Tis The Season – Luci Dreamer

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
3.5 stars. This is a sweet holiday romance about Olivia – a prosecuting attorney and Bridgette (Bridge), an ex-con who now owns and runs Dirty Hands Farm that employs those who are also ex-cons or from vulnerable backgrounds.

This isn’t my favourite Dreamer book – I’d recommend In the Black personally – but it has a lot of points that I enjoyed. Whilst it starts off with the two MCs meeting when Olivia visits Dirty Hands to purchase a Christmas tree – it does span a period of more than a year and discusses a number of different holidays.

The time span might be one of the factors that makes this novella different than other Dreamer books. Numbers of weeks often pass between interactions for Bridge and Olivia, which can make it feel like there isn’t chemistry between the two, when we are told there is. Whilst I didn’t always feel the chemistry, the interactions between the two are often very cute and often amusing in a cute way.

There is a fair amount of angst in this book from Olivia about falling for Bridge, when we meet her she is in an established relationship with a long-term boyfriend, but a lot of the angst is also wrapped up in not making the same mistakes she made with her ex. Her feelings about this and her sexuality become very intertwined. It can make it a little hard to root for Olivia and their relationship at times.

Whilst it has it’s difficult moments it’s definitely worth a read.

I received an e-ARC directly from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Get it Right – Skye Kilaen

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
4.5 stars. This is my first work by Kilaen and I really enjoyed it. The writing is fantastic and I enjoyed meeting all of the characters. I was sad when this one was over – for all the right reasons.

This is a friends/colleagues to lovers story with an added element of power dynamics due to them having previously known each in a prison environment, where Finn was an inmate and Vivi a nurse. There’s a prologue where we need them both in the prison infirmary but the main part of the narrative takes place once Finn is released. I like both of the MCs but I especially loved Finn.

Nearly all of the mentionable characters in the book are queer, in diverse ways and it was great to have a narrative about queer people living their lives – looking for work, running businesses, having relationships, normal family tensions etc. There are some queer related difficulties mentioned and some other difficulties such as trauma from an accident that are also encountered in the storyline, but none are used for drama, all just for expression of ordinary people doing ordinary things.

Judging by the teaser of the second book in the series about one of Vivi’s sisters, we’re going to get more from this world and I sincerely hope we’re going to get the next part of Finn and Vivi’s story. The ending of this is a good place to leave the story, especially if it was always intended to be a novella – but there’s so much more story to tell and I hope one day Kilaen wants to tell it.

I would happily recommend this to any queer romance lovers.

I received an e-ARC directly from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Glove Save and A Beauty – K.R. Collins

Rating: 4 out of 5.
I caught up with the previous books in this series recently in anticipation of this one’s release day and I have to say I thought this was a worthy addition to the series, despite it being about Gabrielle instead of Sophie. In fact, I think adding this shorter book before we read the next chapter in Sophie’s journey will keep the series fresher.

When I was little I was a huge hockey fan. Despite growing up in the UK I was lucky enough to grow up in a town with a team in the top league in the country and I could be found at the rink for every home game. However I wasn’t allowed to play. I desperately wanted to be a goaltender. Reading this is a small glimpse into all the things I enjoy about keeping goal in any sport. The writing on the psyche of those of that choose to stand in front of a puck for a living is great. It’s detailed enough to allow understanding but not so detailed that non-fans will be put off.

I wasn’t sure I’d like the decision to present the narrative in a non-chronological order, but actually that works too. For me it increased the understanding as to why Gabrielle is the way she is. The pressure on her is different than that on Sophie – which is hinted at in Sophie’s books, but it’s nice to have that explored further. There isn’t as much hockey action in this book – which is probably why it’s shorter, so non sports fans may prefer this instalment.

My only real gripe is with the front cover – this is a book about a goaltender – put a goaltenders mask on the front cover. They’re unique and interesting – Gabrielle’s is even described in the book.

Fans of the series should enjoy this, as should any hockey fans, sports fans and people that enjoy queer fiction. I think you could read this as a standalone – whilst it’s definitely strengthened by having read the other books, they aren’t necessary to enjoy this one.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One For The Road – Sienna Waters

Rating: 4 out of 5.
I really enjoyed this one and am happy to say I feel like Waters is back on form with this story.

Leo runs the local bar in a small town. She lives her life stuck in the past – serving only beer and a few spirits, just making do to make rent on the bar. On the surface she’s a loveable grump, with a heart of gold.

We meet Sammie after she’s run away from everything she knows, purchased a luxury RV and decided to park it in Leo’s lot. She’s drawn to Leo in a way she’s never experienced before, doesn’t know what she wants from life and just wants to earn enough so she can move on again.

Both main characters had plenty about that them I could identify with and I liked their chemistry. There’s an age gap that feels workable – both of them have experiences that make them quite compatible. The secondary characters were also really great. I liked Sara, who has a lot of wisdom for someone so young, but who was able to connect with both Sammie and Leo. I also liked Leo’s friends and the way they forced her to confront her feelings.

I liked all of the different elements that Waters was able to combine into one narrative, including discovering sexuality, becoming an adult, dealing with exes, grief, closure and a heavy dose of finding oneself, without it all feeling too overburdening or rushed. Even the inevitable angst moment felt like it could happen in real life and that these MCs could have made those choices.

I liked the ending and the communication between the two, especially the recognition of why they work together. I’d recommend this to age gap and romance fans in general.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

Northern Vows – Lise Gold

Rating: 4 out of 5.
I’m a big fan of Lise Gold and this one didn’t disappoint. This book brings together all of the featured characters from the Compass series for the wedding of Hannah and Kristine.

I loved that Gold chose to close this series by taking us back to the beginning – to Norway – where Northern Lights is set. The wedding setting is great in reintroducing us to all of the friends. I loved Hannah and Kristine’s story in the first two books of the series so getting to read the next part of their journey was great.

I liked that Gold didn’t feel the need to provide grand sweeping changes for all of the characters in the book. Two of the couples experience big changes in their lives to give them HEAs, but others stay in their stable lives, happy together, which makes the other changes work better in my opinion. It was great to return to Madison and Ally and how Madison’s relationship with Theo as her step-son has progressed. Kate and Felicia have always made me laugh with their headstrong ways and I loved the humour they provided to this story.

Some of the secondary characters get some closure, old friends making up, brothers changing, so it isn’t all about the romance. To me one of the things I love most about Gold is how she writes about the little things, and the fact that she manages to write about a group of friends staying at a resort for a week and it not be repetitive is fantastic. There is a little bit of a new romance included in the storyline for Daisy, which is sweet, mirroring some of the original book and closes the loop somewhat on this series.

I wouldn’t recommend reading this out of order. You could – it’s still a great story by itself, but you’d miss the richness that knowing these characters already provides to the narrative. Therefore I’d highly recommend starting this series if you haven’t already – Northern Lights is set at Christmas – so it’s the perfect time!