Ian had hoped to make it as a photographer in London, but he is about out of funds and out of time. He made a mistake getting involved with his last boss and believing the man’s lies, and now Ian is left without a reference and can’t get hired anywhere. Ian has a job offer at home in Cornwall and it is looking like he is going to have to give up on London. However, when his former boss calls Ian for a last minute photography job, he can’t give up the chance for the extra cash.
Ian’s assignment is to photograph Guy Parsons, a renowned (and much feared) food critic. Guy’s reviews can make or break a restaurant and, even from Ian’s quick online search about the man, he knows he can’t stand him. At first, their initial meeting does nothing to change Ian’s opinion, but he is surprised to find that Guy isn’t the monster his reviews would suggest. In fact, Guy seems to be much kinder, with a love for the food world, and a surprising sense of humor. Not to mention he’s hot. Ian can’t help but be drawn to Guy and it seems his attraction is returned, and the men end up acting on the connection between them.
When Guy arranges for Ian to be hired for the remainder of the contract, it means Ian should have the funds to make it through Christmas before he has to leave London. It also means more time with Guy, and the men find that not only are they totally hot for each other, but they are enjoying each other’s company. Guy is kind, sexy, and shows a real interest in Ian and supports his photography. As Ian learns more about Guy’s past, it is clear that his online persona is a wall Guy puts up to protect himself. It also becomes clear that the men are falling hard for each other and Ian can imagine what a future with Guy could hold. But with Ian set to return to Cornwall and time running out on the holiday season, Guy and Ian have to figure out if there is a way to turn their Christmas fling into something more.
Con Riley has become an absolute go-to author for me and so I couldn’t resist going back to check out this holiday story released last year. This one is sweet and sexy and so warm and just what you want for the holiday season. The story starts as an enemies-to-lovers of sorts, as Ian has an initially terrible impression of Guy based on reading his reviews online. The man sounds like a monster and Ian is not particularly friendly when he arrives at the restaurant where Guy is dining, as he assumes he knows just what kind of man to expect. I found this whole scene just delightful, a sort of grumpy meet cute that is funny, sweet, and gives us a great sense of both men. It is pretty clear right away to the reader that Ian has misjudged Guy and there is a lot more to him than his online persona would suggest. I loved Guy’s playfulness, his ability to poke gentle fun at himself, and the kindness that really shows through.
At first, it takes some time for Ian to realize he has misjudged Guy. Initially the real focus between them is the heat, as both men are drawn to the other from the start. But soon, Ian realizes there is much more to Guy than he thought and the men begin to enjoy spending time together dining at various restaurants and exploring the city. Guy is truly interested in Ian; he is not looking to steal Ian’s glory, like Ian’s old boss. Guy truly wants to help lift Ian up, to support him the way he was supported by his late husband when he was a young man. The men are just so lovely together and there is so much warmth to the story. The conflict here comes in that Ian is set to return home, at least temporarily, for a job and the men have to figure out if they can and want to make this holiday fling something more.
This one is light on the angst and high on the sweet sexiness. There is a fun playfulness between Guy and Ian, a bit of banter and fire that is so much fun. I absolutely adored the story and it is a perfect choice if you are looking for something warm, sexy, and a lot of fun.