To say his life has become one endless spiral of bad news is an understatement for Hamish Kenneally. After endless hours on multiple planes, his trip from Australia to the U.S. is further derailed when the announcement is made that the flight cannot land at its original destination due to snow. Snow? At Christmas? It is hotter than hades in his home town right now and nothing prepared Hamish for the freezing cold of a Montana night. With nothing left to do but get a rental car and try to drive the last several kilometers to his sister’s home, Hamish forges ahead—on the wrong side of the road and the wrong side of the car, but still determined to make the whole thing work and arrive in one piece. Unfortunately, old man winter has other ideas and when Hamish takes a wrong turn and ends up in a ditch on the side of a road in who knows where, he finally breaks down in tears.
Ren Brooks is ready for three days of movies, hot chocolate, and rest. Despite it being Christmas, he is not really in the mood, having lost his dad not too long ago and now spending the holiday alone by his own choosing. It’s not for lack of invitations; the small town where he lives is full of wonderful people who all take care of one another, but Ren is not really in the holiday mood. His choice to return to his small hometown and take over the hardware store that’s been in his family for generations was the right one, but still a lonely one as there is not really any kind of gay scene in town—or any gay men for that matter. Still, he and his pup, Chutney, will be just fine as Ren has resolved himself to leading a solitary life. When the snowstorm hits as Ren heads home, he knows it’s going to be a big one. Still, nothing prepares him from the sound of a car horn, a dead car buried in the snow near the road, and the amazing man shivering inside. Hamish is in need of a rescue and Ren is ready to make it happen—little do either know just how much they both need rescuing until they meet.
In an idyllic setting, a few days before Christmas, two unattached men meet and so begins N. R. Walker’s holiday story, Tic-Tac-Mistletoe. With enough sweetness to satisfy the hungriest of appetites, this story is just a lovely, angst-free romance from beginning to end. It is almost too perfect, definitely an insta-love trope and, of course, very well written. I say almost too sweet mainly due to how kind and considerate both men are toward each other from the get go and throughout the entire story. This is a fantasy love story in so many ways, yet I secretly find myself hoping that it could be a real life experience for someone out there in the cold night.
First, the two main characters, Ren and Hamish, are total opposites in their demeanor, with Ren being more reserved and quiet, almost backwards in his world view, and Hamish being flagrantly out there from his pink coat and hat to his Gucci boots. Yet, as opposites so often do in real life and fiction, they click—immediately. Theirs is a quick and easy attraction that only builds as the days pass—and by days I mean little more than two weeks before they are expressing their true feelings of love. But those short days are jam packed full of wonderful memory building moments that I find capture the heart easily.
Despite the insta-love theme, it is so nice to read about their days together. I can honestly find little wrong with this novel, but if sweet to the point of knocking on fantasy’s door is not for you, then you may have a different opinion. One certainly cannot fault Walker’s flawless way of creating a story that is gripping and easy to dive into while keeping the interest of the reader and, honestly, who could turn down a Christmas romance this time of year?
Tic-Tac-Mistletoe is a lovely way to immerse yourself in the magic of the holiday season. With romance to spare, a cute little dog, and two men who deserve all the happiness life can afford them, I think those hankering for a sweet romance will be pleased with this novel.