Christmas means different things to everyone, but most often it’s all about pulling loved ones close and brightening the gloom. The fire’s crackling. The snow is piling up outside, even if it’s only in your dreams. Time to snuggle up with some cocoa and some stories carefully crafted by the Mischief Corner Crew to warm hearts and cockles.
Wreath of Fire: Smokey Mountains Bears 2 – Toni Griffin
Michael’s trying to start a new life away from his abusive father, but he’s drifting and not sure what he wants. When he accidentally starts a kitchen fire, the hot new fireman who comes to the rescue is not only another bear shifter. He’s Michael’s mate. Michael desperately needs to get his act together and figure out what he wants if he has any hope of claiming the bear fated to be his.
A Christmas Cactus for the General – Angel Martinez
Exiled to Earth for perhaps the worst failure in Irasolan history, General Teer must assimilate or die. Earth is too warm, too wet, too foreign, but he does the best he can even though human males are loud, childish louts whom he can’t imitate successfully. When a grieving seaplane pilot strikes up a strange and uneasy friendship with him, he finds he may have been too quick to judge human males. They are strange to look at, but perhaps not as unbearable as he thought.
Holly Jolly – Silvia Violet
I’m not gay. I just notice men sometimes. Everybody does, right? I notice Dane a lot, like every time I’m near him, but just because I think he’s an attractive man that doesn’t mean I like him, does it?
I’m also not a fan of Christmas. Too many years “celebrating” with my Bible-thumping family ruined the holiday for me. So what if I envy all these cheerful souls dashing about with smiles on their faces? I don’t have to like Christmas, do I? If anyone could get me in the Christmas spirit, it would be Dane with his easy, relaxed manner and his gorgeous smile. If that were going to happen, though, I’d have to find the courage to talk to him and to admit that maybe I don’t know myself all that well after all.
Snow on Spirit Bridge – Freddy MacKay
Alone in Japan, Finni is struggling against the constant distrust, avoidance, and xenophobia he experiences every day. He misses home. He misses his family. Nightmares come all too frequently because of the stress, and well, Christmas is just not Christmas in Japan. Not how he understands it.
Distressed by how miserable Finni is, his roommate, Mamoru, offers to be Finni’s family for Christmas. Little does he know how much one agreement would change everything between them, because both of them kept secrets neither ever dreamed were true.
Holiday stories are always what gets me in the holiday mood. Without them I’m a regular Scrooge. This anthology was my first holiday book of the year and I loved it. I’m a fan of all of these authors to begin with, but this collection of their stories together was wonderful. So much emotion in all of these stories. Some of them I want more from the characters, though that’s not much of a surprise.
Wreath of Fire by Toni Griffin
This book is the sequel to another book, however you do not have to read the first book to understand and enjoy this one. I haven’t read it. I felt bad for Michael in this story. He’s been given such a bad lot in life I truly just wanted to hug him. Cam was so gentle with him, even before learning about Michael’s past. The ending is better than a happy for now, but not really a full out happily ever after. They’re still learning each other but as mates they are well on their way to loving each other.
Four and a half
A Christmas Cactus for the General by Angel Martinez
Teer’s thoughts on gender and how things worked on Earth when he first arrived were hysterical! He was endearing in his continued childlike understanding of Earth customs and events. Bruce never made him feel stupid, especially after he found out Teer was from another planet. The scene at the end at the cemetery was beautiful. Big fat ugly cry on my part.
Holly Jolly by Silvia Violet
Tom’s denial of who he is was so ingrained that he had a hard time even thinking “gay”, forget admitting it. The struggles he felt were so well described I felt them myself. I wanted more story when it ended, but there wasn’t anything left hanging other than me wanting to know what happened next.
Four and a half
Snow on Spirit Bridge by Freddy MacKay
The beginning of this book grabbed me so hard, I had to keep reading. I figured out Finni’s secret pretty quickly. The clues were there but it wasn’t obvious. The build from strangers, to friends, to lovers was wonderful in this story. I was crying with Finni when he was on the bridge. That scene was amazingly written.
I came up with some fun antics that could go on at a holiday party. Then I had the wonderful authors at Mischief Corner figure out who was most likely to do each of them. The results are wildly hilarious and I’m quite sad I missed all of the fun. Read and enjoy!
1. Running around topless singing Jingle Bells
This one has Freddy MacKay written all over it. She got stuck into that damn expensive scotch of hers and decided topless Christmas Karaoke was the way to go. It was hilarious watching her try to convince Mina MacLeod and Brigid Collins to join her on the stage.
2. Spiked the punch then drank most of it
See previous answer. Freddy smuggled the bottle of expensive scotch into the party and after drinking nearly half the bottle herself decided she wanted to share it, so she upended what was left in the punch. The look of horror on Beany Sparks’ face at the waste of fine scotch was the funniest thing I’ve seen in forever.
3. Dancing on the desk singing “Can’t Touch this”
Seriously? Do I have to relive this moment? I tried my hardest to get her down from there, J. Scott Coatsworth even tried gallantly to help me, but once the karaoke started there was just no stopping her. I can never un-live this night.
4. Makes prank calls
I’m not really sure you could classify them as prank calls. Silvia Violet was honestly trying to find someone to help. It’s not her fault she had a half-naked, singing, dancing Freddy MacKay all over her and no one she rang took her seriously.
5. Spins around in the office chair screaming
I told them it was a bad idea to hold the Holiday party at the office. Once we finally managed to redress Freddy, she thought it would be fun to have office chair races. Needless to say she lost each and every one of them as all she managed to do was spin in a circle. Angel Martinez was the surprise winner of those hilarious contests.
