Saturday, December 31, 2016

Tell Me It's Real by TJ Klune

Title:  Tell Me It's Real
Author: TJ Klune
My Rating: A
Narrator: Michael Lesley

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: At First Sight #1
Main Characters: Vince and Paul
Release Date: June 2014 (audiobook)
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: mild

Story Overview:
Do you believe in love at first sight?

Paul Auster doesn't. Paul doesn't believe in much at all. He's thirty, slightly overweight, and his best features are his acerbic wit and the color commentary he provides as life passes him by. His closest friends are a two-legged dog named Wheels and a quasibipolar drag queen named Helena Handbasket. He works a dead-end job in a soul-sucking cubicle, and if his grandmother's homophobic parrot insults him one more time, Paul is going to wring its stupid neck.

Enter Vince Taylor.

Vince is everything Paul isn't: Sexy, confident, and dumber than the proverbial box of rocks. And for some reason, Vince pursues Paul relentlessly. Vince must be messing with him, because there is no way Vince could want someone like Paul.

But when Paul hits Vince with his car - in a completely unintentional if-he-died-it'd-only-be-manslaughter kind of way - he's forced to see Vince in a whole new light. The only thing stopping Paul from believing in Vince is himself - and that is one obstacle Paul can't quite seem to overcome. But when tragedy strikes Vince's family, Paul must put aside any notions he has about himself and stand next to the man who thinks he's perfect the way he is.

My Review:
Overall: 4.5
Performance: 4.75
Story: 4.25

Yes, I listened to these two books out of order. My review for The Queen and the Homo Jock King went up last week, but I loved it so much, I had to go back and listen to Vince and Paul's story, too. And this story did not disappoint. It was not quite as emotion filled as the other, but I still loved the book (it's also significantly shorter...10 hours vs 18 hours, so that affects the author's ability to develop the story so deeply...not that this book isn't fully developed, because it totally is).

This is a story that is over the top (just like TQATHJK)...and I giggled all the way through it. I'll be honest though, if I had read it, it probably would have driven me nuts, but all that 'drama' worked in the audiobook well. TJ Klune books are definitely taking up a lot of my audiobook time. They're long, so it works sometimes his writing prose is difficult to read, but it works really, really well in the audiobook format.

This is a book where the normal guy, Paul, gets the gorgeous hunk, Vince. I love those types of stories, although there was a point where I thought Paul got a tiny bit too whiney and that he just needed to get over himself and see the fantastic guy who was in front of him and so into him. Vince was awesome! He is REALLY into to an "awww" extent. Seriously, he had so many moments in this book where Vince just totally melted my heart. When he would confess to being half in love with heart. I adored Vince. He's truly an awesome character and then when I found out all that he's been through/is going through, I fell in love with him even more. 

But the story is told entirely from Paul's pov. I could understand him...because he is a normal guy who is slightly overweight and definitely not the most confident guy. He truly looks at Vince (who's gorgeous) and doesn't understand or get that Vince is truly interested in him. He can't believe or trust that...and after a while that truly hurt to read, especially as I saw more and more of Vince's actions. 

But the story is entertaining. Just like with the second book in the series (which I read first), I was constantly giggling and laughing out loud while listening to this one. My family definitely gave me some strange looks while I was listening to it when they were around. 

I definitely recommend it...and if you're like me and sometimes have issues with humorous books driving you batty to read, I highly recommend the audiobook version. The narrator for this series is brilliant!

Friday, December 30, 2016

My Top Ten of 2016

This is one of my most favorite posts to write every year, but it's also one of the hardest to do because there are always so many good books throughout the year. 

In 2016, I read 371 books (which is a down year for me). 
Of that 371 books, 39 of them received the absolutely top mark from me.

Some random facts about those 39...

