Finding Love With THE CHRISTMAS TENOR–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M holiday romance from V.L. Locey. THE CHRISTMAS TENOR is the third book in her Laurel Holidays series, but reads fine as a standalone.

christmas tenorAbout the book:

A trip that he thought would bring him only pain is about to present him with the greatest gift of all.

For three years now, Cabriolet Vermat has put off, wiggled out of, and outright lied to get out of making this dreaded trip east. The owner of Cabriolet Chauffeur Services in Los Angeles has avoided the yearly invitation to the small town of White Bridge, New York, to speak at their alumni winter gathering but this year they’ve outfoxed him. They’re throwing a dinner to honor his late partner’s dedication to his alma mater and have asked Cab to speak. This time he has to go no matter how much pain it will stir up. Arriving in the picturesque small town beside one of the Finger Lakes, Cab is treated to a special performance of holiday songs and there he sees Julian Gabriel Baez for the first time.

The young singer captivates him immediately, and he finds himself seeking out the much younger man after the performance. The pull he feels toward Jules is unlike anything he’s felt since he met his partner years ago. Confusion and desire war within him, but the outgoing young tenor wins him over with his engaging smile and kind heart. A two-day trip soon turns into an extended holiday vacation. Cab worries that the magic of Christmas will quickly fizzle out and he’ll be alone once more. Or will this festive season bestow a blessing of the heart upon a man who thought he would never love again?

The Christmas Tenor is a standalone small-town gay Christmas romance with a beautiful May-December relationship, a lonely widower, a rising opera star, loving families, and plenty of holiday joy.

My Review:

Cabriolet Vermat is an out-gay widower in his 50s. He’s built a very successful and lucrative business, and that’s pretty much all he manages these days, still mired in grief from the loss of his beloved husband, Carter, who was a successful film director. Carter was the pride of his alma mater, the Morton School, in upstate New York. Cab has continued to donate to the school in Carter’s honor, and this year they have decided to host a special holiday dinner in tribute to Carter, asking Cab to give a speech. He can’t weasel of to going, so he and his twin brother–also out, but super fabulous unlike Cabriolet–Pierre, jet off to make the required appearance.

And that’s where Cab meets Julian, an amazing tenor with dozens of accolades in voice and opera competitions. Julian is young and vibrant, and fixed on Cab. He favors older men as partners, and had a huge crush on Carter, as an artistic visionary. So, these two can commiserate over Carter’s achievements, and Cab can be flattered that such a virile and nubile man finds him attractive. But, he hasn’t had any sexual contact since before Carter was diagnosed with cancer, and that was years ago. He’s not prepared for a very out, very forward, very attractive and very loving man to want a very temporary tryst with him–and he’s rather blunt about shutting Julian down. Even though his desires are stoked, he doesn’t want to sully his memories of Carter–and Pierre is absolutely beyond engraged that Cab seems to be rotting away, alive but consumed by guilt and grief. And, well, he convinces Cab that being alive is not exactly living his best life–and maybe he SHOULD take Julian up on his very enticing offer. Instead of jetting back to LA, Cab and Pierre accept the gracious invitation by Julian and his family to spend Christmas with them.

They connect in more than physical ways, as Julian is charming and elegant, and knows how to woo an older man. And, well, Cab is willing to be wooed, as long as it’s not going to mess up Julian’s life plans. This is a sweet story, though I will admit the pacing seemed slow, and Cab is a ponderous narrator, rehashing his sadness, and doubts over and over. He thinks he can make all the decisions, that he’ll help guide Julian, and he learns rather quickly that Julian’s drive isn’t only for a partner, but for his career, too. I liked how Julian stood up for himself, and took his chances, instead of waiting around. He was the opposite of Cabriolet in every way, and I wished his POV was more present. Cab waxed lyrical and long and had me wondering (like Pierre) if he’d ever get on with life.

I wished the pacing was a little faster, and I’d had less of the story told to me by Cab. It has a sweet ending, though, with Julian and Cabriolet very much happy well into the future.

Interested? You can find THE CHRISTMAS TENOR on Goodreads and Books2Read.

About the Author:
V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, Dr. Who, Torchwood, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, two Jersey steers and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.

When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.

You can find her on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads and tsú.

Coming to Terms with ICE ANGELS!–Review and Giveaway

Ice Angels Blitz BannerHi there! Today I’m sharing a review and #giveaway for a M/M contemporary hockey romance from life- and writing-partners Ryan Taylor and Joshua Harwood. ICE ANGELS is a standalone romance featuring two hockey stars on different teams trying to find a way to come out and love openly.  You can find these other hockey romances from the same authors:   THE NEW NEXT ONE which features two closeted hockey teammates and best friends finally revealing their true feelings, and finding love they never had expected at an all-boys college prep high school. This book is a bit of a prequel to NICE CATCHING YOU, a New Adult hockey romance which I really liked.

Ice Angels CoverAbout the book:

Drew and Cleevs love hockey, but they love each other more. How can the men find a way to save what matters most?

Todd Cleever and Drew Simon are crazy about each other. They started dating three years ago when “Cleevs” was a rookie defenseman for the Chicago Ice. Drew, the team’s captain, was a few years older than Cleevs. Both men were deep in the closet, but it didn’t take long for them to fall in love.

Cleevs was traded to the Bethesda Barracudas a year later, causing a heartbreaking separation. Ever since, they’ve skated around the problem with occasional stolen nights together and brief vacations under the guise of “friends,” but two years of living apart have taken their toll.

As the holiday approaches, Drew and Cleevs decide things have to change. Still, with their careers and two professional hockey teams in the way, how can they score the game-winning goal and save everything they cherish most?

