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

 

It’s winter break in Sunnyside, and the guys are all getting together for a post-exam nosh at Mingo Nevins’ apartment. Mingo is an unapologetic Christmas hedonist. He’s deeply in love with all things holiday, especially Christmas puns, the naughty holiday mugs he makes as a side hustle, and Christmas movies. Mingo is a bit addled, having pulled an all-nighter to complete a huge paper, and he’s more put off when his grad school nemesis, Marley Garland, arrives to enjoy some downtime.

Marley is good friends with Mingo’s best pals, but he and Mingo clash over…everything. They are in complementary fields of study within historical Japanese culture, which means they have classes together, and Mingo thinks Marley is an arrogant boor, someone who always has to be the best–when Mingo relishes being the best himself. He figures he can get one up on Marley by initiating a fierce mistletoe kiss. And, that’s when Mingo learns that Marley is truly amazing at some things.

Marley has always had his eye on Mingo; no one else in their classes could take his aggressive argumentation. The line between animosity and desire has always been paper-thin for Marley, and their kiss is a take-no-prisoners event he’d like to savor. So he does–and he gets Mingo right in the gut by popping over to make Christmas cookies when there isn’t an audience of their teasing pals around.

The more Marley reveals his tender Christmas-loving side, the more Mingo has to reconsider his dislike for Marley as a person. Especially since Marley’s got a whole lot of holiday magic in his fingers…and other appendages.

I honestly liked Marley a lot, and appreciated how he inveigled himself into Mingo’s affections by continuing to reveal himself as a decent man. He has a high degree of esteem for himself, as well as Mingo, to Mingo’s immense shock. Mingo believed that he’d been the butt of Marley’s disdain for three years, yet it took him little time to reorganize his notions about their growing connection, in and out of the bedroom.

For me, the sexytimes happened way faster than the usual enemies-to-lovers trope. I hadn’t had any time to experience Mingo’s frustrations with Marley, who his entire friend group likes robustly, only a few internal comments about his feelings. Mingo seems petty and full of sour grapes for his juvenile desire to put Marley in his place, a feat he never quite manages.

This is billed as a low-angst holiday romance, and I think I would have liked it more had there been a bit more tension. Mingo does better in the second half, once he’s had time to re-evaluate Marley, in light of their new connection. There’s a happy ending overall, in the most Christmassy way possible. The story is very sweet and lots of sexy.

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