Release Blitz ~ A Gift-Wrapped Holiday by Amy Aislin (Reviews + Excerpt + Giveaway)

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: A Gift-Wrapped Holiday

Author and Publisher: Amy Aislin

Cover Artist: LC Chase

Release Date: November 22, 2022

Genre: Contemporary M/M romance

Tropes: single dad, age gap (10 years), small town, found family

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length: 69 000 words / 272 pages

It is a standalone story and does not end on a cliffhanger.

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Buy Links

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Blurb

Mal’s first priority is giving his six-year-old son the best Christmas ever, a goal made trickier by a recent move to New England after losing his job. As a single dad, he’s not looking for romance—especially not with a blond California boy ten years his junior.

After being ridiculed at the family business, Luca sets out to prove himself by opening an eco-friendly gift-wrapping store in a small town with a hard-on for Christmas that’s about as far from LA as he can get. Out of his comfort zone in snowy Maine, love is the last thing on his mind.

But the magic of the season has other ideas. As Mal and Luca collide on wintery streets, will they let their first Christmas in Lighthouse Bay lead to happily ever after?

Content warning: stillbirth. Although it took place off-page and in the past, it is discussed on-page.

Excerpt

Mal slowed at the bottom of a driveway and nodded at the house. “This is me.”

“I was wondering who lived here,” Luca said, taking in the house’s boxy structure.

“Why? Because it’s hideous?”

That startled a laugh out of Luca. “Well . . . yes. It doesn’t match the rest of the houses.” The area just west of Christmas Lane housed Lighthouse Bay’s historic homes, but this modern construction was decidedly not historic. Luca had passed it a couple of times on his evening gift deliveries and wondered what the owner had been thinking. “Why’d you buy it if you don’t like it?”

“I’m not. I’m leasing.”

Even so, Mal had gone all out with the decorations. Icicle lights hanging from the roof, flashing multicolored lights framed around each window, static white lights around a nine-foot-tall pine tree, and a lit-up reindeer family. He even had some sort of spotlights buried somewhere in the yard that swirled red and green snowflakes on the house in an unidentifiable pattern.

“Which is probably another reason I haven’t unpacked,” Mal continued. “I hate this place.”

“Why lease it, then?”

Mal blew out a breath that ghosted the air in front of him. “The short version is that I was in a rush.”

“And the long version?”

“The long version is something I’ll have to give you another time.”

Luca glanced at Otis. “I think he’s asleep.”

“Bet he gets a second wind as soon as I walk in the door.” Mal’s voice was a disgruntled grumble that Luca shouldn’t have found as charming as he did. “Thanks for walking us home.”

“Thanks for letting me. I like talking to you.”

Mal’s smile went lopsided. “I like talking to you too. Still want to do it again sometime? I promise not to feed you ice cream while it’s below freezing outside. Real food only. Scout’s honor.”

Luca’s armpits went damp despite the winter weather, and butterflies took flight in his belly. He dug his toe into the sidewalk. “You must really want to date me if you’ve asked me out twice in one week.”

“Or I just want an adult to talk to for once,” Mal said, a teasing tilt to his smile.

Luca stuck his tongue in his cheek and backed down the driveway, keeping his gaze on Mal’s. “Or maybe you like me.”

“Damn. And here I thought I wasn’t being obvious at all.”

The butterflies floated into Luca’s throat. “Text me?”

“I will.” The darkness enveloped Mal as he moved away from the sidewalk and into the shadow of the house, but Luca could still see the quirk to his lips. “Good night, Luca.”

“Night, Mal.”

Luca watched Mal and Otis head inside, waved at Mal through the glass-fronted door, then turned toward his own home only a couple blocks away, an extra bounce to his steps.

 

~ * ~ Kathys Review ~ * ~

5 STARS
This book was sweetly perfect. I truly enjoyed this holiday story of new connections that had me alternating between smiling and sighing. The story started a little slow initially, but it caught my interest, and I couldn’t put it down.
Mal creates websites and has a business he partners with his sister. Mal initially came across as too focused and scheduled, but as the pages flew by, I really warmed up to him. He is divorced and has a good relationship with his ex. I loved how they worked together raising their adorable six-year-old son Otis. The little boy is a bright bundle of energy and curiosity. These traits lead him to shop owner Luca.
Luca is a Californian who has relocated to Maine to set up his wrapping paper business and get away from his uncaring family. His familial dynamics really are pathetic, and Luca needs to make his own way in life.
Luca, while working, meets Mal, thanks to the adorable Otis. Mal can’t get the blond-haired man out of his brain, and when they start to date, it seems as if they have been together for years.
This story was a delight, pure and simple. A painful past was handled with honesty and communication. This was such a mature and caring relationship, and I adored the blended family the MCs created. A perfect confection to enjoy for the holidays that I strongly recommend. Happy reading.

* *Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure. A review wasn’t a requirement * *

 

~ * ~ Jos Review ~ * ~

5 Stars

What do you want from a Christmas novella? Well, for me, I want small-town charm; likable characters that you care about; a little angst but nothing heavy; sweet, at times funny, and a warm HEA feeling at the end. This is absolutely what you get from this story. Luca is striking out on his own after his family has ignored all his attempts to bring environmentally friendly ideas to the family business. He’s moved from California to snowy Maine. He’s not looking for a relationship, but the arrival of a cute kid to his shop and his distraught father a few minutes later is the start of something fun and sweet, with just the right sprinkling of sexy. Mal is still dealing with his divorce, but sometimes someone sparks something when you aren’t expecting it. Do you walk away just because you think the timing is wrong? Technically this is part of a series, but I didn’t realise that, and it certainly didn’t impact my enjoyment.

A great feel-good story. The timing for this novella works perfectly, and it doesn’t feel rushed. The characters’ interactions felt natural, and I could believe the love that developed. I’m really hoping Donovan, Lucas’s brother, gets a story. He’s definitely set up for a redemption plot.

This is a definite recommendation for all lovers of Christmas stories. It’s just what you need for a cold, dark afternoon snuggled on the sofa.

***Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure. A review wasn’t a requirement.***

 

~ * ~ Annies Review ~ * ~

4+ Stars

I’ve read and enjoyed other books in this holiday-centric series and A Gift-Wrapped Holiday is another sweetly satisfying read. Sometimes I just want an easy romance with minimal angst between characters or even in the background and this was just that.

Mal and Luca were likable, warm characters that matched up well. I loved their backgrounds and how involved Mal’s son is in the story. The family involvement combined with the light, fun scenes definitely lent that cozy and sometimes playful feeling to this holiday romance.

Luca and Mal had that immediate connection with this earnest feeling to it. I never had any doubt in these two and the low angst meant I was able to sit back and enjoy the scenes and holiday feels.

If you like good characters with a straightforward romance, A Gift-Wrapped Holiday is for you.

***Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure. A review wasn’t a requirement.***

 

About the Author

Amy’s lived with her head in the clouds since she first picked up a book as a child, and being fluent in two languages means she’s read a lot of books! She first picked up a pen on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class had to stay inside for recess. Tales of treasure hunts with her classmates eventually morphed into love stories between men, and she’s been writing ever since. She writes evenings and weekends—or whenever she isn’t at her full-time day job saving the planet at Canada’s largest environmental non-profit.

An unapologetic introvert, Amy reads too much and socializes too little, with no regrets. She loves connecting with readers. Join her Facebook Group to stay up-to-date on upcoming releases and for access to early teasers, find her on Instagram, or sign up for her infrequent newsletter.

 

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Giveaway

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