Grey Blackwell is a loner who has lost everyone he’s ever loved. He can’t help his grumpy attitude, and is especially cranky about the first snow of the season. In the town of Timberline, it always happens on the first of November, and the legend of the magic of the first snow brings in tons of tourists. Still, Grey has no choice but to go into town, where he literally runs into newcomer, Simon Clearwater.
Simon’s attitude is the complete opposite from Grey’s. Though he’s making a fresh start after a broken heart, he’s cheerfully positive. Their interaction isn’t the best, but neither man can forget the other. When Grey gets caught in a storm, he ends up getting snowed in with Simon, where the men become friends.
As the weeks progress, Simon and Grey start spending time together, but Grey has tough walls around his heart. Slowly and surely, they begin to break down and the two men take their relationship to the next level. They slowly learn to open up to one another, even as life, and the weather, throw obstacles in their way. Neither man was looking for love, but it found them anyway.
This is the debut novella by author Frankie Abraham and, for me, it was a bit of mixed bag. It had a lot of elements and tropes that I really love, and two MCs who are healing from their past. But the narrative style didn’t always work for me and I wished there was some more exploration about certain plot points.
At it’s core, this story is about two men who, though both have been hurt in the past, deal with the present with different attitudes. Grey is closed off, not wanting to let anyone else in. Both his parents are gone, and every relationship he’s tried has failed. He feels he’s better off alone, and his grumpy attitude keeps people at bay. Simon, on the other hand, is just out of an eight-year relationship that, by the end, turned toxic. And though he has his darker moments, he’s mostly positive and happy. I liked the juxtaposition in the characters, and thought they were a good fit together. Simon was supportive in a way Grey needed so that he was able to open up and let the world in. In turn, he then gave Simon a solid anchor. I wish their chemistry was better expressed, as at times it didn’t seem like enough, but I still liked these guys together. I would have also liked to see more happen between them when they were snowed in together.
The narrative style tends toward the simplistic at times, with more telling than showing. There were time jumps of days or even weeks, where much of the action was mentioned but not shown, and that created a bit of distance for me. At other times, the prose leans a little too purple and whimsical. While there were certain scenes where this worked, there were others where it felt out of place. Also, there was this supposed legend or magic of the first snow in the town of Timberline, but what exactly that was wasn’t explored or explained. There were some magical elements in the story, but they were few and far between. I would have liked this to be at the very least explained, if not explored in depth.
All in all, this was an easy read, with little angst and a happily ever after for two deserving men driving the story. But the execution lacked somewhat for me in key elements, which created distance for me as a reader. If you’re looking for a quick, happy read, with just a hint of magic and a touch of holiday spirit, then I’d tentatively say give this one a try.