north's pole coverRating: 4 stars
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Length: Novel

 

As the wealthy son of an actor and a hotel heiress, North Astor-Ford has grown up in the public eye. From the time he was little, he was told to watch everything he said and did. Yet though he tries his best, North keeps finding himself in trouble with the media. However, this time may be the worst and most humiliating, as North has managed to accidentally post a dick pic across all his social media. North is absolutely devastated and has no idea where to turn. His first instinct is to run, and he finds himself heading toward the one person who makes him feel safe, his former bodyguard, Liam.

Liam got hired to protect North when the man was just a teen (and Liam wasn’t much older). As time passed, Liam found himself attracted to North, and knew North was half in love with him as well. If North hadn’t fired him due to the complication, Liam would have left regardless. He knew he was one step away from doing something foolish that would ruin his career by getting involved with a client. Liam has been keeping tabs on North, however, and when he learns of this disaster, his heart goes out to the man he still loves. When Liam realizes North has come to Camp Bay Chalet, a local resort near Liam’s home, he knows he must go to him.

North hasn’t even looked at his phone since he posted his picture and he can’t even imagine leaving his room, he is so mortified. So when Liam shows up at Camp Bay, North finds himself overwhelmed with relief. Liam was someone who has always cared for and protected North, and his steady support helps North begin to deal with the crisis. Seeing one another again also rekindles that fire between them that has never gone out. With Liam no longer in North’s employ, the men finally feel free to act on the desire they both feel. There is still a scandal out there to face, but with Liam by his side, North may just find the support he needs to move on from the crisis.

North’s Pole is one of what looks like two books in the Camp Bay shared world, the second being Stolen Christmas by Marie Sexton. While we do see the MCs from the other book here, and presumably some side characters overlap, this one works just fine as a standalone. Despite the sex punny title that suggested to me that this would be sort of a light romp, the story is actually deeper and more serious than I expected and there are a lot of interesting issues explored. First, we have poor North, who is famous enough that within moments half the world has seen this private picture he inadvertently posted. He is beyond devastated, not just because of his public image, but because he is mortified and overwhelmed that everyone has now seen his dick. North may be gorgeous, rich, and famous, but he is also a sweet, a little scattered and naive, and a virgin. He is really traumatized to find himself exposed in this way and I think the story addresses this nicely as we see how what may be titillating for the rest of the world is something truly painful for North.

North has been trained his whole life on avoiding unwanted media attention, but he finds himself drawn into it anyway despite himself. It doesn’t help that his family is as cold as ice, nor that they all treat him like his is an attractive but very dim child. They frequently make comments about how it is a good thing he is handsome because he is not too bright. So not only is he overwhelmed by this awful situation, but also facing his family’s anger, as well as their resignation that once again North has messed up. Liam is such a great source of strength and support. Not only does he help North sort things out, but he stands up for North and refuses to let him think badly of himself. I wish there had been a more overt acknowledgement of the fact that everyone treats North so poorly, including his sister, who is supposed to be the only kind one, but basically calls him an idiot to his face. It is finally addressed late in the book, but I wanted someone to point it out as a problem earlier. But I think the story does nicely explore this difficult family dynamic and how it exacerbates the situation for North.

Things are sweet and sexy for the men, and they pretty much jump into a relationship as soon as they are reunited. I was able to go with it, as even though we don’t see the guys together in the past, the connection really shined through and I could get on board with them easily. North is inexperienced sexually and the guys have a lot of heated encounters as they hide away in North’s room. They also spend time enjoying the holiday at the chalet, so there is a nice cozy Christmas feeling here as well

Despite the outward crisis, the story does feel like it resolves a little early on. There is still family drama, but the guys are locked into a relationship almost from the start, and the bulk of the damage control over the picture happens fairly early as well. So most of the book is just the guys hanging out and enjoying one another. Which isn’t necessarily bad, but the pacing felt a little bit front loaded to me. That said, I found this one to be a really sweet and sexy holiday story. It feels more substantial than the title might suggest and it is a warm and fun book that is definitely worth checking out.

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