Lord Christmas Gale has somehow landed himself at the center of the ton’s attention due his expertise at putting together clues and solving mysteries. Considering Gale doesn’t really like people, having so much focus on himself is not making him particularly happy. Especially when everyone now seems to want to talk to Gale about his cases, as well as enlist him for help figuring out a host of assorted problems. But when a request to look for a lost dog suddenly turns into a murder, Gale can’t stop himself from investigating, especially with a now-orphaned little girl involved.
When Benjamin Chant meets Gale at a party, he can’t help but be drawn to the man. Though Gale makes it clear he has little use for other people, Chant finds something about the man’s brilliant brain and unusual outlook totally compelling. When Chant gets caught up in Gale’s investigation, he gets to see the man in action and is awed by the way Gale puts things together. Even more, Chant begins to see the man behind the facade Gale puts up for the world. Gale is more sensitive and vulnerable than people would think given the way he holds everyone at a distance. But Chant has lost so many in his life and he can’t bear to fall for someone who can’t respond in kind.
Despite their wariness, both men find themselves opening up to one another in surprising ways, and soon it seems like there is actually a chance that Gale and Chant could find a way to make it work. But with a killer on the loose determined to see them silenced, they may find their lives on the line before they have a chance to build anything together.
A Case for Christmas is the second book in the Lords of Bucknall Club series and I really enjoyed it. Christmas Gale totally stole the show for me as a side character in the first book, A Husband for Hartwell, so I was thrilled to see he was getting his own story here. I love seeing the misanthrope find his true love despite himself, so I found the brilliant, grumpy, and somewhat prickly Gale so much fun. Especially when we get to see his soft underbelly as he begins to open up to Chant. Gale is one of those brilliant people who is so in their own head that they often don’t know how to interact with others. There is a bit of a “grumpy one falls for the sunshiney one” vibe here, as Chant is endlessly patient and upbeat, even in the face of Gale’s occasional rudeness (though he rarely means to be rude, he just has no real idea how to people). But there is also a lot of depth to Chant that we uncover as the story goes on, and we learn that much of his smiling personality is a cover for some inner pain he is trying to hide. So these are two really well developed characters and I loved watching them interact. Both men are protecting themselves, but also trying to find a way to open up to the potential relationship between them. I feel like the relationship development gets cut off a bit earlier than I wanted here. We get the guys to a good place, but they both have a lot to work through and we don’t really see it fully play out. So I was left wanting to see a little more between them before things closed out.
The mystery here comes together nicely, giving Gale and Chant a chance to work together while solving the crime. The is some good intensity as things escalate and the men find themselves in danger. Gale has a brilliant mind and it is fun to see him put pieces together that others might not notice and watch the way his mind works. We get just a taste of it in the first book and here we get a real chance to sink into an investigation with him and I just loved it. I seriously would read a mystery series featuring Gale in a hot minute. He is such a compelling character and he and Chant make a great team.
So I found this one a lot of fun and am enjoying this world the authors have built. Just for some clarification, since I realized I skipped this part, this is an alternate world series where same sex marriage is legal (though more common among younger sons/daughters rather than heirs). It makes for a fun setting and a creative play on the traditional historical. We get some glimpses of the MC for the third book here and I am really eager to see what develops as the series continues.