christmas rescueRating: 3.5 stars
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Length: Novel


Decker is caught in the middle of a storm, in a BMW on narrow, twisty, unplowed roads, and he finds himself fender deep in a ditch. In the woods. With bears. Well, the bears may be imaginary, but the threat of freezing to death is real. Torn between hysteria and fury, Decker takes out his rage on his horn, and it’s a good thing he does. Good Samaritan Acosta Melios hears the beeping over the wind and comes to the rescue with a tractor capable of pulling Decker’s car from the ditch. Acosta is kind enough to take Decker — and his car — back to his farm where he can dry off, warm up, and spend the night, because until the storm stops, there’s no way Decker’s getting into town.

What others might see as a a bit of bad luck, Decker sees as good luck. After all, he’s come all the way from the safe, sane, and comfortable city life to this back country farm with a blind cat, a crippled goat, an unpleasant llama with excellent aim, and a handful of other rescued animals to convince Acosta to sell the mineral rights to his land. Needless to say, Acosta, who never found a stray he didn’t take home (including one annoying Decker Fitzgerald) has no interest in selling.

It’s going to be a long, cold, winter’s week.

The Christmas Rescue is the fourth book in the Laurel Holidays series, a set of standalone Christmas romances, and involves enemies to lovers, small towns, the healing magic of family, and lots of animals. It’s sugar coated and saccharine sweet with the primary emphasis of the story being on Decker and his discovery of the fact that he is worth more than enduring his father’s scorn in the vain hopes of earning a crumb of his love. Decker is the second son of a wealthy man, and ever since Decker came out, his father has written him off. No matter how hard he works or how good he is, everything — every bit of attention, every bit of praise, even the position of CEO of the company — goes to Frank Jr., Decker’s older brother who is good at … well, being the golden child. He’s certainly not good at his job. Decker’s mother is beyond distant, having removed herself from her family altogether. She has her lover, she has her vacation, she has her money and position, and that’s all she needs.

In Actosta’s cabin, Decker gets to pet a goat for the first time, use a shovel to scoop out animal dung, and be spit on by a llama. You see, Decker offered to work like a farmhand for an entire week, without complaint, if Acosta would just listen to his sales pitch. Acosta, lonely in his own way, and certain Decker would give up, agreed … only to find it was the best and worst decision he could have made. Decker is tenacious, determined, and personable. For the first time since his sister died, Acosta has someone sitting across the table from him, someone who loves his animals as much as he does.

This story is a slow burn that explodes into a romance after a drunken confession, and I wish I liked it more. Told in first person, there are three people in Decker’s head — himself, his dick, and his brain, who chimes in every now and then to be a buzzkill and a cockblock. There’s a lot of plural thinking (we can watch TV when we get home, this is our chance, we can do this) that is, I’m sure,  meant to be quirky and charming.

“Wait just a booger picking minute. He’s discussed you with his parents! We’ve made an impression, darling!”

Comedy is a delicate thing, and no two people will have exactly the same taste. This book seems written to be whimsical and funny, with phases like making whoopie, puddles of piddle, and love stuff, with Decker acting like a society woman from an old 1950s movie with shock— shock! — that someone eats eggs from a hen that has recently been on a date with a rooster. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the schtick at all. In fact, I found it forced and exhausting. However, it may just be that my sense of humor and the author’s sense of humor simply don’t click; that doesn’t mean another reader might not take great enjoyment from this book.

There is one moment I really enjoyed when, during a fight, the two men actually talked. Rather than walking away, accusing Decker of something, Acosta stayed to listen to Decker’s side of the story. And Decker, who knew things might be misconstrued, didn’t just wring his hands and fret; he made certain that Acosta had the full story, the good and the bad, so that he could make his decision. Decker didn’t try to gaslight him, lie, or spin things; he was open and honest and it was refreshing. While I didn’t personally care for the author’s sense of humor, I did think the characters were well done, the story well paced, and the happily ever after felt deserved and sweet.

If you’re a fan of this author’s previous works, you’ll probably enjoy this one. If you’re considering this story, I suggest downloading a sample first to see if Decker’s voice and the author’s sense of humor work for you.

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