Holiday House Swap (Crabbypatty’s Review)

Title: Holiday House Swap
Author: Sarah Madison
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: December 21, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 200
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5
Blurb:

Reclusive writer Noah Kinley is facing a dilemma: how to confess to the world he’s really the author of a best-selling romance series. For years, his friend Julie has been the face of his brand, but she wants her life back now. Fast running out of ideas for his popular series, Noah wants to break out into other genres. Not that he’s writing much of anything at the moment anyway, thanks to paralyzing writer’s block. With his publisher breathing down his neck for the next installment, he hopes a change of scene will get his writer’s juices flowing again. Desperate enough to try anything, during the holidays Noah swaps his isolated cabin in the woods for a gentrified horse farm.

USAF Major Connor Harrison has chosen forced retirement over facing charges for an unauthorized mission to rescue a buddy from behind enemy lines. No one expects him home for the holidays, and he certainly didn’t anticipate finding a stranger in his house, much less Noah Kinley with his acid tongue and a wry sense of humor that pierces all of Connor’s defenses.

Both men need to figure out what the next chapter in their lives will be—and whether it will include each other.

“Holiday House Swap” starts out with a “meet cute” between the two MCs … well, if you count desert camo-clad Connor (and his 9mm) surprising Noah in a bubble bath as he belts out “The Twelve Days of Christmas” whilst partaking of a cheese plate with a nice merlot. Turns out Connor is unaware his brother swapped out his palatial estate for 3 weeks over the holidays to Noah, a reclusive writer with a deadline, a secret and a bad case of writer’s block. Connor also struggles with his abrupt retirement from the Air Force and wonders how he will maintain the estate / horse farm he inherited from his father.

While I like the premise of this story, I have some issues as well. For a 200 page book, “Holiday House Swap” is packed with a ton of plot …

Spoiler
Noah struggles with “coming out” as the author of a popular romance/mystery series and changing genres to sci-fi, his family is unaware of Noah’s career because he knows they would look down on his profession (which is what his former fiance did), will Connor be able to maintain the horse farm as a viable business or will he sell to a shady real estate developer, and how does Rafe (Connor’s former military buddy with an robotic arm) and his job with a riding program for troubled kids figure into this mix? Not to mention Noah’s surrogate for his romance/mystery personae being outed by another writer, a horse-crazed niece, a potential movie deal, AND a big holiday party Noah threw together at the last minute and is cooking and baking for days to prepare for …
… whew! I felt the pace of the book suffered with so many elements to incorporate into the story. There is sexual sizzle between the two men (and I love Connor’s tip to Noah about learning to ride)

It’s a more subtle movement. Like rocking your pelvis forward and up out of the saddle at the same time. If you were a student, I’d say think of belly dancing. But seriously, roll your hips like you’re fucking.”

but because we get Noah’s POV throughout, there is little insight into Connor, who plays everything very close to the vest.

I gave this book 3.25 stars, liking the plot overall and the ending (which ties up a huge amount of issues and gives Noah and Connor a good start on a HEA), but felt the pacing a tad slow and chemistry a bit flat.

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of Holiday House Swap provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.

Author

Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.  Frederick Douglas

I distinctly remember that day in school when, all of a sudden, those squiggles on the page made sense and I could read. It has changed my life in ways I still cannot comprehend.

My favorite M/M tropes are friends-to-lovers, murder/mysteries, amnesia, hurt/healing and historicals. Shifters, vampires, paranormal? Meh … not in my wheelhouse, but I’m a sucker for a well-written well-plotted book, no matter the genre.

Favorite authors includes Brandon Witt, Rick R. Reed, Abigail Roux, Jay Northcote, JL Merrow, KJ Charles, Lane Hayes, Marshall Thornton and so many more.

A few “badges” from NetGalley:
100 Book Reviews Reviews Published Professional Reader

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