Gregory Peck hates the cold, he despises crowds, and he hates being made fun of, which is what he is sure is coming when gifts begin arriving on his desk. As personal assistant to Carl Bourdon, the Frenchman shipped over to get the company in shape, Gregory spends his days in the midst of plenty of stress. The last thing he needs is more added to the mountain. And that’s exactly what his Secret Santa is doing.
On top of the ever increasing gifts, Mr. Montgomery—Ashley—one of the higher ups is acting strange, always hanging around. Gregory’s mother reveals her new girlfriend and plans to spend Christmas in another state. And Gregory’s ex, who disappeared a year ago, is suddenly showing up at the most inopportune of times. To top it off, Gregory blows a fuse or six right before Christmas.
But things look up for him when his budding friendship with Ashley takes an unexpected turn. With the world threatening to drive him mad, Ashley is a grounding force. With Ashley at his side, Gregory faces things he’d never thought to overcome, but will Ashley still be there when all is said and done?
Dust of Snow is the first book I’ve read of Indra Vaughn’s and I absolutely loved it. As it’s no secret that I absolutely adore Christmas stories, it took me all of two seconds to decide on this one after reading the blurb, and I’m glad I did. From beginning to end, I was engrossed in Gregory’s life and his need to be loved, whether he realized it or not, and his journey of healing, which he certainly did not realize. This is more than a Christmas story, though it has all the heartwarming, aww moments that make it a must read holiday story for me. It’s a story of finding love when least expected, in the midst of chaos. It’s an unexpected journey of healing.
Gregory is a workaholic to the point that he pops antacids daily to relieve the work-related tummy stress. He’s so focused on his job that he doesn’t see the things going on around him, namely the man pining for him from the corner office. Okay, admittedly, I am not certain that Ashley’s office is a corner office, but you get my drift. Gregory is also so busy pining over the man he considered his long lost love, which he doesn’t realize until too late the mental emotional abuse he suffered at the man’s hand. All of this is resolved with the entry of Ashley into his life. Ashley gives Gregory someone to care about and to take care of. He gives Gregory a reason to find his confidence again. Gregory doesn’t change for Ashley—don’t get me wrong. He rediscovers the man he’s always been with Ashley’s help. Their pairing is a lovely friends-to-lovers relationship full of light-heartedness and jealousy with a hint of admiration. It’s adorable from the very beginning.
I love the feel of this story—bumbling and chaotic for Gregory. He’s in a place in his life where everything is so structured and timed out that adding a new friend—someone who actually wants to be part of his life—is beyond his comprehension. This story is fabulously written and full of color and life and emotion. There were times my heart broke for poor Gregory, thinking he’d never catch a break, but then I saw that his break was waiting in the form of Ashley all along. Although, I already knew that. It was still nice to see it come full circle.
In with the silliness and chaos, Vaughn inserts some pretty deep topics. First the topic of abuse—physical, emotional, and mental. Gregory grew up with a physically abusive father and saw how it affected his mother. It’s a horrible event that strengthened the bond between mother and son, luckily, but could have gone both ways. Then the more subtle subject of mental and emotional abuse. That one is harder for Gregory to decipher as it’s part of his own life and he really doesn’t want to face it. As he pieces it together with Ashley’s help, my heart hurt so much for both of them. And finally there was Ashley’s sickness. Ashley suffered from hypnic headaches in combination with nightmares and sleepwalking. The focus here is the partner with a debilitating ailment. I loved Gregory’s need to jump in and comfort Ashley when Ashley expected him to run away.
All in all, this story goes above and beyond my expectations. It’s light when light is needed, but gives way to a bit of seriousness when called for, though not too much. It’s just right. I’d dare say perfect. I highly recommend Dust of Snow by Indra Vaughn.
Cover: It’s been a while since I’ve commented on a cover, but I thought I’d jot down a few notes on this one. Whereas, the cover is very eye catching, it’s not very relevant to the story itself. At first glance, I thought maybe the book was a paranormal about a domestic cat shifter. Though there is a cat involved somewhat prominently in this story, he’s not the main focus, so I find it odd that he’s such a big part of this cover. Also, if the guy on the front cover is supposed to be either Gregory or Ashley, I’m not convinced. He resembles neither man as described in the book. Yes, I adored this book and the cover is lovely, but it doesn’t match what’s on the pages.