16 December 2014

Dreamspinner Advent Spotlight #4!

Adrian Delgado's time in the Peace Corps has been rewarding, but with Christmas around the corner, he is starting to get homesick. Life in Mongolia is very different from Texas, from the holiday celebrations to… dating. Take his coworker Batbayar, for instance—they've slept together several times and spend most time outside of work in each other's houses. But are they “together,” or friends with benefits? Maybe a Mongolian Christmas and a sheep's head in the bathtub can lead to the answer.
A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calendar package "Celebrate!".
Cute little story. Too short, really. It was the tale of an American and a Mongolian in Mongolia. I loved that foreign words were thrown in, but when an author does this, they either need to have a glossary of terms, or have the story long enough for the reader to begin to understand. For instance: by the end, I understood that Adrian’s ger was where he lived. But I’m still not quite sure what a ger is. Is it a tent? Or is it more like a yurt? Since his only way to get semi warm was to stoke up a fire while inside it, I’m assuming a yurt-like place, but there just wasn’t enough information to tell. However, the story about Adrian and Batbayar was sweet and at the end when we come to understand what the title is all about, it definitely brings to mind an “ahhh” moment.
Ever since he moved to London, shy editor Eric has been watching his neighbor, Crooked Smile, jog every morning. Aspiring restaranteur Rhys eats breakfast by the window so he can see his neighbor, Bed Head, help the old woman downstairs clean off her car. When Eric's roommate unexpectedly returns home for the holidays, she realizes their idiocy and, with the help of Rhys's business partner, Andreas, tries to help both men see there might be more in their futures than they’re seeing through their windows. 

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calendar package "Celebrate!".
I absolutely loved the storyline – winced at the head hopping. The story of Bed Head and Crooked smile is fun, cute, and made me laugh. Between Bed head going blank every time he saw his crush and Crooked Smile wondering what he did to get the guy to dislike him, their getting together was an enjoyable read. When you add in a new restaurant, annoying waiters, and terribly good food, what’s not to love? The head hopping. The story felt like a dual point of view, separated. BUT – it didn’t keep with that as POV switched into Janet’s POV or even, at the end of Rhys’s POV, we got Eric’s. That part was confusing. So 5 stars for the story, 3 stars for the head hopping. 4 stars over all, which is still good :)

After a one night whirlwind romance, Braylon returns to Toronto on the first of December every year in the hopes of seeing the man of his dreams again. Instead Braylon meets a strange man who tells him Christmas is a magical time, and one never knows what unexpected gifts he’ll receive. Braylon takes a chance and makes a Christmas wish, but instead of getting what he wants, he contracts an infection leaving him dependent on dialysis and unable to make the journey the following year. But the stranger just might be right; an unexpected gift may be the miracle Braylon needs most of all.
A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calendar package "Celebrate!".
Wonderful story. It had a strong hero – Braylan – who was fighting kidney failure but always returned to the spot he met Ross every year to try find him again. It had another strong hero – Ross – who gave up his life for several years to help a dying friend. And it even had a fairy godfather by the name of Chris. Between the actions of these three men, we come out with a wonderful HFN ending.

Max moved away from his family to be with Michael, and his family never got over it. Now, for the first time in almost a decade, he’s going to return to London for the Christmas celebrations. He’s confident his family will welcome Michael with open, loving arms. At least that's what he tells himself.

Michael doesn't have his head buried in the sand. He knows he has a lot to prove this Christmas, and he’s not sure if he’s up to the task. All these years and he’d never considered having to spend a holiday with Max’s family. Now that it’s happening he’s not scared to admit it—he’s terrified.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calendar package "Celebrate!".
Poor Michael. He’d made a fool of himself every time he’s been around his husband Max’s family. The two of them have always spent the holidays with Michael’s folks but this year, they were going to London to spend them with Max’s kin. As he expected, it started off dreadfully – throwing up in an expensive car dreadfully – and he felt it would get worse from there. Until his father-in-law hurt his husband’s feelings. Finally, Michael stopped being quiet as he defended his man. Thus starts a miraculous – to him – change in the way his in-laws treat him. This was a wonderful story with fun, laughter, pain, erotica, love, and a bunch of men trying to get a Christmas tree through a doorway – the wrong way. Seriously guys, the butt end goes first, not the tip.
A definite should read, in my opinion.
Novella about mending fences 4 ½ rainbows
This 46 page novella is about Max and English man living in Toronto with his Canadian lover, partner. Max has decided that this year he and Michael are going back to England to visit his family instead to spending it with Michael’s.
Michael is not thrilled about the journey or the visit, the last time they went over it did not go so well, and he is convinced they all hate him. But he loves Max and will do it for him.
Max and Michael is a very cute and sexual couple together, the bit of the roof, cold and HAWT all at the same time. The extended family was funny and well written, and the animosity between the father and Michael, you could feel rolling off the pages.  And I did like the fact that we got a quick snippet on how these two met. What I didn’t care for was the vagueness of the relationship, are they married, partners, obliviously in a committed relationship and for how long? How did Max end of in Toronto? And I have to admit the two “M” names kept confusing me.  
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Five years ago, Neno Kovač fled California, graduate school, and his lover, Toby Cowan, to return to his native Croatia. Since then, he’s led a quiet life as a librarian—until one November afternoon when Toby, who has never stopped loving Neno, shows up in Zagreb. When he left the United States, Neno wasn’t ready to give up his home and family to take a chance on a long-distance relationship. But Saint Martin’s Day has arrived, the day pressed grapes turn to wine and autumn turns to winter. Perhaps it will be a day when other changes are possible as well.
A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calendar package Celebrate!
This story had such potential. It was about Saint Martin’s Day in Croatia and it gave me the flavor of the street and the wine and the celebration. Only, the relationship faltered. Toby came thousands of miles from California to find Neno whom he had not seen in 5 years to declare his undying love. Okay, I could buy that. I could even buy that Neno wasn’t able to return that love. Until suddenly, without any preamble, he was and next thing they are engaged and… all I could see was a divorce once they’d gotten settled and realized they weren’t the same men they used to be. So for me, even though you could say that technically it ended with an HFN, I didn’t have high hopes for an HEA. I did like Neno’s boss and Mom, though – they were great characters. The author, in fact, did a great job in such a short story of drawing very likeable characters. I just wish the whole marriage thing hadn’t been thrown in.


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