Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novella


York is shocked when he feels his magic return. It’s been gone so long that he and his cousins don’t quite trust it. But now that a year has passed and the holiday season once again approaches, it’s time for the Yule Lads to do what they were made for. While the Christmas Sprites (who also live in the small town of Mistletoe Falls) are there to bring merriment and joy, the Lads are there for harmless mischief and funny pranks. York isn’t into all the commercial trappings of the season, though he’s not a Scrooge, and though he’s generally grumpy, he wants to join his cousins in the mischief making.

Gabriel is down on his luck, and he’s counting on the craft fair in Mistletoe Falls. Living in a drafty camper with his corgi Bogie wasn’t exactly the plan, but Gabriel’s passion is making handcrafted, rustic ornaments and, if he does well, he can finally get back on his feet. Gabriel loves the little town he’s found himself in, and everyone is really nice. Including the surly mechanic, who catches his attention. Gabriel is shocked when his ornaments sell so well, but when his Jeep breaks down, it might just wipe out all the progress he’s made.

But fortunately for Gabriel, York is intrigued by him as well, and happens to be an exceptional mechanic. With Gabriel stuck in town while York sources parts, the two begin to spend a lot of time together. And the more they do, the more they realize that there is an undeniable connection between them. With York’s magic going a bit wild and the town busybodies hatching their own schemes, Gabriel will get the happily ever after he’s longed for, and York will finally get his mate.

York is the first book in a spin-off series from Macy Blake’s Christmas Sprites series of last year. It’s also tangentially related to the author’s larger Chosen One universe, taking place in the same world, but a step apart from most of the main storylines. It’s not necessary to have read any of the other books in the world in order to enjoy this one, though having read the Christmas Sprites series will give you a little extra. Returning to Mistletoe Falls brings the holiday puns out in force, as well as well-meaning but interfering townsfolk. The Lads are pranksters, but the harmless kind, as that’s what they were created for.

Let me just start by saying that the plethora of puns, as well as the silly pranks, aren’t really my cup of tea. Personally, it was a bit over the top. I expected the puns, having read the previous series, and the pranks truly are silly and harmless. However, I can objectively see the appeal of these things and know that a lot of readers will enjoy this aspect. So I set that aside in my contemplation of the story (and will do so as I continue to read and review the rest of the series).

What I really enjoyed was the characterization, and it’s one of the things Blake is so good at. York is a grump with a big heart, and I really liked that he wasn’t against Christmas, just the commercialism. Gabriel is a sweetheart who needs a hand up, given his current state. The chemistry between them sparked from the start, and in a story like this, that’s so needed. This is a quick read and the story moves fast. York and Gabriel are fated mates, so of course the jump to forever is pretty quick. However, without that on page connection, that chemistry, it wouldn’t have worked as well. Gabriel brings York out of his shell, as York is definitely a loner, and York is able to support Gabriel when he needs it most.

Together, the two work really well. And even though it’s fast, and there isn’t a whole lot of detail, it still worked. There’s a real sweetness to their relationship that I enjoyed. There needs to be a certain level of suspension of disbelief with this story, but the author creates a plot that makes that easy to do. The connection between them feels real, and the way they interact is natural. This went a long way for me to jump in and run with their relationship.

Overall, I really liked the characters, and it helped knowing what to expect from the novella going in. There’s a lot of sweetness and silliness, holiday cheer and fated mates, with magic and fate playing their part. On the whole, this is a low angst, fluffy holiday romance. If you’re a fan of this author and the world, then definitely pick this one up.