Gideon likes O’Leary; he just doesn’t always appreciate all the endless “special” days when everyone seems to lose their minds and crazily prepares for yet one more festival. Okay, so Christmas isn’t quite the same, but meeting a smiling Santa wannabe on nearly every street corner due to the “contest” to see who can give the most back to the town is just a bit irritating especially since Gideon is working on zero hours of sleep after his double shift at the firehouse. So yeah, he does, maybe, react a bit harshly to Joe Cross and his invite to be a Santa, but hey—all’s fair if you are keeping a guy from his much needed coffee and the bakery serving the magic elixir just across the street.
Liam might have lost his passion for photography, but that’s to be expected when you exchange a dream for the reality of needing to make a buck. After all, he has the very important back seat passenger to provide for and watch over, currently chattering away and reminding him how her life is nearly over due to his forgetting the cookies back at home. When Liam’s friend, Dana, and her husband died, Liam never expected to be “daddy” to their precious and precocious daughter. Now, five years later, he wouldn’t trade the job if you held him up at gunpoint. However, that life-altering event means he is now making the trip to O’Leary to clean up some awkward unfinished business with his husband. The husband who was his for a mere twenty-four hours before reality came crashing in, Hazel became his, and real life took over. All Liam needs to do is find Gideon, get him to sign the papers, and split. Hopefully, a trip to the local bakery for those missing cookies might just help ease the knots in his stomach as he considers seeing the man he might still be in love with after five long years.
The Night, book 5 in May Archer’s Love in O’Leary series, is just about the best holiday romance I have ever read. Funny, clever, a bit unrealistic, and absolutely magical, this latest story has moved swiftly into the favored spot in the series. I adore Hazel. Having a grandchild just her age (seven), who is also an only child and incredibly smart, I got who Hazel is and actually felt she is the most realistically portrayed character in the novel. She also fit perfectly in O’Leary—which, by the way, really sparkled in this installment and not just because it was Christmas. Somehow, the town that had often bordered on obnoxiously intrusive is now quaint, caring, and heaps of fun. I mean reading about how these guys try and come up with reasons for not having room at their homes to board Liam and Hazel, thereby forcing Gideon to take them in, is just hilarious.
There are two elements that really stood out for me. Parker’s insistence about “movaries” and the princess tea party between Gideon and Hazel. Honestly, if I could go into detail without spoiling things for you I would. These two ideas were downright story gold and the way the author scripts the tea party conversation and the recurring search for whether or not Gideon has movaries are the best parts of this novel for me. Besides these pieces, the rekindling of the emotional tie between Gideon and Liam is incredibly sweet. Yes, it was fast, and yes, Gideon’s capitulation from bitter curmudgeon to accepting and calm friend is swift enough to make your head spin, but still, this is a holiday story and one has to expect that the suspension of disbelief is a huge part of enjoying this type of romance. So, while I wouldn’t call it instalove, I definitely will say this novel tests the limits of believability and is so sweet that you could develop a toothache. Still, I loved it all.
May Archer is continually building this magical world of O’Leary and inhabiting it with some delightful men who almost always are in need of a second chance at love and a little comfort from past hurts and traumas. I do hope there will be one more story told about this quaint and wacky little town—I will miss it greatly if not.