The Holly Groweth GreenRating: 3.75 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novella

It’s Christmas Eve, 1946, and Dr. Laurence Payne is trying to make his way back to London. Instead, he’s caught in a blizzard in the countryside. The war has ended and Laurence would like to see what kind of life could be waiting for him, but his brain injury leaves him turned around in the snow. He comes across a cottage where Avery is the only inhabitant. Avery welcomes Laurence into the cottage immediately and explains that he is a wizard from some time ago. Laurence is skeptical at first, but the atmosphere of the cottage can only be the result of magic.

Laurence has never seen anyone like Avery for the man shines like gold. When Avery asks Laurence to stay for the night, he agrees and one night turns into two, which turns into twelve. But at the end of the twelfth night, Laurence awakes to a cottage in disrepair and no sign of Avery.

Determined to find out what has gone on, Laurence is led to the story of an ancient curse where he learns Avery can only be in human form from Christmas Eve to Twelfth Night each year and that is his only opportunity to find his true love and break the curse. Laurence is determined to set Avery free and give Avery back his summers by giving him the only thing that will save him, the love in his heart.

Part historical, part fairy tale with a splash of charm and magic, Durreson crafts a heart-warming tale of true love.

As a doctor, Laurence aided those injured during the war. The war is now over, but his head injury remains, leaving Laurence unable to compute basic calculations and his future is uncertain. He stumbles upon Avery in a beautiful, warm cottage where the feast Avery is preparing defies the current rationing. Laurence questions the idea of Avery being a wizard, but all the while candles magically light, the fire still burns, and the men enjoy each other’s company. The men have a glorious holiday and while Laurence wants to see Avery again, he insists that he must return to London. That’s when everything changes.

I enjoyed this story overall. The writing is crisp and alluring with passages like this of their first kiss: “Then they were kissing, lips clinging and catching, and it was the sweetest thing Laurence had ever tasted, delight shivering through him as Avery laughed brightly and pulled him closer.” And there is also a true sense of the holiday season.

Once Avery disappears, it became less appealing to me, but that’s specifically my taste. The fairy tale aspect and the ensuing dream sequences didn’t resonate as much with me. The ending was also easy, all too brief, and not quite complete for my preference and I would have liked more magic and less fairy tale.

The writing impressed me though and I would certainly keep a look out for other works by Durreson. If the holiday season moves you, this book offers a well written tale with a hint of magic, a centuries old curse, and a taste of true love.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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