Silas Waite does not get along with his super conservative family, aside from his sister, Elisha, and he is just as happy living all the way across the country from them. When his parents try to make Silas come home for Thanksgiving, it’s the last thing he wants, and fortunately, his roommate, Constantino “Dino” Papadimitriou, steps in. Dino tells Silas’ parents that the two are dating and Silas is already promised at Dino’s house for the holiday. It seems like the perfect solution until Silas gets an invitation to Elisha’s last minute Christmas wedding — and Dino is expected as his date. The guys consider pretending to have broken up, but that still leaves Silas facing his awful family all alone. When Dino offers to accompany Silas to the wedding and play along as his boyfriend, the guys decide to continue the charade a bit longer.
When Silas and Dino arrive for the wedding, things are just as bad as Silas anticipated. His parents and brothers are awful to him, particularly his brother Manny. Silas’ family makes it clear they are uncomfortable with him being openly in a relationship — him being gay is fine when it makes Manny’s conservative political campaign look tolerant, but far less palatable when they actually have to see Silas with a man. But being with Dino is also wonderful for Silas. The two have become close friends over the past months as roommates and Dino’s care and support during the trip is helping hold Silas together. Silas is realizing there could be more to his feelings for Dino, but with the two of them still hiding the truth, it is going to be hard to find a happy ending.
Faux Ho Ho is a totally delightful and lovely holiday story. I fell in love with Silas and Dino and rooted for them to make it work together throughout the book. Both are sweet, kind, and generous people; they are “givers” as Dino would say, and each man is truly caring about others. I couldn’t help but love them and really enjoyed seeing their progressions from strangers, to roommates, to friends, and ultimately more.
The story has an interesting structure, as we start in December with Silas racing to the airport. We don’t know what has happened, only that he is in a hurry. Then we go back a few months to when the guys get the invitation to wedding. The book then alternates between the present timeline in a linear fashion, as well as jumping us back to the past as we see the men meet and various chapter focusing on their lives together before the boyfriend ruse. It could have felt confusing, but I actually think this structure works really well. The book starts us off with the excitement of the big, unknown crisis, and then takes us back in time to learn how it all came about. The current timeline shows the guys dealing with the fake boyfriend fallout, making wedding plans, and ultimately attending, and the past timeline lets us see the bond forming between the two of them. Even if it is not clear to Silas how important Dino is to him, it becomes quite obvious to us as readers through these scenes. There were a few times when I had to orient myself a bit as to the timeline, but the chapters are labeled with the months, so I just got in the habit of checking with each new chapter.
The book is mostly Silas’ journey and we see him taking a stand for himself here in this story. His family is terrible and he is sort of conflict avoidant, so he ends up taking a lot of crap from them. Silas doesn’t have a lot of self confidence and part of his journey, both alone and with Dino, is learning to believe in himself. Dino is such an all around supportive guy, he helps Silas feel stronger. He teaches Silas to swim and together they learn to kick box. He also encourages Silas on the app he is developing. And when they are at the wedding and Silas is struggling, Dino is right there for him. This support is what gives Silas the confidence to stand up for himself when needed and to really fight for what he wants. We get a lot of insight into Silas’ character and his growth, but Dino isn’t quite as well developed. Dino is pretty much perfect and amazing and what we learn about him is mostly in reflection of and reaction to Silas, rather than Dino himself. But again, this story is really about Silas’ growth and so it makes sense for him to be the focal point.
Faux Ho Ho is part of the author’s Little Village universe of books. The stories all stand alone and don’t really need to be read in order, but characters and locations from Handmade Holidays and one of the stories from Of Echoes Born appear here. I haven’t read the other books and had zero issues following along here, though I could guess the cameo characters. The Village is the neighborhood Silas and Dino live in, and Burgoine brings a nice sense of place and community to the story. There is also a lovely diversity to the cast of characters, which I really appreciated.
Overall, I found this story incredibly charming. I loved Dino and Silas and enjoyed watching their relationship grow, as well as seeing the way the way they support one another so strongly. I cheered for Silas as he found his voice with Dino’s support and found the story to be quite rewarding. While there is no on page sex here, I could feel both the chemistry between the men, as well as the strong emotional bond between them. I really enjoyed Faux Ho Ho and it makes a wonderful choice for fans of the fake boyfriend trope, holiday stories, and appealing heroes who will leave you happy.