Audiobook Review: Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber

Narrator: Suzanne Elise Freeman
Twelve Days of Christmas Book Cover Twelve Days of Christmas
Debbie Macomber
Contemporary Romance
Random House & Publishing Group
October 4th 2016
audiobook
288

Continuing in a festive annual tradition, #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber returns with a new original holiday novel full of romance and cheer—and the magical prospect of finding love in the most unexpected places.

Friendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. No matter how hard she’s tried to be nice, Cain rudely rebuffs her at every turn, preferring to keep to himself. But when Julia catches Cain stealing her newspaper from the lobby of their apartment building, that’s the last straw. She’s going to break through Cain’s Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how: by killing him with kindness.

To track her progress, Julia starts a blog called The Twelve Days of Christmas. Her first attempts to humanize Cain are far from successful. Julia brings him homemade Christmas treats and the disagreeable grinch won’t even accept them. Meanwhile, Julie’s blog becomes an online sensation, as an astonishing number of people start following her adventures. Julia continues to find ways to express kindness and, little by little, chips away at Cain’s gruff façade to reveal the caring man underneath. Unbelievably, Julia feels herself falling for Cain—and she suspects that he may be falling for her as well. But as the popularity of her blog continues to grow, Julia must decide if telling Cain the truth about having chronicled their relationship to the rest of the world is worth risking their chance at love.

This one was really a yummy and cute holiday story.


Julia Padden was trying to secure her dream job while working retail at Macy’s. One day, she discovered her cold and standoffish neighbor Cain Maddox was stealing her newspaper, Julia’s best friend Camie suggested Julia kill him with kindness. So Julia started the Twelve Days of Christmas Blog, where she wrote everyday about ways she was showering Cain with kindness and it became an overnight sensation. To protect his identity and because she didn’t like him very much, Julia dubbed her neighbor “Ebenezer” on her blog. Soon, Julia began getting insight into Cain’s life and quickly found out that he had been dealt a hard hand in life and was unapproachable because being vulnerable to people was too scary for Cain. They soon began letting see who they really were underneath, like peeling away layers of clothing.

After about a week, Cain asked Julia out on a real date and Julia realized that she had come to actually like Cain. She decided to continue with the blog but see where this new “thing” with Cain would lead. They began to really form a bond until Cain discovered that Julia had made him a project of sorts and he felt betrayed. Would Julia be able to convince him it was all real?

This story was cute, amusing and sweet. I enjoyed it like a warm cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter night. It was lighthearted reading with a very subtle reminder that we cannot always judge a book by its cover as well as reminding us that a little act of kindness can go a long way to thaw out the coldest of hearts.
Julia was really a nice person who tried to fill her days up with as many activities and good deeds because she was avoiding dealing with her feelings of loneliness. Cain used a thorny exterior to keep everyone at bay since he had severe trust issues. It was nice juxtapose of precociously happy versus grumpy grouch. I loved the interplay with blogging and the holidays. I could picture something like this actually happening and everyone loves a happy ending. Debbie Macomber is an author I discovered with another Holiday book Starry Night and she has a gift with writing heart felt romances. but the message was woven well into the feel good romance story.

This is the best Christmas story I’ve read this yea and I plan to read more by this author soon.

Ezi

Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: Ibiza on Ice by Gillian St. Kevern

ibiza-bannerTitle:  Ibiza on Ice

Series: For the Love of Christmas! Book 2

Author: Gillian St. Kevern

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: Dec 12

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 22600

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Skiing, Vacation

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Synopsis

Tired of being ridiculed as the man dumped in favour of an ugly Christmas sweater, Aston is determined to get revenge–by having his dream vacation at Ibiza’s hottest clubs! He’s even planned a social media campaign to make sure his ex, Dan, knows exactly what he’s missing.

When a snowstorm strikes, and Aston’s media campaign takes off before he does, he finds himself propositioned by his unwelcome roommate Mike: trade vacations, or Mike will out Aston as a fake. Desperate to save his reputation, Aston finds himself in Finland–and falling hard for a man with a sweater almost as terrible as Dan’s. Worse, Laaksonen cares as little about impressing people as Aston cares about being nice. Aston knows he has too much self-respect to fall for a man so hazardous to his reputation. But the long Polar Night poses the ultimate test to his Ibiza club dreams…

Excerpt

“What is Dan doing?” Aston frowned at his phone screen. “He saw the message. I know he saw the message. So where’s the reply?”

