Desperately Seeking Santa

Reviewed for @BMBR

3.5 Stars

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.

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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.

https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Copy provided for honest review.

Merry & Bright

4 Stars

Having trouble getting into the holiday spirit? I think these shorties may turn that frown upside down and have you channeling your inner Will Ferrell.

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Ok, maybe not that excited but possibly a little less Scrooge and a little more Grinch finding his heart. These three stories all have something in common; The MCs feeling like they’ve hit rock bottom while utterly alone. But are they really alone? What can they do to find their way out of Scroogeville? Those are questions the men in each story have to work through. It isn’t that they have a hatred for the holiday season, life has just beaten the shit out of them and each man has to figure out how long he’s going continue being kicked while down.

Humbug
I was a fan of Quin. Not the asshole-ish vibe he constantly gave off but of the journey he made from beginning to end. He was the classic case of living to work and not working to live. Quin treated everyone around him like they were mere peasants and he was king. Luckily, Rob saw through his facade and was an excellent role-model on how to treat people. Rob had the unique ability to put Quin in his place while making him want to be a better person. This was a super sweet short that made me all warm and fuzzy once they got their HEA.

Mr. Perfect’s Christmas
Meh. This was shorter and the story wasn’t as enjoyable as the first in the anthology. Sam was Eeyore and it seemed that he always thought the worst of himself in all situations. He needed a little more reassurance and Nick was just the man to do that. I wish this was a tad longer for increased depth but it served its purpose for spreading Christmas cheer and the message of hope.

Rest and be Thankful
This was the longest in the anthology at about 50%. Cam. He broke my heart. Cam was trying to tread water in his shitty circumstances and was sinking fast. He was really relatable in that everything was going wrong all at once. House falling apart, not making enough money at work to fix everything, trouble in the community, completely alone, and not wanting to ask for help to save face. *sigh* His despair was a tangible thing and Rob was just the person to provide that “rest” for this weary man.

But, here’s my pickle… This was the longer of the stories and I felt it provided the least amount of closure. Yes, the men have their HEA but we still don’t know if Cam fixed any of his other circumstances. Once he got the New Year’s peen, it was game. over. There wasn’t an epilogue and I feel kinda gypped. *Bah humbug*

All in all these sweet stories are perfect for the holiday season with a little heat thrown in. They gave me warm and fuzzy feelings of hope, love, and the benefits of surrounding yourself with the ones in your life who matter most. Recommended.

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https://boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

Copy provided for honest review.