At 18, Robin is still a virgin and fairly certain he’s doing something wrong. His twin, Ryan, claims to be getting plenty of action, so Robin isn’t sure what to do. And then, local high school teacher, Dean Quentin, walks into Robin’s family boat shop and turns Robin’s well-ordered world upside down. Dean is attractive, older, and seemingly out of Robin’s league, but he knows Dean is the one who should usher him into manhood. After some fumbled scheming, Robin is able talk honestly to Dean about his wants and is surprised when Dean agrees.
Romance wasn’t exactly an expected part of the equation, but Dean and Robin find they have a lot in common and what starts as an educational experience ends as something more. But aside from their age difference, there are other hurdles they have to overcome, not the least of which is Robin’s family. But for Robin and Dean, Christmas might just be a time for miracles.
A Guy For Christmas is a rather uneven story about the realities of sex and the evolution of a relationship beyond the physical. My biggest issues deal with how Robin’s virginity is handled and the unevenness of Robin’s relationship with his parents.
The writing in A Guy For Christmas is fine and, while the story isn’t exactly complex, the author does a good job of conveying the emotions and uncertainty of Robin’s age and the journey he undertakes. However, we’re told that how at 18, Robin feels sexually repressed because he hasn’t had sex. It becomes this barrier to be crossed, no matter what. And I struggled with the fact that somehow being a virgin was equated to being incomplete and “wrong” and that to be a virgin at 18 is akin to being desperate. This whole approach to virginity is more common than not in books and Robin’s situation highlights how heavily society equates having sex to being normal. If you’re not having it, you’re not normal or you’re repressed or whatever else. Others may not read it this way, but Robin’s decision to seek out a sexual partner read more like a box being ticked than the meaningful act he purported to actually want.
Robin is 18. His sexual explorations with Dean are perfectly legal, but we’re told over and over that he lies to his parents about his whereabouts and what he’s doing. Dean even encourages him to lie at one point. Of course, this predictably blows up, but I didn’t understand the point of it in the first place. It felt like an unnecessary and not particularly believable tension for the characters and somewhat at odds with Robin’s personality. Additionally, the author kept pointing out that Dean had never actually been Robin’s teacher, as if that would somehow legitimize the relationship. A teacher having sex with an 18 year is still pretty awkward in my opinion, regardless of the fact it’s legal.
A Guy for Christmas is a sweet enough book about young love, but I struggled to connect with the characters or to buy into the relationship they were building. Some of this had to do with Robin’s quest for sex and some of it had to do with the fact his romance with Dean was perpetually fueled by lies. I usually like books by this author, but this one didn’t really work for me.