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on October 2, 2012
My True Love Gave to Me by Ava March - 3 stars

I enjoy Ava March's books. They are always beautifully written with vivid characters. I enjoyed 'My True Love Gave to Me' but I did find Sasha's pouting a little exasperating. His tantrum nearly spoiled the book because I felt that Thomas' reticence was understandable & his apology didn't deserve the reaction he received. In the end I was happy with the HEA & will continue with the series.

Winter Knights by Harper Fox - 4 stars

This was an interesting, twisty tale combining legends, ghosts, personal growth & redemption. Gavin needed a kick up the arse (which he received) & being able to see the wounds healed allowing for a HEA was lovely. Gavin & Piers won't be in my top-ten favourite couples, but the story will stay with me for a while.

Lone Star by Josh Lanyon - 4 stars

Mitch & Web were a wonderful couple but the idea of love staying 'real' after 12 years stretched the incredulity a bit. I liked that they worked things out but I must admit that I was hoping Mitch decided to buy the dance school instead of commuting. The whole reindeer thing was a bit odd too. I sort of felt that this was a longer story that had been trimmed to become a short; like there were connecting arcs of the story line missing. Overall, I enjoyed the story but I think it could have been better if it were longer.

The Christmas Proposition by K.A. Mitchell - 4 stars

I like snarky characters & Mel was pretty snarky. He was also a 'yes' man who put responsibility before his own happiness. Bryce was a bit of a Prince Charming character but he balanced Mel's internal dialogue well. Together they made for a wonderful couple. This story kept me on my toes because I felt like there was some background missing & the author assumed I knew things despite them not actually being stated. Apart from that, it was a satisfying HEA. I also liked the fact that the MC's were equal in height which made for some amusing contortions to make all the pieces fit together.

I found reading this anthology exhausting. Each story was well crafted & enjoyable to read; but longer than your average short story. These stories would be better read slowly & savoured rather than read all at once.
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on December 10, 2011
This is a fine collection from 4 talented authors. And anything where Josh Lanyon and Harper Fox appear together is like enjoying a beautiful symphony with a duet by two brilliant artists. If you have any holiday spirit - or maybe are just looking to read stories that will warm the dark, dreary days of a northern hemisphere winter and lift you up - this is one to purchase and savor. These are truly gifts from each of these writers to their readers, and they should be opened and appreciated in the holiday spirit.
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on December 6, 2011
I won't give a synopsis of these stories. If you love a beautiful tale of love, loss and redemption you will love these stories regardless of your preferred genre. Four of the very best writers of gay fiction have created stories that everyone can appreciate. Take a chance. Read the best romance writers of our time.
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on December 14, 2013
The time periods in the stories do not seem to be what the picture was depicting. I tried to get into each story..found better stories on Hallmark (which are straight stories). I am disapponited. Not even interested in pushing forward in the stories.
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on December 6, 2011
These are four beautiful stories. Each complete novels and not short and unsatisfying like many short stories. All of the stories were quite satisfying. Every day men, falling in love and struggling to show it or accept it. Each learning how to communicate and risking being in love and being loved.

I loved them all. The last story is my favorite because each man risks so much to be with the one he loves and a nice song to boot. Loved it! In fact, I read the last story twice.
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on September 29, 2015
I don't read too many anthologies, as I generally find that short stories leave me wanting. But this was available for loan at my local library and I've been on a Lanyon kick lately, so I figured I'd give it a go. Unfortunately, the theme of this book--besides Christmas--was breakups and reconciliation, which is really not my favorite theme, especially in a Christmas read...

My True Love Gave to Me by Ava March
I think this was my favorite of the bunch. I liked the historical context, and the break between Alexander and Thomas felt very authentic. I liked Thomas's determination to do whatever he needed to win Alexander back, and I really liked that Alexander didn't forgive him immediately.

