Review: Candy Hearts – Erin McLellan

Review: Candy Hearts – Erin McLellanCandy Hearts
by Erin McLellan
Series: So Over the Holidays #2
Also in this series: Bottle Rocket, Party Favors
Publisher: Erin McLellan
Publication Date: February 3, 2020
Genres: Romance
Pages: 209
Source: Publisher

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Mechanic Benji Holiday is so over Valentine’s Day and men who don’t get him. A weekend getaway with friends to escape the holiday hubbub is exactly what he needs. But William O’Dare—a stern and silent nightclub owner with “Be My Valentine” practically stamped on his forehead—throws a wrench into Benji’s plans.

William has spent years focused on his career, and it has cost him friendships and love. Inexperienced in the business of romance, he’s on the hunt for the perfect partner, and he’s armed with specific criteria to guide him. But William didn’t expect a hunky mechanic wrapped in satin and lace to show up on his doorstep.

Unable to resist their attraction, Benji and William agree to be secret fake valentines for the weekend, but secrets have a way of getting out. William gets struck by Cupid’s arrow, and as the weekend winds down, he doesn’t want fake or secret. He wants Benji to be his valentine for real and for keeps.

Candy Hearts is a male/male Valentine’s Day novella featuring a house party power outage, meddling friends and siblings, naughty lingerie and naughtier toys, homemade Valentine's Day cards, and a happily ever after.


4 stars icon contemporary icon categories_m_m romance icon

I absolutely adored the first book in this series, Stocker Stuffers, so I was so excited to see the next book would be Valentine’s Day themed. Like the first, this is a mix of absolute hilarity, kinky sex, and all the feels. It’s also got a bit of the fake relationship trope plus the grumpy/sunshine thing I adore.

“Benji was over it. Over the dating scene. Over unsatisfying sex. Over the romantic-industrial complex called Valentine’s Day.
Well, actually, he wasn’t over it at all, but he was trying to be. He was trying very hard.”

William’s the older, buttoned-up type, the kind of person who’s so married to his job that he regularly sleeps at his office – and even his home office. After years spent building up his businesses, he’s had the lightbulb moment that if wants commitment from someone, he needs to devote more time to dating and less to work. He’s even come up with a checklist of his perfect date (must love NPR, nonfiction, and be successful). Benji is… well, none of those things. He’s a young, muscle-y mechanic, gregarious and full of sunshine and exactly the opposite of William – Benji thinks, when he meets him, that he “was either a still-water-runs-deep guy or boring as fuck.” They have immediate chemistry, and before long they’re using the excuse of “fake valentines” to have kinky, electricity-free no-strings sex.
“We can focus on the fun and leave the heavy stuff at the door. No room for heavy when there’s no electricity. That’s a rule I just made up.”
There’s a lot of fun kinky stuff in the book, from toys to lingerie to new sex positions that I had no idea about. I loved that a large part of Benji’s story wasn’t that he was uncomfortable with wearing sexy lingerie, but more that he felt uncomfortable being vulnerable enough to share that with a partner. Benji was too used to trying to be whatever his current boyfriend wants him to be and so he’s not quite able to be vocal about what he wants and needs.
“Need versus want. It was the difference between kindness and niceness, between acting from the heart or reacting through his insecurity.”
One of the things I really loved about this book that I think wasn’t as emphasized in the first was the wonderfully supportive (and wonderfully gay) group of friends and families. Along with the main characters (William’s pan and Benji’s gay) pretty much everyone is bi, pan or gay, and there’s absolutely no angst around it. And overall, while it’s got the traditional bleak moment (and an absolutely adorable grand gesture) it’s relatively low angst in general. There is, however, some seriously romantic soul-bearing.

Overall, this is my new favorite Valentine’s Day romance, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for some funny, kinky feels. I will definitely be looking forward to the next book in the series!

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