Rating: 3.75 stars
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Dominic has had an eventful Christmas season so far. His wife has left him after he called out a man’s name in the throes of passion instead of hers. Revolted, Eleanor took her things, and most of his, and ran as far away as possible, leaving Dominic to reflect on his past decisions and collect his bravery around him in order to make his future ones. Because what Dominic wants is to get together with the man whose name he called out – Reagan, their chimney sweep.
But Dominic has hidden his sexuality all his life, remaining steadfastly in the closet. That is not a place Reagan is familiar with as an out, proud, gay young man. After five years of lusting after a man he only sees once a year, will this be the year that Dominic comes clean, not only about who he is but who he loves?
Lillian Francis has given us a cute story of a closeted man who finally comes out of the closet after five years of marriage. Dominic has spent most of his marriage dreaming about Reagan, the chimney sweep who appears the Monday before Christmas without fail, until this year when he doesn’t show up. Desperate to see him again, Dominic calls and begs the sweep to come over to clean out his chimney so Dominic can have his Christmas fire. A roaring Christmas fire was Dominic’s only remembrance of his mother and his grandparents. After his mother died, his father never let his grandparents see him again, so once Dominic had his own home, a Christmas fire became a priority. And then seeing the sweep who came to clean out the chimney became a hidden priority as well.
Both Dominic and Reagan are sweet, lovely characters. Reagan is especially appealing in his earnest, caring way. Reagan has carried the torch for Dominic for years, never knowing his affections were returned. He is a lovely man, close to his mum, responsible, and definitely out. I would have loved to have seen much more of Reagan and his history.
And that is my biggest quibble with this story. I didn’t have enough background to know why Dominic was lacking substance. Was that intentional on the author’s part? Because to just give us a shallow, good looking man is not enough. Dominic has always chosen the easy path in life. His parents want him to marry? Done. He stays married to a woman he doesn’t love even though he knows it to be a lie. The only reason his wife left him was because of a inadvertent Freudian slip during sex. If Dominic had not called out Reagan’s name, he would still be married to Eleanor. I would have been far more invested in Dominic as a character had he chosen to do the right thing by ending his marriage and coming out instead of being outed by mistake. I also was not entirely happy with the author implying that Eleanor was a bit of a witch. You don’t have to make the wife a one note evil character in order to make the reader find the husband endearing, it’s just not necessary. Instead, Francis gives us a golden boy, shallow yet beautiful. Heart in the right place but just can’t be moved to do the right thing on his own. Quite frankly, I was thinking that Reagan should just get him out of his system and then go find someone worthy of him.
Oh, well. For those of you who can get past the lack of depth in a main character, then this is a sweet, lovely story of love in its first stages. There is miscommunication, longing looks, lovely talks before the fire, and a riot of a Mom who was really the best thing about the story. It is sweet, simple, and a really nice holiday story. Sometimes that is all you can ask for at the Holidays.