Winter Knights by Harper Fox
My least favorite of the bunch. The writing wasn't bad, but I did not care at all about the characters. I found the main character to be pretty unlikable, and I didn't feel any kind of connection at all to this boyfriend of his that he supposedly loved. And then there is this weird ghostly threesome that felt super out of place, like the author had just really wanted to write this threesome, and she was going to include it, even if it didn't really make sense to the story. :/

Lone Star by Josh Lanyon
My 2nd favorite of the bunch. Not a bad read, but nothing super amazing either. The writing, of course, is wonderful, and I liked the contrast of the Texas Ranger and the Ballet Dancer. I did think things felt a bit rushed, especially since it had been 12 years since they'd seen each other, and it seemed like all was forgiven and the intense feelings came back a little too quickly.

The Christmas Proposition by K.A. Mitchell
Okay, but not a huge fan of this one, my 2nd to least favorite. The sex was hot, but I didn't feel much of a connection to the characters, and the misunderstandings felt a bit silly.

Overall, not a terrible read, but I am probably feeling more generous since I got it for free. I don't know that I'd have been happy to have spent much money on this, tbh.
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on February 22, 2014
I read this book in December: perfect Christmas fare. I intended only to read the Josh Lanyon story, since he is one of my favorite authors, and I was not disappointed. I loved the Texas-flavored rekindled-love story between a ballet dancer and a Texas Ranger (although the recurring vision by the dancer was never explained). I’m likely biased, but it was my favorite story in the book. But, I was glad to have gotten the book so that I could try out some other authors.

I’ve been hearing a lot about Harper Fox, so was glad to get a taste of her writing in this Arthur/Lancelot refashioning, and I appreciate having a dash of dark sadness amidst the holiday frivolity. I’ll definitely try more of her work; this story had a lot of depth and layering.

I also liked the K.A. Mitchell story, which was smoking hot, though I didn’t buy the main character’s running away at one point in the story; it didn’t feel earned or believable, and felt thrown in as a plot hook. But, overall, maybe the best story in the book for being really truly a Christmas story with all of the Christmas trappings, and I loved it for that.

Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get into the Ava March story; couldn’t in December and couldn’t when I tried it again here in February. I’ll give it another go next December, but the writing does not seem up to the level of the other stories in this collection.
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on February 15, 2014
Reviewed by Sabrina
Book provided by NetGalley for review
Review originally posted at Romancing the Book

I loved each of the stories in this anthology. Each one was super special in someway and I am so happy that I was able to read them all.

Lanyon- Friends reconnecting after quite a few years. At almost 80 pages this story goes through a lot. There is character development that makes sense. There is a plot that is resolved. There is a message to take away. This book has got it all. I expect nothing less from Lanyon as he is a talented author. I haven’t read a lot of this books but I am going to be changing that very soon.

Fox- Second chances. This story was super cute. It starts with heartache and end on such a good note. This one was 100 pages and needed all of them to tell this story. There is a bit of a magical quality to this one to make it an awesome holiday story though it doesn’t need to be read only during the holiday season. The way the characters reconnect is amazing and I really appreciated how the story didn’t just stop at the one night. There was almost an epilogue so you don’t have to guess that everything will be ok. The author tells you that the HEA is assured. Adorable story.

March- Friends reconnecting after quite a few years. I normally do not like M/M Regency novels but this author changed my mind. I loved this story. It was pretty short, about 80 pages but the backdrop to the story was just enough that the story could carry on. The two men in the story were really something. One of them is so hard and uncaring and the other is so full of remorse that I almost cried. But I cry at everything. Lol. There isn’t a lot to this story. It is character driven but the characters are so amazing that it doesn’t seem pushed or forced even though it is not a long story. I was so impressed with this story I have bough almost the entire backlist… my poor wallet. Lol. But worth every penny.

