Getting Cozy in TIGHT QUARTERS–A #Throwback Thursday Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M military romance from Annabeth Albert. TIGHT QUARTERS is the sixth book in her Out of Uniform series that features romances of Navy SEALS stationed in Coronado, California. Having read and loved OFF BASE, AT ATTENTION, ON POINT, WHEELS UP and SQUARED AWAY, I knew I’d be in for a thrilling romance.

About the book:
Petty Officer Bacon, a navy SEAL and ace sharpshooter, has been on the front lines of more than his fair share of dangerous ops. Yet when a minor injury relegates him to the beta team, he’s tasked with what may be his riskiest assignment yet: the silver fox journalist he’s babysitting is the hottest, most charismatic man he’s ever encountered.

Award-winning journalist Spencer Bryant may have been named one of Pride magazine’s most eligible bachelors of the year, but he’s not looking to change his relationship status. He’s a consummate professional who won’t risk his ethics or impeccable reputation by getting involved with a source. Even a sexy-as-hell military man. But while Spencer can resist his physical attraction to Bacon, he has less control over his emotions—especially when the mission goes sideways and the two men are trapped alone.

Getting out of the jungle alive turns out to be easy compared to facing the truth about their feelings for one another back in the real world. And whether or not they can build a future is a different story altogether.

My Review:
Petty Officer Bacon is a Navy SEAL tasked with escorting an embedded reporter on their latest mission. He’s not happy about it, especially he’s nervous about maybe spilling info that could incriminate two former SEAL team members, Lowe and Strauss who were the MC’s of WHEELS UP. Plus, it’s never good to be on-mission, but not a part of it. As a chaperone, Bacon’s orders are to bring the reporter back in one piece, even if it means bailing on his team.

Spencer Bryant is out to write another award-winning book to highlight issues with veterans and enlisted personnel not getting the support and care they need. A previous confidante, and friend, for whom Spencer wrote a best-seller, was a retired military man whose PTSD put him over the edge. While on mission, Spencer is humbled by the bravery and camaraderie of the SEAL team–and he’s unwillingly attracted to his handler, Petty Officer Bacon, who seems to not have a first name. While running training exercises, Spencer and Bacon develop a camaraderie of their own–tinted with unrequited sexual tension. Their actual mission deep in the terror cells of the South Pacific goes terribly wrong, however, and Spencer struggles with the guilt of Bacon leaving his men in danger to just save him.

The navy shuts down Spencer’s access to the SEAL teams as soon as he’s brought back to base, yet Bacon knows how to find him before he leaves for the US. They know that the navy won’t be happy about any fraternization, even if Spencer’s no longer embedded–and yet the need for affirmation adds gasoline to their smoldering attraction. It should only be the one night, but Spencer’s thrilled when Bacon reaches out later to tell him that things went better the second time around, and his teammates, though wounded, survived.

This communication brings Bacon and Spencer together in a way each man truly needs–contact that supports, not distracts. On leave, Bacon drives from San Diego to LA to visit Spencer and the sparks are ridiculous. These guys fit together so well, Spencer’s far away life providing Bacon with an emo outlet he hasn’t had since high school. Still, the story Spencer wants to write, feels compelled to write, centers on suicide and depression of veterans suffering PTSD, and it’s a wedge growing between them even as their relationship matures over months from buddies-with-benefits to exclusive boyfriend status. When Bacon finally learns about Spencer’s planned book deal he’s crushed–the SEALs are his family and this could hurt them–would certainly offend them that Bacon is dating a man who trashes the navy and other armed forces. It’s the deal-breaker Spencer expected, but he didn’t think he’d fall for Bacon first…

It’s a little bittersweet, but a brief separation and some counseling on both sides helps each man find a pathway back. Bacon’s connection to an amputee helps him see that PTSD and depression are true killers of his comrades, while a mentor helps Spencer remember that life isn’t just a story–it’s meant to be lived and savored. I liked how they each make amends, with Spencer being present for Bacon just when he needs him, and Bacon coming out and trusting his team to support his love for Spencer. There is a lot of support for Bacon, and he’s happy to life his life in the open. The finale brings the story full-circle with Bacon baring his non-classified secrets and them building a life together.

Interested? You can find TIGHT QUARTERS on Goodreads, Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo.

About the Author:
Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

Find Annabeth online on her website, Goodreads, twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Not Easy Finding A HUSBAND FOR SANTA–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M Christmas romance from Doreen Heron. A HUSBAND FOR SANTA is a cute take on a modern Santa’s life.