“He’s ignoring you.” Mike, Aston’s companion in the cupboard-like hotel room, didn’t even look up from his phone. There was not much to look at. The curtains were a faded geometric design that almost succeeded in making the stains look like part of the pattern, and there were cracks in the plaster ceiling. The carpet had given up on life altogether. Fortunately, their two twin beds took up most of the room, so they didn’t have to see much of the carpet at all.

If only the same could be said for Mike. Aston gave him a withering glare. The man had long, shaggy hair and wore a woollen jersey that—while thankfully bereft of hideous seasonal decorations—showed signs of being mended by hand. The overall impression was a university student who had never got around to graduating. Or even shaving. Mike was not Aston’s first choice to share a hotel room with, or even his second, third, or fourth. Unfortunately, the worst snowstorm in British history, cancelled flights, and a shortage of hotel rooms at Heathrow had led to Aston lowering his standards considerably. The only upside was that British Airways was footing the bill for the shared accommodation. “He’s not ignoring me.”

“Right.” Mike snickered. “Who could ignore knees like those?”

Of all the people Aston would have preferred to walk into the hotel room while he lay on his back on the carpet with his knees in the air, camera in hand, and laptop precariously balanced on the edge of his bed, Mike was the absolute last. He hadn’t offered to hold the laptop steady while Aston faked his beach photo, just leaned against the wall to watch, making disparaging comments. And when Aston had said ‘Do you mind?’ in his most cutting tone, Mike had simply grinned and said that he didn’t. “Shut up.”

“Why should I? This is as much my hotel room as it is yours, and to be perfectly honest, watching you fake beach photos was not how I wanted to spend my vacation.”

Aston sat up. “You’re not even going on a real vacation, just some crummy cut-price ski thing.”

“Hey, it was the best I could afford, and I’ve lost an entire day already. The group will have started without me. You, on the other hand, don’t need to play catch up in the clubs.”

Aston glanced uneasily at his computer. “At least Ibiza is a real vacation destination.”

“In summer, sure. It’s winter in Spain, you know.”

“Still warmer than here,” Aston shot back. “God, I want to be out of this country.”

“You’ve said. Repeatedly. If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was rooming with a desperate fugitive. What’s the deal?”

Aston blinked. Mike was unexpectedly sharp underneath that scruffy exterior. “I’ve been working towards this vacation for years, honing my beach body, spending every night I could out clubbing. Ibiza has some of the best clubs in the world! Space has this amazing—”

“No, I mean…there’s more to this than liking a good time. When the flight attendant told you there was no way you’d be flying to Ibiza today, you practically broke down. You asked about other flights, if there was any way you could detour.”

“I want to get to Ibiza as quickly as possible.”

“You offered to go to Ibiza via Shanghai.” Mike put his phone down, sitting up to look more closely at Aston. “That’s a detour of eight to ten hours.”

“I want to be on my way. I can’t stand all this waiting around.” Aston shrugged.

“So you’d rather be crammed into a tiny airline seat instead? Just relax. British Airways is footing the bill, and they offered us an upgrade on future flights.”

Aston smiled slightly. “Business class is enough to make anyone jealous.”

“There! What did I tell you?” Mike crossed his arms. “You’re obsessed with this ex of yours.”

“I am not.”

Aston’s phone beeped with his message alert. He snatched it up, only to see that it was a google notification. He sighed, dropping it onto the bed, and met Mike’s eyes. “That could have been an important message from British Airlines.”

“Sure. Just accept the fact that you were dumped—”

“I wasn’t dumped! If anyone was dumped, it was him!” Aston sucked in a short breath. “I gave him an ultimatum. Shape up or move out.”

“What? At Christmas? Harsh.”

“Christmas is just like any other time of the year, except that everyone loses their collective minds about it.” Aston stood from his bed. “Nothing special about it—just exceptionally good marketing.”

“Spoken like a true advertiser. But you’re not working now. Doesn’t the thought of Christmas coming give you a sort of anticipation, a sense of wonder, of excitement?”

“All Christmas has ever given me was a feeling of dread. It’s a fake holiday for fake people.”

