The Mature Man’s Guide to Surviving Change by Chris Scully
This novella features a friends-to-lovers romance just in time for Christmas. Joel had admired Perry when he fell for Joel’s dear friend, Dale, more than a decade ago, but never let his feelings show. Dale passed away a couple of years ago and Perry grieved hard. Joel was a rock for Perry to lean on, making him special vegan dishes and spending quiet nights in, and he’s not ready for Perry to tell him that he’s ready to move on and start dating again. Joel is not happy when he learns a younger man is sniffing around Perry, and a “secret admirer” has been leaving perfect gifts for Perry’s Christmas. It’s more than Joel can bear. If he’s ever going to risk his heart, Joel knows he has to act fast, and get over his misplaced loyalty to Dale.
This story is a bit bittersweet, with both Perry and Joel still grieving Dale’s loss, but they find a way to lay the past to rest. They have different ideas about how to reach out to one another, and Perry’s definitely sending out the right signals. Joel just can’t trust himself. He’s never had a serious relationship, and he’s afraid to mess things up with Perry. Expect sexy motorcycle rides, conniving lovers, and last-minute plan changes that made everything all right. I liked Perry, and I liked how he handled Joel. It was a sweet and tender hurt/comfort read.
Nick is a college student working at a convenience store to pay his college expenses. He temporarily switches shifts to help out his boss and meets a dream of a man, Aaron, at way-too-early o’clock. Aaron is a laser-focused attorney who has trouble remembering special occasions and has an admin who isn’t best pleased with him. Over the course of several very early morning shifts, Nick and Aaron strike up some conversation. Nick helps Aaron out of two jams at work—by building gift baskets from the convenience store’s kitschy offerings. But Nick wants more than their brief interludes over the counter. Not that Nick believes he deserves such a sexy, accomplished man’s attentions. Yet, he’s thrilled when they inadvertently meet up at a local 5K and have a cut-throat race to the finish. Is Nick imagining their connection? It’s easy for Nick to see the worst in himself, and when it seems like Aaron’s stands him up, he’s sure that’s that. But it isn’t.
This is a sweet and fun romance. I liked Nick’s snark, and appreciated his unabashed crush on Aaron. Their banter was cute, and the end marks a new beginning for Nick and his equally smitten new boyfriend. Aaron is refreshing, a hyper-competitive athlete and an absent-minded boss, even as he’s a top-rate lawyer. They make a nice odd-couple, with Nick holding his own despite his youth and lack of experience.
Henry’s homeless on a bitter cold Pennsylvania Christmas Eve. With the wind chill below freezing, he can’t resist crawling into the open window he finds on a darkened house. Jim was planning to shower his new beau with dinner, sexy times, and gifts under the tree. That was before the big shocker that left him bereft, with a burned roast and tear-stained pillows. Waking on Christmas morning, Jim’s more than startled to find Henry dozing on the floor under his dining table, but this auspicious beginning leads to the sweetest happy ending either of them could have imagined.
An Open Window is a short read, but jammed with feels, tenderness, and the Christmas spirit. Jim generously offers Henry a lifeline, and it ends up saving both of them.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.