Holiday Cheer Supreme! – BGFP episode 275

Jeff and I have a lot of holiday goodness to share with you in this review packed episode. We kick it off with the gay Christmas movies, Lifetime’s The Christmas Setup and Paramount Network’s Dashing in December. In books, I review Fake Boyfriend for Christmas by Sean Ashcroft, Operation Fake Relationship by Jay Northcote and two titles from E.J. Russell, The Probability of Mistletoe and A Swants SoireeIn addition to the holiday merriment, we sing the praises of the just released Ryan Murphy adaptation of the broadway musical, The Prom.

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Audiobook Narrator Sean Crisden – BGFP episode 274

With more than 10 years of experience as an audiobook narrator, Sean Crisden has voiced a number of books and series from authors like TJ Klune, RJ Scott, Adriana Herrera and countless others. Sean talks with Jeff about how he got his start, what he loves about romances and who some of his favorite characters are. Sean also shares how he keeps his creative well full, and that he just might have a romance of his own in the works.

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Quick Review: Gifts for the Season – Winter & Christmas M/M Charity Anthology

Gifts for the Season: Winter & Christmas M/M Charity Anthology

While I haven’t gotten to every story in the anthology, below are some of my thoughts on my favorites that I’ve read so far.

Single Dad Christmas by RJ Scott

Austin is the successful single dad of the title, and two years ago he hired a handsome and capable manny named Paul. Time is now up, and young Paul is ready to travel the world. Can Austin finally ask Paul to be a permanent part of his rambunctious family? Maybe an eggnog fueled kiss will work, or a trip with the triplets to visit Santa will finally give these two the courage to confess their feelings and grant each other their one true Christmas wish.

Must Be Santa by Annabeth Albert

Features Teddy and Nick from Albert’s full-length Christmas novel ‘Better Not Pout’, which I reviewed (and heartily endorsed) in the last podcast episode of 2018 (episode number 169 to be exact). If you like audio I also recommend that you check the excellent narration of that book by Sean Crisden. Must Be Santa finds our heroes living out their happily ever after and expanding their family with two foster kids. I don’t need to tell you that parenting during the holidays has its ups and downs, but by the time Christmas and New Year’s Eve rolls around, they’re one big happy family.

Five Gold Blings by Clare London

Is about flashy and fabulous Alec who’s trying to make a go of it as a fashion influencer. One day he gets caught with his pants down (literally) by hunky delivery guy, Grey. They flirt as the packages keep arriving, and Alec even wrangles Gray into participating in live fashion shows for his online followers. Gray eventually encourages Alec to ditch the cut-rate clothes of his sponsor and show off his own creations, all while falling in love in the process. This story perfectly combines ridiculous comedic situations with sweet/sexy romance, which as far as I’m concerned, are the cornerstones of any Clare London story.

Twelve Days of UPS by Eli Easton

Is another story featuring a deliveryman hero, this time it’s Dan who brings a steady supply of packages to Paul, a writer who has a secret admirer that’s sending daily gifts inspired by the Twelve Days of Christmas. Paul enjoys his daily interactions with big, hunky Dan, and finally gets the courage to ask him on a date… on his back patio, sharing some wine and fancy cheese (the gift corresponding with the eight maids a-milking). Eventually they figure out who has been sending the gifts and have fallen for each other in the process.

It should be said that I never, in a million years, wanted to read a ‘love in the time of covid’ story, but Eli Easton has managed to pull off something that is so sweet and charming, she’s made me a believer that romance can in fact happen in a year as fucked up as 2020. Dan and Paul wear masks and practice responsible social distancing throughout the story. Paul’s growing attraction to Dan, despite the fact that he doesn’t know what is underneath Dan’s face mask, is an important part of what makes these characters so genuine and real and kind. When they finally do kiss (after they firmly establish that there’s no threat of possible transmission) it’s sweet and satisfying.

These are just a few of the stories in this amazing anthology which also features AE Via, Lane Hayes, Joanna Chambers, Posy Roberts, Suki Fleet, Garrett Leigh, Felice Stevens, VL Locey, Annabelle Jacobs, Amber Kell, and Alex Jane.

