Review: Dreamspinner Advent Roundup 3

welcome home, soldier

Welcome Home, Soldier by Deanna Wadsworth

Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Short Story


After reconnecting with his old boyfriend, with whom he served in Desert Storm, Clay makes the impulsive decision to drive three hours to spend Christmas Eve with Daniel. Not far from Daniel’s home, the blizzard wins, and Clay wrecks his car. But he’s rescued by an old man named Nick, out making last minute deliveries. Nick drops Clay at Daniel’s door, and the two men find the spark they had is still strong.

But their parting wasn’t an easy one, and Clay has had a rough life in the intervening years. As much as they would like to fall into bed, they have to have the difficult conversations first. Daniel is no longer hiding his bisexuality, but he is the mayor of Gilead, and having a boyfriend would cause a stir. But there’s one thing neither Clay or Daniel can deny: they still love each other. This time around, will it be enough?

Reunion romance with soldiers set at Christmas? That’s three of my favorite pieces of crack all rolled into one story. I couldn’t wait to read this one. And while the pace slowed a bit for me in some parts, I really enjoyed it.

The thing I loved most about it was that these guys had done their living, and it hasn’t been easy. But they are both self aware enough now to know what they want, and to go after it. When they were first together, it was magical, but it wasn’t the kind of relationship that could last. Now, though, they can build on those strong feelings and be together forever. I loved how honest and real these guys were, and their chemistry was so enticing. They sparked and sizzled.

As I said, the pacing was a bit off for me. There were times when things dragged just a bit, and I felt like there was some redundancy with the information. I wanted the pace to pick up, and for things to move a bit faster. There were also some passages mentioning they talked, and I would have liked to see the conversation, as I think it would have let me connect better with the characters.

But oh, the Christmas magic abounds in this one, and I love the twist Wadsworth put on it. Christmas Eve is the perfect time for Clay and Daniel to reconnect, and this story has all the components for a feel good holiday story


the puzzle boxThe Puzzle Box by C.C. Bridges

Rating: 4.75 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Short Story


Cole has been living with James’ deployments for five years, but this is the first Christmas they’ve spent apart and Cole isn’t handling it well. Then he receives a package from James, containing a puzzle piece and a clue. Which leads Cole on a scavenger hunt to collect more puzzle pieces. All the while, Cole is missing James, but remembering all their defining moments together. And then, on Christmas Eve, Cole gets his final present. And it’s something he never expected.

I adored this story from word one. It’s fairly short, but Bridges manages to pack a lot into it. With the flashbacks to Cole and James in their younger days, the story feels more fleshed out than it would have otherwise. There’s a sweetness here that’s really lovely, and I enjoyed the juxtaposition of Cole’s sadness with all the happy memories. It gave the story a lot of depth.

Yes, the ending it predicable, but in the best possible way. There’s no way this story could have gone any other way, and it’s entirely satisfying. I really loved this story. Gifts, love, and the joyful spirit of the season all combine to make a really lovely story.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

kris signature

Comments

  1. These stories do sound good! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kris.

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