Rating: 4.25 stars
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Length: Novel

Quentin is not prepared for the New York winter weather, and when he is caught with a broken down car in the midst of a snow storm, he has few options. When the only hotel around loses power, Quentin is surprised by the generous offer from local handyman/junk yard operator, Mac, to stay with him. Although Mac looks intimidating, he has been nothing but kind to Quentin. Plus, the giant of a man is gorgeous, despite his somewhat scary first impression, and Quentin is eager to spend more time with the man.

Mac grew up in this small town, frequently bullied for his stuttering. As an adult, an event beyond his control left Mac the object of scorn and downright hatred from everyone in town. He has worked hard to make amends; in fact, he has gone above and beyond what anyone might reasonably expect, but he still suffers constantly from the abuse and derision. Mac is pretty much miserable, especially now that his mother has passed, and he is alone and lonely. Quentin is such a bright light, full of energy and life, Mac can’t help but be drawn to him. Even more, Quentin is one of the few people who is patient with Mac’s stuttering and seems to accept the man just as he is. In fact, Quentin is clear he desires Mac, something that is equal parts thrilling and terrifying for Mac, who has never had a relationship with a man and is used to most people hating him.

It doesn’t take long before Mac and Quentin begin to act on the attraction between them. They fall effortlessly into a comfortable relationship in Mac’s cozy house, and even once Quentin can move on, the guys decide to stay together while Quentin is in town for the research project he is running nearby. Despite being opposites in many ways, the men are incredibly compatible. More than that, Quentin is thrilled to find in Mac a partner that is open to the same things sexually that he is. As a small, twink of a man, everyone always expects Quentin to bottom and be the more submissive partner, but that is the exact opposite of what he enjoys. Despite being a huge, giant of a man, Mac has no preconceptions about his role in their partnership, and it turns out that Mac is interested in exactly what Quentin wants to provide.

Things seem to be going perfectly for the men, and they are falling hard for one another. But both men have complicated pasts that are affecting their future. In Mac’s case, his past is controlling his life for at least the next couple of years. But with a ticking clock on how long Quentin can stay in town, their time together is limited. Mac and Quentin have found happiness together, but they must figure out how to make their futures work together.

Snow Way Out is one of those books that grabbed me right from the moment I heard the words snowbound, bossy twink, gentle giant, and age gap. The story has so many of my favorite things, I couldn’t wait to check this one out and I was not disappointed. The book is that perfect combination of sexy and sweet that just gave me a warm, happy feeling as I read it. I couldn’t help but fall in love with both of these characters. Mac, in particular, just grabbed by heart. He looks gruff and intimidating, but he is a big, mushy marshmallow inside. He has learned to expect hatred and derision from everyone and he is really suffering in his small town. So it is so lovely to watch him just light up around Quentin and the younger man just showers him with love and support. Mac is sweet and dotes and Quentin and just adores everything about him. For his part, Quentin has gotten used to people expecting him to be a certain way based on his size and appearance and he is often disappointed by his relationships and hookups. But Quentin isn’t hung up on expectations and he turns out to have a perfectly compatible set of interests and kinks. The guys explore some light BDSM as they try out a Dom/sub dynamic, and the book is overall pretty steamy, but there is also a real sweetness to their connection. The guys fall pretty fast and hard, and their relationship comes together pretty easily, but I think that works here, as the conflicts are all external. So we get a lot of warm, cozy, yumminess, along with a lot of heat.

Both of these men have issues in their pasts that are still playing out. For his part, Mac got blamed for something not his fault, something his father did years ago, and now Mac is paying the price. His sense of honor is compelling him to try to make right his father’s wrongs, but the townspeople are so nasty and horrible to him, he is really suffering. For his part, Quentin is in town for a research project, but he chose the location because it is where he is absentee father is from. The man disappeared from his life years ago and Quentin is hoping to find him. Both of their pasts end up causing problems for the men, and on top of that is the fact that Quentin’s life is in California. Mac would love to leave his horrible town, but his obligations will continue another couple of years. So there is a lot going on, and I think Phoenix does a nice job balancing all the different conflicts with the relationship end of the story.

Overall, I really loved this book. It has so many of my favorite elements, and Phoenix does a great job bringing them all together. I think everyone is going to adore Mac, and I loved him and Quentin together. The story has that perfect mix of sweetness and heat that I love in a snowbound, winter story. I can definitely recommend it.

P.S. This book is part of the Valentine’s Inc series, but each book is a standalone by a different author, tied together by a writing prompt. So you can easily read this one with the others.