Mitchell- A last attempt to be together. I love this author and I was reminded why in this anthology. At about 80 pages, this author makes sure that I know the back story, get in touch with family members and learn their back story, and carry a plot through to completion while making sure that there is some awesome loving in the middle of it all. My only questions at the end of this story was- Please, may I have some more?
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on April 2, 2013
I liked this book.A lot. The one good thing about a compilation is that typically if you have one story you aren't too fond of, the next one will more than likely be more to your liking. This is true for this book.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE, Ava March. I do indeed. I discovered her a couple months back, and she surged to the top of my "MUST READ AUTHORS LIST". I think I have most everything of hers in Kindle format and on audio book. (Yes, I am a dork. Sue me.) Ava has this uncanny ability to draw her readers into the emotional whirlwind that her characters feel. Its awe inspiring. I sometimes shake as I feel the emotion surge through me.This novella brought me to an insane feeling of anger and frustration and sadness. I felt such an immense feeling of loss. Her words move me. Its such an uncanny feeling. I long for this feeling each and every time I pick up one of her books. (If I ever met her, I'd probably act like a teenybopper meeting the latest teen heartthrob. Pathetic, but flattering. (I hope.) LOL Anyway... I had already purchased her novella-- "My True Love Gave to Me"-- prior to noticing that it was also included in this compilation. However, I had no problem reading/listening to it again. And, as I listened, I even noticed 'new' things, and feel deeper into love with the characters. I felt the anger. the pain. the fear. the remorse. the need. the desire... so I was not disappointed. I think I loved this story because I know what its like to <u>not</u> do what your heart wants to do, for fear of how others might see you. Unlike Thomas, I didn't correct my mistake. So, I live the emotion through him.

The second story wasn't too marvelous. Winter's Heart by Harper Fox. He's lucky that his name is cool. Anyway... I really had to try and not skim ( I did, but let's pretend I didn't...) and find SOME SCENE or emotional expression that allowed me to feel a connection to the main characters. I just can't get into too much self- reflection. This is not a journal, Fox!! Where is your editor? Perhaps Fox's style is too poetic? Too long-winded? Or perhaps he's so involved with the English language that he feels the need to bore us readers with the pains that a writer goes through when trying to formulate a story or attempting to finish a thesis. I, for one, was NOT impressed. But I loved the sentiment of the story. All too often we don't realize what we're doing wrong in a relationship. Often times, our past hurts prevent us from truly forming a future with our partner. I loved that Gavin FINALLY came to terms with his love for Piers and consummated said love. I have to tell you, the whole Catholicism thing dragged on a bit, thank god anal beads and lube were worked somewhere into the story :P

I loved the 3rd story. Lone Star by Josh Landon. Half way through the story, I started searching for more from this author. Marvelous. Enter Mitchell, sensational ballet star, and Texas Ranger, Webb. They were each other's first love, but when Webb was too afraid to come out, Mitchell high-tailed it out of town and it wasn't until 12 years later that he returns. Ain't nothing sexier than the twang of a cowboy!!! Honestly. Webb truly turned me on. I know he's a character, but I felt him. And Mitchell was lucky he got to him before I did. LOL Anyway, it's all about growing up. Reflecting on one's past and the mistakes made as a result of fear, immaturity and impulse. I loved this story..... well, except for the description of Mitchell's toes. Seriously? That is something NO ONE needs to imagine. I'm still creeped out. Gah!

The 4th and finally story was so hot. I literally kept squirming in my seat at work. (I was listening to the book on CD.) It was totally NSFW. LOL Its called "The Christmas Proposition" by K.A. Mitchell. Wowsers. You know that expression... "f-ing like rabbits!" Well the lovers in this novel couldn't keep their hands off one another. Mel is one of the oldest in the family and he's felt a need to keep the family together by working the family tree farm. He's letting his life pass him by and his lover Bryce wants him to choose the path with him. Of course Mel can't get his stuff together, and loses Bryce. But, can he get it together to get Bryce back? It was a good story... mostly for the yummy sex scenes. *fans self*

So, enjoy this compilation... some parts more than others :X
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on December 15, 2011
My True Love Gave to Me by Ava March

Alexander and Thomas are in love. Both 19 years old, while Alexander has fooled around with a few other boys his age, neither have ever been in a serious relationship. Alexander is actually the first boy Thomas has ever kissed. The feelings are all very new and intense for both of them. Being young and in love isn't as carefree as you think, especially in the early 19th century. Thomas is scared of others finding out and still doesn't feel confident about his feelings toward men. Alexander is a little surer of himself and pushes Thomas for a physical relationship.

