Lane’s parents were killed when he was fifteen and he was then moved from one foster home to the next. When he aged out of the system at 18, Lane was left on his own and after moving from place to place, he wound up in Christmas Valley. Lane now has a tiny apartment, a cat, and a job at Tal’s restaurant. He also still has low self esteem and unbearable shyness. Tal has been good to him, despite being taken advantage of by other drifters passing through, and for the first time Lane thinks about staying in one place. That is until Tal’s brother, Trey, comes to visit for the holidays.
Trey is instantly suspicious of Lane and makes it known. But Trey realizes his mistake and he starts to feel for the skittish young man. When a snowstorm has the men seeking shelter together in close quarters, they start to generate their own heat, but Lane’s convinced he’s not worthy of anything or anyone and it’s up to Trey to get Lane to let him in.
Sometimes you know from the beginning of a book that it’s just not the book for you and this was most definitely the case here. While I could certainly understand Lane’s tragic circumstances, I never did warm up to him. After his parents died in a car accident (the most predictable way for parental death in romance novels in my experience), he did have it rough, but his overwhelming shyness and complete hesitation didn’t read well for me.
One of the largest issues here was Trey from the moment he appeared. Trey is protective of his brother and immediately is all over Lane, convinced that Lane is planning to steal from Tal. When I say all over, I mean verbally as well as physically as he’s grabbing Lane’s face forcefully to make him look at him and it was so over the top and abusive. Trey soon realizes the error of his ways and apologizes and all is good. He inserts himself into Lane’s life and won’t take no for an answer. Then, within one conversation Lane thinks Trey is “kind and amazing,” and Trey is telling Lane that this town is his home now and he’s never leaving. It was literary whiplash.
The men get trapped in a snowstorm without electricity and the plan is to walk to Trey’s parents’ house. Much of the snow is up to or past Trey‘s knees, yet he carries Lane, with the cat zipped into Lane’s jacket, on his back, for hours. Seriously, it’s described as hours that he carries Lane and the cat through a blizzard. When they arrive, Lane gets to know the entire family. But, even though Lane has told Trey he’s hesitant and scared about something more between them, Trey still keeps trying and kisses Lane, because Trey knows what’s best for him, only to have Lane run to the bathroom to hide from Trey. Trey would then apologize…and… repeat. You know, Trey was kind of a jerk.
There are then pages and pages and pages of them playing board games; Scrabble, Monopoly, and Chess are named. Lane reads War and Peace, Lane gets scolded by mom for chewing with his mouth open, they make hot chocolate, they wash dishes, and whoa this story was lulling me into a coma. And speaking of coma, there was the 11th hour drama that read as forced and rushed and really by that time, I had been done many times over.
The writing overall came off to me as juvenile and immature and Trey came off as nothing more than an overgrown demanding child. This was the book that I forced myself to finish and, you know, it’s just not supposed to go like that.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.