2013 Dreamspinner Press Advent Calendar Reviews - Week Three

2013 Dreamspinner Press Heartwarming Advent Calendar

The Dreamspinner Press Advent Calendar is a collection of 31 stories. The stories can either be purchased as a bundle, where a new story is released each day during the month of December, or can be purchased individually. This year’s holiday theme is Heartwarming. J9 will be reading and reviewing each of the 31 stories from the Advent Calendar and will post her reviews each week in the month of December. The following are reviews for the stories that were released this week.


Reviewed By: J9

Gift-Wrapped by Sam HillGift-Wrapped by Sam Hill: This is a fun New Adult story of a college man working at a mall who has a Secret Santa. I liked the mystery of who the Secret Santa is and how it unfolds. Sure, this is beyond idealistic to be almost absurd in its perfection but since it’s so short I didn’t go into sugar shock. The romance is present but not until the very end when the Secret Santa is revealed. Even though this is a PG story and New Adult, it still was holiday fun to read.

 

J9’s Rating:
3 Frogs


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Holly and Oak by J.L. O’FaolainHolly and Oak by J.L. O’Faolain: This is an odd mix of allegory and paranormal that didn’t work for me at all. Holly is locked in a season battle with his brother over which rule the earth’s season. Holly knows better than to get involved with a mortal but he does. This didn’t work as a romance for me at all because the romance seemed secondary to the allegory/paranormal elements, like Holly being immortal. Worse the ending left me confused as to what just happened. Maybe I’m not a sophisticated enough reader for this but I didn’t get it at all.

 

J9’s Rating:
1 Frog


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The Trouble With Elves by Therese WoodsonThe Trouble With Elves by Therese Woodson: I enjoyed this light story with its gentle romance. The mistaken identity of which elf from Santa’s village the lead has a crush on was humorous and provided the tension. I really liked the lead’s younger brother, Brock, who gave dirty and funny advice on how his brother should woo his chosen elf. The feel good ending with acceptance from everyone rounds out this sweet story.

 

J9’s Rating:
3 Frogs


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Celebrating You by Grace R. DuncanCelebrating You by Grace R. Duncan: I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic romances and that’s what I got here. Two men meet three years after a global calamity kills most humans. Daniel offers to share Christmas with Jake and the two men form a connection in the cruel new world. I really enjoyed this different story. The loneliness and desire for human contact is palpable in both men. This story perfectly balances the men’s sexual and emotional intimacy and offers a glimpse at their budding partnership. I liked this so well I hope for more stories featuring these two characters.

 

J9’s Rating:
4 Frogs


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Feathers From The Sky by Posy RobertsFeathers From The Sky by Posy Roberts: This is a heartfelt story that captures the love of families that the holidays are supposed to be about. Cal’s large family are all home for their annual Christmas week with their parents but this year is different because Cal plans to introduce Philip as the love of his life to his family. I really enjoyed this story not just because of the strong and sexy romance but also because of Cal’s big, loud and loving family. The addition of snowball fights, new babies, and big announcements layers on the holiday spirit in this great story.

 

J9’s Rating:
4 Frogs


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Santa Get His Man by Julian BalfourSanta Get His Man by Julian Balfour: Mark is a replacement Santa and sees his high school crush from fifteen years ago, Jack, and decides a special gift is in order.  I had real issues with this story. Foremost was the scene where one lead who is Caucasian dresses up as an elderly Japanese man to give the other a holiday gift. As part of this fa├žade the character uses make up to make himself look old and speaks in a fake “singsong” accent by using broken English reminiscent of Asian stereotypes from old TV shows or movies. The author goes so far as to use the phrase “oriental” which states like New York have stopped using in records as it’s considered derogatory.  I found this depiction to be insulting and racist, not to mention extremely creepy when the scene turns sexual.  

 

J9’s Rating:
1 Frog


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Toy Run by Charley DescoteauxToy Run by Charley Descoteaux: This is the least holiday of the Advent Calendar so far and I liked it for being unique and understated. Ian is a solitary motorcycle man on a holiday toy run in Oregon where he meets the injured Ed. Ian and Ed’s relationship is surprisingly complicated for such a short story and I loved the intensity of it. Ian and Ed don’t have an outwardly fluffy romance but the subtext between them, especially at novella’s end, is unique and compelling. This author says a lot with few words, just like Ian’s character, and I loved it.

 

J9’s Rating:
4 Frogs


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About J9: Vegan. Avid runner. Android addict. Never without a book in hand. Currently devouring MM romance but reads historial romance and paranormal romance as well. Follow J9 on Twitter.

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