phew, I'm so glad this is the last week of these mini reviews!

Got Mistletoe by Andi Anderson
I had high hopes for this short story because everyone who has reviewed it has loved it.  Well, I'm officially the Christmas Scrooge, apparently,  because I only thought it was OK.
Ryan works in a supermarket and is approached by hassled Blake who is looking for the gift wrap.  It's love a first sight in the supermarket aisle and it doesn't take long before the men are meeting up for cuddles and more.

Likes: I liked Ryan's bubbly personality and the fact that he was so unfailingly positive.
Dislikes: The heroes were basically chicks with dicks and I like my heroes to be more manly.
Overall: This will appeal to those of you who love sweet stories of men falling in love quickly and being all cuddly together.  I'm not a fan of sappy stories, as you all know, so this one didn't work for me.  Still the writing was good and I would still read something else by this author in future.  Grade: Good.

Pleasures with Rough Strife by JL Merrow
Set in the mid 1920's this historical tells of Danny who is poaching rabbits and decides to climb a tree to get some mistletoe for his widowed mother.  He falls out of the tree,breaking his leg and hitting his head.  When he comes to he is in the manor house owned by lonely Philip, who is still mourning the death of his lover and best friend a few years earlier.  There's a connection between the men but Philip finds it hard to let go of his grief to act on his attraction to Danny.

Likes: I liked the pragmatic Danny who seemed very laid back about his sexuality.  This contrasted nicely with the nervy Philip.
Dislikes: Their respective stations in life were so far removed from each other that I wasn't sure how their relationship was going to work in the end.
Overall: JL Merrow always writes a great story and this was no exception.  I'd be interested to know whether there's going to be a follow up to the story.  Grade: Very Good.

Spam, It's What's for Christmas! by Lenore Black
Ben is on a downward spiral.  His career as a baseball star is over due to a knee injury, he's lost his dead-end job and now his live-in lover has walked out on him.  Ben is determined to earn some money so that he can buy his ex an expensive, and yet also hideous, piece of pottery to add to his collection, thus wooing him back.  In order to do this he applies to be a nude model.  On his first job he meets sexy photographer Gavin, leaving Ben confused as to whether he really wants to get back with his ex after all.  Ben also come into contact with a weird homeless guy dressed as Santa who may be more than he seems.

Likes: Too much to like.  This story was witty and amusing with lots of laugh out loud parts, especially when Ben has to be 'gotten ready' for the photoshoot.  The sex was hot and I liked poor old Ben who thought he knew what he wanted but then begins to doubt himself.
Dislikes: Not a dislike, just that Ben's cluelessness about his ex made me want to slap the back of his head.  Several times.
Overall: My pick of the week, and even perhaps of the month.  A fabulous story about how fate (or is that a very unconventional Santa) can set you on a path to finding the man of your dreams.  Grade: Excellent.

Northern Exposure by Marguerite Labbe and Fae Sutherland
Sebastian and Angel are taking a skiing break together over the Christmas period. Angel is looking forward to lots of sex, skiing and more sex, but something happens which makes Sebastian want to talk about where their relationship is going, forcing Angel to either face up to his feelings or shut Sebastian out for good.

Likes: Although there was a great sex scene in the story, I liked that this was more about the two men dealing with where their relationship was going. The hints about Angel's past allowed him to develop from just some fun loving guy to have more depth.
Dislikes: These guys have no concept of how to conduct themselves in public. I was embarrassed for all the people who had to watch them cuddling, kissing and groping each other in plain view of everyone.
Overall: This is the third book by these authors involving Sebastian and Angel. I've read all of them, but those of you who haven't may get a bit confused as to what is going on. I enjoyed this one better than the last story as this was less about kinky sex and had some substance to the story. Grade: Very Good.

