christmas vetoRating: 4.5 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Since his father’s death, Reid Cabot has been the heir apparent to the family hotel empire, currently run by his domineering grandmother. Reid’s passions lie in other areas, but he feels he has no choice but to follow along with his family obligations, which includes attending a host of fancy holiday events on behalf of the family and the company. Reid’s grandmother has once again been matchmaking and the last thing he wants is to be set up with his grandmother’s idea of the perfect wife for him — and it would be a wife, as despite Reid coming out as bisexual, his grandmother refuses to accept it as more than phase. However, Reid has decided if he can find someone to be his fake boyfriend for the season, it will give him a reprieve from the matchmaking, plus a chance to show his grandmother that his bisexuality is real.

Connor Lisowski is in NYC for medical school and attending a swanky party with his best friend, Asher. He has been crushing on Asher’s older brother, Reid, since he was a teenager, but never expected to have a chance with him. When Reid suggests that Connor pose as his boyfriend for the holidays, Connor can’t believe his luck. He is eager for the chance to spend any time around Reid, plus the money Reid is loaning him in exchange for the ruse is something he desperately needs. Connor may be totally into Reid for real, but no one even knows he is gay. Connor has never told anyone he is into guys, despite having two dads. He knows they will support him, but he is still freaked out about finally just telling people. The fact that Connor has never even been kissed makes it even harder to admit.

As Reid and Connor begin to attend a host of holiday events, it gives them a chance to get to know each other better as adults. Reid also delights in showing Connor around the city, as Connor’s busy med school schedule means he hasn’t had a chance to do much exploring. The guys find a real connection and soon decide to make their relationship something real, rather than just pretending to keep Reid’s meddling grandmother at bay. But Connor still has to work up the nerve to tell his family that he is gay and to share another big secret he has been keeping from them. And Reid needs to take the leap and finally tell his grandmother that he is unhappy with his current role in the company and share his ideas for a new direction they could take. Now that they have found each other, Reid and Connor are getting ready to take some big steps to move their lives forward together.

A Christmas Veto is the third book in Keira Andrews’ Festive Fakes series and I think this is my favorite one so far. The books each feature a different couple who have a fake holiday relationship and the stories will stand alone. However, they do take place in a shared world and Connor is actually Logan and Seth’s son from The Christmas Deal, so I think fans of the series will enjoy the connections. I found Connor an interesting side character in the first book, as the surly teen whose mother died just before her short-lived marriage dissolved and now finds himself being raised by the stepfather who had been on the way out. So I really enjoyed seeing Connor here as an early-20s medical student who is finding love of his own. I read these books as they released, so it’s been four years since I read the first one. I’m kind of curious if folks who read these straight through will find it harder to have Connor age up so much between books, but for me, it worked just fine and I loved reconnecting with these three characters through Connor’s POV.

Like the other stories in the series, this one is a fake relationship book and it’s a lot of fun. There is a twist here in that Connor has been hot for Reid for years, so there is a nice “best friend’s brother” element to go along with the fake dating. The guys settle in with each other quickly, and I liked how the conflict doesn’t center all around the fake dating. They admit their feelings and start seeing each other for real early enough that it gives a chance to focus on some other issues as well. These guys are really sweet and sexy together. Connor is a virgin and still not out, so he is a little shy at first, but the two end up having a great connection and Reid is supportive and encouraging as Connor gets his bearings. There is some nice heat here and just a really warm relationship between them. Plus, both guys have a little bit of a dorky and weird side, which makes them a lot of fun together.

Outside of the relationship, both Connor and Reid are dealing with their own issues, and leaning on one another for support. Connor hasn’t come out to anyone, and even though he knows he will be loved and accepted, it is still a hurdle he has to work through. We learn a little more about why he feels so anxious and I think it fits well with his character. Connor also has a secret regarding why he needs the money from Reid and this makes for a nice side plot and a chance to see the warm family dynamic between Connor, Logan, and Seth as they work things out. For Reid, he has all the wealth and privilege, but isn’t particularly happy in his life. He feels obligated to take over the company and is forced into endless corporate engagements. Andrews does a nice job grounding things in both Reid’s character and some larger family dynamics to help justify why this almost 30-year-old is struggling so much to assert what he really wants. I think the character arcs for both of these guys come together well and I liked how the men rely on each other as they work through things.

Overall, I found this a great installment in the series. I really loved both Reid and Connor and found them a fun couple. The story has a lovely holiday feel and brings some nice character development for both men. If you are looking for a great story this holiday season, definitely check this one out.

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