Rating: 4 stars
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Donner is one of the Rein Dear in North Pole City. He is a solid guy who follows the rules and behaves well, unlike some of his Rein Dear brethren. Like many of the others in North Pole City, Donner is skeptical about Calder being in town. Calder is a Dockalfar, or dark elf. He is visiting to help his half brother, Cupid, learn to control his magic. Even though Dockalfars are generally evil and at odds with the citizens of North Pole City, Calder has shown his good side and Cupid believes in him, but Donner isn’t so sure.
Everywhere Calder goes, people are afraid of him. He understands why; his Dockalfar brother did try to stir up some serious trouble, and in general Dockalfars practice dark magic. But Calder wants nothing to do with that side of himself. He is good and kind and just wants to find someone to love, though he doubts that is even possible given how most folks view him.
When a crisis hits North Pole City, Calder has a chance to show his true colors. Donner sees that there is much more to Calder than he once thought, and finally acts on his attraction to the hunky elf. But not everyone is willing to let Calder forget his past, and it will take the support of Donner and his new friends for Calder to prove he is the good man Donner believes him to be.
Disarming Donner is the fifth book in Charlie Cochet’s fun North Pole City Tales series. The books take the characters from Christmas stories and bring them to life, with Rein Dears who fly bi-planes to deliver presents, a toy solider army, and Jack Frost marrying the redheaded Rudy. I really enjoy this series because it is just light, easy entertainment. Cochet has done a wonderful job with the little details, building the world throughout the series and making it all so creative and clever.
This story has an enemies to lovers vibe, as Donner starts off the book not trusting Calder. It is in part because Calder is a Dockalfar, and the Christmas elves have long been scared of them, with good reason. But it is clear that Donner is also attracted to the big, hulking man, and that is making him uncomfortable too. It take some time before Donner comes to see that Calder is a good man, despite his background, and to begin to trust him. The relationship here is not overly developed, though we do get a sense of both men. The story is a short novella so there isn’t a lot of time to really explore things between them, but I think that the fact that this is a series and we are already familiar with this world and these characters helps a lot. I think you can read this book as a stand alone, but I do think having the background on the world and the various characters who appear here is beneficial.
I will say that at times I felt Donner was a little too sweet and child-like, and this made the initial sex scene a bit awkward for me. I didn’t feel this way with the other stories about the Christmas elves, so I think this is just the vibe I got from Donner. But I do like the sweet way the romance develops and the nice message of looking beyond the surface.
I continue to really enjoy the North Pole City Tales and this is another nice installment. If you are looking for a fun, clever series to read this holiday season, definitely take a look at Disarming Donner and the rest of the North Pole City Tales.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.