X’mas Heart – Murakami Maki
Naoki has a dark past and keeps to his friendship with Ryousuke. But when Ryousuke confesses to him everything changes, as Naoki tries to distance himself from Ryousuke. However Ryousuke doesn’t let up easily…
Find the light, Naoki!
Love Around the Corner – Sally Malcolm
Real life enemies, online lovers. Two lonely men, destined for each other–if only they knew it.
Real life enemies.
Alfie Carter grew up in New Milton, caring for his sick father and keeping their auto repair shop on its feet. He’s touchy about his poor education and doesn’t take kindly to snide remarks from the town’s prickly bookstore owner—no matter how cute he looks in his skinny jeans. Leo Novak’s new life as owner of Bayside Books is floundering. And he could do without the town’s gorgeous, moody mechanic holding a grudge against him after an unfortunate—and totally not his fault— encounter last Christmas.
Left to run the family business alone, Alfie spends his lonely evenings indulging his secret passion for classic fiction and chatting online with witty, romantic ‘LLB’ as they fall in love over literature. Leo’s still reeling from a bad breakup and struggling to make friends in New Milton, so seeks comfort instead in his blossoming online romance with thoughtful, bookish ‘Camaro89’.
But as the holidays approach, ‘LLB’ and ‘Camaro89’ are planning to meet, and realities are about to collide…
Two lonely men, destined for each other—if only they knew it.
What a delightful little story!
Love Around the Corner is the perfect Christmas story for book lovers everywhere. It is an updated version of You Got Mail in which two shop owners don’t get along in real life but connect closely online. While I didn’t enjoy the rom-com because Meg Ryan was forever doing the same character in all her movies and Tom Hanks was not my type, Alfie and Leo charmed me with their online bond and mutual love of Jane Austen, an author I’m trying to get.
I have tried reading Emma twice but I couldn’t move past the mind-numbingly dull conversations but I guess that’s the whole point, it being a commentary on people. I also want to read Pride and Prejudice to see what the fuss is all about with this Darcy fellow. Alfie and Leo understood the whole dissection of human nature thing that Austen is so adept at. Their enthusiasm for classic literature was so contagious I was inspired to read some. I was even pleasantly surprised to learn that Maurice, a book I dismissed as the usual bury your gay classic, has a happy ending! Definitely reading that.
This is another book set in New Milton, this time, in winter. The story is typical of romantic comedies. But even if we know what to expect, Sally Malcolm was able to keep things interesting. She had me hard rooting for both men. Alfie, the moody mechanic, is not really moody. He is actually such a sweetheart. He finds reading challenging but he worked around it by listening to audiobooks. Leo was the exasperating one and I thought Dee should have egged him harder to tell the truth. Heck, Dee should have gone ahead and told Alfie, spare everyone the drama. But since Leo was cute as a button and he was genuinely hurting, I didn’t feel too inclined to be annoyed. Also his love letter to Alfie was so worth it!
If you are up for something warm and fuzzy, Love Around the Corner is for you. That it is about bookworms is an extra treat. Author Sally Malcolm started writing MM in 2016 and she’s an exciting new voice in the scene. I totally loved her New Milton books! I liked how her books are a winning combination of fluff and humor with a side of angst. I recommend this to those who love stories about enemies-to-lovers, second chances and getting into that Christmas spirit.
Review of Sally Malcolm’s book, Between the Lines here.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
“I CANNOT FIX THE HOUR, OR THE SPOT, OR THE LOOK OR THE WORDS, WHICH LAID FOUNDATION. IT IS TOO LONG AGO. I WAS IN THE MIDDLE BEFORE I KNEW I HAD BEGUN.”