Derek Henderson is in a tough position. His father has recently stepped down from the family business, Henderson McCormack Advertising, leaving his son in charge. Almost overnight the people Derek worked with went from calling him by his name to calling him ‘sir,’ and it’s slowly getting on his nerves. Add to that his mother is so desperate to see him happy with someone that she keeps trying to find him dates. It’s gotten so bad that Derek did the stupidest thing and created a fake boyfriend, Marcus. Marcus the firefighter who rescued kittens, took care of Derek, and doesn’t exist. And yet, somehow Derek has to present the man to his parents when they invite him to lunch. Fortunately for Derek, the AlGetz Agency just so happens to have a tall, dark haired ex-firefighter on the roster (sort of) who could use the money and wouldn’t mind a few free meals.
It’s almost a Christmas miracle! Derek shows up with his ‘date,’ proves to his parents he’s not lonely and bitter on the holidays, and they can ‘break up’ after New Years. Luke gets thirty thousand dollars to fix up his bar with a bit of change left over to help take care of his mother and sister — his father died in 9/11 leaving the bar, and debt, behind — and a free suit in the bargain. The problem is… Luke kind of likes Derek. And Derek… well, Marcus was his perfect dream date, but there’s something about Luke that’s even better than perfection.
This is a pleasant and mild story about two people who just so happen to be in the right place at the right time during the ever-so-slightly magical season of Christmas. They meet, they flirt, they fall in love, and then have to deal with the fall-out of their fake relationship. Fortunately for both of them, everyone loves a love story and the book ends with a Christmas cookie flavored happily ever after.
Derek is slightly neurotic, a little tightly wound and has issues with stubborness. He has nothing against taking his father’s place or going along with his father’s ideas, he just wants his father to know — and everyone else, while he’s at it — that he’s doing so, has done so, because he thought it was a good idea on his own. It’s almost as if he’s so eager to push back against a wall that really isn’t there so he feels he has to make one. I never really understood where his attempts at angst were coming from.
Luke is calm, easy going, and an all-around decent person. He was a firefighter until a wall fell on him, damaging his leg and leaving him with a permanent limp. He’s also trying to fix up his dad’s bar, which is the only reason he goes along with his friend Al in taking this escort job. He tried getting a loan at the bank, but it didn’t pan out. For someone who had the right to have a bit of angst of his own, Luke doesn’t really seem to let it — or anything — bother him.
Together they make a pleasant couple with a few cute moments, but at first glance there’s not much more to this cookie-flavored snack than frosting. It’s a quick read, well-written, and tightly paced, but there’s not much character developement. Ordinarily I might mention character development, world-building, other small nit-picks, but that’s not the point of this story.
Derek was so very unhappy before he met Luke. It almost made it feel as if Derek just needed to get laid — and maybe that’s because that’s pretty much what it was. Being an only child, smothered by his parents and suddenly thrust into a new position at work where he was isolated and shunned as being too good to hang with the real workers, Derek needed someone to give him a hug and tell him it was going to be okay. Not from his mother who wanted to protect him or his father who had expectations of him as his son and heir, but from Luke who saw Derek — not as something to protect or take care of — but as his boyfriend who truly was a pretty kick-ass artist.
In turn, Derek wasn’t looking at Luke as someone who’d been injured. He didn’t know the Luke of before when he was a flashy firefighter, he only knows the Luke in front of him. Limp or no limp, the Luke right now, the one who charmed his mother and went to the office Christmas party for him, was the one he was in love with. They balanced each other out, had an adorable chemistry, and ended up staring in a white chocolate covered story of Christmas cuteness.