About the book:
Father Christmas knows his time delivering presents is coming to an end, and his son is more than ready to take his place at the helm of the sleigh. But family tradition stands in Turk’s way.

He must find a Mrs. Claus to help share the burden. Unfortunately for tradition, he would rather a husband than a wife, and he doesn’t have time to meet anyone anyway.

At the same time, Christmasologist and PhD candidate Symeon Golightly finds himself sad and alone over the holidays.

Maybe a chance encounter and a Christmas wish will bring them together.

My Review:
Turk is Father Christmas’ son and heir, a dedicated future-Santa who wants to be the very best Father Christmas ever. He’s been studying sled aerodynamics since his teens and knows all the key elves and traditions. He’s ready…except his father isn’t. Well, his father is willing to turn over the Christmas magic if Turk will marry. See, it’s kind of a package situation, with a partner to act as helpmeet, and Mrs. Claus explains to her recalcitrant son.

Turk is miffed and determined to prove himself capable, so he whisks himself off to London on Boxing Day to show how very self-sufficient he is…not. Well, using his part of the Christmas magic enables Turk to rent a luxury suite in a posh hotel, but he’s at a loss for how to spend his time, until he meets Symeon Golightly, a doctoral student in Christmasology and moonlighter working the desk at the hotel. Sym loves everything about Christmas, except when it ends! He’s cheered up by chatting with Turk, though, and this pair heads upstairs when Sym’s shift ends. It’s not long before they are cozily kissing the evening away.

A next day appointment turns into a brisk adventure when Turk reveals his true identity. This gets the North Pole up in arms, and we’ve got a big problem. This little novella is a little choppy with a wandering omniscient point-of-view and seemingly impetuous and rambling decision-making by both Turk and Symeon. While cute and happy, the fussy Turk was both pretentious and sulky, and I struggled to like him for most of the story. Meanwhile, Symeon is too perfect to be believed. The story seemed incredibly rushed, and the resolution was so fast I struggled to keep up. That said, the magic of Christmas does get preserved, and happy Turk learns his parents did have his best interests at heart.

Interested? You can find A HUSBAND FOR SANTA on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon. I read a review copy provided by NetGalley.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Out now! THE LAST MYSTIC–A Review

Hi there! I’m so excited to share a review for a brand new dystopian YA adventure/romance from Susan Kaye Quinn. THE LAST MYSTIC is the fourth book in her Singularity series, and should be read in order. Having loved THE LEGACY HUMAN, THE DUALITY BRIDGE, and THE ILLUSORY PROPHET, I couldn’t wait to read this thrilling series conclusion.

About the book:
What if you knew there was life after death?
Eli is back from the dead… and determined to stop the powerful ascenders who blasted him out to the void. But in the three days he was gone, the world moved on. The girl he loves is determined to build an army of augmented humans to fight the ascenders—with herself as the next Offering. The ascenders are lining up in a death cult based on the charismatic ascender Eli accidentally released from storage—and all the restraints that have kept the ascender world in balance are now off. Everyone is rushing to be the first to bring a Second Singularity—to reach the numinous world from which Eli just returned—regardless of the cost. And the chaos and bloodshed of the first Singularity show just how high that cost can be. How can he stop the world from hurtling off the cliff when he’s the one who proved there’s something to reach, if only you could learn how to fly?

The Last Mystic is the thrilling conclusion to the Singularity series. This philosophical, HopePunk sci-fi series explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity world.

My Review:
This is the fourth book in the Singularity series, and needs to be read in order.

Elijah Brighton is not entirely human. Nor is he an Ascender–one of the millions of minds that are electronically connected since the Singularity several hundred years prior. Earth is not the place we know, it’s far advanced technologically, and humans that live here are kept as legacy populations in Ascender controlled cities, or they escape to join the Resistance, or the Makers, or an even lesser-known cult.

Eli has been through the wringer in this series, learning that he’s not simply a human, but one generated with Ascender tech in his very DNA. He was designed to answer the question of whether Ascenders had souls, and if they could transcend technological death into and afterlife. Eli now knows–and he’s the bridge to that destination. When the book opens it’s Eli,coming back from a Fugue–a state on non-consciousness where he can touch the souls of others, including Ascenders. There is a terrifying new foe cutting down humanity to find him–or his body–and bring about a Second Singularity, in which Ascenders will be able to travel into an afterlife, and return–like Eli does. Eli’s first thought is to bring back the consciousness of two of the most respected Ascenders to quell the drive toward another Singularity. These entities have been considered dead, and if Eli can get them to re-integrate with the Orion collective consciousness then he can convince Ascenders they don’t need to sacrifice their minds, or the bodies of humans, to achieve afterlife for their soul.

