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Winter Magic #1

Winter Oranges

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A Love for the Holidays charity novel

Jason Walker is a child star turned teen heartthrob turned reluctant B-movie regular who’s sick of his failing career. So he gives up Hollywood for northern Idaho, far away from the press, the drama of LA, and the best friend he’s secretly been in love with for years.

There’s only one problem with his new life: a strange young man only he can see is haunting his guesthouse. Except Benjamin Ward isn’t a ghost. He’s a man caught out of time, trapped since the Civil War in a magical prison where he can only watch the lives of those around him. He’s also sweet, funny, and cute as hell, with an affinity for cheesy ’80s TV shows. And he’s thrilled to finally have someone to talk to.

But Jason quickly discovers that spending all his time with a man nobody else can see or hear isn’t without its problems—especially when the tabloids find him again and make him front-page news. The local sheriff thinks he’s on drugs, and his best friend thinks he’s crazy. But Jason knows he hasn’t lost his mind. Too bad he can’t say the same thing about his heart.

* * * * * * *

Twenty percent of the proceeds from this title will be donated to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) National Help Center.

Founded in 1996, the GLBT National Help Center is a non-profit organization that provides vital peer-support, community connections and resource information to people with questions regarding sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Utilizing a diverse group of GLBT volunteers, they operate two national hotlines, the GLBT National Hotline and the GLBT National Youth Talkline, as well as private, volunteer one-to-one online chat, that help both youth and adults with coming-out issues, safer-sex information, school bullying, family concerns, relationship problems and a lot more.

To learn more about this charity or to donate directly, please visit their website at glbthotline.org.

275 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 28, 2015

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About the author

Marie Sexton

55 books2,178 followers
Marie Sexton lives in Colorado. She’s a fan of just about anything that involves muscular young men piling on top of each other. In particular, she loves the Denver Broncos and enjoys going to the games with her husband. Her imaginary friends often tag along. Marie has one daughter, two cats, and one dog, all of whom seem bent on destroying what remains of her sanity. She loves them anyway.

The absolute best way to stay up-to-date on my books is by joining my FB group. You can view livestreams about Oestend, Coda, and the Heretic Doms Club. I also give away books on a regular basis. NO DRAMA ALLOWED!!

Or, you might want to check out these pages:

Coda: Which book do I read first?

Find a book by trope or heat level.

Visit my website/blog at http://www.MarieSexton.net

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5 stars
634 (39%)
4 stars
598 (37%)
3 stars
277 (17%)
2 stars
68 (4%)
1 star
15 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 404 reviews
November 13, 2022
Reread November 2022

Seven years later, my five-star review still stands.

This book is one of a kind. If you haven't read it yet, do yourself a favor and give it a go this holiday season.

It's a beautiful story and doesn't feel dated at all.

I reread in preparation for Dylan's story coming soon.

Original review:

This is Marie Sexton's best book to date. It left me breathless and yearning and hopeful.

Fair warning: If you're a coldhearted skeptic (i.e., didn't cry during the last pottery wheel scene in Ghost), this might not be the story for you.

Winter Oranges asks you to believe in the impossible: a man existing outside of time, trapped in a prison created to save him; dreams that traverse dimensions and whisper sweet promises; a connection that crosses centuries and defies logic.

Jason is a former child star who’s lost all passion for his art. He’s been in love with his best friend Dylan for years, but Dylan is not a one-person kind of guy.

Jason is disillusioned … with his career, his future, his life. He buys a home in the panhandle of Idaho to get away from it all.

That’s where he meets Ben.

Ben appears in the guest quarters above Jason’s garage. He’s transparent and intangible. But he’s not a ghost.

Because Ben, with his slender body, pale skin, and jet black hair, is very much alive … alive but not living.

Ben was born long before the Civil War; he remembers when Thanksgiving was first declared a federal holiday. He loves silly commercial jingles and 80s soap operas. He desperately wants to know who shot J.R.

Ben challenges Jason to believe. Left with no human contact for more than a century, Ben finds joy in the small things we take for granted and teaches Jason to do the same—every walk, every laugh, every limited conversation is precious.

[Ben] shook his head and shut his eyes tight. "You deserve more. You deserve to be with somebody real."

"You think I've ever met anybody more real than you?"

As Ben and Jason spend days and weeks together, Jason’s unusual behavior begins to draw attention. After all, only Jason can see (and eventually hear) Ben.

Dylan is worried that Jason is having a mental breakdown and goes after the one possession that means the world to Jason, and is his link to Ben.

I read this book cover to cover in one go. The writing is evocative and Ben and Jason’s connection so powerful, I alternated between despair and hope.

"This," [Jason] said, kissing Ben's temple. "This is my new best day."

"Not mine, but only because I've stopped keeping track. I have too many good days with you now to count. It's the most wonderful thing in the world."

Prepare for orange-Life-Saver-flavored kisses, Murder, She Wrote marathons, Christmas cruises, stolen touches, meddlesome best friends, and a rather pushy sheriff who means well.