“All right, all right, sorry I brought up your deeply rooted Santa trauma.” Mike mirrored Aston’s actions, standing up. “The airline gave us complimentary meal vouchers. Want to see if we can trade them in at the bar for drinks?”

Aston shook his head. “Pass.”

“What are you going to do, sit and stare at your phone? You can do that in the bar with a drink in hand. Come on.”

“Not feeling it.”

“And you call yourself a clubber?” Mike paused in the doorway, sticking his wallet into the back pocket of his paint-splattered jeans. “I tell you, there is something about you that just doesn’t add up… Maybe I should scan the papers while I’m in the bar. If I’m rooming with an escaped convict, I want to know about it.”

Not good. Not good at all. Aston gulped. “You are not— For Christ’s sake. Fine, I’ll come to the bar.” He picked up his phone, patting his pocket to check he had his wallet. “But don’t expect me to like it.”

“No,” Mike muttered. “That would be entirely too much.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon

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Meet the Author

Gillian St. Kevern is an author of paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Originally from New Zealand, she currently lives in Japan and has visited over twenty different countries. Her writing is a celebration of the diverse people she meets.

As a chronic traveller, Gillian is interested in journeys rather than endings, writing characters that grow and change to achieve their happy ending. Her stories cross genres, time-periods and continents, taking readers along for an unforgettable ride.

Website | Facebook | Twitter |
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| eMail | Pinterest | Gillian’s Newsletter

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Wrapped Together by Annabeth Albert

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

wrapped-together-coverWrapped Together: by Annabeth Albert
Series:Portland Heat #5
Release Date: December 6, 2016
Pages: 112 • Format: eARC
Published By: Lyrical Shine
Purchase Links:
AReAmazonKobo

In the bustling restaurants, shops, and cafés of Portland, Oregon, things really heat up for the hard-working men behind the scenes when the holidays come into town . . .

For a stationery store owner, the holidays are great for business. But for Hollis Alcott, Christmas reminds him of the tragic events of three years past, and the last thing he wants to do is take part in Portland’s over-abundance of festive cheer. But Sawyer Murphy, a hunky gift shop owner whose brother is married to Hollis’s sister, has made it his mission to pluck Hollis out of his holiday blues. And his plan is beginning to work. Wrapped in the warm glow of newfound passion, the former business rivals hit up Portland’s finest holiday traditions—and Hollis’s icy attitude begins to melt like snowflakes on his tongue. But he isn’t sure he can trust anyone with the only gift he has—his heart—without breaking it like an antique ornament. Unless he can find the courage to take a leap with the one lover he never expected . . .

four-stars

My favorite Holiday read so far. Annabeth never disappoints me! This was such a cute story. It was really good. I loved the tone of the story, and ZOMG Hollis was Kinky Boots big time. This is a Christmas Story part of her Portland Heat Series. (Which I adore big time).

Hollis isn’t a fan of Christmas, he’s still grieving over the death of his parents. He’s anti-Christmas at this point, and doesn’t want to be forced to celebrate or be cheery. Wrapped Together is a friends to lovers story. Someone he’s know most of his life Sawyer seems to be the bane of his existence. I loved how meticulous Hollis was. I like seeing different qualities to different characters. He was suffering from being guilty about his parent’s death so he’s punishing himself. Along comes Sawyer, who’s so tenacious and won’t take No for an answer.

Sawyer is fun, flirty, open, and easy going. I really liked him. I liked him a lot for Hollis. I love the pacing of the story, and seeing them open up to one another. Albert doesn’t disappoint with the writing or the heat level in this book. No matter if Hollis tries to run away from Sawyer, in the bedroom they are super duper compatible. Hollis had some passion inside him. He just needed Sawyer to ease it on out. (Note to self: NEVER GOOGLE KINKY GIFS) You are going to see somethings that you shouldn’t. Gross. LOL.

Back to the story at hand, I really enjoyed this, and can see myself re-reading it again. Every time I finish a Portland Heat book, I always say I wish it was full length. This was no different. I want to see every milestone that they take as a couple. I think these two guys were damn near perfect for each other. They bring out the best in one another. Highly recommend this book. Really great holiday read, and Albert never disappoints!

