Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars

Narrator: Joel Leslie
Length: 6 hours, 52 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Amazon/Audible | iBooks
Book Buy Links: Amazon | iBooks


Lord Barnaby Greenwood is in dire need of funds to keep his ancestral home from foreclosure. Even still, he won’t sell the King’s Wood, a primitive forest filled with Druid relics that sits on his land, to a particularly pushy developer. Because Barnaby elects financial ruin over selling out the King’s Wood, he gets a visit from the Holly King, who offers him a boon: he brings to life the subject of Barnaby’s favorite statue in his gallery, Cosmo, until midnight on Christmas Eve, five days away.

Cosmo, and his little dog Cyrus, may have been statues their whole existence, but they haven’t been deaf. They’ve listened to hundreds of years of conversations–not least of which were three decades of Barnaby’s stories and angsty tales. Cosmo and all the statuary at Greenwood Hall have been subject to the Holly King’s magic for centuries–waking in the Witching Hour to assemble, share gossip, and merry-make. Now that Cosmo is “alive,” he’s going to help Barnaby save Greenwood Hall – as well as indulge in his deep attraction for the struggling man.

This is a sweet, sexy, magical holiday romance, and it’s absolutely a delight. As an audiobook, I was thrilled with the narration. I’ve heard narrator Joel Leslie use a Bostonian accent for a different story, but this time, the vocals were decidedly British-English, as was appropriate. I loved Barnaby, who is astounded by his amazing good fortune, and so selfless in his day-to-day stewardship as a landed Lord. He’s heartbroken about his destitution, because it makes it harder for him to maintain his employees’ pay. The townsfolk think he’s too proud for them, but he’s really just too poor. Cosmo charms everyone, revealing Barnaby’s financial woes without completely humiliating him. Cosmo knows all the secrets of Barnaby’s home and grounds, enabling him to share both information and fortunes that will lift Barnaby and Greenwood Hall from debt.

Cosmo is just the best, and Barnaby can’t help falling for the man–even while trying to guard his heart. Cosmo can’t remain with him permanently, unless Barnaby is able to persuade the Holly King to extend his boon, a rare and unlikely prospect. It seems like all might be lost as the clock ticks down, but the power of love is a magic all its own.

This is a fun and imaginative story, with lots of love, laughter, and silliness. I really loved how the author leaned into believable magical moments, creating a running thread of magic through every interaction that ties back to holiday aspects. It was entirely charming and enjoyable to listen to multiple times. The narration was exuberant; the joy both Cosmo and Barnaby experience, for their very different firsts, was palpable.

If you dig holiday romances–especially with lots of sweet magic–this could be a book for your list.