This is a poignant, romantic, magical story, perfect for every season!

Now go smell an orange. And remember.
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,883 reviews5,803 followers
October 22, 2015
This book is dangerous... no, like really dangerous.

If you are a book addict like me, don't start this book during any day where you have to leave the house. I started this book late at night and then continued reading all throughout my work day.

The dangerous part?

I might have read this book at each and every stop light while I was in the car. I might have read this book while crossing the street to get coffee. I might have read this book while it was pitch-black out, walking back to my car after work.


This is the warm, fluffy, slow-burn-y side of Marie Sexton that I adore so much. I love most of my Marie Sexton books that I read, but this hit me right in the feelz. You have to have faith in Marie Sexton to make everything work out in the end because for the majority of the story, I had a pit in my stomach due to anxiety.

Winter Oranges is a love story between a man from the pre-Civil War era who is trapped in a snow globe, and a jaded C-list movie actor who wants to escape Hollywood. It is an impossible love story, but Marie Sexton makes it possible.

I loved so many things about this story. I loved Ben's enthusiasm, his optimism, and his spirit. I can't imagine what it would be like to be in his situation, and he handles everything is a way that is utterly charming. I was completely won over by him. I also adored Jason. He went from someone in love with his unattainable best friend and completely disillusioned by romance, to someone who fights for love and never gives up.

The way that the relationship between Ben and Jason developed slowly over time worked SO well for me. It was slow burn, very sweet, and believable, which takes talent to pull off (one of the MCs is stuck in a snow globe FFS!). It also gave me that fuzzy feeling inside like some holiday stories do.

A well thought out, well written romance-y romance for romance lovers! It will restore your faith in "love conquers all," and make you want to snuggle up by the fire with some soap opera reruns, old-fashioned movies, and some fresh oranges.

**Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for ☆ Todd.
1,370 reviews1,507 followers
September 24, 2015

I absolutely LOVED "Winter Oranges," which has now become my new all-time favorite book by Marie Sexton.

The book is a bit of a fantasy tale of a young man trapped in a snow globe for a century and a half, sooooooo suspending reality in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

At 29, Jason was a former Hollywood child star, currently acting in low-budget B-grade horror movies, but he's sick of chasing after stardom and being hounded by the paparazzi, so he buys a house in a small town in Idaho, where he plans to hide away.

But on his first night in the house, he sees a young man peering out from the window of the apartment above his garage and begins to believe that his new home is haunted.

Jason soon discovers that his ghost, Ben, is not a ghost at all, but a young man who was trapped in an enchanted globe by his sister, in order to save his life.

No one has been able to see or hear Ben for a hundred and fifty years, so when Jason can do both, Ben was overjoyed and I found that his enthusiasm for quite literally everything was extremely contagious. This was such an amazingly-fun read.

This is such an amazing feel good read and I loved watching Jason and Ben interact and become very close friends, then more.

I adored the slow burn in the story, which could only initially approach a simmer, as Ben was only a projection of his true self inside the globe.
“Thank you.” Ben smiled sweetly, his image flickering. “In case for some reason I don’t see you, I want you to know this has been wonderful. Truly, my best day ever. I’ll never forget it.”
The drama and angst in the book, which was very manageable, came from the frustration that Jason and Ben weren't able to physically touch one another (until they eventually could), concern by Jason's best friend, Dylan, that Jason had gone mental and, lastly, when the paparazzi locate Jason and begin posting online photos of him walking and talking to an apparently-invisible person.

Everything comes to a head when the police and paramedics show up at Jason's home, then Dylan tries to smash the snow globe to break Jason our of his insanity.

But Ben got free of his glass prison and, after a serious medical scare, we do get our much-anticipated happily ever after.

The book had tons of fun, lots of feels and a small bit sexiness, so I'm rating this one at a very strong 4.5 *bring-me-peppermint-for-Christmas* stars.


My ARC copy of the book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.
Profile Image for Julio Genao.
Author 9 books2,015 followers
March 14, 2016
i tried—i really did—but...


i mean, i resisted the growing pile of cray as long as i could—which turned out to be no further than the bit where he faked a psychotic break so as to avoid explaining to the former love of his life that he was now in a serious relationship with an asthmatic civil war soldier stuck inside a snow globe for a hundred and fifty years.

i think my primary mistake here was in actually reading the words and thinking about what they meant, instead of letting them all flow over me like a gently burbling brook of benign insanity.

my bad.
Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,246 followers
April 12, 2021
This was so lame that I totally expect it to be turned into a Hallmark Christmas Movie targeted to the LGBT community. Hey, it's only fair. The cis-hetero's have been suffering through their cheesy movies alone for too long. So...

You're welcome!

I only read this book because I'm doing a reading challenge and needed something set in Idaho, Montana, or Wyoming, and I sure as fuck ain't reading a gay cowboy book.

*narrator voice* but she was indeed quitting them. Quitting the hell out of them.

