Narrator: Tristan Wright
Length: 4 hours and 4 minutes
Sloane is a college freshman and far from his parents who are world travelers. Sloane finds himself intrigued by Hank Springfield, a fellow fraternity member and the one guy who voted against admitting Sloane. Everything about Hank seems like a pile of contradictions and Sloane is dying to figure out more about him. But Hank pretty much hates Sloane and stays as far away from him as possible.
When Hank’s brother Micah, the fraternity president, forces the guys to work together on the Christmas party, the two do nothing but bicker and make each other crazy. Sloane thinks Hank is super hot, but Hank is also straight and clearly hates him. But as the guys are forced to deal with one another, they slowly begin to build a friendship. Sloane would love more, but knows he is never going to get it.
When Sloane’s parents bail on him for Christmas, Micah invites Sloane back to the family farm to celebrate the holiday with his family. Hank starts off pretty surly about it all, but soon the friendship that had been growing between him and Sloane starts to get stronger. Sloane would still like more, and maybe their beautiful holiday away will give him a chance to learn more about the mystery that is Hank.
This is a sweet, fun holiday tale with a nice enemies to lovers theme. The first part of the story focuses on the guys at college and their bickering and arguing as they try to plan the party together. Despite the fighting, there is a playfulness and a sense of fun to their arguments that takes the story from somber to entertaining. It is fun to see them pull their pranks and the banter between them as they slowly begin to find friendship amidst the hostility. We then move on to the Springfield’s home where the story gets more of a holiday shift. The family lives in a rural area on a farm filled with dogs and beautiful scenery and quirky but kind parents. Here we see both these guys start to move forward in their relationship, Hank come to terms with the fact that he is gay, and the two ultimately get together. I did feel like it took a bit longer than I wanted to see these guys settle into their relationship. Things don’t really escalate romantically until the end of the book and then the story is over, so I would have liked a little more time to see them together. But given this is a shorter story, I think the pacing mostly works well.
I also enjoyed the set up here, the “unwrapping” of Hank as Sloane tries to figure him out. It gives us insight into the personalities of both of these guys and Sloane’s list making about all the mysteries of Hank went nicely with the light tone of the story. All of it just is fun and easy and entertaining.
This is the first time I have listened to a book narrated by Tristan Wright and I found him excellent. He does a great job with distinct voices that fit the characters. At times Hank’s deep voice was a little too strained sounding, but for the most part the low rasp fit really well for the big, hulking guy. The pacing was good, the tone perfect, and the audio really nicely enhanced the stories. I would certainly recommend audio fans give this one a shot, and definitely would look for more stories narrated by Wright in the future.
So this story was very entertaining and I would certainly recommend it if you are in the mood for a fun holiday book. I enjoyed both the story and the audio and would recommend it in either format.
P.S. Easton based the Springfield’s farm on her own home (and the dog Grinch on her dog). She talks more about her home and shares some pictures in a post she did about the second book in the series, A Midwinter Night’s Dream, so check that out if you want to see more about it.