Luke was recently laid off and is working as a Santa at the mall to make ends meet until his new job starts in January. It’s exhausting, and dealing with kids all day gets to him. Not to mention, he’s not exactly proud of the job. So when he meets a guy on Grindr who is actually interested in more than just a no strings hook up, Luke keeps his job to himself.
Theo hasn’t dated much since his son was born, as taking care of Archie takes up a good chunk of his free time. And the few guys he’s tried to date ran when they found out about his son. Chatting with Luke is great, and they agree to meet for a date. But Theo is determined to keep Archie a secret…at least for a little while.
The secret is blown when Theo and Archie show up at Santa’s grotto in the mall and Luke recognizes Theo. Luke doesn’t say anything though, and doesn’t let on that he knows about Archie as they begin dating. But secrets never stay secret for long and Luke’s is revealed. Now Luke and Theo have to figure out if they can get past the lies they told each other in order to have a merry Christmas.
This story was just adorable, with great chemistry from the characters. I always love a good holiday story and this book fits the bill. Even with the secrets and misdirection, which isn’t always a favorite thing of mine, Northcote makes the whole thing work.
The characters drive this story. I loved that they were just two sweet, big hearted guys who each had a little baggage to carry. And both had reasons for keeping part of their life a secret from the other. They had chemistry from the moment they met, even when it was just messaging. I couldn’t wait to see these guys get together and to watch it unfold.
Both Theo and Luke are fully formed characters, though I think Theo was a bit more developed. He felt a little more solid, whereas there were moments where I wanted Luke to have more substance. Theo, in particular, really endeared himself to me. His got a solid head on his shoulders, loves his son, and reads like a real person. And he’s perfect for Luke, who needs a little more joy and happiness in his life. The MCs really fit together, so even when they were on rocky footing, it still felt right and real.
I was a little surprised by how much I wasn’t bothered by the secret keeping. Usually, that really gets under my skin. But as I said, Northcote makes it work with valid reasons, and when the secrets are revealed, they actually sit down and have a conversation about it. They talk to each other like real adults, work it out, and move on. Though it happens a good ¾ of the way through the book, it’s the right time. The chemistry between them has been building in the right direction, and you know they can make it into the future.
I was also totally thrilled to see an epilogue on this story. When the last chapter ended, I had a heart stopping second of fear that the author would leave it there. But he doesn’t leave the reader hanging, and gives us a glimpse of their future. This was exactly the kind of epilogue I needed, and it really gave the book a finished feeling. And left me, and the characters, in a happy place.
This book has everything a good holiday story should. Great characters, a fun plot, and a warm, feel good feel. I enjoyed this book, and if you’re looking for a great holiday read, then add this one to your list.