So, ghost stuck in a snowglobe it is.
The deal is that a has-been actor buys a secluded house in Idaho and finds a ghost. Not just any ghost, but a hot gay ghost that he's attracted to. What are the odds? I mean, if I ever find a ghost it will probably be some racist old man who talks about the great war night and day. But, our actor boy is lucky. A hot little twink from the 1800's who is so adorable that your teeth will ache.

The view from inside the snow globe.

They fall in love. And, you know it's only a matter of time until the "curse" is lifted or whatever because Hallmark doesn't do an exorcism that bans ghosts to hell. Like they should. I might actually consider watching it if they did.

The only thing missing in this was the adorable and highly-intelligent child who gets a puppy and a real family for Christmas.
Profile Image for LenaRibka.
1,436 reviews418 followers
January 26, 2018
I swear, I'm not a cold-hearted person. I'm A VERY SENTIMENTAL person. And I cry very easily and very often while reading, if a book CAN touch me. This one doesn't do it to me.

I wish I read more of Marie Sexton before. To be able to judge THIS book properly.
I enjoyed her short novel To Feel the Sun, my only book I've read until now by this author, but unfortunately Winter Oranges didn't work for me at all.

When I have a look at all these few reviews and all these high ratings(of those who were lucky to get an ARC, I'm both- upset and surprised. Surprised, because so many readers enjoyed it. EXCEPT ME. And upset, because so many readers enjoyed it. EXCEPT ME.

I think, I can already guess, that with my opinion about this book I'll be in the minority. REALLY. I can good imagine that many readers will like it. Because it is this kind of book, you are normally predestined to like.

The idea of the story was interesting. But not completely discovered. IMO.
The characters were nice , but so... average and so BORING. I know, I shouldn't tell it. Otherwise I can be stamped as a cold-hearted person.

Sex was not hot. . I couldn't buy their attraction to each other. I didn't feel any sexual tension between them.

The writing is nothing special. VERY descriptive, simple and unspectacular. It is this kind of writing you can enjoy if you like the story. I didn't.

What can I tell you more? I wouldn't have recommend this book further, but there are people on this Earth, who enjoyed it, and they are in the majority, so just ignore me, purchase it and make your own opinion about this book. Most likely you'll find this unusual ghost-romance very touching.

It's probably one of this classical situation- "it's me, not a book".

**Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for Jewel.
1,818 reviews251 followers
November 30, 2022
​Still a gorgeous story.

------ Orig Review Dec 2015-------
You know those times when a book draws you in so effectively, that the rest of the world could fall down around you and you probably wouldn't even notice, because the book you're reading is just that good ? That's Winter Oranges. I love Marie Sexton's writing, and Winter Oranges is my favorite book of hers, to date, and will ​most definitely be on my "Favorites of 2015" top 10 list, as well!

Winter Oranges has a slow burn romance that I just loved. ​​Both Jason and Ben have been very lonely, though for very different reasons, and I loved watching them ​find each other. So beautiful.

​Jason has been in love with his best friend for a decade, but Dylan just doesn't see him that way. They've had a friends with benefits relationship for a long time, but, as you can imagine, that hasn't helped Jason separate his feelings from the sex.​​​ Finding, and getting to know Ben changes things for Jason in very important ways. Ben is funny, smart, and just Jason's type. And, all Jason's. Ben gets to see a side of Jason that no one else ever has, so Jason can relax and be himself.

​Ben has been trapped in a snow globe for 150, or so, years. He knows how he got there, but no idea how to get out. Until Jason, no one has been able to see him, so lonely doesn't even begin to cover it.​​​ The fact that Jason can see him is so amazing to Ben that it's like everything was black and white, but is now color. Each new experience is the best thing ever. And Ben's attraction to Jason is returned! They're amazing together.

​Ben and Jason are so so sweet! I just loved them! Winter Oranges was so so good and I can't wait to make time to read it again.​​
Profile Image for Renée.
1,058 reviews331 followers
August 28, 2020
Reread. Still as great as the first time!

Original review:
4.5 stars.

I will never look at a snow globe the same way again.

"Most folks don't like being haunted."
"That's because they aren't haunted by Ben."

Marie Sexton manages to deliver magic. In every way you choose to interpret that phrase. Jason has decided to take a break from Hollywood and buys a secluded house in Idaho. He sees a young man named Ben in the guest room above his garage, who no one else can see but him. Ben is also translucent. Is he going crazy? Is Ben a ghost? No on both counts. You will have to let go of your skepticism for this one, and it'll be worth it. Ben was frozen in time from the mid nineteenth century. He's not a ghost because he never died. But he's not REALLY standing in front of Jason either. It's something else entirely.

Ben has been watching the world around him ever since. He has a fondness for cheesy soap operas and Murder, She Wrote. I fell in love with him right then and there. I was addicted to Murder, She Wrote growing up. Kindred spirits, he and I :)

Jason's best friend (and benefits), Dylan, thinks Jason's gone off the deep end. Who can blame him? Jason's talking to someone who isn't there.

