American Christmas is a sweet and sexy Christmas novella featuring side character readers met in American Love Story, the third book in the Dreamers series. It is fully enjoyable being read as a standalone.
Yin Thuta and Ari Douniama are both immigrants to the U.S. who survived civil war, refugee camps, and legal status challenges before their immigration was settled. They each bear scars from this experience, with Yin wanting to celebrate milestones in big flamboyant ways, while Ari lives in fear of not having finances to support himself and Yin. They are both out and gay, and have been in a relationship for about two years. They live together and work hard. Both of them have just been accepted to graduate school: Yin for nursing and Ari for law school. With the help of their friends in Ithaca, NY, they live in a reasonable studio apartment and each man finally feels they have a real shot at success in life together.
The story opens right before Christmas, with both Ari and Yin revealing to the reader that they have broken their $100 budget for gift giving. They both want to splurge this one time, to make the gifts they give the very best possible. Yin knows that Ari had a dream to attend a huge semipro soccer camp in Arizona over spring break, so he made purchases to support Ari attending the camp. Meanwhile, Ari wants to be the bestest boyfriend ever and give Yin the ultimate musical and NYC experience…over spring break.
The reader knows this is a Gift of the Magi situation long before Yin and Ari do, and that adds tension to the story. It’s such a bittersweet moment as they unveil the amazing gifts they sacrificed to obtain for one another. I loved the way each man handled the disappointment, not railing to their partner, but looking outward to their supports. I also loved the way their loving community rallied to truly demonstrat the Christmas spirit both Ari and Yin had hoped to foster for one another.
With all the Dreamers stories, it is community that helps and heals the wounds of society and situations. I loved seeing all my favorite characters from previous stories appear to help Ari and Yin get the bestest Christmas ever when it seemed their incredible and uncharacteristic sacrifices would amount to nothing but heartache. I think the author does a great job of letting us know how each of these characters fits the support network for Yin and Ari, which is why I say it CAN be read as a standalone. That said, I was so happy reading this after having read three of the previous stories. These men were really a side issue for a previous story, and I loved seeing them, and their very settled, very sexy, relationship on the page.