Casey Stevens is back home for the first time in the four years since leaving for college. He has needed some space to get out from under the thumb of his controlling parents and, with the help of some therapy, is learning to stand up for himself. It has also been four years since Casey has seen his childhood friend, Joel Vreeland. Casey fell hard for Joel in high school, but with Joel being straight, there was no future for them. Rather than face the pain of his unrequited feelings, Casey left for college and dropped all contact with Joel. But that hasn’t lessened his feelings, and now that Casey is close to graduating and getting his life together, he wants to rekindle things with Joel.
As it turns out, Joel did share Casey’s feelings in high school. It is just that with an abusive father, there was no way that Joel could come out. Now he works in the family hardware store and is struggling to make ends meet after having to sell the family home to pay for his father’s nursing home care. Joel is able to move past Casey ghosting him so long ago, but he is still quite wary about getting involved with him. Casey is just back for a couple of weeks for the holidays, and Joel knows that with Casey’s wealthy family and their connections, Casey is going big places. He can’t see how the two of them could ever make it work long term. But his attraction to Casey is still strong and Joel figures if all he will get out of this fling are some wonderful memories, it is worth it.
The guys find that their feelings are just as intense as ever and they can’t stay away from each other. It is everything both men have dreamed about for years, and Joel finds himself letting down some of his walls and opening himself up emotionally to Casey. Yet between Casey’s family’s clear disapproval and Joel’s difficult financial situation, a future between them is uncertain and Joel is worried about getting hurt. Now the men have to decide what they are willing to risk for a chance to be together.
Mr. Frosty Pants is a sweet, lovers reunited story with some nice themes of finding yourself and fighting for what you want and deserve out of life. Both of these guys have had a rough time of it with their families. While outwardly all is well with Casey’s wealthy, successful family, behind the scenes they are disapproving and controlling. He is just learning to take a stand in his own life and reach for what he wants when he comes home for the holidays. For Joel’s part, his abusive father made it clear that being gay wasn’t an option. He is also struggling financially, barely making ends meet as he tries to keep the store afloat. His father is still emotionally abusive and Joel struggles between wanting to help care for the man and hoping for some scraps of affection, and accepting that a real relationship between them is likely not possible. So all this sets the backdrop for these guys reuniting at this point where they are just starting to feel ready to reach for what they really want out of life.
I think Blake does a great job here really building these characters and helping us understand them. They are still fairly young men and just settling into themselves. Joel is the titular “frosty pants” because he is a guy who puts up a lot of walls to mask his insecurities. He has always pushed Casey away as a sort of self preservation strategy, and Casey has always kept right on being there. As a reader, I enjoyed the journeys both of these guys have over the course of the book and I felt like I had a great sense of them as characters and their growth over the story. I did have a harder time connecting with them as a couple, however. We know that they were good friends and each had feelings for one another in high school. However, there is very little to give us a feel for that relationship beyond being told about it, and they pretty much jump immediately into all in once they reunite. Casey dropping Joel when he left for college is something that initially causes some issues, but he is forgiven quickly (a little too quickly for me, but that’s ok). From that point on, these guys are intimate (physically and emotionally) and are in this intense relationship almost immediately. I just felt like there was not enough time to see things grow between them before they are all in, or to fully understand the connection they had as teens. However, I still found these guys sweet and romantic together, it just wasn’t quite as intense as it could have been with more build up.
So overall I think this is a really nice holiday book. The themes of holiday and family are nicely integrated into this story of two young men finding themselves and figuring out their lives, while falling for one another. If you are looking for a heartwarming holiday story with a lovers reunited theme and guys overcoming class differences and family obstacles, give this one a try.