Hiring a boyfriend for Christmas; what could possibly go wrong?
Derek is facing yet another Christmas where his life feels out of control. He has a new career that doesn't feel like his, and parents who would just love to see him settled down. All he needs is a temporary buffer for the parties he has to attend, and for his parents to leave him alone. Enter, Luke.
Luke is twenty-thousand dollars short for the renovations on Halligans; his family's bar in New York's Financial District. A favor for a buddy has him agreeing to play the part of boyfriend to a guy with more money than sense.
But when the spirit of Christmas works its magic on the two men, and they begin to fall for each other, Derek runs scared, and Luke needs space.
It doesn't matter what obstacles you throw in the way of love, or how much you run in the other direction, because, when you're least expecting it, whether you want it or not, love happens anyway.
I knew Marcus was six-two, just a little taller than me. I knew he had blue eyes, and dark hair with red tones in certain light. He had a brother, but they didn’t see each other much, being that his brother was in the Navy. His parents were retired in Florida, but they’d had Marcus and his brother Adam late in life. Marcus was twenty-nine, same as me with only a few months separating our birthdays, and he was a firefighter. Oh, and he was a good, kind man who was thoughtful all the time and treated me like a prince.
“That’s such a shame. Anyway, how are Marcus’ kittens?” Mom asked. I pulled myself back to what she was saying. It was never good to not pay full attention to anything Mom said, otherwise you’d end up agreeing to all kinds of things she’d throw at you when your defenses are down. I loved her dearly but she was sneaky like that.
Which is how I got myself into this mess with Marcus in the first place.
“Did he find good homes for them?”
“Absolutely, the last of them went to a widowed grandmother in his apartment block.”
“Socks? The dark one?”
I glanced at my notes. “No, you remember Socks went to his uncle; Spider went to the old lady.”
“Oh yes, of course, although why someone would name a kitten Spider I don’t know.”
“There were spiders in the house where Marcus found the kittens.”
“I still don’t understand how there could be spiders in a burned-out house.”
Sh*t. “Spiders are hardy.”
“You said the house was razed to the ground, dear.”
Now I was losing the will to live. “Well, maybe the spider was outside. Mom, I need to go, Moira is at the door and she needs me to sign off on the new AbbaLister raisins account.”
“Of course dear, just, please tell Marcus he is welcome at any time. We so want to meet him and thought it’d be better at the house.”
“I will, I know he’s keen to meet you.”
“Oh good,” she said, and I knew I’d f*cked up and somehow given her an opening. I’d never mentioned once that Marcus wanted to meet them, because that would just give them the impetus to take matters into their own hands. My worst fears were confirmed. “Oh, I’ve had the most wonderful idea.”
Oh God, what?
“Your dad and I are coming into the city on Monday; book us dinner on any night, or lunch, breakfast, anything. I want to meet this young man of yours and if it has to be in a restaurant then so be it.”
“I’m not sure—”
“Derek, he can’t be busy every night next week, and every lunchtime, goodness me, we’ll even take a quick coffee if that is all he can manage.”
Sh*t. Sh*t. And double sh*t.
“I’ll see what I can organize.” I kept my tone regretful, to at least give the impression I would try to organize them meeting Marcus, but that it would be unlikely.
We finished the call, and I replaced the handset in the cradle, fighting the urge to throw it against the wall, sit and cry at my desk, or maybe, less drastically, move to Montana and become a cowboy.
So many lies.
There was no Moira standing at my door. It was still closed and I’d lied to my mom.
There were no kittens, I made those up, and the spider story. The word spider came about because when I’d been talking to my mom about Marcus and the kittens, a tiny spider had crawled over my notes.
I closed the notebook in which I had the names of five kittens with their various characteristics listed.
Mom wanted to meet Marcus, any night, any lunch, anytime.
Which sucked big hairy balls.
Because that was another thing I had made up.
There was no Marcus either.
From my experience, boyfriend-for-hire stories can either go very right or monumentally wrong. Love Happens Anyway is one of those that goes right, with one pretty uptight guy (Derek) who hires one slightly broken but determined man (Luke) to act as his boyfriend during the holidays.
I loved, loved, loved Luke. He’s responsible, protective, strong and sexy—but he’s also in need of help in order to take care of his family’s bar. Derek is tired of what he feels is others trying to impose their will on his life (both personal and professional), and has kind of talked himself into a corner with his parents by making up the fact that he has a boyfriend…who his parents insist on meeting. This is the mechanism that brings Derek and Luke together—much to Luke’s consternation and protests to his friend who put him up for the “job” of boyfriend.