Eli isn’t only trying to help humanity survive the Ascender assaults; his human girlfriend, Kamali, is next in line to attempt a Second Singularity. She believes that Eli will bring her back from the dead if the Makers are unable to complete the transformation. For Eli, it’s personal, as well as philosophical. He’s funneled the consciousness of many low-functioning bots into the afterlife, and still wonders if he did the right thing–granted he took those “minds” from killer bots that were rampaging through unprotected human populations, but it troubled him. And losing Kamali–even if he could bring her back–is just untenable. Instead, Eli digs deep within himself to find what makes him unique among those on Earth–and he grows into the being his Ascender mentors had always envisioned: more than a bridge, a way to embrace life–human or Ascender. He’s able to rewire humanity and Ascenders to find the divine within themselves and each other, using his deep love of life to open the minds of the populace in a figurative and literal way. It’s a creative means to an end that only builds more love, more connections. The Second Singularity arrives not through tech, but through compassion.

It’s an amazing transition, and an inspiring end to a series built on finding the best of humanity, even when the most powerful haven’t been human in centuries. If you are into futuristic societies and big moral and ethical quandaries, this philosophical take will open your heart and mind to possibility.

Interested? You can find THE LAST MYSTIC on Goodreads and Amazon.

New to the series? The first book, THE LEGACY HUMAN, is currently FREE. Check out my review and catch the buy links here.

Susan Kaye Quinn is a rocket scientist turned speculative fiction author who now uses her PhD to invent cool stuff in books. She writes young adult science fiction, with side trips into adult future-noir, royal fantasy romance, and middle grade. Her bestselling novels and short stories have been optioned for Virtual Reality, translated into German, and featured in several anthologies. She writes full-time from Chicago, inventing mind powers and dreaming of the Singularity.

Chat with her about our coming robot overlords in her Facebook group.

More about Sue: website | Facebook Page | Twitter | For Writers

Unexpected Love Surrounding THE BISHOP–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand new contemporary romance from Skye Warren. THE BISHOP is a novella set in her Tanglewood world of broody alpha men who act for justice, not necessary the law.

About the book:
From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Skye Warren comes the next installment in her Tanglewood series.

THE BISHOP is a story of redemption, a story of revenge. A story of romance finding roots in the darkest places.

A million dollar chess piece goes missing hours before the auction.

Anders Sorenson will do anything to get it back. His family name and fortune rests on finding two inches of medieval ivory. Instead he finds an injured woman with terrible secrets.

He isn’t letting her go until she helps him find the piece. But there’s more at stake in this strategic game of lust and danger. When she confesses everything, he might lose more than his future. He might lose his heart.

**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

My Review:
Anders Sorenson is a doctor who works outside the law, and seeks the man who destroyed his mother. When Anders was just a child his mother, also a physician, would treat the poor and downtrodden of Tanglewood. She was a brilliant person until she was attacked one night, beaten, raped and left for dead. After that, she never spoke and was homebound, playing chess with a young Anders under hsi father’s watchful eye. The attacker had stolen a priceless medieval chess piece, a bishop, from his mother, and Anders’ father made him promise to keep its mate–the one his father had carried every day for the rest of his life. Anders had long suspected the attacker kept the bishop, as it never came up for auction, or even sale in the dark web.

Now that his father has died, Anders is planning to lure out his mother’s attacker by offering the matching bishop for auction. While surveying the buyers at the auction house, Anders meets a woman who inexplicably catches his attention. When the bishop is stolen, he searches for that strange woman, finding her near death in the alley outside her questionable motel. Anders saves her, stitching her up and caring for her over the days she needs to heal and regain consciousness. Natalie, as Anders learns, did steal the chess piece, but she didn’t give it to the man pulling her strings–suffering greatly as a result.

Natalie has been a burglar under the power of someone very close to her family for the better part of 15 years. Natalie wants out of the situation, but fears her mother will become a target if she refuses to do as told. For once, however, she has a person who cares for her just because she needs it. Anders’ rough edges seem to smoothe Natalie’s battered heart as much as his capable hands repair her battered body. Anders wants Natalie more than his revenge–but he’d like both.