Each interaction between Ben and Jason is more touching than the last. This was so beautifully written! The constant struggle of their obvious tenderness together with the weight of Ben's intangibility is difficult for them. But it makes each moment sweeter because of that.

"I'm saying I'll spend the rest of my life trying to be good enough to deserve this one moment here with you."

There is one scene that made me see absolute red, and that is the reason for the half star deduction. It would be a spoiler, so I won't give details, but I could've done without it.

Otherwise, this was an absolute pleasure to read. And I did it in one sitting. There is a HEA for our MCs, and it is equally as beautiful. (And for those wondering about the steam factor, YES, there is steam in this book!)

ARC kindly provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Vivian.
2,847 reviews398 followers
November 25, 2015
Romance a la It's a Wonderful Life.

Jason, once a child star now a D List actor, takes a break from Hollywood in the wilds of Idaho. He's running from his past, his present, and avoiding his future until a most extraordinary thing happens.

Ben, trapped in time, alone, and unseen until Jason spots him. Suddenly, years of being alone is no longer so. A friend, what more could he ask for. Ben's enthusiasm and lack of cynicism were delightful and didn't come across like a Mary Sue, which could have been so easy.

Dyllan, Jason's fuckbuddy and actor friend wonders why Jason has chosen a desolate place to roost and he keeps popping in to check on him. Worried more and more each time he sees Jason.

There was some manufactured angst. A couple things that made me raise an eyebrow--Half-day skiing like a maniac, you could have just slept. Additionally, the secret isn't too hard to figure out, and it does lend for some drama.

This was written to be both heart-wrenching and warm and fuzzy, but true to holiday book form it has the requisite happy ending. I loved Ben and Jason and though it was a bit treacle sweet in places, I still smiled broadly and enjoyed it.

Overall, something good to find in your Christmas stocking.

Favorite quote:
"But I won't let the things we are missing ruin the things we actually have."

~Copy provided by Netgalley~
Profile Image for Adam.
611 reviews314 followers
November 16, 2015
3.5 stars

I feel like I need to apologize. Because while I liked 'Winter Oranges' quite a bit, I didn't love it like most of the ARC readers did.

I'm not much of a fan of MM ghost romances, and only a few of those have worked for me. This book isn't exactly a ghost romance, but it's close enough. I'm happy to say that this aspect of the book didn't bother me at all. It was a unique take on the theme, and added some heartbreaking angst and tension to the story.

This is my first read by Marie Sexton, so I wasn't sure what to expect writing-wise. Overall, I thought the writing was engaging. However, I do think that a lot of the daily life detail could have been weeded out. I didn't need to read repeatedly about the main character's daily routine. I'm not sure whether that's the norm for this author, but it got tedious pretty quickly.

I think I fell in love with Ben, and I probably did so very early on. It's just not possible not to love him. After basically being in a glass prison for over a century, he still had this innocent joy for life. Every time Ben got excited about some new discovery or interesting thing, I couldn't help but smile.

On the other hand, Jason was a chore to read. He was a doormat, put simply. He allowed others to run his life and dictate his actions, and then raged about it internally. I particularly hated his relationship with Dylan.

However, the relationship development was brilliantly done. These two grew slowly, from finding themselves in a seemingly impossible predicament, to friends, and then to lovers. I especially liked their cuddle sessions in front of the TV. This was slow-burn romance, and it was very well done.

Given that I liked Ben a lot more than I did Jason, I would have loved to have had Ben's POV as well. I think that lack of Ben's POV is why this book fell just short of 4 stars.

If you're looking for a slightly different holiday romance, and you enjoy ghost romances, this is the book for you.

Review copy provided through NetGalley
Profile Image for Karen.
1,859 reviews85 followers
March 14, 2016
So this is where I get disowned...

Wow, I am so at a loss with this book but I'm going to try anyways. Let me start by saying a lot and by a lot I DO MEAN A LOT of my friends have rated this book 4 stars or more and I'm sure it was deservedly so.

I honestly don't know why this one didn't work for me. It's well written, it's a beautiful and moving story, I liked Jason & Ben. I really, really liked Dylan and I'm not even sure why. I just really liked him.

Don't get me wrong I enjoyed the story it was good and herein lies the rub for me it was good, not great, not amazing. I wasn't moved to tears and believe me that's not a challenging task to accomplish with me. I've been known to cry over any number of commercials and books, sweet-baby-jebus the number of books that have reduced me to a snivelling mass is redonkulous. Winter Oranges just wasn't one of them. I know it wasn't the premise of the book because I've read stories a lot more far fetched than this one and had no problem investing in them emotionally.

At the end of it all the only thing I can come up with is that for me there was just something missing in the story and even I don't know what it was. What I do know is that in spite of my lack of connection this is a really lovely, sweet, well written story definitely worth reading. I'm not sorry I read it and who knows maybe I'll give it a re-read one day and I'll not only figure out what didn't work this time, I'll find that missing connection and make it.

But for now I'm going to simply say that Winter Oranges is a lovely story and very much worth reading.