23 of them were m/f romance
15 of them were m/m romances
1 of them was an m/m/f romance
11 of them were audiobooks (yes, I seriously hiked my audiobook listens this year)
2 of them (that I know of) were the author's first book***

5 authors had 2 books on the list:
Annabeth Albert
Megan Erickson
L.A. Witt/Lauren Gallagher
Lauren Layne
R.L. Mathewson

The contenders (listed in reverse order from those most recently on the title to go to my original review):
  1.  Completely Yours by Erin Nicholas
  2.  Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
  3. Wrapped Together by Annabeth Albert
  4. The Farther He Runs by Lynda Aicher
  5. First Step Forward by Liora Blake
  6. Breakaway by Avon Gale
  7. Just Drive by L.A. Witt
  8. Spinning Out by Lexi Ryan
  9. So Into You by S.E Harmon
  10. A Kind of Romance by Lane Hayes
  11. Bad Judgment by Sidney Bell
  12. The Matchmaker's Replacement by Rachel Van Dyken
  13. Connection Error by Annabeth Albert
  14. For Better or Worse by Lauren Layne
  15. Cake: A Love Story by J. Bengtsson***
  16. The Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen
  17. Gone Too Deep by Katie Ruggle
  18. Rush by Emma Scott
  19. Ruined by Shiloh Walker
  20. What Remains by Garrett Leigh
  21. The Hotter You Burn by Gena Showalter
  22. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  23. The Game Plan by R.L. Mathewson
  24. Good Girl by Lauren Layne
  25. Heart Breaker by Erin McCarthy
  26. Phase Shift by Kelly Jensen and Jenn Burke
  27. Playing for Keeps by R.L. Mathewson
  28. That Thing Between Eli and Gwen by J.J. McAvoy
  29. Dirty by Kylie Scott
  30. Selfie by Amy Lane
  31. Calling It by Jen Doyle***
  32. The Best Laid Plans by Lauren Gallagher
  33. Emergency Engagement by Samanthe Beck
  34. Taking the Score by Kate Meader
  35. The Tycoon's Forced Bride by Jane Porter
  36. Rock-N-Soul by Lauren Sattersby
  37. Make Me Sin by J.T. Geissinger
  38. Tied to Trouble by Megan Erickson
  39. Archer's Voice by Mia Sheridan
And now without further waffling on my part, here is my list of my favorite 10 reads from this year...

Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
Dominic made this book, but not for the reasons you would expect. He's not the quickest guy in the bunch, but he's so honest about his confusion and newly discovered bi-sexuality that you can't help but love him in this May/Dec romance.

The Farther He Runs by Lynda Aicher
Yep, this is a wounded hero which just happens to be my romance reading kryptonite. Add in the friends to lovers aspect and I never had a chance but to adore this story. And I really, really, really did. Another emotional one.

Spinning Out by Lexi Ryan
Out of control. Yep, that describes the characters in this book perfectly, especially the hero. Everything about this New Adult book worked for my angst-loving heart. 

The Matchmaker's Replacement by Rachel Van Dyken
I giggled all the way through both this one and the first in the series. not the only one who thought these books were great. Both the books in this fabulously fun series are getting made into movies.

Cake: A Love Story by J. Bengtsson
This book is so much more than your normal rock star love story. The first book from this author, it hit all the feels and was just amazing. I'm dying for book #2, coming in January.

Rush by Emma Scott
This book was so powerful and so emotional. It had two completely broken MC's who managed to put each other back together in the most beautiful way...through their love.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I don't do love triangles, so for me to have this on my list, tells you how truly powerful this story is. 
Two loves, true loves...this book left me with an epic hangover, but I adored it so, so much!

The Game Plan by R.L. Mathewson
I listened to this entire series on audio this year and loved almost all the books. They were so freaking funny, but this one was different in that it left me sobbing. This story took R.L. Mathewson to a whole new level of storytelling that I wouldn't have guessed she could have achieved. It was gorgeous.

Phase Shift by Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen
Every single book in this five book series received 5-stars from me. I adored them all, but the authors created perfection with the final book. Bittersweet to hit the end of the series, but the authors made that pain oh so good! 

Selfie by Amy Lane
Amy Lane is one of those authors who regularly proves she can write amazingly good wounded heroes, but she reached all new levels with Connor in this book. As I cried tears over his pain, I wanted to crawl into the book and take care of him. Thank goodness she gave him Noah, who did a fabulous job at just that.