There’s the expected issues of keeping to the “boyfriend” story that Derek has made up thus far with his family and work colleagues, as well as the anticipated heat that blooms between him and Luke. But there’s also Derek’s character growing and becoming more his own man, and finally standing up for what he wants both at work and in his private life. I love to see characters grow like this, and Derek’s evolution—prompted by Luke’s influence on his life—was quite satisfying to read. The hot physical chemistry and eventual comfortable feelings around each other when they were together? A wonderful bonus.
Love Happens Anyway was a 4-star read for me, and is a great M/M holiday romance to add to your collection. At 42,500 words this story was a short enough that I finished it in a couple of hours, but long enough to tell a full story without feeling rushed. Extra points for the great epilogue as well as the cute cover. This story is meant for readers 18+ for adult language and sexual content.
About the Author
RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn't with family either reading or writing.
The last time she had a week's break from writing she didn't like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn't defeat.
Keeping secrets is never a good way to start a relationship
Theo hardly has time to date. Between work and caring for his four-year-old son there aren't many hours left over. Heís lonely though, so he joins a hook-up app and starts chatting to a guy called Luke. Luke seems friendly and they arrange to meet. Theo doesn't mention that he has a child. It's early days and he's worried about putting Luke off before they get to know each other.
Luke is currently working as Santa at the local shopping mall. He figures Theo never has to know. Christmas will be over soon and Luke will move on to a new, less embarrassing job. He's surprised when Theo and a little boy visit Santa one afternoon. Theo doesn't recognise Luke, and Luke realises he's not the only one with a secret.
Despite misgivings on both sides, they start dating, and the chemistry is amazing. But as Christmas approaches their secrets pile up like colourful packages under the tree. If they're not careful, they'll lose the best gift of all-each other.
Now this? This is exactly what I like to read for holiday romance. A relatively quick read for me, sweet and cute with just the right touch of angst, and just a few touches of spice to heat things up—all centered around Christmas for that bit of holiday magic.
Both Luke and Theo have things about themselves they don’t want to reveal to someone new; Luke because he’s a bit embarrassed about his holiday job and Theo because he doesn’t want a potential boyfriend to bolt once they find out he has a child. These may seem like things that have been written about before, but the author puts a fresh spin on them by weaving a little twist into it with Luke finding out Theo’s secret without Theo knowing it, adding a convoluted bit of extra secrets into the mix.
As the story progresses, I was hoping all that secrecy wouldn’t wind up blowing up in Luke and Theo’s faces—because they had such a natural chemistry between them, everything with them felt just right and I wanted to see them make it as a couple. They had physical attraction as well as a great rapport with each other, easily feeling comfortable together even once Theo’s son Archie (who is absolutely adorable) is adding into the equation.
Secret Santa was a fun, mostly light holiday romance, and it was a very solid 4-star read for me. I definitely recommend this story to anyone looking for a good M/M holiday romance. This book is meant for readers 18+ for adult language and some hot and steamy sexual content.
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.
One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story-just to see if he could-and found it rather addictive. He hasn't stopped writing since.
Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.
Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.
Ace and Gavin haven't had a threesome in far too long. When Ace meets the perfect guy to join them, he can't think of a better way to kick off the holiday season.
Jonathan is charmed by the sexy couple, and he quickly realizes that what started as a fling has the potential to be a whole lot more.
Gavin feels their connection just as strongly, but even after weeks of the three of them hanging out, he's afraid to suggest they turn their friends-with-benefits arrangement into a serious relationship.
The joy and shared experiences of the season have a way of making magic happen, if only all three men could find the courage to ask for what they want.
While I’m not one for open relationships on a personal level, reading about one can really hit the spot—particularly one that turns into something more when a couple finds a third who just fits with them perfectly. Gavin and Ace love each other, but sometimes just want a bit more outside of the two of them, either separately or by bringing in a third (Jonathan) to play. This story shows what happens when a third becomes more, and does it quite well.
I like all three men a lot individually—Gavin with his cute Christmas quirks, Ace with his kitchen skills and alpha personality, and Jonathan who is like a blend of them both. The three of them together physically…yeah, that’s one hell of a threesome and their sex scenes are scorching hot. Beyond the physical, the three men also seem to connect in everyday life as well. As almost always seems to be the case with stories that are of this length, I really wished this would have been longer so there could be more on-page relationship development. We’re more told that the relationship progressed rather than shown for the most part, and personally I prefer to be able to read through the evolution of their connection.