This was an interesting entry in the Tanglewood series–though I haven’t read these books. It’s clear that there are a couple of books in the series, as there are two unlikely couples who aid Anders and Natalie in the cause of justice–even if they break the law doing it. I thought the romance developed a bit quickly, as we don’t have much of a sense of Anders or Natalie during the crisis of her recovery, and Anders’ history is a bit sketchy, especially regarding his off-the-books medical practice. Everyone seems to know what they need to know when they need to know it–which smacked a bit of coincidence, and I’m not a fan of convenient story lines. That said, if you’re a fan of the author, or this series, this novella will likely make your day.

Interested? You can find THE BISHOP on Goodreads and Amazon.

About the Author:
Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of dangerous romance. Her books have sold over one million copies. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, sweet dogs, and evil cat.

You can catch up with her on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, and BookBub or sign up for her newsletter.

Like Anders and Natalie, I met my hubs in a weird situation–both pretending we were legal drinkers at an illegal campus party when we were young college students. Did you ever meet a Significant Other at a place you shouldn’t have been? Let me know in the comments…
As always, thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Shifting Through A HOWLING ON HOLD–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand new M/M contemporary shifter romance from EJ Russell. HOWLING ON HOLD is set in the world of both Fae Out Of Water (CUTIE AND THE BEAST, THE DRUID NEXT DOOR, and BAD BOY’S BARD) and Supernatural Selection (SINGLE WHITE INCUBUS, VAMPIRE WITH BENEFITS, DEMON ON THE DOWN-LOW) but is a standalone New Adult romance.

About the book:
Sometimes it’s harder to teach a young dog new tricks.

That’s why werewolves embark on a Howling: a three-year rite of passage in which they’re sent to a group residence to wrestle with their wolfy instincts and assimilate into the Wider World. But Tanner Araya’s Howling is almost over, and he could be called back to his remote pack at any moment. His twenty-first birthday might be his last chance to act on his strongest instinct and finally kiss Chase Denney.

Chase is RA at the Howling residence affectionately dubbed “the Doghouse,” and he takes his job seriously. So seriously that when he realized he was developing feelings for a resident, he forced himself to keep Tanner at a distance. But now that Tanner’s twenty-one, he’s not Chase’s charge any longer. They could be friends or—if Chase is lucky—something more. At least until they both return to their home packs for good, as tradition demands.

It would take a miracle for them to get together—especially when the other Doghouse werewolves insist on “helping.”

Warning: Many Frisbees are harmed in this story, forgiveness is not always easier than permission, and the five-second rule does not apply.

My Review:
Tanner Ayala is am alpha were-in-waiting. He can’t assume control of his pack until his 21st birthday–and he’d rather never do it, truth be told. He’s only just learned to master his shifts in the two years he’s been a resident of the Howling House run by the were consortium in Portland. He loves his housemates, fellow young male shifters who hail from different packs in the Northwest, and he loves taking classes and learning about life far from his sheltered and conservative pack. He’d love to let his uncle continue leading the pack in his absence, and especially to avoid meeting up with his jerk-cousin, Finn. Plus, then he could stay near Chase, the RA for their Howling house.

On Tanner’s 21st birthday celebration turns into an epic disaster–following his clumsy kiss on Chase’s unexpecting lips. Chase is only a few years older, and terribly attracted to Tanner, but he’s held himself apart afraid to make a move on a younger, and undeniably impressionable, alpha. As the other pups lose control of their human selves, Chase gets hauled in for a reprimand, and is immediately removed from Howling house for a 3 month retraining without even getting to tell his charges what’s up. So, when he returns, he’s astounded to find Tanner missing–and no one can account for his whereabouts. His fellow residents thought he went back to his pack–and a check in gets everyone involved in the search.

And I mean everyone! This book is set in the same were-supe universe as the Fae Out of Water series and the Supernatural Selection series–so Chase reaches out to Mal Kendrick, co-founder of Quest Investigations, to help track down the missing Tanner. This begins a rollicking chase through haunted woods, Fae realms, and the backwoods of a Weasel Pit. I have enjoyed all the stories in these books, so getting little reprises of the imaginative and diverse mythological characters is always entertaining. This time we get a reluctant bean-nighe (the washerwoman of death) revealing important clues, as well as witches lingering in junk shops and cafes that help Chase and Tanner make all the right choices. I loved the call-backs to the characters and locales of previous books and I think I will never stop being charmed by the suit-shredding unfurling of Quentin Bertrand-Harrington’s incubus wings when his husband Ted is in danger. To see the racket of Tanner’s 21st party impinging on Mal’s proposal to Dr. Bryce MacLeod–who helps train the Howling weres so they don’t dig up yard–was a treat.