6. Locked in the bathroom hugging the toilet
I don’t think I need to mention who this one was. It’s a little obvious if you ask me.
7. Passed out under their desk
Once she’d finished praying to the porcelain gods, she curled right up like a little squirrel, regardless of all the noise still going on around her. Mathilde Watson and Andi Anderson may have gone a little overboard with the marker drawings, but Freddy did supply them with a blank canvas. You can’t really blame them, right?
8. Sitting on copier making Christmas cards
Silvia, Angel and I tried to stop her, really we did. Once that scotch was drunk, there was nothing we could have done. We promise to try our hardest to stop the cards from actually making the morning’s post, but we can’t be held responsible if some slip through. That woman is like a damn whirlwind. Or a squirrel. Either description works well.
9. Throwing fruitcake at people outside
The police were nice enough to get the people not to press any charges. We agreed we wouldn’t speak of this incident again.
10. Playing spin the bottle with cleaning crew
This is what happens when hung over squirrels are rudely awoken in the early hours of the morning by vacuum cleaners. I heard on the grape vine that the building is looking for a new cleaning staff, the old ones were too traumatized to return to work.
Angel, Silvia and I honestly tried to minimize the damage, but some things just can’t be contained. For all those that were injured, either mentally or physically (with cake), during our party, I’d just like to apologize here and now. All complaints can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
From Wreath of Fire by Toni Griffin
“Come on, let’s get out of the way while these nice firemen finish up,” Patricia said.
Michael had completely forgotten all about the other men. He remembered one of them coming over and leading him outside while others battled the blaze, but Michael had been too distraught to pay too much attention to them. He thought the man’s name might have been Martin or something similar. He couldn’t remember. Michael looked away from Patricia at the men on the lawn stretching out a hose and packing it away. His gaze was caught immediately in the intense blue eyes of one of the firefighters he had yet to meet.
His heartbeat increased as Michael stood there, unable to look away from the man, who stood no more than a half a dozen feet in front of him. The man wasn’t what most people would have considered gorgeous. Yes, he was tall, probably close to half a foot taller than Michael. He obviously had muscles. Doing the job he did Michael doubted there was an ounce of fat on the man anywhere, and the bulky bright yellow protective outfit made him look even larger than he was.
His dark brown hair was cut short, shaved close on the sides with only the barest hint of length on the top. His nose was large, his eyebrows thick and bushy, but the blue of his eyes shone through. The man’s lips were surrounded by a beard that followed the contours of his face. This man was obviously well groomed, the beard was trimmed close and neatly, and Michael wanted to feel it against his naked skin.
His body was going haywire and Michael didn’t know why. It wasn’t until he took a deep breath that it finally clicked. The man in front of him wasn’t human, he was a shifter, and he smelled very much like he might be Michael’s mate.
“Michael? Is everything all right?” Patricia asked him. Michael hadn’t even realized he’d made the small whimpering noise until she asked.
Michael shook his head. This could not be happening. No way could he meet his mate now, when he’d just proven to everyone what a complete and total fuckup he was. He couldn’t deal with this right now. He turned to Patricia. “I’m sorry,” he whispered again. Michael would be saying that for the rest of his life.
He turned and darted for the house. Michael wasn’t thinking, he just knew he had to get away from everything and the only way he knew how was to shift. He raced through the house, the scent of the fire strong and cloying as soon as he opened the front door. He made it to the back door and ran outside and across the back lawn. Michael ignored the calls from Patricia and a deep sexy voice he could only assume was the man he thought might be his mate. He could hear their heavy steps behind him, but he wasn’t stopping. He vaulted over the back fence, not bothering to waste time on the locked gate, and ran into the forest.
Thankful for his shifter side, Michael ran barefoot through the trees. The temperature had to be close to freezing. A bitter wind blew through the forest, causing Michael to shiver despite his higher than average body temperature.
When he was certain he was out of sight, Michael stopped and took a moment. His heart pounded furiously in his chest. Why did the world have to be so cruel? Things were finally starting to look up: he was going to go back to school and get his GED, and then he could decide what he wanted to do with his life. Instead, he thought it would be a great idea to try and burn down the house of the only people who had been kind to him in his life, proving to the one person he’d wanted since forever that he was a complete loser.
Michael stripped quickly. It was too cold to stay still for too long. He thought about his bear, concentrated, and felt the shift start to take over him. Within moments, he was standing on all fours, the thick black coat of his fur keeping him warm from the icy winds. Michael lifted his head and roared out all his frustration, then took off into the woods.
For once, he wanted to be alone.
About The Authors:
Mischief Corner Books is an organization of superheroes… no, it’s a platinum-album techno-fusion group…no, hold on a sec here…
Ah, yes. Mischief Corner is a diverse group of authors who met on a mountain in Tennessee and decided since we probably were too easily distracted to rule the world that we’d settle for causing a bit of mayhem instead.
In addition to making mayhem, we publish books with a diverse range of genres and topics… we live to break molds.
MCB. Giving voice to LGBTQ fiction.
Where To Buy:
Mischief Corner Books: http://mischiefcornerbooks.weebly.com/chestnuts-roasting-anthology.html
20-Nov: Amanda C. Stone, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
21-Nov: Parker Williams
24-Nov: Love Bytes, Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews
25-Nov: Hearts on Fire
26-Nov: BFD Book Blog
27-Nov: MM Good Book Reviews
28-Nov: Velvet Panic
1-Dec: Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings, Molly Lolly
2-Dec: Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves, Cate Ashwood
3-Dec: My Fiction Nook, Queer Town Abbey, Prism Book Alliance
4-Dec: Multitasking Mommas, Cathy Brockman Romances
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