Mik Gilmore is a newly retired pro hockey player who’s come home to Christmas Falls, Illinois, to be near his family. He’s a little bored, honestly. Helping his older brother Josh run their family bar, Frosty’s, isn’t much of a challenge. So, Mik decides he wants to put on a huge lawn display and really show up his brother’s best friend, Rudy Snow, another retired pro hockey player. Mik and Rudy have always had a rivalry–mostly over social media, as they never played for the same team. Mik has always thought Rudy’s trolling was because Rudy didn’t respect him. It really bothered him, since Rudy’s so darn attractive.
Now that Rudy and Mik are finally living in the same place, Rudy’s unable keep his attraction on the down low. He one-upped Mik for years, a harmless flirtation on his part, but it’s driven Mik to greater feats to distinguish himself from Josh’s long shadow. Now, Josh’s wife is pregnant and on bed rest, so he’s needed at home more to care for his family. Josh asks Mik and Rudy to help out coaching the youth hockey team, and for Mik to manage Frosty’s more. Oh, and to take over planning gran’s 80th birthday surprise party. And, it’s Christmas season, and Frosty’s is getting more and more busy with tourists.
Rudy sees that Mik’s overwhelmed, so he decides to step up, support Mik, and spell out his attraction while he’s got Mik’s undivided attention. Through all their new shared commitments, Mik’s pretty stunned to discover that Rudy’s had a sincere crush for years. Rudy had been planning to move on to a new locale–he’s been rootless most of his life–but Mik returning his affection is a good reason to stay put awhile. Well, unless the new podcast job offer with the NCAA pans out and he needs to move hours away to Indianapolis.
This is a Christmas romance, and I giggled along with the Bigfoot shenanigans. I liked Mik and Rudy and thought this was a breezy story with two sweet guys finally finding love. I think it was supposed to be an enemies-to-lovers story, but the enemies part didn’t really hold up long. Mik gets over his animosity really quickly. There’s not a lot of angst as both men are in their 30s and well-settled. The story doesn’t have a lot a lot of steam, but there are some nice romantic moments. Hockey is definitely on the outside of the story, as both men are retired players with other interests. Even their coaching responsibilities are minimal. I kind of questioned why any of these guys had jobs at bars, even with it being Mik’s family legacy, considering their supposed long careers in the pros. But, again, it’s a Christmas romance, and the focus was more on Rudy finding a real home and connection within Christmas Falls than on their careers.
Everyone’s nice, no one is naughty, and there’s a very happy ending for Mik and Rudy.