Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

What better holiday gift for two men who can’t stand each other than to make them take an hours long car trip in the snow together right before Christmas? Patrick can’t stand Kyle, and Kyle can’t resist pushing all of Patrick’s buttons since the older man is so very easy to get a rise out of, even if he does get tired of Patrick’s sour looks. When the snow starts coming down heavier than expected and Kyle’s car gives out on the road, the two men have little choice but to walk a few miles to the nearest small town where there’s no room at the inn. Instead, they must share the tiniest of tiny cabins with a cranky old woman as their landlord and one bed for the two of them to share.

Between a childish snowball fight and a well-earned spanking, Kyle and Patrick find a way to light one another’s fire, but while Kyle isn’t adverse to a quickie here or there, Patrick wants more than a one night stand. Just as the two men are starting to feel in the holiday spirit — with a little wine, a little walk and a well-placed mistletoe — they have their first fight, a fight so bitter and unpleasant it may well be there last.

Can a lonely woman and her dog, and a bit of patience and understanding, bring peace to two hurt and lonely men? Is the Christmas spirit strong enough to give the two men the gift of love they both so earnestly want and deserve?

This is the sort of cozy Christmas story that warms the cockles of my heart. It’s charming and cute with enough snark and steam to keep the sweetness from being cloying. I think the author managed to evoke the feeling of being snug in a warm cabin while the world outside is covered in knee deep snow and the crankly old woman turned out to be a gentle matchmaker without being either a cliche or a joke.

Patrick and Kyle are very much oposites. Patrick’s a bit of a slob and Kyle likes things neat, even going so far as to tidy other people’s desks and kitchens for them given half the chance. Patrick likes the outdoors and Kyle likes his phone. And a chair to sit in while he’s on his phone. But, for all their differences, the two men are kindred spirits where it counts. When they discover their landlady needs a bit of help thanks to the sudden snowstorm, both man are quick to offer their help.

Kyle is a young man who has an active libido — and an active sex life. Owing to a tragic first love when he was 18, he’s sworn off relationships. Kyle doesn’t want to be hurt again; he just wants to have a bit of fun. And yet, when he’s curled up next to Patrick there’s a part of him that wants to just … snuggle up and let himself be held and to never let go. (Part of that might also be because it’s cold outside and it’s warm in bed under the blankets, but it’s only a small part.)

Patrick, too, has had a difficult past. His last lover of three years — whom he was going to marry — was cheating on him using Grindr, an app Kyle is on practically hourly. Patrick hasn’t had a relationship, a date, or even a fling in the past year, and when Kyle begins flirting, Patrick finds it harder and harder to say no, especially when it turns out Kyle isn’t adverse to Patrick’s secret kink.

Patrick has never induldged in spanking anyone, and when Kyle agrees to try it, Patrick is both surprised and turned on. Patrick enjoys the power and Kyle enjoys the hints of humiliation that come with their role-playing as much as he finds himself responding to the spanking itself. The scenes between them are touching, as Patrick often takes the time to ask if Kyle’s okay, if the pain is too much, or if Kyle wants him to stop, or hit softer or harder. The two of them are constantly active in the moment, reassuring one another even as they take pleasure from one another.

When they have their argument, you can see where both men are coming from and the shapes of their anger and their pain. A quick “I’m sorry,” no matter how sincere, doesn’t end the fight. Both characters have to take time to evaluate their feelings and, when they finally do come together to talk about it, they take the time to honestly consider the other person’s side of the problem.

For me, this was a perfect Christmas story. Two grown up men (though I’m not sure Kyle entirely deserves that moniker) having grown up conversations about sex and relationships while listening to holiday carols, throwing together a makeshift Christmas dinner, and finding their way into a bright new future with one another as friends as well as lovers. Personally, I enjoyed every part of this book. If you like snark with with your sex and a bit of snow, you should give this book a try. I am definitely looking forward to more stories by this author.