Holigay by KM Neuhold
When an unexpected breakup leaves Matt with an extra ticket to Fiji, he can think of no other person he’d rather spend the holiday with than his best friend Caspian. Once they arrive, they start to think of each other in a new way. When they finally give in to their long-held curiosity, they end up spending a week having the best sex of their lives. But when it’s time to return home, the question remains, are they just friends, or can they maintain that holigay magic all year round?
This Christmas novella from KM Neuhold really turns up the heat for the two main characters. Matt and Caspian’s chemistry is obvious from the start and when they take their friendship to the next level, watch out, because the tropical holiday friction they generate… it’s almost too hot to handle!
If you need something short, sexy, and sweet, then Holigay is a read that will most definitely satisfy.
Jeff and I kick off the show with some details on an article we wrote for the Frolic website about Roan Parrish’s holiday romance. We remind everyone to reserve their spot for the Big Gay Fiction Fest coming up on Saturday, December 4.
Author Jenn Burke discusses House on Fire, the latest book in her Ashes and Dust series. Jenn also talks about why she created the spin off from the Not Dead Yet seres. She also shares why she enjoys spreading romances across multiple books, her enjoyment in writing second chance romance, and the twists that she always adds to her paranormal characters to make them her own. In addition, we get a great story about how Jenn and Kelly Jensen got together to write the Chaos Station series.
Remember, you can listen and follow the podcast anytime at BigGayFictionPodcast.com.
Cock Blocked by KC Kassidy
Niall and his sister Nan run their family farm and small B&B which sits nestled in the Irish countryside. An American has booked a stay for an entire month and Nan has offer up Niall to play tour guide for their guest.
That guest is Grayson, the successful (but closeted) star of a popular TV historical drama who is very much looking forward to some downtime between seasons so he can finish the script he’s working on.
While out for a walk, Grayson comes across a small cottage. When he hears a commotion inside, he helps Seamus, Niall’s dad, who’s taken a wee bit of a tumble. He’s fine and they end up having some tea, giving Seamus time to assess their lodger who, “better not be giving his son the business and then leaving him high and dry.”
Grayson can’t help but playfully flirt with Niall, his big, strapping, attractive guide as they tour the rugged Irish countryside. While on the hike Grayson is recognized by a tourist. The jig is up. Until this point, he’d been traveling incognito. After taking a selfie with her, he explains to Niall that he didn’t lie to him (not exactly), he just needed a little anonymity while on vacation.
They row across a lake to a small island and explore the ruins of McDermott castle. It’s there that their casual flirtation leads to a memorably scorching kiss. They both want this, but Niall isn’t particularly interested in just a fling with a guy on the down low, no matter how gorgeous that guy might be.
But some urges can’t be ignored, and they eventually end up in bed together. The sex is so robustly satisfying that they end up breaking the headboard. The next morning, Seamus can tell what’s up – the lovebirds aren’t fooling anyone. When Nan returns to the farm after a quick vacation with her husband and kids, she literally faints at the sight of her favorite actor. After being revived, she gives her brother a hard time because she too can see what’s going on.
While falling for Niall, Grayson has been busy with his screenplay (a project close to his heart) and coming up with a game plan about coming out publicly. There may be a light at the end of tunnel after all.
After spending another satisfying night in each other’s arms, Grayson realizes that he can never go back to who he was before and that there is truly no other place he’d rather be than with Niall.
But Grayson’s secret gets out. Paparazzi photos of their amorous escapade in the barn are published. Grayson is gone the next morning, a note explaining that he loves Niall, but his fame will destroy the beautiful quiet life he’s built on the farm.
After landing at Heathrow, Gray gets a text from Niall. There’s been a death in the family and that, combined with losing Grayson is too much to bear. Please come back.
But before Gray can book a return ticket, Niall shows up in London and, in the hotel lobby, they reunite with a kiss for all the world (and paparazzi) to see. No more hiding. Their love will be on their terms from now on.
An epilogue shows our two heroes fooling around in the back of the limo on their way to the premiere of the movie Grayson wrote, produced, and directed. The two of them have truly written their own perfect happily ever after.
Okay, real talk here, I loved these two characters so much. Not only is their romance steamy and adorable, but the playfully snarky back and forth way they flirt with and tease each other… heaven. Grayson and Niall can banter with the best of them, and I loved every second of it.
Something I also unexpectedly enjoyed about this story was the fictional way the reader (meaning myself) was able to escape to someplace wonderful and new. I haven’t gone anywhere or done anything for nearly two years and this story offered a delightful getaway that I didn’t realize I sorely needed. Who wouldn’t love to visit Niall’s farm/B&B, tour the rugged landscape, and see the beautiful sights of Ireland? It was like a vacation by proxy. Sublime.
Author Sierra Hill, here writing under her new m/m romance pen name KC Kassidy, has crafted a wonderful story that’ll sweep you away with its irresistible locale and memorable characters.
As a quick aside, this book is a prime candidate for audio. Seriously, it’s a no brainer. Can you imagine the Irish accents? To die for.
Sign me up. I’d listen to Cock Blocked on audio in a heartbeat. Let’s hope that happens soon.
The Bromance Zone by Lauren Blakely
River and Owen have been friends since college and that friendship is so important to them that they made a pact to never sleep together because sex always complicates, or outright ruins, a perfect friendship.
