Bryan Graham lives in Nashville where he is an agent to several musicians. He’s definitely a workaholic, especially right now. One of his clients has checked into rehab and Bryan’s got a nightmare on his hands. Then Bryan gets the call that his grandfather has passed away…the grandfather who was a homophobe, turning his back on Bryan after being so cruel. Bryan is (understandably) bitter and wants nothing to do with the whole thing, but his sister insists. Bryan is shocked to learn his grandfather left him some land and their old hunting cabin in his will. Figuring he’d sell it, Bryan heads up there, to the middle of nowhere, to check out the place. Imagine his surprise when he finds someone from his past living there.
Parson Greer knew Bryan from high school. Parson was the only person who stuck with Bryan after he came out, but they lost touch after graduation. Parson has disturbing nightmares and wants to be left alone. Interestingly, Parson got close to Bryan’s grandfather, and the man told Parson he could use the cabin.
Bryan isn’t unsympathetic to Parson’s situation and actually doesn’t mind the company. The cabin is in the middle of nowhere, and there is so much snow, they can only get in and out via a Snowcat. Everything starts with Bryan and Parson exchanging high school memories. That turns into a comfortable friendship, until, finally, their feelings for each other deepen. However, Bryan has a life back in Nashville, and he never planned to stay in snowy, rural Northern Pennsylvania. Now the men must figure out if what they have built between them is something that can last.
V.L. Locey is a go-to author for me. Her stories are unique, romantic, and sexy. When The Christmas Oaks became available, I just had to grab it. As usual, I was not disappointed. This book is so sweet, and it made me so happy, I’m not easily going to forget it.
I was crazy about Bryan and Parson. Both were good men, but they also had their own personal issues. Bryan was not only a workaholic, but also bitter from when his previously much loved grandfather turned his back on him. Both things are eating him alive, and he doesn’t realize how badly he needs to just…decompress. Within a day or two of being in Pennsylvania, he starts to relax. Parson’s situation is slightly different. He’s suffering from PTSD from his experiences overseas in the military. He’s seen some awful things, and he wants nothing more than to be alone. Parson quickly worked his way into my heart.
I think what I liked best about Bryan and Parson was how they learned to trust one another. On the surface, The Christmas Oaks is a relatively low angst story, but there are layers to the men and their issues that Locey skillfully weaves into a relatively simple love story. One of my favorite things is how Bryan went to the Veteran’s Affairs office to ask questions about Parson’s condition. He was so interested in helping Parson and willing to do pretty much everything he could to give Parson some peace. To me, that was so noble and so beautiful.
Parson is a sympathetic character, and he’s definitely my favorite. Despite the trauma and PTSD, he’s very gentle. He even makes little pinecone feeders for the birds. When Parson decides to put up a Christmas tree, he’s excited about the simple decorations and ribbons he got from the thrift store in town. His enthusiasm is catching, and Bryan gets in on the fun. It’s so…innocent. Parson is such a genuine man. I felt as if I knew him personally. He’s the kind of person I’d want as a friend. Again, I credit Locey and her writing style. It’s so descriptive and detailed, and yet, it’s subtle. All of the details are covered, but they’re not overwhelming. I’m going to go so far as to call it perfection.
Of course, there has to be a bit of drama. Bryan is convinced he needs to live in the city because he loves the fast pace. He’s also convinced he’s happy with his job. The ending, while completely expected, is just lovely. Everything is tied up with a big, red, Christmas bow…as it should be.
The Christmas Oaks appears to be the first book in a new series. It’s a fantastic way to kick it off. This is a wonderful holiday story…pure Hallmark Channel movie…and it made me smile and fall in love. I SO recommend it. Don’t pass this one up.