Rating: 1 star
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I need to start this review by stating that I have enjoyed many stories by the writing team of Ari McKay. Their novellas are well written and interesting. Unfortunately, Holiday Hootenanny does not fall into that category for me.
The story is actually quite simple. Josh and Clint are at a place in their relationship where the next step is a huge commitment of both living together and potentially marrying. However, while Josh has met Clint’s parents several times, Clint still remains a secret to Josh’s family. It seems that the last man who meant anything to Josh left him over his family’s somewhat intrusive and rude behavior. Akin to a hive of friendly hornets, the country cousins and siblings swarmed Josh’s last boyfriend and scared him off. Unjustly terrified that the same thing will happen with Clint, Josh reluctantly takes him home to meet the “herd” of relatives and, in essence, watches for his boyfriend to lose it and leave him. But Clint is determined to hang in and, despite the literally hundreds of relatives, manages to make it through only to get exasperated by what appears to be Josh’s lack of faith in him, their partnership, and their future.
First, I have to say that this story simply beat a dead horse theme for way too many pages. A few instances where relatives were obnoxious was understandable, but every other page had Josh making some dire remark about how he was so afraid Clint would walk out of his life due to his rude relations.
Secondly, the relations themselves were so far fetched—so unbelievable. From the lesbian barkeep to the ancient Cherokee grandmother, everybody was so backwards yet so accepting. It was decidedly a strange thing when one minute they were calling Clint a city boy and the next asking about his and Josh’s sex-life. The idea that there was not one blood relative who had any problem with Josh being gay when these were people who ran an illegal still in the back country and who delivered their own babies was just too much too swallow. I could not buy into the idea that everyone of them save one of the aunt’s husbands were okay with Josh being gay—it simply was not in keeping with the way in which they were written as backwater hicks.
Also, the story itself was too simplistic for the amount of page space it took up. I felt as though this idea that Josh was so scared that Clint was going to leave him over his family’s behavior could have been covered in half the time. How many more relatives did we need to meet to make sure that Clint was going to be okay with them?
I have read so much excellent work by this writing team but this story suffered form lack of editing, a realistic plot, or believable characters. Holiday Hootenanny by Ari McKay left me decidedly bereft of holiday spirit.