Rating: 4.75 stars
Buy Links: 
 Amazon | All Romance
Length: Short Story

For the past three years, ever since his mother kicked him out for being gay, Sean has been on his own, struggling to survive.  And after work dried up, he has spent the last 16 months of that time living on the streets, homeless and selling himself just to get by.  A year ago Sean met Gavin, another young homeless man, and the two became friends, looking out for one another.  After a series of bad foster homes and abusive treatment, Gavin too was forced to make his own way, and like Sean had to resort to prostitution to survive.  Over the past year, Sean’s feelings for Gavin have grown. He knows he is in love with Gavin, but doesn’t know if his feelings are returned. It kills Sean to see Gavin have to sell himself, and Sean is hopeful that now that he finally has his GED, he may be able to get a job and help get the two of them off the streets.

When Gavin gets some extra cash from a well paying client, he decides to splurge on a hotel room for the week leading up to Christmas. For the first time in a year the men will have a bed, regular showers, and enough food to eat. And when they get to this place of temporary safety, the men finally work up the nerve to share their feelings for one another.  But when the week is out, they know they will be back on the streets. Neither man can bear the idea of his partner having to once more turn tricks to survive, but they both know it will take time before Sean can get a job and an apartment.  But they are determined to take care of each other and hopefully get off the streets for good and make a life together.

Oh, this one killed me you guys! So sweet and romantic and incredibly well done in such a short format.  I am not usually one to choke up at books but I was definitely weepy with some happy tears at the end of this one.

So for starters, it is hard to believe this is a short story. Parker manages to pack so much into less than 50 pages it is really amazing.  Sometimes I feel like short stories end up feeling like just an outline, or give us only a snapshot of a bigger story.  But here it is so well crafted and richly detailed, I was totally drawn in and immersed in these guys’ lives.

Both Sean and Gavin are well developed and distinct in their personalities. I could really understand where each guy was coming from and how their pasts had shaped the way they deal with life.  We have probably all read the statistics on the number of homeless youth who are LGBT kids kicked out of their homes, but seeing it portrayed here really makes the devastation clear.  Sean was a smart kid who was going somewhere in life.  And his mother’s hatred and homophobia destroyed that life, ripping him away from all semblance of normalcy and forcing him to do unthinking things in order to survive.  The horrible things she said to him before he left are still etched in his mind.  But Sean is still determined to make it, to find a way out of the awful situation he has been forced to endure, and to make a life for himself.   We get the story from Sean’s POV so his background and emotions are clearer, but I think Gavin is also quite well done.  We can see his bravado masking the lack of confidence, the feelings of not being good enough.  Yet he is fiercely protective over Sean and determined that Sean find a better life, even if it means Gavin has to continue to sacrifice himself to do it.

And oh, the ending. Yes, I teared up. Yes, it is a bit pat and maybe a tiny bit too perfect. But I don’t care, because I loved it and it warmed my heart and made me smile.  Really beautifully done and a great holiday story.  Definitely the best one I have read this season.

Cover review: I was sort of disappointed in this one. I know this is standard holiday cover fare and MLR uses it on more than story this time of year. But it is so ill fitting for this particular story which is not a jolly guy in a santa hat type book. These guys are much younger and I would have loved to see a cover that focused on the the two of them and the bond they share.