Friday, December 9, 2016

[Review]: "Wrapped Together"

romance novel cover, M/M romance, holiday romance, Wrapped Together by Annabeth Albert
Wrapped Together by Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Lyrical Shine (December 6, 2016)
Series: Portland Heat, 5
Genre: M/M Romance -- Contemporary

In the bustling restaurants, shops, and caf├ęs of Portland, Oregon, things really heat up for the hard-working men behind the scenes when the holidays come into town . . .

For a stationery store owner, the holidays are great for business. But for Hollis Alcott, Christmas reminds him of the tragic events of three years past, and the last thing he wants to do is take part in Portland’s over-abundance of festive cheer. But Sawyer Murphy, a hunky gift shop owner whose brother is married to Hollis’s sister, has made it his mission to pluck Hollis out of his holiday blues. And his plan is beginning to work. Wrapped in the warm glow of newfound passion, the former business rivals hit up Portland’s finest holiday traditions—and Hollis’s icy attitude begins to melt like snowflakes on his tongue. But he isn’t sure he can trust anyone with the only gift he has—his heart—without breaking it like an antique ornament. Unless he can find the courage to take a leap with the one lover he never expected . . . 

Where to Buy*:
More Info:

Reviews of Albert's Previous Novels:

Status Update (#1) -- TBQ
Beta Test (#2) -- TBQ
Connection Error (#3) -- TBQ

Treble Maker (#1) -- TBQ

My Review:

Hollis and Sawyer pretty much grew up together. In fact, a few years ago Hollis’s twin sister married Sawyer’s twin brother. Hollis has always been the quiet, stoic introvert while Sawyer is the loud extrovert who jumps from hobby to hobby and crush to crush. Hollis has always envied him for that confidence . . . but has that envy actually been about something more?

Since Hollis’s parents recently passed away, he’s withdrawn even more. He blames himself for their deaths, and the memories are extra strong around the holidays. He just wants to be left alone. But Sawyer comes up with a bet to turn Hollis into a Christmas person. Before long Hollis sees that Sawyer is not going to give up on this bet – but what is he hoping to gain from it? They can’t resist temptation, and before long a stolen kiss turns into so much more.

But mutual desire and great chemistry isn’t enough. Hollis is sure that Sawyer will soon tire of him like he has every man, and that would hurt Hollis, losing him not only the man he loves but the man he’s called a friend for years. Sawyer is determined to prove to Hollis that this is not a passing holiday fling.

First of all, the chemistry between these two.

I leaned into his hands and did the least sensible thing I could--I kissed him, pouring all my mixed-up grief into the most mixed-up action I could think of.

It was raw, not sweet like at the zoo or controlled like in the kitchen. This was the sort of messy passion I always shied away from.

"Oh fuck yes," Sawyer groaned, coming half across the gearshift, pressing me back against the passenger door, tongue thrusting in my mouth in an unmistakable rhythm.


His hands pushed my coat open, pulling my shirt free of my pants at the same time. His questing hand against my bare stomach made me hiss. His touch was warm now, and our breath had fogged up the windows.

"God, you make me crazy." Sawyer's mouth found my neck, a sport most lovers were content to ignore but Sawyer explored to its fullest.

I moaned and gasped, little needy sounds I couldn't seem to hold back. His hand was rubbing me through my pants now. I had never, not once, climaxed in my pants, but Sawyer presented the very real possibility of that happening.

"Not yet. Not. Yet." I started to pant, my body tensing. Just saying the words ratcheted my pleasure higher. "Can't."

"So responsive." Sawyer licked where my neck and shoulder joined. "Like this, do you?"

"Don't stop."

Spoiler alert: He doesn't. *shivers*

Oh. My. God. Their first scene together, a make-out-jerk-off quickie in the car, was only a few pages and yet packed such a deliciously potent punch. And the rest of their scenes were just as fantastically done. My Kindle may still be smoking.

Seriously, half of the quotes I shared on Twitter are from sex scenes. And I'm 100% okay with this.

Also of note: I learned not to read this one in public. Because . . . reasons. >.>

"Hols? Do you need me to say the words? Tell you to wait to come? Is that what gets you off, babe?"

There is some light BDSM in here, as the two discover ropes and Hollis’s kink for being denied his orgasm. It’s a bit of a departure from Albert’s previous scenes, but I wasn’t complaining. Quite the opposite, really. ;) And more importantly it’s handled so well and fits these two men perfectly.

There’s a bit of light angst as these two work things out for their HEA. It’s a novella, with about 120 pages or so, but oddly it felt longer – and I mean that in a good way! It’s not that it was dragging; rather, I kept thinking “Yay, it’s not over yet, still X% more to go…”. Does that even make sense? I don’t know how to explain it. Some short reads FEEL like it, while the rare ones feel like they’re never ending. (Or is this just me…?)

I’m not sure if it was my mood when I first started it (highly possible – the stress lately is REAL) or the book itself, but it did take me a few chapters to really get fully invested in the story and guys. Once I did, I was hooked until the end.

"We're friends now."

"We are?" He smiled broadly at this, like I'd handed him some sort of present. "Then see, we can be the sort of friends who bang for the holidays. No worries."

"Sawyer." I groaned. "Is this part of the holiday cheer package? Use sex to win your bet?"

"Would it work?" He peered intently at me. "Because it could be."

"No." I pushed at his shoulder. "You might be good in bed--"

"Thank you."

"--But you're not getting me singing carols just because you have a magic cock."

"You haven't even seen half of what I can do." His pride was almost adorable.

Overall, a deliciously hot read with a good dose of sweet and charming as two friends fall in love over the holidays. I cannot wait for the next book: one of the heroes is genderfluid. 

4 1/2 STARS! 

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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.

*Note: The quotes used belong to Annabeth Albert; TBQ's Book Palace does not claim them. Any mistakes or typos in the quotes are my own fault.

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Highly recommend!

Want more quotes? Check my Twitter!

Remember, since this is a Royal Pick, come back on December 29th for a chance to WIN an ecopy of your own!


Until Next Time,


  *TBQ's Book Palace is a member of both the Amazon and Barnes and Nobles affiliates program. By using the links provided to buy products from either website, I receive a very small percentage of the order. To read my full disclosure on the matter, please see this post!

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