All proceeds from the sale of this anthology go to The Trevor Project.

This review originally appeared as part of the Big GayFiction Podcast.

Quick Review: Hearts Alight by Elliot Cooper

Hearts Alight by Elliot Cooper

Dave isn’t a grinch per se, but he’s not feeling the magic of the season as he, and his best friend/brother-in-law Jake, fight through holiday shoppers to find ideal Hanukkah gifts. Dave longs for simpler times when it was more about time spent with family and not the materialistic pursuit of the ‘perfect present’.

At Jake’s bar, Dave attempts to chat up bartender Amit, who Dave has had his eye on for quite a while. Dave enjoys attempting conversation with Mr. tall, dark and broody, and any time he gets more than a one-word answer, he sees that as a definite win.

But when Dave finds Amit in the back room, doubled over and unable to catch his breath, it’s clear something is wrong. Jake tells him to get some rest and Dave joins Amit on his walk home.

They make a stop at the nearby art studio where Dave teaches painting, and they talk as they paint dreidels (handmade right there in the shop).

Amit is a man of few words but it’s during this impromptu date that he tells Dave his secret, he’s a golem, a being made from clay and brought to life with magic to do the bidding of others. It turns out that Amit isn’t sick, it’s his magic that is fading. But the meaningful touch of someone special (someone like Dave) helps to recharge him. And it also turns out that the glaze they’re using to paint with, when applied to Amit’s fading tattoo with Dave’s brushwork, also reinvigorates him.

Their first real date is an evening of Chinese take-out and a game of D&D with Dave’s online friends, capped off with a perfect goodnight kiss.

Things continue to go well, even as the holidays increase Dave’s stress levels. They spend the first night of Hanukkah at Dave’s parent’s hose, where he officially introduces Amit as his boyfriend. They’re welcomed with open arms, then eat, play games, and open gifts.

The eighth, and final night coincides with New Year’s Eve. After watching the ball drop on tv, Dave and Amit sit on the porch together, dreaming of their future. They don’t have all the answers when comes to relationships between a human and a supernatural entity, but they’re in love, and whatever problems they encounter, they will happily face them together.

I love sweet holiday stories, like, I literally can’t get enough of them. Gay romances that center around the Jewish holidays are pretty rare, so when I encounter one (especially one this good) I like to shout it from the rooftops, letting everyone know that this story is definitely worth your time.

Nice guys are my catnip (or reader kink if you’d prefer). Dave and Amit’s shy first attempts at connection warmed my heart. Hearts Alight is a super-low angst, feel-good story, filled with lots of heart (just like the title suggests) with just a hint of Jewish mysticism. I think you’ll be rooting Dave and Amit just as much as I was.

This review originally appeared as part of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast.

Gig Gay Holiday Reviews and Recommendations – BGFP episode 273

Jeff and I love the holidays! There are so many great seasonal stories and movies. We’ve been watching and reading a lot. In this episode we discuss Hulu’s Happiest Season and Hallmark Channel’s The Christmas House. We also review Hearts Alight by Elliot Cooper, Holidays in Blue by Eve Morton, Gifts for the Season: Winter & Christmas M/M Charity Anthology, and Party Favors by Erin McLellan. Jeff also gives a shout out to American Ballet Theatre’s male/male pas de deux Touché, which recently premiered.

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Author and Ally Suzanne Brockmann – BGFP episode 272

For the last Listener Favorite episode of our fifth anniversary year, we present Suzanne Brockmann. Suzanne, along with her family, has long been a champion of LGBTQ+ inclusion in romance fiction. In this look back at interviews from 2017 (which featured her, her husband Ed Gaffney and her son Jason T. Gaffney), Suzanne discusses her efforts to get gay characters in some of her early work, including the groundbreaking addition of FBI agent Jules Cassidy to her Troubleshooter series, and the historic gay wedding she brought to readers in All Through the Night (which happens to be our Big Gay Fiction Book Club selection for December). We also hear from Suzanne, Ed and Jason about how the family creates projects like the California Comedy books and movies, such as The Perfect Wedding.

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