That said, this story was still a very satisfying read and is getting 4 stars from me. Thanks to the adult language and explicit sexual content, this book is meant strictly for readers 18+. With Three Under the Christmas Tree being set during the holiday season (spanning just before Thanksgiving and forward), fans of menage holiday books—or just menage books in general—will definitely want to pick this one up.
Silvia Violet writes fun, sexy stories that will leave you smiling and satisfied. She has a thing for characters who are in need of comfort and enjoys helping them surrender to love even when they doubt it exists. Silvia's stories include sizzling contemporaries, paranormals, and historicals. When she needs a break from listening to the voices in her head, she spends time baking, taking long walks, curling up with her favorite books, and spending time with her family.
Double trouble. The McMillan twins, Robin and Bobby, are renowned for their talents—both as fine artists and for thrilling the various men who catch their eyes. As different in style and personality as their DNA is identical, they’re nonetheless best friends who divide and conquer, with Robin doing the serious painting and Bobby adding the sunny salesmanship.
But when their most important client decides Bobby must wield the paintbrush, the brothers revert to childhood tactics and switch places. Then along comes Micah, a handsome doctor who’s attracted to Bobby but invites Robin out to try to please his homophobic brother, and Paolo, the pain-in-the-butt client who thinks he’s wooing Bobby when he’s actually after Robin. Paolo harbors his own hidden pain that weirdly intersects with Robin’s, but pride and privacy conspire to produce what will either be a masterpiece—or end up as Dogs Playing Poker.
Anson said, “This is Paolo Lind. His architectural firm designed this building and is its largest tenant.”
Robin stared right at the man. “Cool.”
Lind nodded but said nothing. He glanced up, met Robin’s gaze for an electric instant, and then shifted away. Ridiculous that a man so gorgeous should be such an asshole.
Anson said, “So, Ms. Etheridge, show us what you brought.”
Valerie stood her tablet on the table and began scrolling through photos of their projects. “As you’ll see, the McMillan brothers have the scope and grandeur to handle a project of this size but still maintain a contemporary, even leading-edge look. No kitsch that murals tend to fall into because the artist doesn’t know what to do in that large a work.”
She was doing a good job. Robin tried to listen, but his gaze kept drifting to the architectural masterpiece across the table.
She pulled out a portfolio of drawings and sketches to give them a sense of the immediacy of their work. “You can see the boldness of line and form.”
The architect stared at Robin’s portfolio with a slight crease between his dark, arched brows. Suddenly he looked up. “Excuse me, but we’ve already seen their work for others. Do you have a design to show us or not?”
Valerie paused for a fraction of a second too long, but then she dove in. “Mr. Lind, to do a design for a project of this size would require many, many hours of time—all on speculation. My clients are sought-after artists.”
Lind pushed the portfolio across the wide, slick table. “So are all the people we’re considering for this project. Obviously, your clients must not value the commission.”
Well, sh*t. Robin grabbed the portfolio. At the back were some sketches, and he ripped one from the plastic sleeve that held it. He turned it over and pulled three markers from his pocket—he didn’t leave home without them. Bold lines flowed across the paper as he drew. He glanced up at Lind, who stared at Robin’s moving hand. “So tell me. Do you design a lot of buildings on spec, darling?” Lind scowled at him. Robin looked back at the drawing and took his thumb, wet it, and smudged some of the lines. “Yeah, no, right? Because all you have to sell is your design talent. Just like me. This building we’re sitting in is a really good design. Not the best I’ve ever seen, but really good for Orange County. You need a mural that reflects that design, and you’re a good enough architect to know with one glance that I’m that guy.”
He kept drawing, slashing lines and swirling in flashes of golden yellow, but the main theme was blue, baby. With a sneer, he slid the abstract, wild, free creation across the table and stood up. “You can keep this, because no matter who else you hire, they can’t begin to do what my brother and I can do. But you’ll f*ck up your building because, for whatever reason, after an acquaintance of thirty seconds, you don’t like me. Maybe you don’t like gay guys in eyeliner. Maybe you’re just an asshole. Hell, you want reasons to dislike me? You should get to know me. I can give you a boatload of reasons, but not liking my earrings is a pretty dumbass basis on which to choose an artist, and you, of all people, should know that.” He leaned over, signed the drawing with a flourish, flicked his fingers, and made the paper jump. “Good luck with your building.”
He crossed the conference room and walked out just as the sportswear chick yelled, “You tell ’em, cutie.”
Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 32. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!