So, that's my $.02 on the books I read this year. If you didn't notice, I'm a huge lover of angst. All but two of these books left me in tears. I'll admit I love it when I get so emotionally involved with the characters in my books that their pain becomes my pain. It makes their Happily Ever After so much sweeter and worth the trouble of getting there.

But I also love to laugh and almost all of these books helped me with that, too. 2016 was an amazing year for good reads.

Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs

Title: Fire Touched
Author: Patricia Briggs
My Rating: A

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Mercy Thompson #9
Main Characters: Mercy and Adam
Release Date: March 2016
Publisher:  Ace
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: mild

Story Overview:
Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.

Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?

My Review:
I adore this series and this story started out with a great scene...a giant troll on the bridge that brings the pack and Mercy into the very public spotlight as they work together to defeat the troll...and eventually become heroes for humankind. Who knew they would eventually end up here? Mercy, as usual, rocks...and I adore that Adam finally, finally stood up for her and how the pack is treating her. Gah...I hate the way they continue to treat her as an outsider when she's done so much for them. (I kind of love her.)

This story brought about some interesting changes for the pack and Mercy and Adam's life. I have to say although I get it, I was shocked by Bran's actions. :( But Tad and Zee are back in this book and I love that. (This is a very fae-focused story...which isn't my favorite, but I liked how things are evolving.)

There was also the change of an addition of a new character to Mercy and Adam's world. I love Aiden and how he pulls Jesse into the story more. I also giggled every time there was a new fire at the house. Those scenes made me giggle every time...including the one that makes it into the next book (shh, yes, I immediately read the next book after I read "the end" on this one...even though that review won't go up until the March release...but here's a spoiler for you...I give it an A+).

I love this series and world. It just gets better and better. Love the Mercy Thompson world.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Smoke & Mirrors by Charlie Cochet

Title: Smoke & Mirrors
Author: Charlie Cochet
My Rating: A-

Genre: Paranormal Romance (m/m)
Series: THIRDS #7
Main Characters: Dex and Sloane
Release Date: July 2016
Publisher:  Dreamspinner
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Life for Dexter J. Daley has never been easy, but he’s always found a way to pick himself back up with a smile on his face. Taken from his home, and the arms of his boyfriend and THIRDS partner, Sloane Brodie, Dex finds himself in a situation as mysterious and lethal as the Therian interrogating him. Dex learns what he’s secretly believed all along: his parents’ death wasn’t an accident.

Discovering the whole truth about John and Gina Daley’s homicide sets off a series of events that will change Dex and Sloane’s lives forever. As buried secrets rise to the surface and new truths are revealed, Dex and Sloane’s love for each other is put to the test, with more than their relationship on the line. If traversing the waters of murder and secret government agencies wasn’t enough, something inexplicable has been happening to Dex—and nothing will ever be the same.

My Quickie Review:
Ooh, this book changes everything in Dex and Sloane's lives and I can't wait to see where this series goes from here. It was fantastic! In fact, it was so good...I started listening to it on audio, but then had to put it aside because I wanted to read it faster. I needed to know what was going on and what was going to happen. So, I picked up my print book to read faster...yes, this is a series I buy in audio, ebook, and print. I love THIRDS.

In this book, poor Dex is getting beat up again as he's kidnapped, but I don't know who suffers more when this happens...Sloane or Dex.

I loved how this book went back to the origins of Dex's coming to live with Maddock...and how that all circled back around to his relationship with Sloane. So fantastic, and honestly that final line could have easily been the perfect finale for the series...although I'm so happy that it isn't. The only thing that niggled is the way the conflict went down between Dex and Sloane. As a reader, we've just been through that same drama too many times...even the characters agree. But it didn't keep me from totally fangirling over the book. Like I said, I totally can't wait to see where the author goes from here.

