Saint Martin’s Day by Kim Fielding

Dreampsinner Presents:

saint martin


Toby follows Neno to Zagreb, Croatia, hoping Saint Martin’s Day will bring the change their relationship needs.

Five years ago, Neno Kovač fled California, graduate school, and his lover, Toby Cowan, to return to his native Croatia. Since then, he’s led a quiet life as a librarian—until one November afternoon when Toby, who has never stopped loving Neno, shows up in Zagreb. When he left the United States, Neno wasn’t ready to give up his home and family to take a chance on a long-distance relationship. But Saint Martin’s Day has arrived, the day pressed grapes turn to wine and autumn turns to winter. Perhaps it will be a day when other changes are possible as well.



We jump into the story right when Toby shows up in Zagreb to surprise Neno. It’s been 5 years since the couple has seen or heard from one another, but neither has lost the love they held.
In order for Neno to be with Toby (back in California where society will accept their relationship) he has to tell his family, agree to leave his childhood home and face the fact that he can’t be who he thinks his mother wants him to be.
Kim Fielding is a wonderful writer and this short holiday story shows the depth of the feelings between the couple as well as their hope for the future. There is a little steam to the story and lots and lots of “feels”.
I especially loved Neno’s family and the sense of being there we get from Neno’s touring Toby around his home.
I really enjoyed this selection from Dreamspinner’s 2014 advent calendar and give it a 4.5 of 5 hearts


Bowl of Cherries by Raine O’Tierney

Dreamspinner Presents



Porker, Fatty, Tons-of-Fun: Crowley Fredericks has heard it all. He’s dropped a lot of weight since his high school days, but he’s still a big guy, and the painful words and bullying follow him. Rejected—again—because of his size, Crowley is starting to think that maybe love just isn’t meant for huskier men.

Averell Lang and his twin are so different they might as well not even be related. So when Rell’s brother brings his roommate home to snowy Susset for the holidays, Rell expects the worst—another uptight, pretentious hipster. What he discovers instead is Crowley. Nerdy, fascinating, attractive, Crowley. Rell never expected to look at a man this way, and what he sees in Crowley Fredericks is something he didn’t even know he was looking for. If both men can overcome their hang-ups, they might unwrap more than presents this holiday season.



Crowley just wants to have a nice Christmas with his family. But, after recently coming out to them, he’s told not to come home – no one will be there to pick him up from the airport.

He’s crushed, but he’s got a great friend in the form of his roommate, Tyler Lang. Tyler invites him to share Christmas with his big family upstate and even buys him the train ticket. The problem is the only available seat will actually put Crowley there one entire day before Tyler. No worries, Tyler tells him, just hang with his dumb twin Avrell and try not to be too bored.

Though he’s a little shell-shocked, he makes it to the train station and to Tyler’s hometown of Sutten. He’s a bit dismayed when someone vaguely resembling Tyler comes crashing over the curb – late – ready to pick him up, and sparking his romantic interest.

Crowley “knows” that there’s no way someone as good looking as Averell could be interested in a “fatty” like him, and Tyler never said he was gay so… he just quietly crushes on him… but is amazed by how easy they get along. Crowley’s pretty shy, especially in the face of someone he’s attracted to, but the conversation flows and the two end up having a ball!

Averell (Rell) is “in between jobs”. More or less permanently. He’s never found that “perfect” job and stumbles aimlessly looking for it. He’s currently living at home again and doing chores for room and board. He can’t believe his hipster-snob of a brother actually has a cool friend and he’s psyched to be actually “forced” to room with him while he’s here.

As the story progresses we see Crowley (nicknamed Owl by Rell) falling for Rell and surpisingly, Rell (who identifies as straight) falling too. Tyler tries to keep them separated – knowing how Crowley has been deeply hurt in the past and unwilling to see his “loser” brother “use” Crowley for either experimentation or worse.

But — the attraction can’t be denied and on Christmas, Owl and Rell exchange a mind-blowing kiss that shakes them both up a bit. When it looks like they might want to do more than kiss, Owl freaks out at being naked and we begin to learn just how deep his body issues go. (Both boys are “virgins” in this case – making things doubly difficult.)

Fortunately, Sondra, the boys’ cousin, is there and she has an absolutely amazing idea for helping Owl to love his body – and it works!

Now the only obstacle left to overcome is Rell and his feeling of unworthiness due to his lack of direction. Again – the best ideas come from loving family members and we leave Owl and Rell with a decidedly HFN that will completely have you sobbing tears of joy.

There are those of us who will so closely identify with this story, it’s not even funny. The horrible, horrible things society can do to young people – making them hate themselves – is not just for girls anymore.