New Year, New Love, New Challenge by S. Blaise
Special New Year bonus story!
This story follows on directly from last year's Advent story by this author. American Trent has met Scot Andy at a NY bash and they head back to Andy's flat for sex. What started as a one night stand turned into a whole year and now they are celebrating their first anniversary together.

Likes:  I liked the easy relationship that Trent and Andy have, plus the way that we get to see how their feelings have grown throughout the year.
Dislikes: There's a lot crammed into this short and perhaps the ending was a bit rushed as a result.
Overall: If you liked Trent and Andy's story last year (as I did) then you'll like this one too.  It was a nice way to round off the HFN which ended the previous story plus the opportunity to see the smexing that was missing last time.  Grade: Very Good.

Buy these stories HERE.

And that's it!  Next week I shall do an overall summing up of how I felt about the anthology as a whole.


  1. #1: I really liked this but I know I have a much higher sugar tolerance than you do. LOL

    #2: Agree

    #3: Totally agree

    #4: This is the first story of these two I really connected with and I think it was because it was about them and the relationship than just a kinky sex scene.

    #5: I hadn't read last year's but I enjoyed it and thought for so few pages the author managed to fit a lot in but it didn't feel overly packed to me. I enjoyed it.

    You did a great job on all the summaries Jen. It is hard to have that book arrive everyday and feel compelled to read it (even though many were short). I really must get reading some of my longer ones (says the woman who went shopping Sunday. Ack!)

  2. Hi Tam
    I agree with you about the Sebastian/Angel story. In the other stories Angel got on my nerves a bit with all his wiggling and pouting (BTW, why are subs in m/m books often depicted that way? Is it only men with effeminate mannerisms who like subbing? - somehow I think not) but he was much better in this story once they'd had the sex scene.

    I quite enjoyed reviewing the lot and I did wish on occasion that I could have done a more thorough review with some of the stories, but never mind, I did my best :).

  3. I am also a candy boy lover as well so number 1 worked for me ...

    I am still at a crossroad with Labbe and Sutherland - something about their work just doesn't jump up and bite me...

    I just got "My Heart is Within you" - so I'll see how I get on with that one..

    I'll look for another release by Black - I am so not a seasonal read person... Hopefully her style wil come across in other books..

    Thanks for the round up..


  4. I have this strange compulsion to go out and buy Spam... ;)

  5. E.H.: Lenore's book All's Fair in Love and Advertising was also very good. Lots of similar humour so if you want to try someone non-Christmasy I would recommend you give it a go.

  6. Hi EH
    I was going to suggest All's Fair in Love and Advertising but Tam's got in before me :).

    I've only read one other story by Labbe and Sutherland The Mask He Wears which I quite enjoyed. I've heard good stuff about their other books but there's so much to choose from out there I never seem to get around to buying anything else by them.

    Chris: The spam book is just great, you won't regret it. Unless you are referring to the canned meat in which case you will regret it.

    Spam fritters *shudders*.

  7. Hey, now, be careful, Jen. Remember that Minnesota is the home of Spam. We even have the Spam Museum.

  8. Chris: Well you learn something new every day! I didn't know that Minnesota was the home of Spam. What an accolade ;).

  9. Plus our whole inventing the indoor shopping mall, thus leading to the ultimate end of civilization. :)

  10. I've only recently discovered Lenore Black and I have to say that I'm loving her stories. She has a terrific tongue-in-cheek sense of humour that comes across very well in her writing.

  11. I have to agree, Kris. I'm loving her stories too.

  12. Chris: Coming from somewhere with a huge sprawling city centre, I can see the appeal of having everything under one roof.

  13. Thanks Tam & Jenre for the recommendation...

    I am blaming you two for blowing my scrapbooking budget....

    Is their any spin off to this book by Lenore Black....

    I do have Sin Industry - is the story in that any good...


  14. Hi EH
    I really liked Lenore Black's story in the Sindustry anthology. I reviewed it here:

    I don't think she's written a follow up to the spam story but that doesn't mean she's got one planned.


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