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Book CoverStevie‘s review of Freckles (2016 Riptide Holiday Charity Bundle, Book 1) by Amy Lane
Contemporary Gay Holiday Romance published by Riptide Publishing 12 Nov 16

One good way I’ve found to get a good fix of festive fiction and at the same time try some new authors and subgenres is by dipping into the various themed anthologies and bundles that appear every year from November onwards. So much the better when so many of them incorporate a charitable donation into the price. This year, I decided to go with Riptide’s Charity Bundle, which included two familiar authors, and one that was completely new to me. The first to be released, and the first that I read, was by the relatively familiar-to-me Amy Lane. After all, there’s something oddly festive about puppies, no matter how often we’re advised that ‘A dog is for life, not just for Christmas,’ and small, fluffy breeds are always endearing in theory, if not in practice.

Carter Embree has no intention of taking on a dog; he has enough trouble finding the time to pay attention to his boyfriends – the most recent of whom just walked out on him – when he’s being worked so hard by his unscrupulous boss. Even so, when he finds himself clutching the puppy that’s just been thrust into his arms by a scruffy urchin with a ready-made sob story, Carter’s first thought is to find a way that he can look after it himself, rather than risk dropping it off at a shelter so close to Christmas. Carter’s work-life is not going well, and his latest case involves defending a land owner who is blatantly guilty of poisoning his neighbours’ dog, so taking on the puppy seems like a way of making amends. Not that Carter has ever owned a dog before, or has any real idea of how much disruption it might cause to his well-ordered life and immaculate home.

From the moment Carter walks into the pet store and veterinary surgery where Sandy Corrigan works, it’s obvious to him that this customer is going to need a lot of help. Fortunately Sandy has plenty of time for good-looking men who are keen to learn all they can about keeping their pets healthy – and he also has a niece who’s trying to get her dog-walking business off the ground. Meanwhile, Carter’s awful boss is making life increasingly difficult for his staff: banning Carter and his paralegal from putting up decorations and insisting that Carter lies whenever necessary to secure the right outcome for the firm, no matter how much Carter sympathises with the opposing party in his latest case.

While he finds dog ownership stressful and is convinced that he’ll never get anything right for the puppy, Carter does discover that his legal talents can be put to good use helping the people he meets through his new pets with their various legal and professional issues. He starts to see a way out of his awful job and towards working for himself – encouraged by Sandy, who is himself working at gaining a veterinary degree while employed at the store. Carter gains the confidence to stand up to his boss, and Sandy gains new additions to his sprawling, sometimes chaotic, family. Wins all round!

I mostly enjoyed this book, in spite of the author’s habit of using a couple of words during the sex scenes that are guaranteed to throw me out of the moment. Definitely a book to put me in the mood for more Festivities, preferably not involving certain words.

Stevies CatGrade: C


Carter Embree has always hoped to be rescued from his productive, tragically boring, and (slightly) ethically compromised life. But when an urchin at a grocery store shoves a bundle of fluff into his hands, Carter goes from rescuee to rescuer—and he needs a little help.

Sandy Corrigan, the vet tech who helps ease Carter into the world of dog ownership, first assumes that Carter is a crazy-pants client who just needs to relax. But as Sandy gets a glimpse into the funny, kind, sexy man under Carter’s mild-mannered exterior, he sees that with a little care and feeding, Carter might be Super-Pet Owner—and decent boyfriend material to boot.

But Carter needs to see himself as a hero first. As he says good-bye to his pristine house and hello to carpet treatments and dog walkers, he finds that there really is more to himself than a researching drudge without a backbone. A Carter Embree can rate a Sandy Corrigan. He can be supportive, he can be a hero, he can be a man who stands up for his principles!

He can be the owner of a small dog.

Read an excerpt.

Other books in this series:
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