And please, please, please...let Seb and Hudson get their own book soon. I also liked the hints in this one that they may finally be headed toward some sort of resolution between them.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Catch a Tiger by the Tail by Charlie Cochet (audiobook)

Title:  Catch a Tiger by the Tail
Author: Charlie Cochet
My Rating: B+
Narrator: Mark Westfield

Genre: Paranormal Romance (m/m)
Series: THIRDS #6
Main Characters: Cal and Ethan
Release Date: April 2016 (audiobook)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Links to Purchase
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
8 hrs 9 mins

Calvin Summers and Ethan Hobbs have been best friends since childhood, but somewhere along the line, their friendship evolved into something more. With the Therian Youth Center bombing, Calvin realizes just how short life can be and no longer keeps his feelings for his best friend a secret. Unfortunately, change is difficult for Ethan; most days he does well to deal with his Selective Mutism and Social Anxiety. Calvin’s confession adds a new struggle for Ethan, one he fears might cost him the friendship that’s been his whole world for as long as he can remember.

As partners and Defense Agents at the THIRDS, being on Destructive Delta is tough at the best of times, but between call-outs and life-threatening situations, Calvin and Ethan not only face traversing the challenges of their job, but also working toward a future as more than friends.

My Quickie Review:
Overall: 4.25
Performance: 4.25
Story: 4.0

Calvin and Hobbs...I've been wanting to know more of their story from the very beginning (right up there with Seb and Hudson, too). And this was a good installment for that. There's not a ton happening in the background with the rest of the team, so this had the feel of more of a filler installment. But I've liked these guys all along, so it worked for me.

I liked that we got more about the Hobbs brothers and the backstories that have been floating there. I've had a lot of unanswered questions about how they all fit together and this book filled in a lot of those blanks...especially when it came to Seb and Hudson's back story. 

I have always loved Calvin and Hobbs together. What's always made them work is that they were best friends. Even when that slowly evolved into more, that strong unshakable foundation was there to build on...and I love them even more now.

This is part of a larger world/story, so you really need to read the entire series before tackling this one.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

In the Ring by Rie Warren

Title: In the Ring
Author: Rie Warren
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Boxer #1
Main Characters: Liam and Michael
Release Date: December 2016
Publisher:  -
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
The biggest fight of his life isn’t . . . In the Ring. 

The bright lights. The roaring crowd. The chance at a championship belt. The not-so-little secret Liam Shaughnessy—the Bonny Bruiser—is fighting to keep tucked far away. 

Liam got the pussy pounded out of him on the mean streets of Cin-city—the other Sin City. The oldest in a Catholic clan where his da never pulled any punches, he went from geek boy to the golden boy of the boxing world care of his fists. Liam’s on the fast track to having it all . . . all except the one man he wants. 

Michael Fairweather makes pretending to be hetero goddamn difficult for Liam. The man is blond and beautiful and just so happens to be Liam’s trainer. With a penchant for doing shirtless yoga, giving midnight massages to loosen Liam’s muscles, and sometimes even taking it out in the ring with him. To say Liam has porn-style fantasies about Michael is an understatement. 

Michael’s out and proud. Liam’s only proud of what he can do in the ring. He can’t risk his career, least of all for someone unavailable. Michael has a lover. Liam has the lies he lives every day. And when his money-grubbing manager gets involved as the title win approaches, Liam doesn’t know what hit him. 

Fight to win. Fight with honor. It won’t be easy, but that’s okay. Nothing worth fighting for ever is.

My Review:

In an effort of full disclosure...I love Rie Warren's writing and was offered this book for review, but I turned it down, because I am not a big fan of boxing-themed romances. But then I saw that the author had it priced for $.99 and I grabbed it just because I really do like her male/male romances. I figured for a dollar, I wasn't out much if it didn't capture my attention. In fact, I was so sure I wasn't going to enjoy it, I started it one night...late...planning to only read a chapter or two just to get a feel for whether I'd like it or not. A few hours later, I'd read the whole book. *sigh* Yep, this is one of those books. I don't care that it was about a boxer...omg, the story was excellent!!

This book is told entirely from Liam's point of view. Liam has had to hide his true self his entire life. A gay boxer just isn't something that he can be, but having the hands of his trainer, Michael, on him after so many years and wanting and abstinence is wearing on him. Between that and the growing pressure that's building up to the Heavyweight Championship, something has to give. But he can't be gay...AND Michael has a serious boyfriend. My heart hurt for Liam.

