Grateful by Kim Fielding
With a home visit for Hanukkah pending, Nate Roth finds himself dreading the holiday, not only because he’s broken an arm and has bruises galore, but because his family always seems to get down on him about his lack of relationship and his risk taking. Then disaster hits when Nate discovers he left his gifts at home. When he runs into Gio at a rest stop, things turn around for Nate. With Gio’s help, Nate realizes that maybe the holidays, and especially his family, aren’t so bad after all.
This story is adorable. Short, but adorable. To be honest, I was all in with hopes of sweet family time, the beginning of a new and fun relationship, and sappy warm feelings. I don’t even mind the lack of booty time because it fits the story. My problem was the complete skipping over the relationship building and dive into the end of the story. It’s not a bad story. I truly enjoyed the reparation of Nate and his family and Nate’s eye-opening experience. But I felt his relationship with Gio and especially the end of the short were lacking.
Loving and Loathing Vegas by Lex Chase
Jackson has been in love with his roommate and fellow incubus forever, but Vegas doesn’t feel the same way, which is proven when Vegas makes a bet with Jackson: make someone fall in love with you by Christmas and we’ll close down the diner on every holiday. Jackson is all for this plan, even if incubi are not known for falling in love, but then they find a baby by the trash in the alley, a baby who will only let Jackson hold her. With Jeshebet as his constant companion, Jackson learns what true love and selflessness is. And in the end, he might find the one thing he’s always longed for.
This story is too cute and completely unique. I would not have thought incubi in the sense of the holiday season (unless it’s Valentine’s Day, then bring on the lust demons), but here they really work. Chase brings out a new world of the absurd, including making a level of hell urban and hilarious. The characters and personalities in this story are fantastic—including Jeshebet. Jackson’s journey from selfish demon with a long-time crush to selfless demon who wants to be a father is what this story is about. Although I’m a little sad we didn’t get to learn where Jeshebet truly came from, but that’s my only sad. Otherwise, this story is funny, sweet, and adorable. Definitely a winter winner.
Old Acquaintance by Avon Gale
Medical database software creator Andrew Starling is spending his first New Year’s alone after his recent divorce from his college sweetheart. Living in a beach house his ex-wife wanted, designed, and decorated, Andrew wants for nothing after the sale of his software. Nothing except finding himself. Then Elias Rivas walks into Andrew’s life in the form of a waiter at the neighborhood New Year’s Eve party and changes Andrew’s life. Suddenly, Andrew is learning things about himself he never knew.
I liked this story okay, but that was just it. It was okay. For one, it’s a little ho-hum in the tone, far sadder than what I look for in a holiday short. I use sad a little liberally because it’s that or depressing, and depressing sounds a bit too strong a term for this one. I like that Andrew is finding himself, even late in life. And a definite plus is the May/December pairing, but I just felt like this story started to slow and ended too early with a lot of just okay in the middle.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.