3.5 stars rounded up to 4 because still not 1/2 stars and it's a Christmas story for crying out loud ain't no way I'm rounding down!
Profile Image for Ele.
1,297 reviews40 followers
December 2, 2015

This my favorite paranormal novel to date. And I mean, of all times and all authors. This means a lot to me, because I'm really, really picky with paranormal books. I'm a Contemporary kinda girl.

Marie Sexton took a unique idea and built an original, amazing story down to every detail.

I won't bother with words, there are plenty of amazing reviews. I think this book will stay with me; it made me all kinds of hopefull and kept my cynical self in check.

For a little while, at least.

I think *looks snow globe sideways*

Read Dani's review. Her Ben is the right Ben.
Profile Image for Susan.
2,222 reviews408 followers
December 8, 2015
This book is beautiful.

This is a story about a B movie actor and a young man living inside a snow globe.

I loved how this book mostly consists of Jason and Ben being in Jason’s house in the middle of nowhere. I liked that the characters were so interesting we don’t need a whole set of supporting characters to fill the story. Jason and Ben filled this story. And their growing attraction and eventually their love.

It was so romantic.

“You make me happy. You’re the reason I get up every morning, and the last thing I think about every night as I fall asleep.
I’ll take any little bit of you I can get. Because as imperfect and frustrating as this all may be, it’s the best thing by far that’s ever happened to me."

This story would have gotten 5 stars if not for Dylan, Jason’s best friend. And more importantly the way Jason just went along with Dylan and not stood up for himself. It was so incredibly frustrating. I just wanted Jason to tell Dylan to fuck off.

We did get a beautiful, well deserved HEA.

Profile Image for Tess.
1,920 reviews26 followers
December 20, 2016
Re-read Dec 2016 -- Still in love with this one!

5 stars

So good, so beautiful & so unique. This story had me smiling and it had me crying. It had this pull on my heartstrings almost all the way through. The slow burning love that grows between Jason and Ben is impossibly perfect, and their HEA is hard fought, but oh so worth it. A plot synopsis just cannot bring to life the magic here so I won't even try. Instead, I'll give you Jason's words:

"You're the reason I get up every morning, and the last thing I think about every night as I fall asleep. I love you. God, I love you so much, I can't believe I haven't said it until now. And if that means spending the rest of my life with that damn snow globe in my pocket, then ... well, I'll have to buy clothes with bigger pockets, but damn it, Ben, I'll take it. I'll take any little bit of you I can get. Because as imperfect and frustrating as this all may be, it's the best thing by far that's ever happened to me."

So very much recommended!
November 27, 2018
Audio - 5 stars! My first time listening to Nick Russo. Loved it!!

Story - 4 stars

Yet another unforgettable story by Marie Sexton!!

Even with a sweet HEA, this is not a holiday read that’s left me feeling all kinds of cheery. I spent almost the entire time listening to this book feeling heartbroken for Ben and his situation. The “globe” life lasted too long. I wanted more of Ben adjusting to life after the "globe". The tiny hint of the challenges he has yet to face was such a tease. I wanted to read about those challenges.

Anyway, 4 stars from me because, the story is truly unique and haunting!!!
Profile Image for Ami.
5,865 reviews496 followers
November 20, 2015
Winter Oranges is a lovely romance story doused with magical realism -- and of course, what better time to believe in something magical than nearing the holiday, am I right?

Jason Walker purchased a house in a relatively secluded area in the mountainous region of Idaho in order to get away from his life in Hollywood. But he soon finds out that he is not exactly alone in that big house. There is a young man who "haunts" the place. But he is not a ghost though. He is an almost twenty-year-old young man (he would turn 21 in June) born in 1840. His name is Ben. And oh, he lives inside this magical snow globe.

I found Ben to be so very endearing. He has this innocent-like optimism that just brings joy and laughter in every single small things. He is such precious young soul -- and for Jason, being with Ben put things into perspective. Yes, Jason is jaded with Hollywood, he doesn't know whether he wants to continue acting, he feels heartbroken because he thinks that he's in love with his best friend Dylan and it's being with one-sided. But here's a young man who has been trapped inside a globe for 150 years, and can still appreciate little things. Who thinks that watching soap opera and bad horror movies to be his best day ever? Well, it's easy to fall in love with Ben, and that was what happened with Jason of course.

The only thing that I didn't like was the sex scenes. I thought they were awkward and somehow disrupted the tender loving flow of the story. It felt a little bit too much for my liking. If I can try to describe how it feels, it will be like seeing this lovely white-ish color painting to be smeared with blotch ugly colors. Maybe it has something to do with my being asexual -- or maybe I just tend to like less-to-no sex scenes at all. In any case, that was the one thing that just, well, yanked me out of the story, every single time. Of course that would be a particular case for me, and I'm sure majority of the readers will not find it a problem *smile*

In overall, I thought this to be a typical Marie Sexton. A little bit fluffy, a little bit sappy, a little bit angsty. But it all wrapped up in one good reading experience (and just the right feel for moi).

