we only kiss at christmas coverRating: 4 stars
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Length: Novel

 

Sebastian Street can quietly admit to himself that he is hot for his best friend and roommate, Patrick. The two shared a kiss under the mistletoe last year, but Seb knows it is better to keep to friendship between them. Thus, the guys will only allow themselves to kiss at Christmas, and Seb is more than looking forward to the opportunity this year. So he is not thrilled that he and Patrick may need to take on a new flatmate just in time for the holidays. Money is tight and the men haven’t filled the empty room vacated by their friend, Ian, when he moved in with his boyfriend. But Seb is worried that when Patrick goes home for Christmas this year, he isn’t coming back, and this may be their last chance to be together.

Unfortunately, the new roommate ends up on their doorstep even sooner than anticipated — and Sebastian knows he is partly to blame for this guy being short on funds and in need of a place to stay. And, at first, Seb doesn’t really want anything to do with the guy. But Patrick is sweet and gentle and, as always, knows how to bring out the best in Seb, and it isn’t long before the three of them are all getting along. Sebastian still can’t help but worry that Patrick will leave London, and he questions whether he really deserves to have Patrick, even if he does stay. But even though Seb and Patrick may not quite realize it yet, they are meant to be together, and once they open up and really share their feelings, this could be the Christmas where they find their true happiness.

We Only Kiss at Christmas is a lovely friends-to-lovers holiday story from Con Riley, and this has all the warmth that I have come to expect from this author. The book is told from Seb’s POV and we can see from the start he has a lot of emotions he keeps bottled up. It is clear he has feelings for Patrick (and Patrick has feelings in return), but despite the fact that these guys are basically platonic boyfriends, Seb has put up walls. Over the course of the story, we see Seb begin to open up and share some of his fears and much of what drives him. Patrick is essentially the sweetest man alive and he doesn’t push with Sebastian, just supports him and brings out the best in him. On the other side, Seb is fierce in his protection of Patrick and would go to war for those he loves. There are just some really sweet moments here as Patrick and Sebastian slowly move forward and begin to find their way into a relationship and I loved seeing what a perfect match they end up making for each other.

This story is not officially a part of any of Riley’s series, but it is in her Christmas Collection and Seb and Patrick are introduced in His Last Christmas in London as Ian’s roommates. They are so intriguing there, I was thrilled to see that Riley was bringing them back for their own story. We also see Ian and Guy here in a small side role. While this one is ostensibly a standalone, there are some elements of that first story that recur here, like the men dining in Penny’s restaurant, or an off-page but significant encounter with Lido. So I think readers would have more context overall if they come in familiar with the first book (plus, it is amazing). This story also takes place in Riley’s larger shared world. The book is set between the His series and the Learning to Love series, so the timeline is not quite present day. There are a few little Easter Eggs here for past books and characters, but nothing significant enough to require having read those other books (but again, read them!). We also get a few fun ties to Finding Mr. Fabulous (I won’t spoil the fun, but one took me by surprise and I’m super delighted by it).

While I don’t think it is necessary to have read all the books in Riley’s related world, I do think that this story would have benefited for a little more context in places, or at least a little earlier on. There are areas where I felt like we were coming in at the middle without all the background I wanted and it took a while for me to settle into the story as a result. For example, I’d have loved to understand better what the men agreed upon with regard to kissing at Christmas or why Seb was so afraid to be with Patrick. Some information comes with time, and I do see that part of the journey is Sebastian being able to reveal some things to Patrick. But the early part of the story felt a little like we were coming into something already in progress and it took a bit for me to really feel like I was caught up with the flow.

It all comes together nicely in the end and I found it really rewarding to see these guys happy together. Riley’s style is so perfect for a warm and sexy holiday story and I think readers will find lots to enjoy here with this book.

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