Book Review – Love in Hollyridge by Elle Keaton

Publisher: Dirty Dog Press
Pages: 335
Characters: Brett/Rory, Zach/Jeff, Wyatt/Bennett, Skylar/Wallace, Davey/Milo
POV: 3rd
Genre: Boxset, Contemporary, Series

Blurb:
Love Limited Edition

Will a goofy Labrador, bookish magic and a little assistance from friends, help two men realize their chance at happiness?

Brett Tanner never thought he’d love again, it was too much to ask, or want. Then Rory stumbles into Brett’s bookstore one evening, awakening his heart.

Rory is struggling to find his place in the world. He’d thought moving to the big city was what he needed, but just maybe, home is where his heart is?

Originally published in the anthology, Between the Covers.

Love Vintage Blend
One man is rebuilding his life; the other is trying to keep his from falling apart.

Zach is struggling to keep his boutique winery afloat and the summer intern is one more body which will help that happen.

One look at Jeff, and Zach knew it was going to be a long, hard summer.

Love Finds a Home
Wyatt loves Bennett.

Bennett believes he is unlovable.

One of them is wrong.

Love From a Stone
Skylar Jones has arrived in Hollyridge.

Wallace has never hidden his sexuality but as an older, gay, man in a small town, he’s well aware of the haters.

Sky is who he is, with no shame. If people don’t appreciate that he’s fabulous they can look the other way. Sky does, however, have a weakness for grouchy old bears and ugly dogs.

Love Comes Home: bonus holiday novella.
Elvis has left the building. Again.

Rockstar Milo Zajac is back in Hollyridge, hoping to figure out what to do next. Impulsively he bought an old house that needs a lot of work, and he’s living there with his husky, Elvis, a master escape artist.

When a young husky dog shows up on Davey Childs’s ranch, he takes it to the vet, only to discover the irresponsible owner is the grown-up version of the boy he had a crush on in high school.

It figures that the eighteen-year-old who blew him off has grown into a man who lets his dog run wild.

But…it’s the holiday season, magic happens. Maybe the two lonely men will find their way back to each other. Maybe the right time is now, not ten years ago.

Love in Hollyridge is five interconnected novellas. It’s dual POV, and features age-gap, finding home, loving again, love in the holidays, match making dogs, supportive friends, friends to lovers, instalove, fabulousness, gender fluid character, gay awakening, sleigh rides, hot cider, true love.

Buy Link

Review

I love this sweet contemporary romance series, so it’s great to be able to get it collected in a box set, with a bonus extra story. I hope this doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of Hollyridge as I’d love to read more set there.

As I’ve already read and reviewed the first four stories in the series, I’m sharing my reviews as part of the box set, as well as my review for the new story.

Each story is a solid 5 out of 5 stars.

Love Limited Edition
I love small town romances, and the atmosphere in this story hit all the right spots. The descriptions are fabulous, and I especially loved the bookshop and the wine tasting bar. Lazy Dog Books is a perfect name for a bookshop as it invokes everything a friendly small town bookshop should be. I also loved Lucille, the dog that inspired the name.

The characters drew me into the story immediately, and I was invested in Brett and Rory both as a couple who are interested in each other at first sight, and as individuals. I really liked the family vibe of this story, and how although it’s Brett and Rory’s story, it’s very much about them reconnecting with their families too. The epilogue made me happy, especially the scene that gives the story its title.

The supporting cast come across as very real, and have quirky personalities of their own. I especially liked Jaime and Dag, and Skylar is wonderfully colourful. Audrey grew on me as the story progressed, as did Jeff, who I hope gets his own HEA.

I loved this cute feel-good story about love, bookshops, and a dog who is a character in her own right.

Love Vintage Blend
I loved this sweet short read about two men who complement each other, and fit perfectly. And a dog! Jura plays a very important part in this story, and is definitely a character in his own right. The title is very clever in the way it ties into the plot.

I’m very happy that Jeff, whom I met in the first book in the series, got his own story. His parents are horrible with their reaction to him finding the courage to come out and admit his sexuality to them. I love how he and Zach hit it off immediately, and want each other, yet Jeff really is terrible at winemaking. I liked the resolution to that, and how it worked out in the end, and although I guessed what would happen, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story.

Zach is a nice guy too, and his ex is a nasty piece of work. I was very happy that said ex got what was coming to him. From his first appearance in the story, it was obvious that Zach would be better off without him. Go Jura!

I liked seeing the other characters from the first book again too, and the banter, family feel of the scenes they’re in. The ending of this story was perfect, not just in catching up with Jeff and Zach months later, but in with the part resolution with family members too. I hope we see more of those newly introduced characters in another story.

I also enjoyed the descriptions of the vineyard and wider Hollyridge. It felt very real and like a place I’d like to visit.

Love Finds a Home
I’m very much enjoying this sweet contemporary series, and I loved going back to Hollyridge for another story. I loved Wyatt immediately, and hoped he’d be able to work through Bennett’s reluctance to enter into a relationship. Wicket totally stole the story from the moment he showed up, left at the side of the road in a box.

Despite Wyatt’s life, and worry for his mother and her hospital bills, I loved how he always manages to find the good in life. He’s also a very strong personality and doesn’t hesitate to step in and protect those he cares about. The scene where he and Bennett go to dinner with Bennett’s family was fabulous. Go Wyatt! Poor Bennett. I’m not surprised he’s got a few issues with the way his family has treated him, and I really felt for him convinced that Wyatt would leave him.

I liked the introduction of his brother, Elliot, and I hope I was reading the hints right that he might get a book of his own.

I thought Wyatt’s mother was a wonderful character, and I liked how her relationship with Wyatt was in stark contrast to Bennett and his parents. Very sneaky of Wyatt in regard to Wicket, and definitely the way through to Bennett’s heart!

One of the reasons I love series is the opportunity to catch up with old friends. I loved seeing familiar characters from other Hollyridge books, and getting glimpses of their lives together a bit further on. Jaime is wonderful, especially with the way she’s managed to nudge most of the couples together. I particularly enjoyed seeing Zach, Jeff, and Jura again.

The ending was a perfect HEA. I love how each book in this series is a wonderful heartfelt story that totally hits my low angst reading spot.

Love From a Stone
I’m already a huge fan of this author, and series. Wallace and Skylar’s story is a wonderful feel good, small town, opposites attract about two men who are perfect for each other. I also loved catching up with the characters from previous books, and seeing how these two fit into the growing cast of Hollyridge.

As well as the romance between the two men, there’s a fun subplot of their two dogs finding their new best friend. I enjoyed how much in denial Wallace is, yet how his action totally belie it, despite how much he tries to convince himself that no, he’s not falling for Skylar. Skylar is wonderfully fabulous, yet has good reason to be cautious about trusting. I loved the scenes where Skylar’s mother and Wallace’s ex turn up. Very satisfying!

Love Comes Home
This bonus story is a wonderful feel-good Christmas story about second chance love. There’s definitely something magical about Hollyridge, and its strength of community and friendship comes across very clearly.

I enjoyed reading about Milo and Davey’s reconnecting, and the spark that still exists between them. Milo needing a break from his band, and being burnt out is realistic. As with the other stories in this series, the dog steals every scene he’s in. Elvis has lots of personality and he does his part in bringing Milo and Davey together. Pancakes and mistletoe for the win.

Christmas and Hollyridge go so well together, and I especially loved catching up with the characters from previous stories all interacting together. Even all the dogs have formed their found family.

The epilogue is the perfect HEA for this sweet story.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at https://annebarwell.wordpress.com
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