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.
Profile Image for Karen.
1,859 reviews85 followers
December 16, 2016
Color me shocked!...

I read this story when it came out last year and it was good...ok, for the most part my friends loved it. They 5 stared the hell out of it and I tried to quietly sneak in and say 'it was good...not great but good.' so I gave it 3.5 stars and rounded up to 4 because 'spirit of the season' and all that.

I actually felt bad because a part of my brain could see that it was a better than good story but I just couldn't connect, it wasn't working for me no matter how much I wanted it to. Jason and Ben were ok. I really, really liked Dylan and still do. But the overall story just didn't give me the feelz...nope, didn't happen.

So because I'm a firm believer in second chances and because it kind of bugged me that I just didn't seem to get this one when the chance for the audiobook came up I figured 'what the hell, why not?' Now this is the point at which chances are good that I might be saying 'well let me tell you why not...', but what I really need to say is 'let me tell you why...'

Because it work...I'm talking seriously and honestly worked. I loved the audiobook. I got it, I connected with the story and yes, there were a few tears but I'm not going to say when or why, I hate spoiling things for others so I'm going to avoid that as much as possible.

I have to admit I'm still on an audiobook learning curve here but I am learning because before I asked for a copy to review I checked it out to see who the narrator was and I saw that it was Nick J. Russo. Well that was a point in the book's favor because I happen to really like this narrator. I checked out the sample on audible.com as per my friend, Josy's reminder from a less memorable experience...yes, even though I like the narrator, I still did this and then I went back and said 'Yes please I would like to listen to this audiobook.' and I proceeded to enjoy the hell out of this.

'Winter Oranges' is the second Christmas story that I read last year and have listened to the audiobook this year and ironically both of them have been narrated by Nick J. Russo. The first one was 'A Fortunate Blizzard' by L.C. Chase and at the end I enjoyed the audio book as much as I enjoyed reading the book and honestly I was really pleased about that, but the fact that I actually enjoyed this audiobook more than the story when I read it well...color me shocked! Here's the link to my original review from last year if you want to see how that went Winter Oranges, 2015 Book Review

I guess sometimes my inner child comes out in surprising ways because just like when I was a kid, I loved having this story read to me and Nick J. Russo brought the perfect voices to the characters. I was drawn into this story far more thoroughly than when I read the book last year and it showed because at the end of it when it came time to write this review I honestly couldn't do anything but give it 5 glowing Christmas stars.

An audiobook ARC of 'Winter Oranges' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sara .
1,477 reviews154 followers
November 6, 2015

I have been trying for weeks to write a review of this book and I honestly cannot find the words.

This story hit me hard and it hit me where it counts and I love it for that.

I will never look at snow globes the same way again! How can I?

I love the mystical and fantastical quality of the story. How we first meet Ben and learn his history. His tale is so bittersweet but his attitude about it is beyond enlightening. His first question to Jason made me laugh and I still smile to think about it.

Jason was an amazing character. To see his growth throughout the book, to see him believe IN Ben… it’s what the Christmas season is about for me. The small moments that make you believe in the impossible and the hope of that belief becoming a reality.

I really wish I could use the 26 letters of the alphabet to put together a review that was as beautiful as this story, but I simply can’t.

I loved it so damn much that I am speechless.
My fingers have no words.

Marie Sexton took all the words and created a gorgeous, wonderful, sexy, magical, romantic, sweet, funny and stunning story.

That's all.
Profile Image for Kade Boehme.
Author 36 books1,049 followers
December 14, 2015
Most solid thing I've read from Marie in a long time. Sweet, unique, and heartwarming. Omg Ben's first hug was so touching. I also liked that this Christmas story had meat on its bones, even as a fluffier read. Too many Christmas books are wayyyy too short which is why I won't read them. BUT. This may have suffered (for me) in that it was a touch too long. I skimmed. Some superfluous scenes made it drag a bit in a way that made me more detached to this story than I felt I should be. It was descriptive but ... Not quite emotive. But still well written in general. I feel a little bad not loving it quite as much as everyone else BUT I DID reeallly like it.

I did enjoy the whole snow globe storyline. It was slightly more interesting than the haunting/ghost I was expecting so the magical HEA wasn't as awkward for me as some of the ghosts coming back to life tend to be (I LOVE ghost m/m so a new way always makes me happy). Anywho. Def one of the better Christmas stories this year. Left me with a smile. I'd recommend it.
Profile Image for Optimist ♰King's Wench♰.
1,770 reviews3,865 followers
November 30, 2018

Boy, do I feel like a pill...

This story started off GRRRRREAT! I thought it would be 4 stars, minimum.

It started to lose me when Ben and Jason fell in instalove. Sometimes I can deal with that trope; however, this was not one of those times. I tried to roll with it and there were definitely parts of it that I enjoyed.

Ben in particular. I loved him and his infectious happiness. It was *almost* enough to win me over but the last few chapters took a turn for the serious taking Ben's happy with it which in turn tanked my enjoyment of it.

