Published November 7th 2018
When Casey Stevens went away to college four years ago, he ghosted on his straight best friend, Joel Vreeland. He hoped time and distance would lessen the unrequited affection he felt, but all it did was make him miss Joel more. Home for the holidays, Casey hopes they might find a way to be friends again. But Joel’s frosty reception reminds Casey of just how hard he had to fight to be Joel’s friend in the first place. It’s going to take a Christmas miracle to get past that cool façade again.
Joel isn’t as straight as Casey believes, and his years of pining for Casey have left him hurting and alone, caring for his abusive father and struggling to get by. Unable to trust anyone except his rescue dog—and with no reason to believe Casey is interested in him for more than a holiday fling—Joel’s icy heart might shatter before it can thaw.
Can Casey and Joel’s love overcome mistrust, parental rejection, class differences, and four long years apart?
The release date of this one got brought forward, so I’m a few days behind in posting this, but I’ve finally gobbled up this fabulous Christmas romance from Leta Blake. Don’t let the cheesy name and pretty cover deceive you, this isn’t all sweetness and light. This is a holiday romance with depth and angst and heavier moments that have this book holding its own as an excellent novel regardless of the seasonal setting.
This is a friends-to-lovers story where the two MCs when they first reunite at the beginning of the book aren’t actually friends. There’s a lot of unrequited love, resentment and desperate pining. Throw in some internalised homophobia, feelings of worthlessness and abusive parents and it’s not necessarily the cheeriest holiday romance you could pick up at this time of year.
That’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom. At all. I had a smile on my face for a lot of this book. It’s got genuine moments of levity and humour. The character development and relationship growth is truly wonderful, the way Joel and Casey rekindle their friendship and let it blossom into romance brought me those hopeful and joyous feelings I associate with the festive setting. They may have been childhood friends, but they still came from different worlds and that had put up so many obstacles. But no obstacle was ever going to be big enough to keep these two apart in the end.
My favourite character had to be Joel’s dog, Bruno. I’m a sucker for any kind of canine companion, and Bruno was such a teddybear. He epitomised the way this story made me feel by the end, fantastically warm and fuzzy. I would highly recommend adding this book to your TBR list this Christmas.