Charlie Yates is determined to make it home from college for Christmas. His sister Ava is in remission from leukemia, and Charlie promised her he would be home for the holidays. But bad weather has cancelled his flight and there seem to be no other options. Charlie even considers renting a car and driving across the country, but there are no cars left. Just as he is about to resign himself to missing Ava’s holiday, Charlie learns that a childhood friend turned enemy, Gavin Bloomberg, has the last car. The two haven’t spoken in years, but Gavin agrees to let Charlie share the car so he can get home to see his sister.
When the guys were starting 9th grade, they fell for one another. But mistakes on both their parts caused a rift that left them not speaking throughout high school. Now they are in college in the same city, but can barely manage to talk to one another. Hours in a car together force Charlie and Gavin to face up to their past and try to hash through some of the pain and misunderstanding. As they face long roads, nasty weather, and continued delays, the guys also find themselves reconnecting, and even rekindling the love they had between them. But Gavin still isn’t out to anyone, and both men are uncertain about what the future will bring for them. But as they race to make it home for the holidays, Gavin and Charlie may find that the love they once shared is still alive.
Ok, so this book is like a laundry list of my favorite tropes. Enemies to lovers. Road trips. Holiday stories. Young love. And not quite snowbound, but close enough. It hits so many of my buttons and I found this story totally satisfying. Charlie and Gavin start off the story hating each other. They had fallen for each other when Gavin first moved onto Charlie’s street as they started high school. But both made mistakes that left them not speaking for years. We can see that the hurt is still raw, mostly because they obviously still have feelings for one another. And over the course of their trip, they slowly begin to talk about their past and move forward. We don’t get a ton of reflection on what happened, as they mostly admit their mistakes and move on. But it is enough to give us a sense of their past and understand how they got to where they are now.
Lovers reunited themes can sometimes be rough as there is usually a bad guy and it can take time for a reader to move past the screwup. But in this case, both guys made mistakes, and their mistakes were totally understandable given their young ages. They were just teenagers struggling to figure out their feelings. And though they are still young men, they are now able to admit mistakes and move forward. So we get that wonderful sense of love rekindled, of guys who think they hate each other realizing they in fact love each other. And I couldn’t help but really like both of them.
The story is sweet and, despite the early conflict between them, a very easy read. The tension splits between the guys figuring out their relationship and Charlie getting home to Ava. He is a doting big brother and she is an adorable girl, and it is so sweet to see them together. She has had a rough two years and he is determined to be there for her. And we get all that rolled up in a sweet holiday story with enough spice mixed in.
I will mention that the POV shifts pretty regularly between the two guys, and although each section is clearly labeled with the narrator, I did find I often had to orient myself mentally as to whose head we were in.
So I really loved this one and I think it this is a lovely holiday story that is super satisfying. If you like two sweet (and sexy) young men who find their way back to each other in the midst of holiday season, I think you will really enjoy If Only in My Dreams.