If you like fierce love, a smallish age gap, exciting hockey, and a steely determination to make things work—not to mention enough steam to fog up all your windows and a fantastic HEA—this is the book for you. The novella contains about 43,000 words of sparkling holiday romance.

How about a little taste?

I arrived at the Hilton about three o’clock. Todd wasn’t due for another couple of hours, so I  took a shower and dressed in jeans and an Ice T-shirt. Afterward, I switched on the TV but was  too excited to be still, and I must have walked back and forth to the window a hundred times.  When the news came on, I settled into a chair to watch. Someone knocked on the door a few  minutes later.

Running over, I pulled it open, and there he was. Wearing a gray peacoat and matching  beanie, with a messenger bag slung over his shoulder, Todd looked like a Hollywood heartthrob.  He broke into a crooked grin.

“Hey.” My breath had caught in my throat, and I couldn’t get anything else out. “Hey.”

My pulse raced as my sight and hearing went into overdrive. I couldn’t tear my eyes away  from him.

“Drew? You think I could come in?”

“Oh yeah.” I grinned and stepped aside. “Please.”

He rolled his suitcase in and set it and his messenger bag beside the dresser while I made  sure the door was locked. When I turned, he placed a finger on the tip of my nose and traced it  down to my lips. “You get more beautiful every time I see you.”

“I’m so glad you’re here.”

He reached for me, and I relaxed into the safety of his arms. The relief of being held was  profound. As a hockey player and captain of all my teams since high school, I’d always had to be

strong. Before I met Todd, as a closeted gay man, I rarely had hookups because there was too  much risk of being recognized. When I occasionally met up with someone, what we did wasn’t  about affection or support; it was about getting off.

“Love you, Drew.

“Oh, Todd.” I nibbled his lip, and when he hugged me tighter and kissed me, the heavy  burden of my loneliness fell away. I relaxed for the first time in a while.

“I’m happy you could come and spend the night,” he whispered between kisses. I leaned back to look at him. His face was flushed, and his eyes were already dark with  arousal. Sliding a hand up his back, I cupped his head. His mouth twitched as I moved in, and he  moaned softly when our lips touched. I pressed against him, not ready for the moment to end but  needing more.

Slowly, he glided his hands down my back to my butt, and we teased each other. When he  licked my lips and probed softly, I opened for him. His tongue reassured me somehow, and I  sucked it while my senses did somersaults. Hints of cedarwood and iris, mixed with his soft  musk, surrounded me. We were both hard, and a thrill flickered up my spine as we rubbed our  cocks together. Tiny, needy sounds filled the air while we enjoyed a taste of what was to come. I  pulled away, took his hand, and started toward the bed. “Come with me.” He didn’t move, and I turned to look at him.

“I should shower. It’s been a long day, and I’m not at my freshest.”

Taking a step forward, I gave him another kiss and whispered, “I like you this way,  remember? My sweaty D-man.”

He gulped a breath. “Lead on, then.”

We took our time undressing each other. When I removed Todd’s shirt, I gaped at his  impressive physique as always: brawny arms, massive pecs, and a rippling six-pack. A large  tattoo, a beautiful depiction of a wolf in the forest, ran from the nape of his neck to the middle of  his back. Todd said it symbolized loyalty and family, as well as a willingness to become  ferocious to protect what was dear to him. He’d told me he wanted to have one about us done on  his chest—over his heart—and we’d design it together when our relationship was no longer a  secret.

My Review:

Todd Cleever and Drew Simon are professional hockey players who are also former teammates and current undercover lovers. Drew is the premier player in the league, and captain of the Chicago Ice where they were teammates for one year. Todd was traded after his rookie season and is currently an up-an-coming defenseman on the Bethesda Barracudas. There is about a 10 year age gap between them, and they have a long history. It was Drew who met Todd years before as a high school kid (at his own private alma mater) and who pointed Todd out to his own former college coaches–who later offered him a scholarship. Having been his former captain on the Ice, well, it’s all on the up-and-up but it COULD look shady to outsiders. Like Todd was “grooming” him or something.

So, they have TRIED to maintain a long-distance relationship that doesn’t raise any suspicion, but wow, its been three years, and a few of their close friends have come out without career issues during that time. In fact, Todd came out a few months back, and he doesn’t seem to have any struggles, except wanting to love Drew openly. And, really Drew wants this as well. Their families know, but their teammates do not, and they don’t want the season to get awkward if they declare themselves a couple.

This is a sweet and sexy established couple romance, with two good guys finding a path to happiness. Todd is afraid for Drew to come out, have a bad experience, and later resent him–and besides, they still live hundreds of miles apart. But Drew is a planner and he’s got an idea that would unite them both within a metropolitan area–if he can get an old pal to agree to a trade–and Todd to stop worrying about his love, which is rock solid in Drew’s mind.

This book is really sports-focused, and the pace is sometimes slowed by action in the league, but also by Todd and Drew’s own reticence. It’s also taking place in the run-up to Christmas, but doesn’t have the “holiday book” feel as the central plot is really on the coming, and the hockey. Christmas seemed like an afterthought, by comparison. Expect a lot of steamy reunions, and stolen moments, and friends who are the ultimate in supporters. I liked how Todd and Drew came out on their own terms, and how their love was strong enough to weather such long separations. It’s a definite HEA for all.

Interested? You can find ICE ANGELS on Goodreads, Bookbub, and Amazon.


Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link to enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

Good luck and keep reading my friends.

About the Authors:
Ryan Taylor and Joshua Harwood met in law school and were married in 2017. They live in a suburb of Washington, DC, and enjoy travel, friends, dogs, and advocating for causes dear to their hearts. Josh and Ryan love writing, and the romance they were so lucky to find with each other inspires their stories about love between out and proud men.

You can catch up with Ryan and Joshua on their website, Goodreads, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!