Blurb: Sawyer is too busy to worry about something as frivolous as Christmas. College is hard, but he’s focused on getting into law school. Kable is studying to make the family business, Del Buon Gusto, into a successful chain restaurant. When a party debacle at the restaurant gives Kable a chance to get close to Sawyer, he’s shocked to learn Sawyer’s a Christmas Grinch. He's determined to change Sawyer’s mind, but their dates are one debacle after another. It might not be possible to make this into Sawyer's first Merry Christmas after all.
What a waste of time. He could’ve been home starting his paper or even watching a movie if he wanted to slack off.
Fed up avoiding questions of family traditions and travel plans, Sawyer strolled away from the crowd in the dining room and headed toward the tree. He nodded and smiled at a few people but didn’t stop. Everyone else was enjoying the appetizers that had just come out, but he’d already had dinner before he left home, since he’d expected to work. He could pass more time pretending to examine the ornaments or watching the snow drift down now that the storm finally hit. He’d just have to wait a little longer until he could politely make his escape.
“You don’t like eggnog?”
“What?” Sawyer blinked and shrugged the hand off his shoulder. He took a step to the side. He’d been focused on the snow, watching the puffy flakes float down to coat the sidewalks and road. The grassy verge along the road was already completely white. He hadn’t even heard Kable approaching, which was odd because he was normally impossible to miss. He was just as loud and energetic as his dad.
“Your cup is still full.” Kable gestured toward the red cup in Sawyer’s hand. “Usually when you don’t drink something that means you don’t like it.”
“It smells gross, and I definitely don’t think a dairy product should be this thick and still be drinkable.” Sawyer’s filter was gone, just like it usually was around Kable. He got so nervous, he always ended up saying whatever came to him. It wasn’t like he was trying to hide that he was gay—everyone already knew that—but he hoped his crush wasn’t as obvious. He’d had enough embarrassment for the evening.
Kable laughed. “Then why’d you take it?”
“It seemed like the thing to do.” Sawyer rotated the cup between his palms, disgusted by the way the glop reacted. Surely it couldn’t be safe to drink the stuff.
“So, is it just dairy-based holiday drinks you don’t like? Or is it something more? You haven’t had a single thing to eat, and you’re not exactly dressed for the party. There’s so much fun to be had from dressing up for Christmas parties.” Kable waved a hand in front his chest. “Like this.” He was wearing an awful sweater with reindeer prancing around a Christmas tree that had bedazzled ornaments decorating every puffy bough. Not even something that hideous could detract from his dark-haired, blue-eyed handsomeness... but really, Sawyer shouldn’t be noticing that at all.
Sawyer scoffed. “I’d rather be here in my underwear than wear something like that.”
“Or your uniform?” Kable gestured toward Sawyer’s black slacks and plain white shirt. “Is it just that you don’t have another outfit?”
“Of course I have other outfits! Why would you think that?” Sawyer snapped. His face was hot and prickly; no one else had mentioned his clothes, even if they noticed he was wearing his work uniform. It’s not like he was wearing something inappropriate, like shorts and a t-shirt.
Kable cocked his head to one side. “If you had something else, why didn’t you wear that?”
“You’re nosy, you know?” He was always asking questions and getting into everyone’s business. The others didn’t seem to mind. Kable was Mr. McArthur’s son, and he worked the occasional shift at the restaurant when they were short a waiter even though he was in school full-time to get a business degree. He was friendly, sometimes too friendly, and made Sawyer uncomfortable with his casual intimacy. Kable was always patting him on the back or arm when they spoke, and Sawyer liked it a little too much.
“Yep.” Kable grinned. “But wait, don’t tell me! You never come out for a drink with the rest of us, not even for coffee, and you’re always studying those books on your breaks. I’ve never heard you even talk about doing something like going to a party. You thought you were here to work tonight, didn’t you?”
Sawyer grit his teeth. “So what? Your dad just said he wanted us all here.”
“And you didn’t put two and two together?” Kable gestured toward the room.
“I did once I got here. He said he was throwing a party for friends and family. What else was I going to think?” Sawyer was getting tired of Kable’s questions. He lifted his before Kable could notice his scowl and figure out he was getting to him and made the stupid mistake of taking a drink.
“Oh, ew.” Sawyer desperately wanted to spit out the eggnog, but there was no polite way to do so. He forced the mouthful down, swallowing repeatedly in an attempt to get rid of the liquid still coating his tongue. It was as horrible as he thought it would be. He stared at the cup in disgust. “People actually drink this... on purpose?”
There is only one word to use to describe this book – adorable. The characters are adorable, the situations they get into are adorable and oh the lengths Kable goes to give Sawyer a good Christmas are utterly adorable. I absolutely adored the book.
The editing is flawless, apart from a few tiny mistakes that I, as a grammar nazi, spotted but no one else probably will. There is one small issue in that if you’re reading on a kindle app on PC the scene breaks seem to disappear.
The characterization is magnificent, as usual. This was one of the things that first drew me to Cia’s work and she has never disappointed. All Cia’s characters, including the supporting cast have individual and unique personalities from which she never deviates. It is quite clear from the start that Kable is bubbly and loving while Sawyer is repressed and bordering on OCD. The way these two interact is fascinating.
Sawyer has grown up with parents who do not celebrate Christmas, which they consider to be nothing more than crass commercialism. Neither do they – and therefore Sawyer – eat food that is not healthy and nutritional. Therefore *gasp* Sawyer has never tasted nougat or cracked caramel toffee, or cocoa. He doesn’t even drink coffee.
Through a series of surprise dates, all of which have at least one disaster involved – from baby spiders hatching in a Christmas tree to almost breaking an ankle on skates – Kable introduces Sawyer to the spirit of Christmas, one sweet thing at a time, although the toffee eating came at a price.
To see these two explore some Christmassy activities and find the magic even in a crowded shopping mall was truly magical and I held my breath to see what was coming next.
With every experience, Kable and Sawyer grew closer, their love growing gently and blossoming one petal at a time. The epilogue almost had me in tears.
This is a must-read for Christmas. If this doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit then you need more help than Sawyer.
The number one question folks ask Alicia when she shares she's a MM romance author: "Why gay fiction? Why write men when you're a woman?" and her answer is: "Why the hell not!" Alicia Nordwell is one of those not so rare creatures, a reader turned writer. Striving to find an interesting story one day, she decided to write what she wanted instead. Then the voices started... Yep, not only does she talk about herself in the third person for bios, she has voices in her head constantly clamoring to get out. Fortunately, with the encouragement of her family and friends, she decided for her own sanity to keep writing.
Now you can find her stories both free and e-published. When she’s not on the computer typing away, she's a wife and a mom of two in the dreary, yet ideal for her redhead complexion, Pacific Northwest. Except for when she disappears into one of the many worlds in her head, of course! She can also be found quite often at her blog, where she has a lot of free fiction for readers to enjoy or working hard, or maybe hardly working, as an admin on GayAuthors.org under her online nickname, Cia.
Cia’s Stories: http://www.ciasstories.blogspot.com