“Annabeth Albert delivers another charmer with Better Not Pout. A sweet and sexy holiday read that finds a grumpy St. Nick charmed by a do-gooder elf and his snowy town. Better Not Poutwill warm your heart and soul this holiday season.” — Layla Reyne, author of the Agents Irish and Whiskeyand Trouble Brewingseries 

Better Not Pout was charming, sweet, and sexy all at once! I love everything Annabeth Albert writes and this was no exception.” — Cat Sebastian, author of The Soldier's Scoundrel, The Ruin of a Rake, and The Regency Imposters series

Title: Better Not Pout

Author: Annabeth Albert

Publisher: Carina Press (Harlequin)

Release date: Ebook—November 12, 2018 | Paperback—November 27, 2018

Genre: m/m contemporary romance

Sub-genreHoliday Romance, Military Romance

Length: 288 pages

Buy it: Carina Press | Amazon | B&N | B&N—Paperback


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.


Annabeth Albert says that, “BETTER NOT POUT is a male/male holiday romance featuring endearing characters with a fun, flirty plot that will remind readers of their favorite holiday rom-coms.”

My review:

When I first read the blurb, I thought this book sounded like a Hallmark Christmas movie in print. I wasn't wrong...but I wasn't right either.

I was right in the sense of the storyline: optimistic and friendly elf meets grumpy sergeant major unwillingly dressed as Santa + small town setting + great cast of secondary characters. Of course, as the story progresses, and we peel back the layers of who Teddy and Nick are, we find out they're much more than they appear to be, although happy elf and grumpy Santa never really go away. It's who they are at their core, but it's not all they are.

I was wrong in the sense that there's much more sex in this book than there ever is in a Hallmark movie lol! And that's where the book lost a star for me. Although I loved both Teddy and Nick, I found that for the length of this book, there was a bit too much sex. I would've preferred to see more relationship development and more of Teddy and Nick getting to know each other better.

That being said, this was so good! I liked Teddy and Nick separately--even when I wanted to smack Nick for being so stubborn--and I liked them together. They complimented each other well and they each brought something to the relationship, to the other's life, that was lacking.

Wonderful characters, fun small town setting, great dialogue, humour mixed tenderness. Well-written and a throughly enjoyable holiday read!


Crunch. Crackle.An oncoming vehicle was approaching. Nick started waving his arms, well aware of the picture he made, Santa stuck on the side of the road in this blizzard, suit a mess, beard askew, and undoubtedly desperation in his eyes. The car drew closer—it was a small SUV, crawling along at a safe speed. And mercifully, it slowed as it drew even with Nick.

Wait. It was green. A green Subaru. Oh, please no…

The driver’s side window lowered. “Saint Nick! What happened to you?”

Yup. There was the one rescuer Nick did not want to see. Teddy, still in the elf costume, cheerful as ever, looking him up and down like he was concocting a wild story about Nick’s appearance. And the awful thing was, he probably wasn’t wrong in his assumptions.

“I got lost,” Nick admitted. “Got all turned around—”

“Oh no.I knew I should have insisted on showing you to the highway.” Teddy’s face crumpled.

“It’s not your fault,” Nick assured him. “And it was my own fault that I ended up taking a curve back there too fast. Ended up down in the ditch, stuck pretty good.”

“Are you hurt?” Teddy hurried out of the car, looking for all the world like he was about to take Nick’s vital signs and pat him down to check for broken bones. Nick held him off with a raised hand.

“Just my pride and a few sore muscles. And the truck has seen better days. Can you give me a lift back to town? I need to sort out a tow truck.”

“The way the snow is coming down, I’m taking you back to my house,” Teddy said, far more decisively than Nick liked as he steered Nick toward the passenger side of the car. He really didn’t know what to make of Teddy’s bossy streak. “I’m the next house down the road. My brother Charlie’s garage can handle the tow, but he’s probably going to want to wait till the snow stops since you’re safe with me.”

Nick wouldn’t go that far as to call himself safe.“I need to get back to base,” he said as they both climbed back into the Subaru.

Teddy’s face wrinkled. “Are you due on duty tonight? I think I can make it back to 26 and then take you into Fort End, but I’d like to stay off the roads if at all possible—the ice is no joke.”

“No, I’m not on duty tonight,” Nick admitted. “But I can’t impose on you. Surely there’s a motel closer to downtown?”

“You’re not staying at the motel. I can’t even guarantee there’s a room free, and we’re literally feet away from my place. No, you’re staying with me. I’ll call Charlie from the house phone and see what he says about your truck.”

About the author:

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer. Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ romance series include the #OutOfUniform, #Gaymers, #PortlandHeat, #RainbowCove and #PerfectHarmony series.

To find out what she’s working on next and other fun extras, check out her website: annabethalbert.com or connect with Annabeth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify! Also, be sure to sign up for her newsletter for free ficlets, bonus reads, and contests. The fan group, Annabeth’s Angels, on Facebook is also a great place for bonus content and exclusive contests.

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