Tangled In Tinsel by Ellen Mint

@Archaeolibrary, @debbiereadsbook, @introvertedwife,

#Seasonal, #Contemporary, #MM, #Romance,

Dear Santa, please leave a red-headed lumberjack under the tree. I’ve been a very good boy.

Dean Hancock does not have time for the gorgeous, red-haired, cowboy lumberjack that nearly shattered his windshield with a Christmas tree. He’s on the hunt for a long-lost cradle carved by the artistic genius Gustav Gilt. After being lost for a hundred years, the antique appears five days before Christmas in the tiny town of Tinsel.

God has a wicked sense of humor.

On the verge of an academic and financial breakthrough, he doesn’t have time to ‘get friendly’ with the local cowboy Levi Bruce. If he hasn’t authenticated the manger in the middle of the town square before Christmas Eve, he’ll lose his antique shop and any dreams he had to find a real Gilt. But it won’t stop Dean fantasizing about his lumberjack riding in on a white horse and lassoing him just right.

Levi Bruce spends his days waking before dawn, tending his tree farm, going to bed after dark, and starting the cycle all over again. It’s a long, lonely life, but with his dog Harry at his side, he thought it was enough. Then that handsome, charming man from the city had to stroll in and upend everything. The wolves are at the door, a big company threatening to take his family farm out from under him. The last thing Levi needs is distracting dreams of kissing the delectable man under the mistletoe.

Will these two fools open their hearts by the fire of the farmhouse’s hearth? Or will the promise of millions, a family secret, and an eccentric artist’s masterpiece rip them apart forever?

Tangled in Tinsel was created in part thanks to my wonderful readers who voted on what they wanted to see in a Christmas romance. This gay, Hallmark-influenced romance is a heart-warming, hilarious, steamy mug of Christmas cocoa.

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A cheerful trill of birds punctured through Dean’s bottomless sleep. He tried to roll over, but a massive weight sat on his chest.


His eyes snapped open, and he came face to face with a black snout spewing smoke from its cavernous nostrils. Pressure pinned both his hands to his sides and the whole bed began to rock. Swallowing through the seventy pounds perched on his body, he stared past the long nose and sharp, drooling teeth to the eyes staring him down.

“Hel…” Dean tried to shout only for this morning monster to shift.

A tongue, slimier than a subway pole, slapped across his cheek. Dean shifted, wishing he could wiggle out of the trap, but there was nothing to be done. He was fully pinned under the intense stare of a strange dog. How’d a dog even get in here? Where is here?

“Har? Where are you?”

The last day metaphorically slapped him across the face, causing Dean to sink deeper into the guest bed. Harry collapsed his full two hundred pounds onto Dean, rolling away the last breath of air he had left. It came out a pathetic wheeze, which was when the hot cowboy prowling the halls caught the open bedroom door.

Levi pushed on the door and called out softly, “Harry, are you…?”

At the voice of his owner, loyal Harry stood bolt upright, managing to dig his paws into both Dean’s arms and legs. Then the tail began to wag, the force so powerful it knocked the bed back and forth.

Dean swiveled his head over and—in the least pathetic voice he could manage—called out, “Please help me.”

“Har, get down!” Levi shouted. He at least had enough decency to not outright laugh as he ran over and wrestled to grab Harry’s collar. Still, the dog dove down, giving another lick across Dean’s face before Levi could pull him off.

“I’m sorry, he’s never…I swear he’s never done that before,” Levi insisted while pushing Harry out the door. “Get yer butt downstairs, Mister. You’re in big trouble. That is not how we treat guests.”

Once blood flow returned to his limbs, Dean tumbled from the bed. A mass of brown and white fur covered the whole of the front of his t-shirt. Absently, he tried to wipe it off. “Guessing he’s not a fan of you having guests.”

“I’d say it’s more that he like…” Levi said turning to face Dean half bent over picking the wads of fur off one by one.

The silence fell unnoticed as he worked off the hair. When Dean finally glanced up, it was into curious hazel eyes.

In a second, Levi’s whole face turned as red as his hair. “Yer in your…uh—”

Oh shit. Dean was only in his comfiest, ergo, rattiest pair of boxers. He tried to sweep a hand over the front nonchalantly, finding his usual state of morning wood deciding now would be a great time to increase. “Sorry, I…”

“No, no, it’s my fault.” Levi fully spun around to face the doorway, his clothed shoulders knotted up. “I shouldn’t have come in.”

Dean yanked the blanket off the bed and wrapped it around his waist to make a quilted skirt. “Then your dog would have crushed or licked me to death.”

A little shake crossed Levi’s shoulders as if he was struggling to keep in a laugh. “I doubt he could’ve crushed you. The licking, however… He seems to like you.”

“Well, I have no quarrel with him,” Dean insisted loudly before whispering to himself, “Though if anyone must be licking me I’d prefer it not come from the one with fleas.”

A slow choke of surprise stopped him dead in his tracks. Levi kept facing the other way while slowly walking for the door. “I’ll let you get…I’ve got breakfast on downstairs. If you’re hungry. I mean.”

“I’ll…” Dean moved to rub his cheek to test the level of stubble, only to smack into a glob of dog drool. “I need to get washed up. This is the first time I’ve let anyone see me before eight a.m. in…forever.”

He paused in reading the carriage clock on the dresser from the heat of eyes on him. Swiveling over his shoulder, Dean caught the side of Levi’s face as he said softly, his voice sliding into a robust baritone, “Dunno why. You look good.”

He imagined that. Dean spun around in shock, the quilt skirt dramatically flailing out, but Levi’s attention was grabbed by Harry’s distant barking. “Coming!” he shouted. “He needs his breakfast soon. Meet you downstairs.”

All Dean could do was nod while clinging to the skirt. But he did get to stare a long time at Levi’s backside with denim damn near suctioned on. Thank god the blanket was double quilted to hide his shame.

4 out of 5 (very good)

Independent Reviewer for Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

Taken straight from the blurb, this best describes this book! This gay, Hallmark-influenced romance is a heart-warming, hilarious, steamy mug of Christmas cocoa.

And it really is a wonderful read! I have a lot of holiday stories in my review list this year and this is the most fun read, I think, of the lot.

Dean is chasing that elusive find, the one that would save his business and make his name in the antiques world. Finding it is Tinsel, and meeting Levi again, was fate. Then the snow comes, Dean's nemesis also arrives and Dean is faced with making the decision of his life.

There follows an hilarious tale of two men falling in love, over a cradle; a lot of interruptions to their moments and a horse ride from hell and I really can't go into too much more, save for spoilers!

But it really is a wonderful read. And I loved the connection that Levi had to the cradle, and just what else Levi has to give to Dean.

The letter though, made me cry!

Oh, and the epilogue did too!

I can't see that I've read anything else by this author, and I think I need to correct that, right quick (just as soon as my review list lets me!)

4 wonderful stars

** same worded review will appear elsewhere **

* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *

Ellen Mint adores the adorkable heroes who charm with their shy smiles and heroines that pack a punch. She has a needy black lab named after Granny Weatherwax from Discworld. Sadly, her dog is more of a Magrat.

When she’s not writing imposing incubi or saucy aliens, she does silly things like make a tiny library full of her books. Her background is in genetics and she married a food scientist so the two of them nerd out over things like gut bacteria. She also loves gaming, particularly some of the bigger RPG titles. If you want to get her talking for hours, just bring up Dragon Age.

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