Reviewed for @BMBR
Want a feel good, low drama holiday read? This fits the bill with its fluffy, low angst, and likable characters. I liked it, but it didn’t blow my elf socks off like Easton typically does. While many readers may want a feel good, easy peasy holiday romance, I’m all gimme my angst, kindle combusting steam and then seal it with sweetness. *shrug*
Gabe Martin, college senior and aspiring journalist has been assigned to cover the annual Elks Christmas Charity dinner that benefits St. Mark’s Children’s Home. After some research, Gabe decides to turn his story from puff piece to an investigative article on revealing the Santa that has a hidden identity yet brings much joy to the children at this dinner.
Now, I sure do hope you have read Superhero by Easton because it’s awesome and we’re treated to Owen and Jordan being secondary characters in this story. Jordan invites Gabe to Owen’s wrestling match and he begrudgingly accepts. Apparently the idea of skin tight singlets on fit wrestlers wasn’t that appealing… until he sees Mack “The Mountain” McDonall.
Mack is a 285lb wrestler that’s straight muscle and stirs up an urgent need to learn all about “mountain climbing.” Gotta watch out for that high altitude and proper hand holds/placement. Maybe throw a carabiner in, too. *bites fist*
“That’s not a man, that’s a zip code.”
Yassssss… tell me more.
I was giddy with anticipation for Mack and his ability to pick up huge men off the ground. I was already dreaming about the *ahem* possibilities of someone that big and strong connecting with another man. Except, Mack wasn’t his wrestling persona. Don’t worry, I dig gentle giants too. He was shy, quiet, reserved, smart, and kept his head down to get through school and move on to the next stage. He wasn’t dealt the best hand at life but he is doing his part to make a difference.
Gabe and Mack are officially introduced when Jordan attempts to set them up. It’s all going swell until Mack retreats at Gabe’s mention of investigating Santa’s identity and using it for his article. The night ends quickly but it doesn’t stop Gabe from tracking Mack down. They form a tentative friendship and it slowwwwwly progresses. It grows as much as it can when both men are still tentative and hesitant to take it further. Much of the story shows their developing friendship with some real UST thrown in. An actual relationship doesn’t happen until the last 20% of the book which brought out my *disappointed face*. Gabe and Mack were opposites but likable characters and while I appreciated the foundation they built leading up to that moment when it all changes, I wanted more. More relational connection. More assertive in their wants. More of them together as they transitioned to boyfriends. And yes, I’ll say it, more heat.
One little oddity for me was the integration of Spanish. I’ll warn you that I took Spanish in high school for a few years and only came away with saying “No, I don’t have gum in my mouth” and “can I go to the bathroom.” Clearly, I’m not the expert on it and definitely wasn’t a model student either. However, Gabe embraced his Spanish side but stated that he wasn’t a proficient speaker due to his father not allowing it. Yet, there were many times throughout where Spanish words were thrown in. I have seen this in a few other books but it didn’t seem as forced as it did in this one. Mi Mama, dios, joder, etc., were all thrown in randomly and pulled me out each time. Again, not an expert on language integration and I look forward to some of my fellow reader’s thoughts on the authentic-ness of the placements.
All in all, this was a sugary sweet, low angst, holiday read with a HEA. If that’s what you’re looking for, I’d recommend it.
Copy provided for honest review.