Christian Matthews is working in his best friend’s pastry shop when in walks Daniel Bailey. Chris knew the man in college, tutored him in fact, and had a huge crush on him. But seeing Daniel again make Chris all tongue tied and he can barely get a word out. He never thought he’d see the beautiful man again.
Turns out, Daniel tracked Chris down and went to the shop on purpose. Daniel wanted Chris back in college, but he felt he wasn’t good enough for the man, and wanted to get his life on track before he made a move. Now, ten years later, Daniel is a cop and settled, and he wants Chris in his life. As the two men get to know each other, it’s clear the spark is still there.
But Chris’s life is a mess. Having been fired from his teaching position at a Christian school for being gay, he’s chosen not to fight the dismissal. But it’s a hit to his self-esteem, and he’s at loose ends. When Chris’s ex comes back into the picture, an altercation ensues, and Daniel is called to the scene. It’s only then that Daniel learns everything that’s been going on with Chris, and Chris thinks he’s lost Daniel and the budding relationship they were building. When he finds out he hasn’t, and what Daniel has done for him, Chris is relieved. But that feeling is short lived. When Daniel is injured in the line of duty, the two men must reevaluate their lives and figure out how to balance their wants and desires with practicalities, and figure out if they can make their relationship last.
Okay, I admit it. This book pushes all my hot buttons. Set at Christmas time, it’s about two men who missed their opportunity to be together ten years before, and now have a chance at the relationship they’ve both wanted. So a holiday story, a reunion, a second chance at love, and a broken hero? Yes, please! And Scott does a really fantastic job of giving us a great plot and great characters. I also admit that I had forgotten I’d read it before until I opened the book and started reading again, and then I was thrilled to be revisiting these guys and their story.
Chris is a bit broken. He’s had his dreams crushed and his self-esteem shattered. Being fired by a school where he loved teaching, just for his sexuality and on trumped up charges, has really done a number on him. It was easy to feel his pain at the situation, and he’s drawn so clearly for us, that I couldn’t help but feel for him. I understood his motivation and his desire not to fight it, to let it all go away. It hurt him deeply, but he doesn’t have that kind of fight in him. Even though he has his best friend, Ame, to help him, it isn’t until he has Daniel’s support—and Daniel’s intervention—that he can really gain back some of his confidence. I loved the way he evolved and grew throughout this story. And I really appreciated that his relationship with Daniel wasn’t some “magic” fix to his troubles. Instead, we saw that, as Chris had the unwavering support of the man he loved, he could begin to rebuild his life.
But things aren’t always easy for them and I think I liked that most of all. They have miscommunications and arguments. And it was real. Daniel is an alpha sort of guy, and he tracked Chris down so that he could start a relationship with him. He’s been pining for Chris since college, and he always intended to find Chris as soon as he could be the man that Chris deserved. I really liked Daniel’s assertiveness and conviction. But what I really enjoyed was that it was plain as day how much Daniel loves Chris. Nothing is insurmountable because Daniel will settle for nothing less than the man he loves being happy. I’ll admit that Daniel made me swoon just a little.
The bulk of this story takes place in the lead up to Christmas. I have to admit that I had just a tiny, little, almost insignificant quibble with the pacing. There were a couple of time jumps where I would have liked to see the action instead of missing it, and I would have really liked to see a bit more of their Christmas together. But honestly, this was a small thing because I enjoyed these characters and their journey so much.
I’m a big fan of Scott’s and New York Christmas is one of the prime examples why. Real characters, with real and believable emotions, this story gives us a nice holiday romance about two men finding themselves and each other.