Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

[brf]

Derek has a crush on the hot guy at Santa’s village. Tall, blonde, and beautiful, Flynn is one of the elves helping coral the children and parents who come to get their pictures taken for the Christmas holiday. Only, Flynn isn’t just playing at being an elf. While he isn’t one of Santa’s elves, Flynn is one of Mab’s fairies who has wandered away from home to visit the mortal world. He loves sugar in all its incarnations and he loves the new experiences, the bright lights, the cookies and cakes and endless treats… and he loves Derek.

Unfortunately, mortals don’t do well in Mab’s realm. If Derek choses to stay in the fairy world, he will never see his family again, never age, never see his dreams come true. But if Flynn decides to stay in the mortal realm, he runs the risk of losing his magic altogether. Flynn, you see, is a winter fairy. He needs the snow, the ice, and the cold. If he were to spend spring or summer in the human world, he runs the risk of melting away like snow.

Tit for Tat is a charming holiday romance complete with fudge and first times where two young men learn that — even though they’re not the strongest, fastest, or tallest — they deserve to be loved and that there’s a magic in loving someone and being loved in return. While it’s a little heavy on the sugar, there’s a bit of spice thrown in.

Derek has been saving himself for the right man. His ex boyfriend, Gregory, wasn’t that person, certainly not after he cheated on Derek. Somehow Gregory managed to keep all of their friends and his reputation while Derek, the one who was cheated on, was dumped by everyone. It’s left him feeling a little insecure. Fortunately, his mother plays cupid unknowingly as he uses her gift of cookies as a way to get to know Flynn.

Fairies can’t take gifts without giving something in return. Otherwise they’d owe the other person, and that’s not a good position for anyone to be in. So, Flynn magics up a pair of candy canes and gifts them to Derek, shrugging off the possibility that the human might not handle the magic well. When Derek eats the candy, which leaves him high as a kite, Flynn is quick to take care of him. While there’s a hint of guilt in it — fairies do tend to be amoral — there’s more curiosity. He wants to get to know Derek better, and when Derek responds to his cautious overtures, Flynn is delighted.

Their relationship moves along quickly. Flynn is careful to always ask for consent, unwilling to push Derek beyond what he’s comfortable with, but he really, really wants to get into Derek’s pants. For both of them, the physical relationship grows more swiftly than the other side of it. Derek isn’t all that interested in Flynn’s past; he doesn’t even know or care how old he is or where his parents are or where he’s from until Derek’s mother asks about it. The two of them jump from liking to loving so very quickly, but it didn’t feel rushed. A little shallow, yes, but not rushed and not insincere. Flynn is from a very open and sexually agressive court and finds Derek’s slightly hesitant, but entirely sincere courtship to be wonderful. He has no shyness in asking questions, flirting, or even suggesting threesomes — more to please Derek than because he’s interested in Derek’s roommate — but when given a chance to flirt with someone else, declines.

Like Derek, Flynn has been a little overlooked in his life. His siblings are more attractive, more powerful, and are held in higher esteem than he is. It’s not that his family looks down at him, but none of them look at him the way Derek does, as if he’s wonderful, perfect, and everything Derek’s ever wanted. Flynn’s unabashed love for Derek, in return, helps strengthen Derek’s own resolve. When he has a chance to get a kick in at his ex, when Gregory is at a low point, instead he wishes him well in his life. And when Flynn is being attacked, Derek finds the strength to stand firm and do something about it.

There are some cute passages, such as:

“I don’t want to hold you back,” Derek said.

“We agreed this is a date, yes?”

“Yeah.”

“Then how could you possibly hold me back when the whole point is to spend time together?”

The writing is good and the pacing is smooth. You barely notice that a month has flown by (in the human world, at least) by the time you’re at the end. However, despite the visit to the fairy world and the audience with Mab, there isn’t really any fairy worldbuilding. It’s a full half of the story that isn’t dealt with, and the lack is noticeable. Other than the pointed ears, I never really got the feeling that Flynn was anything other than human. However, for a holiday story it’s cute, and I enjoyed Flynn’s addiction to sugar as well as the way Derek handled Gregory at the end.

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

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