Rating: 2.75 stars
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Reuben is really grateful his makeup job with the politician got cancelled or he wouldn’t get to be the makeup artist to cast members on his favorite television show. He probably isn’t going to get to see THE Captain Firth, Christopher Manners, but still, being able to be on the closed set for the final filming of the future Easter special is quite fabulous in his book. When his first actor arrives, Reuben nearly swallows his tongue as the one they call, “Bunny” turns out to be none other than Christopher himself. For the next several hours, Reuben flirts his way through everything from body makeup to the illusion of a sweaty, sexed-up captain and is nearly bowled over when the man asks him out for a drink after wrapping up filming. Now, if Reuben can keep from uttering that ludicrous catchphrase that Bunny doesn’t like, but tolerates when fans yell it in his face, all will be well.
Bunny can’t fault fans for screaming “draw your sword, sir” at him night and day, but he is much more than the brooding, swashbuckling captain he portrays on film. The new makeup artist seems to get that and is easy on the eyes to boot. But what really draws Bunny to Reuben is his humor. The guy is so genuine and easy to talk with that Bunny can’t help but want to extend their time together away from the studio. It’s all going so well, from their easy conversation to their almost immediate attraction, that it seems just right to finish up their date back at Reuben’s place and in his bed. All seems good until the date turns into a disaster and Bunny wonders if maybe he misread Reuben and he’s just another fan wanting his fifteen minutes with “the captain.” It could be the end of things with the men before they even have a chance to start.
The writing duo of Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead sends up a short Christmas novella, The Captain’s Snowbound Christmas, featuring a liaison between a handsome actor and a makeup artist. With everything from a possible Santa sighting to gifts magically appearing in stockings, this story is a quick glance at how the wonder of Christmas can bring love when all hope seems to have faded. This novella is a little bit of fantasy wrapped up in a quick romance that is very sweet and charming.
While I did enjoy much of this novella, I feel that the strength of this writing team often lies in their character development and that is definitely somewhat lacking in this story. Understandably, one cannot delve too deeply into that area in a short novella such as this, but there is literally no background story revealed about either Reuben or Bunny. That made this story feel less complete than I think it could have been. Also, there are a few moments in the later chapters I feel turned out to be a bit cringeworthy, which I venture to guess is not what the authors intended. I am referring to the more intimate scenes in particular. At first, Christopher’s nickname, “Bunny” seems so cute and clever. After all, he portrays this fierce captain who boldly lives his life and loves women, but off camera he is a humble, gay man whose nickname is the result of a role he once played as a giant bunny rabbit. Very funny! Then we get into the bedroom with Reuben and suddenly a grown man yelling at his partner to do it harder “Bunny” becomes laughable for all the wrong reasons. Seriously, it’s hard to describe just how weird it is when Reuben is begging for more, but calling his sweaty, sexy man, Bunny.
I tried to overlook that, but the way in which the only female in the novella is portrayed earlier in the story also made me cringe. Bunny’s love interest on camera comes off as a rather nasty and imperious person off camera, often dismissing Reuben as something to be barely tolerated. She comes off as a prima donna and, despite how Bunny tries to justify her demeanor, I took an instant dislike to her. Plus, there is never an opportunity for her to apologize to Reuben, yet she is seen in the epilogue all buddy-buddy with both men. It was definitely a bit strange and cliched as female characters go by making her a villain in the story.
I love this writing team and feel that they produce really solid romances that often have a good deal of humor and clever nuance to them. Unfortunately, The Captain’s Snowbound Christmas is lacking some of the very elements that make their work so marvelous to read. With shallow characterizations and a somewhat cliched and hostile female counterpart, I feel this holiday novella is not among their finest work. However, their many fans and others may find this to be a cute Christmas offering.