This story handles the issue with loving care. It’s realistic, touching, sentimental, heart-breaking, tender, sweet… just amazing.
Even if you never had body “issues” you can clearly identify with childhood trauma and the feelings of isolation caused at the hands of a bully. When Crowley shares his experience and how it not only happened to him but was then broadcast on Facebook – I couldn’t help but think – Thank God I was a kid before Facebook! What an evil tool that little social program can be in the wrong hands!

My heart absolutely broke when Owl confessed that his guidance counselor was of no help and he didn’t dare tell his family about the incident because it would “out” him as well as show him as a weakling. So there he was, 15, feeling all alone, and having to face his bullies every day with no sense of power or any ability to feel good about himself. (It makes me tear up just thinking about it!)

I wanted to hug Rell and Sondra. God – what amazing healers these two people were. They were able to reach in a see what needed to be done and were brave enough to do it. (Sure the time frame was a little quick, but I don’t think it was out of the realm of possibility. Let’s face it – the chance for sex is a great motivating factor!)

The other thing that I appreciated from this story was that Owl went through a probably fairly normal “slimming” down as he went through puberty and grew up some. Sure, he did have some crazy diet ideas (and those were handled so very well in the story) but at no point did anyone suggest they’d help him “look better” or be his “work out buddy” in order for him to feel good about himself. The message was – you are beautiful As. You. Are.

Isn’t that a freeing thought?! (I fear corporate America will never let us (as a society) truly accept this as a concept – but one can hope!)

There are not enough hearts available to me to tell you how wonderful this book is.
Everyone who has ever thought “I am worthy not enough unless I …” should read this. The message is universal.

My applause to Raine O’Tierney and my appreication for tackling this issue so well.


The Candy Man by Amy Lane

Dreamspinner Presents:


Adam Macias has been thrown a few curve balls in his life, but losing his VA grant because his car broke down and he missed a class was the one that struck him out. One relative away from homelessness, he’s taking the bus to Sacramento, where his cousin has offered a house-sitting job and a new start. He has one goal, and that’s to get his life back on track. Friends, pets, lovers? Need not apply.

Finn Stewart takes one look at Adam as he’s applying to Candy Heaven and decides he’s much too fascinating to leave alone. Finn is bright and shiny—and has never been hurt. Adam is wary of his attention from the very beginning—Finn is dangerous to every sort of peace Adam is forging, and Adam may just be too damaged to let him in at all.

But Finn is tenacious, and Adam’s new boss, Darrin, doesn’t take bullshit for an answer. Adam is going to have to ask himself which is harder—letting Finn in or living without him? With the holidays approaching it seems like an easy question, but Adam knows from experience that life is seldom simple, and the world seldom cooperates with hope, faith, or the plans of cats and men.



Adam is having a rough life. His mother and grandmother treated him like pond scum growing up, so he joined the military to prove he was “worthy”. He fell in love with one of his fellow soldiers, only to be left high and dry when his lover didn’t want to come out of the closet. He returned to the states to go back to school, but lost his grant when his car died and he could no longer attend classes. With his last gasp, he heads up to his cousin’s apartment for 6 months of free rent to try to get his life in order.

With what feels like divine intervention, Adam stumbles into Candy Heaven following the Help Wanted sign and is immediately set to work. His boss also plays the role of his fairy godfather and matchmaker by hooking him up with Finn, the sandwich delivery guy.

Finn is young, idealistic, freshly single, and unstoppable. He sees the darkness in Adam and knows he can bring in the light. By pairing his cheery disposition with offerings of free food, he slowly breaks through the walls surrounding Adam’s heart.

Adam, who fully believes he isn’t worthy of someone like Finn, does what he can to stave off the romance, but when he really needs help, Finn is there and it’s Finn who helps him see that he does have value and most importantly – hope.

This is one of Amy’s relatively “low angst” stories. Of course she will make you cry (for me it was at least twice because I had a white Boxer and a cat named Jake!) but most of the story is full of “awwww”. I was reminded of her story Christmas Kitsch in that Oliver – little Oliver – was the force of nature – blowing in and taking charge. In The Candy Man – that’s Finn. He won’t take no for an answer and he’s fearless.

I also really enjoyed the secondary characters and I really hope Joni gets her girl one day and that we get to read more about Rico’s romance. (Fingers crossed!). The vaguely paranormal part of the story left me with a new respect for Pixie Stix, as well!

Amy can describe a scene so thoroughly that I could picture Adam’s drawings, Finn’s hair, Gonzo’s fight against the medicine – everything. Adam’s sketch book journal was a particularly wonderful vehicle for showing both us and Finn the inside workings of his brain and past and I thought it was a tremendously clever tool.

I am thankful for this sweet story with little angst she has given us to brighten up our holiday season.

I give it 5 of 5 hearts