About Annabeth Albert

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: Wrapped Together by Annabeth Albert

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Title: Wrapped Together

Series: Portland Heat #5

Author: Annabeth Albert

Publisher: Kensington Books

Release Date: December 6

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 35,000 words

Genre: Romance, contemporary, friends-to-lovers

Add to Goodreads

Wrapped-Together

Synopsis

In the bustling restaurants, shops, and cafés of Portland, Oregon, things really heat up for the hard-working men behind the scenes when the holidays come into town . . .

For a stationery store owner, the holidays are great for business. But for Hollis Alcott, Christmas reminds him of the tragic events of three years past, and the last thing he wants to do is take part in Portland’s over-abundance of festive cheer. But Sawyer Murphy, a hunky gift shop owner whose brother is married to Hollis’s sister, has made it his mission to pluck Hollis out of his holiday blues. And his plan is beginning to work. Wrapped in the warm glow of newfound passion, the former business rivals hit up Portland’s finest holiday traditions—and Hollis’s icy attitude begins to melt like snowflakes on his tongue. But he isn’t sure he can trust anyone with the only gift he has—his heart—without breaking it like an antique ornament. Unless he can find the courage to take a leap with the one lover he never expected . . .

Excerpt

This excerpt comes from chapter one of WRAPPED TOGETHER, when Hollis and his long-time frenemy Sawyer engage in a friendly bet sure to put their holiday cheer to the test!

****

I took a sip of my now tepid, almost-gone tea. Ugh. The good barista was on duty, the one who went with Ev from the knitting store and who always happily made my tea with the same care he did the fancy coffee drinks. I left the group, happy to have the excuse of needing a refill, but as I stood in line, Mary Anne joined me.

“Hollis Alcott, we almost never see you at these things!” Her voice seemed to ring out above the din. “Will you be participating in the contest this year?”

“I doubt it. My fall display is already set.” I tried not to sound too dour—she always had the best houseplants and had custom-ordered the rare fern I’d wanted.

“Ah, well, that’s too bad. You let me know if you change your mind. I’d be happy to lend you some poinsettias or other decor. I know you could do a splendid, tasteful window.”

It was my turn to order, so I gave her a smile as a reply before handing Brady my stainless-steel tumbler for tea and ordering a scone to go. I had to wait down at the other end of the bar for my order, and as I was waiting, Sawyer came loping over, a smile on his boyish face. His wide shoulders stretched the hoodie in distracting ways.

“Hollis! Did I hear you say you’re not decorating?”

“You did.”

He frowned. “I know how much you hate the holidays, but I bet you’d get an uptick in sales if you decorated. I heard Mary Anne offer to help. I could, too. I’ve got gobs of lights.”

“Thank you but no.” Truth be told, I could use the increase in sales, but it wasn’t enough of a motivator to get me ready for the onslaught of red and green.

Sawyer’s head tilted, considering. Oh no. I knew that look too well. A Sawyer who was scheming was downright dangerous. “We should bet, you and I.”

“No,” I said firmly. I stepped away from the coffee bar to let Mary Anne and others wait for their orders, but Sawyer kept step with me, effectively pinning me in between two tables on my path to the door. I sighed and repeated my objection. “No. The last time we bet, I believe you cracked a wrist.”

Sawyer waved a hand, dismissing my concern. “We were fifteen. We’ve had other bets since then.”

We had, but there was one in particular I was determined not to remember right at that moment. This was the peril of having known someone for almost two decades. “How precisely would one even bet on this?”

I let my inner musings escape before I could rein them in, and Sawyer smiled. He knew he had me. Whatever nervousness and shyness captured my tongue around large groups did not, unfortunately, extend to Sawyer. “Well, I was thinking whichever of us makes it into the top three is the winner of our bet, and then the loser has to do whatever the winner wants for an evening.”

Oh, I did not like this. “Anything?”

“That wasn’t a no.” Sawyer’s grin showed the sort of charm that made him so darn popular. “And I wasn’t thinking of something kinky. Trust me here, Hols.”

“Don’t call me that.” And I most certainly did not trust him. I was pretty sure the always-affable Sawyer didn’t have a kinky bone in his body, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t up to something. “But I could get you to do any task of my choosing?”

