ARC Reviews

ARC REVIEW: Better Not Pout by Annabeth Albert


40242604Publisher: Carina Press
Release Date: November 12, 2018
Received From: NetGalley / A Novel Take PR

One hard-nosed military police officer.

One overly enthusiastic elf.

One poorly timed snowstorm.

Is it a recipe for disaster? Or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for holiday romance?

Teddy MacNally loves Christmas and everything that goes along with it. When he plays an elf for his charity’s events, he never expects to be paired with a Scrooge masquerading as Santa Claus. His new mission: make the holiday-hating soldier believe he was born to say ho-ho-ho.

Sergeant Major Nicholas Nowicki doesn’t do Santa, but he’s army to his blood. When his CO asks an unusual favor, Nick of course obliges. The elf to his Kris Kringle? Tempting. Too tempting—Nick’s only in town for another month, and Teddy’s too young, too cheerful and too nice for a one-night stand.

The slow, sexy make-out sessions while Teddy and Nick are alone and snowbound, though, feel like anything but a quick hookup. As a stress-free holiday fling turns into Christmas all year round, Teddy can’t imagine his life without Nick. And Nick’s days on the base may be coming to a close, but he doesn’t plan on leaving anything, or anyone, behind.


GENDER: cisgender
SEXUALITY: homosexual


TROPES: forced proximity, snowed in, grump x sunshine, age gap, height difference, found family
TAGS: adult, contemporary, romance, queer romance, queer characters, holiday romance, military personnel
WARNINGS: ableism, slutshaming, alcoholism mention, drowning mention, anti-fat language, slurs, gendered slurs, car accident mention


Annabeth Albert’s BETTER NOT POUT delivers the kind of fun, sweetness, and heartwarming emotion one expects from a holiday romance, and more!

This book is so cute. Like. Adorable. One of my favorite tropes is the “grumpy character falls in love with sunshine/puppy character,” and I so enjoyed reading that with these two characters! Teddy is caring and giving, living optimistically and trying so hard to be a positive presence in the life of the people around him. Meanwhile, Nick is a bit of a grump, living by a set of strict rules of responsibility he’s set for himself, drifting from place to place and never quite putting down roots. It was so fun to see these two and their personalities bump against each other while still seeming to mesh perfectly.

Another aspect I enjoyed was the sense of family–both blood and chosen! Teddy has a huge family who support each other and embrace all aspects of their family members, while Nick is estranged from his own, and the only solid family base he’s had is the Army, and they are essentially taking that away from him by making him retire. However, Nick finds a place amongst the MacNally family and the town of Mineral Springs, and they take him in as one of their own, even outside of his relationship to Teddy. It’s heartwarming to see these people open themselves up to him and welcome him as part of their lives.

And the romance was super sweet! Initially, they spend time together because Nick is doing a favorite for his commanding officer by taking on the Santa role when her husband falls sick, but soon, they become friends and lovers and spend more time together than apart in the month that Nick has left in the military and in New York. It was lovely to see how they interacted, both as friends and lovers, and how they were able to be so playful with each other. They were super adorable together, and I just kept smiling as they fell more and more in love.

This holiday romance was a great story and I definitely recommend it!


6477494Frequent tweeter, professional grammar nerd, and obsessive reader, Annabeth Albert is also a Pacific Northwest romance writer in a variety of subgenres.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two toddlers.


Barnes & Noble
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