Tanner may have run to avoid his destiny, but soon he’s going to face his worst fears, and his potential doom. Seems a plot had been in place to kill him, but his flight from embarrassment has opened the door to a whole new path. Not exactly knowing the danger, Chase finally confesses his strong attraction to Tanner, and they are able to build the connection each man has longed for–over these years. Expect a little steam, as with all the books. NOt a lot of sexytimes, but some just where it needs to be.

There are so many cute characters–misfit weres–at this Howling House, and their talents, while not ideally suited to their own packs, makes them great partners for a pack of their own making. It’s not exactly clear if they will all stay together as a found family, but the potential is there for that, as well as future romances in this world. I’m so glad to have gotten this far, and hope to have many more forays into love in this universe.

Interested? You can find HOWLING ON HOLD on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
E.J. Russell writes romance in a rainbow of flavors — from M/F stories grounded in absurd contemporary reality to M/M tales splashed with the supernatural — but you can be sure that while the couple makes their way to HEA, they’ll never stray too far into the dark.

You can catch up with Ms. Russell on her website, Goodreads, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Scorched by the DRAGONFIRE–A #Throwback Thursday Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a dragon-shifter romance from Donna Grant. DRAGONFIRE is the 14th novel in her Dark Kings series, and really best enjoyed when read in order. I’ve liked SMOKE AND FIRE, FIRESTORM, BLAZE, and DRAGON BURN, and DRAGON CLAIMED so I’m eager to reach the “climax” of this sexy series.

About the book:
It was a soul-deep longing, one that got into his bones and settled there, sending whispers of desire through him. The need, the hunger, grew tenfold with every breath. . . .

As a Dragon King, Roman is sworn to protect all mortals–even though they no longer believe in dragons. But deep in the Carpathian Mountains, he discovers a beautiful and mysterious gypsy who possesses the power to see into his very soul. To reignite the fire in his heart. And to help him find the long-lost sword that could save the dragons forever…

Sabina remembers the stories her grandmother told her. Legends of dragons and kings, fire and ice. And she’s never forgotten the dark prophecy that filled her ancestors with fear–a fate they tried to prevent by stealing a Dragon King’s sword. Sabina knows that helping Roman is dangerous. He is a dragon betrayed, and more powerful than any man. He could destroy her in a single fiery embrace. But how can she resist the longing in his eyes–or the feelings in her heart–when their destinies are bound by desire?

My Review:
Roman, a Dragon King honor-bound to protect humanity feels doubly-bound to help his fellow dragon-shifter friend Vlad recover his missing sword. This sword, lost eons ago, was the key to opening a realm to which the dragons of yore fled when humanity took over too much of Earth. Each time Vlad has awoken from enchanted sleep to find his sword he’s ended up on a rampage that has killed masses of people, so Roman’s not about to let Vlad go off to his homeland of the Carpathiam Mountains without backup.

Upon landing in his native soil, Vlad and Roman encounter Sabina and her seemingly-disabled brother, Camlo, who each have a touch of Romani (gypsy) magic in their blood. Sabina’s gran had been a strong matriarch and she passed the family history to Sabina at young age–warning her to guard their secrets. When Vlad touches Camlo, who has had visions of Vlad’s return, Vlad is knocked out, and it’s then they begin the search through memory and vision to recover the hidden sword.

Roman seems keen to assist, but he knows they need more help–so he reaches out for Fae and Druid assistance as the path leads them into some of the most harsh landscape Roman’s homeland of Iceland. The travel only gets worse, hampered by ancient magic aimed to thwart the seekers–but it yields important clues about those who’ve been plaguing the Dragon Kings, of late. Sabina is a fated mate of Roman–and their ordeals only drive them closer–especially when it’s clear that Camlo’s magic is necessary to save them all.

As part of the overarching series, this book give the reader insight into “the Others” a Druid (or anti-Druid) interference that seems to extend back to when Vlad’s sword was originally stolen–and Sabina’s sacred family history is critical to finding out the hows and whys of it. Sabina knows about the dragons of yore, and she’s kinda thrilled by the intense chemistry she feels with Roman. Roman’s been adrift a long time, and he’s glad to have met his match. Dear Camlo is so sweet and an interesting character. The journey to the center of magic in Roman’s own mountain brings him near to death at least once, but help from Ulrik and others brings him back from the brink.

