Sam has been in love with his best friend Ryan for a while now, though he’s kept his crush to himself. When Sam and Ryan head to a cabin in the countryside in Wales, they think they’ll be joined by their housemate Jon and his girlfriend. But Jon’s car breaks down, and then a freak snowstorm hits, meaning the two boys will be alone and stuck together for Christmas. Sam is nervous about spending so much time alone with Ryan, fearing that his secret will come out.
Ryan has been questioning his sexuality ever since Sam came out the year before. Knowing that Sam is gay made Ryan look at Sam in a new light, and there was no denying the jealousy he felt when Sam had a boyfriend. He’s still confused and working things out, but after too many drinks, Ryan confesses to Sam how much he wants to kiss him. The next day, they finally act on it, which leads to more.
But when the snow clears, and Sam has to go home to help take care of his siblings, neither man knows if what they shared is going to continue. Thinking that Ryan’s confusion is actually refusal, Sam says they can remain friends. Ryan thinks that’s what Sam wants. But it’s not as simple as that and they think that they’ve ruined their friendship. Or, perhaps, they both really do want it to be more.
I’m a sucker for a good “snowed in” story, and Sam and Ryan made this one really enjoyable. Here we have two guys, one thinking he’s crushing on his straight best friend, the other just coming to terms with his sexuality because of his best friend. When they get trapped together, you know where it’s going to end up. But Northcote does a really great job of giving us a sweet plot with some wonderful idiosyncrasies that make the story feel fresh and new.
Ryan had my heart from the beginning. He was so shaky and unsure about what it was that he wanted. Except he knew he cared for Sam a great deal, and that his jealousy was the catalyst for his questioning his sexuality. I liked that he seriously contemplated what it would do to their friendship if he tried for something more with Sam, and that, in the end, he had to go with his heart. And Sam, for his part, didn’t push for more than Ryan could give. These guys were great friends to begin with and it was natural for their relationship to move to the next level. The author gave their relationship a real organic feeling, and I liked that immensely.
Not communicating was their biggest hurdle here, and for the most part, it worked really well. Given both characters’ states of mind, it was believable. I did feel, towards the end, that it dragged on just a wee bit too long. But, like I said, for these guys, it was only natural that they would think they knew what the other one wanted and not actually talk about it. But when they finally got past that, let me tell you, it was so very satisfying. Ryan’s outburst was absolutely perfect and I loved the way it all came together.
There’s nothing exactly new here in this plot, but Northcote told it in such a way that kept me engaged. I was invested in these characters, and I wanted to see the whole thing play out. I loved that there weren’t a lot of secondary characters to get involved, because it really only needed the two MCs. And those that we did get, like sweet, elderly Mari, were wonderfully portrayed and gave the story depth.
This was a sweet little story that I very much enjoyed. And if you love the holiday tales as I do, then this one absolutely needs to go on your list.