Owen invites River to a Friendsgiving get-together in Tahoe. It should be a fun weekend. As they each individually get ready for the trip, they talk with friends who ALL seem to know that the two are meant for each other. Admittedly, they’ve each secretly thought about “going there”, but it’s not going to happen. This trip is about friends having fun… it’s not a romantic getaway.
As they leave the Bay area, River mentions a quick pitstop to check on a friend’s vacation cabin in the mountains, making sure it’s ready for any bad weather. He’s downloaded some podcasts for the dive he thinks Owen might like (since he hates River’s preferred true crime/murdery ones).
They chat as they River drives, and the topic turns to past relationships and what Owen is looking for in Mr. Right. River wonders if he’s the guy for Owen and shamelessly flirts with him while buying snacks at a gas station. Whether looking at pics of River’s beloved dog, or parsing life lessons from the movie Clueless, they flirt their way through the rest of the drive.
When they reach the cabin, the weather has taken a turn. Snow has started coming down hard and fast which is how River will fall if he’s alone with Owen, insisting that they can still finish their trip to the rented Airbnb in Tahoe.
But they’re not going anywhere. After messaging their friends about the situation, they settle in for some booze, snacks, and a game in front of the fire. A possessive shock runs through River when he catches a glance at Owen’s phone, and the dating app he’s downloaded.
They look up dirty questions for a game of ‘Would you rather’, and after a few rounds of telling each other what they like sexually, and exactly how they like it, their flirtation from earlier is taken to a whole other level.
River is all, “I’m going to kiss you.”
And Owen is all, “Not if I don’t kiss you first.”
This is something they’ve both wanted for years. They toss the friendship pact out the window and Owen gives River the best blowjob of his life. River returns the favor. Later, as they cuddle in the outdoor hot tub, they now feel closer than ever because they can finally be honest about what they want… and what they want is each other if you haven’t guessed yet. They take the romance into the bedroom and it’s crazy hot, which is to be expected considering these two and their explosive chemistry.
In the morning a friend arrives to drive them to the party house in Tahoe. But with all his friends and colleagues there, Owen can’t catch a moment alone to talk privately with River.
At dinner the topic of meet cutes comes up and when Owen and River explain that they’re just friends, the conversation turns to what they’re each looking for in a guy. The answer is each other (of course), but neither is willing to pull the “we’re boyfriends” trigger, especially not in front of everybody, and not without talking to each other about it first.
The discussion goes on and on and Owen is the first to crack. He blurts out that he has met someone special and that someone is his best friend. He makes a break for it, but River catches him outside and they sweetly express (in their adorably flirty way) their heartfelt love and adoration before going back inside to officially declare themselves boyfriends.
On the drive back from their momentous weekend, they decide that since the friendship rule is kaput, they need a new pact. A boyfriend pact – to always be good to each other, both in and out of bed. And since this is Owen and River we’re talking about, they prove just how good they can be to each other as soon as they get home.
What can I say about The Bromance Zone other than I loved every moment of it and fell in love with the round-about way these two best friends finally found their happily ever after.
From a storytelling perspective, the plot is pretty straight forward – short road trip, snowed in, hook-up, HEA. What makes this book so special, in my opinion, is the characters themselves. Author Lauren Blakely has crafted two very believable friends who, through their witty banter and fun flirty dialog, have obviously been through a lot together, and care for one another deeply. The dialog is so fun and real that I bought into River and Owen’s romance from page one. It’s so real that I wish I could hang out with these two in real life.
The Bromance Zone is a standalone that’s loosely connected to the author’s Men of Summer trilogy. River and Owen are introduced in those books, and the Men of Summer heroes make an appearance here, but reading those previous stories aren’t necessary to enjoy Bromance.
The audiobook, with shared narration by Vikas Adam and Evan Parker, is wonderful. Each voice actor does a great job bringing these distinctive characters to life.
This book ticked all the boxes for me. Great characters who know how to talk to each other, explosive on page chemistry, a fun riff on the classic friends-to-lovers/forced proximity trope. All in all, there isn’t just one thing to recommend about The Bromance Zone, I heartily enjoyed the whole damn thing, and I think you will too.
Jeff and I celebrate the podcast’s sixth anniversary and announce the Big Gay Fiction Fest, a virtual online reader event taking place Saturday, December 4 that will celebrate gay holiday romances.
We also have a ton of book recommendations as we take a look at books releasing in November. First up it’s holiday-themed releases from E.J. Russell, H.L. Day, Leta Blake, Annabelle Greene, Garrett Leigh, Annabeth Albert, Lucy Lennox, Ali Ryecart, Penelope Peters, and Ashlynn Mills. Next the focus turns to more romances coming this month, including titles by Megan Slayer, Lisa Henry, Saxon James, Joe Satoria, Jenn Burke, Louisa Masters, E.M. Lindsey, Jeris Jean, Sierra Simone, Adriana Herrera, Kris Ripper and Winter Blackthorne.
Remember, you can listen and follow the podcast anytime at BigGayFictionPodcast.com.
Jeff and I discuss the thrilling new adult romance This is Not a Horror Movie by Sara Dobie Bauer. It’s a story of summer lovin’ for Emory who has finally landed the boyfriend of his dreams, too bad they have to spend their remaining vacation time solving the mystery of a supernatural entity determined to destroy the world.
As always, in our book club chat there are spoilers ahead so keep that in mind if you haven’t read the book yet. Make sure you keep listening after our discussion to hear the first chapter of the audiobook, narrated by Blake Lockheart.
Remember, you can listen and subscribe to the podcast anytime at BigGayFictionPodcast.com.