I did and do continue to think this is a very clever idea. I just wish I had enjoyed it more than I did.

I also continue to be lukewarm regarding Nick J. Russo's narration. I have no rational reason for this other than his narration doesn't inspire any sort of feelings in me whatsoever.

Take with a grain of salt since I'm kind of a scrooge.
Profile Image for Vanessa North.
Author 42 books514 followers
January 18, 2016
Oh, this was exactly what I want in a Christmas romance: a sweet love story, a sense of family and place (I want to ply Marie with wine and talk her into writing Dylan's story sometime), and, of course, a Christmas miracle. This book was simply magical.
Recommended. :)
Profile Image for Jennifer☠Pher☠.
2,793 reviews233 followers
December 20, 2022
Well, now I know why I chose not to read this when it originally released.

This sort of story, to me, is painful.

It was lovely and I enjoyed most of it, but the angst, for what I though was going to be a Christmas story, just killed me.

As much as I love spooky, I'm not the biggest fan of ghost romances and this had the same sort of feel.

The drugs, and the mental health issues. The paparazzi. All of it just made me squirm.

I can see how it is much loved though, it just isn't the kind of story for me. It just made me so sad.
Profile Image for Mark.
357 reviews161 followers
January 10, 2016
Nothing represents the ultimate in Christmas Kitsch more than a snow globe but in the hands of Marie Sexton it becomes a mysterious object full of wonder, beauty and love. This was a super sweet Christmas story that has addictive qualities once I started there was no putting it down.

Jason is a bit of an has been actor and has now bought a rural retreat to get away from all the media attention and prying eyes. Although he still gets offered some roles through his agent he’s really not proud of how his career has progressed and he has one friend with benefits, Dylan. The arrangement works well for both of them. I suppose each to their own but these sort of arrangements in my opinion can be a little one sided and this is definitely the case with Jason. Jason loves his friend and probably would have wanted more but Dylan is the sort of person that will nail anything with a pulse and is definitely not the sort of person to commit to any kind of relationship.

Jason is alone in his newly acquired retreat or so he thinks until he keeps noticing someone waving from the window above the garage. First of all he thinks he has an intruder but after the local sheriff doesn’t find anything or anyone he starts to think it must be his imagination until he goes to check for himself. He gets the fright of his life but after the initial shock he finds Ben, someone who is trapped inside the globe for 150 years, put there by his sister to protect him. He is however able to project himself beyond the globe and appear in an ethereal form. OMG!! I just loved Ben. I loved the way that he found the greatest of joy in the simplest of pleasures. A real lesson in what we seem to miss today in life with all its stress and disappointments. Just by being, Ben’s optimistic and almost childish joy is a lesson to us all. He has seen a lot over the 150 years he has been in the globe and now he has someone who can see him. He is overjoyed.

Jason first of all thinks he’s going crazy but comes to accept the young man in the globe and their friendship blossoms into something truly wonderful and loving. My heart just melted every time Ben appeared and when Jason started to fall for him I fell with Jason. There are however limitations and Ben can only go so far from the globe before it pulls him back in. Therefore Jason always has to take the globe with him in order that Ben can be by his side. This of course also leads to some hilarious moments where Jason is always trying to appear not to be talking to himself or a snow globe in case someone thinks he is nuts. I could just imagine these scenarios, especially when the media and photographers are waiting around the corner for a scoop. His friend Dylan becomes worried about Jason’s behaviour and when Jason tells him the truth then you can imagine the response. Now he has to convince Dylan that everything is OK by at least ignoring and denying Ben to Dylan.

However, Ben’s and Jason’s love deepens for each other and Jason is determined to find a way out of the globe for Ben. There must be a way. In the last minute when everything seems to be going wrong for Jason he realises with a flash of inspiration of exactly how he can release Ben from the globe. I loved the whole mystery aspect behind this too. The clues were always there as to how get Ben can get out of the globe, but Jason just wasn’t reading them correctly. He tries to trace his genealogy, starts experimenting with various ways especially when he discovers by dreaming he can enter the globe to be with Ben. The whole mystical aspect of this story is riveting and when everything is revealed at the end the whole thing seems more plausible than you would possibly think which is testament to the wonderful plotting and writing talent of Marie Sexton.

This book is a wonderful piece of story telling, exquisitely written, well plotted and needs to be on everyone’s Christmas wish list. An adorable, beautiful tale of love that shows us all to enjoy the simple things in life. I will be thinking of dear Ben for a long time as this character taken up residence in my heart and won’t be leaving for a long time.

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863 reviews231 followers
November 25, 2015

4.5 stars

You know what I love about the holidays? They’re magical! And despite the grouchiness with crowds and commercialism and expectations, they still manage to turn into something wonderful.

It’s kinda what makes Winter Oranges the perfect holiday read.

You see, there’s this jaded, outed, stalked, and disillusioned actor named Jason…who runs away to an old house in a small town and tries to hide. He’d rather choose a life alone than to be anywhere near the spotlight. Jason is a conundrum. He’s not the most likable character…until he is…when it counts.