One of my favorite things about Ava March stories is the way she writes such great chemistry and emotional intensity between her heroes. And she tricked me with this story. I thought it was going to be a straight-forward love story with these men exploring their new feelings for each other. Instead, she skips ahead four years and really throws an emotional wrench into their relationship. It becomes a bit darker, and both heroes really have to work at the HEA. Well done.

Rating: B

Winter Knights by Harper Fox

Here's the blurb:

Historian Gavin Lowden is in Northumberland on Christmas Eve for two reasons: to find evidence of a romantic bond between Arthur and Lancelot and to finally tell his partner, Piers, that he loves him. Piers has promised to come clean with his conservative family and join Gavin for their first holiday as a couple, but at the last minute, he bails. Devastated, Gavin heads out onto the moors alone, just as snow begins to fall ...

Gavin stumbles into an underground chamber, where strange happenings cause him to question what is real and what is fantasy. He's found by two mysterious men, who offer him a bed for the night -- and awaken him to nuances of erotic pleasure he didn't know existed. Pleasure he hopes to be able to share with Piers.

When Piers learns that Gavin has gone missing, he is desperate to find him. He knows now breaking up was a terrible mistake, and he's ready to take the next step in their relationship -- if it's not already too late.
Honestly, I read this blurb and wasn't looking forward to this story. I've read a couple of previous Harper Fox books, though, and really enjoy her voice so I read this one with a little bit of trepidation. I do think the beginning is slow, but after we start to get into the story, I think this turned out to be my favorite one in the collection.

Harper Fox twists the story of King Arthur and Lancelot in a pretty unique way -- to the point where you aren't quite sure if this story really happened or not. And the emotions you go through with Gavin -- from despair to acceptance to joy at being reunited with Piers -- are so well done. I couldn't help but smile at some of the parts of this story. I'm really loving this author and can't wait for more from her.

Rating: A-

Lone Star by Josh Lanyon

Josh Lanyon gives us a warm, quiet Texas Ranger and a high-strung, very accomplished ballet dancer and that makes for a somewhat different romance. Mitchell lives and breathes ballet, having worked very hard to make it in the American Ballet Theater. After his father's death and walking in on his lover on the receiving end of being pleasured by a woman, he decides to make a quick trip to his hometown in Texas to settle his father's estate. Twelve years prior, he had been in love with Web, but it was too hard for Web to come out of the closet. Both young and ambitious, Mitchell fled to New York to pursue dance and never looked back while, Web became a Texas Ranger.

But now they are reunited and those feelings come back to the forefront. Even though Mitchell is somewhat hotheaded and has a bit of a temper, this turns out to be a very low-key, quiet romance. It's not necessarily a question of do they love each other, but how they are going to make their romance work living in two different parts of the country. And what I liked is that we get an HEA, but their entire future isn't laid out for us. They have such big decisions to make and, fortunately, Josh Lanyon doesn't force them to make their decisions in such a short story. I really enjoyed that Mitchell was a ballet dancer -- you don't run across that in a lot of romance books. Web has a warm, extended family that gave this book a small-town feel.

Rating: B

The Christmas Proposition by K.A. Mitchell

This one is by far the sexiest and dirtiest story of the group, and I really enjoyed it. After his parents died, Mel helps his siblings run a big tree farm in Pennsylvania. He has two jobs and a sister who struggles with prescription-drug abuse, so he has a lot on his plate. In the past few years, natural gas has been discovered underground in his small town, which has brought in tons of gas drillers. It's become a big business, and Mel sees lots of workers go through his town. One in particular, Bryce, has made more than just an impression. Bryce is not only a gas worker, he actually owns the gas company. Bryce and Mel became very involved about three years ago. But Bryce traveled a lot for his job, and Mel wasn't ready to leave his family obligations. But now Bryce is back.

These two can't keep their pants on when they are around each other. Whereas in the other three stories, there was always the pressure of one of the heroes coming out and coming to terms with being gay, in this story, these two are out and have no issues being together. And it is hot. I think this is the first I've read by K.A. Mitchell, and I definitely need to read more from her.
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