See, the thing about me that Sawyer knew was that I have a very hard time resisting a bet. Always have, hence the aforementioned bet freshman year of high school about jumping over auditorium seats during drama class. I’m also notoriously cheap. And as it turned out, I did have a job for him.

He nodded. “Anything.”

“I have a bathroom I want painted at my store. Including the trim.”

Sawyer, to his credit, didn’t look remotely pained. “That’s fine. I’m good at painting.”

“And you? What would you want?” I had no idea why I was asking. I certainly wasn’t planning on agreeing to this ridiculous plan.

“A surprise.” He winked at me.

“I don’t like those.”

“I know. Which is why you need one. But if it makes you feel better, I’ll specify no sex or nudity involved.” Sawyer had mercifully dropped his deep, clear voice to softer tones. I still bristled at the thought of anyone overhearing this.

“Or humiliation, public or otherwise.”

“Oh, Hollis, you know me better than that.” He held up his hands. They were big, capable hands, and I had to blink to get my eyes to look away. “Now, come on. I dare you. Bet me.”

Purchase

Kensington Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

 

Wrapped Together Teaser 1

Meet the Author

annabethAnnabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open— no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.
Represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency

Website | Facebook | Twitter |
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| Facebook Group | Annabeth’s Mailing List

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A Family for Christmas by Jay Northcote

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

afamilyforchristmasA Family for Christmas: by Jay Northcote
Release Date: November 16, 2016
Pages: 136 • Format: eARC
Published By: JayBird Press
Purchase Links:
Amazon

Zac never had a family of his own, but Rudy has enough to share.

Shy, inexperienced Rudy has a crush on Zac from the moment his new colleague walks through the door. On an office night out before Christmas, Rudy finds the courage to make a move, and they form a tentative bond. When he discovers Zac will be alone at Christmas, he invites Zac to come home with him.

Zac prefers to keep people at arm’s length. Yet when Rudy offers him a family Christmas it’s impossible to resist. With no parents of his own, Zac is pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by Rudy’s. The only drawback is that everyone assumes they’re a couple. Unwilling to disappoint Rudy’s mum and make Christmas awkward, they decide not to deny it.

It’s not a chore for Zac to pose as Rudy’s boyfriend, but the pretense makes him want things that scare him—things like a real relationship with Rudy. Zac’s suffered enough rejection in his life already and is afraid to risk his heart. If he can get over his past rejection and let Rudy inside his armour, he might get more for Christmas than he ever imagined.

four-stars

YAY, the perfect book to get me into the holiday mood!

This was a really solid Holiday read! Its really one of my favorite seasons to read. I love Holiday stories, and this had the perfect combination of sweet, heat, and yearning that I needed! Really enjoyed the characters in this book alot. Rudy & Zac were definitely opposites attract, but I think being able to communicate with each other is what won this book over for me. Rudy is this sweet, awkward, inexperienced guy who has the biggest crush ever on his co-worker Zac. Rudy is a hopeless romantic in his head, and he fantasizes about all the ways that Zac will treat him. I thought it was adorable of Rudy. He showed some vulnerability when all of his co-workers went out, and expressed his feelings to Zac.

Zac is jaded about relationships of any kind. I can see that, when he has no one who’s ever cared or loved him. He’s a loner by default and I think he liked being that way. Being lonely has forced him to not open up to anyone about his past or force him to want to fall for someone outside of the parameters that he has set. Thrown away as a a infant, and living in group homes and foster care has left him close-off from people. He prefers the solidarity life, but once he starts working at the same company as Rudy then he’s left with no chance but to interact with people.

Really loved Rudy’s family. I love how welcoming they were to Zac. The connection between two steadily progress as the book goes. I think Jay did a really good job with the authentic feelings that were in this book. Both guys were able to benefit from being together. Deciding to start things slowly and progress worked just fine with me. I’m so excited to get to the rest of my holiday reads, but this goes on the Holiday 2016 shelf. Recommendable for sure!

About Jay Northcote

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England, with his husband, two children, and two cats. He comes from a family of writers, but he always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed her by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, he decided to try and write a short story—just to see if she could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary gay romance about men who fall in love with other men, usually set in or near her home town of Bristol. He enjoys the challenge of bringing the men in his head to life through his words. Jay has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and he also publishes his own titles under the imprint Jaybird Press. Some of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is a transgender man and was formerly known as she/her.