Okay, flat-out...this book is TOTALLY worth losing sleep over. I loved it so very much. It was a great story with a fantastic slow-burn happening between the two MC's. Liam is stuck. He's a fighter. He's worked his way up the hard way and is doing everything he can to do better for himself and his family. From his point of view, he has no choices here...not if he wants to keep his career. The alternative is to go back and live in the slums of Cincinnati. He won't do that.

Also...I'm not a boxing fan, but even those parts worked for me. I loved watching Liam train and Michael helping him to get into top form. Boxing is a brutal career and the author did a great job of showing that aspect, too, without hitting those buttons in my psyche that turn me off to this trope in romance. 

So...yes, I HIGHLY recommend this book. It's easily been one of my favorite reads for m/m this year...and surprisingly enough, I'm looking for more in this series. More boxers? Bring it! I can't wait.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Daring Fate by Megan Erickson

Title: Daring Fate
Author: Megan Erickson
My Rating: A-

Genre: Paranormal Romance (m/m)
Series: Silver Tip Pack #1
Main Characters: Dare and Reese
Release Date: November 2016
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
We all have tragic backstories in today's world.

I wake up chained to the wall of a dark cell aware of two things: I failed my sister, and I smell my enemy.

When I’m taken to meet Dare, the alpha of the Silver Tip pack, I’m sure I’m about to lose my throat. The last thing I expect is for the Alpha to recognize me as his fated mate. No way is he going to let me go now, and I still have to find a way to rescue my sister.

As I plot my escape to save her, I find that if I leave, Dare could be killed by power-hungry members of his pack. And now he’s more to me than my fated mate—my heart is involved. With time ticking by on my sister’s life, I have to make a choice I never thought I’d face—my sister’s life or my mate’s? That’s if I can survive the undead shifters intent on killing me first...

My Review:

Wow, what a fantastic start to this new series. In this dystopian world, werewolves and weres have always been a thing, but then a virus spread creating Noweres (a werewolf style zombie) and killed off all the humans. Now there are packs spread throughout the world struggling to survive...some much better than others.

When the story begins, Reese and his brother Jude have been picked up by the Silver Tip pack after they were abandoned by their former pack to get eaten by the Noweres. The Silver Tip Pack is made up of Weres (super wolf-forms) while Reese and his brother are just normal werewolves. But the Silver Tip Pack is one of those packs that is surviving so much better than the pack that they just came from. In their last pack they were little more than slave labor. In Dare's pack...everyone is pack and taken care of. 

Oh, and yeah, when Dare and Reese meet, they realize they are Fated Mates...something that's super rare for anyone to find, much less coming from two different species. The problem is that Reese has been abused most of his life. He's trying desperately to protect and make the best decisions for his family while at the same time deal with the rampant hormones of finding his mate. He doesn't know if he can trust Dare or his instincts about this were.

Like I said when I started the review, I really enjoyed the book. There were a few moments at the beginning where it seemed a bit disjointed and while I like hot sex in my books, the beginning of this book seemed to be over the top (there's a LOT of sex not necessarily a complaint, but I wanted more meat to the story at first, LOL), but then the author seemed to settle into the rhythm of the story and the characters. And there are so many side characters for her to build stories out of here. I can't wait to see where she takes this series. I liked it a LOT!!

There's a lot to this world that she can explore and I'm excited to see where the series goes. Regardless, I loved Dare and his pack, especially in contrast to where Reese and his siblings were before. This is a brutal new world, but the Silver Tip pack is doing it right. Loved them and the legacy of Dare's mother. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas, Baby by Katie Reus

Title: Merry Christmas, Baby
Author: Katie Reus
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance  
Series: -
Main Characters:  Nora and Jackson
Release Date: January 2016
Publisher:  KR Press, LLC
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:
Warm up with a sexy holiday tale of love and romance from USA Today bestselling author Katie Reus...

