Avery McKenna has had feelings for Felix Hawkins and Zach Walsh since he was a kid. However, he knows nothing can happen between them. Not only are Felix and Zach best friends with Avery’s older brother, Lake, but they have been a couple since they were 14 years old. Avery knows they see him as nothing other than Lake’s kid brother and there is no chance for anything with either man. So he has done his best to keep his distance and remind himself that they can’t possibly be as amazing as they seem.
Felix and Zach have been in love with each other forever, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have room in their hearts for more. While Avery used to be nothing other than Lake’s younger brother, now that he has grown, so have their feelings for him. But Felix and Zach knew Avery wasn’t ready years ago; even once he was an adult, Avery looked at them with hero worship and not as an equal partner. The men knew Avery needed time to experience life and other relationships before they shared their feelings with him. Now, Felix and Zach want nothing more than to bring Avery into their relationship and share all the love they have for him.
Felix and Zach have been trying to show Avery they are interested in him, but their indirect approach is just leaving Avery confused. He wants the men so badly, but it never occurs to him that there could be a chance for him to be a part of things with them. His first instinct is fear of getting hurt, fear that they are not sincere, and Zach and Felix worry they have waited too long and missed their chance with Avery. Now, Felix and Zach must prove to Avery how much they care for him and want them as a part of their lives, and if so, they may all have something extra to celebrate this Christmas.
Two Soldiers for Christmas is a sweet and sexy holiday novella that features an established couple looking to share their love with their best friend’s younger brother. Crane does a nice job here setting the stage and I could really feel both Avery’s longing for Zach and Felix, as well as their feelings for him in return. Crane also really gives a good sense of Avery’s confusion about all of this and his insecurities, as he worries he will get hurt and doesn’t quite believe what is on offer. Felix and Zach have been wanting and planning this future with Avery for so long, they sort of forget he needs some time to catch up with it all. But the longing and desire these men have for one another comes through clearly and it is rewarding seeing them find their happiness. I did wish for more time on the aftermath of them getting together, as a lot of the book is exploring the lead up from all of their perspectives. We see the guys all talking with friends and sorting through the situation, and for a shorter book, I wished we had more time once they actually connect and start to explore things. So this is really just the start of the relationship, but the chemistry and connection come through clearly.
As a side note, I appreciated that there wasn’t tons of drama regarding Avery being Lake’s younger brother. There is no posturing from Lake about his friends dating Avery; in fact, Lake is super supportive and tries to help the guys all find their way together. Avery is a grown man and more than old enough to decide who he wants to date. So I appreciated that Lake is supportive, and there is never any big issue with his friends getting together with his brother.
This story takes place in Crane’s Chain Reaction series world, with some side characters connecting. Felix and Zach served in the military with Peyton, from Catalyst, and we see all four of the men from that book have a quick cameo here. There are also some guys that Zach and Felix work with who are connected by friendship or family to the men from that story. That said, this one stands alone perfectly and, while seeing the cameos adds some fun, it is not necessary to have read the other book to enjoy this one.
This is a fairly quick read, just over about 100 pages, and I read it all in one sitting. It is a fun story with some playfulness, some pining, and some nice heat. If you are looking for a shorter holiday story, and particularly if you are fans of best friend’s brother trope or poly stories, definitely check this one out.