Rating: 3.75 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Lion shifter Charlie Ono-Nai loves his pride and is happy it’s growing. With Christmas approaching, he’s determined to make it the best holiday yet. Not only because of the children that have recently joined, but for the magi too. Mads and Jude have never had a Christmas and barely celebrated Solstice, and with newcomer Ash in the mix, Charlie is going all out for the holidays.

Ash and Charlie got off on the wrong foot when they first met, but the more Ash has gotten to know Charlie, the more he realized his first impression wasn’t right. Charlie is a sweetheart, and though Ash has trouble opening up because of his past, he finds a connection with Charlie. Ash is also still finding his place in the pride, having just joined and finally escaping the horrors of the Magi compound.

The more time they spend together, the closer they get. Charlie has been attracted to Ash from the start, and not in the least because Ash not only accepts that Charlie likes to wear more traditionally feminine clothes, as well as makeup, but actually thinks Charlie looks pretty. Ash is confused about his own attraction at first, not because Charlie is a man, but because he’s a shifter.

But with the holiday trappings, the decorating, and the gift buying, these two men find strength in each other. With every passing day, their relationship grows deeper. After all, what’s better than falling in love at Christmas?

A Holiday to Sustain Us is a companion novel to the Magi Accounts series, and is best read in order after book 3. It shifts the focus from Cos and Mads to Charlie and Ash, while also giving us a glimpse of things to come for Jude, Kulani, and River. Ash played a decent sized role in A Purpose That Restores Us and there was a definite tension between Charlie and Ash, so this was no surprise. I liked that we got to step outside the main series couple and get different perspectives. Seeing the main characters through Charlie’s eyes was fun, as well as informative. This book is mainly told through Charlie’s POV, but Ash has some chapters and scenes as well. This worked pretty well as Charlie was the driving force behind the celebrations.

Charlie is a total sweetheart, and he’s doing his best to support his pride members. Especially the kids and the magi, as the other shifters have been together for a while and they are good about taking care of each other. He’s also a bit of a dichotomy, as he’s a big, strapping man who embraces the more traditionally feminine clothes. I love how confident he was in this, though of course, Charlie’s faced his share of backlash and that’s not with consequence. There are times when it really hits his insecurity and I loved these more vulnerable moments as well.

For Ash’s part, he’s a bit broken, but he’s beginning to heal. After everything he’s been through, and the way magi are treated, it’s no surprise that he has wounds. I love the way Charlie takes care of him and does his best to do what is right for Ash. And I love the way Ash slowly comes to terms with his feelings for Charlie, while at the same time working through his own healing journey. It’s nowhere near complete, but he’s working on it. And it’s great to see Ash and the other magi finally getting the care and love they deserve.

But this story is not without its problems for me. I felt it could use some tightening up in the narrative, as certain portions seemed to drag and, at times, even felt repetitive. A lot of scenes only moved the plot forward a little, and many of them could have been cut out and readers would still get the same amount of plot movement. So the pacing was a bit off for me which sometimes dragged things down. Another issue I have with this book, but also with the series, is the sheer plethora of endearments throughout the story. Everyone seems to have a nickname and they are used all the time. It gets to be a bit much, and most of them aren’t necessary.

Overall, I was glad to see Charlie and Ash’s story, and I’m looking forward to what comes next in this world. There’s at least one more companion novel in the works, and another full-length planned, I believe. Christmas and Solstice are the driving forces behind the plot, and I enjoyed the holiday aspect as well. All in all, if you’re invested in this series, this isn’t one you want to miss.

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