It’s the Christmas season and with his mother in the hospital, it’s up to Clayton to come home and help take care of the family tree farm. He arrives to a cold and empty house and his childhood bully and crush living in the guest cottage, helping out around the place. For Clayton, being around Jack is torture. He’s tall (so tall), dark haired, handsome, and everything Clayton ever wanted stuffed in his stocking. One moment he’s remembering the pain and bullying he endured at Jack’s hands as a kid, the next, he’s fantasizing about how badly he wants to kiss Jack under the mistletoe.
As they work side by side to bring festive cheer to the farm, Clayton begins to wonder if maybe his one-sided crush isn’t quite so one-sided, and maybe — just maybe — dreams can come true on Christmas.
Clayton was bullied as a kid by Jake and Jake’s friends, so badly that Clayton left home when he was old enough and hasn’t come back. Again and again, even as he feels the stirrings of lust when he’s in Jake’s company, Clayton’s remembering the jokes at his expense, the negging about his strength and basic abilities, and the bullying. However, Clayton feels like a cypher, for the most part. I don’t even know what his job was, if he had friends or a boyfriend or even a plant at home. He seems to spend more time pondering Jake’s hair than he does even thinking about his mother who is unconscious and hooked up to life support in the hospital.
Jake is a mountain of a man who carries an axe around. Because trees. He’s the stoic type who uses actions more than words, and he makes the first move to apologize to Clayton for being a bully to him while he was in school. And that makes everything water under the bridge and now they can get to the fun stuff. Jake is rather undefined, except for the color of his curly hair and his size and I’m left rather uninterested in Clayton and Jake as a couple.
This story is nothing but sprinkles and spun sugar. It’s two men looking at each other, lusting after each other, and giving into temptation, all while chopping down trees, making wreaths and garlands, and stringing up colorful lights. Neither character is developed, and while Jake has a bit of a background, Clayton doesn’t really. The bullying is dropped once Jake apologizes and it feels like Clayton has zero interest in Jake as a person.
For me, this book just didn’t have the ability to catch my interest because there was nothing to it. It felt like a picture made of primary colors with no shades, no hues, no complexity or subtlety or substance.