The resolution reunites Vlad and his sword, but the struggle doesn’t end for that Dragon King. Meanwhile, Roman and Sabina do what is necessary to make their love survive–and take care of Camlo, in the process. It’s a grand adventure, and I liked the interwoven storylines–bringing Ulrik and his mate into the action was nice, as I haven’t had a lot of experience with Ulrik being a good guy. The love story is a little rushed, due to all the action, but it wasn’t too compressed. They seem to spend an ice age half-buried in the tunnels, and that has the effect of decreasing one’s emotional timetable.

Interested? You can find DRAGONFIRE on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play.

donna_grant_newAbout the Author:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant has been praised for her “totally addictive” and “unique and sensual” stories. Her latest acclaimed series, Dark Kings, features a thrilling combination of dragons, Fae, and immortal Highlanders who are dark, dangerous, and irresistible. She lives with her two children and an assortment of animals in Texas.

Catch up with Donna on her website, Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Tumblr, Audible, and Tantor.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Christmas in A TOWN CALLED NOELLE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary F/F Christmas romance from M. K. Hardy. A TOWN CALLED NOELLE is set in a Michigan small-town and features a driven baker dispelling a lifetime of disillusionment for a grieving woman.

About the book:
Just a few days before Christmas, high-flying city exec Brooke Hawkins is forced to return to her small home town due to the death of her mother, who she hasn’t spoken to since she left for college over a decade before. The town, Noelle, is as full of the Christmas spirit as its name suggests. Brooke is more of the “Bah, Humbug” persuasion. She has a funeral to attend, property to sell, and she wants to do it and leave—preferably before December 25th. Unfortunately, the weather and the pace of small-town life both conspire to keep her right where she is.

Small-town baker Holly Jackson gets a nasty shock when she receives the news, just days before Christmas, that her little shop is about to be sold from under her by her late landlady’s estranged daughter. In the years since her husband died in a tragic accident, she and her daughter Maya have been getting by, healing and rebuilding. Holly was beginning to really enjoy life again. She doesn’t plan to let some woman she hasn’t seen since high school come in and ruin everything.

When Holly and Brooke cross paths, sparks fly—and not in a good way. Brooke is determined to sell up and get out of town—and outrun her bad memories in the process. Holly is determined to make her business work. When an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, can the spirit of Noelle change minds… and melt hearts?

My Review:
Brooke Hawkins believes that everyone in her hometown of Noelle will hate her–that’s what she’s been told by her estranged mother all her life, after all. Brooke left for college and hasn’t returned until her mother’s death–and the need to settle the estate. For Brooke, this means selling all her mother’s property and returning to her regularly-scheduled, if lonely, life.

Holly Jackson grew up with Brooke, and looked to her mother as a mentor. She admired Brooke somewhat in school, but they were never close. Holly’s a widow now, raising a young daughter and working hard to make her quirky bakery one of the must-stop places for tourists to Noelle. She’s not happy when her realtor calls to tell her that her lease is being broken–because Brooke is selling the property to a developer and Holly can’t even make a bid.

In such a small town, it’s inevitable that they will meet, and Holly let’s Brooke have it, confirming Brooke’s suspicions of being the odd-woman out. It seems her mother was highly respected by the community, and no one really knows how emotionally abusive she was to Brooke growing up. Brooke wants to sign all the paperwork and leave, but ice storms and a blizzard cut her quick escape off. Force to endure an extended stay in Noelle gives Holly the chance to apologize for her fiery temper–and maybe kindle a tiny spark of desire and connection that each woman needs.

This is a short read, with two rather interesting main characters. I liked them both, but I didn’t really get a good sense of their connection. Brooke was enchanted to be included in Holly’s plans–including the holiday festivities–once she could get over her ingrained shyness. There aren’t many tender moments on the page, which made it hard for me to really understand what changed for Holly, in terms of her attraction to Brooke. I get that she was emotionally connected to the decisions Brooke made that ultimately played in her favor, but Holly’s sudden interest in a physical relationship with Brooke–who could jet out as soon as the weather clears–didn’t have a firm grounding, to me. It’s a decent story, but my disbelief at the situation and the plot couldn’t stay suspended long enough to reach the happy ending.

Interested? You can find A TOWN CALLED NOELLE on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
MK Hardy is the pen name for two geeky women living and writing together in Scotland. They’ve been writing partners for eleven years and life partners for nine. When they’re not typing frantically at one another they like to walk the dogs, cuddle the cats, drink cocktails and play boardgames.

Catch up with MK Hardy on their website, Facebook, and twitter.