His for the Holidays Anthology
December 6, 2010
Reviewed by Mandi
Mistletoe at Midnight by LB Gregg
Owen has bought a house and a veterinary practice in upstate Vermont. With his house not quite ready to move in, he meets his family at an Inn for a week of Christmas celebration. Although is mother loves to play matchmaker, to everyone’s surprise his first love, his high school crush, Owen Black is also at the Inn. Having not seen each other for fifteen years, there is definitely some awkward moments. But as they are forced to spend time together in these close quarters, they realize the passion they shared as first loves in high school, is still present today.
If you read this blog regularly, you will know that I love LB Gregg’s books and this short story surpassed all my expectations. She writes the best witty, self-deprecating characters. I read this story in one sitting and literally could have read 200 more pages by her. Owen is surrounded by this loving family, that also embarrasses him at every chance they get. To be in that situation, with a man who you haven’t seen in fifteen years, but you are still very attracted too – makes for some really fun scenes. Owen’s brother and Caleb’s friend have some of the best lines in this book. And of course, we get very hot, smutty romance. One of my favorites.
Nine Lights over Edinburgh by Harper Fox
Detective Inspector James McBride’s life is in a downward spiral. Although deep down he knows he is gay, he married and has a ten year old daughter, although he has been divorced for a year. He has turned to drinking, which is interfering not only with his daily life, but his undercover work in Edinburg Scotland. Trying to bust a human-trafficking ring, he blows his cover. As a punishment, his boss makes him take security detail for an Israeli Ambassador visiting for peace talks. During this task, he meets Tobias Leitner, a bodyguard for the ambassador. Leitner and McBride work together, and they start to develop a partnership. When a kidnapping hits close to home for McBride, Leitner comes in to take charge, and romantic feelings develop.
Harper Fox sure knows how to write a damaged hero. McBride has everything working against him in this one and in what seems an unlikely pairing, he gets forced to work with Leitner, an Israeli Secret Service Agent. And this deep friendship forms, which turns to romance. At first I didn’t understand how these two would come to be lovers, but Harper Fox does a really good job with not rushing their feelings. They actually end up having so much in common. McBride’s lack of self esteem is really heartbreaking as he constantly asks Leitner why he protects him. Why he cares about his daughter. Why he cares about him. Although this story is very much geared towards suspense, the romance takes on a very poignant note, and it ends up being surprisingly romantic (although takes awhile to get there). I very much enjoyed and will definitely be reading more from Harper Fox.
I Heard Him Exclaim by Z.A Maxfield
Chandler has recently become guardian of his five year old niece after his brother and sister in-law died in a car accident. Overwhelmed although completely in love with little Poppy, his stress has reached an all-time high. On the way to drop Poppy off at his parent’s house his car breaks down.
Steve has recently gone through a life change. Used to being plump and jolly and very good at playing santa claus, with a health scare he has lost a lot of weight but isn’t feeling very jolly this Christmas. One thing he is good at is cars, and when he offers to help the very cute Chandler out, he not only finds romance, but he recaptures the holiday spirit.
I Heard Him Exclaim is such a good story. This is the first I have ever read of Z.A. Maxfield and I am cursing myself for waiting so long. Her style reminds me of L.B Gregg in that her characters have that smart, witty style that makes me laugh and she combines it with hot sex scenes. Make me laugh and give me the dirty lovin’ and I’m all yours! Chandler and Steve are adorable together – both thinking they were not in a good place in their lives to find love, and what do you know. Although this story only takes place over a couple of days, I totally bought into their romance and love. And I love that she includes an epilogue at the end. Needless to say, I have stocked my Kindle with previous ZA Maxfield books and I can’t wait to dive into them.
Icecapade by Josh Lanyon
Noel has retired from his days of being a diamond thief. Having played a fun cat and mouse game with FBI agent Robert Cuffe, and even seducing him one night, he now spends his time raising horses and writing books. He hasn’t heard from Robert for the past ten years, even though the star of his books is Robert, he hasn’t forgotten him. But a knock on the door changes everything.
Robert show up out of the blue to question Noel about a recent string of diamond thefts. Noel denies being involved, but Robert has lots of suspicion. And being together after so long apart has the sexual tension running high.
I enjoyed the set up in this one. Noel has a past filled with thieving, yet the statue of limitations has come and gone and although he now lives on the straight and narrow, he doesn’t have a ton of regret of his previous profession. And in true Josh Lanyon style, this story is quirky with plenty of witty retorts. What other author can throw in a llama rescue and make it a sexually charged scene? I think this story was the shortest of the four, so it was hard to get fully involved in the romance, but I think the ending suits the story perfectly, and I very much enjoyed it.
I can’t recommend His for the Holiday’s enough. Four really excellent M/M romance stories. I think these authors really compliment each other and I can’t wait for more anthologies from Carina Press.
Overall Rating: A-