Enter Benjamin. Jason sees Benjamin in the apartment above his garage and it’s clear, there’s something not quite right about him. He sees his lips moving, he knows he can be heard, and he can interact with Jason…but he can’t talk aloud and he can’t leave the room. And he looks a bit like a ghost…from the past.

There’s something…beautiful going on there. Ben is a delight! He’s filled with wonder and joy, he appreciates every moment and experiences things with such passion. Especially considering he’s been stuck in a snow globe and it’s restraints for over 100 years! And therein lies the problem.

Jason and Ben grow in attraction, affection, and love. I ate up this development. I loved their simple times together. I loved the purity they had to offer each other…companionship, connection…it was beautiful. And remember jaded Jason? Well, he begins to turn into a man devoted to seeing Ben happy. And that shift in his character was endearing to me.

Now, we hit some angst in the story. And I was riveted. I was always afraid of Jason getting caught and seen as crazy because of Ben’s “predicament” / “limitations”. And I was terrified of either of them getting hurt as they visited each other’s worlds. But most of all…I was so worried about Dylan, Jason’s friends-with-benefits. I wasn’t sure if I could trust him. I wasn’t sure what he’d do to Jason or Ben when he found out! This was all very traumatizing for me because…well…I already came to love them and their sheltered small world.

So no self-respecting holiday story ends without an over the top HEA, and this one is as OVER. THE. TOP as you get…and it was BLISSFUL! I loved how this story worked itself out. Suspend belief? OF COURSE! The guy’s stuck in a snow globe, after all! But, it was so worth it.

By the end, my heart was full…and despite being listed as 325 pages, I did not want this book to end.

Highly recommended for even the scroogiest of scrooges…

Profile Image for Annery.
959 reviews127 followers
December 6, 2018
The Christmas Bonanza continues!

Jason is a child actor who didn't transition well into the Hollywood adult world. Needing a break from the rat race he buys a house near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho claiming he's retiring, but in fact he's just tired and needs to regroup. His biggest problem is loneliness. He has no one special in his life and a non-existent relationship with his parents. The one guy he loves is his friend Dylan, but that hasn't progressed into more than a friends with bennies situation, and it breaks Jason's heart. He's so hungry for connection, for love, for companionship the need oozes off him.

His luck changes when he meets someone and doesn't even have to leave his house to do it. No, not through an app. There's a 20 year-old living in his guest house! Problem is this boy, Ben, is really living in a snow globe. Yep. His sister locked him in the globe to protect him and due to life's ups and downs he's been trapped in the globe for like 170 years. YEARS! His only way out is projecting his image outside but that image is insubstantial, like a hologram. The plus side is Jason can see Ben. The seeds of true love are sown.

I like how Marie Sexton sets up the realities/rules of the world of the globe and the parameters of Jason & Ben's interaction in and out of it and sticks by them. I think that she was really smart in giving Ben a life of sorts before he meets Jason , it tones down a bit the babe in the woods aspect that would necessarily be part of a story involving one character from another time period propelled into the present.

I liked how the author worked out the possibility of intimate moments between the MCs in a way that was consistent with story and I liked the ultimate resolution, though I would've liked a little more about Ben's past, his origins. *shrug* Also, in what may be an unpopular opinion, I liked Dylan very much. He was who he was and was unapologetic about it. He's also a good and true friend proven even through the epilogue. Maybe he'll have his own story? I'd read it.
Profile Image for Josy.
973 reviews3 followers
January 11, 2017
Yup, this is another book that makes it right onto my favorite-shelf! And not only because of the story but also because of the wonderful narration. It was the first time I listened to Nick J. Russo and I fell in love with his voice as much as I did with the characters he brought to life.

Ben's enthusiasm, optimism, and joy over even the smallest things was amazing to witness and I could perfectly picture him discovering it all.

This was sweet and awesome and emotional and made me cry and smile (sometimes at the same time). I didn't know where this story would go and how it would work out. For a while, I was worried it would all fall apart but I didn't need to be afraid. Marie Sexton pulled it off and wrote the perfect ending for this story.

If you can suspend disbelief, you will discover a magical, touching, slow burn romance that, hopefully, will affect you as much as it did me.
Profile Image for Elsbeth.
1,191 reviews41 followers
December 14, 2015

Christmas BR with Sonia and Paul (9th Xmas read 2015)

Beautiful, magical story!!


“Thank you. In case for some reason I don’t see you,
I want you to know this has been wonderful. Truly, my best day ever. I’ll never forget it.”

Profile Image for Leta Blake.
Author 63 books1,518 followers
November 26, 2016
So super enjoyable, warm, cozy, charming, and the kind of thing I want to go on forever. Satisfying top to bottom. <3
Profile Image for Ken W.
168 reviews1 follower
December 20, 2022

I absolutely loved this story! A very unique twist on a “ghost” story! Five million stars! Highest possible recommendation! ❤️☺️❤️
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