After unexpectedly inheriting a bookstore, Nora and her younger sister settled in Holly, NC, a place where it’s Christmas year-round. As the legal guardian for her sister the past few years, romance has been the last thing on Nora’s mind. But she broke her rules for the town’s golden boy—former SEAL Jackson O’Connor.

When Jackson does something stupid and almost loses Nora for good, he realizes just how far he’s willing to go for the woman who’s stolen his heart. But it might take a Christmas miracle to get Nora to give him a second chance.

Length: novella
Author note: This novella is part of the All He Wants for Christmas anthology. It may be purchased as part of the anthology or as an individual title.

My Review:
I liked this book just because there's a lot of history between the two MC's that happened before the story started. 

Nora moved to this small town 9 months ago and Jackson has been courting her ever since. 3 weeks ago, she finally gave in (which she didn't want to do because she didn't want to risk their friendship) and they went out on a date. A date that was wonderful. So wonderful, in fact, that it totally freaked Jackson out. He's been avoiding her for 3 weeks...exactly what Nora feared. But as the book begins, he has realized that he totally screwed up and wants another chance...something that Nora isn't really willing to do, no matter how much she used to like him. She's learned her lesson.

And that's where the book starts...with Jackson coming into the book shop with flowers in his arms and Nora really not wanting to even talk to him. This is a short story that never felt like there wasn't enough information. The story feels very complete. Nora is the guardian for her younger sister and there's even a side story line there for what's going on in her sister's life. To make all of it even better, almost the entire story is told within the confines of the bookstore. Can we say happy place?

I liked the source of conflict between the two. It worked. I found it totally believable that a guy like Jackson would freak out at the perfection of their first date. Even though he really liked her, his momentary panic ruined everything. I could also see Nora's viewpoint. He really hurt her when he never called again. 

The story was sweet. It was filled with wonderful small town romance...a place like Holly would be interesting to visit...and fun little moments. I liked the side story line, too. Overall, I just flat-out enjoyed it. Another plus...Jackson is a former SEAL...YUM!

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Winter Spirit by Indra Vaughn

Title: The Winter Spirit
Author: Indra Vaughn
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: -
Main Characters: Nate and Gabriel
Release Date: November 2015
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
Nathaniel O’Donnelly likes his life quiet, his guests happy, and his ghosts well-behaved. 

Although a boyfriend wouldn’t go amiss. Someone to share his beautiful B&B with, even if it is in the middle of nowhere and he’s long past the wrong side of thirty. Problem is, Nathaniel’s living with a ghost who thinks he’s cupid, and whose arrows fly a little too straight. 

Gabriel Wickfield had the unfortunate luck of dying before his time, and now he’s stuck trying to make romance happen to earn his right to move along. Not that he’s bored in the meantime—Nathaniel is just too easy to tease. And also a little bit scrumptious… 

With the curse reaching its expiration date, Gabriel needs to make a final match this Christmas. Without it, nothing but darkness awaits. 

Love can conquer all, but can it beat death? 
My Quickie Review:
Aww, I loved this story. I have to admit that ghost stories work for me...there's a special mysticism to a good ghost story. Why are they stuck here? Will they be here forever? What is their quality of life like when they live in this half world? 

For Gabriel, his ghost has been at the Inn as long as Nate can remember...and Nate has ran it for years. But until the setting of this book, Nate has never really considered Gabe except to keep him from disturbing the guests. But as this book begins, things are changing between Gabriel and Nate...there's something 'more' to Gabriel and it's not just in his fleeting glances or obvious tries at matchmaking. 

I liked this story a lot. The great thing about ghost romances is that there's a built-in conflict that they truly can't ever find their happily ever after because of circumstances. I love seeing how an author takes that conflict on and solves it. (BTW, the solution for this one worked for me in every single way.)

This story had the added benefit of Gabriel's history. Gabriel lived in a time when being gay was completely amoral and certainly not accepted. To see him find that peace in this story was a beautiful thing. 

I liked it. The romance worked for me, the setting was gorgeous (an Inn at Christmastime...yes, please) and I liked the two characters. Overall, it was a great couple of hours entertainment.